Following my post last week about the Carry-All Pincushion from Noodlehead, I thought I’d show you my version of Noodlehead’s Maker’s Tote this week.
The main fabric is from Andover Fabrics’ “Maker Maker” collection. I think it just calls out to be made into a Maker’s Tote. I used Tula Pink and Cotton & Steel for the accents.
That’s a pretty bright interior! It was a little shocking when I put it all together, but since it will be filled with supplies, I think it will be a bit easier on the eyes.
This is a great bag to take to retreats or a friend’s house if you’re going to work on some crafty things, which is something I do on a near-weekly basis. It fits my laptop and large business notebook easily, as well as sketchbooks or pattern books. All the little pockets are handy for sewing tools so all you would need is your machine and this bag. I frequently tote it around the house with my knitting and cross-stitch projects.
A note for those who sew: this was my first time using Pellon 809 Décor-Bond, a fusible interfacing which is thin but very crisp and stiff. I love it! I think I’ll have to try it more in my other projects. The two main panels of the bag are interfaced with both fusible fleece for thickness and Pellon 809 for stiffness, to keep the bag upright when it’s empty.
Anna Graham of noodlehead released this book, Handmade Style, two years ago and it’s been popular with the sewing community since its publication. All of the Noodlehead patterns are so simple and functional; I’ve made several of them now! One of patterns I made from this book specifically is the Carry-All Pincushion.
Although fabric bundles are very pretty and tempting, a lot of quilters know that buying fabric bundles is tricky business. Sometimes you buy the bundle and then realize you don’t even like a few of the fabrics in the bundle, or you get stuck with the problem of not wanting to split up the bundle and then it just sits there, unused. One tip that I’ve heard is to split your bundle right away, so you are more likely to use some of the fabric. I ended up doing that with these two Tula Pink bundles from her Elizabeth collection and True Colours collection. Now I have a bright, fun pincushion and I get to the look at the fabric everyday, rather than keep it tucked away in my stash.
I made two identical Carry-All Pincushions – one for me, and one for my friend Cara. I sewed a little sack to put underneath the top fabric and filled it with ground walnut shells, which help keep pins and needles sharp. It has a permanent spot on my sewing table!
Last year for National Knit A Sweater Month, I decided to knit Japan Sleeves, designed by Joji Locatelli. I used O-Wool’s O-Wash Fingering in the colourways Schist and Coral Reef, which I bought at Rhinebeck in 2015.
The yarn was so smooshy; I really think it kept me going for the whole month. There are a few yarns out there that I really love, that make knitting stockinette stitch for a whole sweater worth it. (I’m thinking of O-Wool and Quince & Co.)
I do have a confession though: probably the only reason that I was able to knit this within a month was because I slipped a disc and was off work for a week. The first day or two I wasn’t able to move much at all, let alone sit up to knit. But by day 3, I was more comfortable sitting back, knitting, and binge-watching Shetland on Netflix.
This is probably one of the more challenging sweaters that I’ve knit. Most sweater patterns are based on standard methods like having a raglan or yoke top. This sweater was begun with the two lace sleeve panels with looooots of stitches picked up along the sides. When I have to pick up that many stitches, I’ll use stitch markers to mark every 1/4 way along the side I’m picking up. I’ve learned in the past that I’ll get to the end with either way too many or not enough stitches, so having the 1/4 markers help me count and distribute more evenly. There are also tons of short rows and lots of counting. I don’t mind counting but I really don’t like short rows.
The lace panels are definitely my favourite part of the sweater. I think this one’s going to get a lot of use. I’m really happy with the fit and the colours.
Last month after I left my job, I decided to have a full week of selfish sewing. One of the things that came out of that week of selfish sewing was this Cardamome dress!
I’ve the Cardamome dress pattern since it was released by Deer & Doe, but as with most beautiful patterns that I have, I was too afraid to make it in case I messed it up. I had also never done any shirring before.
I’m so happy I decided to tackle it during that week. This is beautiful navy cotton lawn from Cotton & Steel’s Rifle Paper Co. fabric from the Wonderland collection. The card suits are in metallic gold. The only modification I made was to slope the shoulders an extra 1/2″ but otherwise, it fit me very well. I did the shirring twice. The first time, I used a method I found online, which was to wind the elastic thread onto a bobbin and use it as my bottom thread, but that really didn’t work as well as it should have. I took it all out and redid it the way the pattern suggested: use a zig zag stitch to secure the shirring on the wrong side of the fabric while holding the elastic thread taut. I’ll be using that method from now!
Sadly, I still don’t know how to pronounce “shirring.”
At the beginning of 2016, I decided to participate in a modern traveling quilt bee around Canada with a few friends. Fifteen months later, and my starter block made it home, as part of a full quilt made by ten other quilters!
I started off with this unicorn foundation paper-pieced block, designed by Julia Eigenbrodt.
I asked the other quilters to contribute pieces that were inspired by myth or folk tales. My friend and fellow quilter, Julie of Longarm Workroom, was the last to work on the quilt so she quilted and bound it, then presented it to me at a meeting of the Ottawa Modern Quilt Guild. I love love love it.
The little details are delightful and my daughter already loves to pick out the little characters and designs. There are so many fabrics in here that I’m just in love with, but came to the quilting scene too late to collect them for myself before they sold out.
Although I saw a few sneak peeks over the past year, I had no idea what the final product would look like. I love the “Welcome to Sherwood Forest” text because I actually grew up Sherwood Forest. That is, all the street names in my neighbourhood were names and places from the tale of Robin Hood. The person who added that wouldn’t have known; it’s just a serendipitous addition!
A few things have happened since my last update from last year. I quit my full-time office job in order to pursue my own crafty, handmade business. I left work at the beginning of March and haven’t looked back. I made my decision after realizing that every weekday was becoming harder and harder. My commute was too long and it was about to get longer with a change in my transit options. I would leave for work in the mornings in a grumpy mood, and I would return in a grumpy mood without much energy left for making a healthy family dinner, hanging out with my daughter and husband, exercising, housecleaning, or doing anything creative. With the encouragement of my husband, I knew it was time to go.
I’m so lucky that I get to do this, as I know so many people would probably love to leave their office jobs but don’t have the financial stability to do so. I’m trying to think of this decision as “switching jobs” and that I’m “creatively employed.” I do actually want to grow my own little business, starting with opening a small Etsy shop and learning some new skills like pattern drafting by PDF and surface design. I’m giving this two years and then we’ll see what happens. So far I’m happy to be doing daycare drop-off and pick-up, giving my husband more flexibility with his hours too. Our dog is happy to have better exercise, and with the arrival of warm weather, I will start running again. I just started the Whole30 with my sister-in-law and it’s easy (so far) since I have time to cook and look for recipes. My friend Cara over at Carabara Designs and I have a weekly standing business date where we get together, eat good food, and work on our respective businesses.
So my website is open again, my shop is forthcoming, and my blog will be updated. Stay tuned! You can also follow me on Instagram @gemsystudio.
My friend Laura approached me toward the end of last year and asked me if I wanted to be part of a modern traveling quilt bee for 2016. Yes I did! She warned me it would be a big time commitment, but the finished product is worth it. As a beginner quilter who already knows how to sew, I also thought it’d be a great way to expand my skills while the pressure’s on. That is to say, when it’s someone else’s quilt, I’ll be putting in extra care and effort.
So for 2016, I’m participating in a modern traveling quilt bee with ten other talented quilters around Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. We each created a starting block and then they will travel in a circle around the group, each of us adding our own bits and interpretations on a theme. Our starting blocks will return to us as part of a finished quilt at the end.
We worked on our starting blocks in January and it’s been so fun to see everyone else post about them on Instagram. There’s such a wide variety of patterns and ideas. I can’t wait to work on each quilt as it makes it’s way through my neck of the woods.
Here’s my starting block:
The pattern is from Julia Eigenbrodt’s (aka Stars & Sunshine) pattern store. I loved her fabric choices so much that I actually used the same ones from Lizzy House’s collection, The Lovely Hunt, except for the hair, horn, and hooves which are Tula Pink: True Colours. I’m just in love with the blue background (“Flower Carpet”) – I actually ordered a few yards of it to hoard away in my stash.
I won’t give anything else away about the theme I chose. It might not be what you think it is. You’ll just have to check back early next year to see the finished quilt once it makes its way back home.
This Fancy Fox Quilt is the second quilt I’ve made. After finishing my first quilt, I was hooked and spent longer than you can imagine looking at quilt patterns and trying to decide what I wanted to make next. I thought the Fancy Fox pattern was a bit intimidating, but my friend Laura of Waffle Kisses Studio decided to teach an intermediate class using the Fancy Fox pattern and that was that. Elizabeth Hartman is the creator of the Fancy Fox pattern.
I don’t even remember anymore which came first: the pattern or the fabric. All I know is that Tula Pink True Colours + Fancy Foxes = a match made in quilting heaven. I picked up the Tula Pink rainbow bundle and it was just perfect for the little foxes with lots of playful prints and bright colours.
Laura showed us the construction of a block. The first quilt I made was basically just stacked rectangles, so this was my first time with triangles and piecing in a specific order. It was so mesmerizing to see it all come together.
I pieced about 12-16 foxes at a time, depending on how I was feeling. It felt like a lot! Eventually I just got tired of all the little seams and keeping track of some of the directional bits. I also didn’t like having to draw the lines for the diagonal seams. Although it was good to get them all out of the way in one go, it also felt like I was forcing myself to do it at times.
Then came the arrangement. I didn’t make enough for a full twin-size quilt, because it just became too much and I didn’t think I could get all of them finished in time for the final class. I ended up with 68 foxes: enough for an 8×8 arrangement on the front and four left over for the back of the quilt. I learned a bit about trying to make a rainbow gradient on a diagonal, because I had a lot of reds and pinks but not enough yellows and greens to really form a ‘bar’ from corner to corner. It worked out well enough, but I now realize for the future that I might need more of a certain colour when doing shifting colours on the diagonal.
This was my first time doing the binding by hand. It took a little while, but it was soothing and satisfying to see all the little tiny stitches hold the binding in place. I mostly sewed the binding while watching movies or TV and the quilt kept me warm while sewing.
And here’s the finished product. I love it. My daughter loves it too. She likes to point at the different fox faces. It’ll be so fun to see her pick out the different patterns and images on the quilt as she gets older.
I think I’ll be making more Fancy Fox quilts to gift to friends, but next time I’ll be doing the version with larger blocks!
I recently finished a test knit for one of my favourite knitting designers, Ambah (find her on Ravelry). Right now, Ambah is releasing a series of patterns as part of her Chroma Collection in 2016; all of the patterns can be knit with gradient or solid colours, but the gradients are beautifully showcased in all of the patterns that have been released so far.
Ambah put out a call for test knitters for one of the patterns in the Chroma Collection, and I was lucky enough to be one of the test knitters. The pattern, called the Torquata Wrap, calls for a gradient set which I actually had in my stash, the Miss Babs Yummy 2-ply Toes Gradient Set. I picked this up at Rhinebeck last year and have been waiting for the perfect pattern. Of course, you could use any colour combination you like and it doesn’t have to be a gradient set at all.
The pattern is for advanced beginners – you need to know how to increase, decrease, yarn over, and of course knit and purl. The coloured panels are a simple lace pattern, which I memorized fairly quickly. The neutral gray panels are simple garter stitch. The patterns in the Chroma Collection so far are similar in the sense that the shapes and lines are very simplistic, and this allows the gradient yarn to shine and for your colour choices to be the focal point of the finished product.
You can see more details on my project page. You can also see Ambah’s beautiful version of the Torquata Wrap on Ravelry.