crafts · finished objects · quilting · Sewing

Pattern review: Jelly Roll floor pillows

Pattern: Jelly Roll floor pillow, from the Moda Bakeshop

Fabric: Amy Butler Jelly Roll from her Cameo collection, plus a few extras and 2 yards of backing fabric

Other: 5 pounds of stuffing, large cording for the piping, covered button kit


I wanted to make a cat bed for my kitties that they could share, and at 44″ across this is plenty big enough for two (at least when Leon, the maine coon above, doesn’t decide to make himself enormous!)  The pattern calls for 1 jelly roll, but be aware that non Moda rolls are sometimes smaller – I needed to buy a few extra 1/4 yard pieces to make mine large en0ugh.

The pillow wasn’t hard to sew, but it as a little boring.  I recommend doing as the pattern says and cutting each piece after it is sew onto the whole – otherwise it’s hard to keep the ends from shredding.  If you do make this, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the pattern, where she mentions trimming it up every 10 strips or so.  This is very necessary – otherwise you will have a hole in the middle!  I thought it would look odd, but you cannot tell.

I bought shredded foam fill from Amazon to stuff the pillow.  It’s sort of bits and pieces of various foams.  It arrives vacuum sealed, but if you open it up it will double in size very quickly.  I used nearly 5 pounds of the stuff (I had to order twice, but I’d recommend just ordering the large size if you don’t have Amazon Prime shipping.)  It’s extremely messy to use – do it outside!  The resulting pillow is very soft and bouncy, perhaps a tad lumpy (it is made of chunks of foam after all) but in my experience cats do not care a bit about softness, and can in fact generally be found sleeping on the most uncomfortable things (Leon likes to sleep on top of pairs of shoes for some reason, high heels and all).

They have since managed to remove the button twice, so I gave up – they don’t get one!  They spend a lot of time now cuddling on the pillow – it’s so sweet, and it will give them somewhere warm to lay this winter (it’s already getting cold here!)  I definitely recommend the pattern, just be aware that it is rather a lot of repetition!

crafts · patterns · quilting · Sewing

Planning plans

I’ve finally finished my massive closet cleanout (3 bags of clothes and 2 of shoes have gone to the Nearly New Shop, my most favorite thrift store that’s located in a former roller skating rink).  This has revealed the holes in my closet (as I hoped!)  Here is what I’m currently trying to plan:

1. Tops – Once again I find myself short on tops, especially blouses.  I typically avoid sewing with blouse fabrics, but I think it’s time to conquer that fear!  I’m beginning with Butterick 5785 in silk shantung:

I took your advice (from ages ago) and prewashed my fabric in the machine on hand wash.  I hung the fabric to dry, and other than being wrinkled it still looks great!  I’m really paranoid about silks in the wash, but I think it’s best to treat them this way – otherwise I never wear them!  I love this blouse because of the longer shape and belt.  I’ve ordered some other blouse fabrics, so I hope to have more to make soon.

2. Winter coats – I have a ton of short coats, but all my dress coats have given up the ghost.  I’ve decided to join Gertie’s coat sew-a-long:

Is anyone else going to be sewing along with me?  I’m not much of a joiner, but I think this is the only way I’ll be motivated.  I’ve never sewn a coat!  I plan to shorten the pattern by several inches, making it shorter than knee length.   I’m planning to use a wool suiting (because a heavy coating would be crazy with a circle skirt!) but I haven’t bought my fabric yet.  I think I want a red/wine color, but I haven’t found the perfect one just yet.  I may be late getting started, but I can at least try to get my muslin sewn this week!

3. Black performance clothes

know, I know, I say this every year.   But I really and truly could use some good black outfits.  I hate sewing with black, but I can’t depend on running across dresses I actually like.  I’m planning (at this point) to try Vogue 8827, a new pattern for fall.  I’m going to use a rayon crepe.

I’m also planning a few other items – I want to experiment with sheath dresses, and I have a few tunics to make.  I can’t plan those yet – I have yet to get fabric!

Meanwhile, my house project continues.  I’ve finished the living room and hallway, and now it’s time for the bathroom.  At this point I’m planning to replace the floor and add beadboard to the walls.  And paint, of course (I’m thinking icy mint!)  There aren’t any sewing projects in that room (umm… please don’t let me get crazy enough to try to make my own rugs!) but I’m working on two small quilts/wall hangings.  The first (which I’ve already started) is this:

This is the Frosted quilt by Frivilous Necessity.  I bought a layer cake (set of 10″ squares) from Sewn in Cincinnati, and happened to pick up this exact print (Blizten, designed by BasicGrey for Moda).  I like that it’s Christmassy without being kitsch.  In real life the colors are more icy.  I’m leaving off the border – I think quilts look nicer without.  This will be my first time trying applique – the pattern used the fusible web method.  Wish me luck!

I’m also making this hanging, for my living room:

This quilt, Centered, is from the book We love Color.  This book contains only solid colored quilts.  I bought it for my Ipad – my first book purchase, and let me tell you how convenient it is!  I ordered the fabrics called for (all Kona cotton solids) and hope to work on it after finishing the Christmas quilt.  I think it looks like a warp field or something

Until next time!







crafts · knitting · quilting · Sewing

expensive habits

One thing I find amusing is when people tell me “Oh, you must save so much money knitting your own sweaters and making your own clothes.”  Well… not so much.  I think I get better quality things (certainly sweaters are terribly overpriced in stores) but none of my hobbies are really very thrifty.  I mean really… you don’t even want to know what I’m willing to spend on a lustworthy yarn, and adding a new lust for fabric into the mix… well, it ain’t pretty.

But I will say… knitting has nothing on sewing, at least not when it comes to basic equipment.  I bought a set of Knitpicks Options needles when they first came out, and they are still all that I use.  Occasionally I get a new set of cords or something, but that’s about it.  I do have a knitting machine, but I consider that a totally different animal.   Sewing, on the other hand, requires actual machinery.    A decent machine with accessories, a table to put it on, and perhaps a serger, if you want to sew knits often.

After 2 months or so of sewing nearly every day on my Viking Huskystar 219, I’ve decided to buy a new machine.  This was prompted by sewing on my nearly completed Mod Sampler quilt, and the Simplicity dress I’m making.

This is my Mod Sampler quilt.  You will note that while I did finish the free motion quilting, it does not yet have a binding (the outside edge that holds everything together.)  Free motion quilting on the Huskystar was a bear – it doesn’t have much room between the needle and the machine body, so it was hard getting the whole thing done, but I did it – and I loved the process!  It’s like drawing with thread, and oddly zen.  I also have some bobbin tension issues with the machine, and kept getting strange stitches underneath that I would have to pick out.   I’m not even going to try to do the binding yet – the machine does not handle thick amounts of fabric well – anything over 2 pieces tends to cause major problems. The binding will wait for the new machine.

I’m currently making simplicity 3835, and it’s nearly done, but I cannot deal with this machine anymore.  I have been waiting, wanting to see if my enthusiasm for sewing was a temporary fling, but it seems that there is room for two true crafting loves in my life.   I love quilting – it speaks to my love of color.  In fact, my next quilting project is going to be the color wheel quilt, from Last Minute Patchwork gifts (yes, by the same author as Last Minute Knitted gifts.)

Isn’t it beautiful?  I ordered the kit from Purl, because I don’t even want to think about how long it would take me to accumulate all the colors for it.  Mine has different fabrics from the book sample of course, but it’s going to be so beautiful!

I love making clothes, because I have a hard time finding clothes I love that fit me in stores.  I fit into junior sizes, however I already have issues with people thinking I’m way younger than I actually am (culminating in at least one adult student quitting because “I’m too young to teach her anything” when in fact I was older than her.) Junior clothing is also very poorly made in general, and uses materials that I don’t love (nothing like having to buy prom dresses to go out to the opera because none of the adult formal dresses fit, buying the one you think looks least like a prom dress, feeling self-conscious, and then having the dress rip apart after one wearing.)  The idea of making my own vintage clothes appeals to me as well, as I love vintage but sometimes feel guilty wearing the often fragile items.  After reading knitting patterns, sewing patterns seem remarkably clear to me now, unlike my previous attempts.  Plus, I have my trusty simplicity guide (from the 60s or 70s) to help me out!

I love this book so much… I’m glad I thought to buy it several years ago at an estate sale (well, the fact that it came with a bunch of vintage knitting patterns helped!)  Sewing patterns haven’t changed so much, but I will say this is extra helpful trying to interpret some of the vintage patterns I have.

I find that I go in cycles – several times a year I have a frenzy of knitting and turn out most of my sweaters, and at other times I knit much less and want to work on other hobbies.  Oddly, this time of year is always a down time for me – I think I can’t concentrate on knitting when I have so many holiday things to attend to!    I’m usually lucky if I finish a single sock between Thanksgiving and New Years.  I have tried to reassure my knitting that I am not cheating on it (“really, that wool crepe meant nothing to me, and of course you didn’t see a stack of Amy Butler fabrics sneaking out of the closet the other day.  ‘Twas the cat.”)  My knitting is not convinced, but I am making progress on all my projects.  Currently I am slowed down by making baby socks – my sister-in-law requested some for my niece, as they live in snowy Wisconsin and her poor little feet are cold!  If anyone has a favorite baby sock pattern do let me know… she’s 6 months old, and I want them to fit for awhile, so newborn patterns won’t work.

I’m also lusting after Kelmscott, from the new Twist Collective.  Honestly, I think it’s one of the prettiest designs I’ve seen this year.  The new IK is all right but not exciting, so I’m really glad I found something to love in Twist this time!

I have laryngitis pretty bad right now, which as you can imagine is  tough for someone who needs her voice for a living.  I think it’s a minor cold that seems to have settled in my throat.  I get sick rarely, but when I do it’s a doozy!    I am going to take Marc to the sewing machine store tomorrow to see what he thinks (hopefully that I need one!)  Then he’s helping a friend move house, and I will stay home to try and feel better!  Luckily I don’t have any gigs this weekend.  If I had gotten sick last weekend it would have been pretty tragic, so I’m very grateful that the cold held off this long!

crafts · quilting · Sewing


What have I been doing?  Well, I’ve been cutting

and sewing

and ironing… lots of ironing…

ending up with these!

I’m following the quilt along at Oh, Fransson.  I like that the blocks get progressively harder, and I also love how complete her tutorials are for each step.  I feel like I’m learning so much!  These were my first blocks… as I go along, my seams get straighter, and I line things up more completely.  I’m about halfway through making the blocks now.  The most challenging parts for me have been cutting accurately (I got some little dots to put on my ruler, and now it doesn’t shift when I cut) and sewing a 1/4″ seam every time (since I don’t have a computer in my machine, I’m able to use a magnetic seam guide, which really helps.)

Will this quilt be perfect?  No way, but I don’t mind.  I’m loving the process of making it so much so far!  I don’t really have a dedicated sewing area yet, as we’re planning to do the drywall in the attic at Christmas, so I’m using my dining room… which is also the waiting area for my studio, so I have to keep hauling things out and putting them away… very annoying.  I can’t wait to get the attic complete!

crafts · knitting · quilting · Sewing · yarn

Crafting memory

I was not a crafty child.  Honestly, if you had told me ten years ago that I would love crafting this much I would have laughed at you.  I always hated craft night at Girl Scouts because I felt that my crafts never came out as well as everyone else’s.  My middle school art teacher told me that I had no discernible talent.  So maybe I was a late bloomer?  Or maybe I just don’t do anything in half measures.

Anyway… so I’m making a quilt.

But more on that in a moment (stare at the pretty fabric!)

I often hear other knitters tell stories about growing up watching their mothers and grandmothers knitting.  But, so far as I know, no one in my family has ever knit a single stitch.  (We did have a few crocheters, but no one in my immediate family.)  That’s not to say that they weren’t crafty.  My grandmother was a quilter.

I was to a large extent raised by my Grandmother, for reasons I won’t go into.  She was the sweetest woman you could imagine, but she had a backbone of steel – the many disappointments of life never fazed her.  For 26 years she was absolutely the rock of my life.  When she fell ill my junior year of college, I moved back home without hesitation, a decision I have never regretted.  She passed away 4 years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her (and yet thank her for the strong woman I have become!)

She left me her things, and I have been trying, especially over the last 2 years, to slowly go through them.  It isn’t easy.  She saved everything, much of it for me, and I tend to get very emotional.    Going through boxes this week, I found a journal in her handwriting written about and to me during my early childhood, something which I know I will now cherish.

I also found (and this was the reason for the cleaning this week) her quilting and sewing things.  So much fabric… acres of dusty linens from the 50s and 60s, stored in cardboard boxes for who knows how many years.  I found a large packing box full of hand crocheted doilies, tea towels, and aprons.

I found a box marked Patterns that contains vintage sewing patterns, mostly from the 1960s.

I wasn’t even aware that she had sewed her own clothes, but the pieces on most of these patterns have been cut, used, and carefully replaced.  Some of them are in my size, and I plan to keep them around for later.

I also found several unfinished quilts, including this wall hanging:

I actually remember her working on this in the mid 1980s.   Much of the quilting is finished.   She quilted by hand, and she did teach me how.  I have always loved quilts, but hand quilting is really slow.  Every year I go to the state fair and stare at the quilt section with envy.  But this year?  This is going to be the year I relearn all these long forgotten skills.

I have picked a pattern for a small machine quilted beginner’s lap blanket, and I’m going to go for it (sewing test blocks now, it makes me happy that I remember many of these skills!)  My machine sewing is better that I thought – I got the special foot that helps you get a 1/4″ seam every time, and it is tremendously helpful!

I still find sewing clothing intimidating.  I got the SEW U book on the recommendation of the fabulous Robin of Yarn Crawl, and it has been tremendously helpful.  I like the way the author explains things, and between that book and the S.E.W. Workshop, I’m feeling more confident.  I looked into garment sewing classes, but unfortunately my working hours mean that none of them will work for me (this is usually the case for me with classes and knitting groups as well.)  I’m probably going to try making a skirt, since simple a-line skirts seem easy.  Maybe in this fabric?

I like to think that my crafty Grandma would be proud of me.  She certainly would have loved all of the colors and patterns I gravitate towards – where do you think I got my love for bright colors?  From my Grandma, who didn’t really believe that getting older meant you should fade quietly away into that good night.

Soon I’ll show you some of the wonderful vintage fabric of hers that I found – it’s all very dusty and must be thoroughly washed.  Opening the boxes gave me an allergy attack and a migraine last week.

So… that’s what I’ve been up to.  Lots of planning, lots of practicing.  I also cast on for Salina, but I’ll post more on that when I have more to show – it’s not the fastest knit ever, but it is beautiful!

Happy Halloween to you all – Marc and I plan to wait on trick or treaters, and have tons here, in such a dense area.  Halloween is very good for my business – parents see my sign, I give out my card, and usually I get a new student or two.

Here is a preview of Salina, looking very tiny to start.