Friday, December 19, 2014

Sewing for Me: Fabric Basket

In a shocking twist, last night I not only whipped ups something just for me, but it was something PRACTICAL and, and, and, I used some of the fabric I JUST got.

So freaking shocking, I know.


I used two of my new batik fat quarters to make a fabric box to catch my thread trimming and bitty scraps that I throw away.

What?  I finally got rid of the paper bowl (like disposable paper bowl, not something fancy) I had been using?  Yes, I did.

I used the tutorial at Freemotion by the River.




It was  a great way to make something useful from a free motion quilting practice sandwich.  I always feel kind of guilty making practice sandwiches but this will help me get over that.

Look at that HORRIBLE quilting.  But in my defense, it's only about the third time I've tried free motion quilting.  And I really wasn't trying to do my best or use any type of plan.  This was true playing.  I do need to go check and see if I should be setting my stitch length to the longest or the shortest.  I get the feeling it should be shortest and I went longest, which didn't help my case any.

(hmm, I just did a quick search and it seems I don't need to fiddle with the stitch length at all since I control the stitch length as I move the fabric.  DUR, that makes perfect sense!)


Despite the fugtastic quilting, the box turned out great.  I even remembered to pay attention and cut the corners on the correct color fabric.

My machine didn't have any trouble with the extra thickness when closing the corners (to hide the cut off part) or when I sewed the flaps down.


I did go off pattern a bit.

Since I was using fat quarters, I decided to go with 18 inch fabric squares.  That way I wasn't going to end up with a weird little scrap from the length that I'd just be looking at with a "what the hell am I going to ever do with YOU?" face.  (the original pattern called for 16 inch squares)

I trimmed up the fat quarters to get them even top and bottom (so just fuzzy waste) and then cut them at 18 inches wide.  So I was left with a usable strip of scrap fabric.  I didn't even bother trimming off the selvage edge.  That was mostly because with batiks the selvage isn't as obvious and I was fairly certain it would be totally hidden anyway.  And this was just a project for myself so I wasn't overly concerned about it being picture perfect.

For the corners, I went in 2 inches.

I machine sewed the flaps down and didn't bother with the buttons.  It seemed wasteful to use buttons on something that was made out of free motion practice and was made purely to be a practical item.  I can always embellish it later if I decide to.  I could use it to display pins (like fashion pins, not straight pins).  That's actually a cool idea.  I like pins but I never want to put them on my coats/bags because I'm afraid they'll get lost.  OH YEAH, how's that for a fun idea I just had while I was typing.

I definitely think I'd make this project again.  I'm sure I could find uses for more crap catchers.  I've even thought about making a bigger one to house my cats' toys.  It would need to be pretty big, they're horribly spoiled and have a ton of toys.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

REVIEW: Craftsy Mystery Fat Quarter Box

Time for another review.

I broke down and bought the 50 mystery fat quarter box from Craftsy.  WITH shipping each fq was still only $1 each.  I figured, despite seeing mixed reviews (leaning more toward folks being disappointed than thrilled) I could risk it for that price.  At least the fabric should be decent quality, not those thin and crappy inexpensive ones you get at Joann's.


It shipped pretty fast, too.  It took less than one week.


That's exactly how it looked when I opened it.  I was happy already.  There was a lot of color and it looked like a great variety.

(note:  they do tell you duplicates are possible and one of the very negative reviews I found showed a lot of duplicates, triplicates, and even quadruples of the same fabric)

I dove right in and got to sorting.

First up, the stripes/novelties/dots/florals.


No duplicates in that category.

I did get three Downton Abbey cuts but they are different.  I can't say that I care at all about Downton Abbey but I might use it to test out a pattern I found (or gift it out).

I absolutely LOVE the two butterfly prints, especially the rainbow one.

Next up, blenders:


There were a lot from the same line but different shades.  That's fine with me.  Nice variety of colors including the earthy tones.

That wasn't all of them. . .


Four more (different, despite the bad pic).

This also shows the ONLY duplicate I received.  The pic doesn't do it justice.  It's a floral print that's kind of uninspiring but still nice.

Next up, batiks:


For the record, I'm not a huge fan of batiks but I do like having a bit.  I also like the super bright batiks so I was very pleased with this bunch.

My beef with batiks is the feel of it.  It's kind of crispy and I'm not a huge fan of that.  But I do like the look of batiks, especially the bright orange and that green there.  And I really do like white batiks despite how they feel.

Next up, SPARKLE:


I'm a huge sucker for fabrics with sparkle in them.  They make me so happy and getting this much sparkly variety in the box made me extra happy.  There are no duplicates here even though a few of the shades are close to one another.

And last but not least, the LONE dud.


*sad trombone*

This is a piece of flannel.

Now I don't hate flannel but I was miffed to see it because I had made a point to contact Craftsy customer service before buying to ask if the box would contain any "flannel, minky, or knits".  I was told they don't really sell those types of fabrics so it was not likely.  But there it was in all its fuzzy glory.

I'm not mad or anything and it's only ONE fat quarter so I can probably find a use for it.  In fact, given the color it might be cute on a stuffed toy.  But given that I had actually tried to keep it from coming I was disappointed to see it.

So, time for a grade.

Grade:  A-

I'm only throwing the minus in there because of the flannel.  And that's only because (as I just mentioned) I asked about it ahead of time so was really not expecting to get any.  BUT, it was only one piece so it's not a big deal at all.

I would probably buy a mystery pack again if I wanted to beef up my stash.  Right now, though, I don't need that much fabric all at once.  This definitely would be a GREAT stash builder for someone just starting out.

I had no problems with working with Craftsy, either.  Customer service got back to me about my question (before buying) in 24 hours and it took less that 7 business days for the order to arrive at my house (I'm too lazy to look up exactly how long it took, but I was really not expecting to get it before Christmas, which was fine with me).

This was my first experience with Crafty (buying--I have downloaded free patterns from them) and I'm very pleased.

I'm also happy to add a positive review to those already out there.  I wish Craftsy had a review option on their products, I'd gladly give feedback.

Now, it's time to get sewing.  I have a butt load of new fabric to play with!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

REVIEW: Equilter.com 3 lb fabric scrap pack

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

I did some fabric shopping, folks.  Yes, I did.

I already have my stash club packet arriving (any day now) but I needed MOAR because I'm a greedy fabric whore.  Yes, I am.

I blame the $5 gift certificate I had for equilter.com.  What?  Take personal responsibility for my actions?  No, I will not.

Ok, I will.  I'll try to sound repentant but let's be real.  I like buying things and I don't have much remorse for this purchase (especially now that I see it--it was worth the money and the guilt).

But anyway, I had a $5 gift certificate so I was checking out equilter's booty packs (themed scrap packs) but I just got some of them and I didn't want the same theme again.  SO, I decided (in my infinite wisdom) that I'd just get the 3 lb fabric scrap pack instead of one little booty pack.  I wanted variety, gosh darn it all to heck, and a themed booty pack was NOT going to cut it.

So, I used my $5 to get some cheaper shipping on a big ole scrap box.

Did I mention I REGRET NOTHING!!

I've bought the 3 lb scrap pack before and it was good.  But this one?  It was BETTER.

Pictures or it didn't happen.


LOOK at that stack.  Oh, it was a good stack indeed.

There were 29 different fabrics in the box.  TWENTY NINE!!

Let's do a breakdown of what all was packed in there because fabric pron is fun.


KITTIES!!  Yes, there were two cat themed pieces including half of a Prisma cats panel.  I have a full panel of this and it's fabulous.  I actually gasped with glee when I saw that bit.

I also have some of the other cat print.  I got it in the critter themed booty pack I bought the last time equilter lured me to shop by giving me a $5 gift certificate for filling out a survey.


The rest of the novelty prints.

To give an idea of size, they are laid out on my 18 x 24 inch cutting mat.  They are all totally unfolded though some of them are turned horizontal so they'd fit the shot.  So you can clearly see the cuts are pretty darn big on a few of these.

Novelties included (left to right):  Western theme skulls, keys on cream background, shimmery fairies, badges, Batman, Maxine (turned horizontal) and lab puppies.

Next up were the blenders.  The box was stuffed with them which is good.  While I love novelties, my stash really needs blenders which are a bit more versatile.


The one on the far left appears to be a hand dyed fabric.  It's SUPER soft and a big ass piece.

We have brown, blue, green, and yellow all posing horizontal.  Smaller cuts but still plenty big.

Then we have a big cut of yellow dots on blue.

MORE blenders?  Ok.


Three different blues (one is not a full WOF, it's two 12 inch or so squares--still big pieces).  A green, a bright ass yellow with white polka dots (it's almost neon).  The pink and the purple chevrons are posing horizontal.  Same with the brick red/cinnamon solid.  The lone solid, I might add.  (I appreciated that, especially since that color is pretty ugly).

Wait, we're not done yet.

Want some sparkle?  Of course you do.


Deep red with little gold sparkles, gray blue with sparkly snowflakes (yes!), floral and leaf motif (harvest shades) with gold sparkle, and a brown with blender with sparkle.

Along the bottom was a pretty floral print (I think it's part of a panel, the print is in four blocks across the WOF and are very pretty).  Last but not least (and the pic doesn't do it justice) is a piece of citron/green geometrics.

So I scored BIG on this box.  Tons of very useful variety and a few things I absolutely adore.

What were my top picks?


The Prisma cats, naturally.  The sparkly fairies and Batman.  That fun hand dye, the sparkly snowflakes (that's a horrible pic of them) and that neon polka dot.

And if I have favorites there has to be some duds.  Now just because I call these duds doesn't mean they aren't nice fabrics.  They just aren't really my bag.


The skulls would have been better as a way smaller cut.  That's a lot of skulls right there.  That solid is just plain ugly.  I'm a fan of ugly and it's really not even "good" ugly.  It's like brick red and cinnamon had an ugly baby.  I'm really glad it's such a small piece.  Maxine doesn't get much love from me, either, though I do appreciate this is a small piece and the images are smaller.  I can work with that a bit more than the other Maxine print I had (note, I said "had"--that panel went off in the scrap box I gave away during the SMS giveaway--adios!).  The badges aren't bad, either, but it's just not a theme I care much about.  I could see using one bit to maybe make a patch or add a bit to an eye spy quilt but it's kind of big piece to use up entirely.

So, time to grad this purchase:

Grade:  A

I spent $41 (including shipping and less my gift certificate).  I got 29 different fabrics with only 4 official duds.  The majority of the cuts were big (big meaning over 5 inches x WOF).  I also scored quite a few fabrics I REALLY like and a lot of very useful blenders.

I definitely recommend the 3 pound scrap pack to folks who love mystery packs or folks who are building a stash.  But (as I always say with equilter.com) try and wait for some kind of deal.  Not that their shipping is over priced, but it's better to get the scrap packs when you can save even the smallest bit on shipping.  Oh, and sign up for their email newsletter.  They don't spam you and that's how you can get invites to take their surveys which will get you the $5 gift certificates.

Oh, they DO ship fast and package well, too.  (again, I'm not knocking them saying their shipping is too high, just that it's high-ish when you're only getting scrap packs)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sew Mama Sew WINNER!!

Congratulations to Sandi (in Cal-i-for-nigh-a!).

I have her address now and that big fat box of fabric love will be off to her tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who participated.

Christmas Sewing

Time to show off some Christmas items I finished up yesterday (yes, I made all this stuff in one day--go me!).


A bag (for my sister to give her friend).

It's the Green Bag Lady free pattern/tutorial but the straps are a lot longer.  I prefer longer straps. These can be cross body or one shoulder (and not too long).

The fabric came from the Joann's remnant bin.  It was just shy of a yard (the bag didn't take all of that) and cost about $3 (I don't remember the exact total, but it was CHEAP).  Oh, and it's Robert Kaufmann fabric, so brand name stuff.


Toys for the family cats.  Three for my sister's two cats (Lowell and Earl) and three for my parents' three cats (Mavis, Rhoda, and Jake).  My sister's cats LOVE the kickie style toys so I make them extra long so they can kick the hell out of them.  Each is guaranteed to have at least three balls of catnip (I roll a big pinch of catnip in a ball of stuffing and make sure there's at least one at each end of the kickie).

The Star Trek one is for Jake and the longer of the two Big Bang Theory ones is for Lowell.  Lowell is very much a Sheldon, so he needs a bazinga kickie.


Then I made these super cuties for my husband's niece.  She's still a baby (I think closing in on a year old?  when they're that age I can't be bothered to remember their exact age) so I had to keep it safe for gnawing.  (side bar:  I get so grossed out when I make things that end up with kids and the kids gnaw on them.  yes, I know babies in particular gnaw but it's GROSS AS HELL and it kind of offends me to see something I made with love get chewed on like it's a freaking dog toy.  Can you tell I'm not that into little kids?)

Anyway, my husband wanted something cute for the little bratling (I call all of them bratlings, it's a term of endearment with me, not a slander) so I had to trot out this free pattern I had in my collection.  I did make a smaller version of this for a set of dotee dolls but I didn't use the pattern in a smaller scale. I free drew the spoon for that smaller version.

So, the big question always was, WHY did the dish run away with the spoon?  What did he have that the other flatware was lacking?


Well, in this case I know the answer.

This spoon is CASHMERE.  Come on, now, who can resist CASHMERE?

I got a 100% cashmere sweater at the thrift store for $1.99.  This cute spoon took up just about one whole sleeve (it was a women's small and I felted it so the sleeve wasn't super huge when it was all said and done).  Oh, and I'd like to point out the detailing on the handle is not just the ribbing from the sweater.  I top stitched that bad boy AND put black thread into my machine to do so.  You know I don't like changing out the thread in my machine because I'm crazy lazy.


And he's also super cute.  Cute and cashmere?  I just might run off with him myself.


And what fancy legs to run off on, too.

Yeah, I had to use this super cute fabric I've had in my stash since. . forever.  It was very appropriate.

Not that the dish is a dog's bowl or anything.


She's quite the. . .wait for it. . dish herself!  (oh, I do love puns).

But she's not cashmere.  She's fleece.  Nice fleece but still fleece.  I put a ball point needle on my machine just for her (and then for the spoon, I figured a ball point needle was a better choice than a regular for that fabric).

I also top stitched rings on her before stuffing and then did a third (the inner most) ring once she was stuffed.  The machine crabbed about that but it did a decent job.


She has some nice gams, too.

I was going to use this chicken wire print fabric I had that would have made it look like she was wearing fish nets, but it was off white and looked bad with the bright white of the dish.  So this cute kiddie print was a good choice.

The pattern is really easy and can be made from scraps.  The kiddie print was only a 10" square of fabric and I didn't even use it all.  And with fleece/felt there's no real direction to it so no worries about wonky stretching or any of that.

I think the hubs wants me to make something for his nephew (who is, I think, about 5 years old) but he (hubs, not the bratling) isn't sure what he wants and I won't sew until he gets his act together.  Nevermind that I told him at the beginning of NOVEMBER to get his act together if he wanted Christmas sewing.  But technically it's not the last minute so. . .

(oh, and since I'm being brutally honest, I don't really want to sew for the older kid.  He's spoiled rotten and gets so much junk--I mean real junk--at Christmas that something nice and handmade would just get tossed onto the pile and not appreciated the way I want it to be appreciated.  Yeah, I'm selfish as hell like that which is why I don't make a lot of handmade gifts unless someone specifically asks for a certain item.  This older kid is so trained to only like brand name toys he sees from commercials and cartoons that he won't give a crap about a cute handmade stuffed toy.  At least when you make something for a baby the parents usually appreciate it and the baby will at least gnaw on it a bit.  So end my bit of bah humbug.  But it's really sad that the only folks who seem to appreciate handmade are the damn cats.)

I'm not sure what other sewing I'll be up to this week.

Friday, December 12, 2014

For a swap: Advent cookie plate

Yeah, this project was so cute it needed its own post.

The theme was One Tiny Thing:  Christmas.  So you make one thing that's no bigger than 4 inches with the theme "christmas".

Here's what I came up with:


It's an advent calendar.

I know, I know.  It looks like a little plate of itty bitty cookies.  It's that too.  But since I was only to make ONE tiny thing, I'm calling this an advent calendar.  Well, a revers advent calendar?

See, there are 24 cookies on that plate.  So on December first you put the plate out and one cookie.  Then you add a cookie every day until December 24, when you have two dozen little cookies for Santa to enjoy when he comes to leave you fabulous presents (which he will because you left him such a crazy cute gift!).



Aren't they so freaking cute you could pee!

There are four different shapes (circle, rectangle, tree, and star) in three different shades (beige, green, and gingerbread--oh and one chocolate brown) decorated in three different ways (frosting/glitter, beads, ric rac).

I used a quarter for the circle ones, a weird star paperclip I found in my mess for the star and I free drew the tree and rectangle (and the rectangle proved to be the biggest pain in the ass to get the shape right).

The circle cookies have the most variety.


There are a few chocolate chip ones (french knots, yo!)


And two sandwich cookies.

Only one of them is an "oreo" because I ran out of chocolate brown felt or I would have probably made all the circle cookies chocolate chip and oreos.

That pic also shows the one side of the plate.  I used two different vintage feel christmas prints for it.


The other side right there for ya.

It's just a circle (traced a margarita glass!) with some batting in it.  SUPER simple.


And one last pic of all the cookies.  Each is lightly stuffed (so each is an itty bitty stuffed toy!).

I got glitter all over my kitchen (despite being VERY careful) and that means I now have glitter CATS.  Yup, last night I noticed both Murray and Eugene were sparkling.  They had bits of glitter in their hair.  My beautiful sons, looking like strippers!  What's better than pussy?  GLITTER PUSSY!!

Yeah, you read that and laughed, don't lie.

For Swaps: Patch and Dotees

Time to show off all the stuff I'm putting in the mail for swaps today.

First up, the lone patch of the group.

It was part of the monthly patch swap, so there was no required theme (just some minor size constraints).


I call it Swag Moose and I LOVE it.

My swap partner listed moose as one of her likes and don't you just know I got some moose fabric in my last equilter booty pack purchase.  How convenient.  See having a wacky (and too big, I'll admit it) fabric stash does come in handy.


Yeah, he's so swag he can't even handle it.

The stars and glasses are charms.  The "chain" is silver cording.


The back is purple because that was another of my partner's likes.

Next up, two dotees.

The first theme was skeleton key.  There had to be a skeleton key attached to the dotee somewhere.


Full body shot to see the hanger (same cording!) and the tail which contains not one but TWO keys.  I had two in my stash so I figured I'd just use both of them.  Hey, why not?


Cyclops because, again, why not?  The print on the fabric was ripe to make a cyclops face.  And I had three yellow eye beads so there was an odd man out which was perfect.  The print on the fabric also made it easy to keep the teeth all kind of lined up.  I tend to go up/downhill when I free embroider so I little guideline is always appreciated.

After I got the doll done it needed a bit more embellishment so I added the fringy trim and that button.  It kind of looks like tentacles/arms, which made me think of the Yip Yips from Sesame Street (love them!).


Praise again for my crazy stash.  I had lock and key fabric in my collection.  See, that's where swapping paid off for me.  I got this fabric through a swap (I know because I only had one 10" square and I did a lot of 10 incher swaps last year).  SWEET!

Next up was a dotee for the theme "bathtime".  I've done this theme before (last year?  it was a disgruntled cat in a wash tub--super cute) so I wanted to go for something different this time around.  And I wanted to work with terry cloth.


Check!

I did have to go out and buy a washcloth to get the terry cloth.  It was the easiest way to get just a tiny bit of it.  I did splurge and get an extra cute print washcloth that cost $3.99.  Yes, for ONE washcloth (I got it at Tuesday Morning, which has proven to be a good little junky store).

I fussy cut the washcloth to preserve the crab and octopus prints. It was easy, the images were in rows so I didn't have to sacrifice much.  Then I folded over the cut edge and stitched it down with a zig zag stitch (along the top and the one side--I didn't use the full width of the washcloth).  And let me just say, for $3.99 I got a very nice washcloth.  SUPER plush.


The eyes are from the bubble beads I got for the bathtime dotee I made before (they're just shimmery plastic beads but they really do look like bubbles).  Simple embroidered mouth, deliberately askew to give a cuter look.


Then I made a semi-full wig from yarn.  Super simple wig.  Just cut lengths of yard and double knot them in the middle then sew them one by one onto the doll by running the needle through the knot.

The body is just some cute blue fabric scraps that kind of looks like bubbles and the tail was just a few of the bubble beads strung together.

I have one more thing to show off but it's so cute it needs its own post.  So give me a second. . .