May 29, 2013

30 Days of Creativity: June 2013

30 days . . . 30 creations . . . and it's starting in just 2 days!

A friend of mine posted about joining 30 Days of Creativity. This is the 4th year it's been around, but I had never heard of it before. I checked out their Tumblr, and it looks like a lot of fun. I'll be tweeting about my creations and will post photos on Instagram.

Anything that gets people creating, sharing, and building community is a great thing. I tweeted my participation pledge earlier today. There's still time for you to join before June gets started.


Here are the details from the 30DOC Tumblr:

30 Days of Creativity is a global social initiative encouraging people to create stuff (anything) every day for 30 days in June. 2013 is our 4th year. We hope to make it a big one.

Your brain is like a muscle. When you exercise it, it gets stronger.

Don’t put it off! Create stuff now! Follow #30DOC on Twitter. Send an @reply to @createstuff to let us know you want to participate. Simply say, "I pledge to create something everyday for 30 days in a row."

What if I don't have a Twitter?
You can still pledge! Share your work with the world via email at

Be sure to use the hashtag #30DoC so we can help share your work with the entire Createstuff community on Pinterest.

They even put together ideas for each of the 30 days in case you're stuck for an idea and need a little inspiration!

Will you join in too?

May 26, 2013

More Embroidery Please! - Summer Stitching Club

I've been cross stitching for a long time, but I never really did much embroidery until about two or three years ago. For my first project with embroidery, I stuck to simple back-stitched names on Christmas stockings I made for my family and some close family friends. I'll probably share that project someday, but here's a peek at how they turned out.

Christmas Stockings
I really enjoy all the love that goes into something that is hand-stitched, so I've been trying to incorporate more embroidery into my projects. Right now, I'm working on an ABC Quilt for my son that has a lot of hand embroidery, and I love the way it's all coming together. I've been on the lookout for another embroidery project, maybe something for myself, and I found the perfect thing!

I've been following Mollie's Wild Olive blog for a while now, and was really excited when she wrote about her summer stitching club. Each week of June, July, and August she will send a tiny embroidery pattern to stitch up that will be made into little hexies. The tiny patterns will be great for a busy mom like me to finish quickly, and I'll finally get to make some hexies. I've been dying to try them! At the end of the summer, they'll all be put together into a cute little project. I'm really looking forward to my weekly emails!

If you want to join in too, it's just $5 if you sign up by June 2nd ($8 starting June 3rd). I think it's an awesome deal! You can click the picture below to go to her site.

May 23, 2013

ABC Quilt Progress - Still Stitching & A Realization

When I first started stitching, it was going by pretty quickly. I really thought that I might be able to finish Little Man's ABC Quilt before his birthday party on Saturday. Then, I hit a few snags. First, I had a few ABC blocks that seemed to just take forever to get stitched up. Second, Little Man decided that he needed hugs and cuddles all day long, every day. I tried, but I found that it's impossible to do any stitching while cuddling with him. Third, my shop had a nice influx of orders, and most were customized patterns and kits which take a while to put together. I love cuddling with my son, and having a busy shop is a good thing, so I didn't mind the lack of stitching.

I realized this morning that I haven't been able to do any stitching in two days. Today is Little Man's birthday, and my husband and I spent all day completely focused on him. So, no stitching again. I knew before today that there was no way I'd be able to finish this quilt by Little Man's birthday party, and that's probably why I avoided blogging for a week, but I'm finally okay with it. I'd rather take the extra time now to do a good job and make it awesome. Hopefully not having a deadline for finishing the quilt doesn't lead me to procrastinate.

I've finished 8 of the 30 embroidered blocks so far, and I'm going to try to get a few more done each day. Here are a few of the ones I've finished:

A, B, C, and D blocks for ABC Quilt

I'll be sharing more ABC Quilt progress photos as I go. You can check them out here:



May 16, 2013

ABC Quilt Progress - Gettin' to Stitchin'

I'm finally stitching! It has taken far too long to get to this point in my ABC Quilt progress.

ABC Block Stack
I cut out all 30 of the squares I need for the ABC blocks, and the stack made me so happy! I cut them to 7"x7"so I have a little wiggle room. After they are all stitched up, I'll cut down the ABC blocks to 4.5"x4.5".

I transferred a few of my designs to the blocks using my mini light box/table thingy I had in the craft closet from when I hand-embossed all of our wedding thank you cards (it took forever!). The set up was not ideal; the very small size and slanted nature of the table made the whole process a little difficult. It takes a long time and hurts my hand after a while, so I'll probably transfer a few designs at a time and then stitch them up. I might also try to make my own flat light table or use the window the next time I transfer designs.

I tried out a technique that Kristyne Czepuryk discussed on her blog and in her book, S is for Stitch. You transfer the design onto your fabric using small dots to show where the stitching lines are. She uses fine point permanent markers in the same color she will be stitching in, but I did it with a fine point water-soluble marking pen. It's a little hard to see the light blue on my tan fabric, so I might need to switch to a permanent pen or a purple Mark-B-Gone. I couldn't get a good picture of the dot method, but I here is one of the designs I transferred used solid lines.
D is for Dinosaur

I haven't planned out all the floss colors I will use for each design, but I did go through my stash and pulled colors that I thought would look nice with the fabrics I chose and the designs I've drawn. Here's a peek at the palette.

I only have 8 1/2 days left! It's going to be a very busy week trying to get this quilt done in time for Little Mister's birthday party.

May 13, 2013

ABC Quilt Progress - Prepping My Fabric

In my last post, I told you to yell at me if I didn't discuss actually stitching something in my next ABC Quilt progress update. I'm not going to write about stitching in this post, but don't yell at me just yet.

As excited as I am to start stitching, I needed to make sure my fabric was prepared before I could whip out the needles and embroidery floss. I know that whether or not you wash your fabric before sewing or quilting with it is a contentious subject - some always pre-wash their fabric while others never do - but ultimately it comes down to personal preference.

I'm not a quilting maven, so I was hoping I could get away with not pre-washing my fabric. Accurate cutting and sewing will be easier with crisp fabric. Common worries are fabric shrinkage and color-bleeding. I don't think I'll mind if the fabric shrinks a little after the quilt is all put together; it'll give it a lived-in look. I've read that most quilting cotton fabrics won't bleed, but to be on the safe side, I decided to check my fabrics to see if they are colorfast. I'd hate to spend hours cutting, embroidering, sewing, and quilting just to have the finished quilt get ruined when I wash it.

To check my fabrics for colorfastness, I cut a small piece from each fabric, soaked the fabric pieces in very hot water, rubbed the fabric pieces to get rid of the fabric processing chemicals, and then laid the pieces out to dry on a paper towel. When I checked to see if any color transferred from the fabric to the paper towel, I was happy to see there was none. So, I'm planning to get started on my quilt without pre-washing my fabric. Since I am still a bit of a worry-wart, I bought some Shout Color Catchers to use in the quilt's first wash - just in case.

Checking fabric for colorfastness

Next up, I'll be cutting my ABC block squares, transferring my embroidery designs to the blocks, and will start stitching! I only have 11 days left.

May 7, 2013

ABC Quilt Progress - Choosing My Fabrics

So, the last time I wrote about my ABC Quilt progress, I set a few goals for myself. By the weekend, I wanted to:
  1. Have my alphabet designs all sketched out
  2. Have my quilt layout finalized
  3. Have my fabric purchased
Well, my weekend deadline came and went, and I succeeded in one of the three. It's sad, but that's not bad for me, Ms. Procrastinator. But, as usual, I have excuses for not completing them! One good excuse was an influx of orders in the shop for custom patterns and stitched items. The other excuses are discussed below.  :)

#1: All Alphabet Designs Sketched Out - In Progress
I was on track for finishing all my alphabet designs by the end of the week, but as I was sketching out Letter L, I realized that I hadn't left enough blank space around the edges of my block. After measuring and re-measuring, I confirmed that if I kept the current margins, my quilting stitches would go over my embroidery, which isn't what I want.

I spent a lot of Friday tweaking my block layout, trying to make all the text look even and leave space for the quilting stitches. After getting it all worked out, I decided that I needed to reprint all of my blocks and check to make sure the sketches I've already done will fit inside the new blocks. I plan to do this today. Originally, I wanted to have everything drawn out before I started stitching, but I realized that it's not really necessary. I can sketch the new designs as I go. Whew! It's nice to give myself a break sometimes.

#2: Quilt Layout Finalized - In Progress
I started out by sketching in a notebook and eventually graduated to the computer. I made a couple of mock ups for quilt layouts. Although I thought I knew what I wanted before started to put my layout together, I couldn't decide what I want to do with the border portion of the quilt. I was really stressing about having a "finalized" layout so I could calculate how much of each fabric I would need, but I decided to give myself another break here. I have a tendency to plan, plan, plan each little detail and that feeds into my procrastination - "I can't possibly start making X because I haven't planned out every possible detail in the project yet!"

I realized that this is crazy and the biggest reason why it takes me so long to finish (or ever start) my projects. To solve the problem of not knowing what to do about my borders, I decided to buy a little extra of each fabric so I can figure it out later. The extra fabric won't go to waste; I'll use it to make Little Man a matching pillow case. Damn! The decision to make the planning freak in me relax a bit felt so good!

Initial Layout Scribbles
Possible Layout

#3: Fabric Purchased - DONE!  :)
Before our house was our house, the old owners painted what would eventually be Little Man's room green and blue (two walls of each). When we found out we were having a boy, we decided to keep the colors. We like dark wood, so all of his furniture is espresso stained. When picking all our "baby stuff," we went with the colors that were already going to be in his room: green, blue, and brown. I still really like these colors, so I knew I wanted the same color scheme for LM's quilt. Colors, done.

I do not understand how to pick fabrics for a quilt - color value, scale of print, saturation of color, etc. - The thought of picking "the right fabrics" was starting to stress me out. I spent some time looking at pictures of quilts with similar colors to see if I could get some ideas, but I didn't really find anything. I went back through the quilts I've pinned to my quilting board on Pinterest, and I realized that I am really drawn to modern quilts. I love solid colors with bold stitching. After this realization, picking my fabric was easy. I decided that I would get solids. It took me a while at the store, but I eventually found the right colors. LM even helped pick them! He insisted on the blue I chose, and that led me to the one print I bought for the binding. I'm hoping the solid fabrics will let the embroidery be the star while still being interesting.

ABC Quilt Fabrics
I have a lot of work to do on this quilt to get it done in time; there are only 17 days left between now and his birthday party! Having the fabrics purchased really makes the whole project feel more "real" and takes away some of the excuses I could have for delaying more. My next progress post should include some actual stitching. If not, please yell at me!

May 1, 2013

ABC Quilt Progress - Choosing My Alphabet

I can't believe it's already May! I knew that taking on a big birthday project for Little Mister was a little crazy, but since it was still the beginning of April when I got the idea, I figured I'd have plenty of time if I didn't procrastinate too much.

Well, now it's May, and I haven't gotten nearly enough done on my ABC Quilt. Little Mister's birthday is on the 23rd, and his party will be on the 25th. Even though I plan to keep the layout/blocks pretty simple and will be doing straight line quilting, I have lots of hand embroidery to do for the alphabet letters. So, I need to get my butt in gear to get this quilt done in time!

I took the Process Pledge and am excited to write about and share the process I go through in creating this ABC Quilt for my son. It'll be awesome to have a chronicle of the project from start to finish.

My Process Update:
I planned to make an ABC Quilt for Little Mister's birthday. I knew I wanted to hand embroider an image for each letter of the alphabet, and had already made my alphabet list, but I was a little stuck on how I wanted it all to come together. While researching ideas, I found the book S is for Stitch by Kristine Czepuryk from Pretty By Hand. Her alphabet designs were exactly what I was picturing in my head, so I was excited to see what her alphabet list looked like and how she put her quilt together.

After sifting through S is for Stitch, I had a much clearer picture of what I wanted. I liked my alphabet list better than Kristine's. Since I made it with Little Mister in mind, it has alphabet items that I know he likes (a lot of vehicles and animals). I also decided to make my alphabet quilt blocks a little larger than Kristine's. I knew this meant that I would have to make my own embroidery designs, with larger text, but I really like the idea that I am designing and stitching this entire project on my own.

Alphabet Block
I played around in Word to make my alphabet block templates and set up each block with the block's letter (upper and lowercase) and the name of the item I plan to embroider on the block. I chose a simple font to make the text easier to embroider. I'm fairly savvy with computers and basic office programs, but I couldn't manage to get the block size right without the top getting cut off when I print the blocks out. What I ended up with isn't perfect, but it works for me.

I'm still working on sketching my alphabet designs. So far, I've gotten through the letter I (although I plan to redo the letter H), and my goal is to have the whole alphabet sketched out by the weekend. I also want to have my final quilt layout chosen so I can go buy fabric. The embroidery is going to take a while, so I really need to get it started.

Embroidery Designs A-D (Letter C is unfinished)

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