Row by Row Experience – Summer 2014

This shop hop, the Row by Row Experience, is nationwide and quite simple.  Just visit the participating shops and ask for their free “row by row” pattern.  The theme is “seasons” so it might be holiday themed or use the four seasons tree fabric provided by the sponsors.  Some shops offer a kit for purchase with the fabrics needed to make it in their color palette.  Many shops are also selling license plates with funny fabric/sewing related sayings.  I’d like to collect one from each state I visit this summer.

Here’s a few of the blocks I collected in Ohio (pictures courtesy of the shop’s website or from my visit):

When I returned to Oregon, I collected another few row patterns and started work on a wall hanging using 8 of the blocks. Since I only bought the fabric pack from two shops, for the rest I used stash fabrics or picked up fat quarters to fill in sections.  It was fun to practice some new techniques, like the fusible applique.

Also, I used a new technique for basting (not pinning) the quilt that mom taught me using two boards to mimic a quilt frame.  It worked really well!  I also figured out that it would look nice to quilt with two different threads and using diagonal lines since the rows didn’t line up front to back very well.  Here are a few more pics of the process:

After a few nights up until midnight sewing, I turned in my finished quilt for the prize at Quilter’s Corner Store.  25 fat quarters in a rainbow of colors ready for inclusion into new projects and 2 yards of anything in the shop (I bought some beautiful batiks for an upcoming quilt project!  Tea Time Calico also generously gave me a free yard of fabric for including their row in my final project.  It’ll be fun to show the final project at the September WSQ guild meeting.

Charity Quilt Project

The Westside Quilter’s Guild includes a group of members who get together to work on Charity Quilt projects.  They donate to three or so agencies that provide the quilts to kids in crisis, cancer patients, or foster kids.  I’ve been wanting to participate but hadn’t been able to make the day time meeting during the school year.  July was the perfect month and it was great to spend a few hours with this kind group of women.  They encouraged me to pick out 5″ squares and a bag of binding/sashing strips to put together a quilt using the reconstructed 9 patch pattern used for the spring Charity Quilt Olympics.  All the fabrics were donated, and they’re not the usual colors I like to work with, but a good practice experience for me and rewarding to think about giving it away to someone who needs a warm cozy quilt.

I made some progress on creating the 9 patch blocks.  I’ll use 12 different fabrics combined in pairs to create some organization, but still a scrappy look.  It’s hard to tell from this picture, but most of the blocks are brown/pink/green colors and the sashing will be green.

Charity Quilt in process

Travels to Ohio

This summer, I had the great fortune to visit Ohio to celebrate my Grandpa’s 95th birthday with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins.  We enjoyed a picnic in his backyard and hosted an open house for his friends from the community.

Since my Grandma was a quilter (she did the piecing) and my Aunt Jean does hand quilting, being in Ohio reminds me of the origin of this hobby for me.  We visited Aunt Jean and at 92, she has two projects going at once.  A baby quilt being hand quilted and a cross stitch project:

We also visited Amish country.  Since it was Sunday, a day of rest, no shops were open, but if they were, we’d have likely seen horse and buggies parked outside here:

amish country

Ladybugs

I picked out this ladybug fabric since I’ve always liked ladybugs and thought it would make a cute picnic blanket.  I’m using an easy 3 yard quilt pattern (one yard each of three fabrics) and have the red fabric for the back.  The plan is to take it to have someone long arm quilt it for me with a winding bug-trail type pattern.

The first time we took this quilt out to use for a picnic, a real ladybug landed on it…no kidding!  🙂

ladybug

Brown Bag Sale and other Great Finds

When visiting mom in Arizona at spring break, her quilt guild hosted a “Trash to Treasures” sale.  It was fun to look through the goodies and I found quite a few treasures, including 12 Amish style blocks ready to put together into a project.

Then, at Powells in here Portland, I found a funny chocolate recipe quilt book for only $1!

At this month’s quilt guild meeting, they had their annual Brown Bag Sale.  Some items were available to “ticket and take it” for one or two 25c tickets, other items were a raffle, put your ticket in and hope to win, and a few bigger things were listed on a silent auction.  I helped out with the process and came away with a few goodies, mostly patterns and quilt magazines, but also some Christmas fabric, a bilingual panel to give mom for a charity quilt, and a few templates and rules.  Great additions to my stash for only $10!  I even won the raffle for 3yds of marching band fabric to donate to a friend’s stash (she and her husband are both band directors).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modern BOM

Front

I received patterns for a modern quilt block of the month from our Sewing Saturday group.  They got permission to distribute this collection of patterns from the Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild. The other women have already started, which leads me to think about what color palette I want to use.

bom sampleI decided on my fabric collection for this modern BOM.  I’m intrigued by Amish style quilts with the contrast of black and solid color, so I’ve taken that up a notch to become more modern.  Bright, saturated colors and a black/gray print background are going to pop!  Thanks again to Deb at the Quilter’s Corner Store in Beaverton for her advice about fabric selection.

The January Block created an illusion of woven strips.  Making the February Block was my first time making chevrons, using paper piecing for precision.  Then for the March Block, the center block wonky star is from another online tutorial.  I like how the colors I chose turned out looking like the sun.

(3/15) Last night at the Sewing Friday in North Plains, I cut up the fabric for a few more blocks, and today finished sewing three of them!  A paper piecing block is also started.  I decided to color on the paper pattern to make sure I get the colors in the position I want (so it doesn’t look like a rainbow but includes all 6 colorful fabrics).

(3/16) The flying geese around in a circle block is complete now.  I think this is my favorite block so far.  Hopefully I have enough fabric at the end to make another one like it for a table runner project.  I’ve started planning the next paper piecing block and asked Aaron to color in the pattern.  It’s a helpful way to see how the block will look and plan out where to put all the pieces.

The next block is made with 25 2″ squares, then I need to figure out how to cut out a circle and then set the circle on top of another circle (red fabric) and then both on top of black.  To make the grid, lining things up carefully and strip piecing made it a quicker easier process.

(5/25) The final few blocks are now complete!  Next step is to decide about how to connect them into a quilt top.  The challenge from the guild is to have it ready to show in September.

Now that all the blocks are finished, time to put it all together and create a back.  At the September Sewing Saturday, I finished placing the 12 blocks, 11 on the front and one on the back with some scrap pieces.  At the October Sewing Saturday, it all sandwiched together with black batting (purchased off the roll at Sharon’s Quilt Attic).  I used a technique my mom showed me on youtube that uses two boards to provide the tension to flatten it out and not need pins. Instead, it’s basted with black pearl cotton and ready to machine quilt, perhaps I’ll practice free motion quilting.

Why I (So) Sew

Reflections on Sewing as a Hobby

Today at work, a colleague teased that since I went on a quilt shop hop for my birthday, I must have turned 80.  It’s true, I haven’t met too many 30somethings who sew quilts, but I have met many who do crafts like making scrapbooks or knitting or something similar.  Everyone spends their free time in their own way, but I think it’s important to have a (or many) hobbies and/or fun activities that you enjoy either on your own or with friends.  Why don’t more people my age participate in quilt shop hops?  Or more importantly, why do I enjoy it so much?

So…why So Sew?

For me, in the case of sewing, it can be both a solitary and a group activity.  I like doing projects with my mom where we take different parts of the project at work together, like one person choosing fabrics and cutting, the other sewing and ironing or whatever.  I also enjoy attending group sessions where lots of women come together to sew or do projects together.  The Piece and Quiet group that meets a few times a year always includes a DQ Blizzard run at some point in the evening and usually a lot of just talking and catching up in between projects.  Sewing Saturday as part of the Westside Quilt Guild is more focused on the actual sewing, but people are willing to help each other out with advice about techniques or color selection.  At home, I love listening to music while I sew and I can do it on my own but also show Aaron what I’m working on along the way.

Sewing quilts and other projects can be stress relieving.  It’s difficult to worry or think too much about other things when you’re focused on cutting the right amount of fabric or ironing a particular way to make the project come together just right.  Often I lose track of time as I become more focused on completing a piece of a project.  Sewing is one of those hobbies where there’s a clear start and ending point, with a potentially winding road in between.  In my job, it feels like everything is a winding road that never ends, so it’s nice to get to the finish of a project in my free time (although the perfectionist in me sometimes takes over and it’s difficult to finish a project if I got sidetracked with something newer or more interesting or easier to accomplish).  Ultimately, those UFOs (unfinished objects/projects) will get completed and the non-yet-started projects that are just fabrics in my stash and ideas for patterns will become the newest So Sew product!

Creativity and problem solving are necessary skills, along with some math computations, in creating new patterns or adapting existing ones.  With the internet, you can find a tutorial or pattern or example of a finished project for just about anything, and then with some patience and thought, it can be adapted to fit the right size or function I’m hoping for in a project.  Recently my aunt asked for a duffle bag to hold her yoga gear, and it’s fun to take her drawing and make it come to life…even if it’s a little challenging since I am using a thicker fabric and putting in a zipper for the first time in a long while.  I enjoy the feeling of making someone a gift that’s useful as well as looks nice and isn’t something they could easily buy or make on their own.

Color, and design are the visually stimulating parts of sewing. It’s so fun to find the right fabric for a project, based on what colors or themes you know the recipient might enjoy.  The hunt for the right fabric is part of the fun.  I’ve seen some quilts that I think would be boring for me to work on, such as only using 15 shades of off-white, or tedious like a quilt of thousands of hexagons.  They are beautiful to look at and admire the craftsmanship, but not something I would consider relaxing and/or fun to do.

As for visiting quilt stores and attending quilt shows, it’s always such a blast of inspiration and creativity.  People really can do amazing things with fabric and thread!  I come away wondering what direction my sewing will take me…will I teach a class in a particular technique or pattern some day?  Will I be able to see the evolution and learning that is happening in my own sewing skills?  When I was younger, I tried to help my dad mend his socks, but used pink thread and sewed it so tightly shut, he couldn’t get his foot in the sock anymore.  Since then, I still make mistakes, and laugh sometimes at the things that turn out upside down or not quite looking right like the leopard costume shorts that were a very strange shape until I sewed them a different (and correct) direction. In the end, I’m often happy with the result, proud of what I’ve created, and look forward to sharing it with others.  Here’s my first entry into a quilt show: a basic nine patch using pre-cut squares purchased at a flea market in Hawaii.

hillsboro showA funny story in my family began when dad wondered about this idea of quilting (which went something like this).  “So, you take a piece of fabric, cut it apart, and then sew it back together again?”  My reply?  “Well, it’s like when you take pieces of wood, cut them apart, and then glue/nail/screw/attach them back together again.”  He has made amazing furniture and other projects for me like a cedar chest, wall mirror (featuring the NW mountain range), and a wooden rack for my quilting ruler squares.

wooden rack for rulersOne of the great things about creating this blog style website, is the opportunity to share pictures of the process and products as well as descriptions of things along the way.  It’ll be interesting as a diary of my So Sewing and a way to look back and reflect.  I still remember making a pink duffle bag in Home Economics class, a Mickey Mouse tshirt with mom, and neon pink soccer shorts.  Wonder what I’ll make next?!

Thread Catcher

When sewing, it’s nice to have something nearby to catch threads…keeps the sewing area (and your clothes) a little less covered in random threads.  I found a free pattern on Amazon for the kindle to make a Fairytale Pincushion and Thread Catcher.  During the shop hop, I found the crushed walnut shells for the inside of the pincushion as well as a mini-charm-pack of squares for the patchwork fabric design.

Here’s the layout in step one:

thread catcher

Snowflakes and Stitches Shop Hop

Saturday Shop Hopping

I’ve participated in shop hops before, but I usually happen upon them on accident or I can only visit a few shops on the listing.  Also, whenever I travel, I love exploring new shops and how there’s such a variety of different shops.  Some are well established and others fairly new.  Some in old historic buildings and others in strip malls.  Many have a style of fabric or projects that their owners enjoy most which is reflected in what they sell such as civil war, modern, novelty, flannel, reproduction, or pre-cut fabric collections. In Cannon Beach, you can often find beach-themed fabric projects that wouldn’t be available among the mountain-themed quilt patters outside of Denver.  Some shops sell machines and others specialize in classes, most have samples of projects for you to get inspired.  How a store displays their fabrics and sample quilts also really varies and can create an atmosphere of creativity or feeling cramped and overwhelmed in the space.  Usually for shop hops, I can’t visit all the shops because of time involved to travel everywhere.  This time, the shops are within two general areas and I have a long weekend off work, so time to explore!  Also, it’s my birthday soon, so I asked Aaron to be my shop hop chauffeur as part of my birthday weekend.  He even gave me a Groupon for $20 to spend at one of the shops…yea!

For the Snowflakes and Stitches Shop Hop, I first visited two shops after work.  Tea Time Calicos in Beaverton gave shop hoppers a great Fast Track Place Mat pattern including fabric.  A generous project provided by a shop with lots of fabric options crammed into a small space in a strip mall store.  The shopkeepers just let you browse and have machines also for sale, but not many sample quilts to see.

Second stop, Sharon’s Quilt Attic in Hillsboro. Sharon and her friends who help out at the shop are always friendly and generous with ideas about color, pattern, and techniques to make your quilt project look great.  Steve does an amazing job on the long arm quilting machine and you can usually see some of his recently completed projects as inspiration. They have a wide range of fabrics, embroidery patters, and lots of sample quilts taught in classes.  For the shop hop, Sharon is providing an Antique Tile Block pattern and miniature pieces of fabric to give it a try. I also picked up a few random fat quarters that needed to come home to my stash!

fat quartersThen on Saturday, the big trip began…a loop to include six shops in one trip.  In McMinnville, Boersma’s Sewing Center is being remodeled but it’s open with lots of fabric available, including some reminiscent of Ohio.  Unfortunately, the staff weren’t particularly friendly, but maybe they weren’t expecting a younger quilter or were feeling busy getting ready for all the other shop hoppers. Their display of antique sewing machines was really cool!

Next stop was in Dallas at Grandma’s Attic.  This was my favorite shop of the trip!  They had lots of different types of fabrics, great packages of fat quarters, sale items, and project ideas including a free block (which came with a piece of chocolate.)  My chauffeur sat in a rocking chair to read his book next to quilt books.  The staff were all incredibly friendly, explaining the shop hop, the sample quilts, and talking with all the customers.  I wish this shop was closer to my house so I could visit more often!

After lunch at my favorite Salem restaurant, Casa Baez, we went to Greenbaum’s.  Usually I find lots of things there that I really like, but just browsed this time.  They have friendly staff and a standard poodle who wanders around to greet guests also. This time they seemed to have an especially good collection of modern fabrics and some great sample quilts.

North of Salem, in Keizer, we found two shops within a few blocks of each other.  The Cotton Patch is small but spacious with bright white fixtures and high ceilings.  They had creative displays of fat quarters and a few nice samples of finished quilts. The sample block was colorful and simple, shown as a quilt with some other block styles to finish the project.

 fat quarter display

Just up the road at Bernina Stretch and Sew, you can get your sewing machine serviced, find a small variety of specialty fabrics for clothing, and browse a small selection of quilting cotton.  For the shop hop, they offer you a choice from few different free block patterns.  The best part in this store was an enthusiastic friendly clerk who was happy to have people stopping by on the shop hop and had come up with a game for people who purchase items.  Once I picked out my fabrics and was ready to pay, I was given a ball to toss over the counter onto a cardboard game area on the floor.  Whatever amount the ball fell onto was my percentage of sale on that purchase.  I luckily got 29%…what fun!  What will you get?

shop hop gameLast stop for the day was at A Common Thread in south Portland.  Again, an unlikely location in an industrial park type area, but many friendly staff helping customers, a class going on where you could practice quilting on their machines, and fabrics of a few different styles (canvas, modern cotton, batik, flannel) to inspire projects.  They even had a great selection of clearance ($5.99/yd) fabrics.  The shop hop block looked like a stained glass window and for $3 you could buy the other three blocks to fill out the pattern.  They also gave a free bag, convenient to collect all the other treasures from the day of shop hopping.

Made it out to Sandra’s Stitches in Hillsboro.  Glad my map found it since it’s tucked away in what looks like an apartment complex and happy I had the day off since their hours are a little more limited than some of the other nearby shops.

Looks can be deceiving though and right inside is a great supply of children’s themed fabric and panels.  Again, not super friendly staff, but worth going there if you’re looking for a particular novelty fabric or panel to make into a quick project (I got something for potholders).  They also have a great selection of coordinating fabrics (moda tone on tone).

At the start of this shop hop, I picked up my passport at the Quilter’s Corner Store and I planned ahead to turn it in there when completed.  Today was the day…the end of my first complete shop hop!  Lots of great ideas at her shop, including a table runner idea that would work with any 12″ center block, shown here with the extra pieces from the free crocus block as part of the shop hop.

Thanks again to Deb (from QCS) for coordinating this event.  I’m looking forward already to the summer version, Sunshine and Stitches!  Speaking of sunshine, look what I found outside her shop…breaking through the Snowflakes Raindrops…a rainbow!

rainbow

 

Baby Imogen’s Quilt

My college friend and his wife recently had a baby girl, and I had a great time making a baby quilt for them.  The idea of a jelly roll quilt was appealing because of the number of fabrics that could easily be included, to give an “I spy” type quality to the quilt top.  I used the Jelly Roll Inspirations book, Birthday Gift pattern and started with a Moda jelly roll that included circus theme (for one of the baby’s uncle who is in a circus), music theme (for another of the baby’s uncles who plays cello and piano), and modern bright colors perfect for a Portland couple.  Deb at Quilter’s Corner Store helped me pick out the fabric for the back, white tone-on-tone, and yellow/gray polka dots for binding.

Next step was to learn how to piece together the blocks using those 2.5″ jelly roll strips.  Friends helped me decide the placement of the blocks to be the most visually appealing and one friend helped me put hundred’s of pins in to hold it in place for quilting.

Since so far, I only feel confident quilting in straight lines, that’s what I did, using a gray thread so it wouldn’t show up.  Along the way, I found a “humility or truth block”, one of the white rectangles is sewn inside out, which proves it was done by human hands and indicates good luck for the recipient!

I put on the binding with Lucy’s company during the snow storm of 2014, and presented the quilt in mid-March to Imogen.  Hope she and her family enjoy it…I surely enjoyed the creative process of making it for her!

 

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