Sunday, March 8, 2015

Part II-Minimal Projects with Maximum Satisfaction: Hoop Art

As I mentioned in my previous post, smaller projects are my current obsession, simply because they allow me a rare chance to accomplish something during a two-hour nap.

An idea in the works:  raw edge applique in an embroidery hoop

Otherwise, I have too many WIPs sitting around, and considering my overflowing fabric stash and lack of organization as is, there just isn't room for any more clutter in our dining room AKA my sewing space.

First attempt at thread stitching is a tad sketchy

Hoop art is another fun way to experiment with various sewing techniques, allowing for creative freedom and exploration.  You can try just about anything on one of these little (or large) hoops: applique, patchwork, embroidery, and paper-piecing, to name a few.

Raw edge applique using sweet fabric from the new Milk Sugar & Flower line

I have been playing around with what is called sketch stitching or thread stitching, a technique in which people basically sketch or "draw" using their sewing machine instead of a pen or pencil.

My "sketching" is more scribbling, as I have yet to really get the hang of this, but there are some incredibly talented ladies out there whose style is incredibly inspiring.  Two who make this technique look easy are Maureen Cracknell and Jackie of Chloe and Me.

Finishing the back is just as important as the front

When finishing your hoop art, it is especially important to make sure the back looks just as neat as the front.  There are many great tutorials online.  I used this one, and while I didn't have felt on hand, cotton batting worked just as well.  I added my own touch as well, so it's now ready for giving.

These hoops can be completed in a short period of time and make the perfect gift or swap extra.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Part I-Minimal Projects with Maximum Satisfaction: Dumpling Pouches

Happy Spring!  A paper-pieced butterfly on a dumpling pouch

I wish I was able to work on quilts and other extensive projects, but the truth is I just don't have the time.  Fortunately, I've found satisfaction in smaller projects that require fewer minutes in a day but still allow me to challenge myself creatively.

A paper-pieced Valentine's dumpling

Pouches and small bags can be finished in a short timeframe, while still allowing you to customize based on your personal style.  Patchwork, paper piecing, applique, and embroidery are all techniques that can be incorporated to embellish one of these sweet bags.

A dumpling swap package should be thoughtful and personable

My current favorite of these is the dumpling pouch, which is a free download by Michelle Patterns. There is a dumpling swap hosted by rockislander on Flickr, and she always chooses a fun theme.  I have participated in two for Valentine's Day and currently an Easter/Spring swap.

Detail: Concentric Hearts, a paper pieced pattern

For both dumplings, I elected to try paper piecing, which is a skill with which I had little previous experience.

Paper-pieced butterflies in two sizes

I found some lovely patterns by Juliet of The Tartankiwi.  The first, a concentric hearts pattern, is free; the second, a butterfly, can be purchased on Etsy.  I did reduce the size of both patterns to about 50% in order for them to fit on the face of the pouch.

Paper piecing and matchstick quilting

Both were fun to make because I was able to experiment with different color combos, while staying true to my partner's style and preferences.  I also experimented with matchstick quilting for the first time, which was so enjoyable.

Ready to fill!

So while little, these bags still offer a huge sense of accomplishment once finished.  Go on over to Michelle Patterns and try one out for yourself!

Monday, March 2, 2015

A February Finish a Few Days Later

Is it really March already?

Believe me, I'm just as anxious as everyone else to see this bitter, dreary winter pass, but the time just flies by too quickly.

So, while I should have posted this finish a month ago when I completed it, time escaped me, as usual.  But here it is...

"Grandma Bea"

I participated in another mini swap hosted by Schnitzel & Boo on Instagram.  I was paired up with someone who loved the color blue and had been greatly influenced by her Grandma Bea.  Otherwise, I knew very little about her style and interests.

Piecing is finally finished!

I opted to try paper piecing for this mini.  In hindsight, this pattern by Charise Creates was probably not the best choice for me being so inexperienced with this technique, but I learned a lot from my many mistakes along the way.

Quilting in process

While it proved difficult at times, I pushed through, and I enjoyed learning some new skills.  I was happy to incorporate what little details I knew about the recipient in hopes of making it more personable.

I love my binder clips!

I decided to quilt it in a random outline pattern, similar to another I had seen online.  For the binding I chose a red with white polka dots in hopes it would pop against the light blue background.  By the way, if you haven't tried the Clover Wonder clips yet, they definitely make the binding process go much smoother!  The colorful variety pack is on my current want list.

I only wish I had remembered to embroider a needle on the sewing machine, but the recipient was happy, and when participating in a swap, that's the most important part.

Mission accomplished.