Thursday, August 25, 2016

New skills, new freebies: Labor Day planner stickers {Erin Condren}

With the kid sback to school I'm finally returning to the blogging world, and I thought I would kick off my return with a freebie.

I thought I would be inspired to craft more once we were squared away after our move, but while I have done some crafts in the last year, most of them were "needs," not "wants."  Lots of last-minute kids' costumes for special school days, several gifts, and a few household projects.

But not many quilts, because my quilting heart was broken with that long-ago computer crash.  After losing almost all of my hard work (thank goodness for having uploaded at least a few of my finished patterns!), I lost a lot of my drive to design.  The few things I did finish up I took some lackluster pictures of, then set them aside to deal with later.  Later never happened.

The thing that has finally brought my craft room humming back to life is my new Cricut Explore Air!  It is ten times the machine my Expression was, and I am still having fun learning new techniques.  I picked up very quickly how to create SVG files, and we now have custom decals on almost every surface of the house.  My Christmas box is filling up fast with personalized, hand-made items, which is always a big crafting goal for me.

As I am getting back in to my designing, crafting, and my business, I am finding that my new Erin Condren planner is a good fit for me in my weekly planning.  But I caught the decorating bug, and my new Sunday ritual is to sit down and decorate next week's pages and plan out my week.  When I looked at all the cute planner stickers that were available, I realized not many of them are made for us Cricut users, who are still limited to a 6" x 8.5" print and cut space.  I can print out all the free 8.5" x 11" ones that are floating around, but then I have to cut the stickers by hand.  As a lazy person who does not have the steadiest of hands, that was not going to work for me.

So instead, I learned how to make my own!  I will be creating these probably twice a month at least, and I will share them here with you.  This is my Labor Day set, featuring Rosie the Riveter, some major city skylines (including my beloved Seattle), and an industrial-colored background.

Free Labor Day stickers for your Erin Condren planner, from Sew Much Mischief.
Free Labor Day stickers for your Erin Condren planner.

These will work on any cutting machine that can import PNGs, but it is specifically sized for the Cricut.  You can save and download the image above and import it to Design Space (or whatever program you use with your electronic cutter), or you can get the full-resolution PNG with transparent background here.  When you import it to Design Space, you will need to use the Firefox browser and set the width to 8.5 inches.  If you maintain the proportions, the height should be right around 6 inches.

Free Labor Day stickers for your Erin Condren planner, from Sew Much Mischief.
Stickers, once cut and the excess background pulled off for ease of use.
I usually trim them down with a paper trimmer and store them in my planner pocket.

I decorated my Labor Day week a little early so I could show you how it all fits together.

Free Labor Day stickers for your Erin Condren planner, from Sew Much Mischief.
My week, mostly decorated.

I will always include a Giving Back sticker to keep track of the hours, items, or money I plan to donate and to whom, as well as a Hydration Tracker.  These are both things that I am working on improving personally, so I really want to highlight those in my planner.  I hope that you find them useful as well.


I am also loving how easy it is to make little custom stickers on the spot.  For instance, we have game night every couple weeks with our neighbors.  Since it's a regular occurrence and I don't need to worry about writing down the time or other information, a sticker is a perfect way to mark it quickly.  Five minutes after you decide what kind of sticker you want, you can have it created and cut with the Explore.

Free Labor Day stickers for your Erin Condren planner, from Sew Much Mischief.
Easily make your own stickers!  Night of Gaming +1, to remind me of our biweekly game night.

Have fun decorating your planner!  As for my own immediate future, I will be releasing my tested Dune quilt on Craftsy this week, starting to redraft my Bob's Burgers and Archie quilt designs, and launching my BOW 12 Days of Christmas quilt-along.  More long-term, I will be finishing up the rest of my Game of Thrones quilt, which I know some of you have been waiting for.  I found a few numbering errors, so those patterns have to be redrafted before releasing them.  I look forward to sharing all this hard work with you in the coming weeks!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Design Time: Dune, Peg+Cat, Descendants, and more!

As I'm getting through my giant list of things that need to be organized, fixed, and weeded through, I finally reached the dreaded computer.  I got the new O/S installed, which means I was able to put my EQ7 back on at long last.  Couple that with a week of being down with a cold, and that means I got lots of block drafting done.

I started out with a Dune quilt.  This is a book series I have returned to many times in the last couple of decades, so it's a quilt I have wanted to make since I started paper piecing.  I've looked for patterns from other designers off and on, with no luck.  I figured it was up to me to fill the gap.  I think I represented most of the basic elements of the original trilogy: Houses Atreides and Harkonnen, a Fremen, Muad'Dib, sandworms, the skyline and two moons, and the Bene Gesserit as represented by an abbreviated Litany Against Fear.

Dune mini quilt.

That Fremen eye is based off of a really striking piece of art called The Fremen Child by Mitchell Hicks over on DeviantArt.  He was gracious enough to let me use it as an inspiration piece.  I did change it a little by removing the second eye, but that made the piecing much easier.  You can view more of his work over here.

This is actually my first time designing a quilt that is not just separate blocks strung together with sashing, so I like to think I'm growing a little as a designer.  I thought it might be fun to include my initial quilt sketch so you can see where these designs spring from.  It's a little embarrassing because this was literally a two-minute sketch and was never meant for other people's eyes, but I'm not going to stand on ceremony here.

My initial sketch for the quilt outline.  Check out that eagle!
And that griffin!  High-class art right there.  I especially love the sandworm;
it reminds me of a Quentin Blake drawing.  Except not as cool.

If you would like to test part of or all of this quilt, please let me know and I will get you the link to the PDF.  I am hoping to finish this up myself in March or April.  Too much on the plate right now, but I feel good knowing that I at least have it drafted.  I also want to spend some time finding the perfect fabric for it.

Once this was done I thought, "What could I design that would be the complete opposite of Dune?  How about Peg+Cat?"  Actually, my son has recently become a Peg+Cat addict (which I can thank for his new squishy hugs accompanied by, "You're amazing!"), and I was already toying with the idea of making a block for him.  When I went through the list of design requests on Fandom in Stitches, this request stuck out to me and I thought I would give it a go.

Who doesn't love Peg and Cat?  Peg looks like and reminds me of my amazing middle daughter.
Cat cracks me up.  He reminds me of Teddy from Bob's Burgers for some reason.

There are a ton of sections (27!), but that is partly because Peg and Cat are on the same block.  Had I done them separately, it would not have looked so overwhelming.  The beautiful thing about this pattern is that you can do Peg without Cat or Cat without Peg, but I don't know why you ever would.  They go everywhere together.

I have a tester lined up for this, but the more, the merrier.  Let me know if you want to test.

I also threw together a little Descendants block to make a mini quilt for my daughter's upcoming birthday.  I'm hoping to get it done in time, and then it can hang in their Descendants-themed "dorm room."  I'm copping out on this birthday and the girls are all getting invitations to spend the night at Auradon Prep, which is already decorated up because that's the room theme the girls chose.  Work smart, not hard, right?  ;)

Here's the block:

Maleficent's mark, from Disney Descendants.

I think this will be a fun one to piece.  I ordered some awesome Disney villain fabric for the backing, so I'll show it off when it arrives.  I don't plan on designing the other villains unless someone desperately wants one.  Testers welcome!

I finished up two(!) other quilt patterns this week, but they are both gifts so it will be a little while before I can share.  I'm hoping to have these all tested and posted in the next three months, which I think is a reasonable goal.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sewing with Sewhooked: My Favorite Things, Block 1

The last thing I needed on my plate right now was another quilt-along.  But darn it all, Jennifer Ofenstein came up with the cutest little BOM that will fit my sewing room perfectly, and I rarely quilt just for myself, so I'm going to play along.  It's called My Favorite Things, and has an array of sewing and crafting tools.

The best news is, if you can snag it the first day of each month, the pattern is free on the Sewhooked blog.  If you're terrible at remembering to check in with things like that, I suggest you write it down in your planner, follow the Sewhooked Facebook page or group, and/or follow Jennifer's blog.  After the first of the month, it's an extremely reasonably priced 2$ on Craftsy, so either way, you can't lose because you're getting a free pattern or supporting an independent designer.  A big thanks to Jennifer for giving us the opportunity to download it for free for a time.

Here's my first block completed!

My completed block.  I'm pretty happy with it.
Don't mind the loose thread there; I actually tried to blow that off my computer  screen!

After rifling through my fabric collection for a while I chose one of my newest favorite things to work with: metallic patterned fabric.  I think they are so fun and have used them all over the girls' new bedroom.  They feel luxurious without being too bold.  It is hard to get a good picture because of the reflection of the light, but it looks beautiful in person, and I think it will look great hanging on my wall.



This black fabric has a gold floral print, and it was just screaming to be used for the sewing machine.  It will probably also end up being scissor handles in a later block as well as some other odds and ends.  I love this block because I have a 1905 sphinx Singer machine that I rescued from a rainy garage sale for 5$ a few years ago.  It sits in my sewing room now as a piece of sewing history.  It's beat up and rusty and has no monetary value, but it's beautiful to me and I'm so glad it's represented here.


My inspiration piece.
This poor guy was just rusting away in the rain and needed someone to take it home.
I was happy to oblige!

The first block (and the remaining blocks, from what I can see) is super cute, but definitely quick and easy.  My husband came up to hang out in the sewing room just as I was finishing another block and cleaning up, and I thought I'd start this as a quick project while he was there.  The 6-inch block took me about 30 minutes, and that included picking out fabric.  The hardest part was choosing a thread color for the top of the machine, so I had to have my daughter pick for me.  I think she picked well.

I absolutely love that Jennifer included both a 12" and a 6" block option to make our lives easier.  I'm making the small blocks (and to be honest, I probably should have reduced it a titch more) because I have so little available wall space in my sewing room.  I am even considering making this a 9-block quilt and just picking my favorite of the available options, so we will see how that pans out.

You can find the information for the January block here, and the pattern over at Craftsy.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Harry Potter Project of Doom "Quilt-Behind": Week 10

We're five months post-move, and things are finally falling in to place!  Our dumping ground bedroom is finally cleared out and my studio is functional.  I feel so much more at peace having my sanctuary back.

Even better, my embroidery machine is back to working condition!  The repairman showed us where it was clear the movers had dropped the machine and broken a belt and some other minor pieces, but he fixed everything up and I'm back in the embroidery business.  I even got a new sewing machine for Christmas!  I told my husband I just wanted a basic machine that has a straight stitch and a zigzag, and maybe a true quarter-inch foot if he can find one.  That was the whole of my sewing machine wish list.  Instead, I ended up with a Brother DZ2400, so I would say he did a pretty darned good job.  However, I think I have a bit of a learning curve ahead of me in preparation for FiS's X-Files Quilt and Stitch Along this January.  This is my first sewing/quilting/embroidery machine combo and my first modern machine, so hopefully it's simpler than it looks.

I didn't expect to dive back in to the PoD until next year with all the holiday hoopla, but since Christmas presents were all finished up today (and can actually be shared next week!) and I had a few minutes to myself, I sat down for a quick stitch on the machine.  I figured Block 10 was a good place to start.

The Standard Books of Spells, Levels 1 through 7.  And check out that desk: a workspace is finally visible even though this was Ground Zero of our move!

How cool is this Patronus?  Mine would probably be a raven if I designed it, but Susan saved me the trouble.

I do love Jennifer Ofenstein's original patterns for the Standard Books of Spells, but I knew I wanted something embroidered on these and the original patterns are a bit thin width-wise to do that.  And Susan over at The Bored Zombie's embroidered books are pretty irresistible.  You can find the embroidery files here.

The finished block.

I have attempted to use this silver-grey fabric several times in different blocks, and hated it every time because of the metallic sheen.  I'm not sure why I had about three yards of it, but I was determined to find a place to use it.  I think it actually works for these books.  Susan's books were beautifully colored and used different fabrics to add to the interest, but I went for a black and white for a simpler effect on this fabric.  I had to restitch the first book once  because I didn't have enough fabric top and bottom to center it vertically (and I can see that I forgot to trim a thread on it), but they all stitched up really easily.  This ended up 13" unfinished, so it will cut in to the next block a bit.  I'm not actually measuring my blocks, because I will see how close my rows are in size when they are complete, and if I need to add a book to the end of some rows to make them the same size, that's what I will do.

I did finally unearth my PoD box and found my giveaway fabric from this summer!  I'm going to go back through those old postings and find the people who entered and send all of you a small stash of fabric for your PoD or other projects.  Will anyone be joining me on completing the PoD in 2016?  Let me know how it's going for you.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Autumn mini quilt

It's hardly a triumphant return, but I have finally finished my first post-move project: a little Autumn mini quilt.  I gave it as a host/hostess gift to my husband's cousins, who generously hosted our whole crazy clan for Thanksgiving.

Fall squirrel quilt
The finished project.  The quilt measures approximately 16"x44".

I had hoped to be back in the sewing room long before now, but we had a nightmare move that took months to completely sort out.  Before we were packed up, I did a total overhaul of my crafting room and organized everything in to labeled tins and totes.  I had the movers label every box by room and area within that room so our unpacking job would be easier at the next house.  The company who moved us in to the new house, however, was awful.  When I saw my studio after the movers left, I could have cried.  They had dumped out boxes from a half dozen different rooms in the middle of the floor, and there was a pile halfway to the ceiling of craft supplies, garage tools, children's clothes, bathroom items, and more.  Tins of tiny materials were dumped out and scattered, and my sewing machine and embroidery machines were on their sides or upside down and covered with heavy things.  As we sorted through the house, I tried to take care of the important things first, which meant sewing went by the wayside.  It didn't help that both my sewing machine and embroidery machine were broken.  I managed fix the former, but I can't work on my PoD until I get the embroidery machine realigned.  Good thing I have a ton of Christmas gifts to work on in the meantime!

Fall squirrel quilt
Acorn pattern by Claudia Hasenbach.

This free acorn pattern is courtesy of Claudia Hasenbach, and is available from craftown.com.  The original size was 3"x4", but I blew it up to a 12" square block for my quilt.  It pieced easily and beautifully, and would be a great starter block.  In the original size, it would make really cute corner squares for an autumn quilt.  You can see here that I did a bit of a meandering pattern with a few gentle swirls mixed in.  This was my first time doing a large, all-over pattern on a quilt, and while my arms ached afterward and I can see some errors, I am pretty proud of my quilting progress to date.

Fall squirrel quilt
I love this squirrel, in a soft patterned red.

The squirrel was not in my original quilt plan, but I just didn't have time to do the block I had wanted to do.  I made four acorns in order to make a second quilt for myself later, and on my quilt I will be using Sewing Under Rainbow's free Maple Fox pattern as the center block.  I have my fabrics all picked out for him and had hoped to do one for this quilt as well.  When I realized I had to do a rush block, however, I decided to applique a different fall critter instead of paper piecing.  I cut this squirrel on my Cricut using an image from the Folk Art Festival cartridge.  It's one of the cartridges I use the most for a variety of projects.  To cut applique shapes on the Cricut, I simply iron fusible interfacing to the fabric and put the fabric on the mat, backing paper and all.  Once cut, I remove it from the mat, peel the backing paper off, and iron as usual.

Fall squirrel quilt
Orange quilty packages tied up with string ...

The beautiful thing about mini quilts is that they practically gift wrap themselves.  I simply rolled it up and tied it with a pretty ribbon.  This backing is funny; I bought it in the store because I loved it, then when I got it home, I couldn't figure out how to use it in a quilt without it looking strange.  I think it just screamed "background fabric" to me, and I love how it looks there.  In the interest of time, I did a cheater binding using the backing, and I love the little pop of orange on the front of the quilt.

Fall squirrel quilt
Thanksgiving table with a mini quilt centerpiece.  

The quilt served as a lovely centerpiece to this beautiful Thanksgiving table.  We had a great holiday with great family and I came back tired, happy, and refreshed for the Christmas season.  In the next couple of weeks I will be sharing primarily Christmas projects as I finish them, but I will be continuing to work on my Game of Thrones quilt patterns as well.  I have sent the full pattern pack to several people who needed to finish their quilts before Christmas, and if you need a copy, I'm happy to oblige.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Throne Thursdays: Tyrell

Good news and great news today!  First, I am slowly chugging away on these Game of Thrones blocks.  A Christmas finish may be in sight!  Also, my husband was able to save all the information from my broken computer, found me a 5 TB backup hard drive so I have no excuse to skip backing up the computer again, and made my computer faster and better than before.  That means within the next few weeks, all my patterns will be getting fixed up and posted, either for testing or to Craftsy if already tested.

Now to balance that out with some bad news (for me, at least):  I will be taking a break from these and all other sewing projects until about mid-August.  We will be moving and sadly, my sewing machine and I will have to part ways until we have our new house.  I may get a few more PoD embroideries done in the next week, but there are no guarantees.

But tonight, I get to share a block.  Today's block is the Tyrell sigil.

Game of Thrones quilt
Tyrell sigil.

I thought this would be more difficult to piece than it was.  It was a little time-consuming because it has something like 11 sections to piece.  Only a few pieces actually needed to meet up at specific points, so there wasn't much worry about matching points.  I'm fairly happy with how it lined up in the end.  This is maybe a 3/5 for difficulty, if you're good at matching up sections.

Game of Thrones quilt
Everything lined up!

You can download the Tyrell pattern here.

Allyssa (Instagram:  @jirismama) finished up this block as well.  Here is Allyssa's block:

Game of Thrones quilt
Photo by Allyssa; used by permission.

I just had to lay out what I had completed so I could see them all together so far, and I am totally in love.  Baelish isn't in there because I cannibalized it for the green fabric in my Tyrell block, but I will be redoing that one soon.  I can't wait to see these all with black sashing and the embroidered logo on top.  Almost halfway there!

Completed blocks so far.  I am loving these fabrics together!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Harry Potter Project of Doom "Quilt-Behind": Week 18

I haven't been able to do a lot of embroidery the last couple of days, because we are slowly recovering and backing up 1.3 MILLION files from my dead hard drive, leaving the laptop pretty well occupied and covered in wires.  It has been an expensive and lengthy process, but the good news is that all my family photos have been recovered, as well as all my patterns I had developed but not yet tested.  That makes for one happy mom and designer.  :)

Even so, I wanted to get a little something done today, so I finished up half of what will be my block 18.  I actually took the peacock quill and ink bottle from the block 15 pattern, but I have other big plans for block 15, and I wanted the peacock quill somewhere.

Harry Potter Quilt
Peacock quill and magical ink.

Finding this peacock quill fabric was a total fluke.  I happened to be walking past it at JoAnn, and I thought I remembered a quill in one of the patterns.  Even though I would probably never pick this fabric for anything else ever, it really spoke to me for this particular block.

Harry Potter Quilt
Close-up of peacock fabric.  It's a little psychedelic.

I went for somewhat plain greens and purples for the rest of the feather.  I'm fairly happy with how it turned out.

Harry Potter Quilt
Our magical ink.

My daughter and I had a hard time deciding on ink bottle fabrics.  She wanted it to be rainbow ink, but the one fabric I had was going to detract from the quill fabric.  We went through my TARDIS cookie jar scrap stash and she found this black with stars and swirls.  We figured that looked like pretty magical ink and would show up well against the natural background.  We went with grey on top because a clear or light color wouldn't show up too well.  I think it looks like the ink is dripping back down into the bottle this way.  I'm not really happy with how it lined up on the left, but it was more important to me that the quill point lined up perfectly, so I think this is good enough.  I'm actually considering appliqueing some drops of ink coming down the side of the bottle later to cover that.

To finish this block, I am actually going to include the potion bottle book variation from block 18.  I got some small potion labels free from Spoonflower when they had a free swatch promotion, and it had tons of little potion labels on it.  I'm going to applique one of those on the book for fun.

Harry Potter Quilt
Mostly invisible Invisible Book of Invisibility.

I worked on one other fun project today: my Invisible Book of Invisibility.  To make this one, I used clear, monofilament embroidery thread and the alphabet function on the embroidery machine.  I embroidered the book name directly on to my background fabric.

Harry Potter Quilt
Look what a little monofilament thread can do!

To make it stand out more, this one is going to go under the horizontal stack of books on the Snitch block.  Hopefully it will make it look like the books on top of it are floating, drawing your eye to the empty space and title.

I am also super stoked about some fabric that showed up in the mail today:

Harry Potter Quilt
Mermaid stained glass fabrics.  These really inspired me when I saw them!

These are slotted for my seventh(!) row on my bookshelf, where I will include the mermaid stained glass designed by Michelle Thompson.  It's available on the Fandom in Stitches Harry Potter page.  The fabric on the right will be the background, and I'm going to add an extra border of the fish fabric.  I have plenty of this, so I will be adding some of this to my book spine/magical item fabric giveaway.

Speaking of which, you can still enter the giveaway!  I've extended it by a week and will draw a winner on Monday.  Just leave me a comment letting me know that you would like some fabric for your PoD ... or any other project you might be working on.  :)  I have two entrants right now, and if I don't receive any more, I will add a bunch of fabric and split the pile between you two lovely ladies!