Argyle, it's not just for sweaters any more!

The dining room is complete!  We had the argyle wall about 75% complete when we really came to grips with the fact that we will be moving soon.  And I thought about repainting it to match the other 3 walls.  But we (Matt) worked so hard, I just couldn't paint over it.  It's one of those things that homebuyers will either love or hate.  And if they *really* hate it, I'll repaint it for them!

Before (walls were a sage green color):



I think this is actually my favorite part of the room:


We are really happy with how it turned out.  And we already have plans for what we can do with argyle in the next house!

In case anyone is interested, this is the tutorial that we used for the argyle wall.  It provided great details for how to get started, which was the hardest part.  The biggest change we made was with the thin yellow stripe that runs through the diamonds.  For those, I marked the centers of all sides of the diamonds and taped off the lines.  I just eyeballed the thickness of the line, and I like the variety that it resulted in.

I'm just about done with my sewing room.  I have 2 wallhangings left to create, and then I'll share pictures of that project!

I see...

Amy Butler.  In the form of a camera strap of my sister.

Hope Valley.  Lots and lots of Hope Valley.  I'm working on our bed quilt and a bed quilt for my sister.  Hopefully they will both be ready for quilting when my machine gets out of the shop at the end of April.

The less exciting part of my day...the dreadmill.  That's right, this is my view for 5 long miles.  I really need to start running outside again.

The curtains.
They are done.  (Well, except for the sewing room and play room.  But I don't even have that fabric yet.)  Thanks in large part to the fact that I have *the* most amazing mom.  Ever.
If only Matt could paint faster. ;)

And the hand sewing projects.  I have a quilt to bind for the dining room.  What, you're dining room doesn't have a quilt?  And yes, those are chandeliers on the backing fabric.  Duh.  It *is* for the dining room.
And a hand embroidery project that is based on the color scheme for my sewing room.

The notebook is a fabric-covered moleskin.  I've been taking notes for Matt's upcoming dr. appointment at U of C while I'm sewing.  We are heading to Chicago for his Monday am appointment, where I will undoubtably be working on some of my hand sewing projects as well as making more notes in the notebook.  I'm also drafting a not-so-nice letter to the dr. that he saw in Peoria.  For now, the letter is just in my head.  After the appointment on Monday we'll see how much makes it down on paper.

And one last Amy Butler pillow.  Very similar to the pillow that I made Tracy, this one resides in our living room.  Love it.

Our dining room is almost put together.  We have a tiny bit more work to do on the argyle wall, which is the biggest project for the room.  Hopefully it will be complete soon!
I've also picked out the family photos to have reprinted for our living room.  We probably won't have all of our wall art pulled together for awhile, but it's all coming together slowly.

This is why I'm never blogging!

I promise, I get lots more done than I blog about.  Quite honestly, if I have a few free moments I'm probably in my sewing room or at the very least knitting while I watch tv.  It's usually when I'm up until the wee hours of the morning finishing up a project when I think about blogging.  And by that time, I really just need to go to bed!  So here are a few of the things that I've been working on lately (they *do* all involve fabric, at least!). If I'm brave, I'll make a list of what projects are soon to be started.  It's a long list, though.  Very long.

These are pieces of particle board that I covered in fabric.  They are the final pieces for my bathroom.  I had Matt cut them to the size that I wanted, cut the fabric several inches larger than the boards, and stapled the fabric down on the back side.  Matt still needs to add hangers (is that what they're called?) to the backs.  And then I can call my bathroom complete!

This project is a great example of why I am so slow to complete things that I start.  I had every intention of cutting the fabric for my sister's bed quilt last night.  But I found this super cute scarf online, and decided that my sister and I *needed* them.  Needed them so badly that I wouldn't sleep at night if I didn't dig through my stash for some knit right that second.  And so a created two scarves.  One for me, and one for Stac.  It will be her Valentine's day gift from Addy.  (I'm nearly positive she doesn't read my blog.  And even if she did, she won't read it before she receives the scarf.  Last I checked, she had 700+ unread blogs on her reader!!)
I made this scarf from the instructions on this website.
I have an idea for another knit scarf, similar to this one, but not quite the same.  Last night after I finished these 2 scarves at 1:30am, I couldn't sleep.  And so when I can't sleep, I design projects in my head.  Hopefully I can get out to buy some more knit soon!

I had a *lot* of help with this project.  My sister and I took a class at PaperSource in Lincoln Park a few weeks ago and this was the end result!  We learned how to bind these albums, but really the skills we used can be transfered to many different types of books.  I bought the supplies to create a small journal and an address book.
And in case you're wondering, the book binding is a woven fabric.  So there, this project really does include fabric!

The photo on this one isn't great.  I'll post an action shot when it warms up, but right now it's just too cold for this shirt!  Last summer Heather Ross came out with her Far Far Away fabric.  It was printed on double gauze by Kokka.  I scored a few different prints, most of which are still uncut in my sewing room.  I did use one print to make a summer dress for myself (which I'll have to post when it warms up!).  From the first time I saw this white print, I've through that it would look cute as a collared shirt.  The only collared shirt pattern that I had was in the Sew U book.  The great thing about this book is that it gives great suggestions for altering a traditional pattern.  I ended up with the following changes:
shorten the sleeves to 3/4 length
remove the cuff and add a small pleat and a binding
remove the collar, but keep the collar stand
add a ruffle to either side of the shirt front
leave off the top 2 or 3 buttons

The last thing that I have left to do is to take in the sides a bit to make the shirt more fitted.  For now, this shirt is hanging out in my sewing room because it's too chilly to even try it on for a fitting!

This is the last project that I'm including, and probably the one that I'm most proud of.  A leather bag!  (Cough, cough, hobby junkie, cough, cough.)  I used a remnant of grey leather for the bag exterior.  The interior (not shown) is an Amy Butler print, as is the tie on the shoulder strap.  The bag measures 14" tall, 9" wide at the bottom, and 6" deep.  There's a topstitched seam that runs down the front and back, a gathered section 2.5" down from the bag top, and some very cute little pleats on the sides at the bottom (not shown).  The shoulder strap is about 3.25" at the widest part.  On the interior, there's a zippered pocket, 2 open pockets and a magnetic closure.
So far, I love this bag.  I learned a lot about working with leather, and still came away with a bag that I want to use!  I picked up with leather from a fabric warehouse when I took a day trip to Chicago with another fabric-loving friend.  I see another trip in our future, a girl can never have too many leather bags!!

Funny enough, all of these projects involve fabric but none are quilts or quilt-related!  I'm sort of a hobby junkie. I'm known for saying, "$120 for that?? I can make that!"  And thus a new hobby is born.  I've recently discovered this amazing blog.  I'd love to try building some furniture. But Matt needs a new hobby far more than I do, so I'm hoping that the several ideas that I forward to him from that blog each week will eventually entice him.  Until then, I must stay away from any more hobbies!

I'll spare you all the list of impending projects.  I'm a list maker, so when I feel anxious about the state of my under-decorated house I make lists of what needs to be done in each room.  Just the home stuff is enough to keep me busy for months*.  Now everyone needs to stop having birthdays, getting married, having babies, and any other events that veer me off of my regularly scheduled projects.

*I'd feel guilty if I didn't add that my super fabulous mom is coming down AGAIN this weekend to help me with some curtains.  She was just down 3 weeks ago when I made my kitchen valances and Addy's curtains, and she worked her butt off on my living room curtains.  This weekend we're going to tackle the dining room and master bedroom curtains.  Phew!

Quilting without the book!

I'm in serious home decorator mode right now.  Good thing my favorite LQS had some fun sales right before the holidays!  I bought several prints from Lila Tueller's Santorini line and also Pamela Mostek's Piccadilly line and decided they would go in our guest room.  I wanted a fun, girly room-but I didn't want to actually have to look at it every day.  So voila, my guest room idea is born!

While I was at the quilt shop, I browsed around for a pattern idea.  I had no plan in mind when I started buying the fabric, so I bought 3/4 yard cuts.  I ended up with 11 prints, and that's when I found the pattern (minus the flower applique).  It had all of the right conponents:
large blocks to showcase the huge florals
simple piecing
non-traditional design

The only problem was that the pattern came in a book, and I did not need any more quilt books in my house!  Plus it was pieced in a very time-consuming method.  So I decided to take the design idea and make my own technique. :)

Here's what I started with:
3/4 yard cuts of 11 prints
2 yards of an accent fabric (minimal print is best, I used a brown tone on tone)
Optional: Big cutting mat (36" is what I used), 24" long ruler

I wanted a queen size quilt with a decent amount of drape.  After lots of longhand math, I came up with an 8x8 basic design that would end up making a 92" square quilt.

*Cut the 3/4 yard pieces into 11.5" squares.  For a total of 64 squares, I needed 6 squares from 9 of the prints and 5 squares from 2 of the prints.  Or to make it easy, cut 6 squares of each print and you'll have 2 extras at the end!

*The accent fabric needs to be cut in 1.5" strips.  For a queen size, 8x8 setting, you'll need about 1472" in length of 1.5" wide strips.  If they are cut from selvedge to selvedge that means about 35 strips.  I pieced mine with a 45 degree angle to hide the piecing.

*If you're worried about how the blocks will be arranged, lay them out before you piece the rows.  I didn't lay mine out-I just started piecing!

*Piece 8 rows of 8 squares

*Lay out the rows in order BEFORE you press any seams.  Once they are in the right order, label them like so:

Here's what my labels mean:
6 is the row number
Up/down arrow tells me which way to press my seams (I stagger the seams on my rows to reduce bulk)
Left/right arrow tells me which side of the row I'm going to cut apart to add the accent fabric strip

To decide which side to add the accent strip, I had to study the original quilt for a bit.  I also realized early on that this works best if you have an even number of rows in both directions.  To start with, the accent strips on the outermost blocks should be closer to the inner edge of the block than to the binding.

*Press all seams up/down (DO NOT IRON ON THE MASKING TAPE!!)

Now comes the fun part-adding the first strips!  This works best if you have a large (36" or so) cutting mat and a long ruler (mine is 24" long).

I decided to set my strips so that they were 2.5" inside the block.  So, in a set of 2 strips, they are 5" apart.

To do this, I cut my rows apart 3" in from the raw edge on the right/left side depending on my arrows. That takes into account the quarter-inch seam allowance from the strip and the quarter-inch seam allowance when piecing the rows together.

To make the cut, I lined up the raw edge of the row with the 3" mark on the ruler and started cutting.  For the long rows like I had, this involved cutting, moving the fabric, repeat until the entire row is cut.


It worked best for me if I cut all of my rows, kept them laying together, and then pieced all of my accent stripes.  It saved a lot of time over cutting, piecing, cutting another row, piecing.....

To attach the accent strips, I first attached them to 1 side of the row (wider piece or narrower, although I did find that it was better to attach them to the narrower pieces).  The most important thing to remember is to attach it to the freshly cut edge!
Once the accent strip is sewn on one side, press to the accent strip.
I don't cut my accent strips down to the length of the row.  Once the seam is pressed, I trim the accent fabric even with the block edge.  I save fabric this way, because I can take the remainder of the strip and piece it with some more strips for the next row!

To complete the row, you'll need some patience and lots of pins.  I don't usually pin-I use a walking foot and wing it!  But for this, pins are necessary.

A few tips to pinning the rows back together:
-Lay the piece with the accent strip on top of the other piece, right sides together.
-Use your finger nail to feel the seams on the underneath pieces.
-Pin at all seams.

The goal is to keep all of the seam lines matched up, even though there's now a 1" strip running down the edge of the block.

Sew rows back together.
Press seam toward accent strip fabric.

When all of the rows are reassembled, sew the rows in the order you labeled them earlier.  Seams can be pressed in either direction.

Here we are, 1/2 way done!

I almost stopped here.  I probably would have, but I needed the extra 8" in width that I gained from those accent strips.

Here's where I started to get a bit scared!  I had a lot of time invested in this quilt....and I was going to cut it back into pieces??  *gulp*

To start with, figure out where you made the cuts for accent fabric earlier.  I made mine 3" from the raw edges of the rows.  For the following cuts, I will be making them 2.75" in from the seams.  This gives perfectly square intersections.  If rectangles are more your style, try using a different width.  Tho I'd recommend giving it a try on paper before you pick up the rotary cutter! :)

Line up the ruler with the seam, and cut!  I went slooooooooowly (and I still goofed, but I'll get to that later!).
And again, I had to line up the ruler, cut, move the fabric, repeat until the entire length of the quilt was cut.

Again, I cut all of my pieces and then sewed all of the accent strips.  I didn't have any markings telling me where to cut this time, but since the top was all pieced together I knew that the strips in the outer blocks would be placed closer to the seam than to the raw edge.  I did have to remind myself that each row only had 1 cut.  I nearly cut one of the first few rows 2.75" in from each seam.  Yikes!!

Just as last time, attach the accent strips to one side of the row and press towards the accent fabric (I also trimmed down the length of my accent strips at this point).  It may be easiest if you leave the top laying out in order while you're placing the accent strips.

To reassemble the top, again place the pieces with the accent strip on top.  Feel for seams with your fingernail, and pin at all seams (there will be considerably more pinning than with the first sets of strips).

Sew the seams, press toward the accent strips, and reassemble the top strip set by strip set!

Now here's my little secret.  I cut one of my rows at the wrong place!  It's not incredibly obvious in the photo, but it's the second set of stripes down from the top.  Here's what happened: instead of cutting 2.75" from the seam, I cut 1.75".  I nearly started to cry.  But I was already half way through cutting the top, and this method  isn't really conducive to fixing errors like that.  So I chose to roll with it.  I did want to try to keep things uniform, so I kept that set of strips 5" apart.  To do so, I made the adjacent cut 3.75" in from the seam to make up for the 1" short on the other cut.  I'm not in love with the error.  But I'll live with it.  And hey, it's the guest room-I don't have to look at it every day!

To finish it, I think I'm going to quilt parallel lines in just one direction.  I just realized that this is really easy to do on the quilting setup that I have.  And I can quilt it pretty densely, so it has that sweet puckery feel that only handmade quilts are capable of.

My goal is to have this quilt finished, along with the curtains, an accent pillow, and the walls painted before my mom and stepdad visit for my mom's birthday.  I have less than 3 weeks-they're coming the weekend of January 23rd!!  We started taking down the ugly, yellowing wallpaper in that room tonight.  It's mostly coming down in sheets, so that's a bonus.  And I bought the paint.  Now we just need some extra energy in the evenings.  Oh, and a nanny so that I have time to sew. ;)

I'll post again when the quilt is complete.  Or when the room is complete.  And now I'm off to peel more wallpaper (it's just so darn satisfying!).

Black and white and yellow all over!

We are all moved in, and now I'm in home dec mode!  I should be doing some Christmas sewing, but working on the house is just more fun.  My bathroom was the first room on my list to work on, probably because it needed the least amount of work!

Here's what I used:
1 twin bedsheet, $4 at WalMart
2 yards of a main print
1/2 yard of a coordinating print

Standard shower curtains are 72" x 72".  The bedsheet was about 66" x 90", or something like that.  I cut off 3 edges of the sheet, leaving the bottom edge intact (less to hem!).  I cut the sheet to about 60" tall and 72" wide.

Next I cut my 2 yards of fabric into 2 pieces 20" tall x WOF.  Piece these together along the 20" side and trim down to 72" long.

Lay the sheet down, lay the print fabric down, RST, with raw edges facing.  Pin.

Flip over the pinned piece and roll the bedsheet fabric up from the hemmed edge to the pinned edge.  Once it's rolled up, take the printed fabric and wrap it around the roll so that the other 72" long raw edge of the print is aligned with the pinned raw edges.  Repin.

Sew along the pinned edge.  Be sure to backstitch at the ends.

Here's where there's a little sewing magic ;)  Pull the bedsheet piece out of the tube that you just sewed.  Turn the tube right side out.  As my two year old would say, Ta-Da!

I pressed the seam and also topstitched, but the topstitching isn't necessary.

To finish the edges, I serged them and then turned them twice to enclose the stitching.  Sttich down to secure.

To create the holes at the top so that the curtain can be hung, I made buttonholes evenly across the top.  I did place the button holes so that the shower curtain entirely covered the plastic curtain, plus a little bit of extra along the top and sides.

I added a bow on the one side of the shower curtain, because I just love that coordinating print!  I think the bow was made from a 6.5" x WOF piece.


For the curtain, I measured exactly how long and deep I needed to cover the entire rod.

I backed it with some broadcloth and added a ruffle along the bottom edge.  Because of the prints that I used, I felt that I needed a bit of separation between the main print and the ruffle, so I stitched down a black ribbon after the valance was complete.

I'm not quite done in this room.  I'm hoping to buy a cute vinyl cutout for the wall above the towel rack.  Probably something like this:  But I'm still enjoying it, even in it's "not quite done" state. :)