Monday, November 11, 2019

Travel Handmade - November 2019 Aurifil Artisan Challenge

Happy November!

I'm excited to share my November 2019 Aurifil Artisan project with you.  Our theme for the month is "travel handmade", and nothing says travel handmade to me more than a bag.  I've made quite a few bags that would fall into this category over the years, so I really wanted to make something that I hadn't made before.  After auditing the bags that I like to use for travel and what I needed/wanted to carry, I decided to make ByAnnie's Bowl Me Over 2.0.  It is a purse-sized bag that will be my "personal item" (aka the bag that needs to fit under the seat in front of you) when I fly, but I also like the size of it to use as a regular purse.

Bowl Me Over 2.0 in Skull Camouflage

Annie released the updated pattern at Fall Quilt Market 2019, so it's hot off the presses.  I think what really sold me on making this bag was that the updated pattern included an option to have handles and an adjustable, detachable strap or the original version's long over-the-shoulder straps.  I really like having the option to hand carry a bag, but I also love the flexibility of being able to wear it crossbody or on my shoulder.  This bag gives me the adjust how I'm carrying it based on what works for me at that moment.

With my fabrics selected (Skull Camouflage by Timeless Treasures, Swiss Dot in Grey by Riley Blake, and a black solid), it was time to select thread.  I chose 40wt Aurifil thread in colors 5012 (Dark Green), 2311 (Muslin), and 2692 (black).

40wt Aurifil in colors 2311 (Muslin), 5012 (Dark Green), & 2692 (Black)
When I'm making bags, I like to use 40wt. It is a heavier thread than the 50wt that I use for piecing quilts.  The extra bit of durability is super important especially when you get into larger bags, but I also like how it looks when it is quilted, especially when it is quilted on Soft and Stable, my favorite sew-in stabilizer.  I kicked off the project by quilting a 1" grid before cutting the individual pieces for the bag as the pattern instructs.


A few months ago, I saw an Instagram post with the coolest skull zipper pulls from Emmaline Bags.  Even though I didn't know what I would use them for at the time, I had to buy some.  When I pulled the fabric for my Bowl Me Over 2.0 bag, I knew that this was the right project for them.

Skull zipper pulls + the gunmetal hardware from emmalinebags.com

The bag has some seriously great pockets.  There is a full-sized mesh pocket (instructions are included for making the pocket with mesh or with fabric) + a divided 3-compartment slip pocket on the inside and a magnetic closure flap pocket on the front + a 3/4 height zippered pocket on the back of the exterior.

So many pockets!

Here's what I have in my Bowl Me Over 2.0 bag from my regular purse:  a small wallet, cosmetic bag (it's a ByAnnie small Ditty Bag), glasses case, soft sunglasses case, backup battery pack for my phone, and my car keys.  In addition to the regular bag stuff, I've also added my iPad (which I don't always travel with), my Kindle, a phone cable + power brick, and my somewhat bulky Beats headphones.  I admit that I'm pretty good at making stuff fit in bags (put things in vertically rather than horizontally often makes a huge difference), but this all fit without drama.  There's probably a good 3" or so that is empty when measured from the top of the stuff to the top of the bag.

Yup, it all fits!

Overall, I'm super happy with how my bag turned out.  I haven't had the chance to actually take a trip with the bag yet, but I can tell you that I'm happy with how my travel must-haves fit and how well the bag functions as a purse for normal use!

I'm bowled over by my Bowl Me Over 2.0 bag.  How about you?



If you're curious as to what my absolute favorite bag for travel might be, I'm more than happy tell you all about it!  It's the Travel Duffle 2.0 that is also from Patterns by Annie.  I made the original full-size Travel Duffle pattern back in 2016, and I loved it from the very beginning.  It's a bag that I use quite frequently for trips in the car or for using as my carry-on when I fly (as long as you aren't on a small regional jet or a turboprop, I have had zero issues with the bag fitting in an overhead bin).  When I go to Quilt Market, I usually collapse the bag inside my large suitcase so I have an extra bag if needed.  Who am I really kidding?  Of course I will need to use it!

I decided to make the updated Travel Duffle 2.0 bag in 2018 before I was departing for a quilting cruise to Alaska.  Why?  To be honest, I really wanted to use a specific fabric that I had just purchased.  There was nothing wrong with the original bag, so I tossed it in the washer/dryer and passed it along to my mom before we left on the cruise.

My Travel Duffle 2.0 bag is made with fabrics by Alexander Henry, Timeless Treasures, and Alison Glass for Andover using 40wt Aurifil in colors 1154, 2021, and 2692.
My original Travel Duffle bag is made with fabrics by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery using 40wt Aurifil in colors 2625, 2692, and 1243.
The pair of Travel Duffle Bags as we waited to be picked up from the cruise terminal.  Mom's duffle is actually turned so that the front is toward the handle of her suitcase.

That's all I have for you today because it's time to get back to making plans for my next sewing project!  Thank you for visiting.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

2019 #SewPINK Initiative Blog Hop



Hey, folks!  We are basically halfway through October, and it's finally my day to share the project that I created as part of ByAnnie's #SewPINK Initiative blog hop!

Before I get to that, can we talk about the fact that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the US according to the Center for Disease Control?  That's pretty significant, and I think it's quite scary.  Mammograms are not on my list of fun things to do, but they are a valuable tool for helping to detect breast cancer early.  In combination with monthly self-exams and being checked by your doctor during your annual well-woman exam, it's worth the few moments of your time.  Please don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about any changes that you may notice.  The chance that it might help to save your life will more than make up for a couple of minutes of a potentially uncomfortable conversation.

Ok, let's get back to the thing you came to see!




To celebrate the amazing strength, bravery, and courage of those women AND men who fight against breast cancer, I made a mini quilt that is ~15" x 20".  I used an amazing pattern from Happy Sew Lucky's Tattoo block series called Courage.  As usual, my insanely talented friend Teresa Silva of Quilting Is My Bliss worked her quilting magic by adding some beautiful custom quilting to give depth, texture, and definition to the piece.  I wanted it to have a little extra bit of oomph, so ByAnnie's Soft and Stable was used in place of regular quilt batting.  Soft and Stable adds a bit of body to the piece and helps to really show off the fabulous stitching.  It's become my go-to "batting" for all of my mini quilts (in addition to being my go-to bag stabilizer)!  If you haven't tried it yet, you really should!




I selected a range of pink and grey solids plus one of my favorite dots for the background just to mix it up a little.  From top to bottom they are:  Designer Solids in Manatee from Free Spirit, Cotton Couture in Ozone from Michael Miller, Polka Dot in Silver from Dear Stella, Kona Cotton in Valentine by Robert Kaufman, Designer Solids in Pink from Free Spirit, and Cotton Couture in Pink by Michael Miller.

The quilt was foundation paper pieced using 50wt Aurifil 100% cotton thread in Natural White (color 2021).  I loved how subtle the grey looked against the quilt, so I also used Ozone for the binding so it would not distract from the design in the center.




I hope you are enjoying the posts from all of my fellow bloggers and the product deals that are currently being offered this month from ByAnnie!  You can find the links with more information about the deals and giveaways below.

I would also like to say a special thanks to the team at ByAnnie for taking BEAUTIFUL photos of my quilt.  You're a star, B!

For now I'll wrap up with a gratuitous close-up shot of the quilting!  I love those swirls!


Custom quilting done by Teresa Silva of Quilting is My Bliss


The #SewPink Initiative was created by ByAnnie.com LLC to raise awareness for breast cancer during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. They have pledged to raise funds to donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through sales and to promote action through giveaways.

To see the calendar of events visit: https://www.byannie.com/2019-SewPINK#calendar

For more information please visit the official #SewPINK information page: https://www.byannie.com/2019-SewPINK

To donate directly to the BCRF visit: https://give.bcrf.org/give/31404/#!/donation/checkout

ByAnnie will be donating 30% of profits on all SewPINK items sold at their web store. You can search for SewPINK items on their website or see the list of items here: https://www.byannie.com/index.php?route=product/search&search=sewpink

Find a screening program near you:

Friday, October 11, 2019

More than 5! - October 2019 Aurifil Artisan Challenge

It's a new month, so Aurifil has set forth a new challenge for the Artisans. Our October's challenge is to use more than 5 colors in a project.  While it is quite common for me to use 2-4 thread colors in most of my quilt or bag projects, I don't often exceed that number (except for once which I will tell you about at the end).  The greatest opportunity I have to use additional colors seems to be when I'm doing a hand sewing project.  I've used 7 or 8 colors on an English Paper Piecing project that I never finished (and no, I'm not showing you that because it is NOT good).  LOL.  Cross stitch, my most recent obsession, has become a great vehicle for using a lot of color.

Because it's October and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, it seemed timely to make this super cute Vintage Black Cat pattern by Not So Modern Millie (be warned that the stitch chart is only in B&W at the time of this post, so dig out some colored pencils because you may want to color it in).  I've used 8 different colors of Aurifloss, and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Aurifloss colors from L to R: 1135, 1147, 1133, 4030, 2610, 2600, 2021, 2692

And because I couldn't stop there... what do you get when you find a pattern that would make a perfect gift for a friend and it has more than 5 colors?  That's right!  You get a second Aurifil Artisan project for October!

Aurifloss colors from L to R: 1114, 2892, 1100, 2479, 2105, 1246, 2692
"You Can't Make Everybody Happy. You're Not Tequila" (pattern from @stephxstitch) is the first cross stitch project that I have gifted to anybody.  Thankfully, the gift was a total success and  my tequila loving friend was THRILLED (here's the proof)!  I used 7 colors of Aurifil's Aurifloss to complete the project.  Once it was stitched, it got a quick bath in Soak wash before getting pressed,  hooped, and mailed.

I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention my personal all-time record for the number of thread colors used in a project.  For that we need to rewind and go back to the Sewology quilt that I finished in September 2018.  I pieced the twin-sized quilt top with 18 colors of thread - 17 are 50wt cotton and clear monofilament.  Yes, really!  It seems pretty crazy to do that, right?  Perhaps it is, but if you've ever pressed seams open on a quilt, you may have noticed that you can sometimes see little dots of your piecing thread between the fabrics.  I absolutely didn't want that to happen on this quilt, so I went a little overboard (and my little thread loving heart thoroughly enjoyed the challenge).  I matched thread to the fabrics that I would be using in each block.

Thread colors (2230, 2021, 5004) matched to fabric picks for the Seam Ripper block
The 12 block quilt was originally released as a block of the month program from Pen and Paper Patterns, so I was working in small amounts.  35 fabrics from the Kaleidoscope collection by Alison Glass for Andover and 18 thread selections later, my top was finished and off to be custom quilted by Teresa Silva of Quilting Is My Bliss.

Photo by @pinkdoorfabrics
Do I actually think it was necessary to use as many colors as I did?  Absolutely not, but if you've got 'em, why not use them?  LOL.

That just about wraps up everything I've got for you today.  I'm off to sew something, and I hope you are too!  Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month + ByAnnie's New #SewPINK Initiative (and Blog Hop!!)

I wanted to pop in and take the opportunity introduce you to a special event during the month of October.  My friends at ByAnnie.com have launched the #SewPink (note that not all posts with that hashtag may be related to this specific event because that's just how Instagram rolls) initiative to help raise awareness for breast cancer and to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

I am very proud to have been selected to join a group of bloggers that have been tasked with creating something to share with all of you.  You can find out more information about the event by following the links below, including a calendar so you can see the list of participating bloggers.  Be sure to come back here on Tuesday, October 15 when I unveil my project.  I will be posting pics on my Instagram account, but you will be able to read more about it here!





The #SewPink Initiative was created by ByAnnie.com LLC to raise awareness for breast cancer during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. They have pledged to raise funds to donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through sales and promote action through giveaways.

For more information please visit their official #SewPINK information page: https://www.byannie.com/2019-SewPINK

To donate directly visit: https://give.bcrf.org/give/31404/#!/donation/checkout

To see the calendar of events visit: https://www.byannie.com/2019-SewPINK#calendar

ByAnnie will be donating 30% of profits on all SewPINK items sold on their web store. You can search for SewPINK items on their website or see the list of items here: https://www.byannie.com/index.php?route=product/search&search=sewpink

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Adventures in Cross Stitch - September 2019 Aurifil Artisan Challenge

Have you ever woken up one day and decided that you wanted to try a new hobby?  I've done that more than once.  That's how I started sewing, and now I've done it again with my latest obsession - cross stitch.

Cross stitch seems to be making a comeback as a hot new hobby, and I am super excited to see what designers are releasing.  From the snarky (my favorite) and profanity-laden to traditional designs, there's basically something for everyone.  

This year's batch of Aurifil Artisans have been invited to participate in challenges.  Each month has a different theme, and September is all about embroidery and cross stitch!  Of course that means I couldn't resist signing up to participate.  Without further ado, here's my featured project:



For this project, I used a design by Subversive Cross Stitch with Aurifil's 100% cotton floss (aka Aurifloss) in colors 2692 (Black), 2250 (Red), 2870 (Green), and 2120 (Canary).  To give it a bit of extra flair, I used some tiny sew-in rhinestones that I ordered from Subversive Cross Stitch's online shop.  I was so happy with how the design came out that I decided to get it professionally framed! p.s. If you really want to go the extra mile when you're having something framed, I highly recommend using Museum Glass.  It's a more expensive option, but it gives great UV protection and there's basically no glare.



I am a big fan of Julie from Subversive Cross Stitch (WARNING: some of the designs do have bad words, so it may be best viewed when not at work or when children are present) because her designs probably aren't what you expect to see when you hear "cross stitch."  If you follow me on Instagram, you've already seen several of her patterns that I've stitched out, but I've shared a few of them at the bottom of this post for your viewing enjoyment (none have bad words).

While you can do cross stitch with a couple of different thread options, I've been using Aurifloss, Aurifil's 6 stranded 100% Egyptian cotton floss.  Each wooden spool has 18 yards of floss, and all 270 of Aurifil's colors are available (with the same color number as the other cotton weights).  I've been 3 strands with 14 count Aida cloth (as recommended by Aurifil), and it's worked very well.  As always, I would recommend to test on a scrap piece of cloth and see if you are happy with how things look.

When I decided to try out cross stitching, I ordered a small collection called Flossie.  The Flossie box has 5 small spools of floss in an assortment of colors that would work great to get me started on my adventure.
Image courtesy of Aurifil
After a few projects, I knew that I was totally hooked, so I knew that I would want more colors to choose from.  Enter the Best Selection 2018 collection.  With 45 spools in a lovely range of colors, my little thread-loving heart was bursting with joy and with excitement for all of the fun things that I plan to make.
Image courtesy of Aurifil

Other than Aurifloss, my other cross stitching essentials are a Q-Snap frame (I mostly use the 8"), a small pair of scissors, 14 Count Aida cloth, and tapestry needles (I'm still trying to find which I like most, but I've been pretty happy with size 24 John James Tapestry Needles).  You'll also want to have good light.  I use a Stella Sky lamp next to my living room couch that is great for when I'm cross stitching or binding a quilt.  The Daylight Company also has some good floor-standing options.  I have several of their lamps that I use on a daily basis, but they are mostly tabletop which isn't ideal if you don't have a table next to the couch to put them on. ;)

Here are a few other work-appropriate cross stitch projects that I've made with Aurifloss (information on colors used is included).


Spark Joy Or Get Out pattern from Subversive Cross Stitch made w/ Aurifloss colors 2692 (Black) & 2545 (Medium Purple)

A Cat Is An Angel That Poops In A Box pattern from Subversive Cross Stitch made w/ Aurifloss colors 2692 (Black), 2610 (Light Blue Grey), 2423 (Baby Pink), 2140 (Orange Mustard), & 2815 (Teal)
So, that's it from me because it's time to go sew!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Juniper Blog/IG Tour

Hi there

Welcome to my stop on Jessica VanDenburgh's Instagram/blog hop for her new line with Windham Fabrics, Juniper!



From snails and dragonflies to tiny, adorable mushrooms, Juniper is a sweet, whimsical collection.  You can check out the full collection on the Windham Fabrics website in more detail here.



To show off the collection, I opted to make a set of all 5 sizes of the Clam Up bag pattern from ByAnnie. The pattern makes a great gift, and it's quick to sew!  Another reason I love this pattern is because it includes instructions for using quilted fabric, un-quilted fabric, and for using Slicker, a fusible vinyl product to give the bag an easy-to-wipe clean interior.  I chose to quilt the fabric using a 3/4" grid set at a 45 degree angle which should probably come as no surprise to anybody that might follow me on social media.  LOL.  The simplicity of the grid quilted on the ByAnnie's Soft and Stable foam stabilizer is super for adding texture without distracting from the prints or colors of the fabric.  40wt Aurifil thread is my thread of choice to add the perfect blend of strength and texture.  With 270 colors and multiple thread weight options, I love how I can find the right thread for my projects with Aurifil.

Yes, I really did use all of these colors!
Without further ado, here's a pic of each bag that includes the part # for the fabrics and the colors of 40wt Aurifil thread that I used:

Extra Small - 51318-2 and 51918M-3 with Aurifil colors 2311, 2435, 2520
Small - 51315-3 and 51317-7 with Aurifil colors 2311, 5002, 2423
Medium - 51318-1 and 51319M-9 with Aurifil colors 2783, 1320, and 1231
Large - 51316-4 and 51317-6 with Aurifil colors 2311 and 1148
Extra Large - 51314M-1, 51315-2, and 51315-1 with Aurifil colors 2783, 1320, and 4225

And look how adorable the Clam Up bags look when nested together!
Thanks for spending some time with me today.  I hope you enjoyed seeing how I used Juniper, the new collection by Jessica VanDenburgh of Sew Many Creations for Windham Fabrics, and I hope that you will check out all of the other super awesome makers that are participating!  Jessica is giving away a fat quarter bundle of Juniper to one lucky winner.  You can find out more info on how to enter by following the instructions on Jessica's first post for the tour (August 18).

Here's the full schedule :

August 18 - Jessica VanDenburgh @sewmanycreations
August 19 - Shayla & Kristy Wolf  @Sassafraslane
August 20 - Natalie Crabtree @njcrabtree
August 21 -  Nikki Maroon @thegirlwhoquilts
August 22 - Lee Chappell Monroe @maychappell
August 23 - Heather Givans @crimsontate
August 24 - Leslie Meltzer @lelliebunny - YOU ARE HERE! :)
August 25 - Tammy Silvers @tamarinis
August 26 - Tiffany Sepulveda @sewtiffany
August 27 - Alison O'Grady @sewbeeitclothier
August 28 - Kate Colleran @seamslikeadreamquilts
August 29 - Jamie & Jill @Sunflower_quilt
August 30 - Sherry Shish @poweredbyquilting
August 31 - Linda & Carl @colourwerx
September 1 - Karen @LadyKQuilts 
September 2 - Stephanie Soebbing @quiltaddictsanonymous
September 3 - Jessica VanDenburgh @sewmanycreations

Thursday, July 11, 2019

It's time to make a choice...of thread colors!

I'm selecting thread today for an upcoming project, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to share more about the way I go about picking colors.

For basic quilt piecing as a general rule, I will often piece in a neutral thread, such as a light grey (Aurifil 2600) or white (Aurifil 2021), that will blend in with most of the colors of the quilt top.  Depending on the project, sometimes that "neutral" is anything but neutral.  When I'm going to work on a project where the thread will be entirely visible, such as quilting or topstitching on a bag or garment, I get a little more picky on what I use (this is a massive understatement).  ;)

I like to select thread weights and colors before each new project so I can have the right thread on hand and ready to go when I need it.  My process usually starts with comparing the fabric (or zippers/mesh/ribbon) with my trusty Aurifil color card. If I'm torn between a couple of colors or if one isn't quite a perfect match, I will grab a couple of options and go from there.

Based on what I see next to the color card, I would pull color 2588 as a likely match to coordinate with the fabric.

I recommend color cards that have actual product on it when possible for thread or fabric. Purchasing the color cards have saved me a ton of time and money when I need to order online or simply if I can’t remember exactly which solid fabric I used.  In a pinch, I've used pre-printed swatches, but they aren't usually as accurate as the real thing. I wrote a blog post about color cards and DIY versions a couple of years ago that is still applicable, so here's the link.

From there, I pull the colors and unwind a few inches from the spool to see if I like the match or not (this also gives me a chance to see if I need to order more).  If you happen to be thinking, wow, you person must have a lot of thread, please also remember that I have been using Aurifil since 2013, so I've amassed a pretty good stash of colors.  I really do have a lot of thread, but it wasn't purchased at one time.  :)

It's a little hard to see, but the grey thread is spread out over several of the colors so I can see if I like how it looks.

If I unwind a bit and I'm still unsure, I will actually take a small scrap of the fabric and stitch a line of each thread to see how it actually works.  Sometimes you just do what you gotta do, right? ;)  If I am pleased with the color but I think it needs a bit more or less texture, I may decide to use a different thread weight.

One of my favorite things about Aurifil’s cotton thread is that that the color numbers are consistent across the weights, including floss! So, if I have the right color in the wrong weight (i.e. I have it in 50wt, but I want 40wt for my project), I can order with confidence that I’m getting the right color. That makes me super happy (and reduces my stress level)!

As a side note, I also record the colors that I use with each project so that I don't necessarily have to go back through the whole process if I'm using the same fabrics in another project.  :)

Well, that's basically it.  Now it's time to order one spool of thread for my upcoming project so I can get started!