Sunday, May 17, 2020

Me Made May - Aurifil Artisan Challenge May 2020

Welcome back for the final challenge for the 2019-2020 Aurifil Artisans.  It's been a great year!

Anyway, I'm excited to share my project with you.  I wanted to do something that was a little different than what you may expect to see during Me Made May, but it was important that the project still fit with the theme for the month.  So, without further ado, I present to you...a hat!

Can you tell that it's actually partly sunny here in Seattle?

This is the Reversible Bucket Hat pattern by Betz White.  I love how the pattern includes multiple sizes (kids through adult), and I think the idea of it being reversible is cool because it's like 2 hats in one (even though I expect to wear the grey side out at least 99.9% of the time)!

Here's the reverse side of the hat.

For my hat, I chose a cotton/linen blend fabric from Trefle by Kokka and a Linen Mochi Dot from Moda.  The grey and neon yellow colors seemed very appropriate for spring/summer, and I think dots pretty much go with anything.  It's also important to note that I wanted my hat to be a tiny bit more floppy than the canvas/denim/twill exterior mentioned in the pattern, so there was a method to the madness as they say.  Just as a side note,  I chose to use a white fusible interfacing because I was more concerned about the possibility of black interfacing making the light grey exterior look darker than I was about the white interfacing making the black linen look lighter.



Once I had my fabrics chosen, I selected thread.  I knew that my project would be sewn with a straight stitch on woven fabrics, so I chose to use Aurifil's cotton 40/2 thread.  I made the decision that I wanted the thread to blend in well but there wasn't an exact match, so I selected the thread color that was just a smidge darker than the fabric.  My choice for the exterior was color 2620 (Stainless Steel).  I really like how it turned out.  For the lining, I chose to keep it super simple, so I used 40 weight thread in Black (color 2692).  As I've mentioned before, I love how the 40/2 weight thread is great for construction and for details that matter like topstitching.

I think my thread choice was perfect!

Overall, this was a fast and fun project that I can absolutely see myself making again.  Other than attaching the brim to the hat which didn't require any exceptional sewing/pinning gymnastics to ease in, this pattern seemed like a good way for a quilter to make a garment/accessory that isn't super intimidating and it doesn't require a lot of fitting (though you do need to measure around your head to determine which size to make)!  I think it's would be an appropriate project for a new sewist to get some practice with curves and topstitching.


Totally cute, right?

So, that's it for me today!  I hope you are all staying healthy and safe.  I would also like to say a special thanks to the folks at Aurifil for giving me (and my fellow Artisans) a platform on which to share my thoughts and experience with their products.


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Favorite thread weight - April 2020 Artisan Challenge

Hey everybody!  After a few health challenges earlier this year, I'm to happy to be back here with you.  Our Aurifil Artisan challenge for April was favorite thread weight.  This one was tough for me because I use different weights for different tasks.  I thought I'd take the opportunity to write it all down and hope that it would lead me to a clear winner starting in the order that I really discovered Aurifil.

So without further ado, off we go!

A thread pull from a recent project that I promise to show you soon!
Top row (50 wt): 2692, 2435, 2600
Bottom row (40 wt) 2435, 5004

50/2 weight - the orange spool
My first Aurifil experience was with 50 weight thread that I purchased at a big sewing/quilting show.  It's a thread that I've been using for 6 years, and it's the weight that I use for all of my quilt piecing.  I use it for traditional patchwork and foundation paper piecing, but I've also used it when I've experimented with projects that had machine appliqué and English paper piecing.  Before I started using 40 weight (coming up next on my list), I also used it for making some bags and machine quilting on a domestic machine.

Why do I like it?  It's fine enough so that it doesn't add bulk in my seams which is super important for accurate piecing, but it's strong enough to give a lot of integrity to my seams. It blends in beautifully and helps me to get the super flat seams that I love.  With 270 colors to choose from, it's rare that I have issues finding the right thread color for my projects.

50wt Aurifil in color 2600 (Dove Grey) used for foundation paper piecing.  Each piece is just over 1/8", so thread weight makes a big difference!

40/2 weight - the green spool
When I started making more bags and quilts, I started really thinking about what I was using and how I wanted it to perform.  I wanted a thread with a bit more heft, so I decided to try Aurifil's 40/2 Mako cotton.  I think it was a game changer for me.

Why do I like it?  I love it for quilting because it gives me just a bit more texture which can be a little tricky when you are the type of person that likes the thread to visually blend in to the fabric.  I use 40 weight when I make bags for the little bit of extra durability from the thicker thread.  The slight increase in thickness over the 50 weight is perfect for topstitching on bags and garments (non-stretch fabrics) too.  I also use 40 weight when I hand bind a quilt or bag.  Binding always seems to have bit more wear and tear, so the slightly heavier thread holds up to that really well.  It isn't really any more visible than 50 weight if you match the color of the thread to the color of your binding.

I love how the 40 wt topstitching looks on this skirt hem. The colors are 1200 (Blue Violet) & 2692 (Black).

Here's some 40 wt used on a bag that I quilted. This is 2479 (Medium Orchid) and 1148 (Light Jade) on the zipper.

Aurifloss cotton floss - available on a wooden spool like 80/2 weight
While I love Aurifloss, I know that it won't beat out 40 and 50 weight for being my favorite, but it's still awesome so I wanted to mention it.  :)

Why do I like it?  I started doing cross stitch last summer, and I love how this thread feels in my hand when I'm stitching.  I love that I can wash my finished projects and not worry about the dye bleeding (this is true with all of the Aurifil thread that I've ever used).  Another thing that I really like is that I can match the colors of my other threads (like the 50 and 40 weight, the same 270 colors are available in the floss).  Plus, it's super cool that I can buy it in the same colors that frequently use in my regular sewing.  Finally, those wooden spools are just so stinkin' adorable.  LOL.

A pretty assortment of Aurifloss in purples and greys.

LET THE BATTLE BEGIN!
I pulled out a couple of projects that I made using the same fabrics, the same stabilizer (yes, it's Soft and Stable®), and the same color of thread, but they were stitched with 2 different thread weights. Let's start with a photo of both projects together.

ByAnnie Ditty Bag (back) and a scaled down ByAnnie Necessories Mini Bag

They don't look that much difference at first glance, right?  Let's look a little bit closer.

Left is 50 wt.  Right is 40 wt.  Both are color 2530 (Blossom Pink)

Same photos just slightly more zoomed in
When you zoom in on the bags, I think it's easier to see the difference.  Can you see that the 40 weight (on the right side of both photos) looks a wee bit thicker?  The weight gives the stitches a little more definition and texture.  I just really love how it looks.  Personally, I don't necessarily think there's an inherent benefit to using the thicker thread other than aesthetics on these types of small projects.  They will not come under tension/weight bearing to the point that there would be a risk of thread failure due to overloading.

I do think that the thread weight can (and does) make a difference when you get into larger projects, especially those that may have a more rough life (ie., lots more trips through the washing machine, bearing heavier loads, being sewn through thicker materials).

I've shared this link before, but I think it's super handy, so I'm sharing it again.  If you've ever wondered what thread weight Aurifil recommends for different types of projects, or if you've wondered what size needle is recommended for the various thread weights, check out Aurifil's Product Guide here.

THE VERDICT
Ok, so I guess it's time to make a call.  I don't think there's really a wrong answer because I do use both of them an awful lot, but if I had to pick only one weight, my pick would have to be 40 weight. From quilting, binding to topstitching garments and bags, 40 weight is the thread that I use for most of my sewing.  With that said, if I was just piecing quilts, I probably would have picked 50 weight. Does that mean I changed my answer?

I did promise to show you my project soon, didn't I?  :)

Yes and no - sometimes the best answer is to not pick just one favorite!  This is the pillow that I made using blocks from the Mini Series Sew Along that featured patterns by Alison Glass and Giuseppe Ribaudo of Giucy Giuce.  I pieced the blocks using 50 weight thread, mostly in Dove Grey (color 2600).  I used 50 weight Black (color 2692) to sew the 4 smaller sub-sections together in the bottom left block (4 - 2" blocks are sewn to make a larger block), and I used 50 weight Peachy Pink (color 2435) to add the sashing.  Once all of the top was pieced, I lightly quilted in the sashing using the same, beautiful Peachy Pink in 40 weight.  Even though it isn't visible, the backing of the pillow is grey, so I used 40 weight Grey Smoke (color 5004).

That's all I've got for you right now, so thanks for spending a bit of time with me today. :)

Friday, January 10, 2020

Organization - January 2020 Aurifil Artisan Challenge

It's hard to believe it's January again, but here we are nonetheless!

The start of a new year is often a time that people make resolutions, and one that is fairly common is to get more organized.  I love organizing, so our January 2020 Aurifil Artisan Challenge is right up my alley.

When I first started sewing, I didn't have a cabinet that held my machine and supplies, so I pulled out my machine, supplies, and cutting mat every time I wanted to sew...and then put it back immediately after I was done.  I still do not have a dedicated sewing room, but I do have space in our 2nd bedroom/office where I can have my sewing machine cabinet set up all the time (and my husband has been gracious in his acceptance of my sewing stuff encroaching onto his side).

I'm going to approach this from a few different directions, so hopefully one (or more) will apply to your situation.  Please keep in mind that this is what works best for ME, and one solution will NOT work for everybody.  It's also important to note that I'm pretty obsessive about organization, but it may not be for the reason you think.  I use organization as a way to manage some of the chaos in my head.  If I can go to a place/room/container/location and find what I need, that hugely reduces my stress and frustration.  For me, it's worth taking an extra minute or two at the end of each project to put my thread back into its proper location.  That way it's easy to find the next time I need it.

My philosophy on organization in general
I used to work for a beloved organization company, and the thing that I would consistently tell customers is that they need to figure out what works for them, especially as it pertains to storage of personal stuff.

As an example, let's say you wanted to alphabetize your movie collection.  You've got The Avengers.  Do you put it under T for "The" or A for "Avengers"?  This is YOUR movie collection, so if you're more likely to look for Avengers, put it as an A.  If you always refer to the movie by its full title, put it under T for The Avengers.  

The same thing goes for storing fabric.  Do you store by color, collection, designer, manufacturer, or something entirely different?  It's your stuff, so thinking about how YOU work really does matter.  Struggling with something that just isn't working can make things feel even worse and more out of control which isn't any fun.

With that out of the way, let's get into it!

Storing and organizing thread (AKA where I keep my Aurifil)
When I first started sewing, I was told that thread is best stored away from light, heat, and dust, so my primary thread storage area is a narrow 10-drawer cabinet that I purchased from The Container Store.

My thread cabinet
This solution also works well for me because it's on wheels so I can move it around, and the labels on the drawers make it easy to find what I'm looking for.  Here's how I came up with my system - when I am going to pull thread for a project, I think about what I will be making which, in turn, determines the weight of thread that I want/need to use.  I primarily use 50 weight thread (it comes on an orange spool) for all of my quilt piecing, 40 weight thread (on the green spool) for quilting, binding a quilt, and bag making, and floss (on a wooden spool - note that 80 weight also comes on a wooden spool) for cross stitch.

With that said, this was a good place to start for me.  Once I know which thread weight will be appropriate for my project (if you are unsure which weight is best suited to your project, I suggest checking out this handy guide from Aurifil), it's time to look for the perfect color of thread.  Like many people, I have certain colors to which I gravitate.  I put those colors right up front because I use them frequently.  From there, I grouped similar colors together and worked that way down the line.

A peek inside the top 2 drawers
For storing bobbins, I take a slightly different approach.  My primary sewing machine uses different bobbins than my travel/backup machine, so I store the bobbins separately from my thread.  The large bobbins for my main machine live by my sewing cabinet while the bobbins for my travel machine live in the bag with that machine.

Like my spools, I store bobbins by thread weight, but I have them split up by neutrals, warm colors, and cool colors.  I added labels to each of the boxes to make them easy to identify.

I've tried other styles of bobbin storage, but this is what I always come back to using.
The exception to all of this is my Aurifloss.  I really like to have my floss be super portable, and I found a storage box on Amazon that holds ~100 small spools of thread and snaps closed.  

This Slimline Storage Box is great for helping me keep my Aurifloss tidy and accessible

Organizing my sewing space (AKA things to hold stuff that I've made with Aurifil**)
This is a constant battle for me because I like to make quilts, bags, and occasionally some sort of garment (mostly PJ pants) or home dec item (mostly pillowcases).  I also became hooked on cross stitch last year, so that's another thing to manage!  The solution that seems to work the best for me is to keep what I need within arm's reach.  Without further ado, let's get into this!

One of my favorite ways to organize is with the handy multiple spool holder that attaches to the back of my sewing machine.  This particular one is made by Bernina, but I also have one that I used on my old Pfaff. It's also super handy because it is capable of holding thread on cones when you use the adapter. If you look closely, you can see part of the cone adapter on the far right.  When I don't have this many spools on the rack, I usually keep a cone of my favorite piecing thread - 50wt Aurifil in color 2600 (Dove Grey).  While the spool holder is really marketed toward people who do machine embroidery, but I love it as a place to stage the thread and bobbins that I will need for a project/series of projects.  After each project, I put all of the thread and bobbins back into their proper locations for storage.

My Bernina Multiple Spool Holder keeps my thread easy to grab as I need to change colors

Other than thread, I keep my MVPs (the things I use very frequently or are likely to get misplaced) next to my machine in a In Control caddy (pattern from ByAnnie*) that was a gift from a friend.  It's the perfect size to sit on the windowsill next to my machine (the blinds and window shade are always closed on that part of the window).  I keep tools like my favorite air-soluble and water-soluble marking pens, a stiletto (plus a backup), the oil for my machine, my bobbins, my 8" dressmakers shears for cutting fabric (plus a pair for paper), an old pill bottle that I use for holding bent pins and old needles, my magnetic pincushion, and a few 1" x 6" rulers.  It's also a great convenient place to keep a backup pair of eyeglasses that is fairly close to my current prescription, a small notepad, and some sticky note pads.

All the pockets of In Control keep the supplies managed so they are super easy to access.
I also have a "go bag" that is always ready for a class or a day spent sewing with a friend.  Who hasn't been to a class and forgotten something essential?  Maybe it's something simple like pins, a rotary cutter, or a marking pen, but I'm pretty sure we've all done at it some point.  I'm also pretty notorious for being the person who has the thing that somebody else has forgotten.  Maybe it's a something like a bandage or maybe it's different size or type of machine needle, I'm usually the person that has the item.  I've tried to pare it down so it will fit in to a smaller bag, and that seems to work for now...until it doesn't. ;)

My Running With Scissors "go bag"
At present, I'm using a Running With Scissors bag (pattern from ByAnnie*), but one of my all-time favorite bags is Annie's A Place for Everything bag (not pictured).  Running With Scissors is significantly smaller, but maybe that's not a bad thing!  The nice thing about having a second set of supplies ready to go is that I know where I can quickly find a spare if I've temporarily misplaced an item!

When I'm working on a cross stitch project, I keep the floss I will need and a few essentials (mini scissors, a needle threader, and some extra needles) in this small case from Thread Dispenser/Sewing Case 2.0 pattern from ByAnnie*.  It makes it easy to keep what I need ready for when I want to sit on the couch or in a doctor's waiting room.

I love this little Sewing Case for holding my essentials when I am cross stitching. 
This is probably a good place to stop because I could go on for days about storage and organization, so don't tempt me! ;)

Before I end, I want to reiterate that there is no single solution that will work for every person.  It's just not realistic.  I also want to acknowledge that yes, I do have a lot of thread, but I've been building my collection since I first discovered Aurifil in 2013. Here's the blog post I wrote about it back in 2018!


*If you think you've spotted a trend with a certain pattern designer, you'd be right.  With that said, I want to be clear that I am NOT paid to make or promote her patterns, but I do some independent contracting work for her as a technical editor.  In short, I try to find errors in the patterns and try to ensure that terms and verbiage are consistent and correct from pattern to pattern.  The first pattern that I made of hers was the A Place for Everything bag back in 2013!  I started doing editing work for Annie several YEARS after I was already making many of her patterns because they are sturdy, well-designed items that suit my needs.

**When I make bags, my thread of choice is 40wt Aurifil.  If you actually scroll back through my Instagram feed, you will find posts with information about the bags I make including specific thread colors and fabrics used.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Holiday Project - December 2019 Aurifil Artisan Challenge

I'm in denial that it's December, but my calendar insists that it's true.  Eek!!!

This month's Aurifil Artisan Challenge was to make a holiday themed project.  I decided to go out of the box on this one and make drawstring bags.  If you're wondering how this is holiday themed, it's because these bags would be great for reusable packaging for folks that like to retain their special packaging from year to year or as part of the gift itself.  I also love that they aren't necessarily bound to a particular event or holiday just by choosing different fabrics!  Plus, they are super cute, functional, and they can easily be customized to suit the tastes of the recipient.  Just to show how great they could be, I made 8 of them in a variety of sizes and styles.  Two of the bags (the black and blue) were made in non-holiday themed fabric just to show you the project with a slightly different look.

These Lined Drawstring bags are perfect for any holiday, not just the ones in December!

My favorite drawstring bag is Jeni Baker's Lined Drawstring Bag pattern.  She has a free single-size pattern available on her blog, but the paid pattern gives instructions for 8 sizes PLUS instructions for making your own custom-sized bag.  Jeni recently released an expansion pack for the Lined Drawstring Bag that includes a bunch of fun options that include how to turn the bag into a backpack, changing it up to have the accent at the bottom of the bag, a cute mini accent, and even how to make the pattern from a single fabric (plus a few more)!  I love how the bag is lined so that it's pretty on the inside as well as the outside, and the extra fabric improves the durability of the project.

In the interest of full disclosure, I did make a very slight adjustment to the pattern.  I decided to topstitch all of the seams 1/8" from the edge before I assembled the majority of the bag.  So, it isn't actually stitched through all layers, but it looks like it is!  This isn't really necessary or even visible from a distance, but I love the little bit of extra detail that I get when I topstitch in a matching thread.

I may have gone a bit overboard with making 8 of them, but they really are a super cool project.  After selecting my fabrics, I decided to use 40wt thread (Aurifil uses green spools for their 40/2 thread) for all of the bags.  The extra bit of thickness it has over the 50wt (the more commonly seen orange spools) makes topstitching and quilting look extra fabulous!

40wt Aurifil thread in colors (L to R): 4020, 5002, 5022, 2021, 4241, 4093, 1148, 1320, 2735

So, without further ado, here's a breakdown of what I made (including which fabrics, thread colors, bag styles, and sizes):

Clockwise from top: 1, 2, 3, 4
  1. Bottom Accent Backpack in Artist Size - Decoupage in Ink, Embroidery in Charcoal, Quilt in Magenta from Handiwork by Alison Glass for Andover using 40wt Aurifil in 4241 (Very Dark Grey) and 4020 (Fuchsia)
  2. Easy Going (2 fabric) in Project Size - Kitschy in Brite and Ornament in Merry from Holiday by Alison Glass for Andover using 40wt Aurifil in 4093 (Jade) and 4020 (Fuchsia)
  3. Mini Accent in DVD Size - Crossed in Fruitcake and Holly in Star from Holiday by Alison Glass for Andover using 40wt Aurifil in 5002 (Medium Red) and 5022 (Mustard)
  4. Bottom Accent in Everything Size - Stripe in Pine, Diamond in Candlelight, and Chorus in Jade from Holiday by Alison Glass for Andover using 40wt Aurifil in 1148 (Light Jade) and 5022 (Mustard)

Clockwise from top: 1, 2, 3, 4
  1. Original bag in Project Size  - Sew in Cobalt and Quilt in Sapphire from Handiwork by Alison Glass for Andover using 40wt Aurifil in 2735 (Medium Blue) and 1320 (Bright Teal)
  2. Original bag in Snack Size - Chorus in Tradition, Holly in Star, and Crossed in Snowflake from Holiday by Alison Glass for Andover using 40wt Aurifil in 5002 (Medium Red), 5022 (Mustard), and 2021(Natural White)
  3. Easy Going (2 fabric) in Tiny Size - Ribbon in Peppermint and Ornament in Merry from Holiday by Alison Glass for Andover using 40wt Aurifil in 4020 (Fuchsia)
  4. Mini Accent in Snack Size - Ribbon in Garland and Holly in Wreath from Holiday by Alison Glass for Andover using 40wt Aurifil in 4093 (Jade)
There are so many great things about this bag and so many ways they can be used.  I've made them to hold my travel sewing machine's foot pedal, but my favorite thing is  to use the Artist size (the size of the black backpack) as a shoe bag when I travel.  It's perfect to hold any of my shoes (I wear a size 9.5-10 in US women's sizes for reference), even my bulky running shoes and my 8-eye Dr Martens boots!  As a comparison, my mom's smaller size (7.5-8) shoes fit in the slightly smaller Project size bag. If it gets dirty, it's easily washable because the bags are made with quilting cotton, and I'm pretty confident that we've probably all washed that before!

So, I'll wrap this post up (get it?? I'm so punny!!) with this - I would like to wish everybody a happy, safe holiday season.  I'll see you back here in 2020!

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

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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!