Saturday, April 28, 2012

A New Swap??? the RATZ Swap

Check this out, straight from the group's main page:

"About Rapid and Tiny Zakka swap, the RATZ Swap
A group committed to Rapid and Tiny Swaps of a Zakka nature.
We will be hosting a number of swaps with a quick turnaround. The swaps will all be for small items, ie. inchies, key fobs, needlebooks, scissor holders, etc.

"Zakka (from the Japanese 'zak-ka'(雑貨)or 'many things') is a fashion and design phenomenon that has spread from Japan throughout Asia. The term refers to everything and anything that improves your home, life and appearance. It is often based on household items from the West that are regarded as kitsch in their countries of origin, but it can also be Japanese goods, mainly from the fifties, sixties, and seventies. In Japan there are also so-called Asian zakka stores; that usually refers to Southeast Asia. The interest in Nordic design or Scandinavian design, both contemporary and past, is also part of this zakka movement. Zakka can also be contemporary handicraft.

"Zakka has also been described as "the art of seeing the savvy in the ordinary and mundane". The zakka boom could be recognized as merely another in a series of consumer fads, but it also touches issues of self-expression and spirituality. "Cute, corny and kitschy is not enough. To qualify as a zakka, a product must be attractive, sensitive, and laden with subtext.""

How is that for a swap??? I guess it's mainly for a little something for in between the DQS rounds. I'm not admitting to anything, but if you want to check it out some more, you can get there by clicking on this link: Rapid and Tiny Zakka swap, the RATZ Swap.

p.s. You all are AWESOME!!! Can you believe that 38 of you have offered to test patterns for me???!! I thought maybe I'd get 3 or 4. You guys ROCK! I better get moving so I can take advantage of your generosity! Though I really don't know if I'll actually be able to use all of you. So if I don't contact you, just know that I am so forever grateful for your willingness! Thanks!!! :D

and... if you're waiting for part 3 of the Paper Piecing Series, I decided to make a little video. I was about 3/4 the way finished with it and the wee ones came home crying and upset and hungry, so the last segment still needs to be made. Plus some editing. I'm hoping to finish it up tonight, but it might have to wait until tomorrow. So just know it's coming! I'll throw in another laffy taffy joke to make it worth the wait! ;) lol.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Sewing Basics: Paper Piecing Series: Cutting Your Fabric

This is a Sewing Basics Series on Paper Piecing. 
You can find all of the posts under the Sewing Basics Tab at the top of my blog. 
 Please let me know if you have any questions or something doesn't make sense!

**My instructions for this series specifically pertain to my pattern Two Stars Squared. The method will be the same for any pattern, though the details may vary.


RS = Right Side of fabric, with the print or design
WS = Wrong Side of fabric
SA = Seam Allowance - this is the amount of space you have between the edge of the fabric and your seam line, or where you sew. All SA in this pattern are 1/4", as in most, if not all, Paper Pieced Patterns.

fabric on the left: wrong side up (WS up)
fabric on the right: right side up (RS up)

Cutting Out Your Fabric

I find my blocks go together faster if I have all my fabric cut out before I start making my blocks. But you certainly don't have to do that. As I've often cut as I went too. Here are two different methods for cutting out your fabric pieces.

The Quick Way:

Place your fabric over the section of your pattern that it will be for.

can you see how my fabric extends past the lines on the pattern piece for the shape in that corner?

When using a fabric print with an obvious right and wrong side: If your pattern piece is facing UP (so the text is on top) TURN YOUR FABRIC OVER so the Right Side is facing down!! Especially if you have a weird shape you are cutting, it will turn out backwards if you don't do this, and will simply become an extra scrap piece. 

Then cut your fabric AT LEAST 3/8" wider than the shape you are cutting. If you are just starting out with paper piecing, the more generous you are with the size you cut, the easier it will be. As you get more practice, you can start trimming it smaller. But I ALWAYS cut it at least 3/8" wider to allow for seam allowance on all sides. You don't want your block falling apart!

this is way more than you need, but especially when starting out, it doesn't hurt to give yourself a lot of wiggle room.


Repeat with all of your pieces.
more examples:

cutting out a big piece with less extra space than my previous example. Try and line up your pattern with the shape of your fabric to help save from weird scrap cuts (i.e. match the corners).

IMG_4622  IMG_4624
It's hard to tell with this fabric, but the print side is facing down.

*Sometimes I do this step as I sew. Especially if I'm doing a scrappy block where I'm using lots of different fabrics. I just cut as I get to the next piece.

The More Efficient Way (with less left over scraps): 

I first saw this idea on Crazy Mom Quilts, so it's definitely not my original idea. I also haven't done it as nice as Amanda Jean, so go check out her post if you want to see her method. 

Print out one extra pattern piece. 

Carefully cut out each shape on the lines.


Lay each piece on the coordinating fabric piece


Just like before, if your fabric is facing right side UP, so you can see the print design. MAKE SURE that your pattern piece is turned over so the print side is facing down!! (MY PICTURE IS THE WRONG WAY). Each piece in this pattern has the number on it so don't worry about not knowing which piece is up or down. If you are using a pattern that isn't numbered or marked, then make a mark on the top of each section before you cut out the pieces.

left pattern piece is facing UP
right pattern piece is facing DOWN
(I like visuals) :)

Cut around each piece AT LEAST 3/8" wider than the pattern piece on ALL sides! You can give it more space if you prefer to have a little more wiggle room! You won't need more than 1/2" wider.

I usually eyeball my cuts and don't always use a ruler for a straight edge. I'm not too OCD about conserving as much fabric as I can, so I give myself more room than not. Though I am starting to cut it close the more I do this. Usually it's still enough though. :) phew.

If you are cutting a lot of the same piece out of the same fabric it is easier to fold your fabric and cut them all at the same time. BUT beware that your fabric will be backwards on every other fold. In this instance, rather than cutting exactly around your shape, cute a general rectangle or square shape around it, with plenty of SA either way the pattern is laying.

pattern on folded fabric

no matter how I flip my pattern piece around it will still fit with enough room to spare.

Save your pattern pieces in a little bag to keep them together, and then you can use them again and again! :)

Pretty basic and easy. But it does take a little time to get all your shapes cut out. HOPEFULLY this will save you some mistakes too - which I have made PLENTY of. My scrap pile has grown by leaps and bounds from all the times I cut out my fabric backwards.
Tomorrow we'll start sewing and finish your block! :)

p.s. Mike mentioned that he didn't have a light table. But he does have a glass coffee table that he could put a light underneath! That would be perfect!! I had once seen a tutorial on Homespun Threads on making a light table, but I couldn't find it. I think you could google how to make one yourself if you are interested. Even a clear or frosted piece of plastic on a wood frame over a light would work great! Hopefully that gives you some more ideas to help you use what you might have lying around. :) Thanks Mike!


Covert Robin: Getting Closer to Giveaway Time!


Have you been keeping an eye on all of the Covert Robin gifts?! They are all amazing! I'm amazed at all the talent out there, as well as the creativity of items people have given! I am totally sucked into my sewing circle, it's been quite refreshing to step back and enjoy the world of everything-else-that's-awesome-besides-sewing! :) Thanks for sharing everyone!!

If you haven't linked up your guest blog posts yet, make sure you do!! Giveaways are on May 4th! You don't want to miss the awesome prizes! (linking your post is your chance to win!)

Go here to link up your blog post!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sewing Basics: Paper Piecing Series: Supplies

This is a Sewing Basics Series on Paper Piecing. 
You can find all of the posts under the Sewing Basics Tab at the top of my blog.
Please let me know if you have any questions or something doesn't make sense!

**My instructions for this series specifically pertain to my pattern Two Stars Squared. The method will be the same for any pattern, though the details may vary.

I've noticed a few people say they've never paper pieced before, don't know how, or are just starting out. There are a lot of tutorials and how-to's on paper piecing out there. But I decided to share my methods and tricks. Originally I had this series as one post, but it was REALLY long. To make it a little easier to digest, and to be able to go into more detail, I decided to break it up. Hopefully this will be useful to you!

Supplies I Use:

  • Pattern. For this series I am using my Two Stars Squared pattern. Print 4 copies and cut around the outer boarder. This may be different for different patterns. With my Potted Roses, you only print one of each pattern piece. The instructions for whatever pattern you're using should be in the pattern piece. Also pay attention to whether you need to add and extra 1/4" around the entire pattern for the seam allowance, or if it's already included. All of my patterns include the 1/4" border (the shaded area, they're not shaded in my pictures here).

  • Fabrics. The options here are limitless!! Don't limit your self to only picking fabrics for the positive space. Play with the negative spaces as well. Play with other colors other than white for background.  I tend to label my patterns by design element (where applicable - to simplify the piecing process). The background fabrics are always labeled, usually as "B".
Two Stars Squared
  In Two Stars Squared (mini picture above - compare it with the pattern piece) the square is "A", big star "C", and the small star "D". In Potted Roses, I pointed out the different elements outside of the actual pattern piece, but they are included. This is something that will vary widely among designers.
 The amounts of fabric you'll need will also vary widely! Paper piecing is a great way to use up all your scraps! Though some pieces you'll use will need to be bigger. You could even piece scraps together until you get pieces big enough!

  • Scissors. I highly recommend having a special pair only for cutting fabric to keep them sharp. Make sure to have an extra pair to cut your paper with.
  • Glue stick or fabric stick (nothing permanent. It's ok if you don't have this, but it makes the first step easier. I use my glue stick while sewing a lot, so it's good for other projects as well.)
  • Rotary Cutter - a MUST

  • Ruler or straight edge. A 6" ruler works well, especially when using a 6" block. I also use a 12" ruler. Use what is convenient for you. It doesn't even have to be a ruler, just something to help you cut straight.
  • Self healing mat to cut on. I have a smaller 12.5" x 12.5" mat that I keep right under my sewing machine. I love this because I can sew & cut without ever leaving my chair.
  • Iron and ironing board or surface. My ironing board is one that hangs from the back of a door. It hangs off our closet door and when I'm sewing all I have to do is turn and iron - I never have to stand up. There is also this ironing station idea from Oh Fransson! You could even just fold up some towels and put it on a table, the ground, or any hard surface (test it first if it's something you definitely don't want to get ruined - or use LOTS of towels. I can't guarantee this method though). If you are doing a lot of paper piecing I TOTALLY recommend having something close and convenient! It will save you a lot of time from getting up and down after every stitch. 

  • Light Source. I use my light table I had as a kid. :) You can also use a lamp, or a window during the day. Be creative, but find something. It will cut out a lot of frustration.
  • Scrap bowl, or garbage can. You'll have lots of little scraps and threads you'll want to throw away. It's nice to have somewhere to put them. If you like to keep scraps you could also have somewhere to keep your larger scraps. (If you are a scrap keeper, DON'T keep all the really small stuff!!! Just let it go!) Paper piecing can become a HUGE mess maker! :)

and your usual sewing supplies
  • sewing machine
  • thread
  • pins
  • sometimes you might need a seam ripper
  • music, or a good movie or tv show (I recommend The Wonder Years if you have Netflix - we just finished watching it. It has good music so there's no need to stop and watch it. Just listen to it.) :)
  • anything else you like to use while sewing

Now don't think you need to go buy all of this stuff! A lot of it you can improvise with! Ok, if you don't have a rotary cutter and mat, Get One! If you are doing any sort of quilting, you will thank me! If you don't have a pattern, buy mine! lol. J/K! There are so many great free patterns out there too (I have free ones as well). Simply google Paper Pieced Patterns. If you don't have an iron, use your finger or a clothes pin (for the most part). There are a lot of options. If you are serious about this, then these things are what I use every time and what I recommend.

Are there some supplies here that make you wonder why you need them? You'll see why I love these in the following posts. In the next post I'll share two methods for cutting your fabric.


**Can I add a disclaimer? It sounds like I am a professional at this. I'm not. I've been paper piecing for only a few months, maybe a little more. But I've done a lot of it! And I do feel confident enough to tell you how to do it. :) If you have tips or corrections, let me know! I love to learn all I can. As well as what methods work for you! So don't be shy!

Pattern Testers. Anyone?

I was just wondering if any of you out there have the time, and the interest, to help me test some patterns? Not necessarily right this minute. But soon. I am looking for someone, or even better a few someones, that have time to start and finish a project in a reasonable amount of time (like super fast is better than super slow). :) It is also preferred, and probably necessary, that you are able to give honest and complete feedback, aka good constructive criticism. Sewing experience is preferred, but not necessary. :)


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

W.i.P. Wednesday {4/25/2012}

Ahhh! The month is almost over and I don't know if I've finished much of anything I've wanted to finish this month. Isn't that always how the story goes?! ;) lol.

I did finish all my bee blocks! Wahoo! You can see them all here. Plus this Granny Square I mailed of yesterday.


This was my first small granny square, and now I can see why they are so addicting. They are fun! :)

I also finished up my first official pattern! It's for my [4x5] Bee blocks.

Two Stars Squared

You can read more about it here. :)

I have been playing around with ideas for the Modern She Made Swap. What do you think?


The colors are super muted here. I do want to use more natural and light grey colors, but maybe some more splashes of color. Or more grey than the natural color to fill inside the circles. I don't know... what do you think partner? Do you read my blog? lol. ;)

I originally thought of paper piecing all of these, but I think it will be easy enough to make up template pieces instead, and then just sew them together and not have to worry about the paper. Which I think will save a lot of time and fabric waste anyway. Basically I need a break from paper piecing right now. ;)

This is the main thing I'm working on right now. Plus my secret project. If you regularly read my blog, this is probably a boring recap of everything I've posted this week. ;) But I think it helps me to kind of touch base on where I'm really at... so ;p j/k. ;D 

linking up at Freshly Pieced. :)


I'm a Craftsy Designer!

I did it! I listed my first official pattern!


I think one of my favorite things about blogging is sharing things with everyone (for free). And one of my least favorite things about life is that student loans aren't free (neither is fabric, sewing supplies, food, rent, diapers.... and the list goes on. and on. and on. lol). So after a lot of thought I've decided that it's time to start adding patterns to my Etsy Shop and my new Craftsy Shop. I think my hubby will really appreciate me supporting my own sewing habit more too. ;)

I already have a Limited Use license pattern of my Scrap Attack Block listed in my Craftsy Shop. (Giving you permission to sell items you make with the pattern.) And have sold a few already!! Thank you everyone!!! Big Hugs to you!!

Last night I finished up and posted my [4x5] Modern Bee Block: Two Stars Squared

I'm super nervous about this, and really excited. :) It's not like I list all the things in my Etsy Shop for free. I don't know why I feel so bad about selling my patterns. I'm sure I'll feel better when I sell one. ;) Anyway, I just wanted to let you know about my exciting new adventure!! Wish me luck!! :)

p.s. I recommend shopping from my Craftsy Store over my Etsy shop for PDF patterns. Craftsy has it set up that when you buy a pattern it is ready for instant download. You don't have to wait for me to email you the pattern! I love that feature! So anyway, if you don't want to wait, go Craftsy. If I list more patterns I will always have them in my Craftsy Store, but maybe not always in my Etsy Shop. I'm going to wait and see how the two compare for sales and probably decide from there. One thing I like about Craftsy from my end, and for anyone that wants to sell patterns, is that they also don't charge fees for listing OR selling patterns! You only have to pay your paypal fees. Etsy on the other hand, does charge a small fee for listing an item, and a small fee for selling. So, in the end, everyone wins with Craftsy I think. I really appreciate how they have their store set up. :)


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Super Secret New Project. or: Something Old to Something New

So, my bees are basically over (at least for the month). I'm practically done with my Moody Blues block. I am running out of things that I *have* to do, and I seem to be losing my motivation to do anything. ;) (I am constantly thinking about the Modern She Made Swap - so don't worry partner, you are still my number 1! I just need to find that perfect idea.) It's not all bad. But still, I have a list a mile long of projects, WIP's, UFO's, etc that need to get finished, but I don't really want to do any of them right now. Now that I have the time to work on them. Isn't that how it always goes.

Well, instead of beating myself up about it, I've decided to work on something new. lol. BUT I am determined to finish this lightning fast! I just might even set a record. (well, for me anyway). I am actually really excited for this. And really, it's something I need to do anyway. And it's not technically new, as really it's just something old that I'm taking a step further. So... I just might ignore everyone for a while and try to concentrate on this. If my battery shows up this week, which it should, I'll probably take plenty of breaks though too... and read your blogs. (I know, why can't I just read all your blogs online? well, because with three little wee ones it's basically impossible to sit at the computer for that long. at least for me.)

So, want a little peak??? Here are the colors I am going to use. (At least if I have these colors, this is what I will be using.)

Hope you are having a wonderful Tuesday!! :)
And thanks for all your help with the de-stashing questions!! 
It really helps to get others opinions. I'll  be unloading here soon, hopefully. ;) 


Monday, April 23, 2012

Bee Blocks. LOTS of bee blocks.

I have made so many bee blocks. It's crazy!! I keep waiting to finish them all so I can share them with you all at once. But then there's always more and I just need to share them before this post becomes 100 blocks long! lol. :)

I'll go by Bee.

First is the [4x5] Modern Bee Qtr 1, Hive 5.

I joined the Paper Pieced group. Which I love paper piecing. Maybe more than anything. BUT I had the HARDEST time figuring out what block to make for my fellow members! I sketched so many ideas, looked through so many blocks and couldn't decide on anything. I even made up one block, but I didn't love it, so I didn't really want to send it out.


So after a few more ideas, came up with this...


Am I crazy? This was 5 days before they were due. But alas. I am a bit crazy. And a bit "I want to make sure to send out good stuff and not junk stuff", so I drove the Mr. a little crazy and took on this project! (and unfortunately was a little late sending them out. Sorry group!) Here are my finished blocks:

for me

for mpfox223

for Mama Missa

for Bijoux Baby

scrappy rainbow for jmcbroom

for JenJohnston

here's what I received! Aren't they gorgeous?!

I love them all!!! :) and I'm so happy with the colors I picked this round.

Next is my Moody Blues2 Bee Group:

This is a 6 month bee group where there are 2 people per month. They each send out their fabric to everyone else, tell us what block they want, we make it, and send it back. Holy molly does this build up your quilt fast! Kind of nice! :)

Here are the blocks I've made so far:


Moody Blues 2 - Feb blocks
Sunkissed Squares, tutorial (go check this out so you can see what these look like!) for Franswimmer

design based off this quilt, for Annaliese


for Linda, I forget what these are called. She sent the directions with the fabric, which were fantastic!

also my month, here's what I received:

don't these look awesome?! I took this picture before I received the last two. I'll have to get another picture soon.


wonky star for Melissa, it measures 14" by 14" unfinished.

Dutchman's puzzle, tutorial, for Moody Blues 2 block for Sabrina


Antique Tile, tutorial, for Five Baht Elephants

I still need to finish my granny square for Tiffany. and then only 2 more months! Crazy how this has flown by!

do.Good Stitches:

I can't remember if I shared my January blocks. I guess I will, just because I want to set a record of the most bee blocks in one blog post. lol.

January stars for Leigh -


February was my month - here's all the blocks that came in

I need to get my blocks made for this. ;)

March hearts for Melissa -


and that is the end of that. :( It was such an awesome group with amazing people!! I really loved it. But now it's time for something different. I will post my quilts once I get them finished and sent off! :)

Well, I think that about covers it for now. I was going to have some more blocks to share... but I got out of those bees. Kind of a weird feeling, but it's good. :) It's nice to finally get those all blogged about. Now off to finish some UFO's so I can get onto to other awesome projects! :)