I hope to inspire and entertain you with a lot of sewing and a little of everything else!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Smocked Sundress Sew-a-long

Laura did a smock-a-long at her Ellie Inspired Patterns Group this week. I love sew-a-longs because, like taking a class, they make you finish a project in a limited amount of time. The camaraderie of working with a group of ladies is also encouraging. So, when Laura showed the pretty, free pattern we would be making, I had to sign up!
The pattern is a smocked bodice sundress with ruffled straps. It buttons in back. The original has a smocked insert, but since I was using all one fabric, I decided to "release" the smocking from the bodice to the front skirt. One of my favorite things about hand smocking is its natural elasticity, so I like to take advantage of it when I can!

The smocking design is very simple, but elegant. The center section, unsmocked, will become a puffing strip once it relaxes from the pleating. I back-smocked the diamonds to give the waist more stability.

Here's the back, pre-buttons. I used a wonderful 100% cotton batiste from Martha Pullen Co. It was only $3/yd at one of their crazy sales, so I bought A LOT! The sleeves are trimmed with cotton Swiss embroidery, which I gave a brief tea bath so it would match the ecru smocking.

I have always loved scalloped hems, so I thought I'd do one here. It is hard to see, but there are 12 6" scallops around the bottom. I stitched them by hand with a small running stitch using 1 strand of ecru DMC floss to match the smocking.

And here is a closer view of the hem. It's still hard to see the stitching. Maybe later I will add a little embroidery or something to make it stand out.
I love the way it turned out and the whole thing was completed in less than a week- yahoo!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Block Bonanza Reveal, part 2

Here is the next installment of quilts that were part of the recent Block Bonanza at my Quilt Guild.

This colorful quilt has a seahorse theme. If you look carefully, all of the center squares were provided, along with the fabrics and suggested patterns. I was running really late when I worked on this one, so mine is the top-left, courthouse steps block.
The girl who designed this quilt wanted everyone to do the same block- I don't know the name. We were to choose our own fabrics and use a yellow background with blue centers. Mine is the top-left block.
This quilt is a very contemporary mix of batiks in subtle colors. Mine is the center block, a paper-pieced star. I was very disappointed with the lack of contrast. I was trying to do something different than all the "white" backgrounds, but I should have used it, too.
This is another very colorful quilt by a girl who loves purple. My block is the snail trail in the center of the top-9. Someone in our group didn't like their first block and made an alternate, which is why there are 10 on this one.
I'll end with a sneak peak of what I am currently working on. It's the smocked sundress "sew along" over at Ellie Inspired. Lots of fun and easy plus a free pattern- how can you go wrong? I love sew alongs because I feel like I have to keep up, so it makes me finish my project quickly!
We are officially on summer vacation as of yesterday, so I hope to be blogging much more often!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Big Reveal! Chicken Quilt!

I can't believe it has been 9 months since I joined the Block Swap at my Quilt Guild! The way it worked is that a group of 9 ladies each made a quilt block and put it in a pizza box with directions and fabric. You could do anything you wanted and many ladies were quite specific- "I want this pattern made from these fabrics." For mine, I called it the "almost anything goes chicken quilt"- no restrictions on size, fabrics, techniques, etc.- just make it about chickens. Here's the block I started them off with:
I machine embroidered our 3 chickens, Bennie, Shelly, and Blackie on a barn block.
The box traveled from lady to lady each month and they added a block. I never saw it again until this week when I got them all back, but there were always laughs and exclamations at the meetings when my blocks were shown. Everyone really had FUN with this!
This awesome chicken was made by Trish, who made amazing blocks for everyone with tons of tiny pieces. I love the chicken and also note the beautiful pieced background. Her work is perfection!
This pieced rooster by Ellen co-ordinates so well with the chicken! I love the polka dot background and the fabric she used for the "feathers."
This nest is pure awesomeness! I wish you could see in person the tiny strips that are free-motion quilted to make the straw. It looks so real- just like the hay when my chickens smooth is out to lay an egg! This is a technique I never would have thought of/tried, but it is so beautiful for this. This was made by Bette, a lady with a small business where you can go learn to long-arm a quilt with her. I may have to try that sometime!

This gorgeous sunflower was done by my friend Barbara. She makes each leaf and petal separately with a few layers of fabric and stiffener. It is so pretty to look at and goes with my theme so well because my chickens love to eat sunflower seeds!

Marie found a coloring page and re-created it as a quilt block for my quilt. Aren't these little chicks cute? I like to think they represent our 2 new chicks: Golden and Peep!

Good old John Deere! Suzy made this block which I love. My Davy used to be into the John Deere" movies and they had such catchy songs. He also has a little green metal pedal tractor, so this block reminds me of all those things. She said her hubby made her add the chicken to the front!

Patty was a wise-guy and wanted the quilt to have the "fox in the henhouse." Cute, isn't he? I hope he is the only fox my chickens ever have to deal with!!

Here's a sample layout I did on my porch rug (so ignore the brown in back). This morning I made a paper-pieced ear of corn, since that is my chickens' favorite treat! I am still trying different arrangements, but I want to get the top put together before my next meeting.

I took pictures of all the sets of blocks, so I will be doing more posts over the next few days. We had 2 groups with a total of 16 quilt sets, so I have a lot to show you!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Introducing...Golden and Peep!

Yes, 2 baby chicks joined our family on Friday. They were born on Wednesday, so they are just 4 days old in this picture. You can see how tiny they are compared to Rosie's hands.
These chicks are Ameraucanas. They grow up to be various shades of yellow, gold, and brown, so they will look quite different from the chickens we already have. We chose 2 with different coloration so we could tell them apart. On the left is "Golden" and on the right, "Peep." They like to be held and will fall asleep if you gently pet their heads. They loved being outside in the grass today and stayed right by my side.
They are shorter than the grass!
The reason we chose Ameraucanas this time is that they lay colorful eggs! You don't know what shade of blue, green, pink, or brown they will lay:
 I'm hoping for a blue and a green layer, but we won't know till November!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Happy Birthday Little Buddy!

My darling Andy turned 4 last week! He is such a sweet little boy and we have so much fun with him! For his party, we had a petting zoo visit. They brought chickens, ducks, bunnies, goat, and a pony. Andy and his friends had a great time and the weather couldn't have been more beautiful!
Here's Andy holding a baby bunny. They were so soft! For his party, I machine embroidered this t-shirt for him.
Here he is with his Happy Cake. I got the Tractor cake at Walmart and we added the chickens. It fit the theme perfectly and was yummy, too!
Faux Smocked Tractor with Corn Embroidery Design
The design I used for his shirt is a faux-smocked tractor and corn from Applique Junkie.  I saw these stitched on t-shirts on etsy and thought it looked cute. You don't use a pleated fabric for an insert, you just stitch it right on the shirt. Definitely a quick alternative to hand-smocking an insert for a themed t-shirt. I mean, sometimes you just need to take a short-cut, right? She has many really cute designs for faux smocking. This was a quick and easy project and worked great. These would be nice for gifts too.
Happy 4th Birthday Little Man!!