Monday, December 30, 2013

Medallion Update

The Marcelle Medallion QAL might have ended weeks ago, but I'm still working away at mine. I've finally finished my fifth border. It took longer than I'd expected because I kept making little mistakes. First, I didn't cut enough bricks. Then my strips were too short because I thought the border had cornerstones. I almost went the easy route and used cornerstones anyway, but in the end I cut more bricks, because I'm nothing if not a perfectionist!
It took a full month to get this border done. I know this because I started my cutting at Quilt Sunday in November and I finally attached it yesterday at the December gathering. In retrospect, I wish I hadn't included low volume prints and gone with only saturated colour, because I really wanted this border to read "turquoise" and I think the lighter bricks muddy this a bit. Ah well, live and learn.
I went to my Instagram friends to help me select the print for border six. I think this border should offer somewhere for ones eyes to rest, but I wasn't willing to use a solid or muted colour. My initial choice was the chartreuse seashell print from Tula's Acacia, but then I held up Anna Maria Horner's haystacks and I was swayed.  My IGers, however, were overwhelmingly in favour of the Tula print, proving once again that I should always go with my first instinct. The AMH will be my final border.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Super Tote 2.0, with videos!

Making a Super Tote as a gift is a labour of love. It's a time consuming project and the bag has a ton of features, but the end result makes it totally worth the effort.
I made my first Super Tote this summer to use as a diaper bag (you can read about it here). This has become my everyday bag and I love it so much! Even though I made it at only 85% of the full size, I can generally fit in everything I need for a day out with Lila.  So, when I learned that my sister was pregnant, I decided I'd make her a Super Tote diaper bag too. I bought the fabric for the bag (Parson Gray linen/cotton canvas from the World Tour line) and then put it aside. Well, my nephew was born last month and then bag was yet to be made.  My sister's birthday was in early December and had a visit planned for the end of December so it was definitely time to get to work!

Rather than taking a bunch of photos, I made videos instead! I didn't dress up, rehearse or even edit these videos so please don't judge me on their quality!

First up, have you heard of an app called Flipagram? It's really cool. It takes your Instagram photos and turns them into a slideshow.  I Instagram (yes, I'm using it as a verb) my sewing projects obsessively (and as a result blog much less frequently of late). The Instagram sewing community is extremely supportive and I've made new friends through the app. Here's a video of my Supertote progress, as posted on Instagram:

I always find turning a lined bag a bit nerve-wracking. Did I sew it correctly? Did I remember to slip the straps inside? Did I leave a big enough opening? Moment of truth!

And finally, a tour of the features I included in this bag:

Having made the bag twice, and having used version 1.0 for many months, I now believe I've identified what specifications and modifications I'd choose for my next Super Tote.
  1. I would make it full size.
  2. I would make the straps slightly longer.
  3. I think I'd add strap clips on either gusset to allow for the addition of a removable cross body strap so that the bag could be worn messenger bag style.
  4. I'd put exterior pockets in the front and back, instead of just the front. I might make one zippered (I got this idea from Kelby Sews) and continue to use velcro for the other. While I like the idea of using a magnetic snap, I find they eventually rip my fabric.
  5. I'd include two zippered pockets in the lining, one on either side.
  6. I'd use a slightly longer zipper. I waver on whether to include a recessed zipper at all, because I rarely close the bag, but I think it's probably worth adding, if only for aesthetic purposes.
  7. I wouldn't add any gathered elastic pockets because I'm just not good at keeping the insides of my bags organized. I like my totes to have one large space.
Have you made a Super Tote yet? I'd love to hear in the comments about the features you like to add or remove when you make your own bags, as I'm always interested in new ideas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Little Bundles of Warmth

The staff at Levi's daycare are fabulous and the holidays provide a great opportunity to thank them for taking such good care of our little guy. My first thought was to make zippered pouches and fill them with sweets, but I decided to troll Pinterest for ideas, just to see what else I could come up with.  I'm so glad I did, because I found a great tutorial for homemade hand warmers by V and Co (which includes warming instructions). The best thing about these are how little fabric they require, which makes them a great scrap-buster.
I cut 3.5 by 6 inch strips of fabric and sewed the three open sides closed, leaving a one inch hole for turning the pouches right-side out. Then I used a piece of paper as a funnel and filled the pouches with rice. I overstuffed the first pair; filling them 3/4 of the way works best. I hand-stitched the first few closed, but it took way too long so I machine stitched the rest of them. This method isn't quite as pretty, but I was able to finish 12 of them in less time than it took to hand sew 4 and time is precious around here!

I plan to print out instructions and wrap each pair with a package of hot chocolate. Little bundles of winter warmth! Now what could be sweeter than that?
It's been a loooooong time since I've had a finish  on a Friday, so I'm linking up with TGIF this week!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bandana Bibs!

Newest crafting obsession alert. I give you...Baby bandana drool bibs!

I used the purl bee tutorial to make these. They are so fast and easy! Keeps drool at bay and baby looks oh so fashionable. The two above were gifts for a new baby in our circle. I've made three for Lila and have a couple more in the works.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Time, Time, Time

Life with two kids under three is pretty much kicking my butt. Lila's naps are consistently short. Like, thirty minutes. By the time I confirm she's actually asleep and decide what I want to do, I have about twenty minutes to myself. It's really hard to get much accomplished in twenty minutes! This is why my blog posts have become few and far between. Given the choice between blogging or sewing, sewing wins every time.

In spite of the above, I do have WIPs and even FOs to share.  You may recall my recent lament regarding the lack of commercial patterns in my size. I discovered a pattern company called Cake Patterns that designs modern clothing patterns to fit a very wide range of sizes. I ordered two patterns (which actually results in three skirt and three top patterns!). So far I've completed the basic Hummingbird skirt.
I made size 45/38 (hip/waist) and it was far too big but the pattern is designed to be taken in mid-construction. I took in an inch from each side seam and increased the back darts by a quarter inch each. After wearing the skirt twice, I realize I should have made it even smaller, but I can't be bothered to remove and reattach the waist band. I actually had some difficulty with the waist band because it's quite narrow and I found the instructions confusing, but I made it work.
To correct the size issue, I'm making a second version in a stretch denim! I cut the same size, but reduced the side seams (front and back) by an inch and increased the back darts. I'm including piping in this version and so far it looks awesome! I hope to finish it this week, if Lila will allow it.
Levi's daycare requires the kids to use mitten clips in an effort to keep track of them all. There was a discussion on our Facebook page on where to purchase them. They can be hard to find, so I decided to make them! Here's the link with more details. I've only sold a few so far, but I spoke with the Assistant Director of our daycare today and will hopefully be putting up some flyers around the centre. I'm not looking to make a huge profit; I mostly want to make it easier for the other parents to find clips!
My quilting progress has completely halted, save the mini quilt I entered in the Blogger's Quilt Festival. To read about my process, check out this link.
 I have a long list of WIPs that need attention:
  1. Tova 2.0 - the sleeves are ready to be attached. I'm not loving this top, having struggled with the placket.
  2. Stacking the Odds quilt - finish quilt back and send out for quilting
  3. Tula Modern Circuitry quilt - finish fmq and bind
  4. Lush Uptown pillow covers for my mom (must complete by end of December)
  5. Marcelle Medallion - I've stalled on border four
  6. Toe up knitted socks - almost done sock one
  7. Farmer's Wife sampler - I miss working on these blocks
  8. Diaper repairs - Lila is almost in size 2 diapers and so is Levi which means the stack of dipes awaiting new elastics needs attention stat. Blech. I've been avoiding this chore.
  9. 3x6 plum chartreuse quilt - ready to be sashed
  10. Lucky Stars BOM -April - present
And just for fun, here are my other WIPs that won't be getting attention anytime soon, if ever again!
  1. Sew Intertwined quilt 
  2. Flora Charm Quilt
  3. Levi's Growth Chart
  4. We Bee Learning Bee/Levi's Bed Quilt 
I also have some fabric stacks that I'd love to make into quilts including a Briar Rose bundle, a huge stack of Tula Pink charms, two Comma mini charm packs, a Sew Mama Sew layer cake and an adorable FQ bundle of kid prints in primary colours that's begging to become a baby quilt.  Plus, I have some chambray and railroad denim to turn into skirts.

So, that's me! What about you?

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Introducing...The Nameless Mini

Before I say anything else, let me first say that I hate naming quilts. I'm terrible at it and I don't enjoy it. I've been calling this one my Tula Spool mini quilt which simply describes what it is, and I figure, if I'm entering it in the Blogger's Quilt Festival (in the Mini Quilt category), it needs a proper name. But I'm drawing a total blank! So if you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments.

Also, if this is your first visit to Modern Balabusta, welcome! Thanks for stopping by! My name is Lisa and I live in Toronto with my husband and two children. This here blog is where I share my crafty endeavours. I primarily quilt, though I'm dipping my toe in the garment sewing water and have been known to knit and crochet too. Check out balaWHAT? to learn about the blog's name and the Finished Quilts section to see more of my work.

I wanted to make something with the Tula Pink Acacia FQs the minute I bought them. I knew the raccoon print needed to be fussy cut, so I flipped through my huge stack of TP ten inch charms which I collected during several Flickr swaps. The timing of the Acacia purchase coincided with having fancied up my sewing space (new machine, new desk, new shelves, new design wall!), so a spool quilt seemed appropriate. I roughly followed the pattern in Liberty Love, except I made the spools 5 inch squares to accommodate the size of the items I wanted to fussy cut and didn't chose my own widths for my borders.
In addition to Tula Pink prints, I used Alison Glass's text print for the background and the binding is Robert Kaufman's Raspberry chambray (loooove chambray!).

This quilt provided me with a much needed opportunity to practise free motion quilting. I started by straight line quilting around all of the spools and borders. Then I mimicked the lines that thread makes the spools themselves, using thread colours that matched the fabrics as closely as possible. All threads are Mettler.

For the top and bottom of each spool, I did straight lines again, and finally, I pebble quilted the outer border.
I am so thrilled with this mini quilt! It came out exactly as I'd envisioned it and I love having found just the right print for each spool.

Quilt Stats
Size: 17.5 x 17.5 inches
Category: Mini Quilt
Date Completed: Today! October 30, 2013
Machine pieced and quilted by me on my Janome Horizon

If you are so inclined, you can vote for me here!
Past entries: Spring 2013 (baby quilt), Fall 2012 (mini quilt), Spring 2012


Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Prep

We haven't introduced Levi to Halloween yet. We have Purim as his opportunity to dress up and until he starts public school (or until daycare introduces him to Halloween) we are skipping trick or treating.
I do have a special six year old in my life though, my dear friend's son. I've been teaching him to sew. We've made a pencil case and a cape and he requested a crown to match the cape for Halloween. And if I'm making him one, I figured one for his little brother should be made too. I hope they like them!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Not Here

I've been getting quite a bit of sewing done lately, but I haven't found time to blog. When faced with the choice between blogging or sewing, sewing always wins. Also, I'm finding Instagram is a great way to interact with the online quilting community. It's quick and easy and satisfies my desire to share my progress.

Here's a quick catch-up of what I've been working on lately:

I whipped up a voile infinity scarf. I get really hot, really quickly, so a light scarf is just right for this fall weather.

I took a class at TheWorkroom and made a WikstenTova. I LOVE IT! I'd been hoarding this fabric for over a year. It's called African Fusion (I think) from Pat Bravo's Indie line.

It's not breast feeding friendly, but I don't care. It's comfortable and the fit is great. I had to make one change to the pattern which was to add bust darts. As a result, the sleeves have a bit of a gather at the shoulder, but it looks like it's there by design! Bonus!

I've already begun work on a second Tova.

I've also been hard at work on my spool mini quilt. It's almost done and I'm hoping to finish it in time to enter into the Blogger's Quilt Festival.

There's also been a fair bit of garment sewing related purchases. I've really bitten the clothes sewing bug! Much to my dismay, most commercial and indie patterns' largest size for bottoms are too SMALL for me! It's pretty upsetting, because while I'm certainly not thin, I don't think of myself as fat. Luckily there are a few designers out there making patterns for women my size. I've ordered several and am waiting for them to arrive.

On the left is a stretch railroad denim and on the right a chambray, both from Robert Kaufman.

That about catches y'all up with my activities. I'm off to continue work on Tova 2.0.

P.S. I'm posting this from my iPad using the Blogsy app. I hope it works and doesn't look too wonky!

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Trio of Good Stuff

Three pretty great things happened today. The last two weeks have been exhausting and "good stuff" was definitely welcome. If I truly reflect on the last two weeks, there have actually been quite a few highlights: the Tova class I'm taking at The Workroom; getting new shelves up in my sewing space; a fun night out with a girlfriend; and, progress on my Marcelle Medallion. But I really need to think to remember all the good, because the tiring (Lila is teething and up several times each night), the frustrating (Levi is not going to bed easily these days and is often up past 9) and the busy (I'm a person who needs a significant amount of downtime/alone time) are overwhelming.

So, three great things about today. First, I made a superhero cape with one of my favourite six year olds. In late August, I volunteered to watch my friends' son one morning so that his parents could get stuff done. Our activity was to make a pencil case out of Batman fabric. He loved it and asked for a second sewing lesson. Sure!
The resulting cape is reversible and attaches with velcro. I made the neckline too big but it's a pretty great result for winging it and the young man in question is really proud of it which makes me very happy. I didn't get great photos unfortunately.

The second great thing was a total surprise. I was having terrible afternoon. Lila wouldn't nap so I put her in the stroller to try and induce sleep and on the way out I check the mailed and found a care package from my dear friend Shannon (who I met at Sewing Summit 2012)! I'd asked the name of a fabric in a project she posted on Instagram and what does she do? She goes and buys it for me! Whaaat?! These Denyse Schmidt prints aren't available in Canada; they are only sold at JoAnn's.
The third great thing about today actually began on Wednesday when I bought a stack of Tula Pink's Acacia after class at The Workroom (the two black prints are from Sweetwater, not Tula). 
I wanted to cut into it right away! I knew I needed a project that would allow me to fussy cut the sweet raccoon, so I thumbed through my magazines and books and landed on a spool mini quilt. I used a few of my big charms from a Tula swap I took part in recently. This mini will hang in my sewing room once completed. I'm looking forward to free motion quilting this top in the next few days.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

October Goal: September 2.0

For what I believe is the first time, I didn't achieve my montly goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes. My goal was to piece the back of my Stacking the Odds Quilt, as well as baste it.When I started working on the back, I got so frustrated. The quilt top is HUGE and there isn't even enough floor spacer to lay it out!
I became even more frustrated when I measured the portion of the pieced backing that I'd completed and found I was about 10 inches too short! So I did the only thing that made sense. I shelved the project and moved on to happier projects, like my Marcelle Medallion.

But, I do want this quilt finished. So I'm making it my October goal to piece the back. Once done, I'll be sending this off to a long-armer, because the thought of quilting this makes me want to hide under my bed!

A Lovely Year of Finishes

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Deer + Birds = Love

I have a finished quilt to share with you today! It's actually been finished for over a week, but it needed to reach it's home before I could blog about it.  Introducing...Deer + Birds = Love. Get it? It's a PLUS quilt with Deer and Birds? I know, I can hear you groaning.
My sister is expecting in November and I made this quilt for my future niece or nephew. This is the first quilt I've made for my sister which makes it really special for me.

I used two charm packs of Oh My Deer, which I bought in Salt Lake City at Sewing Summit in 2012. I probably have close to a whole pack worth of squares left, because I wanted to only use prints that read as a single colour, so that the pluses would be visible. It's a very simple design and the construction went quickly. I particularly like how the bird print, which sits in the middle of each plus, is noticeably larger than the deers and dots. Again, I think this helps draw the eye to the plus design.
I quilted this using a leftover spool of Sulky Blendables from my Happy Melon Quilt. The quilting is simple: straight lines about 1/4 inch on either side of every seam. I continue to love the effect of  straight line echo quilting. You really can't go wrong with it, particularly with simple patchwork like this.

The quilt back is Valori Wells flannel from her Bliss line. I've used it twice: here and in Lila's yet-to-be-finished quilt. It's extremely soft and I love the elephants!
This is the first time I've remembered to include a label. I couldn't decide whether to date it September, when the quilt was finished, or November when the baby is due. Then I thought, what if the baby doesn't arrive until December and the quilt has the wrong month listed?! Hence, the label reads"Quilted with love by Auntie Lisa, 2013." I used the alphabet function on my Janome Horizon, another first! Unfortunately, the letters doesn't show up very well. I should have used darker thread. Next time!
The binding is from Marmalade by Bonnie and Camille. As you know from my recent stash enhancements, I love a striped binding!

My sister and her husband received the quilt by mail today and they love it, which gives me a real thrill. They said that it's their first family heirloom and they want to hang it on the wall and then pass it down, but I'm trying to convince them that quilts are made to be used! At 32x32 inches, it's the perfect size for a playmat or stroller quilt. I promised them there would be many quilts in their future so there was no need to memorialize this one!

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I couldn't help myself. I needed to get my hands on some Koi, Waterford Park and some of Alison Glass's feathers and text prints. I ordered from Stash Modern Fabric and the service was terrific. Beth put a custom bundle together for me and it arrived lickety-split. Oh! And the Shelburne Falls was on sale. Score!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WIP Wednesday: En-listing Help

Whenever I feel overwhelmed by everything I have to get done, I make a list. Lists help me focus, prioritize and reduces my anxiety. I think this is one of the reasons why I love WIP Wednesdays. If I only have time for one blog post a week, it's most likely going to be on a Wednesday!

I have a ton of projects on the go right now. My Mom really liked the Lush Uptown fabric I bought to make pillows and requested I make some for her too. This meant making eight pillow covers! I've finished six of them and they look great on my couch. I think she'll be happy with them too.
I've finished quilting the Plus quilt using Oh My Deer for my sister's baby-to-be. I didn't have enough binding fabric so I posted a photo on Instagram asking if anyone had any extra in their stash. Nicole offered to send me a skinny fat quarter and I received it early this week. I love the internet quilting community! People are so generous. I'll be attaching the binding this week.
My Marcelle Medallion is coming along well, but hasn't been without it's challenges, that's for sure! Piecing the triangle border was really tricky. Despite working so hard to have accurate seam allowances, my first length of border was too short!
 In fact, every single length of border came out a different length. It was maddening!
I was unwilling to redo the borders. You've heard me say before that I'm trying to embrace imperfection, so I considered this another opportunity to fight perfectionism and just make it work. I'm currently contemplating what colour to make the next border. I'm also procrastinating on starting the flying geese border because the pieces are so very tiny! I want to make them using the no waste method, but I need to figure out the math first. I'm hoping someone else will do it for me!
Oh! I almost forgot! I was the week 2 winner of the Marcelle Medallion QAL. Penny is sending me an awesome care package of a Lecien "Doubles" charm pack, three spools of perle cotton, and a Sunburst Template Set! How lucky am I?!

I've also spent time this week on my Stacking the Odds quilt back. I'm beginning to really regret having tackled a queen sized quilt! I've also come to the conclusion that I'll need to send this to a long-armer. The thought of basting this beast makes me want to put it away for another year. Does anyone have a favourite long-armer they can recommend? Preferably someone in Canada because postage would be more reasonable.

Finally, I did some knitting this week. I turned the heel of sock one. I'm knitting the socks toe-up and using short rows for the toe and heel. It's my favourite method, but I always mess up the short rows at some point and end up with more wrapped stitches at one end than the other! Once again, I decided to "fake it" and make it work.

My other WIPs are Lila's Tula quilt, which is half quilted and my Farmer's Wife sampler. I didn't touch either of them this week. 

And now for your weekly dose of adorable:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced