Wednesday, May 29, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Catching Up Yet Again

It has been a long time since I've written a WIP Wednesday post. In fact, it's been over two months! There have been several finishes since then, like the iPad Mini cover for my Mom (check out my review of the pattern from Patchwork Please! here), a few double sided receiving blankets for baby-girl-to-be, a ton of Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt blocks and two dresses for baby! I love these so instead of links, you get photos:
I have a ton of projects on the go right now. In my last post, I outlined some of the things I'm working on, or thinking of working on. I've decided not to join Tula Pink's City Sampler quilt-a-long. With baby set to arrive momentarily (I'm 38 weeks today!) I don't think I can keep up with three blocks a week. I'll make the blocks eventually, but now it not the right time to get going on this project.

The WIP I'm most motivated to work on now is somewhat related though. It's a baby quilt based on Elizabeth Dackson's Modern Circuitry pattern using Tula Pink's Salt Water line (and a few other prints mixed in for good measure). Here's the test block I made (the photo is not very good, but you get the idea).
I'm also motivated to catch up on my Lucky Stars BOM blocks. I have April and May to piece and may even get started on them tonight.

Oh! And I finished the jersey knit dress I've been struggling with last night. I really want to write a dedicated blog post about the process, because it was my first time working with knit fabric and also the first time I've made a dress. But, since I have no idea when I'll get around to writing said post, here's a not very good photo of me (remember, 38 weeks pregnant and exhausted!) in the dress for your viewing pleasure.

On Deck
Staple Dress for me

Lucky Stars BOM -April/May blocks

In Progress
Tula Baby quilt
Farmer's Wife QAL blocks

3x6 plum chartreuse quilt - ready to be sashed

Hibernating projects
Curious Nature quilt - no progress
Sew Intertwined quilt -no progress
Flora Charm Quilt - no progress
Levi's Growth Chart - no progress
We Bee Learning Bee/Levi's Bed Quilt - No progress

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Sunday, May 26, 2013


I have lost all ability to focus on any one thing for any length of time and it's driving me crazy! It's taken me four days to write a series of cheques for my employer health benefits (for while I'm on leave) and I still need to address the envelope and mail them off. I bought ingredients for a lochen kugel last week that I only got around to making this afternoon. I should totally make applying for my EI benefits (Canadian maternity leave) a priority and yet have I even started re-familiarizing myself with the process? No, I have not. This must be an end of pregnancy thing right? Because I'm generally a get 'er done person, at least in my non-sewing endeavors.

Sewing-wise, I do tend to have start-er-itis, which results in lots of works in progress. I'm even more guilty of this lately, which is ridiculous because, you know, I'm about to have a newborn to look after! I think I mentioned that I've been working on a jersey knit dress? Oh my, I haven't blogged about this yet! Okay, well, I decided to make a dress and I've never sewn with knits before and I can't say it's been enjoyable. As a result, it's been a drawn out process and I'm not even sure it's going to fit properly. Ugh.  I'll write a dedicated blog post about this dress, but here's a sneak peak (and yes, that's ice cream, helping me out in my time of need):
Rather than focusing on finishing this dress, y'all know about the many double-sided receiving blankets I've stitched up the past couple days. And the Farmer's Wife Sampler blocks that I've been chipping away at...  You'd think these various projects would be enough to capture my attention, but you would be wrong. I'm also marinating on the following:
  1. The Staple Dress - I've bought the pattern and I have the fabric (purchased ages ago thinking I'd make a Wiksten tank dress). I wanted to make this right away but realized it would be better to wait until I could measure my waistline accurately, which is to say, after baby is born.
  2. April & May Lucky Stars BOM - I've fallen behind on these blocks. For some reason, the Liberty prints I chose for this quilt aren't speaking to me so I keep putting the blocks off. I've chosen fabric for the May block though and keep thinking about stitching it up, but then I get distracted by something else.
  3. Tula Quilt - I had planned to make a quilt for the baby, remember? Cutting all the fabric was my April goal for the A Lovely Year of Finishes. Didn't happen. Yesterday I got it in my head that I could make the quilt top before the baby arrives. I started cutting last night. But I'm not feeling it tonight, so yeah. Probably not going to get done.
  4. Tula's City Sampler QAL - Because I totally need yet another quilt-a-long that I won't keep up with right? And yet. I LOVE Tula Pink and I love her new book and Sara of Sew Sweetness is hosting the QAL and it's only three 6 inch blocks a week and I've been part of a 10 inch charm swap of Tula prints so I have a ton on hand which would be so fun to use for this quilt and, and, and... Well, resistance is futile.
    Sew Sweetness

There's also the fabric I bought to make another Swingset tunic for the baby with, my 3x6 blocks to sash and make into a quilt top, and several hibernating WIPs that I can't even begin to list.

Does anyone else out there struggle to maintain focus? When is too much, too much? And most importantly, what should I tackle tonight?

Thursday, May 23, 2013


For many pregnant women, nesting involves cleaning and organizing their homes. Not me. I outsource that stuff. No, my version of nesting appears to involve making extra large, double sided receiving blankets out of all the flannel in my stash.
 Two down, another two planned for tomorrow!
Levi's version of helping me get ready for baby involves waking up at 5 a.m. and immediately going for his beloved drum(s). I managed to distract him with an episode of Bubble Guppies, which is slightly easier to take than a drum solo before sunrise!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pregnancy Sewing Set-Up

I become green with envy when I see pictures of other sewing bloggers' sewing studios. I dream having a dedicated sewing space. I'm not greedy: even a corner of a room when I could leave my sewing machine all set up and my project du jour laid out would be grand. Alas, this dream will not come to fruition in my near future. We are a soon-to-be family of four living in under 1000 square feet (quite comfortably!) and my dining room table does double duty as my sewing space (remind me to show you my fabric and sewing storage unit one day soon - it's awesome!).

I've been trying to stay off my feet the past few days, in an effort to keep baby-girl-to-be from coming too early. I don't know why it never occurred to me before that my ironing board could be lowered down enough to allow me to press seams while seated, but it took being 37 weeks pregnant for me to come to this realization. Behold, my fancy new sewing set up:
I think I'll be keeping my ironing board at this height from now on. It's just so convenient! Oh course, if I need to do any cutting or trimming, this arrangement won't work. My cutting mat would need to be on the other side of the table and I'd be forced to, you know, stand up (the horror!). But this works just perfectly for sewing up my Farmer's Wife blocks. Here's what I accomplished yesterday:
 #31 - Evening Star. I love this Joel Dewberry print from Notting Hill.

#17 - Cats & Mice. This block was really tricky because of all the tiny little pieces. I tried so hard to maintain accurate seam allowances and starched my pieces to avoid stretching but, even so, the block came out wonky and I lost corners. This is a block that I should have paper pieced. I may redo it, although my Instagram friends pointed out that in the grand scheme of the quilt, the cut off corners won't be noticeable.

Oh! Yes, I drank the washi tape kool-aid!  Isn't it grand?! There was a fabulous selection at The Paper Place on Queen Street West here in Toronto and I had a really tough time narrowing my choices. I ended up buying way more than necessary. Oops!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Baby Quilt Category

It's that time of year! Amy over at Amy's Creative Side is hosting the Blogger's Quilt Festival. It's an opportunity for all us quilt bloggers to share up to two quilts we've made with the online community. A chance to oooohhh, ahhhhh and kvell over each other's fabulousness, if you will.

If this is your first time visiting Modern Balabusta, welcome! My name is Lisa and I live in downtown Toronto with my husband and 2 year old son and are expecting baby-girl-to-be in the next couple weeks. This blog chronicles my sewing and quilting adventures. I'm so grateful for the many  friends and connections I've made in the online quilting community through this blog, Flickr, Instagram and Twitter.
This is my third time participating in this festival and I'm entering my Bungle Jungle Stars quilt in the Baby Quilt Category. It isn't a fancy quilt. In fact, it took less than a week to put together, which is crazy fast for me. This quilt held a couple firsts for me. It was the first quilt I spray basted and the first time I quilted with fleece. You can read more about the making of this quilt here.
Despite the quilt's simplicity, I was totally thrilled with the finished result. It just reads BABY to me and it makes me happy to think of my cousin and her son snuggled under it.
AmysCreativeSide.comQuilt Stats:
42 x 42 inches (approximately)
2 Moda Bungle Jungle Charm Packs
1/2 metre of Kona Papaya for the Wonky Stars
Orange fleece backing
Binding is Raspberry Stripe from Marmalade by Bonnie & Camille for Moda

Pattern Review: iPad Quilted Cover from Patchwork, Please!

The quilting blogosphere and Flickr have been all abuzz about Ayumi Takahashi's newly released book, Patchwork, Please! Debbie from A Quilter's Table and Lindsay of LRStitched are hosting Zakka Along 2.0 where various bloggers will be sewing and posting their thoughts on each pattern in the book beginning on June 1. Not wanting to miss the party, I ordered the book shortly after it was released, and when my Mom asked for a cover for her iPad mini, I decided to modify the pattern in Ayumi's book and sew it up.

My first challenge was to modify the pattern to fit an iPad mini, as the pattern is written for a full sized iPad. The fact that my mother's iPad lives with her in a different city meant that I couldn't check sizing for accuracy as I went, so here's hoping that it fits! I'm okay at math, but whenever I start playing with patterns, I inevitably mess up. This experience was no different, I'm afraid.
Despite carefully writing out the dimensions of my fabric pieces, I still ended up changing them as I went. In part this is because I decided to make a patchwork cover and I miscalculated how many 2.5 squares I'd need. Luckily, adding a row on top and a row to the side provided a quick fix. By the way, like many of the projects in this book, this cover allowed me to dig into my scrap bin and pull out some fun prints, like the butterflies you see below!
Here are the dimensions of the cuts I ended up with, more or less. Please note, I can not vouch for accuracy so use these at at your own risk. For what it's worth, if I was to do it again, I think I'd add a half inch to each measurement.

Exterior/interior cover: 13 x 9.25 (edit: my version was 10.5 which was too tall!)
Closure flap: 3 x 5.5
iPad sleeve: 9.25 x 6.5
Pocket: 6.5 x 8.5

In terms of the actual pattern, I struggled with some of the instructions. I'm a visual learner and this pattern is all words, which is to be expected in a book I guess. My first issue arose at step seven, when I was instructed to bind the left long edge of the sleeve, which made no sense at all.
Wouldn't I bind the left edge last, when I bound the entire cover? And when would I bind the right edge, if not before attaching it to the exterior of the cover. I felt like this had to be an error in the pattern so I bound the right edge and proceeded.

My next challenge arose when I tried to understand how to construct the pocket. Admittedly, I didn't read the instructions closely enough the first time around. I made an adorable pocket which I mistakenly assumed I'd sew on to the cover. Wrong! So I sat down and read the instructions over (and over) again. Then I went to Flickr and read a discussion thread where Ayumi pointed out a typo in the pattern (alas, not the one I think I found in step seven) which contained PICTURES! Yay! I finally understood how to make the pocket.  Or so I thought...
Yup, I still managed to mess up. The instructions have you enclose the raw edges of the pocket in the binding of the cover. I missed this part (even though I read the instructions several times) and after completing all the edge and top stitching, couldn't figure out how to deal with the raw edges at the top of the pocket. So I bound them. Which looks silly because of the edge stitching. Alas. At this point I wasn't redoing the pocket a third time.
I didn't make the pocket flap with snaps. Instead I used velcro to secure the pocket and I'm happy with that decision. I ended up hand sewing the velcro to both the pocket and cover. Next time I'd machine stitch it before attaching the pocket to the cover because the hand sewing was fiddly.

Despite my challenges (and let me be clear: the pocket issue was mine all mine), I loved this pattern and I'm very happy with the end result. I'd definitely recommend it to others and would gladly make it again. In fact, I might just make one for my own iPad one of these days.

Edited on June 2: My Mom let me know that the cover was approximately an inch or 1.25 inches too long, so I've adjusted the measurements in this post to reflect this.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

More Progress on the Farm

While my sewing machine was being serviced, I spent my time cutting fabric for Farmer's Wife sampler blocks. When I first started farming, I shied away from machine piecing the blocks, because I was afraid that my scant 1/4" seam wasn't accurate enough. Instead, I paper or hand pieced them. I still struggle with getting a perfect scant seam, but I no longer fear machine piecing these little blocks. In fact, having all the fabrics cut ahead of time makes machine piecing them a breeze! Here's what I accomplished today.
#16 - Calico Puzzle. Would you believe that I chose these fabrics last October and prepped them for handsewing on my way to Sewing Summit? Unfortunately, I messed up the directional prints, so I set the block aside. I recut some of the pieces a couple weeks ago and stitched it up today. I don't love the fabric choices I made, but don't hate it enough to remake.
#56 - Maple Leaf. I LOVE this block. My seam allowances got messed up, I think because the beige fabric got a bit stretched out, so the block is a little too big, but I'm going to leave it for now and square up all my blocks "one day."
#71 - Puss in Boots. Another winner. I love the fussy cut centre and searched for the right block to use it in. This block is just perfect for it.  Love.

P.S. I definitely need to buy some Washi tape for taping up blocks for photos. The painter's tape is just horrible!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I've been woefully absent from blogging these past several weeks. Basically the end of pregnancy has been kicking my ass. I've been tired, cranky and uncomfortable and I've still got several weeks to go before baby is scheduled to arrive. The good news is that I'm officially on maternity leave which means I'm able to stay off my feet and NAP!

I have managed to get some sewing done. I just haven't had the energy to blog about any of it.
But! I finished a project tonight and I have a LOT to say about this one. I'll be writing up a pattern review and posting, just as soon as I take a few more photos. In the meantime, here's a speak peak: