Sunday, December 27, 2015

A year full of finishes...

2015 has been filled with lots of sewing time, especially in the first half of the year.
I've also been part of many swaps and a few challenges, as well as sewing charity blocks, hoping to do more of the latter in the new year.

Here's a mosaic of everything I've made during the year. 


There are already several plans swirling through my head of things I want to make in the new year, as well as a couple ideas, so let's hope there will be enough time to sew!

Wishing a very Happy New Year to all my readers and followers!

Take care
xx Lia

Monday, November 2, 2015

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas...

At least if you're counting the last swap of this year that I have joined and just finished sewing and packing up.


It's the 4th and current round of the Four Seasons Pillow Swap, which is going underway on Flickr, and also the 4th time that I'm taking part in this swap.
We are sewing pillow cases for every season of the year, if you didn't already catch that from the name of the swap that is ;)

So far I have received 3 amazing pillows (which you can see below) and can't wait for the last one to complete my seasonal collection, although the ones that I have so far, I have used throughout the year. 

Spring

Summer

Fall

While the swap group is basically devided between people who like the winter colours such as blues, greys, and low volumes and people who like the more traditional approach of reds and greens,  my partner in this round was really specific that she wanted the traditional Christmas colours of red and green and she also seemed to have a soft spot for several patterns, including birds. 

That was the point when I decided that I either had to find a cute paper-pieced pattern or an applique pattern and what better way to do that then to ask Google. Luckily I found a cute chickadee applique pattern in the Quilted Treasures online shop.


Since black-capped chickadees are often used in winter-themes, I decided to go for it and thankfully my partner has since approved of my choice. 

Picking the fabrics was rather easy. The fiddly bit were all the numerous parts that I needed for the bird. I'm not sure how many parts the actual pattern has, but since I live overseas, am not a US resident and the pattern only comes in in physical form, I picked the 'easier' way of just printing out the picture in the size that I needed and redrawing the actual bird parts onto paper using carbon paper.


So yeah, I had many small parts that were ironed on with double-sided fusible web and appliqued with transparent nylon thread. You can also call it invisible thread and I love using it for applique like this, because you don't have to change the colour of your thread a million times, which sometimes can be really unnerving, especially when you have applique with many different parts in different colours/fabrics. 


It all came together rather quickly once I had started to work on it, but then I was super unsure what to do around the actual block as I didn't want to take too much focus off the chickadee. A couple of my Quilty friends had to deal with my indecisiveness via private messages over on Instagram and Facebook as I just couldn't decide what to do (thanks to Betti, Mara and Tammy for letting me yap away lol!). They tried to give advice, but I went down a different road in the end. I knew there had to be a border, but couldn't decide which colour, until I realised I could use both red and green. 


The fabrics I used for the borders have the same colours of greens and reds that are in the fabric that I picked to become the back of my pillow, also a must have since there are birds printed on it.
After that everything fell together and I'm happy with the outcome, now hoping that my partner will be, too.



As a little extra and eye-catcher I made a beaded charm for the zipper pull, then packed a few extras together and started to wrap everything up, as you can see in the first picture at the start of this post. 


I always love receiving packages that are wrapped in lovely paper, it's so much more personal, because you know someone put a lot of thought into creating your package and putting it together. 
Giving away what I made is always the hardest part, though. But it's good, because I feel like you know that you made something good or special, when you struggle to give it away, because you want to keep it for yourself.  And it's even more exciting when the recipient is overjoyed in receiving it. ;)

Right now this is the last swap that I have joined this year. I tried to keep it down and haven't joined as many as I have in previous years, but that's down to all the awful things that have happened in the swap world, with so many 'bad apples' only signing up for their own benefit and cheating many nice swappers in the process. 
So you get vary at some point and it stops being fun when you see that friends, who are in the same swaps, end up needing angel packages because some idiot didn't pull through. It's just sad and not very rewarding or pleasant anymore.

My friend Karri has repeatedly taken it upon herself to clear things up on her blog. She finds a funny way - although it's actually less funny and more a sarcastic approach - to report about all the dramas in swap-land and has a couple really great posts about swap-etiquette
Do give her blog a stop by and her posts a read if you're interested, especially if you're a swap-mama or swapper yourself. The good swappers among us need to stick together after all! :)

Until next time, folks!
xx Lia

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

EPP Results

In my post from late April I showed you the EPP projects that I was working on. Now that my Four Seasons Pillow Swap partner has received her summer pillow, I can finally reveal the whole thing to you.









As you can guess, the whole top was handpieced together and it took me quite a while, although I was sewing away on it every day, doing a bit here and another bit there as I found time. 
The back was done in a much easier way, and I used the (under quilters really popular) Britten fabric from Ikea. 

I love how the colours blend in together and it's my interpretation of a perfect rainbow, so I'm really happy how it turned out. 

The Summer round of the swap is currently coming to an end and the most gorgeous pillows are showing up everywhere. I can't wait to find out who I will be receiving from and am patiently waiting and stalking the postman every day ;)

Another finish for a swap, which shipping date is a couple months off yet, is a Sew Together Bag that I made. I've had it completely finished for a while now, but don't want to reveal the whole thing yet, for the fear that my partner my actually be watching my blog. So here is only the EPP outside panel for your viewing pleasure.


More of that will be revealed later in the year.

That's all from me for now!

Have a great day,
xx Lia

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

One Lovely Blog Award




Last week my sewing and swapping friend Janine from Crafty Tokyo Mama II nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. She lives in Japan and we've met in early 2014 through my Fabric Scrap Swap, which she's repeatedly taking part in with huge patience, as she usually the last one to receive her package thanks to the loooong postal ways, lol!

I feel honoured to have received this nomination as there are so many fabulous sewing blogs out there and mine doesn't really feel so special, so thanks to Janine for the nomination, I'll gladly pay it forward :)

In accepting this Award, I have to nominate 10 more blogs and also share 7 things about myself, so let's get started with my nominations. 

1. My first nomination goes to Teresa at The Green Bag Lady. If you haven't heard from her yet, you're probably living behind the moon ;) Up to this day Teresa and her Green Bag Lady chapters have sewn over 31,000 shopping bags that have been given away for free for a cleaner environment. 

2. Up next is Karen at Faeries and Fibres. She creates the most amazing EPP quilts and shares great piecing techniques and tutorials on her blog. So if you plan on taking your EPP to the next level, go and visit her blog!

3. I also want to nominate Mara of Secretly Stitching. We've met through swaps on Flickr, are now Instagram and Facebook buddies and share a huge love for bees, nautical themes and Alison Glass fabrics. She is fantastic at embroidery and makes the cutest things.

4. My next nomination goes to Karri of Karri of Berries. We've also met through Swaps and I love Karri's blog because on there she speaks out about things that other people are too afraid to say, especially dealing with swaps. I love her honesty and sense of humour. ;)

5. Yvonne from White Painted House is next. She hasn't blogged in ages - maybe we can change that now? ;) - but she's incredibly generous in terms of creating angel packages for swappers and is always the first to offer and respond. This is why she really needs a nod on this post. 

6. I also need to nominate Josh from Molli Sparkles because you can never have enough sparkles and glitter ;) Josh creates amazing quilts - check out Lost Feathers of an Angel and be prepared to stare!! - and was the driving force behind collecting over 2000 hashtag blocks to make quilts for Sewing For Sydney

7. Kim from Persimon Dreams is also one of my nominees. Her blog is probably best known for the annual Project Quilting Challenges. If you've not heard about that yet, go and make sure that you visit her blog. Kim hosts Project Quilting every year between January and March and there are many prized up for grabs when joining a challenge.

8. Another nominee is Caroline from lal in Socal. We've met through my Secret Tote Bag Swap and she creates the most gorgeous bags. She's also got a huge love for everything purple and knits cute companions for her swap partners. 

9. I'm also nominating Paula from Mudpies and Pins. I love her tiny EPP creations and butterflies. They're just gorgeous and Paula as a great eye for colour. 

10. My last spot goes to Aylin at ayliN-Nilya. Her patterns and creations are out of this world and it seems that she's whipping them up faster than you could actually sew, lol!


So, those were my nominees and I guess now I have to reveal 7 things about myself, this could get awkward, haha!


1. A funny fact is that my online friends often think that I'm an American living abroad. But I'm not, I'm a born and raised German and have never lived anywhere else but Germany. I often get complimented on my English, though, so I suppose I had good teachers! Yay! ;)

2. While I don't have a problem in getting to know or meeting new people, I rather stay to myself. I'm not quite sure if that makes me a proper introvert, but I have no trouble in spending hours alone by myself and just being creative.

3. From being a teenager up into my early twenties I loved to read. I haven't touched a book in years now though and probably wouldn't find any time to sew if I actually did.

4. That being said, I find it hard to concentrate on an actual page for a longer time period, wether that be in a newspaper or book, or reading an e-book on a laptop for example. It's not that I don't want to, but I have so called vitreous opacity, which are floaters in my left eye that are constantly there. They are quite annoying if I have to concentrate on something for a longer time and make my eye extra tired. Just imagine seeing small black dots whenever you look from the left to the right, they float through your vision and back. I've learned to live with them as I've had them for several years, but they can be quite annoying at times.

5. I love to do anything crafty. Often I get the 'is there anything you can't do?' comments, which make me laugh. Yeah, there are several things I cannot do, cooking and baking for example. Or knitting. I also have no patience for cross-stitching and it always looks a bit weird when I do it. 

6. I prefer dogs to kids. I don't think that needs any further explanation haha! ;)

7. And last but not least, something a bit embarrassing I guess. My musical taste is all over the place, but for the last year and a half or so, I've actually gone back down the teenie route and started to become a fan of One Direction. Yes, I know, you can laugh about that all you want, but I don't mind. I totally don't care lol!


Ok, that's that! I hope you visit some of the blogs above and hopefully find something you like and I will have a new post up for you all very, very soon!

Take care!
xx Lia

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Think I might have caught something that I heard is highly infectious...

...and while I'm actually battling another cold right now (yes, am also currently on vacation, as it seems I always start being sick one week before my work holidays start...), I don't mean a bug as such, I'm actually talking about something far more severe...

You know, when you try something new and crafty and you just can't seem to stop?

Let's say it all started rather harmless... with the Dumpling Pouch Swap hosted by Mari-Ann on Flickr. Now the word swap alone stands for something severe with some sewists, as swaps can be highly addictive... but while I love swaps, I know I have actually been pretty good withstanding that one addiction ;)
The thing is, that my partner in said Dumpling Swap loves English Paper Piecing (EPP) and while I know how Foundation Paper Piecing works, I had never done the completely different EPP. But I aim to please and I like to extend my abilities/try something new, at least if it comes to sewing and being crafty. And I also have a huge role model in terms of EPP, Karen of Faeries and Fibres. She does amazing arty quilts with all her different EPP techniques, so go give her a visit for some fabulous tutorials.

But not getting side tracked now, like I said I like to try and meet my swap partner's expectations, so I had to give this EPP thing a go...


And that's kind of how the whole disaster started...


And I am being entirely sarcastic when I speak of a disaster, because I realised I quite enjoyed handpiecing... and I usually hate anything that has to do with handsewing...

So I used 3/4" hexagon templates that I received in a swap once and pieced and pieced and pieced away until this little Dumpling pouch was finished... First time ever EPP project finished, tadaa!


But don't think I stopped there... 

Because I also signed up for the Bee Still My Heart Swap hosted by Deanna on Instagram... 
And since honeycombs are hexagons/hexies, I of course needed to make some more...


These were put aside for now though, as I had to work on yet another swap with a deadline much closer than the Bee themed swap. 

I'm talking about the Four Seasons Pillow Swap hosted by Karen on Flickr. I've already been in the Spring round and received a gorgeous EPP pillow (no pun intended at all!) from my friend Tammy, also known as OmaTam. And while I've been doing a foundation pieced pillow in the spring round, I was striving to do something different in this round. Plus, it happens that my partner likes EPP and decided that my idea of doing a tumbling blocks pattern suited her well. 

The plan was to use rainbow colours and low volume, and so I kept making diamonds for a while...


First in low volume, then in different shades of colours to create rows...
  

Then more colours...


And more rows...


Until now a few days later I have almost the whole pillow top pieced. I took the following picture last night. I have all the shapes done now and only need to sew the last pieces together, then connect the final few rows.


I honestly never thought that doing this would actually be quite so efficient and quick - also it's super relaxing as you can just put your feet up and watch TV while sewing your EPP pieces together. I started working on the colour rows properly last Wednesday evening and since then have been sewing on it pretty much nonstop. So I guess being sick and on holiday from work does help a bit...

Also, I'm already wondering which might be the next EPP project that I could do, but hey, after this pillow is finished, I still have the Bee Swap item to do and that should keep me busy for another day or two ;)

That's it from me for now, do you have any sewing techniques that you are addicted to/can't stop/enjoy way too much? Do tell, I'd love to hear!

xx Lia

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fabric Scrap Swap Announcement!

Hi all!

Looking for a fun and easy way to get a bit of diversity in your scrap bins? Then you may be interested in joining the current round of the Fabric Scrap Swap.


The dates:

Sign-Ups for this round will be open until Saturday, the 11th of April, 2015.

Partners will be sent out no later than Tuesday, the 14th of April, 2015.
All packages need to be shipped no later than Thursday, the 30th of April, 2015


The fine print:

You are required to send scraps of fabric that equal 1 yard (36" x 36") when laid out from end to end and side to side and are no smaller than 2.5" x 2.5" inches, unless your partner requires otherwise. It must be quilt shop quality fabrics and not come from JoAnn Fabrics, Hancock Fabrics, Hobby Lobby or any other big box retailer.
If unsure about the weight and amount to send, 4 FQ's of quilting cotton fabric for example have a weight of about 160g / 5.64 oz. Anything up from that amount will always ensure that you're on the safe side.
You are not required to send any handmade items or extras, but of course are welcome to add extras if you want.

International participants are welcome, but please note that this is a Flickr only swap, so you must have a working Flickr profile to be able to join.


For a full list of rules and guidelines as well as the sign-up form please check the Flickr Group for this swap.

Hope to see you there! :)
xx Lia

Monday, April 6, 2015

My Project Quilting Recap

Hey all!

2015's Project Quilting is now over, 12 weeks of brainstorming, sewing and prize winning. And the 6 challenges posted in this season were more successful for me than I could've hoped or wished for. In fact, I was left surprised quite a few times, which is why I wanted to do a little recap of all my 6 entries that I made for the challenges.

Some were really a bit challenging as I needed a moment to figure out and decide what to make, some were created with techniques I had not used before, some turned into pieces that I really love and adore now and am proud of making. And that isn't just because all of them ended in the top 3 of the viewer's choice votings of each challenge week. That part only made me more proud of having come up with something that other people enjoyed just as much and I'm truly thankful for everyone who took the time to vote! Thank you!

Here is my recap of season 6 of Project Quilting and all my challenge entries, including the votes and places they received in the public voting. If you want to read the stories about how I created these, simply click on the project name underneath the pictures and you will be forwarded to the originals posts.



1st place in Viewer's Choice Voting with 146 votes




2nd place in Viewer's Choice Voting with 226 votes




2nd place in Viewer's Choice Voting with 99 votes




3rd place in Viewer's Choice Voting with 125 votes




1st place in Viewer's Choice Voting with 164 votes




3rd place in Viewer's Choice Voting with 129 votes


That's my recap of this season and it was a really successful one in my books. I learned a lot about myself and my workmanship in these challenges, tried new things I've not done before, and also learned from a couple mistakes. 
I'm definitely looking forward to next year and joining in again. 

There were also several nice prizes that I won. Two small boxes of Aurifil, a calendar from our host Kim Lapacek, several patterns from the Quilting Gallery and a gorgeous keyring. Not bad, so the hard work payed off! ;)

Now it's onto new sewing adventures and of course a few swaps, as I can never seem to resist.
Speaking of swaps...check back for a swap announcement later as I am currently hosting my quick and easy Fabric Scrap Swap again. 

Talk soon!
xx Lia

Friday, March 20, 2015

"Summer Garden" - Project Quilting Challenge 6

It's done! I finished the final challenge of this year's Project Quilting! Whoop! I admit that I was having a really tough time deciding what to make this week, though.

The challenge itself was called 'Isn't that Charming?' and you were supposed to use at least 20 charms of 5" size on the front of your project. The actual challenge description first had me slightly confused, but our host Kim soon cleared up any confusion, which still left the indecisiveness about what I wanted to make. 

My colleague at work recently voiced that she wanted me to do something with flowers and bees or a big bee on a flower, since she is a hobby photographer and has taken several pictures of this kind. So, I was trying to figure out how to work those two things together.



The final product of that fusion is my "Summer Garden", which had me using a total of 54 charms, that all originally started at the size of 5", like it was asked for in the challenge. 
I guess I could've gone the easy way and just piece a couple charms together and make something simple, but as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I like to use these challenges to actually challenge myself and my thinking and I always try to tell me that Project Quilting mantra 'think outside the box'. Personally I think that I've really done that this time as it was definitely a very non-traditional  and different way of using charm squares. 

I've also documented my constructions steps to proof how I used the charms and how many, so I apologise in advance that this blog post will be a really long and picture loaded one, but I do hope you all will enjoy my creative process and my thinking behind this idea.


Of course the whole thing started with a bunch of charms, there are 18 in this picture, 6 for the outer petals, 5 for the big inner circle of petals, 6 for the small petals in the smallest circle and 1 for the middle of the flower.


I cut circles out of all those charms, for the big petals I used 4.75" circles, for the small ones I used 3.5". Then you have to cut each of those cirlces in half and sew the straight ends together. All of the flowers were made using a tutorial by Angela of Cut To Pieces, that I found while searching the interwebs for fabric flower ideas.


After the construction of my first flower I started to contemplate the background. I didn't want a large project, so decided to make the background no bigger than 10" square. Since I wanted to use small charms for the background to make it more patchworky, that meant that I needed 25 small charms. 


So I cut 7 charms of 5" size out of some Ikea childrens duvet cover that I had bought a while ago - couldn't pass it up as it has a wood theme with loads of animals - and then cut those into 2.5" charms, then assembled them randomly.


You can see that I mixed the order up a few times, because at this point I decided, that I wanted to use more than one big flower, so I moved the white flower on the background fabric further up, so that later on it would look like a flowery field of sorts. 


Now it meant to make more flowers. The two other flowers are slightly smaller as the yellow one and not as filled, so I needed less charms. 


For the orange one I cut 6 light orange charms for the inside petals and 5 dark orange ones for the outside petals, once again needing to cut circles out of all of them, cut them in half, sew them up, etc. I also used another charm for the middle again.


The exact same thing happened with the pink flower. 6 light pink charms for the inside petals, 5 deep pink charms for the outside petals and one charm for the middle of the flower.


After assembling the flowers, I added a bit of embellishment. I used a string of golden pearls and stitched them around the flower centers to give it a bit more depth and make it look more like there was actual pollen there. The reason for that will be explained further down in this post. 

I actually banged my head at some point here, because I didn't have enough of this pearl string and came a good inch short on the final flower. Thankfully a sewing crazy friend of mine - who I originally got this pearl string from - had some more in her stash and saved the day - and the whole project, lol!


Since I didn't just want to leave the flowers bare, but wanted to embellish some more, I decided to make an origami butterfly made from fabric. I used 2 charms for that and created it following a tutorial by Michelle Patterns


It ended up the perfect size for my flower and I hope it resembles a blue morphp butterly at least a little bit. I just love the blue colour against the yellow background. It's such an eye catcher.


The next idea was some bumble bees to profit from my earlier created pollen. I was contemplating back and forth how to make these, but then decided to cut up 2 empty paper spools of thread and glue some black and yellow striped fabric around it.
I forgot to take a picture of that charm as I was quite certain that I had already done that with the batch of yellow charms for the first flower, but when I uploaded the picture, I realised that I was mistaken. It can be seen in the background of a few of the above pictures, though, even if not fully.


My paper spool bumble bees received fluffy bums and heads, the latter being parts of a black pipe cleaner and their bums being made by deconstructing a fluffy white pom-pom. I had lints of that still in my nose hours later since I obviously had to trim the pom-pom down deliberately and give their bottoms an even trim. That part definitely wasn't so nice. Not for their bums needing trimming, but for all the lints tickling my nose. ;)


They also needed wings. Those I constructed out of two charms of light blue organza and a layer of soluble stabilizer, then embroidered my wings onto that. After washing the soluble out, I immediately ironed the wings dry on low heat, which made them really stiff and great to cut and glue to the little bumble bee bodies. 


I think they turned out super cute and several of my friends have already exclaimed the same sentiments. So let's see how far this one will bring me in the final Viewer's Choice voting. 


Which immediately brings me to my final words for this week...

THANK YOU!!! 

Because you made me win 1st place in the Viewer's Voting for Challenge 5 with my entry "Beneath a Silver Light" with a whopping 164 votes. That was almost double the amount 2nd place got, so whoa!
I can only say it once again, thanks so much for all the support in these votings, it really, really, really means a lot to me! Thank you! :)

I hope you will all enjoy my "Summer Garden". What a great and inspiring couple weeks it has been :)

Lots of Love!
xx Lia
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