Friday, March 20, 2015

In Progress - Fabric Play

I have fabrics in my stash that I bought because I thought they were pretty, only to find that I had no idea how to use them. It is usually the medium to large scale florals that have many different colors in the print. The one on the right in the above picture is a good example of this.

I want to use them. I need to use them. So I thought, why not use it as a feature fabric and add some coordinates and lots of low volume? I started pulling fabrics, sticking to navy, aqua, and various greens. These are not fabrics that I ever would have thought went with the floral, but somehow, they worked because of the colors.

Then I started cutting and piecing in a sort of random, sort of planned method - 18" x 6" sections of 6 fabrics each. The angles are cut free form, creating wedges and rectangles.

This is such a freeing way to piece fabrics. No specific pattern or shapes lets the fabric do the talking and there is no right or wrong way to do it. The only  goal is to get a balanced layout of darks and lights. I am having so much fun, I am going to do a tutorial so everyone can give it a try!!

More soon!!

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Moving to WordPress - part 2

{Read part one here}


After securing a host and buying my domain name, the next step in the process of moving my blog to WordPress is to install a theme. A theme is basically the template files that determine the graphic design and layout of your blog. There are free ones available but they are fairly plain so I went looking for a theme that would work well with a sewing blog. There are so many available for sale on the internet that to save time, I went to Etsy. Prices ranged from $20 to $55, and believe me, I spent a lot of time looking at them.

Search for WordPress themes on Etsy

It helped that I had an idea in my mind of what I wanted - a full-width layout with a static Home page, a Post page, a Tutorials page, and a Gallery page. I also wanted to have the flexibility to add other pages in the future, such as a shop or pattern page. There are many features that can be added with plugins, so it was the basic layout that I paid the most attention to. It was not an easy decision for me - I tend to be rather detail oriented, and most of the pre-designed themes were limiting for colors, font styles and font sizes.

I lucked out a bit because my daughter works for a digital marketing company and she suggested the Divi theme from Elegant Themes. It has a page builder feature that lets you click and drag different modules to build your own pages - no CSS knowledge required - and because she has access to the themes, she installed it at no cost to me!

It is important to note that you are not married to the theme you choose. It its easy to change it from within the Dashboard, and free plugins can give you all kinds of extra features. I just wanted to get it right from the get go and not have to do a lot of changes once it goes live.

The downside of the Divi theme is that building your own pages takes time, and there is definitely a learning curve involved as I am totally new to WordPress. So I have spent the last two weeks working on it, sometimes obsessively, trying to get it to look just right. Overall, I have enjoyed the process, although there have been times when I have been so frustrated that I nearly threw my laptop across the room! Thank goodness for Google which can solve just about any problem.

The next step is the one that scares me the most, importing my blog content to the new one. I am hoping that it all works and I won't have to go in and re-size a bunch of pictures or redo old posts. I will also have to rebuild the Tutorials and the Quilt Gallery since the import will only transfer post pages and not the other pages.

I am planning on having this all finished in April to coincide with my three-year blog anniversary!

Thanks for visiting and Happy Sewing (and blogging),

Tessa Marie

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Giveaway Winner

Thank you so much to everyone that entered the giveaway for the fat quarter bundle of RJR Cotton Supreme solids. The Random number generator has spoken, and the winner is Joy Cochran!

Isn't it fun to win something?!!
I have e-mailed you for your address, the bundle will be sent from RJR Fabrics directly.

Have a great week and Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Friday, March 13, 2015

What Shade Are You? Blog Hop and Giveaway

How To Add Solids to Your Quilts

Lately, I have been thinking about solids and if I should use more of them in my quilts. So, when RJR fabrics invited me to participate in their What Shade Are You? Blog Hop, I jumped at the chance to explore the option.

Many fabric manufacturers make it so convenient to buy complete collections with their offers of precuts and bundles. I am more than happy to take them up on that offer, especially when stacked up neatly and tied with a bow! But then I feel compelled to use the entire line in one quilt, which can lead to a busy mix of prints. A great way to calm the chaos is to add solid fabrics.

How do you  know which ones to add? Using this bundle of fabrics, I wanted to keep the solids "calm" so that the blues, aquas, cream and greens would be the focus and the red and yellow would serve as the pops of color. The Cotton Supreme solids from RJR Fabrics are wonderful, with a high quality weave and a lovely, soft feel. With over 175 colors to choose from, I was sure that I would be able to find what I was looking for.

I used the stripe as my starting point because it has a good mix of the colors and I knew that I would use it for the binding, When adding solids, they don't have to match exactly, going a bit lighter or darker adds more interest, but do keep them in the same tone (the amount of gray in the colors). If I had thrown red and/or yellow into the mix, it would have defeated the purpose of adding the solids in the first place, which was to calm things down.

The cream and gray are neutrals, and adding neutrals is always a good idea. There are a lot of colors in the prints so I chose six blues/greens and two neutrals for a good representation of them. Sometimes, you just have to play and edit to get this right. It is ideal to keep the proportions of solids and prints in check - the solids should complement the prints, not overpower them.

Here they are all together:

And here is the resulting quilt top:

bright summery handmade quilt top with stars the sewing chick

The question of how much solid fabric to add is kind of a matter of personal preference and the look you are wanting to achieve. I like when things work out in even numbers, so with 30 blocks to make, I decided on a 2:1 ratio of prints to solids for the background squares - 20 print backgrounds and 10 solid ones. I used this same ratio for the center blocks and the star points. Having three different elements to each block also meant that I would be assured of having one solid fabric in every block (because the solids are 1/3 of the fabrics).

When it came time to lay the blocks out, I did my best to keep like colors, prints and backgrounds separate from each other, but it proved to be impossible! I would move one which then meant I had to move another one and then another! So in the end, I have some solid backgrounds next to each other and some prints diagonal from each other, but I had to stop moving them around at some point or I'd go mad!!

I used a great tutorial for the star blocks from Alison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew. I trimmed by blocks to 10 1/2" which made for easy assembly of the rows and final quilt top. The overall size is 50" x 60", a perfect sofa snuggle quilt or a generous kids quilt.

I would love for you to add some solid fabrics to your next project, and RJR has graciously offered a fat quarter bundle of the colors I used to give away to one of my readers.


The color numbers included are: 090, 264, 242, 294, 169, 342, 228 and 155.

To win , you can enter up to three times by:

1. Leave me a comment on this post, maybe say what you would use the fabrics for.

2. Like RJR Fabrics on Facebook and leave me a second comment telling me you did.

3. Follow RJR Fabrics on Instagram and leave me an additional comment telling me you did.

::: U.S. and Canada entries only please and no P.O. boxes :::

I will leave entries open until Monday, March 16th and then choose a winner with Mr. Random.  Good luck!!

Thanks for visiting and Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Friday, March 6, 2015

The Decision to Move to Wordpress

Hello friends! I am well aware that there has not been much to post about lately! The whirlwind excitement of Quilt Con took me a week to recover from and I am working on a project this week that I can't share yet, so I thought this would be a good time to blog about my decision to move to WordPress.


I have been thinking about this for months now and have turned it over in my mind for what is probably too many times. But ultimately, I decided to move because WordPress offers so many options to customize my blog. It seems that there are more sewing and quilting blogs than ever (which is great!!), and hopefully customizing mine will make it stand out from the rest a little. Also, with WordPress, I will own the site, as opposed to Blogger being owned by Google.  Of course, this comes with a price. Blogger is free and while there is a free version of WordPress, it offers very little in terms of options and isn't worth making the move.

As I go through the process, I will share with you in case you were thinking of making the move, too. There are tons of articles written by tech savvy people about how to do it, but I thought actually hearing the voice of a regular blogger (with limited tech skills) may be helpful. Each step  I go through will be a separate post with the tag "moving to wordpress".

Money Sign Clip Art No Background | Clipart Panda - Free Clipart ...
So once the decision is made, Step One was to purchase my domain name. I debated changing the name, but decided to stay with The Sewing Chick and fortunately thesewingchick dot com was available. Registering the name with a hosting site (instead of with WordPress) gave me tons (really, tons!) more options for making the site unique and I chose Blue Host. There are different plans and pricing, and I selected what I think is a good middle of the road option - their plus plan for 24 months - for $6.95 per month. The website says as low as $5.95 per month, but that is for 36 months and I think three years is just too far out! Who knows what I might be doing in three years! The plus plan includes a bunch of extras like one year of free domain registration. What I didn't realize until I hit the purchase button was that, although they show you the per month price, you have to pay for it up front!! So, multiply 24 times $6.95 and add the second year of domain registration plus two years of privacy protection, and I paid a little over $200 for the two year period!! That's a heck of a lot more than free, so I really hope it is worth it!

I already had WordPress installed on my computer (in fact, I own, so the next step, which I am still working out, is to choose a theme for the site. I really hope I can get that finalized soon and then I'll post about it! Stay tuned! If you have any questions for me, I will be glad to answer them the best I can, base on my experience. I am not an expert in this area!

And because, I have to include a quilty picture, I love these blocks I just did for the Trust Circle of do Good Stitches. Erica gave us the exact layout and the colors to use, so the design credit is all hers! The blocks are 12" when finished, making all those HST's just 2"!

The fabrics are Kona Cotton in white, fog, aqua and Mediterranean. When she gets all the blocks, there will be 24 of them, making a beautiful quilt that looks like waves on the sea.

Have a super weekend!!

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Austin Bag

As a fairly new member of the Modern Quilt Guild and with my first Quilt Con just a week away, I need an ultra-cool, modern bag to disguise the fact that I am really not that modern! Despite being neither pink nor flowery (told you I'm not modern), I am a big fan of Carolyn Friedlander prints and had two mini charm packs on hand that I thought would be perfect for this project.

modern patchwork tote bag doe fabric the sewing chick

Limited by the amount of 2 1/2" squares I had, I designed this bag with a patchwork pocket panel that goes all the way around the outside.  It is stitched down at the corners, creating four separate pockets. After taking these pictures, though, I might stitch down the middle of one of the side pockets to make two smaller pockets, one will be just right for my phone.

The "leather" accents add a richness as well as a professional touch.  I used an upholstery vinyl from JoAnn Fabrics that looks and feels like the real thing, even on the back. This enabled me to have the raw edges exposed, reducing bulk in the seams. To top stitch, I used a jeans needle (size 100 and very sharp) and it sewed through four thicknesses like butter.

To attach the strap, I bought this rivet setting kit from the craft store. I've never done this before, but there was no way my machine was going to sew through eight layers of faux leather so I thought I would give it a try. It was super easy and worked great, although I am pretty sure that I hammered the heck out of the rivets a little more than necessary!

Isn't the lining fabric sweet? It was also found at JoAnn Fabrics, in with the regular quilting cottons which I usually bypass, but those sweet yellow flowers grabbed my attention and when I felt the softness, I was pleasantly surprised and bought two yards!  I might be going back to buy the rest of the bolt!

I wanted the bag to have a "slouchy" feel so just used one layer of fusible fleece as a stabilizer. I quilted through the fabric and the fleece and added the lining separately. The patchwork is quilted by stitching on both sides of the seams, and the bag body is quilted with straight lines at about 1 cm intervals (the edge of my presser foot).

Making a bag without a pattern was not without it's uh-oh moments. Like when I was so eager to find out if the bag and pocket panel would fit together that I sewed the side seams before installing the zipper. And I wasn't sure how the whole bag, lining, zipper thing would work so I tried it a different way on either side of the zipper. Fortunately the difference is only visible on the inside!

Additional bag details:

dimensions - about 16" x 12" x 6" (base is 13" x 6")
fabric - Robert Kaufman yarn dyed linen in "flax"
one mini charm pack Carolyn Friedlander "Doe"
one mini charm pack Carolyn Friedlander Robert Kaufman favorites
 yellow flower, Heather Tozzi for GCD Studios, David Textiles
Stabilizer - Pellon Thermolam TP971F
Thread - Coats & Clark machine quilting cotton, "temple gold"
trim - JoAnn Fabrics Upholstery vinyl, "Cordova chocolate"
zipper - Coats & Clark 18" purse zipper, "dogwood"
hardware - antique square ring, Everything Mary

modern patchwork tote bag doe fabric the sewing chick

I am so pleased with how this bag turned out that I think it would make a great pattern. Since I've worked out the what-not-to-do and the proportions, it is " just" a matter of writing up the instructions and creating some diagrams. Hopefully soon!!

Linking up with these great linky parties:

My Quilting Infatuation - Needle & Thread Thursday
Crazy Mom Quilts - Finish It Up Friday
Confessions of a Fabric Addict - Can I Get a Whoop Whoop
T.G.I.F.F. - this week at Quilt Matters

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Friday, January 30, 2015

Out To Sea Baby Quilt - Quilted and Bound

Ahoy Mateys and Happy Friday!! I have another finish this week to share with you!! The personality of these prints basically required a baby/toddler quilt and the simple patchwork design of this quilt allowed for Sarah Jane's adorable pirate themed prints to shine.

I used this larger map print on the back along with some more sailboats and a couple of the prints from the front.

The quilting is just wavy lines spaced about and inch and a half apart. It was easy to keep them on line - I did one through each seam line and one in between the seams of the four patch squares.

The binding is a stripe from the collection and because of the scale, I took the time to match up the stripe when sewing the binding strips together. Can you see the seam?  I have a tutorial on how to do that HERE.

I did not use a pattern for this quilt. I knew that I wanted this design and planned the size of the squares based on the scale of the prints - 6" large squares and 3" smaller squares. Usually, I prefer an odd number for the number of blocks in a row or in a column, but this one just worked out better as a 6 x 8 - I think that 36 x 48 is a perfect baby size!

I chose to use all the same print in the four patches - the ivory with ships wheels - to give some repetition to the quilt. When using a bunch of prints, that gives a calmness and order to the design. This also enabled me to strip piece - I needed 24 four patch squares which meant 48 sets of the ivory print and another fabric. I had 6 different fabrics, therefore 8 of each one. The squares are 3 1/2" unfinished, so 8 x 3 1/2 = 28". I cut 30" strips so I would have a little extra, stitched them in pairs and then sub cut into 3 1/2". Phew!! Who knew quilting was so complicated!!

One last look...

Additional details -

Fabric is all Out to Sea by Sarah Jane Studios for Michael Miller Fabrics
Batting - Warm and White 100% cotton
Pieced with Aurifil 50wt. 100% cotton
Quilted on a Babylock Tiara with Superior Masterpiece polyester thread

This quilt is for sale and will be in my Etsy shop eventually. Yep, still procrastinating. I am hung up on designing a label to put on my quilts. I can't decide if I want it to say my name or The Sewing Chick! Opinions appreciated!! (Let's see who is still reading ;-)

Linking up with these amazing bloggers:

Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it Up Friday
Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?
Caroline at Sew Can She for Show Off Saturday

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Out to Sea Baby Quilt -- In Progress

Over the past couple of years, I have been growing my fabric stash. It is a common trait of quilters, old and new alike, to buy fabric because it is pretty with no regard for what I am going to make with it, if anything at all. But now I look at all those piles of fabric and think, gosh, there's a lot of money tied up in there, maybe I need to use it up...

So I have made it one of my goals for the year to use what I have and limit further purchasing of more fabric. Not a bad thing when I get to sew up such cute fabrics as these Sarah Jane Out to Sea prints. I have decided on a simple alternating 4-patch and square layout that allows me to fussy cut some of the larger feature fabrics.

The top went together really quickly and I have begun to quilt it on the Princess (my Babylock Tiara) with free motion wavy lines to mimic real waves!

This might even be finished by the weekend!! Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for Work in Progress Wednesday. How about you? What are you working on this week? I hope it's something good!!

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Friday, January 23, 2015

A Finished Quilt

colorful modern patchwork handmade quilt by the sewing chick

I have learned a valuable lesson from finishing this quilt. So often, I am all about the fabric. I love fabric. No, I loooooove!!!! fabric. My quilts tend to feature the colors and patterns of favorite fabrics, and I consider the quilting to be secondary, you know, just a way to keep the layers together. But this quilt has taught me that the quilting design can make a huge difference in how I feel about the finished piece.

I liked the Bonnie and Camille Happy Go Lucky fabric. I  liked the simple pattern of alternating 9 patch and snowball blocks. I liked the Moda Bella Aqua solid. I just didn't like them all together. But the quilting in the centers of the snowballs made them pop and now I love this quilt.

From now on, I will consider how I am going to do the quilting at the design phase of quilt making and not merely as an afterthought. I will, I swear!

The backing is a pretty aqua and white Ta Dot from Michael Miller and the binding is from the Marmalade collection, also by Bonnie and Camille.

I didn't use a pattern - I had a layer cake of the B&C fabric so that dictated the size of the blocks. I cut each 10" square into 2.5" strips and pieced the 9 patches from those. The remaining 2.5" strips were subcut into 2.5" squares for the corners of the snowball blocks. There are similar patterns on the market, including this one.

The finished quilt is 42" square, a nice baby or toddler size.

This quilt will be for sale in my Etsy shop as soon as I get that up and running, which is one of my goals for 2015. Well, okay, it was one of my goals for 2104, but didn't happen. The idea of selling my work scares me, but I can't keep piling up quilts in my house forever!!

Linking up today with Amanda over at Crazy Mom Quilts and Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Have a super weekend and Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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