Monday, January 31, 2011

Pattern Review: Saltwater Taffy by Fig Tree & Co.

Yay!  I finally managed to finish my Lemon Taffy quilt (more pictures are coming) just in time for my sister-in-law's baby shower last Saturday.  I was really happy with the way it turned out and I'm so glad that I was able to make the push to finish it last week ... as my niece decided that she was going to make her debut into the world the day after her shower ... 6 1/2 weeks early! Mama and Baby are doing great and we're so excited over the newest little member of the family.

I'm still in the process of downloading and editing pictures from the weekend, but in the meantime I wanted to share my pattern review with you, before I forgot the details.

Pattern: “Saltwater Taffy” by JoAnna Figueroa, of Fig Tree & Co.

Quality of Pattern: This was the first pattern I tried from JoAnna @ Fig Tree & Co.  One of the things that struck me almost immediately was that the full pattern was entirely in color.  Now, don't get me wrong - there is absolutely nothing wrong with black and white patterns, but this one was very visually appealing, and with multiple steps in the block construction process, full color definitely was a bonus.

I felt that the directions were well written - especially since the steps for block construction were involved - but they definitely required several readings.  I made the mistake of only reading through once before piecing (and of sewing at 1:00AM), and ended up having to pull apart corners from about 25 squares.  Arg.

Difficulty Level and Technique: While there was nothing I can specifically pinpoint that made this quilt tricky, this is definitely not one to try for those quilters who aren't feeling really comfortable with some of the basic quilting skills, ie: trimming with templates, accurately piecing pinwheel blocks, squaring/trimming blocks, working with pieces that were cut on the bias, pressing instead of ironing (!!!!!!), etc.

None of these are really difficult on their own, but this quilt pattern layers these techniques (and more!) on top of each other, and repeats them over a number of steps in the block construction process.  The blocks turn out beautifully, but require a lot of dedication and care (and the willingness to re-piece, as necessary) to put together.

Adaptability:  Aside from leaving a row off, I made my quilt true to the pattern.  I would imagine that you could change the block size as needed, but it would require a bit of math.  It really wouldn't be that difficult to do, but the pattern yields such good-sized blocks already (just about 8") that I don't know if I'm personally willing to burn off the brain cells to re-size it.

Speed: This quilt is definitely not a weekend project.  There are a number of steps involved in block construction (with lots of trimming and re-trimming), and extreme accuracy is a must ... but it's totally worth the time.  This is definitely more of an "enjoy the process of sewing and construction" quilt, rather than an "I love the gratification of finishing quickly" quilt.

Would I make this pattern again?:  I'd definitely like to try this one again, but I'll probably wait for awhile.  Next time around, I might play with making some of my setting triangles a bit larger, so that the blocks trim up more smoothly, and I think that rather than having my colors match in the "X-intersection," I think it would be fun to match colors within the octagon instead.  It would definitely take quite a bit of planning ... but that's what our design boards are for, right?

Happy Quilting!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Poplun is rockin' a new logo!

Thanks to Ginger over at Ginger Studio Etsy Shop, Poplun is rockin' a brand new logo!!

If you're in the market for a custom design project, be sure to check her out!!  Her turn around time is super quick and she's fantastic to work with.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


So, I've noticed that my blog has been a bit whiny and gloomy lately - my apologies!!  Maybe it's been the gazillion days of cold, overcast weather in a row we've been having here, or maybe I'm just cranky about going back to work after a cushy, two week holiday break.

Regardless, things are looking up in the Poplun sewing studio!  My lemony-yellow Saltwater Taffy  blocks have been reassembled correctly and the quilt is progressing beautifully, my Le Petite project is still making me smile, I have a new logo to unveil this weekend ...

... and I found this [new-to-me] blog: Megan's The Bitchy Stitcher

She is freakin' hilarious.  Megan is a writer, a quilter, and has a humor column in Quilter's Home Magazine.  I really have been cracking up reading her posts all morning!  She has a fantastic, snarky sense of humor, a great voice for storytelling, and isn't afraid to use profanity.  Throw in her love of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series and her new-found addiction to the Outlander series, and it's a match made in heaven!

And, as if it couldn't get any better ... she has a store too!  I mean, check out this tee shirt:

Photo Copyright: The Bitchy Stitcher

She has a matching coffee mug too, which I suspect will be finding a new home in my sewing room soon.  I hope you enjoy Megan @ The Bitchy Stitcher as much as I have been!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Check It Out!

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Why sewing at 1:00AM isn't the greatest idea ...

Thank you all for listening to my whining last week.  I'm happy to say that the Urban Chiks blocks have been retired, hopefully for re-purposing in the not-too-distant future.  I'm also happy to say that the new Mon Ami blocks made with Aster Manor are turning out very well!

While I love the colors in this line, this quilt is definitely looking too grown up to be a baby quilt, as I had originally intended.  Luckily, however, my dining room is done in shades of brown and red ... and has a big, empty wall where this quilt would look great, just in time for spring!

I decided over the weekend to switch gears a bit and work on a project I started over the Christmas break.  While at the Pacific International Quilt Show last fall, I stopped by the Fig Tree & Co and purchased Joanna's Salt Water Taffy quilt pattern ...

(Pattern and Photo Copyright: Joann Figueroa, Fig Tree & Co.)

... and over the Christmas break I decided to use some of the FQ's from my big "Black Friday" purchase to try the pattern out.  Her quilts are GORGEOUS, but this pattern has a ton of steps and unfortunately a great deal of unusable trimmings.  Despite this, however, I'm really enjoying the process of putting it together, and Saturday afternoon I blazed through all of the pinwheel blocks for the body before hubby and I had to leave for our brother-in-law's birthday dinner.

{Tangent: BTW: We ate at Aioli Bodega Espanola in midtown Sacramento.  If you live in the Sacramento area, I highly recommend it!  The ambiance is fantastic and the food is terrific.  Their entrees are a little bit on the pricier side, but their Tapas (Spanish Appetizers meant to share as a group) are the best I've had in town, and you can definitely make a full meal off them alone.  You also can't been the great sangria and assortment of Spanish wines they offer, not to mention the great live Flamenco Guitarist who played throughout the evening!}

We had a great meal, but I'm fairly certain that the decaf espresso I order after dinner really wasn't.  I ended up sewing until about 1:00AM and managed to finish all the interior blocks.  I pinned them up on my design wall, snapped a couple of pictures, and went to sleep happy!

I spent Sunday morning piecing all the border blocks, and 'lo and behold ... when I to pin them on the design board, I realized that I had pieced ALL of the inner blocks incorrectly!!  Rather than sewing the white corner blocks to the printed side of my pinwheels, I had just matched the white fabrics together and sewn away.

I really feel like I've been batting 1,000 lately!!!!  Luckily, there was a CSI marathon on TV Sunday afternoon for me to watch and two puppies to curled up at my feet to keep me company while I pulled all the corner triangles off.  I tried to be as careful as I could, with the hopes of reusing them, but I'm thinking that starting with brand new blocks will yield the best result.

Long story short ... my Weekend-WIP photo is really just an empty border. :)

Moral of the story: Sewing in the wee small hours of the morning ... even when heavily caffeinated ... is never a good idea ...

Monday, January 3, 2011

{Raspberry Noises}

So, Saturday morning I was all excited to unveil my new posting strategy for 2011 - my Weekend-WIP, or "Weekend Work-In-Progress."  In an effort to spend more time working on my Process Pledge this year, I'm trying to make a weekly effort to take a picture of whatever is on my new design board (thanks hubby!!).

First project of the year was the January Le Petite Project: Mon Ami (Schnibbles patter by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co).

To be 100% honest, this isn't a pattern I would have chosen to make on my own, but part of the whole point of joining a club like Le Petite is to branch out and try new patterns, methods, and fabrics.  I had a Moda 1974 by Urban Chiks jelly roll in my stash ...

... and since I love the colors and they have some great coordinating light and dark prints, I thought I'd do some early stash busting and use it for this quilt.  Before even untying that precious "Moda" band from the jelly roll, I took the time to plan everything out in EQ6 and even went so far as to order two matching prints off Ebay for the border and binding ...

... I'm sure you can see where this is going.  I spent a lot of time on Saturday and Sunday putting together about 15 blocks in four of the six color-ways ...

... and I HATE it!  I've tried most of my usual tricks: walking away for the evening and starting with "fresh eyes" in the morning, playing around with the color combinations, making a few more blocks to see if it makes a difference ...

I just plain old don't like it.  I think that the colors appeared softer in the EQ6 mock up, but on the board the lights and darks blend together and the quilt is just too ... noisy.

After sitting and staring at it for probably a half hour, I even asked my hubby who stopped in my sewing room to iron a shirt.  He suggested that rather than staggering the colors to just have rows with all the same colors ...

... so I rearranged the blocks for the 100th time (PS - hubby says I exaggerate all the time, so he takes any number I tell him and either multiples or divides by three.  I guess in all honesty you could say that I rearranged the blocks for the 33.33rd time) ... slept on it again last night,  didn't even look at it before I went back to work this morning, came home hoping to see it with "fresh eyes" ... and still HATE it.

I really hate doing this, but I think I'm going to scrap the project and start fresh, or at least put the blocks aside to be pulled apart later and used for something else.  What do you think?  Is is salvageable?  Would you scrap it?  Would you do as hubby suggested while I was complaining about it earlier and re-purpose them as individual mug rugs so as not to waste anything?  What would you do?

For now, I have to put them away 'cuz I can't stand to look at them.  After playing around in EQ6, I came up with this design, using Moda's Aster Manor by 3 Sisters, which I already have in my stash.

I'm thinking it's a much better alternative, and it definitely looks a lot more like something I'd do, but at the same time, I'm disappointed because the 1974 line was a different color palette and I was hoping to love it ...

{Raspberries, again}

Ok - thanks for listening to me whine. :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011!

Well, after five different Christmas celebrations this year, with various branches of our family, hubby and I are pooped!  We had a great time, but have definitely enjoyed a couple of days of relaxing and practicing the art of doing nothing.  With how busy we were during the months of November and December, I didn't have time to make as many hand made gifts as I had initially hoped, but I'm really pleased with how my two gifts turned out.

First up was a handmade gift for my hubby.  While he's always more than willing to give me his opinion (when I ask) on which color combination or block pattern looks better for a work-in-progress, and has even been willing to accompany me to a quilt show or two, quilting is just not really his thing.  He has been known, however, to enjoy the occasional video game and really gets a kick out of "vintage" Nintendo stuff from when we were kids.  A couple of years ago, he realized that since the 8-bit images from the original Nintendo games that he loved as a kid were nothing more than a series of colored boxes ....

... that they would translate REALLY well into a quilt pattern.  So, he decided that I was going to make him a Mario pillow and promptly dragged me off to JoAnn's (I KNOW!!!!) to get some solid-colored fabric so that I could get started.  Unfortunately, we purchased some fabric on sale that shrunk when ironed - even after pre-washing - which made the task of sewing together 256 squares into a 1" grid really unpleasant and impractical ... and the project was shelved.

I began playing around with the idea of the pillow again, after I stumbled across a tutorial by Elizabeth from Oh! Fransson on Sew, Mama, Sew's website.  Elizabeth started by drawing a grid on a square of super lightweight fusible interface, and then used the lines as guides to place her individual squares.  She ironed them in place and the seamed the back, and voila! ... she made a perfect mini-quilt without having to individual piece together a bunch of tiny squares.  (Check out the tutorial for some great pictures and more complete directions)

I tried her method with some higher-quality solid fabric for my pillow and was absolutely thrilled with the result!!  The grid on the front was so precise and the whole pillow front was done in less than two hours!!

Hubby was thrilled with it too!  He's dubbed it his video-game pillow and has already asked for a second one (specifically the green 1-UP mushroom) to take into his office at work.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My second handmade gift this year was for my mom, aka "my fabric-shopping partner in crime."  Over the summer we took an embroidery class at one of our local quilt shops (which sadly went out of business this month.  I'm so bummed!!).  I knew after we finished the class that I wanted to make her a Christmas quilt that incorporated embroidery.

Every Christmas, my mom has this great collection of snowmen that she displays on the wall behind the kitchen table, so I decided to make her a quilt that matched.  I used Bird Brain Designs' Redwork Snowmen pattern ....

... along with Mom's favorite snowman fabric line, Makin' New Friends by Deb Strain for Moda, and Carrie Nelson's (Miss Rosie's Quilt Co) Hot Cross Schnibbles pattern ...

So sorry for the crummy picture quality!  We've had weeks of rain in Sacramento, so it was hard to get pictures with decent lighting.  Here are some close-ups of the Snow-Peeps ...

Mom loved her quilt, and it's now happily living on the back of the living room sofa ... just waiting for someone to come by and take advantage of the dreary weather with a good book!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So, with those two finishes, I'd like to present the FINAL status of my 2010 stash.
Purchased: 3.0 yards for the Mario Pillow
Used: 6.12 yards as follows:
  • 3.58 yards for Mom's Snowman quilt
  • 0.75 yard for three new mug rugs to be listed in the Etsy shop soon ...
  • 0.69 yard for the Mario pillow
  • 1.10 yards for the December Le Petite project
Grand Total for 2010: +90.78 yards
A bit higher than I had hoped ... but as of today, the numbers all roll back to 0.  Let's see if I can start the next update off with a negative number!!