Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Camp counselor t-shirts

A couple months back my mother-in-law dropped off a stack of my husband's old t-shirts including five from his summer as a counselor at Camp Unistar. Joel was going to turn them into rags, but I secretly rescued them from the rag pile and re-purposed them as kid's t-shirts.

I used the Skinny Flashback Tee pattern from Made By Rae. I changed the long sleeves into short sleeves, but otherwise left the pattern unaltered. Size 2T fits Ethan and 5T fits Isaac perfectly.

I used my serger for the shoulder and side seams and then hand-stitched the collar and hems - I think it was actually quicker that way! I've struggled for hours to serge a blind hem, with mediocre results. I used Wonder Clips to fold under and secure the hems, and a doubled length of heavy duty Coats and Clark thread for hand-stitching. It looks like a serged blind hem, but soooo much sturdier! I will be shocked if my kids can rip these hems.

I used a running stitch to attach the collars, being careful not to pull the thread taut. Toddlers have big noggins! I did have to redo one of the 2T collars that I'd stitched too tightly. I used flat seams in the ribbed collar to avoid bulky seam allowances.

I finished these shirts just in time for the kids to wear them on Father's Day.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

La Passacaglia quilt

The first time I saw a La Passacaglia quilt on Instagram, I thought "wow, that's beautiful!" My next thoughts were "those pieces are tiny," "that is a LOT of work," and "that whole project is crazy-pants. I'm not doing that."

Well... here I am... making one of those. There are too many cute cogs popping up on my Instagram feed. A bunch of fellow MMQG members have started. And last fall when I visited my friend Julie we jumped on the bandwagon, too.

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

The pieces are tiny. And it will take a lot of time. But it's so fun!

I'm using templates from Sunset Seams, precut papers from Paper Pieces, a SewLine glue pen and fancy Tulip needles from a recent Massdrop. I bought some vintage Tupperware on eBay to hold all my supplies.

I've made a little progress in the last 8 months. I still need to choose fabrics for the diamonds in cog #1.

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

My plan is to sew the first three rounds of a bunch of cogs, then decide on a layout and start the next rounds. Here's cog #2.

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

I'm drawing the line at fussy-cutting star points. I still think that's crazy-pants.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Manchester Metallics challenge

I'm so thrilled to be participating in the Manchester Metallics Summer Bag Challenge hosted by Sew Mama Sew and Robert Kaufman! The challenge is to make a bag featuring the new Manchester Metallics fabric and any other Robert Kaufman solids or textured solids.

I made a Cargo Duffle - a free pattern from Robert Kaufman by Noodlehead - with my summer roadtrips in mind. I need a moderately structured bag that can fit on the floor behind the passenger seat, under my toddler's kicking feet. And I need a lot of pockets.


All photo credits go to my husband, Joel. 

For my fabric pull I chose:

  • Manchester Metallic Evening: 1 yard

  • Essex Yarn Dyed Nautical: 1 yard

  • Outback Canvas Navy: 1 yard

  • Kona Cotton Berry: 3/4 yard

  • Kona Cotton Wasabi: 3/4 yard

 Disclaimer: the fabric was provided by Robert Kaufman. 

Look at how sparkly this fabric is in the sun! I love it. The Manchester Metallics fabric is soft and has a very nice drape. For this project I wanted more structure and less drape, so I fused medium-weight interfacing to the back of the Manchester Metallics fabric. As an added bonus, the interfacing prevented the lovely weave of the fabric from being distorted by the dense quilting. I cut the interfacing the same size as the quilt batting.

I added a card pocket to one of the exterior pockets. I also substituted magnets for snaps.

I added another card pocket and a large pleated pocket on the interior. The interior pocket will hold a couple road maps.
I attached the extra pockets with a minimum of hand-sewing, and no seams are visible on the exterior. (The seams are visible inside the exterior flap pockets.) Here's how I did it:

1. Sew the center seam of the exterior pocket.

2. Glue-baste and sew the interior and exterior card pockets, pinning the exterior pocket out of the way.

3. Glue-baste the interior pocket so the top of both the interior and exterior pockets line up. Partially sew the side seams of the interior pocket - start at the top and sew down to where the exterior pockets end.

4. Fold the unsewn bottom inch(s) of the interior pocket up, and pin it out of the way.

5. Attach the contrast bottom on the exterior, completing the exterior pockets.

6. Finish quilting the panel.

7. Unpin and unfold the interior pocket. Glue-baste the bottom of the interior pocket to the canvas. Mark with pins on the outside of the bag where the interior pocket starts and stops.

8. With the exterior facing up, sew along the quilting line that overlaps the bottom of the interior pocket between the pins.

9. Hand-sew the bottom inch(s) of the interior pocket sides.

I added a place to clip my keychain. No more fishing around in the bottom of my bag for my keys!

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

One of my favorite added details is the contrast flange on the handles - progress shot above. I cut a 3/4" x WOF strip of the Kona Cotton Berry and folded it in half. I cut the handle accent piece 1/4" thinner than called for in the pattern and glue-basted the flange in place before topstitching.

If you're making a Cargo Duffle I highly recommend glue-basting. It's so much easier on your sewing machine than pinning thick layers (in some places there are 10+ layers of fabric, and interface, and batting) and does wonders for accuracy.

I can't wait to pack my new bag and hit the road this summer! Big thanks to Sew Mama Sew and Robert Kaufman for this opportunity!

Here's the full list of talented bloggers that participated in the challenge:

Mo Bedell
Sandy Whitelaw of UpStairs Hobby Room
Michelle Morris of That Black Chic
Kathy Green of Designs by KTGreen
Carrie Federer of carrie bee
Anne Zeitler of AnneZPlace
Sanchia Gair of Red Brolly
Natalie Strand of Vegetablog
Devida Bushrod of The Driftwood Thimble
Sara Johansen of The Sara Project
Sarah Sharp of No Hats in the House
Michelle Webster of michellepatterns
Marni Weaver of Haberdashery Fun
Jenny of My Handmade Home

Thursday, June 23, 2016

[finished] Donut potholders

This is (apparently) the year of the potholder for me! I finished two sets of donut potholders this month. This super cute pattern by the talented Pen and Paper Patterns can be found on Craftsy here.

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

One tip if you're going to make these - and I think you should - is that a 23" x 2.25" strip of bias-cut binding works well. I cut a 23" strip of binding and use the Binding Tool by TQM to cut the 45 degree angled edges. I sew the angled edges of the binding together, press, pin liberally, and machine stitch the binding on.

I sent the chocolate sprinkle donuts to my brother-in-law and his family just in time for National Donut Day. I had a hunch they would not let the day go uncelebrated. They didn't :)

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

The rainbow sprinkle donuts are for my family. We also couldn't let National Donut Day go uncelebrated - we made a brief stop at a Dunkin Donuts on our way to Mystery Cave State Park. Big chain donuts are ok in a pinch, but my all-time favorite donuts are the cherry and blueberry cake donuts from Donutland in Iowa. I've searched for a comparable Minneapolis/St. Paul donut shop and Granny's Donuts comes pretty close. I still go back to Donutland every chance I get, though.

Friday, June 17, 2016

[finished] Wonder Women trivets

I've whipped up two more sets of Happy Hexagon Trivets! I used the Wonder Woman fabric by Camelot (from Joann's) and bits of solids from my stash. The pattern is from the book Patchwork Please.

I am still a huge fan of this pattern! These are the second and third sets I've made this year and I know I'll be making more. These were birthday presents for two dear friends, both Wonder Woman fans. The last set just went to its new home this week, so it's safe to share ;)

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

I'm linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts finish it up Friday post.

Monday, May 23, 2016

[finished] Big Dipper quilts

Done and done! I finished not one but TWO quilts in the past month. I first had the idea for these quilts 3 years ago, and of course I immediately bought fabric. I wanted the stars to be different shapes and sizes, relative to their brightness in the actual night sky. I also wanted a lot of open space and just a few colors. I drew a couple sketches, did a little math, and then put the project on the back burner for quite a while... until I had a new baby and a quilt show to motivate me ;)

I designed paper piecing templates for the stars. All the blocks are the same size - 4 inches - but all the stars are a bit different.

I used Susie's Magic Binding Tutorial for the faux-piped binding. Looks complicated, but it's not! This first version is a baby quilt, finished at 36" x 50".

I was stumped on how to quilt this for a few days. I would've loved to do free-motion spirals or waves around the stars, reminiscent of Van Gogh's Starry Night, but that's above my skill level for now. I settled on horizontal wavy lines, done with a walking foot. I carefully outlined the stars and made sure not to  quilt through them. The result is a pretty snugly baby quilt! I finished the quilt just in time to wash it and snap a few pictures before I sent it off to its new home.

The second version is a twin-size quilt for my son, and my entry into the "Minnesota Modern" exhibit for the Minnesota Quilters annual show. I still used just 2 colors for the stars, but I used 9 different batiks for the background - 3 waxed patterns, and 6 marbles. I really like the texture and depth! I enlarged the paper piecing templates to make 5" finished blocks.

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

The big dipper asterism (not a constellation) fits on the top of a twin mattress. I finished with a scrappy binding that blends with the background. Expect more pictures (and a pattern!) when I get it back from the quilt show!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

[fail] Spring Training T-Shirt

I worked so very hard on this shirt, but it just didn't work out.

You might not notice it in the picture above, but the hem is flipping up, the shoulders are bunching up, and the collar is standing up.

Definitely noticeable in this picture, though! The shirt is also pretty tight - I knit the 24 month size, but I had to squeeze it over Ethan's 19 month head. He has an average-sized noggin. The sleeves were also quite snug. I'm not quite sure where things went wrong, but this is my biggest knitting fail in a while. I used a less-drapey yarn than what the pattern called for. I measured Ethan one day, but didn't finish the sweater until about 9 months later. I made a bunch of mistakes and frogged repeatedly. I think I fixed the errors and followed the pattern, but I'm not going to double-check my work. I realized I don't like the turned-hem with baby garments - it took sooooo long to knit, and I think it looks odd with such bulky yarn and such a tiny garment. I would use a turned hem on an adult sweater, though. I'm also pretty proud of the raglan seams. I would also use those on an adult sweater as well. So I'm looking at this as a toddler sweater fail, but successful practice for my next sweater for myself :)

Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (blue) and Berroco Weekend (orange)
Needles: US5
Pattern: Spring Training T-Shirt

Monday, April 4, 2016

April Showers Embroidery Pattern

I finished stitching this embroidery hoop just in time for an overcast and rainy April week. I hung it on a very sunny Sunday and snapped a picture before the clouds rolled back in.

I used a couple rows of loose french knots to outline the cloud and satin stitch for the raindrops. I settled on using 7 different blue/green/violet DMC flosses for the raindrops, after much waffling between rainbow and blues.

I just put the PDF pattern up on Craftsy, and I've made swatches available on Spoonflower  (for those of you who hate transferring paper embroidery patterns). For my hoop I used a Spoonflower swatch on Kona cotton.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Ticker tape canvas

It's done!

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

I'm so happy to be hanging my ticker tape canvas today! I started it at the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild's February meeting. Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts gave us a quick how-to and then we all got to work trimming, gluing and swapping scraps.

I started with the bit of Heather Ross bumble bee fabric, which I chopped out of a (previously uncut) fat quarter. So much for starting with scraps! I feel a little guilty every time I fussy-cut fabric - my grandma took me to many meetings of her church sewing group where much time was spent carefully arranging and rearranging pattern pieces, trying to squeeze as many pattern pieces as possible onto a yard of fabric. I try to assuage my fussy-cutting guilt by reminding myself that fabric sitting on the shelf, uncut and unused for years, is also a waste. I'm hanging this ticker tape canvas in my sewing room, where I'll get to see it (nearly) every day.

I'm linking up to Amanda Jean's Finish it up Friday post.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

MidMod Starburst pot holders

I made this set of MidMod Starburst pot holders for a friend who just finished taking the bar exam.  A little "congrats and welcome back to normal life" gift. I used the 9" block pattern and the last scraps from a queen-size pink quilt that she commissioned about 6 years ago.

I quilted the pot holders following the lines of the starburst block. I especially like the offset lines on the left block. Such dense quilting makes the back of the pot holders look sharp, too!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

MidMod Starburst Quilt Block - new pattern!

I'm happy to share my MidMod Starburst quilt block today!

I love the mid-century modern aesthetic. I've been reading Retro Renovation and dreaming of restoring our 1950s rambler, and scouring craigslist posts and thrift stores for the perfect set of 1950s/1960s dining chairs. This winter I visited an amazing time-capsule church to hear Larry Millet's talk on his new book Minnesota Modern. I'm a longtime fan of Gertie's Blog for Better Sewing.

All this exposure to mid-century design has crept into my quilting. I created the MidMod Starburst inadvertently, while doodling stars for a separate project (more on that soon). I think the design, particularly the blue+grey version, would look at home on a set of vintage highball glasses. Or a fondue pot. Or anywhere on the set of Mad Men, which I just finished watching and already miss.

I've created paper-piecing diagrams for four block sizes: 4", 6", 9" and 12". The pattern includes assembly instructions, but assumes that you know the basics of paper-piecing. The pattern also includes ideas for block colorways, a few sample layouts, and a coloring sheet so you can experiment with your own colorways.

The MidMod Starburst pattern is for sale on Craftsy and Etsy for $2.50.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Valentine's recap

I finished a couple projects in time for Valentine's Day. The first is this set of heart pot holders, using a Martha Stewart tutorial. I used pre-made bias tape and scraps from my stash. They were kinda bulky to sew, but are great pot holders. I'm a fan of the pockets - cute and practical.

The second is this little cross stitch robot that I purchased on a whim as an "add-on" item from Amazon. I made it as a surprise for Isaac. He wants to leave it up all year :)

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

Friday, January 29, 2016

[finished] Happy Hexagon trivets

I love these trivets! This is at least the third set of Happy Hexagon trivets I've made. The pattern is from Patchwork Please. It's so fun and easy, and they always turn out great. The fabric is Emily Herrick's Sodalicious, which I've admired since seeing it at Quilt Market last spring. I've got another set of Sodalicious trivets in the works, and I'm working on fabric pulls for a couple other sets, too.

Friday, January 15, 2016

[finished] MMQG Good Neighbors challenge

Members of the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild are working on the Good Neighbors Challenge this month. I just finished mine (6 days ahead of the deadline!) and I am so thrilled with it!

I made a small table runner (13" x 30") mixing Amanda Jean's Good Neighbors fabric with bits from my stash. I wanted to make something scrappy, using a bunch of fabric lines, which is usually a stretch for me. But this fabric line is filled with great basic blenders, so it was easy to mix and match it with other fabrics. I used the Raspberry Kiss block tutorial by Wooden Spoon Quilts. The block is soooo cute, goes together quickly, and I have seen so many amazing scrappy projects made with that block lately!

I'm linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday. This is the third project I've finished this month - I'm on a roll!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

R2D2 hats

The small boss requested an R2D2 hat for himself. And then another one for "his baby". I think he did this mid-December, and requested them for Christmas. Then he demanded them before Christmas, because waiting is hard when you're five years old. I got the big hat done before Christmas, but the little hat wasn't finished until January. The hats were fussy to knit, but so worth it. I love my two R2D2s!

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

I used this free pattern on Ravelry. The pattern was written for intarsia, but I hate seaming knits and I hate weaving in ends even more. The finished product probably would've looked a little better, but there was no way I could finish weaving in 50+ ends (per hat!) in a month. So I modified the pattern to be fair isle, which was a different challenge - with such long blocks of color (sometimes 10 stitches) I had to worry about catching the floats on the wrong side. I can see where the floats are caught, and some uneven tension where colors switch in the finished hats. The construction was difficult, and the final product isn't as neat as I'd like, but the kiddos love them. These took surprisingly little yarn - I have enough left for at least one more medium size hat.

A photo posted by @carriebee04 on

I used blue and white Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash, and random scraps of black and red worsted wool. The big hat was knit on US6 and US7 needles, and the small hat was on US4 and US5 needles. I plan to make a medium with US5 and US6 for Ethan next winter.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Looking back / looking ahead

I didn't realize how many projects I'd finished last year until I looked through my Instagram and Flickr feeds this week. My 2015 stats are:

  • 2 new patterns - Pantry Staples and Two Carat

  • 3 new tutorials - Clockwise Pinwheel blockEnvelope Needlebook, and knitted Marshmallows

  • 10 quilts - 3 baby/toddler quilts, 1 nearly-twin size quilt, 1 throw quilt, 2 doll quilts, and 3 wall hangings

  • participated in 1 Kid's Clothes Week

  • 1 stuffed animal

  • 2 pot holders

  • 1 mitten advent calendar garland

  • 1 scarf

  • 1 skirt for myself

  • 1 Halloween costume

  • 1 quilting bee

  • 1 embroidery swap

That's so much stuff! And I know that's missing a bunch of projects I forgot to photograph before I gifted them away. I've got big plans for this year, too. My 2016 goals are to finish:

  • organizing my sewing space

  • 2 Sizzix projects

  • 2 Spoonflower projects

  • 2 embroidery projects

  • 2 new quilt patterns

  • 2 challenges

  • 2 knitting projects

  • 2 garments for myself

I've already started tackling the organizing project, and I've got a couple quilts in the queue. I'm making an effort to take more photographs, so expect more blog and Instagram posts, too :)

Friday, January 8, 2016

[finished] Pillow covers

2016 is off to a promising start! I've already finished not one but two pillow covers. I used a 1950s palette of grey, coral and turquoise. The pieces were all die-cut using a Sizzix machine at my friend Lisa's studio. It only took an hour to cut the pieces  - I'm confident that's quicker than rotary cutting by hand. Using a die-cutter also saved me the hassle of trimming half-square triangles, which I hate.

I made essentially a 20" mini quilt for each pillow top, then trimmed the top down to 19". The piping is made of 1.5" strips of bias-cut fabric,  6/32" cotton cording, and glue-basting. Glue-basting was the secret ingredient - it worked out soooo much better than machine-basting the piping with my zipper foot. I glue-basted the piping to the pillow top and machine-basted the whole thing with a zipper foot. I sewed the pillow front and back together using Clover WonderClips to hold everything in place, and a 1/2" seam allowance. I was dreading the assembly with a quilted and zippered back, but using the right tools (instead of a million pins) made all the difference.

The backs are Essex yarn dyed linen. I'm pretty proud of the way the zipper flap covers the zipper - this is my first zippered pillow back! The pillow covers fit 20" IKEA feather pillows beautifully. These were a breeze to make, especially the tumbler pillow. Piecing is so easy when all your pieces are the exact same size. Funny how that works. I'm already planning my next Sizzix project!