Saturday, December 7, 2013

Circle Time

I'm in a circle craze. I've been interested in sewing curves for a while now. This month the guild's challenge is an inset circle block. It is our first challenge, and I was excited to try it out. I'd used freezer paper before, but only for appliqué. The method for this one is so much easier. I'm happy with the way my block turned out. It makes curved piecing look so easy!


You can find the tutorial here.

A friend then told me about the Porthole block by Lucie Summers. I'd never heard of her so decided to look her up. One of the best photos I found was of her Porthole Quilt, amazing is all I can say! I decided to give her method a try as well. This one is more of an appliqué, and the finished product is much thicker than a normal block, which makes it interesting.
I thought it would be fun to use some made fabric for the center of the Porthole. It was very quick and easy. No fussing with freezer paper and spray starch, but ends up with an entirely different look.

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On another note, I have to mention that I've finally finished a sweater. Started this one last winter, and only had the button bands to finish. Now that the weather is getting colder, thought it was time. The pattern is Washington Square. I'm loving it!

Untitled          Untitled

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Toes In The Sand Progress

I've finally finished piecing my Toes in the Sand top. All thats left to do is put some sashing around it. The pattern calls for it only on the sides, but I've planned all along to have it all around. It will make it more balanced in my eyes.

I think this will be the last time that I follow a pattern for a quilt. I want to start being more creative, and unlike a sweater that has to fit someones body, a quilt doesn't. I enjoyed using the Hex And More ruler, and will definitely use it in the future. I'm also planning on doing some interesting quilting here, so it will be an exercise for me in that aspect. 

The big excitement with this project is that I will be using my fabulous new sewing machine to quilt it. More to come in a future post!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Double Wedding Ring Finished...again

I realized after posting yesterday that my DWR was actually larger than 20 inches square. I had to crop it and re-bind today. Here is the finished product, it is now 20 inches square. Oops!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Double Wedding Ring Finished

Just finished my block for the Double Wedding Ring challenge. Its about 20 inches square. I was going to make it more of a baby quilt size, but ran out of steam. I am pleased with how it turned out. It was fun putting all of the scraps together. I used the EZ Quilting template as suggested, it was great. I started out with the idea of all of the different neutrals for the rings, and took it from there. Now just to upload onto their site!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Double Wedding Ring Challenge

I've been thinking about doing the Double Wedding Ring Challenge for the New York Modern Quilt Group. First I ordered a bunch of different neutrals to use for the rings with the idea of a white on white theme. I strip pieced them and cut them out using the template. Now I'm making a bunch of made fabric for the other pieces. Its really addictive! Here is my progress so far. Haven't decided if it will be a single ring or more, will see how it goes.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Mini Madness

I've been working on the miniature challenge. Working with these tiny scraps was interesting. I finally finished the top. Have to give myself some time to figure out how to quilt it. Keep in mind that this is 12.5 inches square. So many tiny pieces!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chevrons and Banksy

I think I may have mentioned that I recently took a class with Victoria Finlay Wolfe, and learned all about 15 Minutes of Play. I enjoyed it so much that I am now partaking in the Mini Challenge over on her blog. I also joined her group and will be posting there, which should be lots of fun.  I decided to make chevrons, which seem to be popular lately.

This is just the first block. The finished quilt is only supposed to be 12 inches square, so I don't have too many to make. Its really addictive though. You can read the whole post  here.


I also took a little trip to NYC this week to visit a friend. As we were walking around the Upper West Side, we came across this.


Its Banksy, and don't worry, it didn't hurt. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013


My sewing machine had to go in for her annual physical this week. I'm feeling a little strange without her. Its definitely giving me time to catch up on my knitting, so not a bad thing.
This weekend was The New York Sheep and Wool festival, or lovingly known as Rhinebeck. The past three years I have gone with my friend Nathalie, my great friend, and former business partner. We usually sign up for all sorts of classes. We have taken dying with natural dyes, weaving, felting, improvisational crochet, spinning, you name it. This year she couldn't make it, but fear not, she is visiting with her boys next weekend for Halloween. They will get to experience the real thing, not the London equivalent. I can't wait! Lets get back to Rhinebeck. I went with my fabulous knitting buddies. We got up at the crack of dawn and arrived at the fairgrounds at 9:00. We said we wouldn't buy anything, but as they say "famous last words". We ended up standing in line at Miss Babs for an hour to pay for our Albers scarf kits. I saw this and had to make it! It not only is based on a Joseph Albers painting, it is log cabin blocks. The colors are so me. Here is a photo from home.


How much do I love these colors! Can't wait to start!

We did a lot of walking, did the usual Artichokes French, and saw some beautiful sheep.


Also, check out this nativity scene, all felted. How cool!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Color Affection

Finally finished a knitting project, its been a while. I usually lose my mojo over the summer, its too hot to work with wool. This project is one of the most popular on Ravelry, with 10220 projects. I bought my yarn last January at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC. It was my first run in with The Plucky Knitter. I think its safe to say now that I've become slightly obsessed with their yarn at this point. My next project is already on the needles, and in Plucky Traveller Sport. Yummy!
So here it is, my Color Affection.



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

More Improv

Yesterday I had the excellent opportunity to take a class with Victoria Finlay Wolfe. I had seen her book before, but wasn't exactly sure what her process was all about. I've been feeling lately that I need to stop following patterns and start making my own quilts. I love the idea of improv. When I was in art school all those years ago, I was never very precise. My favorite artist was Matisse, especially the paper cutouts. When I'm knitting, the sweater has to fit, which is why I've never considered designing my own. Too complicated, but with quilting, it doesn't have to fit anyone, so why not go for it. 
My day began the night before, driving to my sisters house in New Jersey. There's been problems with the Metro North trains for the past week or so due to power problems. I didn't want to have to worry about getting in, so decided to bypass my normal route and go around. I'm so glad I did, got there on time no problem. 
Victoria's idea is basically that you take scraps of fabric and sew them together randomly to make your own fabric. You then take these and turn it into a quilt however you see fit. Lets just say that she had a few scraps for us to work with.


We spent part of the morning making our fabric. I got to try out the Juki straight stitch machine, which was also super fun. 

Then we had a lovely lunch, and chocolate of course! During the afternoon we used our fabric to make blocks or motifs. There were templates available, or you could wing it, as I did. 

We had a chance to look at lots of finished quilts, and get inspired. What a great way to spend a day, freeing your mind from all of those patterns, and using your instincts. Now I'm ready to go! You can watch the fun happening here

Monday, September 23, 2013


A few months back, I attended a Craft Salon at the Fairfield Woods Library with Denyse Schmidt. It was a fun class on how to hand stitch small nine patch blocks. I never did finish my blocks, but I did buy one of her scrap bags that day. Attending one of her classes has always been on my bucket list. A friend of mine told me that one of the exercises is to grab fabrics out of the bag and sew them together into blocks as fast as you can. The idea being that you don't spend too much time thinking about how everything goes together. With this in mind, I decided to try it on my own with the scrap bag. I did spend a little time matching the fabrics, but not too much. I also just sewed them together and trimmed, no squaring up involved.

Here are some of the blocks, I did eight in total.


Next, I cut some strips of a neutral solid that I had laying around, and sewed it on to make them into sashed blocks.


Here they are, all laid out.


I think that I'll square them up next, but keeping the centers a bit wonky. Planning on it becoming a throw. Its so mentally freeing to make the pattern up as you go, a relaxing departure from the triangles. Must get back to those today now that my brain is rested.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Triangles Everywhere!

I'm loving the Hex n More ruler, as well as the Toes in the Sand pattern. Not sure if I mentioned this or not, but I stink at lining up points. I am more into the whole inprov idea. This is why I usually steer away from these types of projects. Using this ruler makes it super easy. There are a few types of shapes that are cut from strips, and then sewn together. They just end up lining up. I think this one is my favorite.


Excuse the shadow! Its rainy outside today, so not much natural light around here.

The best part of making this quilt is that you make two triangles at a time. I am definitely stressing out about which fabrics to put together, but trying to take it one step at a time. I figure that I'll make one, then get the treat of picking the fabrics for the next one. Super fun!
This is where I am so far:


I'm taking a break this afternoon for a little improvisational piecing. Photos to come.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Fabric Shopping

I was checking out the classes at my local quilt shop the other day and saw the class for this fantastic quilt by Jaybird Quilts. Its called Toes in the Sand. I had purchased the Hex N More ruler a while back, but hadn't made anything with it yet. After all the fun I had with the curve ruler, I thought I'd give this one a try. 


The pattern calls for 51 fat eighths. I figured that 26 fat quarters would probably do, but I couldn't find that many in my stash that all looked good together. I always get nervous at the prospect of picking out fabric. I usually wimp out and go with something similar to what the pattern uses, but this time I wanted to just go for it. 
I took a ride up to The Quilt Shop in Danbury today. What a lovely shop, chock full of fabrics. They even have shopping carts. I started piling up the bolts until they were about to tip over. Lois was super helpful as she is just finishing up the sample for the class. I wanted to use mostly modern, geometric designs, with some solids and florals thrown in there. After nearly two hours, this is what I came up with. 


I love the blues and greens with the orange and pink. I'm a little nervous about how I am going to arrange this, but I think its best to just dive in. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

More Bag Photos

Now that its daytime, thought I'd add photos of the back and interior of the bag. For my WYWL friends. I will be taking orders for bags if you want one. 


This back is basically improvisational patchwork, not sure what I would do the next time.


Future iterations of this bag can be made with either an interior zip pocket, or patch pocket.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Quilt As You Go

Sorry its been so long since my last post. Those last weeks of summer got busy with my girls being home. Not much crafting was going on around here. Now school is back, and I was able to try out a technique that I have been wanting to try for a while. Quilt As You Go or QAYG as they like to call it. You basically make the quilt sandwich first, laying the batting out onto the backing. Then as you sew the on top, and quilt each as you go. Its a great way to make straight line quilting look more interesting. Each piece can go in a different direction. 

I am a member of the Westport Young Womens League, and a while back I was asked to make something to be raffled off at the first meeting of the year. I had seen this pattern by Elizabeth Hartman, so I thought I'd give it a go. My friend Kathy has the most amazing embroidery machine, she did the logo for me. Here is the finished product, don't look too closely, but I'm happy with the result. 


More photos tomorrow in the daylight!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Simply Solids Block for September

It's my month to choose the block for Simply Solids. I chose the Modern Strings Quilt Block. Please follow the instructions on the tutorial page but with the following size changes. 

I used Fat Quarters, so the strips are 9 inches each. Sew them together until the piece is around 9 inches square, and then trim each block into an 8.5 inch square. 


Continue following the instructions on the tutorial page. The finished center should be 10.5 inches. I have provided 3 inch strips for the sashing. The block should finish at 15.5 inches. 


Here is an example of the finished block. Thanks for participating!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A New Quilt and Pillows

A little while back I fell in love with the Play a Card pattern from Zen Chic. I had a couple of charm packs from Simply Color, which seemed to be a perfect match. The colors are fantastic. Its a super easy pattern where the charm squares are cut in half and joined with a white strip in the center. 


Once they are all finished, the fun part begins. Trying to decide which one to put where so that the same fabrics don't end up next to each other. 


I've improvised a design wall by putting up Command hooks, and hanging a flannel sheet. It sort of works, but when I have to open the door, things don't stick as well. I must make something more sturdy, but thats for another day. 

This quilt was pretty large, so I sent it out to a long arm quilter and had an allover design quilted onto it. The result is very professional, but I feel guilty as it doesn't look as if I made it. In the end, it looks fantastic on my bed though!


Since I am lazy on most days, I decided that I would mostly use the quilt at the end of the bed. It was looking a little boring though, and then I found this photo on Pinterest. Doesn't the chevron look like a perfect match? As usual, I decided that I could make that, so I took out my handy color card, matched up a solid, and ordered more of the chevron. I added an invisible zipper on the side, and here it is, a new look for my bed. 


You can get a good look at the quilting in this one. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pickles and Pickle Dish

This month, my cooking and quilting have something in common, they both are related to pickles. A while back I saw this book at a book store, and fell in love with the quilt on the cover. 


It looked vaguely familiar to me, which is should because I already had the book on my shelf at home. I decided that I wanted to make it, but not the entire thing. It is the motif that I love, and thought that there must be a way to  make it more modern although compared to traditional Pickle Dish quilts, this one is already very simplified. Here is a photo that I found to give you a better idea. I decided that I would only do four of the blocks, which is 32 of the striped sections. It is foundation paper pieced, which means that the striped sections are sewn onto a paper that I printed out, sewing on the lines. 

Here is a photo of the back of one of my completed sections.


Here are a bunch of them finished and ready to be sewn together.


I've finished most of them, and have started sewing the edges on, which a bit tricky as its all pieced on a curve.


Here we are paired up and ready to go. I'll keep you posted as work progresses. 

Now, on to actual pickles...

This season I decided that rather than buying my veggies at the supermarket, that I would subscribe to a CSA, basically a farm box that I pick up every week. We've been getting lots of cucumbers, especially the small variety. I love pickles, and decided as usual that I could make them myself. Its super easy, so heres what you need if you want to try it. 


From the top left and moving to the right.

1. Small pickling cucumbers

2. Garlic, Pickling salt (this salt is free of additives, and will keep your pickling liquid clear), Dill seed, Mustard seed, garlic cloves, white vinegar (not pictured).
3. Ball Jars, I got the wide mouth quart variety available at the hardware store.
4. Large pot of boiling water.

First you need to sterilize the jars, lids, and rings. You can do this in the dishwasher, and use them immediately. I decided to boil them for 10 minutes in the pot of boiling water. Meanwhile in another pot, put 2 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of water, and 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring this to a boil and then turn off the heat. 

In each jar place a couple of garlic cloves depending on how garlicky you want it, or not, 1 tsp each of dill seed and mustard seed. Cut a little off the top of each cucumber, and if you like, cut them in spears, I left mine whole. Put as many cucumbers as you can in each jar.

Pour the salt/water/vinegar into the jars to within an inch of the top. Close the jars, but don't screw the bands too tight, you can adjust that later. 

Gently place the jars into the boiling water, making sure that the water covers the tops of the jars, and boil for 15 minutes for this size. When you take them out, the lids may not be sucked in yet, it sometimes takes a while. Check them after a while, the lids should be flat, and you can tighten the bands. If they are not flat, they are not sealed, and you should store in the fridge after cooling. Hopefully this should not be a problem. Mark the top of each jar with the date so that you know when you made them. Put them in your cupboard for up to a year. I opened a jar after 2 weeks and they were delish! Just like a deli. 

I pick my next box up today and am going to try making sweet pickles. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Handmade by Michelle

Welcome to Handmade All Around, my new blog all about things made by me. I've been making things for most of my life. I started out making model airplanes and cars, and then it was on to knitting. I think that I found my niche with fiber. I like to say that I am good with anything that involves a string. So, thats what this blog is going to be about, my adventures in crafting, mostly knitting and sewing, with some cooking thrown in there and who knows what else! 

Let me tell you a few things about myself before I get started. I used own a yarn shop when I lived in London, then we moved back to CT four years ago. I started sewing quite a bit, mostly pillows and clothing. I want to try it all, pattern making, draping, quilting, and anything new that I can learn. I like to figure it out myself if possible. I also like to cook, so don't be surprised if there are a few foodie things thrown in for fun. When I am out and see something pretty such as jewelry,clothing, or accessories, my first thought is "I could make that", and often times I go home and try it out. 

So here I go. I have a few projects on the go, and hope to get them up here over the next couple of days. In the meantime, check out my Finished Projects page so see what I have been up to.