Monday, December 31, 2012

On the Seventh Day of Christmas.....Ornaments!

Seven swans a swimming.....  Have you guys ever noticed how many birds are in that song?  There are giant hordes of birds that come every fall and nest on the parking garage at work on which I park and they continually cover my car with bird poop.  Yuck.  Walking out in the dusky evening after work is like entering an Alfred Hitchcock movie or something.

Anyway,  not a big fan of birds.

But what I actually wanted to talk about today was the fun Christmas ornaments I made this year! I've decided I'm going to do an annual ornament for Anna Banana,  and this year I was inspired by Mollie over at Wild Olive.  Back in the fall she presented this cute, simple paint and embroidery combo, and I decided to use the approach for Anna's ornament.  I made and ironed down a freezer paper stencil of the letter A then painted it in with watered down acrylic paint.  Mine doesn't look as "washed" as hers, I think I'd have done better using watercolors, but after bit of embroidery and assembly with some trim: POW! Cute Christmas ornament!

For Mike this year I decided to go BMW themed, as I always try to pick something relevant to his current interests.  Past years have included the Wi-fi/Ampitheater ornament, the Evernote ornament, and the Sons of Anarchy ornament.   He got his BMW motorcycle in March or April of this year and was very proud to have ridden it ~22,000 miles by mid-October, so I thought the BMW logo would be a good choice for this year's ornament.  Unfortunately, I don't have a very large selection of silver fabric (I think a solid silver would have been better) and have still not mastered the art of sewing a circle, so there are pointy-outy-bits, but that's ok.

Hope any birds in your Christmas celebrations refrain from pooping on you!

Friday, December 28, 2012

On the Fourth Day of Christmas....Moxie the Doxie

Some time back, the fabulous BadSkirt Amy gave away her adorable Moxie the Doxie pattern to her blog readers.  As soon as I saw it, I just knew I had to make one up for the darling Anna Banana.  Since it's for a little baby I didn't want to put buttons on the leg joints, or sewn on buttons on the eyes, so instead I used thick embroidery floss to secure everything very well.  I think she turned out super cute- what a great pattern!  Hope Anna likes it!  For my sister I made one of the great big mouth pouches using the tutorial over at Noodlehead.  It was so easy to follow: I'd been wanting to make one of these for a while and the instructions were very easy to follow.  I hope she finds it useful!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

On The Second Day of Christmas.....Cathedral Window Trivets

Hoping you are all having a happy and joyful Christmas!  I thought I'd check in and share a few of this year's holiday projects I've been working on behind the scenes.  First up, these three Christmas trivets/potholders.  My friend Linda saw my cathedral window pincushions a while back and thought they were cool, but she's not a sewist, so I thought I would make her some trivets instead.  They're made the same way as the pincushions, just much larger (they finish about 9 inches square), and have insulbright batting inside rather than polyfil.  I used up a bunch of fun Christmas fabrics I had lying around, and made fabric covered buttons for the centers.  I think they'll look cute on her Christmas table or laid out as a runner on her bar.  I hope she likes them!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Wherever you are, and however you're celebrating,
 I hope you're with people you love.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WIP Wednesday: The Christmas Scurry

My biggest craft decision of the week is that I've decided to throw in the towel on finishing Linda's memory quilt before I go home for the holidays.  I got the top all pieced together as well as the back, but the thought of basting it (it's too large for spray baste) made me shrivel.  When my mom suggested I bring it home to quilt on the longarm over the holiday, I jumped at the chance.  I think it will work very well, especially since I'm planning mostly large open quilting.

I did have a bunch of miscellaneous finishes in the past week, I made the Christmas totes which were presents for Mikes daughters and finished some other Christmas surprises not to be shown until after the holiday.  More excitingly I made five plain muslin skirts for the Twelfth Night Festival just after Christmas and finished the alterations to the king costume worn by our priest.  It was supposed to be an exciting-completely-finished-with-that-project, but I just found out last night that we need two more costumes I hadn't heard anything about.  We'll see if I can come up with anything from the current stash of costumes, but if not, back to the drawing (er sewing) board!

My other finish this week was my first ever frame purse.  I'd wanted to make some ever since I won a gorgeous frame clutch from Andrea over at Stitch Parade over a year ago.  I ordered a selection of 8x3 frames from While Baby Naps.  I'd been kind of nervous about the glue, and didn't have an urgent need for another purse,  so hadn't gotten around to doing anything.  I wanted to make something for my boss's adorable granddaughter though, so I figured the time was ripe to try it out.  Worked great actually, not nearly as bad as I'd expected.  I put Minnie Mouse on the inside since that's her favorite.

I also finally got around to making a yarn tree.  I'd been seeing them around blogland forever, but never actually did one.  The other day though I used up the end of some yarn that was on a cone, so I took five minutes and made one.  It's hard to tell in the photo, but the tree is a minty green color with sparkly green flecks.

Hope you're all making good progress on your WIPs!  Linking up with Lee as always!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Totes

Mike's daughter Melissa asked for a sewing machine for Christmas (hooray for spreading the crazy!), and so his other daughter Michelle got one for her.  She's never sewn before and doesn't have any sewing supplies at all.  I got her a bunch of notions (thread, scissors, pins, measuring tape, etc.) but wanted to make her some sort of sewing caddy to put it all in.  I had something in mind, but hadn't really made anything quite that shape before.  I thought it would be wise to make a test bag, so I found this fun yellow gingham and blue plaid in my stash.  The blue plaid is leftover from a tablecloth I made a long time ago and don't use (the dogs run away with tablecloths), and I had about a billion yards of the yellow gingham.  I bought it once to make some curtains which was a stupid idea from the beginning since I love the yellow gingham but it's not really my style for home decor.  Anyway, I made up the bag and I think it turned out really cute, although I decided  the pockets on the outside were a little much for the style of his daughters- I wanted something a bit more sleek and modern.  I'll save this one for a giveaway sometime- it turned out surprisingly well for being a prototype!

The one I made for Melissa uses some of the leftover fabric from my Amy Butler bag as well as some fun lime green.  It doesn't have anything on the outside except a green patch pocket.  No pictures of that side, because the pocket is embarrassingly off center!

I went ahead and used up all the leftover fabric to make this heavy duty book tote for Michelle.  I'm happy to have these done, they were the last to-be-made Christmas presents.  Now I just have to deal with the 12th night costumes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mug Rugs for Santa Ministry

Happy Friday everybody.  If you haven't entered the giveaway yet, there's still time, just click here.  In contrast to past years, we aren't going to New Mexico until the 26th this year, so all through December I've been thinking that I had much more time than usual to get ready for Christmas (since we usually leave the 21st or the 22nd).  Just yesterday, however, I realized that all our Christmas celebrating here begins on the 23rd, and I have just one more week to finish everything up!  Eek!

So while I'm busily sewing away, here are a couple of mug rugs I made last weekend to tide you over.  I try to make a little something handmade to slip into the rest of the Santa Ministry presents I'm taking to church (they're gifts for nursing home residents, clothes, bath stuff, etc.).  I had two names, a man and a woman, so I made these two mug rugs using some hexie flowers I had on hand.

This one really didn't look very good in person, the aqua fabric was much more see through than you can tell in this picture and the yellow print was shadowing through making the whole thing look dingy and stained.  Add to that the actual black stain on the top right hexie (no idea where that came from), and I couldn't imagine giving it to anyone.  So I just appliqued another flower on top of the first one.  Much better, although the colors in the picture are not true to life.  I wanted to get it packed up so couldn't wait for better lighting.  Happy third Sunday in advent everyone!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Quilters Blog Hop Party Giveaway

Update!  Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway.  The winners are:





Look out for e-mails from me!

Hey everybody, it's time once again for the Quilter's Blog Hop Party and Giveaway.  Special thanks to the Quilting Gallery for hosting.  If you haven't been over there yet, click through because there are tons of awesome giveaways!

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

If you're discovering my blog for the first time, welcome!  I'm Shannon, a research scientist by day and art quilter and general crafter by night.  I hope you'll take a few moments to look around and maybe come back in future!  Here are a few of my recently finished quilts; you can see more by clicking the pages at the top.

Rejoice Rejoice, Shannon Conley, 2012

S is for... #3: You Cleared My Name, Shannon Conley, 2012

Spring in October, Shannon Conley, 2012

Now for the good stuff:

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below telling me something interesting about you.  Whatever you like, your favorite Christmas/Holiday tradition, your favorite type of project to do, or maybe your favorite flavor of toothpaste.

That's it!  If you want to follow me or add my blog to your reader, that'd be great, but it isn't required.  I'm willing to ship internationally, but please make sure that if you are a no-reply blogger that I have a way to get in touch with you.  I'll use to draw a winner on the evening of December 15th.

I'll be giving away two prize packages to two different people:

Package 1:  This is two patterns, the Kitschy Corset Apron (which has a bunch of different cute variations) from Brassy Apple,  and the Jack and Jill hat pattern from Izzy and Ivy Designs (these are adorable for the littles in your life).  It also includes Denim by Design by Barb Chauncey which has tons of great ideas and patterns for recycling/upcycling old jeans into a variety of fun accessories/bags etc.  I'm also putting in one of the cathedral window pincushions I recently made using a bunch of fun Christmas scraps.

Package 2:  This is a fun lined zippy pouch with a paper pieced flower, a crocheted cotton granny square dishcloth (seriously guys, these are so scrubby and great for cleaning up, I never use regular dish cloths anymore) and the book Simply Sublime Bags by Jody Kahn.  It has tons of pretty and easy bag/purse projects. 

Hope you enjoy and good luck to all in the giveaway!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

WIP Wednesday

I haven't had a terribly productive sewing week, but I have one tiny finish:  this Christmas tree skirt for my work Christmas tree.  Sadly I didn't get any pictures of it before I took it to work, so they're all taken in the ugly fluorescent light.  Basically, I just made a case out of the large satiny piece of white fabric that came in my yummy box from Spontaneous Threads  and then FMQed with random fillers all over it.  No batting or anything, but the thread is lime green which goes nicely with my bright pink tree.  I can't put out my wonderful tree skirt at home until right before our Christmas celebration since the dogs carry it out into the back yard and try to nest in it, but at least I have this simple one at work now.

Progress this week:

I had good forward movement on the memory quilt, I made one block for my crochet afghan (slowly slowly with this one it seems), and did make a bit of progress on secret Christmas presents.

No progress this week, UFOs/WIPs/Things I have supplies and plans to make

Finish 12th Night Costumes (Must finish this within next week)
Fix corner blocks and put crystals on Spring in October (Must finish this by Christmas)
Secret Christmas Projects (Obviously must finish these by Christmas)
Next Art Quilt (Going to be an entry in SAQA text messages and the MQS fabric challenge, in the initial design stages)
Snowflake Christmas table runner  (this may just be the Christmas project that doesn't get done for this year)
Dog Quilt
English Paper Piecing Mini
Thanksgiving Quilt (I'm probably going to try some quilt as you go on this.  Someday. right now it's a sandwich on the shelf)
Sun Printing/Cyanotype Blocks
Anna Butterfly Blocks
Bobbin Quilting
Quail Screen Printing
Crochet Something with the beautiful yarn I brought from Germany  (I'd love to do a bolero shrug thing but I'm not sure I have enough, and in any case one crochet project at a time)
Boxy Bag (this has been on my wish list for a long time)
Frame Purse

Linking up with the fabulous Lee!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Design Wall Monday: Another modern quilt!

I hope everybody had a great weekend!  I had a bunch of non-sewing related things going on, but have been trying very hard to make progress on a memory quilt for a dear friend of mine.  It's been on my to-do list since August, and I'm hoping to finish it to give her at Christmas.  The white blocks are all blocks our church parishioners wrote sharing memories or wishes for Linda.  I decided to adapt Amy Smart's  yummy pattern for the setting.  So far, it's just all pinned up, but my goal is to get it sewn together in the next couple of days!  Sorry for the crummy photo, I snapped it as I was rushing out the door to go to work this morning.  

I hope you're all coming along well with your to-do lists!

Linking up to patchwork times!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jolly Ranchers: A value exercise

Over at the fabulous Stitched in Color, Rachel has been leading a value added quilt along challenging us to incorporate and consider value as a critical design element in quilts.  I've certainly found that in quilts where I make an effort to include a wide range of values, the outcome is definitely more striking.  As soon as I saw this series of posts,  I thought of a quilt my mom made several years ago, and thought I'd share it!

Value Added

My mom and I designed this quilt and she made it a few years ago when we were baby beginner quilters.  I think it was probably the second quilt she made.  It lives now on the guest bed in my sister's old room so I was lucky enough to get to sleep under it when I was just there for thanksgiving.

When I first drafted the block for this we thought it was original, but quickly realized otherwise, I think it's just what you'd call a wonky log cabin block.  What I think really makes this quilt special is how the color selection makes the block disappear giving a great sense of motion.

One of the things I've always thought contributed significantly to the design, specifically to the sense of depth and motion is the range of values in the pinks and greens.  I think the dark light transition of the green and purple adds a lot of visual interest to the design.  Mom named the quilt Jolly Ranchers since the intense colors reminded her of the grape and apple candies.

Jolly Ranchers, c. Vicki Conley, 2007, 78" x 90"


Hope you enjoy this quilt, I really love it and am so glad she kept it!

I'm going to go ahead and link up with the value added flickr group and QAL linky; Rachel said it was okay even thought it wasn't a new quilt since I haven't shared before.  

Many thanks to her and her co-hosts for their fun posts!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas is Coming and the Nativity is Finished!

I hope everyone had a glorious and grateful Thanksgiving!  We had a lovely celebration in New Mexico with my family and arrived home (with NM Christmas Tree) yesterday evening.  I set up the tree without decorations, and so far the puppy hasn't really been too interested, but Bentley's tail is so dangerous I think we will really not be able to have any ornaments on the bottom branches.

Anyhow, I wanted to share pictures today of the finished Nativity quilt, called "Rejoice, Rejoice".  I finished the quilting before we left and stitched down the binding (it's a muted gold silky ravely stuff) in the car.  I blocked it while we were in New Mexico and my dad took some pictures of it for me.  It was difficult at first, the flashes he uses to take quilt pictures caused weird reflections off the tulle that made it look like the whole quilt was covered in dandruff, but after trying a different light source he got some great shots.  I'm so excited this is finished and looking forward to hanging it up tonight when we get out the Christmas decorations!

For more posts on this quilt, see here and here and here and here

Rejoice Rejoice, Mosaic Nativity Quilt, c. Shannon Conley, 2012, 39" x 39", Photo Doug Conley

Rejoice Rejoice, detail.  Shannon Conley, 2012, Photo Doug Conley

Rejoice Rejoice, detail.  Shannon Conley, 2012, Photo Doug Conley

Rejoice Rejoice, detail.  Shannon Conley, 2012, Photo Doug Conley

I'm going to post this on the 2012 Christmas Quilt Show, you guys should go check it out, there are some lovely quilts!

Linking up with

Fresh Poppy Design
Creations by Nina-Marie

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Weekender bag is finished!

As a quick update, today's post is all about my big finish for the week, my Amy Butler bag, but I've also been making good progress on my nativity quilt so yay!

For a long while I've been wanting to make an Amy Butler Weekender bag, and actually had my LQS order the pattern for me over a year ago.  As I mentioned last week, I finally got started working on it.  It seems like one of the most popular and most challenging bag projects in blogland, so I've been slowly reading  up on everyone else's experiences with the bag.  I found so many fabulous hints looking at all the beautiful bags made by these ladies, I thought I'd gather up some of the tips in one place.  I've summarized them all below the pictures, if any of you are interested in making a weekender, I think it's probably worth a read.

So my overall opinion: interestingly, due to the profusion of talk in the blog world about how challenging this project is, I was actually prepared for something much worse.  Don't get me wrong, it took forever and was definitely the hardest bag I've ever assembled, but I'm not a particularly good bag maker and it really wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  Basically what I'm saying is, if you're interested in trying it, don't talk yourself out of it!  The results are worth it (but read over all your tip sources first and make your handles a bit longer!).

So while the above sentences are completely true, and I totally encourage you guys to make this bag,  I feel it incumbent upon me to say that I wrote that after doing one half of the dreaded step 11C (main bag assembly).  However, last night I was sewing on the other half (these are really the only two hard steps) and you guys, it was terrible! I sewed over my very own fingers.  TWICE!!  I did not think this was actually possible, but when pushing/pulling a giant thick bag through a sewing machine with a zipper foot on which does not have much front (for the cording), it is very very possible.  And, incidentally, when my fabulous new Horizon 7700 encounters something it cannot stitch through, does it recoil back like an elevator door?  No it does not.  It just bangs away (lovely grinding motor noise), trying its best to penetrate whatever is underneath it.  Eventually, on the thick part of my fat middle finger it encountered something impenetrable (oh I don't know, the bone, or maybe some thick muscle) and broke the needle.  The 100/16 jeans needle!  The second time, on my index finger, it just ground away until the needle came out the other side.  Sorry for all the histrionics, but there isn't much more startling than seeing your sewing machine needle going into your finger one one side and out on the other.  Obviously as large catastrophes go, this wasn't one, but it was fairly traumatic and my fingers are still throbbing this morning, so when you make this bag, be careful!

Anyway,  here's my {awesome} finished bag.  In the tips section below you can read more details about changes I made, but mostly, I followed the pattern pretty closely except I added inside pockets and a shoulder strap.

Here you can see the internal pockets I added and the shoulder strap tab .

Tips from others.
In purple are the ones I tried, parentheses in black are my notes.

From Sew Allegorical

Use fusible hem tape for the piping  (this was by far the most popular hint, and I definitely did this).

Use #60 covered fabric buttons for feet. (not sure what #60 size means, but I am trying to make feet out of fabric buttons, but haven't done them yet).

New and Extra Needles (I definitely bought extra needles,  I used Jeans 100/16 as suggested in the pattern.  They seemed to work fine.)

Sew Crafty Jess

Use fusible hem tape for the piping

Make Handles longer   (Several people suggested this, sadly, I didn't notice until after I'd already made the handles. The handles are definitely too short for me to put the bag over my shoulder, but to compensate I made a shoulder strap)

Use clothespins to hold the corners together instead of binder clips  (at the dreaded step 11C I used a combination of pins and clothespins, but I think the key was that I hand basted the whole thing as suggested below.  This helped a ton!)

Use double ended zipper  (I did this, it was all I could find.  I was really excited to have double zips actually, so you can unzip from both sides.  I thought that would make it more like real luggage- interestingly though, the parka zippers like I and SewCraftyJess used are the opposite of regular zippers.  It took me a really long time of staring at it to get what was off, but I finally figured it out.  Basically, on a normal suitcase with two zippers, when the zipper pulls are right next to each other, the zipper is closed and they both slide outward to open the zipper.  But on the parka zipper, the closed zipper is with the pulls at opposite ends.  It makes no difference to the effectiveness, but it was just weird how long it took me to figure out why it felt just a bit off)

Inside zipper and flap pockets  (did this too, it worked fairly well)

Very important/complicated tip about sewing the lining  (I followed this tip and it was very helpful, it's basically a way to line up the lining so you can machine sew in at least part of it.  Check out her blog for a better explanation.)

Needle Book

Inner Pockets
Loops inside end pockets to attach a longer strap  (I did this, see above, seemed to work well!)

All Buttoned Up

Hand baste all the final pieces together instead of pinning  (hugely beneficial!  I definitely recommend this!)

Fusible Hem Tape for piping
Bottom panel a little long-(my pattern was new enough that this wasn't an issue)

Wise Craft

Bottom panel a bit long-check Amy Butler website updates for this. (again not an issue for me)

The Crafty Blackbird

Longer shoulder straps says ~3" extra?
Fusible Hem Tape

Fat Back end zipper foot.  Yuck!  (this was interesting, I looked long and hard for a zipper/piping foot without a fat back end but couldn't find one.  My zipper foot did ok, but one with a thin back end would have been better I think.)

Added internal zipper pocket with this tutorial  (Great tutorial for the inner zip pocket)

Binder clips around corners

Link to pattern updates!

1/8" clear plastic plexiglass in bottom (I just used template plastic, seems fine)

Recommends bag feet and shoulder strap


Lengthened Handles 1.5"
Added pockets
hand basted corners
fusible hem tape


Good advice for how to pin before hand basting.

Mon Petit Lyons

Watch out for the recommended seam allowances!
Lovely removable shoulder straps with D rings.

Fabric Mutt

Finally, Fabric Mutt has the Long Weekend Sew Along Going on now, but I've never been able to figure out how blog hops really work.

Anyway, I love my bag and hope you'll try to make one if you like.  Let me know if you have any questions!'

Linking up with Lee at WIP Wednesday and Sew Much Ado.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rainbows and Circles

I hope everyone had a good weekend.  I had a lovely one, I quilted a lot on my nativity and worked on the Amy Butler bag, but even better we got to do some productive domestic things.  We took all the dogs for a lovely walk in the park (Shooter is still not sure about the leash), and I gave the big three a bath.  When we go to my parent's house, Bullett insists on sleeping in their bed with them, so he always needs to have a bath before going.  
On Sunday afternoon one of the groups in the OU school of music was performing Monteverdi's Vespers (that link is not the OU group, but take a listen to see what it's like if you're unfamiliar), and the concert was just lovely.  Very fitting for autumn in my brain.  Excitingly, Mike hung the Christmas lights on Saturday; even though we won't turn them on until after Thanksgiving, the weather was nice Saturday so he thought he'd hang them up.  Super thanks to him for volunteering, because I hate that task.

I also recently received my swap package from the Hoop-La-La swap.  The wonderful Kelie from Craft Nurse Quilt sent me this great rainbow hoop with fun embroidered circles.  I think my favorite part is the embroidered script (Love to Quilt).  She changed colors every few letters and it's so me!  It looks great hanging with my other swap quilts in the studio.  Many many thanks Kelie!

I'm on track to finish the nativity enough to bind in the car on the way to New Mexico.  I'm not sure if I'll get any pictures up before I go, so if not, wishing you all a blessed and gracious Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Quilting Fail

I thought I would take a moment to share with you guys my most recent series of quilting fails.  Womp Womp.  

 I consider myself an intermediate quilter and I really feel like I should be past some of these problems by now.  Alas, they are my own fault.  You may recall my gold angels quilted onto the Nativity quilt from last week? Well, I decided I should quilt some rings of echo quilting around them in blue to add some texture.  I started with a ring of radiating lines, and followed up with a ring of pebbles.  On the first angel I did the lines and pebbles, quilting along just fine, but was having real difficulty seeing where I was going, as the blue thread on blue fabric/tulle was pretty tough.

I thought it was going well until I flipped it over to the back.  Total quilting fail.  What a disaster,  it looked terrible!  All my pebbles were outside the lines and not touching, and my radiating lines stuck out everywhere and were weirdly spaced.  Even worse, I had a giant pucker in the backing (arrows) covered up with bunches of quilting.  It occurred to me that as the front was fairly stiff and not pucker prone, and that as my quilting showed up better from the back (so I could see where I was going), that maybe I should just quilt from the back.  Duh.  So I went back over the bad angel to try to fix the worst of the mess with the radiating lines.  What you see below is after I fixed it.  yick.

So then I went over to the other angel and painstakingly did the blue quilting all from the back.  Not perfect but definitely better.  So, score one for quilting from the back in this case.

And then I went back to the front.  Total quilting fail.  Do you know why?  Because after all that irritation and planning and ripping and trying to correct from the back, YOU CAN'T EVEN SEE THE QUILTING ON THE FRONT!!  When I take a picture from six inches away (the two top pictures), you can kind of tell which is the good one and which is the bad one.   From a foot away, (bottom pictures), you can kind of tell there's some quilting there around the angel, but your guess is as good as mine whether that's the "bad" angel or the "good" angel.  And from any farther away from that, you can't tell there's any quilting around the angel at all.  Talk about bad planning!  I could have just stippled the whole thing and you'd never know the difference.  No color contrast (which I knew there wouldn't be), but also no texture contrast (what I was going for), I think because the pattern of the tiles and the texture of the tulle just obscure it.

So not sure what the lesson here is, except plan better.  And, sadly I think, don't spray baste a quilt this big.  So how are you guys?   Any quilting fails out there in other corners of blogland lately?