The Anatomy of a Win

My friends all know that I’m a competitive person. I LOVE contests. When I was younger, it was rough. I really, really, really wanted to win. But nobody wins all the contests, all the time. Though I ended many a contest in tears, it didn’t dull my love of competition. Thankfully. Because as an adult, I see contests as more than just a chance to win. It is an opportunity to complete something (nothing helps me finish like a deadline). I have a reason to stretch myself – try new skills. And I get to see what other like-minded creatives have come up with. I love getting to see other entries! I get inspired by what they came up with. And while I still get a little jealous when I see an awesome idea and think, “Man, I wish I had come up with that”, it is now combined with an appreciation for the craftsmanship behind it, and excitement by the inspiring idea.

three different dresses

So, when the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA – now AFCI {Association For Creative Industries}) announced their “Fashion Fusion Challenge” I KNEW I wanted to be a part of it. I’m much more of a quilter than a garment maker, but I’ve successfully made several garments. And considering that the show is filled with crafters, not all sewists and garment makers, I liked my chances. Plus – it would give me a chance to stretch myself.

 

Here are the basics of how the contest was going to run: There were two tracks – accessories and garments. People could sign up as individuals or in paired garment/accessory combos. We would all show up on Thursday at 11am. We’d have several hours to work in the workroom, using the supplies generously donated by sponsors. If we didn’t finish, we’d have access to sewing machines on the show floor on Saturday and Sunday. We had to turn in our completed designs Sunday afternoon for judging. Winners would walk the runway Sunday night.

supplies from sponsors

On the website were photos of the patterns that would be available for us to choose from, the fabrics we would have, and some of the notions and accessories. For a contest, they really gave us quite a bit of information up front. I loved it, and decided to use this information wisely!

 

Fairly quickly, I found a friend to team up with. We started sending design ideas back and forth. We came up with a feather theme. I’d convert the pattern for a top into a dress with a high front and low back. We’d add feather designs on the inside back for extra interest. I would bring Espadrille soles to make coordinating shoes which would lace all the way up the calves. I ordered the pattern online to play with it, and try my pattern adjustments at home – I knew from experience that the first time I make a garment isn’t nearly as successful as my third or fourth.

sharing the pattern

But then she had a family emergency, and couldn’t come. Luckily, Simone offered to step in for me. We re-planned. The pattern I had ordered came in and I sent her photos of my first attempt.

first attempt at design

It was not great. The dress was baggy where it should be fitted. It was uninteresting. And I wanted to take advantage of my quilting knowledge. So I tried again.

dress with quilted pieces

This one was more interesting, but the length made it look like a housedress. And while the log cabin piecing was perfect for quilting … it did nothing to enhance my figure. But, I had taken two passes at the pattern, knew what was working well and what was not, and more importantly, I was out of time.

 

On Thursday, I was late. My flight arrived on time, and I was able to get from the airport to the hotel. But my hotel room wasn’t ready for check-in. I had to rummage through my bags for the items I planned on taking with me, stow my carry-on items in my suitcase, and check them at the bell desk before running to the conference center. Late is not my favorite way to start!

 

Once we were both there, Simone and I wasted no time getting started. She was going to create a headband and purse. I was going to create the dress. And (time permitting) Espadrilles. We went through the items from the sponsors to see what we could use. WOW! So many fancy items that I didn’t even know existed!

Other than being late, I had a second hiccup. I had brought my own rotary cutter and ruler, but there was no cutting mat. My design hinged on cutting strips of fabric and piecing them back together. Not possible without a cutting mat!

Luckily, we were able to wrangle one from one of the booths on the show floor, and I started piecing my dress.

pressing and working

The workroom was loads of fun. Hanging out with the other gals sewing and crafting, chatting with my friend Simone, learning about the cool Brother machine and the Brother Scan-N-Cut. There was lots to keep me entertained while I stitched together strips of fabric.

sewing photo

Unfortunately, Simone and I weren’t able to take advantage of all the workroom time. We were both scheduled to speak at a roundtable on social media that overlapped with the last hour. Simone had nearly finished the clutch (there was adhesive drying on it), and I was at a good stopping place. We packed up what we had, and crossed our fingers.

In the hotel room, I did as much prep as possible. Pinning and marking don’t require a sewing machine. Simone was able to finish embellishing the clutch. She started on the headband.

Pinning on Bathroom Floor

On Saturday, I headed back to the sewing machine. Between working in booths and attending events on the show floor, I snuck in about an hour of sewing. I had forgotten to mark the neckline, so couldn’t progress any further. I also stitched the pieces for the Espadrilles. Saturday night I’d have to stitch the fabric to the soles, as well as mark the dress. And hope that I’d have enough time in the morning to stitch the neckline, sew the sides together, and hem the dress!

While hanging out in the hotel lobby with friends on Saturday night, I stitched up the shoes. I LOVED the way they turned out, and knew that they would be perfect to wear with the dress.

stitching shoes

Sunday I was exhausted. When I attend the show in January, I usually just go for Saturday and Sunday. Just two days. By this time I was on day FOUR. Four days of chatting, planning, partying, staying up way too late, and waking up WAY too early. But I was determined to finish!

oh so very tired

When I finally had the dress sewn together and ready to hem, I was so excited to try it on. Of course I took a bathroom selfie to send to Simone!

ready for hemming

After hemming, I tried on the whole outfit, with shoes and clutch. Just needed the headband from Simone, and we were ready for judging!

try on dress

The judging was incredibly nerve-wracking. Quite a few contestants didn’t make it to the final judging. In the “teams” category, my main competition was a teen who had made a skirt. It was the second garment she had ever sewn, and she had done quite a bit of hand-sewing in order to get her look finished on time. I barely knew her, but was incredibly proud of her for getting it all done.

The worst part of hoping that you will win is knowing that someone else will lose.

judging

When the final result was announced, I was so excited! WE WON!! But that meant being runway-ready that night. Luckily for me, it was as easy as messaging my friend Jessica. She had done my hair and makeup for more than one of these types of events, and knocked it out of the park each and every time.

Makeup session

With the perfect hair and makeup to go with my outfit, I felt fierce as I walked down the runway a winner! Here I am with the other contestants and their awesome looks. To the left of me is the individual garment winner from The New Craft House. To the right, the individual accessories winner. And on the end, the outfit that was my competition. No, we are not all glowing – the lighting in the bar just made us look that way!

fashion show winners

The whole event was such a fantastic experience. It was so fun to alter a garment, work in my quilting skills, partner up and collaborate with a friend, and (of course) come away a winner!

the three dresses

Usually a good win comes with a great prize – this contest was no exception. As the winning team, Simone and I were given a Brother sewing machine and a Brother Scan N Cut. We had them send the sewing machine to Simone, and I’ve been able to give the Scan N Cut a new home!

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Glory: Scrappy Flag Quilt Pattern

Happy 4th of July! A couple weeks ago, I had an idea for a Scrappy Flag Quilt. I went to my fabric stash and pulled assorted reds, then pulled out my Tumbler English Paper Piecing shapes. I had plenty of both, and a long car trip perfect for some hand-stitching time, so I got to work!

This quilt is part hand work (the red stripes are hand-stitched using English Paper Piecing), and part machine-stitched (the background is stitched together by machine, and the EPP is machine appliqued and machine quilted). All the beauty of handwork, without being crazy time consuming!

You can buy the pattern on Craftsy here.

Glory: Scrappy Flag Quilt Pattern. Uses English Paper Piecing and traditional piecing techniques.

Tumblers aren’t the most popular shape for English Paper Piecing, Hexagons are the most popular, followed by Diamonds. Both of these shapes have angles that can be tricky to piece, making paper piecing a great choice. Tumblers can be fairly easily machine pieced – but they are so satisfying for hand sewing! The edges line up nicely, and you can get this great zig-zag effect from alternating the directions of the tumblers.

Scrappy flag quilt - simple to make, easy to follow pattern with EPP instructions

The quilt makes a great wall hanging for any room. You can use it as a table topper. You can hang it outdoors for a picnic – or use it on a picnic table or picnic display table.

fun and scrappy flag quilt pattern

I had lots of fun quilting this one… I think my favorite part is the quilted stars in the 13 white tumblers!

close up of Glory scrappy flag quilt

Buy the Digital Download pattern here.

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That one time I got to Mingle with Midge and Madge!

I spent the weekend with friends, both new and seasoned, up in Denver, Colorado at the Create – Make – Celebrate Retreat hosted by the fabulous and talented Laura Kelly Walters. I got to learn some new crafting techniques, brush up on some that I’ve played with in the past, and even teach one of my favorites… English Paper Piecing!

The wonderful folks at Prym-Dritz sent kits for me to share so that I could teach the class. I was so excited to be able to share my passion with all these awesome creative gals!

Learning to English Paper Piece

Some of the gals tried it, and it wasn’t for them. But others… others really took to it! I saw ladies doing EPP in our group pow-wows throughout the weekend, and it warmed my EPP-loving heart!

epp-in-the-laura-kelly-stud

epp-at-retreat

playing-with-hexies

Two of the amazing ladies at the retreat – Midge and Madge – have a crafty YouTube series, and invited me to be a guest (WHAT!?). I had a blast chatting with them… please watch the video below!

In case you’re wondering, the quilt shown in the video is “25 Hexies” and the pattern is available for purchase on Craftsy.

25 hexies image small
And I did take a quick photo of Madge’s flappy EPP before she fixed it. This is too cute!
the-epp-faux-pas

Christmas Tree Half-Square Triangle Quilt

I was sent a fat quarter bundle of Robert Kaufman’s Holiday Flourish fabric for a fun challenge with the other Fairfield designers. When it came in the mail, I was excited, and full of ideas. But then deadlines came, and the bundle was pushed aside, and so were the ideas.

But, projects have a magical way of becoming important again when their deadline is due… and that’s what happened with this project! I went to Quiltmarket, and when I came back, I had to get started making something with these fat quarters. I picked up a fun half-square triangle ruler at market, and was excited to use it… so I thought I’d make a fun wall hanging that looked fun and scrappy with half-square triangles.

half square triangle christmas tree quilt

finished size: 30.5 x 30.5″

 

This bundle was perfect for making the wall hanging! And at 2.5′ square, this wall hanging is the perfect size for anywhere in the house.

 

To make the wall hanging, you’ll need:
4 black fat quarters
7 gold fat quarters
1 yard backing fabric
1/4 yard for binding

From the Fat quarters, make your half-square triangles. They’re all 2″ finished triangles. Use whatever method you like to make them. I used a ruler that makes 24 at a time – you can use triangle paper, or the old method of cutting squares, drawing a line diagonally down the center, then stitching on each side. If you do this method, your cut squares will be 2 7/8″ to make the 2″ finished HSTs.

For the quarter square triangle, cut 3 4″ squares – two gold ones and one black one.
67 black-on-black HSTs
22 black-on-gold HSTs
135 gold-on-gold HSTs
1 quarter-square triangle

quilt supplies

Once you have all the HSTs made, it is time to stitch them together to make the tree shape. You can lay them out on a design wall, or the floor, and stitch them one set at a time to make your rows. Or, you can cheat like I did!

Fairfield has a new line of interfacings that will be available in stores starting January. I pulled out the lightweight fusible interfacing, and drew a 2.5″ grid on the back. Then I fused the squares onto the grid to keep them in place. Once all the squares are fused in place, I was able to stitch down a whole row at once!

stitch down rows

Once the top was pieced, I quilted the top using Fairfield Superior 80/20 Blend batting. I used a walking foot for some simple straight-line quilting. The fabric was already so busy, I decided it didn’t need busy free-motion quilting.

Then I bound it, and the quilt was done!

christmas tree quilt from half square triangles

Applique Zippered Bag

I’m on a little applique kick, making some samples, and I thought I’d show you how to make this simple applique zippered bag. Super fast and easy to make, once you get it down, you’ll be making all kinds of zippered bags!

applique zippered bag

Start with your supplies. You’ll need:
9″ zipper
2 rectangles from outer fabric – 9″x6″
2 rectangles from lining fabric – 9″x6″
Applique shape cut out with fusible web on the back.

supplies for applique zippered pouch

Fuse the heart onto one of the outer pieces, stitch in place. I used a tight zig-zag.

stitch around applique

stitch around heart

Place one outer piece and one lining piece, right sides together, with the zipper between. Stitch through all three layers. If the zipper pull gets in the way, stop stitching. With the needle down, lift up the presser foot, and carefully open or close the zipper to move the zipper pull out of the way.

Press them open, exposing the zipper. If you like, add topstitching along the top of the fabric.

press to one side

Repeat with the other set of lining and outer fabrics.

stitch on second set

Once you press open the second set, lay the fabrics so that the outer fabrics are right-sides-together, and the inner fabrics are right-sides-together, with the zipper in the middle.

put right sides together

VERY IMPORTANT: Open the zipper at least halfway. This will keep you from swearing later. Then stitch around all four sides, leaving a hole about 4″ long along the bottom of the two lining pieces.

stitch all the way around

Trim off the excess zipper, then turn the bag through the hole you left.

finish applique zippered bag

Hand-stitch the hole closed, and you’re all done!

applique bag set

 

Umbrella Applique Wall Hanging

I was working on a freelance project, and needed some applique samples. I don’t keep a lot of samples hanging around, so I whipped up a couple fun applique projects – including this umbrella applique wall hanging. If you have the umbrella applique die for the Accuquilt GO!, this is a super simple project to make.

Umbrella applique wall hangning

 

Grab some fabric and the die. I used scrap fabrics I had on hand – these are all Art Gallery Fabrics.

supplies for applique wall hanging

 

Add fusible web to the back of the applique fabrics, then cut on the Accuquilt GO!. Iron on to your center block.

iron down applique umbrella

I ironed it on first, then cut it down. That made it easier for me to center. This is 10″ wide by 11″ tall. But you can go with whatever size works for you.

center block

Cut fabric for the borders and binding.

strips for borders and binding

Stitch on borders.

sew on borders

Before stitching down the applique, I put fusible fleece on the back, and then spray basted on backing fabric. I then used a buttonhole stitch around the applique. This appliqued down the umbrella and quilted the quilt at the same time.

applique down umbrella

Once it was quilted, I trimmed it down. Before finishing the binding, I tucked a triangle into each top corner. Just a square folded on the diagonal, and stitched to the top corners. These can be used in place of a hanging sleeve – just tuck in a dowel, and hang up the quilt!

hanging corners on wall hanging

 

Fast and simple – and fun to make!

wall hanging umbrella

 

Supernova Quilt

I’ve been working on this quilt for quite some time. Last fall, I made a quilt for Art Gallery Fabrics to hang in their booth at market. The Sunshine Quilt. A starburst quilt like that one uses almost entirely diamonds. The pieces around the edges don’t have to be full diamonds, but all the middle pieces do. When cutting the diamonds for the quilt, there were a lot of partial diamonds cut on the selvedge ends. Far more than could be used in the Sunshine Quilt. I wanted to use all the extra diamonds from the starburst quilt into another quilt. That’s how I came up with this Supernova Quilt.

supernova quilt

I started with all the partial diamonds. I counted how many I had, and divided by 8. That’s how many blocks I could make.

pennant shapes

I stitched these pieces into pairs, and then the pairs into sets of four. These were each half a quilt block. Then I trimmed up the edge of each so the finished block would lie flat.

trim block

I stitched the halves together to make full blocks. All of the blocks were odd sizes, so I measured the smallest to see how large a square I could get out of it. Then I cut this size square from each block.

I didn’t worry about where the center of the block was in relation to where all the points met up. I was just interested in making the same sized block out of each.

I stitched together odds and ends to make enough sashing for the quilt, and sashed all the blocks together.

The quilting looks very random, but it is a stitch in the ditch of each seam, extended out to the borders.

quilted supernova quilt

Hopefully this will be the last quilt that is quilted exclusively with my walking foot… I’ve been working on improving my free-motion quilting. Yay!

Red Zig Zag Quilt

This is a super simple quilt I made for my Modern Quilt Guild’s HST challenge. The only challenge was to make something using Half-Square Triangles. I actually had something completely different in mind – a Heart made from scrappy HSTs off-center on a solid background. But then I saw this red fabric with the trees (it is Henry Glass fabric, in case you were wondering), and it was in the 50% off section at my quilt shop. So I bought the main fabric, and the chevron, and the white and red, and put them all together very informally to make a simple quilt.

zig zag quilt

I like it. I think it is fun and bright and cheery. It isn’t very fancy, and the quilting is super simple – just stitch in the ditch around the pieced chevrons, and some straight lines across for the rest of the quilt. I bound it in the same red and white chevron that flanks the HSTs.

I don’t know what I’m going to do with this one… often when I’m working on quilts, I decide who I’ll give them to, or where in the house they will belong… but this little guy is homeless. For now.

DIY Hoodie with Rapture from Art Gallery Fabrics

Rapture Zippered Hoodie

I was one of the lucky bloggers who was sent a fat quarter bundle of Pat Bravo’s newest line, Rapture. This is such a fun line, and everyone I know who has seen it has fallen for the fabrics in it. I love that it has a great variety of larger prints and smaller prints, making it a great choice for almost any project. Which is where I ran into a problem…. what to make? Of course I could put together a quilt using Rapture, but while I wanted to be able to wrap myself up in the fabric, I wasn’t up for making another quilt in 2013. So I found a great compromise – a zippered DIY hoodie using Rapture from AGF. I spend most of the winter in jeans and a hoodie, so this way I can wrap myself in the fabrics all day long – and still get my errands done!

My inspiration came from the appliqued sweaters quilters of the ’80s and ’90s made… but an updated version. I wanted my DIY hoodie to be a modern take on those sweaters.

If you want to make your own quilted hoodie, here is what you need:

Fabric (I used FQs of Rapture by Art Gallery)
Zippered Hoodie
Freezer Paper
Fusible Fleece
Pen
Basic Sewing tools, such as a Seam Ripper, Pins, Iron, Sewing Machine

I started by prepping the sweater. This meant using a seam ripper and scissors to carefully remove the front pockets. Then I ironed a large sheet of freezer paper to one of the front panels of the sweater, then used a pen to mark the outline, making a template. I turned the hood wrong-side-out, and made a template of the hood shape as well.

I prepped the fabric by selecting the fat quarters I wanted to use. I cut a variety of different sized strips, including a wide strip of one of the larger patterns. I stitched the strips together to make what looked like a striped piece of fabric.

I ironed the templates onto the fabric. The large front panel was ironed onto the right side of the pieced fabric, and the hood was ironed onto the wrong side of my chosen fabric.

patterns made for quilting hoodie

I trimmed around the outside of each piece, adding a seam allowance as I cut.

I stitched the hood on first. I cut two of the hood pieces, one in reverse of the other. I put the two pieces right sides together, and stitched around the curve (the back seam of the hood), then pulled off the freezer paper. Then I cut the curve and pressed the seam open.

stitch and clip curves

I pinned the hood piece to the inside of the hood.

Pin fabric in the hoodie lining

All the raw edges were turned over and pinned under.

I stitched the fabric on all the way around, then stitched down the center seam (through the sweater and fabric), to make sure the hood would stay in place even after washing.

stitched hoodie lining

On to the body piece! I put it on the sweater, and using my fingernail put a slight crease along the seam lines. I was then able to take the piece to the ironing board, and easily press the raw edges over.

mark edge with fingernail

I pinned the piece in place all the way around.

Pin panel in place

After stitching the body piece in place all the way around, I quilted it down. I did a “stitch in the ditch” on each seam, stitching down each seam where two fabrics meet. On the large strip, I stitched around the motif to secure the large piece in place.

panel stitched in place

top stitch in place

Next was the pockets. I put the pockets I had taken off in place, to gauge the size. I knew I wanted to add larger pockets, so I cut rectangles the size I wanted the pockets. I then cut a second set of rectangles for the inside of the pockets. Using a pen, I drew a curve for the pocket opening, and trimmed the fabric along this curve.

check pocket placement

Two layers of woven cotton don’t provide a whole lot of warmth on a windy day, so I put a layer of fusible fleece on the lining piece of each pocket.

To make the pockets, I put the outside and inside pocket pieces right sides together, then stitched all the way around, leaving a hole for turning. I clipped the corners to reduce bulk.

stitch around pocket and trim corners

After turning, I added two lines of topstitching around the curve to give it a finished look. I also quilted down around the flowers, just like I did on the body of the sweater.

top stitch pocket

I pinned each pocket in place, then topstitched them down, making sure to go back and forth at the beginning and end to secure the stitches.

Rapture Fabric on a Zippered Hoodie

For fun, I trimmed off a piece of the selvedge from the fabric, and top stitched it onto the label.

selvedge on the tag

Once it was done, I ran it through the wash. The washer and dryer softened the fusible fleece so that the pockets were perfect instead of stiff, and the fabric washed beautifully.

My friend Gina from Mom’s Lifeboat was over, so she took some photos of me in my new sweater.

Zippered Hoodie with Rapture Fabric

We also discovered that I have no future as a fashion model. I can’t say that I’m that broken up over it.

I have no future as a model

Zippered Rapture Hoodie

We did manage a few decent photos.

Sweater with Rapture Fabric

I’ve already worn my new DIY hoodie out and about, and gotten tons of compliments on it! I think this is a great way to have some fun with beautiful lines of fabric – ones that are worth living in.

Most Popular Projects of 2013

Top Posts for 2013 on Always Expect Moore

I had a lot of fun blogging this year! I blogged here, over at 30 Minute Crafts, CraftSnark, CraftyHangouts, Answers.com and contributed at Craft Test Dummies. So… lots of fun posts, projects, and roundups this year. I thought I’d share with you the most popular projects here at Always Expect Moore this year. Here goes…

10. Whimsical Holiday Entertaining Recipes
One of two sponsored posts to make this year’s top 10 list… this post was so fun to create! I hung out with my husband to come up with some delicious adult beverages, and whipped up some other fun treats as well. Perfect for holiday entertaining… or just entertaining yourself!
Holiday Entertaining with Smart & Final

9. How to Make a Wizard Costume
I love that so many of the top posts were favorites of mine as well! This tutorial on making a Wizard Costume was so much fun to make, and I’m glad so many of you enjoyed it too.
Wizard Costume

8. Fabric Fest Quilts
Teaching at Fabric Fest was one of the high points of 2013, and I loved sharing all my different fast quilts with you… if you’re one that enjoyed this post stay tuned… I have more fun fast quilting to share in 2014!
three jelly roll race quilts

7. Winnie the Pooh Baby Shower
A shower I put together for my Sister in Law last year, this was a fun project. I enjoyed sharing how the theme came together, and the little (and big) ways I incorporated Pooh into this simple shower.
Winnie the Pooh Shower Invitation

6. Hexagon Fabric Bracelet
I remember the night that I was inspired to create the first of these Hexagon Bracelets. I stayed up most of the night stitching them together, I was so excited by this idea!
Hexagon Fabric Bracelet Tutorial

5. Monsters University Juice Box Printables
The second sponsored post to make this list, these juice box printables were so fun to create. I especially loved this project because it was a chance to get my boys involved in crafting.
Monsters University Juice Setup

4. Dr. Seuss “Oh The Places You’ll Go” Wallhanging
This might be my favorite project of the year. I loved everything about it, and will have a hard time coming up with an encore in 2014.
Dr Seuss Oh The Places You'll Go Quilt Wallhanging

3. How to Write a Thank You Note
This post became very popular on Pinterest… which makes me so happy! I’m glad that the world wants to know how to write a good Thank You note. It is such a simple but vitally important thing to know… and I’m glad I could share this tidbit with y’all.
How to Write a Thank You Note

2. Three Printable Boy Baby Shower Games
All three of my SILs had babies in the last 14 months, these printables were created for a shower I was unable to attend, but wanted to help out with. Since they were so much fun, I shared them online.
three printble boy baby shower games - just print, grab pens, and you're all set!

1. Fast and Easy Baby Shower Games
With the popularity of Baby Shower posts, I’m guessing lots of babies were born in 2013! These were three easy to whip together games for a last-minute shower.
Super Easy Baby Shower Games

So there you have it! The top posts for 2013… I can’t wait to start 2014… I have so many fun and exciting projects and posts in store for you!