Friday, July 18, 2014

This quilt has some serious problems

But I love it too much to focus on that. The fabrics in the top are Kensington by Riley Blake. I bought a jelly roll on a whim because it was on sale and fell pretty hard for it during construction. I love every fabric in this line and every color in every fabric.  

I did two rows of hand quilting in each white strip, and one row of machine quilting on the outside of each hexagon shape. It's not heavily quilted, but not too sparse either. 

The thread I used for the handquilting is a size 20 crochet thread that is actually darker than the green in the binding, but you almost don't see it against the white, unless you look closely. 

The backing is a fun dot I found at Joann's, and the binding is Kona Celery. Not one of my favorite colors, actually, but I had it on hand and it went very well with the yellow & green in the quilt. I'm happy with my choice. You can also see here the great disparity between the tops of my hand quilted stitches and the bottoms of my hand quilted stitches:) 

I will give some advice based on this quilt: 

1. If you're working with triangles, ALWAYS spray starch. Even if your fabric is a jelly roll and it seems like a pain to do. 

2. If you're cutting triangles, go ahead & get a ruler especially made for that triangle - don't just use the degree line on your straight ruler & figure it will work out. 

3. Don't get excited over the spray basting Walmart has for just $7. It works fine for some fabrics, but others just won't stick at all. 

4. If your basting fails, re-baste. Don't just stick a few pins in & call it good. 

5. If your quilt is basically not basted (see numbers 3 & 4 above), don't do the hand quilting first. Things will end up in weird places. 

6. And if you ignore all of the above, just throw it on the bed & love your new, very imperfect quilt. 

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it Friday series. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

My hero inspires me

To everything except finishing quilts apparently.

"Strawberry Patch", started over 2 years ago 

My hero, aka sister-in-law Kim, is an amazing person. When I first started dating her brother in '96, she was in her last year of nursing school. She went on to work close to 15 years in the medical ICU unit of our hospital, where she saw a huge variety of severe cases, many close to death.

 made in the Patchwork Wheel pattern by Don't call me Betsy
fabrics are Strawberry Fields by Fig Tree & Co.

But that's not why she inspires me, because I've never felt any urge or calling to work in the medical field.

Binding is a California Girl print, also by Fig Tree

She inspires me with her commitment to Jesus and the way she lives out her Christian faith. I'm sure being a nurse is a natural extension of that for her.

Backing is from the Butterscotch & Roses line, also by Fig Tree

If there's anyone I could be more like, it would be her.

That's a stick, only a stick, in the bottom of the photo...

I'm not sure my husband fully realizes how blessed he is to have the women in his life that he does. I count his sister, mother & daughter among the best women in the world.

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it Friday.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I'm ready for the new school year - I don't know about her

The main project I just had to get completed over the summer was my daughter's messenger bag. Bags intimidate me, and while I did spend some time procrastinating it, I also spent time finishing it:

Can you tell she's a Monster High fan?

I used the Molly Messenger Bag pattern from Pretty By Hand and overall I'm very happy with it. If you follow Pretty By Hand, you'll understand I got more than one giggle out of making her pattern with skulls and crossbones. To say that it's not her style is an understatement.

It's a very roomy bag - I think 12" x 16" with a 5" depth. If I'd been more confident about it, I would have trimmed those measurements down a little. This bag is for a 7-year-old entering 2nd grade, so it's a little overkill. But I just knew I'd mess that up somewhere, so I just left it big, only shortening the shoulder strap. She loves the bag and if it turns out too big for school, we'll just use it as an overnight bag for when she goes to her granny's.

I'm prouder than I should be at how the shoulder pad turned out, with that image centered so well. If memory serves, it was more of a happy accident than my piecing skills anyway.

If Mandy had her way, the entire bag would have been made out of that fabric, so I did use as much of it as I could. The inside of the flap and the back and gusset parts of the lining were made out of it. Then I was done with that yard of fabric.

I did change the way the zipper tabs were made. She had you sew them together, turn them right side out, add a piece of the fleece and then turn the open ends under and sew. I ended up with a hot mess when I tried that. So I took some pellon decor weight interfacing and used the starch method of turning the edges under.

I know what you're thinking - that isn't exactly perfect, but trust me when I say it's much better.

I made a few additions to the pattern - some inside pockets on the front, a sewn-in key fob, and a name tag that includes our phone number. If this thing gets lost, I want to make sure it can find it's way home!

The only thing I'm not crazy about is the way the bottom sags. I'm tempted to see if I can find a way to get a piece of plastic in there. Not only does it bug me, but the main thing my daughter didn't like about her old backpack was how soft and collapsible it was - I wanted to make sure this bag was sturdier.

I also want to give a shout out to Sewpplies for providing the great iron-on patch that brought the whole design together. It makes the whole project, and as you can see, the image is very crisp and perfectly sewn.

The solids used are Moda Bella Platinum, which is my new favorite gray - very light & very cool, and Moda Bella Berry. As you can see, there's also a snippet of Kona black.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced for her WIP Wednesday, and Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it Friday, assuming she does it this week.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's my own fault

In my last post, I spoke briefly about my huge number of WIP's and how I was on a mission to work on them rather than starting something new.

Do you know where I'm going with this?

In my defense, I left my walking foot in Mandy's driveway. The two projects I have on my sewing table right now are the Strawberry Fields quilt, that I'm straight line quilting, and my daughter's messenger bag, that also requires straight line quilting of the pieces. I can't continue with either of those projects until I get my foot back, so I really had no choice. Really.

As a side note, you should go check out her new quilt! Very cute.

I scored a huge bundle of Paris Flea Market very cheaply at an estate sale last year and, other than taking it out to pet it every now & then, I haven't done anything with it. I was in the mood to finally cut into that, and I was in the mood for a quick and easy project:

You're only seeing half the quilt here because I don't have any tall quilt holders handy. The total quilt is 66" x 84".

I absolutely love it!!

The solid is Kona Putty, which was a happy accident. I bought 5 yards of it to go with my Rock 'N Romance bundle for my bed. I wanted the darkest "white" I thought I could get by with because ... life. Pets & kids. But I wasn't happy when I got it. I went just a bit too dark. Thankfully, it goes with these fabrics really well.

One of the very first quilts I made was also out of this pattern. One of the biggest joys in making this current one was seeing the difference in the process for me. When I made it the first time, it took FOREVER. And so many problems. I basted that stupid thing three times because it kept puckering as I tried to quilt it. I'm actually surprised I persevered and finished it. By contrast, I made this quilt top in one week. With no issues at all. So satisfying to see my own progress with this project.

I haven't yet decided how I will quilt it. Mainly because I keep wanting to hand quilt it, but hesitate to make that choice knowing the time commitment involved. But don't the vintage inspired prints and even the solid seem to scream for it? I'm thinking pink thread in a Baptist fan pattern.

And, if that rather large quilt top wasn't bad enough for someone "dedicated" to knocking out her WIP's, I'm also playing with the idea of the flowering snowball quilt along that Molly Flanders is hosting. And by "playing with", I mean my fabrics are starched and my templates made.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced for her WIP Wednesday.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Working down the list

A couple of months ago, I made a list of my WIP's and a list of projects I want to do in order to try to stay on track. A "to-do" list of sewing projects. Because my ADD brain just wasn't keeping up otherwise. I'd get focused on one thing & then - ohhhh, squirrel - I was off on something else.

It was a rather embarrassing list. Some projects that were very old, and some projects that were soooo close to being finished. Just do them already!

So here's two. The first is a baby quilt for a boy, because my husband seemed offended that I only made girl quilts for my shop. 

I really wish I was a better photographer. Some of the blame can be laid on my less than expensive equipment, but really, most of it is me. When I see the pictures of most of my quilts, I'm so disappointed. In person, this quilt is so pretty. In pictures, it doesn't quite make sense. It looks like "why did she put orange & yellow squares around a blue center?" 

The close-up is slightly better: 

And I was so happy to have this older Riley Blake print for the back: 

I'm really happy with this quilt. If I had a boy, I'd keep it for sure! 

This next one is for a girl, obviously: 

I've shown these blocks on the blog several times, so I won't go into them too much. I was particularly pleased with the back of this one: 

I think the yellow in the center is Kona banana. The blue stripes on the bottom, also Pam Kitty, is what I had left from binding my daughter's quilt and my table runner, and the yellow gingham on the top is from Riley Blake. 

I so love those kitty panels:

I still have one left.

Those are my finishes this week. They're both listed in the shop.

My plan is to buckle down and focus on housework and party planning next week as it will be my daughter's birthday. We're going to have about 12 kids at the house, and I'm going to make small cakes, with a cake bar to let them each decorate their own. It's times like this I wish I had an industrial kitchen and could just hose it off, letting all the water drain out of a hole in the middle of the floor. At least I'll be sending the kids outside after to play in slip & slides & other water-related things, essentially hosing them off:)

I'll be linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it Friday, assuming she does it this week. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What I do at Mandy's house

One thing I lack, that I desperately need, is a place to lay out blocks. A design wall, or floor, or table - something. The largest area I have is my living room floor, but it's surface is the very slick Pergo, and it's the home of a husky. We have a saying in our house - every season is husky shedding season. You can see the hairs fly off him when he walks, like the dirt coming off Linus' blanket. So even if I sweep or vacuum immediately before using that floor, stray hairs still find their way back, and it's impossible to keep things in place on such a slick surface.

All of that to say, my favorite thing to do at Mandy's house is lay out quilt blocks. She has a great spot in her carpeted living room. It's like it was made to lay out quilt blocks. I'm sure that's what the builder had in mind. The last time I was there, I put my Salt Air quilt top together, and this time I put my gray diamonds together:

It's quite a stunning quilt to look at in person, and I love all the warm grays, but boy was it a pain to piece! I didn't follow a pattern, so I didn't have measurements for the various pieces. I just trimmed them according to the edge of the piece I was attaching it too. Not very accurate. If you were to look too closely, the magic of it would all dissipate as you saw very few seams actually meet where they're supposed to. It's a gift for an old and dear friend, someone who has always been there for me. As I was struggling to piece it, and working to overcome the urge to pick out every seam in the hopes of greater accuracy with a second try, I kept repeating to myself "it's a gesture of friendship, not undying love." It's ok for a gift to be pretty and imperfect. At least a gift to a non-quilter:)

The prints all came from Joann's, some are a great quality and others are unbelievably thin. The worst were a couple of fat quarters I picked up and you don't get a chance to really feel the fabric in those since they're all folded up and taped. Suffice it to say I will never buy another fat quarter from there. The solid is Kona Pewter.

It has now joined my every growing stack of unquilted quilt tops. And since I dropped my walking foot in Mandy's driveway and didn't notice it, it may be a while before that stack gets any smaller.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced for her WIP Wednesday.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Day 10

It's day 10 of "the never ending conversation," otherwise known as Summer Break. I'm struggling to adapt to working, cleaning, grocery shopping, sewing, watching TV, and even peeing with a constant stream of talking and questions directed at me. My friend Mandy, the mother of two boys, didn't really understand when we first started hanging out. She loved having her boys home, playing, while she sewed. After enough time with my daughter, Mandy, she gave it a better description than even I could: "the talking and the talking and the talking." She probably was able to come up with a better description than I could because I'm the object of the talking and the talking and the talking and can no longer think.

But she's cute, and sweet, and becoming quite the quilt holder. Exhibit A:

I started this quilt maybe as long as 2 years ago and the finished center hourglass blocks sat in a drawer with the cut out centers of the border and the yellow and orange fabric. I've gotten a new-to-me urge to finish things instead of constantly starting new things, so I pulled it out the other night & finished the border in an embarrassingly short amount of time. The animals in the center of the border blocks...

are matched by the fabric in the center of the quilt:

I just love an hourglass block. They always turn out so well for me, yet they look difficult. But why do I always choose the spot with the stray thread to photograph? Are threads invisible until you take a picture of them?

Exhibit B is my granny square blocks:

If you've read my previous posts about this, you may remember that I had 16 blocks. When I went to lay this out, I discovered that I actually had 17 blocks. I was faced with the choice of making a square quilt, which isn't my favorite, and wasting a block, which is offensive, or making a smaller baby quilt and using 5 blocks to make myself a table runner.

A no-brainer. And also a lesson in how hard it is to photograph table runners.

My favorite block:

My hand quilting is so very bad. But I love the look so very much anyway.

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for her Finish it Friday series, otherwise known as my Friday night entertainment, because I'm wild like that.