Friday, November 30, 2012

Ocean Life Quilt - Part 4

I taped off a section of my craft room floor in the general dimensions that I wanted the quilt in and then arranged the blocks until I was satisfied. In the process I realized that I needed one more seahorse, the little black and white one.

Then I started with the measuring and "log cabin" style piecing.

Finally got the top done, which took an eon and was boring beyond belief. I sewed together the two pieces of flannel for the backing although I had originally intended to do something fun with scalloped edges I figured out that I barely had enough, so just went with a straight seam.

To baste it, I had to lock my cats in the basement and the dog in her crate and sweep and vaccuum the downstairs so I'd have an area big enough to lay everything out. It worked just fine and I used every single one of my basting pins.

I tried my hand at free-motion quilting to outline the seaweed and sea life, which didn't work as well as I had hoped it would. Then I switched to my new walking foot and quilting wavy lines from one side to the other in varying intervals. I really loved the way the walking foot kept everything straight. I only had one small pucker on the back. I machine sewed the binding onto the quilt, another first. That worked out reasonably well, although I think I prefer the clean look of the hand-binding. But this was so much faster, so I'll likely use it again at some point. But maybe this time I'll just sew the binding from the back, not the front.

And here it is, the finished quilt.

My mother-in-law loves it. I'm really happy with how it turned out as well, but I am never sewing that much seaweed ever again.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ocean Life Quilt - Part 3

So after the red and orange jellyfish, I decided to figure out my own fabric placement and figured that separating the different tentacles was the way to go. The only thing I don't like about this one is that the front pink tentacle is so much wider at the top than the other ones. But I call this one my breast cancer awareness jellyfish.

I cannot even begin to tell you how sick and tired I got of sewing the middle sections of this seaweed. I found the pattern online as part of a really awesome Block of the Month for a Rio Negro scene. So I am happy to give credit to Ula Lenz for this block, I just took it way beyond her three block wonder to this 12 block monstrosity (4" per finished block, that totals a height of 48"). Man was I glad when I finally finished it.

I wanted a few less obvious fish so the eyes could rest a bit while moving around the quilt, so I went for this more neutral looking Angelfish. Having experimented with the one-finned Bannerfish, I just decided to go with the original pattern for the second one. I even got the directionality of the fabric right for the fins.

Another small seahorse. No mistakes on this one.

A smaller version of my seaweed monstrosity. This one only had 4 blocks. I really like how well the light green stands out against the turquoise. If I had to do it over again, I'd have done the large seaweed in light green and the small one in dark green.

After laying out the blocks that I had made so far, I decided that I needed one more block. Since I didn't have a small left facing seahorse yet, I decided to go with that.

That's all of the individual blocks, I'll do the big reveal after work on Thursday. Hope you like it so far. :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ocean Life Quilt - Part 2

To continue, I made a small (about half the size of the big one) with black fabric. Unfortunately I was tired at the time and after unpicking several pieces of fabric finally gave up (see if you can spot the mistake I left in because I just didn't care anymore).

First jellyfish. Another pattern that I got from I went by the fabric division listed on the pattern, but didn't like the clear divide between the different parts. I do like the color combo though.

First sea turtle. Found the free pattern here. Unfortunately, the pink and teal were just too different to really flow. And the teal blended too much with the turquoise background, so I decided to leave it out of the quilt.

Large version of the 11 small fish. The bottom fin looks weird because it doesn't have a blue border yet.

Another large seahorse, this time facing the other direction. For some reason the nose and belly seem off, but the seams look alright. I still like it, definitely one of my favorites.

Second attempt at the turtle. Did the back flippers in the same color as the shell. This also blends a bit into the background but I liked it much better than my first attempt.

Last one for today, another Brill fish. I really love how well the body shows off the large pattern fabric.

Can't wait to show you the finished product, although I had more blocks than I thought. Might need to divide it into two posts.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ocean Life Quilt - Part 1

I have an amazing mother-in-law, aren't you just jealous! Unfortunately, her life has not been all rainbows and unicorns lately, since she is going through some really tough times health-wise. That's right, the big C. She's a strong woman and she's going to get through this, but it hasn't been easy thus far. She's on her last round of chemo, and I thought that all of those hospital visits must be a little depressing and decided that she deserved something fun and colorful that she could take with her to the chemo sessions. She loves seahorses, so after doing a test run with some fabric scraps, I decided to go for it.

I'm breaking this into a few pieces, since the individual blocks really need to be seen close-up to really appreciate the work that went into this quilt. It's only fair, I'd have been revealing these block by block if I'd been showing you the pictures during the process. This way you get them in two or three sittings.

So, once again, the fabric. I got a whole bunch of fat quarters in a rainbow of colors for the ocean life. I also pulled some of my existing fabric into the mix. The turquoise batik served as the background fabric (I ended up with a total of 8 yards of that before I was done, but made the mistake of buying it in three trips, so the last batch is darker than the rest, lesson learned). The two blues in the top left are two panels of flannel I bought for the backing.

Next up, since I'd made a practice seahorse, I wanted to start on something else. Unfortunatley I have no clue who the credit for this pattern should go to, since I recreated it from a block I found on the internet. I decided to chain sew 11 little fish. In order to expedite the process I actually cut the fabric to size with plenty of spare. I'm really glad I did that, because I ended up realizing very quickly that I had forgotten to cut the red fabric upside down and the scale pattern was pointed the wrong way. Luckily all the extra fabric I had left on the pieces made for a little less swearing since I managed to turn almost all the pieces so the scales pointed the right way.

Here are all 11, although I went with a different final configuration.

I found an Angelfish pattern here and bought it. However, Angelfish are freshwater/brackish water fish. So I looked online until I found something called a Banner Fish. The colors are not the same, since I was going for as colorful as possible, but the general outline is there. I made one bottom fin instead of two long ones.

I had to show you at least one seahorse. This is another pattern I recreated from a finished block I found on the internet, so I cannot give credit where it is due, but this is not my original pattern. I decided to do the fins of the seahorses in a different shade than the rest of the body. I really liked this color combo.

This Brill Fish pattern also came from All of those fin pieces were a little crazy, but overall it's not hard. I think that's good for now. Hope you enjoyed my first installment of crazy colorful sea life. More to come.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

First Paper Piecing Block

So a while ago, I posted about my very first paper-piecing block. Since the recipient of the secret quilt has received it, I can now reveal both. You'll have to wait for the next few posts, since I haven't decided whether I should slowly reveal the secret quilt project or show it all in one post. I'm thinking the former, although I think I'll only divide it up into two or three posts.

However, here is my first paper-pieced block:

So the reason I couldn't post this picture before is that my mother-in-law loves seahorses. And she was the recipient of the secret quilt project. I feel I would have given away the game if I'd posted this.

So, I used scrap fabrics for this seahorse, since I was just testing to see if it would even work. The only issue I ran into was directionality of the background print, which is why I went with a very safe turquoise batik for the background of the secret quilt. Otherwise I was quite pleased with it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

3x6 Bee Blocks Finished

Yay, for pictures...

I finished the 3x6 Bee blocks today. Here are the rest:

Block for Deb - Colors: blue-green and aqua, Background: white.

Block for Erika - Colors: green, blue, and fuchsia, Background: white.

Block for Joanne - Colors: warm (red, orange, yellow) and cool (grey, green, blue), Background: any neutral.

Block for Nicole - Colors: aqua, grey, and red, Background: white.

And here is a picture of all seven blocks. Top row: Deb, Joanne, Erika. Middle row: Nicole, Laurel and Jenn. Bottom Row: mine. I think Erika's, Laurel's and mine are my favorites of the blocks. I just can't seem to get behind the aqua for some reason, and Joanne's would not have been a color combination I would have ever attempted.

All in all, a great experience using color combinations I have never tried before. Lately I've been on this pink kick (fuchsia or other bright pinks, not that horrible baby pink), which is kind of surprising. I usually shy away from anything pink, but the bright pink against the cobalt blue and green really pops.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Secret Quilt Project - Finished

I finished my secret quilt project yesterday! I'm so excited and want to post pictures all over the internet. Unfortunately, I can't do that until after the recipient sees it. Grr.

But pictures will follow and you'll be glad you waited I'll be glad I waited.

New blog address and title

Well, I've chosen a new name for the blog and will be moving to a new address. Hope this doesn't interrupt anyone's newsfeeds.

The new name, which it will likely take me a minute to change over to will be Life Sew Crafty. I think it is a much better description for my blog since I tend to lean towards updates on my crafting projects with the occasional comment on the rest of my life thrown in.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Walking Foot and 3x6 Bee

After a little bit of confusion, I managed to attached my new walking foot to my machine. Threaded it and started wavy line quilting my secret lap quilt. At first I thought the walking foot was broken because it hardly moved. That's when I realized that my stitch length was still set to 0 from my free-motion quilting adventure (the outline quilting is done!). I like the wavy lines and walking foot so much that I may skip the pebble quilting on the bottom of the quilt.

I also managed to get the rest of the fabric cut for the 3x6 Bee the other day. Here's a picture of the goodness that is waiting to be pieced.

I am also considering making a few wonky log cabin blocks for the Sandy quilt drive hosted here. I almost registered to make blocks today, but I really need to figure out if I have the time to make them in the next 2-3 weeks, what with a trip to Michigan planned for Thanksgiving. I also want to finish my secret quilt project by Thanksgiving as well. So once that's done, I can register to make log cabin blocks with the knowledge that I will actually get them done.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Free motion quilting and 3x6 bee block

So I finished the top of my secret quilt project. Finally! Jig-sawing the top together was incredibly boring. It is now pin basted and I've started quilting. I'm outline quilting and decided to try free-motion because there's so much bulk that turning the whole quilt 360 degrees for every outline just isn't feasible. I'd practiced a bit before-hand, but the quilting is still sloppier than I like it to be, but it's so much easier than trying to turn the fabric all the time.

I finished another block for the 3x6 bee yesterday. Colors requested were turquoise, purple and black.
Although I managed to turn the center square the wrong way, I'm still quite pleased with it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Aqua v. Turquoise

So at the store on Saturday, I was looking for 2 aqua colored fabrics and 3 turquoise colored fabrics. I'm a huge fan of turquoise; however, I was literally almost in tears trying to find something that would fit. You would think this would be easy, but in practice, differentiating between the two is really hard.
I ended up asking the very nice and helpful ladies who work there for some assistance. Of the rather large stack I had in my hands, two ended up counting as aqua, and I only had one turquoise. The ladies had to pull thread for me to see the difference, although if I'd bothered to look online, I might have found the above picture and printed it out. Next time I'll know.
Luckily they helped me find two more turquoise and the retail therapy of walking out with a bag full of new fabrics was enough to get me over the last bit of distress. I'm still a big fan of turquoise, but aqua can just go do something else.

3x6 Bee

I finally have some pictures to share. Work continues to progress on my secret quilt project. Unfortunately I had to run back to the fabric store to buy yet more background fabric. I did get the backing flannel sewn together though, and I'm almost done with the front. Just need to finish putting everything together, figure out how to deal with crooked edges, and quilt.

I went back to the quilting shop I found nearby, to get fabric for my 3x6 Bee. Although it totally goes against the grain, I did not pre-wash the fabrics I bought, since the rules for the bee includes fresh (not washed) fabric.

I made the first block using my own colors of cobalt blue, white and black.

The image is slightly blurry, but you can tell what's going on. The pattern is Autumn Jewel Box and the tutorial can be found here.

Then because that had worked out so well, I made Jenn's as well. Her colors were aqua, orange and white and she requested a grey background. The quilt store didn't have a single solid grey and Joann's only had the charcoal grey in the Kona Solids line. I could have wished for something slightly lighter, but other than that, I'm quite pleased with it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Secret Quilt - Progress

So, I finished what I thought would be the last piece for the secret quilt project yesterday. I measured out the 50x70 inch area I want to end up with and then placed the blocks in that space. I will be filling in the space between the blocks with one solid background color, but even then, there was just one glaring space that needed another block. So back to the sewing machine I went, and whipped up my final final block. Next step: join the blocks together using the background fabric, piece the backing from two different colors of flannel, quilt, and bind. My goal is to have it complete by Thanksgiving so I can turn to other projects.

I will be posting pictures as soon as the quilt is in the possession of the person it is for. Can't wait to show you guys.