Thursday, December 26, 2013

December Finishes

So my goal for the December "A Lovely Year of Finishes" was to finish the Riley Blake Challenge top. I did that the day after I posted my goal on Flickr. So here it is, with the backing done and basted for quilting. I may even get it finished before the new year. We'll see.

I am particularly pleased with the backing for this quilt. It works with the front perfectly. But you'll have to wait for all the pictures until I have finished it.

I also completed my Christmas Quilt, which I've decided to name "Snowed In," in time for Christmas. My hubby and I sat under it to watch Aladdin on Christmas Eve. It was one of his gifts and we always unwrap one each on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Day.

Here I am, hand stitching the binding down on Christmas Eve. My cuddly Sir Galahad is perched behind me, unhappy that the quilt is taking up all of his lap space. It was so great to be able to snuggle under it together while we played Guild Wars 2 after everyone had left on Christmas Day.

I leave you with a panorama picture of our Christmas Day Open House spread. We had Mucho Gusto, Bruschetta, charcuterie and cheeses, root veggies, vegetarian and sausage stuff mushrooms, Swedish meatballs, raw veggies with ranch dip, cream cheese logs, easy Swedish apple pie, buckeyes, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and spiced pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting. Also homemade eggnog  (alcoholic), mulled cider (with optional alcohol), and an assortment of beers, juices, milk, or sparkling cider. We had a blast, had quite a few people drop in, and played Munchkin and Cards Against Humanity.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Celebrating 100+ Followers and the End of Cutting

Between Google Friends and Bloglovin', I now have over 100 followers, from the Sew Mama Sew Give-Away. I'm super excited. Thanks for joining me!

I have finally finished cutting fabric for my Scrappy Swoon quilt.

Let me just say... holy (insert your favorite four letter word here). What a process. But I feel quite happy about being done. I am using 4.5 and 5" squares instead of the 3.5 and 3 7/8" the original QAL called for. The QAL quilt finishes at 72" square, mine will finish at 96" square. I also like trimming down my HSTs a bit, since I'm trimming down the dog ears anyway, and have a tendency to meander slightly when sewing on the bias.

Some fabric highlights include a Tardis damask, bowtie fabrics, Thing 1 and 2 from Dr. Seuss, Phantom of the Opera masks, fire plumes, alpacas, and several other things that have special meaning to them.

The stats:
Background: Black, 42 5" squares, 192 4.5" squares
Primary Color: Purple, 36 5" squares, 132 4.5" squares
Secondary Color: Blue-green (Aqua, Teal, Turquoise), 30 5" squares, 168 4.5" squares

151 different fabrics
600 squares total
8.319 yards of cut fabric (not counting the extra squares I cut from the scraps)

I would love to say I'm done with cutting fabrics forever. Alas this is not the case. I have started on the half hexies for my sister's wedding quilt. I have several already cut (below is my very first one), and quite a few 4.5" strips from cutting the blue-greens for the Scrappy Swoon quilt. The colors for the half hexie quilt will be blue-green, green, grey, and pops of coral. Pretty excited about that one.

I also promised my mother a quilt, although she didn't specify an exact deadline and she's paying for the fabric I use, so yay. I'm leaning towards Modified Bento Boxes. And will be using blues and greens for hers. And I also promised my husband a quilt. I am making him a pixelated quilt using a county map of Michigan, where we both grew up. I had him choose the background color and to my surprise he chose first Kona Water, which was way lighter than I had originally intended to go, and then Kona Pacific, which was a little better. Since I let him choose, I ordered the fabrics despite my slight misgivings. It will still be stunning, regardless. He also gave me carte blanche on the colors for the counties. I specifically asked him about pink and he said there would be so little of it and it would be so spread out that it didn't really matter. Yay! I love creative freedom.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sew Mama Sew Give-Away Winner

The winner of my give-away was #73 - Renee. She has already responded to my email and I have sent the gift certificate off. Thanks to everyone who entered. I really enjoyed reading about everyone's favorite holiday traditions!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sew Mama Sew Give-Away Reminder

Just a reminder that you only have a few hours left to enter my Give-Away for a $25 Gift Certificate to Pink Chalk Fabrics. Please enter here.

In other news, I've been quite busy cutting fabric for the Scrappy Swoon QAL quilt. No pictures yet, but I have all of the black background fabrics cut out and am working on the purples now. Blue-greens yet to come.

Monday, December 9, 2013

December Goals and Upcoming Contest/Give-Away

I am working on getting a quilt naming contest/give-away together since I am horrible at naming my own quilts and I need some help. I am just working on some suitable prizes for the winners and one bigger give-away item for a random winner. Stay tuned.

So I set my December goal for "A Lovely Year of Finishes" via Flickr this month. It was to finish the top for my Riley Blake Challenge hosted by the Modern Quilt Guild.

Fabrics were already cut when I made myself that goal. But guess what... I already finished my goal for the month. The very next day!

Now what am I supposed to do with the rest of my month!?! Just kidding, I have plenty of projects.

So here is my to do list for the rest of December. December for me includes a whopping two weeks off from my job for Christmas and we're not going anywhere because my hubby has to work, so in my mind that equates to two weeks of sewing!

1) Get the top of the Community Quilt put together, at least in a 5x6 block layout. I'm still missing one Skyline block, which someone has offered to make, and four house blocks, which I don't have any takers for yet. It took me long enough to make one, so I'm not keen on making another four.

My house block.

The Skyline blocks so far.

The four "odd" shaped road pieces.

I still need to put together several straight road pieces, square up the house blocks, and sew blocks together. I am already loving the Skyline blocks.

2) Finish sewing together the Giant Churn Dash blocks. Fabric is already cut out, just need to piece them together.

3) Start cutting half hexis for my sister's wedding quilt. Colors requested were blue-green and dark green, with potential grey. I may choose something besides grey, depending on how dark the rest of the quilt gets.

4) Work on the Java wedding quilt. I'm very tempted to just rip out the second borders I have on the first set of blocks and put the blocks together as is. Won't be much of a pineapple blossom design, but it may save my sanity and actually get this thing done.

5) Continue putting together the Plus Wedding Quilt. All the rows are done, just need to sew them together.

6) Keep cutting fabric for the Scrappy Swoon Wedding Quilt.

7) Decide if I want to participate in the Modern from Repo guild challenge. If I do decide to participate, I need to come up with a design by December 15. However, except for the solids and the blenders, none of the fabrics we're actually supposed to showcase really speak to me. So I'm having designer's block big time. Benefit of participating is that we get all the fabric needed for the project for free. Front, backing, and binding.

8) Decide on a project for the February quilt show at the Anacostia Arts Center. We need to have pictures of at least the front (or a portion of the finished front) by sometime in January. I might actually start on that Pixelated Michigan quilt I promised my hubby. Who knows. Alternatively, I may enter my Riley Blake Challenge or the Giant Churn Dash quilt, if I get it done in time.

I think that's plenty, although I have two other projects I could/should be starting on.

Sew Mama Sew Give-Away

So I am joining up with the Sew Mama Sew Give-Away day. This has nothing to do with my quilt naming contest, which is yet to come.

I will be giving away a $25 gift certificate to Pink Chalk Fabrics, one of my favorite fabric stores.

I especially love their Color Stacks and Collection Coordinates.

I will ship internationally. No reply bloggers, please leave your email address with your comments.

This give-away is now closed. The winner will be picked randomly.

There were three ways to enter:

1) Leave a comment telling me what your favorite holiday tradition is (required).
2) Leave a separate comment telling me how you follow my blog (optional).
3) Share my give-away, and leave me a comment with a link to your post on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, your blog, etc. (optional).

Happy Holidays and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Updated: And the winner is....

Number 73... Renee!

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who entered!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Low Volume Baby Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Low Volume Baby Quilt
Dimensions: 35x45 Inches
Pieces: Front - 126
Pattern: Simple Split Rail
Technique: Patchwork
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons
Quilting: Machine quilting done on my little Euro-Pro
This quilt is for a coworker whose baby is due middle or end of December. For some reason I thought it was beginning of December, so when I had extra time the weekend before Thanksgiving, I finished it up real quick.
The only direction I got from my coworker was the following: 1) they wanted to keep it gender neutral even though they knew they were having a little girl (which I'm totally cool with) and 2) the nursery walls are beige and she didn't want anything too bold, because she wanted the nursery to be very soothing (to each their own, I guess). That wasn't a whole lot to go on, so I decided to do low volume. But being me, I just couldn't resist throwing in one or two slightly bolder fabrics.
The top is a simple two patch split rail pattern, with the stair steps in alternating blue and green, with neutral creams and whites in between. I outline quilted it on both sides of the blue and green steps at about 1/2 an inch from the seam. The backing is a Riley Blake fabric and the binding is Kona White. I was going to add an applique sea turtle to the front, but decided to leave it as is. I embroidered my initials in the corner on the subway ride into the city to drop it off.
My coworker loved it, and said it matches her nursery perfectly. Mission accomplished. :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Red Star Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Red and White Star Quilt
Dimensions: 60x60 Inches
Pieces: Front - 1,500
Technique: Paper Piecing
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons in red and blue for the blocks, Kona Snow for the background
Quilting: Machine quilting done on my little Euro-Pro
I actually finished it in time! And finished a baby quilt to boot (post about that next time). I'm super happy with how it turned out too.

So at the beginning of November, I decided that I really wanted to do something for my boss. She's the best. She's really good about private constructive criticism, public praise, and explaining why she does things even if it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with my job. I enjoy learning things from her, and really think that I am growing as a person. Anyway, she was scheduled for knee replacement surgery on December 4 (she made it through surgery just fine, if you're wondering). And I decided that a quilt would be the perfect thing to cheer her up during her month long recovery and physical therapy. So one day I asked her what her favorite color was and she answered "red." I asked her if there was anything else, and she said, "no, just red." Ok, red it was going to be. But since she worked at the Pentagon for 15 years and is a huge patriot, I decided to throw a bit of blue into the mix for the red, white, and blue thing. It seemed appropriate.

I don't know why I chose the most complicated paper piecing pattern ever created, but I was looking for a good star pattern (again, it seemed appropriate). I remembered the Basketweave Star pattern I've been ogling for some time, and decided to go for it. After making first one corner and then a whole block as a tester, I almost gave up. Then changed my mind and found a whole bunch of different star patterns, and then changed my mind again and decided to just go for it. I sent out a plea for help to my guild, because I knew that I wasn't going to have enough variety in my red stash (fairly small at the time), and also told myself that I was going to buy a bunch of red fat quarters at Capital Quilts during our next guild meeting there, which luckily happened to be at the beginning of November.

My guild came through for me in spectacular fashion and the scraps they brought for me added much needed variety. In a lot of cases, there was enough for only one or two pieces, but it was perfect for adding bits of interesting I Spy moments. I made the one blue star block in the midst of paper piecing the remaining 92 red corners. All of the fabrics came from my scrap box, and I cut up several of my 5.5" squares. I cut up way too many scraps, but I did like the end result. On the blue block and the red blocks, I had a lot of fun, placing the corner pieces just so, to get as many "fussy cut" looks as possible.

I finished all of the blocks and sewed the top row together the Thursday before Thanksgiving. After work on Friday, I finished piecing the top together, cut the batting, and pre-shrunk it. On Saturday, I had to make a trip to Joann's for my favorite Coats and Clark 100% mercerized cotton thread in blue and red. I pieced the backing, pin-basted the quilt on my living room floor, and started quilting.

I used stitch-in-the-ditch in either red or blue around each of the stars. My batting says quilt every 10", so outlining each star would have been plenty. Then I outline stitched at about 1/2" from the edge of the stars just along the outer edge in white. I loved the look so much that I just had to outline all of the sides. I "cheated" a bit and sewed in zig zag lines instead of inside each diamond as I had originally planned. No threads to bury and I didn't have to turn the quilt 360 degrees each time. It also made a cool star pattern at each corner. The white showed up on the back much better, but the red and blue are also faintly visible. All in all, I really liked the look of the quilting on the back.

I squared up the quilt no problem. Next up was the binding. I've been dying to use a striped binding on a quilt and this seemed to be the right time. I cut 2.5" strips, ironed them in half, and sewed them onto the front of the quilt using the mitered corners method. On Sunday I sat downstairs with my hubby before he had to go to work, and hand sewed the binding to the back of the quilt. Monday, on the subway ride to work I hand embroidered my initials into the bottom right corner. My boss loved it! We spent a good 10 minutes trying to find the one piece of red fabric with little white sheepies on it, but couldn't find it. Guess she'll just have to keep looking while she's recovering from her surgery.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Red Star Quilt

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

 I am linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

The quilt(s) I have been working on pretty much exclusively this week are the Red Star Quilt for my boss and my Christmas quilt.

Since I've shared plenty of Christmas quilt pictures, and haven't taken any recently, I'll just stick to the Red Star Quilt.

So this is going to be a lap sized quilt, about 60x60" made of 25 basketweave star blocks. I am making 24 red stars and 1 blue star.

I have a super tight deadline. I am hoping to have it completely finished by the Monday before Thanksgiving since my boss will be having knee replacement surgery the week after Thanksgiving, and I'll be in Michigan until she's out. My guild mates were amazing and helped me out with a ton of red scraps that I used up completely.

 Here is the blue star block. My husband loves it, and I'm rather happy with it as well.

I made one red practice block a while back, but here are the remaining 23 blocks. Still in pieces. The top two corners are sewn together, but I still need to do the bottom and then join them together.

My goal for this week is to finish putting together the blocks and maybe even the top. Then this weekend I can focus on the backing (I got 108" backing fabric for the first time, but I want to insert at least one strip of red in the midst of the navy blue fabric) and maybe even get started on the quilting.

I have a red and white stripe fabric for the binding that I'm really excited about as well, since I've never done stripey binding and love the look.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Fall 2013 Entry

My entry for the Blogger's Quilt Festival - Fall 2013 is my Toucan Baby Quilt in the Baby Quilt category.

Final Stats

Name: Toucan Baby Quilt
Dimensions: 40x50 inches
Category: Baby Quilt
Technique: Patchwork with fused, rough-edge, machine applique
Materials: Assorted quilting cottons for the patchwork, Kona Solids for the toucan, and flannel for the backing
Quilting: Machine quilting done on my little Euro-Pro
Story: I really wanted to share this quilt because it represents my first time doing large applique using a pattern I created myself. I am really proud of how the toucan turned out, but I definitely learned a few lessons.
My high school boyfriend (of two weeks, but my first kiss, so it kind of sticks in your mind), now just friend, announced via Facebook (as you do) that his wife was pregnant. I immediately sent him a message asking him for details about the future nursery theme as soon as they knew more. And then proceeded not to hear from him until after the baby was born. So after his son, Malcom, was born, I sent him another message basically asking for the same information. This time he told me they had done the nursery in yellow, green, and tan and that they were going with a jungle theme.
I'd already made an applique jungle quilt for another friend, so I wanted to do something slightly different for this one. I started with the patchwork background, because that seemed easiest. I was right, it came together super fast. Then I debated adding an elephant, but that seemed overdone (i.e. I'd done it once already). Finally I settled on a toucan and spent considerable time finding the perfect picture to base my pattern on. I needed something that was vaguely cartoonish, but still fairly realistic. I used Publisher to blow the image up to the size I wanted and printed it out.
I machine appliqued by sewing around the edges of the fused sections with a straight stitch and then stitch in the ditch quilted the whole thing. I outlined every single individual piece of the toucan as well as the squares.
My one regret is that I didn't wash the background patchwork before adding the toucan or alternatively, quilting more densely in the toucan, because after washing and shrinkage, the toucan puckers more than I would have liked everywhere where it is not fused.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Productivity is Good

I've been quite productive lately. Spending some time in my craft room every day has been amazing.

I have finished one of two Color Bee Shocked blocks for October. It turned out great, but man does it suck to trim 28 HST's to 2.5" square. Almost as much as pressing those suckers. Next up the same block in red. Tutorial for the block can be found here.

I also cut the rest of my Kona Sprout for my Giant Churn Dash blocks, and put three of them together.

I am using my Christmas blocks as the Leaders and Enders, so I have four of those completed as well, and one more in my machine as my Ender block.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jacquie Gering and October Update

I wrote a guest post on the DC Modern Quilt Guild blog here. It's about the amazing trunk show by Jacquie Gering that I went to in Baltimore on Monday. It was hosted by the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild. In case you don't know who Jacquie Gering is, here is a link to her blog Tallgrass Prairie Studio. Go check it out, you won't be sorry. Here is another picture of the trunk show that I didn't post on the DCMQG blog.

This is the quilt the publishers didn't want to use in her book, because they didn't like the antennae on the TV's. No sense of humor, so sad. I love them.
I finished cutting fabric for my plus quilt! I started laying it out on the floor and just started sewing. Next thing I knew, I had sewn together 21 rows.
Here is just a small sampling of the many fabrics used in this quilt.
I ended up with tons of extra grey cut fabric which I will be using on the back. Each row is 19 "squares" long and as previously mentioned, the quilt will be 21 rows across. It will be a king sized quilt and will finish at about 95x105. I will be getting this quilted by a long-armer, just need to narrow down my choices. But that won't happen until after the wedding next June, because my FSIL and I had discussed using fabric for the guest book and incorporating those fabric squares into the back of the quilt.
Other projects that I am actively working on include the following:
The Christmas quilt: I have now run completely out of cut Kona Snow and need to start cutting some more.
A second low volume baby quilt: need to mark more of the fabrics so I can turn them into HSTs.
Japanese X and Plus blocks: finished cutting all the grey end squares and need to concentrate on the center pluses.
Color Bee Shocked blocks for October: I have cut the red fabrics for one and have picked out the pink fabrics for the other.
Scrappy Swoon Wedding Quilt: I have sorted out all of my purple, blue-green, and black fabrics ready to be cut. I have decided to make the pattern a bit larger and will be using 4.5 and 5" squares.
Memory Quilts: I made a second octagonal block section and a second Double Wedding Ring "melon"/"football"/whatever from the fabrics I used in the Plus Quilt.
Left: Toucan Quilt; Right: Plus Quilt
Top: Plus Quilt; Bottom: Toucan Quilt
This crafting every day thing is really working. I did actually get some cleaning in and have put away all of the fabrics that I had finished cutting. Not to mention all the cutting and sewing I've been doing recently.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Trying on a New Habit

I've heard differing accounts, but the one I ascribe to is that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. The habit I'm trying to get into is to do something in my craft room every day. Either sewing, cutting, or cleaning (that hasn't happened yet, just in case you were wondering).

I have now completed 5 of the 20 Giant Churn Dash blocks I need and have had to call a hiatus on that quilt until I get more Kona Sprout. It's on its way, so hopefully it won't be a long hiatus because I love these blocks. I have more blocks cut, but they all have colorful centers and I want to make sure that all the ones with green centers get done first so I don't realize afterwards that I don't like my choices.
I have also finished another Christmas block. And yesterday I spent at least an hour cutting fabrics for the Wedding Plus Quilt and for my Japanese X and Plus quilt. I also finished cutting the additional Christmas fabric prints and now just need to tackle the Kona Snow.
This is my stack of cut fabric for the King Sized Wedding Plus Quilt for my brother and future sister-in-law. And I still have more to go. Each one of those pluses is a different yellow, grey, or coral fabric. Crazy when you think about it, but great for building up my stash.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Block Progress

Two posts in one day... crazy. Then again, I'm trying this new things were I spend some time each day in my craft room, and it's been incredibly productive so far.

You saw the first four Giant Churn Dash blocks. I have all of the prints cut and all of the background fabric I had as well. Now I just need to start sewing the blocks together. Unfortunately, I'm going to need to order more background fabric, because I'm short several blocks.

The flash washed this picture out horribly. It's block 5 of 20. And the churn dash is a rather bright red and the background is Kona Sprout.

I have also been working on my Christmas quilt as the leader and ender blocks, but I'm running out of cut Kona Snow, so I'll have to cut some more soon.

I have more blocks complete, but this is what I've finished in the last few days. The blocks currently measure 9" and will be 8.5" finished. I also have a few with white borders and a print in the center, but I made those a while ago.

I also finally finished the block for the September Color Bee Shocked queen bee. It took a while, because I didn't want to touch anyone else's fabric while I was sick, and there were a lot of HSTs to square up. Especially since the red fabric didn't want to cooperate. But it's done and it looks good. Almost makes me want to try this slightly larger. I have this obsession currently with huge blocks.

October Goals

My "A Lovely Year of Finishes" goal for October is to make as many Giant Churn Dash blocks as I have background fabric for.

Here is what I have so far:
First block. Turned out great.
Love the crisp edges on this one.

Most green on green that I'm going to get out of this fabric line, first one with a seedhead center.

My favorite so far, despite the cutting mistake

I will be making 20 24" blocks. No sashing, with some seedhead centers. Background is Kona Sprout. Tutorial for the blocks can be found at Elvy Crafts. I have background fabric for about eight more blocks.

My other goals for the month are as follow:

1) Continue making Christmas quilt blocks as Leaders and Enders for the Churn Dash blocks
2) Make at least one house block and one additional skyline block for the Community Quilt and start putting the top together
3) Order more Kona Sprout and a fabric for the backing and binding
4) Keep working on the wedding quilt
5) Quilt the split rail baby quilt

Split Rail Quilt top complete