Thursday, November 12, 2015

Modern Birches Baby Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Modern Birches Baby Quilt
Dimensions: 48" x 60"
Pieces: Front - too many scraps to count
Pattern: My own, based on Bright Birch Trees by Amanda Jean Nyberg (Crazy Mom Quilts) and Night Forest by Jacquie Gering (Tallgrass Prairie Studio)
Technique: Improv, slice-and-insert
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons - Bella Solids and many prints
Quilting: Machine quilted on my EuroPro
So this is the second nephew this year, so I once again went on a fact finding mission. First: figure out the nursery theme. Neutrals with a vague nature theme... check. Second: Gather inspiration images from the interwebs. I found quite a few options with vague tree themes and I gathered them into my project folder. Since this was for my sister-in-law and my brother, and they knew full well that they would be getting a quilt, I ran my inspiration images by my sister-in-law to make sure I was on the right track. She liked the modern interpretation of birch trees the best, which was good, because that's what I was heavily leaning towards. I was also working on a cross-stitch sampler and wanted to take color inspiration from that: Forest by SatsumaStreet.

As luck would have it, I had signed up for a bee through the DC Modern Quilt Guild, and for my month I asked the gals to help me make blocks for the quilt. Backgrounds were to be solids on the spectrum from white to dark grey. I had purchased some Bella Solids in white, cream, light grey, and dark grey. I also specified teal, purple, orange, red, and yellow as the prints with a punch of black in each "tree trunk." They came through for me in spectacular fashion and I was able to fill in blocks for each color.

I ended up with six bee blocks and made another 14 myself. The hardest part was figuring out a layout that would work for my OCD. I had roughly four different colored backgrounds: white, cream, light grey, and dark grey. I had five different colors: teal, purple, red, orange, and yellow. And I had three numbers of tree trunks: three, four, and five. I took pictures and plugged them into EQ7 and played around with the program until I had something I liked. I didn't really consider the number of tree trunks, but I didn't want background color or trunk colors touching except diagonally. I popped the blocks up on my new design wall and rearranged a little more and once I was satisfied I sewed the top together.

For the back, I made one large "birch trunk" using the solids to insert into the print background, so a reverse of the front. Except in one of the trunk sections I inserted several strips of prints more reminiscent of the front. I love the overall effect. I decided to try out a leaf free motion quilting design, because I'm still new to FMQ and wanted a design that would cover up sudden jerks where I stop and start. Things with points are really good at that, like stars and leaves. I also hid a secret message from "Aunt Anna" in the quilting. Overall I was quite happy with how the quilting turned out.

For the binding I'd found a pale grey stripe, which I cut across the stripe as per usual. I do love me a stripey binding. I definitely went a little overboard and made WAY too much. I decided to machine bind the quilt, because I feel like that makes it more secure, especially on a baby quilt that will get washed a lot. I was even able to do a fun photo shoot when we went to Michigan for my brother-in-law's wedding, as we stayed in a cabin that was surrounded by birch trees. Then I was able to hand-deliver the quilt and meet my new nephew. 

A few more photos from my photoshoot:

Monday, August 24, 2015

Whale Baby Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Whale Baby Quilt
Dimensions: 40"x52"
Pieces: Front - about 152
Pattern: My own, based on Elizabeth Hartman's Preppy the Whale
Technique: Patchwork
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons - Kona Cotton and many prints from my stash
Quilting: Machine quilted on my EuroPro

As per usual, I started this journey by asking my friends what their plans were for their nursery. They informed me that they would be doing a nautical theme once their kid was old enough to be transferred to his nursery, so I decided to go with that. I pulled all of my blue fabric that I thought would work, so pretty much anything that had a water or geometric pattern and wasn't anything that would be found on land, like flowers. I bought the Preppy the Whale pattern from Elizabeth Hartman's online shop and did some major quilty math to blow it up to twice the size and then break it down into 4.5" blocks so I could continue the square background around the whale.

Once that was done, I plugged it all into my EQ7 and came up with the size I wanted for the quilt to determine how many background squares I would need to cut and to make sure I liked the placement of the whale. Once that was done, I cut the 4.5" background squares and then auditioned several colors for the whale and ended up getting some input from my friend as to which one she liked best. I cut out the pieces for the whale and then cut the background pieces that went around the whale. I sewed the whale first and was very relieved when the math all worked out and my whale looked right. The rest of the quilt top was quite easy and quick to put together.

I decided to go with a pieced back, because laziness (i.e. not wanting to take the time to match the pattern), and cut some 5x10" pieces from several of the fabrics I had used on the front to put in between the panels of blue bike path. I basted the quilt during a DCMQG sewing day and quilted it at the same meeting using my walking foot and some very loose wavy lines to indicate water currents or waves. I had brought some more red solid for the binding, but figured out halfway through making the binding that I wasn't going to have nearly enough for the quilt. I thought about my options and thought that I might have enough red and white striped binding at home to use, but that ended up not being the case either. So I bit the bullet and went online to try and find some.

My search was more difficult than I thought, especially since I couldn't quite picture how large the stripes would be on most of them. I ended up finding a 1/4" stripe and bought a half yard of that. When it finally came it was a touch bigger than I was hoping for, but worked just fine anyway. It definitely gave it that nautical feel that I was looking for and complimented the red whale quite nicely. I finished the quilt with my initials and the year embroidered in the lower right hand corner, as I usually do. I know I should probably be making slightly more elaborate quilt labels with my full name and the place where I made the quilt and such for future quilt researchers, but I'm just not that dedicated.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

WIP Wednesday

So I've been slowly but surely working on my modern birches baby quilt. I saw slowly, because my sewing room is also the nursery, so during the week, I come home from work, spend time with my son and my hubby, and then put my son to bed. So there's been no sewing. I've contemplated moving my machine downstairs, but so far that hasn't happened. However, I have managed to find a happy compromise with my husband, where we both get some alone time on the weekends, while the other watches the little man. So far this has worked out great, I get to disappear into my craft room in between feedings, and he runs off to go fishing or to dag practice.

So I have another nephew arriving in August, because apparently when one sibling decides to have a kid, we all end up with kids in the same year. I asked the awesome ladies of the DCMQG Bee to make me some blocks for the quilt, and they came through in delightful fashion. I am going to make blocks in five color ways, and am making four of each color. So I started with the oranges. First I made the strips one weekend.

Over the next two weekends, I inserted these strips into background fabric and even managed to iron and trim the blocks to the unfinished size.
I am so very happy with how this is turning out. The bottom left block is from my guild mate, Alyson. She did an amazing job. Can't wait to show you what the others made me, once I get around to their color ways. I think I'll do yellow next, but probably won't get a chance to work on it until this weekend.
I did also manage to put the binding on my whale baby quilt, which I hope to finish completely very soon and give to the intended recipient, and then I can finally share it on the blog.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pixel Michigan Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Pixel Michigan
Dimensions: 108"x96"
Pieces: Front - about 346 (my pattern says 346, but I think I combine some of the pieces)
Pattern: My own, inspired by All Roads Lead to Austin by Dana Michaelson
Technique: Patchwork
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons - Kona Pacific and many prints from my stash
Quilting: Long-armed by Heather S. of Quilts Actually
This journey began a while back when I almost simultaneously saw the All Roads Lead to Austin quilt by Dana Michaelson online and took a free Craftsy class about turning pixelated pictures into quilt patterns. Armed with this, I found a county map of Michigan, where both my husband and I grew up, and got to work in Excel. The spreadsheet is amazing, not only does it tell me how many patches of each color and size I need, but it also calculates your yardage for front and back. And resizes everything when you change the size of the smallest square unit. It took a really long time to set up, but it was so worth it. And the Craftsy class made it really easy to follow along. I dug out my Kona color card and decided that I wanted Kona Pacific as the background color. Luckily I got just enough to cut all of the background pieces.
Since I had intended the quilt for my husband, I checked with him to make sure a bit of pink in his quilt wasn't going to freak him out. Luckily he said no, so that gave me an extra color to play with for the counties. I elected to do light blues/aquas but not dark blues because it would have melded too much with the background. I pulled out pretty much every single fabric I had in my stash and organized them by colors that were as similar as possible. Then I went county by county, determined how many different pieces I needed and chose a stack with enough fabric choices. Each of the finished blocks is 12" (12.5" unfinished). I started with the Upper Peninsula and worked my way down.
Mid Atlantic Mod 2014 ended with a finished quilt top. I had even contacted two long-arm quilters to get estimates for their suggested way of quilting this beast, since there was no way I was getting this through my machine, much less have a place to baste it. I finally settled on Heather S. of Quilts Actually. And then the quilt sat and sat and sat, because I got pregnant and during the first trimester everything except napping just seemed like too much work. I did finalize with Heather exactly what I wanted for the quilting, down to which thread I thought might look best. And yet nothing spurred me on to cutting the backing fabric and sewing it together. At one point I even contemplated sending Heather the backing fabric and having her put it together.
Finally I got an email from Heather that spurred me into action. She was moving and I had until the beginning of May to send her the quilt if I wanted it back by the end of May. Or I'd have to wait until July when she was hoping to be set up again in her new place. So I finally did it, I dug out the blue Bicycle Path and the Bears fabric I had purchased for the back, cut it into 3 yard sections and sewed them together. I didn't even both to iron the seams flat, just stuffed everything in a box and sent it off. Now, I usually hate the basting and quilting process, so quilting by check was incredibly liberating. Heather and I made some adjustments to thread color and then she was off. I got the quilt back in early June, as promised and I couldn't have been happier.
She had quilted waves and fish in the water portions and trees with the occasional deer and bear in the land portions. I had also asked her to put a star over Grand Rapids, where we both grew up, and a bear over Traverse City/Sleeping Bear dunes where we had our honeymoon. She interpreted this to mean the Bears logo, which made neither my husband nor myself in the least unhappy.
When the quilt came back, all I had to do was trim it, make and sew on the binding. I decided to go with a scrappy binding in "Crayola box order" (i.e. White, Yellow, Orange, Red, Pink, Purple, Blue, Light Green, Dark Green, Brown, Grey, Black) and used only fabrics that I'd used on the front of the quilt. I finished the binding the day after I got it back and elected to machine bind it, because I so wasn't going to hand sew binding on a quilt that size! It even made it onto our bed that very night, after I finally presented my hubby with his very belated birthday/Christmas/birthday present.
And here are a few more pictures from a little photo shoot I did:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Tabbed Baby Toy

I made this tabbed crinkle toy for the little man tonight. It took me about an hour and most of that was spent on making the improv block for the top. I just set my blue and green scrap basket next to my machine and dug out pieces. Then I kept building those pieces together until I had a piece that was larger than 9x9 inches, because that's how much crinkle plastic I had from my cereal box insert.
I cut the improv block down to 9x9 and then attached the crinkle paper to the back of the block with a 1/8 inch seam just so I didn't have to deal with the lose plastic while sewing the layers together.

I pulled out the leftover flannel fabric I had from my nephew's quilt and cut a 9x9 inch square from that as well. I pulled out my bag of ribbon scraps, cut them up, and pinned them in between the layers. Sewed around the outside with a 1/4 seam and left one section in the top open so I could turn it. Then I added one more ribbon to fill in the gap and top stitched the entire outside of the toy.

I think it turned out great and I think the midget is really going to love it.

Edit: I have since washed the toy on hot and it shrunk maybe a tiny bit, but the crinkle paper does not seem to be at all impacted. And then I line dried it. I had to turn it over halfway through because the flannel was still damp especially along the crease where I had hung it over the drying rack.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I'm Alive!

I can't believe I haven't posted anything in two months. I promise, I'm still alive. Just super busy. I started back to work last Wednesday and before that I was trying to cram as much sewing and baby time as possible into every minute. So I've got lots of stuff to share and don't even know where to start. Well, baby pictures are always good.

Let's see, the Hexie quilt has been set aside. I've sewn together about 12 out of 25 rows, but wasn't even close to finishing it in time for the wedding. So, since I have a ton of other things I need to get done with upcoming deadlines, I figured I'd set that aside and work on other stuff. I have 3 of these panels stitched together.

Then I decided that I should join the DCMQG Bee. Lynne had the first month and I'm queen bee for the second. Here are the blocks I made for her:

She wanted aqua and purple wonky stars with low volume backgrounds. I think I did alright, although aqua is one of those colors that completely frustrates me.

And here is the block I chose for my month. I made two test blocks and they were way more fun than I thought they would be since I don't usually do scrappy improv:

They will become a baby quilt for my nephew Jackson, who is due in August. That's the great thing about having two siblings who are 15 months and 3 years younger, we all end up with babies at roughly the same time (the same year). In this case, three boys who have already been dubbed the Three Musketeers.

Next up we have a whale baby quilt, using the Preppy the Whale pattern from Elizabeth Hartman. I bought the pattern and it made the quilty math so much easier because I had actual measurements for each piece to base it off of, not just eyeballing a design. First I blew up the whale times two, then I chopped the pattern into 4" (finished) sections. There was much scribbling on scrap paper before I was satisfied and I'm happy to say that it worked out.

I also pieced a back, basted, quilted and started making binding for it. But ended up stuck because I didn't have enough red solid to make the binding and the red and white striped binding I had leftover from another quilt also isn't enough. Unfortunately, since we're on a super tight budget until I get paid again, I have been unable to buy more. Hopefully it will get done soon though and I can write a post just about that quilt, because I think it's turning out fabulously! It's for the son of our friends, Kevin and Jess.

I also basted the braille alphabet quilt for the son of a coworker.

I'm extremely happy to say that I received the Pixel Michigan quilt back from the longarmer and didn't waste any time making scrappy binding for it and finishing it off. It's been hanging out on our bed since I presented it to my husband for his long overdue birthday, Christmas, birthday present. Here is a sneak peek, as I'll be making an entire post for that finish as well. It more than deserves it.

I am once again working on the wedding quilt for my brother-in-law and his fiancĂ©e. I'm making a Scrappy Swoon quilt, just a bit bigger than the original, so it fits a queen sized bed. Here's where I am with that, I just have to sew this layer together and onto the center and then have one more layer to go:

Although I think the greenish blues really stand out, the purple and the black blend together a little more than I would have liked. You can barely see that the center is supposed to be a star and not an X. But I like it anyway.

I've also done some work on the Layer Cake Sampler QAL and have paired one Sunnyside print with one white solid and drawn the lines on the back. I've even sewn up several of the pairs, cut some apart, and even managed to finish my first block:

I quite like how this first one turned out, we'll see what happens with the rest.

I've also put in some work on my cross-stitch pieces, but mainly on the piece I started most recently. Forest by Satsuma Street. It is coming together much faster than I thought possible, although I haven't had a chance recently to work on it.

I'm making it to go along with the baby quilt for my nephew. My sister-in-law said that she had a pillow that needed a cover, so that's the plan. Not sure how I'm going to "frame" it, but I'm thinking maybe a scrappy border to match the quilt for the front and then an envelope back that doesn't require a zipper.

Phew, that was a longer post than anticipated, but I really have been quite busy. And that's not including the guild meetings and the Denyse Schmidt lecture I attended. Maybe I'll post something about those some other time.

Friday, April 17, 2015

WIP: Hexie Quilt

With my sister's wedding getting every closer (middle of May), I've been focusing almost exclusively on getting at least the top of the quilt done. This has been slow going, because infant (i.e. wailing/smiling, tiny dictator). He's getting so big that we've had to remove the bassinet from the pack 'n play and just bed him down on the mattress.

Anyway, my hexie quilt is coming along. I finished cutting all of my fabrics, and I think I only accidentally cut one green fabric twice. Then I decided to do some quilty math to figure out how many half hexies I actually needed after counting how many I had. Turns out I was about 9 short of my 425 that I needed. Pretty good. So I grabbed another five greys from my hoard of text fabrics and cut sets from each.

Here are my final stacks (minus the final 5 sets of grey):

Then I started figuring out the layout. Problem is I have a tiny space to lay things out in and a king sized quilt. So here was my solution:

I worked from left to right, continuously stacking and adding and stacking and adding until I came to the end of the row. Then I would look at the picture from the previous set of rows to work on the next several rows. Slow, but effective. The only problem is that I can't move anything around once I've put it somewhere and thus I painted myself into a very grey corner because I didn't space the greys out very effectively.

So today I laid out rows 10-25 on our living room floor, where it barely fit and rearranged some of the hexies into a more even layout.

I'm a little happier about this portion of the layout, although I'm not particularly happy about being unable to see the other 9 rows laid out with it so I can check the entire layout. I did send it to my sister and she likes it. So that's all that matters.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sewing and Mothering

So my biggest project is of course my little man currently. He's just over a month old now, my how the time flies.

Because everyone needs some baby pics in their life. :)

However, I've gotten a bit of time here and there to get into my craft room and I also made it to the DCMQG March meeting while my hubby stayed home with the little man.

So here's what I've been working on:

Cutting the grey, coral, green, blue, and blue-green fabrics for my sister's wedding quilt.

Here's my stacks so far. The corals are completely done and I have a decent stack, but that's only supposed to be an accent color. My greys are barely started and I'm about halfway through the blues, greens, and blue-greens and I already have rather large stacks of those (greys are another accent color, and the rest are supposed to make up the majority of the king sized quilt). I've been cutting 4.5" strips and then sub-cutting into these half hexies, two of each fabric.

The other thing I've been working on from my list of UFO's is the Modified Bento Box quilt for my mother.

I already have about 18 blocks from the Stash Bee and I'm making another 7 to make 25. I have all of the strips cut for the blocks, now I just need to finish putting them together. These are the centers with the first frame done. I tried to keep the insides omni-directional, so I can chop the blocks apart if I still feel like it. I'm also trying to decide how big I want to make the quilt and if I'll need some sashing in between the blocks.

I have the backing made for the Michigan pixel quilt and have followed up with my long-armer to see if she's even still interested. She is and so I need to print out the invoice and send the quilt to her so she can get started. Maybe once my hubby goes back to work, I'll load the little man in the stroller and make a trip to the post office.

And then there is the quilt for the little man. I finally decided on the book quilt from Patchwork Please! I've even made the first two blocks for it at the guild meeting.

I'm trying to make all of the "covers" mean something, so here we have Coyote from Native American oral legends and a dragon to symbolize the wealth of dragon/fantasy books I plan to read to him. I'm also finally cutting in my Oakshott cottons for the backgrounds. Well, eight of the 12 fat eighths I bought a while ago. I'm doing two of each color. I already have all of the print fabrics and cover fabrics picked out and matched with the Oakshott backgrounds. I'm making all the spines and corners black to keep things consistent. Sashing and borders are still up in the air. These blocks are only 8.5" square, so I think they'll need something.

I also finally finished trimming the HSTs for my first block of the Layer Cake Quilt Along for my Sunnyside Kate Spain quilt and started sewing the block together. I've got one seam to go, so no picture yet.

Friday, February 27, 2015

It's a Boy!

So our son arrived only a day late, and not for lack of trying. I was in labor for about nine hours from start to finish and only spent about half an hour of that on the way to the midwifery center and about an hour at the hospital complex. I wish I could say I spent that hour at the midwifery center, but unfortunately it's very hard to get someone to take you seriously when you say your baby is arriving NOW with your very first birth. But we did manage to make it to the midwifery center just in time for me to deliver, with my husband assisting the midwife.

Our son was born at 4:35am on February 25. He weighed 7 lbs and measured 10.25 inches. We named him Richard Michael (Richard for both of our fathers: Richard and Erich, and Michael for both of our brothers). The picture was taken by the backup midwife (who arrived as I was getting stitched up) as we were getting ready to leave the center around 8am the same day. Despite stitches and an "interesting" (harrowing) birth experience I am recovering well, Richard is doing great, and my husband has been a rock. And we're totally in love!