Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Few Quilted Flowers

This quilt top waited quite a while to make it's way back under the machine to be finished. I knew I wanted to do some sort of motif in each block and these flowers ended up being just the right thing.

Rather than use the same thread color for the entire quilt, each block is quilted in coordinating, or sometimes contrasting thread.

The blocks in this quilt top were made by the quilters and stitchers of the do. Good Stitches Believe Circle. They sent their blocks to me...ahem...last December. It's all good now though.

The back is three long panels of purple. Pay no attention to those feet. They usually get cropped out. Must have forgotten to do that on this picture.

 The flowers show up nicely on the back too, especially on the darker purple.

Just added a label this morning.

This quilt has already been washed and dried to give it that soft crinkly look and feel. It will be sent off to My Very Own Blanket next week.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Believe Circle Halfway Through The Year

I was enjoying looking back through the blocks that have been made for the Believe Circle in the first half of good ol' 2014 and thought it would be fun to share them all in one post. So, here's half a year plus one month in review.

In January, Sarah, from {no} hats in the house, set us up with these paper pieced blocks that turn into beautiful feathers when combined with other blocks.

In February, Allison chose blue and low volume half square triangles. Allison was quick with her finish. I love seeing how the blocks transform once they are all put together in a quilt. Check out Allison's Flickr page to see the finished project.

March brought us some Greek Cross blocks by Vanessa in red and yellow.

Nicole asked us to make these awesome scottie dog blocks. She just finished putting the top together so check that out on her Flickr page.

It was my turn in May. I asked everyone to make some improv stripe blocks. You can see how it turned out here.

We started circling back through the group again in June, and Sarah designed these fun LOVE blocks for us to make.

Laura was up for the first time in July and she picked a scrappy square in a square block in a fabulous color scheme.

In addition to a devoted group of quilters who are responsible for stitching blocks every month along with the design and completion of a quilt two or three times a year, some of our group focuses on stitching up blocks each month. Our stitchers are Lisa, Ben, Jennifer, and Meg.

I've had the privilege of hanging out with this great group of quilters for a little over a year now. They are all absolutely inspiring and I am thankful to be able to share quilt making with them. Our finished quilts are sent to My Very Own Blanket, an organization that makes sure each quilt is given to a foster child in need of something special.

Can't wait to see what the second half of 2014 brings.

If you are interested in joining one of the circles of do. Good Stitches, learn more about it and sign up here.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Believe Circle Finished Quilt for May

This is a very happy quilt to add to the finished list. Even though I love yellow, it has never been my go to color for a quilt border. Until now.

The blocks for this quilt were made by the awesome stitchers that are part of the Believe Circle for do. Good Stitches. They made the blocks based on instructions I shared with them here. They did a great job and I had fun arranging and rearranging the blocks. I could never get quite happy with a full quilt of five by four blocks. So I turned it into a four by four quilt and incorporated the rest of the blocks on the back.

I've started this trend for myself of making an up sized version of whatever block is on the front of the quilt to go on the back. Sometimes it is perfect and sometimes it is a little tacky. The good news is that this quilt is going to a child and kids are very accepting of a little bit of tacky.

Originally, I thought I would stitch down either side of the stripes, then fill the negative space with some squiggly lines. Once I finished the stitching around the stripes, I decided it was enough. That it would get too busy if I kept going.

A happy quilt made by a happy quilter that will hopefully give a special child just a little something to smile about.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Quilt for Thomas

Wanting a quilt is contagious. Way back in January, I made a quilt for my youngest son, Adam. When his older brother, Thomas, saw what was going on, he wanted a quilt of his own, too. We had a design session together where we went through all the quilts I had pinned on Pinterest. He said yes/no/maybe to each one until he decided on the one he wanted. This is what he selected:

This picture linked back to an article with the title "53 Quilts To Eye, Create, Or Buy". I could not find the original source for this quilt so I considered myself on my own. I took pencil and graph paper and did my best to recreate it. I ended up making six large block designs and repeated each of them three times.

Thomas was very pleased with the first two blocks so I kept going.

After I had finished completing the piecing of the top, I found another image on Pinterest of this quilt:

This image linked to a site with the pattern. I highly recommend purchasing this pattern if you want to make this quilt. I certainly would have if I had known of its existence.

I was very excited about where this was going and was eager to finish. Then, on March 6, I fell while roller skating and broke my left ankle. I will never take having two working legs and feet for granted again. Who knew how much I needed my left foot to be happy and successful in my sewing room. For thirteen weeks, I could not put any weight on that foot. As for sewing, I could handle small piecing, but layering and machine quilting was not going to happen in any big way. On June 5, I got the good news that I could start using my foot again. This past weekend was the first weekend with a working foot and substantial sewing and quilting time. This quilt was at the top of the list.

Originally, I was determined to quilt this in free motion swirls, circles or some other random design, but my machine decided something different. No matter how much I tried, I could not keep my top thread from breaking. So, eventually, I decided to do an asymmetrical cross hatch pattern.

These pictures are after the quilt has been washed. It is all soft and crinkly and has already been well loved by its owner.

The back is a giant sized version of the front.

Normally, I tend to go with a darker binding, but this ended up being a case of making do with what is on hand. This orange-yellow is the only fabric that worked that I had a big enough piece to use for binding. This project has been a good one for pushing me in a different direction than I intended. I love the way the light binding makes the orange and yellow blocks pop a little more.

I am really, really excited to be back in the swing with finishing some quilts.

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Quilt for a Teacher

My daughter is just finishing her first year of teaching. She has had a year full of stories and experiences and there were a few people she wanted to say a special thank you to for helping her make it through. Her list started quite long but with the realization that time was catching up to her, she whittled the list down to three. Three quilts for three special people.

She came home for her spring break back in March thinking we would make three quilts together. And we tried...and managed to get two quilt tops completed.

Here is one of them. I didn't get a picture of the second one, and I don't even remember what it looks like now. She has already shared the tops and will be bringing them back home this summer to be quilted and finished. I'll get better pictures then.

With spring break at an end, there either wasn't going to be a third quilt or I was going to have to make it without her. We had already settled on a design so I started plugging away at it. The design comes from a Moda Bakeshop Pattern Mixed Bag by Studio m. I'm trying to use up my batik stash since I haven't been using those very much lately. This was the perfect quilt to help with that.

The pattern is meant for a jelly roll, which would have made it go together quickly. Instead, I spent a good deal of time sorting through and cutting scraps. It was well worth it though. I was a little nervous about matching all those seams when the vertical strips went together, but it was easy peasy since the seams were pressed in opposite directions.

To quilt it, vertical lines were quilted a quarter inch away from either side of each vertical seam. Then free motion sewing commenced with simple meandering on each vertical panel. I'll be shipping this quilt off later this week. It's always nice to say thank you with a quilt.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Just Sewing - Potholders

Sometimes, a girl just wants to sew. She doesn't want to measure. She doesn't want to cut. She doesn't want to match. It is times like these where this sewing girl turns to her scraps. I save scraps like a crazy there will never be another new piece of fabric to enter my home. Like I'm really ever going to use up everything that is already here. Ha!

Some of my smallest scraps are sorted into jars. This is the triangle jar. This is where my "just sewing" day began.

I expected the result to be a bunch of gnarly, wonky half square triangles, and there isn't a lot of fantastic matching going on, but the triangles were all similar in size which kept things fairly consistent. At the end of a sewing afternoon, I found myself with three almost finished potholders.

The borders are off set for just a little more "I told you I am not measuring anything today" statement. The quilting was done from the back since this large flower was perfect to outline.

So I did break down and square these up. That is the only measuring and cutting done for the day. All this one needs is some binding.

Here's the second one. Dipped into my jar with strings for the orange trim. A little free motion quilting and a pretty orange print for the back. This one also lacks binding to be complete.

And for the third one, my basket of selvedges called to me from across the room.

That's as far as this one got. It needs backing, quilting, and binding. But it's darn cute.

Here they are all together. They will likely get finished up next weekend. Three pot holders made from the scrappiest of scraps. That should satisfy my "just sewing" need for now.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Believe Circle May Quilt Plans

It's my turn to choose our quilt for the Believe Circle of do. Good Stitches. The last time it was my turn was way back in December so I've had quite a long time to ponder our design for May. This time I am inspired by this quilt made by Lucia Wilke (lulubloom on flickr).

I asked her if she was okay with me using her design and she shared that she had been inspired by a quilt that crazymomquilts (on flickr) made. I wonder just how far back that path of inspiration would go if I tried to follow it? It's great that we have so many sources of inspiration.

Not wanting to exactly replicate this quilt, I spent some time on Design Seeds for some color ideas. Here is the palette I'd like to use for the "sticks" in our quilt.

I believe that fourth color is almost black, but I pulled really dark purples for that one. Let's try to keep this quilt boyish if we can. I had a few girlie prints pulled but resisted using them for this project. The inspiration quilt uses solids only but it is fine to use prints for ours. I did try to stay subtle with the prints I selected but again, these quilts are always a creative adventure so feel free to choose what works best for you.

The first step was to do a pull from my stash against the color palette.
These blocks are very improv so feel free to make them in whatever way works best for you. This is just one way to make them. Lucia had given me a tip that she first made larger strip sets, then cut them down for her "sticks" so I decided to follow her advice. First, I cut a foundation to sew on. Sometimes strips that are cut from scraps and then sewn wonky can get stretched and misshapen. Using a foundation keeps everything sturdy. Your foundation can be any lightweight cotton. I believe this was a cotton batiste.

I wanted plenty of play room so I cut my foundation square to 15 1/2" square. We're going for 12 1/2" finished blocks for this project so you could choose to cut something a little smaller.

Next, I cut strips from each of the fabrics. I generally cut 3" strips so I would have more flexibility in how wide or how narrow each piece would be. Some of the fabrics already had narrower strips cut so I went with those if they were already cut. I arranged the strips in the order to be sewn.

You will see in a bit that I have far more strips than are needed. To sew them to the foundation square, the first strip is put along the edge, right side up.

Then the second strip is placed right side down on top of the first strip. It is intentionally set at an angle. The final result is supposed to look random.

There should be more pictures following this one but I got caught up in the sewing of it and forgot to take more. Basically, a quarter inch seam is sewn along the fabric on top. Any excess fabric from the piece below can be trimmed away to avoid bulk. Press the fabric up toward the foundation, then proceed with the next piece. When it is completed, it should look something like this:

I went a little overboard with my piecing and extended past the foundation, but that's okay.

 And I did not use some of the strips simply because there wasn't room for them. The next step is to cut the panel into "sticks".

This is way too many "sticks" for two blocks so feel free to scale this down a bit. For the background, choose a white or off-white low volume print. Again, I cut my squares way bigger than the final size just to make sure there was plenty of room to move things around and square up the block at the end. I placed "sticks" on each background and pinned them down so I wouldn't forget the arrangement.

Each "stick" is then pieced into the block and the block squared up to 12 1/2".

 There is no rule about how many "sticks" to include in each block.

Believe Circle...please make two 12 1/2" blocks.