Tuesday, August 28, 2012

WIP Wed: Quilted Clock!

Well this week as promised I began working on my quilted clock as a reward for doing less fun projects last week.

I got the idea for this from the book "Fast, Fun & Easy Creative Fabric Clocks" which I picked up for free from my guild's swap table. I like to give "useful" presents and I figured this was a great idea for a potential Christmas gift.  Also, my living room has no clock in it right now, so I actually really need one.

I first bought some of the supplies for this project back in April, and now I have finally gotten around to working on it! I decided to do a Mariner's compass block to be more "traditional." I used the book "Mariner's Compass Quilts: Reach for the Stars" by local Alaskan Brenda Henning. Looks like it may be a little hard to get outside of AK.  You can also get a bonus cd for it that has pdfs of all the patterns, making it very easy to print perfect copies of each paper piecing pattern. Plus, the bonus cd has bonus stars, including a twelve-pointer, which it seems is somewhat hard to come by.

First came picking out the colors.  I didn't really have a plan for what I wanted, I just threw some random fabris together until I found something I liked. I started with the pale lime and tried out various shades of purple to find something that matched.
 Above was the first selection, but I decided the lighter magenta piece was too pink, so I cut it and threw in the teal for fun instead.

Below are all of my pieces all cut out and ready for assembly-line production.

This was one instance where the table-top ironing board (which I normally just use on the floor) came in really handy.  I do have a mini iron but I decided to just stick with my standard one, which did the job fine.

There were of course many of those paper piecing instances where the piece didn't end up fitting and I had to rip it happens. Luckily it didn't happen too often. Moral: Always cut your pieces extra large to save the stress!

Below are the three types of pieces that made up the star, ready to be combined.

Here was another accident, I realized after I sewed the two pieces together that the fabric didn't extend into the seam allowance enough.

First two pieces sewn together.

All three sewn together.

Two full segments attached.

The full compass pieced! It's so fun to watch it come together. :)

I had to hand applique the center onto the block. I have pretty much never hand appliqu├ęd and took a class about a year ago, but of course never did anything with the skills I learned and subsequently forgot them. Luckily I bought an applique book that had many good photos in it at the time of the class, so I was able to fumble my way along into a relatively circular center.

I'm now in the process of adding some fun quilting enhancements. The block was ironed on to some really stiff pellon interfacing.

Now when I was planning this block I didn't realize how huge it would be...check out how tiny the clock hands are on it! As a result I'm ordering some larger clock hands online.
Looking at this clock face from far away (eg in a thumbnail), I didn't choose enough contrast between the lavender and lime fabrics. Ah well, you live and learn.  I'm not too concerned since it's just for myself.  Maybe I'll quilts those lavender points with a darker thread.

I hadn't done any paper piecing in a few years and I've forgotten how fun it was! It took a few minutes to re-learn and get back into the swing of it, but once I did it was really fun.  I love how you don't actually need to cut pieces precisely or think very hard about your stitch, and it still comes out looking amazing.

Anyways, I've been having a lot of fun working on this project this week. Looks like it will be on hold soon until I get the new clock hands in the mail.

I'm linking this up with WIP Wednesday.  I have a few other WIPs but they're really more like UFOs since I haven't worked on them in a while. >_< Go see what everyone else is working on!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Few UFO Finishes

It was very timely last week that shortly after my post listing all of my UFO's, Leah Day decided to start a UFO Sunday linky party! Perfect!

I devoted the past week to finishing up two UFO projects: binding my placemats and attaching hanging sleeves to my quilts that will be in my guild's show.  Binding the placemats was actually really easy, and now they look so good!
 These placemats are reversible, and I bought the fabric to match my dishes, which are red, black, and white.  I bought the fabric probably 10 months ago, and finally got around to cutting it early in 2012. I have been gradually making these as FMQ practice swatches, so there are still three more to be made, but these three had been finished since at least June and had never been bound.  We were actually eating on them with the batting sticking out, which is just silly.
I think this project became a UFO because it just wasn't as glamorous as other things I wanted to work on. I also didn't really know how to use store-bought binding and got very confused (quilt binding? single fold? double fold? extra wide?) and bought a few incorrect bindings before I figured out what type I was actually supposed to buy.

The other project I finished this week was making hanging sleeves for three different quilts.  I was dreading this because I didn't know how to do it, but it ended up being laughably easy.

I bought broadcloth for the hanging sleeve fabric because I didn't want to waste any good quilting fabric on it. However, it really likes pucker when I stitch it.  Dunno if it's a tension issue, or just the cheap fabric.
Look at all that puckering!
Anyways, below is a shot of one of the quilts with it's sleeve.  Sleeves are not very exciting, so I am only posting a photo of one.  :)
Now, to reward myself for working on all of these rather dull projects all week, I am doing a fun project!  I will finally start on the Mariner's Compass wall clock that I have been wanting to create for a while. Then once that is completed I will try to tackle another UFO.

UFO's and Projects in Progress:

  • FMQ Challenge: Still need to do January, July, and August
  • Quilted Jacket
  • Charity quilt

Upcoming Projects:
  • Quilted clock - starting now! Woo!
  • Beach bag
  • "O is for Owl" Wallhanging
  • Quilters Wallet

Saturday, August 18, 2012

UFOs and To-Do Lists

I have been doing very little on the quilting front lately, mainly because I am uninspired by my current list of projects.  I am debating setting them aside and doing something new, but I don't like having any UFOs (unfinished objects) at all.  Ideally I would like to only do one project at a time, and I don't want to get in the habit now of doing many projects at once, because I think it's a hard habit to kick once you get started.

I'm writing this post to gather my thoughts about what I'm currently working on and what needs to get done.  Hopefully writing it all out will inspire me.

Most important to-do:

I need to sew hanging sleeves on all of the quilts that I am entering into the guild show.  I submitted four quilts and the accepted all of them! I don't normally do hanging sleeves because all of my wallhangings are tiny and thus just get tacked up to the wall.  It seems like they are easy to make, but I am trying to figure out how thick of a strip I need to cut for them.  I found some instructions from Piece O' Cake designs, but they want an 8 1/2" strip of fabric!  Frankly I feel like that is a ton of fabric to waste on a sleeve.  I am debating what to do.

Two of the quilts I am entering are couch quilts, so I could conceivably just rip out the hanging sleeve once the show is over.  Is it really bad if I make the hanging sleeve out of muslin? Does it have to match the backing fabric? I would love your opinions.

Other In-Progress Stuff:

  • My mom's quilted jacket.  The exciting thing about this is I had a revelation that I was basically paper piecing onto muslin instead of paper.  So if I can remember how to paper piece this will go a whole heck of a lot faster.  I need to look up a tutorial and do a practice paper-piecing block just to get back into the swing of it.
  • Table placemats.  These are also my practice swatches for the FMQ challenge, which I am seriously behind on.  Also the three that are finished need to be bound.
  • Charity quilt.  It's a gigantic wholecloth.  Quilting it is slow and tedious because I made too fancy of a design.
Projects I would like to Start:

  • Quilted clock.  I got a sweet book on how to make fabric clocks for free from my guild, and I really want to make one! I have most of the supplies already. If my test clock goes well, these could be fantastic Christmas presents
  • Beach bag, as a Christmas gift.  This one has me excited and inspired.  I will be creating my own machine applique design from free internet clipart and the like to create a little beach scene for a beach bag.  Fun!
  • Quilt Guild Monthly Block: This year I volunteered to be my guild's monthly block coordinator.  I don't really know what it entails so I'm making it up! I thought about a BOM, but instead decided that each month I will pick a fun, small project that is available for free online, ideally centered around a fun theme.  The goal is to get my much-older quilt guild members onto the internet and checking out blogs!  Maybe I will set up a yahoo group for guild members who want to participate so we can all share tips and tricks, questions, and photos of our finished projects each month.  For the first month (October) I went with "owls" as the theme since they are vaguely Halloween-related.  BUT, this means I need to whip up a sample! I've picked out about four free owl pattern tutorials that I will link to in our newsletter. My favorite is "O is for Owl."
  • Other giant quilting projects (like the Sedona Start BOM) that I can't even think about until this stuff is done!
So I think the trick will be to devote a little bit of time each day to the less-fun projects that need to be finished, and then a little bit of time to the more-fun projects that I want to start.  

Sorry for this text-heavy post, I'm really writing it for my own benefit to organize my thoughts and plans. To make up for it, here is a completely quilting-unrelated shot of my friends and me at Disneyland last weekend:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pets on Quilts Show

Hello everyone!

I am excited to participate in the Pets on Quilts show this year because not only do I LOVE incorporating cats about about every quilt I make, but I also grew up with a kitty that loves to participate in the quilting process (don't they all?)  So this will feature a bit of cats ON quilts and a bit of cats IN quilts.

First: the cat ON quilts.

This is Annabelle, my family cat.  She lives with my parents now and I don't, but she still snuggles with me and my quilts whenever I come back to visit.

Like many of your cats I bet, she loves to be where the action is.  So whenever I'm pinning a quilt she'll intentionally sit in the middle of it.  (Side note: yes, there's a trend. I often pin quilts in my pjs lol)

She's also a big lap cat, and she doesn't care if you're busy or not! So many times when hand quilting my latest kitty quilt I had to make room for her AND the hoop.

She's a big sweety, as I'm sure we all think our pets are :)

Okay, onto the cats IN quilts.  I am one of those people who is REALLY a cat lady.  I LOVE cats.  So I have many quilts featuring cats:

This first one my mom made for me when I was a kid. She hand appliqued all of these adorable kitties. Each one is holding something different, and the one in the middle is holding a heart :) The quilt is hand quilted with hearts and cats in the sashing. The pattern is by Carolee Pollock, an Alaskan quilt designer.

This next wallhanging is by Patch Abilities.  I loved this because it came with the kitty hanger and fish buttons! A very fun and quick little wallhanging to make.

Here's one you'll recognize if you read my blog: from the pattern "Stairway to Cat Heaven"
And now the one I *really* want to talk about, my rainbow cats quilt!
I really love this quilt because I just focused on having a lot of fun when I made it.  The pattern is adapted from wallhanging patterns by Trish Stuart, who I believe is also an Alaskan.
This is Mr. Rainbow cat.  I tried to make him out of rainbow colors (red head, yellow neck, green legs, etc) but it just didn't look as awesome as I hoped, so it got dumped in the reject pile.  I'm very proud of how I blended all of the different embroidery thread colors in stitching this guy's outline.

I really love rainbows, when I was a kid I would organize all of my crayons in rainbow order, organize my mom's stash in rainbow order (she loved that!), etc. So I would guess at about age 12 I first drew up the idea for this quilt: a set of nine cats in rainbow order. Over the years I found the pattern that I wanted to use, kept pondering it, and finally one summer sat down and made a test cat. 

I think that pink cat might have been the first one that I made.  Two cats ended up being rejects because the colors on them didn't turn out quite right.  After I made all of the cats I decided on the backgrounds of opposing colors.  Now interestingly, whenever I look at this quilt I see the lovely cats, but a friend recently asked me why I had started with the cool colors (like the blues and teals) at the top.  In my mind, I had started with the red cat, the first color of the rainbow.  It's interesting how to me the cats pop and to my friend the background is what popped. A white background would have highlighted the rainbow cats more but made the quilt less dynamic.

Anyways, then I decided I wanted to embroider all of the cats.  These guys are machine appliqued, which means they need something to hold them down in the long run.  I had recently completed a quilt where I had satin stitched around EVERYTHING, and I definitely didn't want to do that again.  Now I'm pretty awful at embroidery, but I had a lot of fun picking the thread colors and a different stitch for every part of every cat.

It took a while to hand embroider every thing, but it was a lot of fun, and it's really cool to run your hands over the quilt top and feel the embroidery.
 Some might think the cats look a little creepy with their giant crazy-colored eyes, but I just love them!
 Everybody got sparkly whiskers.  :)  I also stitched a thin ribbom around each block, and rainbow rick-rack around the center block.  I can't remember quite why I got such thin thread (there was a plan of some sort...maybe it was going to be the whiskers originally) but it was a royal pain to sew down because it was so darn thin. I ended up gluing it down with a glue stick and then stitching it down on the machine.  It still came out wobbly, but whatever, I really like the effect.
 This is my glamour shot with the finished quilt.  As you saw in the shots above, my kitty helped out with much of the process. The sashing isn't fully black; it actually has a bunch of tiny rainbow-colored hearts in it. The backing is black with rainbow-colored cat heads.  I saw that backing at Joanns like a year before I finished the quilt, and I knew it was the perfect one. Luckily for me Joanns always carries the same stuff in stock, so I found the same fabric a year later.

Now I had originally planned a much more complicated border with all kind of cool rainbow blocks, but once I put on the sashing I stepped back and said "it's done!" I think the sashing just brought the whole thing together so well, and I wanted nothing to draw focus away from the cats.
I finished this two years ago (summer 2010) and entered it in the Alaska State Fair. It won third place, which is very exciting because the quilt competition in Alaska is pretty fierce, AND the organizers thought it was a cool enough quilt that they hung it from the rafters! Normally only king-sized quilts get to be that high up, and this is a show where a lot of quilts have to be displayed folded because they just don't have enough space.

So anyways, that was the long-winded story of my favorite cat quilt.  Since it was finished within the past two years I'm entering it in the Peninsula Quilters' show, along with a few other quilts.  

Thanks for stopping by!  :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Stash 'n Dash Bags

Well I've definitely been falling behind on sewing.  I blame being swamped at work and the olympics. I can't watch them from my sewing area so I end up just not sewing.  I even forgot to do my July FMQ! *blush*.  I also need to put together my entry for the Pets on Quilts contest!

The update on my landscape quilt is that it's just about done, I'm stitching down the binding now. I always get confused sewing the two final ends of the binding together, the other day I sewed together incorrectly THREE times (and I think three different ways!) before I gave up.

I embroidered the snowy mountains more loosely than the lower mountains, then did some fun couching to outline them with a sparkly yearn. I'm now a little worried that it won't be obviously that the organza is intentionally crinkly lol.  It might just look like I sewed it on really badly.  >_<

Anyways, the big completion I had in the last week was a set of these "Stash and Dash" bags by Amy Butler. They were this month's project in my free sewing club class.

I told my boyfriend he had to take fancy glamour shots with his big camera for me, so here they are! (ooh! aah!)

These bags lend themselves well to fat quarter bundles, with a set of nicely coordinating fabrics.  The three bags are in progressively smaller sizes, from supposedly "toiletry," "make-up," and "coin purse" sizes.

I found these to be easy to make, although not super fast.  Probably including cutting and stitching of all three bags, it took me around 4 hours.  I could probably go a little faster in subsequent rounds.  I'm thinking just making the large size bag would be a nice Christmas gift for my work colleagues (who are conveniently all females).

When making these bags, I learned about "Wonder Tape." It's a thin strip of two-sided tape that washes out in the first wash. It seems useful for holding fabrics together when pins would be difficult or inconvenient.  In this case, I used the wonder tape to hold the interfacing and outer fabric to the zipper.  This allowed me to stitch the interfacing, zipper, and outer fabric together all in one go and with a nice clean stitch.  My teacher in the class showed us this trick and I'm very glad to have learned it.  The wonder tape is very inexpensive as well. :)

My absolute favorite thing about these bags is the nesting aspect. They all fit inside each other, which delights me to no end when I think of gifting this to someone.  They would open their present, see the toiletry bag, and be pleased.  Then I say "open it!" They open it to find ANOTHER bag inside.  And they open that one to find a THIRD bag inside! I break into giggles whenever I think about it, such a treat!

Anyways, those are the updates for now. This week I need to finish off that wallhanging.
Other Projects:

In Progress:
-Charity Quilt
-Quilted Jacket

To Do:
-July/August FMQ
-Sewing hanging sleeves onto all of my quilt show entries
-quilted clock