Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Recap

Well it's that time of year when everybody creates a recap post, and I'm jumping on the bandwagon!

At the very start of this year, I created a list of all the projects I wanted to get done and taped it up right next to my sewing machine.

While I only crossed four items off that list, they were all full-sized quilts, so BIG items to finish up. (okay one wasn't finished, as you will see below...) For me this is great, I'm a one quilt a year kind of gal, so finishing three is awesome. I'm satisfied that I got some of the more pressing items that had been nagging at me off the list, and frankly two more items on the list, the Celtic Solstice mystery quilt and Skill Builder BOM, are both very close to being completed, so I am feeling good about those too.

Here are my four BIG finishes:

Stairway to Cat Heaven 2 (went to a fellow cat lover recuperating from a bad injury)

Veggie Quilt (went to my dad, ignore the fact that the binding isn't on yet here)

Bear Bargello (went to my brother)

Layer Cake Quilt Along (I gave this sucker away! Don't be afraid to toss projects you no longer want. Another quilter was really delighted to take this off my hands and I was delighted that it went to a home where it would be loved and off my plate!)

So whats on my list for next year?

I want to continue to cross items off my WIP list. I really prefer to only have one project in progress at a time. Things that are half done, I want to be DONE.

At the same time, these projects are usually not as fun to work on (they are WIPs for a reason). I want to have at least one "fun" project going on at a time that I can switch to. Right now my fun project, which I may not have posted about yet, is this "In from the Cold" pattern by Kate Spain (it's free!)

It's very easy to sit down, make a single coffee cup, and have a nice little accomplishment under my belt in one evening. It's also very modular so it's easy to pick up and set aside.

Finally, my main goal for 2015 is to create a photo-inspired quilt. I have multiple books on the subject and I really am looking forward to actually making something from them (finally!)

P.S. When I was looking back through my photos from this year, I found about a million cute cat photos. I volunteer with Tenth Life Cat Rescue and this year cats became an increasingly big part of my life. We have had a number of guest kitties in our home this year. So here are some shots!

This little lady is Canasta. She was a total DIVA!

Okay these aren't quilting related, but they are too funny not to share. Canasta insisted on getting into EVERYTHING! I promise, these photos are not staged. Here she is making herself at home in the fridge and in the dishwasher!

This lil dude was one of a litter of four kittens - and mom! - who stayed with us until they were big enough to live in the shelter. At the shelter, they are living in large, free-roaming cat rooms while they wait for their furever homes.

Handsome Garfield was only our guest for a week, but he left an impression! He refused to stay in the bathroom and figured out immediately how to open the sliding door, making it impossible to keep him in. He made himself right at home in my sewing area!

Sweet Rosie is our current foster, and she is immersed in sewing as she has been living in the sewing room. She is incredibly well-behaved and hasn't gotten into anything she shouldn't, although my projects are now furrier than usual.

And of course we can't forget our reigning queen quilt inspector, our resident kitty Pepper!

This year we also lost my original quilting companion, Annabelle, at 18 years of age. She was a wonderful kitty and I will miss her greatly!

Okay that's it for cat photos! Thanks for staying tuned if you made it this far and prepare for more kitties in 2015!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Grand Illusion Link-Up: Week 2!

Grand IllusionWell, I've been chugging along on my Grand Illusion quilt over here. This weekend I finished step 1 and am partway through step 2.  I am keeping track of how many pieces we have cut so far...1360! Wow!

I always use Bonnie's quilts as a chance to practice my precision piecing. This time I followed her tip for setting up a little bumper along my 1/4" seam line. I sewed on an index card to be sure I had a perfect 1/4" seam, then used the index card to line up the bumper. The bumper is made of mole foam.

I think one of my biggest problems with piecing is just wibble wobbling around - the bumped solved that. Check out how perfect this square is!

Last year I had to manually square up every piece at every stage because they were all so wonky. This time I started squaring up my first few HSTs and then decided they were all pretty much on the mark. I'm feeling really accomplished about that.

I am also absolutely loving how the teal and pink look together. Those two colors were made for each other!

Here is a tip I learned from Bonnie last year: Keep everything attached and then when you iron it, it is way faster because you can line up all the blocks at once and just iron your way down the line.

I love this pic for so many reasons. Peeking out from behind the iron is my Celtic Solstice, all basted and ready for quilting. And in the background you can see the chain of all the other pieces trailing off on the floor. The orange thing on the near side is a fabric cutter designed just for chain piecing. It clips the pieces apart when you are ready. It's pretty nifty!

Here are my completed units from Step 1. I am feeling really good about my color choices! I haven't yet decided if I am going to try to square these guys up or not.

Now as for step 2, I used method 2. In this method you just tape the template to your ruler. I found this super easy because then I am just following the lines on the ruler as with any other cutting step. To me it was very intuitive. I was surprised that the majority of people online just method 3, which is kind of a flying geese-style method. When I used that for my chevrons last year, all the blocks were super wonky.

Here are all my cut pieces. On more tip I learned last year, from another participant: Use paper clips to keep track of how many you have cut. Here I clip each pile of ten and it's way easier to count the bright paper clips than to figure out how many piles I have.

I've only made one test block so far, but it turned out correct. I hope all the others do too!

Here's where I am at now: I have sewed the pinks onto all of my neutral diamonds. Next up: sewing all of the navy triangles!

Head over to Bonnie's blog to see what everyone else is doing. It's a lot of fun to see all the different color combos, and to see people laying out blocks and guessing what the design will be.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Grand Illusion Link-Up Week 1

Hello! Have you started on your Grand Illusion mystery quilt yet??

Grand Illusion

I'm not as caught up as the early birds, but I'm not too far behind either. I recently decided to change color schemes and the few days before Thanksgiving were spent rushing to every quilt shop in town to find just the right colors.

Early on I purchased a lot of the wrong fabric because I only brought the color cards places with me, not my actual fabric selections. As a result I had many fabrics that looked like they matched the card but just weren't quite right once I got them home and sat them next to the others in their color group. For fun, I assembled all of the fabrics that I have purchased for this project but will not be using.

A bunch of these, like the whites, greens, and yellow, were nixed when I changed color schemes. But all the teals and pinks were just not quite the right shade. But yeah, in terms of stash-busting, not so much.

Here are my lavenders (replacing green) for the project:

As you can see, the two on the left are just too dark.

And my teals. The top row are the "keepers," the bottom row is getting ditched. Most of them came out too green.

Now the pinks were especially hard. I had one that I loved and none of the others quite matched it. I couldn't find the right shade ANYWHERE. Here is the medley I had on Tuesday morning.

Luckily the last quilt shop I visited had an abundance of this shade, so by the end of Tuesday my pinks now looked like this:

Much better!  And here are the final fabrics all together:

So, this weekend I was traveling for the holidays, so I did not bring my machine. However, I did bring all of my cutting supplies and set myself up in a nice bright part of the house for some cutting.

I kept running into the problem of bends in my fabric. It is a problem I have often and it drives me absolutely nuts too.

So I posted it on the trusty Quiltville facebook group and immediately got over 100 responses. The most simplest, and what worked for me, was a reminder to make sure that the fold is perpendicular to your cutting line. It sounds really dumb, but I had only been focused on my cut edges lining up and hadn't even considered the fold!

A couple of people said to just skip the aggravation and cut the fabric in half, and for my 1/4 and 1/3 yard pieces I took their advice. It does take a lot of the stress out of cutting.

I took my sweet time with the cutting, it probably took me about 6 hours overall. I find it very relaxing once you hit your rhythm.  Here we are all complete! 760 pieces!

And here is where my cut pieces are today:

All ready to be sewn! And am I sewing them? Nope, because I am writing a blog post instead. Lol.

Go visit the linky party here. The best part of this project is sharing in the joys, struggles, and successes of each other. Our facebook group has had members post who have never made a quilt before, those who have already cut all their HSTs the wrong size, and those that were done with step 1 within the same day of Bonnie's posting. We are all cheering each other on and I LOVE it! I was thinking yesterday that this project is really my Christmas present to myself!

Stop by next week for more progress, and if you haven't started the mystery yet, WHY EVER NOT?!