Monday, December 7, 2015

Allietare Link Up Week 2

Alright, it's now Week 2 of Bonnie's Allietare Mystery quilt!

Winter Mystery 2015 - Allietare!

I'm really happy so far this year because I've actually managed to keep up! Last year I think week three was where I fell off the wagon - that one clue took me around a month. I hoping to stay on track this year.

So here's where I started:

I'm hoping the teal will give it a fun modern pop.

Here are my clue one colors in more details:

I'm not using a constant for the grey because I'm trying to use as much fabric that I already own as possible, and all of my greys are so similar that I think they will read as constant. Now you might see a purpley white in there, I haven't actually used it yet, I think I only will if I run out of all the other whites since I think it stands out too much.

For week 1 I was out of town for Thanksgiving. Here was my makeshift cutting area:

It's actually way better than my normal cutting area. The shelf is at perfect cutting height and it had these great bright lights right above it! (It was a little cluttered though).

Here's my week 1:

I have a fun story about these. For a lot of the week 1 whites, I was able to use leftover binding strips from my Celtic Solstice quilt! I bound that in a pretty sparkly white and I had a good amount of 2" binding strip left over - perfect for this use! I'm happy we are using 2" strips for everything this year because it enables greater use of scraps than last year's 2.5" size did.

Week 2: I went step-by step here, very methodical. :)

First, trapezoids!

Next, triangles!

Flying Geese - sort of!

White pieces! The circled one bothered me. I actually took this photo to look at it through the viewfinder and see if it still stood out as much. I think it blends it ok but it was really bothering me so I went ahead and got rid of it. Go with your gut!

And then I made the mistake of cutting 98 grey squares instead of black.

That's more like it!

All done! Phew!

Now go see what everyone else is doing over at Quiltville! (hint: this sentence is a link! Click it!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

It's the holiday season!

December 1! I can officially hang up Christmas decorations around the house! Woohoo! And I am also pleased to say that all of my Christmas sewing is done! Double woohoo!

The first thing I worked on in November was quilting a wallhanging for my mom (she pieced it).

And like a chump this is the only photo I took of it:

The pattern is called "Tall Trim the Tree." I like it because you hang little mini quilted ornaments all over the tree. It's on my to-do list...maybe next year. I definitely have to do my personal Christmas sewing early in the year because once September hits, I'm just thinking about sewing presents for others.

Anyway, here's a low quality zoom in. I quilted spirals on the background and a sort of zigzag pattern that reminds me of crocodile teeth on the tree, since it looks like pine needles. And I used my pounce pad to trace out a basic looping design for the borders.

Now, as for is the first:

These are the blocks from the Patchwork City class I took in September. And I sewed one orphan block into the back:

Next up we have a mystery project I can't share, but here's a sneak peak!

And finally, these guys:

Now I can honestly say that I intended to sew many pairs of oven mitts, but this pair was such a pain that I left it at one. First off, that lovely quilted pattern took quite some time to stitch out on four separate pieces.

Do you see that bar on the right below? That's supposed to help me mark out the line spacing. But I am missing a screw that's supposed to hold it in place. So I had to hand mark all of the lines, which added a lot of time.

Since I machine stitched the binding down, I glue basted it. Here are my handy dandy wonder clips holding things in place while the glue dried. I can't imagine this technique on a full size quilts but it's been great for my pillows and other small projects.

Now when the final mitt was assembled, I had a lot of trouble in the thumb area.

First I had this ungainly bulge:

I was able to do some trimming on the inside to ease the bulk around a bit but there's still a lot of thread visible here:

Luckily I was at William Sonoma the other day and I looked at their oven mitts and they had some thread visible in that spot too. In conclusion, these look nice but they took a lot longer than expected, which made them prohibitive to mass produce. Oh, and the heat proof insulation stuff makes a really annoying crinkling noise! I'm hoping that goes away with use, after it is "broken in."

And that's about it for presents! I scaled back my present sewing this year and I'm very glad of it. Why? Because I can participate in Bonnie's Hunter's new mystery with my spare time! I was really worried that I wouldn't have time to participate this year with all of my mandatory sewing, but since I gave up on the idea of making everyone mitts, now I have time! I also promised myself after the amount I spent last year on supplies that I would only do it if I could use my stash. Well, here is my first fabric pull:

All from my stash! Now I won't lie, I did go out and buy some fabrics to supplement this (because, really, who has 5 1/2 yards of white lying around?), but you can see I got a fair amount from pre-existing fabrics. I also loved that this year's only really featured two colors (red and yellow/orange) which made it a lot easier to swap out different fabrics.  I think my red and teal has a fun modern "pop" and I'm excited to see where it goes!

My clue #1 is already complete...more on that in a future post! For now, it's time to go sew!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Finishes! October Edition

Yep, lots o' finishes around here!

FINISHED: My Pacific Crest quilt.

It's now the couch quilt. You may recall I was planning on listing it on Etsy. Good thing I didn't, because the fleece I put on the back is pilling all over the place, AND the quilting stitches have been popping out left and right!

I spoke to some others about it and it sounds like it's because all of my quilting stitches were diagonal in one direction, so nothing is anchoring the fabric weft/warp/whatever in the cross direction and it's easy to put too much pressure on it and pop those stitches. Oh well. If it gets bad enough I'll just slap it back in the machine and add some stitches going the opposite direction. It's a great couch quilt because we can both sit on opposite ends of the couch and still fit under it. (We have had many couch blanket tug-o-wars in the past!)

FINISHED: Last-minute Halloween quilt.

Just in time for next week's wedding! I know you still can't see the quilting, but it's there and it's cool! (And I got help holding it up for my photo op for once!)

FINISHED: Fox and Hedgehog pillow!

Elizabeth Hartman has convinced me that I need to quilt all of my pillow covers. I still resent how much extra time it takes, but it adds a lot of sturdiness and looks prettier. Arnav promptly claimed this for the couch too.

Quilting this put me way outside my comfort zone. I NEVER do all-over designs that cover my main motif, and I NEVER use a largely contrasting thread. That thread is bright teal! I am glad I pushed myself. I almost stopped and ripped it all out when I got to this guy:

The stitches were just SO prominent and each error so noticeable! But I'm glad I pushed through because I think the finished pillow turned out quite nice.

FINISHED: My applique class!

I'll be honest: this class was a real let-down. Only three people came! And I spent a loooooong time preparing, and look at all the supplies I brought! (Oh, and all of the example quilts, AND all of the applique books...)

I didn't do this to earn money, I did it to share my love of applique with others. And when I came away from the class I didn't feel like I had accomplished that. One person already loved needle turn and took it just to do more applique, and I don't think the other students came away feeling excited and enthused about applique.

But, it's done. And now I can clean up the class supplies that have been strewn all over the sewing room, and move on. I won't be trying to teach a class anytime soon.

Finished: Halloween shrug!

So I'm going to this Halloween wedding and my dress is black and I have these gorgeous pink shoes I really want to wear. And the black dress needed some flare and something to tie to together with the shoes. So I stitched up this little "shrug." I'm happy with how it came out! As always happens when I attempt non-quilting sewing projects, it took waaaay longer than it should have, but in the end it all worked out. Plus check out these cute pink glitter spiders that are on it!

Not Finished: Anything else.

I didn't get very much at all accomplished at this year's guild retreat. In large part it was because of back-to-back classes on Saturday. I taught my class, had a quick lunch, then took a class on improv piecing. My pieces are the blue and lime ones to the right.

By the end of the improv class, it was almost 5 pm! And honestly I was worn out and discouraged from my class, so I did very little sewing Saturday night. Instead I went home and curled up in front of the tv for a viewing of Fantasia! Just the kind of thing to let my mind drift and decompress. On Sunday I got a little more sewing done. I'm neeeeearly finished with a pillow cover from my Patchwork City class. I was originally debating making my blocks into a quilt but I decided life's too short and I've got soooo many other projects. So whenever I finish this blog post, I am hopefully going to sit down in front of my machine and finish that pillow! (And then post some photos of it!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Emergency Last Minute Quilt!

Now I know why people make baby quilts as spares and just stick them in the closet. I had the sudden realization that I needed a quilt for the wedding I am going to on October 31. Luckily I had this realization a few weeks ago and just didn't blog about it until now.

I actually had a similar realization before a wedding last summer but I didn't have it until about a week before the the bride and groom got a tote bag. Pretty lame. This time, I wasn't letting that happen!

I went ahead and ordered this layer cake. (I'm sorry the photos are so bad. I upgraded my photos program and all of the photo editing stuff has been reorganized and I don't now how to use it. If anyone can recommend good user-friendly photography software, I am on the market!)

It's Spellbound by Cotton and Steel. I figure it's modern and slightly subtle in it's Halloween-ness. I should mention, it's a Halloween quilt because they are having a Halloween themed wedding. (Costumes at the reception and everything!) But I want them to be able to use it year-round, so I was trying to not make it *too* Halloween-y.

I spent a looong time browsing the internet for good layer cake patterns. I should mention here that I think Layer Cakes are the most versatile precut when you need a fast quilt. You can do a lot of cool things with those squares in a short amount of time.

I ended up with the Moda Love pattern. It's super quick and easy. The only funky thing was that my layer cake came with a lot of fabrics in three's, which just made making a symmetrical layout tough. And I really, really like symmetry.

I played around in illustrator with colors and ended up with this mockup:

(Yes that's a physical photo of my computer screen. I am lame like that.)

Notice the pattern is just a bunch of squares and half-square triangles. It came together super duper fast. And here's my laid out top!

For this quilt I went through the extra effort of ironing all of my seams open, since apparently that's what I am *supposed* to do, according to a lot of modern quilters.

You guys, it was a giant pain in the rear. Those seams did not want to lie flat no matter how heavily I steamed them (and according to the trends these days, I'm not supposed to be using steam in my iron either!) So yeah, I can say I tried it, and life's too short for that nonsense. 

I went ahead and stitched out a nice message on the front.

Getting this programmed right took a lot of practice. I wanted to use the fancy cursive font on my machine but it was basically illegible so we decided block letters were safer. I think it came out pretty cute.

Finally, quilting time! As an aside, do you ever notice that no one quilt shop seems to have it all? We have one shop in town that has just fabulous fabric selection, but their batting choices were pathetic. I ended up using some batting I had lying around for a different I have to go buy more.

But, I mentioned that store had fabulous fabric selection? Check out the backing fabric I got!
See how it shines! The webs are metallic! I'm just nuts about this fabric!

Next came quilting time. In honor of this backing fabric, I quilting one giant spiderweb on the front.

First I did the straight lines. You can see them here on the center block:

Then, the webbing! It didn't really photograph well but I promise it's cool.

I wanted to share with you how I did the webbing because I think it's pretty cool.  Casey York told me how to do this. So I wanted to quilt it in a spiral so that I didn't have any starts and stops. But I wanted the spiral to get wider as I went out. I couldn't really figure out how to do that. Here's what Casey suggested, and I drew a little sketch to show you. 

(Again, sorry for the colors. The new "photos" program doesn't have a contrast option."
Make your marks at the four compass points, x distance apart from the prior line (I started with 1" here). Every three compass positions, add 1/4" (or amount of your choice - I used 1/2" in the diagram because it was easier to draw) to that value. Yes, this method involved a lot of measuring and marking. But it was well worth it in the end when I had a great looking spiral on the my quilt.

I also wanted to talk about my quilting thread. 

 This thread is the BEST. You know how I mentioned no shop has everything? These guys had no quilting thread but they had walls and walls of embroidery thread (And I was too lazy to go to another shop and too impatient to order online). And they told my I could quilt with it so I did! This is so great because it's a black thread wrapped with a silver thread. It looks completely metallic on the quilt but it doesn't have any of the issues and troubles you encounter when stitching with metallic thread (breakages, thread stripping, etc.) Also it glitters on both light fabric and dark fabric. You can see that effect on the photo above of the quilting. I think it was really perfect for the spider web look I was going for.

And here is the finished top!

I know, you can't see the quilting, but it's there. Right now I'm stitching down the binding and this will be ready in time for the wedding, no problem! Phew!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Elizabeth Hartman Workshops

Last weekend I had the great pleasure of taking two six-hour workshops from Elizabeth Hartman of Oh Fransson. She was a great teacher and the weekend was a ton of fun.

The first class was based on her fox and hedgehog patterns. Here is the finished pillow top I made:

Fancy Fox was very easy to make and easy to chain piece. Also he can be made with jelly rolls! I have a jelly roll that's been lying around for years now so it may turn into a fancy fox quilt soon...

Hazel  hedgehog was a bit harder. I know she's cute, but look at all the pieces it took to make her!
I don't see myself making a full hazel hedgehog quilt anytime soon.

Here's Elizabeth teaching:

She also did a trunk show, which I only got horrible photos of. The coolest part was she actually passed around the quilts for us to feel and see up close!

This was my favorite quilt, from patchwork city. Every piece was chosen with thought and care. It has so many fun "Easter Eggs" when you see the blocks up close!

My second workshop was on this very quilt, Patchwork City. The class really focused on this ides of fussy cutting and choosing your fabrics very carefully and thoughtfully. We also learned to intentionally add a little discord. It was fun!

We each started with a "focal fabric" and built our design out from there. Here is my stack of fabrics. My focal fabric is actually kind of hidden in this pic. We also all brought scraps to share which was really fun. Since you can use really teeny tiny pieces for this quilt, you could find one cool element on some tiny strip of fabric and incorporate it into your blocks.

Here are my first two blocks. I really agonized and stressed over the first one but by the second one I had relaxed a bit. The first block is on the right. It's funny, my intentional discord was supposed to be that bright teal second from the bottom. Blends in pretty well, huh? On the second block, on the left, I tossed in that magenta piece, which definitely adds some pop!

Here are all three of my finished blocks. Can you tell which is the focal fabric?

This was originally supposed to be a pillow, but I had so much fun with it that I think I'm going to keep going and eventually make a quilt. In part because when I did my fabric pull, I had a TON of fabrics in this colorway. Might as well use them up!

One of the best parts of the class was getting inspiration from everyone else. Check it out:

The focal fabric here was the teepees. I love the burnt orange colors she pulled in!

These ones came out so clean and coordinated! Lovely!

If I recall, the focal fabric here was actually the peacock. But boy do those eyes pop out at you!

This one has such fun and cheerful colors and fabrics.

I love the fussy cutting for the window in the top block here:

I really thought these did a great job of pulling out the colors from the focal fabric. This would have been tough for me but she nailed it!

That's all for now! Today I am working hard on prepping for my class. I am practicing my speech and making step-throughs. My quilty friends agreed to be guinea pigs for me in two weeks, so we will see what they think of the dry run. I know I can rely on them for good feedback.