Saturday, September 29, 2012

Julie's Quilt #1

On our way south to California a few weeks ago, we stopped in St. George, UT (at a gas station, of all places) and met with Julie to exchange some quilts.  I had 5 finished Phoenix Quilts to give to her, and she had two quilts that she had made and wanted me to quilt.  I finished one of them, and I'll be doing the other one for her in a couple of weeks.

 Isn't this precious?  She made this for her 3-year old granddaughter.  My almost 4-year-old loved it, so I'm sure her granddaughter will too!  She did a great job with her piecing and applique.  So cute!

 I outlined the appliques and did the rest in an allover meander with flowers and loops.   It turned out really cute!

 Julie used two colors of minky on the back.  It is so snuggly!  This was my first time quilting with minky, and it worked pretty well.  It made my machine skip stitches a few times, so I had to unpick a little more than I would have liked, but it turned out great.
The minky really makes the quilting stand out.

I also did the binding on this one, even though I didn't get any close-up pics.

I met Julie today in another parking lot, this time in Salt Lake City.  She was on her way to visit her grandkids and deliver this quilt, and we needed to pick up a bike at Toys'R'Us for my daughter's upcoming birthday (shh, she doesn't know we actually got it, even though she was there!) so I took the quilt with me to help shorten her travel time.  All three times I have met Julie have started either in parking lots or at gas stations... I promise we're not doing anything shady!  It does kind of make me laugh.

Julie seemed really happy with the quilt!  I hope her granddaughter loves it!

I also delivered two more Phoenix Quilts that were made by two of my friends from the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild.  I'm glad to know such wonderful people.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Broken Foot, Legs in Braces

Check out this needle.  This is actually the second time I've seen one this bent, but this time, it didn't break.  It's still threaded.

I've been doing something for a local artist that is very similar to quilting, but very fast and messy looking.  My new Juki foot seemed to be vibrating itself loose fairly often, so I'd check it every so often and tighten the screw as needed.  I had just done that less than five minutes before this happened.  Yep, broke totally in half.    I had already removed it when I took the picture above of the needle.  It's kind of sad.  It was quite frightening when it happened, and I decided to call it a night even though I'd been planning to work for another 45 minutes or so.

I still have my old foot, so I'll put that back on and keep going.  It's still disappointing--I've had this foot less than a month, and I was on vacation for 10 of those days.  It may have just been a bad weld.  I'm going to contact the company I got it from, but I literally just threw away the packaging and shipping information last weekend.  We'll see how it goes.

As we were going to bed last night my husband asked me if he could call his boss and say he wasn't coming in to work because his wife broke her foot.  He didn't do that, but we got a few good laughs out of it at least.

On another note, my husband pointed out that I didn't post any pictures of the wonderful leg extensions he built for my frame.  Here they are!
 The legs on the ends have metal plates on both sides.

The center leg has a cross-brace for added support.
If I have to have any sort of legs in braces in the house, this is the kind I want to have. =)  It is so nice to be able to quilt with better posture!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Some Quilting Finishes

Several weeks ago I was contacted by my friend Andrea from the Salt Lake MQG asking if I could do some quilting for her and two friends.  One was a rush for her friend Savannah, which I finished that weekend.  The others included a Civil War quilt that she did, another Civil War quilt by her friend Jamie, and a Charmed Stars quilt by Jamie.  She also gave me another quilt that will be donated to the burn unit at a local hospital, which I haven't done yet.

We got home from California last Monday, and I needed to deliver the quilts to Andrea on Thursday.  I'd already finished her Civil War quilt, but still had to do both of Jamie's.  I got them done in time, and they turned out great!

Here's Jamie's Civil War quilt:

She did a great job piecing it.  So pretty!  I love all the details and different blocks.

I did allover loopy quilting on this one.

Here's her Charmed Stars Quilt:
 This is a great super-scrappy quilt, and I LOVE this pattern.  So cute!  I thought allover points went well with the points of the stars.  She asked me to use clear thread, and it worked nicely!  I like that it really blends in with everything and doesn't stand out against the light or dark fabrics.

I put dark grey thread in the bobbin.  Monofilament on the top and in the bobbin don't tend to work so well together, and the grey blended in well with her backing fabric.

Isn't this pattern so cute?  I would really like to make a quilt like this sometime, even if it isn't scrappy, although I love the scrappy look too.

This one is Andrea's Civil War quilt.  She appliqued a large motif in the center, which I outlined closely with the quilting.  She told me she had "no quilting expectations," so I thought I'd do a little extra to do some practice in semi-custom quilting.

I did little loopy quilting in the large triangles surrounding the center motif, some stitch-in-the-ditch, orange peels, little feathers, and a couple of other designs.

This was a lot of fun to do, but took a long time!  I'm sure I'll get faster, but I was amazed at how much slower this was than just allover quilting, even though it wasn't very complicated.

I really like how the borders turned out.
Thanks, Andrea and Jamie for letting me quilt these beautiful quilts for you!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Reaching New Heights

The first thing anyone notices when they see me is that I'm really tall.  REALLY tall.  I'm just shy of 6' 3", and have been since I was 15.  While it would be great to be able to find clothes that fit easier, I wouldn't change it.  Not even half an inch.  Being tall is a huge part of who I am.  However, one downside is that it can affect my posture sometimes, especially when I'm quilting.

This picture shows me standing next to my quilting machine.  I have to bend over a LOT to see what I'm doing.  Ouch.

Well, it just so happens that I have a pretty great husband.  Look at it now!
He added 8" leg extensions.  The belly bar is 47" off the ground.  Yep, almost 4 feet. =)  I learned at HMQS that optimal location of the belly bar is right around your belly button, and this makes it just about an inch higher than mine.  I think it will work really well for me.  This was a good weekend to do it because I just finished two quilts for a friend of a friend (photos coming soon) and didn't have any pressing deadlines, so I could take a day off of quilting.

Okay, this isn't a great expression on my face, but it is so much more comfortable!  I'm sure I'll still bend over sometimes, especially when doing more detailed work, but this is going to save my aching back and neck so much!  Thanks, Babe!  I'm looking forward to getting the next one loaded so I can see what it's really like to quilt standing up straight.  When I upgrade to a real longarm I'm definitely paying the extra for a hydraulic or electric lift system.  Totally a must for me.
Something else I'm excited about is the 8" more of space under my frame!  I'm thinking of all the stuff I can store there now.  My studio is fairly small for everything I have shoved into it, so it's nice that I'll have more room to work with.

Yes, that's my unfinished bargello on the design wall back there.  One of these days I'm going to decide how I want to quilt it.  I like to throw something up on the design wall so it isn't blank and boring when I'm between projects.

Thanks again to my sweet husband!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Home Again, Home Again

We arrived home Monday evening from our trip to California.  We spent a few days in San Diego visiting my husband's aunt, one night in Oakview (between Ventura and Ojai) visiting his uncle, and a few days in Solvang for his Grandmother's 95th birthday.  Today is actually her birthday, but the party was on Saturday. Lots of friends and family came, and we were happy to be able to spend time with her.

Four generations!

The first time I visited Grandma's house we found some scraps of fabric in a drawer.  Grandma hasn't sewn in years, so we knew she wouldn't be using it.  We stole took it home with us, and I was able to make it into a quilt without adding much fabric at all.  I bought the fabric for the border, back, and binding, but everything else was from her house.

 I finished this quilt and gave it to her 5 years ago for her 90th birthday.  She said she recognized the fabric, but had no idea we had taken it.  It was a fun surprise.  I love how retro this quilt looks.  CRAZY bright colors.  I was teaching FACS (Home Ec.) at the time, and we had an embroidery machine in my classroom, so I was able to embroider a label on the back before it was quilted.

In the car on our trip I worked on my English Paper Pieced ball.  Well, freezer-paper pieced I guess.  The freezer paper worked very well for the most part, although it fell out of a few spots.

I didn't take any in-progress pics while we were driving, but here it is just before I removed the paper and turned it.

Here is it almost finished--I just have to close up that one seam.  I used all of the colors from the color wheel (all Kona) and arranged them so red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet go pretty much in order around the ball.  All complementary colors are on opposite sides, and all of the tertiary colors make a triad color scheme on the sides.    Here's a red-violet, yellow-orange, and blue-green triad.

Red-orange, yellow-green, and blue-violet triad.

The "warm" half of the ball.  I like the star pattern that results.  I'm looking forward to getting this done, likely tonight.

While on our trip we had to stop at two of our favorite quilty stops.  The first isn't as good as it used to be, but is a very unique place and worth the time (sometimes).  Solvang, where my husband's Grandma lives, is a Danish tourist town.  Off of the main drag is a little complex of buildings called Shelbi Ranch, which is owned  by the same people that own Jodi California, if you've ever heard of that line of dresses.  This location is kind of an outlet.  Upstairs they have a room with $10 dresses, a room with bizarre leftover clothing that hasn't sold at stores, and other odds and ends that will likely surprise you.  (Why would anyone ever buy this?)  Downstairs is the fabric outlet.  There are several rooms filled with rolls and rolls of fabric, all for 99 cents a yard.  The selection really isn't much good any more, but the first time I went 6 years ago there was a LOT of Robert Kaufman fabric.  I didn't find any fabric worth buying this time (weird knits and such) but they have several barrels filled with zippers for 5 cents each.  I bought 58 zippers for less than $3.  Not bad.  I don't know what I'll use them all for, but I will never need to pay full price for an odd colored zipper again.  Ever.  Probably.  The best thing about Shelbi Ranch is that all of the proceeds from their cafe go to the Shriner's Hospital.  If you're ever in Solvang on a weekend, it's worth stopping by, even if it's just for a $2 jumbo hotdog.  Just be ready for a crazy mess of fabric.  They're only open Friday-Sunday, so you can't go during the week.

Our absolute favorite place is the Creation Station Fabric and Quilt Shop.  This is my favorite quilt shop anywhere.  It is located in Beullton, just west of Solvang.  The owners, Dawn and Patrick Farrier, are just so kind and unique.  Dawn always remembers us, even though we only come once a year when we're visiting Grandma.  They specialize in pre-cuts, but not what you'd normally think.  They cut most of their fabric into 1 yard and half yard lengths, but have a fair amount of bolts left too.  

Here are my kids hanging out by the lovely selection of Kona cottons.  You can see the precut fabric on the shelf.  Doesn't it look pretty?

I confess that I totally cheated on my fabric diet and spent WAY too much money.  I bought over 25 yards of fabric.  I haven't taken a picture of it yet, but it is SOOOO pretty.  I couldn't say no.  My husband bought a few yards of fabric too--hopefully he'll have some time to do something with it soon.

Another acquisition on the trip is a beautiful vintage Singer Featherweight sewing machine that Grandma gave me.  It hasn't been used in years, so I'm going to get it serviced before I use it, but I've got a question for anyone out there who might know.  You know that musty smell that is often found in old people's houses?  Well, the case of this little machine REEKS of it, especially when I open it.  Any ideas how to get rid of that smell?

We had a really nice time, but we're so glad to be home.  I'm working on quilting two quilts to deliver at a SLMQG meeting tomorrow night, and hopefully I'll have some pictures to post soon.

I'm linking up to Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In a Bind

Well, not me, but the quilts I'm working on for Phoenix Quilts are getting bound.  I've got two done, and one to go.  I haven't taken pictures with binding yet, but here's one of them quilted.

The new pattern I did on this quilt is one that I'm determined to get good at--swirls.

I definitely need more practice, but they turned out quite nicely, I think!

I used a light/medium brown thread that blended really well with the front of the quilt, and shows up well on the back.
 I'm glad that swirls are something I can do--they look so difficult, but it wasn't that bad at all.

My family is leaving to go to California on Saturday, and I've been thinking about a project I could do in the car.  At the last SLMQG meeting we learned the basics of English Paper Piecing.  I've never really had a desire to do any of it, because I usually don't have chunks of time to sit and hand sew when a little guy won't be trying to get my needle away.  With the road trip though, I thought I'd take my own spin on EPP.

I pulled out my copy of Patchwork Puzzle Balls by Jinny Beyer.  I've made three or four balls from patterns in this book and I really like it.  A problem I've had is that the edges of the shapes stretch, and it is hard to keep a consistent 1/4" seam allowance while hand sewing them together.  My spin is that I'm trying it with freezer paper.  The book has templates in the back to trace, so I traced a bunch onto freezer paper.  I'm doing a design called "Aunt Etta's Diamond."  It uses twelve pentagons (using pentagons instead of hexagons is what changes it to a ball shape from flat) so I decided cut into my precious color wheel charms that Kati handed out at my first SLMQG meeting a few months ago.  I'm thinking this dark grey print for the triangles.

I'm looking forward to doing this project.  It's small enough that I won't feel like it will never get finished, but it's a different shape than I've done before, so it's something new.  I'm interested to see how the freezer paper works too.

I'm linking up to Work In Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced today.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

EZ Dresden Challenge Quilt

I am so excited to be participating in the EZ Dresden Challenge!  The blog hop in June was so much fun, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the projects that everyone posts.

My entry is an original design that I call "The Dresden Wave."  I started with width of fabric strips in varying widths, and sewed them all together to equal sections 8" wide, because that is the width of the EZ Dresden ruler.  I used the ruler to cut wedges, and also cut 2 1/2" wide parallelograms, then rearranged the order to get this wave pattern.  I've got a tutorial posted here on how to do it if you'd like to check it out.

Once I had all of the blocks pieced I "squared" them up into rectangles, added white sashing to two sides to make them squares, and arranged them in a weave layout.

Here is the finished quilt, and I LOVE it.  Finished measurements are 52x70. This is a good throw-size quilt for a tall person like me, which is perfect, because this one is all mine. =)

Here's a little closer shot in some dappled shade:

I quilted it with allover leaves, which was inspired by Angela Walters' new book.

When making the blocks, I could cut pieces for three blocks out of each strip set, with a chunk left at the end.  I thought about what I could do with these leftover pieces, and came up with a tumbler idea for the back of the quilt.  I had purchased only two yards of fabric for the back, knowing it wouldn't be wide enough for my quilt, so I had planned on piecing it somehow, and the tumbler idea fit.  

I cut the tumblers using the width of the EZ Dresden Ruler, plus 2 3/4".    I added white strips in between.

And here's the back!  I LOVE how it turned out.  The section of tumblers was a little bit too short, but I had one complete set of strips left, and was able to cut some more tumblers for the ends, as well as some straight sections for some horizontal interest on the back as well. 

This is only my second back that I've pieced, I usually just use one fabric.  I enjoyed the challenge of using my leftover pieces and my ruler to make this happen, and I'm really happy with the result I got.  I used up almost every inch of fabric that I had, there are very few scraps left at all.

The fabric I used in this quilt is Heirloom by Joel Dewberry in the Sapphire colorway.  The white I used is a white-on-white print with just a tinge of ivory, which works well because the white in Heirloom is really not white at all if you look at it closely.

I couldn't be happier with how this turned out.  I think this will be my favorite quilt for a long time!
I'm so glad that the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild has spearheaded this whole event, and that I've had the opportunity to participate.  It has been so fun to come up with a unique idea that is completely my own and make it into something beautiful.

If you haven't already, head on over to the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild to see what other people are posting!  Entries are open from September 1-6.
Happy Anniversary Darlene Zimmerman!  Thank you for designing such wonderful rulers!

I'm also linking this up as my "End of the Hallway" project for August at From the Blue Chair.  Thanks, Kati for hosting!
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