Thursday, January 31, 2013

Introducing: Dresden Reflections in Fat Quarterly Issue 12

I am so happy to finally share this quilt!  This design is a variation of my Dresden Wave design (another version here).  It uses the EZ Dresden Ruler, and all the seams are straight even though it gives the effect of curved seams.  I've had this particular idea for months and I'm so thrilled with how it turned out.  Don't you just love it when an idea looks as good or as better in real life as it does in your head?  I certainly do.
 You can see all the details and how to make your own in Issue 12 of Fat Quarterly, which is available today!  The theme is precuts.  This quilt isn't actually made with precuts, but the pattern is jelly-roll friendly.  Finished measurements are 39" x 39".  It would be a good size for a baby quilt.  Using two jelly rolls, you could make 20 blocks and make a throw 52" x 65."

The fabrics are Art Gallery Pure Elements.  I just loved using these gorgeous solids.
 The pictures in Fat Quarterly don't have closeups, so I wanted to show those here.  I chose a different quilting design for each value of fabric from dark to light.  This is the most detailed quilting I've ever done, and I'm very  happy with how it turned out!

I matched the thread as well as I could on the front, and I love how you can see the different thread colors on the back of the quilt.

The binding is Art Gallery Nature Elements.

I'm going to hang this on the wall in my studio.  I still have some hand-stitching to do on the hanging sleeve. =)
The other projects in this issue look lovely!  I'm so happy for the opportunity to contribute to Fat Quarterly.

Linking up to Finish it Up Friday, Small Blog Meet at Lily's Quilts, and Link a Finish Friday.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WiP: Madrona Road MQG Challenge

I pulled out my Madrona Road challenge piece today to make some progress.  The national deadline is tomorrow, but I don't think I'm going to make it.  I'm at a point where I could finish, but I need to mull things over a little.

I had my center finished, as well as all of my teeny flying geese.  Today I used Poppyprint's tutorial to sew all of the FG into rows for the borders.  It worked so well, I will never go back.  Seriously, it was so easy to keep everything in order!

Here it is with the border on.  I continued the fabric placement from the trip around the world pattern into the flying geese, but decided against putting any in the corners.

I definitely like it, but I'm not quite feeling this one for some reason.  I was planning to make it into a bag, but I'm just not sure, so I'm going to think on it for a little longer.  Our local Salt Lake MQG deadline for the challenge is our March meeting, so I've still got a while to make up my mind and finish.

In other news, my little guy (20 months old) got glasses this week.  I was nervous about the whole process, but he is doing very well with them!  He cried when I took them off for his nap yesterday.
He just loved looking at himself in the mirror with his new glasses when we picked them up.

I'm SO EXCITED for tomorrow's post--it's a big reveal I've been dying to share since early December!

Linking up to Work In Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Making Memories

My munchkin (who is four) has been showing a lot of interest in sewing lately.  Today we decided to give it a go during her brother's nap time.

I let her choose her thread and bobbin color (purple and red), and she picked strings out of my scrap/strings bin, and we just started sewing.  At first I did the foot pedal for her, but within a short time she was doing it almost all by herself, with a little help staying straight and knowing when to stop.   You can see how she's sitting on the front edge of my chair here.  (This picture was tricky to take.)

I can't get enough of this face. =)  She said she would like to make it into a pillow, so that is what we will do.  I don't know if we'll use a pillow form or just stuff it, we'll see.
I'm such a proud mom!  She loved it and was so excited to tell her friend and my mother-in-law that she got to use Mommy's sewing machine today.  She told me that she wants to help me sew every day now. =)  I think I'll have to save some of the fabric I was planning on getting rid of so she can use it however she wants to.

I love this kid.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Starburst Quilt Along: Cutting

I'm still working on cleaning and organizing my studio, so sewing is on hold for a bit longer, but I took a break to finish doing my cutting for the Starburst Quilt Along.  I had the fat quarters cut, but needed to cut all of the background fabric.  I'm using Kona white.  I can't believe I just cut up more than 7 yards of white fabric all in one evening.  It doesn't look like that much here, does it?  I bought 8 yards, and I have less than one left, so it must be true.  I guess you can't see how tall some of these stacks are.  
I'm using a fat quarter bundle of Apple of My Eye that was donated by Riley Blake to Phoenix Quilts.  Julie said I could hang onto it, so I've been hoarding this fabric for a few months, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to use it.  I think this is it!

I'm changing things up a bit.  I'm doing the 40" blocks, but I'm adding additional borders made from more half square triangles, and I'm making them into four separate quilts.  I'll be donating these to Phoenix Quilts when they are all done.  Here's the layout I'm planning so you can see how it's going to work.  Sorry it's blurry.
I'm also going to add 5" white borders all around the outside, so each one will finish up at 60" x 70".  I didn't cut those borders yet, but everything else is cut, including my extra HST's and the rectangles that will separate the ones in the top and bottom borders.  I'm excited to do this!  The second quilt I ever made had 30" blocks and it went together so quickly.  Granted, those blocks were very simple in comparison to these, but I really do like large blocks sometimes.

I'm linking up with Happy Quilting and the Starburst Quilt Along today.

Question:  What is the proper way to spell quilt along?  Quilt-a-long?  Quilt a long?  I can't decide what looks right to me.  Any thoughts?  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

WiP: In Which I Work on Five Different Projects

I've been really busy this week!  I keep getting really inspired to do something and work on it hard and fast, then get hit with the bug for something else.  I've also been staying up waaaaaay too late.

First up: Scrappy Trip-a-long quilts are popping up all over blog land and flickr.  They are really great, but I haven't had any desire to make an entire quilt.  I did decide, however, to use the concept for my Madrona Road MQG challenge project.  I say project because I don't know yet if it will be a pillow, mini quilt, or a bag.  I'm leaning toward bag.

To get the look I want, I made four blocks, but modified three of them slightly so I wouldn't end up with the same fabrics next to each other.  I also did it smaller--these squares finish at 1" instead of 2".

Mini trip around the world!  So easy and fast to do--I'm pretty sure I did this all in one night.

Our local MQG has the additional rule in the challenge that we have to use triangles.  I made a bunch of flying geese using this tutorial from Melissa.  It was really easy to do, and no waste!  Gotta love it.  These little guys will finish at 1" x 2" once they are sewn into the border.  I'd like to get this done by the end of the month to enter the challenge.

Second:  In September while we were in California, I picked up these lovely fabrics at my absolute favorite quilt shop.   I LOVE the owners.  They always remember us, even though we only go once a year when we visit my husband's Grandma.  The original plan for these was to make a Groove Quilt but I ended up changing my mind.  Instead I'm doing a variation on the Mod Pop pattern.   I borrowed an Accuquilt GO! Baby cutter from Brooke, and a drunkard's path die, and cut all of these out during nap time this week.

These colors speak to me.  They are just so luscious!   They are Kaffe Fassett for Liberty, and just so rich.  I also got some Kona to coordinate.  I think these two are mulberry and hyacinth.

I learned how to sew curves with rules, which means slowly and with a lot of pins, so I pinned a ton of these.  It took forever.  I used three pins, which I actually found wasn't enough. When I went to sew the I had to add two more to each one.  I think I just might have to try the pinless method on my other ones and see how that goes.  I think I sewed 17 of these so far.  I'd like to have this done by mid-April.

 Third project for the week:  The Starburst Quilt Along with Melissa.  I haven't done a quilt along before, and the thought of doing a little each week sounds great to me.  I'm doing the 40" blocks, but will be making four separate quilts with one block each rather than one large quilt with four blocks.  To make them big enough I'll be adding some borders to each block, and they'll finish up at around 60" x 70".  This photo shows the fabrics for one block, as well as the borders that will go with that block.  I'm using Apple of My Eye for this project.
 I managed to get all of my fat quarters cut during nap time on Tuesday, but I still need to cut my background fabric, which is Kona white.

Third project for the week:  Brooke asked me to quilt her gorgeous Supernova quilt.  She wanted random wavy lines.  I love how the quilting turned out.  I didn't take any pictures of the whole quilt, largely because we still have 6+ inches of snow on the ground outside from Winter Storm Gandolf.
 The fabric on this one is mostly 1001 Peeps by Lizzy House.

And my final project: Organizing my studio.  Ugh.  Creativity is messy.  I am not always very creative (I have my moments), but I am often messy.  This is a "before" shot.  I don't have any "after" shots yet because this is still in progress as well.  All sewing is now on hold until this is done.

My studio isn't big enough to fit a real longarm machine, so my husband agreed to let me switch rooms and use our downstairs family room instead of the extra bedroom.  We only use that room for toys right now, and our piano is in there, but there isn't really any other major furniture that would need to be moved.  The only problem is that with my current situation, I can close the door and no one can see my mess.  My husband is afraid to open it and go in there, in fact.  In the family room, it will be open and anyone who goes downstairs will see it.  So the deal is that I have to keep it clean.  I'm a little nervous about that.  To prove that I can do it, I have to keep my current studio clean for a month before I can get the longarm.  Can I do it?  I HOPE SO!  Actually, yes.  I can.  I'm thinking of this as a lifestyle change rather than a resolution of sorts.

Yes, this is kind of juvenile that I have to keep my room clean for a month, but I'm really hoping that I can make it a lifestyle change.  I'm always amazed to see pictures of tidy sewing spaces brimming with inspiration, and yet clean.  I'd like to be like that.  It will be a learning process.

Part of my problem is that I have too much stuff and not enough places for it.  Rather than getting more storage, I'm taking an honest look at my stash, and I'm dumping a lot of it.  Not actually dumping it, but I'm offering for friends to come take what they want, then I'm going to donate the rest to the sewing class in the junior high where I used to teach.
I started collecting this in high school, and so much of it isn't quilt shop quality fabric, I know I just won't want to use it in quilts any more.  I know the difference now, I didn't then.  My tastes have also changed.  In addition, I'm realizing that I have so many ideas in my head that don't involve all of this stuff that I'll be plenty busy with those, not to mention the fact that once I get my new longarm machine I want to practice until I have mad quilting skills like Judi and Jenny.  I just don't think there will be time to be a mom to my sweet little kids, make the quilts I want to make, master longarm quilting, and bust through this stash that I don't love.  So it's time to part ways.  The pile is actually about twice as big now as when I took this picture.

I'm going back and forth between being so excited to get rid of this stuff, and wanting to rush and cram everything back into drawers.  Still, it will be so nice to have a home for everything.  It feels better already, even though it actually looks much worse than normal right now.

Lately I've been thinking about goals and what it really takes to achieve our goals and dreams.  If I really want something, am I willing to put in the effort to attain it?  Often it is so easy for me to wimp out, or not follow through and I end up shortchanging myself.  This time I'm going to do better.

Linking up to Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

100th Post: Plans for 2013

I've been thinking a lot about what I want to say in this post for 2013.  Here we are almost halfway through January, so apparently I've been taking my sweet time doing it.

2012 took some unexpected turns for me.  I had no idea I would start my own business, but here I am!  Having my own business, however small, has been such an adventure.  I pretty much only work while my kids are asleep or for a couple of hours here and there when I hire a babysitter.  Despite the short hours, it gives me another sense of purpose in addition to being everything for two fantastic little kids that make me laugh and grow so much as a person.  Yes, I stress about deadlines, which I'm sure does detract from my effectiveness as a parent,  but I'm still grateful for where things are headed.

So what did I actually accomplish in 2012?
I completed 32 sewing projects, including 9 quilts (two for customers, but I made the whole quilts start to finish so I'm counting them in this list), 4 pillows, two dresses and two skirts for my munchkin, and a bunch of various other things, like an ottoman that looks like a Rubik's cube (which my husband loves).

I machine quilted 20 other customer quilts and 5 charity quilts.
I got to participate in the EZ Dresden Challenge Blog Hop.
When I actually put the numbers down, it may not look like that much.  I wasn't expecting my business to explode, and honestly I'm still not ready for that.  I'm pleased with what I've been able to do in the amount of time I have.  It has certainly been my most productive year yet.
I also joined the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild and the Salt Lake/Ogden Longarm Guild this year, and have learned so much from both groups.
My quilting skills have improved so much.  I'm confident with more designs, and gaining control and experience with every quilt that I do.  I can't wait to show you the one I just finished--it's a beauty, if I do say so myself. =)

I also consider myself a quilter now, not just "someone who makes quilts sometimes."

So what promises does 2013 hold?
The biggest news is that I'm actually going to get a real longarm.  Soon.  Everything has fallen into place except for one thing, which I should be able to take care of soon.  That will be for another post.

Here's my list of goals for 2013, in somewhat the order I plan to do them:
1.  Finish Maasai Mara X strings quilt
2.  Madrona Road MQG Challenge (I've actually got a good start on this, post coming soon, I think)
3.  Mod Pop Variation--I want to have this done by mid April
4.  HMQS Flutter Challenge---I really hope I get to do this one, I need to get on it
5.  Kona jelly roll Dresden Wave variation (I'm so excited for this one, too bad it has to wait until after these other ones)
6. Notting Hill dress for my munchkin
7.  2 Heirloom voile shirts for me
8.  Finish my mini bargello
9.  Finish an old star quilt UFO and donate it to Phoenix Quilts
10.  Apple of my Eye charity quilts--Starburst Quilt Along with Happy Quilting--will also go to Phoenix Quilts
11.  Bind a baby quilt that I made at a conference last year
12.  Design and make a Christmas tree skirt (this may not happen this year, we'll see)
13.  Quilt as many customer quilts as I can, and improve my free motion skills as well as using rulers and templates while quilting.  Master stitching in the ditch.
14.  Above all, be a good mommy in the midst of all of this.  Be present with my kids, rather than having my mind in my studio while I'm with them.  Aren't they cute?

In reference to #10 above, I need to find a good shade of aqua/turquoise that coordinates with Apple of my Eye.  I think I may order a whole bolt of Kona for backings.  Anyone happen to know of one?

It's exciting to write all of this down.  I'm happy to look forward to this new year and all that it holds.

As a special 100th post thank you to all of you that read my little blog I'd like to have a small giveaway.  I'm offering your choice of $20 off of any quilting service, which will be filled at any time during 2013 after my new longarm arrives, or four fat quarters of Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow line.   Prints include Nap Sak, Herringbone, and Acorn Chain in Lake, and Dogwood Bloom in Pond.  To enter, please leave a comment, any old comment.  International entries are welcome.  If you're a no-reply blogger, please make sure to leave your email address so I can contact you.  I'll announce a winner sometime on Friday, January 18th.

Giveaway closed.  Winner is #4, Mom C!

Thanks for reading!  Here's to the next 100 posts and a great 2013!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WiP: Hand Binding (and why I try to avoid it)

I seem to have a problem with perfectionism when it comes to hand sewing.  I'm currently working on a wall hanging.  It is an original design that I want to hang in my studio, and I want it to be perfect.  It measures about 39" on each side, so I thought, "Well, that isn't too big, I can hand bind that."  Why is this a problem?  Because I'm PAINFULLY slow at hand binding.  I am a self-admitted snob about hand-sewn stitches not showing, which means I have to do it slowly.  None of this, "Just get into a rhythm and whip it together" stuff.  Nope.  I didn't time it exactly, but it took me almost 6 hours over three days just for the hand stitching.  My fingertips still hurt.  I've seen several tutorials and demonstrations about how people do their hand stitching, and I'm just never satisfied with how it looks, so I keep on going slow and steady.

So I have definitely been reminded why I almost always do machine bindings now.  I've done enough by machine that I feel confident in how clean the edges look.  I'm still a bit of a snob, but not as much, and it goes SO much faster.  I'll choose quick, easy, and clean over 3 days and sore fingers almost any time, even if the three days has fantastic results.  I think I'll reserve hand bindings for only a few select quilts.

I'm going to wait a few days before finishing the hanging sleeve so that my fingers can recover a little bit.

I'm really happy with how this has turned out.  I'll be doing a full reveal next month, but for now here's another view of the back.  This is the most detailed quilting I've ever done, and also my first time doing pebbles.  It was pretty tedious but so worth it!  I feel pretty confident in my ability to quilt pebbles now.

This happens to be my 99th post--I'm pretty excited to reach 100!  

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