Out with the old, in with the new

What a whirlwind the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 have been!  Lots of gift giving, thus a lack of blogging.  Let’s recap.

  1. Made myself a fancy lace Staple Dress.  Now my favorite outfit.  Can’t recommend this pattern enough.  It’s simple to sew and fits/look great on all shapes and sizes.  (See front page photo).
  2. Finished a baby quilt for my cousin who has the cutest baby ever, Aidan.  This quilt is all black, off white, and red with just a bit of green.  I think the letter and number prints are perfect for a baby quilt.  The block design is from Fat Quarterly Shape Workshopphoto 1
  3. Started and finished a shop sample quilt for The French Seam.  This quilt was made using Moda’s newest precut the Slice.  The precut stack comes with the pattern for this great quilt, including the appliqued anchor.  I loved how fast this quilt top came together, I loved the colors (my parents live on their sail boat so the theme is perfect), and I practiced my free motion quilting again with a wave pattern that I filled in with some pebbling to look like bubbles or foam on the crests of the waves.photo 6
  4. Finished the quilt for my niece Laura (blogged about here).
  5. Got Engaged!  Like how I snuck that in there.  No plans yet, but we are very excited.photo 4
  6. Made a trip to our hometown for New Year’s Eve to see family, friends, and take in a show.
  7. Made bunches of Pink Chalk Studio’s Mail Sack bags.  This is a great pattern for a very useful bag.  I highly recommend it.photo 7
  8. Started and finished…let’s just say a quilt to be gifted.  A simple churn dash block made from a variety of prints from Riley Blake, Birch Fabrics, Botanic, and Lotta.photo 10
  9. Started and began free motion quilting…another quilt to be gifted.  photo 11
  10. Finished a quilt top for the lovely miss Brittany (still to be quilted) in exchanged for some lovely knit goods. This was made from some improvisational log cabin blocks I discussed here.                                                                                                          photo 8
  11. Started and finished a quilt top…to be gifted.  photo 9
  12. Started studying for the Professional Engineering Exam…big damper on my sewing productivity.

See.  Told you.  Whirlwind.  And I am sure there is lots that I am forgetting.

Goals for the rest of 2014:

  1. Pass the Professional Engineering Exam…boring, I know.
  2. Get a better set-up for photographing quilts.  No more floor pictures!
  3. Improve free motion quilting skills.
  4. Use the fabrics I have on hand.

Let’s get this party started.  What are your goals for 2014?

Late night sewing can lead to…

big accomplishments!  This past weekend a couple of late night sewing sessions got my feather quilt top finished.

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You may remember me mentioning this project a few weeks back over here.  I am really happy with how this quilt top came together, despite how much work it turned out to be with all those odd angled pieces.  Now I need to start practicing my free motion quilted feathers!

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Once I had this bad boy crossed off my list I decided to do a little improve sewing.  Last month, at the Indy Modern Quilt Guild meeting, we had a scrap swap.  Most people just brought bags (and even one big box) full of all shapes and sizes of scraps.  Everyone dug through and took what they wanted. The left overs were taken to a local art center.  Amy, of 13 Spools, brought neatly color coordinated bags of her scraps.  I quickly snatched up a couple of Zip-lock bags of double gauze triangles (that I am saving for a project to come), and a bag of her warm colors (bright pinks, reds, and oranges with a bit of black and white).  I decided to make wonky log cabin blocks using just the scraps in that bag.  There seemed to be just enough to make a baby quilt or wall hanging.  It would be a quick and fun project.

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Aren’t they lovely!  They feel like fall to me.  Well, these four blocks quickly ballooned out of control.  I added a few of my own scraps, and now have enough blocks that I may make a throw sized quilt similar to Ashley’s Waterfall quilt.  More things added to the “to be quilted pile”.

Quilting as play

Sometimes it’s nice to just pull some fabric together and make something fun/easy/improvisational for no reason other than to just play.  That’s just what happened the other night.  These lovely fabrics were pulled together from various parts of my stash.

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The print (the obvious inspiration here) was a little less than a fat quarter, the yellow was a fat quarter, the blue and purple were half yards, and the gray was an odd cut that was probably around a half yard as well.  I have been really in love with the great plus quilts that I have been seeing lately, and I wanted something that I could just whip up quickly (for the pure and simple satisfaction of getting something finished).  So I quickly got to cutting my squares.  That late night frenzy resulted in this…

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Please excuse the poor quality photo, I think it was 2 am.  After all that cutting and getting it laid out I was…underwhelmed.  I decided to let it sit and see how I felt about it in a few days.  Still unhappy days later I decided to rework these beautiful fabrics into this…

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Eureka! Just what I was looking for.  A lovely baby quilt added to the “to be quilted pile”.

Feather Love

In one of the first issues of Quilty Magazine I found the loveliest pattern by Anna Maria Horner. I thought the modern open space and the pieced feathers were just beautiful, and I knew right away that I wanted to make one myself. Then during a weekend trip to Crimson Tate I found the perfect fabric. I love when a plan comes together!…well almost. I picked up the three fabrics shown at the top of this photo.

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They are from the Books and Letters collection for Windham Fabrics. I thought “What better fabric to use for a feather quilt than a fabric featuring quills.” Not to mention Calvin and I are what some would call bookworms. Unfortunately those were the only three prints Crimson Tate had from the collection, and I was going to need way more than that to complete my feather quilt. So they sat patiently in my sewing room until I was able to find some friends to go with them.

Eventually I picked up the beautiful textured off white to use as the background, and the dark blue strips were left overs from a shirt I made for Calvin (let me know if you are interested and I will blog about that at a later date). Since it is Anna Maria Horner’s feather quilt it was only fitting to get some of her feather print fabric for the back. A few more blues and off whites for the top and I had enough!

The first step, constructing the strip sets for the feathers was easy and went fairly quick. Then you get to the nitty gritty of cutting all the oddly shaped pieces out. I traced the pattern pieces onto a sheet of template plastic to speed the process. But I have found that I am not a big fan of irregular shapes when it comes to sewing. I find that I would rather cut strips and squares quickly with my rotary cutter. C’est La Vie. I got the first feather completed and Calvin immediately asked if we could keep this quilt. I think he likes it! Feathers may be so 2012, with all the new prints of arrows that are out this year, but I think I am in Love with this feather quilt too!  Now to get this bad boy done.

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Stitch-Flip Zig-Zag

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Back in 2010 one of my dearest friends from college, Mo, married another great friend from college, Ian.  We celbrated with Irish car bombs, and life has been good ever since. Recently these wonderful friends of mine informed me that they were having a baby!  So congrats to them!  And to help them welcome Baby-Brink into the world I decided to put a little baby quilt together for them.  Mo has always been a lover of sunshine and most things yellow, and being too impatient to wait to find out the gender of Baby-Brink I decided on this lovely collection of bright yellows and grays.

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1/4 yard cuts of 7 yellows and 7 grays

I wanted to make a fun zig-zag quilt alternating between the yellows and grays, but since I can’t bring myself to make the same quilt twice (and I have already made and given away a zig-zag baby quilt) I decided to get a little creative.  I took an idea from Jacquie Gearings playbook, stitch and flip triangles.  So here is Stitch-Flip Zig-Zag!

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Cutting Instructions:

Cut each yellow fabric into two (2) 3.5-inch wide X width of the fabric strips.  Sub-cut each strip into eleven (11) 6.5-inch X 3.5-inch bricks, and one (1) 7-inch X 3.5-inch brick.

Cut each gray fabric into 3.5-inch squares.

Layout:

I like to make myself a drawing to follow while I am piecing, after all I am an engineer.  For this pattern I alternated two rows, with the first row having six (6) 6.5-inch wide yellow bricks, and the second row having one (1) 3.5-inch square, five (5) 6.5-inch bricks, and one (1) 3.5-inch square.  The stager creates the fun zig-zag pattern.  This pattern is also great for beginner sewers because there are no seams to match.  No need to worry if you are a little off in your cutting or seam allowance.  🙂

zig zag quilt pattern

I also like to lay my fabrics out in the order that the zig zags will be when finished so I don’t get them mixed up while I am working.

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Quilt top assebmly:

With the right sides of the fabric facing each other sew one gray square to each short end of the yellow bricks at a random angle.

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Use your ruler to trim the seam allowance to 1/4-inch.

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Flip the gray triangle open.

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Press the seam allowance open, and (using your ruler) trim the extra gray so your bricks are again 6.5-inchesX3.5-inches or 7-inchesX3.5-inches.  Finally cut each 7-inch block in half to make two (2) 3.5-inch squares.

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Once you have all of your bricks made sew them into rows, and lastly sew each row together.  Your Finished quilt top should be about 36-inches wide by 42-inches long.  I think this is a great size for a baby quilt because it fits perfectly on 1.5-yards of quilting weight cotton backing fabric.  For the back of this quilt I picked a nerdy labratory print in honor of our education at Michigan Tech University.  We are all nerds at heart.

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I think the quilting will be a simple free-motion all over circle pattern.  It reminds be of bubbles from chemistry beakers.

After I started this quilt I found out that Baby-Brink is going to be a Girl, so I found a sweet pink print to use as a binding.

binding

Hopefully it will be a warm and cuddly welcom to Baby-Girl-Brink from Auntie Meggers!

Oldies but Goodies

I started quilting in 2006. It all started in Alaska with a wonderful friend and fellow quilter named Lisa. Lisa encouraged me to take up quilting, even though I did not have a sewing machine at the time. During my year in Alaska I made two lap quilts 100% by hand. I was hooked. After Alaska I made several tops, but did not yet have the knowledge or skills to machine quilt them myself. Seven years later I think it’s time to finish some WIPs. First was a simple small throw/big baby quilt. I constructed this top sometime in 2007 or 2008. The pattern is a simple rail fence. I love the unique rainbow of colors, and the marbled fabrics. It is difficult to see in photos, but even the black is a marbled pattern. To finish this quilt I decided to back it with a saturated black Kona, and the quilting is a simple straight line pattern in a rainbow variegated thread.

top thread pic

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Up next will be this spinny hexagon quilt, also started in sometime in 2007/2008, and this awesome T-shirt quilt I made while living in Oklahoma in 2007. For my T-shirt quilt I am thinking of backing it in sweatshirt fleece (no batting) and tieing it with some traditional red floss. What do you think?

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Home Sweet Home Quilt

You will not believe the Friday night I had.  After a long day of scrambling around at the day job, and a very hot hike downtown to deliver a box of paper (who requests three paper copies of a 500 page report? What is wrong with people?), I had the privilege of meeting (and hanging out with) David Butler (AKA Parson Gray).

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As some of you know, a while back I was the lucky winner of a box of goodies from him which included a huge stack of his Seven Wonders fabric collection. As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to make a Michigan Map Quilt using the fabric.  Well, when I found out I would have the opportunity to meet Mr. Butler, I decided it was time to get that quilt (top) done (it had been laid out on the floor of our spare room for a number of weeks).  So here it is, the Home Sweet Home Quilt!

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top front

top front detail 2

I was very nervous about this quilt.  Throughout the process of making it I was afraid it would turn out looking like a preschooler drew a picture of Michigan.  But I think it looks pretty good.  And Mr. Butler thought it was good enough to snap some pictures of his own.  (*giddy school girl giggle*).  He was even nice enough to sign it for me.

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(Much Love From Beautiful Ohio! XO David Butler *Parson Gray)

After all the fun fabric goodness I headed over to the White Rabbit Cabaret in Indianapolis to see his band, The Black Owls, play.  If you haven’t heard their music , you should check them out.  Their sound is a combination of classic 70’s rock and punk.  A sort of cross between The Who, David Bowie, Talking Heads, and Pink Floyd.  The band is comprised of David Butler (lead vocals), Ed Shuttleworth (lead guitar), Sammy Wulfeck (base), Brian Kitzmiller (drums), and Brandon Losacker (guitar/keyboard).  Not only is their music great recorded, they put on an AMAZING live show. Their backdrop/set was super cool, the lighting was great, their energy level was through the roof, and their sound was tight.  I can’t wait for them to come back to Indianapolis!

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His and Hers Quilt

While surfing everyone’s favorite inspiration site, Pinterest, I stumbled across the prettiest Moda Bakeshop pattern, Honey Honey Layer Cake Quilt. I love the bright summery colors on the light background, and I love the simple piecing that looks complex. As fate would have it, I latter found charm packs of the Honey Honey collection at The French Seam! I snached some up right away and got some Kona Snow from Crimson Tate for the background. I am actually quite happy to use charm packs in place of the Layer Cake the pattern calles for, because that means less cutting for me!

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The half square triangles are quick and easy to sew. I laid them all out on our spare room floor to decide on my final layout. The pattern is shown very scrappy with all the prints mixed. With a little help from Calvin, I decided to make my blocks pink and blue alternating. I think I will call it the His and Hers quilt! I am very happy with how this quilt top came out. It is now in line to be quilted.

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I think it looks like a great pic-nic blanket.

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And for the back I picked up one of the dark floral prints from the collection.

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How many projects do you have waiting to be quilted?

Home sweet home quilt

A while back I was blessed to receive the Parson Gray Seven Wonders collection from David Butler. And it took me a while longer to decide what I was going to make. I wanted to make something original, that would impress Mr. Butler. I started thinking about what his inspiration for the collection may have been…the seven wonders of the ancient world. Pyramids, the hanging gardens of Babylon, Zeus at Olympus… I thought of different egyptian patterns… On and on, but nothing was really grabbing me. Then while looking at some aerial imagery at work one day, it hit me. The patterns and colors reminded me of the earth. And what better way to showcase these fabrics than in a map quilt! And being originally from Michigan I knew it had to be a map of Michigan!

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I used google earth to get a view of Michigan I thought would work as a quilt, and I used the latitude and longitude lines as a rough guide for my patchwork. I decided with the different colors in the collection the blues and whites would be the great lakes surrounding the lower peninsula, and the grays oranges and greens would be the land. And with those three different color groups for the land it would be perfect to show the change of seasons moving down the state with the grays being winter to the north, orange fall in the middle and lush green summer in the south.

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Because longitude and latitude lines don’t make a perfect grid I decided my blocks needed to be 4.5 inches wide X 5 inches tall (unfinished). This would result in a nice size quilt and would hopefully keep the right proportion for my map. Along the boundary between my land and my lakes I am free hand cutting curved pieces that I think will approximate the curving coast of Michigan. Once I have all of my coastline done I think this quilt top will come together quickly. It is a little slow going, but with lots of other projects in the works I am givig myself credit for getting this much done so far. What is your work in progress?