Wednesday, August 27, 2014

sewing along

Last weekend I went to the AQS show in Grand Rapids.  I had high hopes I'd come home with lots of inspiration and even a new project.


While I can appreciate the talent and time involved in the "quilt it to death" method of quilting, I was disappointed at how many quilts hanging there had been quilted to death.  I mean 1/16th of an inch between lines of quilting quilting to death.

But I guess if you're making a quilt to WIN and not to keep someone warm and wrap them in love, go ahead and quilt it to death.  I'm just hoping the cycle will come back around and quilts that aren't stiffened by the amount of thread put into them will be in fashion again someday.

Until then, I guess I'm just going to be old fashioned.

There was, however, an amazing display of about 24 quilts made by a lady from Michigan.  Almost all hand-pieced, all hand-quilted.  And every single one was amazing.  She won a lot of awards for them in the 80's and I can see exactly why.  Sadly, she's no longer living, otherwise I would have liked to meet her.  

And then there were the vendors.  It seems there were far fewer there this year and a lot of them were selling things that were not quilt-related.  And the quilty vendors that were there were disappointing, too.  Some were good, but I found absolutely nothing I couldn't live without.  Except some longarm thread.  When the price drops if you buy 3 or more spools and you don't have to pay shipping, that's a good deal!  So I bought army green, grey and orange, all with projects in mind to use them to finish.

Maybe I just had too high of expectations this year.  Or maybe I just wasn't in the right mood.  But I heard others making similar comments about the vendors.  The quilts were beautiful, but nothing that truly inspired me to go home and make something either.

But...I have managed to keep going quilting at home.  A little at a time, but quilting.

Sunday I quilted a baby quilt for charity.  (Trying to clear off that rack of quilts...)  Once I get the binding finished, I'll share that.

And I turned this stack:

into this:

You can kind of see the blocks, but here's a (little blurry) photo of the top of that stack for a better idea:

(funny how the colors are so different depending on the angle of the camera!)

There are 8 greys and 8 purples, 12 blocks for each color.
192 blocks.  Simple blocks.  But done.

Next I will have to find a chunk of time to lay them all out and figure out what looks good where and then sew them together.  I have learned from my Christmas Pickle mistake and will not begin this task at 3pm or later!

Now that these are at this stage, I will continue cutting pieces for my science geek quilt.  That will be another that once all the pieces are cut will take a chunk of time to lay out and then sew together before being picked up again.  Why do I do this to myself?

Tomorrow at my guild we have a trunk show from a member who was voted Quilter of the Year at another guild she belongs to.  As part of this award, she'll have a booth at that guild's show this fall to display her work.  The trunk show is a preview of that and I'm very excited to see what she has to share.  She does a lot of modern work, but I'm curious to see what her earlier quilts are like since I think she's been quilting longer than the modern movement has been going on.

Happy quilting,

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Last Saturday, the hubby asked me what I was going to do Sunday.  I thought about it a little and, knowing that I had most of my weekend chores done, I said "quilt a quilt."  It was kinda half-hearted, but I started thinking about it more during our dinner and decided maybe I would.

So we stopped for some batting before heading home.  A little more commitment there.

On the way home, I started thinking about which quilt I'd like to work on.  And then remembered that the quilty friend who fed our cats while we were on vacation last month had caught sight of one batch of quilts that are waiting to be quilted and shared with another quilty friend their existence.  And so I've been caught.  And teased.  More reason to get something done, right?

I decided I wanted to finish a quilt for ME, since last summer I made two while on vacation and just finished the Christmas Pickle, also for me, last week.  If I want these to be on my couch this fall, I'd better get them quilted, right?

Which one?  I settled on Supernova.

The journey started here, last June, when I went fabric shopping in preparation for our weeklong trip north:

You may remember these.

And then, in the middle of a very hot July, I sewed the whole top in just a few days - on vacation.  (A good vacation includes quilting, right?)

Quite a few months back, I purchased backing for the two quilt tops I completed on that vacation.  And I washed them.  And folded them.  And then they sat in various spots in my sewing room, causing trouble by being in the way.  I never did get them pieced to make backs, but the fact that I had the back and it was causing trouble helped make the decision to quilt this quilt a little easier even.

(Oh, look, the feathers are on the back, so I don't have to sew them, right?)

Sunday morning dawned and I was up and out of bed pretty early.  I got the last of my chores done and then stalled.  And stalled.  I searched the internet for ideas to quilt this thing.  Most of what others had done was straight lines and not much quilting.  And while this is a modern quilt, having a longarm means I should probably do more than quilt straight lines every 6 inches, right?

Lots of doodles and head-scratching later, I took a break.  Ate some lunch.  And it hit me.  This is a modern quilt.  The quilting should be modern!  And I had an idea and was off and running.  All the other stuff - out the window.

3pm I headed up to sew the back into a piece that would fit the quilt.  4pm I had the quilt loaded and was ready to start stitching.  Once I found the ruler for my longarm.  (Me and the longarm ruler are not such good friends, but on a quilt for me, it was a good time to practice, right?)

8pm and it comes off the longarm.  I think the is the longest I've ever spent on a quilt.  And this isn't the largest quilt I've ever done.  But between the ruler and the many times I had to move it less than the full width of the longarm opening, I should have known it was going to take a while.  (But I knew it had to be done before bedtime, or it would be the world's most expensive cat-hammock overnight and I might have to reload the whole thing in the morning...ugh!)

Are you ready to see it yet?


It's about 62x80, so a nice size for my couch.  But man, sewing on that binding these last few nights was pretty warm...not good planning there, but if I want to USE it when it's cold, I have to finish it when it's warm, right?

So how did I quilt it?

Straight lines, but echoing the lines of the pattern.  And I love how it turned out!  I can't wait for it to be cool enough to use it.

The only downside?  I have a white cat.  She sheds a lot.  All year round.  Of course, I also have two black cats and a grey cat, so I've got fur in every color so as to make sure no matter what you wear, there's always a contrasting cat to help you accessorize.  But I wouldn't trade them for the world, so I'll just wash the quilt when it gets too furry...just like all the others.

I've also been doing some work on the purple and grey fabrics I cut at retreat and cutting pieces from my science geek fabrics.  I've been feeling my quilting mojo this past week and I hope I can keep it up.  Life seems to just keep sucking it out of me, but maybe with this quilt newly finished that I love (even more than I loved the top) and some good projects to work on, I'll keep going.

Happy quilting,

Sunday, August 10, 2014

it's a top it's a top it's a top!!!!!

It's been nearly two years since I purchased the kit, but Christmas Pickle is a TOP!!!

Last Saturday evening I decided to lay out the blocks.

This task turned out to a little bit more effort than I initially imagined.  144 pinwheels, 24 arc blocks, nothing in traditional rows, no two arcs going in the same direction, lots of fabrics to try to make sure nobody is too took a while, but thankfully the "helpers" were otherwise occupied.

Then I realized that I had placed everything in the middle of my living room floor.  Like most of the room had quilt pieces in it.  And that there was no way I was running up and down stairs to sew those things together and there was no easy way to get them up there and not mix things up.

This is what TV trays are for right?  (I ended up adding a second one to the left of my machine as piece got larger.)

It got later and later and the hubby was (thankfully) in bed, so he wasn't exactly aware of what I'd done.  I kept sewing and kept sewing and kept sewing because I knew the minute I went to bed, the "helpers" would help.  And the hubby, having gone to be early, was likely to get up earlier than me in the morning and be less than amused.

But I got the top together that night.

And then it sat there, waiting for borders with me contemplating all the time and money I'd spent on this quilt that I wasn't sure I liked any more.  But once I get the red inner and black outer border on, I'll like it, I told myself.  That wasn't enough motivation to get them cut and sewn on, though.

And then yesterday, a couple of friends were at a nearby quilt shop and sent me a photo of some fabrics that, if the shop would still have been open by the time I got there, I would literally have dropped everything I was doing and gone to buy it.

Motivation to get this quilt done?  You bet!

So today I was up early and got started.  Trip to the quilt shop happened between borders 1 and 2, but that was close and I promised myself I'd get #2 on before I cut into the new fabrics.

And I did!

I'm still not entirely sure I like it.  The sample in the shop had more contrast between the greens and whites - there was more variety overall, too, but it's growing on me.  And I know once I get it quilted, I'll love it again.  I'm not sure how to quilt it yet, but I'll be thinking.  I don't have a back yet, but I'd like to have this on my couch come fall, so I have a semi-deadline...we'll see how that goes.

What did I buy?

Science geek fabric!  I bought the last fat quarter of the flask fabric, the last yard of the chalkboard fabric, and then added in a few bubbly fabrics to help brighten things up and pull out the fun colors.  I think I need a couple more, but this was all they had at the quilt shop that I felt worked.  (Oh no, I'll have to go to another store...gasp!)

In that bag is also a Hex N More ruler.  Though up until now I've not had much interest in hexagons, I think this pattern lends itself VERY well to a hexagon (see those molecule drawings in there - hexagons are big in chemical structures!), so I'm going to figure this whole thing out.  If I can use templates to cut pieces and sew curves in the last project, this should be cake, right?

Now it's off to figure out just how big to make this quilt...6" hexagons add up how?  (And I have a sneaking suspicion this one may be another all-nighter to get it off my living room "design floor'...)

Happy quilting,

Monday, July 28, 2014

Jessica's baby quilt

After a long weekend at an awesome quilt retreat, I'm home again and can FINALLY share with you a baby quilt!

I've shared a few sneak peaks here and there of this quilt...I think...but I can't seem to find any of I guess you'll just have to play along and only get to see the finished product.

My coworker announced quite a while ago that she was pregnant and had no plans to find out the sex of the baby before it was born.  She also said she was doing the nursery in grey and yellow.

That first she stuck to.  The second...well, it's a good thing I took a look at her baby registry before heading out to buy fabrics!  Not that a grey and yellow quilt would have been bad, but when I saw she had chosen a bedroom set that included blue, green and jungle animals, I had second thoughts.

I dug through my stash of patterns and found the perfect pattern.  Well, nearly perfect...

by Row House Creations

So foxes aren't exactly jungle animals, but we'll run with it.

Here's a close-up of the quilting:

This is probably the most densely quilted quilt I've ever made, but this was what I wanted to do, and other than a few oops moments where I quilted myself into a corner, I enjoyed it.  (And the oopses weren't so bad - I know how to stop and start, but try not to do it too often.)

I got it done last Tuesday night and we were having a shower for her at work on Thursday.  And it's a good thing because at her doctor appointment Tuesday, it was decided that they'd induce her on Sunday!  She wasn't due for a few more weeks, but for health reasons, it was time.  I haven't heard yet, but I'm guessing by now she's holding her little boy or girl in her arms, falling even more in love and probably not thinking one bit about this quilt.

The quilt retreat that kept me from posting started Friday and ended today, Monday.  It was so much fun and like last year, I laughed until I cried too many times.  A lot of silly things happened, but in the middle of them, an idea to participate in float-form in a local parade evolved into something that could really happen for our guild!  (It started out that we'd somehow get electricity on the float and take our sewing machines and sew "wonky" blocks down the parade route, eating all the candy we should be throwing to the kids...)

There were many visits from the quilt fairy:

(remember those zippers I dyed?  they went into those lips, which contain lip gloss!  tutorial can be found here, at the A Beautiful Mess blog.)

And I got a lot of sewing done.  First I made 120 4" pinwheels for the Christmas Pickle quilt.  Yes, 120.

I promised to show how I make them, but didn't take many photos (I was too busy sewing!), but I will try to get something together soon to share!

Then on to a NEW project!  Remember way back in August when I shared a quilt kit I purchased at the AQS show in Grand Rapids?

Well, I FINALLY got to cut into it!  There is no one pregnant that I need to make a quilt for.  No one graduating.  No one getting married.  No one I need to make a quilt for!  So I decided instead of sewing those pinwheels onto the arc blocks, I would start something new.  (Those pinwheels and arcs are going to need to be layed out completely, then sewn together, and I didn't want to tackle that in the last half-day of a retreat.)

By the time we headed to lunch today, this is what I have:

ALL of the pieces are cut for the quilt!  I need to go through and rearrange things before I sew (another project that will require a bit of space to lay it out), but I am so excited.  I didn't really think about it at the time, but these are Cherrywood fabrics and apparently they are a big deal among some quilters.  I just thought they were pretty when I bought them, but I guess I did a good thing?  I can't wait to get sewing on these, but first real life has to get rolling again, but maybe this coming weekend I'll get some time.  (First I have to unpack the suitcase of quilting stuff I took and find all the stuff I'll need...)

I have a few more things to share, but I'd better get back to the things I need to be doing...

Happy quilting,