Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Jelly Roll Party!

Did any one work on a jelly roll/strippy quilt this month? Anyone? Anyone?

jellyroll!

I started on a postage stamp quilt, but this is how far I got.

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[Womp womp]

That's right. I'm still in the stripping stage.

Instead, I've been trying to make some headway on my WiPs.

I basted my Ruby Shortcake quilt

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and my Happy Campers Irish Chain quilt.

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I took the blocks that have been victims of one bad round of quilt math after another and finally did something with them.

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I finished what felt like approximately 234,986,830 inches worth of binding for quilts to go in a quilt show next month. I'm hoping I can take some pictures for their "finished" posts, It's been either rainy or sunny but wet from all the rain all weekend, so it's been tough to catch the exact right time to haul all the quilts outside for a fashion shoot.
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And I figured out how to do machine applique (again) so I could applique my hexagon flowers onto their background.
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So I didn't finish the jelly roll quilt I started because I've been sewing like I stole it all month, so I'm not feeling too guilty.

Did anyone make something strippy this month? If so, link up below, and I'll pick a winner to receive a Happy Campers jelly roll! The party runs until October 7 at 10pm. Who knows? Maybe I'll even finish my postage stamp top by then. Maybe.

I'll be right back tomorrow with the kickoff to my 31 Days of String Blocks series!!

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Get Ready for It: 31 Days of String Blocks


Last fall, I participated in the Nester's 31 Days series, with a series of "un-collections" posts, where I took a color palette, found some fabric swatches to match, and then picked out an accompanying pattern or tutorial.

It was lots of fun, challenging at times, and it kicked my butt to blog for so many days within a short period of time. But in some ways, it was very unsatisfying as a quilt blogger. I was hypothetically describing all these quilts that would be fun to make, but I didn't actually make any of them. Added to that, my blog posts were awfully dry towards the end. I usually blog when I feel strongly enough about something or make enough headway on a project to justify a blog post. So this year, I'm hoping I'll actually have something that I made to talk about each day, not just something that I hacked together from images on the Internet.

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First, this year, I want to do something a bit more creative. Not that last year's series wasn't creative, per se, but I didn't have anything physical to show for it at the end of the month. I've been brainstorming different ideas, and I think I've finally settled on one: 31 Days of String Blocks. I still have a good bucketful of Joy strings leftover from July's jelly roll project, so I have plenty of raw materials to work with.

Second, I'm going to be more organized about the series this year. I already have a spreadsheet (surprise!) of all the blocks I've found to make and share, and I'm hoping to pull them all together in some sort of sampler quilt (top) by Christmas time. We'll see how it goes.

Now I'm not stupid. I know that it's very unlikely that I'll be able to make 1 block a day every day in October and then have the time to blog about said block. I have too much laundry. So instead, I'm starting early. I've been making a few blocks here and there as I have time and drafting posts so that they're ready to go come October.

So between now and October 1st, start amassing some strings and selvedges (selvages?) and get ready to play along.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Scrappy Siblings

Last summer, I wanted a couple of easy projects to take to the beach with me, something easy, quick and portable. You know, the quilty equivalent of a trashy paperback for beach reading. I grabbed some charm squares from my stack of scrappy charms, along with a big stack of yardage for the background.

I used a couple of (borderless) variations on my Double 4-patch tutorial. Whenever I'm not sure what to do with a charm pack, it's one of my go-to patterns.

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I can't decide which version I like better.

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Don't make me choose.

I finished up the quilt tops late last summer, but it wasn't until THIS summer that I pulled them out to baste and quilt - it took all of one night to quilt both of them.

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The backings came off the sale rack at Thimble Pleasures, one of my favorite places to score reasonably priced backing fabric.

Now the quilts are on their way to kids with Durham Foster Care.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Forgetful

Sometimes, I forget things, like announcing winners of giveaways.

The winner of the August jelly roll party is Sue, who did some awesome machine quilting on her table runner! (Sue - I just sent you an email - be sure to reply, and I'll have Fabric Depot send you a scrap bag!)

Other times, I forget things like blogging about finished quilts, which is crazy, since that's the whole reason I started this blog. But ahem. Moving along.

Last July, one of my high school friends/college roomates had a baby. A baby with extremely pinch-able cheeks and eyebrows that arch exactly like hers. He's kind of adorable. He's also going to be the most zoologically inclined baby on the block because I made this quilt for him.

Take this with a grain of salt because science has never been my strongest area of interest, but there are animals on this quilt I'd never even heard of before I picked up this panel.

close up of the blocks

The quilt started with an "alphabet animals" panel, designed by Lisa deJohn. I cut up the squares, sashed them with some solid 2.5" strips, and wonki-fied them to square them up to 8.5" square a la this quilt along. I had to add in a few extra 9-patch and wonky star blocks to bring up the total number of squares to an even 30.

wonky alphabet panel

The backing is a mix of Heather Bailey and another coordinating red print that I picked up at Thimble Pleasures, but whose selvage is now long gone. This is what happens when you wait 8 months to blog about finished quilts. You lose selvages and don't, in fact, remember who designed that particular fabric.

zig zag backing

The quilting is a medium-scale loopy stippling - I think the loops make for a nice contrast to the hard angles and wonkiness of the blocks.

If you haven't seen it already, Nicole recently made a super-cool quilt with this panel too! (Her post is actually what jiggered my memory and made me realize I hadn't blogged about this quilt.)

Quilt Stats:
Started: July 2011
Finished: January 2012
Machine-pieced, machine-quilted


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Week With All the Binding

This week will go down as a week of epic closure in the history of my quilting life. Last Friday night, I stayed up late making six, yes SIX, bindings. Three of them, I attached all by machine while polishing off Desperate Housewives, Season 6- more on those quilts later this week. The other three, I'm tacking down by hand.

more hand binding 
The Joy quilt is definitely one of my favorites from this year.

time to bind the grannies 
Closely followed by the granny square quilt I made with some Etchings fabric by 3 Sisters.

Here's a link to my nutty WiP spreadsheet. You might or might not notice that I'm making glacial progress - I'm all the way down to 20 projects - 2 months ago, I was at 23 - w00t!

I'm linking up to WiP Wednesday. Go see what all the cool kids are working on this week!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

WiP Wednesday + Just 3

From a blogging perspective, writing a series of advice-laden posts about machine quilting worked out pretty well, since I haven't been especially productive with my actual quilting projects the last few days.

We spent Labor Day weekend at the beach with some friends. The only sewing I've accomplished the past few days has been hand-sewing hexies in the car. 

It's time to get down to the brass tax of things. I've registered three quilts in a local quilt show for next month. Here's the catch: none of them is finished yet. Yeah, I know, right? I'm pretty lucky that I belong to a guild lax enough to allow such heresy. 

So in order from the least amount of work to the most amount of work, here's what needs to happen this month: 

1. Bind my Bliss quilt - includes making the binding, attaching it to the front, and hand-sewing to the back.

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2. Finish machine-quilting my Joy Sunshine in the Shadows quilt, make binding, attach binding, and hand-sew it to the back. I only have a couple more rows worth of blocks to machine quilt. With any luck, I'll be done with the quilting by the weekend.

#fmq party on the front

3. My Central Park hexagon quilt - This is where the pedal really needs to hit the metal. Admittedly, I wanted to wrap up this quilt in time to enter it in the Festival of Hexagons, but that didn't happen. Here's the photo I submitted with my registration

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A few things you might or might not notice: 

  • The hexagons aren't actually stitched down to the background. Seriously.
  • I haven't even stitched the background fabric into one large piece yet. I just folded it over on one of the ends so that the two large pieces of yardage would be the same size.
  • The picture is blurry as @#$% in an attempt to mask some of the "freshness" of the project.

Like I said, the guild is very forgiving. 

Central park hexagons

It might be a bit of a stretch for me to finish the hexagon quilt in time for the show, but I know that if I don't have a real deadline, it will just sit in my WiP pile for months on end. Plus, I really do want to enter it in the show. It's the first year we're having a "modern" category, and I'm hoping that this will be an apt contribution to the category - whimsical use of negative space, a re-invention of a modern design, along with bright, vibrant colors. 

What's everyone else got on tap for the week/month? 

I'm linking up to WiP Wednesday (at Freshly Pieced) and Just Three (over at traceyjay quilts)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced traceyjay quilts

Also, if you have any jelly roll/strippy quilts or quilt tops that you finished in August, don't forget to link up to the Let Me See Your Jelly Roll! party for August. I forgot to mention that I slacked off in August and didn't track down a jelly roll or scrap bag for the winner. So I'll just have one of my favorite shops send a scrap bag of some variety to the winner for August. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dr. Quiltlove: Or How I'm Learning to Stop Worrying and Love Free Motion Quilting: Day 5


Welcome to my Dr. Quiltlove series, where I'm rambling waxing poetic on how you might overcome some fear and machine quilt some of those tops you have sitting around your house. In case you've missed the past couple of days, here's a quick recap:
Day 1: 10 minutes
Day 2: Getting to know you 
Day 3: Finding courage
Day 4: It gets easier

Like I mentioned the other day, when I first started machine quilting, I essentially quilted in a pseudo-vacuum. I wasn't following blogs, I wasn't really going to any guild meetings, I didn't have the time or money to go to quilt shows (grad school, anyone?), and the only other machine quilter I knew was my mother, who loved everything I did and encouraged me like crazy, no matter how ugly and uneven my stitches actually were. So I didn't have the opportunity to compare my first machine quilted piece to an expert longarmer's most recent masterpiece.

Quilt blogs are great. I love them and can't imagine my crafty life without them now. I know that sounds cheesetastic, but it's true. They're a great source of inspiration and information, but they can also be dangerous if you're insecure about your abilities. Take the pictures and text with a grain of salt. Don't let the pictures of the perfect stitches and smooth arcs paralyze you with doubt and insecurity. Most bloggers, quilters and otherwise, aren't going to divulge the ugliest bits of their lives. I'm not criticizing them for it - I get that, and I'm the same way. But I have to remind myself of it sometimes when I catch myself feeling inadequate or small when I read other quilt blogs.

Blog-Inspiration

I don't go to the SuperQuilters' blogs thinking that I should be quilting designs that look just like theirs. I've come to terms with the fact that it's impossible and not what I want for my quilting anyways. I go to the SuperQuilters' blogs looking for something that strikes me and  that I can practice and incorporate into my next quilt. I look at their quilting designs and try to break them down into basic shapes and lines. Then I make those designs my own.

Writing in Cursive

I like to compare free motion quilting to handwriting. Thinking back to elementary school - my first letters were pretty rough. And even after years of handwriting lessons where I meticulously formed each line, my neat handwriting didn't look exactly like my teachers' handwriting. Free motion quilting is the same way. The first few attempts will probably be rough, but if you keep practicing, you'll find your own groove and interpretation of someone else's design. The concentric circles pattern from the Joy quilt is unique. Yes, that design was most definitely inspired by a design in Angela's book, but even if I practice this particular design for months or even years, my circles will still be unique from hers because I made them - she didn't. That's one of the benefits of free motion quilting. You get to put your own spin on each design. If you're aiming to make an exact replica of someone else's quilting design, you should probably start saving your pennies for one of those programmable quilting machines.
Ben & Jerry's Snickerdoodle Cookie

Tip #5: Stop comparing yourself to others. It never ends well - usually with a pint of Ben and Jerry's, topped off with some self-pity chocolate syrup. Pin or bookmark what you like, and look for ways to incorporate those elements into your own craftiness.

With that, I am stepping down off my blogger soapbox and bringing my Dr Quiltlove series to a close (for now). I hope it's been useful! It's certainly felt good to get all that off my chest.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Dr. Quiltlove: Or How I'm Learning to Stop Worrying and Love Free Motion Quilting: Day 4


Welcome to my Dr. Quiltlove series, where I'm rambling waxing poetic on how you might overcome some fear and machine quilt some of those tops you have sitting around your house. In case you've missed the past couple of days, here's a quick recap:
Day 1: 10 minutes
Day 2: Getting to know you
Day 3: Finding courage

fmq practice 

Like I mentioned the other day, I've always been ignorantly brave about quilting my own tops, mainly because I just didn't know any better. These days, I'm trying to become even more blase about trying new designs. Now don't get me wrong, most of the time I don't just start quilting whatever comes to mind and see what happens. I doodled the concentric cirlces pattern from my Joy quilt on lots of pages in my notebook before I took needle to thread, but the first time I quilted it, it was on the actual quilt, not a muslin sandwich or a "practice top." The first few times I did the design on this top, wobbles were everywhere, and there was a bit of herky jerky action going on, but that's okay. It got better as I went along, and now the wobbly bits are kind of blending in. Odds are, there will be other quilt tops that come along that beg for this pattern also. So I'll keep getting less wobbly at the design as I practice using it in more quilts.

#fmq party on the front

The quilt top that you love now, consider to be your ultimate achievement, and are terrified of screwing up - it will probably be "topped" (Punny, right?) by something equally fabulous that you make and love even more next year. So just quilt it, and take *comfort* in the fact this quilt doesn't have to be your ultimate quilting ultimate achievement for life. You're going to keep improving and growing.

In conclusion, tip #4: Get some perspective. If that doesn't seem to work for you, it's okay. There's probably a talented longarmer in the area who's happy to quilt your "Precious" top. Just keep practicing on the tops you care less about until you've built up enough confidence to quilt one of your "Precious" projects. And the more you practice, the more confidence you'll build to keep trying new designs.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Jelly Roll August Party!

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Oops, sorry I forgot to post yesterday. I was too excited about the long Labor Day weekend. Here's the top I finished.

ruby mosaic 
Here are my favorite blocks. Sigh. Love those floral prints.

The pattern: Shortbread by Cluck Cluck Sew - I HIGHLY recommend it. It didn't require too much additional fabric and came together in a cinch.

The fabric: Ruby by Bonnie and Camille for Moda

Who worked on strippy projects in August? I wanna see 'em! I'll leave the party open until September 8th at 9am!