Friday, May 22, 2015

TGIFF: Quilty Fun!

This is one of my favorite sampler designs ever! I made this quilt as part of the Quilty Fun Sew Along. I started this project because I was working on the Texas A&M quilt and I really needed a project with bright colors! I gave this quilt to my mom for Mother's Day.

Quilty Fun Sew Along | Scraps | 67.5"x67.5"

The cutting instructions are available at the The Jolly Jabber, but for block construction you need Lori Holt's book Quilty Fun: Lessons in Scrappy Patchwork. I really love Lori's techniques for working with tiny scraps. Some of the blocks are constructed in a completely different way than I expected. She also included detailed pressing instructions at each step! The projects in the book feature one or more of these blocks in some capacity. There is a Row Along Quilt in the book, as well as ten individual projects. The book is spiral bound, which is great because it lays flat on the table while you work.

I chose to work scraps that were red, yellow, pink, light blue, yellow-green and blue-green. I avoided purple and orange for the most part. The white background is Vintage Modern Dots in Cream, the red border is Baby Jane Hop Skip Fabric in Scarlet and the outer border is Ta Dot in Teal. Ta Dot in Teal is one of my favorite dot prints and I especially love it next to red.

All the blocks are so adorable, but the quarter square triangles are my favorite! I am going through my scraps now so I can make a large quarter square triangle quilt. It will definitely have bigger blocks though!

The hardest part for me was the frame around the bee. The simple blocks (flying geese, squares and quarter square triangles) are the ones I had the hardest time working on in a smaller scale. If I could go back, I would work on the bee block first and all of the frame pieces immediately after.  I think starch would have helped.

There is a lot of detail in this quilt and I uploaded a few more detailed shots to my Flickr account.

The quilt top finishing and backing instructions are at Bee in My Bonnet. I was really tempted to to make a whole fabric backing, but this was a really good opportunity to use some (24!) fat quarters that have been sitting in my closet for a very long time. Many of them are large prints, which I have a difficult time using. I've learned not to buy large prints, except for specific projects!

I love the embroidery details in this pattern!

Large stipple in Aurifil 50wt Dove. I use Dove all the time for quilting and piecing. It blends really well and sometimes it seems like it is taking on the color of the fabric below it.

The binding is Medium Cotton Gingham Red (Riley Blake). Any kind of gingham or gridded binding drives me crazy, but it was perfect for this quilt. I like the chunkiness of the print, especially in contrast with all the tiny prints in the quilt! I chose a red binding to match the inner border.

There is a Flickr group for this quilt along. I love seeing all the different color schemes!

I am still working on the baby quilts! 40 blocks finished for the girl quilt and all the block components are finished for the boy quilt.

I will be linking up with Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, Fabric Frenzy Friday at Fort Worth Fabric StudioThank Goodness It's Finished Friday (which is being hosted at -Slostudio this week) and  Show off Saturday at the Sew Can She blog.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

2012 Designer Block of the Month Quilt

I started this block of the month quilt in the summer of 2012, about six months after I started quilting. It feels so awesome to mark this one off the project list! This quilt is a gift for one of our aunts.

2012 Designer Mystery Block @ FQS | Vintage Modern | 69.5" x 87”

I made this quilt as part of the 2012 Designer Mystery Block program at Fat Quarter Shop. Kitted quilts don't involve much creativity, but they are fantastic for learning and improving skills without having to worry about all the aesthetic decisions that come with making a quilt. They also make for nice, relaxing side projects. I only stuck with the monthly sewing for a few of the blocks, but it was fun receiving a pretty package in the mail each month!

The instructions were very clear and organized. All the fabrics are from Vintage Modern by Bonnie and Camille. The Fat Quarter Shop sent more than enough fabric. I actually made two blocks from the fabric for the third block on the first row.

All the blocks in this quilt consist of flying geese, half square triangles, goose in the corner blocks (flippy corners?), and/or basic square/rectangle blocks. When I first started, all these blocks looked so complicated. I was surprised when I learned how they were made from the same simple parts in different configurations. My proficiency with all these basic quilt building blocks improved greatly over the course of making this quilt.

I pre-washed and starched all the top fabrics. My blocks always look better when I starch! I took special care to piece the striped sashing so that the striped pattern was continuous with no breaks.

The backing is Cream Cotton Blossom. When I was done quilting, I remembered that I had washed all the fabric except the backing! Thankfully, everything came out of the dryer fine. (All these pictures are post-wash.)

This is my favorite block! Sunday Drive designed by Polly Minick & Laurie Simpson

Quilted with a large stipple using Aurifil 50wt White. This is the second large quilt I have quilted with my frame. Sometimes I feel like I have no idea what I am doing, but that feeling is slowly subsiding. I read The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy recently and one paragraph really put things in perspective for me:
[While attending a cardiac arrest situation] We were in the doorway, watching the madness unfold. "Michael Jordan said the game would slow down for him," Baio whispered, "when he was in the zone. The more of these you see, the slower things will move." 
A basketball player, a doctor and a quilter might not have that much in common professionally, but the mental process for acquiring new skills is similar. Right now quilting feels a little chaotic, but the more I quilt the easier it will become. This second quilt already felt a little easier than the first quilt, which felt easier than the two baby quilts.  I am sure this will continue as I quilt through my rather large backlog of quilt tops!

The binding is Candy Apple Gumdrop. I love red bindings, so I was pretty happy that it was the binding fabric provided!

There is a Flickr group for this block of the month club. It is fun to see the different quilting and layout choices. I really love what Elaine @ Messy Goat did with her quilt. The layout is stunning and she really made the quilt special and meaningful.

Next week, I will be sharing my Quilty Fun finish. I have two more large quilt tops that will be quilted as soon as I piece the backings. I am also working on two baby quilts.

I will be linking up with Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, Fabric Frenzy Friday at Fort Worth Fabric StudioThank Goodness It's Finished Friday (which is being hosted at -A Quarter Inch from the Edge this week) and  Show off Saturday at the Sew Can She blog.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Star Gazer Quilt

Those of you who read here regularly will recognize this color scheme! :) This quilt is a commission, so I provided a menu of options and made this quilt based on the customer's preferences. This is my farthest traveling quilt; my husband hand-delivered it to Trinidad last week!

The pattern is Star Gazer by Lunden Designs. I really like how the pattern continues off the left and right edges! The instructions are really easy to follow and the resulting quilt is so pretty. The Orange Peel is not the most forgiving quilt block, so for beginners I would recommend practicing with a few blocks before cutting fabric for the whole quilt. I only sewed one test block to give myself confidence to pursue this pattern, but I wish I would have sewn a few more so I could see how they all fit together. Sewing these curves was not hard at all and any problems I had were solely because of some slight cutting inaccuracies.
  • Accurate template cutting is essential! The legs of the star need to be perfect. I accidentally cut two of the legs a little small. The measurement difference is slight, but it is noticeable on the finished block (mostly because two of the legs are closer to correct and/or I stared at this quilt for too long)! :D).
  • I cut appropriately sized squares & rectangles out of the fabric first and then cut pieces out using the templates. I left the flat end of the blue parts a little long, so I would have extra room during the trimming process. Precutting the squares might not be as doable if you are fussy cutting, but if the print is centered in the square I think it should be fine.
  • EZ Quilting Extra Thick Template Plastic, a 18mm rotary blade, and cutting in stacks of four solved many of the problems I've previously had with trimming the template plastic.
  • I've been saying it for every quilt pattern lately, but for this one especially: ROTATING CUTTING MAT! I used it for cutting the pieces with the templates and trimming the blocks. It made everything so much easier. When trimming, the legs should hit the 45-degree lines.
  • I was really happy that I had no problems with my blocks laying flat. I used all of the best practices for curves, so any or all of these may have helped me avoid problems: (1) Starch! (2) Serious pinning. (3) Carefully pressing the seam and then pressing the whole block from the back (4) Sewing slowly. (5) Small stitch length (6) Sewing half of a curve at a time, from the center to the edge.
  • Instead of pinning the last 1/2" of the star legs, I glue basted. It helped me keep everything lined up in the end. 
  • When I finished all the blocks, I glue basted the blocks into rows. I spent a long time arranging the blocks and that step prevented any mix-ups.
  • I wish I had used techniques to reduce bulky seams. The block intersections had a lot going on!

The name was pieced using from blank pages... My First Alphabet (Limited Use License) pattern. Most of these quilts have been gifts, so I am only on 2 of 50 of the license. The name was long, so I flipped it vertically to take advantage of the length of the quilt.

I used Sax Plain White Newsprint for paper-piecing. It is so easy to work with! At Amazon.com it is currently $3.59 + $4.99 shipping for 500 pages which is a better price than paper specifically sold for paper-piecing, but it might be worth checking an office store nearby so you can avoid shipping costs.

Cloud dinosaurs? Yes please!

The blue print is Let's Pretend Cloud Pictures in Breeze by Sarah Jane, which is the cutest. I've gotten in the bad habit of finding a print I like and then trying to find it in the store. The print was harder to find than expected, especially in the Breeze colorway.

More information on the personalized baby quilt backings at this link.

The stars weren't as uniform as they should've been, so I wanted to use an allover pattern. Straight lines were out, because I thought it would draw attention to any of the more unique stars! My thought process was: Star Gazer → Stars → Milky Way → Spiral. Spiral quilting adds such great texture and is really easy once you get started.

The spiral has 1" spacing between quilting lines. The Juki walking foot is 1/4" and I was not willing to spiral quilt in 1/4" increments! That is when I discovered one issue with the Juki walking foot; there is no place for a guide bar! Since I had a terrible time trying to use a paper clip as an impromptu guide bar during my last spiral quilting experience, this time I decided to glue (E6000) a .75" toothpick to my walking foot as a guide (NOTE: I let the glue set for 24 hours). Surprisingly, it worked! The toothpick gave me a single point to focus on and came off easily when I was finished.

Spiral quilting was much less frustrating this time! I have bigger harp space now, but I think the biggest difference was the needle down function. I am never buying a machine without needle down again! I also made it easy on myself and started the spiral in the center this time. I used a smaller stitch when starting the spiral. The first few rounds are the hard part, because the curves are tight. The smaller stitch length made it easier to slowly navigate those tight curves.

The top thread is Aurifil Light Blue Grey 50wt and it blended better than the light blue I used on my last quilt with this color scheme. I used Aurifil Aluminium for the bobbin thread. I chose something that was a little lighter than the Light Blue Grey for the back, so the color of the thread wouldn't overpower the name.

Red and white strips again! The fabric is Michael Miller Clown Stripe in Red.

I looked at my finished quilt page and realized that my last seven quilts were baby quilts. I desperately need to make an adult quilt and/or a quilt for myself! I have a couple more baby quilts to make, but after that I am going to get serious about finishing some of my larger quilts.

I will be linking up with Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, Fabric Frenzy Friday at Fort Worth Fabric StudioThank Goodness It's Finished Friday (which is being hosted at -Things I Make this week),  Show off Saturday at the Sew Can She blog and Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts
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