Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An urge to finish

Over the last few days, I've really had this urge to finish some projects. The top third of my Playtime quilt is put together, I finally got my Stacked Coins Quilt to the binding stage (nearly complete!), and then last night I basted my Mod Sampler Quilt (from the Oh, Fransson! Quilt Along).

basted Mod Sampler quilt
I've even started working through ideas for one of my long-closeted UFOs (I think I even have a plan now!). Hopefully, I can keep the momentum going.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Playtime: the bunting

I kept busy over the weekend working on my Playtime quilt (a fabulous BOM design from American Jane Patterns). This month's block was a row of gumdrop bunting that goes along the top of the quilt. I did it a little differently from the instructions, and I thought I'd share my process.

This is the template for the bunting shape:

bunting template
The way the instructions would have one do it, you'd create a number of finished circles (much in the same way as I prepared the ball previously) and then you'd cut them into quarters and then pair them together to create the gumdrops. The problem with that is that, unless one wanted only 4 different colors in the bunting (which is not how it is pictured on the pattern), there would be a lot of wasted quarters. So I did it differently.

stitched squares
I cut sixteen 4" squares and eight 1" x 4" strips from a variety of fabrics and then stitched them together as shown in the photo above: square - strip - square. Then I cut eight 4.5" x 8.5" rectangles from a thin, white muslin.

tracing the template
I put the muslin on top of the template and traced a half circle. The muslin was super cheap thin, so I didn't even need a lightbox for tracing.

stitch on the line
I put the muslin and the stitched squares right sides together, being careful to center the muslin on the squares, and then stitched on the traced line.

trimming the half-circle
Next, I trimmed, leaving about 1/4" seam allowance.

turning the shape right side out
Then I turned it right side out, pressed,

trimming the gumdrop to size
and trimmed the top edge down to size.

finished gumdrop shape
Ta-da! A finished gumdrop.

gumdrop close-up
Then it was all a matter of appliqueing them to the background and adding the cherry on top (or below?).

The finished block:

Playtime: gumdrop bunting block
It's 6.5" wide and 66" long.

With that completed, I was able to put together the whole top 1/3 of the quilt!

Playtime: the top third pieced together
Yay, progress!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: A-12

Jane Stickle block A-12Block number/name: A-12 “Framed Fancy”

Date completed: April 24, 2009

Number of pieces: 41

Notes on block: This block went together fine until I got to the outside “triangles” (they actually had 4 sides… so I guess, technically, they were 4-sided polygons?). Then I had problems. First, I sewed the triangles on flush with each side before realizing they were supposed to overlap. So my block ended up way too big… like 5 ½”. So I ripped all of them off. Of course, the inner pieces had stretched some with that. This meant I had to kind of squoosh them to fit along the new seam. Adding to the frustration was that I didn’t know how far, exactly, the outside piece was supposed to extend beyond the block. I guessed 3/8” and then sewed all my triangles and their inset seams. It wasn’t right. It seemed to be off by about 1/8”. But, at that point, it was close enough. Yay, for my friend, the steam iron!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Little Sheep Quilt

I got word that baby Nolan received his quilt (and that he loves it!), so I can finally show off the finished project:

Little Sheep Quilt complete!
The design is Elizabeth Hartman's Simple Modern Baby Quilt (available through her etsy shop, Oh, Fransson!). It is a simple and very effective pattern. The instructions call for some non-traditional techniques, and I enjoyed trying out her methodology. All the seams were pressed open, all the blocks were made a little larger and then cut down to size (which did really ensure uniform-sized blocks), the quilting is through just the top two layers allowing a stitch-free back (so as not to affect the super softness of the minkee), and I used a very different (for me) binding technique (which I doubt I'll be using again, but it was cool to try it out).

Little Sheep Quilt front
The pattern includes directions and templates for an applique bird, kitty, puppy, and giraffe. They are super cute, but didn't really fit my farm theme. So I went ahead and drew my own little sheep. This would be a great pattern for beginners as the blocks are simple and the instructions are incredibly detailed (and include lots of pictures!). I really recommend it for a simple and fun baby quilt project.

Little Sheep Quilt back
I really wasn't sure about how well the quilting technique would work, but it turned out well. The key is to make sure it is taut (but not stretched) before laying the quilted top layers on it, and then basting really well around the edges so it doesn't shift (which is actually kind of challenging). I washed it up and it seems to hold together flat pretty well... I didn't end up with a funky tent when it came out of my dryer, so I count that as a success. I wouldn't try this with anything larger than a baby quilt though. I don't think it would work as well.

Little Sheep Quilt label
I was a little surprised at how easily I was able to stitch the label on by hand, even on the minkee. If I had thought ahead better, I would have made the label and stitched it onto the back by machine before layering the quilt together. Ah, well. Next time I'll be smarter about it.

Little Sheep Quilt nice and folded
This quilt was a lot of fun to make. I hope it offers lots of snuggly goodness to little Nolan!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Autumn House - Block 3

Last week I was able to finish up block 3 of my Autumn House BOM, "Oh Pumpkin Tree, Oh Pumpkin Tree...":

Autumn House block 3
This block got off to a rocky start for me. I had gotten everything prepped and had basted the first piece, the house, to the background. But then I woke up the next morning and found that my poor house had been torn from the background and had a giant hole in it! Eeep! My cat ate my house!!! This was a first. None of the cats has ever cared about my applique before. I'm not sure why this house was so attractive, but it was irreversibly munched. Fortunately, the background survived. I ran to my local quilt shop to see if they happened to carry the house fabric (the BOM is not through them, but I know they carry a number of Moda fabrics, so I was hopeful). They were down to their last fat quarter and I snatched it up. Thank goodness!!!

Lesson learned: hide all works in progress from cats.

Other than that, everything went smoothly. The pumpkin tree had some pruning issues during construction and is a little wonky, but I figure it just gives the house a little bit of character.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: A-11

Jane Stickle block A-11Block number/name: A-11 “Pebble’s Protest”

Date completed: April 19, 2009

Number of pieces: 37

Notes on block: What is with the blocks in row A? So many of them just have a ton of pieces! I’m glad I didn’t just start with this row first, or I doubt I would have ever gotten anywhere in this quilt. This block was pretty challenging for me and it is far from perfect. I also wish I had done more fussy cutting so that one could see more of the nifty starbursts in the fabric. (The fabulous fabric was from the amazing Anina!) But, at least it is finished. Phew!

Friday, April 17, 2009

My Quilt Festival Entry

This is Megan's Butterflies.

Megan's Butterflies, front
The quilt was a gift to my sister-in-law, Megan, for Christmas in 2001. The evening I gave the quilt to her, my husband asked her what kind of quilt she would like to get someday. She responded, "Oh... something very traditional, maybe red and white." I nearly blanched. Ack! Well, I figured, it was too late for that-- she was gonna get rainbows. :)

This was my first original design, created all by myself with my imagination and some graph paper! (Can you tell I'm proud?)

Megan's Butterflies, detail 2
Megan loves fairies and butterflies, and at the 2000 Quilt Festival I picked up some nifty batik butterfly squares (the ones in the border). For a long while, I was stymied as to what to do with them. But after making my first couple of bargello quilts, inspiration hit. I chose the colors for the quilt from the batik squares, and the design just kind of flowed across the paper. It came together very quickly.

Megan's Butterflies, back
The other fun aspect of the quilt for me is the back. I pieced the back using the remnant of fabrics from the front, as well as the last butterfly square, and another beautiful butterfly batik. I then used the pattern on the batik and quilted the design from the back-- so on the front you see lots of butterflies seemingly randomly fluttering about.

Megan's Butterflies, quilting detail

And, the label:

Megan's Butterflies, label

(I apologize for the pictures... I don't have the originals anymore, and I couldn't take new ones as Megan is currently gallavanting about New Zealand.)

If you have the chance, try to check out the other entries in the Blogger's Quilt Festival (if you click on the link and scroll down a little, there are links to all the participants). There are some amazing quilts and many wonderful stories out there. So inspiring!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: C-11

Jane Stickle block C-11Block number/name: C-11 “Soldiers and Sailors Monument”

Date completed: April 15, 2009

Number of pieces: 12

Notes on block: What is it about this block that calls to me? The curves? The pretty sage green fabric? The overall look? That it was made while drinking hot cocoa and eating cookies? Whatever the reason, I love this block. One of my favorites, for sure. And many thanks to Anina for sharing her fabulous appliqué approach to this block. It worked perfectly!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bloggers Quilt Festival!

Park City Girl has a brilliant idea for all of us quilting bloggers to have a quilt show! I love it!

Bloggers Quilt Festival button

Since I've been too big a chicken to ever enter anything into any type of quilt show thus far, I'm really excited to be able to join in on this virtual one. Now I just have to choose a quilt!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: TR-9

Jane Stickle block TR-9Block number/name: TR-9 “Needle’s Point”

Date completed: April 13, 2009

Number of pieces: 9

Notes on block: For only having 9 pieces, this block was kind of a pain. So many inset seams! After looking at Anina’s instructions though, I think I had it pretty easy since I handpieced. So I’m not going to complain. In fact, I’m feeling pretty good that it all came together as well as it did. It even lays flat!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Stacked coins baby quilt

Over the last few days, I was finally able to get going on my Stacked Coins Baby Quilt-- and I have a completed top!

I think it's looking pretty and sweet so far. Very girly! I've also completed the back, and hope to get it all basted this week (the baby is due next week!).

I'm undecided about how to quilt it. Initially, I was thinking about trying to quilt some pink and yellow or variegated flowers in the sashing strips, with a simple stipple through the coins. But I'm not sure if my skills are quite up to flowers. So then I was thinking an overall stipple, in the style of amandajean's original. Hmmm...

It might be good to try and stretch myself a little.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Six things...

Oh, my. It has felt like a crazy week! And I have very little to show for it. I am also so behind in my blog reading. I only just realized I was recently tagged by Lindsey to write 6 honest things about myself. So here goes...
  1. fabulous shark picture from: Sharks are my favorite animals. I've never found them scary (well... maybe Jaws). Rather, they are amazing, fascinating creatures. They have been around for millions of years, continually evolving and changing. And I'm just in awe. I'm not saying that I would want to meet a great white up-close and personal... but, at the same time, that would be awfully cool.

  2. For 33 years, I never wore make-up (I was so ignorant, there's no doubt in my mind that I wouldn't have even been able to successfully put it on had I tried). But about 10 weeks into my pregnancy with the boy, I was feeling so ugly and horrible that I went out and spent $350 on facial cleansing products and make-up (all in one fell swoop from one department store counter), got my first manicure and pedicure, and my first brow wax. Wow! It was amazing. Now I really wonder how I survived for so long without beautification!

  3. my boy! I am a stay at home mom to a wonderful and amazing little boy. Always, I feel blessed and grateful that I can be that for him. But sometimes, I really wish I was working and contributing financially to the household. Sometimes, I worry that I'm not good enough to be doing this whole at home mom thing, and that a daycare would offer more somehow (socialization, activities, variety). And sometimes, I just miss going to work each day and facing those kinds of challenges (as opposed to the challenges of a rampaging toddler).

  4. When I was in junior high and high school, I was certain that I wanted to be a music teacher. I was completely immersed in music-- the epitome of a band geek. I played 5 instruments reasonably well (trumpet, alto and tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, bells), 2 very well (clarinet and piano), and 1 horribly (cello lessons just did not go well... I just have no coordination skills). But after my second year of college, I pretty much stopped playing altogether. I look back, and it seems so crazy that something that was such a huge part of my life for so long just kind of stopped.

  5. The music of Britney Spears makes me happy. And I am not ashamed of it.

  6. My guilty movie pleasure: disaster movies. I love them. If the world is in peril, I'm so there (and OMG-- have you seen the preview for 2012???). One of my favorite movies of all-time is Armageddon, and I am slightly ashamed of it. But there it is.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have something crafty to share.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: C-10 & M-2

Jane Stickle block C-10Block number/name: C-10 “Patriot’s Lantern”

Date completed: April 8, 2009

Number of pieces: 37

Notes on block: Despite having sewed one of the pieces wrong-side-out (can you tell which one?), I really like this block. It’s kind of unlike me to leave a mistake like that, but it just felt like a fun thing to do at that moment (albeit a little weird). Another aspect of the block that I was unsure of was the green. I chose it because of what is appearing around it in the quilt. Now that the block complete, I’m glad I did. But it wasn’t my first choice.

Since I’m still not feeling any need to tear it apart and fix it (either for the backwards piece or the color), I think it will be okay.

Jane Stickle block M-2Block number/name: M-2 “Duff’s Bluff”

Date completed: April 8, 2009

Number of pieces: 21

Notes on block: After the last few blocks, this one felt like a piece of cake, even with 21 pieces! And two blocks finished in one evening! And I’m caught up with That Quilt again (at least until tomorrow)! And the new Joss Whedon show Dollhouse has finally caught my attention and is getting interesting! And my husband brought me hot cocoa and biscotti as I was stitching! (Mmmmm…) Woo! That’s a lot of excitement. Maybe a little too much? But this block really does make me smile. It’s just does.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: RS-12

Jane Stickle block RS-12Block number/name: RS-12 “Linda’s Church in the Valley”

Date completed: April 6, 2009

Number of pieces: 31

Notes on block: I’m working on catching up with the blog. (Only 2 blocks behind now!) I have to say, this is not one of my favorite blocks. But its name actually makes me like it a little better, because it helped me visualize the little church steeple and the wide valleys. Before I saw that, it just appeared blocky and odd.

The worst part about the block for me was the cutting. There were a lot of pieces, only a few of which could be cut out in pairs. Since cutting is not fun for me, it felt tedious and it took a long time. I was a little worried too because the software’s version of this block had tiny little bends and angles in the pieces. I decided to just go ahead and ignore most all of them, and was very happy that everything still fit together.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Jane Stickle Quilt: A-9

Jane Stickle block A-9Block number/name: A-9 “Cabin Fever”

Date completed: April 5, 2009

Number of pieces: 45

Notes on block: This block was initially so intimidating that I just kept putting it off. I didn’t even want to cut it out, there were so many pieces. But, I got over it and finally just sat down and did it. As it turns out, it didn’t even take that long; I only spent two evenings on it. The construction was simple, so even though there were a lot of pieces, it went together very easily.

Over the weekend, spring finally arrived! I don’t think it will last, but I’m enjoying the happy sunshine and warmth.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Crafty giftiness

The last few days have been busy. Thursday was another fun guild meeting. Friday was an awesome mom's night out, bowling with the preschool mamas. Then yesterday I got my hair done (woo hoo!) and we attended a fabulous birthday celebration for our friend V who just turned 3!

I asked V's mom for gift ideas. She suggested that V might enjoy some appliqued t-shirts... you know, if I wanted to be crafty. And, of course I want to be crafty!

appliqued t-shirts
I think one of the toughest challenges in putting these together was in actually finding plain t-shirts. Who knew they would be so hard to find? Crazy! Thankfully, I finally found these at Target. Initially, I was thinking I'd use my embroidery machine. But then I would have had to take the shirts apart (they're 3T and would have been hard to hoop otherwise) and set up my embroidery unit. Since time was of the essence, I opted instead to do the applique with a satin stitch on my regular machine and do some hand embroidery for the lettering and details.

bunny applique
Overall, I think they turned out pretty well. But I definitely learned some things:
  • Use 2 layers of stabilizer when doing the satin stitching. I think I like 1 layer of tear away, and 1 layer of leave-in. I only used one layer of tear-away on the bunny, and though it came out okay (there was definitely some warping), the kitty was much smoother and easier to do with the extra layer and felt more secure with the leave-in left behind.
  • Hand embroidery on minkee is unpleasant. Next time, I'll try using some water soluble stabilizer and my machine.
  • Hand embroidery on t-shirts is not too hard, and has a neat look to it. It's not something I had done before and I was a little scared. I started on the kitty using 2 strands of DMC floss, and the lines were really thick. So I switched to 1 strand for the whiskers and for the lettering on the bunny and was much happier with the result.
  • Stabilizer is helpful when hand embroidering on t-shirts. I used no stabilizer on the kitty shirt and had difficulty stitching while dealing with the stretch. I tried Googling how-to hand embroider on t-shirts, but had no luck. I did find a product that looked like it would be helpful, but couldn't find any locally. So I tried using a Sulky iron-on tear-away stabilizer when I did the bunny lettering. It definitely helped, but was kind of a pain tearing it away after the embroidery was complete (maybe because it is designed for higher-density stitching?). But stabilizer is definitely good.

kitty applique
Though the t-shirts couldn't compete with her awesome new Hello Kitty music box, V did seem to like them. Hopefully, she'll enjoy wearing them too!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April guild projects (and a little bit of nostalgia)

Tonight I finished up my guild projects for tomorrow's meeting. Yay!

This month's block lotto had a theme of "spring." The yellow paisley Hoffman floral was provided.

April block lotto block
Creating a block just did not go well for me. I started out with a hairbrained idea to do a little mini Lone Star block. I swear, every time I made a measurement, took a cut, or even did a stitch, I messed it up! After more than seven hours of work, this is the best I could do. Doesn't look very Lone Star-ish, does it? But at least I got something done. And I do kind of like the center of it. It is a Jane Stickle design (block E-1).

One bright note with this block: I used silk thread for applique for the first time! Whoa. It's pretty amazing how well it just sinks into the fabric. The stitches really are nearly invisible (especially impressive since I didn't even use matching thread... it was an off-white). At the same time though, it's a little scary because silk thread is super-duper fine. I really wonder how well it will hold up over time. Does anyone have any experience with silk thread? How durable is it?

After the boy went to bed, I also was able to whip out some pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer.

ConKerr Cancer is one of the charitable organizations that my guild supports. It is a great charity that distributes bright, cheery pillowcases to sick children in hospitals throughout North America.

Last month I picked up three kits to bring home and complete (the ones on the left). I also managed to do three more from my own stash (the ones on the right). The Bugs Bunny print and the gold stars on red are left over from my second quilt:

Brad's quilt
I made the quilt for my friend Brad-- he was a basketball fanatic. We lost track of each other after his graduation. I often wonder whatever happened to him. (And his quilt!) Anyway, I'm not sure how I ended up with an extra two yards of the Bugs Bunny fabric, but it's been languishing in my closet since 1996. It's nice to finally have a chance to put it to good use.