Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

This year, both bears had opinions about what they wanted to be for Halloween.

Little Bear finally decided on a "scary dinosaur." As we happened to have a dragon costume on hand (in the right size, even!), and I didn't want to re-invent the wheel, we have Dragon 2.0 -- aka Scary Dinosaur!

Scary Dino/Dragon, front view-ish, roaring

Dinosaur ROAR!!!

Scary Dino/Dragon, back view

Hopefully, I'll manage to get some better pictures of Little Bear as Scary Dinosaur today.

Meanwhile, Big Bear decided he wanted to be Perry the Platypus. I got to break out the sewing machine for this one!

Perry the Platypus, front and back views

I used Kwik Sew 2711 for the main suit, and then drafted my own tail, bill, and feet. I made a size Small, and shortened the legs by 1". The eyes are from Simplicity 3594 (the frog prince view). Because I had made the pattern before (Blue Kitty!), the main part went together both smoothly and quickly. The other parts took some time to figure out, but once I had a plan, they went together quickly (except for the tail... the quilting took a bit of time!).

Perry the Platypus holding Perry the Platypus

Here he is with the actual Perry. I'm still a little amazed I was able to find the perfect color of fleece. Best of all, Big Bear LOVES it. Yay!!!

the dynamic duo

Tonight, we trick or treat! Woo!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival -- Fall 2012

block signing station at my wedding
October 26th is a special day at my house. It is the day my husband and I were married-- and this year marks our 10th anniversary! At our wedding, instead of a guest book, we had guest blocks-- blank quilt blocks for our guests to write any well-wishes (or whatever else) they had for us. At left is a picture of our "block signing station" at the wedding.

After the wedding, I designed a quilt to feature those blocks. I even started the quilt. But then, for whatever reason (I can't even remember why), the project got set aside... Until now! I finished our wedding quilt just in time for our anniversary. Woo!

Robin & Keith's Wedding Quilt, front view

I created the design using Electric Quilt and then I went out and shopped for fabrics. That beautiful leafy print just called to me, and I pulled all of the other colors from that.

Robin & Keith's Wedding Quilt, compass detail

The compass was created using paper foundation piecing. Setting it onto the background was one of my early attempts at hand applique. I try not to look too closely at the stitching. Ha! But I am pleased with the quilting. It isn't perfect, but I think it manages to add to the look of the compass in a positive way.

Robin & Keith's Wedding Quilt, quilting detail

I drew the pieced border onto freezer paper and then cut it apart to create paper templates. The templates were used to cut the fabric, and then I pieced it all together.

Robin & Keith's Wedding Quilt, corner detail

I love the little fans in the corners! I was seriously stressed out about those corners and what to do with them. Eventually I stumbled into the fan idea, and I'm so glad I did. They make me happy.

Robin & Keith's Wedding Quilt, corner detail from back side

Here is a view of the same corner from the back where the quilting is much more visible. Overall, I'm really proud of my quilting on this project! I used Hobbs Tuscany Wool batting for this quilt. I was actually really worried that it might result in the quilt being too poofy looking. But I'm glad I went for it. It is not too poofy, and it forced me to quilt more than I otherwise would have as the wool batting has denser quilting requirements than I'm used to. It really made me think about the type of quilting I wanted to do and how to deal with every space on the quilt.

Robin & Keith's Wedding Quilt, back view

The woodsy print in the center of the back was purchased when we went on our honeymoon to Maine. When I bought it I knew I wanted to use it on the back of this quilt. So even the back of this quilt has special memories attached to it.

Robin & Keith's Wedding Quilt, label

I vaguely recall creating the embroidery design back when I first got my sewing/embroidery machine. I think my intention was to use it in a block on the front. But, coming back to the project many years later, I couldn't figure out a way to make it work. So I put it on the back with the label.

Robin & Keith's Wedding Quilt, front view from an artsy angle

I am so glad that I finally finished this! Just picking up the project again, reading all of the wonderful words our friends and family wrote for us... it is a very special quilt, and it truly reminds me how blessed my husband and I are and I am so excited to continue our journey together!

Not only did I complete this quilt in time for my anniversary, I am thrilled that I've finished it in time to share in the Fall 2012 Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side.

Amy's Creative Side

Here are some stats for my quilt:
Quilt Name: Keith & Robin's Wedding Quilt
Finished size: 53" x 53"
Pieced and Quilted by: Robin Zaback (me!)
Best Categories: Home Machine Quilted Quilt; Wall Hanging

Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you enjoy your Blogger's Quilt Festival adventures! So many beautiful quilts; so much fabulous inspiration!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Clue #3

Heather Spence Designs Mystery Quilt button

Lookie here! I managed to complete Clue #3 in the Heather Spence Mystery Quilt. Woo!

Heather Spence Mystery Quilt, completed clue 3

I'm thinking they must be borders? Maybe I'll learn more when Clue #4 is revealed on Friday. I'm loving the anticipation!

And a gratuitous boy pic:

Big Bear and Little Bear work together to try and lift a giant pumpkin

We went to the pumpkin patch last weekend. The boys had a great time (it was nice and muddy!). I love this picture of the two of them working together to lift a pumpkin. They weren't able to get it off the ground, but they sure gave a great effort! :)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Clue #2!

Woo! I seem to actually be keeping up with a project. A nice change, for sure!

Heather Spence Mystery Quilt button

I completed Clue #2 for the Heather Spence Fall Mystery Quilt (you can learn more about the project by visiting her Website).

my completed clue #2 blocks

The project is called "Jack of Hearts," so I'm thinking that these little squares will be set on point to look heart-ish? I kind of wish I had been more aware of my directional kitty print-- they have ended up rather cattywampus (ha!). But the print is busy enough that the off-kilter cats don't bug me too much (certainly not enough to unsew!).

Clue #3 arrived yesterday, and I'm ready to start stitching. Meanwhile, I have also managed to complete my wedding quilt top and backing (planning to baste tonight!), and I have traced out the pattern pieces for Big Bear's Halloween costume. I'm feeling productive!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A little bit of process

One of the things I enjoy as I read blogs is learning a little about the process behind a project-- be it fabric decisions, block placement, or design choices. Since I found myself having to make a decision in the design of my wedding quilt, I thought it might be fun to share a little of my process.

At issue: I needed a corner block for the outside border of my wedding quilt. And I knew I wanted more than just a plain square.

need some corners for my wedding quilt...

In my original design, I had decided on this block, with these fabrics:

corner block attempt 1

I really like the look of the style of block-- it has movement and is a happy starry shape. But it just looks too muddy with the red print on the busy leafy background print. I tried it again:

corner block attempt 2

I used a red batik instead of the red print in the smaller star points. This one is better, but it still doesn't feel like the star stands out enough. It's a detailed design, and I want all that work to really sparkle! So for the third attempt I decided to try out a different background to see how that worked:

corner block attempt 3

The star is shining for sure now! The dark brown batik really allows the yellow and red to pop. Then I looked at it in the quilt:

corner block attempt 3 in situ

Hmmm... I'm not diggin' this. The dark brown is just too stark when surrounded by all the leafy print. And now that the star is really visible, it just doesn't seem to fit. It feels a little too stark, angular, and "off" in relation to the rest of the quilt. I went back to the drawing board and came up with this:

corner block attempt 4

I definitely wanted to move in a more simple direction (no more foundation piecing!). I have also been loving Dresden plates/fans lately, so maybe that is why this block called to me. But it also isn't completely different from the original design. It includes the same fabrics (yellow batik, red print, leafy background), but because the fabric pieces are bigger, I don't get the same sense of muddiness. This block also includes points, but they are in a different style than the ones in the original. I slapped it up onto the wall to check it out:

corner block attempt 4 in situ

It doesn't have the same movement as the previous iterations; rather, it has a symmetry that I find very appealing in the context of the quilt. It kind of echoes the compass points in the center, but with a different look. I'm feeling good about this one. I declare this block the winner!

It can be very frustrating when I find myself having to rethink a design. But sometimes, a little bit of trial and error is what is needed to get me on a better path. That doesn't mean I like it though. Trial and error kind of sucks-- so much wasted effort. On one level, I realize it is not actually wasted because it does get me where I need to go and one of the challenges of design is that it really can be a process; but even with that understanding, on another level, it still feels wasted (and there's a bit of bitterness in there too). It occurs to me that maybe this frustration is part of why this project sat languishing in the closet for the last 10 years. Maybe I needed a break, some fresh perspective, to be able to come to terms with the mistakes and be able to make some changes? I can't even remember. But at least I'm making progress now!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mystery fun!

Because my creative juices are actually flowing right now, I decided to seize the moment and start a new project. Woo! A couple of weeks ago, one of my guildmates sent out an email sharing this project. Of course, I immediately signed up. It is a mystery quilt by email from Heather Spence Designs.

Heather Spence Mystery Quilt button

The proceeds from the mystery quilt sign-ups are going toward helping the family of a little boy named Jack. Jack is recovering from the removal of a brain tumor, and his family needs help to cover the costs associated with the surgery and his rehabilitation. So far there are over 300 participants in this mystery quilt adventure.

If you are interested, it is not too late to sign up! You can sign up via Heather's Etsy shop, Heather Spence Designs. The first clue was mailed out last week, and Clue #2 will be sent out today.

The quilt requires a light, a medium, and a dark fabric selection. I scoured my stash and chose these:

my mystery quilt fabrics

I think (hope!) they will make for a fun quilt!

Today I even found a little time to start in on Clue #1 and do some cutting:

clue 1, cutting complete!

The sewing part for Clue #1 is pretty simple, so hopefully I can knock it out pretty quickly. Then I need to direct my focus back onto some other projects, including a wedding quilt and a Halloween costume for Big Bear!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wedding quilts-a-rama!

Wow. It has been awhile since I've updated. However, I can't say as there has been much crafting of which to speak. Getting into the back-to-school groove has pretty much left me wiped out in the evening with no energy to do anything crafty. But the juices and motivation are finally starting to flow again. Here's hoping that crafting is on the rise!

So, you remember that wedding quilt I was so concerned about finishing before the wedding? Yeah. That didn't happen. I'm still working at it. But-- there has been progress!

wedding quilt in progress

The center is pieced! Yay! The next step is borders. Hopefully, I'll manage to cut them out later today.

And, speaking of wedding quilts, I have another deadline coming up. When my husband and I got married, in lieu of a guest book, I set out fabric and fabric pens for our guests. I designed a quilt. I actually put together a good chunk of that quilt. But I somehow got sidetracked and never actually finished. It is not too far away from completion-- it just needs a couple more borders.

Robin and Keith's wedding quilt in progress

October 26th marks our 10-year wedding anniversary. So it is time. I want to finish it.