Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Always Following Me

It would seem that even though blue has never been a color that I naturally gravitate towards, it is the one color that follows me despite my efforts to avoid, or at least be indifferent to it. I suppose such tendencies might stem from my grandmother's LOVE of blue... but not what you might think - it was that extreme fondness of blue that perhaps turned my mom off to the color, thus producing the home that I grew up in with not one stitch of blue in it. I have unknowingly done the same.

... but yet, it still follows me...

It would seem that every apartment and every house (trust me, there have been MANY moves in my life) has had some room where there has been some touch of blue in it. There have been two blue bathrooms, blue carpet, and other accents here and there along the way, but really it's forced me to figure out ways to make it work in spite of it's obvious shade.

When my husband and I recently moved our family back to his home town we "inherited" a couch that belonged to my husbands grandmother, which had been given to her when she married in 1947. Every cousin that has come in our house has recognized it, and usually shares some memory of sitting/playing on it as a child. I would think that from here it would be easy to guess the color, right?

Sometimes when I start a project, I don't always know where it might end up later, but it didn't take long to decide that these two pillows would be perfect for the vintage blue sofa in the guest room that has just been waiting to be adorned.

Of course I've considered having it reupholstered, and just might one day. The verdict is still out if she needs a complete makeover, or if she feels more comfortable... just being blue.

Pillow Pattern I: Jeweled Kaleidoscope, Campbell Soup Diary
Fabrics: Alison Glass Sun Prints 2017, Sun Prints 2016, Essex Linen Steel
Thread: Auriful 2600

Pillow Pattern II: Flower applique shapes from Alison Glass book, Applique. Animal shapes, adapted from Alison Glass fabric using this tutorial.
Fabrics: Alison Glass Sun Prints 2017, Alison Glass Sun Prints 2016, Stitched from Seventy-Six collection (background fabric) Lotta Jansdotter (backing)
Thread: Auriful 2600

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Creating Applique Shapes from Fabric - Tutorial

Sometimes when I work on a project, it feels natural to me that some of the same design elements within the fabric should also be incorporated into the project itself. I love applique, and I especially love to mix mediums. I actually started this project two years ago when I was inspired by Alison Glass' Applique book, and only recently pulled it back out to finish it. 

I thought that adding the the bird and the bee outlines from Alison's Seventy Six fabric collection was the perfect way to complete this. Since I had a good response on Instagram concerning a tutorial, I thought I would pass on to you how I did it:

1. Start with the fabric you would like to use and make a copy of it.  For the actual project I enlarged it by 115%, but here it is enlarged to 140% for better visibility. (Alison Glass Flourish, color Pomegranate for Andover fabrics)

2. With a black Sharpie, I simply outlined the shape. You can see how I started on the right side, and extended the lines that were open so as to have a closed shape. I also added an inner freehand outline on the wing, and in the body, where the fabric can peek through later.

3. Now for the best part... did someone say Freezer Paper? Trace the outline from the copy, and cut out the finished shape.

4. The beauty of Freezer Paper is that it irons onto the fabric medium that you are working with, and stays in place without slipping and sliding when cutting. Iron on and cut out entire shape as well as the inner cut out areas.

5. Select the peek-a-boo fabric that you would like behind the felt and cut it large enough so that it is hidden behind the shape. Stitch the felt shape as close to the edge as possible, starting with the outer edges, and then the inner cut out edges.

It's always fun to play around with fussy cut snippits peeking out from behind the felt, don't you think?

Sun Print 2017 fabrics from Alison Glass, to be released this January.

Linking up this week with Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hello 2017!

To know how to move forward for this year, I thought that it would be helpful for me to look back through my previous posts to see where I stood with what I had set out to accomplish for the year, and then for each quarter. For starters, I ended up finishing ALL of my quarterly goals! My yearly goals, however, shifted and transitioned a lot, which is not to say that I didn't leave 2016 without a good number of finishes. I was able to finish six quilts, one of which was my own pattern! I had several finishes that never made it on my Finish-A-Long list, mostly because I thought that I would be working on other projects instead.

General Goals:

1. For the first time, I am trying to work with a yearly planner for my sewing projects. I know some of you organization experts out there might have just let out a gasp at that one, but I suppose I've not felt the need for it since sewing has been my hobby and not my work...

2. Right now my main goal for the year is that I would like to transition from a hobby quilter to a professional quilt pattern designer. I suppose that I'm on the way, but releasing my next two patterns this year would make it feel like I'm there.

3. One of my quarterly goals from 2016 that I'm carrying over, and that I am quite happy with, is that I've made a good amount of headway with learning EQ7. Now don't get me wrong... I have definitely not arrived, but I'm pleased with how far I've come, especially considering the number of throw-your-computer-out-the-window moments I've had.

4. Working outside our comfort zone is just that... uncomfortable, which is why I want to push myself to take on more free motion quilting projects.

Project/ yearly goals (aka what's on my plate):

1. I'm so excited to be at the finish line for my second quilt! I'm planning on sending out the top to be quilted this month, and will share very soon. Oh, I will be looking for intermediate to advanced quilters to test it... did I mention curves, applique, and traditional piecing?

2. My second pattern is, at least style wise, quite different than my first pattern. I have finished the top of a small project from that pattern, and this is where I get to stretch myself with some free motion quilting practice.

3/4. If you're going to have an Alison Glass project in the works... then why not two? I shared on Instagram another Jeweled Kaleidoscope in the works with Alison's upcoming Sun Print 2017 collection (everyone say it together now... yum!)... and then sometimes when you're on the right path, inspiration taps you on the shoulder and says "hey, should we go the other way?" (aka 2nd project)

5. My Anna Maria Horner quilt is not exactly a "new" quilt, but my first quilt WIP that was re-birthed because of an IG link up party. I was fully ready to let this one sit and collect dust, but pulling is back out is more satisfying than expected.

6. The backing for my Bee Quilt is almost done, and then I just have to baste and quilt it. This was an extra project that I may not have started had it not been for the bee, but it will be a fun one to work on and finish.

7. My Half Square Triangle quilt started as an effort to use up some of those pretty left over snippits from various projects. This just grew, and grew, and now I realize that this too will have to have a backburner status. This is the latest layout that I've been playing around... hmmm, still up in the air.

8. My thrid quilt pattern is low priority, at least on the first half of the year. The whole project is cut and ready to go, and perfect for those take it with you projects that I need for our HH Patchwork Meetings. I have my projects sorted and ready to grab and go.

9. Now that our new bed is here, I pulled the Green Smoothie quilt back out to work on only to find out that my husband and I are not in agreement about the design layout. I really value his opinion, and since he is sleeping under it too, then I'll at least let him his say. Status: backburner

10. I have been drooling over Stitched In Color's Penny Sampler quilt for a REALLY long time now... I'm a sucker for samplers. This is my distraction along the way quilt when I am feeling the need to mix things up and take a breather. Since it is a 12 month QAL, it feels totally doable.

Gulp, when I see all those ten projects in black and white, then I realize that I've pretty much got my whole year planned out... and that doens't include distractions!?! Even as much as I like to juggle multiple projects, this might even push my limit. I suppose there's not time like the present, right?

... did you happen to notice what's so special about today?
 Linking up to Let's Bee Social and 2017 Finish-A-Long.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Churnstile Quilt Finish!

I'm a quilter without a plan... that's just how I operate. Ok, well, I do from time to time make a plan for my ongoing projects, but a good majority of what I do, starts out with no real A to Z, start-to-finish, mapped out direction. Usually such quilting projects leave you with a pretty good story once you do finally make it to the finish line... so, are you ready for a sit back and grab a cup of coffee kind of tale?

I actually started my Churnstile quilt back in February of this year when I wanted to "audition" potential bee blocks for when it was my turn to be queen bee. It didn't take long for me to figure out that I liked the block so much, and had such a very specific color direction, that I decided to keep it for myself. After adding several blocks, I had my usual debate of layout and size. (I guess one could argue that since I do this with almost every quilt, that this IS actually the plan)

In the end, this quilt came with a nice surprise... it turned out way bigger that I thought it would, and even big enough to be a bed quilt! (I seriously didn't plan that one!?!) By summer I was able to get the back finished and the quilt basted just before our big move, but as you can imagine, pulling up roots in one spot, and setting them down in another can take some time to get adjusted. By the time I found my sewing table again, there were several quilts that had cut line, and it was hard to pick this back up since it felt that I wasn't really sure where I had left off. But there's nothing like the push of a deadline to put you back on track... aka end of the year Finish-A-Long.

For the backing I used two leftover blocks that didn't make it in the quilt top, and added two blocks of color. Somehow I really wanted a simple backing, and used a good bit of cream Basic Grey grunge fabric for the rest.

I kept the quilting pretty simple by following the extending lines of the blocks. Perhaps if I had stayed on track the whole time with this quilt, then I might have done something a little more creative... do you get that way too, just going with whatever gets the projects done? Well, I suppose that's not all bad because a finished project means getting to start on the next one.

Quilt: Pattern: Churnstile from Stitchery Dickory Dock, Churn Dash block from the January Sugar Block Club
Started: February 2016
Alison Glass, Carolyn Friedlander, Cotton & Steel, Lizzy House, and various additional prints from my stash. Low volume with color background fabrics
Finished quilt size: ca. 66 x 82 in. (168 x 208 cm)

...behind the scenes shots are always such fun... can you spot my little helper? 

Linking up with Let's Bee Social and 2016 Finish-A-Long

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Best Of 2016

There's nothing more satisfying than being able to look back and actully see what you've accomplished in a year... especially when you see it it pictures. Firstly, I wanted to give a nod to the finishes that I've had this year I could hardly believe that I had finished six quilts this year! You may also have noticed a quilt finish in there that you've not seen before, and not without reason... this post bumped it from it's planned spot, but I plan to officially share next week.

The first "Best Of" category is the Quilt Finish With The Most Views. My Facing East quilt also gets the title of "Longest Quilt in the Making", and it's what I consider to be my epic finish of all time, and the project where I really fell in love with paper piecing.

Quilters always love to share tips, tricks, and techniques that make the whole process easier, faster, and more enjoyable... my Best Tutorial of the year I think hits all three. I've always been amazed that so many quilters list basting as one of their least favorite steps of quilting. I suppose that I can say that I really don't mind this step because my aunt showed me the best way to baste a quilt when I was just getting started, so I've spared all those years of aching knees and backs... and wanted to pass it on to you!

If you happened to read my previous post, you may already know that improv is not exactly my favorite technique. It's usually something that I avoid all together, but somehow I had these leftover snippits just begged to be turned into something improv... and you evidently like it too since my Jeweled Improv finish takes the title of Best Small Finish.

I had originally thought that finished projects are what draw the most views, and would qualify for the "Best Of" category, but evidently I'm wrong. Much to my surprise, to date, my top post for 2016 was actually a WIP that I had shared in spring. So, it looks like my April Design Wall is crowned with the Best WIP.

2016 was actually a pretty big year for me, and cannot go without mentioning that I released my very first quilt pattern! I am working on my second and third pattern and hope for a spring and fall release for the upcoming year. If you've ever worked on a pattern, then you know the amount of time and work that goes into it. Out of all the posts from the past year, my Jeweled Kaleidoscope quilt pattern gave me THE most satisfaction, and sense of accomplishment once I had finally hit the publish button... so I added one additional category of the Proudest Reveal post. 

Thanks to Cheryl for hosting the Best Of 2016  Linky party... wishing everyone a great slide into the new year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bee Blocks? Check! Check!

They say that it's sometimes the best thing to step outside our comfort zone... always stretching and pushing ourselves to come out of that place of familiarity and safety that keeps us there to begin with. Of course trying new techniques for any quilter can only build on already established skill levels, and if you really want to step outside that zone then improv is the way to go!

I realized as I was working on my last bee blocks for this year that I forgot to share the improv blocks that I made for Yara. (check out her progress here) For her, the bold colors were her big stretch. From time to time, I convince myself that I need to try improv, yet again. Usually after struggling and muddling through it, I remind myself that all the struggling and muddling is why I DON'T like it. Am I closing the chapter on improv? Well, I suppose I'll venture out again once I forget this short lived epiphony.

... and with the busy season coming to it's peak, I'm happy to say that I just sent off my last bee blocks for the year! I am really looking forward to what Vicky does with her cute fish blocks. Vicky is another make it up as you go quilter, coming up with her own patterns... and she has a keen eye for color and a great sense of design. (not to mention the most rockin' green chair that I've seen this year ; ))

She had requested ocean blues combined with yellow/chartreuse fish and grey/black accents. I decided to use paper piecing for the inner parts of her fish... who would have thought, right?!?

Looking back at my 2016 goals from last year, I'm really happy to have put the last two check marks on the done box. Ahhh... yearly goals, hmmm, that's coming up too.

Linking up to Let's Bee Social

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Square It Up

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed a flurry of half square triangles in the making. This is a fun little mindless sewing, scrap busting project that I started recently to rescue several cut away triangles from my last few projects. Now, I'm not exactly the epitome of a "never throw a scrap away" kind of girl, but some scraps are just too good to toss.

So, as with almost every project that I start... who needs a plan? Just make it up as you go, and if you're going to do it at all, then do it big! Go big, or go home, right? I've also been adding other scraps as well as a few of those this-fabric-was-just-made-for-this favorites. I've been saving this Heather Ross fabric for a long time for just the right project, and I'd have to say it belongs in this quilt!

I've been having fun experimenting with the endless layout possibilities of the most simple quilting unit out there. Here's a few that I've come up with so far. These first two have potential, but I'm not completely sold on either layout:

I've been thinking that I would like to do an Ocean Waves quilt. As an individual block I think it's nice, but I'm not so convinced when there are more units together... perhahps a little too busy and bright?

Speaking of busy, meet the "take the cake" version! I really like the layout of this block, but it just feels like it needs more thought about negative space to bring a calm to the bold contrasts.

So, in an effort to create more negative space, I tried this Bunting Block version. I like the idea of the negative space, but perhaps now there is too much negative space, leaving me with too many left over HST's.

Well, I suppose this just means that I'm back to the drawing board, but there are a few more favorite fabrics that "need" to be added to the mix...

Do you have any good half square triangle layout ideas?

Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.
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