Friday, May 30, 2014

Malena's quilt top

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I'm not sure how I manage to block it out of my memory each year, but I am always so surprised by how CraZy this time of the year is. There is gardening and yard work to do, field trips to attend and lots of other work to do besides. My house is perpetually dirty and my sewing machines have been neglected! All that to say, I'm glad that I was able to sew at all this week....and I'm super happy that I was able to finish this quilt top.
A few years ago I started this quilt for my niece with my niece. She helped me design it and she also helped select the fabrics. I never blogged about it, but I figured out it was the summer of 2012 because we saw the movie Brave at the drive in theater during her visit here. It's good to have a reference point! :) We only had time to make a few circle blocks back when we started it, but I finally found time to work on it again. (I have TOO many irons in the fire!)
The circles were cut out on my GO! baby. I don't use this cutter nearly enough...but it makes QUICK work of cutting circles. I love that it is fast, easy and accurate, too. My kids love to help crank the fabric through, which is a bonus. (It's fun for kids AND adults. :) )
I used a blanket stitch on my Janome to attach the circles to the background fabric. I did not use any kind of fusible web beneath because I didn't want to deal with the bulk (or the stiffness) of the fusible web. I plan to quilt the circles well and the quilt will be so nice and soft when it is finished. The edges of the circles will fray slightly when washed, but I think that's all part of the charm.
The quilt top measures about 60" x 75".
Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week! Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday! :)
Also, do you think it's time to take a break from finish it up Friday for the summer or should we keep on going? I'd love to hear what you think.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

the parachute quilt

I'm kind of hesitant to share this quilt today and I'm not quite sure why. Maybe because it feels so different from most of my work? Maybe because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone a lot while making it? I don't know, but I did like the challenge. And I do like the quilt. A lot.
The basic design idea came from a button down shirt. As I was working on it, the quilt took on a life of it's own and it ended up quite different from what I imagined it would be. That's all a part of the fun, though. It's all part of the process. I used a few Kona jelly rolls that I've had in my stash for years. It felt great to finally USE them.
This is probably the hardest "simple quilt" I've ever made. It looks like I just took a few strips of fabric and sewed them together. In reality, I spent a lot of time laying out so the colors until they were just right. Lots of math, lots of photos, lots of rearranging. It makes me smile, though, because it totally matches some of my daughter's recent artwork. The quilt will most likely end up on her bed because she needs another quilt. Ha!
In this photo the quilt reminded me of those great big parachutes we used to play with in gym class back in elementary school. And that's how a quilt is named. :)

The quilt top measures about 78" x 84".

Monday, May 26, 2014


The winner of the scrap giveaway is Alisa!

Thanks to each and every one of you who took the time to comment and enter my scrap giveaway. I appreciate all the great suggestions for summer activities! I also needed the reminder that they are only little for a short for those of you who wrote that, thank you! It's such a great thing to keep in mind on those LONG days. I'm sure I will be referencing the list of activities multiple times this summer! :)

Friday, May 23, 2014

distressed quilt finish

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
The other day my kids came home from school and announced that they only have 10 days of school left. (We are now down to 8!) That statement MAY have struck a little fear in my heart. I'm kind of looking forward to summer, but I'm also a little scared, to be honest. It changes my schedule drastically and alone time will be a thing of the past. Yikes! The looming deadline has caused me to kick things into high gear in the sewing room. I am trying to finish as many quilts as I can before summer "vacation" hits. Hurray for FOCUS! :)
My latest finish is my distressed quilt. I love how it turned out! This is just a simple HST (half square triangle) quilt. I cut the squares at 4 7/8", cut them once on the diagonal, then sewed all the pieces back together, pairing a light and a dark value triangle for each block. I pressed the seams open, then assembled the blocks together like regular ol' patchwork.
Nothing fancy for the quilting, just a simple stipple. It produces a nice texture, though, and that's what I was after. The 30's print on the binding was from my stash and I had JUST enough. I love it when that happens. I also love how the little yellow dots tie in with the backing fabric. I machine bound it to finish it off.
Most of the fabric is from the line Nana's Pantry from Connecting Threads. I did add a few pieces from my stash as well.
Some of the fabrics were distressed using this method.
The quilt measures about 52" x 64".
I've now made 3 pillows and an entire quilt from these fabrics, so I am done with them. If you would like to win these scraps, please leave me a comment in this post. In your comment, if you have any suggestions for summer fun with kids, I'd absolutely love to hear them! It can be something you've done with your kids, or something that you loved to do as a kid. Only one comment per person, please. (International entries welcome, as long as you are willing to pay the shipping overages if sent outside the US.) Hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Now it's your turn to link up your finishes for the week! Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Machine Quilting 101: Basting

I'm excited to get back to the Machine Quilting 101 series. It's been a few weeks! If you missed the previous posts, you can find them here:
Today we will talk about everyone's favorite step in the quilt making process....basting! (Don't all groan at once!)
The purpose of basting is simple: to temporarily hold the layers of the quilt sandwich (backing, batting and top) together until you get them quilted. It's not a particularly fun process-in most cases it involves crawling around on the floor-but it has to be done. I tell myself that it's a good way to stay young. :)
These are the simple tools that I use:
A thread catcher, curved safety pins (and a lot of them!), thread snips, fabric scissors and duct tape.
I baste my quilts in my front entryway, so before I get started I remove all rugs and (kinda sorta) clean my floor.
Lay the quilt back on the floor, wrong side up. Place a piece of duct tape at the center of the top, at the center of the bottom, and at the center of each side of the quilt back. You want the back to be flat and taut, but not stretched. It looks pretty messy in this photo, but it gets better. Continue to tape the backing down to the floor, working from the center of each side toward the corners. The 4 corners should be the last parts to be taped down to the floor.
This particular quilt back is pieced quite a bit. I generally use a piece of duct tape at each seam and every 6"-8" apart. That may seem a bit excessive, but it's helpful to keep the backing nice and flat. Duct tape is need to skimp!
Here it is, completely taped to the floor. It looks surprisingly good compared to the first photo, doesn't it? (Honestly, I was quite relieved!) Make sure there are no extra threads or lint on the backing.
Next, layer the batting onto the backing. I like to line up the top edge of the batting to the top edge of the quilt. (Sorry, this photo is upside down and at a weird angle....but the two edges are aligned, that's what is important.)
Now it's time to place the quilt top onto the batting.

I get asked all the time how I get the front and the backing to line up. It's actually quite easy! I just hope I can explain it in this tutorial. The photos should help!
If you look on the left side of the photo, notice the bright pink strip peeking out....that strip runs all the way across the width of the quilt back. That is my point of reference. I imagine those lines running across the top of the quilt (as shown by the lines in the photo). I aligned the quilt top so the pink backing strip was centered within that white horizontal row of sashing.
This is the same row of sashing, the same backing strip, only this is the right side of the quilt. Do you see how the bright pink strip on the back of the quilt is centered in the sashing on this side, too? This is how I know that my quilt top is squarely placed on the quilt back. (I certainly hope that makes sense. It's so hard to put it into words!)

Once my quilt top is aligned properly, I smooth all the layers with my hands, working from the center out to each side and from the center to the top and bottom as well.
Now is a good time to check your backing. This is the bottom of the quilt and I only have about an inch of backing to spare. Since I am quilting it on my domestic machine at home, that should be enough backing, but barely! I try to leave at least an inch on all sides....anything less makes me nervous.
Now it's time to pin. I place the pins every 4" or so, which is about a hand width apart. (A little known fact about me...I can pin baste with one hand. A tidbit that you really didn't need to know, but I couldn't help it...I had to share.) :)
When I baste string quilts, I place pins even closer together, every 3" or so, because there are SO many seams that could shift around. It's better to be safe than sorry.
After an hour or so (depending on your quilt and the speed at which you pin) the quilt should look something like this. Nice and flat and all pinned together.
This quilt had several extra inches of batting at the end, so I cut it off before I even removed my quilt from the floor. Less bulk to wrestle with later.
Remove the tape from the floor (I usually enlist my kids to do that) and carefully fold up the quilt until you are ready to actually quilt it.
So, that's how I baste a quilt. This is merely one way to do it, but it is my preferred method.
If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments!

Monday, May 19, 2014

to market and back again

I had the opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh last weekend to attend International Quilt Market. (It's a twice a year trade show that isn't open to the public. Spring quilt market alternates between 5 different cities. Fall quilt market is always held in Houston in conjunction with International Quilt Festival.)
It isn't easy to get away from home, especially being a mom of 3 kiddos as the school year is wrapping up. The pace of our schedule has been intense! Thankfully my husband is very supportive and helped make it happen.

Beyond THAT, it would have been so much easier to NOT attend, to stay home in my thready pajamas and put my sewing machine pedal to the metal all weekend long. But, some part of me really, really wanted to go. I persuaded the lovely and talented Anna of Noodlehead to travel and attend with me. It's more fun to go with a buddy!

I had about 3 outfits of clothing actually that fit me and they were pretty tired, so I had to go on a binge shopping spree for clothing a few days before I left. At one point I panicked when I realized my roomies (Kaye Prince, Jeni B. and Anna) were going to see me in my jammies, too. Eeeeep! Add it to the list! (Yes, I can find anything to worry about. I have an entire set of insecurities for each situation.) I finally worked all that out and made the trip to PA.
Do you know what? I'm so glad I went.
Do you know why? The people!!! It was beyond amazing to have face to face conversations with people I've "known" through the internet for years. Standing in this line up with all these was surreal.

It was reassuring to hear that others experience many of the same issues that I do related to my business/blogging. It was amazing to hear other peoples stories and experiences. To laugh over dinner. To giggle with friends in the hotel room. To bounce ideas off each other. It was good!
I had the chance to stand in Jen Kingwell's booth and just take it all in. Simply breathtaking.
Jen and I had a heartfelt conversation in the space of 5 minutes. This lady is the real deal. I met her daughter and her husband, too. Such nice people! I had all kinds of warm fuzzies when I left her booth. That was one of many, many wonderful drops in the bucket.

It's really hard to capture an accurate picture of the whole of Quilt Market. It isn't all fun and games and partying. It's a lot of work, but it's very good work. I went into my trip feeling extremely intimidated. I came home very encouraged. I didn't expect that to be my takeaway, but I'm so grateful.

I'm also happy to be HOME, back to my wonderful family and back to quilting. There is so much I want to do! Always.
Happy Monday to you!

Friday, May 16, 2014

candy coated 3 complete

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
Candy coated 3 is now complete! (This quilt really deserves a more creative name, but I seem to be sorely lacking in that area.) Anyway, after a week with waaaaay too much going on, it feels great to have a finish to celebrate! Pattern is candy coated, from Sunday Morning Quilts. Fabric (for the top) is 100% scraps!
It's quilted very simply, like the one in the book. This is just a free hand squiggle done from side to side about an inch or so apart. (I used my free motion foot with the feed dogs down.) It creates a beautiful, soft texture. I used wool batting for the first time and I really, REALLY like it!
For the backing I used just two fabrics. The multi-colored floral is a linen fabric that came on a decorator bolt, so it is 54" wide. That made piecing the back easy...just two fabrics and I was done. Yay! The fabulous orange floral is an older one from dear stella. It's got a great hand (feel) to it, so this is going to be one fantastic quilt to wrap up in! Gray polka dot binding is a nice finishing touch.
The finished quilt measures 65" x 88". I can't wait to sleep under it!

Oh! I nearly forgot! This is scrap project #72/101.

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

distressed quilt top

I finished a quilt top this morning! There are a hundred other things I should have been doing instead, but that's when the most sewing gets done, right?
It was way too windy for a clothesline photo today, but I gave it my best shot anyway. (Hahaha! sorry for the pun. It would make my dad proud, though. :))
The majority of the fabric is Nana's Pantry from Connecting Threads, with a few stash additions to make it a little bit larger. Some of the fabric was distressed using this method. It measures about 52" x 64". I love that it feels nearly vintage already!

Monday, May 12, 2014

working toward a finish

Over the weekend I started to add "borders" (if you can call them that) onto my 'oh my stars' quilt.
My goal is to add setting blocks in order to straighten out the sides. I want to be able to add binding to the quilt without chopping off any star points.

What I did:

Using the quilt top as my guide, I drew up templates for the two different blocks. I added 2" to the width of each block so there will be plenty of white space to work with. It also creates a faux border, if you will. The top and bottom of the quilt will require yet another template (with an additional 2" added for a border) in order to make those sides straight. The corners will probably need special treatment as well. Phew!

The top two setting blocks in the photo above still have the card stock inside. The bottom two have already had the card stock removed. (Thus the wrinkles!)
I thread basted the first few blocks, but that was quite cumbersome, especially on the larger pieces. I dug up a glue stick and tried that. It was SO much easier!! Just a quick zip of the glue stick around the perimeter and then fold the edges of the fabric down. When it was time to remove the card stock, I just ran my needle between the paper and the fabric and it came unglued easily. I could have used that trick many moons ago!
I am so excited that the borders are well on their way now! I will feel better once all the setting pieces are attached. Some of those poor stars have had plenty of stress from being handled so much.

Many thanks to my friend Mary for helping me figure out how to get the sides straight. She was patient enough to talk through it with me....a few times. (I have a thick head!) Thanks Mary!
Here's a little behind the scenes peek at my "work space". It's a messy endeavor fueled by plenty of chocolate!
Happy Monday to you!

Friday, May 09, 2014

even more scrap projects

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I spent most of the day yesterday making little ticker tape coasters for the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild coaster swap. They were FUN to make and it was a good way to use up some tiny scraps. Each coaster is about 4" square.
I made a set of four for the swap...and a few extras, because I was experimenting with finishing methods. I'm happy to count these as scrap project # 69.
I made this cutie pie little pin cushion for a friend. (Pattern here.) I want to make about 100 more! I love the shape and size of it. It fits perfectly in front of the sewing machine. Genius!  I used scraps for this as well, so it's project #70. (Because I know someone will ask, I used crushed walnut shells to fill it.)
And....the last one for today, another crocheted rag rug. These things work up FAST, which is awesome! (Tutorial here.) I think it turned out even better than the first one. I LOVE it! It's scrap project #71.
Now it's your turn to link up. Thanks, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

candy coated III

Thanks to a little bit of focus and a lot of perseverance, I finished piecing the third version of my candy coated quilt.
I love this pattern because it EATS fabric scraps! (That's a good thing!)
Lots and lots of strings.
Lots and LOTS of thread.
Lots and lots of color. Just the way I like it!
(Shoot even the back is pretty!)

Pattern is Candy Coated, found in Sunday Morning Quilts.
(It also happens to be the one featured on the cover.)

It measures 65" x 88" a lovely twin size quilt.

In case you are wondering, I haven't run out of scraps yet!