Monday, April 30, 2012

guest post and a dress

Hello and happy Monday to you! I wanted to let you know that I did a guest post over at Sarah's place yesterday. I wrote up a little tutorial for the Sixteen Tons quilt as part of her Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge. Hope you check it out! It's a quick and easy quilt to whip up for your favorite charity or just for fun. It's a good way to use up scraps, too!
Also over the weekend, I started sewing a dress for me! There was much trepidation surrounding this event, but my sister, who has garment sewing experience, was visiting and she helped a lot. (It was sweet. At one point she said, "this is what I feel like when you are at my house and I'm trying to make a quilt." That made me feel so much better! I'm so thankful that I have a sister to sew with. Thanks, Clair, for your help!!!) Anyway, back to the dress....I'm over half way done and not sure that it's going to fit. But it's been a great learning experience so far. I'll keep you posted!

Friday, April 27, 2012

finish it up Friday, week 25

Welcome to finish it up Friday! I've decided that this will be the last week of the finish linky party, at least for awhile. I may start back up in the fall? I guess we will see then. I'd like to thank each and every one of you who have joined me in finishing. It's definitely been a great motivator for me and I hope that it has for you, too! I'm going to be switching gears just a bit here on the blog. I'm looking forward to the busy months ahead (that will start in May, for me...yikes), and trying to work around that. I think it's going to be good!
For this last installment of finish it up Friday, I'd like to show you my quilt top that I'm calling Sixteen Tons. A bit odd for a quilt name, but hey, it's got 16 patch blocks and coal colored setting it actually fits. The quilt top measures 46" x 57". I was SO close to using the sprout green as a background...I even had it ironed, but at the last minute I switched to coal gray. (Honestly, I'm kind of hoarding that sprout green!) In the end, I'm very happy with my choice. I'm excited to quilt this's going to keep getting better and better.

How about you? Do you have a finish to share? Please share your links below. Thanks again for joining my linky party over the past several months! It's been a lot of fun!

A very happy Friday to you!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

blue and green

I'm working on a new project. It's blue & green, scrappy, and I'm using 2.5" squares. ALL my favorites rolled into one!
I'm intrigued at how different things look on point (these totally remind me of pot holders for some reason)....
compared to a straight setting. Which do you like better?

Not sure where this is going to end up yet, but I started pulling out background options from the stash....
coal gray....mmm. i like it!
brown polka would almost work, but too busy.
sprout green....very nice. I think I would really like how some of the green squares would match and kind of fade into the background.'s a lovely color, but nope! well...maybe?
silvery grey...very possible.

Like I said, I don't have a clear vision for this quilt yet...but I do have a few layout options I'm mulling over. It's very fun to be playing and watching it come together bit by bit.

And as an aside, it was totally entertaining to pin partial bolts of fabric to my design wall and take photos. All in a day's "work" when you are a blogger. :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

finish it up Friday, week 24

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I finished my rainbow log cabin quilt!!!! It was started over 2 years ago and it was to be included in the book. When we needed to cut projects, I happily chose this one. (I wasn't loving it, as you may recall.) After some quilt surgery and a perfect backing, not to mention some very special quilting, I'm pleased as punch to have it done. I LOVE how it turned out!!!!! I really, really do!
Here's a shot of the back. This was THE perfect fabric to use (if you ask me) blended with any color of quilting thread. Pretty fun, isn't it? I got the fabric last summer on clearance for $3/yard. LOVE that kind of deal! (the print is Remix by Ann Kelle for Robert Kaufman.)
A huge thank you to my lovely friend, Suzanne, for suggesting scallop quilting. It was perfect treatment for the borders. The scallops turned out better than I could have hoped and it was fun to do, too! I'm adding this idea to my bag of quilting tricks.

The quilt measures 61" x 70".

Oh! I'd be remiss if I didn't thank my lovely neighbors Linda and Martha for being my quilt holders yesterday. Thanks, ladies!

Now it's your turn. Please link up your finishes from the past week so we can cheer you on! Happy Friday to you!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

a clean room and a question

I cleaned my craft room this week (because I was procrastinating) and I thought it would be good to snap a photo for reference sake. HA! It's SO NICE to work in a clean space. I forgot how much so because it's been so long!! But don't be too impressed. The rest of the story is the landing (right outside my room) is a huge mess. Hopefully things will be reckoned with sooner if I keep walking over them. We shall see!

The question I'd like to discuss today is...."Where do you draw the line between a tutorial vs. a pattern?" I've been pondering this question a lot over the past few months. And quite a lot just this week. I've also been talking it over with my husband, and Tara, and Cheryl. It's still not settled in my mind and I thought it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the matter. Do you think about this at all? What is your take on it?

edited to add: Thanks so much for your comments on this discussion so far! It's been very interesting to read your thoughts. In the comments Tara phrased my question much better. (thank you Tara!) So...the more detailed question is: How do you decide if a quilt should be made into a free tutorial on the blog versus if it warrants a pattern to sell?

(please be gentle in your comments!) :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

straight line quilting with a free motion foot

I've had several questions about straight line quilting with a free motion foot, so I thought I'd do a little rundown of what I've learned by using this technique.
 Why it's GREAT:

--It works very well for quilting specific sections of a quilt.
--It allows you to work back and forth, without turning the entire quilt in your machine each time you change direction.
--It gives your lines a free form, sketchy feel.
--There is far less fabric shifting because the free motion foot floats over your fabric. You can avoid the shifting or "V" formation that sometimes occurs (or always occurs, for me!) when using a walking foot.

What to watch for:

--Stitch length. With a walking foot your machine determines the stitch length. When you are free motion quilting, it's all up to you! If you've done some (or any) free motion quilting, this isn't anything new.
--Starting and stopping. When you are using a walking foot, if you are careful, you can adjust the quilt on the fly. Not with this technique. There is a lot of quilt shifting, and each time you start and stop it's pretty easy to get a little jog in your "straight" line. Starting back up again slowly helps. Also, how you grip your quilt makes a big difference. (See tips below.)
--Perfectionism. If you are going to try this technique, remember that this isn't all about straight lines. It's a free form approach. You need to allow yourself some errors and realize that in the big scheme of things the wobbly lines are charming. No one is going to point out (or circle) your errors. There are times to rip stitches and there are times to just let them go and keep moving forward. It's best to decide before hand to let a few things slide. (I know I had to!) If they really bug you, rip them out.

Tips for grips:

--Hold your hands in a hoop formation and then guide the quilt slowly. If you have an extended table for your machine, this would be a good time to use it.
--Try gently pulling the quilt from behind the foot with your left hand and guiding the quilt with your right hand.

I used each of these techniques about 50% of the time. Do what is comfortable and what works for you.

Specific to this quilt:
I made things more difficult for myself and outlined each section with my walking foot and then did the free motion straight line quilting. The reason? I wanted to have a nice crisp line to start. I will certainly do the same thing again when I use this technique in the future.
Here's a rough little drawing of my stitching lines. I connected each of my lines of stitching by doubling over the outline stitching that I did with the walking foot. I wanted to have as few starts and stops (in regards to thread) as possible.

A few more things I should mention...(and really, these apply to all types of quilting):

--Keep an eye on your tension on the back of your quilt. Some threads that I used held the tension very well no matter which direction I sewed in. Some threads, not so much. Keeping an eye on the back and catching any problems early saves some stitch ripping time. Ask me how I know!

--Support your quilt well. I set up my ironing board directly to the left of my desk and at the same height. This supports the bulk of the quilt and allows me plenty of space to spread it out as I'm working. It helps so much!

I'd encourage you to give straight line quilting with a free motion foot a try. It is a lot of fun! Starting on a mini quilt or something small scale would be a good way to practice. If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments.

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, April 13, 2012

finish it up Friday, week 23

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I have no finish to share today...Friday sure came quickly this week! I'm plugging away at quilting my rainbow log cabin quilt. I'm actually kind of excited though, because I let my "real life" take precedence over my self imposed quilt deadlines more than usual this week. That feels pretty darn good. :) I'm also excited because this quilt is looking better with each quilting line that I add. Woo-hoo! Now, if I can just figure out what to quilt in those grey borders....

How about you? If you have a finish to share today (and I hope you do!), please link to a specific post from the past week. We'd love to cheer you on as you finish!

Happy Friday to you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

quilt surgery

This quilt has been in progress for a few years, quite literally, but this is the first time I've shared it here. Over a month ago, I pieced the back, and since I liked that so much, I decided to rework the front, which I wasn't completely sold on. And this is how it goes in my world!
This is the top, before. The green and red (bottom) sections were bothering me. Some of the green fabrics were too drab for my liking. Some of the red fabrics weren't red enough for me. Since I had gone to the trouble of adding the borders already, the last thing I wanted to do was to chop it all apart and reconstruct it. I decided to do a little quilt surgery instead.
I got out my stitch ripper and carefully removed the green section. (This was very nerve wracking, by the way!) I made a green slab of fabric to replace it and used the original green section for a cutting guide. I carefully pinned and sewed the new section into the gaping hole in my quilt top. I did the two ends first, then each of the sides, pinning each step of the way. It came back together really, really well! I was surprised, delighted, thrilled. So, I decided to do the same for the red section. It worked equally well the second time, which, quite frankly, surprised me. I thought it was a one time shot. So glad that it wasn't!
This is what the quilt top looks like now. Last night when I was looking at these photos I had to wonder if it did any good? Or if I took one step forward and two steps back? Today, I think it DID improve the quilt top. (Feeling kinda wishy washy, I guess!) I love the fabrics now, and I'm curious to see how it looks all quilted up.
Speaking of the quilting...I'm "straight" line quilting with my free motion foot. Seems counter intuitive, doesn't it? I'm finding that it gives a wonderful "organic" feeling that I can't seem to achieve with a walking foot. It's been a fun experiment that is yielding great results. Love it when that happens!

I'm linking up with Lee of Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Monday, April 09, 2012

lawn giveaway winners

Thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway for the beautiful lawn fabric from Connecting Threads. The winners of the fat quarter bundles are:

Lisette G, Nancy and Sue K.

Congratulations, ladies! Please email me your addresses so I can get your fabric to you.

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, April 06, 2012

finish it up Friday, week 22

Welcome to finish it up Friday! I hope you've had a great week of finishing!
I'm delighted to say that I am finally done with my rolling stone quilt! I had to push really hard to finish this one. It seems like this is all I've worked on for a LONG time....I'm glad I saw it through to the end!
After auditioning a bunch of thread colors, I decided to use two colors to quilt it...teal and natural. I needed to pick two because I didn't want the quilting (if I were to use only teal) to muddy up the blocks. On the other hand, I didn't want the natural to contrast with all that teal background. The solution was to quilt all the block pieces separately. Even with all the starting and stopping I had to do, I think it was a good choice. And it kind of looks neat on the back. I do love that lime green backing!

The pebble quilting was intense! It was very time consuming, but I did enjoy the process. Mostly. :) It was easy to work into the smaller spaces. It also uses a ton of thread. Thank goodness Connecting Threads spools are nicely sized. I estimate that I used about one whole spool of teal thread...1200 yards! (I started with a partial spool and ended with a partial spool, so I can only estimate...but it was a lot!)
The pattern is based on a traditional rolling stone block, and it's set on point. I love the almost circle effect of the block. The fabric is all from the Mod Basics line by Birch Fabrics. I think this was my first experience using organic fabric, and it is was very nice to work with. It quilted up beautifully. I'm excited to wash and dry it...the texture is gonna be FAB!

The quilt measures approximately 65" x 86", so a decent twin size. Did I mention that I'm so happy this one is DONE?  :)

Now it's your turn! Do you have a finish to share this week? If so, please link up to a specific blog post from the past week. Then go ahead and cheer on some other finishers as well. Happy Friday to you!

Monday, April 02, 2012

a new WIP and a giveaway

Connecting Threads has a brand spankin' new fabric line called Matsuri. It's be-au-t-iful cotton lawn fabric. If you aren't sure exactly what cotton lawn fabric is, thankfully wikipedia knows! I had to do a little research myself. This fabric is so, so nice and the colors are wonderful!
The top left print in the block above is my absolute favorite! I was very curious to how it would sew up, since it is such fine fabric, but it sews up beautifully. I'm sashing it with plain white quilting cotton, and I'm happy to report that mixing the fabric weights is working very well. It's another thing I was curious about.

I'm using this tutorial by Ashley at film in the fridge. I think it compliments the fabric quite nicely....clean lines and perfectly sized pieces to show off the pretty prints. It's handy that I didn't have to do the math, either. Thank you, Ashley! :)
I was going to make it a lap size, as that seems to be my default size when it comes to quilt making. But about a week ago I was sewing with a few friends in the church basement. As I was working on my blocks they asked what size I was going to make the quilt. Heather, who's motto in quilting is "go big or go home", suggested I keep going. So....I'm now making this a king size. You gotta be careful who you ask advice from! When I showed my husband the photo, he said he really liked it. Works out well, since it will eventually be on our bed!
This is what I've got so far. (Please excuse the weird lines from the church basement floor.) I'm not excited to add all that skinny sashing in between, but it's going to be totally worth it! Right???

Now, for the giveaway! Connecting Threads is kindly offering up 3 fat quarter stacks of this beautiful fabric line to three of my readers. If you would like to win a fat quarter bundle, please leave me a comment in this post. In your comment I'd like to hear what your default quilt size it. As stated earlier, I almost always make lap size quilts (60" x 72") if it's not for a specific purpose. I'm not sure why, it's just the way it is! I will pick the winners next Monday. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.

If you are curious about cotton lawn or if you would like a few tips about sewing with lawn fabric, Connecting Threads has a fact sheet that you can download here.

One more book is back in stock! Yay!

Happy Monday to you!