Tuesday, January 30, 2018

mark twain quilt progress

Life seems to be going at break-neck speed these days, but I am still managing to find time to do some hand-stitching amid all the activities. That's a very good thing! Having a portable stitching project at the ready is key.
I've done a lot of stitching at church (before service starts) and some in the doctor's office while waiting for my daughter's strep test. (It invited a LOT of questions, let me tell you!) Some blocks were stitched the weekend of my mother-in-law's 80th birthday party while we hung out with family (lots more questions) and some stitching was done while I attended a workshop with my son all about college readiness. (Yikes!) I haven't done any stitching in line at the grocery store. Not yet, anyway! Hahaha!
I'm replicating an antique quilt (you can read more about it here, if you care to) and this block is a nod to the original quilt. I didn't have enough dark navy fabric for all 16 hexies for the outer later, so I substituted in a similar-ish fabric for the last 4 hexies. It adds SO much character and interest! For those of you who like things symmetrical, I'm sure that it makes you very uncomfortable, but I really like it! Eventually these blocks will be connected/bordered with the red-orange solid hexies.
One thing that I've noticed is that making the block centers takes very little time...
...but adding the hexies to the outside takes considerably longer! I am enjoying the process, though, and that's what matters, right?

My friend Nancy commented that it looks like something grandma would have made. Perfect!

Friday, January 26, 2018

two things

Welcome to finish it up Friday! This week didn’t feel very productive, but it sure felt FULL! Anyone else in the same boat?
I did manage to round up a few finishes for this week, though! My major finish was quilting Nancy’s charity quilt. I brought it home as a flimsy just last week and I returned it to her yesterday, ready for binding. That was fun! I tried out a new-to-me machine, which is always a little challenging, but it was also a very good experience. (I'll be sure to blog about the machine again after I use it a little bit more.) The quilt is about 64" x 83" or so.
The other little finish I have for this week is turning an orphan block into a pot holder. It's what Lynn calls "cleaning up the slow way". Isn't that a great way to describe it???
I used a few scraps of Insul-Brite and stitched them together (by hand) before using it as the "batting." If you are not familiar with Insul-Brite, it's a great product that has a layer of heat resistant material in it, making it a perfect choice for projects like hot pads, oven mitts, etc. This is the first time that I tried piecing it together (a machine zig zag stitch would also work, I'm sure) and it felt good to eliminate wasted product. Just the trimmings went into the trash! 
The backing is a cute pear print (it's cotton lawn, so it's super soft) by Robert Kaufman. I LOVE it!
I quilted it with a concentric square and bound it with a spring green gingham print. It's ALMOST too cute to use, but I WILL use it! It's going to replace one of my super gunky old ones. It's a good way to put the scraps to use, don't you think? It measures about 8.25" square and it is scrap project #195.

That's it for me today! Now it's your turn. Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great and safe weekend!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

quilting with a tiara

No, I haven't traded in my trusty stocking hat for a jeweled crown...I'm trying out a sit down long arm machine. (hahaha!) This Baby Lock Tiara belongs to a friend's sister. It was just sitting in storage, so it came to live with me for awhile instead. I've had the machine for a month or two, but I've been hesitant to use it. I tried it out at my friend's house last spring, but I had a lot of trouble with thread breakage. I'm sure you all know how frustrating that is! Last evening I finally took a few minutes to read the manual and thread the machine. I did some playing on a test sandwich and it went very well! I was expecting to have to mess with the thread tension for a few days, so I was pleasantly surprised. Almost giddy!
This morning I was eager to try quilting a real quilt, so basted this one (pieced by my friend Nancy) and got to work right away. My stipple is a little bit rusty, but other than that, it's smooth sailing. The throat is 16" deep and it has a nice large table to support the weight of the quilt. The table that holds the machine is significantly lower that what I'm used to, and it's more ergonomically correct. That means it's easier on my shoulders and back. All good things! This is also good news for my WIP pile! :)

I've updated my website with my upcoming events for the year. You can check them out here. The next few events are in Minneapolis, which is almost local for me! I'll be teaching Spin Class-Make Your Quilts Your Own on Friday, February 2, 2018. You can register here, if you care to. I'll also be doing two trunk shows that weekend. If you live in the area, I'd love to see you there!

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Friday, January 19, 2018

arithmetic quilt complete

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
Today I'm very happy to share with you my first completed quilt of the year! I went on a little photo field trip yesterday, so I'll share those first and then I'll go over the quilt specifics at the end of the post. I don't think that I've mentioned it lately, but man, finishing feels good!



Patttern: Arithmetic by Jeni Baker
Fabric: Tag by Cheryl Arkison for Connecting Threads (I bought a kit, but some of the yardage is still available here.)
Backing: Scraps from the front plus Good Neighbors yardage
Binding: Timeless Treasures stripe
Quilting: FMQ Loops done on my Juki
Thread: Aurifil 2615 (50 weight)
Size: 64" x 88"
Started: November 8, 2017
Finished: January 14, 2018
Fun fact: I've learned to spell "arithmetic" because I've typed it so many times when posting about this quilt. Hurray for learning something new!

I'm so pleased with how this quilt turned! It was a fun project, fairly quick to make and beautiful results. I think I want to make another arithmetic quilt,  but next time scrappy! Shocking, isn't it???

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! I hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

log cabin progress

Last week I pulled out my log cabin blocks with the hope that this would be the last time I pull out the stack of blocks before I have a completed quilt top. It didn't take much calculating to realize that would NOT be the case. I do love a good long term project though, and this is definitely one of them!
It takes awhile to re-acclimate to a project after a long time out, but I've settled back into this one quite nicely. I've been working on up to 20 blocks at a time, so progress is slow, but enjoyable.
I've been adding the finished blocks to the design wall as I make them. It's fun to watch it grow! I've been trying to use up some of my most precious scraps in this quilt, so I've got a lot of Denyse Schmidt fabrics, along with plenty of polka dots and some thirties thrown in for good measure. It's a fun combination. Of course there are a lot of random scraps in the mix, too. The more the merrier!
I've got 47/132 blocks complete. I'm going for a king size quilt. I'm about 35% done!

I'm using my log cabin measurements, which can be found here. The blocks will finish at 9" square.

Friday, January 12, 2018

scrap and stash projects

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I've been working on this boxy pouch off and on over the past week or more. I broke up the steps (patchwork, quilting, assembly) over several days, which seemed to work out well. It was time consuming, but I love how it turned out!
I used this tutorial by Pink Stitches and I made the larger size. I was happy to use that pink strap for the handle, which was previously made for a purse, but then I decided not to use it after all. I hung on to it for several years, knowing that I would use it eventually. I'm extremely surprised that I was able to find it when I needed it! Ha!
I used a cheery spring green gingham from my stash for the lining.
I love that I was able to use up so many random scraps in this project! I pieced the patchwork as I did in my Scrap Vortex quilt along. (You can find the tutorial links at the bottom of this page.)
Remember my 101 scrap project challenge? I was looking back at some old blog posts the other day and realized that I fizzled out on that sometime last January. Since I was so close to completing my challenge for the second time, I decided that I needed to resume it. (We will just say that I took a nice long hiatus....ok?) All that to say, this is scrap project #194!

This next zip pouch was a much faster project....
I made this one for my daughter's friend as a belated Christmas gift. My daughter picked out the fabrics and I did the sewing. It looks perfect for a tween girl, doesn't it? (It's good to have some purple in the stash after all, I guess! Who knew? Ha!)
For the lining I used a stripe that compliments the exterior. I used my two color zip pouch pattern (available here), with a few modifications. I used one fabric for the exterior instead of two and I quilted the exterior panels onto a thin cotton batting before assembling the pouch. It adds a little bit of extra structure and texture.

I'm happy to report that my daughter's friend LOVES the pouch and uses it every day at school. Woohoo!

One more project from the stash to share....
I made these cloth napkins for my neighbor's son who just moved into his first house. He was hinting last summer that his mom needed to learn how to make some so he could have a set or two for when he moved to his new place. Well, I remembered that hint and was happy to sew them up for him. He was thrilled. What a great guy! :) I cut 18" squares and hemmed them up. Quick, easy and practical!
That's it for me today! Now it's your turn to link up your finishes for the week. Thanks so much for joining me for finish it up Friday! I hope you have a GREAT weekend!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

WIP Wednesday

Over the past several days, I have been splitting my time between two big projects: quilting my arithmetic quilt and ripping down a wall paper border in my daughters room. Fun times! Both are hard on the arms, so it was wise to split up the tasks over several days.
This is my arithmetic quilt. (You can see a full photo of the quilt top here.) It's a twin size, so I'm pleased that I was able to quilt it (off and on) over a 5 day stretch. That's a pretty moderate pace! I went with a simple loop de loop all over for the quilting. Nothing fancy, just something to keep the layers together and add some lovely texture. It's kind of fun that the quilting shows up a lot more on some of the blocks and a lot less on the other blocks. I used Aurifil thread in the color 2600. It's a beautiful light gray thread that blends with almost everything.
Here's the wall paper that got it's eviction notice...finally! I'm guessing that it's from the 90's? It totally overstayed it's welcome. I'm so glad it's gone, gone, GONE. This project also took several days. I am mildly disturbed that I actually ENJOYED ripping it down. (How sick it that?) I am glad that it was just a border, though. That was plenty!

Now it's time to move on to binding (yay!) and painting. Progress is good!

Before I sign off for today, that you SO MUCH for all of your kind comments on Abby's Sunset quilt top. I appreciate each one! I hope you are having a fabulous week! xo

Friday, January 05, 2018

Abby's sunset-a completed quilt top

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I'm so excited that I have a finished quilt top to share today. This one has been in progress for quite some time-at least it feels like it to me! (I looked back, and I started it in September. I guess it wasn't that long ago after all....)
This is a variation of my hot and cold quilt, which is from my book No Scrap Left Behind. I used the same colors and the same general idea of separating the warm and the cool colors....but the layout is completely different.
I know that I've mentioned it before, but I do pin at each and every intersection. Sewing the rows together takes longer because of it, but I get the best results this way, so I continue to pin. Besides, if I didn't use pins, all of my beloved pincushions would be quite useless. Hahaha!  
Much like the first version of the quilt, I laid out all 1,147 squares before sewing them together. For the first quilt I used my design wall. For this version I used a piece of batting to lay out all of the blocks, then I placed a vintage sheet on top of the patchwork and rolled it up when I wasn't working on it. This method worked very well, especially since it was in time out for a few months!
I enlisted my neighbor girl to help me photograph the quilt. We both bundled up and went to the local park for the photo shoot. It was quite chilly, but we waited until the temperature rose to zero degrees. I was the quilt holder and she took the photos. (I realized that I really need to strengthen my arm muscles!) She did a great job helping out. Thanks so much, Lizzie! 
I absolutely love the bright and vibrant colors in this quilt! I also love how it looks pixelated at a distance.
I have such a hard time naming quilts, but this quilt reminded me of the sun setting over the lake. A year or so ago, almost every evening, as the sun was going down, my daughter Abby would say, "Mom, look at the beautiful sunset." I love how she would take time to enjoy the beauty of God's creation rather than rushing through the day, as I am accustomed to doing. It's so inspiring. Now, it's become somewhat of a tradition for her and I to pause and enjoy the beautiful sunset together. I love that so much!
Each square was (individually!) cut at 2 1/2" and finishes at 2" square. The quilt top measures about 62" x 74" and it's 100% scraps! I kinda love it!!! :)

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

the start of my mark twain quilt

Last spring my family and I went on a spring break trip and I picked up this antique quilt for a song in Hannibal, Missouri. (I wrote a blog post about the quilt here, if you care to read more about it.) On that same trip, I bought a bunch of solid red orange fabric (Michael Miller cotton couture) that was an end of bolt sale. I didn't realize it at the time, but it's nearly the exact shade of the red orange fabric that was used in the quilt. So interesting!!!
I decided that I'm going to repair this quilt, but that wouldn't be enough, now, would it??? Nope! I decided that I want to make a replica of this quilt as well. I actually started making the hexagons for the connector blocks a few months ago, but this morning I finished my first block.
I'm using 30's reproduction fabrics and I'm taking my design queues from the vintage quilt. I will admit, I think this block is fairly ugly, (funky at best!) but I know that in the big scheme of things, it's going to be great! The hexagons in the original quilt measure 3/4" on each side, but I'm using 1" hexagons. I am English Paper Piecing it. (EPP for short.) 
One thing that I noticed in the old quilt is that the maker chose to turn the striped or directional fabric every which way. It adds a lot of interest and movement that the quilt wouldn't have otherwise. So, when I made my block, I followed suit. Normally, I would have laid out the pieces in the pink layer like this:
Since the original quilt has the prints going it all directions, I mixed them up. I like them every which way much better! It is so fun to study the details of the old quilt.

As far as the name of the quilt goes, it was also inspired by our trip to Hannibal. We were visiting for a few days and the town offers everything "Mark Twain" that you can imagine. (Books, book marks, pens, matchbooks, root beer, fried chicken...you name it, they had it! I even got a Mark Twain cut out while I was at the quilt shop. Hahaha!) We joked about "Mark Twain everything" the entire time we were there, so it is only fitting that I make a Mark Twain quilt to go along with it. Right?

It's going to be a long journey, but I'm excited about making this quilt!

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

hello 2018

Happy New Year! 2017 was a big year for me and my family in a lot of ways. It was a good one!

This photo collage is a representation of some of my most liked photos on Instagram in 2017.

Looking back:

The two big things....

My new book, No Scrap Left Behind, came out in February. I travelled a lot this year to promote my book, including visits to Georgia, Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida. Plenty of stops in Minnesota, too. Many thanks to all of the guilds that invited me to speak and teach. I feel very lucky that I get to do this! Thank you to all of you who purchased a copy of the book. I appreciate it more than I can say!

My latest fabric line, Emma & Myrtle, came out in July! It's so fun to see what others are making from it. I don't think that will ever get old. (It looks like it's currently on sale, too!)

I had a few other highlights:

-In March I made it down to 4 WIPs!

-In July I did my one a day pincushion challenge for a second year in a row. I'm probably done with that challenge now, but it was fun to revisit it. I'm definitely NOT done making pincushions, though.

-In September I started a new series where I'm going to try to complete 10 quilts made from solid scraps. (I have yet to complete one, but I've got two quilt tops done and another few started.) I LOVE working in a series.

-I completed 14 quilts for the year. That's pretty low number for me....I think the last year that I completed that number of quilts was 2006. (I'm totally fine with that, though, because I'm not running out of quilts.) Out of those 14 quilts, 7 were scrap quilts and 7 were made from the stash or new yardage. It's interesting that it's split right down the middle. I'm quite surprised!

-I gave away at least 15 quilts last year. That felt great!

One goal that I did NOT make was to crochet a giant rag rug for my front entryway. I'm debating it now, because I think the puppies will just try to eat it anyway.

It was a big year for my family, too.

-My husband went back to school (while continuing to work full time) and finished his Associates Degree. Working full time and going to school is no joke. I'm proud of him for going back and finishing his degree after so many years.

-My husband and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary!

-We went on a spring break trip. My youngest started middle school. My younger son started high school. (How on earth?) My oldest son got his driver's license and his first job. We got two puppies! It was a BIG year!

Looking ahead:

Usually I have a whole laundry list of goals, but this year I really don't. (I'm trying not to freak out about it. Hahaha!) I plan to do more speaking and teaching this year. And as cliché as it sounds, I want work on reducing my stash this year. I want to sew MORE and sew for FUN! That's about it! Sounds sort of anti-climatic, but then again, it sounds really, really nice, doesn't it?

How about you? Do you make New Year's goals? If you do and you care to share, I'd love to hear about them.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog. I really appreciate it! Happy New Year to you and yours!