Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Scraps

I get into noticeable "moods" when I sew. Sometimes, all I want to do is quilt. Sometimes, I want to create custom piles of fabric, and stare at them for a while. Rarely, I'll feel like basting and/or making binding constantly. Hah! And sometimes, I feel like piecing scraps.


Scrap piecing is NOT easy. It is not fast. It is slow and sometimes deliberate (if you plan it out). It involves a lot of pressing and Best Press/starch. It involves patience and care. It involves chopping off ends of fabric, tiny pieces, and design walls. And most of all, it's refreshing to me, especially when the last few months have been devoted to deadlines and plans long in the making.

As a result of all of this, two new works-in-progress have quickly commandeered my sewing space. First, I was inspired by a mini charm pack of Carolyn Friedlander's new Doe fabric (Jessica brought it back for me from Quilt Market, bless her soul). I decided to group them generally by color and surround them with bold solid scraps. And then they just grew and multiplied. I had no control over this project; I felt much like a sewing zombie, but I was motivated by pretty colors instead of brains. Mike really likes these blocks because "they have squares and rectangles only." He's a uniform kind of guy; I can't blame him for that!


They've grown to several more blocks since even this picture. Now I'm just not sure what to do with them. I envision them separated on Kona Snow... I just love how they look on my white totally-makeshift-but-hey-it-works-batting-pinned-to-the-wall design wall... any suggestions? And no, this quilt does not have a destination yet. Please, I need your opinions!

The other WIP is quite different. We found out recently that our family from Maine is coming down for New Year's, and one of my youngest nieces doesn't have a big girl quilt yet - this will be her late birthday present. So, I started to play with some of my winnings from Hawthorne Threads, Utopia by Francis Newcombe. 

The bright, happy colors and patterns are perfect for a little girl, no? I made triangles with my new Hex-n-more ruler by Jaybird Quilts (I'd been waiting around to buy a triangle ruler, and this one allows for that plus much more, as the name suggests!). Then, I fashioned them into diamonds and surrounded them with solid sashing. Now I'm piecing the rest of the quilt improvisationally with scraps... so you'll have to see what I have in mind in a few days.

I'm hoping to work on this project over the break but I can already feel the mood waning and the itch to quilt coming back to the surface...


I love sewing with my Christmas tree nearby! That's one reason I put it up a few days ago and a bit early at that. :)

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow U.S. quilters! This is my favorite holiday... probably because there's so much food. :) But really, in all seriousness, I love how everything just stops for the day here and we spend time with family. I'm especially thankful for this amazing quilting community! See you on the other side.



Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Postcards from Prague" - A Finished Voile Quilt

My latest quilt finish is a special one. I bought a fat quarter set of Anna Maria Horner's cotton voile, a lightweight material, from Westwood Acres about a year and a half ago (gahhhh, so long ago), and I decided this summer I was finally going to make something with it, gosh darn it. I supplemented the FQ bundle with some voile yardage from my stash, and I still have fat eighths left of most prints to make something else! Yay!


After pondering and searching Pinterest/blogs for inspiration, I found my friend Debbie's Postcard Quilt-A-Long tutorial. Debbie's quilt is so gorgeous and well done! This quilt design was perfect because it allowed me to show off the gorgeous large prints. You all know I'm a huge fan of pretty much everything Anna Maria Horner makes - so I was itching to really do the prints justice. I decided to mix things up a bit from Debbie's quilt; I changed the line that separates the prints every two columns. You can see above that from left to right, the line color changes from green to black to light gray.


I pieced the backing with a mishmash of AMH voiles that all coordinated nicely together. I originally bought that bottom right pink flower print for an infinity scarf, but I knew I'd get more out of it on the quilt. :) It's filled with bamboo batting by Quilter's Dream. Thanks to all of your suggestions on here and on Instagram, I own the softest quilt in the world! I bound it in a dark purple Free Spirit solid (sorry, I don't know the color) and a couple peeks of Alison Glass's purple Field Day print. I chose quilting cotton for the binding because I think it will hold together better than a voile binding would.


I didn't want to sew on a piece of quilting cotton for the label, so I hand embroidered the binding before I machine sewed it on. I would definitely do this again in the future - although I'm not very fast, so it took more than an hour!


If you've never made an all-voile quilt, it's definitely something for your quilting bucket list! It's the perfect quilt for when you want a quilt but not something too warm or heavy. I've been using it all week and I'm so happy. It was a bit difficult to cut (it's slippery) but use a sharp blade and go slowly - I wrote up more tips for sewing with voile when I first started this project. I actually found it easy (maybe TOO easy) to free motion quilt - I had to slow down a lot. Also, I didn't plan on quilting "densely" but I ended up doing so anyway (like with Breeze) simply because I just love to quilt. It did not make a difference at all in the softness of the final quilt.


I named the quilt "Postcards from Prague" for three reasons: a) the Postcard pattern (see more beautiful versions here) b) Prague is one of my favorite cities in the world and c) it reads very "bohemian" to me.


Here, I tested the quilt before it was actually done. I asked my husband Mike to pass me a quilt, and when he gave me one of the finished quilts on the couch, I shook my head and pointed to this one. He laughed and took this picture. I just couldn't wait to use it!


I love this quilt so much. I just got a new haircut so it seemed right to pose with it! :) Thanks, as always, to Mike for the awesome photography. He's the best!

I wrote about this quilt previously here, here and here.

Linking up to: Fabric Tuesday @ Quilt Story, Sew Cute Tuesday @ Blossom Heart Quilts, Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation, Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Retreat sewing



Sewing retreats are wonderful things. One of my favorite parts is finally sitting down in the driver's seat after filling my car and then driving out of my apartment complex, free as a bird. This retreat was close to my house (!!) which is a big improvement from, say, Lancaster in April, which was 2.5 hours away. Anyway, it just doesn't matter where it is in the end. Retreats are rejuvenating and I make sure they are productive.

Photo by Neva

One of the things I dislike about retreats is the amount of stuff I end up bringing! The retreats I have attended have been 3-4 days, so naturally it becomes a problem to decide what to work on. I try to find a balance between chatting/laughing with old and new friends and actually hardcore sewing. I've found that chain piecing, basting, pressing, and making binding are the most productive tasks when I'm trying to socialize. :) You might also get sucked into technology like some of my guild members, lol!



I'm really happy with all the work I got done this weekend, even when I wasn't feeling completely well. First, I finished my last four Supernova blocks - I'm sending two of them out to Karin this week.


The blocks took 5-6 hours of sewing on Friday (they are huge blocks and require a lot of trimming and pressing. I couldn't wait to finish them!). Then, I put them all together, as you can see at the top of this post. I'm still playing with layouts and which color I'll use on the border. Stay tuned...


With Jess's help, I basted my voile quilt on a table. I'd never used a table for this purpose, and boy, was it a learning experience (especially at 12:30 am on Sunday morning - and we were up until 2:30 am sewing!). We used large binder clips to help and I have to say that the quilt was straighter than I ever could have made it on the floor. Here's a photo montage of our attempts:





Voile is super slippery and doesn't stick if you spray baste, so I had to use safety pins. I prefer spray basting, but what are you going to do? This quilt has bamboo batting in the middle and it's almost done, so I'll be sharing more about its wonderful softness soon!


Finally, my biggest achievement of the weekend was piecing together the top for the Central Jersey MQG's QuiltCon Charity Quilt.  Above are 17 of the 8" x 8" modern blocks I received at our November meeting from guild members. Aren't they fab? And here's the design I created:


I wanted to create a healthy amount of negative space with unexpected pops of color. Some of the blocks are a bit hidden on purpose. This was my first time setting blocks on point and I'm very happy with how they turned out. I really hope this quilt gets exhibited at QuiltCon because I'm really proud of the design and all the work members put into the blocks! Next, Jess will quilt it. I'll have more to say about it in January when the quilt is due. But for now, here's my "I'm-exhausted-but-so-happy-it's-done" face after piecing all day Saturday and Sunday morning:


You can see more pictures from the retreat over on the CJMQG blog!
I wrote up a post over there, too. See... productivity!

Linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Breeze: A Finished King Size Orange Peel Quilt

I only use that title because it's the largest quilt I've ever made, and I'm darn proud of it.


M mom requested an orange peel quilt for her bed (with an overhang) after she saw Scatter. I made it because I really, really love her! Plus, I wanted to give her something great for her birthday. I gave her a quilt last year, too. Go figure. They're a popular commodity around here!


 The color scheme is based off of this print from Katarina Roccella's print, Floret Stains Mulberry, from her Art Gallery line Indelible. My mom had commented on Point Me that she loved that print, so I took out the peach color and based all of my orange peel color choices on it. I made sure to sprinkle bits and pieces of that fabric throughout the quilt!


I pieced this quilt in the style of Scatter - using the stitch and flip orange peel technique and my favorite somewhat-planned improvisational low volume background piecing (as you can see, I'm super technical). As many of you know, I taught these techniques recently in a class at Pennington Quilt Works. My second class, which is modified and shorter, will be at Mid-Atlantic Mod, and the class of 15 is already sold out! I'm so excited!!


The only full orange peel on the quilt is this large one in the middle. All the other pieces are flying off it "in the breeze."


This was the first time I experimented with large peels and small peels. They were fun and I would love to mix sizes again. I definitely need a little break from orange peels, though. :)



I quilted it with wavy lines from end to end, using my walking foot.  It was a lot of quilt to push through my machine! I refrained from lifting weights at the gym that week because my arms were so sore. Hahaha. It was the size of the quilt - it actually flowed through my machine quite easily. I've found that quilting with a good quality flannel backing is just about the same as a quilting cotton backing.

Can you spot the three sizes of peels? There's one baby peel in there!

I pieced the backing of Anna Maria Horner's Pretty Potent flannel. Free Spirit flannel is so well-made and I always enjoy using it for quilt backing. Plus there's a gorgeous design!


This quilt is a behemoth, a monster, whatever you want to call it... it's big. It's 90" x 100" and it contains much of what I had left of my low volume stash! Guess I'll have to stash up... :).

I've written about this quilt otherwise here and here.

It was very well-received by both mom and dad. Yes, my dad is a goofball.




And the faraway shot, because hanging off the deck is the only way to photograph the beast:



Friday, November 14, 2014

"Tomorrow Night" - A Mini Quilt from Tangled

Have you seen the animated Disney movie Tangled? If you haven't, get yourself a copy STAT. It's a huge favorite in my family. My husband and I will often watch Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon, and Frozen on weekends... we're normal twenty-somethings, right?


Anyway, my sister's birthday is tomorrow! Yes, my little sister who helps with photoshoots and coding and all kinds of sewing related stuff. She's not so little anymore, though - she's going to be 18. Wow. A few months ago, she requested a mini quilt of this painting from the movie:



Pretty close, no? The movie is about Rapunzel (yes, that Rapunzel) with a twist: she wants to leave her tower to see the lanterns that appear every night on her birthday. I won't spoil the story for you, but I'll insist that it's original and funny!

 

I pieced the background with improv curves, which was really fun. Almost everything else was raw edge appliqued. I used different colors of threads to outline the lanterns and make them shine!


I also wrote in the part of the song in which Rapunzel paints this picture:

"Tomorrow night, the lights will appear
Just like they do on my birthday each year
What is it like up there where they float
Now that I'm older, Mother might just let me go." 

You can see the whole scene/song here. :) It's the opening of the movie and it's super catchy! The part where she finishes the painting starts at 1:41.


Actually making Rapunzel was the hardest part. I think her foot ended up bigger than her arm, but oh well. :D Her hair was fun, though. I took a long yellow fabric scrap and just free-handed with scissors. Same with the trees - which I'm very pleased with.





As you know, I'm more likely to identify with modern or modern traditional quilting than anything else. I'm assuming this would be considered an "art quilt" but it's a quilt, right, and that's what matters anyway, right? I offered to paint the scene instead - not that I'm an amazing painter but I thought she would like it more. She adamantly told me... "no" because I'm a quilter! Haha. The whole quilt measures out to 20" x 27".


She loves it! Next year's request is Frozen. I'd better start scheming.


One more from far away (it looks so real like this, and yes, there's part of my messy craft area):



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