Wednesday, January 29, 2014

WiP Wednesday - A whole-cloth baby quilt

One of my Quarter 1 Finish Along goals is to complete (aka quilt and bind) this little whole-cloth baby quilt.  I've had the fabrics sitting around forever, which is especially sad because there's no piecing involved!  I just really don't like basting.  Part of the problem is that I don't really have a great basting space:
Why yes, that is indeed the floor of my master bathroom.  It's one of the few non-carpeted areas in the house I can baste on.  The foyer isn't carpeted but it's not consistently clean enough to baste on (I mean we're not completely slovenly, but we have a dog and it's been snowy and gross out for the past few weeks and if I tried to keep it sparkling I'd be scrubbing everyday).  I have taken larger quilts down to the kitchen, but this one was small enough to do in the bathroom - that way I don't have to lug everything downstairs. 

There is one perk to bathroom-basting - I can fold up one of the floor mats to kneel on!

Time to git 'er done!

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

ALYoF - January goal complete!

For the month of January we were asked to set one goal for a Lovely Year of Finishes.  My goal (if you don't want to click back to the previous post) was to finish the top only of my Florence Starburst quilt (quilt along courtesy of Melissa at Happy Quilting).
Ta da!

This quilt was good for me in several ways:
1) It had lots of basic blocks in it that I don't make very much (goose in the corner, flying geese and HST) and I got lots of practice.  Melissa's tutorial/instructions were very clear.  The only thing I changed was to press my seams open.  I got half way through the HST with the seams pressed to one side and just couldn't take it any more!  Apparently I'm an open presser kind of quilter.
2) The large block size was good for my ego - it makes it look like you've done more than you actually have.  It was also pretty easy to make one block in a session and then put things aside until the next time.
3) Now I have a quilt top ready to go for the next appropriate occasion

Yes, I don't plan on doing anything with the top until it has an intended home.  It's just so much easier to toss a "flimsy" (I recently came across this term in someone's blog) over a hanger and put it in the closet for safe keeping than it is to store a completed quilt - especially a big momma like this one!

Hurray for a successful first month of ALYoF!  Let's hope I can do 11 more :)
Linking up with the January Finishes party!


Sunday Stash #8 - your thoughts needed!

My mom passed this little bundle of fabrics on to me as it's a FQ pack and she needed yardage for her project.  It's one of those bundles you can buy "pre-packaged" from JoAnn's.
I thought the prints were cute, but I don't have much in my stash along these lines and I wasn't sure how to work them into a quilt.  Enter my new favorite cloth napkin tutorial.  Only problem is that this is (obviously) a bundle of five FQ and you need an even number for napkins.  My goal was to use them all, rather than only use four and have another random FQ in my stash, so I went hunting for a print that would coordinate well.
This was my first pull.  (The red is a remnant from JoAnn's, the blue was gifted to me and the black is Chicopee.)  I wasn't thrilled so I put them all aside and got to work on piecing the back of Ribbit.  Then as I was looking through my greens I stumbled across these two FQ and think they're better options:

Here are my prospective pairings (remember, you get two double-sided napkins for each FQ pair).  I'm good with the dolls and the fans, but I'm not sure which green to go with for the symbols.  The darker one says Jinny Beyer for Mr. RJR Fashion Fabrics on the selvedge and the lighter one says ...Museum by Froncie Quinn for Red Rooster Fabrics (no idea where they came from, again they were gifted to me).  
Then I had a late-breaking thought over dinner (as I stared at the fabrics and mentally sorted through my stash): what if I rearranged the pairs and used brown with the dolls?  Unfortunately, the brown fabric in the photo below isn't a full FQ, so I'd have to try and find something similar to purchase (and I'd like to avoid purchasing, even though it's just a FQ).  I did have this white in my stash, which maybe could work because it picks up the white in their faces?  Maybe?

Sorry for the poor quality!  This idea struck after sundown :-/

So the question is, which do you like best??  I'd appreciate your input!

Linking up with Sunday Stash, hosted this week by Sarah Quilts!

Molli Sparkles

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sewing with Certainty #6: Showcasing Your Work

As you can tell from the title, this two weeks' topic in the Sewing with Certainty series is about showcasing your work.  Laura, from Little and Lots, did a really nice post on this topic over at Jess's blog.  I really like her statement that "that a quilt isn't finished until you have taken good-quality photos and shared the quilt or the photos with other quilters."  I definitely need to work on this - especially considering it seems like there have been more than a few occasions when the quilt came out of the dryer, went directly in the gift bag and I headed out the door to the event!

Jessica's suggested prompts for this topic are: What are your favorite ways to share your quilting? Why do you think people should share their work? What kinds of venues would you like to try (Instagram, joining a guild, entering a show, etc.)? Tell us your favorite photography tips.

1.  What's your favorite way to share quilting?
My favorite way to share quilting is through photos on this little blog.  I also have an album of photos on my Facebook account, and I have a Flickr account too, but it's hard to upload photos to five million different places, you know?  I'm bad enough about keeping up the "Finished Quilts" tabs up there on the header!  (Note to self, gotta work on that - 2013 is over!)  To try and get as much bloggy exposure as possible I try and link my posts to relevant linky parties.  I also make the effort to comment on others' posts too - comments are the best!

2.  Why do you think people should share?
Well if people didn't share it would be much harder to be inspired, wouldn't it?  I'd like to think that this blog could inspire a new quilter/sewist at least a little bit!  And I certainly take a lot of inspiration from the (many) blogs I follow.

3.  What kinds of venues would you like to try?
Don't laugh, but I don't have a SmartPhone, so Instagram's kind of out for me.  I did learn of a Modern Quilt Guild chapter here in Louisville, but I keep forgetting to mark the meeting dates on the calendar.  I signed up to be an individual member of the national MQG a few months ago but I really should get to one of the local meetings!  I've also toyed with the idea of entering a quilt in our KY State Fair, but this is probably a "venue" for next year.

4.  Photography tips
I have no business offering photography tips, as the only thing I know about photography is that natural light is your friend.  (You'd laugh if you saw my little point and shoot camera - it matches my non-SmartPhone perfectly!)  I do think that a good tip/something I need to work on is finishing up quilts, especially those that will be a gift, in a more timely manner so that I can at least try and get more creative photos before they move on to their intended recipient.  I have a nice wooden fence in my backyard and I don't live too far from a park so there's really no excuse for trying to get a bit more creative.
Creative photo attempt #1 with the Pooh quilt
Creative photo attempt #2
Fall-back over the landing railing shot

My only question about creative photography is how do you keep the quilt clean??  Throw a sheet over a limb before you lay the quilt over?  Or just not worry about dirt because you do the photos before you wash it?  I'd appreciate your thoughts on creative photos while not trashing your quilt :)

Linking up with the Showcasing Your Work post at Quilty Habit!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Ribbit - a froggy quilt

I haven't given any of my quilts so far "creative" names.  They've all been "So and so's quilt" for the most part.  This quilt, however, doesn't have an intended recipient so it needed a name.  And "Ribbit" fits the subject matter pretty well!

Here's a closer view of some of the featured froggies:
Completing this quilt is one of my 1st Quarter Finish Along goals and so I took advantage of the MLK Jr. Day holiday (one of the few perks of a university job!) and got the top all pieced.  The back is coming together as well, and might involve just as much piecing as the top!
I had a "panel" of the froggies left after fussy cutting and so I'm going to try and center the panel with some other stash pieces for the backing.  I've got yellow strips for the top and bottom (I think, it's going to be a close fit) but I may need to figure out some more filler for the far right side.  The goal was to make it as much from stash as possible (I even used up orphan bobbins of thread!) but I'm pretty sure I'm going to at least have to buy something for the binding - oh darn ;-)

Linking up with the Whoop-ers!

Finish It Up Friday - a small finish

A while back I wrote a Sunday Stash post showing off some pretty fleur de lis fabric I purchased from my LQS.  Need a reminder?  Here you go:
Now I love this fabric because 1) it's got fleur de lis on it; and 2) it's red and I love red.  That said, it's not the kind of fabric I'm drawn to for quilt making.  I simply could not, however, leave these FQ on the shelves and so they came home with me and sat.  And sat.  Until I stumbled across this tutorial for making two double-sided cloth napkins out of two FQ - perfect!

After some initial hesitation regarding the size (the finished napkin measures approx. 18"x11") I decided to just go for it.  And voila:
I got eight pretty little napkins!  I ended up deciding to divide my napkins into two sets of four and gifted one set to a friend for Christmas and another set to my friend/neighbor/co-worker Anna as a thank you for being a lovely friend/neighbor/co-worker :)

FYI, I also decided (after studying one on my lap for size) that I worried for nothing.  The napkin is long enough to cover both legs and covers enough of the thigh to catch all but the worst spills.  Definitely a useful way to get good bang for your FQ buck!  And yay for being environmentally friendly, too!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Really Random Thursday (on Friday night)

We've lived in our house for a little over a year now, and I'm just warming up to the idea of tackling the basement.  Granted, part of my initial hesitation was a small rodent problem (thank goodness we never saw any activity upstairs!), but that's all resolved now - shout out to Mark the pest guy!

So now that I don't have to worry about unwanted company in the basement I've decided it's time to put some effort into it.  Also known as, "we need to organize the crap we throw down there and then forget about."  The first step in this process was building some shelves.  Have you ever priced shelves?  Big sturdy ones that you'd be willing to store your breakable holiday decorations on?  Lemme tell you, that's an eye opening experience.  Instead of breaking the bank on shelving units I sent the husband a bunch of links to DIY some "custom" shelves.
Ta da!  One unit down and another is in process.  This one houses pretty much all of the holiday decorations.  In an ideal world I'd also like to get some more bins instead of cardboard boxes, but really that probably won't happen until Halloween 2014.
Now this corner of the room looks much better.  I think we might stack those two metal units together for pantry/kitchen supplies, wrapping items and yeah, a forlorn purple yoga mat.  Yay one corner down!
This means that we have one section of the basement that's basically empty and ready for (gulp) finishing. 
We've still got a ways to go though.  (This is the corner opposite the pretty new shelves.)  Some of it just needs to be junked (Anyone want the window screens that we no longer need because we've got new windows?  Gold-framed shower doors?  A cadet blue front door with screw holes from where the personalized knocker was removed?) and the rest will be corralled onto the next shelving unit.

So there you have it - basement organization on a (mostly) sewing blog posted on a Friday night.  Not too shabby for a Really Random Thursday post, huh?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sewing with Certainty #5: Creating Your Own Designs

So you might notice from the number of the title that I kind of skipped a bunch of posts for the Sewing with Certainty series.  It wasn't intentional, but between travel for Thanksgiving and then getting ready for Christmas and traveling for Christmas, blogging kind of fell by the wayside.  Oh well.

This post's theme is creating your own designs.  And here's the prompt from Jessica: Link up your own blog post about how you create your own designs. Some questions to get you thinking: where do you find inspiration? What do you love about social media/quilters sharing? Do you sketch or use EQ or something else to design your quilts?

This probably isn't the most appropriate post for me to be linking up to because (right now, anyway) I don't have much interest in creating my own designs.  Why?  Well, I haven't been quilting for that long and there's so many ready-made patterns and tutorials out there!  (I feel the same way about baking, incidentally.)  In addition to the great material already published, I'm also not that big a fan of math.  So if someone has already done the math for me, all the better.  I have a full Pinterest board of quilt tutorials to work my way through!

All that said, I am willing to entertain the idea of designing my own quilts - someday.  I like the idea of using a sketchbook with graph paper and colored pencils.  I have also begun to Pin a few purely "inspiration" quilts.  Right now they're on the Pin board with all the quilt tutorials, but I'm thinking I need to start an "Inspiration Quilts" board for quilts that I just like.  Below are two of them:
from Brooklyn Quilting Co.

From Heather Hales Designs

These two quilts are the kind of layouts that I'd imagine myself designing.  Rectangles + squares = easy math!  It'd be a while before I could see myself incorporating flying geese or even HST.  As for where I'd look for inspiration, I'd look to all those other wonderful quilters out there in blog land.

So there's my non-answer to Jessica's question!  Thanks for reading!  Linking up with Sewing with Certainty #5!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Stash #7

Fortunately I don't have a crazy iron-bursting-into-flames story like Molli to share, just some fabric that I picked up JoAnn's.  Anyone else feel that the remnant section is a major danger zone?!  It's so easy to pick something up with the idea of "Oh, I'm sure this will come in handy this at some point."  Apparently I need to work on my willpower.
I thought these Santas were cute and different.  Kind of old school illustrations, you know?  I used up a bunch of my Christmas fabric in the quilt for my parents, so clearly I needed to replenish my stash.  And I do want to make a tree skirt for next year, so there you go.  A necessary purchase.
The white fabric has these little silver metallic dots on it, and I think it will be great for a bag or pouch lining.  I used a similar grey fabric with a darker grey dot to bind Sofia's baby quilt.  The floral is from the Denyse Schmidt collection for JoAnn's, so clearly I had to get that.  It may actually get put on the back of my Starburst Quilt Along quilt, although I'm not sure how the orange will work.  We'll have to see.
And finally, some flannel.  I like making "taggie" blankies and squishy blocks (also with "taggies!") as new baby presents, so again, these will be quite handy.  In case you can't quite tell the aqua is hedgehogs and the bicycles are actually on a navy background.  Cute, huh?

Linking up with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash, and reminding everyone to be careful ironing!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Quarter 1 Finish Along Goals

I wrote a previous post about A Year of Lovely Finishes - goal planning on a month-by-month basis.  I've also found a link up for goals on a quarterly basis - the 2014 Finish Along hosted by the Littlest Thistle.  The "rules" for this link up are that the finishes must have already been started (even if it's just a pile o' fabric and a plan) and they have to be completely complete by the end of the quarter.  Seems reasonable, right?  I'm going to try and complete three projects:

1.  The tree frog quilt. 
I had to buy a little bit of orange fabric for this quilt, but the rest came to me from other folks' stashes!  I love the brightly colored little frogs, and I pulled other bright colors to go along with it.  The fabric is already (well, except the newly purchased orange) cut into 5" squares, so it should go together pretty easily.  I still need a back and binding, though.
2.  Crafty Traveler Tote
The tutorial for this tote is being hosted by Ellison Lane as part of her Craft Traveler series.  Here's the link for the supply and cutting instruction post.  The tutorial series ends with a link up by 3/12, so it'll fit nicely in with this finish along.  I had purchased this fabric a long while ago for a different tote and never did anything with it, so I'm going to try and make it work for this one instead.  I have the "regular" interfacing, but need to get the Thermolam.  I've never worked with it before - it'll be an adventure!
3.  The alphabet animal quilt
This will be a (small) whole cloth quilt, with the alphabet animals as the front and the blue "suns" as the back.  These pieces are about 1 yard each.  My plan is to quilt the top along the block lines of the pattern, maybe with an elongated zigzag stitch.  I have a franken-batting all ready to go, but haven't figured out the binding yet.

So that's three more things to accomplish by the end of March.  Guess I should get sewing!

A shower for baby Sofia!

This past weekend we had a baby shower for my friend/co-worker/neighbor (isn't it nice when life works out like that??) Rachelle, who is the mama-to-be of Sofia.  (I first wrote about Sofia's quilt in this post.)  The top went together really quickly, and then I sent it off to my long-arm quilter, Sandy.  She quilted the triangle center section with a tight stipple, and then the outer border has sweet daisy-like flowers around it (unfortunately, that part didn't photograph too well).
My friend/co-worker/neighbor (again, so nice), Anna, is also a quilter and we had the shower at her house.  We joked about having a quilt-off at the shower, and I'm not sure who won, other than Sofia because she has two beautiful quilts to use! :)
Me, Rachelle and Anna
We served lunch at the shower, and my contributions were these Baked Brie Tartlets from Plain Chicken (delicious!  and no measuring!) and deviled eggs.  For some reason I decided that I needed to go slightly fancy/cutesy and dyed the egg whites pink!  It was super easy - I took the hard boiled eggs, halved them, took out the yolks and then soaked the whites in a bowl of water tinted with red food coloring.  When they got to the color I wanted (I probably left them soaking for 20 minutes and used a couple good squirts of food coloring) I set them out to dry on a towel, and then continued as usual.  I thought they came out pretty cute, and they were tasty too!

Linking up with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A finished birthday quilt

A while back I posted about a quilt in process that was going to be given to my mother-in-law for her birthday.  Well the quilt was finished and delivered, but I forgot to take photos!  Fortunately she sent me a couple shots after the fact, including this one of her, the quilt, and the lovely mountains of Reno!
Ironically enough, we decided to give her a quilt because it's cold in Reno; however the weather was beautiful when we were there and now that we're home we've been the ones experiencing below freezing temps, and yes, joined the hundreds (thousands?) of homeowners who have been dealing with frozen and burst pipes thanks to the Polar Vortex.  Fortunately, we've only had damage from the burst pipes in the garage - other people have had much worse.

Linking up with my fellow Whoop-ers!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Lovely Year of Finishes: January Goal

Through my various blog reading I stumbled across the link-up for A Year of Lovely Finishes.  This month we were asked to set one goal - as small or as big as we wanted.  I definitely like the idea of setting a smallish goal each month, so that I'll hopefully have some good solid finishes to show by the end of 2014.

My January goal is to finish the top of my Starburst quilt.  Here's one of the blocks, up on the design wall ready to be sewn together.
Sorry for the poor quality - it's a very dreary day here in KY!
And here are two more, all components assembled and ready to be finished.
The fourth unit is already done and waiting, so I've only got these three to go!  These are GIANT blocks (32"), so the four together make a good sized quilt.

So there you go, my goal is to finish up this top by the end of the month.  Sounds totally do-able, right?  (I think the hardest part will be to link up again at the end of the month!)  And the goal is to only finish the top because it's easier for me to store completed tops, especially when I don't really have a plan for this one at the moment.

Linking up with Shanna at Fiber of All Sorts.

Sunday Stash #6

Happy first Sunday Stash of 2014!

Way back when my LQS was having its birthday sale, I couldn't resist picking up this layer cake and jelly roll of Sandy Gervais's Soho Chic.  If you haven't seen this collection in person yet, you'll just have to take my word for it that it's just beautiful.  The chocolate brown and vibrant blues, purples and greens are fabulous!

I'm not exactly sure what this set will become, but I'm leaning towards following the Lucky Stars Quilt-Along at Quilt Story.

Linking up to Sunday Stash with Molli Sparkles!

Christmas quilt finish

Merry (belated) Christmas and Happy (belated) New Year!

I was away from home for a couple of weeks and didn't have the foresight to do posts ahead of time, so I'm just now sharing a couple presents I gifted over the holiday.

My mom had sent me a a bunch of Christmas fabric a while back and I got the idea to make my parents a Christmas quilt as a gift.  I liked that the fabrics weren't over the top, but it's definitely Christmas-y.  I think the cream and the blue helped mellow it out a bit, you know?
I cut up yardage from my stash into 5" squares for the top.  Here's a close-up of some of the blocks:
The back has a large piece of cream/gold pattern across the middle and some random FQ Christmas patterns I had in my stash on either end.  It's simply quilted on either side of the seams.
I forgot to take a picture of the binding, but it's done with a print of snowy evergreen trees.  My favorite thing about this quilt is that it's all from my stash!  Yay for lovely presents that don't cost an arm and a leg :)

Considering the weather in MD (and here in KY) is absolutely frigid, hopefully they'll get good use out of it before it gets put away until next year!

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict's Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?