Friday, December 28, 2012

WIP: Good Fortune Quilt

I started working on my first large quilt shortly after I gave into enormous temptation treated myself to a new sewing machine. Previous to that magical day, I had been using a Singer from college. While it was a fine little starter machine, it was pathetically unfit for accurate piecing and free motion quilting. The day my Janome came home, not only did the quality of my sewing improve, but so did the speed! I had no idea what I was missing!
Scrappy zigzag backing in progress

I've been steadily working on this quilt through a series of other projects, but it's really beginning to come together! I started with a layer cake of Kate Spain's "Good Fortune" and coordinating solids, and then added additional prints from my stash. I followed the pattern for the Lemon Squares from Fresh Lemons Quilts, and choose to highlight the purple, green, and aqua colorways in Good Fortune. If I did it again, I think I would use more of the aqua. Oh well, live and learn.

For the backing I decided to do a scrappy zigzag. It took FOREVER to piece it out of 2.5 inch squares, but I really love the outcome. I think I actually love the back more than the front!

I choose a largish stippling for the quilting. I'm still not perfect at it, but my free motion skills are definitely improving... I just need to find a way to stop obsessing over every little mistake I make!

I hope to finish quilting it tonight, and maybe bind it over the weekend. I haven't been able to commit to a fabric for the binding. I'm torn between a turquoise argyle, a dark purple floral from Good Fortune, and a multi-colored fabric that's heavy on the orange. Maybe it will speak to me once it's finished being quilted!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spoiled by Santa!

Remember how giddy you were to play with your new Christmas toys as a kid? Well, there was a certain present under the tree this year that brought ALL that excitement right back for me. She isn't the prettiest toy on the block, but she has taken over my dreams just the same. Drum roll please...

Helllooooo Sizzix BigShot!

I did a lot of research on fabric cutters before sharing my decision with Santa. At first, it seemed like the Accuquilt Go! was the obvious choice. The Go! is marketed exclusively to quilters, and their selection of cutting dies are truly drool worthy. But then I found some less than stellar reviews about the Accuquilt which prompted me to question my choice in die machines. After an obsessive amount of internet research I stumbled upon this review by BadSkirt. Her review really spoke to  me and I decided to go with the Sizzix, knowing I could still pickup a few Accuquilt dies if I so desired.

Santa delivered my shiny Sizzix on Christmas Eve, and I've been obsessing plotting ever since. I have a few new dies on order, including a hexagon die. I've never tried english paper piecing (honestly that just seems like crazy talk!), but now I'm sorely tempted. I'm also contemplating some curved piecing a la their Robbing Peter to Pay Paul die. Part of me knows it's overly ambitious nonsense, but the other half is ecstatic about the new possibilities! I am sure there's more to come!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cathedral Craziness

I swore I wouldn't do this to myself, and yet here I am. It's Christmas morning, and I still have to wrap this mess of pincushions having only just finished them late last night! And truth be told, I'm one short.

I made a pair of these once before for myself, but *three days ago* I decided to give them as small gifts.  They look complicated, but they are actually pretty easy -- just a bit of fabric origami and some careful stitching. If you're interested in making your own, you can find the tutorial here.

What I really love is how well these lend themselves to scraps. You can easily use scraps or charm packs since the colored bits are all 2 1/2 or 4 1/2 inch squares. Overall, pretty awesome for a quick project. I hope they go over well!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Finished Something Early?

Let the record show that, for once in my life, I finished something early. What was this magical something you ask?

Family stockings! I really need to get a better picture, but waiting to take a picture has already delayed this post by a week. You see it's very hard to take good pictures when you (a) the sun goes down at 4:00 and (b) you sew through the night. I definitely need to find a better solution there... and um, a real place to hang these. The baby gate will not do for Santa Claus. Edit: Updated photo is an improvement, though still far from ideal. Maybe next year?

But anyway, these stockings were tons of fun. I was inspired by my stepmother who went out of her way to embroider and quilt a stocking for each one of us. I remember how loved I felt, and wanted my little girl to have similar childhood memories.

My stocking
Each stocking is as different as its owner. The stocking on the far left is mine, inspired by this one by CluckCluckSew and done in Aneela Hoey's "Cherry Christmas" line. The tiny hour glasses were a lesson in patience and accuracy, which means it isn't perfect. :) I quilted it in an all over meander, making it the very first thing I ever quilted on my Janome Horizon (swoon!).

The middle stocking belongs to the little lady of the house. The fabric is "Santa's Workshop" by DoodleBug Design for RileyBlake. It is so super cute in person, and the colors are so happy! I wanted to let the fabric shine so I kept it really simple with 2 1/2 inch squares sewn on point. I kept the quilting simple, too, choosing a to run a single straight line alongside each seam. Straight line quilting is a personal first, and I really loved the results!

And last (and maybe least!) is my husband's stocking. He is a huge fan of the Peanuts cartoon, and I did what I could to make it less ugly. He requested a "fuzzy white top" which ended up being crazy... hard. Let's just say I used many other four-letter words to describe that whole process. Lesson learned: do not attempt super slippery bamboo velour without interfacing. No, really. Don't. :)

So glad to have these done, and really happy to ring in the holiday season with homemade quilty goodness!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Things That Started Innocently Enough

I'm still not clear on how I survived those forty weeks known as pregnancy, but I am quite sure that I was out of mind. Maybe it was the 9 months of nausea. Maybe it was the hormones. But for whatever reason, I got it in my head that I was GOING.TO.MAKE.A.BABY.QUILT.DAMMIT.

Now, understand that I had never done such a thing. Sure, I had sewn a few beanbags in a middle school Home Economics class. I even had a sewing machine that I'd gotten as a Christmas present years earlier. But a quilt? If I'd been in my right mind I  *never* would have undertaken such a thing. But, never one to give in to reason, I sat in a crappy Ikea chair for hours toiling over 12 log cabin blocks. And then I gave birth.

Fast forward 9 months... Now sleeping a whopping four hours a night I picked up the quilt top, determined to finish what I started. You know, before Baby Bee realized how bad my time management skills were).

I took a deep breath and successfully navigated some very elementary quilting. Satisfied with the quilting, I ventured out on to the internet for a binding tutorial. And that's when "it" happened. That's right, I stumbled onto Amanda Nyberg's ( binding tutorial. I can still remember that moment of 1) shock and awe at the beauty of modern quilts and 2) the horror at the now nearly finished traditionally-styled baby quilt that I held in my hands. I pretty much hated my first quilt before it was even finished. Um, oops?

What I did next was only logical. I quickly finished the binding and sped off to my LQS. Two days and a few charm packs of Aneela Hooey's "Walk in the Woods" later, I was well on my way to redemption with my "First Quilt, Take II".  Did I mention that I was only sleeping four hours a night? Yeah, I was clearly insane.

As I said, I pretty much hated my first quilt before it was even done. So much so that I don't really want to post a picture of it, but maybe I'll be able to look back at this someday and laugh. But, in case this never becomes funny, there is also a snapshot of my second (redemption) quilt, too.
Traditional blue/brown Beatrix Potter vs.
Redemption Quilt in progress

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Queen Bee Reclaimed

I have always been a little odd; a fact that isn't becoming any less true with age.  A younger me had all the time in the world, and was able to indulge herself in an unending number of hobbies and interests. And then life happened. Quickly.

Now I work more than I should (who doesn't these days?) in one of those big-corporate-job-type-roles.  But it took a baby to make me question how I wanted to spend the (very very) few free minutes I had a day when I wasn't (a) working or (b) being a mom. I finally gave in to the fact that my hobbies are, and probably always will be a little on the unusual side.  And so here I am, reclaiming hobbies that are more familiar to my grandmother than my peers and loving every second of it. So much so that I can't help but share. I hope you find something here that you like and enjoy your visit!