Friday, February 15, 2019

Totality

In the summer of 2017 there was a solar eclipse that crossed large swaths of US, and my husband’s parents happen to live in an area where there were several minutes of totality. So we drove down, armed with eclipse glasses, to see this amazing sight.

To commemorate this experience, I decided to do it the only way I know ... by buying fabric and making a quilt. I went to Spoonflower and picked out a bunch of sun and star themed fabrics from a lot of different artists. Spoonflower, though expensive, is amazing for finding completely unique fabrics, and I figured this occasion is a great excuse.

I paired the fabric up with Amy Smart's Chain Links pattern. I had made the a quilt Phases of the Moon using that pattern a long time ago (incidentally, also with a Spoonflower bundle). It is such a great pattern for showing off prints.

I quilted the background with simple swirls. No pebbles, no paisleys, no leaves, I just wanted pure, simple swirls to add an elegant look to the space. There's no doubt about it, that swirls are my favorite filler, and I don't think I'll ever get tired of them.

I quilted the black frames with a combination of ribbon candies and straight lines, which are my other favorite designs next to swirls. Instead of using a black on black though, I opted for a thread color that shows in the form of a gray. I usually match my thread color to the fabric, but black is an exception.

Inside the printed squares, I quilted dot-to-dot designs, alternating between a straight line design and a flower design.

I think this is one of my favorite finishes. Everything about this quilt speaks to me, from the pattern, to the fabrics, to the theme, to the quilting.

***

Linking up with: My Quilt Infatuation, Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Cooking Up Quilts, Sew Can She, and Powered by Quilting

Friday, February 1, 2019

Minikins: Metro Double-Zip Pouch

In January, I decided to participate in the Minikins challenge run by Sew Sweetness. Last year I made a few minikins (and they turned out really well) at my own pace, but since the January challenge is the Metro Double-Zip Pouch, something I'd been wanting to make anyway, I decided to do it in time for the challenge.

And can I just say, yowza. That was really, really hard. But it wasn't the zippers that gave me trouble. Or the hardware. Or even thick layers this time. No. It was the fact that there were parts of this bag that required a super narrow foot (like a zipper foot) and mine wasn't working well. In the end, I had to hand-sew some of it.

I love the finished result, though. I used a canvas fabric which gave the pouch a nice texture, and found a light teal print for the lining that matched the exterior well. I love the double zippers and the wristlet, and how lucky that I found 2 zippers in my collection that matched the color of the fabric perfectly?

And then ... the next day I went online to find a new zipper foot for my machine, and discovered that I had been putting it on backwards all along, and that's why it didn't work! Oops.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Seahorse Sanctuary

Elizabeth Hartman's Neighborhood quilt in her book Modern Patchwork is one of the earliest quilts on my queue. I added it a few years ago, determined to work on it some day, but my biggest challenge? I didn't know what fabric to choose.

My favorite part of the pattern is that each little house has a window where Elizabeth placed some fussy cut birds. That was adorable, and I knew I wanted to do something similar. Yet I could not find the right fabric in the right scale that also had coordinating fabrics to go with it. That is, until I got the idea of using her Reef collection.

Reef has a cute seahorses print that felt like they could be the residents in the houses! And so, my Neighborhood quilt moved underwater and became Seahorse Sanctuary. I chose a solid blue for the background to represent the ocean, and after choosing my fabrics (which is the hardest part) everything else fell into place. This was incredibly fun to piece too, as it's a log cabin, albeit in a funky way.

The blue represents water, of course, so I wanted to go with some watery motifs. Naturally, the first things I thought of were swirls, wavy lines, and pebbles. (But this could be a sky quilt and I'm sure I'll find an excuse to use these exact 3 designs.)

But the most fun part of this quilt are the houses. I decided to make each house slightly different, because of course the seahorses have their own decor choices. I used a variety of designs to represent texture on the houses, but I think the clamshells are my favorite. And I don't think I've ever used them before ... I never saw a good opportunity, but they totally work for houses, especially underwater houses!

Here's another house, with an underwater fern decoration:

I like how this quilt is really cute but it doesn't scream kid quilt. I'm not sure yet if I'll keep this quilt for myself or give it to one of my kids. Maybe we'll just share.

***

Linking up with: My Quilt Infatuation, Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Cooking Up Quilts, Sew Can She, and Powered by Quilting

Friday, January 18, 2019

An All Stars Assembly

I really enjoy the slow pace and different flow of English Paper Piecing projects, but if I thought Supernova was time-consuming, it was nothing compared to All Stars. I started actively working on this quilt top in June of last year, and I think no less than 200 hours went into it.

The most challenging part of this quilt is actually the fabric selection, which I did back in May. I resisted the urge to go with a kit (which is crazy expensive anyway), and instead painstakingly picked out my own fabrics (but still all Tula Pink), and allowing the rainbow of colors to wash from the top to the bottom. It took a great deal of planning and a great deal of fussy cutting, because I really wanted the colors in a bloom to relate to each other. I'm really pleased with the final look, even though in another medium I would have deemed this far too insane. But ... somehow I like it as a quilt.

This is by far the largest English Paper Piecing project I've ever worked on, and even though making the individual blooms was fun, assembling at the end was pretty tedious.

Part of the reason the final assembly was so tedious was because I don't like to take the paper pieces out until after the whole thing is assembled. I like how much structure and sturdiness the card stock gives it, and I like to keep that for as long as possible. I have this fear that the quilt would otherwise wrinkle and distort while I'm assembling it, or worse, that I step on it and rip it.

But it's finally done, and now it's ready for quilting ... hopefully sometime this year.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Skyline

It took a year of procrastination, but Skyline has finally been quilted. It's a great one to start the year with, though! Besides my script-generated Haphazard quilts, Skyline is the only quilt that I have "designed", and by that I just mean that I didn't use somebody else's pattern.

I love sampler quilts, but I don't like traditional sampler layouts, so I came up with this after seeing Art Gallery Fabrics's display at QuiltCon one year. Their display was inspired by the Miami Skyline, and it was simple blocks (made of cardboard, probably?) where each set of block makes a building. I drew my ideas on paper before trying it in EQ7 to make sure the proportions worked.

I only used super simple blocks here, but there's a good variety. Fabric selection was by far the hardest part of this quilt, and to this day I wonder if I made the right choices. Too late for that, of course. But where I'm very happy with my decisions is the quilting.

With the big sky background, it's a nice little playground. Scary, but nice. I quilted a lot of leaves in the corner to make it look like somebody was viewing this skyline through a window, and I had to add in a big rainbow. I won't lie, the rainbow is precisely the reason I procrastinated on this quilt for nearly a year. I knew what I had to do, but the thought of marking it and then soooo much rolling back and forth on the frames didn't sound fun. And it wasn't ... but it was worth it. I had to get a rainbow in the sky here!

Once I got the sky quilted, the buildings were a cinch. I love quilting sampler quilts because I can throw on so many designs in a quilt, and I don't get bored while quilting because there's always something new. Pretty much all my favorite designs made an appearance in the buildings somewhere.

I think this quilt came very close to what I was envisioning in my head. Of course, if there's an area I'm unsure I made the right decision, it was the fabric choices, but overall I'm pretty happy with it!

***

Linking up with: My Quilt Infatuation, Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Cooking Up Quilts, Sew Can She, and Powered by Quilting

Monday, December 31, 2018

Best of 2018

Cheryl Brickey from Meadow Mist Designs is once again hosting the Best of 2018 Linky Party, and I almost didn't join in this year, but after seeing everybody else's posts, I decided it would be fun to come up with my own top 5 list.

Most Viewed: Beach Retreat

Beach Retreat is a quilt I made for Kelly Young from My Quilt Infatuation's blog hop to promote her book Stash Statement. It was so fun to play with improv in a controlled setting, and I love the quilting ideas I did for this quilt!

Most Commented: Postage Plus

Postage Plus is a quilt I made for the blog hop promoting Cheryl Brickey and Paige Alexander's book, Modern Plus Sign. I really really loved using all the hot pinks in this quilt! Figuring out how to quilt the background was challenging, but I'm super happy with how it turned out.

Most Challenging: Feathered Star

Feathered Star is a quilt along that Rebecca Bryan from Bryan House Quilts hosted over the summer, and despite a lot of apprehension, I decided to give it a shot. It's definitely one of the biggest challenges I've done, and I felt like I held my breath as the quilt assembly came together because I was never sure it was going to work. But ... I did finish the top and it turned out pretty well!

Favorite Top: Cityscape

Another quilt along I participated in over the summer is Tula Pink's City Sampler quilt hosted by Angie Wilson of Gnome Angel. This was a huuuuge quilt along on Instagram with daily posts and tons of participation, and I decided to work on two quilts simultaneously. Of the 2 tops I ended up with, they're both among my top favorite projects of the year, but if I have to pick one, I have to pick Cityscape. It's just a little more me. (The other one is Trellis.)

Favorite Finish: Skyways

I'm very surprised myself that I picked Skyways as my favorite finish of the year. But I fell in love with the inspiration of the machine quilting design, which is a futuristic city with all these pathways intersecting in the air above a lush landscape, and given the fantasies in my head of living in some place like this some day, I have to pick this quilt as my favorite finish of the year!

***

Thanks for visiting, and thanks especially to Cheryl for hosting this linky party!

Goodbye 2018!

It's the end of the year, and I just couldn't resist writing a summary post. It's so fun to look back on the year and see what I managed to do. Overall, it was a pretty exciting year, and I don't think it will be easy to top this one!

In Numbers

Completed quilts (throw size and up): 19
Runners, minis & mugrugs: 4
Charity quilts: 8
Bags & accessories: 7

Highlights

  • In February I went to QuiltCon in Pasadena and met my quilting idol, Angela Walters. To say she changed my life would be an understatement!

  • I finished my longarm room so now it's a beautiful, airy, and bright studio. It does seem to attract spiders so I have to vacuum often, but otherwise, it's wonderful and I feel so blessed to have it.

  • My quilt guild, Prairie Star, brought in some amazing teachers this year, and I took classes from Karen McTavish, Tara Curtis, and Jacquie Gering. (I was also signed up for a class with Sharon McConnell, but I couldn't make it due to a blizzard that hit us the day before.)

  • I participated in 3 blog hops, to promote the books Modern Plus Signs and Stash Statement, and also my last year participating as a New Quilt Blogger.

  • I worked on some challenging projects that I didn't think I would be able to do. Among them, a large English Paper Pieced quilt, curved piecing, and a complicated quilt with lots of bias called Feathered Star.

    Favorites

    It's always fun to look over what I've completed and pick my favorites, and sometimes I'm surprised by my reactions. There are quilts that I thought was only okay when it was a top, but became a favorite after quilting. And then there are quilts I thought I would love oh-so-much, but got relegated to the back of the closet when it's done. But of the finished quilts, these 4 are my favorites of the year:

    Top row: Critical Sunshine and Urban Cabin
    Bottom row: Skyways and Tangerine Dreams

    But that's just for finished quilts. I found a lot in my WIPs list that I just have to share, because these are some of my overall favorite projects of the year:

    Top row: Candy Dish, Pick-Up Sticks, Supernova
    Middle row: All Stars, Postcard Row, Feathered Star
    Bottom row: Trellis, Cityscape, Lantern Lane

    Each one of these is very special to me, but I can honestly say that I don't know when I'll finish them. Sometimes, I think I enjoy the idea that they're there waiting for me to finish them, more than the idea of finishing and using them ...

    Beyond Quilts

    I love to make quilts just for the process of making them, but I don't really worry about whether they will be used beyond their point of completion (and photography). When it comes to bags and accessories, it's the opposite. I don't enjoy making them nearly as much, and I do it for the end product more than the process.

    From top right, going counter clockwise: Desktop Cubes, Retreat Organizer, Hanging Travel Organizer, Renegade Bag, I-Spy Pouch, and Grab and Go Laptop Sleeve.

    These projects are also a constant way to challenge myself and my sewing skills, as I tend to find them more difficult than quilts. And when they're finished, they sure get a lot of use.

    Achieving Balance

    Another change I made to my quilting life is that I decided to quilt less. During the summer, both my children were in summer school, and suddenly I had more free time than I've had in ... well, ever. I was ecstatic, and I thought I would spend all my time quilting. But ... I didn't.

    After just a couple of hours, I start to burn out, and want to do something else. That's when I realized that I can't just quilt all day, as much as it might have been a fantasy previously. It's much more enjoyable when I come to it in bursts, interspersed by other activities that I love. So I decided to get more balance in my life by dividing my free time between quilting and my other passions (yes, I have them!), as well as to more healthy life habits. It's been a few months, and I can say that it's been a very positive change.

    Onto 2019!

    One of my yearly indulgences is the Quilter's Planner. It's big and expensive, but it reminds me of one of those old Mastercard commercials:

    Quilter's Planner: $49
    A more organized life that allows more guilt-free sewing time: Priceless

    Having been a digital planner for most of my life, I wasn't initially sold on the idea of a paper planner, but now I really feel the difference, because it's just harder to procrastinate on paper than it is to do it digitally, since literally, it leaves a paper trail. Of course, the sheer beauty of the planner, the fantastic photographs, and the great projects it comes with is just the icing on the cake. I'm definitely excited to start using the 2019's Planner!

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