Sunday, October 13, 2019

A Quilty Road Trip

I had been planning this road trip for a very long time. In June of this year, I decided that I had to get over my fear of my longarm machine (yes, I fear it a lot!) and take the APQS maintenance class that was happening next week. I wanted to learn how to keep it running happily, fix simple issues, and time the machine if I ever needed to.

The June class was full when I inquired, but I managed to get a spot in the October class. Looking at the map, I realized that the APQS showroom was also just 2 hours away from Missouri Star Quilt Company and 3 hours away from Quilting Is My Therapy. I'd always wanted to visit those shops, so my quilty road trip plan quickly came together.

I arrived at the APQS showroom in Des Moines, Iowa full of apprehension. I'm not particularly mechanical, and I wondered if I would be able to absorb all this information. As it turns out, the class was limited to 6 students, which was a good thing.

Out of all of the classes I've taken in recent memory, this was by far the most educational. I walked in knowing nothing and walked out with my head about to explode. It was so much information. I can't say I absorbed everything, but ... I did time a machine! I won't look forward to having to do it, but I could now if I needed to. That's worth the price of this class alone, but I also learned lots of other things, so I would say this was an excellent class.

After class was over, I drove over to Hamilton, Missouri, to begin the shopping leg of my trip. Hamilton has a real small-town America feel, and it was very nice and different from where I live. Missouri Star Quilt Company took up a good part of 2 buildings, and I really like how the shops were all divided into themes.

After Missouri Star, the last shop of my trip is Angela Walters's Quilting Is My Therapy. As everybody who reads my blog regularly knows, I am one of the biggest fangirls of Angela Walters, so visiting her shop is quite a special experience. I didn't get to see Angela because she's hosting a retreat several blocks away, but her shop is just such a beautiful little haven of color and fun!

After that, it was time to stop for the evening at my sister-in-law's place before heading back to Chicago. I ate too much and spent too much, but I had a great time and feel more confident about keeping my longarm happy. And last but not least, at the end of a shopping trip is the part where I take all the stuff out of the bags and see how much damage I did, right?

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Stargazer: Final Assembly

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Such was the thought going through my head as I took out all the pieces from the 9 months worth of blocks and started to assemble them.

I followed the instructions and slowly by slowly the blocks came together. I would say that the toughest part of this is organizing all the pieces and making sure everything is in the right place. The actual sewing, though tedious, was not difficult. What really helped is that I used foundation paper piecing instead of freezer paper piecing, so while I was piecing the triangles together into blocks the paper provided extra stability.

Once the individual blocks were all done and trimmed, I sewed the individual sections in 9 parts. This was a very trying process as almost all the blocks had bias edges, and I'm afraid to even breathe near bias edges. Also, there are some seriously thick seams here. Even with the help of a mallet and a heavy hand on the iron, the seams are still thick enough that I hope I don't break a needle while I'm quilting this!

And finally, after a few months of work, this quilt top has come together. It is quite pretty, but being an all-solids quilt, it lacks a bit of soul. I hope the quilting can put the soul back in.

I'm thrilled to have finished this block of the month quilt. It was my first ever BOM where I had to wait for instructions month by month and do a little at a time, and I'm unsure if I will want to follow such a format in the future. There's a lot of mental and physical setup and teardown every month that can be avoided if I did it in one fell swoop. But I'm glad I tried it this once.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Minikins: Turnpike Convertible Wallet

The Turnpike Convertible Wallet is my 4th wallet of the year, and one I can close out my "year of wallets" with. When the year began, I wanted to make a few wallets and I had 4 patterns in my collection. Now I'm done with all 4!

This wallet is from Sew Sweetness's Minikins Season Two collection. I used a black and gold fabric that was probably a Harry Potter print, and the cool thing about this wallet is that there's a removable shoulder strap that is fastened on by snaps. I didn't think I would like or use the strap, but it's actually quite adorable when being carried as a mini purse! The inside of it features a cell phone pocket, card slots as well as a zippered pocket.

Now that I'm finally done with my wallets, I can say that my favorite of the lot is actually #3, the Charm School Wallet. In daily use, it is the most practical and easy to use, and it was also the most enjoyable to make. (This one probably ranks at second place, though.)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Circuit ~ Ready to Quilt

In February of this year I went to Nashville for QuiltCon, but unlike the previous year I didn't take any classes and I only was able to spend a few hours at the show because I wanted to get out of Nashville before the traffic got really bad. But one of my favorite finds in the vendor hall was undeniably the Circuit quilt by Sylvia Schaefer.

Circuit drew me in immediately because black and neon green is such a cyberpunk look, and being an ex-engineer myself, naturally I'm attracted to anything "techy" looking. The kit makes a smaller quilt, but I was easily able to find black and green fabrics in my stash to complement the kit and now I have a beautiful 75 x 75 quilt top that I'm in love with.

The blocks are a mixture of traditional and foundation paper piecing (which I love), and the scrappy blacks and greens have such a great look. I used a lot of metallic fabrics, and it adds so much interest and shine to this quilt.

I don't quite know how to quilt this, but I also think it doesn't matter how I quilt this, just that I do. The most important thing about this quilt is the pattern and the fabric, which is busy enough that the quilting won't show. I just want to get this one finished soon(ish), because I really want to use it!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Stargazer Block of the Month ~ Months 5 to 8

Stargazer, designed by Rebecca Bryan, is my Block of the Month for 2019. I've never done a Block of the Month before 2019, at least not one where I did a little bit of work every month. I'm usually the type to wait until it's all out, then do it all at once.

And even though I took several months to get started and scrambled to get months 1 to 4 out the door, I managed to keep pace very well with months 5 to 8. All in all, I think months 5 to 8 were easier than 1 to 4, and I mostly just had to worry about not getting my fabrics mixed up.

Like pretty much all the rest of the blocks, months 5 and 6 are paper piecing. Again, I chose the foundation paper piecing method and did not do freezer paper piecing as instructed. I just like to keep a nice firm paper backing under my block until the last possible moment, and I don't mind tearing out paper, either.

Month 7 wasn't difficult, but it was a lot of work. There were just so many blocks and it took me quite a few days to cut and piece them. In contrast, month 8 took me all of 30 minutes, because it was just cutting triangle blocks. But knowing my propensity to stretch triangle blocks out of shape during piecing, I cut them quite a bit bigger so I can square them up later.

Now that all the pieces are cut, I know the next month(s) will be the final assembly. But I look forward to finally getting this big quilt finished! Or, at least, the quilt top finished. I'm not going to fool myself into thinking that I will quilt this anytime soon, because something that took me this long really needs to marinate on my shelf for awhile to take the pressure off!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Love Letters

After the intense quilting I did on Reel Window, I wanted to work on something relatively simple and straightforward: block-based, minimum planning, and no marking is the key. I looked through my frighteningly large stash of quilt tops, and pulled out Love Letters.

Love Letters is based on the pattern Glitter Pen by Cheryl Arkison. Or, more precisely, I think I read in the blurb that the design came from her daughter who was only 6 at the time. (How amazing is that?) It's a black-and-white with a pop of color type of quilt, which I love. For the pops of color, I used the Love Letters fabric collection by AGF Studio.

For the quilting, I decided to play with the geometry of this quilt by doing lots of straight lines, but spice it up with some free-motion quilting. I picked a few curvy favorites from my arsenal (feathers, serpentine lines, ribbon candies, wishbones, swirls) and mixed them up all over the quilt along with the straight lines.

White is undeniably one of the colors that show off quilting the most, but the downside is that it is extremely prone to varicose veins (darker threads on the back of the quilt showing through). I definitely had some issues with that in this quilt, but once off the frame, they become much less noticeable.

One thing I really like about this quilt is that at certain angles (or when I squint) I can only see the beautiful and striking pattern, but when I get to a different angle, the texture on the white fabrics really shows. It reminds me a bit of those billboards where the picture changes at different angles.

This quilt was relatively stress-free and I really like the end result. I was planning on making this quilt for my guest bed, but I love it so much that I've decided to steal it for my own bed!


Linking up with: My Quilt Infatuation, Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Cooking Up Quilts, Powered by Quilting, and Meadow Mist Designs.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Minikins: Charm School Wallet

The Charm School Wallet is my 3rd wallet of the year, and possibly my favorite so far. It is designed by Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness as part of her Minikins Season 2 collection. I absolutely adored the fabric I used, which is one of those rare finds in a quilting store when I wasn't even looking for it. It's from Starlight by Katia Hoffman, and my only regret is that I didn't buy more at the time. I paired it with a black Moda grunge, which is a lot more interesting than a solid black fabric.

Making this wallet was a bit of an exercise in frustration. The difficulty of this is probably beneath the Day Trip Cell Phone Wallet ... well, actually it is supposed to be a lot easier, if only I could stop and listen to the instructions. But I didn't, and I ended up putting the snaps in the wrong place ... twice. The 2nd time, I didn't want to rip it out again as I was very close to damaging the fabric, so I improvised a bit and trimmed some pieces. But it worked out, and at the end everything still lined up ... whew!

This is definitely my most practical wallet so far, as it's able to fit a lot of cards, and there's a zippered pocket for my phone. And though it wasn't part of the pattern, I had to add a wrist strap to make it really useful for me. I used some leftover cork that matched the grunge pretty well, and any excuse to pull out my rivet press is a happy occasion!

I'm so in love with this wallet, and it is such a great way to show off a piece of fabric that otherwise would be hidden in my stash. But now, back to quilting!

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