Friday, May 18, 2018

Heart Builders Quilts

For the last few weeks, I've done nothing but churn out Heart Builders quilts one by one. Heart Builders is a charity program that was a part of Stash Builder Box, but then when Stash Builder Box got acquired by Cotton Cuts, Cotton Cuts was nice enough to continue the program.

I like the way that Heart Builders works because a team of piecers make quilt tops and then send it to the longarmer to be finished. That means I get to do my favorite part ... quilt! (The only downside is that I have to bind them too.)

First up is this green / brown quilt top made by Erica Nowak. As soon as I saw it, I knew what I wanted to do with it. The color scheme of this top is so evocative of forest and nature that I knew I wanted to do an allover leaves design. I was moderately comfortable with this design before I worked on this quilt, but after covering a quilt with it ... I'm now very comfortable!

Erica also sent me a green / lavender quilt. This one looked very flowery and sweet!

I also received quilt tops from Crystal Jordan. The first one I worked on is a blue / yellow quilt.

And last but not least, Crystal Jordan also sent me this adorable top with alphabet letters. I decided to do one of my all-time favorite designs ... swirls, of course!

Most of what I do is custom quilting, so I'm very used to working within a boundary and traveling via ditches. In a way, these allover quilts present a different kind of challenge. Here I have to work all around the quilt, make the designs seem random and not patterned, and most importantly, not get stuck in corners! That last bit is definitely still challenging, but I'm working on it!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

2018 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop

Another year, another New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop! I participated last year, and it was a fantastic and eye-opening experience. I made a lot of new friends and learned a lot, so I rejoined this year. My hive is called the Happy Stitching Team, and our hive leader is Tish of Tish 'n Wonderland. Thank you Tish for being one of the hosts for this wonderful blog hop!


My Journey

I started sewing a little over 3 years ago because of all the Project Runway I watched, and I was curious about the art of sewing. (I didn't know the difference between sewing and quilting at the time, either.) My mother-in-law got me a starter machine for Christmas and I tried making pillows and cotton skirts, but I wasn't into it at all, so I stopped. About a year later, I was browsing classes on Craftsy when some new quilting classes caught my eye. Seeing all the bright and graphic modern prints gave me the impetus to try quilting, and soon after that, I was totally, 100%, obsessively and head over heels in love.

I have two young children, and it can be very taxing at times. I soon found that looking forward to quilting at the end of the day helped me get through even the most difficult of days. Sometimes the house is a mess, and sometimes my calendar is a mess, but I know that when I go to my sewing machine, I can make sense of things again. It is my happy place and my therapy, and I'm so grateful to have it.

My Style

I would describe my style as modern to modern traditional. But mostly, I would say that I don't have a particular style as far as pattern or layout, but that my particulars lay in the fabric. I love bright colors, metallics, black and white, and graphic / geometric prints.

But a picture is worth a thousand words. Here are some of my favorite quilts from the past year, and I think they convey my style better than my words can!

Top left: Urban Cabin
Top right: Critical Sunshine
Middle left: Inside Looking Out
Middle right: Lakeshore
Bottom left: Flux
Bottom right: Lagom

The biggest change in my quilting journey in the past year is that I got a longarm machine and even recently finished the longarm room into a beautiful studio. I realize I'm super, super blessed to have all this! Longarming has added a new dimension to my quilting because I no longer had to compromise my vision. I consider it one of my best decisions ever, next to taking up quilting to begin with.

It's been an amazing journey so far and I look forward to what the next year will bring!

Blogging Tip

I find the toughest part of being a quilt blogger to be photography, and it's something I'm always working on and I imagine it's true for other bloggers. I discovered by accident last year that some of my favorite photos of my quilts aren't with them lying flat (though that's important too) or even closeups of the quilting. The ones that have the most life are the ones that are staged in the living area, and they don't even have to show details of the quilt. Here are some examples of mine:

It's not always possible and sometimes I don't manage it, but I usually try to get a photograph of the quilt in a staging shot, as I call it. Sometimes it takes rearranging a few pillows or moving a chair, but it doesn't take any fancy equipment.

Quilting Tip

My one tip deals with overcoming quilter's paralysis. If you haven't heard of quilter's paralysis, it's that instance when you're finished with a quilt top, but then put off quilting it for days, months, ages ... because you're afraid of messing it up. But I've come up with a strategy that works ... most of the time. It's a 3-step program:

1) Load the quilt. (Or, if you're on your domestic machine, it's baste it and get it under the machine.) For me, in particular, once I load it, I know I have to work on it because nothing else can get quilted while it's on the frame!

2) Audition designs but set a time limit. I usually give myself about a day or so. I will rough sketch the quilt on paper and then start drawing designs on top. I'm usually surprised how quickly ideas come to me.

3) Start quilting! Once I start, the ideas really come and as I quilt, they get finalized (because I don't want to rip!). Sometimes I step back and say, "Wow that looks really good!" and other times I think, "Hmm, I wish I did something else." But at this point it's usually too late to rip, so I keep going and when it's finished, I'm already thinking about the next quilt and it doesn't bother me that that one patch of swirls would have looked better if it was mixed with pebbles or something.

I know it sounds obvious, but the best way to get a quilt finished is to get it started!

Question For You

Who is your all-time favorite fabric designer? I'll pick two since this is my blog ... Brigitte Heitland (aka Zen Chic) and Alison Glass! I think 80% of my stash is their fabrics.

Hop Onwards

Thanks for visiting! Here are the other stops on the blog hop:

April 16 April 23
Gail @ Quilting Gail
Rachel @ Rachel Rossi Design
Tracie @ Riceford Streams
Wendy @ Pieceful Thoughts
Jan @ Cocoa Quilts
Michelle @ Creative Blonde
Terry @ Quilting a Legacy
April @ Janda Bend Quilts
Velda @ Freckled Fox Quiltery
Carrie @ Carrie Bee Creates
Sharon @ Ms. P. Designs
Ann @ Laughing Gas Quilts
Nicole @ Hand Wrought Quilts
Becca @ Pretty Piney
Sherry @ Powered by Quilting
Stephanie @ Low Country Quilts and Embroidery
May 7 May 14
Sandy @ Gray Barn Designs
Linda @ Cozy Quilts
Dione @ Clever Chameleon
Cate @ Chaos Theory Quilting
Tara @ Quilt District
Roseanne @ Homesewn by Us
Karen @ Tuna Quilts
Rashida @ No 3 Quilt Studio
Tracy @ It's a T-Sweets day!
Joni @ For the Love of Thread
Cherie @ Cherie's Quilting Journey
Cindy @ Gray Barn Designs
Karen @ The Quilt Rambler
Sarah @ 9658 Textiles
Terri @ Meanderings Along Lizard Creek

Last but not least, don't forget to check out our host blogs for some fantastic giveaways!

Beth @ Cooking Up Quilts
Jan @ Dizzy Quilter
Tish @ Tish 'n Wonderland
Sanda @ mmm! Quilts

Monday, May 7, 2018

Stash Statement Blog Hop: Beach Retreat

Today is my stop on Kelly Young's Stash Statement blog hop and I'm thrilled to present Beach Retreat!

Photo credit: Martingale & Company

Kelly's Beach Retreat uses a beautiful and calm palette of light blues and light browns which makes me think of sea glass and sandy beaches. I wanted to go in the opposite direction and create a color palette that is energetic. I debated a bunch of color combos before deciding on 2 of my favorite colors in a complementary setting: blue and orange.

I created the "raw" fabric by using one of Kelly's methods of improv piecing. It is both liberating and kind of scary to just start sewing instead of cutting them into precise shapes. In fact, I ditched the rotary cutter completely until the very end when I squared the blocks up. I definitely felt more confident as I made more blocks, though!

But once the improv fabric is done, the blocks were super easy and very enjoyable. I love how the improv blocks set in a traditional fashion gives this quilt a perfect combination of order and chaos!

When I was trying to decide what to quilt, I saw these pinwheel patterns show up in the negative space between the blocks, and I wanted to do something fun with it. I used a lot of straight lines, a lot of swirls, and a lot of pebbles. To me, background fillers are critical to the final look of the quilt.

In the foreground area, I thought that it sort of looked like butterflies. I didn't want to actually quilt it to make it resemble a butterfly as it was still a bit of a stretch, but with the butterfly motif in mind, I added some feathers and ferns.

I really enjoy this approach to improv, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results! The quilting was like one big happy gathering of all my favorite designs.

Thanks for visiting! Here is my kickoff post with the full schedule. Be sure to visit the other stops in the hop. There are a lot of improv goodness around, and because all our fabrics are different, no two quilts are alike!

***

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

Friday, May 4, 2018

Happy Birthday to Lenni (and Me)!

Happy birthday Lenni! I got her approximately a year ago, and it has been one amazing year. We've had our ups and downs, mostly ups, and I can't imagine ever going back to a regular sewing machine or even a midarm after I've experienced quilting on a longarm. (Sorry Chloe.) It is one fabulous ride!

But it's not just Lenni's birthday, it's mine as well. Well, almost. I decided a great birthday present this year would be to finally finish part of the basement storage area where I've been quilting this past year and turn it into a finished studio. That means I actually get walls, a ceiling, and shelves for storage!

I decided to paint the walls white so that it'd be a blank canvas for me to fill up with quilts. I used quilt clips along with command tape along the wall to hold the quilts up. I also used the side of my daughter's crib as a quilt rack.

I love this ledge for it is the perfect place to put the bobbin winder and USB chargers.

My favorite part of this wall is this thread rack ... isn't it beautiful? It took me awhile to find a wall-mounted thread rack that was attractive, high quality, easy to assemble, can hold my large So Fine cones, and that fits my space perfectly. But I found an etsy seller who makes them, and he does custom sizes! But clearly, I need to buy more thread.

And I now have proper storage for my backings and my unfinished quilt tops!

I'm really, really thrilled with how this studio turned out. It is more beautiful than I imagined! I'm also so happy to be able to quilt again after a month-long hiatus. I got Lenni last year, and an amazing studio this year. I can't imagine a birthday present next year that could possibly top these last two birthdays!

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