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!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Black (and White) Beauty

I absolutely love black and white, and I've been looking to make a black and white quilt for a long time. The only problem is that black and white, while great to look at, feels a little boring for me to work with. I would miss the prints, the fun colors ... or so I thought until I set my eyes on Sedona.

Sedona is a pattern from the geniuses at Sew Kind of Wonderful, and it's a row-by-row pattern in black and white featuring 11 different blocks, about half of which involve curved piecing. I love the look of curved piecing, but I'm really awful at them. Luckily, this pattern allows for a ton of trim-down, so even I can end up with curves that look decently good.

I started Sedona as part of a sew-along, but very quickly I realized that I don't have the patience to follow along in a sew-along. Once I really get into the project, that's all I really want to work on. Watching the rows come out one by one on the design wall is also really encouraging, because the look of this quilt is just so graphic.

After a few weeks of working on little else, I finally finished piecing Sedona. I kept it hanging on my design wall for a few days even after I finished it, because every time I see it, the impact of it strikes me. I just love it!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Fremont Tote

I'm about to go on a 2 week trip (including a 14-hour flight with a 7 year old ... wish me luck) to Shanghai, and I wanted to make a bag for the trip. I wanted something that was roomy, versatile, and able to withstand the rigors of weather and travel.

Enter the Fremont Tote designed by Ellie Lum of Klumhouse. I was in love with this bag as soon as I saw it, because there's lots of hardware (which I love), it has a great look, but feels very hardwearing. That's probably due to the materials it's made out of: waxed canvas. Oh, and that mustard yellow? One of my favorite colors, for sure.

I've never used waxed canvas before, and it's probably one of the heaviest fabrics I've worked with, but surprise surprise, this is probably one of the easiest bags I've ever made. I suffered no broken needles, no screaming in frustration, no tears, and I didn't even break out into a sweat. This bag is that easy, and thanks to the materials and the hardware, it looks really professional!

I purchased a kit which meant the leather / hardware is all there, which is very helpful as I did not want to have to source all that, considering I don't use this kind of material all that often. The only tools I had to provide was a rotary punch, a hammer and screwdriver. Putting in the hardware is very, very fun.

I'm super happy with the end result. You know how sometimes you make something and it just doesn't look like the picture in the pattern? Well, I think mine looks about as close as I could expect to the picture in the pattern!

There are other colors this bag kit comes in, including a black on black that I'm eyeing. All I need now is a coupon and an excuse.

***

I'm currently on vacation and both my email and blog access is blocked, so I won't be able to reply until I return. Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Reel Window

If I rated my quilts based on the amount of time they spent on the frame, Reel Window would rank at the top. By a long shot. I think this quilt spent a record of 10 weeks on the frame. I had a lot of other fun things in my life distracting me, and I just kept procrastinating on working this quilt. Actual number of hours that went into quilting this quilt is ... probably ... 16? 18? I don't really keep track. Maybe I should.

The pattern is called Open Your Window by Zen Chic, and the fabric is also by Zen Chic (have I mentioned yet that she's my favorite designer?) called Reel Time. So I combined the two to name this quilt Reel Window. When I finished piecing this, I thought to myself that this quilt feels very retro and simultaneously techy. Swirls would be so wrong for this.

So of course I had to quilt swirls. But they are embedded into a network of circuits, which is also why this quilt took forever. My machine, as fabulous as it is, just doesn't like this design. No, let me rephrase that. My machine hates this design. So it was a rather frustrating process, even if the end result is pretty cool.

I quilted the focal fabrics with some simple geometric designs and filled in the empty blocks with ghost blocks. I used two designs, a dot-to-dot design and a piano key-type design.

The back of this quilt shows off the circuit design even more.

In conclusion, I really love this quilt and I think this is some of my best quilting yet, but it completely exposed a major shortcoming with my machine. I don't want to make this post any longer, so I'll probably write about "the defect" in a future post. For now, I'll enjoy this new addition to my quilt collection and enjoy adding a new design to my arsenal.

***

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

QuiltCon 2020 Registration

Well, that was easier than expected!

I get antsy every year while registering for QuiltCon. It reminds me of registering for college classes, that nail-biting nervousness. What if the server crashes? What if I can't get into the classes I wanted to get into? I always come well-prepared, and two minutes before registration begins, I could feel my heartbeat gradually increase in speed.

There are lots of quilt shows every year across the US, some even fairly local to me, but for all these other shows, I'm rarely, if ever, interested in the classes. For QuiltCon, however, I make my schedule weeks in advance where I'm triple-booked on every slot and I have to keep prioritizing, all the while lamenting that it's impossible to take every class I want to take. With that state of mind, it's really easy to overload myself, which is what happened two years ago, and I told myself I wouldn't do it again.

But of course, I did it again. I signed up for 5 classes over 2 days, and I can already feel that I'm going to be very tired by the end of it, but I can't resist the temptation. Here are the classes I'm currently signed up for:

Fill It With Style - Jodi Robinson
Playful Color Theory - Rebecca Bryan
More Than Just Lines - Jodi Robinson
Making Color Work - Heather Black
Serpentine Lines - Angela Walters

I must say registration went much more smoothly than I expected. The only thing that made me anxious was that registration didn't open precisely on the clock, but a few minutes later, but unlike two years ago, I didn't see any system crashes and any mass confusion. I got in and out of there in just a few minutes!

Now it's time to figure out how I'm actually going to get there!

Friday, June 21, 2019

An Evening with Tula

It's not often that I get to be in the same room as a quilting legend. I found out just a few days ago that Tula Pink was visiting my local quilt shop for a lecture and presentation, so of course I booked a ticket right away!

I've very rarely walked into a room and been totally overwhelmed. But seeing Tula's quilts hanging in that room, with all of Angela Walters's amazing quilting, was quite an emotional experience. I've seen almost all of these quilts on social media, but to see them in person, I was totally awed. Speechless. Stunned. All those words.

And in my amazement, I only managed to grab one photo. Seriously, what was I thinking? Right, I was too busy being awed.

I never really understood that much about fabric production. To me, I just take it for granted that somebody designed it, it shows up at the quilt shop and I take it home. But to hear Tula talk about the whole process was absolutely fascinating. There are a lot of fabric designers I like, but watching Tula explain how she works, I really feel like she's on a whole other level. The stories, the presentation, the hidden surprises! I own many of those fabrics and even worked with them and I didn't notice those hidden easter eggs.

I had another engagement after the lecture so I couldn't stay long enough for a photo op with Tula, but I did bring one of my favorite books for her to sign: Quilt with Tula and Angela.

Now that I've got both Angela and Tula's autograph on this book, it is officially my favorite quilting book!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Hex on the Beach ~ One Year Later

Never again. Never again. I kept saying this to my husband as I painstakingly stitched together hexagon after hexagon, in what is a 1000 hexagon quilt. Each time, he reminded me that I said this after my last English Paper Piecing project, and the one before that, and the one before that ...

I fell in love with Hex on the Beach by Tula Pink when I saw pictures of it surface at Quilt Market a year ago. Throughout the past year, this became my road trip project, my quilt guild project, and my waiting room project. It was super portable, and I just loved having something to do with my hands during those times when I can't be at my machine. This is perhaps why I love EPP.

It was during the final assembly process that I really started to burn out. It would have been good for me to work on something else alongside this project, but for some reason I just couldn't divide myself. And so, I put every other project on hold and after many many weeks of stitching hexagon after hexagon and waking up every morning with my thumb joints in pain, it's finally, finally pieced.

I absolutely love it. Tula Pink's solids & pom poms is one of my favorite fabric collection from last year, so I think this quilt which features all the colors so brilliantly laid out is just stunning. But that being said, I'm still not entirely sure it was worth the effort and the injured thumb joints and all the times I pricked my fingers ...

But it's a lovely quilt top, and I'm sure it'll be lovelier still when I finally get around to quilting it, which at the rate I'm going, means possibly never. But I've come to terms with the fact that I might never get around to quilting all my quilts.

And ... surprise surprise, I already have my next English Paper Piecing quilt all lined up. But I probably won't start it for quite awhile. For the next few months, it's going to be all about machine piecing and machine quilting (with a few accessory projects thrown in), and I'm so glad!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Harris Clutch Wallet

I've clearly been on a clutch wallet kick lately, because even though I only made the Day Trip Cell Phone Wallet a month or so ago, I just finished another clutch wallet: the Harris Clutch Wallet by Diane Spencer Ogg.

What made me particularly excited about this wallet is the fabric I used. While auditioning for this, I found some yardage in my collection that I totally forgot about. I've come to the point in my stash where I no longer really know what I have, apparently. (But that's a problem for another day.) I was very excited to see this fabric, and immediately knew it would be perfect.

This wallet won't hold that much, but it holds my phone and my cards, which really is all I need most of the time anyway. It was a very quick make, even though I had to resew some parts because I misunderstood the instructions. I'm pretty happy with it, overall!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Stargazer Block of the Month ~ Months 1 to 4

Well, I'm quite late in posting this. 4 months late to be exact. Toward the end of last year I surveyed the available block of the months starting in 2019, and I decided to join Rebecca Bryan's Stargazer BOM for several reasons: I thought the quilt was absolutely stunning, I was obsessed with star-themed quilts (still am), and I liked that Rebecca provided multiple sample colorways.

I decided to use the Princess colorway, which is a lovely combination of purples and teals. I would never have thought purples and teals went together ... but Rebecca did. And boy was she right. I also decided to go for the 80" x 80" size, because it was going to be same amount of work as the smaller sizes, and I might as well get the biggest quilt I can out of this!

I had planned to start this in January and follow-along with the class, but then I got really distracted with other things in my life and sort of lost my sew-jo for awhile. But in late April, I feel like I got some (most?) of it back, and so I decided it's time to work on this!

Months 1 & 2 were very, very easy. About the only thing I really had to watch out for was that I didn't end up using the wrong fabrics. Although Rebecca taught freezer paper piecing, I still opted to use traditional paper piecing, because that's what I like most.

Month 3 was quite challenging, and took me a few days to crunch through. My points weren't exactly perfect, but they were good enough for me. Month 4 was even easier than months 1 and 2, and once again the only thing I had to look out for was making sure I used the correct fabrics.

Well, I'm almost all caught up, though not quite because Month 5 had become available recently and I haven't gotten to it yet. But hopefully I won't be quite as behind with this project, going forward!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Mod Mountains Sew-Along

At the beginning of this year I joined 2 sew-alongs. But I didn't blog about them because I had a feeling that I'd fall behind. And fall behind I did. I haven't even started one of them, and the second one ... I'm several months behind too.

So the last thing I need is yet another sew-along, right? Well, when Suzy Quilts started her Mod Mountains Sew-Along, I felt the urge to join in. Suzy has this magic of making everything look shiny, exciting, and fun, and I felt myself being pulled in. I tried to resist it, but the clincher? It's a scrappy quilt.

My scraps are seriously getting out of hand, and Mod Mountains is just perfect for me to dig into my scrap bins. I decided on a palette of hot pinks, purples, and yellows.

Mod Mountains is what I call structured improv, because while there's a bit of improv in the mountains themselves which is what makes them so adorable and quirky, the final blocks are all triangles of the same size, satisfying my need for structure.

Laying them out on the design wall is so fun. I love how Suzy's pattern provides guidance for the color layout, to ensure that even though it's scrappy, it's still balanced. For color-challenged people like me, this is super helpful. When I use my own palette instead of a kit, I'm always nervous if it will work, but I think this does! At least, I love it.

This is my first quilt with triangles and I was a little worried it would be hard to put together. But there aren't any matching points in this quilt, which really helps. I think it turned out really well by my standards. Every time I look at this quilt top, it really makes me smile, because I love the scrappy prints so much!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Cross Stitch

I had been on a swirl diet. I was using swirls too much (or so I thought) so I decided to force myself to not use swirls for a bit. For several quilts in a row, I stayed away from swirls.

Well, the fast didn't last very long, because I missed them too much. At the end of the day, swirls are the easiest and most versatile design in my arsenal. They're a high bang for the buck design because they're fast, forgiving, and they look much more difficult than they really are. So ... I'm going back to swirls!

This quilt uses the pattern Cross Stitch by Zen Chic which features her Modern Backgrounds Colorbox, a collection of low volume fabrics, and for the foreground I used some solids from Art Gallery Fabrics.

I drew out two designs for this quilt, a simple one using geometric designs in the foreground and swirls in the background, and a far more complicated version that emphasizes the negative space and created all sorts of secondary designs. The old me would have gone for the more complicated version for sure, but the new me was willing to recognize that it's not always worth it to go crazy. For one, all that work wouldn't even show up very much in the low-volume prints. So in keeping with my resolution to enjoy the process and and not drive myself crazy doing something really complicated nobody can even see, I picked the simpler design. (I'll save the complicated design for when I have a solid background!)

The cross stitch blocks are definitely the highlight of the quilt, so I used some very simple dot-to-dot designs to quilt them down but also allow all the unquilted areas to stand out.

And of course, I filled the background with lots of swirls. I quilted them bigger than I usually would, just because this quilt is pretty big and tiny quilting would have been lost anyway on the printed background. Ah, how I missed my swirls.

This quilt with its printed background and softer colors is quite different from the kind of quilts I usually make, which is usually high contrast with bright saturated colors. It might not be as me, but I'm still pretty happy with it. Sometimes I just have to step out of my routine a bit.

***

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

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