Monday, April 29, 2019

Fairy Tale Fussy Cut Sampler

Last year, Elisabeth Woo hosted a QAL on IG for the book she coauthored with Nichole Ramirez, the Fussy Cut Sampler.  I decided to join in, I actually find QAL's to be quite motivating and fun to participate in as long as I really love the pattern it features.  I already had a copy of the book and I decided to cut into my stash of Japanese fairy tale fabrics.

Here's a picture of the whole quilt:

I absolutely love this finish.  It is scrappy, features fabrics I love, the piecing is interesting (not too simple), and the quilting brings it up a whole new level.  I actually paid a professional longarm quilter friend to custom quilt this for me: Hannah Robinson.  Her work is just perfect, the thread she chose works on every fabric, the free motion artistry is stunning, and she did a unique design on every single block (48 different blocks!). 

I felt so weird paying someone else to quilt this for me.  But I chose to do this for several reasons: my longarm table was still not functional (thanks to idiotic movers and an idiotic longarm table company that didn't care to help me get replacement parts), I am pregnant and find it difficult to stand for hours on end, my little one has stopped napping and my sewing time is increasingly limited, and I did not feel that my FMQ skills were up to the task of quilting this very special top that was not easy to make (more on that shortly!)!  It's been about a decade since I paid someone to quilt for me. I literally only did it once before because I thought that was the only way to quilt a quilt: pay someone with a longarm to do it for you!  But I am so happy I passed this over to Hannah and it was worth every penny!!! 

People have asked me where I got all of these Japanese fairy tale fabrics.  I wish I could say that I bought a bundle and it was as easy as that....  but that is definitely not the case. This was a collection I have been building for years- easily 10 years.  It started on Flickr when it was so popular to swap fabric there.  I've found some goodies on Etsy, at Pink Castle Fabrics, and SuperBuzzy.  I even bought some at an epic yard sale.  I still have a good amount of fabrics leftover but I have to admit I am a little tired of them but not enough to destash them.

I backed this quilt in an irresistible Stacy Hsu print from her 'Lil Red release.  It was on clearance at a LQS when I lived in Colorado Springs.  A quick warning: I bought the exact amount the book specified and ended up with over two yards extra...... 

As much as I love the first picture in this post that shows the full quilt, you really need to peek at individual blocks to appreciate this quilt.  Every block tells a story and is cut and arranged very thoughtfully.  I'll admit I found many of these blocks to be very time consuming but not too difficult to piece.  But seriously, some of these blocks took me as much as two hours and that definitely felt tedious sometimes.....

This "3 little pigs" block shows some of the difficulty of the piecing well: getting those pig motifs in the little flying geese triangles was a monumental task:

This block features some scraps from a dress I made Charlotte several years ago, see the post here.

This block is one of my favorites, it's the "label" block and I fussy cut those tiny letters to spell out "Once Upon a Time." 

All of my kids like this quilt but Charlotte is especially keen to "inherit" it (we had a discussion this weekend on what that word means).  I tried not to make it too girly so that the boys might enjoy it too. 

I am pretty proud to have share this finish.  It definitely wasn't a quick or easy project but it's so satisfying to have finished a challenging pattern that uses some of my most special fabrics.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Baby Boy Quilt Finish

I am pregnant with my fourth child and it's a boy.  I am due July 4th.  Honestly, it has been my most most difficult pregnancy both emotionally and physically.  We've known for a while that we wanted to expand our family and relocating to the northeast was part of the plan.  Even though pregnancy and caring for an infant is so difficult, I know it will all be worth it.  The kids are excited and Charlotte even took the news of another boy quite well (I prepped her with how "special" it will be to be the only girl in the family....  

My first priority to make items for the baby is to have their own special baby quilt made by mom.  Hopefully they will be attached to it like Owen is to his (the binding is kind of falling apart thanks to his attachment to it and lots of unavoidable laundering).  Charlotte's quilt has also seen a lot of love. Gregory preferred a store bought blanket from Kohl's that a friend gifted us (first picture of him with it in this post).   

Baby boy #3 is hopefully going to love this wonky star quilt.  I just love it and I am thrilled with it.  By only feeling of regret is that the light mint green is going to look dirty fast.... but I couldn't resist the color scheme and don't really love baby/nursery themes that feature lots of dark colors.  He's due in the summer after all.  

A design wall was crucial in putting this quilt all together- every square had a specific home to make the arrangement turn out as planned.

I backed the quilt in an older Cotton and Steel lawn fabric.  The colors match the quilt perfectly- you would have thought I planned the back before the front! 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Last Finish of 2018

 Another quilt finish I completed before we moved to NH was this rainbow scrappy quilt.  I completely followed what Rachel at Stitched in Color shared a while ago.  I did a photo shoot at Garden of the Gods with my family:

I used this project as a "leaders/enders" project but sometimes I just worked on it, just sewing, sewing, sewing (lots of time consuming cutting from the scrap bins too!).  I knew I didn't want it to be a WIP I moved with, the long columns would be tricky to store neatly and I would've worried about the seams coming apart.  The columns are uniform widths: 6.5", 4.5", 3.5", and 2.5" but I cut them in lengths with however long the scrap was- I hope that makes sense. 

Did I make a dent in my scraps?  The definitive answer is no.  But I did use up all my obnoxious rainbow fabrics I bought in the early part of my sewing obsession that I no longer care for, they're all on the back- I'll post a picture sometime. 

Sometime I would like to make this quilt again in a totally different, maybe more "grown up" color scheme.  Wouldn't it be fun to make something like this in a pretty combination of navy, gray, and chartreuse?  Or what about black, light pink, and gray?  I don't know- the possibilities are endless.

Since moving, I haven't done very much sewing at all.  It took forever to be able to set up my sewing room- we ended up buying some cabinets from Home Depot to hold all of my supplies and I love them but they took forever to arrive.  The last "unpacking" task was to assemble the longarm and pretty quickly, we learned that seven parts of the table had been lost.  We searched everywhere and found EVERYTHING else we thought we were missing (except for two handmade items I am confident the packers stole!) but we did not find the parts.  The longarm table is exactly 10 years old, I worried that the parts would not be able to be replaced.  I had reason to worry- the whole process was a nightmare and honestly made me feel pretty depressed.  I couldn't bare to sew during this stressful time.  I barely hit owning the longarm for one year and it  was looking like the entire system could be rendered obsolete.  But finally, a week ago- the right parts arrived and we just need to set it all up. 

Amidst the longarm drama, over three weeks ago, I was hit with a nasty cold that I am still dealing with.  I haven't worn real pants for longer than my outings to Urgent Care and I've missed every Christmas party I had planned to attend (four so far.... we'll see what happens this weekend).  I am aching to get back to my favorite "coping skill" but I need to get better first.  I am so sick of Netflix, I've lost 15 lbs, and I can't sleep in my own bed (a reclining couch offers some relief to my incessant coughing).  Two of my three kids have caught the bug as well as one just recovered from pink eye, so yeah, it's been a rough month!  I can't wait to get back to creating and really hope to be better for Christmas. 

All this is shared not only to vent but to explain why it's been so quiet around here.  I hope to get back to creating really soon!

Thursday, October 04, 2018

We moved! and Tula Pink Butterfly Quilt Completed

This post is long overdue, but my excuse is that this summer became defined by a cross country move: we've relocated from Colorado Springs, CO to Merrimack, NH!  Moving across country is no easy task and it was a bit stressful and exhausting at times.  But we made it.  We're in a nice town, convenient for commuting, good schools, and a small community atmosphere.  We live 45 minutes from my parents and 30 minutes from Billerica, where we'd previously spent 7 years living before we moved to Colorado.

We feel pretty fortunate to be able to return to our favorite part of the country.  Leaving New England wasn't easy to begin with - but we were hopeful and determined to make Colorado our home.   It was 4.5 years of lots of highs and lows.  We bought a five bedroom house with a yard and a garage and our mortgage was the identical amount to the two bedroom townhouse we'd been renting in Billerica. I enjoyed the sunny weather, mild winters, being close(ish) to my sister, the community I found in a MOPs group and within the FRMQG.  My mom visited often.  But there were many struggles.  Oddly enough, in a town known for being deeply "military"- we we were in a community surrounded by native Coloradoan's and we felt like outsiders.  We opened our home to other families constantly and it was almost never reciprocated.  "School choice" afforded my children better educational opportunities but it also resulted in too much time in the car and further isolation from other families. 

Colorado Springs just made me feel so "anonymous."  It's a word that may not perfectly explain the feeling of isolation and lack of community I had while living there.  I've never been one to be too fearful about living away from where I've grown up- I went off to Utah for college, traveled the world during my education, and went to South Carolina on a whim for graduate school where I didn't know a soul.  But life is a lot different when you're raising a family and feel like you have very minimal support outside of your immediate family. 

I am not so naive that I think coming back to New England will solve all of our problems.  There are challenges here too.  I am living in a part of New Hampshire that is new to me and I am trying to figure things out.  Despite the air of familiarity here, I still feel like I am starting over and it's downright exhausting to be the new girl again.  I've done a little bit of sewing since flying out here on July 31st, but overall it's not been happening at all.  I have a new sewing room that still needs setting up.  I've been waiting for a few weeks now, to receive an order of stand alone cabinets that will substitute as a closet to hold my (ample) sewing supplies. 

Leading up to this move, I used my longarm constantly to finish my quilts.  I wasn't sure if we'd be able to find and buy a home in NH or MA that could accommodate a longarm frame and machine without making a child sleep on the couch.  Thankfully, the home we bought has space for it!  But I am still glad I pushed myself to quilt a lot- it gave me a lot of practice and I finished a lot of quilts.  This is one of my proudest finishes:

The fiery Tula Pink Butterfly quilt:

This quilt spent a full month on the longarm, I really struggled with quilting it well and not being too frustrated with my sub-par free motion quilting skills.  But I know I need to give myself some credit, I've come a long way from my "stippling" habit that dominated my FMQ style years ago. 

I can easily say that this quilt is one of the most challenging quilts I've ever completed.  It was tedious to do blocks twice- especially those dang ones with curves!  I messed up the "mirror image" concept of several of the blocks many times.  When the quilt top was all put together, I ended up taking out 3 different large blocks to switch out a bad fabric choice and re-orient one that was upside down.  Do you know how challenging that is- to have something be technically "done"- but take a seam ripper to it and take out chunks of it, re-sew them, and put it all back together?!  I can't believe I did that three times!  And quilting it was just a bear.   There were times when I'd go to the longarm in the basement and I'd just come right back upstairs and do something else because I was too discouraged to even try.  I really think that I if I could've afforded to, I would've loved to been able to pay someone else to quilt it for me.  Haha!  But I really love it now that it's done. 

Thanks for reading this lengthy post!  I do love this space and the chance to write and record my creative and sometimes personal journey.  All summer, I received emails from Bloglovin that I had new followers even when I wasn't posting much at all.  I hope to share more soon and provide more insight than the snapshots on Instagram provides.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Orange Zoo Quilt

I bought a big chunk of orange solid fabric at my LQS, an intended project for my three year old son, Owen.  This kid LOVES the color orange- it's seriously uncanny to see his love and devotion to the color- it's definitely not something I taught or encouraged in him.  In my search for a pattern to use with the orange fabric (and some FQ's from an older Cloud9 fabric line by Ed Emberley) I borrowed a friends book and I bought two patterns - but I still couldn't commit.  Finally, I came across the element of an easy block: the Greek Cross.  I figured out some quilt math to make the cross out of three pieces instead of five (minimizing the breaking up of the larger scaled animal fabrics seemed wise).  Here's the very bright result:

This quilt came together in less than 3 weeks- once I finally had the plan- cutting and sewing took very little time.  I love having my own longarm and the fact that I can just get something finished in my own home rather than seeking out the (less than stellar) options for renting a longarm in Colorado. 

I quilted an all over, boxy meander over the whole quilt with orange thread.

This quilt measures 84x96. 

I used some Rhoda Ruth wideback fabric for the backing and bound it in a blue stripe.  

I was hoping the completion of this quilt would help my son be ready to transition to the twin sized bottom bunk of our bunk bed set but he's still attached to his toddler bed.  Oh well!  It will happen eventually.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A quilt for my newest nephew

I have a brand new nephew.  My brother Bruce and his wife Emily had a baby boy.  He was born on May 31 and didn't learn what the gender was ahead of time, so I started sewing as soon as I heard the news.  

I have a friend who often gives me quilting magazines that she's no longer interested in keeping.  A while ago, she gave me a copy of McCall's Quick Quilts (the June/July 2017 issue).  This "Rex and Roo" pattern stood out to me.  I copied the fabric colors from the pattern, using my fabric stash.  It came together really fast.  

I really liked being able to use a cute black fabric in a baby quilt- that's not something that's super easy to do.  But this bear print is so adorable- I am glad I still have a little leftover.  I also like that I was able to use a cute fox print and the Sarah Watts Sleep Tight print is to die for!!!!

I had a bit piece of grey binding leftover from this quilt (2013!) and I put it to good use here.  I quilted it with loops and stars and prewashed it before I packed it up with some other hand sewn goodies I didn't take the time for pictures - burp cloths, bibs, and a diaper holder/changing pad.  I packed everything up into a medium flat rate box and bought a shipping label online.  I didn't want to bring my kids to the post office, but the large box was too big for my mailbox.  Just after lunch, I heard the motor of the mail carrier truck and I ran down the street after it without even stopping to put on shoes!  It was a bit of a distance before I caught up to the mailman but it was so worth not dragging my kids to the post office and I was happy to send it off as soon as possible. 

I have another important quilt finish to share soon.  I just need to get a decent photo. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Finish it up Friday: Scraps Only

 I started a scraps-only leaders/enders project in the fall of 2017.  I simply paired 2.5" squares with 2.5"x 4.5" rectangles.  I cut my scraps into these sizes as I went along making different projects and  sometimes I simply dedicated some sewing time simply to rifle through my scraps and cut them to size.  This quilt contains a lot of scraps from my craft fair projects, gifted quilts, my recent patchwork swoon finish, and many others.  I love how many "memories" it contains.  The finished quilt measures about 90" square.

I took photos of this finish at a cabin in Fairplay, CO- it's always good to use a unique photo setting if it's available.  We had a mini-family reunion with Nick's side of the family- we really had a great time even if I did miss my sewing machine while I was away. 

My kids are drawn to newly finished quilts and I love it!

It's not easy to see, but I quilted this on my longarm with simple loops.

A scrappy quilt is always a great opportunity to use up that hard-to-use yardage one might find in their stash.  The butterfly print was a 5 yard purchase I made very early in my beginner quilting days.  If I found something I liked, I bought an excessive amount of it - most of it in the rainbow variety. 

I bound this quilt in a colorful ric-rac chevron print I've had for ages. 

This quilt is definitely a keeper and I've already started a leaders/enders scrap quilt that's fun and going much fast than this one.  Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday.