Friday, March 17, 2017

Finish it up Friday: Skeleton Quilt completed

 And just like that, the skeleton quilt is completed!  Yay!  I rented the longarm on Monday and had it bound that evening (just the machine binding part).  During a few evenings this week, I managed to sneak in the hand sewing of the binding.

For long-arming it, I chose a digital spiderweb pattern, stitched in black thread.  I think it looks awesome on the white skulls, it's not very noticeable on the rest of the busy quilt.

All of the fabrics on the front have glow in the dark properties, except for the solid black framing the skeleton blocks.  The skeleton block pattern is from the new book by Tula Pink and Angela Walters: Quilt with Tula and Angela: A Start to Finish Guide to Piecing and Quilting Using Color and Shape.  Newcomers to this blog might wonder why I am blogging a "Halloween" quilt in March.  My son is completely obsessed with all things Halloween and this quilt will be on his bed year round.

I decided to put all my leftovers from the front onto the back (with a few other cuts lingering endlessly in my stash).  Usually I am happy to have leftovers from a quilt front to use in other projects, but I don't see myself making another Halloween, glow in the dark kind of quilt anytime soon, if ever!

Another sewing project I've been working on was making a stuffed animal with my son for a first grade school project.  He chose a "Black Mamba" - which apparently are green in coloring with black mouths.  Instructions from his teacher for this project indicated that you could make a stuffed animal with poster board and wadded up grocery sacks for stuffing.  I just knew that making the "real thing" with fabric and fiberfill would be easier- but I have to admit that I am a little worried the teacher might think making this that way is too advanced, suspecting I did everything for him.  But I really tried to have him take the lead: he drew the snake shape on the fabric, pushed the foot pedal and helped me guide the fabrics, he did all the stuffing himself, and he did most of the hand sewing, for closing the gap, himself.  He chose the buttons and eye placements too.  He is really happy with how it came out and had to take it to bed with him after it was completed.  He doesn't look so happy in this picture but I know he just wasn't happy to have to take a picture.  

On the evening we were going to make the snake, he went into my sewing room and discovered the skeleton quilt that I had hidden in the closet.  I was disappointed because I wanted to surprise him and present it to him when it was completely finished.  Oh well.  He was super excited about it and repeatedly said, "I love you so much!"

This afternoon, I hosted a little post-preschool birthday party lunch for my daughter.  We did it at home and kept it very simple with a princess theme.  Here's an easy decoration idea: I placed a big piece of Ann Kelle princess fabric onto a $1 pink plastic table cloth.  

Linking up to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A Dress and the Skeleton Quilt Top

My sweet daughter turned 5 years old last week.  I made her a dress in time for preschool picture day and her birthday.  As a family, we all went to Denver and enjoyed a visit to the Children's Museum.  As I continue to struggle with homesickness for New England, I find that taking advantage of visiting such unique places helps- we even decided to buy a membership.  

I returned to the Me Hearties dress pattern and chose a Lizzy House knit (from the clearance section at Hawthorne Threads):

Here's some "action" shots of gift opening:

Like an idiot, I deleted all of my pictures of some baby gifts I recently completed for a friend.  Here's a screen shot of their documentation on IG: size 6 month baby boy Quick Change Trousers:

Last week, I immediately dove into making Gregory's skeleton quilt.  Having completed the skull blocks at the retreat, this top came together came together rapidly.  I put it together in a bit of an "improvisational" way: I told myself I would aim for the size of 78" x 90" and I was eager to use up as much of the glow in the dark fabrics as possible (because I don't see myself making another similar quilt anytime soon and those fabrics wouldn't play well in other projects).

Here's how it came out:

Although you can't see his face in these pictures, Gregory is very happy with this quilt.  We got the skeleton costume for a $1 at a yard sale the day after I finished this top: perfect timing!  I have already scheduled time to rent a longarm to quilt this top on Monday, March 13 (yes giving that business another try since it's my only local option!).

I have to admit that I am a little self conscious about this quilt because it is kind of creepy.  I don't want people to think I am obsessed with creepy stuff or even that Gregory is either!  I had originally wanted to make the sugar skull pieced blocks with several bright solid fat quarters from my stash and just a plain black background AND put that darn skeleton panel on the back of the quilt.  But I know Gregory wouldn't have been thrilled with that idea and was very insistent on using that panel on the front.  It's so difficult to use panels!  This is why I was quite thrilled with the outcome of the Harry Potter quilt.

I do think Gregory will enjoy using this quilt all year round and he's been bugging me to make him it for quite a while.  It's so much easier (and often more enjoyable) to sew for Charlotte but I don't want him to feel left out.

I'll be back soon with a post showcasing the completed quilt!  Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Finish it up Friday: Kittens Quilt

 In February, an important project sneaked into my list of projects.  A sweet girl in my church has been battling cancer and I offered to make her a quilt.  Her mom told me she loves cats, which was a pretty easy directive for me and my stash!

I made a "solids version" of the Kittens Quilt, pattern by Elizabeth Hartman.  I really debated trying to make the kitten face version of the pattern (much more detailed with eyes and nose), but I felt it was important to make this quilt fast for the recipient.  Of course, I didn't use solids, but found lots of kitty themed fabrics and blenders in my stash and framed them in this berry colored solid.  My daughter Charlotte loves cats, so pulling these fabrics together wasn't too difficult.  If it had been any other animal, I probably would've had to go shopping!

Before the FRMQG retreat I cut all of the pieces, and on the Friday night of the retreat (at 2 AM, so I guess it was technically Saturday), the top was completed.

I was very unsure of how to quilt this quilt.   The dark purple sashing and the much lighter colored fabrics seemed to require lots of different colored threads... I didn't think I would have the patience for that.  I leaned towards trying an "invisible" (monofilament) thread but my LQS was out of stock.  I took a look at their variegated Sulky selection and chose a thread that had the colors of plum, cream, gray, and a mustard yellow: perfect!

During the first night of quilting this quilt on my domestic machine, I ran into some really bad tension problems.  I spent almost an hour ripping out some bad quilting and then went to bed.  The next day, I researched quilting tension issues and found that my needle tension really needed to be raised: up to a seven (!), whereas my normal tension is set at a 4.  This is resulted in some upper thread breakages occasionally, but it didn't happen often enough to make me want to give up.

Here's some close up pictures of some of my favorite prints I included in this quilt:

For the backing, I dug out some serious stash lurkers: the white on yellow polka dot was meant to be a bag lining but I ended up finding a different print I liked better.  You can see there are two kitten blocks: this was because I accidentally made two extra blocks and didn't want them languishing in my orphan block pile for forever.

The print to the right is a quirky Michael Miller fabric I've had for about a decade (one of my first Marden's finds)!  Isn't it perfect for this quilt!?

I bound the quilt in a Patty Young stripe.

 It feels good to start and finish a quilt so quickly.  I had a lot of fun making it and I hope the recipient enjoys it and will find some comfort in it.

Linking up to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Lots of Quilting Projects in the Works

I apologize for the poor quality of these pictures in this post, I considered not posting at all because of my unhappiness with them but I've come to see this space as a personal record more than anything.  It's better to just write the post and continue to work on achieving better pictures rather than avoid posting.  I honestly think part of why I don't blog as much lately is because I have such a hard time taking decent pictures of my projects.  In Massachusetts, I lived in an apartment that would just light up with natural light on the sunny days- I simply stuck whatever I was working on onto my design wall (in my kitchen!) and took the photo and it would look great.  In Colorado, a state much sunnier than Massachusetts, my house is a tri-level on a hill and taking advantage of natural sunlight is much more difficult.  I know it would help if I actually learned how to use my camera properly.....

But anyway, I wanted to share the many quilty projects I've been working on.  I really want to get back to quilt making- I've missed it.  The past few years have been more about bag and dress making and I miss quilts!

Quilt alongs on IG have sucked me in: I joined the Snail-Along hosted by +Angie Wilson (GnomeAngel) and already have a scrappy Swoon quilt for the current #Swoonalong hosted by Camille Rosskelley @thimbleblossoms.  

For the snails, I started out really scrappy but I wasn't in love with doing 42 of these blocks:

I've since changed my project fabrics to an assortment of solids and Lotus Pond fabrics:

Here's my Swoon top.  I know I want to add to it.  I'm thinking eight 18" swoon blocks to add as top and bottom borders.....  It will be a little while before I get back to it though:

I'm returning from an old WIP (2014) and "forcing" myself to make two blocks a day of these 9" church dash blocks.  Now that I have at least 28 of these completed, the project is looking much more appealing.

I attended a FRMQG  meeting with a lesson on curved piecing and was provided these sample block pieces to make a flowering snowball block.  I'm not sure what I will do with this orphan block but the process gave me confidence in making this quilt someday.

I just took my machine in for cleaning and wow (!) what a difference.  Apparently my use of adhesives (spray baste, washable tape) have really been doing a number on it and hair was jamming up my foot pedal!  Yuck!  It's working so well now and I'm loving it.  A guild retreat is coming up in less than two weeks and I really can't wait.  I need a break and I am really looking forward to just sewing for a few days without interruption.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Finish it up Friday: Hello Kitty Quilt

 I completed the Hello Kitty quilt!  It's been so long since I've done a Finish it up Friday post, especially to document the completion of a quilt.  My daughter is very thrilled: she even joined me at the place I rented the longarm for the last 1.5 hours of quilting.  She really was so excited and I was too!  I didn't love having this top laying around: all those tiny squares needed securing pronto and there's no better way to do that than quilt and bind it!

I quilted it last week on a Friday and had it bound by that Sunday.  It really dwarfs Charlotte's  toddler bed and she said she's ready for a "big girl bed."  (I wouldn't mind putting her in a twin sized bed, but we don't have one, so that will have to wait.)  I contemplated keeping this finish a secret until her birthday but bringing her to the longarm place proved to be a lot of fun: she was really beside herself with happiness.

I rented a Statler Stitcher and chose a daisy pattern stitched in white thread to finish the quilt.

Most of the quilt backing is made up of some very "old" stash fabric from Erin McMorris's first-ever  fabric line, a find from Marden's from at least 7 years ago.  I bound it in the only purple fabric I had more than a half yard of: Joel Dewberry True Colors woodgrain.  The quilt measures 78 x 88.

Since moving to Colorado, in order to rent a longarm, I've taken occasional trips to Ft. Collins and stayed the weekend with my sister, renting a longarm from an official Gammill dealer.  My experience there has been okay but it's definitely not been convenient and I've been a bit underwhelmed with the customer service there.  I decided to try out renting from a lady advertising on Craigslist to use her machine in Colorado Springs.  I visited her studio before making the rental appointment, I wasn't impressed with the amount of "stuff" in her storefront: it was truly packed from front to back with consignment items and her own things.  For completing the quilt, I chose a day my husband had off and arrived on time.  The store wasn't opened; I called her.  She said she was "on her way." If I'd known it would be another half hour before she arrived, I probably wouldn't have waited but she gave me the impression that she was simply running late.  It was a freezing, snowy morning.  When she finally arrived and I asked her what had happened, she confessed that she had completely forgotten our appointment and there was "no excuse."  I was really disappointed but we proceeded to get started.  I told her how I wanted the backing to be oriented on the quilt and she did it completely wrong.  She offered to re-do it but I declined, we were already way behind schedule!  Besides a very rocky beginning, I was happy with the quilt and how it turned out.  The rental price was also extremely reasonable: it cost me just $54.  But I am honestly not sure if I want to return.  I am so used to the professionalism I had at Laurena's studio in Burlington.  This experience furthered my determination to purchase my own Gammill- now is definitely not the time of life for that kind of purchase and commitment but I am so looking forward to someday having my own machine!

Thanks for reading.  Linking up with Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.  Hello Kitty QAL instuctions can be found on the Sukie blog here.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Scraptastic January: Unicorn Block

Close to Christmas, I decided I wanted to make this unicorn block for my daughter.  I have always been impressed with this amazing pattern but was intimidated by the complicated look of it... but one of my mantras is, "I can do hard things!"  So I went for it and I am so glad I did.

I used only scraps to make this beauty and it worked out so well.  I separate my scraps by color but also have a completely different storage system for solid scraps that are mixed all together (it's very sophisticated: two big giant zip lock bags stuffed under my cutting table).  As you can see, I used quite a bit of both solid and print scraps.  I dug into stash for the silver asterisk fabric for the horn.

Someone on IG mentioned they might frame a complicated paper pieced block rather than make it into a mini or a pillow- which is an awesome idea I wouldn't have thought up myself!  On Christmas Eve, I drove to my nearby Michael's and grabbed the perfect 18" square white frame with a 50% off coupon.  It was a great time saver and I already knew I didn't want this block suffering the abuse that a kids pillow gets around here.

Here's Charlotte after unwrapping her gift:

The whole theme of Charlotte's Christmas seemed to be unicorns.  Oh to be four years old!

Last month I won a giveaway on the Scraptastic Tuesday linkup from Fluffy Sheep quilting and it didn't take me long to zero on these beauties from Dashwood Studio.  These fabrics are so adorable and soft!

Thanks for reading!  Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Playtime Outfit with Birch Knits from MalinisQuiltCo Etsy shop

Shortly after I moved to Colorado from Massachusetts, one of my friends from the BMQG, Hema, opened a fabric supply Etsy shop.  I was excited for her but also a little bummed about the timing: wouldn't we all love to live near an awesome modern fabric store run by a friend?  When I visited New England this summer, I made sure to visit Hema to catch up and I also took the opportunity to enjoy seeing her shop inventory in person.  

When Hema and I were participating in the guild, Hema was all about practicing free motion quilting on her domestic machine.  She really became quite skilled.  Since that time, she's also been developing her skills at garment making - she's very prolific.  The theme of her shop does lean heavily towards apparel fabric selections: lots of knits and double gauze.  She has quilting cottons too and seems to have a unique selection; including Dashwood Studio (UK based fabric company) and lots of organic selections.

Periodically, I will be featuring a product made out of fabrics available from Hema's shop.  Today's post features Birch knits: Wildland and a red solid.  I decided to use the Playtime pattern by my favorite pattern designer, Liesl Gibson- of course.  

My fabrics arrived on Christmas Eve and I promptly threw them in the wash.  I always prewash knit fabrics.  I quickly got everything cut and ready to sew and put it all together this past Sunday evening.  Previously, when I made a quick shopping trip for buttons, I picked up a "twin needle" - something I only barely knew existed.  It wasn't too hard to use and I liked the way it helped me hem the tunic.  

I'll admit that I had some challenges making this outfit, all mistakes of my own doing: I only cut out one tunic/skirt panel and panicked when I wasn't sure if I could salvage another one from my leftovers (I did but it was close), I sewed too close to the edge of the skirt which resulted in some seam-ripping, and I experienced some stretching on the hems of the sleeves that made me feel pretty frustrated.... I expect that to improve with practice!  There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to sewing knits but there are some things that are easier than working with woven fabrics.  For example, I didn't have to do basting stitches and gathering to set in the sleeves.  Winning!

As you can see, Charlotte loves the outfit and I am very happy with how it looks on her:

The leggings were a breeze- I haven't blogged this but I have made at least six pairs for her and a friend from that pattern recently.

Here's a shot of another knit selection I selected from Hema's shop: Tall Tales knit paired with more of the red solid.  I am going to take a little garment sewing break but when I'm ready, I hope to transform these fabrics into a raglan tee ala Hey June.  I LOVE the Tall Tales collection - the jackalope slays me.

Thanks for reading... Next up is lots of cutting for a Patchwork Swoon... I can't wait to start working on a big quilt for me.