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. 

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Peachy Keen Patchwork Swoon

About a year ago, there was an informal quilt-a-long on instagram for the Patchwork Swoon quilt pattern.  I jumped in with an unusual color scheme: cream, black, and peachy pink.  The quilt top came together really fast and I really enjoyed the process.

As usual, I had plans to make the quilt bigger than the pattern specifications.  I decided it would be cool to put smaller swoon blocks surrounding the large swoon motif.  I did the math and cut everything.  I soon discovered that my math was wrong and I stuffed it all into my closet and didn't touch it for nearly a full year!

Lately, I am really trying to finish projects, so I finally unearthed this project.  My husband, who incidentally is much better at math than I am, helped me salvage my pink/orange 5" squares and I put a striking border around the quilt top:

I have to admit that I really love how it came out!  It's so pretty- and so "me."  You might have noticed I love to have the color black in my quilts.  I just think it adds nearly effortless contrast to every project.  I love it!

I decided to challenge myself and really quilt the quilt a ton- it was a great opportunity to practice my free motion quilting skills and I also embarked on "ruler work" (using a ruler to help guide the longarm to make designs).  I felt like it was a safe project to practice on because the fabrics are so busy- no big blunders would be very noticeable.  The quilting did take quite a long time and now I have a much better understanding as to why custom longarm quilting can be pretty pricey. 

About three years ago, I bought nearly a full bolt of this Juliana Horner fabric at Joanns for just over $20.  It provided the perfect backing and binding for this quilt and I am happy I finally put it to use. 

This quilt is a keeper....  I could definitely see myself revisiting this pattern again.  Wouldn't it be fun if I made one for each of my children with their favorite colors?  They all like this quilt and it would just be so cool if I made blue (Gregory), purple (Charlotte), and orange (Owen) versions.....

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Hi Quilt

When I have the opportunity to attend a quilt retreat, I have a specific approach to how I want to use my time.  Going away for the weekend is a significant financial and time investment and I want to use the opportunity wisely.  (Let me clarify that the retreats I have attended have been very affordable and well worth the $ spent!)  I feel really gratified if I can start and finish a big project during that time.  In years passed, I have completed the Kittens Quilt and the Typewriter Swoon.  In the weeks leading up to the 2018 FRMQG retreat, I decided I wanted to make a quilt for my nephew, Rivers.  I have made him baby and toddler bed quilts, and his mom had been offering to pay me to make him a twin sized quilt.  She really loves what I make and I know I am appreciated.  I didn't feel comfortable having her pay me to make him a quilt (we're family after all!) and I decided to just go for it, hopefully in time to gift it for his upcoming eighth birthday.    

So I chose the fabrics from my stash (lots of Sarah Jane motifs including paper hats, rockets, and bikes) and a pattern from the book By the Bundle by Emma Jean Jansen.  This pattern is called the "Hi Quilt"- so cute and easy!  I had to buy gray sashing fabric and I pre-cut all of the pieces before I left for the retreat.

Once I arrived to the retreat on Friday afternoon, I bound a charity quilt and then I got working on the Hi blocks.  I get so intent when I sew and I really wanted all of my blocks done fast....  But I didn't finish all 99 of them until dinner time on Saturday.  It took me a lot longer than I had anticipated and I'll admit that it was a monotonous process!  The same thing over and over again for sure.  Finishing all of the blocks at the retreat was all that I could do for the quilt at the retreat, there was no place to lay them out to sew them into rows.  I assembled the blocks into a top at home and had the quilt on the longarm pretty quickly.  (I should add that I ended up making 5-6 more blocks mainly because of a minor mistake I made in calculating how many blocks I really needed). 

A friend gifted me some quality polyester batting at a recent guild meeting, so I put that to use with this quilt.  I quilted a somewhat dense boxy meander over the whole quilt- I really like that pattern lately- it's easy and forgiving.

A friend let me play with her decorative stitches and I finally labeled a quilt!  I haven't done this in years.  I backed this quilt in this white/blue dot, I've had it for way too long, and even though it doesn't match the front super well, I used it anyway to avoid buying more fabric. 

This Friday, we're meeting up with my nephew's family at the Denver aquarium.  I plan to gift it to him then, as his birthday is on Sunday.  I am excited! I am pretty sure River's mom will be more excited than him though ;)

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