Sunday, October 28, 2012

Greatest Hits...Goodnight Moon

I have a couple of projects that are in the beginning stages which will be shared more soon, but I thought that during the lull I might go back and look at some of the quilts that I’m proudest of.  First on my list of “Greatest Hits” is the Goodnight Moon play mat that I made towards the end of my pregnancy with #2 in 2010. 

Big sis at 20 months
At that stage, my oldest was 2 and her favorite book was Goodnight Moon.  It was the first book that she memorized from beginning to end and we read it at least twice a day.  I figured that if her older sister had anything to say about it, little sis would probably love it too (and she does!).

I had just started reading Aneela Hoey’s blog Comfort Stitching and was incorporating bits and pieces of embroidery into my sewing projects.  The illustrations throughout the book seemed chock full of great pictures with simple lines, so after a bit of trial and error and experimenting with tracing techniques (I settled on a water-soluble marker and traced using a lamp under our glass coffee table), I had 9 different embroidered squares. 


At the same time, I was reading about quilt-as-you-go projects and thought I’d try that out too.  I wanted each drawing to be outlined in a different shape and tried to get all of the main colors from the book – the tomato red, navy blue and bottle green – which were nothing like what I already had in my little stash.  I trekked out with our big board book to match up the fabric and thread colors as best as I could and was pretty happy with the results! 


When all the squares were sewn together and seams were tacked down, it still needed something, so I added white borders and embroidered the opening lines from the book around 3 of the edges with the book title at the top.  The backing is a navy fabric with stars that I wrapped around to the front and topstitched.


Did I have some embroidery errors?  Oh, heck yeah. 

Bright blue embroidery thread + white fabric = not a great idea
 Some major buckling issues so that it doesn’t lie perfectly flat?  Yep, that too.  But as I sewed among the imperfections, I still loved it and knew that the girls would love it too.  In fact it’s been loved so much that I’ve had to do some repairs and it’s been through the laundry more times than I can count - all the signs of a happy quilt.

Brand new little sister!
Still loving it 6 months later...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Angry Pincushions...

The BMQG is participating in the Modern Quilt Guild’s International Pincushion Swap and submissions need to be in for our November meeting.  Since my November is looking pretty full, I tried to ditch my procrastinating ways for once and get it done before the end of the month.  I’ve never made a pin cushion before, so decided to go web browsing for ideas.  Have you ever tried to get inspired by doing a simple Google or Flickr search and gotten completely overwhelmed by the serious sewing talent out there?  Yeah, I hear you.  There is some SERIOUS gorgeous out there.

Photo courtesy of Kim at My Go-Go Life
But instead of going pretty, I thought I’d try quirky instead.  Us quilters can be pretty funky and pop-culture loving too, you know.  So provided I end up swapping with someone with that sort of sensibility, this pin cushion could turn out to be a big hit!  Otherwise it might be an epic fail.
Introducing Pincushion Baby Pig of Angry Birds fame
 I found and followed this tutorial that was originally for a fleece plush version of the Angry Birds character but figured it wouldn’t be too hard to translate into cottons.  Cotton is a little less forgiving and a little more prone to looking wrinkly instead of round, but what can you do?  I’m loving it but I did have a little problem with Baby Pig being a bit snout-heavy.  When it was all put together, he tipped forward like he was kissing my cutting mat. 
Hmm…what to do?  I started rummaging around in my random craft drawer and found large glass marble discs that I’ve used for photo magnets before.  I cut a round piece of matching green fabric and did a running stitch around the edge, pulled tight and basted it to the bottom of the pincushion. 

Voila – a weighted stand that keeps Baby Pig sitting tall!

And just before you go thinking that this innocent piggy doesn’t deserve to be stuck with pins and needles, please just remember that they steal eggs from poor defenseless birds. 

Well, maybe not defenseless. They do have bombs after all.

Yeah, you’d better hide dude.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Guild Hopping...

The BMQG Mini Quilt Challenge at our exhibit during the Lowell Quilt Festival

Well yesterday was a bit of a quiltapalooza for me.  In addition to our usual monthly BMQG meeting in the afternoon, the very first meeting for the Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild was held in the morning. What a treat to start out talking quilts from 10 in the morning and go all the way to a sew-in until 4 in the afternoon!   Now, I'm fairly new to this whole guild world but I have loved being part of the Boston group.  It's a lot of younger women and moms like myself and the projects are constantly inspiring me to try new things and explore new fabrics and skills.  But it is a bit of a drive to meetings and with my schedule and little ones at home, all the extras like the sew-ins and additional meetups are typically out of my reach.  So when I heard that some of the Boston members were organizing a Seacoast chapter that would be a bit closer for some of us NH and Maine members, it sounded like the perfect solution!  Except for that one little personality quirk of mine...I don't like change.  (Wait, does ANYONE like change??)  After all, I've just gotten to know some of these members and am starting to feel comfortable in the group...and now I have to do it all over again?  Sigh.

Now I'm not saying that I'm leaving Boston for Seacoast - after all dues are all paid up through the spring, so there's no reason for making any changes until then.  But once renewing comes along, I'm feeling pretty torn.  In all honestly, I'd really love to remain a member of both guilds...but it feels a little greedy.   I don't think that my husband would squawk too badly about an extra weekend afternoon away and clearly I'm worrying about something that hasn't even happened yet.  Is this just quilt guilt that I should swallow and enjoy the extra creative time?   Are any of you out there members of multiple guilds that can give some advice? 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

All About the Birds and Bees...

Gotta love the instant gratification of small projects!  Our well-worn couch has had some pretty pathetic and beaten down pillows lately (I think it might have something to do with little people jumping on the couch when I’m not looking, but that’s another story).  One of our guild members made a gorgeous Mod Mosaic quilt based on Oh Fransson’s pattern that I had been dying to try, but I knew an entire quilt would take me forever and a day to complete and I would probably lose interest about halfway through. A pillow version would be perfect – which was what the tutorial was originally for anyways.  Score!
A dark plum couch is fantastic for hiding various food stains and general yuckiness, but it was a lot harder than I expected to find a fun fabric for accent pillows.  But thanks to Sew Fresh Fabrics (who’s booth at the Manchester International Quilt Show was the standout and highlight for me), I found Tula Pink’s Birds and Bees line in the purple colorway.  Perfection!  I worked on the two mosaic pillow tops here and there and finally got them done after a few weeks.  I quilted the tops in echoed wonky squares and the backs in a slight variation on Angela Walter’s “Chained Squares” design.  Can I just say how much I LOVE that pattern?  I’m probably going to quilt it on 2 or 3 more projects in a row!

But it turns out that I actually overestimated the amount of fabric I would need for 2 pillows…I actually bought enough to make 2 MORE.  I wanted to do something a little different with the same fabrics – how about a simple wonky log cabin?  Done and done – and in one weekend!  I know some of you are probably thinking that a pillow is more like a project for an afternoon, but one weekend is a big accomplishment around this house full of little people.  I wanted the quilting to be different on these about concentric circles on the front and wavy lines on front?  Okay, let’s give it a try!


So now I have 4 new couch pillows and I am loving them!  And the funny part is that the wonky log cabin was a whim to use up extra fabric and I think that I actually like them a teeny bit more than my mosaic pillows.  I guess that’s why my sewing has more than a little serendipity involved.  Oops – I mean sewendipity. 
Now lets just see how long it takes for them to get covered in cracker crumbs and juice stains.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

How it all started...

I started sewing about 6 years or so ago.  I couldn’t even tell you what jumpstarted in my brain – I had never used a sewing machine except for one failed attempt at a blanket on my mother’s Singer as a tween – but I got it in my head that I ought to be able to sew.  If only to hem a pair of pants or make a simple skirt, it seemed like a good skill that I should have.  I taught myself to sew straight from the manual of the cheapest sewing machine that I could find and was able to do a semi-decent job at following basic patterns.  

But as much as I had fun sewing, I never even considered making quilts.  Quilting didn’t exactly sound like the hobby of a 20-something and when I thought of quilts, I imagined yards of fussy looking flowered calicos.  It all changed when I went into a fun and funky boutique one day and saw these GORGEOUS quilts in shabby chic shades of random fabric squares – chenille, flannel, cotton, silks.  Looking at those throws made me realize that quilts could be whatever you wanted them to be.  Any shade, any pattern, any fabric – is there anything more appealing than that? I started teaching myself to quilt from an Alex Anderson book and her pattern for the Friendship Star was my very first quilt. 

I still had a bit of trouble though – it seemed like most of the quilting books out there just weren’t my style.  And I was younger than most of the other customers in my local fabric stores.  I needed to find some patterns and fabrics that I loved and decided to check out what was available online…and Oh. My.  Goodness.  There was so much out there in the blogosphere that was AMAZING that it was practically crippling.  And this thing called “modern quilting” – it all seemed right up my alley! So I’ve been lurking around various blogs and tutorials for a couple of years and only recently got up the courage to join a modern quilt guild.  I wish I had done it sooner…the level of talent and creativity that I see at each Show and Tell is inspiring and makes me want to get home and start a brand new project every time!

So thanks for checking me out and I hope that you like seeing my stuff as much as I like making it!