Monday, April 29, 2013

A Few More Boston Blocks...

 The scraps and fabrics that I pulled for my Boston block remained on my ironing board over the weekend and rather than put them all away and finish up the stuff that I need to get done before the block lottery on Saturday, I made a couple more blocks and used up some scraps.  Plus I got to try out the windmill block that I've always wanted to do.  It felt very satisfying.

Verdict - I love the block but would never want to be doing more than one at a time.  Also, you are left with an extremely bulky center seam.  I need to research people's seam pleating techniques because that sucker is destined to break a quilting needle!

I ended up cutting a few extra triangles that didn't get used.  Instead of throwing those back into the scrap bin, I made a block of sparsely flying geese that also used up all my bits and pieces of white scraps.  Yay!

We at the BMQG are just completely gobsmacked at the outpouring of generosity and excitement that people are putting into these blocks as well as offers to help quilt, donate fabric, spread the word.  The flickr group is exploding and the blocks submitted  thus far are gorgeous.  Some beautiful quilts are going to be made for people in dire need of comfort and I am so proud to be part of such a dedicated quilting community!

Plum and June

Lily's Quilts

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lady of the Salty Lake...

Well my goal for this month was to finish my Sisters' Ten blocks early in the month to avoid the scramble of the last week...oh well.  At least it's not the very, very last days of the month, right?  The block for April is Lady of the Lake and to be honest, I was not all that jazzed about this one.

All those half square triangles to mark, sew and press and the design just wasn't all that exciting to me (probably one of the reasons that I didn't jump all over it at the beginning of the month).  And yet...once I decided to vary the fabrics on the outer triangles and saw all of them coming together, I started to change my mind.

In fact, this just might be my favorite block that I've done so far.  So much so that I made two identical blocks.  How the heck did that happen?  The power of the Tula, I tell you.

I'm really liking how the group is coming together - I think that next month marks the halfway point for blocks. Yay!

Check out the flickr group for the Sisters' Ten BOM to see what everyone else is creating!

Linking up:
Live A Colorful Life

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Quilts for Boston...

Just over a week ago, Boston came to a stand still. Friends of ours were waiting for their loved one to finish the race and were standing at the finish line hoping to cheer her on.  They were literally surrounded and protected by people who lost limbs and so much more.  It's nothing short of miraculous that they walked away almost completely physically untouched.  Others were not so fortunate and the Boston Modern Quilt Guild is hoping to do a little something to bring them comfort.

Quilts for Boston

The following information is directly from the BMQG website:

In response to the events of the past week, the Boston Modern Quilt Guild wants to find a way to help those in our community that have been directly affected by the bombing and subsequent events. As a guild we plan to make and distribute quilts to those who would benefit from a show of support, and we need your help.

Boston Quilt Fabric

We are asking the modern quilt community to support our efforts by sending us blocks for these quilts. Additionally, we will accept donations of fabric to be used for binding, sashing, and quilt backs. We would like to have the quilts ready to deliver to those in need as soon as possible, so we ask that you send your blocks to us within a month, by May 24th, 2013.

Blocks sent to the Boston Modern Quilt Guild should be blue, yellow, gray, and white. All blocks should be 12½” tall x the width of your choice. That could mean 12½” x 7”, 12½” x 12½”, or anything wider, more narrow, or in between. Please machine piece your blocks in any style you would like. Please use only “quilt shop quality” 100% cotton or cotton/linen fabrics. Both print and solid fabrics are welcome. Our preference is white or light gray 100% cotton thread, but any coordinating thread of good quality will do.

Please consider adding photos of the blocks to our flickr group. This is not required, but it will be wonderful to share the blocks as we are making them and to see what people are working on.

Our goal is to make bright and modern quilts that will bring cheer to those who need it most! We chose this color scheme as these are the colors of the Boston Marathon, and have become the colors representing the OneFund, an organization formed to accept monetary donations for the victims, as well as the tribute tees sold to benefit the One Fund. Be creative with your blocks, and make any pattern or design that inspires you!

Please mail all blocks and fabric to:
Quilts for Boston
P. O. Box 79225
Belmont, MA 02479

I started to pull fabrics for a couple blocks and was able to put together my first Quilts for Boston block during the girls' naptime today.

This 12.5" square block uses Angela Pingel's Stargazing block pattern that can be found in the book Modern Blocks.  I have another block or two in mind that I'm hoping to fit in before the May 24th deadline.  We hope to see your blocks too, so spread the word!

Linking up:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Saturday, April 20, 2013


With all the insanity of the past week here in New England, I feel like I just need to see and make some pretty things to feel better about it all.  With that in mind, I promptly dropped everything that actually needed to get done to try and crank out something gorgeous.  It worked...sort of.

The Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild is trying something new to help raise money towards dues for joining the national Modern Quilt Guild - a block lottery!  A block design and color scheme are chosen for the group.  If you feel like making a block, go for it - for each block you make, you donate $1 (a real bargain).  Each block is one entry into the lottery.  The winner gets all the blocks!

Samantha chose Greenleaf Goods' wonky pinwheel design with this gorgeous color scheme:

(Have you heard of this site Design Seeds?  It was a revelation to me and I instantly fell in love and lined up colors for countless potential quilts!)

I love this color scheme.  LOVE.   Needless to say, I wanted to make more than one block to increase my chances of winning in the lottery, so I chose more than enough fabric for 2-3 blocks.  All my fabrics lined up and looking lovely...

Instead of mass producing blocks, I wanted to go ahead and make just enough for one block and it moved along pretty quickly.  I ended up referring a lot to this layout grid within the tutorial.  This was a mistake because the grid is actually slightly different than what the finished block looks like.

So my finished block looked like this:

When it should have looked like this:

Wonky Pinwheel Block for September

(Don't immediately see the difference?  Hint: mine has 5 wonky pinwheels total and the correct block should have 4)

Some of the SMQG ladies suggested that I just move the last row to the top.  I looked pretty carefully at it and was going to do it because that would make the block have only 4 pinwheels.  But look at the direction of the neutral triangles.  They would still be pointing in the opposite direction and when my block is joined with everyone else's, the half pinwheels along the edges won't match up.

Oh well.  I'm going to take the glass half full approach - I can easily make this block into a pillow if I don't feel like sitting down for a long visit with the seam ripper.  Plus, I think that my lightest shade of green didn't provide nearly enough contrast with the neutrals, so I'm diving back into the stash for a proper replacement.  And I might nix the darkest shade of purple.

So there are things to improve...but I still made something pretty.  And I did end up feeling better.

Linking up:

Plum and June

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tula Pouch Testing and Giveaway Winner...

Thank you all so much for your suggestions for my charm packs!  I ended up loving quite a few ideas that were floated, so I'm sure that you'll be seeing some works in progress soon.  I wanted to give my giveaway post a chance to collect as many comments as possible but we're just about a week out and I don't want to keep you in suspense any longer!  Drum roll....
And here's the winning comment:

Congratulations This Dog's Mom - I will be emailing you shortly.  I never shared what the giveaway was for, so I hope that you're pleased with being my personal guinea pig for a new pattern that I picked up from for a keychain clutch featuring some of my favorite Tula Pink fabrics!  I ended up getting this pattern along with two others that I'm hoping to test drive before settling on one to "mass produce" as some teacher gifts during the month of May.

I'm not usually fantastic with patterns as I always manage to muck up some mundane detail or think that I know better than the pattern (ha ha) and end up skipping a critical construction point (which is why I will never, EVER attempt the infamous Weekender pattern).  So what did I manage to do with this super simple pattern?  Well for starters, I decided that my very first attempt (just couldn't wait until I had done it once and gotten the swing of it) would include the bonus point of trying to line up and fussy cut pattern pieces so that the front of the pouch would feature one Salt Water octopus.

 I did....okay I guess.  But the pouch's front flap looks slightly crooked to me and I can't tell if I cut the pattern piece crooked or just lined up the fabric a little off.  Either way...meh.  Plus I accidentally sewed the velcro a little further up than I should have, so it doesn't close as snugly as it should.  My last error was that I didn't leave quite enough room for turning the pouch right side out, so it got pretty crumpled and its so small that I couldn't press it perfect and crisp again.  Sigh.

I did a bit better with my second attempt using one of my last scraps from the Birds & the Bees line that I previously used on this project.

And even a little better on the last pass around using this aqua cut from the Prince Charming line.

I was also super excited that this was the first project I've finished that feature my custom made labels!  I wish I could tell you that these were specially made and ordered by a swanky online label company, but the truth is that I had a few sheets of the printable fabric leftover from my Bookworms quilt and I printed them out myself at home using Microsoft Word.  Whatever works, right?

So dear winner, I leave it to you - which would you like best?  Your wish is my command!  I'm also sending along a little fabric pack that I won at a guild meeting but isn't quite my taste.  Hopefully it will have a more useful home with you (or you can pass it along somewhere else and it will be the white elephant of fabric swaps!)

Linking up with: 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Charming Projects and a Mini Giveaway...

I know that I could just do a quick Google search on this, but I wanted to get some real-life sewing experience from all 10 of my readers.  I’m not usually one to buy precuts, but I did win a charm pack of Aneela Hoey’s Posy line (love it!) at our BMQG Retreat weekend.  Then when Peg at Sew Fresh launched her new site last week, I was so anxious to test it out that the only coherent thought that I could string together was to try out a couple cute looking lines by buying a charm pack of each.  I’ll just blame the Asbury project on increasing my charm-awareness.

So now I have these three lovely charm packs that are sitting around and waiting for me to do something with them.  Since I’m working on two larger projects back to back, I’m itching for something small and easy to do.  I came across this pattern for a quilted heating pad through Sew Can She that I can easily modify to use charms, so that’s definitely on my to-do list as my feet are perpetually cold as a corpse (thanks Mom ;)).

Do any of you have a favorite pattern that uses charm packs that you’d like to share?  Let me know via the comments - I’m all ears!  For an added bloggerific this is my 50th post, I'll pick one of the comments at random and send a little fabric gift your way! :) 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Cleaning...

My sewing space has been a disaster for a while now.  Some people have sewing rooms or studios – I have a corner.  I’m not complaining because at least it’s a dedicated space to sew, its better than when I would tote my sewing machine from room to room, and (miraculously) the girls never seem to poke through drawers where sharp pins and rotary cutters are beckoning to be played with.  But when you have a very small space, it needs to be well-organized and tidy.  Otherwise it looks like a disaster zone.

Welcome to my disaster zone.  Pardon me while I cringe in the corner as you gasp at the piles of craziness and ugliness. Maybe ugliness is the wrong word because it's not ugly…but it’s not the most conducive to creativity either.  And that's putting it kindly.

Most of the not-so-user-friendly stash...

It didn't start out so bad when I only had one project going at a time and I kept my fabric collection up in our storage space.  But for the past 6 months, I've had multiple projects going at once while my fabric stash is in constant use and needs to be close by…and of course the stash keeps growing because I keep buying fabric.  Fabric is literally busting out of my plastic storage bins that are stacked under my sewing table and ironing board.  It’s here there and everywhere and I hate…HATE…digging through the bins to find a certain color or print.  It’s just messy and it bugs me more and more every day.

So I am determined to break out my inner Tim Gunn and make it work.  Right.  NOW.  Because I just can’t stand the mess anymore!   Stay tuned – I’m hoping to have a big “sewing corner makeover” to reveal by the end of the month.  Target here I come…

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Magazine Love...

Yay - mail I actually want to receive!  I was so excited to go to the mailbox today to see these waiting for me.  After our Asbury challenge, I started following Thomas Knauer's blog and saw that he had been featured on the cover of Generation Q magazine.  I had never heard of this magazine before (or seen it in any of my local stores) and customer reviews I read raved about it, so I ordered a couple of back issues. 

Full disclaimer...I haven't even read a single page completely through yet.  But I did a quick flip through and I'm already thinking that I'm going to love this magazine.  Any magazine - let alone a quilting magazine - that includes stuff like this is pretty great in my book:

Yum.  I can't wait to read through these pretties for real!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Just Three for April...

Well I went from a whopping 3/3 for the first couple months of the year to 2/3 last month…and the trend continues but with a few very good reasons!

So my plans were to:

1. Complete the Sisters' Ten blocks for March  - check!

2.  Start up the Anna Maria Horner feather blocks at the BMQG Retrest - check!

3.  Hexies - Nope.  Not even a little bit.  But I definitely wasn't slacking or anything.  Instead I completed my Asbury Challenge mini, On the Boardwalk. And on top of that, I started a custom quilt too!  So I think it's a pretty good excuse for letting the hexies sit a while longer.

With that said, my goals for April are...

1. Complete the Sisters' Ten blocks for April - and on top of that, I'm going to try to get them done before the last week of the month this time.

2.  Finish up the custom quilt mentioned above - and I mean completely finish it!  I'm currently working on a row of paper pieced blocks for the back and it's also going to have a bit of hand embroidery and applique - but more to share on that soon...

3.  That quilt is going to have to be finished up, because I already have an "order" for another custom job!  This time, it's going to be a baby shower gift that's already scheduled for June.  I'd rather be able to get it started this month so that it can be finished by mid-May.  No procrastinating when it's not for myself!

Pretty ambitious goals for this month and next, but I'm confident I can get it done!

Linking up with:
traceyjay quilts

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On the Boardwalk...

Ta da!  This is my entry in the SMQG Asbury Challenge, a mini quilt I'm calling On the Boardwalk. 
The challenge was to create a project of our choosing from Thomas Knauer's Asbury line from Andover Fabrics.  I decided to create a mini quilt that showed the fun and spirit of Asbury Park that Thomas Knauer describes here.  I wanted to use as much of the charm pack as I could and really, really tried to keep to the one and only rule - no other fabrics besides the Asbury and complimentary solids.  Because I cut them up so much in places, I've added a couple photos of the swatches unaltered so you can imagine them in your own projects!

The only rule was immediately broken - a ticket booth needs to have a ticket taker.  It just does.  I fussy cut and sewed around this little guy from Sarah Jane's Children at Play line so that he could collect the cash for entry into the bumper cars.  But he's pretty little in the scheme of things - less than 1.5" - so I've been promised that it will slide under the radar. :)

I fussy cut the dollar signs from one of the print swatches to make the sign and then added decorative stitching around it, hoping to resemble those blinking lights that are always on fairground signs.  The pink Boardwalk print was perfect to construct the ticket booth!

Asbury Floral in Red

The ferris wheel was created by arranging appliqued Jellybean swatches using a Jacob's Coat pattern, but with fussy cut pieces from the Floral swatches for the middle and outer edges and the stands added in. 

The bunting might just be my favorite part.  I appliqued triangles cut from this swatch that reminded me of the Wheel of Fortune.

Actually, I take that back.  I think the boardwalk might be my favorite part.  In our charm pack, we got 2 swatches of Boardwalk - the pink/orange and the aqua/purple colorways.  I loved, loved both Boardwalk swatches and wanted to make the boardwalk out of...well, out of Boardwalk. 

Asbury Boardwalk in Aqua
But I only had the 5" charm squares and another one of my goals for this challenge was to not buy any additional fabric.  Fortunately, I had just enough solids that were a pretty close match, so I cobbled together my own boardwalk and added in the dark Ice Cream print for fun.

I pieced the back from a couple of leftover swatches and complimentary solids. 

Didn't I just say that I didn't want to buy any additional fabric?  Oops.  But this print (again, another rule broken, but I think that binding shouldn't count) just fit in so well that I couldn't resist using it for the binding!

I also wanted to try free motion quilting - I added the wood grain pattern to my makeshift boardwalk.  How can you have a boardwalk without wood grain? 

I also free motioned the sun in the corner.  Aah, the relaxing rays of wobbly lines.  But I'm giving myself a break - it was literally the very first thing that I free motioned on a "real" project. 

I'm so happy with how this turned out and how much fun (aside from the quilting) I had making it!  I can't wait to see what the other ladies come up with on Saturday!

UPDATE:  Check out the Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild's blog post to see all the other amazing Asbury entries!  I loved getting to see all the gorgeously different ideas we all came up with!

Linking up with: Crazy Mom Quilts - Finish it up Friday!

Fresh Poppy Design