Wednesday, May 29, 2013

X's and O's...

Here's my finished X's and O's mini!  It finished out at 18 x 24.5. Once I actually got my butt in gear and cut up the pile of fabric that had  been sitting dormant for months on end, it moved ridiculously fast from start to finish.  Of course, that is because any monkey could look at this and replicate the pattern, but I still love it.  Mostly because it all stems from this little work of art from my oldest:

So we flow from that to this:


To this!

Really the only thing that changed from the sketch to the finished product is that I added a few extra blocks of pink onto each row to even out the length a bit and arranged the letters differently to allow them to be a bit larger in size.  I love how all the pinks stand out so beautifully from the turquoise and even more how the appliqued X's and O's in the Posy fabric are the perfect touch.

The X's and O's are appliqued onto the quilt using Wonder Under - a paper backed fusible web.  I tried out a bunch of fonts, upper case and lower case letter combinations.  The one I thought was thick enough on this small scale but also nice and script-y was Channel in lower case letters.  I ended up printing out my letter templates in a size 250.  It sounds big, but that one square with my text is only about 6" square.  I finished them off with a blanket stitch in white.

There is even more Posy on the back side along with a stacked coin strip of pink.

I've seen a lot of wall hanging/mini quilts that have little corners on the back for easy hanging, so that's what I tried for this one.  The corners and the binding are done in a black/grey floral fabric that worked so well for this color palate!

I went back and forth on quilting this - I was honestly and truly going to do a loopy free motion quilting over the whole surface, but then I thought of straight line cross-hatching and how it would continue the X's into the quilting and I was sold.  I thought that I might try out pebble quilting in the pink bars (to add in some more O's, natch) but I kind of liked how they ended up standing out when they were just outlined.

If I had to do the pattern again on a larger scale, I think that I'd give loopy quilting a try - plus a larger scale would really highlight your "bar" fabrics and give you a BIG chance to applique some Xs and Os in fun fonts...or whatever word, initials, name that you'd like!  What do you think?  Interested in doing a throw or baby-sized version along with me later this summer?

Linking up:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, May 27, 2013

Much Needed Hugs and Kisses...

Daily life and a little (okay big) extra dose of stress has been bringing this crafty mama down over the past week, so to pep myself up and spread around a couple extra hugs and kisses, here's a little sneak peek of a finish that I'll be sharing with you all later this week.  Enjoy and stay tuned!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Superhero Catastrophe...

I mentioned a while ago that when I purchased the pattern for my Princess Bride cross-stitch pattern, I also purchased the Superhero Alphabet pattern by Wee Little Stitches.  I've been working on it pretty sporadically for the past few months but have about a quarter of it done.

I wanted all the rainbow of colors to really stand out against the light grey alphabet letters, so took a bit of a risk and bought "glacier blue" aida fabric.  I love it so far!

I was originally thinking that this would make the cutest pillow, so I bought a Robert Kaufman black on black dot and superhero panel print thinking that the cross-stitch could be framed in black and the panel could be a great pillow back.  I've been jazzed to work on it but it just keeps getting shuffled around in favor of other things.

But my husband was due for a dental procedure that required me to wait around for a half an hour and then drive him home.  Out came the superheros to kill some time..but when I took it out I noticed two mystery stains - one hovering about the Hulk and one very close to Mysterio.  No worries, I thought, and took out my Tide-to-Go pen.

I think you know how this ends...

The pen, which I have never, ever had any bad experiences with totally stripped the color from my bright blue aida fabric!! Oh yeah, and it also magically managed to NOT remove the dirty mark.  Bonus.

So now I have a huge pattern that is marred with dirty marks (which by the way, I have no idea what happened - I always wash my hands before working on it!  I'm going to blame the girls because it's easy and convenient, but I seriously haven't a clue.) and a quarter of the way done.

Any bright ideas on how to avoid throwing in the towel and starting from scratch??  Bad experiences with fabric marks/spots that you'd like some sympathy for?  I am happy to oblige, so comment away!

Linking up with:
Live A Colorful Life

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival...Little Bookworms

Thanks everyone for checking out yesterday's entry into the Blogger's Quilt Festival ROYGBIV category - the quilts already entered are amazing and I love finding new blogs (new to me anyways) with such talent!  I had a hard time narrowing down which category to put each quilt in, but finally decided that today's entry would be submitted for the Scrap category:

50" x 50"
Pieced and quilted on my home machine with Guterman thread in a rainbow of colors
Category: Scrap Quilts

One of the things that I'm happy I've passed onto my girls is a huge love of books.  I've always got a book (or maybe an audiobook in the car) queued up on my Nook or out from the library.  Big sister learned to read pretty early and I'm convinced that part of that is because we always set aside time to read together each day.  So what better gift for both of them than a quilt that captures their favorite books and characters all together?

I had seen a quilt from Ashley at Film in the Fridge called Converging Corners - very scrappy and lots of negative space.  I liked it but I'm not usually one for uber-scrappy quilts.  I do however love me a rainbow quilt.  When I got to thinking about designing a book-themed quilt, I thought that illustrations from each book would be a cute center for the Converging Corners blocks.  But instead of going completely scrappy, I could lay it out so that each corner has a specific color.  Then each of those converging corners would join to create a scrappy colored star.

To make each of the blocks, I took digital pictures from the books that I found online (or in one case where I couldn't find anything, scanned an illustration straight from the book) and printed them out through my inkjet printer on printable fabric.  I followed the instructions for pressing so that it became colorfast, then sewed away!  The texture of the fabric is slightly stiffer than regular cotton, but I'm dealing with smaller squares framed in regular quilting cotton so its not an issue.  All of my character squares are slightly different sizes, but I added my white fabric on all four sides as a border and then trim down to 8.5".  Then it's off to the colorful converging corners! After all of the layers of white and color, each block ended up being trimmed down to 12.25" 

Here's the complete list of block sources just in case you don't recognize the characters:

Top row (left to right):  The Giving Tree by Shel SilversteinOlivia by Ian FalconerLlama Llama Red Pajama by Anna DewdneyI Had a Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn
2nd row: I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren ChildThe Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix PotterPinkalicious by Victoria & Elizabeth KannWinnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
3rd row: Put Me In the Zoo by Robert LopshireFancy Nancy by Jane O'ConnorIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura NumeroffMadeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Bottom row:  Go Dog Go! by P.D. EastmanThe Cat in the Hat by Dr. SeussLittle House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls WilderMaisy's Bedtime by Lucy Cousins

All I did to quilt the Bookworms was to outline each character square once and then quilt the colored stars using Angela Walter's suggestions for irregular shapes - it's really hard to see in pictures (and even in person) because I matched the thread to the dominant color, but you can kind of see the arcing petals in these pictures:

The binding came out quite nice - the black and white french phrases are not really noticeable on the front of the quilt, but you definitely notice it on the back side.

I am so in love with this quilt for my girls and I'm so happy to report that the girls seem to love it just as much!  My littlest loves to sit and look at each block, pointing out her favorites.  They haven't quite noticed the detailed label on the back, but it still makes me melt a little bit.

I can't wait to see all the entries submitted throughout the week, vote for some favorites and pick up some inspiration!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival...Circle Peeps

Hey all!  This is my first time participating in the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side.  I'm submitting two of my (semi) recent finishes.  This entry is for my appliqued circle quilt featuring Lizzy House's Castle Peeps line:

52" x 64"
Machine pieced and quilted on my home machine with Guterman white thread
Category:  ROYGBIV Quilts

I loved this fabric line by Lizzy House as soon as I saw it and immediately purchased more fabric at one time than I ever had before.  I had also seen a great tutorial for an appliqued circle quilt that I thought would really show off the cuteness of the print.  I assembled all the appliqued blocks fairly quickly  so was feeling pretty pleased with myself. 

Originally I had made 6” wide strips of stacked coins from each of the fabrics for a border. 

But when those strips were all sewed and cut and I placed them against the quilt top, it just felt too busy.  So I put it all aside and promptly forgot about it to start something else fun and exciting.  Fast forward 2 years and all these pieces were still sitting around – those Peeps must be mighty patient.  

Umm...hello?  Remember us?
I wanted to finish up the Peeps, but those stacked coin strips were just hanging me up.  I tossed a bunch of ideas around and nothing seemed to fit, so I brought the whole kit and caboodle to the BMQG meeting in November for our massive show and tell.  Someone (sorry I didn’t catch who, but thank you!) suggested cutting the strips skinnier and sashing them in white.  YES!!

It turns out that I had EXACTLY enough to complete a full border and a long strip for the backing by cutting the strips in half – seriously!  There were only a few inches left when all was said and done!  The white sashing was perfect.  It gave the circle blocks a little breathing room and made those rainbow squares pop as a border. 

I had just enough of the rainbow strips left over to make a panel for the back, and added in a little knight's horse just for an extra touch of whimsy.

I really struggled with the quilting of this - not because it was difficult but because I love doing Angela Walter's chain squares pattern but still have not forced my machine into free-motion quilting submission.  Which meant that at every corner of every square, I was rotating this quilt through the tiny throat of my machine.  That's a lot of twisting and rotating!

It probably took the better part of a week of quilting a half-hour here and there and it was making me a little...resentful...toward the quilt in general.  But once the quilting was done and the binding was in progress, I started loving it again.

I was originally thinking that it would be fun to do a bright stripe for the binding, but couldn't find any fabric that I was really in love with for it.  Instead, I though this beige dot would be a nice compliment to the rainbow top.

I can't wait to browse all the categories, vote for some favorites and pick up some inspiration!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Selfish Sewing...

I've been working nonstop for the past few months on blocks, blocks, and more blocks, plus teachers giftsguild projects and a custom quilt for a friend.  With the exception of my Salty Sisters Block of the Month, it feels like a loooong time since I've worked on something that's completely my own...maybe going back to the Bookworms or my guild retreat feathers?  Yikes.  So I've been itching to get going on some of the things that are all sorted out and organized in the potential projects bins.

My mind keeps going back to this project that started out with a scribbling sketch by my oldest, which inspired the trip to the hardware store.  I went fabric shopping for this project a while ago (with my paint swatches of course!) and never posted photos of my purchases, which I am very excited to get going on!

That peacock blue/turquoise mixed solid is an Oakshott cotton and is a different texture than the usual quilting cottons, but still lovely and light to work with.  The colors are so rich but hard to photograph as gorgeous as they look in person!

My pinks are good mix from a Kona solid (lipstick I think) to some Posy and Kaufman prints - I love them all and bought MORE than enough for this project.  I used some for my block lottery wonky pinwheels and I  think they'll find their way into a few more projects over the next few months.

The pattern that I designed for this project could so easily be created into a lap or larger sized quilt, but I want to see some quick results for my efforts, so I am going to make a wall hanging sized mini quilt.  If anyone might be interested in a little quiltalong or published tutorial once I'm finished, then I might be game for a summer activity, but let's not put the cart before the horse.  I'll share my original sketch along with the finished product in a post hopefully in the not so distant future so that you get the whole process in a snapshot.

Off I go to start cutting and sewing...I can't wait to share the results with you!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Quilts for Boston Update...

first quilt top done!
A BIG thanks to Natalie for letting me use of all these pictures - I was so excited to make a sew-in that I forgot to bring my camera!

After over a year and a half with the BMQG, I had yet to make it to a sew-in (I guess that's the danger of living a little further away from your guild's home base, but I digress).  However, being part of the Quilts for Boston project and having a sew-in on a weekend afternoon spurred me to change that!  We met up at the amazing gather here in Cambridge this past Sunday to see all the blocks that have come in for the project so far, invite others to make more blocks, start piecing together tops and backs and miles of binding!

quilts for Boston

A quick  note about gather here - I had never made it before, but it was SO worth the trip!  It's a place in Cambridge where you can buy gorgeous modern fabrics, a spectrum of yarns and embroidery thread and oodles of books and patterns for multiple kinds of crafts.  But they also have space where people can just come and create on comfy couches or using their Bernina sewing machines (such a great resource if you don't have crafting equipment at home!).  They also have a larger annex space for teaching classes and (thankfully) hosting events like our sew-in!  My husband asked me to tell him about it and I kept tripping over my words and not quite describing just how awesome it was...he interrupted me to say, "So it's basically like if you took the Project Runway workroom and Mood and smashed them together?"  Yes, it's exactly like that!  And yes, my husband is awesome.

Maritza's quilt top

I have to tell you that some of the notes and cards that came in with all of your blocks were so sweet and we're working on a way to get those beautiful thoughts delivered along with the quilts.  The ever-talented Natalie has started grouping all of the blocks in packets for all of us to assemble.  Some of them are samplers like you see above and some are focused on a single kind of block.  Check out this top made all of star blocks:

Virginia's star quilt top

And look - my stargazing block is in there!  Love it!!

sewing quilts for Boston
Alice and I working away - and of course chatting too!
I ended up taking a package of blocks home with me to work on and used my time to throw together 3 different quilt backs from our donated fabric.  There is still TONS of work to be done on this project.  Natalie is collecting all blocks being mailed in and reports that we are receiving enough blocks for  at least one quilt top every single day.  Wow.  We are just blown away by the response we have received.  Keep them coming - the deadline for blocks is May 24, so visit our Quilts for Boston page for details on how to participate!

Linking up:
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced