Monday, July 29, 2013

ScrapBeeLicious and Loving It!

Well the Plum and June Blog Hop has wrapped up and it was such a great way to meet lots of like-minded and inspiring modern quilters!  I'm thanking my lucky stars that Ashley and Laura decided that all that fun was just too good to give up already and they put out the call between the Hop participants to start up our own bee!  Now I and 12 other bloggers make up the ScrapBeeLicious Quilting Bee!  This will be my (and a lot of other members of the hive's) first bee experience and our fearless leaders decided that these bee blocks should have us working from our stash and scraps.  This is a total blessing for me.  Mostly because I have a lot of scraps.  A lot.

This is because I save practically every scrap - even those fabric "crumbs" - when I probably have no good reason to do so.  Until now that is!  I've already started combing Pinterest and Flickr for inspiration on block designs and color's all just too much to narrow down yet but at least I have until May to finally get things figured out.  

But I really need to focus on less new fabric and working from my extensive stash.  I haven't even considered trying to total up yardage or different prints.  I think I would scare myself.  And speaking of scraps, how extensively do you guys hoard those scraps and crumbs?  And what about orphaned blocks?  While I was combing through my scraps, I separated out all the orphaned blocks from random quilts, minis and various guild projects.  I can't bring myself to just toss them, but I'm not sure what I'll use them for.  

Correction - I did use some of my leftover Posy HSTs to create this block for a surprise mystery project.  Guess there's a good reason to keep them after all!  Yay for fabric justification!

In the meantime, check out the other members of ScrapBeeLicious - it's going to be an amazing 13 months of blocks!

August: Ashley @ Wasn’t Quilt in a Day
September: Gwendellyn @ The Rainbow Revolts
October: Cath @ Wombat Quilts
November: Alyce @ Wonderland by Alyce
December: Nicole @  Modern Handcraft
January: Rachel @ Let’s Begin Sewing
February: Nanette @  Yeah, I Made That
April: Robin Sue @  RobinSue Quilts
May: Stephanie H @ Simple Sewendipity
June: Stephanie A @ Quarter Incher
July: Michelle @ Factotum of Arts
August: Laura @ Little and Lots

Friday, July 26, 2013


It turns out that the excitement around the quilt that I created for a coworker spread around the office pretty quickly.  Enough so that between the quilt and the clutches I made for Teacher Appreciation Week, I was asked to make another custom quilt!

But wait, you may say...weren't you racked with severe procrastination and self-doubt about the last one?  Have you not learned how to say no?  Is all the stress really worth it?  Well...yes, yes, and maybe.  But my potential excitement about this commission comes from the fact that this one is for my office-mate, who I've gotten to know extremely well over the past year and we have considerably more similar tastes in fabrics and colors.  I'm hoping that these two factors will work in my favor.

Photo courtesy of Quilty Magazine
So after the initial request for "some kind of an owl quilt" (her favorite animal), I brought in a stack of my "modern" quilt magazines with a few post-it notes here and there and let her peruse.  To my delight, she landed on a pattern that I've been DYING to try but hasn't made its way to my idea stack yet - Rangoon created by Gudrun Erla which appears in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Quilty Magazine.

I was so excited!!  And then when I was (more closely) reading the pattern instructions that night, I saw two words that made me gulp.  Big time.

Partial seams.

Yikes.  I haven't tried those before and they sound scary to me.  I've watched a couple of online videos about how to successfully work with partial seams and the process doesn't seem too bad once you get the hang of it.  But I'm still a little nervous.  Anyone else work with them before and can talk me off the ledge?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Yeah, That Makes Sense...

What’s the first thing that you’d naturally want to do in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave?  I’m sure that your response matches dead on with mine – make heating pads, of course!  (Insert mammoth eye roll here)  I realize that this endeavor sounds insane, but it was a while back that I mentioned wanting to adapt this tutorial to use up some of my Posy charm pack winnings and I was itching for a small project with a quick finish.  This was just the ticket.

For my first heating pad, I stuck pretty much with the tutorial, but I upped the size a bit.  I cut my charm squares in half and sewed together three columns.  It actually turned out a little too big - if I had to do it over, I'd keep it to two columns and five rows of charm halves.

Then you iron that to your fusible fleece and quilt it.  I top stitched an eighth of an inch from all the seams.  And then you have completed the top of your heating pad - so easy!

It turned out that I still had a good amount of the solid pink Posy print from my Xs and Os project, so that was a perfect fit to make my envelope backing.  Don’t you love when sewendipity like that happens? 

But that only used up 6 charm squares…time for a little experimenting with half square triangles!  I used my favorite trick to quickly make a nice stack of HSTs and played around a bit with placement.  I know this probably isn't new to most of you, but it was a total revelation to me when I saw a YouTube video on it.

Simply take two squares of fabric and place them right-sides together.

Stitch a quarter inch seam all the way around the ENTIRE square.   (Sorry about this - if I had planned on doing a proper tutorial, I should have used dark thread so you could see it better)

Then cut with your rotary cutter from diagonal corner to diagonal corner.  Press open and voila – 4 HSTs instantly without distorting those bias edges!  Love it!

The second heating pad was a straight-up square of HSTs top-stitched again at an eighth of an inch around each of the triangles.  I had just enough of the pink Posy left to get one more set of backing from it.

The third which zipped together even quicker (since it was the smallest) was a Posy chevron.  I echoed the chevron on both sides of the seam for the top-stitching.

For this one’s backing, I just recently purchased a gorgeous low-volume aqua print by Dear Stella.  A perfect complement to the Posy prints!

For all three heating pads, my filler was plain old white rice but I added a few drops of lavender essential oil to a Ziploc bag, added 8 cups of rice, smooshed it around and then let it sit and get all yummy smelling for a couple hours.  Then I funneled it into each of my cloth inserts and my sewing corner was smelling awfully nice for a couple days.

And I still – STILL – have a big stack of charm squares.  I’m going to post some of these heating pads up on my Etsy shop if anyone else is interested in getting even more hot during this heat wave.  Might as well spread the insanity around a little bit.

Linking up:

Plum & June's Let's Get Acquainted Monday Link Up

Fresh Poppy Design

Friday, July 19, 2013

Now What?

As soon as I saw this block design called Icky Thump by Julie at 627 Handworks, I fell in love.  (By the way, her Block Rock'n paper pieced series is just awesome - definitely check it out!)  I knew that I wanted to use it but didn't know exactly how.  Enter the BMQG's mini quilt challenge for our exhibit at the Lowell Quilt Festival and you have a marriage made in Red Nail heaven!

I had all my fabrics pulled and ready to go but I couldn't decide between the two blacks for the background of the block.  I did a test of each and let that sit for a couple days.

My first instinct was to go for the more solid black fabric, but when I asked for my husband's opinion, he immediately went for the Architectures print and said, "That one's different from what you usually do and a little more rock and edgy looking."  With a block named after a White Stripes song, I'll take rock and see what happens!

I loved the results but it was a little more work to keep all those scrawling sentences correctly aligned.  I had to pull out the seam ripper a couple times - which can be a royal pain with all of those tiny stitches through fabric and paper.

All 16 squares went together pretty quickly over a couple days and then the whole mini began to take shape!  I really love how it all turned out...just look how many shapes emerge from this pattern!

I think it would be an amazing looking full-sized quilt, but the amount of time it takes to take out all that paper - no matter how well its perforated to begin with - just takes a lot of time.  Wine helps.

So now I just have to figure out how to quilt it...any suggestions??

Side note:  I love how my random placement on the batting ended up looking like an old Polaroid!
Linking up:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Still Hopping Around...

Just a little reminder that this year's Let's Get Acquainted Blog Hop by Plum & June is still going strong!  There are only a few weeks left and every week I've been adding new blogs to my Bloglovin feed - it's getting awful full but is bursting with quilty goodness.  Despite the fact that the last sentence sounded like a perverse gum commercial, it is so true!  I hope that you visit a few and find lots of fabric inspiration:

Upcoming stops on the Hop:
Leona @ Leona's Quilting Adventure

Already been inspiring:
Nancy @ Owen's Olivia
Amy @ 13 Spools
Casey @ The Studiolo 
Nanette @ Yeah, I Made That
Julie @ Jolie Maxtin
Melissa @ Melia Mae Quilting
Adrianne @ On The Windy Side
Molli @ Molli Sparkles
Laura @ Little And Lots
Valerie @ Between Quilts
Leigh Anne @ Ella's Cottage
Stacey @ The Tilted Quilt
Sarah @ Quilt Candy
Jackie @ NW Patchwork
Erica @ Happy Fabric
Stephanie @ Simple Sewendipity
Lauren @ Seraphym
Green @ So Sew Green
Gwendellyn @ The Rainbow Revolts
Jessica @ Stitched In Thyme
Kathy @ Kayak Quilting
Michelle @ Factotum Of Arts
Kris @ Sew Sunshine
Camilla @ Faffling
Christa @ Christa Quilts!
Stephanie @ Quarter Incher

Monday, July 15, 2013

Finished With Love...

If you've been anywhere near New England lately, you might know that we've been on the verge of building an ark for a while now.  It seems like we've had a few really nice days sprinkled in here and there but otherwise we've had thunderstorms and flood warnings almost daily.  Which makes it really, really hard to take a finished quilt outside and take a photo of it.

In fact, I managed to only grab two - TWO! - of only one side before the heavens opened up and started to pour.  Then I was in such a rush to leave and deliver it to the new owner this morning that I forgot to take photos of the other side!

Major head slap of frustration...

The four shamrocks that I pieced and embroidered with family names were placed in a column on the other side with "In Memory" appliqued across the upper top in a cute Dear Stella orange anchor print.

I quilted it pretty sparsely, only outlining the heart with one echo and then a few radiating lines from it's center.  I wanted it to be as cushy and fluffy as possible instead of having a stiffer texture that can come from heavy quilting.

But just one word of warning - I basted this with my typical 505 spray which hardly ever gives me any problems.  But we are in the midst of ridiculous humidity up here and I think that had an adverse effect on the adhesive of the spray.  I noticed a LOT of shifting and tugging while I was quilting - and I didn't even quilt all that much!  It really gave me a lot of grief and I hoped that my friend wouldn't be disappointed at some of the truly obvious puckering.  I was just heartsick that it would be less than she wanted...

But the most important thing was that she loved it and all the imperfections that I was noticing and obsessing over for the past week meant absolutely nothing to her.  The whole quilt captured just what she wanted - their Irish heritage, her Dad's naval service and veteran status, his love of motorcycles, and lots and lots of love.

Linking up:  Let's Get Acquainted Monday Link Up

Fresh Poppy Design

Crazy Mom Quilts - Finish it Up Friday

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Vacation by Numbers...

There was an awful lot of stuff going on while we were supposed to be relaxing!  Since I deal with numbers all day long, it sort of filtered down into how I was planning my wrap-up post of stuff that I wanted to share with you all, so here is our family vacation by the numbers: days away from the real working world.

10...tea parties out on the porch.  We managed to pick up a miniature tea set from an antique store downtown for $5 - big sister was in heaven.

5...average time in the morning that little sister woke up.  Didn't she get the memo that we were on vacation??  This is awfully rare behavior at home, so I'm going to attribute the early morning wake up calls to bright sunrises and a lack of room-darkening curtains.

17...letters completed on my Superhero Alphabet so far!  Driving time was well spent cross-stitching these adorable little heroes.  I still haven't figured out exactly how to deal with those few color stripped patches, but I did end up getting the mystery stains out.  I'm sure that I'll work it out. times we went swimming.  My little fishes love their swim time. times we went swimming for 2 minutes only to have to get out and trek back up to the bathroom.  In spite of the fact that we did a bathroom break BEFORE going in the water in the first place.  Damp swimsuits are hard to hike up and down, but I got awfully good at it.

1...hour spent ripping the paper out of my paper pieced blocks for my "Red Nails" inspired LQF mini.  More on this later, I promise!  Paper ripping was really tedious (seriously, this was just for a mini - how do people survive doing this on a full-sized quilt??), but wine and an audiobook made it a little more palatable.

3...fabulous lunches of homemade lobster quiche made with love by my Mom using a recipe from a local bed and breakfast.  This is seriously, seriously good stuff - unfortunately I was too busy eating to get a decent picture of it.  It also goes exceptionally well with a glass of white wine.

7...yards of binding that I finished using this subtle motorcycle print fabric.  This is for that custom quilt that I've been dragging my feet on finishing.  I love this fabric because it will (hopefully) be highly personal to the recipient but it's not an in-your-face novelty print.  Just the right mix for a modern quilter, right?

3...books loaded onto the Nook before we left.  I'm on the last of the third right now (Big Brother by Lionel Shriver) and my queue of books to read or listen to in the car is pretty low.  Anyone have any good suggestions to keep up my summer reading list??

And back to that custom quilt...

8...finished appliqued letters and

4...hours to baste and quilt before finally calling it a day - yes, I am a slow, slow quilter and basting takes me FOREVER.  But now all that's left to do is attach the binding and I can finally hand it over!

7...hours spent in a theme park.

6.75...hours spent in a theme park in the rain.  We were total suckers and let the girls talk us into getting their faces painted in spite of the weather.  Shockingly, they stayed in fairly good shape all day long with only a couple wet-wipe touchups.

0...complaints about the weather from the kids.  I guess rain can't dampen a chance to go on rides and have tea with Cinderella.  I think I need to take a cue from their good attitude.

I left Maine feeling recharged and very accomplished - I'll have more on each of these projects and finishes over the next few weeks as I dig out from the pile of real work sitting on my desk!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Time...

Instead of my usual views from behind the sewing machine and my desk, I'm enjoying views that are more like this...

and this...

Sorry if there're some radio silence this week, but we're doing a little family relaxing at the lake.  The sewing machine and a few projects came up too, naturally.

Be back soon with lots to share (I hope!).  Wishing you some summer relaxing too!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Contrary and Indecisive...

Hey, hey...even though it's July already, the July block won't be released by Gen X Quilters until this Friday, so I'm all technically caught up with my Sisters' Ten blocks!  Chalk up another point for the procrastinators out there - we get it done.  Eventually.

But the June block - Contrary Wife - really gave me a headache.  The block pattern isn't my favorite which just made me want to drag my feet even more than usual.  Then once I finally made myself drag out all my fabrics, I was racked with indecision.  I forced myself to get one block done at a time, and I was actually pretty happy about my first one.  Everything about it was working together nicely and I was pleased.

Then it was time for number 2.  Again I went back and forth about fabrics - I'm trying to use all of the ones in my Salt Water stash fairly evenly and that includes a couple that I'm not as crazy about as others. I made some choices, but wasn't completed sold on them.  I wanted to use them more out of a need for fabric equality than love.  Paltry enthusiasm in fabric + slightly more enthusiasm in pattern = impending disaster.

It started out simple enough...not holding my ruler as steadily as I should have when cutting half-square triangles. A moment of distraction and loose grip and the whole thing slipped and cut right through the seam to render one side unusable.  Blerg.

Then indecision stumped me again on how to frame those center three squares in this second block.  I was using the blue octopus fabric and only had enough fabric for this one last block - should I do the same as block #1 with two octopus and one anchor?  Nope - I've already got 3 blue octopii out there and didn't want too much of the same thing.  The fabric that I had remaining only allowed for 2 options:  2 anchors/1 octopus OR 2 anchors/1 floral bush - fussy cutting always eats up more fabric than you anticipate.  No matter what I chose, this would be the last use of this fabric so there was no going back.  I hemmed and hawed and then went for the floral/anchor combination.  And immediately regretted it.  Double blerg.

It just didn't have the visual impact that I was hoping for.  Plus the green hexagon fabric leans toward the middle of the green-blue spectrum and it didn't stand out from the background as much as the aqua on block #1.  I got a little grumpy and didn't even want to do my planned picture of all 12 completed blocks together, so I threw them all back in the bin and will give it a fresh look another time.

Oh well - here's hoping for more joy in July's blocks.

Linking up:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced