Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Sigh of Relief...

I have to thank you readers and commenters out there from this post about the torment that I was giving myself about my elephant quilt.  All the encouragement made such a difference and let me give myself a bit of a break.  The kind words combined with a little time out with a fun project left me ready to emerge from "the valley of despair" (thanks for the brilliant title and the laugh Rebecca!) and finish the last portion of quilting. 

One of the worst offenders...
It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be...although I did do a teeny bit of tucking here and there to minimize (I hope) the rippling.  There was a point in time where this Seinfeld bit was continually running through my mind:

But I battled the horror and got through it.  After a single trip through the washer and dryer, the crinkling actually masked most of the badness!  Yay for crinkly quilts!

The fabric that I chose for the binding was a cute Michael Miller print - as if there weren't enough elephants already!

I'm still more in love with the back than the front, and if I had it to do all over, I'd still make practically an entirely different quilt, but it is what it is!  Some people include a misplaced block in their quilts as a "humility block"...maybe instead of calling it Elephant Parade, I should call it Humility Parade! 

So ends the first official finish of can only get better from here!  Shockingly, none of our friends have had any babies recently and none seem to be on the horizon, so I think I might try to sell this one on Etsy and just see what happens.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Linking up:
Live A Colorful Life
Crazy Mom Quilts - Finish It Up Friday

Saturday, January 26, 2013

British Bookworms...

I am having so much fun with these blocks that I am racing through them as fast as I can organize scraps!  The next batch of three include characters from very popular series that travelled the seas from England, so I'll just list the first book that we happened to read in each series: Maisy's Bedtime by Lucy Cousins, I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child, and Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne.

Lola is such a cute, sassy character that I loved having a big fat strip of these adorable bicycles in her block.  My girls LOVE Charlie and Lola - and Lauren Child's collage-style drawings that feature fabric swatches have inspired me to imagine countless projects featuring just this pair.  Yeah, yeah, just another thing to add to the ideas list!

And any block that features Pooh has to have a honeybee lingering nearby...

It's really shaping up!  This project is so much fun that I don't want to stop, but it might be a good time while I'm so energized to give a fresh pair of eyes to Elephant Parade.  Maybe I can muster the strength to power through and wrap it up to get back here and finish the last 7 Bookworm blocks!

Next in line are a famous little French girl, a brassy bovine (whoops!  I meant swine :)), and some gassed up canines - any guesses?  

Linking up:

Plum and June

Fresh Poppy Design
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Blame the Quilter's Brain...

Hi.  My name is Stephanie and I have a quilting problem.  How do I know this?  There are so many reasons, but Number #152 is that my daughter showed me her latest drawing and instead of praising her artistic abilities, I immediately said "Oooh.  That would be a neat quilt!" 

I did eventually remember to tell her she did a good job.  It just happened to come second.  And then I took a picture of her drawing so that it could go in my inspiration folder for future quilts. 

Linking up with:

Live A Colorful Life

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Back to the Bookworms...

Since I'm running away from a frustrating project, I had to get comfort from my Little Bookworms blocks which are a joy from start to finish.

When I last checked in, I had completed Peter Rabbit, Fancy Nancy, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  I've finished up 3 more since then and am already working feverishly on the next batch.  Without further ado, here are Pinkalicious by Victoria & Elizabeth Kann, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney:

I've tried to match colored corners to the illustrations, but its not going to be possible for every single one.  Still, I've liked adding some of the novelty prints of Sarah Jane and Lizzy House here and there - just enough to get a peek of a Peep or a bicycle or some toy rockets.

And of course some pretty florals and ginghams for little Half-Pint Laura.

I already have big plans for the back that include an adorable discontinued bookshelf print I found online...but one thing at a time.

Since it's fairly obvious that I'm not using licensed prints, I wanted to share how I'm making these blocks.  I'm taking digital pictures from the books that I found online (or in one case where I couldn't find anything, scanning an illustration straight from the book) and printing them out through my inkjet printer on printable fabric.  I go through the instructions for pressing so that it becomes colorfast, then sew 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 add 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!

I'm assuming that because I'm making this for use in my own home and my own girls that this isn't any kind of copyright issue, but I'd be curious to hear reader's input on it or if you've done anything similar for personal use!  It would be pretty cool to be able to turn around and make more of these for other book-loving families out there, but if I ever did make one to sell, I'd seek out regular licensed character prints and fussy cut those.  But I'm getting ahead of myself...better just finish my own first!

So even though you can only see bits and pieces, here's what the bigger picture is going to look like...loving it!!

Back to the sewing machine - Charlie and Lola are calling me...

Linking up with:

Plum and June

Fresh Poppy Design
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Literal Elephant in the Room...

Do you ever reach that point in a project when you really just start loathing it?  I'm there - I'm so there - with my Elephant Parade quilt.  Everything about it is feeling wrong and its more than a little depressing. 
They look so innocent, don't they?
Last you heard about this quilt, I had redone the blocks into more sparse pops of color. They still weren't quite what I loved, but at this point I wasn't going to go back to the drawing board a third time. I stuck with the small squares and once they were all sashed together, I liked them marginally more. The layout was reminding me a bit of confetti - appropriate for a parade. There was a smidgen of hope.

I put the back together pretty quickly - the quilt top is small enough so that a single cut of fabric was wide enough to cover the entire back.  I had quite a few strips of colored fabric cut and abandoned from the original block design, so I appliqued a couple here and there with a few elephants parading along. 

It was at this point that my first major "oh crap" moment presented itself - when I realized what I should have done with the quilt in the first place.  I loved the solo elephants on the back much more than a whole line of them on the front. If I had just been patient and let the fabric marinate in my mind a little more, maybe I would have thought of fussy cutting elephants into the center of a few blocks and randomly placing those here and there on the front along with the confetti.  That would have accomplished the more sparing look that I was going for.  Too little, too late.

With the back and the front completed, I just had to settle on a quilting design.  "Oh crap" moment #2 - should have just gone the easy route and done a simple crosshatch pattern with simple, clean lines on a quilt that I was already feeling kind of "meh" about.  Instead, I got it in my head that it would be cute to do echo quilting around one or two elephants in each row.  Some spray basting plus a couple extra pins here and there and I was ready to go.  It started out okay...and then hours (or what felt like it) later, I had made little progress.  And I was still in the first row.  Break out the wine!

An essential quilting tool

First elephant echoes - okay.  Second elephant echo and "oh crap" moment #3 presented itself - the motion of the circles was moving the fabric (despite my heavy basting) in opposite directions and as they got close to each other, I was getting rippling.  Lots and lots of rippling.  My pictures here are being pretty kind.  I think it looks much worse in person.    And it got even worse in the second elephant row. Despite the major rippling on the top, the back is shockingly remaining ripple-free - pretty much the exact opposite of what I would have expected.

Not to mention that at this point I was really regretting the design in general.  I thought it would highlight the elephants in a cute way.  Instead, now that I'm hours and hours in, I think they look like giant bullseyes.  This could be the bitterness talking though. 

So I'm giving myself a time out on this project.  It's getting put away for a week or two until I can look at it without wanting to take my rotary cutter to the whole thing.  Does this ever happen to you too?
Linking up to:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Plum and June

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Introducing the Salty Sisters...

As I mentioned in my January Just Three post, I've signed up for the Gen X Quilter's Sisters' Ten BOM. Since I've decided to use Tula Pink's Salt Water fabrics, Salty Sisters just seems like too silly of a title to pass up.

As soon as I got my big bundle of fabric goodness, I couldn't wait to cut into it and fortunately the block of the month for January was already up!

I ended up deciding on the Subs and Seaweed in Seaweed for the background fabric.  It's quite a light green and I thought it would be a fun change from my typical white background.  I thought that for each month I would do one block mostly in green and one mostly aqua with a couple splashes of coral thrown in here and there for contrast. 

January's block is Grandmother's Frame.  A large square in the middle of the block just begged for some fussy cut octopi (or is it octopuses?  That doesn't sound right either...) and I was only too happy to oblige. 

Can't wait to keep up this pace and end up with a gorgeous quilt at the end of the year.  I'm going for the 12" finished block size, so it will be a pretty generous twin quilt when all is said and done - just slightly larger than anything I've done before.  Eeek!! Linking up with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story:

Fresh Poppy Design

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Trying Something New...

For our meeting this month, the Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild held a workshop hosted by Amy from During Quiet Time to teach the basics of paper piecing.  Just so you know, Amy is an insanely amazing paper piecer and she created an original block to teach all of us that featured - what else - a sewing machine.  Cute!

I was super excited to pick up a new skill but I just couldn't find any fabrics that I really liked for the block - and ones that I wouldn't be too upset to have used if I managed to screw things up big time.  Fortunately for me (and everyone else in the group too!), Becca from Sew Me a Song brought along a couple bins of amazing fabrics for sale so I completely scrapped everything that I originally brought with me in favor of some new goodies.  The only thing that I kept (because it was so precisely perfect) was the fussy cut text from an ABC panel by Kumiko Fujita that I'm still trying to figure out how to use. 

It's kind of amazing how enthusiasm over new fabrics breathes a whole new level of excitement into something right?  I had seen Lizzy House's Pearl Bracelet line online before, but the colors in real life are really gorgeous. The table and the fussy cut ruler are both from Sewing Pattern in Pink from Homespun Chic by Melody Ross.

I love the finished block and Amy's workshop has made me less leery of trying it out on a larger scale.  Thank you Amy!!  Check out the SMQG Flickr Group for more sewing machine goodness.

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story:

Fresh Poppy Design

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Just Three for January...

A new year and new projects lie ahead - yay!

I was very, very excited that last month's Just 3 got me going enough to check all three off the list, so here are my Just Three for January:

1.  Just in case you haven't seen the bajillion BOM (that's Block of the Month) sewalongs out there, I have been browsing them all but eventually decided to commit to Gen X Quilter's Sisters' Ten BOM.  Traditional blocks set in a modern way was pretty interesting and what better modern fabric to try it out with than Tula Pink's Salt Water?  I just got all of my fabrics from Peg at Sew Fresh at this morning's SMQG meeting - thank you Peg!! - and now I can't wait to try out the first block that's already been posted for January.  This fabric just BEGS for some cute fussy cut octopus squares...

2.  Finish up Elephant Parade.  I have to say that even though I love this Dear Stella print and was pretty excited to work on this, I'm feeling a bit meh about it now that its close to completion.  I thought that the grey background would make the colors pop, but I think it makes it all a bit drab instead.  At this point, I'm a bit more jazzed about the back than the front.  Maybe I'll just make it a "reversible" quilt with no set back and front, but at this point I just want to get it done and move on. 

3.  I'd like to finish at least 12 of the 16 blocks for my Little Bookworms quilt so that it can be finished by the end of February.  I have 6 done already, so I might be able to pull it off...time will tell and you will see the next blocks soon!

Linking back to everyone else's Just Three:

traceyjay quilts