Monday, March 23, 2015

A Thoroughly Modern Mini...

Remember how I just mentioned that I'm really not drawn to solids?  Perhaps that's the main reason why I've been dragging my feet on the most recent guild challenge that is due in May.  The Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild will be having an exhibit at The Gathering in November 2015 and (obviously) we will be trying to bring a taste of the modern quilting world to a show that is mostly traditional in theme.

To encourage everyone in the guild to participate, the guild asked us all to pick a traditional quilt block and re-imagine it into a modern mini.  No rules except to emphasize the modern interpretation.  Oh, and to ONLY USE SOLIDS.

*insert huffy, bratty breath here*

I selected the Bachelor's Puzzle block - and then I promptly left it in my tote bag and refused to look at it for two months.  But once I started seeing a couple members creating really beautiful minis, the guilt got the best of me and I plucked it from my bag with resolve.  After looking at my source material for more than 5 minutes at a time, I formed a plan of attack.  One of the reasons I picked this block from the list was that I thought all those geometric shapes would be fun to throw out of whack.  The block is called a puzzle after all.  So why not take those puzzle pieces apart and play around?

I literally redrew the block onto my larger graph paper with my trusty colored pencils, cut out all the shapes and started messing around.  It didn't take long to see that those two toned arrows were just itching to fly off that center square and break free.

It's truly a Bachelor's Puzzle that's been deconstructed!

I used a double layer of batting along with matchstick quilting to make my "original" block pieces pop off the mini.  And I quilted a few phantom diamonds to evoke the more traditional block image.  I think the effect looks pretty good - and thoroughly modern!  This mini finishes at 18" square.  The background is Kona Honeydew but I didn't label my blue or purple shades, so I'm clueless on those.  Sorry!

And while I'm still not sold on going completely solid, I can see why many modern quilters like the graphic and pop qualities that it lends to a quilt.

Linking up:
Fresh Poppy Design

Le Challenge

Thursday, March 19, 2015

An Epic WIP...

Just looking over my last few months of posts, I realized that I've been blogging about a lot of finishes but not really doing many "in process" posts.  As a blog reader, those are some of my favorite reads, so my bad for dropping the down and dirty process posts!  But I've got a WIP that will be year-long, so you'll probably tire of reading about it long before I tire of sharing it....

the EPIC Technicolor Galaxy Skill Builder BOM for 2015 taught by Alyssa at Pile O Fabric!!!!

Now hold on here, my 10 faithful readers might be wondering, didn't you start a BOM a looong time ago that still remains unfinished and sitting on a shelf?  Doesn't that make you feel guilty about starting a new one?

Um, no.  No it doesn't.

Because you know what?  I live in New England where we've had the longest, crappiest, snowiest winter in a long time.  And everyone in my family got sick with an awful cold that was THISCLOSE to being a flu.  And my kid's school got cancelled for a whole extra week because of snow on the roof.  The week before February vacation! And everyone has been crabby and miserable!  And there were weeks when the air literally hurt your face when you went outside for two minutes!  And just looking at this rainbow BOM makes me happy.  So is that what you really want?  To give me guilt and keep me from being happy?

Yeah. That's what I thought.  So let me show you Block #1 - the color wheel

I am not a sewer that is immediately drawn to solids, so I knew the major change I'd be making to this BOM was to cut out the solids and go with all prints.  Plus, I wanted to add in a little more aqua and replace the reds with deeper pinks.  I also decided to cut the color from the "D" ring of the wheel and replace it with low volume scraps.  To audition fabrics, Alyssa suggested using the coloring pages provided in the month's instructions with little scraps of fabric.  It was a really great way to audition the prints and get a decent idea of how the colors would blend together!

The main skills introduced this month were: creating your own fusible bias tape from scratch, glue basting your fabric shapes onto your muslin square, shaping your bias tape so it will cover up all the raw edges and fusing it down, then (of course) practicing your FMQ.

The only hiccup I encountered was attaching the strip of fusible to my bias tape.  Some parts just would NOT stay stuck on.  After attaching a few rings according to the instructions,  I took my own advice and just glue basted the rest on.  It turned out just fine, but at least I got to practice two different methods.

Oh, and yes I know that my FMQing leaves a lot to be desired - yeah, I'm looking at you drunken and wobbly "clamshells".  But I'm not going to be ripping anything out.  This project is a chance to practice, practice, practice!  Hopefully by the end of the year, I'll be able to look back at this center block and see how I've improved as the rings of blocks expand.

Next month will be focused on the 12 Star Points around the color wheel - looks like the most labor intensive month of the year, so stay tuned!

Linking up:
Fresh Poppy Design

Sunday, March 1, 2015

One Hip Hazel...

It's no big secret to say that I'm one of the many Elizabeth Hartman (aka Oh Fransson) fans out there.  Her latest patterns Hazel the Hedgehog, Fancy Fox, and Preppy the Whale all made their way into my shopping cart fairly quickly and I've been waiting to bust them out for just the right project.

And what better reason for cute quilts is there than a new baby?  Two of my Workplace Proximity Associates* are due with baby boys this spring and I thought that these patterns were just the right mix of fresh, modern, and cute to get the job done!  I ended up going with Hazel the Hedgehog first and pulled an array of light and bright fabrics straight from my stash to get a full rainbow (shocking, I know) of hedgies.  Trying to reign in my scrap bags, I used a variety of tone-on-tone white scraps for my block backgrounds.  Now looking at the finished photos, I'm not so sure that I should have done that since some read more cream than white, but oh well.

The baby sized pattern calls for 9 Hazels, so I kept one in the grey tones and let her have the killer magenta Echino specs.  Hip and cute?  Definitely a winner!

Hazel blocks definitely take a decent amount of time to piece together, but it really helps to get all your pieces cut out (and labelled!) at once so you can be a chain piecing machine.

But my biggest accomplishment on this quilt is definitely the quilting.  I am still trying to conquer the fear of FMQing and this quilt was the first that I've felt comfortable doing from start to finish.  I have a hard time with the "basic" meander pattern, but this curly loopy meander felt much more fluid for me.

I actually remembered to breathe, kept my gloves on the whole time (despite the fact that my husband refers to them as my "serial killer gloves"), and was rewarded with no snags, crazy bits or folds on the front OR BACK!!  I was so excited - it totally felt like victory.  Plus you just can't beat that crinkly texture...

The quilt is backed in a super snuggly blue plaid flannel and I brought the backing around to the front and machine bound it.  I wouldn't do this again with a flannel - it stretched out in a few places and looked a little messier than I prefer to finish things.  But hey, baby quilts are meant to get messy, so I just gave this one a little head start.

The second baby quilt will be Preppy the Whale and I'm aiming for a similar color theme on the front and the same blue flannel on the backing.  Since the BMQG weekend retreat is just around the corners, I've got all my pieces cut and ready to go!

*Side note: Can I just say how upset I am that I no longer have Parks & Recreation to look forward to each week?  One of my most favorite shows excuse me while I go relive the glory days via Netflix and Hulu.  End of speech.

Linking up:
Fresh Poppy Design