Monday, April 13, 2015

Stars in the Technicolor Galaxy...

I know that you can scarcely believe it, but this master procrastinator has stayed on task for two months in a row with the Technicolor Galaxy BOM!  Block #2 was a big task and I've actually held off quilting them all until next month when there are only 4 blocks to complete and the load is a bit lighter.

This month covered all twelve Star Point blocks that surround the Color Wheel.  Each block is foundation paper pieced and has 14 different pieces.  They were very easy to assemble but it was keeping track of the progression of color around the wheel that was the tricky part.  I pretty much kept the Color Wheel splayed out on the floor at all times and each time I completed a piece, I laid it out where it will eventually be sewn into place.

Since I consider myself to be fairly proficient in paper piecing at this point, there wasn't too much technique that was new EXCEPT for the materials that I used.  Until this point, I've only used regular copier paper.  The templates that I purchased along with the class included wash away foundation pieces.  They feel a bit like iron-on interfacing and have the patterns printed directly onto them.  They are supposed to wash out completely the first time that you launder the finished quilt.  I really liked how I could apply my fabric directly onto the foundation pieces and hold them securely with a swipe of washable glue stick instead of a myriad of pins.  Everything stayed so nice and flat!  It will be interesting to see the texture after the first washing!

But aren't the colors just gorgeous? I love how one blends right into the next and how the low volumes of the background add extra interest without taking away from the brightness of the colored star points.  Now it's onto Block #3 for April - piano keys!

Linking up:
Fresh Poppy Design

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Preppy Baby...

After finishing the Hazel quilt, I still had one more baby quilt to make before a double baby shower in April.  I pulled similar rainbow-themed fabrics to make a Preppy the Whale quilt and at the last guild meeting before the retreat weekend, I cut out all the pieces so that once I got to retreat, I could jump right into sewing.

At the end of the first day of the retreat, I had the entire top completed!  I adjusted the Oh Fransson pattern to make a similar size to the Hazel quilt.  To do this, I paired it down to 2 columns and only 6 rows and bumped up the width of the horizontal and vertical sashing.  Just those 12 blocks took a decent amount of uninterrupted sewing time, so I'm impressed by the makers who have done the larger sized tops requiring 30+ whales!

I like the softer rainbow colors - just enough yellows, pink, and purple to balance out all the cooler tones and still just right for a baby boy.

I pretty much repeated the loopy meander that I used when quilting the Hazel top and backed it in the same blue flannel.  The good news is that the quilting went even faster this time around and I would have finished it completely in just a few hours if I hadn't run out of white thread with only a handful of space left to quilt.  So I must be making progress!  Still have to work on keeping my stitches consistent, but it's become a much less scary process for me.

So both of these quilts are ready to be gifted and I hope that they bring some comfort and brightness to some sweet spring baby boys :)  Don't they look adorable together?

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

An Earthy Rainbow...

I mentioned earlier that I had signed up for another mini swap on Instagram - this one was rainbow-themed, so I just couldn't resist.  But true to form, my partner's favorite colors and preferred palettes were quite different from my own.  Where I tend towards bright and bold, she favors earth tones - brown, green, orange.


The interesting part about a swap is trying to balance the theme of the swap with your partner's favorite fabrics, colors, and quilting/sewing styles.  She didn't have any favorite fabric lines or designers listed but she remarked that she preferred minimalist designs and applique.

For applique with a modern and minimal feel, I thought the logical choice was something from Alison Glass Applique.  After going through the book cover to cover, I was drawn most to her Medallion pattern.  In the book this is made into a cushion cover but it really lends itself to a mini perfectly.

With a design in mind, I turned to colors.  You would think that a rainbow swap wouldn't require a lot of thought in the color department, but with her preference for more natural tones, I wanted a palatte that was rainbow with earthy roots.


Aside from the brown background, the fabric pull for this came strictly from my scrap bins.  Perhaps I overpulled just a bit...but it's good to have choices, right?

Once I narrowed down the choices, it was on to tracing out shapes on Wonder Under and playing around until I got the design just right.

For quilting, I did a small blanket stitch around the appliqued shapes with diagonal straight lines through the background.  The contrast in texture around the applique really made me happy!

So here it is in all it's glory during one of the past month's snowstorms. Even though it's a little out of my ordinary choices, I really like it and would be more than happy if it stayed here with me.  But it's about to ship off to it's new home and I hope that my partner loves it as much as I do!

Linking up:
Fresh Poppy Design

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Totes Magotes...

It's been all about the totes around here lately.

We had a really fun workshop led by Jessica at the SMQG at the beginning of January on how to make and modify your own tote bag pattern.  I've made a few bags but have never tried this style of tote, so I was all in and wanted to make something fun and bright (shocking, I know!).  I pulled out some of my stashed Echino birds and cherries print along with a few bright complimentary fabrics.

We had to come to the meeting with two quilted panels for the front and back along with the handle materials.  Since I started pulling fabrics at - cough - 11 the night before - cough - I didn't quite get all my prep done, but no one seemed to mind.

I changed up the basic pattern just slightly by adding extra ShapeFlex interfacing to the quilted panels and the handle strip because I like my bags sturdy!

It finished up SO great and even though it was a little taller than my typical bags, this turned out perfect for toting a yoga mat around for my daughter's after school dance class.

And since I was on a roll and the instructions were fresh in my mind, I made the girls their own totes in some very stylish but cute Cotton + Steel prints.  You just can't go wrong with kitties and butterflies for girls, right?

I made the same modifications with the Shapeflex but made the totes 2" shorter so that they were more square shaped than rectangular.  The boxed bottoms make them perfect for toting a few books/notebooks/packs of colored pencils around and the girls are in love :)

And just in case you were wondering about the post title, here you go. Enjoy the laugh from me.

Linking up:
Fresh Poppy Design