Thursday, October 20, 2016

Double Windmill Table Runner

So, in case you didn't know, I had twins! They arrived a tad early in mid-September. Towards the end of the pregnancy, I was increasingly sore and fatigued--imagine that! It was hard for me to do anything besides sit in bed all day. As you can imagine, I wasn't sewing much toward the end. I did a few things, here and there...sewing really is therapeutic for me. But, I just didn't have the stamina or strength to sew for more than a few minutes at a time.

After I delivered, I felt so much better and was itching to get back at the machine. And I realized that I had really made a mistake before delivering. I was determined to leave my sewing room in as good a shape as possible, and in my mind, that meant leaving as few WIPs as possible. What I didn't count on, though, was that without WIPs, I didn't have projects to jump right back into when I was ready. I did have a couple: my sampler project being a big one. I also had plans for a fall-colored version of Allison Harris's Shimmer quilt, but my progress on that was limited to picking fabric and sewing one practice block. I had nothing cut out. I had a Majestic Mountain mini quilt (designed by Amy Ellis) pieced and waiting to be quilted, but I couldn't get to the store to select thread (my sweet husband fixed that by buying me an Aurifil color card for my birthday).

I didn't have anything prepped to jump right into. Which proved to be a major bummer because I didn't have a ton of time to escape to my sewing room, I really only get 20 minutes or so at a time. One day, while flipping through some of my favorite quilt books, I came across a pattern in Vintage Quilt Revival that has been on my list for a long time. It's a cool table runner, but I've never been able to figure out what colors I wanted to use. Looking at it that day, though, I realized how great it would be as a Halloween table runner.

That afternoon, I auditioned some fabrics and printed the paper piecing pieces. The next day, I sewed the paper piecing together, and got the blocks sewn together the day after that. It went together so quickly, which is a huge benefit of sewing table runners! I elected to do wavy lines for the quilting, and that took a few days, but I had the table runner totally finished, including binding, just over a week after I started. I love the quick return on investment you get with mini quilts and table runners.

I really love how it turned out, even though there are few things I would have done differently. And it matches the Halloween banner I made last year. :-)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Terrazzo Quilt

I cut out the pieces for this Terrazzo quilt last year, and never got around to sewing it. Part of that was because I never took the time to prep my paper piecing pieces, but the other part was that other projects kept taking priority. And you know, then I got pregnant. And exhausted.

When I found out I was having two girls, I decided to use the Terrazzo quilt as one of the baby quilts because I had all the pieces for the top cut out except for one print, and the colors I picked worked for a girl. I didn't realize how much bigger it was than I needed until it was really all together, but in my mind, bigger is almost always better when it comes to quilts, so it doesn't bother me.

I really love this pattern and how the blocks work together to form the design. And because all the cutting was done, it really didn't take long to finish the top, though it took longer than the other baby quilt.

And I love that the two baby quilts coordinate enough, but don't match. I used the same Kona Silver for the background on both, and the magentas are similar, but otherwise, the colors are different, even though they are in the same tonal range. While I'm sure I won't be able to resist the occasional matching outfits, I want these girls to feel different and unique, and that their twindom doesn't make up their entire identity. 

Terrazzo Quilt
completed August 2016
quilted by Abby Latimer

Monday, August 22, 2016

Times Square Baby Quilt

I've mentioned here before, and I'm sure I'll mention it again, but I believe every baby deserves a handmade baby quilt, preferably made by her mother. And so, when I found out I was having twins, I felt immediate pressure. I knew I could definitely get one baby quilt made by the time they were born, but two? I wasn't sure how I'd be feeling throughout the pregnancy. Luckily, my second trimester was pretty good, and I still have good days, even now. Because I felt the pressure of time (I knew making baby quilts after having twins was going to be a long shot at best...), I opted to make a quilt I already had cut out even though it was a bit big, and a really simple quilt I'd been wanting to make from Vintage Quilt Revival, the Times Square quilt.

The Times Square quilt was a little bigger than I needed, so I opted to change the outside border sizes and I also assembled it differently than instructed, adjusting the block sizes as well. I chose to make flying geese 4 at a time, using differently colored squares, and it worked out really well. 

I had a hard time deciding on my color scheme at first. I was really sure I was going to do magenta, mint, and butter yellow, but on a whim I tried out navy in place of the yellow and loved it. I decided to bind it in the yellow to brighten it and give a bit of contrast, and I'm really pleased with it. All the fabrics, except for the backing, were already in my stash, and it didn't use much fabric since it's such a minimalist design. The one trick was that I ended up cutting up my entire fat quarter of one of the magenta prints because, with my crazy pregnant brain, I literally could not cut it the right size. I mis-cut it three times before finally getting it right. After that, I took a little break...wish I'd taken one sooner! :-)

I wanted to back it in flannel, and found some Michael Miller flannel on Fat Quarter Shop for only $8.50 a yard, and I was totally willing to try it out for that price! It may not be as super soft as some flannels I've used, but it's pretty good. We'll see how it washes up.

The quilt finished up at 45" square, and I had Abby Latimer quilt it with a wave design that I had had in mind since I started the quilt. I really love it and I feel like it softens the straight line design really well. 

Now the only trick is deciding which baby gets it...

Times Square baby quilt
completed July 2016
quilted by Abby Latimer

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sampler Shuffle Progress

I haven't posted progress since I first posted about starting the sampler, but I have been slowly working on it! It definitely takes a backseat to other things, so I haven't made a ton of progress, but I have made a total of 13 blocks so far. I think what I'll do is make most of the sampler shuffle blocks (omitting the appliqué blocks), and then fill in with blocks from the Splendid Sampler that Pat Sloan is hosting. I'm just not sure 30 blocks (what the Sampler Shuffle produces) is really a sufficient number for a good sized quilt. I've mentioned here before, I tend to go with a bigger is better philosophy when it comes to quilts...part of that is that my husband and I are both very tall (I'm only 6 feet tall, but my husband is 6'6") and I love being able to really wrap myself up in a quilt. And I don't really see any reason to rush this project by using really wide borders or alternating blank blocks to make it larger, so I'll just take my time and make a lot of blocks.

In the meantime, they're sitting on my design wall, looking very pretty. I love most of them, but there are a couple that I wish I had done differently, such as this one. I like the colors together, but there's not enough contrast.

My favorite so far is this one.

These blocks have been taking more time than I expected to make. I forget that it really does take quite a bit of time to make individual blocks, especially when they have more than 9 pieces. But, what also is taking longer, is that I generally try to use alternate piecing techniques to save fabric. I completely understand why the instructions are structured the way they are, but I hate cutting off itty bitty triangles that are going to end up in the garbage. So, when I need to make flying geese, I make them 4 at a time. Which means I need to go to the handy table I have saved from The Quilt Pattern Shoppe via Pinterest and make them that way. Same goes for half square triangles.

But, I like making them this way, even if it takes a few extra minutes to refigure cutting. I'm really enjoying this project and I'm totally okay with it being a very long term project.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Arabian Night Quilt

So...probably two years ago, I won a bundle in a Fat Quarter Shop contest and received 9 yards of Cotton and Steel fabric. Yes, seriously. It was awesome! I was super excited about it and started thinking about patterns, and couldn't ever decide. And then Alison Glass's Handcrafted line took the internet by storm and I HAD to have some. I ordered a bunch of half yard cuts from before they changed their pricing model on quilting cotton, and when I received them, I realized how perfectly they went with the Cotton and Steel. And then I added in a bunch more fabric and ended up with a bundle and fell in love. And around the same time, I realized the perfect pattern would be the Arabian Night quilt from Angela Pingel's A Quilter's Mixology. I love her method for sewing curves, but cutting the fabric to sew those curves...not so much. So this project had a slow start.

And I was okay with that. I treated it like a back burner project and got it finished a lot quicker than I expected to, which is always a bonus! I started it last August, so it took me just about a year. I opted to use Kona Putty as the background instead of white because the AG Handcrafted really needed a non-white background in my opinion. The color isn't my favorite neutral, but I think it works really well with the fabrics.

I struggled with the borders and backing more than I usually do, and then again with the binding. With the fun prints of Handcrafted and Cotton and Steel, I didn't want to do something too crazy that would draw attention away from them (and my hard work at curved piecing) but I thought a solid border would be too plain.

I ended up taking the blocks to a local shop that carries more modern stuff, including Alison Glass, and while I was pretty sure I wanted Cotton and Steel, I ended up using a different Handcrafted print and I love it. I think it ties in the diverse colors really well without detracting from the design. I went with a simple Kona pink backing, and I bound it with some of the remainder of one of those Cotton and Steel prints.

I'm really happy with it! My husband thinks it's too busy, but I'm not sure I agree. I love the colors and the curves, and I'm pretty excited to have it finally finished!

Arabian Nights
Completed July 2016
long arm quilted by Abby Latimer

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sunny's Table Runner

While my blog and IG have been pretty quiet, I have gotten a bit of sewing done. Not a lot, but a bit. I've been wrapping up loose ends that have been started at various stages, and have even done a few more Sampler Shuffle blocks. But today, I'm going to share this table runner I just finished for my friend Sunny. I made her a table runner two years ago for her birthday, and she just loves it, which makes me so happy! There's nothing like having your handmade gifts appreciated and valued. But, she moved. Boo! She still uses the table runner, but not on her main dining table like she did when she lived here. She requested another one, and I can't say no to a friend like Sunny, so I set about choosing fabrics.

Her new house is in a snowbird town, and for years, that's how they treated it. They would winter there and summer here. But it got to be too much for them and they decided to permanently relocate. So, I've visited their house, but couldn't compare colors quite as I took over a stack of fabric in the colors she requested (lipstick red, black, and cream) to let her pick and all my reds were way wrong. So when I visited her new home a couple months later, I took my color card with me and she picked Kona Crimson. Not exactly lipstick red, but that's okay. ;-) She picked out a fabric I had that had black and gold, and since I didn't have enough of anything for the designs I was considering, I picked up a black and a cream that had gold in them.

I chose a drunkard's path design, and I think she'll really like it! When it came to quilting, I was lost. So I did some simple echo quilting in the crimson section. I kept it nice and simple. 

What's great about this layout is that precision isn't super important in the curved piecing--there aren't  any points to line up. And since it's a table runner, I only needed 24 blocks, so it went together pretty fast! I used templates in the size I needed from Angela Pingel's A Quilter's Mixology.

This is way not my style, the colors definitely aren't what I would pick, but I really hope she loves it. Sometimes, making a quilt for someone else means working with things you wouldn't ever pick for yourself.

Sunny's Runner
pieced and quilted by me
Completed July 2016

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Christmas in July

Last year, I started a Christmas quilt and I used a bunch of fabrics from my stash, including several lines from Kate Spain. I picked the Seaside quilt pattern from Vintage Quilt Revival. Have I mentioned how much I loved that book?

When I finished it, I started trying to figure out a backing. I had some Christmas flannel I'd purchased years ago, but it wasn't enough, and honestly, none of the larger cuts I had were enough. So, I needed to figure out a pieced back or buy a bunch of yardage...I'd spent a lot on fabric around that time and decided I'd better just use what I had. And then I realized that I could make another quilt top to use as the back...and I picked another one from Vintage Quilt Revival. The Star Bright quilt finished up at the same size, so I just needed to add two extra blocks and extend the side panels. It was a great way to use up more yardage I'd purchased, including a couple of yards of a Kate Spain print.

Of course, I started the first top back in August, but I didn't get around to starting the backing until October...and with Christmas gift sewing, there was no way I was going to get it done in time for Christmas. I finally got it to Abby Latimer for quilting in January.

And then when I got it back, I was in my first trimester so it sat...and sat...and is finally bound now in July. I probably shouldn't have recounted that long makes me sound so pathetic! But, it's more a matter of priorities, right? I've been sewing, but Christmas sewing wasn't my top priority in May, if you can believe it. But now that I'm trying to clear out my WIPs before the babies arrive, it finally made it back to the top of my list.

Anyway, a huge goal in making this quilt was to use up a bunch of my Christmas stash, and I was semi-successful...I still have a bunch, but I've gotten it a bit more under control. :-) Really, I've been trying to sew from my stash, not just use it up. I don't have a HUGE stash, but when I look at it, and see how many quilts I could make completely from my stash without buying more fabric, I feel like I really should use what I have before shopping when possible. After all, I bought it originally because I loved it! Of course, then I went out and bought a bunch of yardage of The Cookie Exchange by Sweetwater...I'm a sucker for Sweetwater Christmas fabric.

I love how this turned out. It's really different than my other two Christmas quilts, and I love it. I have plans to get a Sweetwater Christmas quilt made eventually...we'll see. Now that we'll have 4 kids instead of just 2, I'll need another Christmas quilt. :-)

Modern Christmas
completed July 2016
quilted by Abby Latimer