Monday, December 5, 2016

Cutting Up My Kona Color Card {Tutorial}

Over the summer, I bought Amy Ellis' pattern for her Majestic Mountain mini quilt. I HAD to make it, and I'm so pleased with how mine turned out! But picking the colors was no easy task. I had a Kona color card, but it was so difficult to pick colors that would work together from the tiny swatches that were so far apart from each other on the card! If you have a color card, I'm sure you know exactly what I'm talking about. You do your best, but in the end, it's just impossible. This was the first time I was needing to use it to pick solids to go together instead of picking solids to match fabric I already had, and it proved too much.

So, I cut it up.

I know a lot of people have done this, but I was nervous and I wasn't sure how I wanted to store it exactly. I was worried about losing swatches, and I was worried about finding the easiest way to use them. I know lots of people punched holes in them and strung them on a chain, but the swatches are so small already that I didn't want to punch a quarter inch hole through the color. And then I saw a post on the Anything Pretty blog. She cut hers, mounted them on velcro and stuck them on a canvas. I thought it was brilliant! I didn't have to punch a hole in them, and it seemed like a great way to store them: as decor. It would be one less thing I need to find a place for me in my cluttered sewing room.

So, first things, first. I didn't find a whole lot of great tips for how to do this, so I thought I'd really spell it out. After all, "cut it up" seems like directions, but what's the best way to do that, really?

I don't know if the way I did it is the absolute best way, but it worked well for me.

I started with a dull rotary blade and used my rotary cutter and quilting rulers to cut it. It was hard, I'm not going to lie, and I did it over several days because it put a lot of strain on my hands. But, doing it this way meant that I got really straight cuts, and I imagine it was easier on my hands than scissors! Note that because the swatches aren't all the exact same size, you need to do rows individually. No short cut here--every piece has to be cut out. I cut rows the width they would end up (a fraction below the name) and then cut the strips into pieces.

Next, I bought rolls of velcro with adhesive backs so I wouldn't have to glue. I bought 3/4" wide velcro and I found it at Lowe's. Again, I think "stick velcro on the backs" isn't very helpful, so here's exactly what I did. I tried peeling the velcro and then cutting it, but this gummed up my scissors a lot faster than when I cut the velcro in pieces with the plastic still on. So, do that. I found that it was easier to keep the velcro from tangling up by separating the two sides of velcro, which come next to each other on the same piece of plastic. Cutting it apart was pretty quick, and then you can set aside the half you're not working with. And, I elected, like Anything Pretty, to put the loop side on the back of the color card pieces so that if I put them on fabric I won't risk the hook side snagging my fabric.

Last was the trickiest part for me: applying the velcro strips to the canvas. I cut a tiny bit off and stuck it to the back to test the adhesive, which seemed pretty strong to me while I was putting it on the color swatches, but the next morning, it pulled right off. This very likely might have been due to the face that I used a tiny piece, but I wasn't wiling to risk it after all the work I went to since I reasoned it could be due to the uneven and flexible surface of the canvas. So, even though the velcro had adhesive on it, I used glue, too. I didn't want the strips to peel off when I pulled color chips off.

I bought a 24x36 canvas from Joann's when canvases were 50% off. It still ended up being $25--this is not a cheap project! I used blue painter's tape to create a 1" border around the canvas to keep my strips even, and then I marked my strips with pencil and my 6"x24" quilting ruler to make sure they were evenly spaced and level. Make sure you use a light pencil line--after I glued down a few strips, I went back and erased the lines so they were fainter because you can see the pencil through the velcro. I spaced the lines apart by 2", so the strips are closer than that since the swatches are over an inch tall.

I started by finding the middle line and then measuring out from there--you'll need 13 lines total. And for the glue, I used E600. So far, it's holding well! I found a package of single use tubes at Target of all places, and bought that even though I had a large tube at home. My large tube was several years old and I knew it would be difficult to squeeze it out evenly.

After glueing the velcro down, I spent a bunch of time sorting the color swatches, but that part was fun, as I'm sure you can imagine!

I'm really happy with how this project turned out! I love that it's a prominent piece in my room and that I can see it all the time. I love playing with the color chips and picking out new color combinations. It worked out really well, and if you're looking for a way to cut up your card, I'd definitely recommend it!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Fabric Friday: December 2

It has been way too long since I posted a fabric bundle. I posted last about fabric way back in February! I pretty much abandoned it during my first trimester when I was SO exhausted. And fabric kinda made me nauseous....yes, that's an awful feeling. But, I'm feeling much better and spending a lot more time in my sewing room. One day last week, I got a hankering to pull some fabric. I pulled two bundles, not exactly sure what I was going to do with them, but anxious to pull. It's therapeutic to sort my fabrics, selecting stacks that would work together. So, this bundle is inspired by our trip to Italy a year and a half ago, specifically Tuscany. I went back and looked for a specific photo that had inspired it, but didn't really find one: I think after looking through them all, it was more of an impression I had. So here's a couple pictures that contributed. :-)

Not exact colors, but they do give the feeling I remember from Tuscany...

When I think about Tuscany, I think of sienna and butter yellow and grass green with pale blue skies and purple and pink flowers. Washed out, almost neutral colors. It's a beautiful palette. These aren't pale, per se, but it's lovely. And I can't wait to return to Italy. It was a beautiful vacation, and one of the best parts was all the delicious food, especially since I ate so extraordinarily well and didn't worry one bit about food safety for my Celiac Disease.

And I seriously need to find a great pattern to use these in!

Monday, November 14, 2016

sampler shuffle update

I've been sewing a lot more lately than I expected to be able to! Some days, there just isn't time, but I've been surprised at how much I have been able to do. I've gotten my pieces cut out for my Shimmer quilt (pattern by Allison Harris) and I've sewn together 3 blocks, and I've gotten some progress made on my sampler. I've finished 23 blocks so far, so it's coming right along!

I'm using the patterns from the Moda Sampler Shuffle. I'm planning to omit the appliqué blocks (I don't love appliqué, and I don't think they're the style that I want), and I made one twice because I messed up. The one below on the right was my first go, and instead of sewing the components in two different orientations, I sewed them all the same way. I like it, though, so I finished it up and I'll use it. And then I had the idea to do the chevron block in an ombre-esque style, and I like how it worked.

Here are a few others I've finished and really like.

I decided to change the layout on this one; the quarters in the original all face the same direction. I like how it turned out.

Before I started this project, I pulled out a pile of scraps to use. I wanted to limit the color palette to give it a cohesive feel without using a single fabric line. I wanted it to look scrappy but not too mismatched. I think it's working out. But I'm really surprised at how I really haven't made much of a dent in the scrap pile I pulled. Which is fine, of course. But I expected to bust more of my scraps! :-)

I really like this one, too, and it reminds me a lot of one of the quilts I made for my babies.

I still haven't decided how many blocks to make, and I'll pick up with The Splendid Sampler project organized by Pat Sloan when I've finished the Moda Sampler Shuffle blocks. And I haven't decided whether I want to lay them out on point or horizontally. I've never done on point, so a part of me wants to just so I can try something new. We'll see!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Majestic Mountains Mini Quilt

I grew up here in Utah surrounded by beautiful mountains. I went to Olympus High, named not after the Greek Olympus, but after Mount Olympus on the Wasatch Front (okay, okay, so our mountain was named after the Greek one...). We had a great view of it from our front yard, and it's a central feature of the landscape of my childhood. No doubt this was due to my dad's love of the mountains. He loved the mountains. For him, it wasn't only that he appreciated the beauty of the mountains, but also that he felt God in the quiet of the mountains and appreciated the beauty of God's creations most while he was there.
This summer, my dad died. He had suffered for 9 long years from a neurological degenerative disorder and he finally died two weeks after having a mild stroke. It was heartbreaking, of course, and made even more difficult by the fact that I was pregnant with twins. I was a hormonal, emotional wreck. I was around 25 weeks when everything happened, and by that time, I was already struggling to get around. I yearned to mourn by retreating to the mountains, to honor his memory by hiking in his beloved mountains where I knew I would feel close to God and to him. But, my body wasn't in any shape to allow that. I was able to drive up the mountains a few times for picnics, but it was painful physically and just wasn't exactly what I had hoped for.

Around that time, Amy Ellis posted about her Majestic Mountains mini quilt and was in the process of developing the pattern. I had, for years, been searching and planning various ways to make a quilt to honor my dad and everything he gave me, and had never settled on what I wanted. I had wanted to make it before his death, but couldn't settle on a design. When I saw Amy's design, I knew it was what I wanted. It was modern enough to hang in my living space. It looked enough like mountains without being too pictorial. It was perfect. I ordered the pattern as soon as the sale went live and turned to my Kona color card to pick colors, hoping that sewing something in his memory would provide a way for me to properly grieve.
It was so much harder than I expected to pick colors from the color card, and I determined to cut up my card before I picked colors, which helped a lot. Maybe someday I'll get around to posting about that. I got my yardage ordered and set about sewing it. The pattern is paper pieced, and my only gripe with it is that she didn't specify any cutting instructions. I found this difficult to work with and ended up just cutting tremendously oversized pieces because of the sharp angles. I used my scraps to piece an improve backing. The top went together pretty quickly because there aren't very many pieces, and I loved it. But I couldn't figure out how to quilt it, and by that time, about 30 weeks, I wasn't even able to get to the store to pick thread. I was really in bad shape, and basically on bed rest (self-imposed). But, the whole process had really been therapeutic. I set it aside while I considered quilting, not really in a rush to decide because I didn't have any thread nor way to get any.

I delivered my babies the day before my birthday (yep, I got to spend my birthday in a hospital bed, hobbling around from my recent surgery), and my husband surprised me with an Aurifil color card! I'd never even sewn with Aurifil before, but I was pretty happy. It was a pretty thoughtful gift; he knew the only thing holding me up from quilting this mini was my inability to go buy thread.

A few weeks later, I had selected thread colors and finally settled on a quilting idea, and once it came, I got to quilting. It's funny that the actual sewing of this project was really so fast, but I spent months on the project due to my inability to make decisions. I decided to quilt the sky with horizontal wavy lines with swirls and loops to represent wind, I quilted pebbles on the rocky mountain side, and I quilted vertical lines (really long vertical zig zags) for the grass.

I bound it up and hope to get it hanging on my wall soon. I like to think that my dad would like it; in any case, I think he would appreciate the tribute. He was always a creative person and I think he'd appreciate that I used my creativity to create a mountain design in his honor. Truth is, I miss him terribly, even though he hadn't been himself for quite some time. He was a great man. And his death brought back all the grief we had experienced over the course of his illness.

Until we meet again, Dad. All my love.

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