Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WIP Wednesday Link-Up

It's Wednesday—let's see those WIPs, ladies! Click here for all the rules and regs. Don't forget to link back here, and please comment on at least a few of the other links.

It hasn't been the greatest week over here, let me tell you. I did absolutely no sewing at all over the weekend. None. Zip. I had a trip to prepare for, a book to finish reading for Book Club, and one very sick baby—and it all added up to very little progress on my WIPs. I did manage to complete two small, time-sensitive projects, but pretty much nothing else got done. Oh well ...

Ongoing Projects:

Urban Lattice Quilt Along at Me? A Mom?
I have all of my fabric now. I even threw a little Parisville in there. (Parisville and Innocent Crush look great together!) Now all I need is a few spare minutes to start cutting. Hopefully after Thanksgiving.

That Girl ... That Quilt Along quilt
Uh oh ... I'm WAY behind on this one now. I set aside some time last week to get them wonked up, but somehow it didn't happen. Again, I'm hoping to catch up after the holiday.

Still didn't do anything with these:

Figgy Pudding quilt
Wonky Log Cabin

Completed tops awaiting quilting:
Hope Valley quilt
Modern Meadow Baby Quilt
Fall Equinox (Fat Quarterly Quilt Along quilt)

his week's stats:
New projects - 0. Yay me!
Completed projects - 2 (Miss E.'s Thanksgiving dress, and my Ho-Ho Holiday Swap ornament. I'm mailing it this morning, partner! Hope you like it!)
Currently in progress - 7, down 2 from last week. So why do I still feel so behind? : )

And with that, I'm out of here until next week. There's a turkey in sunny Florida with my name on it. Happy Thanksgiving, and do some sewing for me this weekend!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Look! It's a Dress!

It doesn't suck!

Does it look "home-sewn"? Probably. (That seems to be one of the worst possible insults Michael Kors can throw at somebody, so evidently it is to be avoided.) Does it have a few issues? Most definitely. (Bias facing? What? How?) Does my daughter like it? Yes, she does. Am I proud of myself for overcoming my irrational fear of garment sewing? Totally.

Okay, mission accomplished! You might even see a summer version of this one of these days.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Urban Lattice Quilt Along

Why, oh why, am I joining another quilt-along right now? Well, Cara's design is completely fabulous. There's that. And it's paper-pieced, which I've tried before (albeit very briefly) and just loved. So I guess I just couldn't pass this one up.

Still, it took me forever (actually right up until about 2 minutes ago) to come up with a plan for this quilt. But one just dropped into my lap (almost literally):

Innocent Crush!

The funny thing is, I had settled on something completely different. I wasn't loving it (which is always a recipe for disaster), but it was the best I could come up with. You see, I really want a nice cuddle-up-on-the-couch quilt for my family room. The problem is that my family room is decorated in golden browns, dark browns, and earthy greens, with a few rusty red accents here and there. I like my family room d├ęcor, but that color scheme does not a good modern quilt make. So I had a plan for a quilt that didn't exactly match, but was at least neutral-ish. It was ... okay, I guess.

But just as I was about to blog about my other plan, I saw the mail truck go by outside my house, so I decided to go get the mail first. And what did I find?

This tasty little fat quarter. It was part of my "fat quarter surprise" prize package from Stitched In Color's giveaway with Sew Love Fabrics. And hey—it looks great in my family room! Check it out!

I got straight online and ordered a few more of the warmer prints from the line. Those will be the squares. The background pieces will be Kona Bone, and the narrow "lattice" pieces will be Moda Bella Solids Fig Tree Olive. I think I'm already in love with this quilt, based on this one little fat quarter! Can't wait to get the rest of the fabric and get started!

Thank you so much to Stitched In Color and Sew Love. All of the fat quarters I got from Sew Love are fabulous—look, there's some Weekends by Erin McMorris and Wonderland in there too! Woo hoo! And that envelope could not possibly have come at a better moment. : )

Oh, one more thing: Today AnneMarie at GenX Quilters is featuring my Advent Calendar tutorial! Be sure to check out GenX Quilters if you haven't already—it's a great gathering place for all us young(ish) quilters.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WIP Wednesday Link-Up

Welcome to another Work-In-Progress Wednesday! Let's see those WIPs! And don't forget to comment on the other links. Click here for all the rules.

New Projects:

Miss E.'s Thanksgiving Dress

Blogged here. Pattern pieces are now cut. Hopefully correctly!

Ho-Ho Holiday Swap Ornament
I can't say much about this one—I want my partner to be surprised! I've done a few quick trial runs, but just can't seem to decide between two very different ornaments. But I want to finish it by Monday, so I better figure it out soon.

Urban Lattice Quilt Along (a.k.a. "the Manly Quilt"), by Cara at Me? A Mom?
This looks like a fun one, with paper piecing! More on it tomorrow.

Ongoing Projects:

That Girl ... That Quilt Along quilt
I still need to wonk these babies up and sew them together. I'm falling a little behind but should be caught up by early next week.

Still didn't do anything with these:

Figgy Pudding quilt
Wonky Log Cabin

Completed tops awaiting quilting:
Hope Valley quilt
Modern Meadow Baby Quilt
Fall Equinox (Fat Quarterly Quilt Along quilt)

his week's stats:
New projects - 3(!)
Completed projects - 1 (preschool bug pillows)
Currently in progress: 9 - up 2 from last week. Yikes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hope Valley Top Complete

I finished my Hope Valley quilt top last night! I'm very happy with it, although I can't say I'm sorry to be done piecing it. : )

This one started out as a sketch. I didn't have any particular fabric in mind at the time—I was just sketching. But I knew I wanted small-scale prints with very little white. Hope Valley jumped to mind immediately.

Next, I made a mock-up in Adobe Illustrator. I don't do mock-ups for all my quilts, but I knew this design would take some hard-core planning in order to pull it off, so no flying by the seat of my pants on this one! I like to use Illustrator for my mock-ups because you can import scans of your fabric and save them as pattern swatches in the color palette. Then you can easily fill any shape with that pattern—it will automatically repeat the pattern to fill any shape/size. It makes mocking up with prints easy, quick, and accurate.

Even with the mock-up, I kept making adjustments to the design as I pieced it. Most notably, I dumped the yellow/green inner squares. And that was after I sewed all the HSTs! (But before I squared them up, at least. And I'm sure those HSTs will make an appearance in something else.) There are a few other smaller differences between the mock-up and the finished top. I also went back and forth about the borders and sashing before finally settling on what you see here.

And I am so happy with how all of those seams came together! Finally my seams are starting to match up! As I finished piecing this last night, I thought back to when I started quilting and would get so frustrated because things just wouldn't line up. It's so nice to realize that all my failed attempts and all my practice are finally paying off. There are certainly places where this top could have come together better, but it is head-and-shoulders above where I was last year at this time. Now I just need to work on that quilting!

So of course, I'm planning to quilt this one myself—probably diagonal lines through all those little squares. Hopefully I can get to that after Thanksgiving.

Oh, I'm also adding this to Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday. And don't forget WIP Wednesday tomorrow—please join us with your WIPs!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bug Pillows. Without the Bugs.

Okay, there are a few bugs.

Remember this fabric? I needed to make some pillows out of it for Miss E.'s preschool. Well, it's in there. On one of them, anyway. Someplace.

Pillow No. 1: I pulled a bunch of fabric in colors that coordinated with the bugs. And what do you know, I love the color combination—and I'm not sure I would have come up with it without that hideous bug print for inspiration.

I actually would have liked to make this pillow out of hexagons—it goes with the bug theme after all. But I didn't want to take the time to handpiece them. I want to try hexagon paper-piecing sometime soon, but this was not the project for that. I just wanted to bang this one out.

Pillow No. 2: Instead of using the bugs again, I couldn't resist those Oddysea charms (which were still sitting out after I changed my mind about using them for the That Girl Quilt Along). The school is on Lake Michigan, so the fish theme was appropriate.

I quilted it in random wavy lines, inspired by that blue print in the upper left, and I was really happy with this quilting. My biggest problem with free-motion is that my stitch length is horribly inconsistent. But I was able to do these wavy lines with my walking foot, thus eliminating that problem. I think I'll have to do a whole quilt like this one of these days.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Addressing the Dress

I recently decided that I want to attempt to make a few little items of clothing for my daughters. I mean, what good is knowing how to sew if you can't even make something adorable for your 4-year-old to wear? (And by "knowing how to sew," I really mean "I have a sewing machine and a vague idea of how to operate it.")

The problem is that I'm intimidated by anything with more structure than a quilt or a pillow. There's something about that third dimension that scares the crap out of me. So aside from a couple of uber-simple unlined tote bags (tutorial here - I highly recommend it if you're in my boat), I've stayed far away from garment and/or bag sewing.

But then I saw this kit from Above All Fabric and impetuously snapped it up (with a 15 percent discount courtesy of Jaybird Quilts!) It's an adorable dress. It says it's "suitable for beginner sewers." Come on, it's just a matter of reading and following directions, right? How hard could it be?

Oh my. This looks scary.

My goal is to complete this by Thanksgiving. We're spending the holiday at my mom's in Florida, so for once Miss E. can actually wear a sleeveless dress on a major holiday. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

That Girl Quilt-Along Blocks


Ding ding ding! Done!

Okay, I think I know how Jennifer probably feels about my solid color choice, but ...

Yes. Lime green. Sorry, Jennifer, I had to do it. : ) As soon as I pulled the Farmdale for this quilt, I knew it had to be green. It was screaming for green.

This rooster was positively crowing for the green. Just look at him, he's all over it. And I love it too! Plus, it's kind of apple-ish. How appropriate.

This is my favorite block. I love this blue floral to pieces. And it looks fab with the green.

Chain o' blocks.

Bring on Round 4!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Work-In-Progress Wednesday Linky

Welcome to Work-In-Progress Wednesday! It's link-up time!

Each Wednesday, I post a weekly round-up of my WIPs, to help keep me organized, on track, and motivated. And you are all welcome to do your own WIP Wednesday post and link it up below. Let's all cheer each other on as we knock things off our to-do lists! Just don't forget to link back to my blog (you can grab the button in the sidebar). Click here for more details, including rules and such.

My New Projects:

Preschool Pillows
I was asked to make a couple of throw pillows for the reading area at Miss E.'s preschool. I was provided with some fabric for this project:

Um. Yeah. Well, it is a nature preschool, on the grounds of a full-fledged nature center. So I will give them that it goes with their theme. They also try to buy all their fabric on mega-clearance, and as someone who pays their tuition, I appreciate that. But you can't hand me an assignment like this and expect me to come back with your basic electric-green bug pillows. I am duty-bound to make it cuter and less creepy. Stay tuned!

My Ongoing Projects:

Hope Valley quilt
Wow, it's been sloooooow going on this one. Sometimes the quilts I dream up are a bit beyond my ability to execute. : ) Fortunately, I think my skills are finally starting to catch up with my head. So while the piecing has been slow, I'm really happy with how this quilt is coming together. It's now about half done. I'm hoping the top will be completed by next week.

That Girl ... That Quilt Along quilt
New fabric = much better! And while changing the fabric did put me a little behind, I think I'll be caught up on the piecing by tomorrow. This one has provided a nice (needed) break from my Hope Valley quilt. I'll have more on it tomorrow.

Didn't do anything on these:
Figgy Pudding Quilt
Wonky Log Cabin

Completed tops awaiting quilting:
Modern Meadow Baby Quilt
Fall Equinox (Fat Quarterly Quilt Along quilt)

his week's stats:
New projects - 1
Completed projects - 0
Currently in progress: 7 - up 1 from last week (with at least two more projects waiting in the wings, needing to be started!)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Introducing ...

A new feature is coming to Freshly Pieced starting tomorrow: The Work-In-Progress Wednesday link-up. I hope you'll all join in!

I know it's fun to have a "finish" to show off. But just because you don't have a completed project doesn't mean you haven't been working your butt off, right? And the biggest accomplishments are not always finishes. Sometimes what seems like the smallest hurdle can be the toughest—like when you finish squaring up hundreds of HSTs (been there!). Or when you finally decide how to quilt that special top. If you overcome a challenge (or are just gearing up to tackle one), I think it's worth telling the world (or at least this corner of the blogosphere).

Not only that, but if you're like me, you've got a few (ahem) things going at once. It can be hard to keep track of them all when you've got a to-do list a mile long. So even if you've done exactly nothing on your WIPs in the past week, just organizing them into a happy little list might be exactly what you need.

So: Let's post about our WIPs for Work-In-Progress Wednesday and help motivate each other. Here are the rules:

1. Do a blog post about your WIPs. You can list them all, like I did last week, or just highlight one or two. Say a few words about where each one is at in the process, and what progress you've made since last week. And no, your WIP doesn't have to be a quilt. Any sewing project is fair game.

2. Link up here on Wednesday.

3. Please link back to my blog in your post. If you want, you can grab my WIP Wednesday button, over there in my sidebar. Put it in your own sidebar, and you won't have to remember every week.

4. Browse everybody else's WIPs. And please comment on some of the other links. Let's all cheer each other on and take pride in our accomplishments, big or small!

Hope to see you, and your WIPs, tomorrow! And thanks again to Elizabeth of Don't Call Me Betsy—doing the linky was her idea. Since she thought of it, go comment on her WIPs first! : )

Monday, November 8, 2010

Quilt Story

Psst ... I'm being featured on Quilt Story today. How cool is that? Check it out!

Thank you to Heather and Megan from Quilt Story for the lovely compliments and such a flattering write-up!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Flickr Finds - Hope Valley Edition

1. {love} you dresden plate by imagingermonkey 2. hope valley by izzy inspired 3. Floral Medallion blocks by twinfibers 4. Denyse Schmidt Hope Valley and flea market fancy quilt by capture1 5. Dresden Plate Pillow by That Girl, That Quilt 6. serpentes by quilt cabin 7. little house for Joce by Knitbug 8. Birds of Hope Valley by onelittlethread 9. Hope Valley Quilt by Fresh Lemons Faith 10. Baby-in-the-Hood Jacket by twinfibers 11. hexagon pillow 2 by filminthefridge 12. Pinwheel Quilt by Crazy Knitter

Since I've been working with Hope Valley on my newest quilt, I thought I'd post some of my favorite projects from Flickrland that use Hope Valley. Enjoy!

P.S. Thanks so much for the nice comments about my last post. Sewing gives a person lots of time to think, so it was easy to wax philosophical as I worked on that quilt. It's so nice to know my ramblings resonate with somebody besides myself! : )

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Three Generations

Eighty-eight years ago, a little girl was born on a farm in rural Michigan. She was the second-youngest of nine kids. As a child, this little girl watched her own mother, who was the daughter of German immigrants, sew and quilt—something she did far more out of necessity than enjoyment. It was the Great Depression, and those nine kids needed clothes and bedding. Buying a quilt from a store would have been an unthinkable luxury.

And so, the little girl learned to sew and quilt too, just like her mother before her. It was just one of the many chores that needed to be done around the farm. Yet another item on that list called "Women's Work."

Three of my grandma's original five blocks

The little girl grew up, moved away from the farm, and had five kids of her own. Money was still tight, but not quite like it used to be. She still sewed and quilted here and there, but the necessity of it declined steadily as the years passed. Quilting became something she did more out of habit than anything else. Around the time her youngest child moved out of the house, she hand-pieced five curved pinwheel quilt blocks. Then she put those blocks away and never sewed another. Why? Maybe it was her arthritis flaring up. Or maybe she realized she didn't have to quilt anymore. What had once been a chore no longer was. Store-bought bedding was well within reach financially. And she finally had a little time to herself, to do exactly what she really wanted to do, probably for the first time in her adult life.

Now the little girl obviously wasn't a little girl anymore. In fact, she had three adult daughters of her own. And those grown-up girls had all learned to sew too. Sewing was, after all, still on that list of Women's Work. Even if these girls didn't end up needing this particular skill, they were still expected to have it. So they all dabbled in it a little.

But the world was changing. It was becoming less expensive to buy bedding than it was to make a homemade quilt. Not only that, but that Women's Work list? Was getting turned upside down. Women could do many things now that weren't on that list. In fact, for a while, it became necessary for some women to put the list aside. They had to temporarily distance themselves from it, in order to prove they could do other things. One of the original little girl's grown daughters now had a daughter of her own, and that little girl grew up thinking sewing was just about the most uncool thing imaginable. Seriously. She wouldn't be caught dead sewing her own clothes, bags, or a quilt.

But of course, as that third-generation girl got older, the world changed yet again. Sewing is no longer a life-sentence to dorkiness. In fact, "handmade" is experiencing a coolness renaissance. Maybe this third generation has decided that we've done enough to prove ourselves as women (or at least we're done trying). Maybe we're tired of made-in-China mass-produced comforters and clothing. Maybe all the other things that might keep us from quilting and sewing are now taking a back seat to creative expression. In fact, for so many of us, it's a wonderful way of expressing ourselves and getting a little more fulfillment in life (and we're lucky that we have the time and money to spend on it).

Whatever the reason, I have my mom and my grandma to thank for the fact that I am able to quilt today. I don't do it out of necessity. I don't do it because it's expected of me as "women's work." I do it because I love it. How lucky does that make me? (And all of us!) In a way, I can do it only because of the inroads women made in the previous two generations.

So, a few months ago, I took those five blocks that my grandmother hand-pieced 40 years ago and made 12 more. My mom made a handful as well. And we put them all together into this quilt: The Three Generations Quilt. I tried to make it both a little vintage and a little modern. A little fun and a little serious. I tried to put a little piece of all three of us in there. I tried to make it representative of our stories: Three generations, and what sewing and quilting has meant to us, as women and as creative people.

Size: 86" x 93" (queen size - the picture above is on a king-size bed)
Design: Based on Red Pepper Quilt's Pinwheel Baby Quilt
Fabric: The pinwheels are mostly vintage fabric (my grandma gave a lot of her unused fabric to me). I supplemented that with some of my own, mostly Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt. The centers are Moda Bella Solids Baby Yellow. The white pinwheel background is Kona White (although I think my grandma's blocks used repurposed sheets). The borders around the blocks are from Darlene Zimmerman's Paper Dolls line, and the sashing is Kona Tan.
Back: Paper Dolls again, plus I pieced blocks of scraps down one side.
Quilting: Stippling in white thread, done by the long-arm quilter at my local quilt shop.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Work-In-Progress Wednesday

Since "wordless" isn't really my strong suit, I'm going to start devoting Wednesdays to a WIP round-up. Maybe it will motivate me to finish more of them. At the very least, it'll help me keep track of everything I'm working on. (I'm an obsessive list-maker—I don't function without a to-do list!)

Hope Valley quilt
I'm piecing this one now, and I am SUPER excited to show it to you. But for now, here's just a little sneaky peak.

That Girl ... That Quilt Along quilt
I don't know why, but I just wasn't feeling those Oddysea charms that I picked out. I love the line, but I decided it just wasn't working for this project. So I'm changing things up—I'm busting out my Farmdale! The more I look at this line, the more I love, LOVE, LOVE.

Modern Meadow baby quilt
Top's done, but I'm still considering how to quilt it. This one's not needed until February or March, so plenty of time to keep thinking about it.

Fat Quarterly Quilt Along quilt
Top's done. I'm definitely going to try Imagingermonkey's easy-peasy wavy-line quilting. (Hey, click on the link—there's my quilt in the lower right corner of the mosaic!). But since this top is not for any person or place in particular, it's not high priority right now.

Figgy Pudding Christmas quilt
The pattern I'm working from is above (it's a free pattern from Moda). I'm about halfway done piecing it, but I just haven't been motivated to work on it lately. Other things interest me more right now. That's probably because I'm doing this one straight from the pattern, with no modifications at all. But I know the girlies would love having a Christmas quilt. I'll get back to it one of these days.

Wonky Log Cabin quilt
I started this one while I was still pregnant with my 18-month-old. Oops—I guess that officially makes it a UFO. But check it out! I forgot that it's actually kind of cute. I'm not sure why I stopped working on it for so long. I find improv a little intimidating, but I also love how forgiving it is. I really need to drag this one back out.

UPDATE: Elizabeth suggested I do a little WIP Wednesday linky thing. I love it—great idea, Elizabeth! I'll start that next Wednesday. Anybody who wants to do their own WIP Wednesday post and link it up here is welcome. I hope you'll all join in. Should be a good motivator—let's all knock some projects off our lists together!
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