Monday, January 31, 2011

My Love Nest Entry

Gen X Quilters

I feel kind of bad posting about this quilt again, since I think most of you have seen it plenty of times already. But I want to enter AnneMarie's fun Love Nest Quilt Contest, and I only have two bed-size quilts to choose from. Of those two, this was definitely my choice for the entry.

And the fact is, I get more questions about this quilt than I do about any other. People love this pattern, and they want to know how difficult it is to make. Plus, there's been extra interest in Single Girl quilts lately, since Katy, Nova, and Megan announced their Single Girl quilt-along. So maybe another post about this quilt isn't out of line.

"Nature Girl" Single Girl quilt
King size (106" x 92")
Fabric: Kona Bleached White, Cherish Nature by Deb Strain, Neptune by Tula Pink, Al Fresco by Marcus Brothers, a few other scraps
Quilting: Done by the long-arm quilter at my LQS in the "Bubbles" pattern
Pattern: Single Girl by Denyse Schmidt

How long did you work on this quilt?
Forever. Plus a month or two.

For me, the most difficult part of making this pattern was making the templates and cutting all the pieces. Tedious, boring work. And it took way longer than I expected. Since I was making mine king-size, I made 20 of the rings. That means there are 640 pieces in the rings alone! All drawn with templates and cut out with scissors. (I'm very glad I didn't tally it up before I started, or this quilt might not exist today!)

The most important thing during the templating/cutting step, in my opinion, is organization. Make piles. And plan on those piles being undisturbed for many days—possibly weeks. I also found it helpful to write (in pencil) the template's identifying letter on the back of every fabric piece I cut. Just in case those piles got mixed up or needed to be moved at any point in the process (and they did).

Any "a-ha" moments?
Piecing this quilt was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. The rings came together very quickly (especially compared to cutting all those pieces). And the curved part of the piecing (attaching the rings to the white background pieces) really wasn't bad at all, once I got the hang of how to pin it. Hint: Use twice as many pins as you think you need. Then add a few more just for good measure. : ) There's a very good diagram that comes with the pattern about how to pin your pieces.

What inspired you?
Well, it started with me just wanting to make a quilt for my king-size bed. I love modern quilt designs, but every pattern I considered just seemed too boxy and geometric for my not-very-modern bedroom furniture. My headboard is arched, so I wanted something that would work with that. That's when I thought of the Single Girl. For some reason the idea of doing a king-size Single Girl didn't scare me that much—I think it was early enough in my quilting career that I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. : ) Which, in the end, was probably a good thing.

Have you made a modern bed-size quilt? Head over to Gen X Quilters to enter AnneMarie's contest—there are awesome prizes for the winners.

Weekend Quilting

You know, I don't particularly enjoy the quilting part of quilting. It's definitely my least favorite part of the process. I always feel like I'm wrestling with the quilt. Like I'm trying to make it do something it doesn't want to do. It reminds me of trying to get my almost-2-year-old to sit in her high chair when she doesn't want to eat. My tops don't want to be quilted, you guys! "Now get in that sewing machine, and stay there! Allow yourself to be quilted or you're going for a time-out, young lady! Why do you have to be quilted? Because I said so!"

That being said, I spent the weekend quilting my Fall Equinox top, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. It's far from perfect, but I think it's my best home-machine quilting effort to date.

No, I'm still not over the wavy line quilting. : ) I really love how it softens up such a geometric design. And actually, I feel like this squiggly quilting is a baby step toward free motion quilting. Even though I was using my walking foot, I still needed to have some control over how fast I was pushing the quilt through the machine. The slower I went, the more dramatically the lines wiggled. So I think (at least, I hope) I started to get a feel for the rhythm of it, more easily recognizing when the quilt is dragging too much, etc.

But don't worry, you won't see this wavy line quilting on everything I do. My machine has a lot of decorative stitches—so I have plenty of other available reasons to avoid free motion quilting for some time to come!

Edited to add: This post includes an explanation of how I did the wavy line quilting (scroll to the bottom of the post). Just use your machine's wavy line decorative stitch - so simple! Love it!

I'm linking up to Sew Modern Monday - go check out Megan's blog to see what everybody else is up to.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Flickr Finds - "Explored" Edition

This week's finds are all quilts that have been "explored" on Flickr:
1. Plume Sails, 2. Finished Value Quilt, 3. City Green Front, 4. Old + New Quilt, 5. Picnic Whirlygiggle, 6. Denyse Schmidt inspired DS fabrics, 7. Avas Quilt, 8. Skipping Squares Quilt, 9. Weekend Assignment, 10. Arcadia charm bracelets, 11. crazy {9} quilt, 12. fruit pastilles

Each day, Flickr lists its 500 most "interesting" photos in the Explore section. It's amazing how often pictures of quilts pop up on that list. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find out which photos have been Explored, even among your own contacts. So I thought it would be nice to start a Flickr group specifically for explored quilts.

Is Flickr's top-secret formula for determining a photo's "interestingness" valid? That's debatable. Two of my best quilts (in my opinion) didn't make it into Explore, while one photo that I considered a throwaway actually did. The whole thing can be a little mysterious. But you have to admit, there's some serious pretty up there in the mosaic.

So please go join the Explored Quilts Flickr group! And if you have photos of quilts that have been explored, please add them to the group. To find out which of your photos have been explored, go to http://flickr-explorer.com/ and type in your Flickr screen name.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WIP Wednesday #11

Let's WIP it! WIP it good! (Sorry, after 11 weeks, I'm running out of clever things to say here.)

New projects:

Blogger's Blockapalooza
I don't usually go for sampler quilts—just not my thing, I guess. But have you seen the list of people who are contributing to this quilt-along? How could it not be cool? Plus, I'm doing mine in Parisville. Case closed.

I found it challenging and a little scary to choose fabric and colors for one block, without knowing a single thing about the rest of the quilt. I guess I'm just a control freak like that. But I suppose anything that forces me outside of my comfort zone is a good thing. And I love how Block #1 turned out.

Ongoing projects:

Secret Super-Stealth Project
I thought I would have this one done by now. But why complete a project and check it off the list, when you could hand-quilt it? Especially if you've never hand-quilted anything before in your life? Trust me when I tell you that this is so not the project on which to be trying out new techniques. But since when did common sense ever enter into my quilting obsession?

Don't Call Me Betsy's Sliced Coins Quilt-Along
This yummy pile is about to become my Sliced Coins quilt for Margaret's Hope Chest and the Wrapped In Hope project. Can't wait!

Currently being quilted:

Modern Meadow and Urban Lattice baby quilts - I pieced the backs for both of these this past week, and they are now off at the long-arm quilter. So excited to pick them up!

Completed tops still awaiting quilting:

Fall Equinox - I had sooooo hoped to have this basted by now, but it didn't happen. Hopefully today.

Hope Valley quilt

In a holding pattern:
Central Park jelly roll quilt
That Girl quilt-along
Figgy Pudding quilt
Wonky Log Cabin

This week's stats:
New projects - 1
Completed projects - 0
Currently in progress - 12 (up one from last week - but I'm expecting several finishes in the next few weeks! No, really! I am!)

Now it's your turn to ... WIP it! Into shape! Go forward! Move ahead! Okay, I'll shut up now. Please remember to link back to my blog, comment on other links, blah blah blah. You know the drill. Have a wonderful week!


Thursday, January 20, 2011

January Bee Blocks

January bee blocks are in the books. (Although not quite yet in the mail. Soon enough!)

Do. Good Stitches
For my first month with Do. Good Stitches (a charity bee), I got to make Mod Mosaic blocks ... for Ms. Mod Mosaic herself, Elizabeth Hartman. I was pretty excited when I found out I'd be sending blocks to Elizabeth. I've probably learned more from her blog and tutorials than from any other single blogger. And I'm always inspired by her incredible designs.

Elizabeth asked for blocks in wintery shades of blue and gray, with at least one bright solid thrown in. And I just love how these turned out. Mod Mosaic is now on my short list of blocks to request when it's my month in my other bees. But in the meantime, I get to send these two off to Elizabeth to include in a quilt for Wrap Them In Love—how cool! Here's Elizabeth's Mod Mosaic tutorial if you'd like to try out this block for yourself.

{Sew} Beautiful Bee
You saw my trial run here. Now here's the real deal for Cherie. I loved working with the Soul Blossom prints, especially in this design. But I struggled a bit with appliqueing the dresden onto the background fabric. It just didn't want to lie flat, no matter what I did. I didn't have this issue with my practice dresden—maybe because I was sewing it onto a background that was already quilted? Maybe because I was using a blanket stitch instead of straight? I don't know.

At any rate, I hope this one's okay with Cherie. And yesterday I spotted this dresden, made by Julie at Jaybird Quilts. It looks fairly equivalent to mine, which made me feel much better about my block! If a dresden made by the talented Julie isn't lying quite flat either, then mine must be acceptable, right? : )

String Me Along
I got to do a lovely string x block for Linda, using some of her fun scraps. This block is gigantic—18" square—and came together much quicker and more easily than I thought it would. Another great block design to have under my belt.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

WIP Wednesday #10

Wow, I can't believe this already is WIP Wednesday #10. Where does the time go?

I want to thank everyone who has participated in my little listy linky. The first week, there were just 8 links. Last week, 29 of you linked up! Last week's post was viewed more than 1,400 times, with more than 400 link clicks. That's incredible! But I couldn't make this a success without all of you. So here's to another Wednesday full of WIPs.

New Projects

Top-secret project to be revealed later
Other than this little sneak peak, you'll just have to be on the edge of your seat with this one. And I'm sure that you all are. Try not to let the suspense interrupt your sleep at night.

Ongoing Projects

Sliced Coins Quilt-Along
My Sherbet Pips and I are getting along swimmingly so far. We're ready to roll on this! Cutting instructions come out on Monday—click here if you'd like to join in.

Completed tops awaiting quilting:

Fall Equinox - I made this top as part of the Fat Quarterly quilt-along, way back in the fall. I plan to make the back, baste, and start quilting it this week, at long last. Yes, I'll be using my new fave thing, the wavy line quilting! This quilt-along was where I first saw that.

Modern Meadow and Urban Lattice Baby Quilts - I'm working on the backs for these right now, then they are both off to the long-arm quilter.

Hope Valley quilt

Briefly stalled:
Central Park jelly roll quilt
That Girl quilt-along
Figgy Pudding quilt
Wonky Log Cabin

This week's stats:
New projects - 0
Completed projects - 0
Currently in progress - 11 (up one from last week)

Okay, let's see what you've got! Link up any post featuring one or more WIPs. You can list them all if you want, like I did, or just feature one or two. Don't forget to link back to my blog and comment on other links. Happy WIP Wednesday!


Monday, January 17, 2011

Urban Lattice Complete

My Urban Lattice quilt top is done.

This was one of those quilts that drove me crazy when I was trying to decide on a layout. I must have spent a combined total of several hours just moving blocks around on my design wall. And wouldn't you know it, once I finally settled on a layout I liked, I got it mixed up when I sewed the blocks together. Cara suggested a great method for labeling them to keep this from happening, but did I follow that? Of course not. I wanted to tear the paper off before I decided on a layout, because the blocks wouldn't stick to my design wall with the paper still on them. Then I was too lazy to get out the masking tape. And I really didn't think it was necessary anyway, since it's all of about three feet from my design wall to my machine. How could they get mixed up from there to here? Apparently, they could. And now it's making me crazy enough that I'm actually thinking of trying to un-sew one particular block and put in something different. We'll see how motivated I am to do that a few days from now.

But aside from those few blocks sticking in my craw, I really am loving this quilt and couldn't be happier with it. It's probably one of my favorite quilts I've done so far. Thank you, Cara, for a wonderful quilt-along. It will pain me to give this one away.

And now all I have to do is piece together a couple of backs, and this and its boy counterpart, my Modern Meadow baby quilt, are ready to be quilted. Any thoughts for some cool backs, for either of these quilts? And I'm linking up to Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story and Sew Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations—head over there to see more modern sewing projects.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Flickr Finds - DQS10 Inspiration

Yes! I was lucky enough to get into the Doll Quilt Swap, one of the coolest swaps out there, IMO. So here's my first inspiration mosaic ever.

1. dqs9-received, 2. Stars and Sea: The Reveal!, 3. pillow swap sneak peak in progress, 4. Scrappy Applique Pillow - 2, 5. Spool Mini Quilt, 6. Star Light Star Bright, 7. Wonky Asterisk Quilt, 8. Giant Spiderweb, 9. funky asterisk, 10. Pop Flower Quilt, 11. completed pillow for pillow talk swap 3, 12. dqs9n

The quilt I receive in this swap will (hopefully) be the first in a collection of swap mini-quilts to hang on the very empty wall above my sewing machine. I love the idea of putting quilts from other people up there—that way, when I'm stuck on something or frustrated, I won't have far to look to find some inspiration. : ) So, I hope this mosaic will give my partner some ideas, but I also hope she/he will feel free to do their own thing, because in reality I'm open to almost anything. I like the idea of having something that is a little outside of my "usual." Otherwise, I could have made it myself, right? My only real requirement is that it should be modern.

Hope this helps, partner!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

OMG

Okay, do me a favor and run—don't walk—over to Sew Mama Sew. Today's 2010 Reflections + 2011 Predictions post is by John of Quilt Dad fame. So hop over there and check out his interview. Go ahead, I'll wait.

See anything that looks familiar? He picked my Single Girl quilt as one of his favorite things made by someone else in 2010!

All I can say is: Wow! It's always gratifying when other people compliment your work, but when that comes from someone as talented and creative as John? It made my day (and week, month, etc.) Thank you, John!

WIP Wednesday #9

Welcome to another scintillating episode of WiP Wednesday. As addictive as Real Housewives ... if they quilted. And were too polite to overturn dinner tables. And went grocery shopping, and carpooled to preschool, and spent too much time watching the rest of the Bravo reality tv schedule.

Okay, maybe that's not such a good comparison. Anyway, on with the WIPs.

Ongoing Projects

Urban Lattice Quilt
My FFA Urban Lattice quilt is so close to being done, I can almost taste it. But it's not there yet. I've been forcing myself to work slowly as I put these blocks together—I want everything to line up perfectly on this one.

New Projects
Sliced Coins Quilt-Along
Elizabeth's doing a quilt-along, and look what I'm bringing to the party: I've got Pips and I'm not afraid to use 'em! I'm doing Moda Bella Solids in Blue Raspberry for the sashing.

Central Park quilt
Oh, and I have big plans for this humble little jelly roll here. Big plans involving many sketches.

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

Nearing UFO status:
That Girl quilt-along
Figgy Pudding quilt
Wonky Log Cabin

This week's stats:
New projects - 3
Completed projects - 1 (Bloom Pillow)
Currently in progress - 10 (up two from last week)

Your turn. Link up any post with one or more works in progress—just be sure to link back to here and comment on some of the other links. Happy WIP Wednesday!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tagged

I was tagged yesterday by Flo of Butterfly Quilting as one of her nominees for the Liebster Award. I'm sure some of you have seen (and maybe even received) this award. It's for us "little guys"—blogs with fewer than 300 followers.

What a great idea. There are so many blogs I read that I think deserve more attention, so I'm happy to nominate a few myself:

Don't Call Me Betsy. Elizabeth is funny, creative, and just a little bit obsessive, so you know she makes a fabulous quilt blogger. : ) She always has amazing projects in the works.
From the Blue Chair. Kati makes incredible quilts, and lot of them–with three kids ages 3 and under at home. Wow!
Sewn by Leila. Amazing modern quilts, with some great sewing tips thrown in.
The Girl Who Quilts. Love her work, and she's doing a giveaway right now!

So go check out all these fabulous ladies. And thank you, Flo, for naming me as one of your fave blogs to read. I'm just a mom who sews obsessively while my kids are either napping or at school. The fact that anybody finds that remotely interesting just makes my day. : )

Monday, January 10, 2011

{Sew} Modern Monday

I just wanted to plug an awesome new linky, {Sew} Modern Monday, by Megan at Canoe Ridge Creations. Would you believe there aren't any linkies specifically for modern sewing out there? But Megan has kindly stepped in to fill the void. : ) I have a feeling this is going to be one of my favorite linkies.

So spread the word and link up a recent project. I had hoped to have my Urban Lattice quilt top done and ready for the linky today, but that didn't happen. So instead I'm linking up my Bloom Pillow. Now head over there and check out what everybody else has to show.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bloom Pillow

First finish of 2011! And it's only January 6? That's crazy talk. But it's true. Well, okay, it's just a pillow. But still! January 6!

My little pink practice Dresden block for the {Sew} Beautiful Bee turned into this happy flower pillow for Miss E.'s room. Per Cherie's instructions, I made the original pink Dresden using this tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman on Sew Mama Sew. The only difference is that we are using the Fat Cats ruler instead of the Easy Dresden ruler, which is recommended in the tutorial. The Fat Cats wedge ruler makes a Dresden with 12 petals instead of 20.

After making the pink Dresden, I made a second Dresden in green (with wedges a half-inch larger than the original), and doubled them up, offsetting them so that the green petal points were between the pink ones.

Then I top-stitched around the edges of the Dresdens, and attached both of them to the background so that the ends of the petals weren't sewn down. It gives it a little texture and dimension that I like. (I quilted the white background with wavy-line quilting before attaching the flower.)

Miss E. loves it! I've been meaning to make her a throw pillow or two for ages. Thanks, Cherie, for finally making it happen! Miss E. thanks you, too. : )

And, I'm joining the Bloggers' Pillow Party at Stitched In Color! This pillow is my January entry. Head over to Rachel's blog to see lots more pillowy goodness.



Edited to add:
I'm also linking up with Sew Fabulous Friday at a Girl In Paradise!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

WIP Wednesday #8

It's Wednesday again! Let's get WIPpy!

Well, I didn't make a lot of progress this week. Do I sound like a broken record yet? I was out of town for the long weekend—you know, partying like it was 2011 (yeah, right). But after the scream-fest that was the car ride to our destination, courtesy of my 20-month-old, I suspect we are not leaving the area again for quite some time. Perhaps that will mean some completions for me next week? Time will tell ...

New Projects:

Dresden pillow from Miss E.
Dresden blocks are all the rage in blogland—I've been seeing them everywhere!

I'm totally kidding, it's really just us {Sew} Beautiful bee ladies. Although it actually does seem like I've been seeing them everywhere, since we've all been making practice blocks before doing our January blocks for Cherie. Go check out our flickr group to see more amazing Dresdens. This is as far as I've gotten on mine, but when I showed it to Miss E. and told her I was making it into a pillow for her bed, she kinda flipped—she started laughing and clapping and squealing. Then she asked me if it was going to be done today. So clearly this one can't stay on the WIP list very long.

Ongoing Projects:

Urban Lattice Quilt Along. Soooo happy with this one. Read all about it in my post from yesterday.

Completed tops awaiting quilting:

Hope Valley quilt
Modern Meadow Baby Quilt
Fall Equinox (Fat Quarterly quilt-along quilt)

Still didn't do anything with these:
That Girl quilt-along
Figgy Pudding quilt
Wonky Log Cabin

T
his week's stats:
New projects - 1
Completed projects - 0
Currently in progress - 8 (up one from last week)

Okay, your turn! Just do your own blog post featuring one or more WIPs, and link it up below. I love to see new faces here, so come join the fun! Just remember to link back to my blog and comment on some of the other links. For more about WIP Wednesday, click here. Have a wonderful week, and happy sewing!



Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lattice Work

I'm finally making some progress on my Urban Lattice Quilt-Along quilt!

Last week I wasn't sure if I would like it. I changed the proportions of the original block design, so I had no idea how it would turn out.

But this week? Completely. Loving. This quilt.

Loving the fairy tale theme of the Far Far Away 2 prints. Loving the muted colors. (I eliminated a few of the deeper FFA prints.) Loving the Kona Stone I chose for the lattice strips. I think it's all absolutely perfect for the mother and baby I had in mind when designing it.

I made the modifications to Cara's block design because I wanted to really play up the FFA prints. So these blocks will be 8" square finished, instead of 12". The lattice is 0.75" wide instead of 1", and the cream background strips are 1.25" finished.

And while I can understand why Cara paper-pieced this quilt the way she did (with reference lines instead of sewing lines), I did a few blocks that way and wasn't thrilled with the results. My presser foot was somehow flipping up the edge of the fabric a little, and it was screwing me up. (Did this happen to anybody else?) So my seams were a little wavy instead of nice and straight. It drove me crazy. After some experimentation, I decided to paper-piece it the traditional way instead, sewing directly onto the lines.

This meant I had to adjust the placement of the lines to where I wanted the seams to be. It also meant I needed to glue the lattice pieces to the unmarked side of the paper. As a result, I marked my lines on the printed side of the paper, so the printing wouldn't show through where bits of the paper remained stuck to the fabric. Marking on the printed side wasn't ideal, but I do like Cara's idea of using scrapbook paper, since it's already square. Plus, I had a book of 8" scrapbook paper on hand that I hadn't touched in five years, so might as well put it to use!

After marking the printed side and gluing the lattice piece to the opposite unprinted side, I flipped the whole thing over to sew directly onto the lines. There's something satisfyingly assured and concrete about sewing on the lines—you know it's going to be pretty darn accurate, regardless of how wonky your cutting was. I like that about this method!

Of course, the drawback is that this method works best when you cut your fabric a bit larger than what you actually need. So there is substantially more waste than with Cara's method. I'm kind of anal, so I'll take the accuracy, even if it means wasting some fabric. But that's just me. : )

I've done 12 blocks, so I have 30 more to go. Can't wait to finish this one up—I'm thinking it's going to be a tough one to give away!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Welcome to 2011

First mail call of 2011 featured this ...

... quilt labels for my {Sew} Beautiful bee, hot off the presses from Spoonflower. Now we'll have an official record of all the talented ladies who worked on our quilts.

And this ...
... my first bee package, and for {Sew} Beautiful, too. Yummy Soul Blossoms, which will become a dresden plate for Cherie.

Hope everyone had a fun and fabulous New Year's Eve! Here was mine:

I got to see my favorite basketball team kick butt, from four rows behind the basket. Go Green! And we were kid-free, too—first time on New Year's Eve since we had kids to be free from. : ) If the first few days are any indication, it looks like it's going to be a pretty good year.
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Disclosures

In addition to my paid sponsors, I sometimes accept free fabric, notions, or tools in exchange for posting about it on this blog or my other social media platforms. But I pledge that this practice will never change one of my product reviews or lead me to use fabric or other items that are not "my style."

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Copyright and Permissions FAQ

Can I make a quilt that looks just like one of yours? Of course! You don't need my permission for that. But remember, it's polite (and helpful to others) to credit your source of inspiration.

Can I share one of your photos on my blog or website? Probably! But please contact me for permission first. Use of my photos for commercial purposes is prohibited.

Can I pin your photos to Pinterest? Yes, please do! I love Pinterest!

Can I sell individual items made from your tutorials or patterns? Yes! But please don't open a factory and start churning out hundreds of them. : ) And please do not reproduce or sell the patterns or tutorials themselves. Thank you!