Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Modern Mini Challenge

I'm sure you guys have heard about this by now, but just in case you haven't ...

Jennifer of Ellison Lane Quilts is having a Modern Mini Challenge. Inspiration, creativity, a giveaway, and Flea Market Fancy. Need I say more? Probably not, but I will anyway!

The Modern Mini Challenge is a 5-week series that kicks off with a blog-hop of inspiring minis by your friendly neighborhood quilt bloggers. I love mini-quilts because—I admit it—I'm a paper-piecing nerd. I love complex piecing. If somebody thinks I'm insane for trying a project, then I know I'm doing it right. : ) But the crazier a block is, the less likely I am to make a lot of them, so minis are perfect. And even if you don't see yourself tackling a New York Beauty block, minis are the ideal place to try something new and think outside of the box.

So, after we've got your creative juices flowing, let the challenge begin! You'll have two more weeks to create your own mini masterpiece and link it up at Jennifer's blog. And it better be good, because there are gift certificates to the Fat Quarter Shop and bundles of Flea Market Fancy on the line.

Click here to check out the schedule and all the details, and don't forget to follow along with the blog hop. Can't wait!

Feb. 6 - Stitchery Dickory Dock
Feb. 7 - Fairy Face Designs and Amy's Creative Side
Feb. 8 - Lily's Quilts
Feb. 9 - Patchwork Notes
Feb. 10 - Don't Call Me Betsy and Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle
Feb. 11 - Sukie, Don't You Know Who I Am?
Feb. 12 - Freshly Pieced
Feb. 13 - From the Blue Chair and Poppy Makes
Feb. 14 - Needles, Pins, and Baking Tins
Feb. 15 - Mon Petit Lyons and Felicity Quilts
Feb. 16 - LR Stitched and Random Thoughts Do or Di
Feb. 17 - Life's Rich Pattern and Twin Fibers
Feb. 18 - Cut to Pieces and Sew Sweetness
Feb. 19 - Swim, Bike, Quilt

Friday, January 27, 2012

Me In a Magazine!

Remember my secret project using Thomas Knauer's beautiful Pear Tree fabric? Well, I can finally reveal the quilt—and I'm so excited to tell you that it's also my first published quilt pattern, available now in the March/April issue of Quiltmaker magazine! (Edited to add: Chain Reaction is also now available as a stand-alone pattern. Click here to purchase.)

There's my quilt! And look, there's me, up in the corner! Coolness!

Would you be surprised to hear that you don't have to paper-piece this quilt? A few people who have already made the pattern have told me that it's very easy to piece. It looks more complicated than it is—can't beat that, right? : ) All you have to do is pick up the March/April issue. I haven't seen it on newsstands yet, but you can click here to purchase a copy.

And that's not all: Quiltmaker is making this quilt available as a kit. The kit includes the pattern and all the Pear Tree/Andover fabric you need to make the top and binding—click here to purchase (it's currently out of stock but I'm sure it will be in soon). Backing is available separately.

Finally, I was excited to learn that the members of Quiltmaker's Scrap Squad will each be making this pattern using their own scraps, and those versions will be featured on Quiltmaker's blog over the next two months. The Scrap Squad is a specially-selected panel of Quiltmaker readers who make one pattern from each issue. They can include their own ideas and variations on the pattern, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what they do with mine!

A few more things to note about this quilt: It was beautifully quilted for me by fellow Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild member Lucinda Fenske, and Thomas Knauer was kind enough to send me the Pear Tree fabric from his own stash when there was no more advance yardage of it to be found. Thank you, Thomas! Go check out his blog to see the fabulous new lines he has in the works, including Flock and Savanna Bop. I think those Flock dot prints will definitely be finding their way into my stash!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Running In Place

You know what's super helpful when trying to make progress on WIPs? A sewing machine. You know what I don't have right now? A SEWING MACHINE. Okay, I take that back—I don't have my sewing machine. It's been having some issues, and in the last week those issues escalated, so I reluctantly took my machine in for a tune-up on Monday. It's been almost three years since the last one, so I guess she was due!

Fortunately, I have a back-up. Here it is.

The Back-Up
Yes, I'm "sewing pretty with Hello Kitty" for at least the next week. This was my daughter's big Christmas gift—it's what we sewed Pumpkin the elephant on. One of my justifications for buying it was that it could serve as my back-up machine if mine ever broke down. And while it sews surprisingly well for the price, it's not exactly my ideal situation. : ) So I don't know how much I'll get done in the next week, but at least I have something I can use.

Bee blocks. I barely managed to squeak these out before my Babylock became unusable. If you missed the post about them, it's here.

New projects:
Solids project. Would you believe I've never made anything entirely from solids before? I am now! And how about this yummy color palette?

No progress:
• Hexy swap quilt
• Gen X Quilters' Charmed Prints QA
• Halloween quilt
• Farmer's Wife QA
• Skill Builder QA
• Kaleidoscope QA
• Figgy Pudding quilt
• Wonky Log Cabin

This week's stats:
Completed projects - 1
New projects - 1
Currently in progress - 10

Okay, let's WIP it up. Show me what you got! Link up any post from the last week featuring a work-in-progress. Don't forget to link back here and comment on other links. Happy sewing!

Monday, January 23, 2012

January Bee Blocks

Wait, it's January 23, and I'm already posting my bee blocks for the month? That's got to be a record! This month's blocks were a lot of fun, and all over the map stylistically, which was nice.

Envy block for Rebecca
First, the girls from the Milwaukee Modern Quilt Guild have started a new local bee that I'm taking part in. Rebecca, who blogs at Pieces and Cream, was up first. She asked for the "Envy" block, designed by Angela in the 99 Modern Blocks book, and gave us fabric from one of my all-time favorite lines, Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow. This block is such a great example of simple but powerful modern design. It has fantastic movement to it, and repeated throughout a quilt, I expect it will be stunning! It does however involve the dreaded Y-seams, which I used in my Mod Times quilt. Y-seams aren't complicated, exactly, but I do find it difficult to keep them straight and un-wonky-ish. In fact, one of the brown strips in this block is kind of making my eye twitch right now. Other than that, I love this block and hopefully Rebecca can work with it!

Carpenter Star for Cherie

For the Sew Beautiful bee, Cherie asked us for this Carpenter Star block in bright, springtime colors. She drafted this block herself to be intentionally Swoon-like, and while I love Swoon, I think I might love Cherie's version even more! Yes, there are a lot of HSTs involved, but it makes a huge 18" finished block, so just like Swoon, you don't have to make a ton of blocks for a good-sized finished quilt.

LynneBobSquarePants for Lynne
For Stash Trad, Lynne asked for her beautiful LynneBobSquarePants block (tutorial here). This block has been on my to-do list forever, so I was happy to finally get a crack at it—and for Lynne herself. When you compare this block to Cherie's Carpenter Star, you can see how endless the possibilities are with HSTs. They're such a fun and versatile unit in quilting—if you haven't yet learned how to make them (and make them well), it is absolutely worth the time to do it!

Polaroid block for Bree

Last but not at all least, Bree of My Crafty Crap asked for this fun Polaroid block for the String Me Along bee. I have to say, of all the blocks I've made for other people in the last year, this is the one I've been most tempted to keep for myself. : ) (Don't worry Bree, it'll be in the mail tomorrow!) This block was designed by Corey of Little Miss Shabby (here's Corey's original block), and Bree wrote up a tutorial for creating it, which you can find here.  Can't wait to see how this quilt comes together for Bree!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Recovery Mode

Really, Wednesday again? I accomplished very little this week. My excuse is that we've been in recovery mode around here. Recovering from colds, and recovering from that creativity block I talked about last week. It's taking longer to get back to full form than I would like, but I think my mojo's coming around. Slowly.

Ongoing projects:

Progress or lack thereof
Bee blocks, bee blocks, and more bee blocks.
It basically took me the whole week to get my 4x5 Bee blocks done. Now I'm moving on to my other bee blocks, of which there are shockingly many this month. Here you can see my progress on several of them: Yes, I've taken the fabric out of the packages! Go, me!

Swap mini-quilt.
I can't you tell you how rare it is for me to actually cut and start piecing something without a fully-formed plan in my head, but that's exactly what I'm doing here. I hope I figure out where exactly this is going, and figure it out right quick.

No progress:
• Gen X Quilters' Charmed Prints QA
• Halloween quilt
• Farmer's Wife QA
• Skill Builder QA
• Kaleidoscope QA
• Figgy Pudding quilt
• Wonky Log Cabin

This week's stats:
Completed projects - 0
New projects - 0
Currently in progress - 10

Link 'em up, ladies (and gentlemen). Let's WIP those WIPs into shape!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ribbon Star Block Tutorial

My 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee blocks really grew on me as I worked on them—I think the ones with the white backgrounds look especially fab. So thanks to everyone who weighed in and gave me some encouragement about this block. Without it, I probably would have moved on to yet another design! And since people seemed to like it, how about a tutorial?

This is my take on a traditional Christmas Star block. It would look pretty great in holiday fabric, but I would hate to see it pigeon-holed as strictly that, so I'm calling it Ribbon Star. The tutorial makes a 12.5" block.

Background (white):
• Cut four 3" squares
• Cut eight 2.5" squares
• Cut eight 2" squares

Star (yellow):
• Cut one 4.5" square
• Cut eight 2.5" squares

Color A (pink):
• Cut four pieces, 2.5" x 4.5"
• Cut four pieces, 2" x 4.5"

Color B (orange):
• Cut four pieces, 2.5" x 4.5"
• Cut four pieces, 2" x 3"

To make the block:
1. Mark the wrong side of all of your 2.5" and 2" squares with a diagonal line from corner to corner.

2. Lay out your pieces before you start sewing. I find it helpful to work from this layout as I sew—you'll be far less likely to get your colors and directions mixed up! Start with the 4.5" square in the center, and then lay out the 2.5" x 4.5" pieces in a cross shape, alternating colors as shown.

3. Now add the 3" background squares in each corner, and the 2" strips around those squares, as shown.

4. Next, lay out the squares that will be your star points. I put these squares face down, so I can see the marked diagonal (this is also exactly how the pieces will be sewn together). Note that to create the star points, the marked diagonals should always go from the center out.

5. Sew each pair together on the marked diagonal.

6. Trim off the excess 1/4" from the seam and press. I always press diagonal seams open—I find it to be more accurate than pressing to the side.

7. Add your 2.5" background squares in the same way you did with the star points. Note that the marked diagonal should always go the same direction as the star-point diagonal that you previously sewed.

8. Add your final set of 2" marked squares in the same way as you did the previous squares. This time, make sure the marked diagonals are angled so that they form the outer star points.

9. Your units should now look like this. Sew the block together, starting with the 2" x 3" orange units to the 3" background squares. Take care as you sew to make sure those points are lined up!

10. Done!

As always, if you make this block (or anything else inspired by my blog), I would love to see it! Please join my Flickr group and add your photos!

Since I made five of these blocks for my 4x5 hive, here it is in other colors:

Aqua, gray, and yellow for Lindsay

Aqua, teal, white and gray for Lyanna

Yellow, spring green, and blue for Elizabeth

Orange, gold, and plum for Deb

And the orange, yellow, and pink block featured in the tutorial is for Wendy. Enjoy, ladies!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday: My Weird Week

Yeah, so I had a weird week. Lots of thinking and planning, not much doing. Or, I should say, lots of thinking and planning and changing my mind and being indecisive and giving up and looking at Pinterest because it was easier than making a decision ... and not much doing. I need to snap out of it! But I did manage to get a few small things accomplished.


Pumpkin the elephant
My first-ever joint project with my 5-year-old is done! And, well, I'm kind of glad. Not because I didn't like sewing with E. (that part was awesome), but because I have no clue how to sew softies. It turns out that I royally screwed up the legs, and this particular pattern requires a lot of hand-stitching, which was kind of a pain. But it does look like an elephant, and E. loves it and is so proud of her part in making it, so that's the important thing! Still, I think we'll have to tackle a doll quilt next. : ) That's way more my comfort zone.

New projects:

4x5 Bee blocks
I have been paralyzed with indecision for several days over what to do for my 4x5 Bee blocks. See? Weird week! This has never happened to me before. I hate to say it, but I think I'm on quilt block overload right now. I've just looked at too many of them lately or something. (I know, is that even possible? Apparently it is.) At any rate, here's one of several test blocks I've made. I'm not in love with it, but if I can't come up with anything better, this might just be what I'll go with.

No progress:
• Secret swap mini quilt
• Gen X Quilters' Charmed Prints QA
• Halloween quilt
• Farmer's Wife QA
• Skill Builder QA
• Kaleidoscope QA
• Figgy Pudding quilt
• Wonky Log Cabin

This week's stats:
Completed projects - 1
New projects - 1
Currently in progress - 10

Now it's your turn! Link up any post from the last week that features an unfinished project. Don't forget to put a link to my blog in your post, and comment on some of the other links. Have a productive week!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Busting Out the Dance Bag

So, this adorable kid has been taking dance classes for the better part of three years now. And I have been intending to make her a dance bag ... for the better part of three years now.

This is the dance bag I finally made for her, after all this time. It took me the better part of three hours. Yep, gold-star mom, right here. : )

Anyway, this is from a free tutorial by Simply Modern Mom. I love that it's a hobo bag, instead of a too-cutesy little tote bag. E. feels pretty stylin', in fact. The fabric is Peacock Lane, with a Michael Miller Dumb Dot for the lining. You gotta have pink and black for a dance bag, right?

I made a few changes from the tutorial—since I used lightweight quilting cotton, I added some fusible interfacing to the lining. (I hate how fusible interfacing always seems to bubble and wrinkle in the finished product, so my solution was to fuse it to the lining instead of the outer fabric.) I also eliminated the braided handle, and I added a magnetic snap, because I know my daughter, and I know the contents of this bag will just end up on the floor of my SUV without some sort of closure. I used this fab tutorial from Sew Crafty Jess's blog to put in the snap—magnetic snaps couldn't be easier! Really!

Edited to add: I'm linking up to TNT Thursday at Happy Quilting and the Threading My Way linky for bags and totes! Great idea, Pam!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

WIP Wednesday ... And We're Back!

Ah, it's good to be back to the normal routine, isn't it? My daughter is back in school, the hubs is back at work, everything's right with the world again. And, I have two completions! Considering that I took a month off from WIP Wednesday in order to complete them, it's a darn good thing. 

Completed (since last WIP Wednesday):

Summer Sampler Quilt
You saw this one here—I finally got motivated to finish it off and give it to my mother-in-law, who was recovering from surgery. It's nice to get this one off the list, and I no longer have any projects in the "Completed Tops Awaiting Quilting" category! Woot!

Mystery Quilt #2
Another big completion checked off the list.

New projects:
Mini-swap mini quilt
This mini was promised a while ago, and is part of a little private mini-swap. I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with it yet, but I'm digging the colors! (Hopefully the recipient will too.)

Pumpkin the elephant
I'm starting to teach my 5-year-old to sew! She really wanted to make a softy. I've never made a softy myself, so it's a learning experience for both of us. : ) This is from a Melly & Me pattern that I bought several years ago and never used until now. I was a little confused by the legs, but other than that it seems to be turning out okay (knock on wood). I've done the cutting, pinning, and applique stitches, but E. sewed all of the seams herself, with my guidance. She's doing fantastic! 

No progress:
• Gen X Quilters' Charmed Prints QA
• Halloween quilt
• Farmer's Wife QA
• Skill Builder QA
• Kaleidoscope QA
• Figgy Pudding quilt
• Wonky Log Cabin

This week's stats:
Completed projects - 2(!)
New projects - 2 (sigh)
Currently in progress - 10

Link 'em if you got 'em! You all know the rules - link back here, comment, etc. etc. Have a great week—it's good to be back!

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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.

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