Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Work in Progress Wednesday - Needleworks

I've recently grown interested in hand needlework.  Maybe it's the natural progression in one's quilting journey, but I find myself wanting to add more to each quilt I made - more challenging techniques or color schemes, more deliberate design choices, more personal touches.  I've loved the look of chunky hand quilting for some time, and decided to try it with a quilt I am making for June.  After watching a class by Anna Maria Horner on Creativebug and in person at Craft-South (more on that later), as well as this helpful video from Sarah Fielke, I gathered my courage and supplies and found a comfy place to practice.  By the way, Sarah very correcntly pointed out that I should use larger needles with perle cotton thread when I posted the picture above on Instagram. 

Here was my first attempt at hand quilting.  Not too shabby I say.  I am taking it very slowly and one stitch at a time.  I check the back often to make sure the stitches are about the same length on the back as they are on the front (very rarely but often close enough).  Every once in a while, I feel brave enough to do two stitches at a time, and perhaps over time I will do even more at once and get faster.  Then again, maybe I won't.  This is a long-term project so I don't need, nor do I want, to rush.  I find myself alternating between using a hoop (the traditional way), and not using a hoop (as Anna Maria suggests trying to allow more flexibility with the fabric and the rocking needle motion).  I can't decide which way I like better.  I'm allowing myself to take time on this, to enjoy it, one slow stitch at a time.  

Like most quilters though, I tend to have multiple projects in the works to keep from feeling bored (Bored, what's that?).  I've found four projects at once to be about my limit.  After falling hard for this picture, I dug into my scraps and started an applique wall-hanging.  The pattern is "Here's the Dish" in Anna Maria Horner's "Seams to Me" book.  I love how Alecia made her version scrappy and decided to do the same with mine.  Stitching the pieces down and adding embroidery will take some time, but since this is pretty portable, perhaps I'll finish it before starting another project.  Then again, maybe I won't.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mini Stars Quilt

In progress.  Love the afternoon light.

Goodies sent: a boxy bag filled with needles, handquilting thread, hexies and cards made from Heather Ross Prints.  On a sidenote, have you seen this book?  Heather basically gives you carte blanche to make whatever you'd like with many of her prints.  I want to make all the things.

Finished mini.  The Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap was my first sewing swap and I had a great experience.  I loved making something for a fellow quilter.  I'm really looking forward to participating in more swaps in the future. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Boxy Bag

I've been wanting to try a quilted patchwork bag ever since I saw Oh Fransson's amazing Weekender bag.  She kindly wrote up a tutorial for making the quilted patchwork panels (using the quilt as you go method).  A few weeks ago, I mustered up the motivation to try it.  The verdict: love it.  Here's the panel I came up with:

I organized my scraps by color a few months ago which helped the process go quicker.  I then turned the panel into a boxy bag using this super easy tutorial by Lolo Sinclair.

The only thing I will change the next time I make this bag (because I will be making more of these!) is to add a tab at the end of the zipper to make it easier to open.  Now that I've gotten my feet wet, I might dive into making a quilted Weekender bag next. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stained Glass Quilt

This quilt was  four years in the making.  It was made with Good Folks fabric by Anna Maria Horner, still one of my favorite fabric lines (I may or may not be hoarding some of this precious fabric).  I started it in December 2010 (see here and here) when the quilting world, and I along with it, discovered the wonders of half-square triangles.  I'm pretty sure this quilt was my inspiration.  I remember my sister saying "Oy, all that piecing!" when I showed it to her but "all that piecing" was completely worth it (as it usually is).

The top was completed sometime in 2011 or 2012 (more evidence), backed and quilted at the end of 2013, and hand bound in 2014.  I backed it with a subtle Denyse Schmidt print.  I didn't want to use a print that was too busy since I wanted the diamond quilting to show well on the back.  For the quilting, I did straight line stitching with my walking foot in the neutral fabric.  Stitching the inner diamonds was a bit difficult (and time consuming to bury all the knots), but again completely worth it.  I love the diamond shape it created.

I am head over heels for this quilt.  When I showed it to my mom, she exclaimed that it looked just like a beautiful stained glass window.  Thus, I am calling this my "Stained Glass" quilt.

 Pattern: Half Square Triangle Diamonds
Fabrics: Good Folks by Anna Maria Horner, Amy Butler Lotus, Kona Cotton in Ivory.  Backing is Denyse Schmidt.
Quilted: Straight line machine quilted in neutral lines.
Started in December 2010 and completed in Winter 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014

On planning

The idea of a quilt comes easily to me, the execution not so much.  With a few exceptions, I have generally sewn quilts using fabrics from the same fabric designer and line.  Some sewists tsk tsk at this, but I really don't mind.  It takes the guesswork out of figuring out which colors and patterns will complement each other.  Plus, those fabrics were quite literally made for each other.  But I wanted to branch out and challenge myself a bit for the mini quilt swap. 

I have a new appreciation for sewists who pair fabrics from different fabrics and lines.  It's not as easy as they make it look!  I intended to pull many different colors but to my surprise, I ended up pulling mainly yellows, greens, and blues. So I embraced these colors and created a new plan.

This is a pattern I have been wanting to make for a while now, using this little lovely as my inspiration. I'm excited to see this come together.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

And there were stars in her eyes

I've had a little swap envy recently.  I see pictures posted here and there of  lovely packages filled with quilty goodness people send and receive.  I want some of that in my mailbox too!  Not to mention the joy of making and sharing something that you know will be appreciated and loved by the recipient (one hopes anyway!).  So I jumped on the bandwagon and signed up for the schnitzel and boo mini quilt swap.

My partner loves bright colors as much as I do, and after careful stalking of her flickr and instagram, I saw she liked star quilt blocks too.  I have a few trips coming up and thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try my hand at some English paper piecing.  The deadline for the swap is still a month away but I am fighting my procrastinating nature and starting now so that I will enjoy the process rather than stress my way to the finish line.

Have you participated in any swaps lately? 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Scrappy Trip Around the World

Last January, as I sat nursing and rocking Felix for hours, days, weeks, months, I developed a new appreciation of smart phones.  With my one free hand, I visited my favorite quilting/sewing blogs dreaming of a time in the future when I would have time to sew again.  One quilt I kept seeing over and over again was the Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt.  I had to make one.  Like right then right there.  So when I did manage to have two free hands, I dug through my scraps (and a few prints from my stash) and began cutting them into strips.
Have you made this?  The tutorial (found here) is rather clever but I did not find this quilt to be as quick as people claimed.  Though, admittedly I am a pretty slow sewist/quilter even on a good day.  Still, unpicking all those seams and sewing them together again was slow going.  Eventually, I just embraced it and found a little peace in the rhythm. 
I say this about most of the quilts I make, but I really love this quilt.  I love how you can throw a bunch of prints and colors together and they all work somehow.  Also, since most of the fabrics were scraps, it's a bit of a memory book of the many projects I have created over the years.

June also loves this quilt and has claimed it for herself.  She sleeps with it every night. I asked which colors she loved the most and, as predicted, she pointed to every pink print she could find. 
Fabrics: Mainly scraps.  Backing is the infamous Ikea Britten Nummer and some assorted prints from my stash (Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, misc)
Quilted: Running Stitch in horizontal rows (great description of this stitch found in Camille's post)
Started in Jaunary 2013 and completed in December 2013