Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grey and Yellow

In order from most enjoyed to least enjoyed, my favorite aspects of quilting are:
1. Picking and pairing fabrics
2. Designing the quilt
3. Piecing the quilt
4. Sewing the binding
5. Cutting the fabric
6. Basting the quilt
100. Quilting the quilt

I've really got to do something to get over my dread of quilting.

I've been collecting grey fabrics for a few months now.  I think I've finally reached critical mass and can start a grey quilt.  I want to do an improvisational pieced giant log cabin square.  I've got more than enough for a cuddle quilt, but I'm not sure I've got enough for a king sized bed quilt and there's no budget for getting a king sized quilt quilted.  Our master bedroom have a grey accent wall, so a grey quilt would look lovely in the room.  In the end, I doubt we'd use a quilt on our bed because we can't share covers.  I like lots of layers and Hubby likes to sleep on top of whatever bedding is available, so we have separate bedding.  I guess I'll start with a cuddle quilt and see how much fabric is left.

I pulled all my grey and grey and yellow fabrics and laid them out on the ironing board.  The wad of fabric in the center is one of Hubby's work shirts that he put in the Goodwill box.  It has a grease stain on the front.  It's a beautiful shot cotton and I should be able to get a nice bit of yardage out of the back and sleeves.
 A little Aviary 2 plus a few others.
 Some Kona solids and apparently I liked that grey Sanctuary, because I have 2 pieces of it.
Gosh I love picking fabrics!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Machine maintenance

Do you do routine maintenance on your sewing machine?  I use a compressed air can on mine occasionally.  Some people say you shouldn't because it will drive the lint further into the machine.  My machine has holes in the bottom so the lint just gets shot out.  I had read that you should oil your machine in between trips to the repair shop, but I never knew what what exactly you should oil, so I didn't do anything.

Lately, my machine has been stalling.  I'm not quite sure how else to describe it.  I'll be sewing along and it just stops.  There's no error message.  It just stops.  I take my foot off the pedal and then it will sew again for a bit before it stalls again.  I've replaced the needle.  I've rethreaded and blown lint out.  It still stalls.

Yesterday, I'm Just A Guy Who Quilts posted about finding a video on youtube that taught him how to do clean and oil his Bernina machine.  I went over to youtube to see if there was a video on cleaning Janomes, the kind of machine I have.  Sure enough there was a video.  I finally leaned what I'm supposed to oil.  Yay!  I took the top plate off and cleaned out even more lint than I expected.  Then I put in exactly 2 drops of oil in the correct places.  I took a scrap of fabric and sewed back and forth a few times.  The first few passes gave me 2 stalls, but by the 5th pass it was smooth sewing.  The real test will be sewing more than a few passes on a scrap, but I feel optimistic.  I really didn't want to have to get the machine serviced when I've only been sewing on it for 8 months.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Marshmallow Brochette QAL

I'm doing another QAL.  This one looked like a fun little project.  It's called Marshmallow Brochette.  I've been wanting to do a grey and yellow quilt.  I just started cutting the other night on a whim.  Then I read through the second set of instructions and realized the blogger was doing yellow and grey for the QAL too.
I can't wait for the next set of instructions.
This brings up a question if anyone is reading.  How do you cut fabric if you only need a little bit, say a charm square?  I sort of hate cutting a 5 inch wide strip WOF to get one 5 inch square.  However, I find that if I try to just cut a corner out then I end up cutting a little too far and I've got that nasty little cross hatch cut to deal with the next time.  Since I like to do improvisational quilting I assume that I'll use the 5 inch width at some point and 5 inch is a fairly standard width for piecing, being twice 2.5.

So how do you cut fabric if you only want a little piece?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Baby gifts

The woman who cuts my hair is having boy girl twins.  We talk about kids a lot while she is doing my hair, because she knows I've got kids.  This is her first pregnancy.  Unfortunately, she's having a hard time and is now out on bed rest.  I wanted to make her something for the babies, but we're not exactly best friends, so I didn't want to go over the top.  She is due in July, though she probably won't get that far.  I wanted something fun, but easy and quick to make, not to mention not too heavy since these will be summer babies.

I have a few color stories of flannels, I've got blue, pink, green and brown.  I have been making flannel rag quilts, but they take a bit of time and are rough on my sewing machine.  The flannel dust really clogs up the works.  This time I thought I'd try something different, a blanket, not a quilt.  I decided on green and pink for the two blankets.  I cut 7 width of fabric strips and sewed them together.  I used a single piece of flannel for the back.

I sewed the front and back, right sides together, leaving an opening to turn it.  Then I top stitched around the outside.
The second one only took me an hour start to finish.  Part way through the first one I figured out that using my walking foot, greatly reduced the shifting.
Top stitching the edge was so neat and fast.  Much better than a binding for this application. 
This is definitely my new go to baby gift.  Cute and fast, not so involved that the mom will hesitate to use them because they are too nice.  They are also a generous size, basically 40 inches square, so they'll be big enough to use for a long time.  Plus, there's nothing like finishing projects the same day you start them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WIP- I don't know what to do

I have my pile of DS Fairground and Picnic.  I started cutting and sewing and then I sort of lost my way.  I made a few too many HST's paired with white and now I can't decide what to do.  Originally I was going to do pinwheel squares with a couple of variations on the basic pinwheel block.  Then I thought maybe I'd do star blocks with variations for the center, some solid, some pieced.  Maybe Star blocks with pinwheels inside them.  Then I found what I think is called a criss cross block and it looks like it would be fun too.  There's another block that I saw recently that looks a lot like a criss cross, but when I went back to look for it I couldn't find it.  There's something about the Fairground and Picnic lines that seem to lend themselves to more traditional blocks, in a way that most of the fabrics I buy don't.

What to do?  Any other suggestions for traditional-ish blocks that use HST's?
Imagine these block are actually made with a variety of fabrics.
 As you can see I sort of got carried away with this one fabric.

linking up to Freshly Pieced  I wish I could get that button thingy to work.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild

Last night I attended the first meeting of the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild.  I don't have any pictures because I was taking pictures with Doris's camera from Threads of Conversation, who helped get this started.  It was worth the 2 hour drive to be surrounded by like minded women.  I brought It's All About The Chairs quilt and it was well recieved.  I also met Jill and Marny of Modern Quilt Relish, who had some help things to say about the business side of the quilt industry.  It's cool meet someone's blog you've been following for a while.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

WIP- It's all about the chair quilt

I didn't quite make my self imposed deadline.  Hubby got back from playing golf last night, and the quilt was only have quilted.  I ran out of spray baste.  Sigh!

I showed Hubby my progress last night.  I tried to be sneaky and showed him the back first, but he wasn't fooled.  As he said, "I've seen your backs before.  I know what they look like."  Color me impressed that he's been paying that much attention.  So here is the top and the back.
 I'm really surprised at how well the bright reds, golden yellows and apple green work together.
 I like the way the Tufted Tweets chairs are a focus, but not overwhelming.
 I couldn't resist using the concentric squares fabric for the center.
 I really do have a thing I do for backs.
The yellow stripe is there because I accidentally cut the fabric in the wrong direction.  I had a stripe leftover from the front so I just pieced it in.

Other WIP's
Mother in law's quilt- still just a top
B's quilt- fabric awaiting cutting
Modern Quilt Guild challenge #3- Fabric gathered, pattern picked, just need to start.  I might run out of time on this one
Twin baby quilts- Just found out the woman who cuts my hair is having B/G twins in July.  I'd love to make her coordinating baby quilts.

Linking up with Freshly Pieced

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's all about the chair quilt

My husband is on a golf trip with a bunch of guys from work.  He's starting a new job on June where he'll mostly working from home.  We're making a home office for him out of the guest room.  We got him an awesome new desk chair as I talked about here.  He requested a quilt to hang on the wall to decorate his space.  Before he left for the golf trip, he jokingly requested that his quilt be done by the time he returns.  Little does he know, that's what I'm aiming for.

I started with my Tufted Tweets as inspiration.  I showed him the fabric and he picked two of the three.  The two chair prints.
Then came my favorite part of quilting, pulling fabrics.
I focused on the bright reds from the background, since that's the color of the hubby's desk chair.  I also pulled some golden yellows to pick out the bird on the wing chair.  The office already has some golden yellows in it, so those yellows work with the room too.  I found that red dot on orange to be a pretty good match for the orange in the side chair print.  I thought some graphic black and white prints would be a good contrast.  The greens are there for that little jarring note and because Hubby requested a contrast color and he suggested green.  What can I say, under my influence the man is developing an eye for  color!

I'm always fascinated at what fabrics end up in the quilt and what doesn't make the cut.  Tune in tomorrow to see the quilt top.

I was at Target today and I stopped to see if they had any fun colorful accessories that the office might need, but their colors were all wrong.  Hubby already found a great red desk fan, so that's a start.  I'll have to get to an Ikea one of these days.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Have you checked out The Blogger's Quilt Festival?  Everyone is linking up their favorite quilts.  It's amazing to see what everyone is doing.

I wanted to share the quilt that got me started quilting.  This is also the special quilt that I've mentioned recently.  In the fall of 2009, I got an idea to make an advent calendar for my kids.  I wanted to make a Christmas tree with antique buttons sewn on to hold small ornaments.  Each day the kids would get to hang a new ornament on the tree.  I had made quilts with my mom, but never sewn on my own before.  I started exploring the local quilt shops and fell in love with the Figgy Pudding line from Moda.  I didn't buy any, because I didn't yet know what I wanted to do.  I came back after Christmas and they were almost sold out!  There was only a honey bun and a few 3/4 yard cuts lefts.  I bought what they had and came home to figure out how to make it work.  While I was thinking, I made a simple throw for our living room to get some practice.  Eventually, working on our dining table I put this design together.
I took it to my quilter to ask how she thought I should finish it because I was thinking about adding pockets for the ornaments.  My quilter loved it and asked if I had thought about selling the pattern.  this was my second quilt and my first original pattern, so of course I had never thought about selling the pattern.

I'll always be fond of this quilt and this pattern because it changed the way I think about myself.  I'm a quilter and proud of it!

I quilted the sky background horizontally and the tree mostly vertically.  I love the little trees print.  I also  love the nontraditional colors for Christmas, pale aqua and olive.
You might notice that there are no buttons.  Yeah, I still haven't gotten around to doing the advent calendar part.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Robots

I realized that I never post the completed pictures of the Wee Monsieur's quilt.  I just cleaned his room and took all the winter bedding off his bed.  This seemed like a good time to take pictures.
 The Wee Monsieur and Baby Girl insisted on being in the picture.
 Detail- I was trying to show off the quilting which is all retro spaceships and rockets.  I'm so glad I found a great long arm quilter.
Here is the little square I pieced in the back.  Nobody will ever know it's there but me and that's ok.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

WIP wednesday

1. Housewarming quilt- DONE!!
2. Lily's Quilts QAL DONE!!
3. Meals on Wheels Placemats  DONE!!
4. Rainbow Boston Commons- Ran out of fabric and on hold
5. Framed Squares- Top is sewn together and on hold until I make another quilt with the leftovers
6. Pinwheels quilt with DS Picnic and Fairground- Started making HSTs, no pictures yet.
7. Special project- one side left on the binding and then I'll reveal.
8. Wall Hanging for Hubby's office- I have the fabric picked, and an idea for the design, not to start cutting.
9. Pink and Brown queen quilt- I decided on a Bento Box design, now to start cutting.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Projects

I took the housewarming quilt to it's new home this morning.  It was well received.  I was sad to see it go, but I can go visit.  I kept coming up with reasons I needed to keep it for a few more weeks.  It was just easier to make a clean break.  Right?

Now I'm going to go make one for myself, but in grays.  I have a new commission too.  Hubby wants a wall hanging for his new home office, which is in golds and reds.  We ordered him a new office chair over the weekend.  It's a very space age looking chair.
The frame of it looks rather like a skeleton.  It's insanely comfortable.

Hubby picked red upholstery, which should look striking with the white frame.  I'm very tempted to break into my tufted tweets fabric for his wall hanging.
One fun modern chair should have some other fun modern furniture to keep it company.  My only concern is that it might be too cutesie for a man's office?  I'll have to think about it.

Housewarming quilt

I finished up the housewarming quilt for my friends who moved a month ago.  There's a problem.  I love this quilt so much I want to hang on to it.  I won't, but I want to.

Have you ever done something, made something and thought, "I did something really great!"  There were a few papers in college I felt that way about and now this quilt.
 One of things I like best about the quilt is the combinations of regularity and improvisation.  There's virtually nothing I would change.
 I quilted it in a sort of square spiral echoing the concentric squares.  It turned out quite well and finished quickly, which is always a bonus.

For the back I did my yardage of damask sliced asymmetrically and filled with cream, which was also sliced asymmetrically and filled with randomly pieced scraps from the front and a few pulled from my scrap jar.

It's great when you love the back of the quilt as much as the front.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Finishing the unfinished

I've been a busy little bee.  We had house guests for a week and a half, while fun, it is also tiring.  You know how it goes.  On top of that, we've had some other things going on.  Hubby got offered a new job and we had to think long and hard about whether he should take it, as it would mean a lot of changes for our family.  In the end we decided to go for it.  We like a challenge.

In the meantime, I've been trying to wrap up some unfinished projects.  I finally got my place mats for Meals on Wheels done.
The first one I quilted is a little rough, but the second one turned out nicely.

Then I finished insetting my circles for Lily's Quilts QAL.
 I left out the borders because I wanted it to fit the piece of minky I had for the backing.  Because I used minky for the backing, I went ahead and tied it.
 This quilt is for Baby Girl.  I used scraps from the BGBGB quilt.  I wanted it to be nice and cuddly.  Baby Girl picked out the minky back herself.  I was really hoping that she would decide she liked it better than the current Blankie, but no dice.

I've had this little quilt finished and hanging over my railing for months awaiting a label so I could mail it off to the baby who was born in January.  I don't know why I put off doing the little 10 minute finishing jobs.

 Anyway, it's now packed and addressed and ready to go.