Thursday, June 30, 2011

Modern Quilt Guild Challenge- 3

Midnight is the deadline for the Modern Quilt Guild Challenge.  So here is my quilt.  I named it Canary in a Coal Mine*.
I've really been enjoying making these improvisational giant courthouse steps.  I think they show off fabrics beautifully.  They are fun to make too.

I showed a little teaser a while back, but didn't mention that the fabric stacks were for this quilt.

Not every fabric made the final cut, but they never do.  I love these fabrics so much I'm thinking about making a king size log cabin or courthouse steps using a quilt as you go method.

My last 2 quilts like this I had quilted in square spiral starting from the middle and working outward.  As I got about half way to the outside I started picking up so much loose fabric that I was getting major puckers.  I knew I needed to quilt this one differently.  I started with a plus sign around the center square and then did each quadrant echoing the original center quilting.  
This worked so much better and resulted in exactly zero puckers.  I'm getting pretty good at this straight line quilting.  My lines were about an inch and a half apart.  I used painters tape and the width of my walking foot to keep a consistent distance between the quilting lines.

I kept the back simple some light grey solid, a light grey wood print and some scraps from the front.
The binding is Kona Pepper.  I love the definition it gives the back.  On the front I wanted the binding to blend into the outermost ring, but not be exactly the same.  The outermost ring is Kona Charcoal, so they are very close, but not exactly the same.

*  The phrase Canary in a Coal Mine, refers to the practice of miners, particularly coalminers, of taking song birds down into mines with them.  The small birds were much more sensitive to air quality than the miners.  If the songbirds stopped singing/died then the miners were warned to get out of the mine because the air was too noxious to breathe.  Coal mines were particularly notorious for sudden changes in the air quality.  You can be overcome with carbon monoxide poisoning before you know it.  Now, mines have electronic air quality monitors, in the old days they had canaries.

This is what I wrote for my submission.

Canary in a Coal Mine
50 inches by 50 inches

From the inspiration word, Organic, I drew two definitions that determined the construction method and appearance of my quilt.  First, I decided that I would construct my quilt organically.  I started with a center square and constructed the quilt in an improvisation manner, allowing the quilt to grow naturally from that center.  I added each concentric square to the quilt looking only at the work that had already been done and not knowing what would come next.  Like the growth rings on a tree, my quilt grew from the center outward without planning, in other words, it grew organically.

The second definition of Organic that gave me inspiration relates to chemical compounds containing carbon, as in organic chemistry.  Carbon is the building block of almost all life on earth.  I drew the color scheme of my quilt from this chemical meaning of Organic, compounds containing carbon.  I choose carbon grey as my primary color, with accents of canary yellow.  I created “Canary in a Coal Mine” with these two separate yet related definitions of Organic as my inspiration.

That 70's quilt

My aunt is moving from Florida to Portland, OR.  As she is driving across country she stopped to spend a day with us.  We are a bit out of the way, but who knows when she'd have a chance to visit again.  Since she bought a new house in Portland, I decided that she needed a house warming quilt.  I wish I had thought of this a month ago, so I could have spent some more time, but it only occurred to me a few days before she arrived.  I called my cousin, her daughter to get some color ideas.  My cousin said her mom has been wearing a lot of dark coral lately, likes turquoise and bought some 1970's Danish modern furniture for the new house.  I shuddered a little, the house I grew up in was furnished almost entirely from Scan Furniture, all Danish modern.  Then I set to work!

I worked so quickly that I didn't take any progress pictures.  I had gone to my LQS and found lots of yummy things, but nothing dark coral.  I finally ended up with a jelly roll that had some aqua, salmon and a cream with a pale yellow cast.  It was the best I could do and I was running out of time, it was Thursday and my aunt would arrive Sunday.  I got home and opened up the jelly roll, only to find that it was all 1930's inspired baby prints.  Ack!!  It's lovely fabric, but 1930's baby would NOT work with Danish Modern.

I started looking through my stash, hoping for inspiration to strike.  I uncovered a cream print with large birds and flowers and realized the flowers were coral.  Then I found a paisley with a dark coral back ground, a turquoise and mustard stripe, a dark brown with the same turquoise and mustard.  I pulled a few more coordinates and came up with this.
 I'll be honest.  With the exception of the cream flower and bird print and the dark brown at the top, I bought all these fabrics online.  Without exception, when they arrived, I thought, "that isn't what I thought it was going to be, man is it UGLY."  I had a moment of regret about wasting money on such an ugly fabric and consigned it to the stash, hoping that it would disappear and I would never have to look at it again.

 Somehow all those ugly fabrics came together and made something awesome!
 Even the back was an ugly fabric.  It was a muddy brown paisley I bought early in my quilting life because it was double wide.  I pieced it to use up some leftovers from the front.

You just never know when those ugly fabrics will come together in harmony and make something beautiful.  I would never have thought that I would make a project that contained that turquoise and mustard stripe, the brown dot and the coral paisley.  I usually work with tonal fabrics, fabrics that only have one dominate color, but sometimes a good loud print with a bunch of colors in it really pulls the quilt together, like the cream flower and bird fabric.

Since this is a 100% stash project, I'm linking up to Clover and Violet.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WIP Modern Quilt Guild Challenge: Organic

I'm running out of time on the Modern Quilt Guild Challenge: Organic.  I've had the top done for a month, but with being out of town and other immediate projects, I'm only now finishing it.  I've got the binding half done, but need to photograph it and write my description.  I'll show you what it looks like right now, just as a little tease.
There it is!  Isn't it a beaut!  It's due tomorrow, so pictures will be coming soon.

Other projects in progress:
MIL's quilt- still just a top, need to make the 2nd coordinating quilt and finish them in the next 3 weeks for the in law's 40th wedding anniversary

Bento Boxes for B-  I started cutting and made a plan.  A plan is always good.

DS fairgrounds- still haven't decided on what kind of blocks I want to use.  The problem is that I want to do pinwheels and stars and windmills, but I can't see a quilt with all three.

I'm seriously contemplating a quilt as you go king sized quilt for my bed.  I'm thinking large log cabin blocks.  Am I crazy?

I have a plan for my MQG Habitat challenge, just need to get the fabric at the July meeting.

I finished my Marshmallow Brochette QAL and started and finished That 70's Quilt for my aunt.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Marshmallow Brochette

I finished another quilt.  I should really count how many that is for the year.  As I last posted I just needed to finish the binding.

Here it is!
 I went with a yellow binding and I think that really makes it pop!

 I really like the way the quilting turned out.  I echo quilted around the squares and did a second line of quilting where there was space.  In the wider spaces I did some extra vertical lines.
I really liked this quilt and it certainly came together quickly.  I think I'll make it again, but make that narrow stripe a bit wider so there isn't so much negative space on the right.  I think I will also make the connectors asymmetrical for a bit of variety.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sewing for kids

I whipped up this cute little project for the kids this week.

I originally saw the picture here of a toddler dragon hoodie with embroidered wings and little spikes up the back.  I thought, I can do that.  I skipped the embroidered wings.  I got the hoodies on sale at Old Navy.  I picked hoodies that were a bit too big, because I knew I'd be making them a bit smaller.

To start with, I made little triangles out of double layer of grey fleece for the Wee Monsieur and out of pink calico for Baby Girl.  I folded the hoodies in half, right sides together.  Then I stuffed the triangles into the fold from the center of the forehead down the spine.  I pined each triangle in place and sewed along my fold.  This is the result.
 The triangular spikes stand out along the spine because they are caught in the fold and sewn securely.  the kiddos spent the afternoon crawling around the floor pretending to be dragons.  They insisted on being tossed imaginary fish to eat.  I might have told them that dragons eat fish.  I thought explaining that dragons eat Knights might not go over very well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WIP Marshmallow Brochette

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Yay!!  I finally figured out how to link up properly!

I've been gone for 2 weeks, so I haven't done much sewing.  I did get the sewing machine back from repair shop.  Apparently something was funky with the foot pedal.  They didn't need to order a new one, just fixed the old one, which is nice.  It's also nice it wasn't something I could have fixed myself.  I still feel stupid about that time I took my embroidery machine in for a thread clump caught in the presser plates.  

In between week long trips I managed to finish up the Marshmallow Brochette QAL.  It came together so quickly.  I think I'll make another one.  The only thing I would change is making the narrow strip in the middle a little wider so that I can do 4 rows of quilting instead of 2.
 You can see I still need to finish tacking the binding down.  I did a proper hanging sleeve since this is just a wall hanging size.  I think the center strip is too close to the right strip.  Stealing a bit of width from the right edge would balance it better.

It's all about the chairs-
There's the quilt hanging in it's new home in Hubby's home office.

Every other project is just as I left it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cut off

My machine has been acting up, despite my efforts to maintain it myself.  I had to take it to the repair shop today.  It was physically painful to unplug it.  How does something like quilting get so necessary to me in such a short space of time?  I put off taking it to the shop as long as I could, but we're going on vacation tomorrow, so it's not like I'll be able to sew anyway.

I might really have to look into a new machine for Christmas.  I need a back up and something that does free motion quilting more easily might be nice.

I'll be away from the computer for a while as I spend some fun time with the family while the precious is being repaired.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fresh Sewing Day: It's All About The Chair!

Fresh Sewing Day

This is my latest completed project.  It is a wall hanging for my husband's home office.  

I'm calling this quilt It's All About The Chair!  Requested colors that would complement the room, coordinate with his new bright red office chair and then maybe some bright green.  I wasn't quite sure about the golden yellow, tomato red and apple green at first.  As with any color scheme, you need to pick the right shades and you can make it work.   The easy way is to find a fabric that has your desired colors and pull from there.

These are all the fabrics I originally pulled.  Not all the fabrics made the final cut.  I started with the Tufted Tweets arm chair fabric, which had the red, a yellow accent and black and white.  I pulled the other fabrics working with the colors from Tufted Tweets.  I picked bright saturated greens with white as the neutral to coordinate with the white in the other fabrics.  I had tried to use a muted green like a sage or evergreen, it would have looked odd with the bright saturated red and yellow.  The bright green works specifically because it is so bright.

This is the back.  I love using width of fabric cuts for my backing and piecing in the middle with scraps from the front.
I almost always do the backs of lap sized quilts the same way.  I describe my method here.  I like because there is no wasted fabric and it coordinates with the front of the quilt.