Saturday, August 27, 2011

Something I've always wanted to say...

I've been working on a secret project.  Hee Hee!!  I've always wanted to write that on my blog.  I'm going to do my first tutorial in a little bit.  I had to make some prototypes to take pictures for the tutorial.  I might even do a give away.  I know, a giveaway, craziness!

We're entering my favorite season, Fall.  I have a bunch of projects lined up for the next few months and I'm hoping to make a bunch of Christmas presents, plus Halloween costumes, plus a mini craft fair.  It's a good thing both kids are in school, even though it's only 2 hours for Baby Girl.  Truth be told, I'm not quite sure what to do with Baby Girl all afternoon while big brother is in kindergarten.  We've been at loose ends the last week.  I've been letting her watch too much TV, while I sew.  I need to figure out things for us to do in the afternoon.  I'm just used to the two of them entertaining each other all afternoon.  That's why I had two kids in the first place.

In the midst of all the other projects in the pipeline, I finally got some inspiration for these stacks of fabric.

I've been wanting to make a spread for our king sized bed.  I've been intimidated by the shear size of the undertaking.  Usually, I decide upon the design I want to tackle next and then I pick the fabric.  If I have the fabric first, before the design, I have trouble deciding what to do.  I wanted a design that would feature the large scale prints from the Aviary II bundle I bought, but I didn't want to do just a large patchwork.  I also wanted a design that might lend itself to a quilt as you go project.  I've sort of used up my long arm quilter budget for the year.  Add to that, I've thinking about doing more of a bed spread and less of a quilt.  I want something pretty to throw over our bed, not so much something to keep us warm.  That's a long way of saying that there were a lot of requirements.

I started cutting on Friday and I have to say I'm really pleased with the way it's turning out.  I'm keeping it simple with lots of wof strips sewn together horizontally.  I'm currently trying to decide if I should add a few perpendicular strips to mix things up.  I'm thinking yes.  I really enjoy these projects where I have a vague notion of where I'd like to end up, but where I let the fabric dictate how we get there.  The giant courthouse step quilts were like that and now this strip quilt is the same.  As an added bonus, Hubby says he really likes what I've shown him so far.  As soon as I find a spot to layout my progress I'll take some pictures.  I'm planning on about 120 inches square and it's hard to find a piece of bare floor that big.  I wish I had a big design wall.

This evening, I think I figured out how to assemble this monster just using my little Janome.  The secret will be that I'm not using any batting.  I'm going to quilt the top directly to the flannel back.  If I don't assemble the back until I've quilted the center panel, then I should only ever have less than one wof piece rolled up in the neck of the machine.  I think this will work!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Today the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild is meeting at the West Des Moines public library at 6:30.  I wish I could be there with you tonight.  If you are in the Des Moines area, go check it out tonight!

First day of school and some other summer fun

The Wee Monsieur started kindergarten today.  He rode the bus and I only cried a bit.

Earlier in the week I made jam.  Our strawberries all came ripe right before we left for vacation, so I froze them all.  I finally got around to pulling them out and making jam.  I threw in a frozen bag of kiwis for fun. The kids call this Super Strawberry Jam.  I use a cheapo emersion blender to smush up the chunks.  It works great on soups and sauces too.  I've already got these three earmarked for teacher gifts at Christmas.

Baby Girl has been playing with these little nesting boxes from Ikea for the last week.  She keeps leaving them in interesting patterns, so I've been snapping pictures.  It gives me a hankering to make a quilt with circles.  I wish someone would send me one of those Go! Baby cutters.
Those are the boxes on the left and the lids on the right.  She's really good at getting them in just the right order. Have I mentioned she likes to play with buttons at the store, which annoys the sales women, except that Baby Girl always outs the buttons back in the right spot.  It's amazing how she's able to always get the button back on the correct post, even in Joann's button aisle.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

WIP: All WIP as good as done

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

I finished up two big quilt tops that had been lingering and am taking them to the long arm quilter tomorrow.  That's as good as done in my book.  That means I have no works in progress.  That is such a liberating thought.  I have a bunch of stacks of fabric for projects, but I haven't cut into them, so they aren't WIP yet.

I present B's Bento Box.  It is always windy where I live, so forgive the slightly ripples, it was the best shot I got.
It's 80 x 100 and queen sized.  I made my own bento box pattern.  The back is just pieced from yardage of 4 different fabrics.

Here is the rainbow quilt for my mom.

 I had stopped working on it in the spring because I ran out of fabric to do a square Boston Commons, as my mom had requested.  She's been visiting the last week and  we worked out a solution.  We made it a rectangle and then framed it with the navy and yellow batiques.  I wish I had gotten a picture pre border because the border really changed the way it looked.  The navy and yellow border is really electric.  I was not a fan of this design at the start.  It's not my usual style.  But that can be a good thing.  I've ended up LOVING this quilt.  My mom is going to hang it in her stairwell, so the long narrow shape will work well.
Love those colors!  It's made from a rainbow batique jelly roll.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I won!!!

I won my first ever giveaway.  I'm so excited.  I never win ANYTHING.  There's this giveaway and I think a stuffed pumpkin I won in the first grade.  That's it!

The lovely ladies, Jill and Marny, from Modern Quilt Relish are sending me a jelly roll of "Wee Woodland" and 4 of their new patterns.

I originally learned about the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild starting up from their blog, so that's two things I have to thank them for.  Maybe I'll start entering more giveaways if my luck has turned like this. I'll go back to my happy dance now.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Single girl without the work

I was just flipping through the pottery barn website looking for inspiration and I came across a quilt that looked very familiar.  It was the Single Girl Quilt by Denyse Schmidt and it's on sale!

It doesn't really seem like the pottery barn aesthetic.  Maybe that's why it's on sale.

Framed Squares, another finish

My MIL is coming to visit today, so I wanted to get her quilt finished for her.  This was, perhaps, my longest in the works quilt.  Usually, I don't like having unfinished project hanging about, but this time I'm glad I put it aside, because the back is awesome and it wouldn't have been if I had just finished when I started it.
 I think I got some of my rows mixed up, because I thought I had a avoided having the same fabrics next to each other.  Oh well, it looks fine and I'm the only who will ever notice.  My MIL loves harvest colors and I started with the dark print and drew all the other colors from the dark print.  All the fabrics, with the exception of the gold, are from Joann's.  Not all of their fabrics are terrific, but you can certainly get some nice ones if you are careful.

I'm so pleased with the way the back turned out.  MIL is a high school English teacher, so I thought the book shelf design would be appropriate.  Hubby said it's my best back yet!
 I used the book fabric for the shelf above and below the books.  I used strips of scraps to give the extra dimension needed.
 I used the alphabet function on my sewing machine to sign the quilt on the spine of one of the books.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Habitat challenge

I belong to the newly formed Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild.  We've only had 3 meetings, but we formed just in time to participate in the Habitat challenge.  Our rules were as follows:  no more than 30 x 30 in size and only solids were allowed in addition to the Habitat fabrics.  We had the earth color story, thank goodness, because I really think the other color lines are ugly.  I love the aqua and orange that are the predominate colors.  We each got 6 of the prints and had to use all the ones we got.

As soon as I heard about the challenge I knew what I wanted to do.  I recently got Susan Beal's Modern Log Cabin book and I've been wanting to try the modern crosses quilt.  The first quilt I made with my mother was a log cabin and it's variations always appeal to me.

I chose kona aqua as my solid.  I got it from Marmalade fabrics and Tammy was nice enough to tell me which solid was an exact match.  I wanted the crosses to dissolve into the background.  I wouldn't say I was wholly successful, but the colors do work nicely together.  Some of the Habitat fabrics with the peachy pink background didn't have enough of the aqua to meld.  I wanted to use all the fabrics I got on the front, even though I could have fulfilled the requirements using them for the backing.

I give you Habitat Plus Aqua.
I can't decide if I want to add the buttons.  I think it needs the buttons.

I used all my leftover yardage on the back.  I bound it in aqua.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WIP BGBGB Quilt finished!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

This poor quilt has been sitting, waiting to be bound for months.  Seriously, I think I got it back from the quilter in April.  I was scared of dealing it by myself.  First I couldn't decide what I wanted to use for the binding.  Then I couldn't find the fabric I wanted.  Then I forgot what fabric I had decided upon.

Finally, I decided it was silly to be scared of it because it's so big and to just pick something for the binding already.  It didn't take me long once I picked something.  I used leftover strips from the sashing fabrics plus the lovely coordinating stripe.  I originally wanted to only use the stripe, but I didn't have enough.  I cut the binding 4.75 inches wide, then folded in it half, because that's how wide the narrowest leftover was.  I know that's super crazy wide for most people.  However, on a big bed sized quilt, I like the binding to be proportional.  It's my quilt and I can do what I want with it.  Trust me the quilt police at my traditional quilt guild already gave me their opinions.

As with most things, once I got started it wasn't nearly as hard as I had imagined it would be.

I give you Baby Girl's Big Girl Bed Quilt in all it's glory.  The center fussy cut squares are from Baby Girl's crib sheets and the sashing fabrics are all Delilah by Tanya Whelan coordinates.  It's bound in leftovers from the sashing.  The pattern is inspired by Spring Thyme by Nancy Mahoney.  I originally blogged about this quilt here.
 Here is Baby Girl sitting on her new Big Girl Bed quilt on her bed!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Here are the pillows I've been talking about.  I finally got the bindings finished.
This is a bookcase pillow to coordinate with MIL's quilt.  It's inspired by Don't Call Me Betsy's design.  I added a piece of background at the bottom of the leaning book, so the bottom of the book is square instead of at an angle.

Here are two pillows for the living room made with scraps from my first quilt and a few additions.  The first is a random log cabin that I quilted on diagonals following a piece of painter's tape.  I sewed each side of the painters tape with a bright aqua thread.  It was my first attempt to call attention to my quilting and I'm quite pleased with it.

The second is a quilt as you go method, that is my new favorite thing.

It's quilted every 1/3 of an inch and the thread ends are all buried under the next piece of fabric.  It's fabulous!

One more home decor project

This is what the window over the toilet in the master bath has looked like since the day we moved in.  I think that's about 21 months.
 Functional, but not very elegant, right?  Those are kitchen towels draped over a tension rod.

I picked up this nice toile a year ago with the intention of making Baby Girl a dress.  I still haven't made the dress, but I realized this would also make a nice curtain for that little window.  It took me all of 20 minutes to hem the wof piece and put a sleeve on the top.  Why, oh why, do I procrastinate about these simple little projects.
So much better!  And yes, I did make it cafe length on purpose.  That window looks on to an open field and it'a nice view in morning or so Hubby tells me.  I might even hem it a little shorter if I get around to it.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I spent the last week in Wisconsin and somewhere I lost my voice.  Seriously, it's completely gone.  My kids are getting really good at charades.  I'm alternating feeling like crud trying to cough up a lung and feeling ok.  This morning I was feeling ok, but not great.  I hadn't touched the sewing machine in more than a week and so I thought I just finish up the project I left out on the cutting table, frankenbatting.

I collect scraps of batting the way most people collect fabric scraps.  If it's more than 2 inches wide I keep it.  I use the narrow ratty bits for upholstering bow holders that I make for any little girls who come near me.  The wider pieces I sew together until I have pieces big enough for quilts.  Usually I wait until I need the batting before trying to piece it together.  I'm often impatient and rarely want to sew more than two or three pieces together when I’m ready to get a quilt basted.  This leaves me with a huge pile of batting scraps in the corner.  It takes too long to sort through so I just cut from the new stuff.

With my recent foray into pillows this seemed like the perfect time to use up the medium to little pieces.  I pulled out all the scraps and sorted them by length and started sewing. Originally I kept like batting together, but I’ve realized once it is quilted no one can tell if it was warm and natural or warm and white or whatever other brand of cotton batting I’ve used in the last 18 months. All my batting is cotton and sort of the same thickness, but not exactly the same. I got one piece big enough for a lap quilt and a bunch of cuts big enough for pillows and I decided some of what I had been holding on to was too junky to bother with, so it went in the stuffing bag.

When I sew batting together, I use the zig zag stitch that makes lots of little stitches across the width. It seems to bunch less. I just butt the edges together and zig zag across the top to hold them together. you don’t have to be neat or precise. Today I learned an important lesson, that I want to share with you. Two words, WALKING FOOT. Why, oh why, was I not using my walking foot this whole time? It pulls and bunches so much less, particularly the bits that are a little sticky from spray baste.

I’m going to add sewing up batting to my list of end of project chores. At the end of every project I like to put all the fabric away and put the scraps in the jar and generally tidy up, otherwise it gets out of control. Now I’ll also sew the new batting scraps to the old ones, so I’m ready to go when the quilt needs sandwiching.