Saturday, October 5, 2013

Quilts for Foster Kids

The Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild is collecting quilts for foster kids to be included in care packages.  This is a charity project I can get behind.  I went through my pile of completed quilts and picked one that I thought would cheer up a child going through a really tough time.  I also wanted to make a new one, that was specifically for the project.  I followed the directions on Cheryl Arkison's Blog Naptime Quilter.  I made improv slabs 15.5 inches square.  I divided my blue scraps into light, medium and dark.  I tried to leave out the overtly feminine fabrics, so that this would be more BOY.  A few flowers found their way in, but so did lots of Star Wars, so that should balance out, right?  After making 9 blocks I can the lid back on the blue scrap bin.

I sashed the blocks with 3.5 inch strips of Moda's Steel grey.  If I make another of these quilts I may make the blocks 18.5 inches square so I don't have to sash but still have a good snuggle size quilt.  On the back I took a length of light grey and fitted in a row of grey, black and dark blue scraps.  My favorite kind of backing.  

I have it all basted together and ready for quilting, which I will do next week, after my new work mate arrives.  That's right, thanks to the awesome sale at the AQS quilt show this week, I bought myself a Janome 8900, but that's another post.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cross Stitch

I went to visit a friend in September.  I knew I'd need a little something to work on while traveling, but I didn't think I'd have enough hexagons to work on.  Then I saw the Frosted Pumpkin Halloween Sampler and I fell in love.  I've done needlepoint in the past, but always resisted cross stitch.  I've got a new addiction.  I got the border done before I left, so I had t buy a second pattern to make sure I had enough to work on.

But I'm a sewist, so I couldn't just leave it at that.  I had to make a case for my projects.  I took inspiration from the Sewing Portfolio I had just finished.  I measured how big my Q-Snap frame is and added an inch and half all the way around.

 This was a great opportunity to use some hoarded Tula Pink fabric.
I simplified the inside with just two pockets and a loop for attaching scissors or other items.  If I were making another one, which I won't be, I'd add flaps to close the pockets.  I added some pink and white pokka dot fabric to the zipper so that the portfolio would have enough depth to hold the frame.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sewing Room Swap

I jumped back into swaps this summer.  We did a tote bag swap with the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild.  Our September meeting, when we were to exchange totes, got canceled because of some really terrible weather.  Therefore, we still haven't swapped.  The other swap was a flickr one.  We were to make something for our partner's sewing room or something to be used for sewing.  My partner requested something to carry her hand sewing.  One of the items in her inspiration mosaic, was the Sewing Portfolio by Kerry Berry for the Liberty of London blog.  This was totally out of my comfort zone.  I've never sewn with interfacing and I rarely do zippers.
 I changed the pattern a bit, big surprise.  I made it bigger to fit the patchwork panels I made for the exterior.  I also added a decorative zipper pull.
 On the inside, there are 3 pockets and two spool or accessory holders.
I made a pin cushion and a needlebook for my small items.  I also included a spool of Aurifil and seam ripper, so that my partner could hit the ground sewing.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Try something new

The DSMMQG is having a tote bag swap.  I've made a few simple bags for the kids in the past for trick or treating or going to the library.  They were simple, nothing complicated.  For my swap partner, I wanted to up the ante a little.  I made a zippered pocket!  I won't reveal the whole bag now, since we aren't swapping until September, but I thought I'd brag a little here.

 The zippered pocket was quite easy, once you got the construction idea down.  As I was testing the zipper (and possibly making every member of my family and admire and test the zipper), I noticed the pocket kept moving around as I pulled on the zipper.  To fix this I carefully tacked the pocket to the outside of the bag.  I made sure my stitches weren't visible from the outside, but just going through the batting.

 An added little touch that will never be visible from the exterior is that I extended the handles all the way through the interior and sewed them into the bottom seam of the bag.  It's a big bag and I wanted it to be sturdy enough to carry whatever my partner puts in it.

Friday, July 26, 2013


This is the first year for a Modern Quilt category in the Iowa State Fair.  The Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild is sponsoring a prize for the blue ribbon winner.  We also agreed we should all try to enter something so that the new modern category is well represented.  This will be my first entry in the fair.  The drop off is tomorrow and I'm getting progressively more nervous.  My entry is a quilt I'm calling Constellation.
This quilt started as a scrap busting project.  I used one of many of the fabrics in my scrap bins.  I've been working on this quilt as a leader ender project for more than a year.  I'm not sure when I would have wrapped this up, if I hadn't decided to enter it in the fair.

I love the texture the dense quilting in the negative space provides.  I quilted this on my home machine, rather than the long arm, because I felt like I had more control for the precision needed.  I used white Superior So Fine in the white areas and nothing on the prints.  I didn't want to distract from the prints and there was no way I could have matched all the colors.
One of the judging requirements is the use of negative space.  I thought doing something interesting with the quilting in the negative space would be a good idea.  I quilted the space in between the wonky stars in a star burst pattern and I continued that to the negative space in the edges.  I created phantom stars in the quilting.
 I am nervous about using pigments to mark quilting lines and the hera marker doesn't show up very well on white.  I finally came up with the idea of just using pins to mark where the phantom star points would be.  It was easy to mark and easy to remove.

I went with a white binding because I thought it was the more modern choice and enhanced the negative space.  If I had been making this quilt just for myself, I would have gone with a rainbow stripe.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Baby Boy Quilt

An old, old, old friend and his wife had a baby boy recently.  What's a quilter to do, but make a quilt.  I did a little research, I asked Grandpa, and found out the nursery was turquoise and lime with brown.  I can work with those colors.

I fell in love with a quilt by Cluck Cluck Sew, Scrappy Summer.  I've been thinking about making a king sized version in blues for my bedroom and thought I'd test how the it looked without a lot of color contrast.

I went through my stash and pulled the turquoise and greens that seemed more masculine.  No flowers, though some seed pods found their way in.  I cut the bigger squares at 5 inches and the smaller ones at 2.75.  I arranged them in a 10x10 grid and sewed it together.  I think cutting took longer than sewing.

 When I paired up the 4 patch square I always used 2 blue and 2 green and I made sure to keep the orientation the same direction to create blue and green diagonals.  I quilted it with a blue green variegated Mettler cotton which I had previously tried to FMQ with.  It broke constantly under the strain, so I thought I would be good to use up on this simple straight line quilting.  The binding is a Connecting Threads stripe that had all the colors in it.
 Now I have to confess this is not actually a quilt.  There is no batting.  As I was getting ready to baste it, I realized this was for a summer baby who lives in Los Angeles.  A traditional quilt with batting would never be used expect maybe as a floor mat.  I know, because, my kids were born in Phoenix and San Diego and I never needed anything but a light blanket.  So I chose to omit the batting and use a soft flannel on the back and hope that this blanket will get a lot of use.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seeing Squares finished

Seeing Squares is the second quilt I quilted on the long arm.
 For this one I did a much denser pattern.  I quilted square spirals in most of the squares.  In some of the smaller 2.5 inch squares I combined them together.
 You can see the pattern easily on the back.  I tried to keep my quilting lines between a half and quarter inches apart.  This is the densest quilting I've done on a big quilt and I was surprised that it still has a nice drape.
For the binding I used some Denyse Schmidt from Joann's.  It was the perfect complement in colors. I'm really happy with this last photo.  It is not retouched in anyway and the colors just glow!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Seeing Squares

I rarely make quilts from other people's patterns.  There are 2 reasons for this, the first is that using someone else's pattern always makes the finished quilt feel less like my own.  It just does.  I can love everything about the finished quilt, but if I used a pattern, I just never feel that deep emotional attachment.  The second reason is that I can almost always figure out the pattern, just by looking at a picture.  If a quilt is a series of traditional blocks, I'm not going to pay for a pattern.  If I'm looking at a pattern and I think the designer has made an original contribution and design, then I might think about buying the pattern.  I might also think about buying a pattern if I think the pattern will have construction  or cutting directions that will save me a lot of work.

Seeing Squares is one of those patterns.  The pieces are very simple, squares or squares in squares, so I was really paying for cutting and layout directions.  The pattern is well written, but suffers from one of my common complaints.  The construction recommended is what is easiest to write directions for, not what is easiest to do, or most efficient in fabric usage.  Damn, I really hate to waste fabric.  There was at least half an inch of fabric trimmed off of almost every piece after you sewed the squares within squares.  I hate that.
 I had issues getting a good mix of values in this quilt.  I didn't realize until I started constructing the blocks that value is much more important than color.  I had way too many medium and dark value fabrics and had to add in a bunch of light fabrics.  It ended up being more mellow than I expected, but that's because I didn't have enough contrast.  It's a good lesson.
 Believe it or not this quilt is constructed from 12x12 blocks.  There are half a dozen different layouts that when mixed together give you the really random look.  That part was worth the cost of the pattern.

 For the back I did my usual improv strip pieced into a chunk of fabric.  I had so much more fun making the back than I did the front.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Madrona Road Challenge

I didn't realize I had never blogged my Madrona Road Challenge.  The DSMMQG decided that we would do small quilts.  I thought this fabric would coordinate well with my swoon quilt, so I decided to make my mini quilt into a pillow sham.  I was also under a serious time constraint as we had just moved and were going on vacation during my working time, so it needed to be small and simple.

I saw this pattern in a couple of different places right after I got the fabric, so it seemed like fate.  I did the math on how big a sham I wanted and then how many squares would fit evenly and took it from there.
 I thought I would try something new and hand quilted an outline inside each arrow.  I had pre-quilted it on my machine to hold everything together.  The hand stitching was just decorative.  It was hard!  I was using perl cotton and I could not get the needle through all the layers using the classic rocking technique.  I finally contented myself with just stitching through the top layer of fabric and not worrying about catching the batting and backing.
 I used one of my last chunks of Aviary on the backing as the colors worked perfectly and it shows of the large scale print so nicely.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Charity block

The DSMMQG is working on a charity quilt for a local hospice fundraiser and motorcycle ride.  You can find the post on the DSMMQG blog, here.  We made chevron blocks in Harley colors, black and orange.  I signed up to make a block and finish up the binding if it was needed.  I'm pleased with the way my block turned out.
This block and its construction was definitely out of my comfort zone.  I tend to like straight lines, square angles and no waste.  There was a lot of trimming that produced a ton of odd angled scraps.  That makes me super twitchy, but I forced myself to throw them out.  I've got a quilt that is almost finished that used a bunch of odd little angled scraps and I'm over them.  I'm trying to be more selective about the scraps I keep.

If you look carefully, you'll see I used scraps from both the front and back of my Madrona Road challenge project, which I just realized I never blogged.  So, next up, my Madrona Road Challenge, where you'll see some of these same fabrics.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Log Cabins around the world finished

I took the classes to use the long arm quilting machine at the LQS.  It really makes free motion quilting much easier for a big quilt.  I posted about piecing Log Cabins Around the World.  Quilting it was my first real project on the long arm machine.  It went so smoothly.  This quilt is around 60x80 and it only took a few hours.

 I just did a simple meandering squares.  I tried to keep my stitching lines 1 to 2 inches apart.  It is soft and cuddly.  I can't wait to wash it.

 The binding was a coordinating stripe from the same line, Around The World.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Goodbye Google Reader

So, as much as I've tried to deny it, Google Reader is going to end.  Over the last few months, I've tried a few different options, none are as good, but Bloglovin seems to be better than the rest.  So here is the ubiquitous claiming the blog for bloglovin post.  You're welcome for the free advertising bloglovin, with your stupid, stupid, stupid name.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Log Cabins Around the World

I bought this cheater panel ages ago.  It's by Jill McDonald from the what a world collection.  I got two of the panels because it was so cute.  I thought maybe I'd make some pillows for the basement family room.  Then, a year ago we put our house on the market and there, wasn't any point in sewing for the house since I wouldn't be able to use any of it as we were trying to neutralize the decor.

Fast forward to recently and in our new house we've been spending a lot more time in the basement.  I needed a quilt for the family room in the new basement.  What can I say, it's Iowa and everyone has a finished basement with a family room.  I cut apart each of the squares and then built log cabins around them.  I used a variety of bright fun colors.

My rule in building the log cabins was that one side would be solid and I would piece the other 3 sides. This allowed maximum efficiency in using my fabric and scraps.

I sashed the all the blocks with this pokka dot.  Which I think was from another Jill McDonald collection.

For the backing I sewed together four 1 yard cuts of Perfectly Perched.
I have big plans for this quilt.  It is going to be my first long arm quilted quilt.  Tune in soon for more adventures in quilting.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

FMQ practice

I took a bunch of the leftovers from my bedspread and sewed the together until they were 20x36 rectangles. I sandwiched them and went to town quilting them. I tried to use a different pattern on each fabric. It was a nice manageable size and the constraints of the piecing made a good design challenge. When I finished quilting them I trimmed to size and put a simple envelope closure on the back. A quick machine binding and I was done.

They look great with the spread.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Longest work in progress

I finally finished my longest WIP.  It is a king sized bed spread.  I deliberately don't use the word quilt, in regard to this piece, because it isn't a quilt.  This has no batting and thus is not a quilt.  I made this as a quilt as you go project so that I could do it all on my home machine.  I started with one width of fabric piece of flannel for the backing and added full width pieced strips that were between a foot and 18 inches tall.

I used a lot of Joel Dewberry Aviary II, along with some matching Kona solids and whatever other grey and yellow fabrics that struck my fancy.

The flannel backing helps to keep it from sliding off and it's generous size ensures that both Hubby and I remain covered.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Craft room

One of the things that excited me most about our new house was having my own room.  The former owners had used this interior basement room as a theatre room, but I knew instantly that it would be the perfect craft room.  It is next to my kids rooms and it has a door that I can close, so I never have to clean up after myself or worry about little people playing with my stuff.

I made myself a design wall with a queen sized batting and a cheap curtain rod.  I've got one quilt that I need to show you, that would not have been possible without the design wall.  I think I need to add another curtain rod at the bottom to weight it down and help get rid the wrinkles.

I really hope I'm not going to jinx myself, but we might be done with tradesmen.  We got the stairs rebuilt, the living room painted and the plumbing worked on...multiple times.  I've lost track of the number of appointments we've had and the people who have traipsed through.

Monday, May 20, 2013


Look at me go. I'm making some pillow shams with scraps and decided to try a few different designs with the quilting.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Baby girl's birthday

Today is Baby Girl's 5th birthday.  I've been busy getting ready for her party, cleaning and cooking.  I ended up inviting the entire families of her friends.  It's the kind of party I like, grown ups and children all having fun together.  It's more food to make, but less work at the party since people take care of their own kids.  I made the favors, hair bows for all the girls.  We had a bit of a Hello Kitty theme going, so I used Hello Kitty ribbon along with coordinating ribbon from my stash.
 Here's the birthday girl opening presents.  I can't believe she's 5!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Canning jars I spy

In my last post, I mentioned that I had been inspired to make heads in jars by a quilt a group of us made for a friend who was having a baby boy.  I found a picture of the front of the quilt.

This was a great quilt to make as a group.  We all used the same background, kona ash.  I requested that all the jars be 12.5 inches unfinished and that the jars not be sewn to each other.  I mixed them up and added a pit of extra to even up the rows.  The fabric for the shelves is hay stacks in charcoal from the Madrona Road line.  We all chose fun novelty fabrics for a boy.  I put the top together.  Another friend made the backing and a third quilted it.

I think this is a great option for an I-spy quilt that is a little different than the usual.