Monday, August 29, 2011

New pillows

If I'm not the crazy quilt lady yet, I'm most certainly the crazy pillow lady.  I change the covers on our living room pillows as often as some people change their clothes.  I love pillows because they allow me to try out techniques on a small scale, and I've learned a lot from all my pillows.  Here is my collection:

1. Christmas Tree Pillow_1, 2. A Practice Pillow, 3. Christmas Strings Pillow 1, 4. argyle_pillow_2, 5. IMG_2327, 6. IMG_2328, 7. Central Park HST Pillow 1, 8. Valentine's Pillow Front, 9. IMG_1826, 10. IMG_8376, 11. IMG_8360, 12. IMG_8364, 13. IMG_8223, 14. IMG_2688, 15. IMG_9232, 16. A new pillow for our bed, 17. bed pillows, 18. Churn dash pillow front, 19. Christmas PIllows, 20. IMG_2329

The problem is I'm getting tired of patchwork pillows.  I'll probably get fired as a quilter for saying that.  I wanted something bold but reasonably simple for new pillow covers.  I order these fabrics from  I love all the fabric designs, but the orange one was tagged as an indoor/outdoor fabric.  It is most certainly an outdoor fabric.  I don't like how it feels, but I went ahead and sewed it up for now.  I'm still searching for the perfect home decor orange fabric for this set.  These go well with the Color Wheel quilt I've hung in the room.  It adds a nice amount of color to the room.

And, check out the invisible zippers!  I'm in love with these.  I'll never go back, and I'll never do an envelope back on a pillow again.  I am thinking of placing an order of invisible zippers from an Etsy vendor because they are 1/2 the price, plus I'd love having some on hand.

Finally, I'm beginning to work with this stack.  These are the fabrics I plan to use for my new argyle quilt.  I wanted this to be an autumn quilt.  I plan to back it with multiple fall fabric fat quarters I have on hand and chose the colors based on those fabrics.   I chose Kona Gold for the main color as well as Tangerine, Caribbean, Tomato, Papaya, and Olive.  Now I'm debating on how I will put this together and document it for a quilt along.  I was thinking of using four colors for the diamond stripes with the other color for the binding.  I know traditional argyle usually only includes 2-3 colors, but I can't decide which ones to leave out.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dresden Baby Quilt--Finished

I finished up this little quilt last week.  I had such debates on how to complete it, but finally decided to go with another row of solid borders. The finished size is about 42" square.

The backing is a corduroy minkie.  I love how soft it is, but I really hated working with it.  It felt sticky as I quilted, and I had a hard time moving the quilt smoothly.  I'm still finding minkie fuzz around my house.  I also had some issues with little tufts of the minkie being brought to the top of the quilt in the quilting threads.  I'm not sure I'll try it again, but I do love the results.  It's perfectly soft for a baby quilt.

The fabric is Sanctuary in the Warm Palette by Patty Young.  The binding is Zen Garden in brown from this line.

It now lives with it's new owner--a beautiful new baby girl.   She and her family are moving to Italy soon, and I'm quite sad about that.  Her mom is one of my favorite quilting buddies.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Basic Sewing

I've been asked to teach a basic sewing class for the ladies in our church.  I'd like to ask for some suggestions.  Do you have favorite basic sewing books or blog posts out there?  I will probably start with machine usage and maintenance, but am unsure how to go from there.  Narrowing this down to an hour is a little overwhelming.  I could talk for hours about sewing.  If you were teaching someone new to sewing, what would be the most important things for them to learn?

(Edit: This is just a basic sewing class.  Some of these women have never even used a sewing machine.  Although, I would love to teach a basic quilting class to some of them down the road.  Our church actually owns three 20-year-old machines that have barely been used.  Members are able to use them for short amounts of time.  I'll probably teach with those since that is what the women will have access to if they don't have their own machine.)

On a side note, my Color Wheel Quilt was featured on Modern Day Quilts yesterday.  I love that site. Heather always posts such amazing projects.  I'm thrilled she included mine.  I have found so many great bloggers through her posts.

Finally, a post without pictures is boring so I thought I would share what I had to clean up yesterday.  I like my Diet Coke COLD--like with little tiny ice chunks in it.  I'm pretty good at this.  If it's already cold, it just need a few extra minutes in the freezer.  If it's not cold, it needs about 35 minutes in the back of the freezer.  I'm super forgetful, so I just set the timer for when I need to pull it out.  Yesterday I forgot to set the timer.

I'm sure I'll be finding Coke ice chunks for months.

The funny thing is that in the afternoon I heard a very loud noise, like a gunshot.  I'm pretty sure that was the top of the can exploding.  
I have actually done this once before.  I really need to remember to set that timer. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pixelated Color Wheel Quilt Design Process

My first step in the design process for my Color Wheel Quilt was to cut a lot of little squares.  I used my AccuQuilt Go Baby 2" square die for this.  I ordered this die specifically with this project in mind.  I admit I'm not super happy with the results.  I cut a total of about 250 pieces of fabric or probably 75 cuts (stacking 3-4 pieces at a time).  After cutting just the first charm pack, I started to notice my cutting mat was warping a bit.  By the 4th charm pack my cutting mat was quite warped, and I realized I was having significant distortion in my cuts.  Rather than having perfect 2" squares, they were short--some almost 1/8" short.  Some of the edges were also a bit wavy.  After realizing this I started placing a piece of white copy paper on top of each stack of fabric to be cut.  This helped a lot, but they are still not perfect 2" squares.  I probably won't be using this die much in the future.  I consulted AccuQuilt on this and was told the cutting mat should last 100's of cuts and the problem is likely a result of not cutting with the lengthwise grain.  I did more more experimenting and still had the exact same problems even when cutting with the grain as directed.  For some reason this die seemed to wear out my cutting mat far too quickly.  I had to alter my seam allowances to make everything fit due to the shorter squares.  Some of my seams don't meet due this this.  Frustrated is a nice way to say how I felt.  I had a few choice words in mind when I realized how off my squares were.  Luckily it all worked out in the end.

So, on to better things.  The following pictures show my design process.

I sorted everything by the six main colors.

I then sorted them even more specifically and arranged each stack from light to dark.

I began the layout process with four white squares and worked out in all directions with other basic colors.

My overall goal was to make it look like a photograph that is zoomed all the way in to the point you see the individual pixels.  If you've ever done this, you've seen that some pixels seem to be the wrong color or in the wrong place.  Some of the squares don't fit perfectly where they are located at in the design, and that's one of the things I love about the quilt.

This stack didn't make the cut.  It's mostly the Dusty palette that didn't fit in well with the other colors.  They were just too muted for the look I was going for.

The final design was 29x29 squares.  I pieced it in rows of 9 or 10 depending on the section.

I don't have any pictures of the quilting process, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be.  I simply started in the middle of the white squares and went around and around and around.  I wouldn't recommend this with a quilt much larger than this.  The inner 6" or so were quite difficult, but as I worked my way out toward the edges of the circle, it wasn't a problem at all to turn the quilt. 

I admit this is one of my favorite quilts, but I always have more love for my quilts that are uniquely mine rather than one starting from a pattern or other design.  It makes me happy to have it on our wall. Although I still think it's a little weird to hang quilts for some reason.  I think it just makes me feel old to hang quilts on my wall.  I feel like I will become the crazy quilt lady.  Oh wait, I probably already am.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Kona Challenge--Pixelated Color Wheel

Our chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild just finished up the Kona Challenge.  Last night was our show and tell for the challenge.  We had some fabulous quilts and projects.  I was amazed at the diversity as well as the skill in our group.  I'm always inspired by those in our quilt guild.

For the challenge we were each able to use a Brights Kona charm pack from Robert Kauffman to make anything from a pillow to a large quilt.  The only rule was that you couldn't add any prints, although you could add as many different solids as you wanted.  I had the advantage of already having Kona charm packs on hand.  Part of my prize as a runner-up in the Fat Quarterly contest a while ago was a stack of charm packs--one in each Kona colorway.  For this quilt I used two Brights packs, one Darks, one Classic, and one Pastel.  Most of the Dusty palette didn't make the cut.

The color wheel was my inspiration with this project.  I was going for a gradual color change, but wasn't seeking to perfectly imitate the color wheel.  I learned a lot about color during the design process.  It was certainly a challenge to place some colors, but I loved the process. I would love to make another project like this after completing a few rounds of the Color Wheel Charm Swap.  I think it would be a great idea for prints as well.

The individual squares are 1.5" finished.  The quilt size is about 44" square.  I'll share my design process in another post next week.  I quilted this in a spiral beginning at the center four white squares, working my way from the center out.  The quilting is spaced about 1/2" apart (just the width of my walking foot from the needle to the edge). 

Because I designed this as a wall hanging, I chose not to do anything on the back.  This is an Ikea bed sheet I had on hand.

Although, I do love how the quilting looks on the solid sheet.

I played with the image size on this.  I love the look of it shrunk down.  Maybe I'll turn it into a new favicon for my blog.

We decided to have secret voting on our favorite quilts of the night.  Everyone brought their projects in bags, and then they were laid out and numbered for voting by a group member who didn't do the challenge.  I was super excited when mine received first place.  Surprisingly, no one guessed this was my quilt.  Several people agreed it isn't my normal style.  I'm just not sure yet what my normal style is.  In the meantime this quilt is hanging in my living room and has totally expanded the range of colors I can incorporate into my decorating.  I already have fabric for new throw pillow covers on the way. 

There were multiple winners for the night, and we were each able to choose a prize.  For some reason I decided to choose the FQ bundle of Habitat.  We're doing the Habitat fabric challenge for the next couple months.  Everyone received fat 1/8's, but there was leftover fabric that became one of the prizes.  The problem is this fabric isn't my style.  My challenge is turning it into something I love.  We'll see how I do.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

4x5 Modern Quilt Bee Blocks

A while ago I posted about the new 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee.  There are about 100 people participating.  Everyone is divided into groups of six.  You make five blocks- one for each member of your group.  Groups are reassigned four times a year.  I lucked out and have a great group.  It's been so fun to see what people come up with.  Each member requests certain colors and everyone else has free reign to create fabulous quilt blocks in those colors.  I finished these up last night.  I used the tutorial by Kate at Swim, Bike, Sew for the Summer Sampler Series. 

While we only had to make five blocks, I decided to make this one for myself.  My colors I chose were aqua and yellow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Color Wheel Charm Swap Update

The fabric has been arriving almost daily.  I actually didn't receive any yesterday, and my husband feigned shock.  Today four came.  I am sure my mail man thinks I'm crazy.  In addition to all the fabric packages, we have also had several personal packages arrive in the past week.  He has come to my door multiple times handing me 4 or 5 packages.  I should warn him it will get worse before it gets better.

We are 1/4 of the way there.  Fourteen people have sent fabric, and I'm getting really excited with our assortment.  I think I'm about done with the international packages.  I allowed swappers outside the US to purchase fabric from US shops and have it shipped directly to me, and I would cut them.  It's been more work, but my daughter has loved using the scraps in her art creations, and I've added some selvages to my growing collection. 

This is the assortment from last week.

Here is what I have received so far this week:

My crate is starting to fill up.  I might have to use a second crate before we're done with this.  

All the swappers are doing such a great job choosing fabrics to fit their assigned colors.  I worried that I was being too specific when I assigned colors, but everyone has come through with some fabulous choices. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Revamping an old bag

This is my favorite purse.  I love that it's orange.  I've received many compliments on it, even from my eye doctor.  It's bright and fun and different.

The problem is that I hated using it.  It was one massive black hole.  Everything I put in there disappeared.  There were also other problems.  The lining was cheap and flimsy.  It didn't give any shape to the bag, plus it was falling apart.  The magnetic clasp and also worked its way loose and was lost somewhere inside the bag.  I almost gave up on the orange purse and donated it, but then remembered that I have some sewing ability and decided to make a new and functional lining for it. 

The first step was to unpick the old lining.  I hated how dark the lining was.  The pattern seemed to camouflage anything inside.

I chose some home decor fabric from Joel Dewberry's new Heirloom line.  I used the original lining as my pattern.  

I even unpicked and salvaged the old zipper.  
 I didn't have quite enough of the yellow print to do the zipper pocket so I threw in some blue just for fun.

I added multiple pockets on each side of the bag.  

I also added a key fob because I was always losing my keys.  The little blue guy in this photo is a tiny light so I can search my purse in the dark.

After sewing the lining together, it was relatively easy to sew it back into the purse.  I'm so excited to have a functional purse again.  The heavier lining fabric gives the bag more stability and shape.  I love the extra pockets because it makes it so much easier to keep track of things.  

Why didn't I think of doing this sooner?

In other bag related news, my sister surprisingly declined to use the ginormous bag for a gym bag.  I took it to the farmer's market this weekend.  It fits 13 ears of corn, a loaf of basil Asiago bread, and a bag of apricots and tomatoes.... or a two-year-old.