Wednesday, February 27, 2013

WIP Wednesday: 2/27/2013

I have been in a giant rut lately. I feel as though I lost all momentum on projects. I haven't been sewing much lately. I also haven't had any projects that really get me excited--the ones I can't wait to dive back into once the kids are in bed. I haven't had one of those in quite a while.

I started three new WIPs this past week and am feeling pretty excited about each of them. Forget the fact that I have multiple WIPs in boxes just waiting to be finished. My sewing time is becoming more and more scarce, and I've decided to only spend that time on things I love rather than something I feel obligated to finish.

I did have a couple small finishes this week. These pouches have been cut out and sitting in a box for close to a year. I've wanted to finish them for sometime, but kept putting it off. These are the first pouches I've made from the Perfect Zip Pattern by Elizabeth Hartman and really enjoyed putting them together. I made them from home dec fabric I had laying around just to try the pattern. I'll be making another one soon in fabric I love more.

Now, onto my new projects. This week is a bit of overload with Notting Hill. I got a full fat quarter bundle of this line from Westwood Acres a while back with a different project in mind. Once I started pulling it out I decided to use the colorways separately and just dive in. I knew I liked this fabric, but didn't realize how much I really loved it until I started cutting. There is something about these prints that I just love. Plus I really like each individual colorway (pretty rare for me). Intrepid Thread and Pink Castle Fabrics have most of the prints in all the colorways. I Don't Do Dishes has the Poppy colorway.

I mentioned last week that I'd be heading to a little retreat hosted by Emily from Crazy Old Ladies Quilts. Unfortunately, due to the hub's busy schedule on Friday I was only able to make it up to the retreat for a short time on Saturday for my trunk show and a little extra time to chat. The time I was there was so fun. I left wishing I had been there the whole time. I was so jealous of the party. I'm hoping to make it to the full retreat next time Emily hosts one.

While I was there I borrowed Amy's Go cutter and 9" hexagon die. I'm convinced this is the perfect size hexagon. I actually just ordered more fabric in this colorway because I want to make my quilt bigger. I'll probably have to cut those by hand since I'm not sure when I'll see Amy again to borrow her Go. I plan to just make a pattern out of template plastic. There is something so fun and simple about hexagons. I love how they look in a quilt. I planned mine with some white to break up the prints. I'll definitely be doing some rearranging once I get more fabric cut.

For a while now I've been searching for the perfect block to super-size and turn into a quilt. I love Jeni's Giant Vintage Star Quilt and wanted to do something similar. The other evening while glancing through my favorite quilting book, 5500 Quilt Block Designs, I came across that perfect block. The wheels immediately started turning as I figured out the best way to approach this crazy project. It requires paper piecing on some giant blocks, but I'm really excited. I've draw up my designs and started stitching. I haven't decided if I'll actually share pictures before it's finished, but this is my box of fabric so far. I'm mixing in some Art Gallery solids and ovals. The colors match almost perfectly.

Finally, this fabric is washed and pressed--ready to become a new bag. I've planned everything and am ready to start cutting! Now the problem is just finding the time to do it all.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday: 2.20.2013

I'm feeling a little sorry for myself today as many of my friends head off to QuiltCon. I'm saving my money for 2015, but at least my quilts are there. Colleen even sent me a picture of one of them hanging in the gallery. I've enjoyed seeing pictures pop up on Instagrm of the events. I'm living vicariously through all of you posting down there.

In the meantime I'm gathering quilts. My weekend will not be a complete pity party. Emily of Crazy Old Ladies Quilts is hosting a retreat this weekend and invited me to do a trunk show on Saturday. I'm excited to just go sew with everyone and share my quilts. This is my stack so far. These are all completed quilts I haven't blogged about yet. I'm debating which other quilts to take. Unfortunately, between QuiltCon and the MQG traveling exhibit, four of my favorites are away at the moment so I won't be able to take those.

Once this weekend is over I have two big projects lined up. First, I plan to sew a new version of this bag and document the process for a tutorial. I've had several requests for it and am finally getting myself in gear to do a tutorial. This bag is a little lot worse for wear and needs replaced. I used it a lot. It is the perfect size for that stage between diaper bag and purse. I still end up carrying lots of stuff when I'm out with the kids, but I don't want a full-on diaper bag anymore. Between water bottles, snacks and other things, my normal purse just doesn't cut it on outings.

I'm changing multiple things about the way I constructed this bag to make it simpler, more functional, and more sturdy. I realized I did several things the hard way when making this bag the first time. I just ordered some Notting Hill in Poppy from Joel Dewberry's Home Dec weight fabric. I love this colorway. One lesson I learned with this purse is that lots of white is a very bad thing for a bag. I think the darker fabric will hide stains and dirt much better. Also, I used quilting cotton on this bag and really regretted it. It just didn't wear well. I'm hoping the sateen holds up better.

My other big goal and WIP is to finish up my new version of my Crooked Cabins pattern. I have found that computer time has been pretty elusive lately. I just haven't had much time to sit down and work on it. It seems life keeps getting crazier and crazier. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Pixel Project Post 1: Finding Inspiration

Since it's completion a couple of years ago, I've received multiple questions about my Pixelated Color Wheel. Readers have asked me to write a pattern, others a tutorial or QAL series. The reality is that a project like this is far to challenging to write into a pattern. I used 200+ solids in this small, 45" quilt. Also I love this quilt too much. It's become quite iconic of my work. I honestly wouldn't want a lot of people duplicating is exactly by providing a pattern. I'm a little possessive of this piece.

Pixel quilts are all over. There are some amazing ones I've seen on Flickr. I personally love designing with small squares. I am constantly amazed at the patterns that can be developed from arranging these tiny squares precisely. 

One of my favorite pieces of art has always been A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by George Seurat. When I was 12, I was able to see it in the museum while visiting my aunt's family. I really have no idea why, as a 12-year-old kid from a rural town, I was so in love with this painting, but I was. I was so excited when I learned it was at the museum. I bought a poster from the museum gift shop which I hung in my room, even through college. I admit to knowing very little about art/art history. I just think this is an interesting, unique painting. What I love most about it is Seurat's technique of Pointillism. I love that this work is made of dots. 

Perhaps my love of this painting has led to my desire to create quilts from tiny squares. A friend has told me several times, I have a sickness--particularly when I talk about even more projects with small squares. 

I have officially started a new pixel quilt. This time I'm using 1.5" squares (1" finished). It probably is a sickness. Rather than hosting a QAL series, I plan to document my creative process in a series of posts here on the blog. I think pixel quilts lend themselves to a lot of creativity. The design is completely up to you. There are no pre-designed blocks to determine the outcome. 

You could place the squares on point as in my Color Quilt. You could choose to make the squares a touch larger. These are 2" finished. You could use solids or prints. You could design your quilt free-hand as I did or use an image converted to a pattern (I've never done this, but there are some very cool ones out there). There are so many options to making your pixel quilt unique. 

Inspiration can be found anywhere. If you are considering doing a pixel quilt, start looking for ideas. I'm not talking about in other quilts. Look at photographs, your surroundings, nature, etc. Look at color and placement. Get ideas from your life. My brain started working on the idea of a new pixel quilt when I came across this photo on Pinterest. I love this image and knew it needed to become a quilt. For me there was something very fun about the bright colored bricks against the neutral background. My quilt will look nothing like this image when I'm done, but it was a perfect starting point. 
Source: Ann Cantelow's Photo of the Dav via Pinterest
After thinking this project through for quite a while, I translated that image into a quilt idea. Most of my quilt ideas don't happen overnight. I honestly think about it for months. I created a rough design in Photoshop. This is not a pattern, but simply a sketch to remind me of color placement as I create the blocks. I wanted the majority of the color to fall in the lower right of the quilt. I originally planned to make (9) 12-in blocks. I have created two blocks so far, and plans have changed. I'll share more about that as I continue to write posts about this project.

I'm excited to share this process with you. I'm setting no schedule for myself. I have no deadline. This project might take me a year, but it will be fun to document as I go. Please let me know if you have specific questions about pixel quilts, and I'll try to answer those in future posts. I will not be discussing creating a pattern from an image or design. I don't do pixel quilts from patterns. I learned this the hard way when sewing my Tokyo Subway Quilt. That is not a project I remember too fondly. For me it's about arranging and rearranging those tiny square until I like the outcome. I know this type of design is hard for some people, but it's my favorite part of the process. That's why I'm choosing to share my full process on this particular project. I enjoy learning about someone's creative process because it helps me in my own. If you've considered doing a pixel project, don't feel as though you have to make a quilt. I'll also be sharing a tutorial in a month or so for Pellon Projects. We'll just make a simple pixelated pillow together.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Heather Ross Snapshots Quilt

This quilt has been a long time in the making. I think I started collecting scraps for this about two years ago. Finally, about six months ago I committed to what I would actually do with them and started sewing. I got sidetracked because I didn't like how it was turning out and put it in the drawer for a few months. Sometimes I can complete a quilt start-to-finish in a short time. Sometimes they have to sit for a while so I can decide the best way to approach the project. This one definitely got better with time. I love how it turned out. I'm glad I took the time to really think it through.

Although I adore all the Heather Ross prints, I'm honestly not a hoarder. Many of these came from the donations of others. I gladly just took their scraps. I had a lot of fun putting this together. All the colored solids are Pure Elements by Art Gallery. Many of these colors can be found at Intrepid Thread. Also, Pink Castle Fabrics just started carrying some of the colors.

This is a twin quilt at 66" x 88". It's actually the perfect size to wrap completely around me while working at the computer. I love nice, big quilts to wrap up in. I don't think it will end up on a bed anytime soon.

I backed it with Sketch Flannel in Lipstick found at Pink Castle Fabrics. I felt daring using this bright pink on the back, but I love it. Flannel-backed quilts are so nice and cozy. As you can tell, I need it here. There is more than a foot of snow in our backyard. It makes it hard to photograph a white quilt with so much snow around.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Baked Bananas with Coconut Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

How about some yummy food for a Friday?

We have a favorite sushi restaurant. When we really feeling like splurging, we get the baked bananas dessert. I don't even know the real name, and they don't list desserts on their online menu. I'm sure it's something fancy, but we're going for descriptive today--Baked Bananas with Coconut Ice Cream and Salted Caramel Sauce. It's AMAZING!

We just went out last weekend and experienced this dessert again. I decided I was on a mission to replicate it. I figured I could Google it and find something similar, but I didn't. After searching and adjusting multiple recipes this is what I came up with. It's happily very similar to the dessert at the restaurant (The hubs reported he couldn't tell a difference). Our kids did not appreciate the baked bananas, but they loved the coconut ice cream. I just think the whole combo is quite enjoyable.

I didn't take any pictures of the process because I figure you all are capable of making this without a gazillion pictures from me. I didn't really think about blogging this until I was almost done, and the husband deemed it a great success. It's pretty straight forward and easy, but takes some thinking ahead.

Salted Caramel Sauce:
Head over to BettyCrockerAss and make her Salted Caramel Sauce. It's the best there is. Don't get lazy and buy regular caramel from the store. You need this.

Coconut Ice Cream:
14-oz can Cream of Coconut (This is the sweetened stuff from the mixers aisle. Don't use coconut milk.)
1 1/2 cups cream
1 cup milk
Stir everything together and dump in an ice cream freezer. This was the perfect amount for my Kitchenaid. This ice cream does not totally set up in the ice cream freezer. Once it's soft-serve consistency, move it to a separate bowl and place in the freezer for several hours until it's nice and firm.

Toasted Coconut:
Place about 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut in a shallow pan and toast under the broiler until it begins to brown. Set aside.

Baked Bananas:
2-3 ripe, but firm bananas (slightly green on the stem, not overripe at all)
2 TB melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
Slice bananas in half lengthwise. Place flat side down in a greased baking dish. Mix melted butter and sugar, spread on bananas. Place under the broiler for about 8 minutes. Remove when the bananas begin browning on top and the sugar mixture is bubbly.

Serve bananas immediately, topped with a couple scoops of ice cream. Drizzle with caramel and sprinkle liberally with toasted coconut. It's quite divine (and I don't even like bananas).

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Spread the Love Giveaway Winner

We have a winner! This giveaway was sponsored by Our Epoch Fabric Shop. It included a Jelly Roll of Comma by Zen Chic, two Mini Charm Packs (Candies) of Posey by Aneela Hoey, and a 10 pack of Clover Wonder Clips. Thanks to Jennifer from Ellison Lane Quilts for organizing this blog hop. My original tutorial post for the heart pillow can be found here. chose #100!  That is Cecilia who said, "Cute Pillow! Thanks for the tutorial." Congrats Cecilia! I'll be passing your info along to Jennifer.

I received several questions about the pillow that I thought I'd just answer here in case others had the same questions:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A bit of everything

There is something wonderful about having January behind us. The weather here has been miserable. It was so cold, and with the cold comes horrible pollution. We are surrounded by beautiful mountains that unfortunately trap the pollution when it gets really cold. It was so bad for a while, it was recomended that children not play outside (not that we were really tempted when it was 10 degrees). We were all going stir-crazy. To top that off I was sick the last two weeks of the month--so sick I didn't even want to sew for several days. I've been a bit disconnected for a while. It was nice having a few posts stored up to use when I'm not getting anything done. This post will be full of a bunch of randomness since I haven't been in this space much recently.

I feel like I'm trying to catch up on everything. I'm trying to get our lives a bit more organized. I'm so tired of clutter and stuff.   When I finally started feeling better toward the end of last week, I got it in my head to repaint the twins' room. They had literally destroyed the walls. I patched multiple spots that were more than a foot square. When she was younger, Miss A would bash her crib against the wall, and then pick at the the paint in the dents she created and peel it off. The walls were a mess. It's so nice to have freshly painted walls in there. I'm coming up with plans to decorate their room with vinyl (I still don't really dare hang anything on their walls yet). Pictures to come when I decide what to do.

I also shipped off these three quilts this morning.

They are headed to QuiltCon for the quilt show. All three quilts I entered were accepted. I was originally excited when I learned my quilts were accepted, but then started dragging my feet. I actually didn't get them ready to ship until just yesterday. I have very mixed feelings about quilt shows. I don't quilt to compete. I do it because I enjoy it. I don't really like the idea of my quilts being judged. They aren't perfect. The bindings and quilting aren't perfect. I struggle with knowing that someone who is "knowledgeable" about quilting will judge my quilts and decide if they are good or bad. How do you compare two quilts? How do you decide which is better? I like my quilts, and that's what matters. It really doesn't matter to me if others don't. I try very hard not to compare my work to the projects other people sew. I share my quilts because I love them. I get excited to share something new I've created. I follow other quilting blogs because I love seeing what others create. To me this whole hobby is about having fun and coming up with something unique, not making something for another person to pick apart and judge. Last week I had almost decided not to send my quilts at all. I talked it over with the hubs quite a bit and finally decided over the weekend to prep and ship them. I knew I would probably regret it if I just chickened out. I still didn't feel settled about the whole thing as I shipped them off this morning. It's not really about whether I win or not, I just don't like knowing that in a couple weeks someone will be holding my quilt next to another person's quilt and deciding which is better. Who really has the right to decide that? Beyond basic good construction, a "great" quilt is simply in the eye of the beholder. To me it's mostly opinion.

For some fun news, my darling friend Colleen from the Busy Bean used my Honeycomb pattern to sew up the warm quilt kit through Marmalade Fabrics. I admit that I love how it turned out. She did a great job. I love the bright colors together.
Source: The Busy Bean

Sometime in all the craziness, I did get this quilt finished. This is actually the back. The front is a remake of Crooked Cabins which I plan to release as a pdf pattern toward the end of the month. If you missed that issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited, you'll have another chance to get the pattern. I'm putting together directions for two different layouts, plus tips on designing your own layout.

Here's to a great, healthy February. As a side note, I don't plan to host any link-up parties this year including Slash the Stash and End of the Hallway that I did last year. Because of other things going on in my life, I'm trying to simplify things on the blog.

Sponsor News:

Pink Castle Fabrics still has 15% off all inventory. Also, US orders over $50 ship free. The code is MOVING15 and is good through Wednesday.

The Intrepid Thread is offering 10% off through February 13. Use the code SWEETHEART.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Reverse Applique Heart Pillow

I was excited when Jennifer contacted me to participate in her Spread the Love Valentines Blog Hop. It gave me the motivation to actually make this pillow I've had in mind for a while.

I'm not terribly into cutesy Valentines Day decor. I'm not against it; it's just not my style. I did want to make something fun for Valentines that wasn't over the top cutesy. I hung onto every tiny scrap of the Oakshott Cottons I received last year, and have been saving them for a fun, small project. They were perfect for this pillow.

To make this pillow you need:
(2) 20.5" squares linen (I used Essex Yarn Dyed in Flax)
(2) 20.5" squares heavyweight interfacing
20" invisible zipper
Red scraps
1 piece heavy weight interfacing the size of your shape

First, draw your heart (or any shape you want). I wanted mine to fill only the lower quarter of my pillow so I went fairly small. Start piecing those scraps together. When I'm improv piecing, I tend to begin by sewing smaller pieces together to make strips or sections. I then sew those together with the larger scraps. Don't overthink it. Just have fun.

Keep adding to your improv block until it's about a 1/2" larger than your shape, all the way around.

Attach the interfacing to the back of your linen squares as well as the back of your pieced block. (I forgot to attach my interfacing until I had already sewn my block down so the pictures don't reflect this).

Decide how to position your shape on the pillow.

Now layer all the pieces. Each piece will be right side down. First place the linen square, then pieced block, then paper shape. Pin all layers together well.

Carefully stitch around the shape on the back. Before stitching, use the top thread to pull the bobbin thread up through your fabric to the top. Hold both threads out of the way and begin stitching. This will prevent a bird's nest from forming on the front of the pillow.

Trim the excess. I left about 3/8" - 1/2" around my stitching.

Very carefully separate the two layers and begin cutting out the linen inside the stitching lines. I choose to sew two stitching lines to add strength.


Now make your pillow by inserting the invisible zipper and sewing around the perimeter of the pillow. Check out The Busy Bean for a tutorial on invisible zippers if you haven't done one before. It's my favorite way to finish off a pillow cover.

Our giveaway today comes from Our Epoch Fabric Shop. Andi is generously giving away a Jelly Roll of Comma by Zen Chic, two Mini Charm Packs (Candies) of Posey by Aneela Hoey, and a 10 pack of Clover Wonder Clips! I wish I could win. To enter, just leave a comment. Please make sure I have your email address (in your profile or the comment) if you want to win.

Don't forget to check out all the other tutorials and giveaways that happened this week!



Blog: Owen's Olivia - Giveaway: During Quiet Time