Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thanks for the Memories

Okay.  I couldn’t resist that title.  What I really need to say though is a big thank you to SewCalGal for organizing the Operation Homefront fundraiser with door prizes and My Memories for donating  their digital scrapbooking software.  I was really lucky to win this.   It’s only been a couple of days, but I have already had such fun!

I have found a favorite designer already as well.  DigiZines has kits that I love.  I don’t know what I’m doing yet but the software is so easy to use that I was able to dive in blind and get some things off the ground right away.

First up was calendar pages for my school notebook.  Digizines has a year long calendar program where each month she sends out the bits and pieces to make the next month’s calendar. 

Next up: steampunk! I love the whole steampunk look.  Makes my heart go pitter patter.  DigiZines has steampunk design kits.  No way I could resist that!  Because I’ve got this whole bookmark addiction going on, I decided my first real play would be with bookmarks.  I didn’t have a template for making them so I just eyeballed the lines.  Here is the whole page printed out.

And cut up with some cheesy rub-on laminate sheets as protection:

I do tend to be critical of my work, so I see things I’d change, but for a first try, well, that was just a blast.  I love them. 

It’s a good thing school isn’t revved up yet: I’m also trying to finish up a Valentine’s mini quilt.  I’m still practicing free motion quilting, but I decided to give myself a general idea of where in the border I want the hearts to go by marking the placement. 

Here my hearts are on the white-board:

And here’s the quilt with the hearts being placed (I just cut some hearts out of freezer paper so I could iron them on and trace around).

More in a few days . . .

And thanks again to My Memories and SewCalGal! 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hmmmm . . . .

You know how sometimes a quilt is just going along swimmingly, and then, right when it’s really too late to do anything about it, you have serious second thoughts?

Yes, well.

I think I’m good with this (I’m just not sure).

What I loved . . . the bargello pattern one of my friends designed, the gorgeous Ricky Tims hand-dyes, the foundation as it was sewing up. 

And then the hesitations: I originally had the outer border so that dark purple in the upper right was in the lower left.  Then at the last moment, I decided I was going to change the orientation of the quilt so what I thought was going to be the top (and which currently is) was the bottom.  But by the time I was ready to quilt the border, I decided I liked the first orientation better and so the purple is upper right.  I’d really be happier if it was lower left.  But, okay, so be it.

And then, I was really happy as I was part way through quilting the border.  (Free motion flames! – Yeah, Terrie!)

Until I finished . .  .

So, here’s what I wish I had done differently: balanced the spine so that it was symmetrical.  When I was quilting it, I thought I wanted the more free-form line.  In retrospect, the mutlitiple stitching over the spine really highlights it.  I wish it formed a symmetrical frame.  And I wonder if the quilting is calling too much attention to itself – and fighting with the piecing.  Hmmmm. . .

Am I losing it?  Over-thinking it?  Right on target?  Heck if I know.

Meanwhile, hey, my free motion skills continue to improve.  Not so I’d impress a quilt judge or anything like that – I had some problems with thread tension, over-stitching a few areas, and those stitches are not even.  (Call me a stitch de-regulator). 

But it’s definitely progress!  So, there it is.  Here’s a couple close-ups of the stitching.


I don’t think you can tell from the photos but I used a gold metallic thread so there’s some glitter here as well.

What definitely makes me happy though is the color.  That I am totally happy with!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Look, Ma! No Stencils!

One of my missions with improving my free-motion skills is to tackle quilt tops, large and small, that I have piled here and there.  I made up this Carpenter’s Wheel mini a while ago but I knew I wanted to do more than just quilt in the ditch to finish it off.  I just didn’t know what to do.  So . . . back first . . .

We’ve got pebbles and swirls and straight(ish) lines and leaves.  The front border is primarily black so I decided to quilt the border from the back – which explains the blue marking line that gave me a general idea of where to place the center vine and the borders to keep within. 

I used this design:

From this book:

Here’s the finished quilt from the back:

Close up of quilting on the front:

And the whole deal, finishing at 13 inches square.

I just love how it came out!  Here it is hanging in my kitchen:

I also made another Carpenter’s Wheel, a little smaller (a six inch finished block instead of the 8 inch finished), with a slight design change in the outer ring, done up in reproductions.  I love it, too.  It’s just so sweet – though it’s so traditional I’ll be using stencils when I finish up this one.

Here they both are for comparison: 

I love them both!

I may do this up as a pattern.  Just for a look-see, here it is in process -- with all the patches added to the foundation but the rows not yet sewn together:

If you are interested in seeing what other’s are up to with their free motion quilting projects, hop over here at Leah Day’s.  My Express Your Love panel arrived from Spoonflower and I hope to get it basted this coming week.  I love Leah’s open to anything attitude towards quilting this year.  School begins next week and I’m just crossing my fingers hoping I still get to keep up my free motion practice.  Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Circles and Squares

After all that angsting about the border quilting for the courthouse steps, I finally found the plan I liked.

I knew I wanted curves.  I kept practicing feathers but 1) while I am improving, they still aren’t really good enough to be showcased yet, and 2) I wasn’t really happy with the idea of them on this quilt.

But I just happened to be at Joann’s when they just happened to have 50% off on their quilting notions and this ruler jumped out at me.  Jumped, I tell you.

And right there pictured on the cover was the design I wanted to try.  How is that for serendipity?  What I like?  I get curves, a modern vibe, and an echo of the quilt block: the block echoes squares, and the quilting echoes circles.  Yup.  I’m happy with that.

Isn’t it always just amazing what a difference fabric choices make?  Here’s the latest courthouse steps perched next to the version in Miniatures in Minutes.  Completely different vibe!

If you are at all curious about how I worked this version with the Fold and Sew foundation from Miniatures in Minutes, you can see a couple of photos in the blog entry here.

With the borders, the mini finished at 14 inches square.

Ironic though that I wound up using a stencil and a walking foot to quilt this – after all that free motion practice!  However, I am still free motioning up a storm.  I’m working on my own true love’s lap quilt.  Perhaps I’ll have a photo in a day or two. 

Though, truth in advertising right up front: it’s a good thing hubby said he doesn’t care about the quilting.  It’s a practice quilt and boy, does it look it!  Uneven stitches, uneven stitching.  I’m fluffing and stuffing and pushing and shoving and that baby is still tough to move around the machine. 

If I take a photo to post on the blog, it’s going to be from across the room.  Trust me, close-ups would be scary!  (Plus, you know, my fears of public humiliation . . . )

Thursday, January 10, 2013


So, the top is done, and it’s time to think borders.  It’s also time, I think, to stop practicing and get to a real quilt. (A bit scary, that). 

First, I considered an Angela Walters design combining swirls and pebbles. 

I decided I loved the combination and definitely want to use it somewhere but decided it was too busy for this quilt.

Then I thought I’d practice cornering feathers.

I need some more practice on corners but, hey, my feathers are improving.  I’ll admit, they need to get better still, but they are a whole lot better than where I was when I started.  Cool beans.

I also decided to just try drawing a bunch of possibilities.  I know that I want to contrast the angular nature of the courthouse steps with something curving in the borders.

I like a lot of those ideas; in fact, the third one in from the right is going to go onto the bargello quilt, I think.  But for the courthouse steps, I’m thinking a plain old feather is my best possibility.  I want curves but not fussy. 

More drawing:

So, there will be a little more practice today – a little more fitting a feather into a narrow border and definitely more corner practice.  And then, it’s time to just do it. 

Nothing ventured.  Nothing gained.  All that. 


Meanwhile, I’ve been browsing the internet, particularly Pinterest, and finding fabulous inspiration.  All those incredible free motion quilters certainly point out just how far I have to go (which would be something resembling a quantum leap), but they also provide me with a pretty clear idea of where I want to be.

Of course, two weeks from now the semester is going to have started.  A  few weeks after that, some committee work I signed up for will begin, and for two months or so,  it will chew up just about all my time.  I just don’t know how much practice I’ll be able to get in once that show begins.  I’m hoping, though.  Definitely hoping.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Challenge Begins

Well, I had just been thinking that one of my intentions for the new year might be to make up some more miniature quilts when I came across this challenge from Persimon Dreams.  A square in a square quilt?  Oh, yeah.  There’s a good reason to pull out Miniatures in Minutes

So, first, I opened up EQ and designed a mini using the Courthouse Steps foundation.  Just for fun, here’s a view of my first tinkerings:

1 EQ7 courthouse steps image

And I like that.  But what I love about playing in EQ is how I never know where I’m going to end up.  It more often than not doesn’t look anything at all like where I began.  Case in point, here’s the quilt design I ended up with:

1 EQ7 courthouse steps image 2

I really liked the soft colors on the second version.  Plus I really liked the more modern vibe of the scattered colors.  So, here’s the very start: first patches on the foundation.

For those who know my technique, you know that I typically mark on the foundation what patches go where.  Given how the coloring on this is so random, I decided it would be easier to just lay them out round by round.  So this is a picture of the final round of “logs” in the order they’ll be added to the foundation.

Here’s where I’m currently at (I had to stop to go accomplish other things – it’s so annoying how life can interfere with quilting!).  To help keep myself on track, I crossed out each round as I finished it.

I am loving how this is coming out.  Exactly as I imagined it!

And, for the record, that’s not the only mini quilting I’ve been up to.  I have another new year mini in process as well.  A good friend that I met through my Miniatures in Minutes classes came up with the idea for a mini bargello.  She figured out all the dimensions.  I drew the foundation.  What a great, great design! 

I’ll show her (totally wow) versions at a later date, but here’s mine in process.  She’s got a winter and a fall themed bargello, so we decided my task was to do summer.  What a great excuse to pull out some of my beloved Ricky Tims hand-dyes!

Here it is, in process: all the patches added but the rows still needing to be sewn together.

I’m in love with that, too.  I’m hoping that with both of these I can free motion something cool in the borders.  We’ll see . . . I’ve only got through Sunday to finish up the square in a square if I’m going to meet the challenge deadline.  (Well, it certainly helps that school is still out!)