Tuesday
Jun122012

Farmer's Wife Favorites, Fussy Cuts & Failures

That's right.  I've got some of each.  Wanna see?

Favorites:

All time favorite:

Other all time favorite:

Honorable Mentions:

(reminds me of my wedding)

(has the most pieces ... at 64 ... )

(because I went all surreal and it.felt.GOOD!)

Fussy Cuts:

Best Fussy Cut:

I was gonna pick this one because it's SUPPOSED to be a tea cup sitting on a doily,

but my nine year old offered her opinion that this block "looks like a fancy apron worn by someone very rich who was cleaning her really big house".

(cricket chirps ...)

I know.  I don't get it either ... but I thought it was funny. 

Failures:

This is my solution to being short one block ... remove another 12!  LOL!!! 

Ah geez, I crack myself up sometimes.

But seriously, I got to thinkin' ... just because I MADE these blocks doesn't mean I have to put then IN my quilt, right?  And I simply don't love - or even really like - these blocks.  Life is too short to live with a quilt with blocks that don't make your heart smile.  (It's interesting to me how all but one of them are "heavy".)

So they're going on the back ... 'cause I don't want to WASTE them.

All right.  That was quite enough farting around with mosaic making ... now it's on to sashing and posting and rowing and side-setting triangle ... ing ...

Monday
Jun112012

FWQAL Last 2 Blocks

Ok.  I admit it.  This Farmer's Wife is defeated.  By one block. 

Pathetic. 

I know. 

But I am nothing if not an excellent problem solver when it comes to quilting.  So I have a solution for my insufficient # of blocks.  If it works, I'll show you.  If not, I'll tell you about it and then show you Plan B ... or C ... however many it takes to get this quilt done!

So here are my last.two.blocks.  And like the last few weeks you won't find them in the book either.

I'd been thinking for a while it might be kinda cool to include a bit of "Flower Sugar" selvedge, since all the fabrics I used are from that line (except the white).

I made the stripes deliberately askew.  Just for fun.  I also threw in a few of the color legends ... which I love.

And now for the Grand Finale Block!

I've known right from the start I was going to embroider my name etc. on an album-type block.

But I couldn't find one I liked.  So I made this one up for myself.  (I did find it a little odd there wasn't a single album block in the entire book ... I can't be the ONLY person who wants to put my name on the front of the quilt rather than hiding it on the back!)

To keep the details fine I used only 1 ply of floss with a backstitch (even though the backstitch and I aren't exactly best friends 'cause my stitches aren't terribly uniform in length and that bugs me ... it just doesn't bug me enough to stitch slower for better accuracy ... ). 

A little part of me thinks it would have been more "authentic" to use my own handwriting.  But my penmanship was ruined by 5 years of University.  (Yes, I'm so old I remember the dark ages of laboriously taking notes in class BY HAND!)  But it's awful.  I did try doing my very best writing/printing, but it just looked ... I dunno ... goofy.  So I resorted to my favorite trick of typing out text on my computer, finding a nice font, resizing it and printing it out as my embroidery template. 

And I don't mind fooling anyone from the future who sees this quilt into thinking I had amazingly feminine & delicate penmanship.  Maybe they will also (erroneously) imagine I had a personality to match.

So this is them.  All 110 of them.  All nearly 6" of them! 

Can hardly wait to put 'em all together.

I guess the pressure is really on to finish now ... since I ambitiously EMBROIDERED the year!  LOL!

Friday
Jun082012

Quilt Block Layout Trauma

You guys I nearly drove myself completely mental yesterday.  My original layout playing around was fun ... yeah, not so much anymore.  At some point, this exercise turned from playful to painful.

I thought I had a nice block layout ... until Sue & Louise pointed out a problem  - the bottom left block was red roundy and the other 3 corners were red pointy ...  I spent way too much time trying to fix the problem.

First, I switched the 2nd and 4th rows. 

Fine.

Uh, wait a minute.  The 2 blocks with the most pink were beside each other in the top row.  No good.

So switched the top 2 blocks in the middle column.

But then I had the same red fabric touching each other in the top row.  No good. 

So I swapped the outer columns.

THEN I realized I had the 2 roundy flowers touching in the second row ...

(Someone, PLEASE make this STOP!!!)

So I switched the 2 middle column blocks.

Crap.  NOW I have 2 "lots of pink" blocks touching again.

Ok.  One more try.  Switch a few more times ...

This is the final layout.  For sure.  I really mean it this time.

Yes, I'm aware there are few little issues remaining.  But I no longer care.  And don't any of you DARE point out any other problems. 

If you do, I'll hold you personally responsible for coming up with THE perfect layout that satisfies all my "seemingly ridiculous but to me and my OCD streak very logical quilt layout" rules. 

Just sayin'. ;)

Hope you all have a nice weekend.  I'll be working on this quilt ... and FW if I'm lucky.

Thursday
Jun072012

Mystery Block of the Month Trial Layouts

Here are all my blocks in chronological order from left to right ...

Slightly different arrangement - chronological order from top to bottom ... I think I like this one better because it puts the tulip in the middle column.

(These mosaics are so fun to make!)

Ok.  You can't tell from looking, but I just wasted like 1/2 hour playing around with different arrangements until I came up with this one ...

I am SUCH a symmetrical-aholic when it comes to block placement in a quilt.  I looked for the strongest or most similar feature between 2 blocks and placed them opposite each other. 

Top row - pointy/leafy green corner thingies and a strong, secondary red design in the middle. 

Second row - lots of yellow. 

Third row - red pointies around the outside of the blocks. 

Bottom row - red in the corners.

If you go down the outside columns you'll notice I alternated the red prints ... floral then polka dot.

And for the middle row I just put them where they looked nice.  I wanted the second block to be in the bottom row, but then I'd have that blueish dot in every block across the bottom.  That simply will not do.

Oh geez, I could probably go on for another hour explaining all my bizarre decision-making rules here ... but I'll spare you any further gory details.  I don't want you to think I'm like weird or something.

What was that?  Too late?

;)

Wednesday
Jun062012

Mystery Block of the Month 12

Well, seems I'm having 2 big projects ending at the same time here ... FWQAL and this one!

This block was used to promote this Mystery Block quilt and was largely the reason I signed up to do it in the first place.

So you know the saying "saving the best for last"?  That's what the Fat Quarter Shop did with this block.  It is most DEFINITELY my favorite. 

For sure. 

Probably.

I think.

Ok, no for sure.  I really mean it.

It was designed by the ever popular Sandy Gervais.  She is one talented lady.

I had to chuckle, though, when I was making this block.  Do you remember when I said how I felt about piecing gingham here and here

And I just can't get enough of this print with the sweet little flowers and tiny dots.  I think it's my all-time favorite Fig Tree print.  And Joanna doesn't do a lot of pink so I'm savoring the pinkness here. ;)

Now I just need to decide how to put them all together.  To follow the pattern or to NOT follow the pattern ... that is the question.

I did buy the finishing kit.

AND I also shared a FQ bundle of Strawberry Fields with my friend ... "just in case" ...

Tuesday
Jun052012

Mystery Block of the Month 11

Oopsies!

I made this block a little while ago and I forgot to show you. 

Totally cute, eh?  I like how it sorta looks like a wheel ... or maybe a great big 4-holed button.

Designed by Heather Mulder Peterson.  (She's gonna be a new mum any day now!)

And you know, I was a little on the fence with this green floral print ... that is until I saw what Sherri did with it as a border for her MBOM quilt. 

Can you say "green with envy"?  LOL!

I also deliberately fussy cut this larger floral, just like I did with Block 10 only with the red (left) I tried to get as much flower as possible and for green (right) I avoided them.

See?

It's the exact same print ... but it looks totally different because of the way I cut it.

I finished the last block yesterday.  (That's how I was reminded I forgot about this one!)  I'll show you tomorrow.

Monday
Jun042012

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 53

These last 5 blocks seem more painful than the 36 hours of labor I endured with my first child.

Block #5th Last -

This week I just threw up my hands and made checkerboards like my favorite postage stamp blocks but with alternating whites. 

And slightly larger squares so I only had to cut 50 instead of 64.  Plus it was a nice way to use up a few little bitty scraps.

Block #4th Last

Two more weeks, three more blocks to deliver ...

Friday
Jun012012

Messenger Bag for Little Sister

Oh you are all just the sweetest people.  My daughter read all your lovely birthday wishes and says, "Thank you!"

You may remember last September when I made my older daughter a Messenger Bag for school.  We just sorta came up with the design together and I made up a pattern.  (Available here.)

This first one is wearing very well ... I've even washed it a handful of times and it still looks great!  (I'm so relieved our design turned out to be as durable as it is cute ... if I do say so myself.)

Well, little sister really wanted one after all (big surprise).

So.  Here it it.  I think it turned out so super cute.  These colors are so HER.  All fabrics in this bag are from Rosalie Quinlan's "Folkheart" line for Lecien.

And of course she also wanted a monogram, just like big sister ...

I love the shoulder pad.  Makes walking to and from school a lot more comfortable ('cause she's the kind of kid who will end up with 3 or 4 half empty water bottles in the bottom of the bag by the end of the week ...).  For me it's little details that - yeah, I know, take longer to finish - but they make all the difference between a nice bag and a totally.awesome.designer.detailed.my.mom.really.loves.me.so.much bag.

And the blue fabric she picked ...

was for the lining.

It was so much fun making this for her "in secret". 

She was sweet enough to pretend she was really surprised when she opened it ... but I know her well enough to know she wasn't faking her delight/pride when she saw it all finished in her fabrics.

There's just nothing like making your child happy with something you make.  I know these days are numbered.  She will eventually roll her eyes at me and explain in her best exasperated tone that it is SO NOT COOL MOM to use a homemade, quilted bag for school and that she will have to enter a witness protection program to survive the ensuing humiliation of being seen in public carrying anything homemade. 

So I'm taking advantage of every minute she gives me. 

And then I'm going to start harrassing her for grandchildren.

Wait, better rethink that ... I've already told her she can't get married until she's 30.

Thursday
May312012

Birthday Sewing

Someone in my house had a birthday recently.

This somebody turned a whole NINE years old. 

She had a very specific request for a birthday present from me.

And she begged me to use these fabrics. ("Folkheart" by Rosalie Quinlan)

Wait 'til you see what I made.  Tee hee.  Yes, I COULD show you today, but I feel obligated to live up to my reputation as a tease. 

Tomorrow. 

Pinkie swear.

Tuesday
May292012

I Did a Small Thing ...

and I did it with great love ...

love for making things,

for pretty fabric,

for sewing, (I really should hand quilt these blank corners ... but I know I never will ... )

quilting, (this is the back, another print from the same fabric collection I used for the dresdan plate)

embroidery, (omg do I ever love that hit of orange ... seriously ... who woulda thunk ... certainly not me!)

for my sweet friend Amy and ... and for YOU of course!  Every single one of you who takes time to say hello, whether you comment or not ... 'cause I know you're there. 

I hope you're inspired to make something too.

Thanks again Amy for designing this free pattern

Loved.every.stitch ... yes, even the ones I had to take out ;)

Monday
May282012

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 52

No, these are not actual FW blocks from the book.

I decided to showcase some of the larger prints in the Flower Sugar fabric collection I'm using.  So I thought it would be good idea to fussy cut a few larger motifs and simply frame them.

I know ... they're not all that creative.  But I think they'll look ok in the finished quilt.  At least I'm hoping! 

Friday
May252012

A Word About Hand Quilting, If You Please ...

When I made my first quilt in the mid 80s (I was 19), I thought that a quilt was only a REAL quilt if it were ALL pieced AND quilted by hand.  (Feel free to roll your eyes ... I won't be offended.)

The first two quilts I made were English paper-pieced hexagons ... and I didn't know how to hand quilt properly so I STAB STITCH hand quilted them all in the ditch ... I'd say several miles worth of thread.  Remember I never exaggerate.  (I also used polyester batting, backed one with a bed sheet and didn't know about binding ... but I digress.)

I realized if I wanted to make more than five quilts in my lifetime I was gonna have to figure out how to do this quilting thing faster ... enter straight line machine quilting.  Regarding my 19 year old attitude, I'm proud to say I'd matured considerably.

I finally took a hand-quilting course in 2000 after I made a Baltimore Album quilt and felt it really needed to be hand quilted.

As I watched my needle-rocking technique improve dramatically over 16 blocks and was reminded how beautiful PROPER hand quilting looked, I regressed to my 19 year old obnoxious self and proclaimed I would NEVER again finish ANY of my quilts by machine.  EVERRRRRR.

AHEM.  Yeah, RIGHT!  Enter motherhood 6 months later.  I managed to finish 3 baby quilts by hand before obnoxious me finally shut up about hand quilting 11 years ago.

Fast forward to today.  OmG do I ever hate how long it takes to hand quilt.  And omG does it ever wreak havoc on my tendonitis.

But OMG do I ever LOVE the look of it!  I can't help it.  Call me a snob, I don't care.  I will NEVER in a million years feel about machine quilting the same love I feel about hand quilting.  Never.

Don't get me wrong.  I highly respect longarm quilters and the very talented work they do.  And I've seen countless machine, FMQed and long-armed quilts that are nothing short of breathtaking.  I've hired several in the past and will continue to seek out and enjoy long-arm quilting on future quilts.

But I hold a very special place in my heart for tiny dimpled rows of stitches made by hand.

I would have machine-quilted this project too ... in a heartbeat ... because I was anxious to get it done and my wrist was hurting from the several consecutive days of embroidery and applique.  But I really wanted to honour Amy's design and knew the embroidery would look a million times better if I bothered to hand quilt carefully underneath my stitchery.

So glad I did. :)

Thursday
May242012

My Needles - A Primer

Yesterday I had a few questions about needles so I thought I'd write a post on the subject. 

Brand

There are a bazillion needle manufacturers out there ... and I never exaggerate. But my favorite needles are from Jeana Kimball

If you know anything about marketing, you would label me as a "brand loyal" sort of person.  Jeana's got needles for all my sewing needs, the quality is really nice, I never have trouble with them, I can find them locally ... and I love the cute little cases they come in.

Purpose

I have four types of needles in my sewing arsenal...

(not including the curved upholstery and super long soft sculpture needles from a bear-making class I took some 15 years ago)

... each for different uses.  Sharps, Straws, Betweens & Embroidery.  (Keep reading for an explanation of each.)

Size

As with other manufacturers, Jeana's needles are sized according to length.  I don't know why, but the bigger the number, the smaller the size.  I'm sure there's a very logical explanation for this nomenclature ...

Also, it's important to know that a #size of one type does NOT translate to the same size in another type. 

For example, see the difference between a size 11 Straw and a size 11 Betweens?

Does Size Really Matter?

That depends.  ;)  Lemme 'splain. 

If you find yourself trying a new sewing method and aren't sure what size needle to use, I know Jeana sells Sampler Packs - an envelope with one of each size of that type of needle.  The fact that Jeana and other manufacturers actually SELL Sampler Packs should tell you something.  I suggest getting one of these packs and trying out the different sizes.  Some people don't care.  But I've found that most stitchers who spend a lot of time with a needle in hand will develop preferences based on everything from the task to the size of their hand to their technique. 

Sharps

This is my "go-to" needle for general things like mending, reattaching buttons, that sort of thing.  I'm not really picky about size with these ... whatever I have on hand usually does the job. 

Although you can bet I've used Straw needles to hem pants and Betweens to sew on a button ... most of the time my mending needle is the first one I pull out of my pin cushion!  Major bonus for me if it's already threaded with the right color. ;)

Currently I have a package of size 9 Sharps in my drawer.  

I seem to go through a lot of these.  Not sure why.  I think there's a needle black hole somewhere in my house.  My husband used to find them with his feet ... a lot.  But since becoming a mom I'm better at keeping track of them ... sorta.

Straws

I only use these for applique.  They are thinner and tend to bend - which is a good thing for applique work.    I like size 11.

I've heard more than once these work great for hand-stitching quilt binding.

Betweens

These are designed for hand quilting.  Whereas Straw needles are very thin and long and therefore bendy, Betweens are thicker and shorter and much less flexible because they need to endure a lot of pressure from the thimble and being loaded with multiple, heavy stitches.  And after a lot of use, however, my Betweens will still develop a slight bend. 

Again, size 11 is my preference. 

Embroidery

I used to buy 11s but now I find my poor aging hands are more comfortable with the slightly longer 10s.

I've used 3 of my 4 needle types just for this one project:

Embroidery for the embroidery ...

Straw for the applique ...

and Betweens for the hand quilting ...

I only know about these needles because I've taken applique, hand-quilting and embroidery classes ... and used them all ... a lot.

Wednesday
May232012

Small Things Progress Report

I'm working on it ...

Honest! 

But I didn't mean to go THIS crazy overboard with the hand quilting ...

(And boy is my needle rocking ever rusty.)

Tuesday
May222012

Yeah, no.

I tried something new ... new as in I've never done it before ... not new as in I'm so brilliant to have just invented quilting with embroidery floss.

Amy quilted around her circle with floss and I love hers.

And Monica did an AMAZING job quilting her Granny Squares with floss.

But I'm only lukewarm about my circle quilting.  And this edging?

Hmmmm, yeah no.

Don't like it.  It's too ... I dunno ... loud?  Too chunky?  I'm not doin' so good with my adjectives today.  It doesn't have the  refined daintiness (better) I'm going for with this project.

And plus I think I pulled my quilting stitches too tight so the circle is all ... hoochy coochy poochy.  (HA!  Take THAT you troublesome English language!!!)  (Just please ignore the "and plus" at the beginning of this paragraph ... I know it's naughty ... but I did it for comedic effect.)

So I unpicked.  All of it.  This pretty little thing is too ... pretty ... to not fix.

Sigh.  No pain, no gain. 

Monday
May212012

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 51

Holy Moley!  Week 51?!  Really?

#62 Old Windmill

So remember last week when I went all bizzaro with this block?

I felt the same awkwardness about this one too.  But I guess I must be tired and simply don't have the energy to "think" so I just followed the pattern colors and ...

tada!  Love it.  Weirdness and all.

#93 - Swallow

This "white" print is arguably my favorite print/color from the entire "Flower Sugar" collection.  So I was happy to have a chance to use a slightly larger piece of it in this block.

I'm tellin' ya, fussy cutting really rocks!  That paisley in the middle will look awesome no matter which way I orient the block.

104 blocks down, 7 to go.  (I think I can, I think I can ... )

Friday
May182012

Wait, What?

(Imagine soft, lilting background music ...)

Ok.  So I was happily stitching away, playing around with floss colors, making a few mistakes, unpicking some stitches, being impressed with my redos, enjoying my work ... and then deciding I needed one more color for the flowers.

This is the color I picked.

(Insert "needle scratching record" sound effect here ...)

Wait, what?!

I KNOW! 

I had to go look in the mirror and ask, "Who ARE you and what have you done with Kristyne?!  She would never ... ... ... what's the word ... VANDALIZE ... her pretty pink & ivory & sage green embroidery with ... with ORANNNNNGE!"

Well, apparently she would. 

I don't understand.  It doesn't make sense.  In my mind it's practically sacreligious what I'm doing!

But there's a new muse in town ... she knocked on my door and I invited her in for tea.  (I think she probably would have preferred to simply text me ... if I knew how to do that sort of thing.)

And I'm liking our conversation.

But don't worry, I promise to end my relationship with her if she starts talking about the 70s ... and avocado appliances.

Thursday
May172012

It's a mystery to me ...

why not EVERYONE loves to do this sort of thing.

Seriously.

Making stuff - 'specially pretty stuff - is THE.best.therapy.GOING! 

                    *               *               *               *               *

I've had a few questions about the size of my blades and the circle for this project.

I made this template for myself ...

But both Amy and Anne used this nifty tool.

And my circle for the embroidery finished at about 6" so cut it 6 1/2" in diameter.  That said, I'm not using an embroidery hoop so I don't need extra fabric.  If you like using a hoop, I'd suggest cutting a 10" square, tracing the design, stitching and THEN cutting out the 6 1/2" circle.  Make sense?

Wednesday
May162012

Happy Camper

My little dresdan blades have gone from these ...

to these ...

to this ... (wheeeeeeeeeee!  Yes, I totally squealed out loud when I pressed this little section together and flipped it over on my ironing board!!!)

(There may have also been clapping and jumping.)

And then this ...

Amy, if you were here right now I'd kiss you on the mouth!  LOL!

Kidding.

Maybe. ;)

And now I'm moving on to the embroidery.

I am one SERIOUSLY happy camper right now!

Tuesday
May152012

For the Fun & the Pretty

I've mentioned more than once how much I admire this girl.  I mean, seriously.  As far as I'm concerned, she is commander-in-chief of all things pretty. 

Just sayin'.

So when she posted this free pattern last week I practically knocked my chair over as I jumped up to grab fabric from my stash so I could start making this thing already!!!

I've had these FQs of old "Durham" prints from Lecien since it came out about 5 (?) years ago ... 

Until now I just didn't have the nerve to cut into it because I love them so much.  Sometimes I would pick them up, look at them, inspect them, arrange them on my cutting table, smile at them, study them, admire them, imagine making something with them ... break out into a cold sweat ... and then put them back on the shelf.

But if EVER there was a perfect project for my prized fabric ... am I right or am I right?

I've started on the dresdan blades using a new-to-me method I learned from another lovely lady I admire.

And I've tentatively selected these Cosmo embroidery floss colors ...

Very excited over here! :)