Monday
Jul182011

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 8

Red & Yellow.

#5 - Bat Wing

Hmmm.  I think this block might be a bit too red for me.  I'm trying to use red only as an accent here and there.  In my mind's eye, I see this quilt finished with white sashing and red posts.  But I'll wait until I have several more blocks to see if this one will work.

#55 - Linoleum

I have ALWAYS loved saying that word.  Linoleum. 

Li-no-le-um. 

LinOOOOOleummmmmm.

I dare you to stay in a bad mood after saying it 5 times in a row ... but you have to say it in your worst foreign accent like Eliza Dooilittle or Jimmi Hendrix or Crocodile Dundee ... Bela Lugosi works particularly well.  And you have to do it in front of someone else. 

No, seriously!

They'll either think you've gone banana-nuts-crazy and start backing away slowly while looking for the nearest exit OR pee their pants laughing at you. 

Either way, their reaction will prob'ly make you laugh. 

Sigh.  I shoulda been a therapist ...  ;)

Thursday
Jul142011

Project Simplify - Day 42

Here's our version of Happy-Go-Lucky.  We're calling it "Rolling Stones".  My helper has no clue who They are, nor does she know anything about not gathering moss.  But when I suggested the name she clapped her hands, pointed at me and shouted "Bingo!"  (I suspect she was simply tired of the whole naming exercise and just wanted to be done with it already ... apparently, our definitions of "fun" differ greatly.  Sigh.)

I've chosen an organization to give this quilt to for a fundraising event.  My brother-in-law is the music director for Orchestra Iowa and they have an annual Silent Auction fundraiser in November.  I'm very excited to contribute both the quilt & the pillow to help the arts.

My older daughter plays piano and the younger plays violin.  (Maybe it'd be more accurate at this stage to say they're taking lessons ... ;)

I took piano lessons growing up and feel strongly that learning music has far-reaching benefits.  I'm very lucky that I can offer the same opportunity to my girls.  Although I do have my days when I swear I'm gonna go all "Van Gogh" if I have to listen to "Twinkle Twinkle" one.more.time. ...!  kidding ;)

Now this quilt comes with a monogram option.  I love it and really wanted to include it.  But considering I'm donating this quilt and don't know the recipient I thought it best to leave it out.  It is a super cute thing to add, though.  I love personal touches like that.

Oh I almost forgot.  At one point during my 4-day marathon Stones FMQing, I was in my husband's office and noticed this:

Nearly peed my pants laughing! 

 

Alright.  Where are we in the Stash Redux department?

  • Yardage - 8.6 yds / 7.9 m
  • Weight - 2.1 lbs / .9 kg

For a grand total of:

  • Yardage - 59 yds / 54 m
  • Weight - 21.1 lbs / 9.8 kg

 

Only two more quilts left!

Wednesday
Jul132011

Project Simplify - Day 41

I have a confession to make 'cause I'm feeling a little guilty about this quilt.  I sort of cheated and ... well ... I didn't add the outer border.

But can I defend myself before you bring out the pitchforks & torches?

Thanks. 

Defense #1:  This project is getting a wee bit on the expensive side - especially for batting.  And I had a piece of batting that was big enough for this quilt ... without the border.

Defense #2:  I only had two (ok ok, three) prints that would look good and I'm just not ready to part with them yet.  They are my all time favorite Japanese prints.  (I know that's so lame, but I just couldn't do it!)

I'm really sorry.

But I will argue that if you never saw the original quilt, you'd never know it was missing a border.  And plus, I think excluding a border can be a solution for other problems too.  So maybe if you're a quilter that fears deviating from a pattern, I've now given you permission to alter any design to suit you, no matter the reason.

So at the end of the day, I really love how this quilt looks - even without a border.

Am I forgiven? ;)

Tuesday
Jul122011

Project Simplify - Day 40

Also known as "the day she went and lost her mind ..."

Did you watch the video tutorial on how to do this FMQ design?  It does caution that it takes a long time to do and that it's best to just use it for small areas.  But I seem to have a little defiant streak in me that surfaces every once in a while when I'm not looking.  (Shhh, please don't tell my 8 year old - my credibility with her is hanging by a thread as it is!)  I thought if I made the Stones bigger, it'd go faster.

Yeah, TWELVE hours later ...

I think it's safe to say I have successfully nailed this design - as in slam dunk, wipe the floor and "you can kiss my grits" NAILED it!!!  (I don't usually talk smack, but you guys I'm feelin' so victorious!)

After 12 hours I should be able to do it in my sleep ... in fact I was.  I FMQed this quilt over a 4-day period.  One evening I was working on it for a few hours just before I went to bed ... my brain was making stone after stone after please-make-it-stop stone for a loooong time after I closed my eyes.

I straight-lined the inner border.  Wowzers, eh?. 

[singing]  "It's by blog and I will brag if I want to,

brag if I want,

brag if I want to ...

You would brag too if this happened to you!"  :)

 

And I only used two large pieces of fabric for the backing.

Oh sweet irony that I'm good at rocks.  How come I can't be totally awesome with flowers too?  This blog is called PRETTY by Hand, not ROCKS or CAVEMAN TOOLS or BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA WEAPON by Hand ...

Monday
Jul112011

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 7

Pink, Blue & Green

No special celebrations this week.  Just summer garden colors!

#71 - Puss in the Corner

I fussy cut the flowers in the middle, remembering that the finished block will be set on point.

#8 - Bouquet

Ok, I had a little trouble with this one.  The first time I made it my leaf and flower pieces were flipped around. 

It doesn't LOOK wrong, unless you compare it with the second one I made ...

I know, I know ... I COULD have just kept it ... and I WOULD have, but the seam allowance was all messed up. 

This is better. :)

Thursday
Jul072011

Project Simplify - Day 39

My little helper was terrific sorting the block & middle fabrics for me.

She followed my rule about not using the same prints.  I also showed her that there were two main colors here:  browns & grays.  I showed her how it's nice to have a mix of brown/brown blocks, gray/gray blocks and brown/gray blocks. 

This is what happens when I'm not paying attention.

Aah, that's better! ;)

Some days I just need to do assembly line stuff.

Now all I need is a hot cup of Irish Breakfast tea (cream & sugar), iTunes and a few hours.  Hmmm, will it be the '80s (can't believe the kids are calling "Duran Duran" RETRO), '90s (I do love me some Depeche Mode) or Lady Gaga?

Wednesday
Jul062011

It's What I Do - Reveal

Remember these from a few weeks ago?

I promised to show you what I made.  So here they are - three happy little monogrammed drawstring bags for three happy little 7 & 8 year old girls.

Front

And back

I was thinking they'd be used in their bedrooms for things like stuffies, or pjs, or even dirty laundry.  But the very next day the girls had a soccer tournament together. 

Check this out!

My heart smiles when someTHING I make makes someONE happy.  :)

Tuesday
Jul052011

Project Simplify - Day 38

Oooh, I'm very excited about this palette.

See?

I know.  It's a head-scratcher to me as well why I love these muddy, earthy, nature-inspired Japanese prints.  They're such a departure from my shabby chic, girly, pink, soft, pastel esthetic.  But I do love 'em.

I have a funny story for you about one of these fabrics.

I made Happy Hauntings by the lovely Verna Mosquera a few years ago in a lovely selection of Japanese fabrics.  This print was used for the skeleton:

Ever since then, I can't look at this print without thinking of bone marrow. 

I mean, come ON!  Doesn't this look like the holes in the middle of a bone?!

I've tried to use this fabric in a few projects, but I just keep seeing bone!  Has that ever happened to you - somehow getting a weird association with a print and then you can't NOT think about it?

But for this quilt, the little corner pieces are so small that the "marrow effect" won't be seen ... I hope! ;)

Monday
Jul042011

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 6

Today is Independence Day - America's birthday.  Considering the USA is my neighbor, I made red, white & blue blocks for this week.  To commemorate Old Glory, one block is a star (brought to you by Queen of the Obvious) and the other is ... sorta stripey?  I tried.  ;)

#9 - Box

This block makes me think of fireworks.  Funny, in Canada, only "professional" pyrotechnicians are allowed to handle fireworks.

#31 - Evening Star

When it comes to pieced star blocks, I think this one is my all-time favorite.  Not sure why.  It just is.

To all my American friends, Happy Independence Day!

Friday
Jul012011

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 5

I waited to post this week's FWQAL blocks because today is Canada Day!  In honor of my country's birthday, I made red & white blocks. 

#56 - Maple Leaf

An obvious choice, eh?  ;)

#6 - Big Dipper

And the Big Dipper is arguably the easiest constellation to find here in the northern hemisphere ... that and Orion's Belt.

I've found it countless times overhead.  In fact, whenever I'm outside at night (and I'm not running to avoid frost bite in the dead of winter), I always take a second to find it ... just to make sure it's still there.  

I've never seen the Southern Cross, but I'd love to ... some day!

Happy Canada Day!

Thursday
Jun302011

Project Simplify - Day 37

Happy-Go-Lucky is the name of this Chapter's quilt.  Camille writes that the name was inspired by her mood when she was making it.  Wonder if it will have the same effect on me. :)

Remember this "bruise" experiment from one of my Quilt Market bags?

Well, it inspired the fabric selection for this quilt (and the last pillow).

Even though I didn't like how they worked in the bag design, they were awesome in the pillow and I think they'll work great for this quilt.  I just need to add a really light print for the little corners, pull out the lightest ones because they'll blend too much with the light corners and choose one really dark print for the inner border.

These fabrics hit my radar about six years ago when the quilt shop where I worked got their first shipment of Lecien fabrics.  They were very different from anything else at the time.  Many of these very fabrics are from that first batch and I've been hoarding them ... waiting.  I've made several quilts for the shop with these fabrics, but nothing really for myself.

Wednesday
Jun292011

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Weeks 1-4

This fabulous Farmer's Wife Quilt Along (FWQAL) started earlier this month and ... well ... I just couldn't help myself.  I've never done a quilt along before and after reading about it here and here (and then again here - Monica, someone owes you a toaster-oven!), I was totally hooked.  It seems like so much fun I just have to play along.

I'm making my blocks 4-1/2" instead of 6" (finished).  My best friend tells me I'm very annoying when I do stuff like that.  She thinks I have a problem with authority.  What can I say, I like little!   ;) 

I actually started making 3" blocks - and they were just so "oh-my-stars" fabulously teeny weeny - but because the fabrics I'm using have more larger scale prints, I was running into trouble with "blotchiness" - especially with the really small pieces ...

So I'm settling for 4-1/2". ;)

Now I'm a few weeks behind on FWQAL postings so I'll catch up today and then post the group's planned 2 blocks/week. 

I'm using my beloved Lecien "Flower Sugar" fabric (again) and I've decided to make my blocks in color pairs so every week will have a different color theme.  Here's what I've done so far.

Week 1 - All the colors - blue, green, yellow, pink, red (my plan is to use red as just an accent here and there) and white.

#73 - Rainbow Flowers

I'm not sure why the pattern had these 3 corner squares made in the same fabric as the adjoining rectangles.  So, I didn't follow the color placement from the book (I do that a lot).  I like how this block turned out.

#43 - Garden Path

I followed the book's fabric placement this time and I just love it. 

Week 2 - Pink, Green & Red

#1 - Attic Windows

#16 - Calico Puzzle

I'm really liking the gingham here and the pinwheel effect.

Week 3 - Pink ;)

#19 - Checkerboard

I love checkerboards.  I really do.

#111 - Churn Dash

Week 4 - Blue, Yellow & Red

#21 - Contrary Wife

I used to have blue & yellow Laura Ashley wallpaper in my kitchen until we renovated a few years ago.  These blocks make me miss my old kitchen ...

#10 - Bow Tie

Yeah, I kinda went way off track with placement here.  No bowtie to be seen.  But I love this block!

Tuesday
Jun282011

Project Simplify - Giveaway Winner

Hello hello!  Hope you had a great weekend.  I'm still alive ... the Harrier mosquitos didn't quite suck me dry. ;)

Thank you so much to everyone who left a comment.  I read every single one and I so enjoyed hearing which quilts you loved most.  Seems like Moonlight and Flower Garden are the favorites.  But so is the Sugar Rush bag - which I didn't even think anyone would mention - but you guys are so awesome to say!   Thanks. ;)

Ok, here are the winners:

The "Little Ruby" pillow (cushion) cover goes to Lisa in Texas.

And the Ruby Layer Cake goes to Tami.

Congratulations ladies! 

Tomorrow I've got something I've been DYING to share with you.  I'll give you a hint.  It's initials are FWQAL ...

Friday
Jun242011

Project Simplify - Giveaway

Don't you all think it's time for me to have another Project Simplify giveaway?  Yeah, me too!  ;)

I mean, this project is all about Camille's book, right?  And she & her mom design fabric, right?  And Camille did give me this very fabric that I used to make this pillow cover.  I think my "Little Ruby" pillow here would love to live with a Project Simplify reader. 

From Bonnie & Camille's pretty imaginations, to Camille's sewing room, to my sewing machine, to your home.  I like that idea very much.

So, if you'd like a chance to win this pillow (cover only, not the filler) ...

Wait.  Hang on a sec.  I'm not done.  The comments some of you left on Wednesday that reminded me Ruby wasn't yet available in stores got me to thinking. 

See, Camille ALSO gave me this yummy Ruby layer cake.  Cause she's just that nice.

I WAS going to keep it for myself.  But now I feel all guilty that I've had a chance to play with Ruby and you haven't.  (Plus I still have a FQ bundle for myself.)  So I'm going to share like my mother taught me and offer it as a second giveaway!

So here's the deal.

Two separate giveaways.  First name drawn wins the pillow cover.  Second name drawn wins the Ruby layer cake.

To enter, leave a comment telling me your favorite quilt or pillow from Project Simplify so far and why you like it.

Comments will close 9:00 pm EST (North America) on Monday, June 27th and I'll announce the winners on Tuesday the 28th.

Good luck, everyone and enjoy the first weekend of summer!  I'll be busy fending off mosquitos that are this big ...

Seriously.  I might need a transfusion by Sunday.

Thursday
Jun232011

Project Simplify - Day 36

The last pillow for the week is called Happy-Go-Lucky and is based on the quilt from the next chapter. 

I was ready to tackle a new FMQ (free-motion quilting) design and thought what better way to practice than on a little pillow?

So. 

When I bought this book and became inspired to learm FMQing, one of the designs Camille mentions is called "Stones" (also known as Pebbles - I think the size determines the name) and she used it here.

Now, you may be surprised to learn this about me, but I tend to be quick to judge.  Sometimes a little too quick.  (That disturbance in the force you just felt was the collective eye-rolling & head-nodding by everyone who knows me well.)  I'm notorious for dismissing new things at first glance.  What can I say?  I'm a work in progress. ;)

See, I've seen Stones before and it doesn't really ring my bell.  I mean, it's rocks - not to be confused with "it rocks".  Rocks are rugged, hard, dirty and ... well ... they're just not what I would call pretty.  (Diamonds don't count, by the way.)  I remember thinking that in my mission to learn FMQing, I was NEVER doing Stones. 

Now, feeling a little sheepish, I confess that for some reason unbeknownst to me, I got the urge to try it.  Go figure.

So.

Camille suggests starting out by practicing with pen & paper.  Kay. 

Fine.  Easy.  (Boring.)

I was always the student in class who would listen to the very beginning instructions and then miss everything else - usually important stuff - because I was so anxious to get going already!  (Then I'd get in trouble ... )

Next?

Practice with real fabric.  Oh goodie!

Attempt #1:

(Insert hysterical laughter here.  No, seriously, go ahead!  I let any pride fall away from me since the last time I tried a new FMQ technique.  I am now officially immune to abject humiliation.)

Clearly, I lost something from the pen to the needle.  Hmmm.  Let's look online for a video, shall we?

Ok.  Got it.  Avoid thread play (go over previous stitches EXACTLY). 

Attempt #2:

Hmmm.  Not much better. 

Let's watch the video, like, 20 more times...

Dude!  What happened?  Something just seems to have clicked here!  (Again, the trick for me is to SLOW DOWN.)

I'm telling you, making these Stones kinda freaks me out.  It's weird how it looks so ... organic ... and it just sorta ... happens.  Bizzare.  And yet very, very cool, I have to admit.

So here's the pillow.

Totally awesome, right?!

It did take quite a while to FMQ - almost 2 hours - an eternity compared to loops or a grid.  The lady in the video wasn't kidding when she said this design is best for SMALL areas. 

I guess rocks do rock after all!

Wednesday
Jun222011

Project Simplify - Day 35

Today's pillow is called Dream Big. 

So.

When I was trying to decide on fabric for this pillow, it suddenly occurred to me - what would Project Simplify be without some Bonnie & Camille fabric?  Oh how I love that feeling when inspiration hits.  Sometimes it really does feel like lightning!

In fact, Lady Camille herself gave me this fabric at Market.  (My cup really does runneth over ...)

So.

I adore making checkerboards.  And when I'm making something - either from a pattern or working freestyle - I always seem to look at fabrics as darks & lights.  Because this little baby charm pack didn't have enough squares for the pillow requirements, I thought I'd supplement with white. 

Ah, white.  I love white.  I really do.  I'd say 95% of the quilts I've ever made for myself have white in them.  (And the ones that didn't have white have all been given away!)  My kitchen is white, my bathroom is white, all the wood trim in my house is painted white, all my sheets & towels are white ... (I think you get the picture).

So here's "Little Ruby" ... on a white chair ...  ;)

By the way, if you didn't know, this line of fabric was named after Camille's grandmother.  Isn't that just the sweetest homage ever?  Telling me something like that when I have PMS can make me cry ... just sayin'.

I struggled a bit on the fabric for the inner border.  At first I wanted a nice vivid red.  But the truth is  A)  I would have had to butcher a FQ from my big Ruby bundle and  B)  I was already somewhat traumatized from using up my cutie little baby charm pack  (sniff ...)

Sorry, but I just wasn't emotionally ready for that.  ;) 

So white it is.  I honestly do like how it makes the checkerboard float.

I copied the top-stitching design idea from the book.  Super easy.  I think I like it because it's sort of a modern take on my (yawn) cross-hatch.

Have I become, like, so totally annoying with my cross-hatch this and cross-hatch that?  Sorry.  I guess I'm just so surprised at how limiting my "repertoire" was until I took on my FMQ challenge.

I mean, don't get me wrong.  I ADORE cross-hatching.  I really really do.  But because it was the ONLY thing I ever did, now that I'm trying out new things and learning FMQing, I feel a lovely sense of freedom, and ... choice.  That's it.  I have more options now.

Oh, and one more thing - you might want to check back here with me on Friday ... ;)

Tuesday
Jun212011

Project Simplify - Day 34

Pillow #2 is based on the "Coming Home" Quilt.

I had a few charm squares left over from the quilt and thought a pillow would make a nice compliment to the table topper (my helper has informed me she's keeping it ...)

I chickened out on the top-stitching (again) and did the 'ole cross-hatch.  But I regret it now.  Because the quilt & pillow don't have the same finish, they don't quite look like a set to me.

Oh well, they're so easy to make I'll do another one - properly, this time. :)

And I did my sneaky pieced back again.  It works like ... a charm! 

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Monday
Jun202011

Project Simplify - Day 33

Dear Readers,

This post originally contained the word "schwack".  Now, I grew up with the word meaning "lots and lots" and have used it often - with that definition - since I was a little girl.  But it was just brought to my attention that this word in the Urban Dictionary means something VERY different ... and offensive.  My deepest apologies if you thought I was being rude or disrepectful in any way.

Sincerely, K

          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Welcome to Pillow Week everybody!

I'm very excited  - 4 quick, easy & fun projects in one week so let's get started.

The first pillow is a derivative of the last quilt I made - "Spot On".

Now, I COULD have made this pillow with the same fabrics as the quilt, but I just so happened to have a HUGE pile of "Simplicity" (a line by 3 Sisters for Moda) charm squares that I knew would be perfect for this pillow and I'm ready to use up some of these squares I've been hoarding for - what - three years?  Four years?  Too long.

I fussy cut the middle circle - it says "Family". 

And I really liked doing the swirly twirly FMQ on this pillow.  (Yay me!)

I strayed from the instructions a little here so I could use up even more charm squares by piecing them together to make the pillow back. 

Notice how I matched the squares that overlap?  (S.M.R.T.  that's me!)

Hmmm, what else can I make with these pretty squares? 

Told ya I had a huge pile!

Saturday
Jun182011

Happy Father's Day

Go get the man (men, boys) in your life and tell them a quilt blog has a Father's Day gift for them.

Watch to the very end.

May the force be with you. ;)

Friday
Jun172011

Project Simplify - Day 32

Okay.  It's official.  "Moonlight" is a keeper. 

Blue is his favorite color and there are soooo many pink & girly quilts in this house.  The guy deserves one that ... well ... he likes for reasons OTHER than because his wife made it.

So much for going traditional with this quilt ... despite using prints like a fine houndstooth, classic acanthus leaf, delicate florals and a sweet plaid, this quilt looks really modern to me. 

About the name - my helper & I talked about where you can draw inspiration from when choosing a name.  We focused on the colors & shapes.  I suggested "Arctic Circles", but she's only in Grade 2 and informed me that, "I haven't learned anything about that in school yet, Mummy."  Her sister suggested "Dancing Circles", but again the assistant explained to us - with all possible conviction of an 8 year old - that didn't make any sense AT ALL because the straight lines in the quilt would not allow any dancing to go on.  (I love hearing their thought processes .. kids are so funny!)

So "Moonlight" it is.

I had quite a bit more back-piecing to do for this one than the previous two Project Simplify quilts.  I just used up a bunch of fabric pieces that came in the "Glace" kit.  (Yay!)

Next week ... pillows!