Wednesday
Apr272011

Project Simplify - Day 12

Figuring out how to make "Sugar Rush" with these fabrics presented an interesting challenge.  I had fat quarters aplenty, but not enough full-width pieces to meet the pattern requirements.   I didn't want a crooked line of pieced "cheater" seams across the middle of the quilt AND I didn't want to repeat any prints - that would just be just way too easy.

However, during one of many drooling sessions through the book, I noticed that one of the appliqued flowers is strategically positioned to hide a handful of seams made from piecing FQ strips.

I was able to hide all but 2 seams - one seen below in the yellow and another one on the opposite edge of the quilt.

The other bit of planning was to figure out which fabrics to use for the flowers - based on the prints I'd chosen to be pieced.  I didn't want a flower to sit on the same print/color because to my eye, the flower would lose some definition and just look a little weird.

I've done tons of machine applique and I'm always looking for ways to make the job easier.  If I can stitch smaller pieces together before joining them to a larger piece, I will.  So here I appliqued the centers to the flowers before attaching them to the quilt.

A word if you're planning to make this quilt.  There's a small error with the template for the large flower (page 106).  It has an extra petal and will result in an oval-shaped flower.  I think the quilt would still look pretty with an oblong flower and the integrity of the quilt is not compromised in any way should you use the template as is.  But here's what I did ...

The original template:

I drew a pencil line across:

And then cut along the line, removing the extra petal:

Easy bow-breezy!

Tuesday
Apr262011

Project Simplify - Day 11

Just shy of a few weeks ago I was visiting Posie Gets Cozy - the very first blog I ever read cover to cover - and noticed a button for "Quilts for Quake Survivors".  When I clicked on it, I found a wonderful group of women collecting quilt blocks & tops to make into quilts that were being sent to Japan.  Without hesitation, I knew I wanted to contribute.

I already mailed this quilt top to them - to try to make their April 22 deadline - but I'll spend the next week or so sharing the story behind the making of it.

                              *          *          *          *          *

My original plan for Project Simplify was to go thru the book in order by Chapter.  But my absolute favorite quilt is Sugar Rush ... in Chapter 6 ... way, way off in the distant future ... weeks & weeks away ...  .  So when I discovered this cause I thought not only was it ok for me to change my plan, it was necessary.

And I had the perfect fabric for it too - "Flower Sugar" by Lecien, a Japanese fabric manufacturer. 

This fabric found its way into my stash from three separate shopping trips over eight months.  That's one of the many wonderful things about Flower Sugar - every new collection works with the previous one.

The first batch of fabric - from the 2009 collection - I found last summer when we were on vacation.  We drove to California and on our way home I did a random search with my GPS for a quilt store and luckily found this little gem of a quilt shop just south of Salt Lake City.  I could have spent hours in there.  If you're ever in the area I highly recommend checking it out. 

Next, I bought a FQ bundle (ok, ok,  - 2 bundles) at Quilt Market in Houston 2010 on impulse (remember the agreement we have that Quilt Market purchases are always classified as impulse buys and are, therefore, exempt from any justification?). 

Then my local quilt shop had a lovely roll of 10" x 40" strips ... just the thing to satisfy my need for width-yardage.  I must have been subconciously planning to make this quilt for myself because I also got a few metres (yds) of the blue with white dots which are perfect for the border. 

So, what have I used this fabric for already?  Well, again before Project Simplify was born I made this quilt from Chapter 3.

I'd never made an aqua/red quilt before (Camille's signature colors) so I gave it a try combining both "Flower Sugar" and "Sweet Divinity" by The Quilted Fish (another Market 2010 impulse buy ...). 

I love how the quilt turned out.  (Notice my standard cross-hatch ... now a thing of the past?!)  But looking around my house I just couldn't find the right place for it.  So now it lives at the quilt store on display.

I've made a few other little things from this fabric, but they were birthday gifts for my daughters' friends so I don't have photos.  

Because that was before I became 'crazy blogger lady' who photographs everything ... (here comes a tangent).

"What's that sweetheart?  You hurt yourself at school?  Tell me what happened.  Maybe there's a blog post in there somewhere for me.  Yep, there it is!   Just give me 5 minutes while I take a picture of some books with a bandaid." 

Or how about,  "Yes Honey, I know I'm still in my pjs, but the snow on the trees isn't going to last long!  Don't worry, the neighbors won't see me." 

Uh, yeah they will. 

Note to Self:  If you're gonna wear pjs outside in broad daylight, at least put on the black bottoms that could sorta pass for active wear, not the bubblegum pink flowery capris ... with black snow boots, still unzipped ... and a chocolate brown corduroy jacket.  There's just no way to look 'not crazy' in that ensemble - especially while holding a camera & ruler - when Mr. Jones from down the street is looking for someone to talk to and happens to catch you on the sidewalk.   Just exactly how DOES one explain blogging to an 86 yr old, hard-of-hearing, retired construction worker who's never used a computer? 

Go ahead.  Give it a try.  I dare you.  No, I DOUBLE-dare you!  ;)

Monday
Apr252011

Giveaway Alert!

A few years ago I bought an adorable pincushion pattern and inside were pictures of the sweetest little pins ever ... plus details on where to find them.

The artist (now someone I'm honored to call friend) is the lovely & talented Gigi Minor of Pinks & Needles.  I went straight to her Etsy shop, fell in love and ordered several pins.  I've given many away as gifts but managed to keep these for myself.

Gigi creates impossibly tiny, perfectly detailed things with a bit of plastic dough, deft fingers and the prettiest of imaginations.  To give you an idea of size, the brown plate is 1" across!

If you didn't know her before, I'm delighted to introduce you.  Visit her blog for a chance to win a one-of-a-kind creation.

Friday
Apr222011

Easter Wishes

Thursday
Apr212011

Project Simplify - Day 10

Hello everyone!

First, my apologies for yesterday if you were unable to see pictures.  I fixed the problem.  Hopefully it won't happen again.  (Remember, I'm a techno-doofus.)

Now, meet "Little Lady" in all her Easter-y, Spring-y, girl-y lovliness.  Isn't she pretty?

My assistant named this quilt after I told her the one in the book was called "Little Man".  At first, she wanted Little Girl but it didn't take her long to figure out the whole Man vs. Lady thing.  :)

Here's her back side. 

I actually used up every last piece of fabric from the bundle (halleluiah!) and had to dig into my scrap bin to complete the back.  Maybe someday I'll even be able to close the lid on that scary overflowing can.

Stash Redux:

  • Yardage - 4.7 yds / 4.3 m
  • Weight - 1.4 lbs / 1.6 kg

And I forgot to add the giveaways from Chapter 1 so that's another:

  • Yardage - 8.9 yds / 8.1 m
  • Weight - 3 lbs / 1.4 kg

For a grand total of:

  • Yardage - 21.7 yds / 19.8 m
  • Weight - 7.8 lbs / 4.6 kg

I've decided to donate this quilt to my friend's literacy fundraiser.  I already made this quilt in different colors for her and I think it'll be fun to have the same quilt with two interpretations at the event.  They have very different appeal and hopefully will attract twice the bidders! 

The fundraiser is just a few weeks away on May 6th so I'll let you know how much money they raise ... unless they only go for $5 ... then I'll lie and tell you they were stolen.

Wednesday
Apr202011

Project Simplify - Day 9

Check it out!  (Except please ignore the uneven stitch length - I'm still working on that.)

As a perfectionist (who's trying to surrender herself to the more productive philosophy of acceptance), sometimes it's hard for me to embrace the "special" qualities of something I've made by hand - those little imperfections and idiosyncrasies that are unique to me.

At first, I was unhappy with my inconsist loop size and it was making me crabby.  But as I found myself really enjoying the physical activity of stitching loop after loop after loop, I somehow managed to convince myself that if I were able to create the "perfection" I was seeking, this quilt would somehow feel ... I dunno ... less special? 

So now I'm really liking the irregularity.  I think it has ... personality. :)

I'm not secure enough - yet - with my free-motion skills to just pick any top-stitch design and I felt most comfortable using the same one shown in the book for this quilt.  I would have never in a million years come up with this idea on my own, and I lllllllllllllove it!  It's a little modern-ish-y, and I think it works really well with all the "funkiness". 

I don't want to go tooting my own horn or anything (well may just a little), but I'm wondering why it took me ... a few decades to take the free-motion bull by the horns.  It's turning out to be way easier to handle than I thought!

Tuesday
Apr192011

Note to Self #4

CENSOR the lyrics of a song that gets stuck in your head after listening to a 90s radio station - like “You’re Makin’ Me High” by Toni Braxton - before absentmindedly singing it in the kitchen while preparing lunch for your daughters. 

I don’t know all the words, but apparently know the first seven lines well enough to confuse the heck out of my 9 year old … !

Monday
Apr182011

Project Simplify - Day 8

I was in such a hurry to get to the top-stitching that I totally forgot to take pictures of the quilt before I free-motioned it.  So just pretend that you don't notice it for now ... kay?  Thanks ;)  I promise I'll talk about that bit in my next post.

First, I want to show you what we did with the ric-rac.  Ta da! 

My assistant chose the colors and here's how it turned out - pink along one border and blue on the other.  I was a little worried that the trim would shrink in the wash, but it didn't!  Yay!

Now you're probably wondering "Uh, excuse me, but what happened to the pink background?  Why is it cream?"  You're right, you're right.  But it's not what you think.  I didn't get cold feet about using up my pink.  Honest!  I went cream because the light pink in Pink Funky Roads sorta melted away.  See?

It bugged me.  So I used the pink for the binding instead. 

A few other things I want to mention about this top.  I didn't realize that Pink Funky Roads & Funky Hearts aren't exactly BFFs.  They play nicely together in the quilt, they just don't want to hold hands.  So I improvised a bit and threw in a few other prints - Green Kisses & Square Flowers - to keep the Funky girls separated. 

Remember I mentioned that I'd need to be creative about the borders?  They require full fabric widths but because I only had fat quarters I simply pieced them.  Not rocket science.

And now let's have a moment of silence to commemmorate this absolutely in-CRED-ible match up job. 

" ... and the heavens parted and the angels wept, for it was a thing of beauty."

Just kidding.  I made that up.  It's not really a quote.  At least, not that I know.  But it should be in "The Bible of All Things Quilty",  along side this photo.  Don't you think?

Friday
Apr152011

Project Simplify - Day 7

After a little deliberation I settled on these four prints for the blocks, a stripe for the inner border & a large print for the outer border. 

To help my little assistant & I know which fabrics we're talking about as we build the blocks and lay out the quilt, she named the block prints as follows from top to bottom:

  • Pink Funky Roads
  • Kisses
  • Funky Hearts
  • Daisies

What's with all the "funky"?  Especially for an 8 year old?  I don't think funky is part of the vernacular for today's youth - unless I'm your mom.  And we played this game every afternoon when big sister was in Grade 1 because that's the only way I could bribe you into having a nap with me.

And I started calling these two images Funky Flowers & Funky Pony because I grew up with film classics like this and chart-toppers like this

In that case, not only is funky part of your vernacular, it's practically genetic!

(Whoa, was THAT ever an unexpected trip down memory lane.  Anyone else as grateful as I am that white satin jumpsuits are no longer in style?)

Thursday
Apr142011

Uncle!

What did you see out your window this morning?

Me?

I saw this ...

It's APRIL ... 14TH ... !!!

Want to know how much?  This is my front lawn.  It was naked when I went to bed.

That's right, almost 8 inches.  E - I - G - H - T.

But it sure is pretty.

Makes me almost forgive Mother Nature ...

... almost. :)

Wednesday
Apr132011

Expect the Unexpected

So.  You know how your child comes home from school sporting a painful looking scrape or bruise and you ask what happened expecting the explanation to include something about the monkey bars at recess or the soccer game during gym or the obnoxious kid in class? 

Her story started with, "Well ... we had library today ..."

Seriously? 

Tuesday
Apr122011

Project Simplify - Day 6

All right, is everyone ready for Chapter 2?  Let's go!

I made this quilt several weeks ago for my friend’s fundraiser and I have to say I don’t mind one little bit making it again ...

... this time using girly fabrics!  The Lizzie Collection by Anna Griffin

I bought this adorable FQ bundle – on impulse – at Quilt Market Minneapolis 2010 Sample Spree with my younger daughter in mind (let’s just all admit that ANY Sample Spree purchase is impulse!)

I've already used some of the fat quarters - she chose them for this year’s backpack (and of course she took all the pinks!).  But I still have plenty of fabric to work with here.

 

Since I don’t have any full yardage from this fabric line I’m adding a pink - Simplicity by 3 Sisters - for the background.  I’ve had it for about 3 years.  And I'll need to be a little resourceful for the borders (I have an easy solution for those).

I really love this pink and am feeling just ever so slightly panicked about using it ‘cause, you know, I only have like maybe 5 metres or so left … (give your head a shake, girl!  Not like there will never be another pretty pink fabric made ever again!!)

One last thing - I have a little idea floating around in my head involving these yummy trims.  If you're at all familiar with Camille's designs you will know where I'm going with it ... :)

Monday
Apr112011

Project Simplify - The Winner Is ...

(I know, I know.  I could have used a random number generator.  But this was way more fun!)

 ... Lisa L!  And to everyone who participated in my first giveaway - seriously - thank you for not letting me look like a total blogging doofus :)

Now, I didn't mention before that I still had leftovers because I didn't know what to do with them. 

That is until I read Julianne's lovely comment about making a quilt for her local Children's Hospital.  Julianne, I'm sending these leftovers to you!

One last thing, I just want to say how sincerely grateful I am to every single one of you who've found me here are willing to spend some of your time keeping me company.  I really do appreciate it.

Saturday
Apr092011

The Best Kind of Fun

Around here, the best kind of fun is "Auntie Jill" fun.

My sister was here last week and the girls always have tons of things they want to do with her.  And she - being the world's best Aunt - is more than happy to oblige them.  This time around there were so many things on the agenda they had trouble deciding what to do first.  So they came up with this little activity bowl.

And here's what they put in it.

Translation:

  • Clue (board game)
  • pillow fight
  • dog pile on Jill
  • Monopoly
  • Petal Purses (a craft)
  • coloring

So a few games of this were played,

several rounds of this,

and even a little crafting.  (I didn't get any pictures of the dog pile or pillow fight, but I was assured that no one suffered a concussion.)

We miss you, Auntie Jill!

Thursday
Apr072011

Project Simplify - Giveaway

Look what accidentally happened to the leftovers!

How about a giveaway to celebrate a successful first Chapter? My helper & I would love to find a good home for this little package.  Just leave me a comment saying ... well ... anything nice, and you'll be entered to win.

This giveaway includes:

  • fabric requirements - precut by yours truly - to make the same quilt top I made with one little change:  the background fabric is red paint spatters instead of the multi-colored flowers (but still from the same fabric collection)
  • extra yardage (red checkers) in case you'd prefer to make regular binding instead of the raw-edge
  • a little label - also from the same collection - that says "Memories are made of this"

It does NOT include:

(My home is smoke/pet free ... unless you consider dust bunnies pets ... then I have a few.)

Comments will close 9:00 pm EST (North America) on Sunday, April 10th and I'll announce the winner Monday morning on the 11th.

(I'm very excited about this - my first giveaway.  But also kinda nervous.  If no one enters, I'll give the prize to a local guild so they can make up the quilt and donate it to a charity of their choice.)

Wednesday
Apr062011

Project Simplify - Day 5

Backing, binding & naming.  Boring?  I think not!

I'm a back piecer for a few reasons:

  • I use up leftovers of almost any size (which helps on cost)
  • I like how it gives the quilt a little extra personality
  • It makes for a nice surprise - almost like a two-sided quilt

You like?

I tried a new technique ala Simplify - raw edge binding.  I hadn't heard of it before and when I looked at the pictures was reminded of rag quilts.  Now I don't have anything against rag quilts per se, they're just not my thing.  But I did see a pretty nice one lately that's got me thinking a little differently about them - as has this binding technique.

So I was open to trying something new.  Know what?  It was super easy.  And if you're going for a casual, fun look this is definitely worth considering.  See?  (I l.o.v.e. scrappy binding.  Love, love, love it.)

When you're making, say, a baby quilt or don't have much time to make a little gift, a technique like this is great to have in your repertoire - no binding to hand stitch is a real time-saver.  It only takes a few extra minutes to de-fray the fray ;) .  (Right now I'm wishing I was a talented fibre artist so I could make something cool with this pretty mass of thread instead of just throwing it out!)

Now, what's in a name? 

If you've ever had the honour of naming a living being (human or animal), you've felt the weight of such responsibility (at least that's what it was like for me ... twice!)  Thankfully, a quilt won't resent you when it's a teenager.  I always name my quilts.  It's a reward for me.  But I wanted my helper to have the fun and without hesitation she chose "Summer Day".

Perfect. 

Alright.  Let's see where we are.

  • Make quilt in Chapter One for charity - check!
  • Tackle free-motion quilting - check!
  • Have fun with daughter - check!
  • Meet lots of super-cool new people in bloggyland - checkity check check check!

Stash Redux:

  • Weight loss - 4.64 lbs  or  2.11 kgs 
  • Yardage loss - 8.14 yds  or  7.44 m

Tomorrow I have a little surprise for you.

Tuesday
Apr052011

Seven Random Things

A very sweet blogger I met recently honored me with a Stylish Blogger award.  Thank you so much Jennie!  Well (I say sheepishly), not really sure what that is, but I gather from her blog that I'm to share 7 random things about myself with you.  

1. I've never had a cup of coffee.  Ever.

2. My favorite movie is the Princess Bride ... and BBC's Pride & Prejudice (the Colin Firth version).

3. I have hexagon tiles on my bathroom floor because the first quilt I ever made was "Grandmother's Flower Garden".

4. I have seen (almost) every episode of every Star Trek franchise.  "Live long and prosper."  Actually, my favorite quote is "Make it so, Number One."  My husband hears that a lot.

5. I hate stepping on worms.  Ugh!!!

6. Of the many things I've discovered about myself since becoming a mom, one of the more surprising is a seemingly instinctive willingness to catch my child's vomit - in my bare hands - to minimize the cleanup during a marathon nine hour road trip.  (Sorry, did I go too far with that one?)

7. I ALWAYS have hand wipes in my vehicle - see #6.

Monday
Apr042011

Project Simplify - Day 4

The bad news: 

Grrr #1 - I hate it when this happens (the edge of the quilt got caught underneath while I was top-stitching and I had to take the stitches out and redo that little bit).  If this has never happened to you, I'm totally jealous.  If you know how to stop it from happening, please tell me!  It happens to me too often.

Major Grrr #2 - Not sure how this happened - probably when I had my piles lined up on my sewing table.  We would have FOR SURE noticed these two blocks with the same square of fabric next to each other while we were doing the big layout on the floor - my helper was very diligent.

The good news: 

Yay #1 - Thank you so much everyone for your advise and tips.  They really helped.

Yay #2 - I did it!  I free-motioned the entire quilt!  Wohoo!  It was so much fun, once I just relaxed and found my groove.  Apparently, part of my technique requires my tongue to copy the movement of my hands - outside my mouth.  Or for my lips to purse tightly and prevent my tongue from escaping altogether.  Who said quilting was attractive?

(One of several little oopsies that I'm daring to show you.)

While I was machining, my girls noticed right away that I was doing something different and they were quite interested.  I even had a little audience for a while, which was nice.  "It looks like you're scribbling with your sewing machine," they said.  I agreed.  It felt like I was scribbling.

But now in my house "Loops" is officially renamed as "Swirly Twirly".  THAT'S a great name.  Thanks, girls!

This block is in the last part of the quilt that I "Swirly-Twirlied" so it's much better than the first corner (above). 

It reminds me of the quilt I made when I was learning how to hand-quilt.  You can really tell which was the first block I did and which was the last. 

I like the "historical" aspect of it - seeing where I began and where I ended up.  Do you have a project (quilt or otherwise) like that lying around to remind you how much you've improved at something?

So, not exactly blue-ribbon-quality but a respectable job, if I do say so myself.   I'm happy to report that I'm encouraged by these results and can't wait to freestyle the next quilt!

Saturday
Apr022011

Not Just a Pretty Face

Yesterday I went grocery shopping with my husband.  We never shop for groceries together.  But we really needed them and neither one of us wanted to face the Friday afternoon lineups alone.

While standing in said line he pulled out his blackberry to read my blog post and he's all,

"Dude! A video link?  You made a video?"

And I'm like, "Dude.  YouTube."

The irony becomes clear when you get just how technically incompetent I really am.

After 15 years of marriage it's nice to know I can still surprise him.

Friday
Apr012011

Project Simplify - Day 3

Ok.  I'm DE-TER-MINED to get this free-motion thing down.  The book just makes it seem so easy-peasy, lemon squeezy.  (Don't know what free-motion quilting is?  Here's a quick video.)

History:  I got my first sewing machine for my 15th birthday.  I loved it.  I set it up in my bedroom and used it a lot.  It was great for sewing a straight line but I could forget about reversing, buttonholes, major thickness (as in quilted bags).  At the time I didn't fully comprehend the severe limitations of my machine. 

I took a machine-quilting class (in like 1993) but my results were as crappy as my machine and I just assumed I was a genetically lousy free-motioner.  The end.  Not in the cards for me. 

In about 2004 I got a really sweet Pfaff and I went from being an "ok" sewer to ... if I may say so ... a really good one.  My machine can do almost anything I ask it to - except make my morning cup of tea :).  There is definitely something to be said for using good tools.

So when I tried free-motion again I was better than before, but not perfect.  And there's the problem (another one ... ) - I'm a perfectionist.  That DOESN'T mean I think I'm perfect.  It means I loathe not being able to do things perfectly and if I can't nail it on the first or second try, I'd rather give up.  I know, I know, totally immature and not very attractive.  But I'm working on it.  I'm trying to be ok with "my best at the time" instead of "the best or nothing at all".

Blah, blah, blah.  Enough about that.  Back to the quilt already!

In the book, this quilt is top-stitched with classic stippling.  I was introduced to it  as “dog-boning”.  I don’t know if it's the name or what (why couldn't it have been called "Feather in the Wind" or "Wandering Fairy" or even "Toddler at the Park"?), but it never really excited me.  Now loops - that's a style I can get behind!  Funny, there isn’t much difference between the two but for some reason I just prefer the look of loops.   So this is the first design I'm attempting.

I had four leftover blocks (on purpose) so I sewed them together to use for practice.  But free-motioning didn’t get off to a good start.  First, I forgot to tighten a screw and the foot fell off, breaking a needle. 

Then this ...

(Deep breath.)  It’s NEVER a good day when you need this ...

But a minor tension adjustment later and I was back on track ... sort of.

Here's a bit of my practice swatch.  (Please don't laugh too hard - you have no idea what it took for me to show you this!) 

I felt like my brain had zero control over the operation - lots of involuntary jerking & zagging - and possibly (probably) the occasional bad word.   I know my stitch length needs work.  Some places have a distinct "connect the dots" look.  I gotta get used to the concept of pedal to the metal, which according to my manual is the secret.

Clearly more practice is required. 

I hate practicing. 

(Someone please cue the violins ... )