Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Floragraphix III - Avian

I finally got the binding sewn on this quilt that I pieced at my quilting retreat in early November! The pattern is called Avian and it's from the Floragraphix III Quilt Designs book by Jason Yenter. The fabric is the Floragraphix line and I pretty much made it exactly as it was in the book. There's something to be said for not having to think every once in a while! I'll even admit to being lazy and purchasing the kit from Hancock's of Paducah.

The quilt was really easy to piece and went together quickly. Sandi quilted it for me and the quilting design includes some birds flying amidst ribbony swirls, which seemed appropriate, given the pattern title and fabric theme. The quilt is approximately 70" square and will be presented soon to a special student who worked very diligently for me for a couple of years. She's yet to graduate but her student teaching this semester conflicts with our work hours, so priorities are priorities! I do miss her, but we'll have dinner soon.

Here's a close-up so you can see it a bit better.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sweet Treat Bag

Another small project completed! This Sweet Treat Bag was the project that Katie taught at last week's Daiwabo Club at Bigsby's. I think it's the first project that I have actually completed from the club (mostly I go to collect fabric, I think), but it was too darling not to work on it!

The project is based on a free pattern distributed by Moda. Katie's modifications included using only a half-length strip set and an uncut piece of fabric to make up the other side of the strip set (which becomes the interior of the bag anyways) and sewing an actual buttonhole closure rather than a decorative button plus Velcro as the real securing measure. I thought that both of those modifications worked pretty well.

However, I made a few further modifications, largely centering on what I thought was an overuse of stabilizer. There is a layer fusible batting applied to the pieced half of the bag, which I think gives it a nice weight. But there was a second layer of stabilizer that gave it way too much "crunch," in my opinion. So while I'd originally sewn it in, I pretty much ripped that half out wherever I could. I don't think it will matter as the whole purse is lined and is stabilized everywhere via the batting.

This was another quick, easy pattern that may find its way out again, come time to work on holiday gifts. And I did get to learn something new on my machine in making this project - how to make buttonholes! I must admit, however, that the instructions in the sewing machine book made little sense to me and it was mostly by trial and error (thank goodness I practiced first!) that I got it right. I also again used that lovely button sew-on program!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crayon Roll

Here's another project that I had intended to make and give as Christmas presents to two young girls, but alas, I ran out of time and am just finishing them now. I probably could have figured out some way to have finished them on time had I realized how simple they really were! I started these last night and finished them tonight and think it took 2 hours (or 2 1/2 tops) in total in the pair. Not bad!!

In the future, I think I might lean toward making the roll a little bit longer so that each of the slots could be slightly bigger. I don't know for certain, but suspect that it might be a bit difficult for smaller hands to feed the crayons into their slots.

Nonetheless, a fun project that I'm sure I will make again in the future. The pattern - "Color Me Happy" - is by Linda Lum Debono and appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of Quilts and More.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Batik Quilt with Borders

I asked for opinions earlier this month as to what color I should use for the narrow border surrounding my batik quilt center. I did listen to your feedback and bought some teal in addition to the gold I ended up using as well as a third option. It just turned out that when I auditioned them on the design wall today, the gold really sang to me, especially with the wide purple outer border.

I hadn't necessarily wanted to put purple in the outer border, but in the end, it was really the only option as my trip to the quilt shop was not terribly successful in identifying fabrics that would actually work with my center. I wanted a multicolored fabric to pick up some of the other tones of the center, but it also needed to be a relatively dark fabric. Unfortunately, not may options were currently in stock that fit the bill! However, I guess that made my decision-making process that much easier, right?

In the end, I do really like it. I have plenty of fabric left over in this palette and am trying to decide if I want to make one of the quilts from the February issue of American Patchwork & Quilting - Zen - using this grouping. I'm very much itching to make this pattern (I have the magazine and was dying to make it since I first saw it while on the Cape last month) and have these and loads of other batiks that I could choose from. But do I want my next quilt to be a bit lighter? Or will I like having two that are very complementary? Decisions, decisions!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Star of Wonder

Yesterday I placed in the mail the first completed Star of Wonder project! I'm so excited to be nearly finished with these projects. The next time I decide that it is wise to make 3 of something, someone please knock me upside the head! I'm sewing the binding on the second one, and the third is almost completely quilted.

The pattern for this was called "Reason for the Season," uses Nancy Halvorsen's "Star of Wonder" panel, and is free from Quiltmaker online. I think it's probably important to remember that you sometimes get what you pay for. The pattern had a few issues - why in the world would you let the squares in a square float around the border? I trimmed mine all down. And of course, their math was a bit fuzzy - add in spacers to make things fit, which I do understand when you are using a panel - but if you squared the blocks down, you were able to get in one full additional block on each side, and had a much smaller spacer segment as a result. I'm all in favor of using as many blocks as possible and fewer spaces. This was my first time using a panel this large and building a lot of quilt around it, rather than simply quilting the panel with some unpieced borders. Panels are not always square! Nor are the lines on them necessarily straight. I found that annoying, but I guess just one of those things you have no choice but to deal with if you want to use panels.

As you can see since my last progress photo, I sewed on the 36 buttons and tacked down the flange so that it "wobbles" back and forth. It's a very nice design element, and not as time-consuming as it might have been, given that Mary or Sandi suggested that I use the button sew-on program on my sewing machine! I honestly had no idea there was such a feature and it never occurred to me to sew on buttons with my sewing machine, so I'm forever in their debt for saving me a ton of time in getting those buttons sewn on! I took the same approach to tacking down the flange in the opposite position - just set a narrow zigzag with the feed dogs down and a quilting foot and I was good to go!

I'm hoping to get the second one bound so I can show it at our quilt guild meeting tomorrow night and to its new owner on Thursday, but we'll see how I do. And if I can finalize the third over the long holiday weekend, that will be awesome!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Progress Update

Last night I had time to sew together the 50 blocks I pieced on the "Native Rainbow" quilt, and this evening, I sewed together the second of four borders. Here it is on my design wall! I'm auditioning the gold as the color for the inner border and am thinking I like it. The same color goes outside the pieced border and then there's a wide border surrounding it all. Unfortunately, I don't have enough gold in my stash to make anything work so I might just have to go to the quilt shop this weekend!

I know there's not a lot of contrast in the fabrics in the center, but I'm really liking it. There are 16 different fabrics used and I have to admit that my only complaint thus far about the pattern is that it called for 3/8 yard of each fabric. Considering the fact that I only had to cut 6 1/2 inches from each of the fabrics, I have no idea why it was suggested to buy twice as much! I guess it's good fodder for another batik project. (Actually, one other niggling complaint about the pattern: why would you instruct someone to cut 2x9 inch rectangles and then subcut so that the cuts only add up to 8 1/2 inches? It's just silly and a waste of that half inch.)

Should I go with the gold inner border? Let me know. Earliest I'll make it to the quilt shop is Saturday, so you still have time to influence my buying!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas Projects

As I mentioned, I didn't do much of a crafty nature in November and December. What I did accomplish were the following two projects, both of which involved rehabbing Goodwill finds with supplies from Jo-Ann's and elsewhere.





I'll admit that this really still needs a bow, but I couldn't find a premade one that seemed to work and I am generally helpless with bow making. Perhaps I'll get one figured out by the time I hang this for next Christmas!

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know it's been ages since I posted anything on my blog. Part of the reason is that I really didn't do anything creative in a long, long time. Between the class I was taking this fall and traveling and preparations for holidays (Thanksgiving in Ohio, Christmas on Cape Cod), I simply didn't get much accomplished in Nov. and Dec. that was blog-worthy. I vow to be better this year!

Speaking of resolutions, I have a few quilt-related ones this year, including attempting not to buy anything new at the store unless it is something I need to help finish a project for which I already have the majority of the supplies. I have loads of projects around here (and loads of WIPs), and it's time to get some of them done and save my money for some other fun thing. Ben told me he thought it was a stupid resolution: I couldn't just stop buying fabric when I was inspired. I told him he probably didn't realize how many projects I had around the house and I'm torn between being upset at his lack of support for my resolution (OK, not really) and thrilled that he thinks I should continue my fabric purchasing habit! We'll see how long it holds; yesterday I had to buy some fabric online because I'd made a really stupid error in calculating what I'd needed for that particular WIP. I'm not in violation yet!

I am fortunate to have family members who totally support and enable my quilting addiction. This holiday brought me a new portable Sew-Ezi quilting table, a rechargeable OttLite portable task lamp, a gift certificate to Keepsake Quilting, a beautiful Mint Chip Bali pop, a Michael Miller Fairy Frost fat quarter pack, an OmniGrid portable pressing and cutting station, and a couple of quilting books. Am I set to have fun or what?

I have dug in and gotten some things done in the sewing room in the past two days. Yesterday, I pieced together three backings and cut batting for quilts to drop off to be quilted in the near future, and I quilted the first of three of Star of Wonder panels that I sewed at my quilting retreat in early November (unfortunately none of these were finished for Christmas). I still need to apply 36 buttons to the yellow inner border and bind it up, but I'm really quite pleased with how the quilting turned out.

Today, I sewed fifty blocks like these three to make a quilt from the Batik Beauties book by Laurie Shifrin. The blocks went together quite quickly. I think it might have taken almost as much time to cut out the pieces on Wednesday night while watching one of the Pierce Brosnan James Bond movies (seriously, he has got to be the hottest James Bond)! I'm not sure how pleased I am with the overall color combination, but I'll share photos soon, I'm sure.

Happy New Year and happy sewing!