Friday, April 17, 2015

Making Life a Little More Beautiful

Isn't that one of the things quilting is all about?  It really isn't a necessity, but it does make our beds and our home just a little more beautiful.  At least I think so, and I hope you do, too!

Today I worked on making something a little more beautiful that was downright nasty and ugly looking.  My heating pad!  I realized how terrible it looked when I rushed to put it away when I was expecting a visitor.  So when I had some free time today I worked on making this pretty cover for it -
I tried to find some instructions, but even the power of google failed me.  Not too much out there explaining how to make something like I wanted at all.  See how neat the opening for the cord came out?
There was quite a bit of trial and error involved, but in the end I was very pleased with the results!  I even made a little cozy for the cord while I was at it...
I used some Riley Blake fabrics I purchased in Colorado this summer.  Just love them, and was so happy to find a practical use for them.  I decided to write up a pattern just in case anyone else wanted to make one, too. You can get it here! That way it's less trial and error and more fun sewing!  Just make sure you continue to follow the instructions included with your heating pad!  It's always better to be safe.  And beautiful :)

Enjoy!


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Do It Afraid

In my devotional reading last week I came upon a phrase that really struck me- Do It Afraid.  The point of the passage was that in order to move forward in our lives sometimes we need to do things even if they are scary!  We might fail, or the thing we want to try may not work out, but we can't let fear keep us from experiencing the wonderful things that lie before us.
Quilter's Primer - Retro version
Boy, that hit me!  I have so many things that I want to do, but many times I back out because of my fear and don't even try.  I am very much a perfectionist, so I often feel like if my efforts aren't going to be up to my standards, well I shouldn't even bother.  I was feeling very much like this about a pattern that I've been wanting to publish.  Even though I taught this as a class twice to much approval I was still not convinced that my idea was worthy of being polished up and put out for sale.
Quilter's Primer - Brights!

Oh, I had all the excuses - it's too long, it's too big of a job to edit it all and put it into one document, it won't look professional enough.  Spurred on by this small phrase I decided to just feel the fear and go ahead and do it!  It helped that I have a touch of a cold and this is something I can do while I am resting in the recliner, as well.

Quilter's Primer - cat fabric!

I was delighted that Word 2013 in compatablility mode not only preserved all my illustrations perfectly, but in most cases made them even easier to work with and improve.  This was a big fear because upgrading from my antique version of Word did not do well with the patterns I had done in a different program that I used when Windows 8 rejected my old version of Word. Because I was working with 12 different documents plus several pages of templates and the need to make it all cohesive it took several hours.  Then I had to figure out how to get it all into one PDF file, so it did take hours of work to get it done, but I did it!  And I am thrilled with how it turned out!  Now the test is whether anyone else will like it, but it is out there now, so I can move on to the next scary thing on my list (and there are quite a few of those,,,).

If you would be interested in purchasing my pattern, I have it available in my Etsy shop, as well as on Craftsy.  I am offering an introductary price of $5.00 for the next week, after that I will be charging the normal price of $12.00.  

Now that I am energized by getting this pattern done, it's time to work on getting some quilts done this week - the following week looks really crazy, so I am looking forward to focusing on getting some work done in the sewing room.  I have a custom quilt that I want to get pieced, a finished top to baste and quilt, plus a few more fun projects to work on - so I guess I won't be bored.  I am encouraged to work on some of these projects, even though some of them do make me feel a little anxious I know that I can keep moving forward and do my best without letting fear paralyze me and keep me from even trying!  Knowing that faith is stronger than fear is very empowering and I am looking forward to seeing the results of stepping out and trying new things!

Don't let fear hold you back, go ahead and try something new!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Quilting From the Back

I have a lot of different quilting techniques on my "bucket list" and on this quilt I got to do one of them.  The top was pieced in January as a shop sample for the quilt shop.  It's a lovely quilt, but not really inspiring as far as the quilting go.  As I was looking for a nice backing for it I found a great print in the right colors with big flowers on it - and so an idea was born - why not quilt this from the back?  I thought it was a fabulous idea, so decided to go with it.



The first problem, I realized, that if I was going to quilt this by the fabric design then I should absolutely try to match the pattern when I pieced the back.  Yikes.  I did not have a lot extra to work with in order to accomplish this, but thankfully the repeat was just about right to make it work.  There is a section in one corner that is a bit off, but it is close enough to work.  Then I had to baste the quilt and realized that this was going to be tricky since the bottom (which is the top) was bigger than the backing and batting.  Yikes!  I taped the top down, making sure it was right side down...then added the batting, and the back went on the top.  I did a lot of double checking to make sure everything was straight and pin basted the sandwich.  I flipped it over to make sure I had it all nice and flat - definitely did not want any tucks or wrinkles in the front of the quilt when it was done!

I chose a light tan aurifil thread that went well with both the top and the back.  I did a small sample to check my tension - really important to have just right for this technique, since the back is the top of the quilt!  I don't always start in the center of the quilt when I am machine quilting, but felt like it would be the best decision in this circumstance.  I started quilting around and in the flowers - it's very detailed quilting and  was difficult to figure out a path as I quilted.  After I got to the end of the first bobbin I was surprised at how little I had actually finished.
Over the next couple of days I quilted on and off, and quit counting after six bobbins.  Today I was determined to get this quilt finished!  I was so close to the edges, so just pushed myself to keep going, and finally got all the quilting done - I was so excited to cut the extra off and sew the binding on it!

Here is the back!  If you look closely you can see the line at the bottom left where the fabric didn't quite match up.  

Another view of the quilting on the back - I was pleased at how well the thread blended in with the colors.

When I first started I wasn't sure if I really liked how the quilting looked on the top, but now that it is done I love it.  It's so pretty on the black triangles!

Here is my helper, showing you how soft and comfy this quilt is ;)

And the cat free version!   This quilt will have a lovely crinkly texture after washing, but for now it's going to keep it's crisp and flat finish so it will be a nice sample to sell kits with!  The pattern is Sweet Escape by P&B fabrics.  If you would be interested in reading my post about making the top you can see that here.  

So glad to tick this one off my to-do list!  I got out my supplies for the 2012 QBOM quilt today and started basting my hexagons for the April lesson.  I decided I will work an hour a day on this quilt and hope to get it done by the end of April.  Let's see - that makes this project only three years old... not too bad!

Tomorrow I'll be cutting strips for the Star Shuffle Quilt!  I hope to get that one done by the end of the month as well.  I can't wait to start playing with it - I think when I start I won't want to stop!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

April Goals

I think it's a great idea to actually put goals down in writing because it helps me actually accomplish them, but when I start going through the list...it's a little intimidating!  It seems like I usually tend to think that I can potentially do a lot more than I actually can, and there is nothing sadder than a list that you can't cross everything off as completed.  That said, I do have a lot of things I want to get done and that has been my (unstated) theme this year.  Last year I worked on completeing all 12 of the UFO's I had stashed in my drawer.  I am still working on one, but got the rest finished - yay!  This year I am concentrating on at least getting the tops done for several projects that have been hanging around in the half completed stage for a while.

In January, I finished piecing Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt!  Technicially I just started this in November, but I thought it would be a win if I did not start off the year by creating yet another partially finished top, so decided to get this one done right off !   I also purchased a back for it, so technically I am ready to get this one finished when I have time to do the quilting, but I am pleased that I finished the top for now.

In February I finished my sampler quilt with the fun cat fabric:

I just got the backing for this one, too!  I was bad and had to pick this fun fabric for the backing...I think it is so funny :)  Those mischievous cats, look what they did!

In March I finished this beauty of a quilt top - and purchased the back for it as well.  It will go up next on the queue for quilting because I want to get it done!  I have the backing for it as well, but I have to finish quilting the ones I have pinned already so I can use them to get this basted.

Since I have been working with large quilts the last few months, I'm going a little smaller this month.  The top that I would like to get done for April is the Craftsy Block of the Month from 2012.  I think I made it up to the June lesson...English Paper piecing.  It's the handwork that gets me every time!  I just need to do it - it's not that I don't know how or am terrible at it, I just prefer to speed along with my sewing machine.  

I also am working on a custom quilt, so that should keep me busy as far as piecing goes, and I have lots of quilting to do as well, witness the three queen size tops that just got finished and are ready to go!  I will undoubtedly fill in with some smaller projects, and quick finishes as I go along, but I intend to stick to my goal of finishing those WIP's this year (Works In Progress).  Dear Jane, Joy, and Farmers wife will be getting done, and I want those all finished before September so I must be getting to those after taking the month of April a little easier!

Now it's time to get that walk in for the day and work on the next order for curtains - at least this set is a short length and shouldn't be too taxing to work on.  I am excited to get my day's worth of work done on them so I can get back to machine quiting my current shop sample - wait till you see what I am working on, so pretty!


Monday, March 23, 2015

A Monday of Quilting!

I was so excited to get the new fat quarters for the background of my March quilt! They will work nicely - I really like some of the patterns in them.  The blue ones went in to my stash - this is one quilt that has no blue in it.  Wow, I can hardly believe I am making a quilt with no blue, that doesn't happen too often!  Anyway, it has some nice yellow, green, and tan prints that work really well with the rest of the prints.

I made 16 blocks today for this quilt, so good progress!  Only four more and I'll be halfway done - woohoo! I definitely should be able to finish the top by the end of this month.  It takes me about an hour to make 4 blocks (9 inches square finished) so by the time I finish all 80 blocks for the center I will have quite a bit of time invested in this quilt.  I guess I need to start looking for a backing for it now.
I managed to take some nice pictures of my newest baby quilt - I made my Monkey Around Pattern using owl fabric.  It came out super cute!  I did some easy straight line quiting on it for the fun of it.  It came our really nicely. I enjoyed doing the quilting, but don't think I'd want to do this on a quilt that would be much bigger!  By the end it was a lot to fit under my machine's arm and control to keep straight.  

Here is a picture of the quilting in progress:  
I didn't measure, just eyeballed the distance between lines.  The staight lines in the pattern and blocks made it easy to keep them faily straight

And this is a picture I found in my cameral of the quilt top I finished in February.  I just ordered a backing for it - feathers! I thought that would be fun with the cats on the top of the quilt.  We'll see if I like it when it comes in.  I have plenty of quilts that need backing, so I'm sure it will work on something if  don't like it for this one!

The roman shades I've been working so hard on are now finished and installed!  So this week I get to have fun quilting....and boy, do I need it!  


Friday, March 20, 2015

Right, Left, Right

I posted my dilema about what version of the quilt to make and got feedback on Facebook and here.  Everyone who posted on my blog said to make the blocks as I started to.  Most of the people on Facebook prefered that version as well.  The group that preferred the original version?  My real life quilting friends!  Really interesting, don't you think?  It was quite funny on the Quilting page on facebook.  It sounded like they were calling out a marching beat at times with the comments - Right, Left, Right, Right, Right!

I am going to continue on making the blocks as I started to - I don't want to rip, I do like the way the EQ7 mock-up looks, and it makes the quilt more unique!  I finished another set of four blocks yesterday and here is my progress:
I am short of light fabrics for the background of the triangles and squares so I had to find some light neutrals  I found a pack of Fat Quarters (Key Lime Sorbet by Quilting Treasures) that looks like it will work - fingers crossed.  I ordered them from Green Fairy Quilts.  It was the last one.  The price said $51.00 which was not bad.  Then when I looked back at the site right afterwards I saw the price on their fat quarter bundles had dropped!  My typical luck, things always go on sale right after I buy them, but within moments of purchasing - well, that's just not fair!  I sent them an e-mail and Clint very kindly refunded the difference.  I will defininitely check them out next time I need fabic.

Also check out Judi's blog - GreenFairyQuiltsBlog.  Her quilting is fabulous!  I follow a lot of quilting blogs and hers is one of my favorites, I'm sure you will enjoy it as well.

Now, I am going to go tackle the roman shades I keep talking about.  They are almost finished.  I need to mount the heading boards and string them (hopefully the hardware store will have the weight rods in for the bottoms).  The worst part is braiding the strings after they are done.  Good thing I have some episodes of Quilting Arts on DVR to watch while I do that!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Design Opportunity

Not a lot of quilting going on over the past week - we spent the weekend visiting our kids in Portland.  Always a lot of fun - the grand-kids are growing so fast and it is such a sweet thing to be able to be a part of their growing up years!  Jovi is so much more comfortable with us now and is so entertaining - "I did it!" is her thing, and I really got a kick out of hearing her say this.  I hope she always feel such a sense of accomplishment when she masters the many skills ahead of her to learn!  It is wonderful to see all of them learning new things and becoming such unique personalities - like they say, if I knew being a grandparent was this much fun I'd have done it first!

On to quilting. I have a decision to make with my March quilt in progress and hope to get some help!



 I worked some more on the blocks for this months project.  Here are the first 4 -
And here is the next set of four combined with them:

Sorry for the bad lighting... Do you see where I got a triangle turned wrong?  I fixed it and started working on the next set.  As I looked at the pieces as I laid them out I realized that I have started putting my blocks together wrong!  So, now I have a decision to make.  Do I take apart the blocks I already made, or do I decided this is a design opportunity and make the quilt with the blocks as they are and make the rest the same?  

I got busy with EQ7 and made a quilt with the blocks both ways.  What do you think?  This is how it will look the way I am currently making the blocks:
And this is the way it is supposed to look:
I'm leaning toward one of them, but I'm not telling yet!  Leave a comment and tell me which one you like best!