Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Finished swoon!

I still unfortunately haven't found my camera charger, but I felt the need to really call this quilt finished. In addition, I had a chance to wash and dry my finished quilt this weekend -- isn't that the best part of making a quilt??!  -- and thought I'd have a photo shoot in the spare bedroom.

I bought a fat quarter stack of modern whimsy last March or so with the express purpose of making a quilt for my good friend Laura.  She is pretty obsessed with ducks partly because she grew up with ducks as pets and partly for reasons I cannot explain.  I was so excited when I saw the fabric and thought it would be perfect for a quilt for her.  I showed her the fabric I picked out and she pointed out to me that the birds were geese and not ducks.  Oh well, I still like the line.

I struggled for a while to decide on the quilt design but in the end thought the swoon design would be a perfect fit.  I chose 4 of the animal fabrics and 4 of the circle prints that matched.  I picked out 4 solids that matched well.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to mix up the colors or not, but in the end I'm really glad that I kept each block monochromatic.

I made a few modifications to my blocks to cut down on all the seams.  Instead of using a rectangle and flying goose block for all of the large blocks around the perimeter, I cut a large square and used smaller squares of white for the corner triangles.  For the points with the circle prints, I cut rectangles and then used a colored square and white square for the corner triangles.  I'm happy that I made these changes, though it meant I needed to use more of the solid fabric than 1/4 yard.

For the quilting, I used one of my favorites again from Oh, Fransson! It reminds me of stars which I think fits with the quilt overall.  On the back I used a Riley Blake chevron.  I really hope Laura likes this quilt.  It's pretty overdue since it was meant as a birthday present (which was in the beginning of December!)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Farmer's Wife

I've been kind of holding out to post about my progress on my Farmer's Wife blocks until I had them all finished.  The last few took a little longer than I would have liked but they are all finished now!  Woo hoo!

I started Farming last January, very soon after I started quilting.  I saw blocks popping up that were beautiful and I got really excited and wanted to start.  I even convinced my mom to start piecing blocks with me (and she was quick to let me know that her grandmother was an avid reader of the Farmer's Wife and a proud member of the W.C.T.U - ha!).  My mom finished her blocks really quickly and has her top completely pieced and basted but I've been kind of stalled with my piecing.

In the first couple months, I managed to piece blocks 1-60, then I got nothing more accomplished until this January.  I decided I wanted to make a king size quilt and drew out my own layout based on this one.  To make the quilt the size I wanted, I figured I needed to make it 11 squares x 12 squares = 132 squares.

I didn't want to put the blocks that needed appliqué in, since it didn't seem to fit with the rest of the quilt.  I have been obsessing over the extra blocks that Melinda @ the Quirky Granola Girl chose for her quilt and totally stole the idea. :)  I drew out all the extra blocks and rotary cut as many as I could.  I figured out which templates would work for a few of the tricky ones and made my own paper-piece pattern for 2 of the blocks (Tallahassee and Twisting Star).

There were a bunch of blocks I made in the beginning that I didn't like any more.  Some because the piecing wasn't great and others because they were too boring (too much white).  I ended up re-doing 12 blocks.  In the end I have 132 blocks that I really like.  Next step is to cut and piece the settings and figure out what I'm going to do about quilting this monster.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Okay, here is the post I was waiting to work on.  The post that will hopefully hold me accountable to finishing my long list of WIPs.  Perhaps I'll post an update every month or so.  You'll keep me accountable, right?

Here it goes:

1.  Megan's quilt - this is technically finished, but it needs to be washed and properly photographed.

2.  Laura's quilt - again, technically done.  Needs washing and photography - need to find my camera's charger to do this.

3.  Emily's quilt - this is fairly far away from being finished even though it was meant to be a Christmas present.  It's made using Cut to Piece's Super Mario Quilt Along pattern.  All the blocks are sewn in one direction currently.  I need to trim and iron the seams, then sew the other direction, trim and iron those seams, then sashing, etc.  The back is super secret and hasn't been started yet - I think I'll like the back better than the front!

4.  Farmer's wife quilt - I started this quilt last January.  I have 80+ blocks completed, 30+ blocks cut out and ready to go.  I will have to redo some of the blocks since my piecing techniques have improved since I first started quilting and the really mismatched points are bothering me.  I'm aiming for 121 blocks to make a king sized quilt.  Then I have to purchase the sashing (I'm planning to use Essex linen in steel), sash all the blocks, find a backing, quilt, and bind.  This quilt by the Quirky Granola Girl is my inspiration.  Gorgeous!

5.  Single girl quilt - I started this quilt in September I think.  I finished all of the rings (I paper-pieced them), but stopped there.  I have to purchase the rest of the fabric (I'm thinking Essex linen in natural - can you tell I love Essex linen!), cut all of those curved bits, find the courage to attempt curves, and finish the rest of the quilt up.  This one will also be king size - 20 rings in all - yikes!

6.  Spiderweb quilt - This one is currently just a stack of fabrics.  I'm going to use my Denyse Schmidt chicopee fat quarters for this one.  I have to decide on a color/fabric for the center.  I think I'll take my stack to my favorite quilt shop to try out some color options.  I'm not sure how many spiderweb blocks I can get out of my stack, so I'm not sure how big it will be.  I would love for it to be at least full size, queen would be even better.

7.  April baby quilt - a long-time friend is due in April and I have to get started on a quilt for her lovely baby - maybe I could practice my single girl curves and make a small baby quilt?

8.  June baby quilt - another really good friend is due in June, so I am planning another quilt for her.  It will involve ducks - that much I do know.

9.  Madrona Road EPP quilt - this one is decidedly stalled.  I have all the pieces cut, but lost the interest in piecing a million blocks by hand.  I might get re-energized again.  I think it will need more solids and textures rather than just stars...  I'm not thinking this will get done this year.

10.  Stack of Hope Valley fat quarters - I don't exactly have a good plan for this quilt.  I thought of making the retro flowers quilt (and still might), but I'm not convinced I will love it.  A few thoughts I had were to make it similar to this vintage quilt - I would have to draft the pattern by hand I think but it could be done.  It's certainly beautiful and I think seems appropriate to the Hope Valley Fabrics.  Plus  I love the idea of adding solids to this quilt to increase the contrast.  This one needs more thought & should wait until I finish more of these WIPs.

11.  Pile O'Fabric's Block of the Month quilt - currently up-to-date with this quilt after month #1.  Excited for the next installment.  Don't you just love the little houses on the back??!
12.  Wiksten tanks - I have 3 more tanks cut and ready to sew, I have one more fabric that I purchased and one more that I want to purchase to make another.  I really do love these shirts, though I wish I knew how to make them with a cap sleeve, they would be much more versatile (rather than having to wear them with a sweater).

Yikes, this list actually makes me feel more stressed than less - wish me luck over the next year as I try to get as much of this completed as possible!!  And don't let me start anything else that's big!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Madrona Road Quilt

Okay, post #2.  Let's fast forward a little in time to something more current.  I was super excited when the Modern Quilt Guild announced the next fabric challenge featuring Violet Craft's Madrona Road.  Not only did I love that line (I already had a fat quarter bundle purchased for another project), but I was thrilled to get to participate in a guild-wide challenge and push myself to make something that really represents me.

As a member of the Pittsburgh Modern Quilt Guild, we decided to participate.  I received my stack of lovelies in early December - a mix of fat quarters and fat eighths.  I really struggled with our theme - roads and bridges - but as I was flipping through my Crate and Barrel catalogue I was completely inspired by this rug.
Crate & Barrel Mavis rug
I wasn't entirely sure how I would make something like this, but at least I had an inspiration.  I went to my favorite local quilt shop, Wexford Dry Goods, to find some coordinating solids to go with the amazing prints in the Madrona Road Collection.  When I got home, I just decided to start cutting to see what I ended up with.  Here's what I got.

I was seriously questioning my ability to make this with my current skill set.  So I switched gears mid-game.  I had some lovely solids and textured solids (cross weaves, essex linen) in addition to the MR prints.  I just started cutting random width strips of fabric.  When I had a nice stack, I began creating "slabs" each with a variety of colors, widths, textures, values, and prints.  But now what....

I wish I could say that I was channeling our theme, but really I started laying out the fabrics to make something that had visual interest and that I liked.  In the beginning stages I tried laying my 12.5" squares in a nice grid but it looked so flat.

I added some strips of color and then posted the ideas so my peeps on Flickr could give me some ideas.

The ideas that I received were really fantastic and helped me to rethink the quilt top.  I hadn't thought of the idea of "having somewhere for your eye to rest" and maybe that's what I didn't like about my quilt.  I added a plain block of essex to allow for a resting space.  I also used the idea of using something like an alternate sashing with the bright colors to add more visual interest.  I also loved the idea of adding more diagonals.

See, when I think of it now, I originally laid out a grid for a city with a very boring road system. :)  I live in Pittsburgh, so all this order is so unlike my experience with roads and bridges.  The updated version really fits with the city that I live in.  Nothing really matches up; "you can't get there from here"; and bright beautiful bridges overlay the whole thing.  It's really perfect for the city I live in.

Now the back.  I decided to really go completely improv on the back (not that the front wasn't also completely improved, but I at least had a bit of a plan when I made the blocks).  I'm really proud of how it turned out.  Here was my original plan -

It was fun to try to figure out how to sew it all together to keep the original movement but eliminate the need for complicated y-seams and partial seams.  I accomplished this all with just straight line stitching. Perfect!

I used one of my favorite quilting designed that I learned from reading Oh, Fransson's site - these quilting patterns are all fantastic.  I really prefer all over FMQ designs and I think this one reminds me of driving around the 'Burgh.

In the end I really love this quilt  Both the front & the back, the quilting, and the Memoir print binding.  This quilt represents one type of quilting that really excites me and I want to practice more.  This puppy is going to be hung in my office at work.