Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hotpads make me happy!

The big news of the week: My design wall is back up and functional! I'd been working without it since we moved in March. There was always some "reason" I couldn't put it up, and when my friend arrived, it's the first thing we did. Woo hoo! Beyond that, it was not a hugely productive sewing weekend, but we diagnosed what was wrong with her machine and had some relaxing girl time (plus we were entertaining and otherwise caring for the basic needs of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, so really, considering that, we accomplished a lot!)

I quilted and bound the hotpads I'm making for my neighbors.
Here's the turquoise set:

And the red set:

I used the loop-making technique from this tutorial over at So Sue. Quick and easy! 

I blogged about piecing these hotpads here, finally bought some Insul-Bright, and then straight line quilted them for an easy finish. I can't wait to give them to my neighbors--hopefully later today!
Here are each of the four, up close and personal. They are a bit straighter than they look here; my Photoshop silhouetting skills are not fantastic. 

I may have to make some for myself next...! Linking up to Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict to share.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fabulous Friday: A winner, a finish, charity blocks, and gray???

Lots to share today! First, the winners for the Garden Divas fabric giveaway, courtesy of Random Number Generator, are: 
Congrats, gccmom and Karen O! I'm sending you both an email for your mailing address. Whoever responds first can choose which bundle they receive.

My kids are sound asleep and my husband is away for the weekend. That means I'm sewing! And my best friend, Kathy, is coming to visit tomorrow, to hang out with me and the kids, and you guessed it, sew! Here's to a productive weekend and nice long naps by the kids...

Kathy's birthday was this past week. She turned 29 again, or so I like to say, since I'm 9 months older than she is! She is also the subject of my "finish" for the week. Of course, if you've read my blog at all, you probably have already guessed that my finish was also a "start" this week. Specifically, last night. I made her a medium-sized (11" square) zipper bag using some of the fabrics from my beach bag and some other scraps. Here it is:

I love the lining fabric! I'm looking forward to giving this bag to Kathy tomorrow. I hope she'll like it. Also, I'm linking up to Confessions of a Fabric Addict's Can I get a whoop whoop? Friday to show it off!

I have also taken advantage of 40% coupons from Hobby Lobby the last 2 weeks and treated myself to new rulers to replace the ones I broke. I think I was too embarrassed to reveal that in addition to my two 6.5" x 24" rulers, I also cracked and then snapped my 12.5" square ruler a month or so ago. Argh! But I'm now the proud owner of these two beauties!
The only drawback is that the long ruler is 6" wide rather than 6.5". I've been using a 6.5" ruler for about 12 years now. Any guesses on how long it'll take for me to cut a wide strip the wrong width? But what can I say? I'm a sucker for a deal...and for 40% off I'll just have to pay attention!

I used my new square ruler to cut the fabrics for these blocks, made for Margaret's Hope Chest. I have three sewn and will do the rest this weekend. SO much easier to cut large squares with a ruler that isn't broken in two pieces!!

Super easy blocks, and they changed the deadline to August 20th if you want to make some. I'm planning to meet up with them and help them join the blocks into quilts at the end of August. Can't wait!

And finally, for this week's Fabric Friday...a few gray fabrics from my stash. I just finished reading the racy book that everyone's talking about...50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James. And it inspired me. (Not in that way!! This is a QUILTING blog!) I started pulling out my "shades of grey" fabrics. Stay tuned next week to see what I'm going to do with them...and how you can be involved!

Have a great weekend!

p.s. Hoping someone can help with this. Earlier this week, while browsing blogs (either from Quilt Story or WIP Wednesday, I think?) I came across a blog with a week's worth of zipper tutorials. I didn't bookmark it at the time and now of course I can't find it. Can anyone send me the link? I need to beef up my zipper skills, especially for when I make my sister's boppy cover.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Post-Vacation Productivity!

I'm back from the beach and happy to be back at my sewing machine. This is a bit of a piecemeal post, showing a couple different projects in progress, and then a giveaway...! And if you're stopping by for the first time, welcome! I'd love it if you left a comment introducing yourself and also followed my blog.

Take a peek at the pieced top of my nautical flag quilt--I'm really happy with how it turned out. To see how I made these strippin' dot blocks, click here.

I'm also linking to Quilt Story for Fabric Tuesday and Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday to show off this quilt and solicit some advice. I'm looking for opinions: How do I quilt it? My original thought was to do randomly spaced straight lines, both horizontal and vertical. The white sashing (and the diagonal white strips through the blocks) are only 1/2" finished, so there's not a lot of room to quilt there. What do you think? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Next up, a project that I can only show a sneak peek of. I'm working on a quilt for a new book blog hop toward the end of August. It's a fantastic design--I think you'll like it as much as I do--but it starts out with LOTS of strip sets. I cut 16 fat quarters into various width strips and have been sewing them together. I counted...just to sew the strips into pairs, that's 55 seams! Now I'm joining each set of 2 strips into sets of 4, etc. etc.
And I have to say, all this (kind of) monotonous sewing reminds me of driving through Illinois from south to north. It's a fairly boring drive, all very straight roads through field upon field of corn. Nothing to see. Almost as fun as driving through Nebraska or Kansas. We would always joke that we could put the car on autopilot because the highway was so straight. That's sort of how I feel sewing strips together. Does my sewing machine have an autopilot feature???

Finally, for the giveaway. I can't believe that I've hit 50 posts already, and to celebrate, I'm giving away these fabric bundles from Jane Sassaman's Garden Divas collection.

Click here for details.
Thanks for stopping by! Stay cool!

Hooray for 50 Posts Giveaway!

I realized while on vacation last week that I had written my 50th post. In my mind, that calls for a celebration, otherwise known as a giveaway! 

(And can I just tell you..."occasionally" my stash gets out of control, and there is no one who is a bigger fan of these giveaways than my husband. He'd much rather see fabric going out the door than coming in. Little does he know that it comes in the door when he's not home. There's a reason my studio has a lock on the door, and it's not just to keep my 3-year-old away from my sewing machine and scissors!)

I'm giving away these two fabric bundles, both from Jane Sassaman's Garden Divas collection. I love Jane's fabric--it's always garden and bug themed, but with such rich, vibrant colors and such character. If you're not familiar with her or her work, check out her blog.

Here's how to enter the giveaway:
1. If you're already a follower (thank you!), leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite fabric line is right now.
2. If you're not yet a follower, please become one, and then leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite fabric line is right now.
3. BONUS: If you link to this giveaway from your blog (and let me know in the comment section), you'll receive an extra entry. 
4. BONUS: Get a friend to follow my blog and you'll receive an extra entry. Make sure they mention your name in their comment.
  **Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you're the winner.
The giveaway is open through Friday, July 27 at 5 pm EST. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Color Challenge Block Layout

The other day I posted my latest Color Challenge blocks.
Here, I've laid out all of my blocks in two different orientations. I like both at the moment. I think if I go with the on-point setting, I'll have to come up with some sort of half-block design for the setting triangles, because I'd really like the design to continue to the edges. (Which might be enough to push me to the straight setting!) What setting do you like best?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

At the Beach...Bag

I'm happy to report that the beach bag has worked wonderfully so far, and while I was originally unsure about the size, it's been perfect. Also, I may have collected orders for bags from the female half of our group of 35 at the beach!

I just had to show off the scenery here, and also link up with Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday. Not a bad setting, right?! Yep, I could get used to a week of this, carrying swim diapers and juice boxes and sunscreen back and forth to the beach. Sun, sand, waves, and family!

To see more photos and details of my new (and rather quickly made, last-minute) beach bag, click here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Color Challenge Catch-Up

I've been (mostly) keeping up with my weekly Color Challenge blocks (except for this past week, when I spent all my free time finishing my beach bag).
If you haven't checked out the Color Challenge over at 15 Minutes Play, you should definitely do so! It's so interesting to see everyone else's blocks, and the woman who started it all, Victoria, is an incredibly talented quilter and colorist. 

Here are my most recent blocks.

For someone who went to a university that boasted purple and white as its colors, I sure don't have much in my stash! I admit, even after four years of wearing purple, it isn't really one of my favorites.

One thing I've noticed each week that if I'm having trouble finding fabrics to go with the main color, it usually means that I'm not happy with my original fabric. It happened again this week; I switched purples and quickly found some options to play with.

And as I mentioned above, I had a hard time getting an accurately colored photograph of purple, as well as the light aqua (so much more attractive in person!) and the blue I used here and the deeper teal in another quilt top I've just finished. So take these photos with a rather large grain of salt! :)

Fabric choices:
When I took this photo, I was sold on the bottom four fabrics and the four along the top were alternates. I ended up using just one of the alternates.

Made fabric:

And the block:

About the purple:
Yellow was the obvious first choice for me, but I didn't like the first couple I tried--the darker lines in this yellow seemed to help it out. I was really surprised that the blue worked--in my mind it seemed too close to the purple. I didn't want to go very pinky, but the aboriginal dot light purple/pink seemed to set off the purple nicely. Ultimately, for me, purple is just a tough color to work with, and while I'm fine with my block, I'm not feeling any extra love for the hue right now.

Bubblegum Pink
I kept feeling drawn to sugary sweet, bubblegum-y colors for this. 
Here's what I ended up using:

And my made fabric:

And my block:

I think it really has that sugary sweet bubblegum feeling to it. I especially like it with the lime green and the yellow dotted print. Pink is not usually a huge favorite of mine (I just feel like it gets overused for little girls, but that's another soapbox for another day). However I really like all the black, white and pink blocks that others made, and I like how easily it works with a variety of colors in general. I think I may have to overcome my prejudice against it and try a quilt that is primarily pink.

Mint Green
The color mint green has another flavor connotation, too...check out the key lime pie custard I ate before sewing my block!

With that "inspiration" in my belly, I pulled out these fabrics:
I found the third fabric and loved the orangey-red paired with the mint and sage greens, so I looked for that color in my stash. Only after finishing the block did I realize that its colors were similar to my tomato red block!

And here's my made fabric:

And my block:

I was not expecting to pair the orangey-red with mint, but I liked how the warm and cool complemented each other. I'm not usually a big pastel fan, but throughout this color challenge I'm seeing how pastels can be paired with brighter colors for interesting impact.

My aqua was plenty bright, so there was no confusing it with mint. (Although when you pair this aqua with the chocolate brown, I'm seeing mint chip ice cream here too!)

My made fabric:

And my finished block:
I love how the bright colors and how they pop with the aqua, but that they're grounded with the brown. I like how the bright colors keep the aqua looking fresh.

This was a third attempt at fabric choices for me. I too kept running into the maroon and gold school colors issue. Then I found the small squares fabric and the green millefiore fabric and knew that I'd found my direction. I was pleasantly surprised to see how the coral and the blue worked too--maroon is more friendly than I'd expected. I wasn't expecting to like this block, but I really do!

My made fabric:

And my finished block:

To see my previous Color Challenge post, showing Tomato Red, click here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's a Log Cabin (and Beach!) Kind of Week...

I didn't realize it until about halfway through this week's projects, but apparently I was in a Log Cabin kind of mood. I started out using scraps to make hot pads for two of my neighbors. They've been so helpful and welcoming since we moved in that I wanted to give them a little gift.
Ever since seeing Leanne's hot pads over at She Can Quilt and Svetlana's coasters (which I originally thought were hot pads) at S.O.T.A.K. Handmade, I wanted to make hot pads. This was the perfect opportunity!

So I started with Log Cabins and then cut them on an angle for a more playful look.

Here are all four of them (two for each), pieced. I did two Log Cabins and two Courthouse Steps and then cut them all on an angle. Now I just need to quilt and bind!

Then, onto Fabric Friday. I have a huge crush on this print from Amy Butler's Daisy Chain collection for Westminster Fabrics.

So I bought some. I went shopping for fabric for a boppy for my sister, who is having a baby in September. (A boppy is a C-shaped pillow for supporting the baby and propping the baby up while breastfeeding.) I almost bought this fabric for her but ultimately went with something different. But I liked it so much, I bought it for myself, for another project I had in the works. 

You see, we're headed to a week at the beach on Sunday. Right about Thursday night, I decided that I needed to make a beach bag. I'd seen this bag, using a quilt-as-you-go technique, over at Sew Take a Hike and put it on my idea list a while back. Well, it seemed like the perfect beach bag. So I pulled out my scraps and started piecing. But I just wasn't feeling it. Then I got to the quilt shop and saw the Daisy Chain fabric. And suddenly I was feeling it! I came home, pulled out an entirely different pile of fabrics (mostly Westminster/Free Spirit) and started piecing again. 

Close up of the front:

I pieced and quilted stripes for a big pocket on the back, and then used my new favorite fabric for the bag back, the handles and the lining. Yum! It just looks...beachy...doesn't it!?!

 I also put pockets on the inside, though they didn't photograph well. (And hey, there's a shot of the rose pink doors at my house!)

I will say this. The bag is ridiculously large. I always go sort of blindly into bag/purse making, trying to decide the perfect size, the perfect handle length, etc. I purposely made this one big, because hey, I have 2 small kids. Between towels, diapers, sunscreen, my e-book, snacks, wipes, etc....I'm not sure it'll all fit. But I can't wait to find out!

Linking up to show off my new beach bag 
at Confessions of a Fabric Addict's Can I Get a Whoop Whoop
Enjoy your weekend!

p.s. To my sister: If you like this fabric that I didn't buy for you, I'm happy to go back and buy more. Really. Another trip to the fabric store, no problem! :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Red, White & Quilted

It may not have been done in time to celebrate the fourth of July, and it definitely isn't hanging on my lovely rose colored front door now, but I've finished my patriotic door quilt!

I talked a bit about this project here, but I wanted to show you how I made it as well. 

I've been playing along in the Color Challenge over at 15 Minutes Play, where each week we "make" fabric using the week's challenge color and whatever we think goes with it. I didn't have any big red or blue fabric pieces that I loved, and I feel like many patriotic quilts start looking country quickly, so I decided to create some blue and red made fabric to work with.

 Here's the blue:

And the red:

I cut strips from the red and pieced it with solid white strips to make the bottom portion. You can see my quilting here--a back and forth free motion line on the white, and simple straight lines on the red (cause there was enough going on in the fabric itself!)

I used solid white and the blue made fabric to paper piece the star for the top portion. I did just one row of outline quilting on the white, and then stitched radiating straight lines from the star's "elbows," if you know what I mean. 

Another close-up. I'm really happy with how this turned out (and how quickly it came together...now I just need to start a project more than 2 days before its intended holiday and I'll be set!) 
Linking up with the One Thing, One Week Challenge over at Amy's Creative Side and Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fabric Friday and 2 Winners!

Thanks so much to all who commented for the 100 Followers giveaway. 
And thank you for continuing to visit my blog! 
With help from Random Number Generator, I picked two winners. 

Elisabetta and Jennifer Gail, congratulations! 
I'm sending you emails to get your mailing address. Please respond with your preferred colorway; whoever answers first will get first choice. 

And then it's also Fabric Friday! My pick this week is another collection on my wish list, Rhapsodia by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics. I've always been a fan of Pat's designs, and I love these rich color palettes! Gorgeous, aren't they? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bring on the Red, White and Blue!

(Click here to enter my 100 followers giveaway!)

I'm starting our 4th of July celebration a bit early! Strawberry shortcake last night, and then some feverish sewing on the patriotic door quilt that I decided to start on Saturday night. (Yep, I'm a last-minute kind of girl!) Since that clearly isn't going to be finished for Wednesday, I thought I'd share a photo of the flag quilt I made for my dad a few years ago (2005 or 2006?). 

I had just finished a bargello quilt and wanted to play more with the effect. My dad works for a flag company, so an American flag wall hanging seemed like the perfect gift. This was my first pattern-free quilt--I just kind of made it up as I went along (which of course led to a few tricky spots!). I stitched light cream/red and dark cream/red bargello loops, cut them into strips, and pieced them to create the illusion of a flag waving in the wind. I pieced a short section for under the blue square, and then used blue scraps to make the pieced blue square. I did a little of everything for the binding--blue by the blue, and alternating red and cream for the rest. And ironically, today I came across this post, where Debbie at A Quilter's Table talks about the concept of a "matched" binding.

Even though I'd make it a bit differently now, six or seven years later, I'm still pretty proud of this quilt, and very happy that it still hangs in my dad's office.

Now back to my current project, which won't be done for tomorrow's holiday. Which, let's be honest, with a rose pink front door (on the to-do list to be painted this summer!), a red, white and blue decoration isn't going to look that great anyway!

Here are two "in progress" images:
 I've really enjoyed "making fabric" for the Color Challenge over at 15 Minutes Play. I used that technique here, choosing blue and red scraps to make fabric. Rather than appliqueing, and worrying about the dark fabric showing under the white star, I made a 12-1/2" square paper pieced star using Carol Doak's free pattern. I need to finish my red strips and then sew the red pieced strips and white solid strips together, add the star to the top, and get it quilted. But I'm liking it so far! And now I've got even more incentive (like I really needed it--a rose pink door?!?!) to get that front door painted. And the garage doors...

Linking up with Quilt Story today for Fabric Tuesday, WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.
Happy 4th of July!

p.s. Just curious...can anyone top rose pink as a front door color?