Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Finally Finished! My Color Challenge Quilt

Throughout the summer, I participated in the Color Challenge over at 15 Minutes Play. Each week, Victoria would choose a different challenging color, and everyone would "make" fabric using scraps of that color and whatever other colors they chose to go with it. Such a fun way to play with color! You can read about each of my blocks and color choices starting here.

I assembled the blocks, added two borders (one pieced out of made fabric), and finished quilting it just this past weekend--perfect timing for the Blogger's Quilt Festival at Amy's Creative Side, as well as linking up to Confessions of a Fabric Addict's Friday Can I get a whoop whoop and Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday!

Quilt Stats:
Finished Quilt Measures: 44" square
Quilted by: Me!
Best Category: Scrap Quilt, Throw Quilt, Home Machine Quilted...

Here's a flat shot, as well as a not-so-straight flat shot, but the colors showed up so vibrantly that I wanted to show it anyway.

I did both straight and wavy-lined machine quilting on different sections of the quilt, as you can see in the close-ups. I like that the straight line areas in the khaki create subtle texture without distracting from the pieced "ribbons."

p.s. This quilt is one of the five semi-finalists in the Blogger's Quilt Festival scrap category! Click here to read more and to help make blocks for quilts for Sandy victims. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Two more Cathedral Window blocks and a sneak peek

I've finished two more Cathedral Windows blocks for the Pellon Quiltalong. My progress has been slowed only by the fact that I'm trying to finish up a quilt for the Blogger's Quilt Festival (and I thought I had a couple more days than I do to finish it...oops!)

Speaking of oops, part way through making block #3, I made one. Dumb mistake, but happily fairly easy to fix. 

Fussy-cut fabric squares in place; time to fold and topstitch to make the windows!

My finished block #3

And a close-up shot. I do love the red, black and white combination because everything pops so nicely!

And block #4, which was probably the easiest to sew so far, but the measuring and spacing of the different strips was surprisingly time-consuming:

And a close-up!

And then just a sneak peek at my Color Challenge quilt in progress for the Blogger's Quilt Festival. I'm done with the borders (you see portions of the pieced border here) and am currently quilting it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gettin' Ready for Halloween

When I was a kid, my trick-or-treat bag was this cool 3-D pumpkin, complete with a lid and appliqued face. Mom made these for my sister and me. The last 3 years, my 3-year-old has used my old bag, as shown here in 2009.
(Don't be distracted by the adorable-ness of the little dragon...we're focusing on the pumpkin here.)

But now, my 3-year-old is one of 3 grandkids, and 2 bags don't divide evenly by 3. So I decided it was time to make my own. Mine are not nearly as elaborate or as detailed as the ones my mom made. I may tackle something more complex down the road, but short legs means bags dragging on the ground, which means simple=good.

We're going trunk or treating tomorrow night, both as a social event and a preview for next Wednesday's big haul. So I went fabric shopping yesterday. The selection wasn't all I envisioned, but they had a nice Halloween-y stripe, so I was happy. And candy corns for the lining, which is perfect, because both of my boys are addicted to candy corns. (After getting his single corn for dessert last night, the little one stood below the cupboard where the bag lives, panting and whining for more. I feel like I have a dog, not a toddler!)

Anyway, the bags:
Spiders and bats. A nice stripe. Candy corn lining. Simple boxed bottoms and extra-sturdy handles for hauling all the loot. And pumpkins, leaves and cornstalks for mood setting. Next up? I'm sewing a "leather" vest for the 3-year-old cowboy scarecrow. (Not a cowboy, not a scarecrow, but a cowboy scarecrow. I know. I'm not sure either.) The 1-year-old? He'll be slaying hearts in the dragon costume pictured above. Can't wait!

Anyone else working on Halloween projects/costumes?
Linking up with Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday today.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Peek in my windows...

Cathedral windows, that is. This technique has been on my mental to-do list for a long time, but seeing Amy's small wall hanging in the Dots on Dots blog hop a few weeks ago really catapulted the idea to the top of my list!
And then I heard about Pellon's Cathedral Window Quiltalong. Perfect!
I love the look of cathedral windows with a solid background, like the gray in Amy's piece, but I promised myself I would do this quiltalong completely from my stash (which is not very solid-y. I tend to use solids up as they come in the door!).

So I pulled out a stash of red, black and white fat quarters, from Red Rooster Fabrics' Mango Tango and Paparazzi collections. (This isn't all of them--I was so eager to start my blocks that I made the first couple before taking this photo.)

I am loving trying out all these variations of Cathedral Window blocks! You can find links to all of the blocks here; two new blocks will be posted each week through the end of the month.

The first block uses four of these quarter blocks:

First I put them together like the original pattern:
But I decided it was too dense in the middle. 

So I rotated the quarter blocks instead to get this:

The second block, which is woven strips:

And a close-up:

I'm having fun...more blocks to come as I finish them!

p.s. Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict's Can I get a whoop whoop? today!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Baby Quilt Speed Record!

Courtesy of a rainy weekend (and a nicely small-sized baby quilt), all I have left to do is bind my friend's baby quilt. (Well, unless you think otherwise...keep reading.)

My plan for quilting this little guy was just simple straight lines 1/4" on either side of the block seams. Which I like. But now that that part's done, do I just revel and relax in its simplicity, or does it need something more? Here's a close-up photo of the front.

Believe me when I say that 95% of me wants to hogtie the other 5% of me that keeps suggesting some sort of filler pattern for the squares. All those starts and stops. So much room for error on a quilt that I want to be as perfect as possible because it's for a dear friend. I know the best way to be a better machine quilter is to practice, but this is not really the quilt I want to practice on! And I do love the simplicity of what I've got.

So I'm waffling.
Please tell me what you think. I also had considered quilting straight horizontal and vertical lines as well, but the strips on the back are not exactly straight, and quilting parallel to them would only draw attention.

Here are some additional photos of the front and back. After three days of non-stop rain, I really shouldn't be complaining about the sun being "too bright." So I won't. I'll let the photos do the talking. An attempt in the sun, in attempt in the shade, and the best attempt being in the sunroom, complete with it's lack of attractive background/outdoor setting for my photos. But at least the colors are fairly accurate!

Friday, October 12, 2012

No pink in this boy's quilt!

A good friend had her second baby last week, a little boy named Brennan. When her daughter was born 2 years ago, I made this quilt:
Pretty safe bet that I was going to use different fabric this time around...
As much as I like this quilt (and I know she does too), I wanted to try something different this time. My style has evolved a bit, and I had an idea.

Have you seen this book?
It's by Amanda Jean Nyberg from Crazy Mom Quilts, and has some fantastic scrappy quilts in it. I decided to make a version of her Up Up and Away quilt. I say "version" because Amanda Jean used the triangles that are created when you saw strips together to make a binding in her quilt, but I was using bigger squares (and triangles), so i just cut them out of my scraps. I also used four different background colors for the squares, though I didn't start that way. 

I used four Kona solids: a denim-y blue, a lavender, an aqua, and a soft green. I wrote their names down on a scrap of paper that is now missing, or I'd share them with you. (btw, both my husband and 3-year-old commented on the "pink" in the quilt. Um...it's lavender. (Right?!?!))

First I tried just using the denim-y blue, but it seemed to dark and not little boy-ish enough.

 Then I tried adding in a few randomly placed greens, lavenders, and aquas. I liked that better.

I sewed a bunch more green, lavender and aqua pieced blocks.

And ultimately went with this. 

I decided to piece the back as well, partly because I didn't want to make another trip to the fabric store (itching to finish this one and get it delivered!), and in part because while I think I like the front, I'm not totally sold. I figured maybe I'd like the pieced back better. 

I wanted to go with simple strips, broken up with a few pieced squares. (The color on some of these photos stinks because I was sewing/photographing at night...the colors are much prettier in person!)
First I tried a repeating pattern, but it looked too regimented, even with the squares.

Just for fun, I tried this, and while it creates a neat illusion, it didn't seem right for a baby quilt.

Here's what I ended up with: randomly ordered strips and randomly added squares.

Did you notice the painter's tape labeling the rows on the left? This is because I learned my lesson (again) piecing the front. I often skip the row labeling method, convinced that if I stack the blocks/squares/rows/whatever it might be carefully, I will sew it all together in the correct order and save time. I think you know where this is going...

While I was piecing the top, I ran into several spots where I had screwed up the order and had to pick out stitches and redo (I didn't want same color squares touching). Yep. Picking out the stitches took more time than labeling the squares would have.

So, suitably chastened, I took the time to label the rows for the back. And have learned my lesson for the time being.

Here' the finished front.
I definitely like it more now that it has been squared up. I think quilting will help even more.

And here's the back:

Hoping to quilt it this weekend!

p.s. Linking up to Confessions of a Fabric Addict's "Can I get a whoop whoop?" Friday!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Zigzag Placemat

When I first saw the "Caution" quilt in Emily Herrick's Geared for Guys book, I thought it would make a great placemat.
Emily's original "Caution" quilt from her book

But with the deadline for my full-size quilt for the Geared for Guys blog hop fast approaching, that thought ended up on the back burner (you know, along with 65,000 other project ideas!). Recently I had some spare time and tried it out, using a bunch of cream and white tonals, and two gorgeous teal batiks.

Obviously I did a little math to reduce the size. :)
But I do think it's a perfect placemat design.

I just love the zigzag, finished with zigzag quilted lines.

However, the one drawback to making placemats, I'm realizing, is that they may be fast, but they're not just one and done! I need to make at least 3 more of these guys. (Which is easy to do, it's just that the other 65 million projects on the back burner are fighting for attention.)

Here are the top priorities from my back burner list:
1. Finish the half-pieced baby quilt for a friend's newborn
2. Quilt one of my UFOs for a cancer charity benefit
3. Start and finish a quilt for a friend's wedding (the wedding was Labor Day weekend, but you have  year to give a gift, right?!?!)

Time to get started on something else! For now, mismatched placemats it is. Besides, they go so nicely with leftovers and take-out, which are prime meal options during sewing frenzies!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Shades of Gray Winner!

Hi all,
It's wonderful to read all the excitement about the gray fabrics--I can't wait to see what everyone does with them! Courtesy of random number generator, the winner of the extra set is:

Susan (Wazoo! Quilting) who said...
O-Wow! I have been doing Mom duty in Arizona for a week and have really missed my quilting! I can't wait to get home and find my gray squares in the box. I'd love another set, so count me in!! Thank you for doing this, it's my first exchange. Susan

Susan, I'll send you an email to get your address again.