Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dare to Dresden

Welcome! Happy Thursday! Today is the last day of the Dare to Dresden blog hop over at Sew We Quilt. It's been so much fun seeing everyone's project over the past week while busily trying to finish my own. (Which I did, at noon on Wednesday!)
Thanks so much to the always enthusiastic and cheerful Christine from Quilt Monster in My Closet for being the hop cheerleader, and to Madame Samm for hosting all these great blog hops.

I purchased this bundle of batik fat quarters at Quilt Festival at least six years ago. 

The glow of the original project I had in mind had faded. So when the Dresden hop was announced, I knew these fabrics had found their purpose!

Keep reading the novel below to learn more about how this came together. 
To skip all that (I won't be offended...I know I'm long-winded!) and find the links for today's other participating blogs and to find out to enter my giveaway, scroll to the bottom.

 I didn't start with that exact idea. I knew I wanted to make a more modern Dresden. I start piecing strip sets, and cut blades from those as well as from plain fabric. Here was one of my first attempts. 
Just wasn't feelin' it.

I tried a *few* other variations. Still nothin' I loved.

 Ultimately, I came up with what you see here. Some of it was dumb luck. Like the fact that the orange sections butt up against each other in both areas. I just cut widths to make a strip set without doing math. What are the chances?! It's a happy accident that I like.

Monday night I pieced three of the quarter-circles. Then I unpieced the fourth quarter-circle that I'd pieced (badly) earlier. It's amazing what a difference a miniscule amount of error makes in a Dresden!

I pinned the completed Dresden to a square of Kona Tangerine (yum!), added backing, and quilted 1/4" on either side of the blade allowances. In the photo below, you can see the stitch lines through the center. I knew it wouldn't matter since I'd be covering it up with a center circle. 
But I really liked how the light blue thread looked on the orange. So I ultimately used that look to echo quilt the background. (Love the texture this creates!) I stitched on a bias binding to cover the outside raw edges of the Dresden, and made a circle using the interfacing technique for the inner circle. 

If I'd finished this quilt three days earlier or two days later, you'd see pristine white snow in the background. But it's been 50 degrees the last two days and all you see are brown leaves and mud. Good thing my quilt is so bright that the background scenery faces away!

Now here's my question: Would you bind it in orange or in navy? 
I couldn't decide so I haven't done it yet. 

And here's my giveaway: 
Leave me a comment telling me your vote: orange binding or navy?

 If you're not a follower, I'd love for you to consider becoming one (and let me know in your comment!). I will randomly choose one random comment and send that person this cute little quilt I made a few weeks ago (my first Dresden more here!) and the six fat quarters below. 

The giveaway is open through Monday, February 4th at 11:59 EST.   

Thanks so much for stopping by! Make sure you check out all the other blogs posting today:
January 31th, 2013
Color My World --You're Here!

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like...Christmas?

Are you sick of red, green, and all things Christmas? I am.

That feeling is compounded by my almost 4-year-old, who truly caught on to the "Santa is watching to see if you deserve presents" concept right around December 26th. So he's stilllllll telling me, "Momma, Santa is going to bring a present because I gave my brother his blankey" and so on. Newsflash, kid: I'm sure you're going to do enough naughty things in the next 300+ days to negate any good behavior in January.

Here is my last Christmas-y post for many months, and I have the Lovely Year of Finishes to thank for it. There is NO WAY I would have completed my kids' stockings in January without this deadline egging me on.

So here we go!

You can read the initial story of these stockings here and then my original Lovely Year of Finishes January post here

 Close-ups of both stockings. I didn't do the embroidery myself. I originally had another, more geometric print planned for where you see the trees. But with the angled piecing, no matter what I did, it looked like a mistake because of the straight lines of the geometric design. So I scrapped that idea and went with the trees. I love having the stripes in the piecing on the bias, too. The stocking body is just basic straight line machine quilting.

A peek inside the stocking. I love this dot fabric!

So happy to have these complete! It will be a joy to pull them out next December.

Now it's time to start thinking about my February goal...

Also sharing over at Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Snowman Friday

Just a one photo post today...
Check out my progress!

I am assembling this in a quilt-as-you-go style. Just the inner and outer borders left to attach! I got the center panel appliqued last night and then started sewing on the strips. I love how fast it's going together!

And side note: check out our snow! We have at least 10" now. Definitely sledding tomorrow. And trading off project time with my husband. He wants to build shelves in the basement. I want to, obviously, sew. Our plan is to take turns entertaining the boys and working on our own projects!

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WIP Wednesday: What aren't I working on???

WIP Wednesday actually stands for Works In Progress, right?

Cause that's what I've got. I've been flitting about, working on several projects at once since last Friday. In no particular order, here's what's on my design wall (and/or studio floor!)

 I'm part of the Dare to Dresden blog hop over at Sew We Quilt. It actually starts tomorrow, but I'm not scheduled until the last day, January 31st. So actually, I'm starting this early, right? You can see the hop's entire schedule here.

I asked for a Marilyn Doheny's 9-degree circle wedge ruler for my birthday. I thought I'd play around with it to create a modern Dresden, inspired by some quilts I've pinned. I'm glad that I have another week to work on this, because not only am I not crazy about it yet, but this quarter circle is supposed to measure 90 degrees and it doesn't. I'm looking forward to seeing how this design idea evolves.

Piecing some red and pink patchwork for a Valentine's Day tutorial. Watch for it next week!

Cutting squares and laying out this charity quilt, made with donated blocks. It was strange to go from working with 1-1/2"squares (the v-day patchwork) to 12-1/2" squares! Talk about different scale!

 The applique portion of my snowman quilt. I need to get the appliqueing done so I can assemble. I'm going to quilt it as I go, so I think it'll go together really quickly!

My January "Year of Lovely Finishes" project, my kids' stockings. I finished quilting the teal one this morning, so now it's assembly time!

Maybe, just maybe I would finish a project if I focused on just one at a time!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Polka Dot Day!

I was doing some blog reading and saw over at Nifty Quilts that today is National Polka Dot day!

Happy Polka Dot Day! Seems like a good time to pull out some of my favorite polka dot quilts!

 I made this Log Cabin quilt all out of polka dot fabrics for the Dots on Dots blog hop.

This one too!

It might be hard to tell from the photo, but all the colored fabrics in my nautical flag quilt are tonal dots. This quilt will be appearing in a magazine later this year...more on that when the magazine comes out!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hello, Snow!

This is what I woke up to this morning. 
Glorious, isn't it?!?!

And so appropriate, because this is what I've been working on:
It's an appliqued center panel to a plaid flannel lap quilt that I will get done this year. 

Another piece of perfect timing is that my parents visited this weekend. My home office/sewing studio is the bonus room over the garage of our house. Ideal, because it's large. Less ideal because heat doesn't reach it very well, so I usually layer up to go in there. Until now. 

My dad, along with an almost 4-year-old self-appointed "little fixer" helped me and my husband to install a baseboard heater. Now I can sew (and work) in toasty warmth! Thanks Dad! 

One other project from the weekend: my mom is getting ready to straight line machine quilt her first quilt. We got it basted Saturday night. Here it is!
Such a soft, pretty palette of scraps! 

I'm off to take two little boys sledding...then back to my snowman quilt later. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

15 Minutes Play with Black!

Last year (okay, it was December 30, but I love saying that), Victoria at 15 Minutes Play posted a suggestion to play a bit with black.  
The other night, my husband and kids were sleeping and I was feeling a bit of a creative itch. I had another project that I needed to work on the next day, so the evening seemed perfect for a little 15 minutes of play. 

Here's what I came up with:
 (Measures 11" square)

Here's how I did it:

I pulled out a bunch of black and white prints and created some made fabric (doing this really got me wanting to work on my Shades of Grey quilt...hopefully in February!)

Four "squares" became a wonky four-patch block.

I was tempted to leave it like this--I really didn't want to cover up any of the piecing! But after a few gray, dreary days, I needed to inject some color, and this piece seemed like the place. So I pulled out my new Bigshot and some leftover Eric Carle Hungry Caterpillar prints and started cutting petals.
 I hadn't ever considered the caterpillar fabric in a none-kid capacity before. I really like it. It looks all painterly, and a little like graffiti. 

I tried the traditional layout and it just looked too expected. I tossed petals around a bit and didn't find any layout I loved. So I set it aside.

I came back to it today and decided to try the whole flower, but not centered.

  I used a cool zigzag-type stitch on my machine to applique the petals, which I really liked.

I had planned to do a frayed edge center, but it just got too fluorescent. See?

So I stuck with the pieced black showing through. If I had to do it over again, I would have paid more attention to what fabric combination was sticking through the center hole. What's there is fine, but it would have been fun to pick purposely.

Oh, I forgot. Before I added the petals, I straight line machine quilted the background. Until I sit down and do some made fabric/random piecing, I always forget how much I love the look, especially with straight line quilting to finish it off. I'm seeing an e-reader cover on the horizon made using this technique.

I had known from the beginning that I wanted to use the white/black ticking for the binding. But I thought I needed a little more color, so I added an orange flange. 
I am calling this my graffiti quilt.

I love how this turned out. I had a lot of fun playing with the blacks. I don't normally use a ton of black in my quilting, and certainly never all black, so it was interesting to do it purposefully. I really like how it created a textured background for the brighter  colors, and how the combination was so artsy. 

Sharing today on Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Charity quilt update!

I made some great progress over the holidays on the Hurricane Sandy quilt tops I'm making from donated blocks. If you recognize blocks that you sent in one of these quilts, please leave a comment below. I'd like to give you a shout-out!. As I'd mentioned in an earlier post, when the blocks came, I excitedly ripped into the envelopes and pretty much immediately lost track of who sent what.

One top is ready for quilting; the other just needs an outer border to make it a little bigger (going shopping for that tomorrow; not enough large yardage pieces in my stash). These have definitely taken longer than I'd hoped to make, but I'm sure (unfortunately) there are still people in need.

This one is queen size.

When assembling the blocks I received into quilt tops, I tried to balance using what I'd been sent and/or what I had on hand (hoping to make this a semi-cost-effective project) with making something that was attractive. If you see that pink nine-patch in the lower right corner above, you may question my success in that endeavor, as it doesn't seem to match. There is more pink in other outer border spots that help balance it out, but my babysitter's arms were only so long, so it didn't all show!

This one will be a twin quilt. Hoping to find a border fabric and backing fabric on the sale rack tomorrow!

I have a friend who has graciously volunteered to quilt the top quilt; I'm going to brave quilting the lower one on my home machine. Happily the fabric is busy, so my quilting won't be seen too much!

I still have more blocks and will continue assembling them into tops, but they may go to other charity efforts depending on how soon I can finish them. I hope no one who sent me blocks minds...

p.s. Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict's "Can I get a whoop whoop Friday" about a prolific quilter for people in need...if you haven't checked out her blog, make sure you do! It seems like she finishes several quilts a week and I'm envious!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Making Plaid and Roses Modern

Back before the holidays, Victoria put out a challenge over at 15 Minutes Play. Or I should say, put out a challenge fabric.

She mailed out a piece of this rose and plaid fabric to people who were ready to play, along with the suggestion to do a twist on the traditional, or something modern, or...

Call it ugly, call it pretty. You can certainly call it an intriguing challenge.

And I had an idea in mind--one that definitely hit a point where I felt like I was trying to pound a square peg in a round hole, but ultimately came up with a solution. 

I started by pulling these fabrics:
I tried to grab some brighter versions of the colors in the fabric, as well as some batiks to counteract the dated look of the plaid/roses and color scheme. 

I made monochromatic fabric:

And then I started cutting diamonds to create my idea, a Lone Star. Here is the initial layout.
I have never made a Lone Star before, and I feel like it's some sort of rite of initiation; similar to reading Moby Dick if you're an English major. (Oops, never did that!) I kind of just winged (wung?) it as I cut diamonds, and when I got to this point, I liked what I had, but I realized it needed to be bigger or smaller to create just eight points. Or not a true Lone Star. And if it stayed this way, how on earth was I going to piece it to a background??

So I played around a bit more.

Smaller star with plaid in the center.

Smaller star with plaid in the outer points.

Smaller star with bright backgrounds to "modern" it up. Just wasn't feeling it--not enough contrast between the star and background.

I even tried to do just a quarter Lone Star. It just wasn't working.

Here's where my square peg, round hole analogy comes in. I was determined to make this idea work. I wasn't willing to scrap the idea and try something different. Flexible, aren't I?

I decided I was trying too hard and set it aside for a few days. When I came back to it, I made this:
I added the red strips to the outside of a smaller star for some pop, and then chose a green linen-looking fabric (more lime than the olive look that appears in this photo, actually) for the background, both of which I feel gives the Lone Star a modern nod. My plans for finishing include some bigger embroidery-style stitches outlining the star and then making it into a simple wall hanging. You know, for next year's Christmas...

Thanks for a fun challenge, Victoria!

p.s. Linking up to share with Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story.