Sunday, June 30, 2013

June Lovely Year of Finishes: Complete!

Nothing like quilting that is pure texture!

My June Lovely Year of Finishes goal was to machine quilt this polka dot log cabin quilt I'd pieced last summer.
I went with my original thought on this--to do one large spiral quilt design. I purposely didn't center it--the center (which is the traced circle from my pin holder) is in the third row, on the left side of the center block.
I decided to quilt this freehand. A) because I wanted to, just to see if I could and how it would turn out, and B) because I try to avoid marking quilts if I can. Mostly because I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a hard time staying on the line I drew, and then I'll just feel like I did a worse job.
This way, I can just call it freehand!

It's definitely not perfect, but I do like the overall look.

The most frustrating part for me is how the needle would jig jag (well, that's how I describe it) after I would stop to remove a pin, shift the quilt, or adjust my hands. I'd stop with the needle down, and after doing necessary shifting, it was like a game to see where the needle would come back down again when I started stitching. But with a good wash and dry, most of those spots will nestle in nicely.

This is probably my favorite shot because the spirals really show!

The back: also a polka dot fabric (of course!)

What are your thoughts for a binding color? I'm thinking either black or scrappy dots.

Now to decide on my July goal...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Curve should be a four-letter word

Tonight my studio was block central. And the curves almost did me in, wonky or not. 

Let me explain. I signed up on the wait list to join do. good stitches back in February or March. In May, I was invited to join the Believe group. (If you're not familiar with do. good stitches, click here. In a nutshell, quilters come together through Flickr to contribute 2 blocks each month for charity quilts. It's very cool and seems to be well-organized, as well as churn out a steady flow of charity quilts, which is fantastic.) Needless to say, I was excited! 

Here are May's blocks, which I never got around to posting. 

The June block request was for a wonky bullseye based on a block in the book "Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters." Doing more curved piecing has been on my to-do list. Wonky curved piecing--even better, right?--it hides mistakes! Here are my blocks:

Nowhere in the directions for this month's blocks did I see the requirement that the block had to be flat, so I think I'm okay. This was tough! Add to that the color combo--a very cool gray, yellow and white palette was requested--but my stash is a little short on those colors, so I was afraid I wouldn't have enough! (Yes, it's a little ridiculous that someone who hosted a Shades of Gray fabric swap would be short on grays, but a) I used all of those up and b) they were only 5" squares!)

By the second block I was having more fun, and I definitely want to do some more curved piecing--will be looking for a class at one of my local quilt shops or perhaps Craftsy? I know there's room for improvement! If you tackle this block, here's my (learned-the-hard-way) advice: don't be stingy on fabric. Cut generous pieces for each curve and just deal with the waste/scraps. More wiggle room/room for error makes piecing these much more pleasant! I have seen a few of the other members' bullseye blocks on Flickr and I can't wait to see this quilt put together!

And the last blocks of the night, my Bowtie blocks for the Great Lakes Modern Quilt Guild. I volunteered to put together the online guild activities every other month when we don't meet. I posted this month's project last weekend and thought it might be nice to offer a visual aid, so here we go:

The assignment: Bowtie blocks using white solid/print/text backgrounds and warm colors. Confession time: I purposely picked warm colors because I gravitate toward cool colors and wanted to make myself work with something different. Thanks go the guild for unknowingly forcing me out of my color comfort zone! :) 
Can't wait to see everyone's at our meeting in a month! 

Back in April I showed my converging corners blocks for the guild meeting. Here's a quick floor picture of everyone's blocks together--looks great, doesn't it? One lucky person won these blocks and will be bringing back the quilt to show when she finishes it.

p.s. Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dino Baby Quilt

June is the service project month for the Kalamazoo Log Cabin Quilt Guild, and the project was baby quilts. I'd known about the deadline for quite a while, but due to a few out-of-town long weekends in May/June and my general habit of last-minute-ness, I started my quilt the day before the meeting. 

So it needed to be quick! I went with simple strips--I'd purchased this dinosaur fabric (Oh Boy! from Free spirit, several years ago) and coordinating prints back in 2011, and this seemed like the perfect time to finally use it! 

I pieced the top on Monday and spent a few hours on Tuesday quilting it. I decided to stitch a different motif on each type of strip. You can see a few of them close up here:

And then you can see them even better on the back.

A great quilt to practice on, and I think it turned out cute. Plus...I still have enough fabric left to make a second one! Now I just need a deadline, preferably a tight one, for motivation! :)

I machine stitched the binding on one hour before the meeting started. The group collected something like 130 quilts for two organizations in Kalamazoo: Nurse Family Partnership and the Healthy Babies, Healthy Start Program. Here's hoping the recipients enjoy them!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Follow my blog with Bloglovin July 1 (and the end of Google Reader) is fast approaching! I'm making the switch to Bloglovin'. Hope you will too!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

E-reader cover tutorial

When I first received my Nook e-reader a few years ago, I made a cover for it. I rushed to finish it before leaving on a trip, and my assembly plan was a bit flawed, so it was functional, but not great. 
Yet I still used it for almost three years. 

I recently made this e-reader cover, and I'm in love! 
The front of the case, complete with functional pocket.
The tutorial for it is available on Pellon's website as part of their Father's Day gift idea series. (Check out the other ideas that Pellon's designers have come up with--some fun and clever ideas!)

Because I was making this as a Father's Day gift idea, I wanted it to have a simple, classic look, so I modeled it on the idea of a leather portfolio (but with suede instead!) A zipper rather than a flap finishes it off.

I think it would make a great gift to give, but happily, my dad and husband don't have e-readers, and my father-in-law already has a cover, so guess what?! I'm keeping this for myself!
This case uses Peltex and fusible fleece for cushioning and protection, and the outside is three different colors of Mardi Gras 2 Roc-Suede that Roc-Lon sent me. 

Just simple piecing on the back--
I wanted it to look like color blocking that is showing up in fashion lately.

Hope you enjoy the tutorial (and Father's Day)! I know I'm enjoying my new cover, and we'll be celebrating the dads in our family tomorrow. :)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Lovely Year of Finishes: June Goal

My June Lovely Year of Finishes goal: machine quilt this polka dot log cabin quilt. 

I could probably fill out the year's goals with quilt tops that need to be machine quilted, but then I'd burn out! We'll start with this one and see how it goes. 

I have a couple ideas as to how i want to quilt it: possibly one large spiral design, possibly diagonal straight lines (though I'd like to branch out from straight lines!). 
Since there's, ahem, so much going on in the fabric of this quilt, I don't have to worry about the quilting standing out like it might on a quilt made from solids! 

If you have a suggestion on how I should quilt it, let me know!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Challenge 4 Art

I joined up with three other blogging quilters to do a quarterly art quilt challenge, which we're calling "Challenge 4 Art." We came up with the idea of this challenge group after being inspired by the Four in Art Group, who already have three projects under their belt. 

The other three talented quilters in our little group are:
Amy of Amy's Crafty Shenanigans
Claudia of Machen und Tun 
Susannah from fiberchick 
Be sure to check out their projects too when you're done here! I can't wait to see what everyone came up with.

I chose our first theme: Growth. Not long after picking it, I made several quilts with a lot of green. So even though my first thought was to create something leafy and green, I just couldn't stomach the idea of more green!

But I was really stuck on the leaf concept. I photographed these leaves in our yard (just on my iPhone, so I could blow them up and trace them).

I don't do much applique, but this seemed to be a prime opportunity. I wanted to create a rather plain/simple piece and then embellish it with dense machine quilting. Here's what I came up with:
I used some leftover Gradations fabric by Caryl Bryer Fallert from way too many years ago, and then a black solid. The piece measures 12.5" x 33", so it sneaks in under our 100" maximum perimeter. 

Close-ups of each block:
A disclaimer on this first block: My husband walked in while I was sewing this and asked why I was sewing a pot leaf! We are not growing THAT in our yard. It's a red maple or Japanese red maple or something like that--plants are not my thing.  

Confession time: one of my earlier ideas was to do just ferns, showing one all curled up, one slightly unfurled, and one completely open. Then I thought about the drawing and cutting it would require and changed my mind. I needed simpler shapes that were easier to identify! 

Confession time #2: I really didn't want to use this leaf, as it seemed too autumn-ish too me. But I was running out of time and I'm pretty sure the other photos I'd taken of leafy plants in our yard were actually of weeds, and I was too embarrassed to show off a weed! 

This is my favorite one! I think the stitching lines on the hosta leaves make them look realistic, and I had fun with the pebble quilting too. 
 What I learned from this first challenge: Sometimes the freedom to make "anything" is a little too freeing. I spent 98% of the three months we allotted ourselves thinking of an idea and 2% actually sewing. Also, I really need to watch the warping when I machine quilt densely. But...I really enjoyed experimenting with different machine quilting motifs--so much easier to manage on a smaller project!

Thanks for playing, ladies! Can't wait to pick our next theme and start brainstorming!