Monday, September 30, 2013

A Year of Lovely Finishes: 3/4 Complete!

As the queen of last A Lovely Year of Finishes goal for September was easy, but I still managed to stretch it out until the last minute, hand stitching the back of the binding on in the car last night on the way home from a quick out-of-town weekend. It's hard to see in this photo, but...

My LOVE quilt is bound! It will hang in our local quilt show in 2 weeks and then I'm sending it to Margaret's Hope Chest.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

How fast can you piece a quilt?

I had a great weekend! And I think I sewed more this weekend than I did all summer. Whew!

First, at the Great Lakes Modern Quilt Guild meeting Saturday morning, everyone brought in their improv herringbone blocks for the raffle. Don't they look fantastic? 
Guess who won the blocks? Yep! I did! Thanks so much, ladies! 

While we were laying the blocks out on the floor, I was telling one of the ladies how I would assemble the quilt "if" I won. About a minute later, I was jumping up and down when my ticket was drawn. Can't wait to put this one together!

My friend Kathy was in town for the weekend hanging out while my husband was out of town. We had an agenda: piecing two quilt tops to meet some gift-giving deadlines (as well as catching up on life, solving the worlds problems, eating gelato, drinking wine...). We also had a tight-ish timeframe of working hours: Two nights, and only after the kids went to bed (8:30ish) until we couldn't stay awake anymore. 

For the first quilt, we decided to use a jelly roll of Cuzco I'd won from the Quilting Lodge through A Lovely Year of Finishes. We started with this tutorial for a bento box quilt, using Kona Snow to supplement the jelly roll, but a little more randomly and sparsely than in the tutorial. Later we decided that we wanted the quilt to be slightly larger (but didn't want to piece anymore blocks!), so we added sashing and an outer border. 

Friday night we pieced all the block units:
(bad phone pic in the wee hours of the morning)
Saturday morning I won those gorgeous blocks at the top of this post, and then Kathy and I went fabric shopping for the second quilt.

Saturday night we chose to divide and conquer. She started working on the new baby quilt, using this tutorial on Moda Bake Shop. I assembled the blocks and then the quilt top from the Bento Box quilt, plus preparing backing and binding, with plans to be her "sous chef" when I finished. I think I switched over to start helping her about midnight. 

But we did it! We were able to finish both quilts, thought we might have been a bit bleary-eyed this morning. 

I love the soft green, gray and blue palette she chose for the baby quilt (intended to match the baby's room). We also heard there elephant motifs in the room plans, so we appliqued a cute silhouette in the bottom right corner using a darker gray solid. 
By the way, this quilt almost wasn't meant to be. Among the fabrics we bought were two gray tonal polka dot prints. We texted a photo of the fabrics to the grandma-to-be, who questioned the lavender fabrics. Yikes! While we ultimately decided they truly were gray, we still weren't comfortable using them because in some light they did look purple-ish. Fortunately we found a few substitutes in my stash. (Imagine if this had happened before I pieced my Shades of Gray quilt--talk about gray options!

The assembled bento box quilt. Love this, and loved using my Cuzco fabrics!

The binding for this quilt: leftover strips from the jelly roll. Beautifully scrappy.

Posing with one of our two finishes. These quilts have a date with a machine quilter on Tuesday.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Another Block Party of 1

These blocks weren't all made today; the photos for several of them have just been biding their time to be added to a post!

My August do.Good.stitches blocks for the Believe circle--easy blue and white stars!

My July do.Good.stitches blocks for the Believe circle--I really love how these blocks look when they come together as a quilt! You can find the pattern for this paper pieced block here.

Finally, I was in charge of selecting our August/September online activity for the Great Lakes Modern Quilt Guild. I'd had my eye on this awesome Improv Herringbone block tutorial for a while now, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it out. I made the turquoise block first, and just for fun decided to see if I could make it without repeating a fabric. You can see the entire post here (and anyone is welcome to join in the online portion of our guild and participate in these block raffles, so if the improv herringbone block is calling your name, let me know!).

My WIP Wednesday: Wanting to up my chances to win all the improv herringbone blocks at our September meeting (each block you make gets you an entry in the drawing to win all the blocks!), I stitched up a second block today. Again, I challenged myself not to repeat a fabric. Hoping I can squeeze in the time to make one more block before our meeting!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Lovely Year of Finishes September Goal

September's looking busy, so I'm picking an easy goal for myself this month for the Lovely Year of Finishes: binding my LOVE quilt that I just finished quilting. I even have the binding fabric (black solid), so I'm partway there!

p.s. Just got my sewing machine back from its first check up/tune up in six years (yikes!) happy to have it back! I was able to drop it off right before I left town for a week and change, but I'd been experiencing withdrawal the couple days I've been home and it wasn't. Took it for a test drive this afternoon and everything is running smoothly. Hooray!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wedding Quilt Finish!

I'm thrilled to be sharing another finish!

The photo is a bit sun dappled, but you can really see the quilting on the close-ups!

I made this quilt using the Urban Lattice pattern for some good friends who were married last Labor Day. I stitched the blocks in March and then had it quilted by the fantastic Shelly Pagliai of Prairie Moon Quilts. I had won a gift certificate for her services in a Tula Pink Sew Along last fall over at Sew Sweetness, and I was thrilled to use that toward finishing this quilt. 

I sent Shelly a photo of my quilt top and she sent back some sketched ideas. I love what we ultimately went with--simple, but modern and graphic. It's hard to see, but there's also a squiggle (using black thread) in the black sashing. 

Great texture!

I (finally!) got this bound and shipped off to my friends--they've seen the quilt top and liked it, but I think they'll absolutely love the finished product. Thanks Shelly!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Challenge 4 Art: Blue

It's the second deadline for our Challenge 4 Art project. The theme? "Blue."

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 to create a landscape quilt of some of the most vibrant blues I've ever seen--in the Whitsundays, a group of islands located in the Great Barrier Reef.  I was lucky enough to visit the area eleven years ago with my now-husband and my parents. We spent one magical afternoon on Whitehaven Beach--one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. Part of the allure of the beach is a cove with a significant tide change--it creates a swirled look as it goes in and out. My words (nor my photos, shown below from my pre-digital-era scrapbook!) do not do any of it justice!

One of our souvenirs from the trip was a full set of Peter Lik's Out of the Blue books, chock full of absolutely gorgeous photography of Australia. I couldn't find the book online to link to, so I took a (bad) photo of my book so you could better see the cove and the swirling tide.

Here is my piece, which likely will be a continued work in progress. The details are comprised primarily of thread painting (detailed photos below), and every time I look at it, thinking it's finished, I find more areas where I think it needs a little more work.

Unlike the first project, I had my idea for this project pretty early. The tough part was finding time to do it. If I'd had 6 months or so to make it, I would have constructed it differently than I did--it was definitely a learning experience. In retrospect (and with more time), I would have traced each shape onto fabric, auditioned the pieces together, and then removed them all and layered and quilted each layer individually. But not knowing how it was going to turn out, I layered all the fabrics first, some with fusible web and others just pinned, and then began stitching on top.

Here it is with very little stitching on it:

I had a vision in my mind (which I haven't quite reached yet!). I wanted to use fabrics for the main sections and then create the details and shading with threadwork. I knew this project would be a challenge because I really wanted it to look realistic, and I wasn't sure that I could accomplish that. But a challenge is the perfect place to try something outside of my comfort zone, to stretch a little. And I'm still stretching, because I'm not in love with this yet. But it'll get there, and hopefully that happens before it's so stiff with thread that it stands up on its own!

I love the thread painting going on here, but I struggled with achieving shading that would create depth as the water and sand sink into the background. That's the area I'd really like to go back and work on.

I used strips of different blue fabrics to create the gradation in the water.

I can't wait to see how everyone else interpreted "blue!"
You can see my June challenge (and find the link to the other ladies as well) here.