Monday, March 31, 2014

March ALYOF Goal: Complete!

As you might have seen in my last post, I completed my March ALYOF goal, and even did so at the end of a third day of cleaning/reorganizing my studio and office! 

My goal was to complete the top, which I did, but I was hoping to get some machine quilting done as well, as I'm eager to get this quilt to its recipient. I chose this for the backing:
(Those are hearts in case you can't tell--not typically my thing, but I want the recipient to feel wrapped in love, and the colors were perfect for my scrappy batiks!)

I basted the quilt on Friday afternoon:

What? You don't baste with straight pins? I usually don't either, but my basting space is in a high traffic area, I ran out of quilting safety pins, and we had weekend company coming an hour later, so some straight pins were better than nothing!

I've started the quilting, but no photos yet. Happy to have made progress and completed my goal for this month!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Studio clean-up and quilt progress

I've got quite the opening photo for you in this blog post. Here it is!
Pretty awful, isn't it?! This is my studio/home office. Like everyone, at times it gets out of control, usually when I don't want to take the time to clean up from one project before starting the next. (Which in this photo, clearly happened about 50 projects in a row!) This is the worst it's been, I think. 

We're doing a little rearranging in our house and a guest bed will be making its permanent home in with my sewing and work things (definitely can't complain--my space is the bonus room over the garage and I love having it--happy to share it with a guest bed!). Anyway, my mom came to town for a few days and we worked hard to add a little more organization to the room, as well as just clean up in general. Thanks Mom!
Now my job is to keep it that way! :)

Would you like a tour? Here are the after pictures:
Those are fabric storage bins, for scraps sorted by color. I upgraded from 12 to 16.

Bought a new chair (!) and moved my ironing board from in front of my fabric bins.  That's more fabric in bins under the table with my cutting boards. Just need to hang my thread holders on the wall. (They had been on my sewing table, which is definitely more convenient, but the thread kept unwinding when whatever I was sewing on touched it. I don't mind the walk! Ditto with the ironing board--it's a little farther away from the sewing table, but it's no longer in the way. And the walk is good for me!)
Look, you can see the carpet! Here's the ironing board again, my work desk, and the corner of the futon (soon to be replaced by the actual guest bed).

These are bins of projects in progress--better than piles on the floor! Those little doors lead to short storage closets in the eaves of the house.

We actually finished this project EARLY--before Mom had to go home. So we went back to working on my zig zag quilt.

This was my original plan--each yellow row was a different color yellow.

I tried switching up the yellows, making it random. To my surprise, I loved it so much more!

Here's the pieced quilt top:

So much progress! And I can't even tell you how much I enjoy spending time in my studio/office relaxing!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sewing with a 5-year-old

I've been doing some more sewing with my five-year-old. Most of the time when he asks, "Momma, can we sew a quilt block?" I can't help but say yes! Of course, the little stinker always tries to break into my "best" fabric--prints that are already earmarked for a different project or project in the works. He did that again on Sunday when we were sewing, and even enlisted logic: "Look how much you have! I just need one small triangle..." How can I argue with that?! 

Here's his latest block, made on Sunday. He started with a pile of gray, yellow and blue fabrics and then grabbed more colors as the block grew. The superhero capes in the background are party favors from his 5th birthday--more on those later.

Here's his (ever growing) collection of blocks so far. Most of them are wonkily/randomly pieced, because he's not quite ready to focus on the 1/4" seam yet! The top right block was made to copy the pattern in some fabric I used on his Christmas stocking; the wonky star was after I made one for the Great Lakes Modern Quilt Guild online challenge, and the bottom two blocks are his own design (yes, the heart one was made the week of Valentine's Day!).

He chooses all the fabrics (hence the candy corn fabric mixed with the hearts, and skeletons paired with Christmas trees), and decides where each piece will go and how wide it will be. I cut and press, and we sew together.

This is probably my favorite block, though I do like his latest one as well. I was trying to finish something, so I asked him to color a quilt block and then we'd make it in fabric. That's exactly what we did.

After he makes a couple more I'm planning to assemble them. Can't wait to see how this turns out!

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story.
And getting ready for (hopefully the last round of) snow tomorrow! Ugh.

p.s. Thanks for all your suggestions about how to assemble my improve herringbone quilt! I can't wait to get working on it!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

On the design wall...

These blocks have been calling my name the last few weeks. I won them at September meeting of the Great Lakes Modern Quilt Guild (I chose the block for the online activity, and I REALLY wanted to win, so I made 2 in hopes of increasing my chances!). I had admired this block design (you can find the tutorial here, from Amy of 13 Spools) but knew I wouldn't want to make enough blocks for an entire quilt. But by getting the guild involved...and then winning the blocks... I didn't have to! Woo hoo!

Anyway, I've been trying to decide how I wanted to assemble the quilt. My original idea had been to frame each block in unequal widths of white, sort of like what you see below. 

Another option is spacing them with uniform width white sashing (my cropped blocks are not perfect here, but pretend all the blocks are the same size!).

Looking at the top photo in this post, I guess I'm not opposed to just sewing the blocks together as they are, either! What would you do with these? I can't wait to get started, especially after hearing that the winner of the blocks (wonky stars) at our January meeting had started assembling her top within a week of the meeting. Now that's impressive!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March ALYOF Goal

I've been stalling on posting my March A Lovely Year of Finishes goal because I was fighting myself on making the logical choice versus what I wanted to do. Since one week of the month is already over, logic won out, and I chose the project I need to finish and most realistically can finish. 

That means you're seeing the same quilt as in yesterday's post: the sunshine and batik chevron quilt for my friend.

It's not that I don't want to finish this...but I like to make my ALYOF goals something beyond what I "have" to get done if I can, because I'll likely get done what I have to regardless and the goal forces me to make more time for sewing. But at the moment finishing this quilt is looking like a good goal, and the sooner I can get it to my friend, the better. My goal is to have the top completed by the end of March. If I can get it quilted as well, that's a bonus!

No matter what I chose as my goal, it was going to be better than my husband's suggestion. He thought that my goal for the month should be to clean up my studio (which needs to be done and has a date on the calendar!), but he suggested that my incentive be that I not do any sewing until it's clean! Can you imagine?!?! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Here's (one of) my current WIPs: a  chevron quilt in a warm and sunny palette. I'm making this quilt for a friend who suffered a stroke during a medical procedure (she's only 36!). She's on the road to recovery, but I figure a quilt would be a good gift as she continues to rehab. 

It took me a while to decide exactly what to do. I wanted it to be fast (ish) to make because I wanted to get it to her sooner than later. Ideally I wanted the quilt design to have some meaning. And, she's a warm color person, while I'm decidedly not. Choosing the colors and fabrics for this quilt was starting to become a stumbling block. But once I settled on the chevron pattern (more on that later), I raided my stash of red, orange, pink, purple and rust batiks and then bought yardage of four different yellow solids.
An evening of sewing with my sous-chef quilter friend Kathy, and we had HSTs for half the quilt top complete. I'm on my way with the second half as well. The batiks are randomly placed and I will still do some adjusting to spread the color out, as these were simply stuck to the wall to see how the overall look was coming. I'm considering trying a version where the yellows are mixed up as well, but at the moment I like the relative solid-ness of the yellow zigzags.

Here's where I am as of today:
I'm starting to like warm colors for quilting...especially the yellow! Pay no attention to the mess on the floor. It is NOT a reflection of what the rest of my studio looks like. Not at all.

Delicious batiks and buttery yellow squares, cut by my mom this past weekend (they say a quilt takes a village...). Ready to be stitched into more HSTs!

Back to the pattern. I wanted a design with a message, and the up and down of the chevron seemed to work well--the ongoing victories and frustrations of physical and occupational therapy. But I also wanted something to symbolize an overall positive ending. The design below is what I'm playing around with; I have yet to try it with actual fabric, so we'll see whether it works or not. What do you think?

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Challenge 4 Art: Space

Today is the fourth deadline for our Challenge 4 Art project. The theme was "space"--nice and vague and open to so many different interpretations! I had a vision in my head from the start. The problem? Making that vision reality. First I'm going to show you what I didn't do:

I'm thinking of calling it "the volcano." I fused a purple circle onto a gray square and started quilting freeform circles around it. Unfortunately, I hadn't decided if I was going to quilt the center in the same way, so I started outside the purple circle. I'm thinking that led to the extreme warping, but who knows? maybe it would have happened anyway. Regardless, this became a dimensional project very quickly. 

My original vision looked something like this, and even though the center was acting up, I was planning to continue on, figuring I could "hide" the dimensionality in photos (or just fess up!). But I didn't like how this looked. So I ditched the volcano and went on to plan B.

(Backing up slightly, here's how I made those borders--I wanted the circles to be cut off, so I fused circles to a rectangle and then trimmed it into strips. As for the color scheme, I had all these fabrics pulled from a quilt I'm making for a friend, and since they were already out, I decided to use them again I wanted to try a palette outside my normal comfort zone (actually, both reasons are true!)

Here are the cut strips:

I used the plum batik to create "space" between the rows of appliqued circles. I tried lining the circles up and off setting them, and off setting won out. 

And here's my finished quilt top. Because of my first big fat fail, I ran out of time to quilt this before today's deadline, but I'll be back to show it again after I do! 

To see how the others in our Challenge 4 Art group interpreted the space theme, click on their links here:
Claudia of Machen und Tun
Susannah of fiberchick

p.s. I have to chuckle...I was looking back at my December challenge post, which was about snow, and I mentioned in it that I was hoping to see some snow here in Michigan soon. I guess the joke's on me, as we have about 2 feet of it right now, and have since early January!