Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April goal: Windy, but complete!

Some days/weeks, it feels like Mother Nature conspires against me when it comes to taking outdoor quilt pictures. This was one of those weeks! 

I finished my April goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes (finishing the quilt top for the improv herringbone blocks I won through the Great Lakes Modern Quilt Guild) during the windiest week we've had in quite a while. Today, with the month coming to an end, I decided to take my chances, as I really wanted to photograph this outside on my little quilt photo clothesline. 

I started with this:

and then caught a calm 2.5 seconds to grab this shot:

before things got really wild:

The sun peeked out for a minute, and I do love the see-through stained glass look of this shot!

Two things I learned while assembling this quilt:
1) Particularly when your blocks come from different sources, since not everyone's 1/4" seam is the same, make sure to measure/square up blocks before assembly! The blocks were all close, but when the sashing is only 1" wide, there's not a lot of wiggle room!
2) With a block that has this many seams/non-straight-of-grain edges, I should have stitched around each block prior to handling and sewing them together, just for stability. 

It all came together just fine, but it's always good to learn something from each project!

Next up: figuring out how to quilt this one. I purchased my first Craftsy class--Jacquie Gering's "Creative Quilting with Your Walking Foot"--in hopes of coming up with some ideas (but I'm open to suggestions too!) I'm really looking forward to getting this finished and taking it back to share with my guild friends.

p.s. Also sharing on Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Small Studies with Gwen Marston

The second workshop I took with Gwen Marston was on Small Studies. 

This was our "textbook": 
 (I plan to do lots of studying of its beautiful pages...!)

And these were our study guides--more than a dozen of Gwen's own Small Studies, laid out on a table for us to admire, touch and find inspiration. Ahhh....

I was very excited for this class and had no idea how hard it would be. Good hard, but still. The previous day, during the Liberated Medallions workshop, I had a plan and a vision from the start. On this day, I sewed steadily, but didn't feel that I really had a plan in mind, or a vision, until probably the last two hours from the day. It's not how I'm used to working, but it was a good way to stretch myself and my creative process. 

Gwen shared a few tutorials for different "parts" to make and then set us loose. I had chosen an ocean-inspired color palette of solids and one tiny checkerboard print. I made probably 10 different parts and then started fitting them together. 

I started here:

And I'll also say that it's a good thing that straight lines were not a requirement for this project. Nothing like teeny tiny piecing to make you realize that your 1/4" seam is not as perfect as it could be! But this project was all about embracing wonky!

I didn't take nearly enough process shots, but here you can see some of my "parts." (Some of these didn't make it into the final piece--they're ready for my next small study!)

Here's my final piece, finished as the class ended. Whew!

And a few close-ups off my favorite parts:

And of course, the teacher-pupil-project photo!
As I mentioned in my previous post, Gwen is just wonderful. I enjoyed every second of both of these workshops!

Not a great photo, but here's a sampling of the Small Studies created by the quilters in our class. They're all so different, but equally neat! Can't wait to make more!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

In Love with Liberated Medallions!

I had a fantastic week! Gwen Marston came to Kalamazoo to the Log Cabin Quilt Guild for two full-day workshops and a lecture. Guess what? I took both workshops. Two full days of sewing--no work, no kids...just fabric play and hanging with quilting friends and learning from the talented, funny, and inspiring Gwen Marston. Lots of fun! 

Want to see what I made? 

The first workshop was Liberated Medallions. We were asked to bring in a center medallion of some type to build around. Because I don't have enough fabric in my stash (ha!) I went shopping the previous Friday and bought the fabrics below:

I struggled with what to for my medallion--I considered just fussy cutting a piece of fabric, but ultimately decided to piece something instead. The timing worked out perfectly, as I'd been watching the Spring Challenge over on 15 Minutes Play and realized I could combine ideas, participating in the Spring Challenge and making it the center of my liberated medallion.

Here's what the Spring Challenge started with, plus the assignment to use made fabric and "think spring."

With a tight timeframe (I began piecing the night before the workshop!), I played around a bit in Illustrator first to figure out what I wanted to do. While I like the star concept, the third design spoke to me so quickly that I didn't even bother to spend time coloring it in.

I dug through my scraps to find fabrics in the colors that matched what I'd bought and started piecing. Because of those extra lines I added, I paper pieced the blocks instead. And skipped the center line in the biggest (teal) triangle. Here are my four made fabric Spring Challenge blocks:
They say spring, don't they?!?!

I quickly got caught up in creating at the workshop itself, and I don't have many in-progress photos. (oops! Truly the sign of having a good time!)

Here's the center medallion with the sashing and first border added:

First pieced border added:

My liberated medallion after the workshop (not complete, but just as far as I got that day):

And a close-up of the borders I added:

I LOVED this workshop--I felt in the groove from the start and enjoyed making pretty steady progress. The "liberated" technique meant very little measuring, a very relaxed attitude, and lots of wonky piecing. I can't wait to see where this piece goes from here! 

And if you ever have a chance to hear Gwen speak or take a workshop from her, jump on the chance! She's delightful and witty, and I loved being able to jump right in and start sewing while she walked around and offered advice, chatted, and shared her enthusiasm. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Woven Quilt - published!

I'm excited to share this quilt with you--I designed it back in the fall as a "man's quilt" and then found some great "manly" colors from Connecting Threads to make it from. The quilt is featured as a pattern in the May/June issue of Quilt It...Today magazine. Always fun to see your work in print! :)

Here's the beauty shot from the magazine:

And a photo of the entire quilt, courtesy of my husband, the quilt holding expert. The blocks themselves are quite simple--just large snowball blocks. The tricky part--or at least the part that requires careful attention--is placement to achieve the woven effect. I know this because my machine quilter called me as she was loading the quilt onto her longarm to say that she thought I had a couple blocks positioned incorrectly. Yup, I did. So grateful to her attention to detail! The blocks still would have created a woven look, but it wouldn't have been the same symmetrical overlapping look here.

Do you see the mistakes in the original quilt top below? 
(Don't worry--I won't leave you hanging. I'll tell you where it is at the bottom of the post.)

I really love what the machine quilter, Diane Oakes, did with the quilt. I only had two requests--first, that it have more of a modern feel (as opposed to feathers or something flowery), and second, that the motifs somehow echo or enhance the feel of the weaving design. 
You can see the three different quilting designs she used--pebbles in the background, and a boxy design and back and forth design in the blue and the plaid, respectively. It turned out beautifully!

You can find the magazine here:

p.s. Did you find my mistakes? They're in the bottom right plaid "leg" of both Xs on the right side of the quilt. Those plaid "legs" should be going under the blue, not over. I fixed them before the machine quilter started, so the finished quilt is correct.

Monday, April 7, 2014

April ALYOF Goal

I've picked my goal for April's A Lovely Year of Finishes! I won these improv herringbone blocks at the September meeting of the Great Lakes Modern Quilt Guild. I've had them up on my design wall a couple times since then, but that's as close as I've gotten to actually piecing them into a quilt.

During April, my goal is to finish this quilt top. Our next meeting is May, and while I don't think I'll actually be to the point of taking the finished quilt to the meeting, at least this way I can bring the top!

Here's the layout I like best so far. I'm going to add 1" wide white sashing, echoing the "sashing" in each block.

Can't wait!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mystery WIP...finished!

Yesterday I posted my WIP for the day, figuring that most people wouldn't know what it was.

I finished it last night, so I'm back to share here today, but first a little back story.

I'm currently halfway through my third pregnancy, and I'd like to introduce you to my best friend:
It's a Snoogle body pillow. This pillow and I have a lot of history--I've happily slept curled around it through two pregnancies, and it has experienced some wear and tear. When the (boring muslin) cover ripped last week, I looked into buying a new cover, but I found beige, navy, and some fairly boring prints, and all for more than $30. Blah. This got my wheels turning....

Yep, a patchwork Snoogle cover!

I admit that the entire time I was making it, I wondered if the idea was too hokey. Was I crossing the line into becoming a crazy quilting lady, transforming all aspects of my life into patchwork? (Hey, I don't have patchwork seat covers in my car yet, so I think I'm ok.)

But now that it's done, I LOVE it! It will make me smile for 20 more weeks.

The cover sewed up pretty quickly. I stretched out my existing cover on muslin and cut two patterns out. I sewed strips of fabric onto the muslin to give the cover a little added strength. One end of one side has an overlapping flap for removal, so it's easy enough to take off and wash.

Now if I can just convince my boys that it's mine and not theirs...their first words every morning are, "Can we snuggle in the snoogle?" Then they drag it out of my bed every morning to curl up in while they watch cartoons!

Sharing over at Quilt Story for Fabric Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

WIP Wednesday: What is it?

My WIP this week is a bit of a scrappy mystery (not to me, but I'm guessing to most of you!).

Any guesses what it will be? 
I'll be back to share once it's done (and I'm about halfway, so hopefully it won't be too long!).

Linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Block Happy!

Every month I've been stitching away at my do.Good Stitches blocks and mailing them off (mostly on time!). But what I haven't been doing is posting them--either here, just for fun, or on the Believe Circle's Flickr page. Oops!

So here's a little catch up, minus one month where the completed blocks sat on my design wall for a week (because apparently walking to the mailbox at the end of the driveway is a monumental task), and I finally mailed them off, assuming I had photographed them earlier. Oops again.

September blocks:

October blocks:

November blocks (with charm squares provided by the quilter):

December blocks:

January blocks:
(These were a bit of a doozy because you had to make mirror images--required lots of "place fabric twice, sew once" from me so I didn't screw up!)

March blocks:

You can see some of the finished quilts from this group here.

What I love about being part of do.Good Stitches:
--Being a part of making one charity quilt each month (without having to do it all myself)
--Seeing the quilter's vision come to fruition, from their initial block request to the finished quilt
--Most of the time the blocks take an hour or two to make--minimal time commitment
--The opportunity to try out different block designs and different color combinations than I'd normally pick, again with minimal commitment--since I'm only making 2 blocks, if it's something I don't like, no biggie--it's just 2 blocks!

Find out more about do.Good Stitches here.