Monday, June 25, 2012

Wonky Square Rings Quilt Complete!

Wonky Square Rings is complete! HIP HOP HOORAY! :D * confetti * (Picture onslaught ahead!)

I should call this my “learning” quilt. I feel like what I've learned while making this quilt is worth more than the finished product itself!

This quilt started as a way to save some money, because the fabrics I started with for this were from a quilt top I purchased for a few dollars in an antique store.

The block design came out of a need to sew, to sew anything, to just sit down at my machine and put fabrics together with thread. Eventually all of the blocks were completed and the top was finished.

In this post I talked about how I realized I didn't like all that white (the finished product may have changed my mind - I'm on the fence now!). I talked about not buying cheap fabrics just because what I really wanted was out of stock. If you read through the comments section, you'll see I got some great feedback from you guys! Thank you! That was some of the best feedback I've gotten from a blog post. Really cool! :)

You might have noticed that I went ahead and did the quilting like I had planned – straight lines with turns intersecting each other. I love quilting this way. My brain really took to this method fast – I thought it was much easier than stippling/meandering. My brain gets really confused when I stipple – I feel like a crazy person! My hands go one way and my brain wants to go another. With this straight line intersecting method I knew exactly where to go, no weird miscommunication going on in my body, lol. 

The biggest tip I have for someone who wants to give this quilting method a shot is to slow down, actually almost stop, when you come to a turning point. At first this will seem awkward, but after a while (5 or 10 minutes) it comes naturally, you just do it and barely even think about it.

By the way, anyone want to take a guess at how many calories quilting burns?? I don't know the answer, but judging by the way I felt it's significant! I was getting sweaty in areas that shouldn't have been getting sweaty, LOL. Yikes..

I had my doubts about this quilt until the quilting was done and the binding was on. I think those two things really made the quilt come together. But I think I say that with every quilt I make!

One more thing I learned? Make my quilts bigger!! I keep thinking 50”-60” is enough, but it's not. I really like to lay on the couch and have lots of quilt on me and my fiance. :)

Speaking of my fiance... we went for a cruise down to Lake Michigan – it's about a 10 minute drive from our home. He stopped and held my quilt for the photos and then we kept going until we got to this little tiny beach at the end of the road...

And we watched the sunset. :) (Yes, this is a terrible sunset picture, but you get the idea, hehe.)

Thank you guys so much for all your input along the way - it's always interesting to hear what tips you guys have and the encouragement makes the process so much fun. :)

I'm going to link up with Canoe Ridge Creations for Sew Modern Monday.Thank you for coming over!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WIP Wednesday, Quilt Top Complete!

 WIP #1: Party time! Checkit. It's a finished quilt top! Man, that feels good. :)

Here are some things I learned while making this quilt.

1. I don't like white backgrounds as much as I thought. Something about all the white space bothers me. I think that's why I like patchwork so much, it fills in all the space with color! I wish I could go back and use a greige (gray/brown) color instead. I think it would warm up the quilt, and make me feel better about snuggling under it with a glass of red wine. (This is a very important and practical consideration!)

2. I really wish I had used a "design wall". I laid the blocks out for this quilt on the floor, and I thought they looked good. When I see the quilt held up I realize some of the blocks would have looked better in a different orientation. I think you might get a better (or at least different) perspective viewing the quilt on a wall, because you can look at it as a whole, straight on. I have the room for a design wall, I guess I better get to work!

3. Buy good fabric. I bought a cheaper kind of white fabric than usual (I usually get the Kaufmann stuff from JoAnn's, but they were out so I just grabbed something). If you look closely (below), the fabric puckers along the seams with white fabric. :( I didn't experience the puckering with the prints, or any other time I've sewn, so I can only assume it's the cheap fabric?? The only other thing I can think of is that I really need a new iron. My iron is really large and heavy, and doesn't work very well without steam. But if I do use steam it steams like craaaazy. That might have caused the cheaper (thinner) fabric to wrinkle like that. Anyone have any suggestions for a new iron?

4. Learn how to use my friggin DSLR camera already. I bought it, I kind of know how to use it, but my pictures are always really blurry and I have to fix them in editing. Not good. I have a Canon Rebel Xsi. If anyone has any tips on photographing quilts with that guy, (ie settings) I'd love to listen! :D

5. (Phew, I sure learned a lot on this one!) I need to figure out a better way to photograph my quilts. I don't always have someone to hold them up for me, so I am going to do some brainstorming on how I could hang them.

Now I just have to decide how to quilt it. I have an idea, I just have to figure out how to do it! I am having trouble finding an example of it, or a tutorial. I've seen it on one (or more) of the really big modern quilting blogs. It looks like this:

It's just random lines with turns that cross each other. I'm thinking I'll just have to do some practicing.  Has anyone tried something like this?

WIP #2: EZ Dresden Challenge
Not much progress on this one. I'll be tackling the rest of this guy in the upcoming week.

WIP #3: What's next? I am thinking I am going to need to make a quilt using 100% of what is in my stash. My quilting "budget" has taken a little bit of a hit lately! But ya never know.. :P

I'm linking up to Freshly Pieced, hosted this week by Amy, from Sukie, Don't You Know Who I am?  I'll be stoppin in to as many blogs as I can to see what you are up to! Thanks for stopping by! :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

An entire post on.. wait for it... a hotpad! :P

Over the weekend, I made tremendous progress on my wonky square rings quilt. I'm really excited to say that I've finished the top! Woo hoo! :D It feels really great to have the top done, but for now I thought I'd share a small project that just sort of happened when I took a break from the quilt top.

 Random, I don't use pincushions - I just toss all my pins in trays! 

I started to think that I might run out of the red and blue pieces I cut out of the quilt top from the antique shop. While my fiance and I were out running a couple errands, we stopped at my local quilt shop and I picked up a charm pack that had lots of reds and blues. Amazingly, that's all I left with. Go self restraint, go!

I cut most of the charm pack up for my quilt top, and when I was done I had a pile of the most adorable little square scraps! Tiny little things, but so freakin cute I had to do something with them. What is it with things in miniature that is so irresistable?

I didn't really have a plan, I just started making little nine patches. They weren't exact squares, so my patchwork isn't perfect, but since I was just messing around I didn't really care. And now I have a hot pad!

There wasn't enough scraps to make a matching set, but whatever, it was just a fun little project. I got the chance to piece, quilt and hand bind all in a little over an hour! :) Kinda like a mini-mini quilt.

So yea, not the most exciting post ever, but later this week I'll share the quilt top I finished. Maybe I'll even have a finished quilt! :-O !! Lol, maybe..

I'm going to link this post up with Megan, at Canoe Ridge Creations, for Sew Modern Monday - I feel like since it's my first time linking up I should have started with a bang,  but nonetheless - here I am! :P If you are stopping by from the linkup - hi! It's nice to meet you!

Thanks everyone for stopping by! :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fabric delivery from overseas.. :D

Still no time to sew! My house guests are currently occupied, so I thought I'd sneak some eye candy in for ya. I went ahead and bought some Liberty! I feel like a total nerd trying to like, fit in with cool kids, because there is so much hype about this fabric. I had been lusting after it for a long time, and after I saw what Ashley (from Film in the Fridge, one of my fav's) did with hers, and seeing some other cute stuff around the web lately, I knew I had to buy some myself. I'm so glad I did! I absolutely adore it, I stare at it, I think about it at work, dream about it at night - okay I'm getting carried away. Now I really do sound like a nerd!

I purchased the fabric through, Pick Click Sew, which I recommend. The fabric shipped on a Wednesday and arrived Monday - so fast for overseas! And it was affordable, about $20 shipped, and if I had to estimate I have about 2/3 to 3/4 of a yard total. Very small pieces though! I am going to have to think about my quilt design for a while so as best to use all the fabric. I've also put a rule on myself that I can't sew anything with this until my wonky squares quilt, and Dresden Challenge quilts are done! :-O !!!

I've been doing my best to visit your blogs when I can sneak some time in! Sounds like everyone around my house is ready to be social now, so off I go. Happy quilting! :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hey house guests, mind if I do some sewing?

Not a lot to report this week. We have had company from out of town staying with us, so I haven't had very much time to sew at all. Last night we all drank frozen margaritas and play board games. One of the categories I got during a game of "Outburst Jr." was, "things you would find in a sewing basket" - can you believe I only got 7 out of 10?! How could I forget "pincushion"? Lol - that was pretty fun. 

I managed to get one strip of my Dresden quilt done. With the exception of the pointy pieces, it was easier than I thought it would be to piece together. Sewing the points is tricky, because you want to have a 1/4" of gray after the tip, to account for the seam. It's really hard to make it exactly 1/4" - I am going to have to settle for being okay with imperfections in this quilt!

Here is how I made the strip. I cut a 9" wide section of the Kona Coal. I laid one of the blocks down (face up), being careful that the bottoms and tops of the fabrics lined up straight. Then I traced a line along one of the edges.

I flipped the block over and used the line I drew as a guide to sew along.

Finally, I trimmed along the seam and pressed it open. I'll probably end up with quite a bit of scrap of the gray - at least it's a color I'm sure I'll find good use for!

So that's it! :) I'm a bit late for the WIP Wednesday linky with Lee @ Freshly Pieced, and I'm not sure I'll have time to visit very many blogs tonight, so I'm gonna skip out this week. I have plans tomorrow night and Friday night with our guests, but I'll have my freedom back Saturday, so maybe I'll make some good progress over the weekend! Hope you guys are having a great week so far. :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dresden Progress

My mom finished her 37 year career last month, and is now happily retired. :) Over the weekend my fiance and I drove to the other side of Michigan - where my sister, brother and all of our extended family threw her a big surprise celebration party Friday night - it was a blast! I danced my pants off and ate tons of cake. When we got home, my Dresden template and "Quilting Modern" book were waiting for me in the mail! So I was able to make some progress on the Dresden Challenge quilt I've been planning.

I thought I'd show you guys how I'm going about making this one, because it's a little more complicated than the patchwork stuff I've been doing.

The first thing I did was make a giant log cabin block - 54" square. Another option would be to sew 54" strips together until you get a 54" square block. You could use any size, it really doesn't matter - but probably 36" at a minimum.
 Using the Dresden template, this is what the cutting lines look like laid out on the block.
I started drawing the cutting lines (with a washable pencil) by locating the exact center of the block. I drew a little dot, and then I put the Dresden template down on the block, along with a straight edge. The first time you lay the Dresden template down, you want the bottom of the template to be parallel to the sewing lines. The template doesn't have a pointy end, which I didn't know when I planned out this quilt. It will still work, but you have to fuss around a little to get the template and straight edge in the correct location.

I worked my way around the block, until I had all 20 wedges drawn in. I needed to use the straight edge to continue the lines down from the template, since it isn't long enough to trace all the way to the edge of the block.

The next step is the fun part - cutting out all the wedges. My cutting mat isn't nearly big enough to use a straight edge and rotary cutter, so I used my shears to carefully cut along the lines I drew.

Eventually I had 20 wedges.

After they were all cut, I had to make them all the same size. I found the first wedge I drew (the one parallel to the sewing lines) and laid that down with 4 other wedges under it. First I cut the scrap off of the other wedges, so all 5 wedges were the same size. Then, I divided the length of the wedge by three. This ended up being 9".

I repeated this step until all of the wedges were trimmed and cut into thirds. And that is where I ended up, with three stacks of pieces like this:

I think it's going to be tricky to sew the pointy pieces and keep the sharp point, hopefully that will work out okay. I feel like the pointy triangles might be a little too skinny, but we'll see.

I don't think these wedges are all that impressive until you lay them out on the Kona Coal. I love how the gray makes everything pop! The next step will be sewing the grey fabric onto the pieces to create rows. First I might want to tidy up my sewing room... LOL. It's pretty yikes.

I hope you all had an awesome weekend. Thanks for stopping by! :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wonky block update and a Dresden beginning

For the first time, maybe in ever, I have two WIPs!

In the past, I've made quilts like I read books - start at the beginning, read all the way through, move on to the next book. (Unless the book sucks, then I'll just toss it aside. I'm not one of those people that will punish themselves and read to the end no matter how bad it is!) Right now I have two quilts going on because I finally decided what to do with my Poetica fabric and I'm really excited to see it come to life!

WIP #1 Wonky Square Ring Blocks

I thought it'd be cool to give this quilt a twist by adding one just-red block. Like a cherry on top.

I have 7 blocks out of 16 done - almost halfway there! I really should have made more progress on this quilt, but the weather was too nice this past weekend to stay inside very much. What's interesting about these blocks is that each one takes almost exactly half an hour, so I like to turn on HGTV and listen to one episode of a house hunting show while I sew. Works out well!

WIP #2 Dresden beginnings...

I made an Amazon purchase (it was $25.10 - just enough for the super saver, yeaah!). I've been following the EZ Dresden challenge blog hop, and I am so inspired I've decided to participate. The template was 7 bucks, and well.. something else on my Amazon wish list just happened to be $18, sooo... what was I to do?! lol The numbers were aligned, can't mess with fate. :D I'm really excited to get the Quilting Modern book in my hands!

I went to JoAnns and bought some coordinating solids to go with my Poetica prints. I love looking at them! They are so juicy together all on their own I'm half tempted to complete the quilt solely with the solids!

Here are all the fabrics together..

(I do not know what green I ended up buying, hence the mystery.)

Okay, here is what I am thinking... what if.. (p.s. it's too late for what if's, I've already started!) I made a GIANT log cabin block... like this (though it isn't nearly big enough yet)..

Then, what if I used the Dresden template to cut the giant block into 20 wedges, and then cut those wedges into thirds. Then (are you following me? lol) what if I were to sew those pieces back together into rows using Kona Coal as my background/separator fabric.

This is what I am thinking. I really like it, but it doesn't look very Dresdeny, does it? I am not even 100% convinced this is all going to work out... but I will just go ahead and see where it takes me. :)

A tidbit about me and a question! I'm an industrial designer for a living so I know CAD programs inside and out. I use them (Solidworks if I'm at work playing around on lunch, Draftsight, which is free, at home) for laying out quilting ideas - it makes it so I don't have to think about the math! Is there some kind of software that quilters commonly use? I'm curious to know how people plan out their designs.

So that's what's going on this week. As a side note.. I thought I'd say thank you to Therese, from Birdie & Maryse for the fabric she sent me and the sweet little card... I won her Sew Mama Sew giveaway, and I'm really happy to have these cute fabrics added to my stash!

Today I'm going to link with Heather and Megan from Quilt Story. Tomorrow I'll be linking with Lee, for WIP Wednesdays, as usual. :)

Thanks for taking the time to stop by!