Monday, July 27, 2015

dot your i's quilt-the beginning

First off, thank you ALL so much for your kind words about my oh my stars! quilt. Those long time WIPs make for especially sweet finishes! I appreciate each and every sweet comment that you left!

About a week ago, I started a new portable project. I had the need for one, since my star quilt is finished. I have to say, this quilt was quite pre-meditated!
I've wanted to make a quilt titled "dot your i's" for years and years--at least 8 years, if I had to guess. The problem is, I only had the title, but no design idea to back it up. No matter how hard I tried, the idea just wouldn't come. Well, after I made this pin cushion, I KNEW I wanted to make an entire quilt with "squircles" on a patchwork background. I recalled my title and paired the two together. Perfection!!!

Each of the irregular circles are hand basted onto a 4" background square and then appliqued down. I was inspired by Carolyn's aerial grove quilt and followed the hand applique instructions she gives in her book Savor Each Stitch.
I am using a variety of light fabric for the backgrounds (much like this quilt) and my most precious, most hoarded scraps for the circles. (Original Flea Market Fancy, Katie Jump Rope and other older Denyse Schmidt prints.) I figured since I will be hand stitching, I will get maximum enjoyment from these precious fabrics.
I decided to line up the blocks along the top edge of my design wall so I can enjoy them while the quilt is in progress. I can't believe how fast this project is growing already! I guess it goes without saying, I really like hand stitching...and scraps, for that matter! :)

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, July 24, 2015

oh my stars! quilt complete!!!

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
 
Late last Friday night, I put the final stitches in my "oh my stars!" quilt. I still can't believe that I hand pieced an entire quilt....and I can't believe that it is actually DONE! I started the quilt back in April 2011 and it was inspired by Jess' travel quilts. (She has a video tutorial here, that I used to get started.)
This quilt was a labor of love, to say the least! I started by cutting out my own templates (2" 60 degree diamonds) from cardboard. I English paper pieced (hand pieced) the entire top with countless tiny stitches. I drafted my own side templates to fill in the gaps and to make the edges straight. I couldn't bear cutting through any hand stitching! It was worth the extra time and effort to make that happen.
After all that time invested in the top, I had to hand quilt it! I thought it would be a good winter project, but I ended up quilting most of it this spring and early summer. Funny how that happened! I basted it last fall, and I'm quite surprised that I sped through the hand quilting process that quickly.
For the fabric, I used 30's reproduction fabrics and polka dots...and I'm so glad that I made that choice early on. It definitely was the right choice! That pink star is feed sack fabric that came from my grandma's house. I love that there is some of that included in this quilt! I also LOVE that gingham bias binding!
My original plan was to back this quilt with red and white polka dots (always an obvious choice for me) but I had yards and yards of this light orange coral-ish color in my stash. It worked out very well as backing and it felt good to use something I had on hand.
The first time I pieced the back (which I machine stitched) I didn't line up the polka dots, but it felt all choppy, so I cut the pieces apart. On the second attempt, I carefully pieced the repeat so the polka dots lined up. So much better! Can you see the joining seam? I love that it's barely discernable. I guess I'm kind of geeky that way! :)
The quilt looks great draped over a chair....
...and especially pretty at the end of my bed! I'm determined that after all that work, I'm going to actually USE it! The quilt measures 62" x 82".
 
Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you for joining me for finish it up Friday!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

scrap pile winner

Thanks for all the fun comments on the scrap giveaway post. I loved reading each and every one of them. I can't believe that only a few of you commented that you like fishing! That is hands down my favorite summer activity. :)

The winner of the scrap pile is Karen H. Thanks for all of you who played along!

I also loved reading your WIP post comments! Thanks for taking the time to leave them. xo

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

counting up my WIPs

I don't know about you, but I like to keep tabs on my WIPs. The number fluctuates, obviously, and once in awhile I lose track, but usually only for a few weeks. I like to know where I stand and how frantic I should be. Ha! Last week, after my massive week of finishing, I rewarded myself by counting them up and taking an honest assessment. It had been awhile!
I discovered that I have 25 quilt WIPs and one table runner. It could have been so much worse! Since my count, I've finished a quilt, but I've also added a new one. (More on those later!) I'm glad that it wasn't any higher than 25, because that's my limit. 25 is one step away from panic. :) I'd really like to get that number down to 20....perhaps even before the end of summer! It's good to have goals, right?

I'd be curious to hear if you count up your WIPs or not. And, if you'd like to confess your number, I'd be happy to hear about it! Now, I've got some hand binding to do....

Monday, July 20, 2015

scraps up for grabs

So, my long time on-line friend Carolyn has too many scraps...and together we'd like to put them up for adoption. If you would like to win this stack of scraps, which would be perfect for a scrap vortex quilt, please leave me a comment in this post. In your comment, I'd love to hear what your favorite summer time activity is. This contest will be open to US residents only, due to shipping costs. I plan to pick a winner in a day or two. Good luck! :)

Happy, happy Monday to you!

Friday, July 17, 2015

a quilting marathon

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I finished 5 quilts this week! 2 minis, one baby, one lap and one twin size. That's not crazy at ALL, is it? Ha! (I'm exhausted!!!)
4 out of 5 of the quilts that I finished are for my upcoming fabric line Good Neighbors for Connecting Threads. It was deadline week, if you couldn't tell. :) The fabric is scheduled to be released in early September and I'm starting to get a little excited. (And a little nervous!) I love a stack of quilts...even if just the backs are showing. It felt SO good to get these finished!!! (I'm also very happy with how the teal polka dots work for binding! Yay!)

I'm a part of the Minneapolis Modern Quilt guild and we did an optional scrap swap challenge. Last night was reveal night...and it was fabulous! I'm so glad I joined in. When it comes to scraps, it's hard for me to say no!
I made a sparkle punch mini quilt for my partner. It measures about 18" x 20". This is a pattern that has been on my "to make" list for a long time. I love this quilt and I had a blast making it! It was hard to let go, but I think that's a good sign. Right? I thoroughly enjoyed the color palette of scraps I had to work with!

(I cut the squares at 3" for this version, so the individual block pieces finish at 2.5".)
I started by quilting inside the stars, but the thread just blended in, so I switched gears and I quilted just outside the stars instead. So much better! I like the accent of big stitch hand quilting, even if the stitches aren't perfect.
Here's a little peek at the back. This print is from my upcoming good neighbors line and it was a perfect match to the front! This fabric will be available in regular width (44" wide) and in extra wide (108") for backing. I can't wait to back ALL kinds of quilts with it! I think it will be pretty all quilted up.
I was so focused on what I needed to MAKE for the scrap swap that I kind of forgot that I would get something in return. :) Colby had my scraps and made me this awesome zip pouch. I love it so very much! The lining is pink polka dots. It's pretty much perfect all around. I love that it has my initials on it, so no one else can claim it as their own! Thanks, Colby!!!
 
And one last thing for today....
I didn't make this, but my friend Cindy did. I am not sure why she thought of me when she found this license plate fabric (ha!) but I'm so glad that she did. She made me this wonderful pouch using the flora supply case pattern by Clover and Violet.
It has a zipper pouch in the middle and two sides of pockets...even some mesh pockets, which makes it harder to lose things in. Bonus! :)
Cindy is the selvage queen and she included a bunch of them on the outside of the zip pouch section. I love that!! I've already been using it for carrying around my hand stitching supplies. It's so handy! Thanks so much, Cindy, for a wonderful, thoughtful (and practical) gift!

Ok! Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday! Hope you have a great weekend. I'm going to go take a nap!

Monday, July 13, 2015

sewing up a (small) storm

Last weekend was my Gruber's retreat weekend with some dear friends. It was filled with laughter and shopping and eating and sewing and very little sleeping....just like a retreat should be!

I'm not quite sure how it all came about, but at some point during the weekend, someone threw down a micro quilt challenge. And, to quote my daughter, "I wouldn't say no!" There was much discussion as to what a micro quilt is. In the end, we decided that it had to be under 4" finished on each side and fully bound. One clarification...it is even smaller than a coaster!
This is what I came up with for my micro quilt, which is yet unnamed. :) It measures 3" x 3.25" and is fully bound! I used a single fold binding and put my "how to bind tiny things" tutorial to the test. I'm happy to say it worked! (Phew!!!) I sure love taking crazy to new levels!!! :)
My friend Doris took the challenge as well. Her quilt is on the left. Look at those cute little flying geese! Her micro quilt is even smaller...measuring 3" x 2 7/8"...and has double fold binding! Impressive! There was no winner or loser in the challenge...we did it just for fun!
I had the chance to be a personal fabric shopper for my friend, Michelle, who doesn't like fabric shopping. (I don't understand what that means, so please don't ask! Hahaha!) She gave me a certain dollar amount to spend on fabric that I would normally pick for myself. It was good that she emphasized that I should select things I would normally pick for myself, because I kept thinking of what her preferences might be. In the end, I liked my selections so much that I bought one stack for her AND one stack for me!! It was a fun experiment and thankfully she was happy with my selections. We are already planning on doing it again next year! I can't wait!
I dream of having a stack of 20 quilts just sitting around waiting for me to hand stitch the binding. (I really AM crazy, huh???) Well, I'm 3/20 of the way to my dream, apparently! I did a whole lot of sewing, quilting, binding making and knot burying this weekend. But, I don't intend to let them sit unfinished for long-I'm soooo ready for some quilt finishes!

This was our group this year: (Left to right) Me, Rene, Doris, Mary, Michelle, Terri, Cindy, Shelly and Stephanie. I'm so thankful for the chance to hang out and sew with these lovely ladies and I miss them already!

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, July 10, 2015

WIP bags for happies

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

This was a busy week, but aren't they all? :) On Wednesday I had a marathon sew day to work on making "happies" for my friends for our Gruber's retreat weekend.
"Happies" are simply little gifts for friends to brighten their day. They've become a tradition at our retreat and it is fun to think up something unique to make for them. We've been exchanging gifts for at least 5 years now, so the bar is getting quite high!
I do love making these WIP bags, but I wouldn't recommend trying to make 8 in one day. :) (The pattern is available here, and I have a whole blog post about sewing with vinyl and zippers here.)
These are the "happies" from this year. See what I'm saying about the bar being high? It's so fun! Getting together with friends for 3 1/2 days of sewing is such a treat and I'm so thankful for these lovely ladies! I'm so happy to have a decent finish for this week, too. Yay!

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week! Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Monday, July 06, 2015

colorful scrap quilting on Craftsy

 
My Craftsy class, Colorful Scrap Quilting, is LIVE today! I'm extremely nervous just thinking about watching it, but my curiosity may get the better of me. My kids are planning/threatening to play it on our large TV. I think that's the worst case scenario and if they do, I may have to run away for a little while. Hahaha!

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to teach a Craftsy class, even if it did scare the living daylights out of me. :) There were two factors that kept me going amid all the self doubts: 1. I had talked to a few close friends about taping a Craftsy class for at least a year and I didn't want to compromise my integrity. 2. Turning 40 was a good motivator, too. It was a seize the day (or year) kind of thing. It may sound silly, but it really helped me face my fears!
The quilt itself was designed in Illustrator, on a deadline, of course! Designing on a deadline is, um...interesting! Designing a quilt in Illustrator is rarely my first choice. But, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! After spending a few days wondering if the quilt was actually going to work, (I was honestly wondering!) I decided that there was only one way to find out---start sewing!
All of the class prep (and quilt making) was done in a quick timeframe. I think I had 4-5 weeks to prepare. It was intense! Thankfully, my family and a few close friends cheered me on the whole way though. That helped so much! I spent many, many hours prepping before we actually filmed. I went through a lot of scratch paper planning and doing the math. SO MUCH math! So many chicken scratches!
Some days I sewed for about 12 hours! I took a ton of photos as I worked, evaluating the progress every step of the way. There was a lot of editing of fabrics, colors and blocks.
I used a bunch of fabric from my stash. A BUNCH! Several times I had to remind myself (out loud, no less), "It's all just fabric", as I cut into it. I talked to myself a lot during the process. That's what working alone in a basement for hours on end will do to you! :)
I generated a ton of scraps, too. I put all the remains in this paper box lid to sort through for another day. That should be LOTS of fun! It's a darn good thing I like scraps as much as I do!
My producer asked me for a photo of my studio, so I had to clean up my room during that time as well. My craft room is never this clean. Only for a few minutes while the photos were being taken. It's my husband's dream to have it this clean. Even occasionally would do!
This is what it looked like most of the time I was working. Or sometimes even worse!
After I had the top completed, I handed the quilt into Steffani's capable hands for long arm quilting. She did an amazing job on it! It was fun to bind it because it was almost finished and I got to admire her beautiful quilting!
The taping itself was nerve-wracking, but the crew I worked with was so fun. They are good at what they do!
We had a great time joking around between filming segments. (It was fun to use quilts I've made as back drops!) We laughed a lot and worked long days. It was quite an experience!
It felt great to complete the taping...this was my celebratory power pose. I was pretty happy! :)

If you want to see a trailer of the class, you can view it here. My son and I watched it and he said, "Wow, they made you look good!" He sounded a little surprised! Hahaha!

I realize that this is quite a long blog post, but I think it's important to share the process behind it all. SO much goes on behind the scenes and it can look easy, but it all is a ton of work. It's good work, though, and I'm thankful to have it!

I'd like to say a HUGE thank you to my friend Tara, who was so helpful to me throughout the entire process. And a big thank you to all of you, my readers, who have left kind comments about the class and the quilt already. I appreciate your support more than I can say!

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, July 03, 2015

charcoal socks

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I finished knitting another pair of socks this week--my 14th pair to date! I love gray and I wear a lot of it. It was surprisingly difficult to find a decent gray sock yarn, but I found some on a trip to Duluth earlier this year. I used my basic sock pattern, which you can find here. I'm sure that these socks will be in heavy rotation this coming fall/winter. They are so comfortable!
One year ago, I had a sock finish as well! Isn't that funny?

Also, today, I am finishing up my 30's. That's right...I turn the big 4-0 tomorrow. I'm not sure that I'm excited about that finish, but I guess it's better than the alternative! Ha!

One more thing...thanks for all your sweet comments on my upcoming Craftsy class. I appreciate your support more than I can say! xoxo

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me! I hope you all of you in the US have a great and safe holiday weekend!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

win my craftsy class!

Hello, hello! I'm super nervous and a little excited to announce that my Craftsy class is scheduled to released next week! I haven't really said much about it since I spilled the beans in May, but today I'd like to share a little bit about the projects in my class. I plan to write a post about the process another day...it was quite an experience! At the end of this post, I will offer you a chance to win my class!
I designed this colorful row quilt specifically for my Craftsy class. The quilt features 10 different rows of patchwork. In the class, I share tips on fabric selection and walk through the construction of each block/row, step by step. 
In the end, I used over 170 unique fabrics from my stash to make this quilt. (It was FUN!)
Rather than using a plain white background for the quilt, I used a small black and white polka dot. It tones down all that bright happy color (in the best way, of course) and gives it a bit of a vintage feel.  This version is BIG, measuring 72" x 96". I love how it turned out so very much!
I also offer a smaller option--a baby size---which uses some of the same elements of the large row quilt. This is a good way to explore some of the techniques, but with the ability to finish the quilt more quickly. The baby version was made in a completely different color way, which changes the overall look and feel of the quilt. I love to explore and imagine all the possibilities that you can obtain by simply changing up the fabric choices. I would love to make yet another version of the large row quilt, but this time using all Denyse Schmidt fabrics. I think it would be fabulous!
If you would like to win my class, you can enter here. (You must be a craftsy member or you can sign up to become one, if you aren't already.) If you win, you can tell me what you think about the class, because I'm not sure that I will be able to watch it myself. :)
 
(By the way, isn't that last photo funny? I laughed out loud so hard when I saw it. I hope it gives you a chuckle, too!)


Wednesday, July 01, 2015

scrap vortex QAL, week 5

Welcome to the final week of the scrap vortex QAL! I'm thankful that so many of you have joined in and quilted along with me. It's been delightful to look through the #scrapvortexqal hashtag on Instagram. So many scraps are being put to good use! Hurray!

Before we get on with today's post, I wanted to share a few quilt tops made by others!
This one was made by Amanda of Material Girl Quilts. It measures about 46" x 63".
This one was made by Linda of Flourishing Palms. It measures a whopping 89" x 91"!
And this one was made by debpotteringabout. She used all of her scraps...ALL of them!!! How is that for a success story?

Didn't they all do a great job on their quilts??? Many thanks to Amanda, Linda and Deb for letting me share their work here!

Over the past few weeks, I've shown how to fit the pieces together based on the random sizes of your block. I would recommend using that method, if you are up for it. However, I would imagine that some of you may want to rely on a block format for construction. I've done a few quilt block mock ups to show a few options if the random layout isn't working for you.
For this first mock up, you could use all 12" blocks. This isn't a bad option at all, just a bit more structured than the typical randomness of a scrap vortex quilt. When you start the assembly, at least you are guaranteed that your blocks will fit together!
This second layout uses just 3 different block sizes: 12" squares, 12" x 18" rectangles and 6" x 12" rectangles. In this layout, you will lose the grid of the patchwork (which is a good thing) and it becomes more random, but it's still orderly and predictable. This isn't a bad option, either! These are just a few examples to illustrate my point. Of course, they can be sized up or down as desired. Completely random is good, too!
As far as quilting goes, I would recommend doing spiral quilt (tutorial here) to keep with the vortex theme.

A pieced back....
and scrappy binding are options that I would recommend as well!
It just makes sense, right? :)

Well, that's all I have for today! As always, if you any questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments!
Thank you ALL for quilting along with me!!!