Monday, June 30, 2014

Quilting Lesson 3: The Big Cut.

In the life of any DP9 quilt, there comes a day when the quilter must make the big cut. Last week, my quilting student armed herself with a rotary cutter and got to work chopping up her beautiful nine patches.

I did not envy her the task. I've never made a large scale DP9, so my chop-chopping has been on a more minimal scale. But she had ten blocks to chop into, and she did them justice.

This was her first cut. I KNOW. It looks SO good.

And that first cut is definitely the hardest.

We also chatted about layout, layout organization, and how to assemble and press rows. Last I heard, she was already hard at work getting the individual blocks laid out and sewn into rows, and it really wouldn't surprise me if she shows up this week with a near-finished top. (We still have borders, of course, but seriously. This girl has serious quilt love!) 

In other student news, I taught my husband how to baste a quilt last night. (He volunteered to help me baste because it seriously kills my pregnant back.) Being an engineer/scientist, he insisted on knowing the theory behind each step in the process, and when we were done, his mind was already coming up with contraptions he could build to streamline the basting process. I still did about 75% of the basting, but it was really sweet of him to help, and I can tell Fava that his quilt was made with help from his papa. I'm pretty sure I have a quilting plan in place, and if I have thread that will work, I'll get started today!

Friday, June 27, 2014

FF: Fava's Quilt Top.

After a rather meh finish last week, I'm super excited to share this one with you today! On Monday, I added the last border to Fava's quilt top, and now I can get to basting and quilting and binding, woo!

This top has truly been a labor of love. From diamonds in the center, to paper pieced feather blocks that took multiple hours each, to tiny borders, to equilateral triangles, to round it all off with a bit of navy, I love the finished product, but boy, am I glad it's done.

I used Violet Craft's Waterfront Park collection, with which I am still very much smitten. (And yay for having TONS of yummy leftovers!) I also used a variety of solids, including Kona navy, and I think that's Kona Rich Red. I have no idea what the turquoise solid is, sorry. And the whites are technically two different whites, but you wouldn't have known that if I hadn't told you, would you? And I pretty much can't tell either, so I think it all fits.

Regardless of my careful measuring and math attempts, my triangle border wound up too long. UGH. This was my first time piecing triangles like this, so it's no wonder that it got complicated and messy. But I wasn't re-cutting all of those triangles again, especially since I was using my 6" x 24" ruler to do it, so I just centered the strips and let it be what it was. I doubt Baby Fava will care too much. As for the square in a square blocks, they wound up slightly too big, so the corners are chopped on all four sides. But again, it looks consistent, or dare I say, almost intentional? So that's staying too.

I'm quite in love with this one. It's definitely top five favorite quilt material, though I'm not entirely sure it will surpass my first love. The piecing, certainly, but can it shove a hot pink quilt from the number one spot? Time (or the quilting) will tell.

But now Friends, how do I quilt this bad boy? FMQ came to mind, but I'm not sure I trust my rusty skillz enough for that. And I do want to do some handquilting on this top, but how? Or go uber minimal and let the piecing do the talking?

I'm linking up today with TGIFF, hosted this week by Quokka Quilts. See you there!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WIP: Sewing Day Progress.

Last week, Mr. Audrey took the kidlets on a last minute road trip to see family. Since I am more than a little pregnant, and a long car trip sounded like a horror of horrors, I stayed behind and attempted a sewing vacation. Of course, Agatha had a small problem, but that was quickly solved, and I tackled a few projects that had been lingering.

Gypsy Wife blocks for June.

When I cut my rectangles for my HRTs, I wasn't thinking properly, and I didn't cut them right. Hence, a weird looking Crazy Anne block. Getting those HRTs to look pretty was also a major pain in the you-know-what, and I figure that even if I re-cut the HRTs, it still wouldn't turn out well, so I left it. Yep, laziness to the extreme. But my reasoning is that this quilt is for me, I don't care, and it probably won't be noticed in the final project. Or, peeps will totally think I did it intentionally. Because I did! Yep, totally.

It's odd. Some mistakes totally bother me, and some I shrug off and tell myself will add character. How does that work out? 

I finished my Stash Bee block for June for Carly, who requested an improv squares and rectangles block with a square of coral somewhere in the mix. That is the only piece of coral colored fabric I had in my entire stash. Only piece. (Thankfully it was big enough!) When I finish making an improv block, I'm always so happy I made another one. Improv is a stretch for me, and it takes me a long time because I think I overthink it. But stretching myself is good, even if I still can't get comfortable cutting wonky fabric! (In my defense, I really tried! I didn't use a ruler when I cut, but even still, it appears as though I got into a mode and cut mostly straight lines.) I'm really excited to see this finished quilt because Carly is responsible for my all-time favorite improv quilt (which was also a bee quilt!) so I know great things will happen.

And I finished the last few borders of Fava's quilt, so the top is complete! Mr. Audrey has promised to help me baste it this weekend--and I'm going to try and talk him into pressing my binding for me, woo!--and then, to quilt it. But I'll have more on this one for this week's TGIFF.

I had hoped to get a head start on my July GW blocks or get some more City Sampler blocks done, but I'm content with what I did get finished. I'm linking up today with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced. See you over there!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TT: Blocks 70 and 71.

Two. Weeks. In a row.

I know. I'm just as surprised as you are. Apparently my Tula Pink City Sampler sabbatical took a brief...break. (Can you take a break from sabbatical?)

Block 70. Birds and the Bees, and for the life of me, I can't remember what fabric line that pink print is from. A quick Tula website search would yield the answer, but I'm lazy. It's old. Let's just say that. And more 1/2" strips. I'm trying not to take it personally and think that Tula just hates me.

Block 71. Acacia and Salt Water. I love me that Acacia print. And yay! I graduated to the squares section! And being in the seventies, even the low seventies, makes my heart happy. Perhaps there is hope yet?

Linking up with Samantha (Diary of a Madfabriholic) for the Tula Linky. Woo!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Quilting Lesson #2: Piecing.

In you missed last week, I've taken on an awesome student, and she is making a DP9 from a gorgeous stack of fabric. Lesson #2 went well, but what else could be expected? Even with Agatha down for the count, we rocked our piecing lesson with some awesome hand-cranking and got this nine patch (mostly) put together.

Gorgeous seams in the back. Gorgeous nine patch! And yes, those seams do match perfectly. I can totally brag on this because I didn't sew it, right?

And today, we'll be chopping them in prep for DP9 assembly! I've never chopped blocks on such a large scale before...should be funsies!

While I've done a bit of sewing instruction and answered a couple of specific quilting questions, I have never given such detailed lessons before. It's been great for me to think about what goes into a quilting lesson. I'm probably erring on the side of too much information, but I know that when all is said and done, she'll have a very thorough quilting education.

I'll be back next week with chopped up blocks ready for DP9 assembly, woo!

Friday, June 20, 2014

FF: Charity Quilt Numero Dos.

This finish is number two of the four quilts I hope to finish before Fava arrives. (Next on the docket is Fava's quilt because it might be good to actually get that done before the kidlet makes his grand appearance. Wish me luck.)

I didn't take many photos of this bad boy because I kinda nothing it. The fabrics had been intended for a friend's baby quilt that I made sometime last year, but no ideas struck when it came to actually using the fabric, so I tucked it into stash, and I made another quilt instead.

My goal is to make at least three baby quilts for Project Linus this year, and this is quilt number two. I hope to get it delivered some time next week.

The quilting is simple--straight lines on the diagonal--and I chose to use white thread. As for binding and backing, I'm a little grumpy about them. I had no idea what kind of backing to use, so I thought a solid would be most appropriate. I picked a blue that coordinated with the front prints. Then, I did something I thought I would never do--I picked a white fabric (and solid, at that) for binding a baby quilt. Maybe it was a crazy idea, but I couldn't find a proper gray, and I had no other ideas. I matched the white to the front fabrics and thought nothing more on it.

Fast forward several weeks (months?) and I pulled out the intended backing and binding, only to find out that in the poor quality lighting of the store, they'd both appeared to match the front, but in natural light, they didn't actually match. For the backing, it's no big deal. They're close, and it doesn't matter too much since it's the back. But the binding? Wow. It's shockingly white against the creamier background of the giraffe print.

It looks a little funny. But by the time I figured it all out, I had already prepared the binding and didn't have any white in my stash that did coordinate, so the bright white binding was sewn on to the quilt. 

But, since that white binding will probably get grimy in about three point two seconds, maybe it's not a big deal?

This quilt came together quickly, and to be honest, I'm glad to have it done. It was nice to use almost forgotten fabrics, and my oldest and I have been piecing the remaining scraps together for our own project. (OMG, it is ridiculously adorable sewing with my four-year-old. He's so excited and proud and sweet and kinda bossy when it comes to fabric placement if truth be told. LOVE it. But more on that when I actually have something to show.)

I'm linking up today with TGIFF, hosted this week by Sew Fresh Quilts. Oh, and did I mention this finish is from my Q2 FAL 2014 list? Because it totally is.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Sewing Day that Wasn't.

No happy salutation today, I'm afraid. You see, my heart is sad. Today is supposed to be a sewing day--a get 'er done, sew-all-the-things sewing day. Now, prepare yourselves for a truly horrible picture. I really hate to show it to you, but if anyone in the world can understand its sadness, it'll be you folks.

I KNOW. I apologize for exposing you to such a gruesome shot, but I need you to commiserate and make me feel better. (Thanks.) That's Agatha's cord. On Tuesday, my amazing student came over for our piecing awesomeness extravaganza, and Agatha was having some problems. Partway into the lesson, she stopped working all together. (Which made piecing nine-patches fun, let me tell you! But we hand cranked and were awesome anyway because that's how we roll.)

I suppose I could cut a bunch of fabric in prep for Gypsy Wife blocks, City Sampler blocks, that baby quilt I haven't even started, and those would all be good things to do. I will probably do them. But the empty spot on my sewing table will be staring back at me....

Say a prayer for my Agatha, okay? I always worry that the service person will tell me she's a goner.

EDIT: Agatha is totally fine, wooo!!!! I took her in to the service dude, and he fixed her...on the spot! FOR TWELVE DOLLARS. He is my favorite person today. As we drove home, I felt like she was glaring at me from the passenger seat, telling me that she's a tough little lady, and what was I doing thinking a simple plug problem was going to take her out? So we're all good again, and I'm eager to get to work! (After lunch, of course.) You know who else is on my favorite person list? All of you lovelies for making me feel better!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

TT: Blocks 67-69

This week, I was determined to get some more Tula CS blocks under my belt. I can practically smell the finish--okay, maybe I'm not that close, but close enough to see it in the distance--and I would love to have this top done before year end. Might not happen, but a girl can dream, right? Right.

Block 67. As you can see, I took Tula's example to heart. The raindrops are one of my fave prints, and I pulled some coordinating solids to match.

Block 68. Acacia hummingbirds, plus a Kaffe shot cotton and a purple metallic paisley print my friend John gave me.

Block 69. Parisville. I am super proud of this freakin' block. I thought it would kill me. All of those stripes, finishing at 1/2" wide? What is Tula trying to do to me? (The obvious answer is prove that I am worthy to continue perusing her book. Oh, Tula. Please deem my efforts worthy!)

But it wasn't as bad as I thought. See that above? Near perfection when it came to matching the stripes.

Once again, I'm reminded that the longest part of making these blocks is picking out the fabric and cutting it. When that's done, cake. Except for #69. Stupid 1/2" stripes.

I'm linking up with the Tula Tuesday Linky hosted by the super cool Samantha of Diary of a Madfabriholic!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Quilting Lesson 1: The Fabric Pull.

Last Tuesday, I had my first quilting lesson with my very first student. Let me just say now, I'm not sure there is a better student for me. She already gets how awesome quilting and fabric are, and her enthusiasm almost beats mine. Alright, it might even *tie* mine. Point is, this is going to be funsies.

We met earlier to discuss fabric requirements and plans for the quilt design she has picked out (a DP9 with a super fun border) and she went fabric shopping.

Friends, this is what she came back with. All I can say is, yes please. She took the blue print on the far left (which I didn't adequately catch in the photo, of course) and while intending to use that as her backing, she planned the front accordingly. Color me mucho impressed. I remember my first fabric shopping experience as I nervously clung to K in hopes that she would actually pick out every single fabric for me, thus eliminating any possibility that I might mess up.

Obviously, that wasn't a problem for her.

A quick cutting lesson later, and she was off! Since she's hoping to finish her quilt for a 4H exhibition, I'm showing her how to do things with my own projects, and she's handling all of hers from start to finish. And look at that first cut? Yep. Perfection.

I'm totally stoked for lesson number two! We're going to start piecing. :)

Friday, June 13, 2014

FF: Northern Lights, Number 3.

And I finished my third Northern Lights quilt yesterday. Woo! That's one quilt down, three more to go before Fava arrives.

I should have been really awesome and actually paid attention to the names of the solids I used, but I wasn't. I liked the color progression, and that's all that matters. (For the record, my amazing quilting sensei helped me pick out this color palette when she was last in town. I'm considering kidnapping her the next time she comes for a visit, that way, she'll never be far when I need help with a fabric pull.) They're a mix of Bella and Kona solids, but from the feel of the fabric, I'm guessing that yellow is something else as it has a much different hand than the others. The pattern is the incredibly awesome Northern Lights pattern by Jaybird Quilts. This is the third time I've made this quilt, so I guess it's pretty obvious how much I love it. One day I'll actually find time to make a big one for me!

I used a Modkid fabric from Joann's for the backing. I really enjoy this print anyway, but when I was pulling bolts looking for something that might work, I realized this print is almost an identical match for the colors on front. How could I say no to that? So I'm pretty stoked for that.

For quilting, I went with the exact same plan I used for the first two. Double echo quilting along the vertical seam lines. I love the finished look, and it makes for a soft and cuddly finish. 

The binding is a darker blue solid. I had really wanted to sneak that blue onto the top somewhere, but the progression wasn't right. So we added another blue instead, and thankfully, I still got to squeeze it in as binding. This is my best machine binding job so far. (By FAR.) I guess I am improving a bit. I read a bunch of machine binding tutorials last week, expecting to discover some new tricks and tips, but for the most part, my execution is the same as "the pros" so practice (and perhaps confidence? skill? luck?) must be the differing factors.

This is all ready to go to its new home in Alabama. It's headed to a baby boy who is due only two days before Fava. I'm really quite thrilled I got it done in time. Baby boy is not only a first baby, but I believe he's also the first grandbaby on both sides, so he needed an extra special quilt.

I'm linking up today with TGIFF hosted by the super awesome Jo of Riddle and Whimsy and the Jaybird Quilts Sew Along at Sew Sweetness! 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Finished Diane Kimono Dress.

I finished a dress. And just under the wire as I plan to wear it this evening for my anniversary dinner. (Eight years, woop woop!)

I used AMH's Social Climber in Gold from her Hand Drawn Garden collection. I bought 1.5 yards at Crimson Tate almost a year ago, originally intending to make a skirt. (But this is so much better.) When I bought the AMH, I also picked up some Tula diamonds from her Acacia line. I just really liked them and wanted a bit in my stash, but when the two fabrics were cut and stacked on top of each other, I knew they were supposed to be BFFs.

I made the Diane Kimono dress from Sew Serendipity. As you can see, the pattern comfortably fits my third trimester belly, and I have a bit of room to grow. In hind's sight, I wish I had gone with a longer contrasting hem--I used the 1.5" option because that's all I had fabric for, but I think I would like the 3" or even the 5" a bit better. I used the fuller skirt option because, as you can see, I need a fuller skirt to accommodate Mr. Fava.

Kay, the designer behind Sew Serendipity, is super nice and awesome. My raccoon dress was made using her Naomi pattern, but I can't wear it comfortably right now, and I really wanted a fun dress to wear until I've returned to pre-Fava goodness. And since the Naomi was fairly easy to make for an inexperienced dressmaker, I emailed Kay to see if she thought any of her patterns could fit a preggo like me. Kay wrote me back ASAP and recommended this number. Thank you, Kay! Added bonus: this dress is actually the same size as my Naomi dress, so I should be able to wear it post-Fava as well.

Another bonus? This dress matches perfectly with my favoritest shoes ever. Of course, the four inch heels aren't anything I'm up to tackling for long periods of time in my unbalanced state, so I'll be wearing flats tonight, but later, you best be believing I'll be wearing these glorious shoes with this dress.

The worst part of sewing this was turning the drawstring tube right side out. (Seriously.) This dress doesn't take all that long to make, but that part took me FOREVER. (There is probably a faster way to do it, but I did what I could.) Thankfully, I had a friend over for tea yesterday, and I spent the bulk of our visit trying to pry the narrow bit of fabric out into proper fashion. Next time I make this dress, I will make the drawstring differently. But yes. There will be a next time. Though not any time soon. Oy. I have a lot of quilts to finish first.

On Sunday, I have an appointment with my very first quilting student. (I'm squeeing with excitement!) We're going to plot the project she wants to make and calculate fabric requirements with the goal of going fabric shopping on Monday. I might be more excited than she is. Okay, I'm not, but I think our excitement levels are pretty equal.

Have a happy weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

May GW and Bee Blocks.

It wasn't until I went to link up my May GW blocks that I realized I had never posted them here. I also didn't post my May Stash Bee block. (Which is a real shame since I absolutely adored the finished product and joked with Sylvia that I was considering keeping it. Don't worry, I did in fact mail it to her, even if it hurt to do so.)

And while some of the filler blocks for the May GW QAL are...well...filler, I do love my main block (Hope from Hartford) for the month. It was only the second time I'd wrangled partial seams, and it turned out pretty well. My block is totally spinning the other way from the pattern, but I like it anyway.

I snapped this photo right before dropping it in the mail, so while that background fabric might look like black, it's totally navy. I love the way the oranges play together, which is weird because usually orange and I don't get along. I had so much fun making this block--really, no sarcasm--that I made another for my medallion quilt for Fava.

June means another month of GW and bee blocks to attend to! This month's offerings are proving to be super exciting. (Improv, eep!)

Oh! And for those of you wondering, my Mama received her quilt, and she absolutely adores it. (YES. I'M SO HAPPY!)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

SS: Low Volume, HPQ Style, Part 2

From left to right: Le Creme Swiss Dots in Black by Riley Blake, Wild Hearts in White by Wee Gallery, Dress Me in White by Wee Gallery. Yum yum yum. Pink Castle sells that tiny heart print in three other colorways, and OMG, do I want them all, or what? But restraint, people. Restraint.

These are more additions for a baby quilt I've yet to start. But hey, I've printed the paper piecing templates, so that totally counts as something, right?

Until then, I'm working on something hot pink and yummy. To be continued....

Molli Sparkles

I'm linking up with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash. So. Much. Yum.


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