Saturday, November 24, 2012

Winnie the Pooh Finish

This should come as no surprise for anyone who's been following me over at the OKC Modern Quilt Guild, but Winnie the Pooh is done! 

I started the quilt in August, in what can only be described as a fit of insanity after finishing Alien Invasion for my nephew. It is based on an adorable panel I found at Katydid's Kid's Fabrics, and supplemented with Fat Quarters from my LQSs and stash. Pieced, it looked like this:

I am especially proud of the cornerstones, which are my second-ever paper piecing project. I wanted to put little suns in the corners, but didn't want to mess with appliqué; so after much contemplation, I downloaded the templates from Swim Bike Quilt's Summer Sampler Evening Star Block, shrank them to about a 4.5" block, and changed up the color scheme a bit. These were definitely the most labor-intensive part of the quilt, but I am very happy with how they turned out. I think they add a cheerful touch to the final product.

Every time I do a scrappy binding, I swear it will be my last.  And then, I do another. So, it comes as no surprise that I put the final stitches in the binding (Kona Solids in blue and green - scrappy, of course) when contractions were 10 minutes apart. But as always, I am pleased by the effect. And glad I didn't cut any corners on my daughter's feature quilt.

But the best part is,  she already likes it :-)

Go Baby A! And happy sewing, everyone. Best wishes for the holidays!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Big Finish - Baby RLQ

Dear Blogland - I have been away for a very long time, but I have an excuse! Baby RLQ has arrived. Baby A saw fit to come into the world on October 11, and is happy healthy, and VERY adept at keeping me busy!

Time has really flown since she came, and I'm surprised to realize she'll be six weeks old this coming Thursday. Still, I could't be a happier mom.

Oh, and for anyone wondering, yes I *did* finish her Winnie the pooh quilt before she came... just barely. Stay tuned for a separate post on that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Trick or Treat Completed!

Or, baby's first quilt.

I just put the last stitches in the binding of Trick or Treat. Much like Baby RLQ, this quilt has been nine months in the making. I cut into the fabric still in the daze that came with learning we were pregnant, and as it turns out I finished it just two weeks before she is due.

I hope she likes it.

It's a new experience, making a quilt for my OWN child, I must admit. By my count I have made a total of 9 "baby" quilts at this point; four for family, three for friends and two for charity. I figured I had it down. But it turns out, there was this immense pressure to get it RIGHT this time: I know she is going to watch me improve as a quilter over the years, and I want the first quilt I made from her to stand up to any comparisons.

It's easy to say "I love you" with fabric, but how do you say "you are mine and I love you more"? I worked a lot harder on the free-motion quilting for this quilt than I had for previous ones, and I scoured Etsy for the fabric I needed to make my first-choice binding when it became hard to find. I think all my fussing was a way to feel close to her - on the one hand she's been with me 24/7 through the entire process, but on the other I still haven't actually met her.

But, at least I know where I will lay her on when she comes home from the hospital, and what to warm her with if her first halloween gets a little cold. Stay in and grow strong and healthy as long as you like, little one. When you come out your father and I are ready to wrap you in love :-)

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Gift from my Quilt Guild

Baby RLQ remains tucked safely inside, but at my September guild meeting, everyone had a surprise for me: A collaboration quilt!

It seems the word is out that I like bright colors, and modern quilting :-) Group members who participated were given the instructions to work with teals, pinks, and oranges, and to "make a block that represents you as a quilter." Which I have to say, led to a lot of really stunning individual blocks! I totally teared up when I opened this, and did NOT want to let it go to continue my WIP afterwards!

For this quilt thanks go to at least 8 members of my guild, plus a special thanks to guild member Amanda over at the Cozy Pumpkin, who not only organized the effort, but also assembled the blocks into a quilt herself.  The quilt has been given a place of honor at the center of the nursery, where my only dilemma is, which side to display?

 They're both so gorgeous...

OK, signing off before I start to cry again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Modern Quilt Block

Still chugging along on the Pooh Quilt. But, I managed to dig up some photos of a fun, quick project I finished a little over a month ago: a block for the quilt my guild is taking to Quiltcon!

All of us started with 3 fat eighths of Micheal Miller solids - I think mine were tangerine, lime, and charcoal - and instructions that just said "Make one 12.5" modern block." Ok, that was straightforward enough.

Any time I have limited fabric, I always worry about making a cutting or math mistake, and subsequently 'keep it simple' becomes my motto. I'd been admiring this Asterisk quilt for a while, so I decided on a "modified asterisk" (really a Japanese + & x block) for my block. First I made the "x"...

then decided how big I wanted the "+"...

and in the end, this is what I had:

We presented our blocks at the last guild meeting, and I am super, super excited for my block to be part of our quilt at QuiltCon! Stay tuned for a link to the finished project, which is being assembled by the amazing JemJam and will probably be done in November.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

WIP Extra: A Nursery In Progress

T minus 5 weeks and counting! I have to admit, before I got pregnant I had all sort of visions for how I was going to revel in the baby prep, and have it done months ahead of schedule. Then I actually got pregnant and reality set in: gestating a human being is a job of its own! Fortunately, my husband and my parents have been really great, and assembling the nursery has been a group effort. This WIP Wednesday is a little off-topic, but I hope you'll "bear' with me.

It didn't take us long to decide on a pooh theme for the nursery: I'm an Eeyore fan, Pooh is safe and gender neutral, and lots of baby stuff comes in it. Originally when we decided on Pooh , we ordered this bedding set and called it our color inspiration:

Unfortunately, it got backordered twice and then went out of stock entirely (I'm working on a fix for that), but the influence remains. Part of its appeal was that we got to keep the beige-and-slate-green color theme that had defined the nursery back before when it was our office.

Of course, the thing that makes a room into a nursery for most people is the crib. The day of the ultrasound, we went down to the local baby boutique and - giddy with newfound excitement that the thing inside me was in fact a person, with little person parts and little person movements and pictures to prove it - fell in love with a round-backed crib by Baby Creations.

We ordered it in black because we knew from previous experience that black looked best with the color of wall we'd picked. Then came the changing table.

We agonized a little bit (well, I did) about "changing table" vs. "dresser" but changing tables are a lot less expensive and more flexible. It was hard to find a black changing table locally, but we were pleasantly surprised when the one we ordered off Amazon arrived on our doorstep the very next day.

For seating we've got a reading chair that was a pre-existing office feature. We also brought in some and old particle board cube from the garage, which my husband painted black to match the furniture.   I then improved it with a (homemade!) foam cushion for the top.

Our showers aren't until the end of the month, so it'll still be a while before the nursery gets populated with all the little things, but I've saved the best for last.

Wanting to keep the cats out - but the baby accessible - my husband and my dad banded together to make a dutch door for the nursery. So, she'll have visibility and good air circulation, and we'll be able to check on her whenever we pass her in the hall.

Personally, I can't wait :-)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WIP Wednesday #15: Oh, Bother

You'd think after my experience on Alien Invasion, where I challenged an unborn child to a race and managed to get beaten by someone who was literally "born yesterday," I'd have learned my lesson. But, apparently not. 

I have a little girl due October 9, I want to make her a pooh quilt before she is born. Because it will be a focal point of her nursery, it can't be too simple; and being me, even though I only have 5-6 weeks to go, I am still working the design out. 

What I have: 

This is what I have so far. It's a 36 x 45 panel trimmed to ~25 x 32, and with "fast and easy" pinwheels that are perfectly sized to go along the sides (link). Sorry about the flash glare, it was late last night when I was taking these.

I still would like to sash the quilt, including a window box around the center panel like I did with Charity Quilt For a Princess, and have different blocks in the corners to break up the pinwheel theme.

What I still need to figure out:

Sashing: I bought a bright yellowish/orange honey-colored fabric to frame the print in, but now I am reconsidering because of its overall brightness (see below). It works well with pooh, but kind of fades out the pinwheels.

 I also have a blue in my stash that might work for the occasion:

I'm not sure I like the way it downplays the panel plaid, though.

I also saw a lighter solid that was a near-perfect match for Tigger's tummy, which I left at the store but am now considering going back for; It'd blend in a little with some of my pinwheel backgrounds, but keep the color pop effect.

And I'm at least considering just putting the pinwheels next to the panel plaid, I don't think they look half-bad that way. But I do think I want a little sashing around the outside before the binding, and it'd be nice if that pulled colors from something closer in.

Corners: There is a voice that whispers in my ear, four more pinwheels and I could be done; but when I first conceived of the quilt, I thought little suns in the corners would be cute. I'm not sure I am ready to give up on that yet.

I bought Moda marbles in three complimentary colors, and I was thinking about using the Evening Star pattern from the Summer Sampler Series. The bad part of this plan is that is incredibly inefficient and  involves paper piecing, but the good part is, I do like the block and it would look incredibly cute. Oh, decisions, decisions. Does anyone else have a simple sun pattern that they like using? I am definitely open to ideas.

And, that's where I am. Still wide open to suggestions on several fronts. Linking up to WIP Wednesday to see if anyone there can help me out, and to show off what I've got so far!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alien Invasion for Baby G

Baby G's quilt is finally done and on the way to its new owner. Whee! For those of you just tuning in, I challenged Baby G to a race, where I would try to bind his quilt before he came out, but as fate would have it, he beat me by about a week. Here is his prize:

Titled "Alien Invasion," this quilt uses one roll of Alien Invasion fabric by Amy Butler, in a pattern inspired by the Turning Corners Table runner over at Moda Bake shop.

It measures about 40" by 50", and is quilted in Royal blue thread with a black Micheal Miller binding.

Here's a close-up of the quilting: I went for wide, sweeping arcs that I hoped neither added nor took away from the "diamond effect." Again I am reminded of why smaller patterns are easier to do during FMQ, but overall I was pleased with how it turned out.

And I am completely in love with the backing; a whimsical, colorful space print I got Fort Worth Fabric Studio that has all the planets in the solar system, plus rockets and comets and moons and other fun stuff. The picture doesn't do it justice, the print is stunning in person.

and as with Baby S, I couldn't resist adding my own label. Again, this label is free motion quilted and then appliqued on with fusible lining + blanket stitching.

This quilt went in the mail Friday. Here's hoping Baby G enjoys it for years to come!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Throwing the Gauntlet

Alright, Unborn Baby G, here's the deal:

You are the family's first - and much anticipated - nephew, and we are all dying to meet you. Not only that, but while we all want you to grow as big and strong as possible in the womb, you are starting to really REALLY outgrow the space your poor mother can afford to give you with her small frame. You're also making her ribs burn and her digestion not work. We got all excited to meet you last Tuesday when the Dr tried some natural methods for induction, but it appears you'd prefer to wait inside a bit longer. That's OK.

BUT, before you decided that's where you want to stay for another 2 weeks, let me sweeten that whole "outside" deal for you. This is your quilt:

It is not quite done yet - I've had a lot to work on - but it is very close. This WILL be yours shortly after you are born. And in the meantime, I would like to offer you a challenge: I know how stubborn your genes predispose you to be, but I also know there's a competitive streak in your family*. So here's the deal. I am going to work on this quilt, night and day. And you are going to work up to that whole "getting born" thing. Whoever finishes first? Wins.

On your marks, get set... GO!

UPDATE: I have officially lost! Baby G was born a healthy 7 lbs, 15 oz on 8/14/2012, much to everyone's joy - and, I am sure, the epic relief of his mother. I'm maybe 30% of the way through the binding, but in light of all the excitement about it, I don't really mind at all.

*I know I should pick on someone my own size but trust me, if this gets you to come out even a day earlier, your mother (my SIL) will thank me.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Make your own Roller Shade!

It works it works!

First off, I started with the Cotswold Industries Fuse-a Shade Roller kit, which I bought off Amazon for about $34. This kit claims to have "everything you need to make and install a roller shade, except for the fabric," but unfortunately, that claim is a little grandiose. Even though mine was completely brand-new and sealed, it lacked screws, a dowel to weigh down the lower end of the shade, staples to attach the shade to the roller, and instructions on how to use the mounting hardware. We also had to use my husband's chop saw to cut the roller to the correct size, but now I am getting ahead of myself.

For my material I picked a mid-weight drapery fabric from Hancocks, something that would normally have been $24.99 a yard but was on sale for 50% off. I had a 27" by 72" window to cover, so I bought 2-1/4 yards of fabric  (an extra 9") "just to be safe," and ended up using pretty much the full length of it. I removed the fusible and folded it onto my large (24x36") cutting board, and cut the fusible to width (in this case 29" so I had an extra inch of coverage on each side).

7 or 8 line items down it also told me I would eventually hem the drapery fabric by 3/4" on either side, so I cut my Drapery fabric a little wider - 3l.5" and was very grateful I read directions before proceeding. They didn't exactly tell me this at the cutting stage.

Next step was "test fuse" - I cut a 6x6 or so square out of the spare fusible (the fusible was 41" wide so I had plenty of extra), and a slightly larger square out of my spare drapery fabric. Despite some of the negative reviews on Amazon, the fusible held to my (mid-weight drapery) fabric great.

The instructions say you should give the fabric and fusible to a professional dry cleaner to steam, but I found this wholly unnecessary. It might be required if your fabric is heavier, stiffer, or more textured than mine. But my medium-weight fabric stuck just fine.

Next up as aligning the shade and the fusible backing, which went pretty well since with the rotary cutter it was easy to get good cutting accuracy. Hand-fusing a 29x81-ish piece of fusing to material was not a particularly fast-moving task, and I moved the ironing board over to the kitchen table to prevent the hot fusible from getting creases as it draped off the ironing board, so definitely don't recommend this step if there are kids underfoot because it created a huge trip hazard in my house. But, I think I had the thing properly fused in under 45 minutes; my fusible was a little longer than my shade so I trimmed it, (about 2" to spare on top, and 6"+ on bottom) and then it was on to the hemming.

For hemming, I folded the fabric over using the fusible as a guide, pinned like it was going out of style, and ironed the crease as I went. Then I dragged my fully pinned shade to my sewing machine, where my little Janome DC2007 made short work of it. I don't have any pictures of the sewing because it went so quickly, but here's a picture of the finished shade, back on the roller.

I sewed a little 2" pocket at the bottom for a wood dowel, but ended up not needing it.

The roller is cardboard, and theoretically could be cut by a box cutter but we had much better luck with my husband's chop saw - the instructions don't say, but we cut the roller to 1.5 inches wider than the shade, and that seemed to work. The roller comes with a sticky strip that works all right, but doesn't seem too hardy by itself: the instructions say supplement with staples, which are hard to get into the thick cardboard with a regular stapler but I did get it done. Having an extra 9" was helpful also because even fully extended, the shade still wraps around the roller twice.

The mounting hardware doesn't come with screws - you'll need 4 - but the mounts themselves are pretty straightforward. Slip the plastic parts into the cardboard tube, mount the metal parts at the edges of where you want the roller shade to go, one side threads in and the other side has a latch that can be lifted to lock the other side in. At the end, I had a roller shade that looks like this:

All for the price of about $65. Good luck to anyone else who wants to try it, I hope this summary of my experience helps!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday #14: Moving on, Moving up

Thanks to a marathon sewing session this weekend, I actually have progress to report this week! Well and a little bit from last week that didn't really merit its own post.

Quilted! - Trick or Treat
Performance anxiety be darned, I dragged this out and got 'er done last weekend. New additions included a skull, the moon, "Trick/Treat" along the sides, and candy in the corners. 

I missed out on using the Damask pattern, but there's always next time for that. You can see the full design here.

Completed - Block for Quilt Con
It's not as if I didn't have enough to do on my own projects, but when my local Modern Quilt guild said they wanted to put together a quilt for QuiltCon, madness overcame me and I volunteered to do a block. I'd been wanting to try an asterisk block for a while, and of course I couldn't help but tinker with it. Here's the result:

Technically this is due August 11, but I wanted to get it done early lest I make a mistake.

Done in a Day! - Roller Shade for Door
Ok, so it was a long day but Sunday I got brave enough to bust out this kit (which I'd ordered online) and construct a shade for our back door. I ran out to Hancock's for the fabric a little after noon, and by 7PM this puppy was completed on my sewing machine waiting to be hung by my husband. 

Total cost of shade was $40 for kit + $25 in fabric so while the it still remains to be seen if the thing actually works, we're both crossing our fingers; if it does, we got a roller shade in a fabric we liked way more than all the commercial options, and at 1/3 the price. Stay tuned to see how this turns out.

Basted - Alien Invasion
Pics of this when I actually start quilting, but if there is a way for a 7-month pregnant woman to baste with dignity, I would like to see it. I fell over FAR too many times trying to get this done.

No Progress:

-Christmas Traditions (but the good news is, Applique is already starting to not sound so bad again)

-Ready, Set, Snow

And, for proper linkage:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Finish All the Projects

Hyperbole and a Half has a comic about the rush of deciding that today, nothing else will slip through the cracks, and then the subsequent meltdown that happens when it turns out being 100% on top of 100% of things 100% of the time is more than any one person can do. I feel like I may be heading that direction, with the latest developments in my nesting instinct.

I think it's finally dawned on me that in the very near future, I will be a working mom with a very very small infant. And then a less small infant. And then a toddler. I feel like this is bound to cut into my sewing time. Cross that with the fact that I am trying to downsize my stash from one closet to half a closet, and you have a recipe for Most. Pressing. Projects. Ever.

See this? 2 days ago this was "a slightly ruffled stash in need of organization," but now it is a litany of all the projects that have sat too long undone, staring me in the face and whispering in my ear: "Don't you want to finish me before the baby comes? Don't you want me FOR the baby? Don't you want to piece me and quilt me and bind me and give me away to charity BEFORE all your free time is spent chasing after the baby?" ... Of course I do! Part of me knows having a kid won't be the end of my quilting, but another feels like I'm already starting out behind because of Star Wars and because not feeling well has been cutting into my sewing for months now.

I want to buy new fabric for my baby and not feel guilty about it! I want to make her crib skirts without tripping over my backlog of batting! I want my sewing stuff and my dance stuff to fit neatly into one closet, but that calls for some serious stash reduction. So my stash and I will probably be squaring off for the next little while. Here goes nothing!

Potentially: stay tuned for subsequent breakdown.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday #13: Baby Frenzy

My life these days mostly consists of birthing classes, nursery prep, and going to bed by 9:30, but a newfound nesting instinct for getting my projects done has led to me getting some sewing time in! Here's what I've been up to as of late:

Pieced - Alien Invasion
Inspired by the Turning Corners pattern from the Moda Bake Shop (Have I mentioned how yummy their new book looks?) this quilt converts a single Jelly Roll of Amy Bradley prints into an ~40x50 baby quilt. I liked the idea of using contrast to create a secondary pattern in a quilt, and thought this would be great "little boy" fabric for my upcoming nephew.

I knew pretty early on my favorite secondary pattern was easily the diamonds,  so that's what I set out to make: unfortunately, what I didn't count on was needing the same "handedness" for all of my blocks, counter to the instructions. Fortunately, I caught my mistake early on (thank goodness for the "proof of concept" stage I always go through once a couple of my blocks are made) and was able to churn out enough similar blocks to complete the quilt - the extras will probably go into a charity quilt some day. Anyways, here is a preview of the top, which took about 2 weeks to make:

Next step is basting and quilting, but first I've got to get my NEXT project out of the way.

FMQ - Trick or Treat
Trick or Treat is chugging along, about 1/3 of the way quilted. I'm quite pleased with the results of the stencils, and am starting to think about the rest of the quilt. I really want to capture the fun Damask pattern the line uses somewhere, but I am not yet sure how to go about it.

Also, I think there might finally be some performance anxiety creeping in, since this is the first (and possibly only pre-birth) quilt I will make for my own daughter.

Finished! - Eclectic Garden
Finally, a mere 8 months after it came home from my Pro Quilter of Extreme Awesomeness, I have finished this: my first ever quilt that was made by me, specifically for me. And it's a good summer weight!

I see now how those WIP piles grow for other quilters, though: it's hard to juggle "fun stuff for me" with "fun stuff for others who have a gift-giving deadline." And I do have to say, the fabric from this collection (Eclectic Garden by Jason Yenter, for In the Beginning Fabrics) was really, REALLY great to bind with. The hand feel was excellent and I spent a lot of time just petting it. if you want to see the final product look here, and for the history of this quilt, look here.

No Progress:

-Christmas Traditions (but the good news is, Applique is already starting to not sound so bad again)

-Ready, Set, Snow

And, for proper linkage:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Eclectic Garden Complete!

It's finally finished and ready for use! Eclectic Garden is the first quilt made by me, specifically FOR me, so I am very excited to finally cuddle under it. It's a great summer weight, and I am happy with how it turned out.

Also, I'm very grateful that the OKCMQG lets us work on projects during guild meetings, because that is when I finished it :-) This quilt is made from Jason Yenter's Eclectic Garden line from In the Beginning Fabrics, and I must say I need to look at more of the line, because the handfeel and workability of this fabric was awesome. I'm almost sad to be done with it.

If you want to read about the process, you can see the original posts here and here.