Tuesday, January 24, 2012

WIP Wednesday #6 - Star Wars, Froggin'

(Still) In Progress - Sweet Star Wars
For those just tuning in, Star Wars is my first applique project. I found some adorable fanart online, and have been working to recreate the images in fabric for a couple of weeks now. I assembled three characters last week, and this week I managed another 3.

Han Solo, Jango Fett, and Twi-lek

I still have one more to go, but then all that's left is blanket stitching and my original goal will be complete.

But the best news is, now that I have proven myself capable of making the blocks I have a plan for how to use them! Follow the link here to read more about it.

Back From the Quilter! - Froggin'
Normally these days I quilt my own quilts, but this quilt is for a very special baby: My close friend who introduced me to my husband and stood up at my wedding is due in March, and she is of the meticulous sort who happily steamed and pressed my wedding dress for hours, so I really wanted her quilt to turn out nicely. My Pro Quilter of Extreme Awesomeness did not disappoint on that front!

Froggin' at T minus 4 days and counting...

Not quilted by me, but I love it anyway!

You can see more close-ups of her lovely quilting job here (frogs and butterflies and dragonflies in the squares), and she got it back to me with a week to spare. So, I have been busily binding the heck out of it. Technically, it is "due" this Saturday for my friend's baby shower.

I am still trying to figure out a low cost and low lead time way to label it, though. I want baby B to know it was made with love especially for him! Does anyone have any suggestions on that can be put together in 3 days' time? My sewing machine does not have an alphabet function.

No Progress:

-Trick or Treat

-Christmas Traditions

-Eclectic Gardens

-Ready, Set, Snow

And, for proper linkage:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Han Solo... for the linkup

Sunday, January 22, 2012

(Star Wars) Houston, We Have plan!

I have a plan! It took some serious figuring out over the last couple of days - and it will require the tackling of not one but 3 extra blocks (fortunately not character blocks) but behold, my initial layout for Star Wars: the Quilt. You'll note it features actual blocks because, well, that's when & how I came up with it.

Basically, the plan is to pick the best 6 of my 7 original character blocks, and pair them with 3 new ones: I've already made a Star Wars logo block for the center, (just in case the characters themselves don't make it obvious). Everything will be sashed in my old-go-to color of black (which in this case is quite appropriate), and for the blank spaces on either side of the logo, I am thinking Light Sabers will provide just an appropriate amount of space-filling goodness.

Not that I have designed them yet, mind. I'm not that organized.

But I am making other progress! My husband was out of town for work this weekend, So I had plenty of time to move forward with things. Here's my center logo, completed:

And here's where my character blocks stand:

Yoda, Chewbacca, and Leia: you've seen them before

NEW! Han Solo, Jango Fett, and Twi-lek!

In Progress: Luke, my final character. His helmet is still forthcoming.
With the exception of Luke they are all assembled and wonder-undered, so the next big phase is the blanket stitching. Leia and the SW logo are done on that front, and everybody else is being batch-processed thread color by thread color.  Also in this phase, I will be adding details like noses, mouths, and wrinkles to some of the characters. Fingers crossed that I don't mess it up!

This quilt remains a labor-intensive bear that is at moments exhilarating, and at moments exhausting depending on how well things are coming together. But, if I don't think too hard about those light saber blocks, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Prudence, thy name is not Robin

At the Quilt Show last weekend:

Me: Man, I really like this fabric.
Husband: Then you should get it.
Me: Have you seen my stash? I am not allowed to purchase anything, ever again.
(repeat about 40x)
Husband: Wow. You have self control. Who knew?
Me: Only sort of.

Last  year, I swore in November that no new fabric for... a very long time. So far I haven't purchased anything not directly needed for Star Wars in January. But in December, there were several caves on the fabric acquisition front. I am apparently unable to resist really good Black Friday and End of Bolt sales, or the allure of my mother when she says "help yourself to anything you want in my stash."

Did I say no new fabric? I meant no blue cambric. No shoe fast-click?

Upper Row, Left to Right:
1) Pooh panel, border and backing for a Charity quilt, 40% off at Hancock's the day after Thanksgiving.
2) Amy Butler Alien Invasion Jelly Roll, My Universe Print from Fort Worth Fabric Studio, 50% off in the bargain bin.
3) Cat Fabric from Mom's Stash that she generously let me take home with me at Christmas.
4) Alphabet Zoo Panel and sale Christmas fabrics from In Between Stitches, Mom's LQS.

Lower Row, Left to Right
1) Kim Schaefer Snowman print giveaway from MamaCJT's blog.
2) Harvest print from Mom's Stash.
3) Nancy Halvorsen's "Deer Friends" quilt kit I received as a Christmas gift (Yay!)

I will admit, all this sexy new fabric is starting to weigh extra-heavily on me since both Christmas Traditions and Star Wars are taking far longer than my usual weekender quilt. I am glad I am doing them - because the learning experience has been phenomenal - but part of me just can't stand all this other fun stuff overflowing my stash drawer untouched!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday #5 - Star Wars, RSS

In Progress - Sweet Star Wars
So, it goes. For anyone just tuning in, this is my first applique project ever; and I have picked a fairly ambitious design. I found adorable Star Wars art online, and I am trying to recreate the characters mostly Kona Solids. Here's who I've got so far:

Yoda and Chewie are just ironed on and not stitched, but I did get brave enough to try blanket-stitching Leia this weekend! She turned out better than I expected, although I am still glad I am not a perfectionist. Click the little photo below to see the detail of my stitching.

I'm also glad to say that I have finished cutting everyone out (7 characters total), so hopefully now things will move much faster.

Bound, but not Complete - Ready, Set, Snow
I finished the hand stitching on this, but discovered an unpleasant surprise: I missed a little bit of the top when I sewed the binding on! Augh! And of course I couldn't discover this *before* I hand-stitched that part, no: it was probably the jostling of the quilt as I sewed the other side that caused this particular ~2 inch segment to come loose

Said segment is on the bottom slightly right-of-center, so I think my best bet might be to just cover it with an applique. If anybody has any other ideas, I am all ears, though.

Binding - Eclectic Garden
More on this later; just started the binding this week.

No Progress:

-Trick or Treat

-Christmas Traditions

In queue for pro quilting

And, for proper linkage:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Chewbacca: For the Link-up

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter Quilt Show

Ok yes, I probably should have used the time to work on my Sweet Star Wars quilt instead, but it's not  often that a quilt show comes to town! The OKC Winter Quilt Show was in its final day today, and when my loving husband agreed to attend with me, I knew I had to go.

I've only been to one other quilt show, and it was far smaller. Maybe I'm just in an applique frame of mind because of my current projects, but this seemed to have a lot more art quilts on display that used applique then traditional pieced quilts. Here are some of my favorites:

Quilts from OKC Winter Quilt Show

Most of these were less than 3'x3' though, so fun to look at but not all that utilitarian.

Since one of my goals for the new year is to use down the stash I've acquired (or at least get it to fit in its allotted space before I start acquiring again) I had to be judicious about the other fun part of a quilt show, the buying. I am still not sure applique is going to be something I want to do in the long run,  given my struggles with the Star Wars quilt, but as a recovering horse addict, I simply couldn't resist the allure of this pattern:

I took a picture of the sample, because it was WAY cuter than the color scheme on the pattern itself. And, that was my one and only purchase this time around! I am quite proud of myself. Even the hubby was impressed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday #4 - Star Wars, Froggin', RSS

Oh linkups, how I have missed you! I meant to join back in last week, but life got in the way. This contains everything I have done since my last WIP Wednesday on December 13.

Started - Sweet Star Wars
Full disclosure: I have never done applique before in my life. This has not stopped me from deciding that since there is a decided shortage of adorable baby-themed Star Wars fabric (or really, any new Star Wars cotton in general) I should learn applique and make my own. However, since said fabric is for a quilt that is going to a friend who is currently six months pregnant, "Learn" has kind of turned into "jump in with both feet and hope I don't drown."

I have found pictures of adorable, sweet Star Wars Characters online. I have bought Kona solids in a number of Star Wars appropriate hues. I have backed said fabrics with wonder under, and made liberal use of my scissors. And so the saga begins. I have made one block so far, and I haven't been brave enough to try the blanket stitching bit yet:

Cutting out several characters at once has been a fairly significant time sink, but I am hoping it will hasten the assembly portion later.

Pieced - Froggin'
I'd had my eye on this fabric for a while, but it didn't become commercially available until December 1. It's for a friend whose baby shower is Jan 28, so I zipped through piecing it.

Right now it is with my Pro Quilter of Extreme Awesomeness, and I am counting the seconds until it returns in a fully quilted state and I can start binding it. It's from a simple Fat Quarter pattern by Carlene Westberg and uses Froggin' fabric by Sue Zipkin.

Partially Pieced - Christmas Traditions
I finished paper piecing all the individual blocks before I put this one away in November, but when I had a few spare moments I dragged it out again for assembly. It is far less messy than my Star Wars project at this point!

Quilting Completed - Ready, Set, Snow
This quilt has had many lessons in store for me, ranging from "you're obsessed with light sashing - don't be" to "the throat of your machine? It is not as big as you think it is," with perhaps a little "squaring a layer cake is HARD" in there for good measure.

That said, the Beast is quilted!

In addition to the squiggly lines and stenciled trees I showed last time, I put rolling waves along the outside, and snowflakes in the corner blocks. Now I am maybe 1/3 of the way through sewing binding on what I think may be the second-largest quilt I have ever made.

No Progress:

-Trick or Treat

-Eclectic Garden

And, for proper linkage:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Apparently, it is time

Once Upon a Time, a quilt-worthy friend told me that she was doing a "Sweet Star Wars" nursery for her as-yet unborn child. This sounded completely awesome! Clearly, I had no choice but to make a star wars quilt to go in that amazing, gender-neutral nursery that she was building, but I quickly discovered one major hangup in that plan: They don't really make any Star Wars cottons. Yes, you can scour eBay for old bedsheets and curtains, or make a quilt in Star Wars-appropriate colors that isn't really Star Wars specific; but when I get really excited about something, "compromise" becomes a foreign word to me.

"No biggie," I thought, "I have seen lots of applique projects have liked, I will simply learn applique and MAKE my own Star Wars Fabric." Which seemed very straightforward and simple at the time. How hard could it be? I found some art I liked online, and bought the fabric and figured I was already halfway there. Then reality set in: I don't know the first thing about applique! I'd overheard conversations that used words like "Wonder Under" at my local quilt store, and the idea of using an iron-on backing to layer fabric isn't exactly rocket science; but my mom calls applique "the A word" for reasons I cannot ignore, and understanding the theory isn't exactly the same as doing it in practice.

Enter the procrastination phase. I got some books from the library and read them, so I think I know MORE of what I will be doing, but that just reminded me that applique isn't just "iron more fabric on top" but also "fold under" and/or "blanket stitch it somewhere near where the raw edges are." Historically, my ability to stitch following a line has left a little something to be desired (it's a method I was forced to abandon while quilting the princess quit, for example) so um, yeah.

But time marches on, and when I saw my friend at Christmas, I was reminded that her "little sith" is coming in March, whether I magically absorb applique through osmosis or not. So when I got back from the visit, I dragged my fabric out, and said "Ok, this is it: no more procrastination."

I have spent hours upon hours simply backing and cutting fabric (heaven forbid I start with a SIMPLE applique project... the time to do that would have been about six months ago), and assembled a total of one block for my quilt, minus stitching. But the process as I have it down now is messy and requires a lot of space. So when I had a spare hour tonight, I said, MAYBE it was OK to work on a piecing project... what exactly did I have going again?

What I have going is my Christmas Traditions Quilt. It's another learning experience, and I had just finished paper piecing the individual blocks when I shelved it to work on A's quilt. So, I brought it out again and did the required assembly. Then I looked at the magazine, to see what was my next step. Here are my blocks.

Here is the magazine picture.

Yup, next step in BOTH my quilts is to learn applique. I can be thickheaded sometimes, but now even I'm convinced the universe is telling me something.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A New Technique

Husband: Baby, is it just me or does the kitchen table kind of look like a tornado hit it?

Me: That's not a tornado, that's ME learning APPLIQUE!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Ready, Set, Snow - the FMQ wars

Ready Set Snow is on to binding! It's a big quilt, so it will take a while, but I am glad to finally have it quilted. This was an interesting quilt to quilt, because I definitely had to learn a lesson about making my pattern too big. I decided to do a curvy zig zag on the major squares, and at 9+ inches wide, I couldn't always fit an entire line through the throat of the machine, which led to some interesting bumps and redirects in my basic quilting.

For the featured tree blocks, I made a stencil from the clear plastic, and then used an air-erase marker to draw the trees on my quilt. Here it is being practiced:

And then here it is in the quilt:

It was a bit of an adventure to do in the actual quilting because I'd forgotten that not all quilting can be accomplished right-side-up. After I practiced until I had my trees the way I wanted them (more or less) right side up, I had to go back and practice doing them upside-down, and to the side. But, I think they turned out all right, to the point where I'm a little bummed they're so hard to see on the real thing.

Around the outside I finally, finally managed to get some loop-de-loops that worked. Loop-de-loops had been the bane of my existance for a while, and I can't tell you how I did it, only that I drew it miserably a number of times on a number of occasions, and then one day it clicked and I could spiral in and spiral out without it looking like a natural disaster. I'm still not perfect, but given how it HAD been looking, I will totally take it.

Finally, in the corners, I used a snowflake element from the collection itself. Mine turned out a little less wonky in practice, but that's OK. We'll just say I'm developing my own style.


And now it is bind, bind like the wind! I am trying a new technique I learned from my mom over Christmas, and so far I think it is working pretty well.