Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WIP Wednesday #9 - Officially Behind

(Still) In Progress - Sweet Star Wars
Baby S was born sometime this morning, a healthy 7 lbs 5 ounces and 20" inches long. His mom and dad are (rightfully) incredibly proud and excited, and I am too. But this also means I am officially behind.

I am getting closer to assembly though: this week I pieced the stars...

That will take up the blank spaces in this arrangement:

(Yes, this photo is a couple weeks old; Luke is fully assembled now)
and I am probably 75% done with all the blanket stitching. You can see close-ups of my completed characters here, and fully-assembled Luke is here: I've done some blanket stitching on him since the photo was taken, though.

If you are new to this project, this is my first-ever attempt at applique. The story behind it is here, and the original artwork I am using to create my characters is here.

Assembled - Trick Or Treat
I will admit to running a diversion to keep myself motivated. After basically three weeks of nonstop blanket stitching, I needed some piecing release! Trick Or Treat is made from a 10" Stacker + some striped yardage of "Trick Or Treat" by Doodlebug Designs for Riley Blake. The full post on it is here, and this is what it looks like this week:

Finished size is about 42"x48", and I cannot wait to start backing and quilting it!

No Progress:

-Christmas Traditions

-Eclectic Garden

-Ready, Set, Snow

And, for proper linkage:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trick Or Treat - My Reward System

I must admit, keeping myself motivated to work on Star Wars this late in the game with a deadline looming (my friend is due today, but fortunately she hasn't gone in yet) has required some mental trickery. I was downright depressed that Star Wars' slow speed was keeping me from playing with sexy new fabrics piecing and free motion quilting, so finally I cracked and gave myself permission to work on another quilt in parallel. 2 sessions of star wars blanket stitching = 1 fun with fabric day. Here's what I did

I have been hanging onto this little "stacker" of Trick Or Treat (by Doodlebug Designs) since last October. It is 24 10" squares of ghosts and candy and stars and damask, in a variety of oranges, blacks, greens and purples I find completely irresistible, and have fondled it often since receiving it. I mean seriously - just look at some of the fabrics!

Originally I thought I'd cut up the 10" squares into charms and make a basic charm quilt. Then I realized there's a striped print in this line, and I've been meaning to remake Sunset Surprise in another palate:  I can run a striped print through my charm quilt and get the same effect, wouldn't that be cute?

And of course, after a little more thinking, I realized I if I was bisecting half my block with stripes anyway, it was possible to get bigger blocks out of my ten-inch stacker as follows:

Cutting guide for Trick or Treat assuming 1-1/4" stripes. Yes, I figured this out myself.  And yes, this kind of quilt geekery makes me happy
This led to me being able to make on "main block" (a 6-3/4" square), one "Stripe" block (also 6-3/4" square, but with a 3/4" stripe down the center) and have a little left over for a cornerstone where my striped lines would intersect.

I'll admit I did cheat and use backing fabric for the cornerstones instead though, so they would also look like one continuous block.

Making those blocks provided a delightful diversion from Blanket Stitching 'til forever last weekend, and this weekend it made up into this:

Pieced dimensions are about 42 x 48. I still need to piece the backing. Then it's cross my fingers and hope for some FMQ inspiration!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Star Wars - The Perpetual Menace

Every time I start a new project, there is a wave of enthusiasm. I am working with new fabric! This new design is so exciting! Oh, how perfect this quilt will be when I have finished! Usually, that enthusiasm fades as the project goes along, until eventually during the last stitches of assembly, when I am just glad to have it DONE. Occasionally, however, a project lasts beyond that wave, and becomes... a grind.

And so Star Wars has become for me.

Don't get me wrong - it's still coming along well - but I'm really tired of blanket stitching with my machine. I've started making stupid mistakes, like sewing two characters together (not once but twice) or getting so entranced by the needle that I forget to stop where I need to. And if I have to make another 20-minute drive to the quilt store for a thread color I didn't know I didn't have... Augh! It's enough to drive a quilter nuts! I really really can't wait to get to the "assemble" and "FMQ" states. That said I did make some good progress this weekend!

I finished machine-stitching the blanket stitching on 4 of my 6 characters:

Chewie and Leia

Han and Jango

OK, Yes Jango could use a little touch-up, but that shouldn't take too long. Snd even though (or perhaps because) the thought of more applique makes my stomach churn right now, I was able to think of a pieced alternative to the two-lightsaber design I was going to use across the center of the quilt, with two traditional pieced stars instead:

Not exactly the most inventive solution, I know. But I was able to whip them up pretty quickly this morning, and even though then ended up kind of wonky without my *intending* them to be, they will serve my purpose. I am still trying to figure out how I want to put noses and mouths on the human characters (Applique? FMQ? Permanent Fabric pen?), and once I have that, finishing the blocks should be pretty smooth sailing.

Then, it is on to assembly. Which I pray goes quickly, because I have a big stash of other lovely, exciting, enthusiasm-inducing fabric waiting for me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WIP Wednesday - Blanket Stitch 'til forever

(Still) In Progress - Sweet Star Wars 
All my characters are assembled, and I have entered the blanket stitch phase - all blanket stitching, all the time.  For anyone just catching up, the plan is here, and the original artwork I am modeling these after is here. You can click to make this picture bigger and see my stitching so far:

I am moving all the characters through one color at a time. By my count I have done black, white, flesh tone, light brown, dark brown, and light grey. I still need to do dark grey, green, red, orange, turquoise, and pink. 6 down, 6 to go.

Started - Trick or Treat 
I have been chomping on the bit to start on this one for a while, and this weekend after a... minor mishap in Star Wars made me think that maybe I needed to take a break from applique, I dragged this out. It felt SO GOOD to just do some classic rotary cutting and piecing again, this is not a particularly ambitious project, so I managed to complete all but one of my blocks.

The fabric is "Trick or Treat" by Doodlebug designs for Riley Blake, and the pattern is another fly-by-the seat original by me. More on this later this week.

Binding - Eclectic Garden
You can now read about this quilt here and here. I am making my way through the handstitching, slowly but surely.

One day, I will complete it!

No Progress:

-Christmas Traditions

-Ready, Set, Snow

And, for proper linkage:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Eclectic Garden 2

Eclectic Garden came back from my Pro Quilter Of Extreme Awesomeness in December, right around all the Christmas mania. So, needless to say it had to "marinate" a little while in the closet. But it is out now! And I am SUPER excited to finally be binding it. I already love to cuddle under it while I work on it.

Another Mary Ann did a great job on the quilting - I gave it to her because it turned out to be a bit big for my little machine, and I'm glad I did. Click the photo to see an up-close of the quilting.

Eclectic Garden is also a bit of a departure for me because the back isn't pieced: by the time I got to this quilt kit (which included everything but the backing), most quilt stores had already sold out of the collection, and only a very few had it left on very good sale. Not wanting the fabric to sell out from under me, I went ahead and purchased my backing (40% off!)

Normally I liked to piece at least a *little* bit on the back, for that homemade feel, but in this case I'm actually kind of glad I didn't - uniform backing does have a certain elegant/"professional" feel to it that I am really digging. Plus this way the front gets to be the focal piece.

I am binding Eclectic Garden with the same fabric that was used on the backing and borders.  Normally when I bind I like to pick a contrasting band of color, but this what the designer recommended and what came with the kit.  So far the jury's still out.

And I am... maybe 1/4 of the way done with the binding. This project will probably be ongoing for a bit yet. BUt once it's done... I think this one will get the spot of honor on the couch.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Eclectic Garden

Ok, so the actual piecing on this was done... 2, maybe 3 months ago? But I was in an odd state of catch-up on my blog at the time, so I never actually remembered to blog it. If we can all forget Star Wars and pretend it is September 2011 for a moment, allow me to present... Eclectic Garden.

My mom is a big Jason Yenter fan, and I have to admit, she's turned me into one too. My local quilt shop had a kit for the purple colorway of his Eclectic Garden Project Sheet, and I don't know how many times I stopped to admire it, thinking I'd never done blocks that complex and it was probably all too much for me.

Then it went on 25% off sale. At first, I thought they'd sold out, and my heart sank. I loved that quilt! It was my fantasy project for the day when I was a better quilter. But after moping about the shop for a bit, I realized they hadn't sold out, they just had moved it to the back because they only had 2 left. Cue the kind of relief that leads to realization of attachment, followed by buying "for the future." I mean seriously: how can you resist this yummy fabric?

This was almost a year ago, I think, and right before my wedding,  when I wasn't sewing *anything* at all. At the time it was a fit of far-off insanity, but then I learned, as beginning quilters often do. I got proficient enough with the rotary cutter that cutting blocks from a limited amount of fabric wasn't predisposed to disaster, I did "Batik Beauty" so I learned to work with triangles and blocks on point, and I made Sunset Surprise, so the idea of a block that consisted of multiple seams wasn't nearly so scary to me. Then, in September, I had time in my quilting schedule, and got brave enough to cut the material out.

Then I made the blocks, which I apparently forgot to take photos of in my enthusiasm, until finally I had enough to make a quilt's worth, shown below.

Assembling this quilt was a beast due to all the blocks on point and the seams that had to line up (I should point out that this was the early side of my learning how to pin the corners of my blocks effectively, for better or worse, and this was the first time I determined the length of my sashing by measuring the center of the quilt and trimming it accordingly rather than just running a long strip of sashing along the outside of my quilt body and letting it fall where it may. It was a lot more work, but the quilt did turn out nicely as a result.

I sent it to my pro quilter last October, but batting had to be ordered before she could complete it. I got it back in mid-December, just before I finished quilting Ready, Set, Snow. Eclectic Garden is ready to bind now, so that will be my next hand-stitching project.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WIP Wednesday #7: More Star Wars, Eclectic Garden

I had family in town, so not a lot of progress this week. BUT...

(Still) In Progress - Sweet Star Wars
My big accomplishment is assembling Luke! Luke was especially unnerving because he has a translucent visor. I am used to working with sheer fabric from my days as a bellydancer, but that just means I know how quickly an iron can destroy it. Not good for applique. If you look closely there are a couple of bubbles in the fabric, and the visor deformed a little with the heat: but overall, I'm pretty happy because it still looks like Luke!

Luke Skywalker

For the record, I am not the "original artist" on these characters. I am adapting them from digital art by Jeff Victor, whose artwork can be found here. This is my first applique project.

If you are new to this project, the plan and the other blocks are here, and the story behind it is here.

Binding - Eclectic Garden
At one point, I had 3 quilts all sitting around waiting to be bound: this is the last of the three. I know I promised it last week but... more on this later. I am making my way through the handstitching, slowly but surely.

Finished! - Froggin'
Froggin' was finished Thursday night, and gifted to my beloved friend this past Saturday. Hopefully her little boy will get to enjoy it in due time!

No Progress:

-Trick or Treat

-Christmas Traditions

-Ready, Set, Snow

And, for proper linkage:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced