Friday, July 29, 2011

Happy birthday my friend :)

My best friend is having a birthday this weekend.  I knew exactly what I wanted to make for her birthday, but what I didn't account for was that my munchkin saw it when I finished it up.  He is the worst surprise-giver, secret-keeper ever.  Mother's Day this year wound up being a day early, because he couldn't hold in the surprise of what he had made for me with his dad.  I figured if I didn't hurry up and give my gift to Cindy, he was totally going to spill the beans, so this year, she got her present a bit early.

Cindy's birthday miniquilt  - side view

Cindy is in the process of writing a book of her own, so I wanted to give her a shelf with her own book on it.  She and I both love the art of writing, and I'm so excited for her and proud of her writing so far.  I know that she will finish this book and it will be on shelves one day, and I can't wait to see that day come.  So, in an effort to keep her inspired and show her how much I believe in her, I decided to make her a bookshelf miniquilt, using her favorite color green, along with some blues for accent and contrast.

The quote at the bottom of the mini is from Carol Burnett (believe it or not!)...

"Words, once they are written, have a life of their own."

Cindy's birthday miniquilt

I love that!!  When I found it, I knew it was a quote she would appreciate, and I really enjoyed stitching it on here for her.  I just wish I'd used a darker embroidery thread!!  It's a bit easier to read in person, I swear!

Cindy was super excited when I gave her this mini, which made me super happy.  She's going to hang it in the room where she does her writing, which is super perfect.

Happy early birthday, Cindy!  (again!)

ETA - If you love this mini and haven't seen it before, I wrote a tutorial on how to make one of your own a while back, which you can find right here.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WiP Wednesday #37

I've realized that there are some projects that really just need to come off the list for now, because nothing's happening with them, nor is anything going to happen with them for a little while now.  So, much like the credit cards do after a certain amount of time, I'm writing a few projects off the list for now.  I'm hoping to bring them back at some point, maybe after school starts up next month, or later this year, but for now, I'm just not putting any energy into them, so off the list they go!

Still going:
Warm/Cool Quilt Along - I got all gung ho after I finished cutting up all of my squares, and drew the diagonal lines for all of my squares Friday night...and then on Saturday, I realized that the lines were fading.  No, disappearing.  Eek!!  I stayed up late Saturday night and sewed all 336 of them, but I haven't had the energy to start ironing and trimming them yet.

Piles and piles of HSTs

Farmer's Wife Quilt Along - Two more blocks down, only 91 to go!

FWQAL Blocks 1-20

Summer Sampler Series - After getting all caught up, I'm officially behind now.  I adore Kate's six-pointed star tute, and I wound up not going the string-star route, though I do adore the string look.  I went with simple on the star, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!

7 blocks into the Summer Sampler

For the Love of Solids swap - After much deliberating, Megan and I got all 96 swappers matched up and sent out all of our partner emails.  I got my partner email, and I'm excited to start brainstorming on what to make for my partner, but for now, I'm leaning toward a miniquilt at the moment.  I've got a gorgeous stack of solids I'm thinking about working with, too...

Partner, what do you think?

4x5 Modern Quilt Bee - I've made some lovely fabric piles for my beemates and am hoping to stitch up their blocks this week.

Ryan's Guy Quilt - I'm working on cutting out some solid coordinates to go with this quilt, and having a lot of fun with it.  It's hard not to smile when cutting up Batman fabric!

Slowly making progress on the Guy quilt

So stalled that they're coming off the list for now...
Single Girl quilt
String Me Along bee quilt
Super Secret Project

New this week:
Another secret project - I know, it's no fun to hear about secret projects, but all will be revealed next week, I promise!

{Sew} Beautiful August block for Kati - Just got Kati's fabrics, and I'm excited to turn them into a wonky log cabin for her.

A stack for Kati

Kaleidoscope quilt - front view

WiP Wednesday #37 Recap
Last week's total: 9
Finished this week: 1
Written off this week: 3
New this week: 2
This week's total: 7

What are you working on this week?  Are you making progress?  Link it up over at Freshly Pieced's ever-growing WiP Wednesday linky!
Tuesday, July 26, 2011

FWQAL Week #5: The one where I make my favorite block so far

This was an easy breezy Farmer's Wife week, phew!  I made two more blocks, one of which is my new personal favorite, thanks to some super bright fabric choices.

Block #19: Checkerboard
I'm mildly disappointed with my fabric choices on this one - they're a bit muted, in comparison to the rest of my blocks.  This was a relatively easy block to put together, which made me happy, but I wish I'd used a different fabric rather than the blue Bliss print here.  It's just too soft when paired with the white and blue flowered print I used as a background fabric.  Lesson learned - go bold or go home with my fabrics!

FWQAL Block #19: Checkerboard

Block #20: Churn Dash
While this classic block is pretty popular, this is the first time I've ever done it.  It was definitely a breeze to put together, and I'm really happy with the fabrics I used on this one.  This orange Metro Living print might be practically neon, but I really dig it, and it pairs awesomely with a blue print from Kumari Garden and a blue print from DS Quilts' Picnic & Fairgrounds collection.

FWQAL Block #20: Churn Dash

I've now got 20 blocks all put together, which makes me feel somewhat accomplished.  I'm getting to the point where I'm almost a quarter of the way through this quilt - wow!  What a thought!  I definitely feel like I've polished my traditional piecing skills, and even the tricky blocks have been worth the effort.  If you haven't already caved in on this quilt-along yet, you might want to give it some thought!

FWQAL Blocks 1-20
Monday, July 25, 2011

A winner...and a mess...

Thanks to Mr. Random, we have a winner!!!  Thank you all for entering the Accuquilt GO! Baby giveaway.  The super lucky winner of their very own Accuquilt GO! Baby is....

#50 - Linz!!!!!!!!  
I think I want ALL of the dies, but the one that really tickles my excited spot is the alphabet set!!

Congratulations, Linz!  I will be emailing you later this morning for your mailing information.

And because I just can't post without a photo, here's a peek of what I'm working on at the moment.

I'm sure it just looks like I'm making a big mess, but I swear, there's progress in the mess!  Here's a billion (okay, 332) HSTs for my warm/cool quilt, there's stacks of fabric for my 4x5 blocks, there's pieces for my Farmer's Wife blocks, there's some fabric for a little miniquilt I'm starting up this week, and yes.  It's a little bit crazy in there right now.  But I swear, it's going to result in some pretties!!  What are you sewing up today?
Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer Sampler Series: The week in which I cave in

Have you heard about the Summer Sampler series? I find it hard to resist a good quilt along, especially one hosted by several bloggers that I enjoy greatly, so I found myself caving in this to this quilt along, after polishing off my own this week. I decided that the logical thing to do was to use these 12 blocks to make the 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee quilt that I'm putting together even bigger. It's going to be a gift quilt this Christmas, and the bigger the better.

I'm using grays and blues, mainly in the turquoise and aqua families, for this quilt.  I had a lot of fun putting these first six blocks together, and am looking forward to the next six!  I did take a major shortcut on one of them, mainly because I'm putting together more than enough tiny HSTs for the FWQAL, but other than that, I've done the blocks as written...

Block #1: Star of Virginia

Block #1 - Star of Virginia
This block was a lot of fun to put together - the other sawtooth stars like this that I've put together have been a good bit smaller, so this was a fun one.  Fabrics include two prints from Jenean Morrison's Silent Cinema line and the blue print comes from the Victoria & Albert collection.

Block #2: Greek Cross

Block #2 - Greek Cross
I absolutely heart this block.  Might be one of my new personal favorite blocks.  Ridiculously easy to piece, yet so effective in design.  I've used two Konas here, Coal and Peacock, as well as four fun aqua prints, from Modern Workshop, Hullabaloo, Sanctuary, and Pick a Bunch.

Block #3: Mosaic

Block #3 - Mosaic
This block was a cool way of putting HSTs together in a way I hadn't thought of before.  I used Kona Lagoon, along with some prints from Silent Cinema, Modern Workshop, Pick a Bunch, and Sanctuary.

Block #4: Flowering Garden Path

Block #4 - Flower Garden Path adapated much like Rachel's
The idea of putting together a boatload of teeny-tiny HSTs just didn't sound like fun when I cut this block out, so I used some scraps from the previous blocks to make this one work.  Then, when I started catching up on my blog reading today, I realized Rachel and I did almost the same thing - you can check her blog for directions on how to adapt this block, if you're interested.

Block #5: Star

Block #5 - Star
It's possible that this block is my favorite so far, though I really love them all.  I haven't paper pieced much since my Circle of Geese block for Brooke a while back, and I was pleased to find that I wasn't too rusty.  Even if I were, Faith's instructions are impeccable and super straight-forward.  I highly recommend them!

Block #6: Arkansas Traveler

I really like this block.  I wish I'd used a different fabric for the background fabric on this one, just for a bit more contrast, but all in all, I'm real happy with this block.  The paper piecing here was easy to follow, and produced a super impressive looking block!

I'm a bit hard pressed to pick a favorite so far, but the munchkin is super excited about this quilt and has a favorite - the Star block.  The real reason he's excited is because I'm making it for someone who the munchkin absolutely adores.  He can't wait to see it finished, and wanted his picture taken with the blocks so far, so I thought I'd share the cuteness.  Happy sewing this weekend!

The munchkin with my blocks
Thursday, July 21, 2011

Kaleidoscope QAL: Gallery of Finishes

Kaleidoscope quilt - front view

Ta da!  And there it is, my finished Kaleidoscope quilt!  I'm so happy to have finished this quilt off, and I'm so happy to have sewn it up with so many quilt-alongers.  I'm still blown away by the sheer number of people who have gotten involved with this quilt-along, and I love all of the different interpretations I've seen of the kaleidoscope through this quilt along.  If you're looking for the final installment of the quilt-along instructions, with backing, quilting, and binding information here.

Kaleidoscope quilt - finished!

The fabrics in this quilt are so cheerful and happy, I'm glad I chose them.  I used a variety of the DS Quilts Picnic & Fairground collections, along with two additional prints to round out the quilt, and I used a DS Quilts green gingham fabric for the binding.

Kaleidoscope - quilting close-up

I keep vowing to try new methods of free-motion quilting, so for this quilt, I went with a loopy style, which I've only done once before on a doll quilt.  I enjoyed it, but not in the same way that I enjoy my usual meandering stipple.  I'm glad I tried something new, though, and my 3-year old says it looks like the path of a bee, like you'd see in a picture book.

Kaleidoscope finished back

The back of this quilt was a lot of fun to put together - I used up the scraps from the front of the quilt, sewed them up into a 16" wide strip and added two cuts of one other print from the quilt for a nice, pieced back.
Kaleidoscope QAL button

Need a new project?  The Kaleidoscope Quilt Along has wrapped up, but you can follow along with any of the posts to join in at your own pace! Hop on over to Flickr and join the group to share your progress!

6/3 - Fabric Requirements
6/23 - Let's start cutting and planning our blocks!
6/30 - Piecing the Kaleidoscope triangles
7/7 - Adding your neutral triangles and finishing your blocks
7/14 - Assembling your blocks into a beautiful quilt top
7/21 - Final wrap-up and linky - link up your finished QA quilt and enter to win a giveaway for all who finish by 8/5/11 at midnight EST!

Quilt Stats:
Name: Elizabeth's Kaleidoscope
Size: 62" x 74"
Fabrics: DS Quilts Picnic & Fairgrounds by Densye Schmidt for Jo-Ann Fabrics
Quilting: All-over loopy free-motion quilting, in white thread, done by yours truly
Binding: Green gingham print from DS Quilts Picnic & Fairgrounds - machined on to both front and back

And now here's your turn to share your finished quilt!  Those of you who enter your finished quilt by 12pm midnight EST 8/5/11 will be automatically entered to win a set of Anthology fat quarters from my stash.  Good luck, and thank you all again for participating in the quilt along!

Kaleidoscope QAL: Wrapping it up

It's time to wrap up the Kaleidoscope Quilt Along this week!  I'll be wrapping things up in two posts - this one here, with your instructions for finishing up your quilt, and a second post with my finished quilt and a place to link up your finished quilts momentarily.  If you haven't stopped by the Flickr group yet, you absolutely should.  There is some serious eye candy to be seen over there!!  I love how different each quilter is making their Kaleidoscope, this is precisely what makes quilt-alongs so much fun.

When it comes to finishing your quilt, there's four basic steps: making/purchasing a quilt back, basting your quilt sandwich, quilting, and binding.

I'm a fan of pieced backs.  I know, it can be tedious to piece a quilt back, after piecing a top, but think about it this way - it's a great way to use some scraps you've created in cutting fabrics for your quilt top, and it's also  a way to exercise your creativity.  See what you've got and make it work!  For my quilt, I took 3 yds of a coordinating print for my quilt, and added a 16" strip of scraps from the front of my quilt.  I'm really happy with how the back turned out on this one.  If you're thinking about trying a pieced back, here's a little mosaic of some of my favorite recent quilt backs...

Now that you've made a quilt back and cut a piece of batting to go with, it's time to make your quilt sandwich.  I'm a big fan of spray basting.  My knees just don't like pin basting, nor does my back.  Spray basting saves me not only time but some sanity, too.  It's really quite simple to do, but if you've never done it before, check out my bloggy buddy Kristie's fantastic spray basting tutorial - the only thing I do differently is that I add a few pins around the outside edges of my quilt sandwich, just to be on the safe side.

Once you've basted, it's time to start quilting.  I'm a free-motion quilter most of the time, especially for large projects.  While I love how straight-line quilting looks, I get bored when I quilt that way, so I like how free-motion quilting keeps me moving constantly.  Usually, I go for a meandering stipple, which is like an "S" turned and twisted throughout the quilt, but for this one, I went with little loops - though my toddler says that the quilting is a bee's path.  If you're interested in trying free motion quilting for the first time, or you are still fairly new at it, you might want to pop over to read a few tips for FMQ'ing that I wrote a while back.   If you're more interested in straight line quilting, Amy wrote a great tutorial that should help you get started.

Kaleidoscope - quilting close-up

Binding is kind of a personal choice.  I tend to stick with 2.5" strips for my binding, and I machine them on to the back of the quilt first, then flip it over and machine it on to the front as well.  I do occasionally do the reverse, and machine to the front and hand-stitch to the back for a cleaner finish, but I never trust the security of my hand-stitching, so I prefer the machining method.  Emily wrote a fantastic tute for finishing your binding 100% by machine, I highly recommend it.

I can't wait to start seeing finished quilts appearing in the Kaleidoscope Quilt Along gallery!  You can link up your finished quilt here, and I will be drawing a random quilt finisher to win these fantastic Anthology fat quarters.

Quilt Along Giveaway!
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WiP Wednesday #36

Last week, I was feeling a little unproductive - I think I got a bit overwhelmed by all that I had going on, and was definitely suffering from my usual quilty ADD.  This week, I've re-focused my energies, gone back to my usual list-making to keep myself on track (and not just for sewing!), and I have a lot of progress to show for it, so I'm a happy camper this week.

Special Delivery - GO! Baby Offset Diamond Pillow tute

A finished diamond pillow!

Birdie Stitches July block - Shown here with all the other blocks, July's is at the bottom.

Birdie Stitches blocks Jan-July

Still going:
Kaleidoscope QAL - Wrapping up my quilt today, I hope - just a little bit of the binding left to finish, and then I'll pop it in the washer and dryer for that fabulous crinkly look.  Here's a sneak peek!


Warm/Cool QAL - There are two mountains of fabric, just waiting to turn into HSTs to make this quilt top from last week turn into a queen sized quilt.  Am I crazy?  Ask me again after I assemble these 168 more HSTs.   ;)


Farmer's Wife QAL - This week's blocks were a little maddening, but I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, ultimately.  I'm looking forward to the easy-peasy blocks coming up next week!

FW Blocks 1-18

4x5 Modern Quilt Bee - I've worked up one sample block so far, and I'm debating whether or not I want to turn one of my other sketches into a block or if I just want to roll with this one.  What do you think about this block?

First stab at a 4x5 Block

Single Girl quilt - The LQS that told me they were getting a long-arm back in May hasn't returned my recent calls, so I think it's safe to say that I'm either going to have to get up some gumption and quilt this king-sized bad boy myself or save up some money and send this off to be quilted.  I'm leaning toward doing it myself, just because I'm a control freak and really enjoy the quilting process, but I suppose we'll see how this turns out.  I'm going to work on finishing up my other quilty wip's before tackling this one.

String Me Along bee quilt - I've gotten all but one block back at this point, so I'm still waiting on one more to return before I tackle this one.

For the Love of Solids swap - Sign-ups wrap up today and only a few spots remain, so hurry up and hop on over!!  Megan and I plan to work on swap matches this weekend, hopefully, and I know I'm looking forward to stalking my little swaplings to find the best matches!

Summer Sampler Series - I'm a sucker for my friends' quilt-alongs, so you knew it was only a matter of time before I caved in to join Lee's quilt-along with Kate and Faith!  I've decided to use the blocks to make my 4x5 quilt bigger, because it's going to be a holiday gift for a dear friend, and well, bigger is always better in my book when it comes to quilts!

Ryan's Character Quilt - Yes, I know I've made this child three quilts in the last year, but for some reason, I'm feeling compelled to make another!  I think coming across a bunch of Spiderman and Toy Story charm squares in the 12/$1 bin at one of my LQS's that sealed the deal.  I'm planning on some super simple patchwork of his favorite characters mixed in with some solids for a fun little throw. I figure some good old-fashioned patchwork would make for a great quilt to practice some other free-motion-quilting designs, too.


WiP Wednesday #36 Recap
Last week's total: 9
Finished this week: 2
New this week: 2
This week's total: 9

So, what are you sewing up this week?  Link it up over at Freshly Pieced!

Have you entered my giveaway for a GO! Baby and three dies of your choice?  Hop right over here for that giveaway and good luck!
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

FWQAL Week #4: The one with 48 freaking triangles

FW Blocks 1-18

Look at that - I've got 18 blocks finished now for the Farmer's Wife Quilt Along!  I'm pleased that I'm sticking with this project, given that I'm not usually known for sticking with long term projects.  Then again, I've never stuck with a hobby as long as I have sewing and quilting, so I suppose it all makes sense!

It's funny, I tend to find myself attracted to square and rectangle based blocks and quilt patterns, so half the fun of the Farmer's Wife Quilt Along, for me, is stepping outside my comfort zone and working with triangles.   But working with 48 of them for two stinking blocks felt a bit overwhelming.  When I saw the templates for Block #18, Century of Progress, though, I was a little freaked out.  I got lots of nice comments last week about how it was not a scary block, and that all would be well, and I was pleasantly surprised with how well it turned out.


Block #17: Cats & Mice
I had a tough time deciding on fabrics for this block - I just wasn't sure what to add next to my super scrappy FW quilt.  Ultimately, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, and I'm pretty pleased at how the points seem to (mostly) line up throughout the block.  Those hourglass sub-blocks are super teeny tiny!

Block #17: Cats & Mice

Block #18: Century of Progress
I don't love this block...though I do very much dig the fabrics I used for this one.  I'm just not loving the layout of this block - in fact, if I did it again (which I don't think I would), I think I would lay the fabrics out a bit differently.  The way the fabrics move through the block just feels off to me - but that could totally be the fabrics I used.

Block #18: Century of Progress

Next week, I'll be tackling two (seemingly) easy blocks, so I'm looking forward to them.  And look!  Only four triangles!  Yay!!!!


Have you entered my GO! Baby giveaway?  It's open through next Monday, no worries.  Hop right over here to enter!
Monday, July 18, 2011

Time to GO! Crazy - A GO! Baby Giveaway

Are you ready?  Get set....GO!  Thanks to the lovely Accuquilt folks, I am giving away a GO! Baby quilt cutter along with three dies of your choice to go with!


This giveaway will be open through the end of the day next Sunday, July 24th, and I will announce a winner first thing Monday morning.

You've got two chances to enter this giveaway:

1. Click on the link below and sign up for the AccuQuilt newsletter - then pop back over here and leave me a comment to tell me you did so.

22 Free Patterns - Download Now

2. For a second entry, visit AccuQuilt's site and you can leave me a second comment telling me which AccuQuilt die you are most excited about!

Please be sure that your profile has an email address associated with it - if it does not, I will have to have Mr. Random draw another winner.  If you're not sure if your email address is associated with your comment profile, check out this super easy tute that my friend Cara put together.

Good luck!
Friday, July 15, 2011

GO! Baby Tutorial: Offset Diamond Pillow

Like many other quilty bloggers, I've been having a lot of fun playing with my GO! baby cutter and the three awesome dies that I got with it.  When I first saw the GO! Baby craze spreading about, I wasn't sure what I thought of the cutters.  I mean, I'm the nerd who actually enjoys rotary cutting.  I like rulers, and I like precision.  I worried that a cutter like this couldn't possibly be very precise, but the idea of speed cutting sounded pretty darn appealing, so I was excited to give it a try.

I picked out three GO! dies - the diamond, hexagons, and the tumbler.  I kind of wish I'd gotten the HST die, given that I'm considering making my warm/cool HST quilt monstrously larger, but oh well.   I had a lot of fun trying out the dies, and found the cutting to create minimal waste, be super fast, and super safe.  I didn't have to worry about turning the lock on my rotary cutter to protect myself (or my munchkin), and turning the crank on this little guy is kind of fun!  The only issue I ran into with my GO! Baby was that I did need to clip a few threads from most of the cuts that I did, but considering the time saved, that's really a minor issue.


I had a really hard time deciding which die I wanted to use to make something with to share with you all.  I wound up going with the diamonds, since I keep favorite-ing diamond projects on Flickr!

After I decided on the die I wanted to use, I started cutting into my leftover AMH scraps from my big spiderweb quilt.  I wasn't really sure what I wanted to make at that point, but after I started playing around with the cut diamonds, an idea popped into my head.  

I love argyle, I do, but I didn't feel like doing applique or cutting up the diamonds, so I started playing some argyle inspired layouts, and came up with a lattice design.  But I wasn't feeling the love.  I even balled up my diamond strips at one point and set them aside after uttering a few curses.


It wasn't until my husband moved my diamond strips around a little bit and made them more offset that I really started to dig it.  I loved the way the prints popped and I felt psyched to sew the rows together.

This pillow has already gone to good use - my husband is using at work as I type this to help him be more comfortable while his back continues to recuperate from his ridiculously crazy fall.  He's definitely digging it!


Want to make one of your own?  Here's how...

You'll need:
Various scraps that are a minimum of 5" x 11"
Neutral solid, cut into 1" strips

1. After picking out some awesome scraps for your diamonds, layer them on top of your die, then add the cutting mat on top.  Roll them on through the cutter, until you have enough diamonds to cover your pillow.  I made a rectangular pillow, and used 20 diamonds for mine.


2. I then laid out my diamonds as shown below, with one strip of sashing between each diamond, and one strip of sashing between each row of diamonds.


3. Once you've sewn your strips together, trim them down to the desired size.  I lined my pillow top with a layer of batting and a layer of muslin, and quilted with simple straight lines.


4. Here's a handy dandy chart you can use to determine how to trim your pillow top down, as well as how to make to an appropriately sized envelope pillow back.  Julie's also got some awesome pillow tips, so it's a great link to bookmark.

Putting a pillow to good use

I hope you enjoyed this super simple tute.  I really can't say enough nice things about the GO! Baby, it was a really fantastic quilty toy to play with, and I fully intend to use that hexagon die to finally make some hexagons!!

Think you'd like a GO! Baby of your own?  The giveaway is officially open, for you a chance to win a GO! Baby along with three dies of your choice.  Good luck!

Welcome! I'm Elizabeth, mom to a mood teen boy and a chatty six-year-old girl and I sew for my sanity. Let's get to quilting, shall we?
The Epic Sampler BOM Club kicks off Oct 1st
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