Friday (mostly) Finish: Charmed and Spellbound

When Cotton and Steel's Spellbound came out earlier this year, I instantly fell in love.  I love creepy and spooky fabrics, but they're usually too "Halloween."  But these prints are something that I'll want to have around all year.  (Which is good, since I didn't get this quilted up in time to use while watching Halloween movies.)

Cats!  I had no idea how creepy they were in the sneak peek photos, and it's pretty hard for a pink cat to be creepy.

It's slightly embarassing how often these spiders made me jump.  The yellow version with silver spiders, not so much, but these black spiders are just the right size to get me when i'm not wearing my glasses.

Fat Quarter Shop was nice enough to send me a layer cake and a charm pack of Bella Solids in charcoal to make another Layers of Charm quilt.  Once I had all the blocks sewn up (which was fast) I decided to play around with how I could lay them out to make different shapes.  I was surprised with how many layouts I came up with for such a simple block, but that shouldn't be a shock for anyone who has ever played with other simple blocks like the Half Square Triangle.

After much deliberation, this layout seemed the best for these fabrics.  The black triangles kind of remind me of jack-o'-lantern teeth, and the octagons will be perfect for quilting spiderwebs.

This is the next of my quilts to go on the long arm after I finish up some more customer quilts, but the longer I wait, the more I think about adding borders.  Maybe just some more Bella black?  I can't decide, and the cat's no help.

Thanks again to the folks at Fat Quarter Shop.  Head over to their site for the Layers of Charm pattern, and have fun playing around with their setting!  

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday!

Friday Finish: A Bengal Quilt with Hawthorne Threads

This summer, Hawthorne Threads started putting out their own fabric lines.  They all looked really cool, but with so many fabric lines coming out these days it got lost in the shuffle.  But luckily, I subscribe to their newsletter and they featured a great mosaic of their Bengal line that I just couldn't get out of my head.  

Hawthorne was kind enough to send me a bunch of fat quarters from the line, and an amazing backing fabric.  Because they're digitally printed, it all came on one giant cut of fabric.  At first I was pretty surprised at how strange the fabric was.  It's pretty stiff, probably from the printing process, and it's a tight weave, similar to Art Gallery, so while it cuts amazingly, you really need a sharp needle to sew it.   My Juki was able to sew it without a problem, but it was loud, like it had to punch through the fabric.

The other strange thing, was when I quilted the fabric, every last needle hole was very pronounced.  You could see through them, when you held it up to the light.  Once you washed it, everything was fine.  The fabric softened up really nicely and all the holes closed up.  Now, you can't tell it apart from a quilt made from any other fabric, and I wouldn't worry about mixing these fabrics with others in a quilt.

I will say, that I had some bleeding.  Hawthorne suggests you wash your fabrics first, probably because it's so stiff from the printing, and it has some excess dye.  I'm a sew first, wash later girl, so I ignored this tip and threw it into the wash with two color catchers.  Neither color catcher got any dye, and the front was perfectly fine, but the back bled in a few spots.  I'm hoping that the more we wash, the lighter they'll get.

Anyway, back to the quilt.  The mosaic from the newsletter was just squares of the one print from the Bengal line.  So I got every color of that print, cut it into squares, and sewed them together.  

Because they were printed on a very wide fabric, I had a bunch of fabric leftover with a couple inches of the print, the selvage, and then the extra white fabric beyond that.  I cut that to the width of my squares, and added it around the edges to bring it out to the size of the backing.  So all along the edges, you get little peaks of the selvages and Hawthorne's tag line "from two love birds who love fabric." 

I love the backing!  Most of their lines feature a backing like this and I was so excited that they offered to send me one for this quilt.  While I was sewing, I had the backing up on my wall and I kept humming "Eye of the Tiger."  It was very motivating.

I just love all the little details that they put into the backings.  It's huge, but you can spend a lot of time picking out different shapes and doodles.  

Thanks Hawthorne Threads for sending me this fun fabric to work with!  

Linking up with Amanda Jean for FInish it up Friday!

Friday Finish: Rainbow Dash Quilt

This is one of those crazy ideas that wormed its way into my head after scrolling through Instagram and wouldn't be quiet until it was finished.  The original idea was from @_glass_half_full, but I first saw Kitty Wilkin's first few blocks, and had to make my own.

These are seriously easy blocks to make.  I started with six inch blocks, sliced randomly across at any angle, then added a strip of fabric from my scrap bins.  I always love a project that gives me a chance to use up some scraps.  And I was able to make some almost fussy cut, like these animals from one of the Cotton and Steel lines.  

After the first handful of blocks, I settled on a light gray background, which was not an easy choice since I don't have a huge pile of light gray fabrics in my stash.  Actually, the prints I used here are pretty much it, but there was enough variation to keep the scrappy vibe.

After a few more blocks, the rainbow started to become the obvious arrangement.  I seriously can't help but arrange things in rainbow order. 

My original plan was to cut the squares back into 6 inch squares to make everything fit together nicely, but I once I had the rows laid out, I liked how they were staggered.  It was kind of magic how most of the rows were already pretty close to the same length.  So I sewed them into vertical strips then lined the pink row up as I sewed them all together.  I only had to add fabric to one strip, and then trim off the excess in a few other rows.  

When it came to quilting, I had a plan about doing a lot of vertical and horizontal lines, then adding some hand stitching in a rainbow of perle cottons.  That was the plan right up to the point that I loaded it onto my long arm and was about to go.  There was just something about those horizontal rows of quilting space that I just couldn't resist.  So I went for it.

For a quilt that started on a whim, it turned out really great.  It's a little smaller than most of my quilts, but it's just big enough to lie under on the couch as long as you're alone or with a cat.  And it'll be getting a hanging sleeve for now and heading to my guild's show at the Quilters Gathering in November. 

Linking up with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday.  And crossing this one off my list for Q3 of Adrienne's 2015 Finish-Along.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Friday Finish: Vinyl Organizer

Sometimes I see something on Instagram that I just want to make.  I don't like waiting for patterns, tutorials, or whatever.  And to be honest, if I bought every pattern and book for everything I wanted to make, I'd never have money for the fabric to make anything.  

So when Aneela Hoey came out with her Double Pocket Pouch pattern, I thought to myself, "I know all about zippers and pouches, I don't need to buy the pattern."  I was super wrong.  I had to redo so many things while making this, I'll just buy the pattern the next time I want to make one.

I made the outside first.  The geese were just some practice blocks that I had made before, so I found some matching scraps and made the back panel.  I have a wallet with a back zipper, so I added one here, because more zippers is always the answer.  

Then I made the inside, and everything went sideways.  I measured my front, tried to account for seams, zippers, and whatnot, and made the vinyl panel.  Even after measuring and mathing, it was still too big.  So I had to trim top and bottom, then cut a bit out of the middle and sewed a strip of fabric over the edges.   In the end it worked, but the constant fixing is not fun when you're dealing with vinyl.

And  you may notice that my zipper is still super long.  The original has a tab that hangs on the outside, but I'm not in love with that look.  So I left it long, tucked it in, and decided to give it a test run.  By now I know that it works like that, and could cut it and finish the end, but I've just not gotten around to it.

In the end, it worked out.  All the zippers work and it fits my pile of felt tip pens and washi perfectly, so I call it a success, but I wouldn't make another without the pattern.  

Linking up with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday!

Friday Finish-ish: Round Trip Quilts

For the last couple months (really almost a year), I've been participating in a great round robin.  Our group is so talented, and the quilts are all wildly different.  Each month it's exciting to see what you'll receive and a little nerve-wracking.  Many of the tops are out of my comfort zone in color or style, and the more people add, the better they get.  

Luckily, when I got Christina's quilt (of Wips and Tuts) I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  She had an autumn theme, which made me scratch my head while I was looking at the progress shots on Instagram, but when I opened it up, I knew it needed foxes.  

I used Elizabeth Hartman's Fancy Fox pattern, and pulled a bunch of autumn colors.  I loved the light blue background that both Jenn and Leanne had used, so I continued that color theme.  

I packed it up and sent it on to Chelsea for it's last addition.  Her plan had also been foxes (great minds!) so I'm curious to see what she adds now that I've beaten her to the punch.

Here's a pic that Leanne posted of my quilt.  I'm so in love with what everyone has done with it and can't wait to get it back in September!

Linking up with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday!

My New Fave Pattern: the Curvy Clutch

When you participate in swaps, you always want to add some goodies.   I had bought the Sew Together bag pattern with the intention of adding that to this year's swap packages, but after making one I decided that it was just too much work when you have multiple swaps happening.  So when the Curvy Clutch pattern came out (and it's free!) I downloaded it hoping to have found a perfect swap extra.

The first one I made was the Lizzy House one.  It went so fast and was really well written, so every step was pretty easy.  I only had to check myself once when attaching the zipper, but that's just a good idea whenever zippers are involved.  

I didn't add piping or anything to mine, mostly because I didn't have piping in the right colors, but also the fabrics are enough on their own.  I think i'm going to buy a pile of piping and rick rack to try with this pattern, and maybe leather for the top accent panel.  There's so many on Instagram under the hashtag #curvyclutch that you can scroll forever and get all the inspiration you want.

These are just the right size for pens and washi tape, or you could fill them with some sewing supplies for sewing on the go.  I think big scissors will just fit in these, but it might be a squeeze.  I enlarged the pattern and plan on making a larger purse-sized one with a strap.  And I'm going to try fusible fleece as my interfacing on the next one.  I think it'll have a nicer stand, especially if the pattern is enlarged. 

Linking up with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday!

Friday Finish: Cotton and Steel mini

It feels like ages ago that I signed up for the Cotton and Still mini swap on Instagram.  I was high off my Schnitzel and Boo swap and it's just so easy to fill out a form and put a ship date on a calendar that seems forever away.  

This swap turned out to be a bit of a tough one for me.  My partner was very quiet, like weeks between IG photos, and none about the swap.  She had life happen to her, and we all can understand, but it was still frustrating trying to figure out what she would like from non-quilty photos.  

In the end, I ended up pulling fabrics from her favorite C&S designer, Melody Miller, and settled on a Carolyn Friedlander Aerial Grove-esque design.  

The whole thing was done by hand.  Once each "squircle" was hand appliqued I wanted to finish the mini with hand quilting as well.  I thread basted the whole thing and grabbed some perle cotton in some C&S colors.  Because the appliques were very vertical, I wanted my quilting to add a horizontal line.  

All in all, it isn't perfect, but I love it so hopefully my partner will love it too.  It wasn't the most fun I've had in a swap (sorry to all my friends that I feel I complained to constantly) but I got a great mini out of it from someone local I plan on getting to know in the real world, so I think it worked out.  

Linking up with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday and this is one off my Finish-Along list.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Friday Finish: Project Linus Quilt for Pat Bravo

A few months back Pat Bravo sent out a call on Instagram asking if anyone was interested in getting a bundle of her scraps to make a quilt for Project Linus.  I jumped on it!  I love sewing with scraps and Pat's piles looked so pretty!

When I got my bundle, I loved the soft girly feel, but those two dark red bits really threw me.  There was plenty of fabric to work with, but I really wanted to incorporate all the fabrics, so I needed a design that would spread out those reds.

So I went with the Scrappy Striped Flying Geese tutorial that Heather at House of a la Mode put out.  I changed them a little.  Instead of sewing strips of scraps to foundation paper, I just made slabs with my fabric and cut them to size.  I love how it changed the placement of the fabrics in the geese. 

For quilting, I knew I wanted to do straight lines in each of the geese, but since it's going to a child, I didn't want to quilt the whole thing to death.  Loose loopy quilting gave it just enough texture and strength for multiple trips through the washing machine, but it'll still be drapy enough for cuddling.

For the backing, I had this pink print flannel in my stash.  It was just enough to cover the back of this quilt and matched perfectly with the pinks on the front.

Linking up with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday!



Friday Finish: Rainbow DNA Mini

In the fall, the Seacoast Modern Quilt Guild is putting on an exhibit on modern quilting at the Gathering Quilt Show in Manchester, so we decided to have a little challenge to get everyone in the spirit.  Everyone picked out a traditional block and our assignment was to modernize it using only solids.  

I pulled the Snake in the Hollow block, which is really just a Drunkard's Path block with eyes in the corners.  I didn't know what I was going to do with it, but I knew I wanted a bunch of colors to play with, so I ordered a charm pack of Denyse Schmidt's Modern Solids.  

Once the pack arrived, I started sketching out ideas, but in the middle of one doodle, I'd have another idea.  Before I knew it, I had several pages of colorful doodles, and couldn't decide which one to go with.  So I pulled the very first idea I had, made a tiny drunkard's template, and made a couple test blocks (remember this tiny mini?).  But I realized that I really didn't love making those tiny curves, and couldn't stand making more.  So I picked a different sketch!

So I went with the one idea I had that didn't involve sewing all those curves!  I pieced a bunch of the solids together, on point, and trimmed it to size.  Then I made a mile of bias tape to do the curves, and realized that it was not going to be a very smooth curve.  Then I found this post by Dorie about her Bias Tape Applique Challenge quilt.  She talks about using bias bars to get really skinny strips to sew down.  I loved the idea, so I just used the technique without buying the bars.

As soon as the top was done, I knew I wanted to graffiti quilt it, and that I would need monofilament to make it work with all those colors.  I absolutely hated working with the stuff (it took ten tries to wind a bobbin, the tension was weird, and where there was buildup, it gets a bit shiny) but it worked out in the end.  

I named it Rainbow DNA because it was super late the night (actually morning) it was due when I finished, but I needed a title for the label, and I couldn't stop thinking that all the straight lines between the curves looked like a flattened strand of DNA.  Yeah, I'm weird.

Linking up with Amanda Jean for Finish It Up Friday!  And this is one that I can cross of my 2015 Finish-Along list!

And one more link!  Finished just in time to be entered into the Applique Category of the 2015 Blogger's Quilt Festival!  Be sure to go and check out all of this year's great entries!

Friday Finish: The Testy Snake Mini

This is probably the tiniest and quickest finish I've ever posted.  My guild (go Seacoast MQG!) is putting on an exhibit at a quilt show later this year.  We're showing what we think Modern Quilting is in a show that is very traditional, so as a side challenge, we were given traditional blocks to modernize, interpret, and make into a mini.

This is not that mini.

After figuring out my direction (which took quite a while) I made a template.  And I was just about to cut into my fabric, when I had a moment of reason: I should test out my template first.  With scraps and fabric that I didn't care about.  (I'm pretty sure this is my most responsible quilting moment to date.)

The blocks finish to three inches, so those curves are tiny!  I'm pretty glad that I got a chance to practice my curved piecing before really getting into it.  I'm not the most proficient curve sewer, so I needed the extra credit work.  

I made up four blocks and declared that my template was a winner.  Not all those curves are perfect, but it did what I wanted it to do.  And I'm really okay with ripping out stitches and resewing in the final product, but there's no reason to rip out on a practice piece.   

And when I get into my mini for the show, I really need to work on sewing the blocks together, but the seam between the bottom aqua curve and the yellow is spot on!  I might have to draw up a diagram to keep track of which way to press my seams.  I was pressing them all the same way, but these nested really well, and I think that was what made it so successful.

The next step is obviously to quilt it to death.  I just did some echoing curves.  I'd like to say it was a very deliberate and artistic choice, but it just seemed like the easiest design with the same foot I had on the machine already, because who wants to pull out the free motion foot for a tiny block of sewing.  

Once it was quilted, I just went into autopilot mode, and put on a binding.  I did get a little creative with it and pulled up this tutorial from Sew Fresh Quilts for a flanged binding that I've had bookmarked for a while.  This seemed like the perfect chance to try it out, because if it was tedious, I only have 36 inches of binding to sew.  

(Turns out, it's super easy.  Once you sew it to the back, you wrap it around and then stitch in the ditch between the flange and the main binding color, so it's super fast.  I'll be adding this little detail to many quilts to come.)

And now it's a mini mini?  It's about six inches square, which makes it perfect for a mug rug, but all that white is going to be stained the second I walk near it with my coffee cup.  So I'm just going to hang it on my wall for now.   But now I have a cute thing and I know my template works, so I can get started on the real check-list item!

Linking up with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday!

A Crazy Finish

So everyone and their BFF has already written a post about QuiltCon.  It was amazing, we learned a lot, met people in person and wondered internally how we could imagine their voice so differently from the real thing (yep, me too Sarah.)  So this isn't that post, but it's related, like a second cousin once removed.

I took a lot of classes (three full-day classes!) and I loved them all, but I think I got the most bang for my buck out of my longarm quilting class with Krista Withers.   Not only was she a great teacher, and super inspiring, but the class reminded me how quilting on a long arm is supposed to feel.  

quilting detail scrappy strings quilt.jpg

My machine is ten years old, has been moved twice (at least) and was set up by me, my husband, and two friends.  I assumed that the difficulty I was having getting good tension and smooth lines was all just irreversible wear and newbie error.  But using the brand new, never-been-touched Handiquilters at Con made me realize that my machine could be better.  

So first thing I did when I got home was order new short runners.  The reason I couldn't get smooth lines was that my machine was hopping over some serious dents.  (Why is it so obvious now?)  And once I fixed that problem, I decided to bring my bobbin case into a dealer, to let them either teach me to get good tension or to show me where it was broken and sell me a new one.  The woman took one look, said it was SUPER busted and sold me a new one with a "Wow, I can't believe how busted that was" discount.  Win!  

After that, less than $100 in parts and shipping, the machine purrs.  It's not quite what the brand new longarms at QuiltCon felt like, but it's as close as I think I'll ever get.  So I loaded up a quilt and gave it the Krista Withers treatment. 

The quilting is a little easier to see  from the back.

The quilting is a little easier to see  from the back.

It's hard to see on this quilt, but the quilting is rows of paisleys, with pebbles thrown in to fill the gaps, and straight lines in between and on the edges.  All that quilting is kind of lost on all this pattern, but that made it a really easy piece to practice on, and the texture is amazing.

Now, about the quilt!  This is the first of two quilts that I made with the cast off edges from my old job at a fabric shop.  (I wrote a little about it and my other quilt here.)  

For this one, I pulled out all my sales flyers from the newspaper recycling bin and cut them into 11" squares.  Then I glued a whitish strip diagonally down the center and built out from that.  

I didn't trim any of the strips to make them straight, and I hardly pressed them before sewing unless it was really necessary.  I just trusted in my eye to keep things straight when I sewed and trimmed the blocks really carefully at the end.  

quilting detail scrappy strings quilt.jpg

After a lot of paper ripping, and one crazy pieced back (thanks Jess!) I quilted this with such ease.  I'm really glad that QuiltCon happened when it did because I was starting to lose hope, but this quilt really brought back my love of longarming.   

 Lessons learned: sometimes the errors ARE the machine and not you!  It's not (always) your fault.

Linking up with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday and Amanda Jean for Finish It Up Friday!