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

The Time We Moved a Heavy Thing

My sewing space is on our three season porch, so in the winter I set up my sewing machine on the dining room table and I take super fast runs into the porch to pull fabric or get more thread.  

So when I got  my long arm in December, the only place for it was also in the dining room.  We pushed the dining room table up against one wall, making just enough space to stand in front of the machine.  It made family dinners super awkward because one person was always wedged against a wall, and having friends over to sew was a tight squeeze.

Knowing that the situation couldn't last, and that hubs had done some pretty serious upgrades to the pellet stove (our main source of heat), we opened up the porch early this year.  It was freezing, but our stove warmed it up pretty quick.  I was able to move my Juki out there and sew comfortably.  I might need a space heater in the dead of winter, but it was ready to be used year round.  

So last weekend, my long arm was moved out there.  I love how much light I have now!  Along with all the windows, there's three skylights, and it gets sun all day long.  And now I get to sew facing windows instead of a wall.

The sewing space also has a bunch of new scrap buckets.  The scraps were living in a pile under the long arm in the dining room, also in a giant plastic bag in the porch, and there were two fabric baskets that were wedged behind my sewing machine.  It was just a bad scene.  

Since most of my sewing is scraps, they deserved to have a real place with real organization.  So I pulled out my copy of Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkinson, and started making these colorful fabric baskets.    

I love making the slabs.  They're a really great quick sew, but I thought that making the buckets would eat up more scraps than they did.  Each bucket is filled to the top, so I need to do some more scrap projects, and hopefully now that they're organized by color it'll inspire more color combinations.

WIP Wednesday!

So this weekend my guild had a great sew-in to work on our QuiltCon 2016 Charity quilt.  We got soooo much done (and it looks really great) but I didn't unpack my machine until yesterday!  

I've been doing some hand sewing on my La Passacaglia (still on that first cog) but I've got it almost done and the next set of fabrics all ready to go.  I'm not entirely sold on my color selection, but I figure the more I add, the better it will look.


And I pulled my sewing machine out to start making these scrap bins from Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkinson.  (You can see Amanda's bins in her blog post here.)  They've been on my to do list for a long time, but I finally decided that the scrap situation couldn't wait any longer.  

I got through the blue bin really fast, and whipped up the orange one after the kids went to bed.  I think I'll need ten to sort out all my colors, so the kids are going to have to start eating lots of cereal so I can have the cardboard to line them.  


Linking up with Lee for WIP Wednesday!

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!


Too much fabric, the one time it's a problem...

So this one time I worked at a fabric shop.  It was great times, but it ended.  And when it did, they let me take the strip pile home with me.  The shop ripped their fabric instead of cutting, which meant when we got new bolts in, we'd rip off a bit to start with a nice ripped edge.  We'd use the strips to bundle up fabric or hang stuff, but we could never use them fast enough, so the box of strips became a box and a bag.

And out of that bag, I've made one pretty big quilt so far (it's the "lines and paisley" quilt on the main page.  Someday I'll get around to binding it and taking some proper pictures of it.)   That quilt got all my favorite strips, meaning what was left is mostly not my taste.  So the best way to make lemonade out of these lemons is to add crazy to crazy and cut it up small.  

Here's what I'm making, six inch wedges to make up hexagons.   So here's a little tutorial of what I've done so far.

The first step is to sew a bunch of strips together.  I didn't want to trim anything at all, so I went for mostly straight.  Then I starched and pressed the warp out of it as best I could.  Since I'm going to cut it into smaller pieces, just getting mostly straight is enough.

The most important thing is to make sure you've got the height you want.  I'm going for six inch tall wedges, so I want about seven inches of fabric to make sure I have enough room to trim out the warp.

Then you line up the 60 degree line of your ruler with a horizontal line on the mat and cut.  Just be sure to save those end pieces.  You can use them later to square up the ends of your rows. 

Now line up the other 60 degree line and cut the other side of your triangle.  When you do the third cut, you'll be making a triangle with the strips going in the opposite direction, giving you two different looking triangles from the same starting fabric.  

Stack up all those triangles and line them up with the 60 degree mark on your mat, making sure the point is on the line (mine are a little off to show you the dashed line).

Now you just have to measure six inches up (easy with a six inch ruler) and trim off your excess fabric.  

Be warned, if you aren't really paying attention, this could mean that you trim right on or before a seam.  I'm pretty cool with that since I know my machine will sew through any seam I ask it and I'm going to quilt this to death, but if you don't want that, just be mindful of where you seams are when you sew the strips together in the first step. 

Ta Da!  Pretty quick and easy, and my pile of strings is slowly going away.  I can't wait to sew all of these together; when this much craziness gets together it's a fun surprise to see the end result.  

Linking up with Alyce for Sew Cute Tuesday and Lee for WIP Wednesday!