Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Finish Fit for a Queen (bed, that is)

It was the struggle of struggles but in the end, I came out the winner. I've been working on this project for the better part of a year now. My Dad will be getting married again, in just a few weeks, and when I asked my Stepmom what she would like for a gift she said she really wanted a queen-sized bed runner. You know - those things you see on the end of the bed in hotels.


On a small scale, this pattern is pretty easy but with a project of this size, I wasn't prepared for how heavy it was. It measures 84" x 24" -- I can't even imagine how heavy it would be if it were a standard quilt size.


Despite all of my meticulous calculations on paper, I made a mistake and cut too many squares. But hey, glass half full, right? I should have enough to make some coordinating throw pillows!

Trying to photograph this also proved to be a challenge so I finally decided to hoist it over our 2nd-floor bannister and get a shot of it from the landing stairs.


This was a true labor of love and I'm happy that it's finally done with almost 2 weeks to spare before the wedding. This project was on my list for the 3rd quarter of the 2016 Finish Along and  my September goal. It's definitely one goal that I am happy to cross off my list.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Quilting with Christa

This past Saturday my local quilt guild held a machine quilting class with Christa Watson. She is every bit as delightful in person as you would expect.

Thanks to my friend Ede for taking this photo

Even though I've done quite a bit of machine quilting, it was still great to hear her take on various techniques and practices. I used my time in her class to focus on a few designs and motifs that I've not really done.  It's always nice to just play without the pressure of a finished project.


I enjoyed doing some straight line quilting and definitely want to incorporate more of it in my projects. I also explored some free motion line quilting to be used as an all-over filler. I used my old test block for my Dutch Windmill pattern as a practice piece and turned it into a mini for my sewing room. It also happens to be one of the projects that I wanted to finish this quarter for the 2016 Finish Along.



One motif that I definitely want to try in the near future is this yummy triangle pattern that Christa showed us.

One of Christa's quilting samples.

I have a charity top and a pulse top that I need to quilt this week. Maybe I'll try quilting something different and new to me.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Playing with EQ7

Back in August the National MQG hosted a webinar with Amy Ellis on using EQ7 (only members of the MQG will be able to access the replay). I've had the software for a few years now and have used it for 90% of the quilts I've made but I still fumble my way along. For me, one of the a-ha moments of this webinar was when Amy said that when she first starts a project, she deletes the existing fabrics and uploads or saves only the fabrics that she plans to use. First, this just never occurred to me. Second, I had no idea that Moda and Andover had free images of their fabric lines that you can import into EQ7! This made me so excited and I couldn't wait to try it out.

It just so happens that I was recently summoned for jury duty. What better way to pass the time than to play with some virtual fabric! I've been wanting to make a quilt using my Bonnie & Camille layer cake of April Showers. Here are 3 layouts that I'm considering:

Layout 1 - centered radiating diamond
Layout 2 - offset radiating diamond
Layout 3 - centered radiating swirl
I paired the prints with a solid gray, with the intention of using Kona graphite yardage that I had on hand, but that was before BB-8 came into my life. So now I'm considering using a navy blue instead. I'm leaning heavily to one of these layouts but what do you think? Which layout would you choose?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Reusable Snack Pouches

When I got my KamSnap tool I knew that there were 2 projects that I definitely wanted to tackle. The first was reusable kitchen cloths (my Unpaper Towels that I blogged about here). The second project was reusable snack bags.  I try really hard to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the trash when packing my son's lunch by using plasticware for most items. However, all those containers take up a lot more space in his lunch box than if I were to use plastic baggies. That's why I made these using food-safe PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) fabric for the lining and fun fabric scraps for the outside.


Both snack bags are plenty big for a small snack, like pretzels or goldfish crackers. The one on the right was my first test bag. I used decor weight fabric and used binding to enclose all the edges but it is a bit too bulky for my tastes.

The Star Wars snack bag on the left was made by sewing the right sides of the fabrics together, leaving a small opening for turning it right sides out and then topstitching all the way around. Then I just folded the bottom up to make the pocket and topstitched on both sides. I added 2 snaps on this one because it was a bit wider (about 7"). I'm sure you can guess which one my son prefers. :)

I've never sewn with PUL fabric before and there was a slight learning curve. I found it better to use a slightly larger stitch length (2.5 or 3) and it could NOT be face up, in direct contact with my presser foot. It stuck to the smooth surface of the presser foot and would not advance through my machine. I was afraid that I'd have the same problem with it facing down, but the feed dogs pulled it along with no problem. Since I have plenty of PUL leftover I'm sure I'll be making a few more of these with cute leftover fabric scraps.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Orphan Blocks Up For Grabs

I know I'm late to the party but I just found out that Cynthia over at Quilting is More Fun than Housework is hosting an adoption party for people to offer up unfinished projects. When I first started quilting, I didn't have any sort of stash, so a friend of mine who was a quilter gave me some of her scraps to sew. I started sewing up random strip blocks and trimming them up to 5.5" square with the intention of alternating them with some hourglass blocks to make a small quilt.


There are 26 blocks to be given to a new home.

I got the idea from the blog The Little Red Hen. Here is an image of her project:

Photo from The Little Red Hen

I made 26 of the strip blocks but then the project got tossed in a drawer to never see the light of day. If you are interested in having these blocks for your very own, here is what you have to do:

  • Leave a comment letting me know you want them - please include a way to contact you if you think you may be a no-reply blogger
  • I'll pay shipping anywhere in the US.
  • You can use the blocks however you'd like
  • I'll use a Random Number Generator to pick a winner on Tuesday (Sept. 20th)
Be sure to check out some of the other projects that are being offered up on Cynthia's site here.

** This giveaway is now closed. **
Congrats to #12 - Mary Burnette! I'll be contacting you via email so that I can ship the blocks off to you! 

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Star Wars Room Makeover

Just before school started my son started asking to paint his room, saying he wanted a Lego Star Wars room. It's the first time he's ever expressed any interest in decorating his room so I was all for it. I started looking on Pinterest for various ideas and I found this inspirational blog post. It was exactly what I wanted to do. Before you could blink an eye, we had purchased paint, new curtains, and these awesome glow-in-the-dark stars.

In my excitement to redo the room I didn't take any before photos. The walls used to be tan with red curtains and a red comforter on the bed. Here's what it looks like now.


The Millennium Falcon is actually an empty Crayola art case that I hung up in the corner with some heavy duty button thread. I added a few of the glow in the dark stars to it as well. The prints were just images found online that I tossed in some cheap Ikea frames.

On the opposite wall, over the bed, I added this storm trooper vinyl decal:


It's the first thing you see as you walk into the room and I really like it, but it was a huge pain in the butt to put it up.

We scored this 7-inch glow-in-the-dark sticker at the scholastic book fair that was at my son's school last week. It's on the side of the bookcase next to his bed. It doesn't get enough light to glow and you can't see it unless you're lying in his bed, but that's where he insisted on putting it.


The last big thing that is going to be added in order to complete this makeover is a new twin sized BB-8 quilt. Sam Hunter from Hunter's Design Studio has this amazing pattern. I'm going to make the larger sized BB-8 with a gray background.

Photo courtesy of HuntersDesignStudio.com
My goal is to try and get this done in time for Christmas. Yeah, right...{insert crazy laugh here}.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Life Outside My Comfort Zone

It's human nature to avoid discomfort, preferring to stick with what you know and play it safe. I admit it - I like my comfort zone. A LOT. But I also know that stepping outside of that zone is how one grows. Not so long ago, foundation paper piecing intimidated me, but now, not only do I like paper piecing, I've even designed a block that utilizes that technique.

I've been long overdue on taking a stroll outside my comfort zone, so for my September stash bee block, I decided to spend some quality time with appliqué. While I know how to do basic appliqué, I typically avoid it, opting for straight piecing or paper piecing.


This month our queen, Emily from the Darling Dogwood, asked for bookshelf blocks. My first thought was to add a cat on the shelf (I admit, I have a cat problem), but once I saw the amazing block that Sarah made, I went back to the drawing board. For inspiration, I looked at our own bookshelf to see what I might add. We tend to break up our books with framed photos. Since it might be a bit creepy to include a photo of my family on Emily's block, I decided to go with a flower pot instead. I loosely used this pattern for the pot and the pink flower but completely improvised the tulip (which happens to be my favorite flower). While this took me a ridiculous amount of time to complete (2 hours for the pot and flowers), I think it was well worth the time in order to advance my quilting skills. I think my comfort zone just got a little bigger.


Friday, September 09, 2016

Cat-Tastic

While waiting for my backing fabric to arrive for my cathedral window top, I took the opportunity to tackle my charity quilt project and whip this up into a quilt.


I was sewing along at top speed and all was going well, or so I thought. My first roadblock was the size. After sashing up all of these blocks (using Jayne's wonky block method over at Twiggy & Opal) the quilt was too small for the charity quilt requirements. Not wanting to go out and buy more fabric I tried to find something in my stash that would work for a border. The only thing that I could find that was doable was some orange batik. It's really bright but since the blue background was also a batik I figured I could get away with it. Besides, it's going to a charity for young children and brighter is better, right? :)   I decided to just run with it but I guess I ran a little too quickly.


It was when I was hanging it up to take this photo that I realized my mistake.


I don't know how I didn't catch this when I was ironing the entire thing, but yes, I somehow put one of the borders on backwards. It has since been fixed and now I just need to find some time to quilt it.

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