Monday, September 30, 2013

Venturing into Applique

I was very excited today to try my hand at applique. I used Pellon EZ-Steam because it was the only thing they had in stock at Jo-Ann's. I was a bit reluctant to buy it at first because I didn't know anything about it. Steam-A-Seam and Heat'n Bond Lite were the brands I was familiar with but it worked just fine. Here's a picture of my progress.

Now I need to applique some leaves and I'll be ready to quilt this!


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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Autumn Wall Hanging

A few weeks after I started my very first quilt I knew I wanted to make a two-sided holiday wall hanging. One side for Thanksgiving would say "Thankful" and the other side for Christmas would say "Joyful." I even drew a sketch of what I wanted one side to look like, with pumpkins and acorns in the corners and a piano key border.

Having made a few quilts now, I've since rethought my idea of making it two-sided. It would limit my options for quilting it. Besides, I now have other ambitions for some Christmas holiday wall hangings.

Here is what my wall hanging looks like so far:

I tried making an acorn block but failed miserably so opted for all pumpkins. I still need to applique the wording. This will be my first applique attempt. The only thing I'm not sure about is if I should keep my original wording of "Thankful" or choose something else. Maybe "Fall is Here" or "Happy Fall?"  Suggestions, anyone?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall is in the air...

... at least it would be if we still lived in Ohio. But we now live in Central Florida and with autumn being my favorite season, it's going to be quite an adjustment. I love seeing the leaves change color and the sweater weather. Since we don't have that here I'll need to bring autumn to me. What better way than with some pretty fabrics in some of my favorite colors. I'll have more to show you soon.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lesson 12 - in the home stretch!

I finished lesson 12 of the Aiming For Accuracy Quilt Along. There are only 4 lessons left and the quilt top will be done. This was the last large component.

All that is left are some small filler sections in order to combine all of the sections together. I'm looking forward to figuring out how to quilt the top and what to do for the backing. Here's what the mockup looks like:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ashen Floral Placemats

Wanted to share my finished placemats. I really love that I've gotten confident enough in my free motion quilting to quilt feathers but now that it's all finished, I wish I would have chosen a different thread color. I had used a light gray so that the quilting would be subtle but now I wish I would have used the pale yellow that I used for the binding. I think it would have really tied it all together. I guess I'm just reluctant to use a bolder thread color choice since my mistakes would be more obvious. I think I'll have to move out of my comfort zone on the next FMQ project and opt for more visible thread.

From the very start of this project I knew I wanted to use yellow as the accent to the gray and black floral fabrics but now that they're done, I'm not 100% sure I like it as the binding. Still, they should coordinate well in the intended recipient's kitchen so that's good.

Now it's time to start planning my next project.

Linking up to these weekly parties.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

3rd Time's A Charm

This past week's lesson in the Accuracy Quilt Along seemed straightforward and easy. Who knew that I'd have to redo it 3 times before I was happy with it. We've only got a few more lessons before we finish the quilt top and it's getting trickier to balance out the fabric selections. The quilt pattern actually calls for 24 fat quarters (about 6 yards) of coordinating fabric plus 3 yards of contrast fabric (white in my case). Since I didn't buy a specific fat quarter bundle, I opted for some yardage in my stash. I also didn't choose 24 different prints. I have half that many: 6 blues, 6 purples, and only 2 greens (I might have to mix in a 3rd for some of the small border blocks, I'm not sure yet). The limited palate has definitely made this more challenging.

This lesson consisted of 3 friendship star blocks, which I called throwing stars because they remind me of ninja stars. Here was my first attempt. I liked the 3 different colors for the center block but the middle violet fabric had too much white and you couldn't see the star very well.

For my second attempt I switched to a lighter purple fabric. The hue was similar to the block on the right so I decided to place the blue fabric in the middle. That worked out better but now I don't like the green square in the center.  Grrrrr...

My final redo involved swapping out the green center for a navy blue center. That balanced out the 2 outside stars and highlighted the deep purple on the center star.

Whew! Now to add the white sashing in between and I can get on with lesson #12 now.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Time to Bind

Placemats have been quilted, all that's left is to put on the pretty binding. I know what I'll be working on this evening!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fanciful Feathers

I can't remember the last time I was so proud of an accomplishment that I couldn't stop smiling. Yes, I've had various accomplishments throughout my career at work but this feels different. I feel like a kid who finally figured out how to tie her own shoes. That's how I feel about quilting feathers. Every time I look at them I'm just so proud of myself! Don't get me wrong - I still have more practicing to do. I can only make them in one direction, from the bottom of the stem working my way up to the top. I'm sure that will come in time. But for now, I'll take what I can get.

I was trying to figure out how to quilt the borders of my placemats and decided on a feathered corners. I tried copying a few that I found online but after practicing on paper it was better for me to make up my own design. Here's my practice muslin piece:

And here are the feathered borders on the first placemat:

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Figuring Out What Works For You

When I first decided to try free motion quilting I remember looking through the manual of my Baby Lock Symphony at which foot I should use on my machine since it included 2. The one on the left they called a free motion quilting foot. The one on the right was the open-toed quilting foot.

The manual mentioned that the open-toed one should be used with uneven fabric so when I started playing around I used the one on the left. I took a free motion class from Craftsy and they mentioned using the "hopper" foot so I gave the foot on the right a try but immediately hated it and switched back to the closed foot. I used that foot for the first quilt that I made my son which included stippling, stars, and swirls.

Earlier this summer I took my first in-person all day quilting workshop and the instructor strongly encouraged that I get comfortable using the open-toed foot since it's better for visibility. Despite not liking it, I stuck with it for the entire class and all of my free motion projects have since been used with the hopper foot.

As you know, I've been working on quilting feather wreaths. But the more I practiced the worse I seemed to get. My earlier attempt that I posted a few days ago looked MUCH better than any of the others I'd done since. I think it was a fluke but whatever the reason, it was making me frustrated. Then I remember how much easier it seemed when I was working on my son's quilt. There were only 2 differences - thread and the quilting foot. I'm using Isacord polyester thread this time around which I like better than the Superior King Tut variegated thread. Hmmm... maybe if I go back to the smaller closed free motion quilting foot... SUCCESS! I feel like the fabric moves around too much with the hopper foot and it makes it harder for me to keep my stitches smooth and to see what I'm doing. It's definitely taught me that despite what others say I should do, I have to do what works for me.

Here's how it turned out. I've included both front and back views since it's a bit hard to see since the thread is blending in (and yes, you can see a bit of my frixion pen markings for the circle on the front, I still need to iron it).

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Balancing Act

When working on a quilt sampler that has no 2 blocks alike, you have to perform a balancing act. You need to balance colors, prints, and scale. Up until now I thought I've done pretty well with it on my accuracy quilt but with this last block I goofed and had to redo it in order to balance everything out. Here is what the block looked like when I first completed it:

I was focusing on the blocks to the left and right of the current lesson and completely forgot about what was below it. Here's what it looks like in the mockup:

Wouldn't you know it, I had 2 of the same fabrics against one another. I suppose I could have left it but the perfectionist in me would have been bothered every time I looked at it so I got out Jack (the seam ripper) and made a slight modification. Here's the new block with the purple violet fabric swapped out:

It looks much better with the other blocks around it, don't you think?