Thursday, October 30, 2014

Drunkard's Path Quilt

It all started with a stack of fabric right around a year ago. I set it on top of my fabric shelf and let it linger through the end of Fall and into the beginning of Winter, occasionally adding a piece or taking one away. And, over that time, a million quilt ideas came and went - maple leafs, churn dash, simple patchwork, stacked coins. And, then, right along with the New Year, I felt inspired to try something completely new and challenging...curves!

Making this quilt has been an exciting creative journey for me that has encompassed so much of what I've wanted to do as a quilter this year. And I'm so happy with the final product. As such, I've decided to share my quilt in the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy's Creative Side. I've entered it in the Small Quilts category. For years now, I've enjoyed following along with and being inspired by the other quilt bloggers through this Festival, so I'm super excited to participate this year! You should definitely go take a look around!


Never before had I really been drawn to curves in quilts. But, all of a sudden late one night, I decided this needed to be a Drunkard's Path quilt. I found this tutorial and template over on The Sometimes Crafter, printed it up and got started. There was, right off the bat, a fair amount of trial and error with learning to sew curves. It was discouraging, but I was determined for this quilt to have curves, and so I persisted to try and find a method that would work for me - and I did! For the record, if you scroll to the bottom of Christina's tutorial she describes an "alternative" method for piecing these blocks and squaring them up later - this is the method that worked for me!


This was a fun quilt to play with on my design wall. I squared off each curved piece at 6.5" square (to give a 6" finished block). I believe I started with 40 blocks with a low volume center and 40 with a bold center. I really had no idea how I wanted the pieces to go together, but in the end I came up with this concept. And, with this layout, I did have to make a few extra low volume blocks.


Oh, those raccoons! That print and several others from the Acacia collection by Tula Pink, were the basis for this palette and the reason I decided to make this quilt in the first place. The truth is, I really don't do a lot of pink. But, I happen to adore it paired with olive green...sigh. Such a lovely match, those two. So, Tula sold me on that gorgeous palette.  To it, I simply added a bunch of low volume prints, some black and brown, deep burgandy, one of my all-time favorite Joel Dewberry florals, and that fantastical paint splatter print by Jay McCarroll. And, perhaps a few more I'm missing.


Although not a dark quilt, the curves remind me of a dark moonlit night, with woodland animals peeking out through the glow. Filled with feathers, flowers, branches, and scripted text there is something very mysterious and soothing about this quilt.


For the quilting, I really wanted something wavy and somewhat abstract, reminiscent of the wind blowing through the night forest. I used this great tutorial for Ultra-Wavy Quilting by Janice of Better Off Thread. My friend, Valerie, introduced me to this method after she used it on this amazing quilt. It is such a fun design and I felt so happy with how it tied in with my whole concept for this quilt. Not to mention, it makes for a very squishy quilt.



I've been hoarding this Anna Maria Horner flannel to use as a quilt backing for so long. These are some of my favorites, people! But I couldn't deny how well they paired with the front of the quilt. And, yeah, they make the quilt extra soft too! I did have some puckering in spots on the back of the quilt. I think it was a combination of not basting enough and the shifting of the quilt that occurred with quilting this particular design. I was a bit disappointed, mainly because up to this point, this quilt was coming together so well. But, after ripping out and fixing some of the quilting I decided to just proceed. In the end, the few bad spots really aren't noticeable.



For the binding, I used this gorgeous tangerine dottie print from Cotton + Steel - with metallic gold, of course. I love how it just adds a bit more glow to the quilt.



I'm extremely proud of this quilt and I feel like it ties together a lot of things I've wanted to accomplish this year in quilting. I stepped out of my comfort zone with colors and design and came up with something that I love so, so much. And, that's truly the type of quilting that makes me happiest.

 
I told Maggie that this quilt could be her cozy couch quilt, although little sis is already trying to steal it. As am I! I'm just happy that it's staying with us!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Patchwork 241 Tote


This bag has been on my "to make" list for so long, it's silly. I'm pretty picky about bags that I carry day-to-day. I think it's the plethora of fabric options that always stumps me...do I go patchwork or not, this print or that print? And, then the quilter in me can get carried away, and I wonder if I've made something that I really want to carry all the time or take a nap under. Is that just me? 

241 Tote

Anyway, a few weeks back, I dumped a couple of Umbrella trimmings packs (find them here or here) on my cutting board and decided it was time to try out this tote. If you aren't familiar with Umbrella Prints, they are a fabric company out of Austrailia that prints beautiful designs on organic cotton and cotton-hemp. The trimmings packs are fun little scrap packs of their lovely fabrics. I picked one up with the intention of putting something together for their trimmings competition last Spring and a sweet friend gave me another. Unfortunately, I just didn't get my act together for the competition...maybe next year.

Back 241 Tote

Anyway, I loved finding ways to fit all of the pieces together and squeeze in even the tiniest of scraps. I was able to make both front and back patchwork panels for the bag - each completely unique! I love all of the unexpected pops of color. 

Details

I paired the outer panels with this beautiful double cloth cotton (from Rachael's shop - out of stock now, but she does have it in black). I'm kind of obsessed with this stuff!! All of the exterior panels are quilted for a little more stability. I did not quilt the pockets, but just used some light interfacing (Shapeflex 101). I also interfaced all of the lining pieces with Shapeflex. And, I added a bit of trim to the top of the pocket to break up the sides a bit.

Adjustable Strap

I decided to add an adjustable strap to the bag after seeing a couple of versions that Anna made using them. I used the instructions from this pattern and it worked out great! It's so nice to have an option to carry it cross body, especially since I have a very wriggly 2-year old on my hands right now.

Stuffed 241 Tote

So, here it is all stuffed up. I've been carrying it for a few days now, and I love it. Anna's designs are so well thought out in terms of being practical and stylish. This tote is the perfect size for the things I carry now. And, I love the side pockets for my phone and keys. The pattern, not surprisingly, is super awesome! Easy to follow and sew, as are all of her patterns.       

Top 241 Tote

I just had to take these pictures outside, because it's been so gorgeous here all week...sunny, cool, crisp and glowing. We've been spending as much time outside as possible. Fall makes me so happy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WIP: Indian Blanket Quilt

I'm feeling very thankful for the heavy cool rain falling on this second day of Fall. It's enough to justify staying inside this afternoon and resting up a bit from what has been a very busy few weeks. We are on our last week of our 3-week track-out here (year-round schools, if you're confused) - my kiddos go back next week to start their second 9-week quarter. I love having them home, but without fail, this last week always seems to be the hardest. So, today we're having cookies and setting up a game of Sorry while Lyla naps.   

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I think one of the things that has been preserving my sanity over the past few weeks has been picking away, row by row, at my Indian Blanket Quilt. I'm loving how the addition of each row changes the overall look of the quilt and my perspective on it. I was so excited to finally piece and layout that last red row, as I love how that color pops in this layout. I have to be honest, this was not one of the quilts I thought I'd make when I signed up for the class, but I'm absolutely loving it and how it's all coming together.   

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Only a few more rows to sew up! My plan is to finish this quilt with some simple hand quilting. I say simple although I've never actually done any hand quilting before. Eh, we'll see...

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I don't usually have a bunch of WIPs going at one time, but it seems I've been having too much fun starting new quilts. Along with this quilt I have my Drunkard's Path quilt, that I'd like to finish up soon. And, I have a pile of awesome tent blocks from my fellow Grace Circle ladies (do. Good Stitches), that need to be sewn up and made into a fun quilt for a little boy.  So that makes 3 quilts to wrap up this October! Eep...I've got some work to do!    

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Over at Imagine Gnats: A Bess Top

Hello, friends! I'm over on Imagine Gnats today sharing a new top I sewed for myself as part of Selfish Sewing Week! It's a fabulous Bess Top sewn up in knit and a double cloth cotton. Think cozy and cozier people! Seriously, I'm pretty smitten with this pattern and top! Check it out, if you like!


I haven't shared any of my recent adventures in garment sewing here, but I have been dabbling in it more and my confidence is slowly growing. I sewed a couple of great pieces over the summer, and wear both of them quite a bit.  I never got around to sharing them here, because....I'll be honest...I'm still pretty awkward and uncomfortable and generally stressed out by the photo shoots. 


There's the setting and the timing and the lighting that are never quite right, and my poor husband who's trying to advise me on how to stand while our two year old is practically hanging from his shirt tails screaming bloody murder. Really, hats off to people that do this on a regular basis. I think they many of them use this ingenious device called a camera remote (ha!) that I haven't pulled the trigger on yet (pun intended). 


But, seriously, sewing garments is fun! It's a nice break and change of pace from my regular patchwork and quilting projects. I love that I can create a completely unique piece of clothing, and, I do think I'll be doing more of it.



Feel free to pop over and read more about my Bess Top, if you like. Also, be sure to check out the Selfish Sewing Week giveaway, other featured stitchers, or browse some projects on Kollabara, or instagram (#selfishsewingweek). You're sure to be inspired!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Prepping for "Angled"

Recently, I signed up to take an online class all about sewing and quilting angles. It's called "Angled" and taught by Rachel of Stitched in Color...and it starts tomorrow! I've been a long time follower of Rachel's blog and an admirer of her work - she always, always wows me with the originality and pure beauty of her work. I tend to be a stubborn, independent learner when it comes to sewing (well, most things really), but this class came along at the right time...when I was yearning for a bit of direction and focus in my quilting. Not to mention, the quilts that we'll be learning are all amazing! I've sewn with angles before, but I don't doubt for a second that I still have a lot to learn...and I have a feeling that I will learn a lot in this class!

Angled Class: Indian Blanket Quilt Plan

The class includes 5 quilts total, but I plan, or hope, rather, to make 2 over the course of the next couple of months. Today, I pulled some fabrics and started planning for the first quilt, "Indian Blanket". I'm envisioning a Fall picnic blanket...something I can throw down at soccer practice or for a picnic in the crunchy leaves. I picked some bright striking reds, some deep blues, and mustard yellows, along with a bunch of low volume cream and white prints.

Angled Class: Indian Blanket Quilt 

I LOVE that Rachel included coloring sheets for each of the quilts. Particularly since Maggie came over and volunteered to do the coloring for me - score! If all goes well, I might take a shot at hand quilting this one. So, if you'd like...stay tuned...I plan to check in here and keep you all posted on how things are going!  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Drunkard's Path Quilt Top

Last week, thanks to several looong naptimes, I finished up a quilt top that I began quite a while ago. It'd been a while since I worked on a new quilt, and it felt wonderful!

Drunkard's Path Quilt Top

This one seems so different from my usual quilts (to me at least). I'm honestly not much of a pink person - I tend to love seeing it in others' quilts, but I don't often make it a focal color in my own work. Also, this design, with curves, was totally new to me.


I believe it was the idea of pairing olives and pinks that originally got me going on this quilt. That, and the crazy cool racoons

Closeup Drunkard's Path Quilt Top

I'm excited to finish this one up. I have the perfect flannel (from my stash) for the backing. But, I'm still undecided on the quilting. Originally, I thought I'd just do straight lines, but now I'm thinking about trying a new free-motion quilting design - maybe baptist fans or wavy lines.

Details Drunkard's Path Quilt Top 

This quilt, even with all of it's bright features, just seems destined to keep me warm on a cool Fall night, admidst the crunchy pine needles and mossy wood cuttings. Not that I'm done with Summer or anything! What are you working on these days?

Friday, August 8, 2014

{Tutorial} Tent Quilt Block

Hiya, strangers! It feels so good to be writing an actual blog post - woot! And, I'm super excited that I have a fun and quick tutorial to share with you today. I've always wanted to sew a camping-inspired quilt as I happen to love camping (although our last family experience was not so pleasant).

 
As it is my month to lead my circle of do.Good Stitches, I thought it a fun opportunity to give this camping idea a whirl. The obvious concept that came to mind was a block that resembled a tent. So, naturally, I Google-d "tent quilt block" and I came across this cool quilt by Andy of A Bright Corner blog.

Andy wrote a great tutorial on how she put together her quilt - do take a look. I don't think that Andy had tents in mind when she sewed her quilt, but many people commented that it looked like a little tent village. I was inspired for sure! However, after reading through Andy's tutorial, I realized I needed to come up with a different way to assemble these blocks as I wanted the tent part (middle strip) of my blocks to be uniformly darker, thereby defining the tent motif. So, that, my friends, is what my tutorial is all about.

This is a super quick, simple, and fun block to sew.  Let's get to it!

For each block, you'll need:
  • one 4.5" square - lighter/low volume for outer
  • one 4.5" square - darker/high volume for tent
  • one 2.5" square - lighter/low volume for inner tent


Next we'll make two half-square triangle (HST) units from the 4.5" squares. Take the two 4.5" squares and place them right sides together. On the wrong side of the fabric, draw a line on the diagonal from corner to corner.



Stitch 1/4" from this line on both sides. 


Then trim on the marked line. Open and press these two HST units as desired. You do not need to trim yet - we'll do that at the end.


Align your ruler and trim a small triangle off the darker side of your HST 1 5/8" from the seam. Repeat for both HSTs.  Psst: if this looks backwards to you, it's because I'm a lefty.


 
Take the 2.5" block and cut it in half on the diagonal. Take one triangle and sew it to the trimmed block as shown below. Make sure that your triangle is centered on the edge. Repeat with the other side and triangle and press seams as desired.


Now, square up each piece to 4". If you are new to squaring up a HST - make sure to maintain the seam points in the corners. I take my square quilting ruler, shown below and align the diagonal line with my seam. Then I trim the right side and top, turn the block 180 degrees, and trim the other sides.


You should have two 4" squares as shown below.  Place these pieces right sides together, pin to align the seams and sew together. Press seams as desired. Your tent block should measure 4" x 7.5".
 


And, that's it! Go make a slew of little tents. 


I've asked my Grace Circle ladies to make two blocks with 4 stacked tents each. We're using this very boy-ish color scheme of dark blues, greens, neutrals, and low volume. It might be the most limited color scheme I've ever chosen or used in a quilt - eek! I can't wait to see it come together.
 
Thanks for stopping by today and hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Happy Camping, errrr...Sewing!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fabric Stashing

So, I have been on a bit of a fabric buying kick lately. I've tried hard to resist, but there's just too much greatness coming out right now. *sigh* I like to keep a relatively small stash (I think). I just find way too much of anything to be overwhelming. But, with the kind of summer we've been having, I haven't really been sewing. It's been nice, actually, taking a break to recharge, think about new projects, catch up on blogs, and such. And, I guess I decided it was time to recharge my fabric stash a bit. Mind if I share?


This lovely stack is a fat quarter bundle of Field Day by Alison Glass. Alison taught a class and shared her story with us all at Sew South, and she was such an awesomely delightful and inspiring person. I knew this collection was at the top of my wish list, and I found it for a pretty fab price here. Ever since it arrived, I've been thinking about this amazing Kaleidoscope Quilt I stumbled across on Pinterest. I think it would be a fitting pattern for this set.


Oh, Pretty Potent. I was quite sure I could resist this collection. But, it kept popping up on my Instagram feed and on blogs, and, then, I also read the story behind it. Gosh, what a story. As I've heard so many others say, it's a collection that is astoundingly more beautiful in person. I chose a fat quarter stack of the "by Sea" colorway and I adore it. I have a cool quilt block idea that I think would feature it well, so I'm excited to give it a whirl.    


Sometimes I just pick out some miscellaneous fabrics that I plan to use in different projects, and sometimes they show up and look surprisingly perfect together. That would be the case with this last pile. It's such a fun bright mix. Perhaps for a bag? Or throw a few more prints in the mix for some sort of plus sign or cross quilt? I dunno, its all just nice to look at and consider.     

From left to right: Kona Cotton in flame red, Quilter's Linen in Fresh Dew, Catnip in mint by Lizzy House, Diamonds are Forevor in Green by Made by Rae, Pearl Bracelet in Cosmonaut by Lizzy House, and Banner Days in Tomato by Anna Maria Horner.  


Last week I pulled down this old, and very dirty vintage box, and cleaned it up a bit. It seems like a great spot to store new fabric so I can see it and ponder it a bit while I'm working on other things. And before I dive in and chop it all up!




As much as I would like to dive into some new projects with these goodies, I still have several quilts I started this past Winter and Spring that I want to finish first. So, until then, I'll just sit back and admire them. Hope you enjoyed some pretty fabric today!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Our Summer














So many times I've written about the season of summer and what it means to us. It is such a significant time of year, especially when you're a child. So much freedom, so much opportunity, so much magic...so much sunshine and water and popsicles and bare feet with wrinkly toes and sun bleached tangled hair, and late warm nights.   

We have such an interesting summer break since Maggie and now Joe go to year-round school. Memorial Day to Fouth of July is about it. Five weeks and bam...we're starting a new school year, back to backpacks and homework. Sometimes it feels completely strange to me - this short summer - and sometimes it feels just right. But, whatever the case, I know we must make the most of this time.

This year, my kiddos requested a camp free summer, which I'm cool with (so far!). Other than a couple of activities, we just kind of roll day to day doing what feels right. Some days we do all the summertime things and some days, say, when the toddler face plants on the pool deck and ends up with a giant busted lip, we leave the pool early, come home and lay around like lazy dogs.  It's good and I think we all need this kind of life right now.

It is still a challenge for me to meet the needs of a very active and mischievous toddler with those of two older and much more independent children. But, as much as I can, I try to take my cue from the older two, who are amazingly patient and flexible. If I just stop and look at them, I see that they are all so happy, smiling and laughing - oh my, there has been a lot of laughter in our house this summer.  Summer is not always going to be magical for them, so I'm very, very thankful for these beautiful days. I hope you're enjoying your summer, however you choose to spend it!