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Saturday, March 28, 2015

2015 BOM: Part 3

Whew!  I barely made this post in time for March, but here it is: March's Block of the Month!

As you know, I've been following along with the Lakeland Modern Quilt Guild's BOM program.  If you're from around here, check us out!  We'd love to have you.

Well, as usual, I made a "practice" block from my scrap treasure chest for donation to the guild.  The block was a bit more time consuming than I expected, although very simple.  It's simply a collection of strips pieced together.  Here's my first go before piecing:

And after, but before trimming to size:

And after trimming, though not quite square.  I figured when the guild is ready to use it, we can true it up then.

A lot of time elapsed between the first block and the second.  Enough time for me to pick up this nifty gadget from Inspire! Quilting and Sewing in Plant City:

OMG--the Stripology ruler is my new favorite tool.  I usually have issues cutting straight strips, but this ruler is just the thing!  It really cut down (hehe) the time it took to make my second block.

Now I know you wanna see all three of my personal blocks side by side, don't you?

This is turning out to be a lot of fun!  Until next time, God Bless.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Show Recap

The first quarter of 2015 has been a bunch of fun to date.  I went to my first quilt show and participated in my first expo, too!  I've been super-busy, so I'm only just now getting to write about the events I attended several weeks ago.

First off, the Highlands County Quilt Show: Quilting in the Highlands.  I'll apologize in advance: while I didn't take very many photos of the quilts, I totally forgot to note their numbers so I could give the quilt makers credit for their creations!  That being the case, I've opted not to post photos of the quilts without proper credit to their makers. 

One cool thing I did at the show was shopping: The HCQG had a huge sale booth with old magazine bundles and handmade items.  Here's what I picked up:

It's a cute little luggage tag!  They look fairly simple to construct, so I'll have to keep these in mind for a quick little gift or gift tag.  What do y'all think?  Some double-side fusible Peltex, perhaps? 

This is one is for my mother, so I embroidered her first name on it by hand.  Hey, remember when Mom didn't have a name?  It's still slightly strange for me to use her Christian name. 

I used a Frixion pen to write her name, and just backstitched over the writing.  As you can see from the picture, I knotted the end of my thread (Sulky Blendables 12 wt) and ran it underneath an area I knew I'd stitch over.  When you get close to the knot, you simply trim it off as close to the fabric as you can. 
Here's her finished tag!
I used the Blendables thread in an attempt to catch all of the colors in the background.  I think it was an okay choice. 

I also picked up a tag for myself (in purple, of course!).  Check it out:

Overall, the Highlands County Quilt Guild puts on a good show for how small of a place Sebring is.  I think it was the perfect way for me to get my feet wet, so to speak.  Next up was the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Lakeland.  Lucky for me, I only live ten minutes away from the Lakeland Center. 

As y'all probably know, I'm a member of the Lakeland Modern Quilt Guild, and we were blessed to have a booth at the show. 

Check out the little photo booth we had going:

While the primary focus of our booth was to gain exposure and new members, we also had some opportunity quilts/items we were giving away:

These were quilted by yours truly!
Our two quilt winners!
Our super awesome basket jam packed with goodies!

We had a really great time, but it wore us out!

My personal experience at the Expo was super.  I took classes all three days.  The first day I took a quilting class sponsored by Juki and I learned quite a bit.  No pics, 'cause I'm still working on my skills, y'all!  Friday morning I got to see Nancy Zieman and got some really good ideas for quilts.  I've already purchased everything I need to make one of them, but I'm not sharing it here because it's for one of my favorite people in the world, and I want to surprise her.

Friday night I took Christy Fincher's Paperless Piecing class.  What a technique!

She was super cool and a great teacher to boot.  Check out what I made:

I think I'll be turning these into mug rugs for next month's guild swap with Italy.  Saturday's class was a total bomb, though.  I took a bag-making class.  The machines weren't great, the class was full of quilting and machine "snobs," and it just wasn't taught well.  I thought I was going to learn some new bag making techniques, but we simply made the same zipper pouch three times.  After paying for the materials, they felt very cheap and the colors didn't match.  I was thoroughly disappointed with that class.  I guess you can't like them all, huh?

Overall, I still had a great time.  Oh, and did I mention I was a winner??  I won not one, but two, of the prize drawings!  Check out my haul:

Haha!  Yes! 

This wasn't so much my style, but I'm definitely grateful.  Maybe next time you'll come with me? 

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Baby Bubble Bib!

Okay, it's confession time: this is a really, really late Christmas gift.  In my defense, we hadn't seen this particular recipient since football season ended (which for our team is always November!), so I wasn't in any particular rush to get it finished.  (In fact, these first few pics were date stamped for 12/15 on my camera!)

As you can see, I used Simplicity pattern number 2924, which is actually a collection of baby-themed items.  Little Emma here has already received a quilt made by yours truly, so I thought I'd keep it simple with a fun little bib instead.  The pattern calls for vinyl, but I opted to skip that, given the fun twist I had planned. 

I didn't like the idea of it only being 1-ply (does that term apply to fabric, too?), so I cut out two of the bib shape that I meant to layer back to back.
Side note:
Have you all encountered this type of marking at the end of a bolt before?  I bought this fabric at a big box store at 50% off because it was the end of the bolt.  What I didn't anticipate was this:
The marking is on the wrong side of the fabric, which would normally be fine, but...

It clearly shows through the right side as well!  Well, I was getting a little tired of this particular fabric (you can read about how I ended up with so much of it here), so I wasn't all that upset to have to cut around the marking. 

Confession #2: I am terrible at sewing bias tape.  I even have a bias binder foot on my machine, but when curves get tight, I fail miserably.  So bib #1 went into the garbage.  For this bib, I opted to keep it simple--with right sides together, I sewed a 1/4" seam and left an opening for turning.  I topstitched all around in a matching pink thread.

Now for the fun part:  Chalkboard fabric!  I've used it before, but I can't get enough of it.  What makes it even more fun is how easy it is the mark guessed it...chalk.

I drew a word bubble that would fit on the bib and cut it out with regular scissors.  I used a plain ol' school glue stick to temporarily adhere the bubble to the bib and satin stitched around the edges.  When done, I attached hook and loop tape on the ends. 

Here's my first model:

But I think it looks way cuter on her:

This was a super easy make and pretty cute, don't ya think?  Got more stuff coming your way, so stay tuned!  Until next time, God Bless.  

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Diamonds are Trump

Well, the original name of this pattern is "Must Stash," by Kelly Biscopink, but I took my own twist on it, so I thought it was worthy of a new name.  This quilt is for my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.  My in-laws taught me the card game Euchre, so I thought the name was apt.  Well, here it is:

It's not perfect, but I am very proud of this quilt.  Not only is it the first quilt of its size that I have completed, but I learned a lot while making it, and I don't think I executed my new techniques all that poorly. 

The pattern came from Modern Designs for Classic Quilts: 12 Traditionally Inspired Patterns Made New by Kelly Biscopink and Andrea Johnson. 

I was immediately drawn to this book because of the cover quilt.  I might have to attempt that particular quilt soon!  But for today, we're looking at the "Must Stash" (get it?) pattern:

Cool quilt!  Kelly arranged the diamonds in this quilt in rainbow order on a gray background.  I wanted to mix it up and used a beige polka dot as my background, and arranged the diamonds in a somewhat random order. 

Well, my husband did:

Mark was super-involved in the making of this quilt.  Kelly used one print per diamond.  To simplify things, we opted to repeat each print three times.  Mark spent quite a bit of time combing through my stash to find the colors he thought my brother-in-law and sister-in-law would appreciate the most.  As you can see above, he painstakingly arranged the diamonds to his liking.  You know what?  I didn't touch it after he arranged it!

I took a photo after he arranged all of the diamonds for reference.  Boy, do I recommend doing this!  I came home one night to find that most of the diamonds had fallen off of my design wall (don't worry, I got a new one that works better!), so it was a huge time saver to have a photo to refer to while I was piecing it. 

A few notes about the pattern:

I opted to make a diamond template from clear plastic, as suggested by the authors.  That was a big deal, because it enabled me to fussy cut from my fabrics fairly accurately. 

My diamonds did not end up the same size, and I attribute that to rushing during cutting.  Don't be like me, and take your time when you make this quilt! 

I also tried to save time by stacking the background fabric when cutting diamonds for the edges:

That worked okay, but once again, I probably rushed it a bit more than I should have. 

Step 3 on page 103 involved attaching some sashing.  One thing I learned was that you should press your seams before you cut:

If you don't, this will happen to you.  I realized that the only spacing concerns for Step 3 involve the first and last diamond sewn to the strip.  I would leave a few inches open on each end.  The diamonds themselves can be bunched together fairly closely, as long as you press those seams before you cut!

Step 6 on page 103 has a typo:  The sashing strips are cut at 1.5", not 11.5".  I know it's obvious, but this is why you should always read the entire pattern before you blindly follow instructions. 

The most useful technique I learned was how to match up the diamonds diagonally,  The authors really did a great job of illustrating the technique, and it's one I'm sure I'll use in the future.  My diamonds lined up pretty well, don't you think?

While my rows might look just fine from afar, they didn't quite line up, so squaring up my quilt top was a bit of a challenge.  Man to the rescue again:

Yes, we use a rabbit ear antenna!

It occurred to me that masking tape might be a helpful way to mark my cut lines.  This is Mark helping me make sure the corners ended up measuring 90 degrees.

I brought out my cutting mat and simply cut along the marked lines. 

As you can see, I used the back side of my mat.  It's always a good idea to use the unmarked side of your mat whenever you're not using the grid lines.  I feel like this will help prolong the life of my cutting mat by not repeatedly using the same side.  I have an Olfa mat, and it worked fine.  Just make sure that your cutting mat is double sided before you try it, though! 

It ended up nice and squared:

Kelly quilted her sashing and her diamonds.  I'm not quite there yet, so I opted to only quilt the diamonds.  I wanted the quilting to look similar to Kelly's, so I traced curves with a saucer. 

I used a Frixion pen, and it took forever!  It was worth it, though, because as a beginner quilter, having a line to follow is super helpful.

After all of the lines were drawn, I spray basted the quilt sandwich:

I taped packaging paper to the floor to protect my linoleum, and that worked fine for the most part.  I'm still not a huge fan of spray basting, but it might grow on me.  I used Dritz basting spray, so maybe next time I'll buy the good stuff to see if I like it better.

Now for the quilting:  I made a little practice quilt sandwich just to get a feel for it. 

Then I tackled free motion quilting for the very first time on the real deal!!  You guys have no idea how nervous I was.  My neck and shoulders were so tense, it made for an unpleasant experience at first.  After I got a feel for the motion I was using, it ended up being a lot of fun. 

Yes, I use a Singer, and I love it!

The pattern called for 2.25" binding instead of the usual 2.5", so that was fun to discover. I tacked on the binding by hand, as usual.  
I hand embroidered a label onto one of the leftover diamonds:
The label originally had a lot more information on it, but I opted to stop with the basics. 
A few notes about this particular quilt:
Fabrics used: My stash.  Many came from the MaryJo's Sewing Room collection from Connecting Threads.  The backing fabric is "Around Town," also by Connecting Threads. 
Thread used: The quilt was pieced with Gutermann polyester thread, and quilted with Essential Quilting Thread in Cream from Connecting Threads.  (Clearly, I do not have a problem mixing polyester with cotton.)
Batting used: Soft n Crafty 80/20 cotton/poly blend purchased at Joann.   
A note about the Frixion pen: Yes, I liberally used both red and black Frixion pens all over this quilt.  I've heard mixed reviews about it, so I decided to run the quilt through the wash before I mailed it to Maine (where surely, it's cold enough for the lines to reappear).  I'm glad to report that it didn't fall apart!  I'm hoping that will have washed out most of the ink.  If not, well....they're family and won't give me a hard time about it (I hope). 
Now for the photo shoot:
I was in the middle of laughing in this pic, but Mark insisted that I use it.

He was very excited to hold the finished product!
Sorry about the crease lines! 

What do you think?  I've got a lot more coming your way, so stay tuned!  God bless y'all. 

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