Thursday, December 18, 2014

A 20 Year Old UFO. . . ME???

In my last post, I told you about a 20 year old UFO that is hanging out on one of the shelves of my fabric storage. . . How is that possible?? It's not mine!! You all know UFOs make me break out in a rash! ;) Here's the story. When I went to my parent's house for their anniversary, my sister was very excited to show me the quilt she finished. She had been working on it for 20 years. . . ??? The blocks were done with what I think is called Candle Wicking (I originally thought embroidery but I brought them to my LQS and one of the women told me it is called Candle Wicking). Anyway, the blocks were beautifully done. It is a baby quilt for her first yet to be born (or thought about LOL) grand child. I'm going to be honest here. . . I cringed! (sorry sis, I know you are probably reading this. . . ). She said she had no idea how to put the blocks together, had asked several people how to go about doing it and couldn't figure out exactly what they were telling her to do. So she winged it. To be honest, I'm not sure how she got those blocks together and I really wish I had taken a picture of it. . . She had sewed a piece of very long nap minkee to the back. But it wasn't tied or attached in any way and she wondered how she should finish it. . . I'm not sure how subtle I was but I told her to take the entire quilt apart and I would take the blocks and sashing pieces home with me and finish it 'right' . . . :)  That's what sisters are for right? She worked so hard on those blocks, and they truly are beautifully done - they deserve to be sewn together properly. Here are the blocks.
They really are adorable and so beautifully done.

The rest of the 12 blocks.

Close up of one of the blocks.
We all know I'm not a cutesy lover but these are just too darn adorable!
I'm thinking it would have taken me more than 20 years to finish these ;) haha
OK, the copyright says 1984.... I think this might be a little older than 20 years ;)
So what's the plan, you ask? I have a plan. I've been plotting and figuring things out in my head since I got home back in September. OK, not for three months solid but off and on, I'd look over at that shelf and those blocks would call out to me. . . we need to be a quilt! we need to be a quilt! haha First, I'm going to use solid flannel for the back. I'm going to finish these blocks QAYG. I'll quilt the individual blocks with the flannel on the back and then use a wide sashing to sew the blocks together. I've done a couple of quilts QAYG:
This was the first quilt I did QAYG. Really like this method. I used this tutorial on The Quilting Edge.
I used the same tutorial for this one.
These blocks will be put together using the wider sashing method. So that's my plan. I have the flannel and sashing fabric now so I can start. . . I'm a little nervous. . . hope I don't screw this up sis! ;)

I've also been working on my crocheted blanket. . . I am obsessed! I'm not sure why but I can't seem to put it down. I am on the home stretch! 
I have three colors left to do three rows, then all colors 2 rows, and all colors 1 row. These colors make me HAPPY! :)
Now you know my 20 year old UFO story. It won't be a UFO for long :) I'll be posting my progress. 

Linking up with Judy for DWM. If you haven't already, hop over and see what others are up to! 

Until next time, keep on quilting!
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Twirling Aqua - Finished!

Despite running out of thread, Twirling Aqua is finished!! YAY! I cannot tell you how good it feels to have a finish and to feel like my sewing mojo is back with a vengeance! I loved every minute of making this quilt. This quilt is going to my niece. . . but my sister had better send me my niece's address soon. . . I might decide to keep this one too! . . . Wait, did you say too?? Yup. I did. When I made the Plus Quilt, I had intended to send it to her. . . and then I absolutely fell in love with it. . . and I kept it . . . I know! How selfish! ;)

OK, enough already! On to the pictures! More info on the quilting and quilt stats after the show :)

TA DA! :) Front. Just call me Captain Obvious. . .

TA DA! Back. . . Front? No Back. . . Might depend on the feeling of the day :)
Close up of middle. Honestly, if I were going to rip something, I would have ripped that spiral in the center. . . but I committed (and it wasn't hard LOL) to NO ripping on this quilt. Nothing, not in piecing, not in quilting, not in binding! I actually was able to follow through with that commitment.
Love the texture on this one and I am glad I used a high contrasting thread on the gray :) Please excuse that lose thread. . . I just noticed it and now I can't stop looking at it LOL

Another front close up.
Close up of back. I pieced together all of the scraps and sewed them together for that square in the middle and then just started sewing on large pieces.
And then I added the Kona Charcoal to both sides to contain the prints.

Another frontal. . . ;)
Another of the back. . . front. . .
I'm sorry, I had a hard time picking what pictures to put in. . . so I put most of them in ;)
The last one :)
Quilt Stats:
59.5" x 59.5" (before quilting and washing, it was 63" x 63")
Fabric: The prints are from a Friday Bundle Batch from Fortworth Fabric Studios. Have you checked out their Friday Bundle Batches? I'm not affiliated in any way - I just love looking at what they come up with for their Friday bundles! Always a mix of designers in the bundles and they do a beautiful job (this quilt is a pretty good example of how good they are!) of putting them together. The gray on the front is Peppered Cotton and the gray on the back is Kona Coal. I used the Kona Coal for the binding as well - I have to say, the color of the two grays match pretty darn closely. I was afraid it was going to look funky but it turned out well.
Thread: Pieced with Aurifil 50 wt in a dark gray and quilted with Aurifil 40 wt 2615 (I think it is simply gray... but that number is correct). LOVE the 40 wt and this color is spectacular! I'm thinking it would blend right in when quilted on most prints. 
Batting: Quilter's Dream Wool. . . of course ;) 

I had a blast quilting this quilt! It had been awhile since I quilted feathers. Now I'm wondering why. . . they are sooo much fun! As I said under the picture (do you read the remarks under pictures?), if I felt like I was loosing my 'curve' with the feather prongs, I threw in the spirals every now and then to start a new starting point. I learned that little tip from Cindy Needham's Craftsy class. Loved that class and she has a ton of great little tips like that. Again, not affiliated with Craftsy or Cindy :)

As for the spirals, I watched this video about a week before I started quilting this quilt. You might have noticed. . . I kinda dig spirals. They show up in A LOT of my quilts. I threw in some paisleys and sometimes I followed the outside quilting line instead of the inside one when coming back out of the spiral the first time - but it really didn't seem to matter. Did I do that on purpose? Nah, just got a little lost and went with it! LOL It's a pretty forgiving design. I loved quilting it.

One more thing. Thread. Don't you just hate running out??? UGH! There are not a lot of local sources for Aurifil here and the stores that do carry it have 50 wt and are limited in colors. SO, I order a lot of thread. I use Redrock Threads. Again, not affiliated. But I am a very happy customer! They ship FAST. When I order early in the morning, it is typically shipped the same day. I usually get the package in two days (NV to AZ so it isn't going far). It's almost as good as having a thread shop next door! They carry a lot of different brands, not just Aurifil. Check them out. You don't need to say I sent you - we aren't on first name basis. . . yet. . . it might happen with what has been a weekly order lately! LOL 

I am plotting my next quilt, I am going back to the snowflakes and I have a 20 yr old UFO sitting on my shelf that needs attention. . . wait, what?? a 20 yr old UFO? ME??? Yes. But it's not mine! I'll be posting on this later this week. Come back to see how I ended up with a 20 yr old UFO :)

Linking up with Design Wall Monday, Fabric Frenzy Friday (Fortworth Fabric's Friday linky party) and Finish it Up Friday. Check out the links for lots of inspiration!! 

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Friday, December 12, 2014

A finish and not a finish. . .

You might recall that I was very confident that I would finish Twirling Aqua by today. . . So is the excuse a shoulda, woulda, or coulda? Well how about all three? Shoulda known from the start that one spool of thread was NOT going to be enough. . . Coulda ordered the thread as soon as I realized two things - first, I ended up quilting the snot out of it which was not the initial plan (I can't seem to help myself these days. . .) and second, I second guessed the need to order more thread until Tuesday afternoon. . . Woulda had the quilt done if I had gone with the original quilting plan and/or ordered more thread immediately :) See, all three! Here's a very sneak peak of the quilting.

Lots of feathers and spirals. . . although you can't see the spirals in the prints :) I'm using 40 wt Aurifil... I definitely miscalculated how far a spool would go ;) Thread should come today or tomorrow. . . 1/4 of the quilt left to quilt.
Let's not talk about running out of thread anymore. . . I don't like that topic :) Remember the Minni Mouse hat? Well, it turns out it really wasn't finished . . . haha When Lucy tried it on it was a little short, didn't quite cover her ears. So I added a couple rows of red and a couple of rows of black. It turned out soo cute! In the previous finish post, the hat did not have the red stripe. I think it looks pretty awesome :) I also added a row to the ears. They didn't seem quite big enough. So after a little customization, here's Lucy modeling her hat! :)

This was snapped a second before that hand went right to the hat and took it off :) Is she adorable or what?? :)
And finally, because Nugget has not made an appearance on the blog in a very long time and well, he is demanding attention!
Helllooooooooo!! So nice to see you again!
I almost forgot! I actually published this and am now adding. . . Off Course did not make the cut for QuiltCon. Lots has been said all over blog land about quilts that did and did not get into the show. I'm not going to add to it. Just know that I have entered Off Course in three additional shows and there is a possibility that it will hang in a vendor booth at Road to California. The 'rejection' has not crushed my spirit and has not made me question my worth as a quilter or the quality of my quilt. I have moved on :)

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts. Head over to see other people's finishes. And check out her pineapple quilt!! WOW!!
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Monday, December 8, 2014

The Making of Twirling Aqua

I was so excited to share Twirling Aqua, I didn't post anything about the making of the top. . . and there is SO much to share! This is not a tutorial, this is a rundown of the tips and tricks I learned while making this top.

HSTs. . . I am officially obsessed! SO many options, so little time! Haven't given that much thought? Me either. . . until now. Check out this site 'Easy Triangle Quilting Patterns' to get a major dose of inspiration and OMG I have to try thats! (I know thats isn't a word but that is what I said in my head) I may or may not have spent hours on this site and have a plan brewing for the next quilt! 

There are SO many ways to make HSTs and I think I've read and tried just about every one. It's not the making of them that I find challenging - it's putting them together and keeping those pesky points!! With this quilt, I was able to keep every.single.point! In the interest of full disclosure, those points don't always match up perfectly - but they are there! How did I make it work this time? First, the method that worked for me was to sew two squares together with my marked lines being the sewing lines  - if I'm following a line, my sewing tends to be WAY more straight! I measured a scant 1/4 inch from the opposite corners instead of drawing a line down the middle and then a scant quarter from that line. I found this gave me a more accurate measurement.

You can see on the darker fabric, I have two lines drawn, not one down the middle.
I also have struggled in the past with distorting the blocks while ironing once they are cut apart. I have always been a lover of using steam. . . I used no steam with these blocks. Not because I wanted to see if it made a difference, but because my new iron doesn't like to give consistent steam. . . (OK, a little side note here - I have had a very strong dislike for this iron from the day I bought it - the automatic shut off turns it off at any time - even while I am ironing. . . and I have to bang it on the ironing board to get it to turn on again!! FRUSTRATING to say the least!! It is a Shark - I had read mixed reviews. . . my feet are planted firmly in the 'would not ever buy again' camp.) Anyway, back to steam, no steam. . . I found that I had NO distortion using no steam! I might need to thank Shark for that one major aha moment as I don't know it would have happened had the iron performed as it was advertised. . . still not enough for me to buy another!

So now I have my lovely HST blocks all ironed (after much banging of the iron to get it to turn back on . . . GRRRR) and my straight lines are all still straight! YAY Oh, I also ironed my seams open - there's a good amount of bulk created when sewing HSTs together and I wanted to reduce that - and we all know I am an open seam kind of girl ;)

BAD iron, beautiful HSTs :D
On to trimming - yes, trimming. The more accurate the blocks are, the better those points are going to be! I found the best way to trim was to line up the 45 degree angle on my square ruler, having a little to trim on all sides of my  block size worked wonders! I know you might be thinking, duh no kidding, but this is one of those things that I don't typically see in tutorials and it has taken a good amount of trial and error to figure this out. So if you are one of those people who are a little slow on the uptake like me. . . hopefully I can save you some frustration! :)

When you are done trimming, you should have sharp concise corners of each of the fabric pieces on both sides of the seam. . . hopefully that makes sense. . . no extra bits of one fabric or the other at the corner. . . Oh heck, if that doesn't make sense, please leave me a comment or email me, I'll try to 'splain that better! :)
Now we have our perfect HST blocks! Spending the extra time to get the blocks as close to perfection as possible, is going to save LOTS of headaches when sewing these bad boys together! Let's talk about sewing them together. . . It has been awhile since I did any piecing on Rosanne - I had forgotten how wonderful she is in the piecing department! I used the Accufeed 1/4 inch walking foot for all of my piecing. Walking foot for piecing? YES! I have found that using the walking foot makes the fabric easily feed through evenly without having to futz around in order to not have that extra bit of the top or bottom piece be longer at the end of the seam. Having very precisely squared up blocks helps this along and I didn't have to worry about whether my diagonal seams were matching up right. Gotta love that! :)

On to sewing rows together, this is where I struggle the most and is the step where points are lost. . . BOO for lost points! ;) I found the best way for ME was to put a pin directly through where the seam should be to keep those points. The pin is perpendicular to the fabric, not laying flat. I would put the pin in place when I was about 4 to 5 inches from the needle. I then hold that pin in place until I got just to the needle. Now, this requires a little bit of practice and fenagleing (not sure that is officially a word, but it is officially a word in my world! LOL) - it is easy to be applying too much pressure and have that pin slip down to the feed dogs. . . believe me, you DON'T want that to happen! I was also a little sad because this does tend to leave scratch marks on the bobbin cover - I'm going to deal with that because the results made it worth it to me! Disclaimer here, by doing this, there is a potential to totally mess up the timing on your machine if the pin slips down into the feed dogs. I'm not responsible for any damage this might cause ;) I'm just sharing my daring (probably not so smart in terms of what could happen to the machine) ways with you that worked for me. Try at your own risk!

I tried pinning, not pinning and doing what I described above - doing what I described above resulted in the BEST outcome each and every time. 

If you have hung in there this long, congratulations! I said I had a lot to say! LOL Three more things. . . Chain piecing.  I have to admit, I have not been a fan. . . I've been slow to jump on the band wagon. . . that all changed with this quilt! From sewing the squares together to sewing the quilt top together, I chained pieced this one.! Everything went together SO much faster! I admit, sometimes I am a slow learner! LOL

Second, sometimes the very first layout put on the design wall - is the best! I'm still in shock that I actually left the first go as it was an just sewed it together!

And third, Peppered Cottons (the dark grey is Peppered Cotton) - I had heard stories about issues with fraying. I had none. I am going to attribute this to the fact that I SOAK my fabric with starch prior to cutting. . . I mean SOAK. :) I did not pre-wash - I don't pre-wash anything.ever. Also, make sure that you order enough fabric to finish your project. . . Because I had intended these fabrics for a different quilt, I was a fat quarter short of being able to add an additional row to the length of the quilt. . . I had a fat quarter from a bundle of Peppered Cottons that is waiting for it's turn to be cut up into a quilt. The colors were not.even.close. I was going to add the row using the fat quarter anyway, and my husband (who doesn't typically have strong reactions one way or the other) said "Don't do it!" OK, message received and I actually complied!! ;)

There you have it, all of the things I learned about sewing with HSTs :) An update to the status of the top - The backing is pieced and I was able to use almost every usable scrap of fabric! This is definitely going to be another reversible quilt - LOVE that! :) I spent the day yesterday doodling. I'll spend today and probably most of tomorrow quilting. . . I am definitely on track to finish the quilt by Friday. . . and then I can start pulling fabric for my next HST adventure!! :D 

One of the many pictures of Twirling Aqua posted here.
Linking up with Judy for Design Wall Monday. Check it out to see what others are working on and for a healthy dose of inspiration :)

Until next time, keep on quilting!
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Twirling Aqua

Bet you are surprised to see me back so soon! Yeah, me too!!! Guess what?? I have finished a flimsy!! Started on Monday. Finished on Saturday. I am starting to feel like my old self again!! LOL I'm going to do most of this post in pictures :) Before we start, let me just say I am in love with this flimsy!! I'm thinking I'm going to call it Twirling Aqua :) I'd love to hear what you think of the name. Here we go!

Remember these?

This was a half yard bundle bought at Fortworth Fabric. It was one of their Friday Bundle Batches. Helen, over at Til We Quilt Again, enticed me into buying this bundle. . . Thanks, Helen (ok, she may have just shown the bundle she bought on her blog. . . and I had to have it LOL)!! :D

If you have been following along for awhile, you may remember that I was going to turn them into a bunch of these. . . (tutorial).
That was awhile ago. . . ;) and since I really needed this project to be FUN, not fiddly, not slow, no ripping, no fuss no muss, I decided to cut them into 8" squares and make a bunch of these:

Half Sqaure Triangles! Oh my, I might have a new obsession!!! No, really. . . it could be bad in a really good way! LOL
 Cut them to make a pile of these.

Ironed them to have 8 stacks of 10 HSTs
I may or may not have miscalculated the amount I would end up with. . . Duh. . . I thought I was going to end up with 40. . . I know. . . I was VERY happy when I had 80 LOL
 Trimmed them to 7.5" squares.
LOVE pictures of trimmings! LOL Umm, yes, that is my crochet blanket in the background. I was going to cut it out but I left it in - I'm at a stand still until I get the yarn I ordered to finish it :(
And I turned those 80 squares (plus one LOL I did a 9x9 layout) into this.
LOVE it!! SO much fun to put together and FAST!

Close up. . . it's very cloudy out today but I could not wait to share this one!! LOL

Was not sure whether putting all of the lights in the center and then going darker as the spiral grew would work. . . this was the first and ONLY layout I did with these blocks! I thought I would play for a couple of days. . . I was so happy with this layout I went with it :) Now that is a first for me!!

Because I was pretty meticulous in squaring the blocks up, the top came together pretty quick and the points are all pretty darn good! Some points may or may not be as crisp as I would like - but remember what I said at the beginning? NO RIPPING on this one!

I kinda like these angled long shots :)

Because the quilt is square - it could be oriented like this :) Personally, I like the dark on top better. What do you think?
And one more. . . just cuz :)
I have SO much to say about this top. . . but I'm going to save it :) I've started another post - I'll link it here when I get it done. I am now off to piece the backing. My goal is to get every inch of that fabric into this quilt because you know how I feel about scraps. . . don't judge, I just don't like them - they clutter my head! LOL 

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. I plan to have Twirling Aqua quilted and bound next week. . . I'm going to have SO much fun quilting this one!! :) 

Slid in just under the wire to link up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it Up Friday!! Go check out all of the amazing inspiration! Hope you are all having an amazingly wonderful weekend!

Until next time, keep on quilting! I know I will be ;)
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Monday, December 1, 2014

Pastel Nightmare OVER! :)

I won't bore you with going into a rant about how much I dislike pastels. If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you already know that and have read previous rants. I also won't indulge in discussing how much this quilt killed my sewing mojo. If you want to read about that, go here. It is done. Completely 100% finished. And I don't have to deal with it any more! 

As usual, pictures first (ummm... a lot of pictures. . . I haven't shown much of this quilt in process. I'll make up for it with a lot of final pictures!).

Quilt Stats: 59" x 71"

Fabric: All Michael Miller fabrics. Solids on the front and prints on the back. Since the quilt was originally designed to be submitted to Quiltcon for the Michael Miller Challenge and was pieced prior to my decision to forgo entering it, I followed the rules. . . how unusual for me! LOL If you want names of any of the specific fabrics, email me or comment, I'll look them up. :)

Thread: Completely pieced and quilted with Aurifil 50 wt thread. I matched the colors in the quilt. The quilting in the negative space was done with all of the colors used in the stars. 

Batting: Quilter's Dream Wool. My go to batting. This quilt is pretty densely quilted - it is not stiff. At.all. Love working with this stuff :)

Piecing: I used Jaybird Quilts Sidekick ruler for the diamonds. I only had to do two Y-seams. This was my first attempt at doing Y-seams it it really was not that bad! It lined up with no puckers on the first try both times!! Not sure why I have been skeered of Y-seams for all of this time! 

Quilting: I had a quilting plan all laid out. . . and even finished it - and then learned that those out there in blog land that had written about too much thread coming together at a point will make a quilt bow, weren't kidding. . . I had to rip it all out! I didn't even take a picture of it. Believe me, it was a mess. So much so that I spent an entire four days of ripping. . . full days. 8 hr days. . . I ended up doing straight line quilting echoing the stars (OK, not exactly straight but pretty close). For the straight line quilting in the negative space and to echo the inside of each of the stars I used my walking foot. The fabric stars were FMQed with different designs in each one. By the time I hit the last one I was struggling with something that would work in what turns out to be some rather odd spaces. As you can see in the green star, I started with one design, decided I did not like it and instead of ripping it out (seriously, after ripping for four days on this thing I was not about to spend one more minute!!), I just started doing something different. . . I see it clearly. Did you notice? :) I'd love to hear what you think! 

What did I learn in making this quilt? Well, first a major positive - I will never pass on a design or decide I can't do a particular quilt because it has Y-seams! It was actually kind of exciting turning it over and holding my breath in anticipation of seeing whether or not it actually worked! LOL It's the little things people! I watched many tutorials on Y-seams. In the end, an oldie but a definitely a goodie was the one I followed. She had me at "we're going to break the rules a little from what you may have seen". . . Kaye Wood break rules?? Sign me up! :D

Another positive - the Sidekick ruler - LOVE it! I also have the Hex 'n More ruler but have not used it yet. . . I think with the two of them, one could make some pretty amazing quilts! Well, we know that, I'm sure you've seen the quilts on Jaybird Quilts blog!

And one more positive - Michael Miller's Cotton Couture fabric is really wonderful! Not as heavy as Kona but I wish you could feel how soft it is! I will be using Cotton Couture fabric again - just not these pastel colors :)

I said it a few posts ago and if you followed the link at the beginning of this post you already have read that I also learned that working with colors that do not inspire me - is a creativity killer for me. I can already feel my mojo coming back in force! I have my next quilt mostly designed and will start cutting today! YAY I'll post more about that in a day or two. 

With the completion of this quilt, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I can move on! It is amazing that once I decided I was not going to submit this quilt to Quiltcon, I sat down and just started quilting - whatever came to mind. And I think it works rather well. 

So there you have it. I didn't name the quilt. The recipient's name is Kimber. . . this is Kimber's quilt LOL I know she will love this quilt. Maybe she will take it with her to Kindergarten for nap time and sleep under the stars :)

Linking up with Design Wall Monday, Amy over at 13 Spools for Mistakes and All, Let's Bee Social and Finish it up Friday. Woohoo, two consecutive Fridays with completed quilts! Gotta love that!!  
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