Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Marsala Quilt Challenge

Here's my quilt for the Marsala Quilt Challenge! Wasn't sure I would be able to get this done! I've been crazy busy the last couple months selling a house and moving to a new city...but I was motivated...I had already bought the fabric and I knew I would never use it for anything else! I must admit, this quilt was definitely a challenge. Let's have a show of hands, who else thought this color was completely awful? Wow...that many. :) Well I was pretty sure that whatever I made would I really was not expecting much. But I must say, I am pleasantly surprised by the finished quilt. Guess that's what happens when you set the bar so low you can step over it! :)

The first challenge I had when making this quilt was obtaining the proper fabric color. For last year's challenge, I sauntered into Lowes, picked up the Radiant Orchid Pantone paint chip and then had no trouble finding the perfect matching fabric. This year, Lowes totally dropped the ball. By March, they still did not have the Marsala paint chip. Color of the year, people. Color of the year! Maybe they hadn't stocked the chip because they were busy questioning Pantone's color authority after seeing this year's color choice? Who knows...but they didn't have it all five times I checked. And I was not about to drop $10 to buy a swatch online. Yep, I'm cheap. So instead, I bought a few solids I thought looked close and just went with it. But now, being the selective perfectionist that I am, I'm a little bit bothered by the fact that I still don't know exactly what color Marsala really is. It looks a little different on every screen. I guess it's fitting that my camera seems to want to make every picture I take of this quilt look much brighter red than the fabric actually is in person. ((resigned sigh)) Next time, I'll just buy the dang swatch! Anyway, I debated for a while between black and navy as the accent color, and decided on navy at the last minute. At least I'm happy with that decision. :)

The next challenge...the design. Ah, the design. My process for designing quilts is kind of weird sometimes. I rarely just sit down and design a quilt. It usually takes weeks (sometimes months) for my ideas to evolve into a final design. This quilt, for example, started with me deciding that an Aztec style quilt was an acceptable use of the color Marsala. (Seen any authentic Aztec rugs lately? Quite a few of them use this color!) So I perused the internet- screen shotting pictures of Aztec bedding, shower curtains and rugs. I mocked up several strip type quilts in this style, but there was one small problem...I am not particularly drawn to the angularity of Aztec motifs, so I never came up with anything that thrilled me. But I kept hanging on to the idea because I had nothing else. Then, I saw a woman in church wearing what I found out was a Polynesian Tapa print (yes, I chased her down after the meeting and asked her if I could take a picture of her dress-and yes, I know I'm kooky).

Here's the dress...I liked the curves and repeating shapes in this design- so I looked at a bunch more Tapa prints online and tried to come up with something good. But it just wasn't working for me. So I thought about it more and finally decided to try making an Aztec style quilt with the shapes in a radiating circular layout, rather than straight strips. The idea just wasn't coming together because I was still trying to use a lot of triangles and other Aztec-y shapes. Finally, I got smart and just made the design using letters and symbols from different fonts, which I put on circular paths. One thing led to another, and I ended up with the final design. We can all thank Inkscape for this, of course. Oh, the fun there is to be had with Inkscape!! Have I mentioned that it is FREE?

Of course this little gem is completely appliqued using fusible web. I cut most of the shapes out using a Silhouette Cameo (I'm in love with that machine)! I cut this whole quilt out in a little over an hour -this is awesome because there are like 100 little pieces. Oh, and did I mention that this quilt is 30 x 39"? Yeah. So in order to place these shapes perfectly, I printed the quilt out in its actual size (it took 16 pages) and taped it all together. I laid the background fabric over the printed quilt so I had a guide for where to put the shapes. Then I ironed them on. Worked like a charm! Anyway, I finished with my usual method - blanket stitch around the shapes in matching thread.

I quilted stitch in the ditch around all the shapes and filled in the white space with different designs. When I was done I showed it to my husband and he said he thought it needed more (SNL fans? Anyone?) :) So I threw it back on the frame and added a bit more. No picture, but I backed it in all the leftover reddish-brownish fabrics pieced together (because seriously, I will never use them for anything else) and bound it in the matching navy.

When it was all done, I took this little quilt out and photographed it in my new surroundings (which I totally LOVE, by the way). Now that it's done, the real question is, what the heck am I going to do with it? :) If it was in different colors it would be on my wall in two seconds flat because it really is fun to look at...hmmm...maybe I'll have to make another one. :) 

2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Marsala

Monday, February 9, 2015

Horizon Charm Quilt

Here's a quilt. If I tell you how it came to be, promise you won't judge me. Promise? Ok. I'll tell you. Last year there was an unfortunate series of events that led to one of my favorite people in the family being removed from said family. It's a long story, but here, I'll spell out the short version for you:  D-I-V-O-R-C-E. It was the first one I had witnessed up close. It was not pretty...the scandal...the he said-she said...the rumors...the was hard to watch. It was hard not to be drawn into it. The whole thing made me really angry and resentful. I'll admit, I did my share of schmack-talking. Ok, probably more than my share. I discussed it with most of my friends...all of my family...some random strangers...I couldn't stop talking about it. Enter: the other woman. This was the awkward part where everybody tried to pretend it wasn't weird. Lots of fake smiles...lots of Oscar worthy acting. Welcome to the family...

I swore I would not be going to the wedding. But I couldn't not go. I am the most passive aggressive person on the's one of my many flaws. :) So when they told us the wedding would be in California, I decided I needed a reason to be happy about going to California. And then it hit me. Yes. I would make a quilt and find a pretty spot on a beach to take its picture. Paradigm shift! I probably shouldn't have brought quilting into it, but quilting had gotten me out of a rough situation before...why not this time too? I secretly wish my motives for making this quilt were more pure, but truth be told I made it so I could take a picture of it on a beach in California. I made this quilt so I could look forward to the trip rather than dread it. So there you have it. Remember you promised you wouldn't judge? Ok, good. On to the quilt!

Oooh, ahhh...I'm loving this scrappy but organized style of quilts. I seem to be making a lot of them lately. This one uses 5" charm packs cut in half or a jelly roll--quite similar to the PB&J quilt and the Scrappy Hearts quilt. For this type of quilt I like to use a design wall to lay out all the fabrics to make sure the prints are evenly distributed. This makes it a tiny bit more time consuming, but it's worth it!

The fun beachy fabric I used for this quilt is Horizon by Kate Spain for Moda fabrics. I absolutely love it. Blues and greens are always my favorites, and these prints are just fun! There was a nasty rumor going around that these are "old-lady" prints, but if they are, I'm thinkin' she must be a really cool old lady! ;)

For the quilting on this I used a swirly and fast pantograph called Harbor Wave. It reminds me of rolling waves...totally perfect for this quilt.

For the backing...I finally got to use this beautiful blue Nature's Palette leaves fabric that I had in my stash...oh yes...this is stuff I got in a clearance score years ago. And this, friends, is the reason we must all have a stash. You think you will never use a fabric, but then lo and behold, right when you need it...a perfect little gem peeks out from your massive fabric pile and says, "here I am and I match perfectly!" :) And of course, matching blue binding. This has to be my favorite color of blue EVER.

And of course, on the rare occasion that I must add a quilt label, I can't help myself-I have to make it cute. I used the same method as always: Made the layout of the whole thing in Inkscape, printed it out on paper and traced it onto fabric backed with fusible web using a fine point Sharpie marker. And then yes, I cut all those tiny little pieces of fabric, ironed and sewed them on. And why did this quilt need a label you ask? Well...

...because it is featured in the Winter 2015 edition of Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine! (And they make you put a label on it!) That's right! So if you were thinking you might like to make this quilt, you don't even have to wait the 2 years it usually takes me to make a pattern! There's one in the magazine! ;)
So shortly after I returned from California-and the day before I was planning on posting this quilt here on the blog, I got an email from MQU's editor asking if I had any quilts I wanted to submit for publication. Since I had this one already done I submitted it and they took it. I have been waiting patiently ever since then (August) to finally post on it!

The fate of this quilt has now been is going to be raffled off at my cute friend Teresa's annual charity Fish soon as I am done using it to stage my house to sell...

...yes we are moving again! :) And because I know someone will ask, yes I made the wall hanging too. I copied this SUPER cute quilted wall hanging I saw on etsy a while ago (it sold, but you can still see the pictures-click on the close-ups because the quilting is awesome too!) Anyway, to make my wall hanging, I used a Silhouette Cameo to cut out all the circles in solid fabric and then I liquid starched them onto a white canvas (just like this alphabet wall hanging I made a couple years ago). It took me about 4 hours plus drying time. 

And...the aforementioned beachy quilt picture taken at beautiful Carmel beach. Thank you, quilting, for once again making my life a little easier. :) 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Gold + White Baby Quilt

The first time I tried sushi I hated it. I hated the smell, the taste, and don't even get me started on the textures. Ick. The second time I tried it, I hated it too. There are lots of people who LOVE sushi. And a few of those people, upon discovering that I am not a fan, have told me that it is an "acquired taste." Every time I hear that phrase, I can't help asking--Why on earth would you keep eating something you don't like to the point that you finally acquire a taste for it? I totally don't get it. Needless to say, I probably won't be acquiring the taste for one has been able to talk me into a third time. ;) 
So what does this have to do with quilting, you ask? Maybe nothing. It's just that, lately I've realized that my taste in colors has changed in a way I never thought it would. Apparently if you eat something enough times, even if it is revolting, eventually you can come to love it.  I guess appreciation of a color can be similarly "acquired." Who knew? Not by eating it of course, but by trying it giving it a chance (or two or twenty). Gold has never been my favorite color. I have always thought of it as kind of gaudy...I don't wear gold jewelry and I never, ever thought I would use it in a quilt. But here we are...

Last month, my cute friend Abbey had a sweet baby girl. I wanted to make her a quilt, but I knew it had to be one I could finish fast (sound familiar?). I decided to use the same concept as this easy as pie zigzag baby quilt - but with a different design. I was going to surprise Abbey, but I wanted her to love the quilt, so I asked what colors she was doing for the nursery to get an idea of what she liked. Gold and white, she said. Gold and white? Gold? Eh, I thought. Gold must be trendy right now. I was slightly resistant to the idea at first--remember--gold has never been my fave. But then Abbey started texting me pictures of some of the stuff she liked, including this darling white and gold polka dot quilt from Pottery Barn...

(image from Pottery Barn Kids)

Once I saw Abbey's vision for the room, I knew I could easily make a gold quilt. After all, I wanted to make something she would love, right? And gold is what she would love. So I spilled the beans and told Abbey I was going to make her a quilt (so she wouldn't buy one). I used the PB quilt and crib bumper as inspiration and got to work. I mocked up 6 or 7 different designs and we both liked this one the best.

The applique on the front was designed in Inkscape. I've got loops on the brain right now, so this design fit right in with my current personal quilting trend. The gold metallic fabric is from the collection "Hope and Love" by Whistler studios for Windham fabrics. I found it at Hawthorne Threads and it was exactly what I had hoped-it's metallic, but not so much that it's tacky. I used fusible web to attach the shape to the background and then stitched around it in metallic gold thread. It really sparkles, sadly you can't really see that in the pictures. 

For the quilting, I was trying to echo the applique design and the feel of the inspiration crib bumpers. I thought this lovely panto fit nicely- it is called Chantilly Lace. I added the small circles in as well using a groovy board. I was pleased with how it turned out, but as as usual, there was a lesson to be learned. When I planned to use the panto, I neglected to take into account that I would run into the applique design, and it doesn't line up perfectly. Thus, it looks a little goofy in a few places, but overall it works.

Of course the backing had to be gold polka dots! The fabric is Spot On Metallic in Blanc by Robert Kaufman. It matches the gold on the front perfectly. The tiny dot binding is from the same line and is also metallic. I love it!

I really love the way this quilt turned out. I think the gold makes it look dainty and perfect for a new baby girl. Abbey loves it too! So I guess the moral of this story is...just because you dislike something right now, doesn't mean you always will. Under the right circumstances, your tastes may change! Maybe I'll give sushi another try...maybe. :) Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Chalkboard Christmas Wall Hangings

Here are some little wall hangings I made as Christmas gifts for some friends. I had seen lots of adorable (real) chalkboard signs online and thought I could make a cute quilt that looked like a chalkboard. I was right. :) In the beginning I was going to make just one bigger quilt (and probably still will next year!), but then I decided to make a bunch of smaller ones. Lines from Christmas songs seemed a festive and simple choice, so I asked a few of my good friends to tell me their favorite Christmas song. It was fun to hear all their different favorites and I thought it would be so easy to just make a little design for each one. Boy was I wrong! I downloaded a bunch of fonts but then realized I was way out of my league. So I called my amazing design goddess sister-in-law Michelle and begged her to have mercy on my poor chalkboard-art-challenged soul. So she did the layout of all of these for me. (Thank you, Michelle!) I thought I would applique all the letters on-until I saw how small some of the letters were...holy cow. So on to plan B...I printed them on fabric at Spoonflower instead. Love love love spoonflower! Didn't love the rush fee I had to pay to get it done quick, but that's what I get for not figuring all this stuff out sooner. Live and learn. 

The dimensions of each is 12 x 15 inches. I made them this size to match the size of the quilt hangers I had my eye on. I ordered them from Nancy's Notions, and they were pretty reasonably priced and super cute. Yay! They had lots of other styles and sizes too. Anyway, this quilt was for my sweet and calm friend Christy. For the quilting...this is the one where I pretended I knew how to McTavish. He he he--I don't. ;) My brain doesn't think very far in advance so I either stop every 3 seconds to figure out where to go next, or I don't stop and then make it look goofy. Luckily, I don't aspire to be a free motion quilting superstar, so my self-esteem is still intact. 

These were so easy and fast since all I had to do was quilt and bind them and attach a hanging sleeve. This one was for my fun lawyer friend, Maren. Her favorite song is a beautiful one titled, "Were you there on that Christmas night?" It took me a bit to figure out which line of this song to use-I wanted a meaningful line that didn't require a lot of explanation. The first draft of this one was missing a couple of words a second draft was made. Unfortunately, I accidentally used the first draft and didn't even notice until after the fabric was printed (dang it!). For the quilting on this one I just did simple 1/2 inch straight lines and echo quilted around most of the letters. 

This next one was for my always well put together and highly amusing friend Valerie. I was glad she chose this song--it is one of my favorites as well! So classic! I quilted this one with a simple feathery design-which I was not awesome at, but it was so much more forgiving than the McTavishing!

This one comes from the song, "Do you hear what I hear?" It was for my cute friend Tessa. This was another one I had to think a bit about to choose a good line to use. For the quilting, I did a random tight crosshatch that I made by zig-zaging diagonally in both directions. I loved the way this design turned out so much I used it twice!

This one was for my friend Christine. She is my quilting buddy and knew what I was up to, so it wasn't really a surprise for her. Can you spot the typo? Another one I didn't catch until after the fact! Let's just hope that most people don't really know how to spell! :)  This one was quilted with simple echoing wavy lines.

And the last one was for my friend Kellie, who I am trying very hard to turn into a quilting buddy! :) She loved hers so much, and I was glad! I did the cross-hatch quilting on this one too. 

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Olive + Eggplant Wedding Quilt

Holy cow, I forgot I had a blog! Ok, that's a lie...I am fully aware that I have a blog and that I haven't posted anything for months. True confession: I have a love hate relationship with blogging. It takes me HOURS to choose and edit pictures and prep a post. I'm just slow like that. So if too much time passes between posts, it starts to feel like housework...the longer I wait to do it, the less I want to do it. The nice thing about housework is that the piles of dishes and laundry just keep getting higher until you finally have to force yourself to do them. Not so with blogging! :) And sad to say, after all this time slacking, I don't exactly have a huge stack of quilts waiting to be featured. I have just been playing the last few months and doing a lot of quilt planning, but not a lot of finishing. And so of course now I have like 5 quilts I want to make in the next six weeks (we all know that won't really be happening). Oh well. On to the most recent quilt!

This quilt started as many of my quilts do, with an email from a friend or family member about a wedding or baby shower. This one was for my cousin Natalie, who is getting married in a couple months. I knew I wouldn't be attending the shower since I live in another state, but with wedding colors and a deadline, I impulse bought fabric the same day I got the email. I have been wanting to make a purple and green quilt forever, so I definitely had fun shopping! :)

The wedding colors were eggplant, lavender, olive and charcoal. Several of the eggplant fabrics are from lines by V and Co. - Simply Color and Simply Style. The green dot print is an Amy Butler and the rest is stuff I had in my stash. I couldn't find charcoal fabrics I loved, so I decided to use a white text print (never done that before) and this adorable bird cage fabric that I bought at Joann years ago. I must say that one of the fabrics in the quilt was new to me...I had never bought the brand before. I won't call it out by name (it was NOT the one from Joann), but it was awful to work with. It was very tightly woven so it was unforgiving! Every time I had to sew it to the other pieces, I couldn't get it to match up as well. Guess I won't be buying anymore of that!  

The adorable bird cage Heidi Grace

I used my Alex's Wedding Quilt Pattern for this one...'cause it's super fast. But funny enough, I can't seem to follow a pattern...I always end up changing something! On this one I swapped the spots of a couple of the pieces for aesthetic reasons, and had to make a couple of the blocks out of two fabrics instead of one because I didn't have enough fabric. I cut and pieced this whole thing in about 4 hours total...not bad considering I made a couple of mistakes I had to fix (measure TWICE, cut once).

For the back, I decided to piece it using some solids I had with a bit of the leftover fabric from the front. I really love the way this one turned out. And I just barely had enough fabric for it!

For the quilting, I went with a fast, fun pantograph. This one is by the talented Anne Bright. It's called wonderland. I bound it in the matching purple solid. 

I sent the quilt to my sister to take to the shower last weekend and my cousin loved it! :) So glad! More quilts to come soon hopefully! Also going to make a 2015 calendar today since Zazzle is having a 60% sale through tomorrow (11/11/14). I didn't even come close to making enough quilts to fill a whole calendar this year, so I think I'm going to use a few pictures from this year and the rest from last year...nobody got last year's calendar but me and 2 other people. They don't have a lot of sales on calendars in January-March and I was too cheap to buy them full price! :)