Friday, April 27, 2012

Such a HAPPY Day!


If you recognize the name of this little Kentucky town, no explanation is needed for the title of this post! We're on our way back to Minnesota after a relaxing month-long stay in Florida, and today we stopped here! I was so excited all morning on the drive from our hotel outside of Nashville...I belted out Taylor Swift songs with my 4 year old and probably drove my husband nuts pointing out every sign along the road that told how far away we were from the quilter's mecca!


I don't normally get the chance to attend a lot of quilt shows anymore, so imagine my excitement when I realized that we were going to be driving right through Paducah the same weekend as the quilt show! Talk about stars aligning! I had never had the opportunity to visit this hardcore quilting town, but had heard all about it...luckily my husband is awesome and was more than happy to schedule a little stop on our way home. 


This is me and my baby girls in front of the cool "Quilt City" backdrop. I can not even explain how much fun this day was for me...we only had about 3 hours at the show, but I made the most of it! I ran around taking pictures like I was the dang paparazzi (stalking the quilts of course--and I'm sad I can't post any of them--(show rules) but there were some amazing quilts!) I got some new rulers and thread and watched demos and sadly didn't have enough time to do any serious fabric shopping...but I was basically like a kid in a candy store!

Doesn't this look like CANDY??

After a while my cute kiddos started having a meltdown so my husband took them out in the hall to entertain them...when I found them again they were all sitting on the floor against a wall playing with the cones of thread I had bought...making towers and using them like telescopes...it was so cute! I'm just so glad my husband is so understanding and supportive of my quilting obsession...he was really great to watch the kids while I was off gallivanting...and he only gave me one pained look the whole day...when I made him hold my purse! ;) 


For lunch we went to Whaler's Catch--a seafood place that was really good! They had quilts draped all over the place...I thought this one was very fitting!


Hands down the best parts of the day were seeing some of my old HQ co-workers I haven't seen in years--and testing out my next quilting machine...I will be dreaming about that baby for at least as long as it takes me to figure out how to get it (without waiting forever 'til my husband starts making the big bucks)! It is SO time for an up-grade! I didn't know what I was missing! Ahhh!!! This day was so great...when we left the show I wanted to go straight to our hotel and start working on a new quilt! (Of course now that we are finally here I am too tired!) But hours later I am still smiling, thinking about what fun I had...that is the beauty of a quilt show!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Empty Frames Quilt


Here's another quilt! I made this one for my neighbor Alisa's annual school auction. Alisa is in charge of getting donations for the auction and when she reminded me about it (more than a month in advance) I told her I probably wouldn't be able to do a quilt this year. I really wanted to make a quilt for her, but didn't want to commit--just in case I couldn't deliver. Of course secretly I was already plotting what I would make and how I would fit just one more quilt into my crazy busy month. Is there a quilting equivalent for the phrase "your eyes are bigger than your stomach?" If so, it completely applies to me! Even when I have tons going on...I still think I can somehow manage to get more quilts done! So amidst getting our house ready to put on the market and preparing to leave for a month long trip to Florida for my husbands job...and working on a bunch of other quilts in the queue...I plotted and (just barely) finished this quilt:


This was a pretty easy and fast quilt to make...mostly because it is just a variation of two quilts I have already made before:



Can you see the similarity? These quilts are all fast to piece because the blocks are big! The most time consuming part for me is figuring out all the measurements for the blocks. The layout is one of the irregular grids from the Layout Library in EQ...I love this layout--you can make the quilt any size and even see how your fabric/design is going to look in the grid. But in my opinion it is kind-of a pain to get the cutting measurements from the program--so I just use the little measurement tool to figure it all out and then add seam allowances. I'm not complaining though--having the program makes it way easier than it would be if I had to figure it all out from scratch with just a pencil and paper!  And this time, since it got a little more complicated, I decided to save myself some trouble and figured out most of the measurements in Excel. Yay for spreadsheets--before I had kiddos I worked in accounting...and I've kinda been missing my spreadsheets...so that was really fun for me! 


So when I was trying to decide what quilt to make...I went through my stash of $2 fabrics --since those are mostly bigger pieces--and decided on the cute brown floral print that I ended up using for the back and binding (it's from the line XOXO the cat by Wendy Slotboom for In the Beginning). Then I pulled everything I could from my stash that matched any of the colors in that fabric. Most of them were solids so I decided to just use all solids on the front and the flower print on the back. That is how all these colors ended up together (the solids are all Kona: aqua, copen, cornflower, green tea, mocha, taupe, white). While I was making this quilt I realized that again I was using blue, green and brown! Lots of my quilts use a color scheme containing some shade of blues, green and brown. I'm not sure why this is...but I can't seem to stop!


I loved how the little "frames" turned out...so fun! It totally reminds me of those random empty frame collages that everyone likes to hang on the wall...hence the name. And it was a snap to piece since each block is just a rectangle with two borders around it. 



 I ended up having to piece the back, which I really didn't want to do since I was in a hurry, but what do you do...I didn't have enough. So I just slapped a bunch of the leftover solids from the front together for a random stripey strip. I won't lie, I'm not in love with it...it messes with my sense of order...but it works. 


Mmmm...the quilting! This is a pantograph I made...(in QuiltCAD)...I morphed one I made a couple months back to make the flower look slightly different...kinda like a little star flower...and I added a swirl. I was going to just use one I had done before (because of the time crunch), but where's the fun in that? :) 


Yep. I love quilting...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Curvy Ruler Quilt


Here's my latest quilt! I tried to think of a better name for it, but I have been affectionately referring to it as "the curvy ruler quilt" for over three months...why stop now? 


I made this quilt for the "Quick Curve Ruler Challenge" on the Fat Quarterly Blog (see the FQ blog post here). This was my first design challenge quilt...I don't normally enter contests or volunteer to try out new products, but I've been a big fan of Jenny Pedigo's blog, Sew Kind of Wonderful, for a while. Jenny invented the Quick Curve Ruler and she makes the cutest curvy quilts EVER! When she finally released her ruler I was kind of excited to make one of her quilts (this one) and was just about to buy the ruler when I saw the call for volunteers for the design challenge. I was fortunate enough to be chosen for the challenge...so I got the ruler for free (yay!) and I had about 2 months to come up with and finish a project--it didn't have to be a quilt, but obviously it was never a question--of course I was going to make a quilt! 


Originally, I was planning on making a completely different quilt. I had mocked it all up in EQ and picked the fabric I wanted to use and everything--but then Jenny posted a block that was similar to what I was planning...and I wanted to do something different and original for the challenge so I decided to go back to the drawing board. It took me a few more days but I finally came up with this design. I immediately loved the optical illusion created by breaking up the waves with boxes. I played with a lot of different color schemes...but in the end, I decided I really wanted to use the fabrics I had chosen for the other quilt. So I did. The sweet gray dots are from Juicy Blossoms by Simon and Kabuki for Quilting Treasures and the rest is Good Fortune by Kate Spain for Moda.
  

Piecing the top went pretty quickly...Jenny's ruler makes it really fast to cut out the curves and my sister sent me her "Curve Master" presser foot when I told her what I was doing-- that made sewing the curves a snap too.


The quilting on this one was pretty fun. I used my trusty straight line stencil and pounce chalk to mark all the diagonal lines and then my mini ruler for the actual quilting. I made a paper stencil in the shape of the white wave section that I used to mark the centers of all the circles...then a circle groovy board to make the circles...easy and fast--I love that groovy board. I wanted to have some kind of "girly" element in the quilting so I added the flowers in the centers of the boxes--I just free-handed those. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. 


I bound this in the gray dot...I totally love that fabric! And for the backing I used the light blue/white fabric from the front. I think it is such a beautiful print--and I love the color, but after I had finished quilting it, I was sad that I had used it...due to the busyness of the pattern you can't see the quilting on it at all. Oh well, still pretty.


Ahhh...quilting makes my heart sing!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Curvy Ruler Quilt...


Here's a little peek of the quilt I made for the "Quick Curve Ruler Challenge" at the Fat Quarterly Blog. Go check it out over there today and I'll post more about it here a little later!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Alien Quilt

Here's a quilt I made almost 5 years ago...well, I made the top anyway. I got the pattern at market back in 2007 and thought it was so cute. Even though I wasn't making it for anyone specific, I quickly put the top together. Then I hung it in a closet and wasn't in a real big hurry to quilt it since I never found anyone to give it to. Well I finally got it out  a couple of months ago and quilted it up for my cute neighbor Teresa. Her husband died several years back and every year she does a big fish fry in his honor to raise money for scholarships to a local high school. They have a ton of bucket raffles with pretty cool prizes. She invited us last year, but it was just a few days before, and I was bummed I didn't have enough time to make a quilt for the raffle. I told her I would make her one for this year. Then this year rolled around and I was afraid I wouldn't have time to finish anything if I had to start from scratch so I decided to quilt the alien quilt and give her that since it was so cute...and half done already!  


If this quilt looks a tiny bit familiar, it's probably because I have made 2 of these...the other one was a baby quilt that you can see in this post...I actually like the baby quilt a little better since I miniaturized it and changed the layout a bit--added a black and white checkered sashing/border and a rocket ship applique to it. Anyway, this is an Amy Bradley design called Planetary Party. (UPDATE 9/9/15: I just found out that the designer is discontinuing this pattern! :( so your best bets for finding it are probably ebay and etsy.com). I guess it is a block of the month type pattern, but take it from me...you can make it in a week. I just love all the little aliens. I used to make lots of cutesy little character appliques back in the day, but I don't really anymore...so it was fun to relive the glory days while I was quilting this. I decided to quilt a different pattern in the background of each block...so here are close-ups of all the blocks...

swirls...

lightning/zig-zags...

I'm not really sure what these are... ;)

Ooh...this was my favorite one...I used rulers to make a grid so I knew where to start and stop each shape, then did random angles for the vertical lines to make each shape...fun!

random diagonal lines...

straight lines...

hmmm...

horizontal zig zags...

random straight lines...

random crazy straight lines...

For the outside borders I made a little space pantograph with a rocket, an alien spaceship, a planet, stars and the swirly things are supposed to be black holes. Let's just say the stars were not my favorite part. I could not make them even for the life of me! Oh well, overall it's cute, right?

The pattern recommended using 1/4 inch black buttons for the centers of all the little alien eyes, which I had originally planned on doing...but then I thought better of it and decided to just use black acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium and it worked out well--and was so much faster than sewing on a bunch of little buttons! I'm so happy this quilt is finally done!