Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Challenge Reveal

This month Stephanie and I decided to do something a little different. We each made a block for Em for her Van Gogh's Cats quilt. And to make it even more fun, both Em and Caroll are making blocks too. We are all revealing our blocks today so click on the links to go see what everyone else made.

I chose the Matisse page.

And this is what I made.

I cropped the photo of the page twice, once to isolate the figure and the second time to isolate the cat. I had to play with the sizes to get the proportions right and to make them fit the 16 1/2" block size Em wanted. For the stars I just looked at the photo and drew shapes that mimicked the stars in the image. My appliques are all just fused to the background. Em with sew them down when she quilts it.

This was a fun project. You should check out the other blocks Em has made and received from others. This is going to be a spectacular quilt!

On a personal note, I'm sorry for the sporadic posts lately. The end of the semester is near - one week of classes left then finals week. I am very busy with work this time of year and don't have much sewing time. I'm on the computer a lot with my job, especially lately. Sometimes I don't feel like "playing" on my computer after spending so much time working on my computer. In addition to all this, I'm suffering worse than normal from seasonal allergies. I'm congested, sneezing a lot, watery and itchy eyes and have had several bad headaches. I'm not sure why it is worse this year, but boy howdy, this sure ain't fun.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today's project - mermaid tails

Among other things, I'm making mermaid tails today. I made one a few weeks ago. Go here to see it. Earlier this week I found some green fitted sheets at the local thrift store. I washed them this morning and then began cutting. I cut the elastic off and then the serged corner seams.

This mint green fabric will be the boy tail, for King Triton. I got six tails out of a dark green full size fitted sheet for girl tails.

All the tails need the netting attached and then I'll add some embellishments, like the eyelash yarn from my previous post about this project.

While I'm working on these I'm thinking about my non-pattern pattern blocks project. I've rearranged the blocks and pinned back some of the sashing. I like this better.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WIP: Non-pattern Pattern Blocks

I'm still cogitating on a name for my non-pattern pattern blocks quilt. I made a bit more progress on them today.

I put rather wide sashing around the blocks with the idea that it is easier to cut away extra than add more later. I am planning to put some pieced bits between the blocks, but not around the outside. I'm not sure I like the contrasting sashing. My original idea was to use the same color sashing as the base rectangle I began with, but I changed my mind right before I started sewing. The contrasting sashing defines the edges of the blocks more clearly. Using the same color as the base rectangle would emphasize the pieced bits in the "cracks."

I'm now second guessing and wondering if maybe my first instinct would be better. I'll let them sit for a few days while I think about that one. If you have an opinion on this, please comment with advice. I reserve the right to do what I want in the end, but I enjoy hearing other people's thoughts on my design dilemmas. If you have a title idea I welcome that too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Art Group: Non-pattern pattern blocks

My art group met last week and I showed them how to make the non-pattern block. I blogged about my first attempt with this process here. This idea originated with Victoria from The Silly BooDilly.

This is what I made last week during my art group session.

It is currently still unfinished. I realized that I cut my base rectangle too big for the size block I wanted to end up with. I cut the base 12" by 15". This is the size I wanted to end up with so I should have cut the base rectangle smaller. I started over and cut 9" by 12" base rectangles.

Here are the blocks I've made so far.

I still need to make the green block. This is one layout I am considering.

I'm probably going to put some type of pieced sashing between the blocks and around them as a border. I didn't realize until I took the picture how tree-like the bottom right block is. Interesting.

I've also begun hand quilting the first block I made. I decided to just finish this one as a single because I really don't have enough of the fabrics to make more. Besides, I like it as a single.

I'm not sure what I'll do with my first unfinished purple block. I thought I might cut it up and use it for sashing. Or I may finish it as a single or put it on the back of the four block quilt. I'm still thinking about its fate.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Moda Thank You

There has been quite a bit of talk about the Moda Just One Star project on the blogosphere lately. And here is a bit more.

In March I sent them four stars and blogged about it here and here.

Earlier this week I received a nice thank you note from Moda along with a gift. I didn't really expect to get a thank you note, but a gift too! Wow! They sent me a collection of 2.5" squares.

Thank you Moda! Thank you for making all the quilts to donate and thank you for the unexpected little surprise for participating.

Now for a Goldie picture. Look what this silly girl is doing today.

Can you see on the side of the bucket what was originally in it? Yep, Tidy Cat litter! These buckets make great containers for bird seed and hauling yard waste and weeds. This one was empty on our back patio and Goldie curled up in it for a nap. I went out to turn on the sprinklers and woke her up by accident. I didn't even know she was outside. Crazy cat!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

12 x 12 Mini Quilt Swap - finished

My swap quilt is finished and in the mail to it's owner. I hope she likes it! I sure had fun making it.

It looks a little crooked in the photo above, but I assure you that this is only due to my poor photography skills. The quilt is 12" square and is actually square.

Above is a side shot so you can see some of the quilting detail. This took an unexpectedly long time to quilt for its size. However, I did quilt it pretty tightly and in sections, trying to add more detail to the piece. In case you missed it, I blogged about my process in making this in this post.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sew Silly Sisters

Saturday was Art Walk day in my town. Many of the downtown businesses had art displayed in their windows and stores. The local quilt shop, The Gray Goose, displayed works made by my art group, the Sew Silly Sisters.

It was impossible to take pictures from outside the store. With the glare on the store front window all you can see is my reflection taking pictures. But here is the display as seen right inside the door.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Birds of a Feather Challenge

Back in January I mentioned that my guild does a Challenge every year. The challenge is given at the January meeting and revealed at the April meeting. This year's challenge was "birds of a feather" and yesterday was guild day, i.e. challenge reveal day.

This year the rules were a little different. The finished piece could be no larger than 10" square and had to have means to hang it from a tree branch. Here is the display.

My guild will be hosting the June meeting of the Colorado Quilting Council. This will be set up for that meeting too.

Here are close ups of a few of the pieces:

Below are my two entries:

Mine were photographed at home before I put on the hanging ribbons. I just hand tacked the ribbons to the back because I want to remove them after we are done displaying these. I plan to make at least one more bird in this series I have titled "Bohemian Birds" and then attach them all to a quilted background.

Oh, my first bird pictured is named Freida and the second one is named Dot. Thanks to Stephanie for helping me with the names and for "ooohing and aaaahing" as I sent her photos during the process of creating them. It was hard not to be able to share these with you as I was making them. But guild members do read my blog and I wanted it to be a surprise for the reveal. However, it was pretty easy for the guild members to guess that these were mine.

Friday, April 15, 2011

12 x 12 Mini Quilt Swap

I made no progress on my UFO's this week. Continue reading to learn why.

I have been a follower of the 15 minutes play blog for a while. Recently Victoria proposed a group swap and I signed up. This week I have spent all of my sewing time playing with scraps for this swap.

The basic idea for the swap is to create a 12" by 12" mini quilt using only scraps. In December my guild had a scrap bag exchange. I was unable to attend the December meeting but was generously gifted a bag of scraps from one of our members who brought 6 grocery bags full of scraps for the exchange.

Over the weekend my son helped me sort the scraps. He ironed almost every piece in the bag! Here is the pile I used for my project.

Goldie held down the rest of the scraps and kept them in line while I sewed.

The still partially full grocery sack is next to Goldie on the ironing table. This bag was stuffed full of goodies!! There were lots of Asian prints so I pulled out some of these and started playing.

I made the flying geese unit and the log cabin unit. The other three were already pieced and just in the bag. They must not have worked out for whatever project my friend was using these Asian prints for. I just started playing and this is what I came up with.

Since this picture was taken I have quilted it, got the label sewn on and the binding sewn to the front. I am in the process of hand sewing the binding to the back. It will be ready to be mailed off to my swap partner next week.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Paper Piecing without Sewing Through the Paper

I mentioned recently that a certain project languished in the UFO pile because I dreaded removing the paper. And that I did that project before I learned how to paper piece without sewing through the paper. Someone asked how to paper piece this way, so here is a little tutorial on the process.

Step 1: Draw or trace your pattern onto the paper side of a piece of freezer paper. Note: you must use freezer paper for this method. Since you don't sew through the freezer paper, you can reuse your pattern several times.

Step 2: Iron your first fabric piece to the shiny side of the freezer paper. Iron the wrong side to the freezer paper. Make sure your fabric covers all of piece one and the seam allowance too. (Do as I say, not as I do.)

view from the paper side with the drawn pattern

view from the shiny side

Notice that in both of the above photos I have circled the little corner that didn't get covered with fabric. I could have easily corrected this at this stage had I noticed. Unfortunately I didn't notice in time. My "helper" was ironing a bunch of scraps that really didn't need ironing. He was having so much fun doing it and not begging to watch TV so I just let him. However, his presence in my space was quite distracting. He talks nonstop about whatever pops into his head. Kind of hard to concentrate with all background the noise.

Step 3: Fold back the paper pattern along the sewing line between pieces one and two. You'll need to peel the fabric off of the freezer paper, but only up to the sewing line.

I use a piece of card stock to fold against to get a nice straight line
The card stock is covering piece one, 
but the edge is right on the line between pieces one and two

 Fabric peeled back and freezer paper folded on the sew line 
between the first and second pieces

Step 4: Trim the first fabric 1/4" from the sewing line (folded edge of freezer paper). The add-a-quarter ruler is very handy for this. If you don't have this ruler, your regular ruler will work just fine, but I highly recommend the add-a-quarter ruler if you plan to do a lot of paper piecing.

preparing to trim

all trimmed and ready for the next step

Step 5: Place your second fabric underneath your first fabric, right sides together.

 fabrics right side together
I didn't line them up perfectly yet so you could see the second fabric underneath

Step 6: With the freezer paper folded on the sew line between pieces one and two, sew pieces one and two together with a 1/4" seam allowance. You are sewing right next to the folded paper but not through the paper.

sewing right next to the paper

pieces one and two sewn together
view from back of piece two

pieces one and two sewn together
view from back of piece one

Step 7: Press the seam toward piece 2. I like to press first from the front, but do not let your iron touch the waxy side of the freezer paper or you'll have a mess. Then press again from the back so that you adhere piece two to the freezer paper.

preparing to press
 note that the freezer paper has been unfolded

all pressed and ready to start over with piece three

Now go back to Step 3 and repeat steps 3 - 7 with the next fabric. Continue in this manner until you have completed your unit.

after the third piece was sewn and pressed

 the finished unit
with the uncovered corner - grrrrrr!

When you have it all together trim it to size (be sure to leave a 1/4" seam allowance all the way around), then just peel the freezer paper off the back and it's ready to be used again.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions please ask in the comments.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Zipper Pouch

On Friday the Moda Bake Shop posted a pattern for a Strippy Charm Pouch. I thought it was so cute and the pattern looked pretty easy. So I decided to make one (or two).

I didn't want a pieced top portion like the pattern called for, so I just used a single fabric.

Warning: If you decided to make one, there is an error in the cutting instructions. You need to cut your two bottom rectangles 2 1/2" by 9 1/4". The instructions say 2" by 9 1/4" in the cutting instructions, but later in the pattern it refers to these as 2 1/2" by 9 1/4" bottom rectangles. This is the correct measurement for them, but doesn't help much if you cut everything at the beginning like she instructed.

I also did not like the method she uses for putting in the zipper. I did do it the way she instructs the first time, but the zipper didn't operate smoothly. Also the pouch looked funny at the zipper ends. So ... I took the entire bag apart again. It wasn't too bad. Then I got out my Cash and Carry pattern and did the zipper like this pattern does. I put the whole bag back together and it is perfect.

Note: I don't want to sound like I think the original pattern is bad. I don't. The pouch is very cute and a nice size. It's just that the zipper method she uses didn't work well for me. I am not very experienced at putting in zippers. The only way I have had success with zippers is using the method from the Cash and Carry pattern I referenced above. So when it didn't work for me the first time, I just went to the method I knew would work for me. I did everything else just like the original pattern. She had a picture for every step and the written instructions were very clear. My only other advice for this pattern is to sew slowly over the top portion of the bag, where the zipper is, when assembling the bag. I did break a needle in that area, twice! Both times I think I was sewing too fast over this bulky area. When I sewed slowly I had no problem.

I made the first one for myself. My son has a friend who will be turning 9 soon. A friend who is a girl, not a girl friend. Anyway, I made one for him to give her for her birthday. I asked my son what fabric she would like. He said, "any fabric with dogs." So here it is.

He was very excited when I showed it to him. "Oh Mom, she will love it!" He knows just what to say! I'm pretty sure he is right.