Friday, March 23, 2012

Tic Tac Rick Rack

Last weekened, I celebrated International Quilt Day with Alex Anderson, Ricky Tims and their many talented featured guest quilters while watching not just one episode but a whopping 14 episodes of The Quilt Show!!!  It was hard to decide which shows to watch there were so many shows available.  Each episode provided great ideas and inspiration, but one in particular got me all motivated to go to my stash and start pulling out and cutting up fabrics.  Ricky Tims did an fun episode demonstrating his Kool Kaleidoscope Quilt technique which I just had to try!  Below is my first draft of fabric selection for my Kool Kaleidoscope quilt based off the inspiration fabric at the bottom.
Fun prints for my Kool Kaleidoscope quilt
I was so eager to start that I drew out the pattern/templates, cut up strips and even started to sew strip sets!  Yet, I showed amazing restraint as I revisited one of my UFO's...the Red Velvet Quilt started back in January.  
Fun and easy blocks to assemble
The blocks and quilt top went together so quickly, and then I started to add my own touches.  I thought the borders needed a pop of color and decided to add some red rick rack to break it up.
Rickrack attack!
Quilting the blocks with layered flowers and diagonal strips even went smoothly.
Quilted Flowers
And quilted diagonal lines

A whole lotta work went into this simple quilted border!
And then it was time to quilt the borders...which stumped me a bit.  So I would look for ideas, tape out a design and go to quilt and my sewing machine would act up causing great frustration and even a tiny hole!  So I put it away and tried again a few weeks later.  This time I had a fun new quilt design, taped it all up and once again Bennie acted up!  I was sooo frustrated...and just put it away before I destroyed the quilt or Bennie!  And this time, my sewing machine was cooperative but I decided it was best to keep the border simple with a series of straight lines and more rick rack.

After all that madness--I'm happy with the end result!
Now I just gotta make my quilt label and send it out!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Cathedral Window Pillow

Challenge #1 Completed:  BAMQG Pillow Swap using Someone's Fabric Scraps

I started with a fun assortment of scraps featuring castles, royalty, banners and stars...
Lovely assortment of scraps leftover from someones quilt
and made Cathedral Windows to feature the various scraps...
Finished Pillow-Front

Close Up Details Cathedral Windows

Pillow Backing
I tried to not only use but highlight the scraps provided as they were so gosh darn cute.  Although I did need to supplement with some fabrics from my stash:  ~3/4 yard of Kona white for creating the windows, borders and sashing for the back; 4 small squares of yellow polka dot for a pop of contrast, 3 strips of blue and yellow plaid for the binding and a few blue scraps to back the 4 royal characters in the center. 

This was the first time I've ever made a pillow cover to fit a pillow form and I was nervous throughout the process that the pillow wouldn't fit once I had finished.  I was greatly relieved that it slid in smoothly and provided plenty of fluffy volume!  This baby consumed quite a bit of time...but I am very pleased with the end result and can't wait to see the recipient's reaction when we exchange at the April meeting!

Now onto tackling some of the other challenges on my plate!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Swaps and Challenges

As I wait for the final step of the McCalls Mystery Challenge...I joined a few more quilt challenges and swaps:
The Bay Area Modern Quilt Guild distributed swatches of Echo fabrics and charcoal solid for members to make something for...ourselves! 
All for me, me, me!
I already made the cathedral window tote bag using 2 of the fabrics, and my little sewing caddy using the blue plaid print, but want to make something else using all 4 swatches...and thinking of a little zipper bag for the April deadline.
BAMQG also hosted a pillow swap where each member stuffed a paper bag full of fabric scraps which was exchanged for another bag of mystery member's scraps to be made into a pillow for our April meeting.
Royal Scraps
I see so many wonderful pillow tutorials and wonder if my work could ever measure up to the cuteness of these adorable fabrics.  I am thinking of making cathedral window blocks to showcase the cute castle/royalty fabrics?!?  I may also try to make a toothfairy pillow case as I got a little note that these scraps were leftover for a quilt for the member's son.
Then I joined Contemporary Quilt and Fiber Artist this weekend and participated in an "Under the Sea" fabric exchange where each member brough 20 fused scraps that evoke an ocean feel:  fish, water, shells, coral/algae, etc and swapped them for more to be made into an art quilt for our May meeting. 

I'd like to be...under the sea...
I've never attempted an art quilt, so this will be a new and exciting challenge.  I've got a few quirky ideas rather than making a basic aquarium scene.  But plenty of time for brainstorming.
And then my primary quilt guild launched a Crazy Elegant Quilt Challenge in November using all 21 very diverse fabrics included:  silks, polyesters, upholstery, velvets and some quilters cottong with very floral patterns.
Crazy Assortment of Fabrics
The total perimeter may not exceed 100", and it must use at least 2 square inches of each of the 21 fabrics which may be supplemented with only 2 fabrics of our choice.  I've got a giant list of ideas...but need to actually start cutting into this crazy assortment and creating for the June deadline. 
And then I hope to try my hand at making Artist Trading Cards to swap with fellow CQFA members.  The president so generously gave me one of hers to start my collection and provide some ideas.
Artist Trading Cards
I have all these projects laying out across any surface in my studio to help drum up some ideas and hopefully motivation to cut and start sewing!  Wish me luck.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Simply Scraptastic!

I was thrilled to get two quilts out of a Happy Hour bundle of fabrics originally designed for one lap sized quilt...but imagine my delight when I was able to make two more projects out of the remaining scraps!
Texas Two Step Scraps
Finished blocks laid out on my design wall
I used the larger pieces to make lots and lots of half square triangles that made 9 red and green blocks for a baby quilt.
Scrappy Baby Quilt
I had some fun quilting the various blocks with pink, green and white YLI Jean Stitch threads on the black fabrics.

Then I used the remaining scraps to make 11 postage stamp blocks which were...
...assembled into a totebag...
...using the last 2 squares as interior pockets.
And I still have some fabric leftover...but I think I will call it quits for now... 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Colorful Weekend

This weekend was all about colorful fabric!

I set my calendar for Thursday afternoon to sign up for a monster charm swap hosted by Kati, author of The Blue Chair blog.  There were only slots for 56 participants, and I did not want to miss out on the fun.  Starting a few minutes before the launch time, I kept refreshing the site...and good thing too as it filled up in just 5 minutes!  We were divided into 14 teams representing one of the 12 basic colors around the color wheel, black & white and grey--with each team working together to find one solid and four fun prints within their assigned color.  It was fun working with my fellow Purple teammates via flickr and shopping at my favorite local quilt shops to identify fun purple fabrics with a variety of value range without duplication... 
Go Team Purple!
I can't wait until my rainbow of charms arrive via I can just caress all this loveliness.  Perhaps I should be on the lookout for fun charm patterns/projects?!?

Saturday was spent raking through and dismantling my stash to assemble an assortment of fabrics in different colors (representing all 12 colors on the color wheel), values, intensities and patterns in preparation for Color Camp with color master-Christine Barnes.
Packing up my stash for Color Camp
She led us through a series of exercises making mock blocks applying the concepts of color theory, value and intensity.
Color Camp Assignments
Block #2 (top right) was my favorite of the day...many thanks to the use of a magical effect fabric that not only changes from a light yellow to a rich red/purple with little specks of provided movement and luminosity.  I absolutely love it and may have to make more!!
My Magical Fabric Find
This fabric was such a star that several fellow camp mates and the instructor bought several yards from the hosting quilt shop (and I may have gotten an extra yard or two to make more blocks)!  She also gave us permission to enjoy the hunt for the perfect fabrics to enhance our to my ears!

It was fascinating to watch my fellow campmates assemble the same blocks using very different fabric selections...and to get feedback regarding our mock blocks.
Final assignment:  Putting it all together
This workshop provided the theory, examples and push I needed to explore new color combos in my quilt blocks and quilt designs.  I can't wait till the end of summer when she will be the special guest at our guild and teaching a new lecture!
Three cheers for color camp!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Minding my Ps and Qs (Puppies & Quilts)

Quilting with a 3 month puppy is a its no surprise my output has slowed down considerable.  Oh sure---she looks innocent enough posing in front of a current WIP...but don't be fooled.  I've compiled a top 10 list of her most recent violations committed within my quilt studio (and I have photo evidence to prove many of her crimes!):

10. Uncovering my secret hiding spot for receipts of recent fabric purchases.  Way to blow  my cover! 
9.  Using my brand new rolling caddy/tote in lieu of the many bones floating around.
8.  Scratching at my bag of batting scraps
7.  Pulling scraps of fabric out of my scrap basket and strewing them about the floor
Scraps for toys---note the cute lady bug toy right there!!
6.  Emptying all my quilting supplies out of my tool bag

Caught red handed/pawed!
5.  Napping on my lap while I am trying to quilt.
As much as I love cuddling with Panda--its super hard to use the foot pedal, knee lift, maneuver fabric under the foot while balancing her safely on my lap!
4.  Using my chair for teething

3.  Exploring my fabric stash with her mouth--look with your eyes not with your teeth!
2.  Leaving presents in the quilt studio (ie.  puddles or otherwise)-gonna pass on posting pics of these serious violations.  Being in the quilt studio is a privilege--not a right!
1.  Any attempt to bite a finished quilt or blocks will earn you a one way pass to serving some time in isolation (aka kennel time!)

Time served in the slammer!
Wish me luck on my quilting adventures with this precious bundle of puppy energy running around!
Panda says "Quilting is SEW much fun!"