Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Take Two-Texas Two Steps

These are the first quilts to be both started and finished in 2012!  They started in a Happy Hour using the Texas Two Step pattern by Atkinson design.  They went together super fast and I had enough blocks to make a second smaller quilt.  Starting with the smaller quilt, I practiced my machine quilting with some zig zags and some double hearts.

Hearts and Zig Zags

Then I moved onto the larger quilt featuring Xs & Os (hugs and kisses) and more zig zags
Side by Side-Double Texas Two Steps

Side by Side:  Double Trouble (Dixie & Skippy)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quilt Guild High

I come home from quilt guild meetings ready to tackle the world...or at least my sewing projects.  Seeing others' projects during the show and tell, and listening to the guest presenter fill me with so much inspiration...I always come home feeling giddy and excited about quilting.  Today's meeting was in the morning, so my quilters's high will be put to use for the remainder of the day, and should wear off in time for bedtime.  And to add to my high, I won one of the Fat Quarter bundles featuring starry fabrics... 

Brought in 3 fat quarters from my stash and walk away with new starry fabrics!
I also got my bundle of tangerine, turquoise and other sunny fabrics recently ordered...absolutely gorgeous...

Sunshine fabrics for yet another dreary day
I was very tempted to bring these fabrics to my curved strip piecing class tomorrow...but I hesitate to practice a new technique on such gorgeous fabrics.  So instead, I may pull out my collection of cheery cherry fabrics that have been sitting in my stash waiting to be called up for another project (already made a wedding quilt years ago...but I have enough fabric in this collection for 2-3 quilt tops!)

Cheery cherry fabrics in black, white, yellow, white and red!
Off to finish packing for tomorrow's guild workshop...fabric check!  And then onto finishing up a project for Friday...eek!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ahhh...a much needed fabric fix

Despite a splitting headache and the cold and dreary weather, a fun little packaged helped to brighten my day.  As much as I love supporting my local quilt shops, there's something downright sinful about getting your online fabric fix while wearing your jammies.  Today's special package contained 3 Moda layer cakes:  Oops-A-Daisy by Keiki, Good Fortune by Kate Spain (as I loved her Terrain line), and Domestic Bliss by Liz Scott.  I also ordered 3 charm packs of Baby Talk by Bernartex to whip up some Little Twister quilts for 2 little boys that just entered the world.

It's a beautifu day...
I am having so much fun just flipping through each fabric square and dreaming up fun projects for each bundle!!
These should tide me over until my next fabric fix on Saturday, when I get my other package...containing several fat quarters of tangerine fabric to celebrate this year's "In" color:  Tangerine!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Years Resolution Progress Report

Just over 2 weeks into the new year and I've made progress on all 5 of my quilting resolutions!

1.  Bennie and I are getting acquainted and racking up quite a bit of mileage.  Although we still experience a few bumps in the road, so I am thinking a class or two on use and care are in order...
Bennie's Resume:  3 quilt tops ready to be quilted, and a 4th that just needs to be bound!

2.  I am experimenting with my machine quilting.  Fortunately one of the quilt tops above is crib size, making the quilting process not as daunting...
This crib sized Texas Two Step certainly helped me ease into machine quilting the zig zag and heart pattern
Taking baby steps until the winding ways quilt...eek!

3.  Documentation is coming along, thanks to the blog, and an upcoming quilt label class!--sorry no exciting pictures to show!

4.  I just got back from my first surface design/fabric embellishment class...using Shiva Painstix!! 
As you can see, I had a lot of fun experimenting!

Original Design #1 layering several different techniques

Original Design #2--kind of a square in a square quilt block look?!?
 5.  And I am proud to announce I am tackling my pile of scraps and using from my stash with two upcoming projects...both using modern quilt designs from Elizabeth Hartman (from her Oh, Fransson blog!)

I am super excited about all these jewel toned fabric squares for her Sparkle Punch Quilt Along

And while I had all those fabrics out, I saved all the scraps/odd pieces for a second quilt-Modern Mosaic!
Although I must confess, I did have a few moments of weakness as I ordered some new fabrics...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stylish Storage Solution with a View

The only drawback about using the front room for my quilt studio is the lack of closets to stow away all the unsightly supplies, such as bulky packages of batting.  But Doug came to the rescue by designing and constructing a sleek and stylish window seat!  The two outer chests have a large storage capacity (the left one is currently storing 7 packages of batting!!)...
...while the upholstered tops provide padded seating for some well-loved pups to watch their daily dose of Dog TV: 
Watching dogs, cats, squirrels and who knows what else pass by the front window is far more exciting than watching me quilt. 
Skippy taking a commercial break

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Totebag Time for Me!

Lately, I've been making quick and easy reversible totebags for friends and family for holidays, birthdays and special occasions.  I love searching my stash for fun fabrics to tailor the bags and handles to the interests/hobbies of the lucky recipient.  Being reversible, they can turn the bag inside out for a totally different look.  Best of all, they provide a more fashionable option to reusing shopping bags, especially as more and more cities are placing bans on the distribution of plastic bags at supermarkets/stores...which I am 100% in support! 

Now that I've made 30+ bags for friends & family, I've got the bag making process down to a science and worked out all the bugs...so its time to make a bag for me!

So, which earth-friendly look do I want to sport while fabric shopping today?
This one?

Or this look?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Twist of Fate

One of the nice perks about hiking with Doug, is that we celebrate afterwards with a little quilt shop hopping!  After one particularly gruelling hike, we checked out a new quilt shop where I discovered the then new Kate Spain Terrain charm pack and the Lil' Twister tool.  The staff member was extremely helpful and even gave me a mini tutorial.  Armed with my new goodies, I was excited to return home to 1.  shower and then 2. give it a whirl.  I was amazed at how easy it was!
Step 1:  Sew squares together and add borders

Step 2:  Match lines on template to block intersections and cut out new blocks

Step 3:  Rotate to form pinwheels
Step 4:  Sew together blocks

Try alternating color and white blocks to get a different effect...
Rainbow twister!-Look Familiar?!?
There are 3 sizes of templates:  Regular that can be used with 10" layer cakes, Lil Twister that can be used with 5" charm packs and a smaller twister using 2 or 2.5" squares!  Happy twisting all!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mystery Quilt Challenge Part I

While Mystery Quilt Challenges present intrigue, they take me out of my comfort zone by making you select all your fabrics without having any idea as to the final design, or knowing what block components will be needed (or just how many half square triangles will be required!).  So I always shied away from these opportunities and instead admired those brave participants while secretly wondering how I might have maneuvered the challenge.

So I decided to take the plunge when I got my January/February 2012 McCall's Quilting magazine, featuring a "New & Easy 3-Part Mystery Quilt."  They presented the fabric requirements (just 4 fabrics needed), tips for choosing your four fabrics, cutting and piecing instructions.  Each of the participating editors also presented their fabric selections to give you some ideas of the range of possibities, which I found very helpful.

So I started by finding my Fabric A which called for a multicolor print that could be large scale and multidirectional.  I went to my stash and found this great large scale paisly fabric that I love...    

Focus Fabric A
It contained so many gorgeous, happy colors that helped guide my fabric selections for Fabric B, C and D.  I knew I wanted the teal for my Fabric B (3 and 1/8 yards worth!!) and after 3 separate purchases, I found a great buttery yellow fabric to present some contrast for my Fabric C.  I am still undecided as to what my Fabric D will be as I have two contenders: a nice coral with little spirals, or a flowery green.  Maybe I can work both in with an additional inner border or something? 
Remaining Fabric Selections:  Fabric B (teal), Fabric C (yellow) and to be determined Fabric D (coral or green)
Fortunately I still have some time to decide as neither was needed for Step 1...24 half square triangles (left) and 16 3-triangle pieced squares (right)!

Stay tuned for Step 2 once my March/April issue arrives in the mail!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mission Organization

I started working on my 2012 Quilting Resolutions by sorting and cutting my scraps for an upcoming fun project...
Scrap Sorting for Super Secret Project
And for those of you on a mission to organize your quilt studio/space, here are some easy and cost-effective organizational tips:

1.  Hang it Up!
Clutter Free Cutting Table
I love using a peg board to hang up all my cutting and pressing tools.  It is easy to find everything, just a quick reach away and leaves your work space tidy. 

2.  A Tisket-A Tasket--A Wire Basket for My Fabric Stash & Projects
IKEA carries these great Antonius metal frame organizational systems with wire basket and plastic bins( http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S19876454/) that are perfect for organizing fabric, projects, quilting supplies and more. 
My fabric sorted by color in the taller frames (with 6 slots)

Smaller frame (with 4 slots) fits perfectly under my side table and each basket contains a Work In Progress.
3.  Flower Pot Power
Keep your favorite flower pot (or two) filled with all your scissors, seam rippers and other sewing necessities next to your sewing machine.

4.  Magnetic Organization
Hang a magnetic whiteboard nearby to keep track of all your quilting projects (WIPs, UFOs, future projects), tins of buttons or pins, calendar of guild meetings, class supply lists and shopping sales.

Make some personalized magnets using your favorite buttons, magnetic strips and some crazy glue

5.  Bippity Boppity Binders
Organize all your favorite quilt patterns, magazine articles and sources of inspiration into a binder using sheet protectors.  Turn to your newly organized binders when starting a new project or looking for trouble shooting tips.   

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Quilting Resolutions

While most people may opt to kickstart their healthier new year by hitting the gym, I resolve to do it in my quilting studio with 5 fun and exciting new year's resolutions:

1.  Befriend Bennie
I resolve to get better acquainted with my new sewing machine by reading the manual cover to cover and take a class at a local Bernina dealer...as there is so much potential just awaiting me!

2.  Become a Machine Quilting Master
Maybe not a master, but I want to be more comfortable, confident and creative during the quilting phase, and reduce the need for muttering  4-letter words in frustration!  I recently overcame my fear of machine quilting--many thanks to Mary Mashuta's book and her "Foolproof Machine Quilting" class.  I walked away with 3 great samples, new tools, techniques and threads to take my quilting to the next level...including all the holiday runners I just finished.

3. Document my projects
I confess I am terrible when it comes to docmenting my quilts, and <gasp> labelling my quilts.  Quilting police:  arrest me!  I know the significance of attaching a label that outlines all the important information about the finished project, for future generations, yet I totally slack off at this final yet critical step.  If I am especially good, I might slap on one of these prefabricated labels...but there have been many quilts gifted sans label.  But I solemnly promise that all my 2012 quilts will be complete with legitimate quilt labels.  I even signed up for a class on quilt labels, and looking into printing fabric with my own original label design to expedite the process.

And I hope to better document the design/creative process via this blog, as well as updating my scrapbook containing pictures of my finished projects and thank you cards received.

4.  Add some glitz and pizzazz
While I love searching for fun new fabrics, I am interested in embellishing fabrics and the surface of my projects.  I found this great book with step by step instructions for all kinds of interesting techniques for manipulating/embellishing the fabric surface:  bleach, paintstix, dying, glitter, and more!!!  Plus one of my local quilt shops is offering a monthly surface design workshop...to get some hands on experience.  My goal is to try one new technique each month, and hopefully at the end of the year, I will have 12 unique blocks ready for a sampler quilt!

5.  Get Scrappy!
Eeek!  My scrap pile and random leftovers from past projects is growing and growing.  I recycle everything else in our household...but slack off when it comes to quilting which totally contradicts the origin of quilting.  My plan is to turn some of these fabric tidbits into blocks, pillows, totebags or even a quilt to donate!?!  And to make this a reality, I will take the extra few minutes to cut remaining scraps from projects into uniform 2" or 5" blocks or strips.  As you can see, I have a few bundles ready to go. 

Here's to an exciting year of quilting!