Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Quilting in Review

2012 was a great year for quilting!  It was filled with amazing classes, "sewcials," fun projects and lots of beautiful fabrics!  Here are just a few highlights from 2012:

*  I was involved in 3 different quilt associations, and met so many amazing and truly talented quilters.  They provided me with inspiration and companionship.

*  Taking classes with some amazing quilting instructors:  Jennie Rayment for more textured and twiddling fun, Anelie Beldon for Dresden Plates, Christine Barnes for Color Camp and Magic Fabrics, Esterita Austin for pet portraits, tackling curves with Cara Gulati and Sonya Lee Barrington and meeting Alex Anderson!!  I made sure I purchased one of their books to get signed to add to my collection!

*  My quilting skills were stretched and put to the test as I completed 6 guild hosted challenges:  BAMQG Echo challenge to make something for myself out of the Echo line of fabrics, CQFA's Under the Sea challenge using sea inspired scraps provided by fellow members, BAM scrap pillow swap, SCQVA Crazy Elegance using 21+ different fabrics in one cohesive quilt, BAM Modern Block design and BAM's Wholecloth Quilt challenge (and my SCVQA "Oh My Stars" challenge is in progress but unlikely to be completed until the new year!).
    Top Left clockwise:  Echo bag, Crazy Elegance, Echo quilt caddy, Wholecloth, Scrap Pillow Swap, Echo Cathedral, Modern Block design, Echo bag reverse and Under the Sea. 

Collection of Magic Fabrics

*  I attended my first two quilting retreats ever and had an absolute blast learning new techniques, staying up late working on a variety of projects and meeting some wonderful quilters.

*  At the second retreat, I was introduced to Magic Fabrics, and ever since, have been on the prowl for new magical fabrics to add some sparkle and magic into my various projects.  There's even a drawer dedicated to housing this growing collection of Magic Fabrics!

*  I participated in McCall's Mystery Challenge Quilt--working on each step as they were published.  It is 80% quilted!

*  I was seduced into two 5" rainbow charm swaps.  I will admit it was fun working with fellow swappers to select fun fabrics within our color assignment, and waiting with anticipation for the full set of colorful charms.  Now I just gotta figure out what to do with them all, other than admire and caress them!   

Bennie has been befriended...alleluiah!!
And how did I do on my 2012 New Year's Resolutions?
#1.  Befriend Bennie:  Well, after completing 2 workshops focused on Bernina 8 series and several emergency visits to my LQS, I am happy to share our relationship is better than ever!  We've enjoyed countless hours of piecing and quilting (and very little muttering of 4-letter words on my end!).  We've come a long way and have lots more adventure and excitement ahead...

#2.  Master Machine Quilting:  Having Bennie has made such a difference in maneuvering large quilts during the quilting phase.  No more muttering nasty 4-letter words during the quilting phase, and since I don't have to fight the fabric as much, my back/shoulders don't ache, I am able to quilt for longer periods of time, and as a result able to do more dense quilting which give the quilts a wonderful look and feel!  

#3.  Document my projects:  Well, this is my 65th blog post documenting my quilting adventures.  The Quilt Label's class was invaluable, and I am proud to announce all the quilts that have left the house are complete with a personalized label including the quilt title, recipient, my information and the date!  I am even starting to include Quilt Care instructions on the back!

#4.  Add some glitz and pizzazz:  While I missed the mark on trying a new embellishment technique each month, I certainly added lots of glitz and pizzazz to my quilts this year.  I did try my hand at a few fabric embellishment techniques, and I've started adding magic fabrics that provide movement, glow and sparkle, along with some cool textured effects, spinning borders and even fabric weaving into my projects.  

#5.  Get Scrappy:  I completed several scrap projects using the remnants of previous quilts:  the Pink and Green Diamond Quilt, the Scrap Pillow Swap, BAM Improv blocks and Artist Trading Cards.  More intention and planning went into the management of my fabric scraps.  Whenever possible, I would cut fabric remnants into 2.5" strips, 5" or 2.5" squares.  Then last week, Doug and I tackled the overflowing scrap bucket and bin---he presssed each scrap while I chopped them up and organized them by color.  My fabric management efforts paid off while working on several Twister quilts and Mondo bags, which are my favorite scrap busting projects!  

Panda showing off a now empty scrap bucket!
I like my dogs like my fabric:  scrappy!
Pre-cut squares salvaged from my scrap bucket/bin and awaiting a scrappy project!  
While reflecting on this year...I've given lots of thought to what I hope to accomplish next year...stay tuned.  Until then, Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I'm dreaming of a quilty Christmas!

Oh Christmas Tree
This year, life was simply hectic throughout the holidays.  We usually put up the Christmas tree up a week or so later than usual...back in its prime location:  my studio!  I was counting down the days until my 4 day Christmas vacation for some much needed time off!  While I had an ambitious to do list...we slowed down to celebrate a relaxing and lovely Christmas day!
I sense a theme here...

Santa was especially generous this year, and I sensed a quilt-related theme in gifts:  fabric, quilt templates and a gift certificate to my favorite quilt shop!!

I treated myself to some long-overdue studio time to quilt using last year's Christmas gift...Bennie.  "Oh my Stars" SCVQA Challenge Quilt is due at the end of I spent some time planning out the design and researching various star patterns and techniques I wanted to highlight.  I decided to test one of the techniques using some fabrics from my stash unrelated to the quilt challenge.  After pulling several stacks of fabrics only to pull more and more, I finally made my selection and started to cut, iron and assemble this intricate Fancy Folded Star Potholder block using a Moda Bakeshop pattern/tutorial.

Finished block with borders
The initial set up took some time, as I kept running back to my computer screen for direction on the next step in the process...yet it came together easily enough as I watched in amazement as the block started to develop.  I was so impressed with the overall block that I decided to add some borders...which led to layering it, quilting it and even binding it---all in one night!  (technically I finished around 12:45 AM!!)

You will certainly see more of this block in the new year as I work on my Challenge quilt...hint hint!

Quilted and bound Christmas Star mini quilt

Christmas Stars 

Merry Christmas!  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My first quilt donation

Holiday Party Quilt Donations
Quilters are known for their generosity and making quilts for those in need.  And while I've been happy to help make charity blocks that are later assembled into a quilt by others in my guild, I've never made the sacrifice of an entire quilt for philanthropic purposes.  So far, each labor of love has stayed near and dear with friends and family members--where I figure I could see the finished quilt once more.
Texas Two Step Quilt

Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association held its annual holiday party last night and asked for finished quilts to be donated to Scribbles and Giggles.

Back in January/February, I made a second Texas Two Step, that has been tucked away in my studio awaiting any baby girl announcements.  Much to my disappointment, there were no baby girl announcements in all of 2012 (plenty of boy announcements---which I didn't think would appreciate a pink and red quilt!) I decided it was time for Texas Two Step Quilt #2 to bring some warmth and comfort to some young child in need.  So I whipped up a quick label yesterday and lovingly dropped it off at the start of our holiday party, among some other beautiful charity quilts that will be equally loved and appreciated!
Quilt Label for my First Donation Quilt...Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stroller Rink Quilts

Strip Set--100% from my stash!
I came home Thanksgiving eve, giddy about my 2 days off from work and determined to start a new quilt...but not just one quilt...two for friends having their first baby in January (both boys!)  I started looking through a few books for inspiration and a plan.  I selected Roller Rink out of  Elizabeth Hartman's new book "Modern Patchwork" and starting cutting up bright cheery strips all from my stash!  Unfortunately I didn't have enough of the charcoal linen fabric for both quilts (I wasn't even sure it was enough for one baby quilt...yet I lucked out...phew!).  I was able to substitute some solid kona grey for the second quilt.  By the end of the evening, I had pressed all the fabrics and had all the strips cut and ready to go for some serious chain piecing.

Thanksgiving morning, I woke up early and couldn't get to the studio fast enough to start sewing these quilts.  It was pedal to the metal, as I started assembling the strip sets, which went surprisingly fast!  In fact, I had all the strip sets sewn, cut and all the white framed blocks completed by the end of Thanksgiving Day.  Friday, I completed the second set of blocks and started to assemble the quilt tops.  Sunday, I found 2 large pieces of fabric in my stash that were just barely big enough for my backing and went to work layering and pinning in preparation for the quilting stage...which is where I took a bit of a break as my vacation was over...

Fun striped binding
Last Saturday, I came home absolutely exhausted from work.  I left the office thinking I would need a stiff drink once I got home... but instead found great stress relief by quilting both quilt tops in one night!  Although in fairness, it was mostly edge to edge quilting that followed the lines of the quilts, so once again it was pedal to the metal!

Once the binding was complete---I needed a quilt name so I could prep the labels.  I thought it would be fun to play off the original quilt title "Roller Rink" and since these were baby quilt sized...I changed it to "Stroller Rink."  I also wanted a fun location photograph the finished quilts.  We've been having some rainy, dreary days and I really wanted a bright cheery background.  I thought it might be fun to head to a local playground and the first pass by it was full of kids.  So we ran our errands and stopped by once more to find an empty park to drape the quilts along the playground for a fun photo shoot!
Double Stroller Rink Quilts

Baby Grant Quilt

Baby McElwain Quilt