Thursday, January 16, 2014

Quilting Morning, Noon and Night in the New Year

Fun selection of grey and teal prints for new quilt
A new year called for a new quilt project.  Terry Atkinson's Morning, Noon and Night seemed the perfect project to kick off 2014.  I am still in love with the color teal, and I've been using greys for backgrounds and negative space.  So I decided to follow Terry's color selection and had lots of fun pulling out a fun selection of assorted teal and grey prints from my stash.  In fact, I had enough variety of fabrics to create the queen sized quilt.  In fact, all the fabrics (quilt top, backing and binding) are from my stash (so I am using what's already in my studio--go new year's resolutions!!)

I've made several Terry Atkinson patterns so I greatly appreciate her easy-to-follow directions and how quickly these projects come together!  In fact, it only took a day to pull out, iron and cut the fabrics, and then assemble the blocks and another day or so to layout the blocks and assemble into rows and columns for a completed quilt top.  Not until I laid out all the blocks did I fully comprehend how large this quilt would become!  So much for my new mantra of working small!
Serpentine Quilting Lines--15 hours total
Instead of FMQing this quilt, I decided to put on the walking foot and use the Bernina Stitch #4 on maximum width size and 3.5 stitch length to create a gentle serpentine lines.  I decided to do a serpentine line every 1/2" and totally underestimated how much time and/or thread this would involve!  

I timed just one line of serpentine quilting at 5 minutes, and with a 90" quilt, I calculate that over 900 minutes or 15 hours were required to quilt the entire quilt top!  Boy, did this quilt live up to its name as I literally quilted it morning, noon and night!  I paced myself to do an hour or so of quilting in the morning before work, 20 minutes during my lunch break and another hour or two before bedtime.  I couldn't believe how the hours just passed away as I found the quilting process very meditative, as the needle wandered back and forth the full length of the quilt top. 

And I naively purchased just one 500 yard spool of Superior brand King Tut Angel Teal.  It was the perfect selection as it appeared slightly grey when quilted on the teal fabrics, and slightly teal on the grey fabrics for a slight contrast!  And best of all, my machine seemed to like this new thread and didn't give me any tension woes or thread breakages...alleluia!!!  In fact, I've already ordered some more Superior thread to add to my thread collection, along with their thread color charts to have as a reference for future quilting projects.  The only glitch I did experience was totally underestimating how much thread needed to finish all the quilting!  I kept sending Doug out to my favorite LQS to pick up just one more spool!  All in all, there are well over 1000 yards of thread.  But it was all worth it as I love the finished look and texture.  

For the binding, I decided to add a pop of bright orange fabric and worked like a maniac to hand stitch it in just 2 days!  All that is left is to create the label before it is shipped off to Virginia as a gift for my younger male cousin who is in high school.  I just hope it is masculine and modern enough for a teenage guy!  But here are some pics of the finished quilt...     

Teal fabrics transitioning into light teal, light grey and finally dark grey
Serpentine bike rack design parallels the serpentine quilting
More orange and grey for the quilt back
Just one quarter of the entire quilt--mostly Greys
Another quarter of the quilt--mostly Teals
Photographed during early morning, hence some of the shadows cast across the surface
Morning, Noon and Night is officially my first start and finish of 2014!!

Monday, January 13, 2014

More Totes featuring Family Guy and The Simpsons!

For the past few holidays, I've made Doug personalized 7 or 8 tote bags featuring handyman tools, trains, tractors, and even Legos!  During a Joann's trip, I happened to see some novelty cotton prints featuring Simpsons and Family Guy, two of Doug's all-time favorite tv shows.  So I just had to pick up 1/2 yard cuts of each of the prints but was unsure whether Doug would want any more tote bags.  So instead, I wrapped up his other gifts in the fabric and wrote in his Christmas card that I could use the fabric to make up a gift of his choice.  Well, he quickly responded "more totes!"  So more totes it is and yesterday I finally completed his Christmas gifts.

Family Guy Reversible Tote Side 1 modeled by Stewie
Side 2 of Family Guy Reversible Tote

Doug especially wanted this tote bag in time for the Lego release of a new Simpson's kit.  It is a heavy duty duck cloth tote with pockets around the lower half of the bag and heavy duty cotton webbing handles, so he can load up on Simpsons legos and more!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

These will be handy in 2014!

Yesterday I treated myself to a visit to my favorite LQS.  As I walked in the door, the owner was there and let me know she had a surprise waiting for me:  a gift certificate from my mother!  I went through the fabric, notions and patterns and found loads of goodies to celebrate including a much needed replacement pair of Machingers quilting gloves.

My first pair were purchased almost 3 years ago and had obviously gotten a lot of use and abuse.  The finger tips are nearly black, the wrist bands stretched out and the one hand has a hole which kept getting snagged on my sewing machine causing it to get larger and larger.  And even after several washings, I hadn't realized how pathetic they had become until they were next to the newly purchased pair!  Its just a matter of time until the new pair will look equally worn and used as I have a stack of quilts waiting for quilting to break them in...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Love It? or Over It?

The February 2014 issue of The Quilt Life just arrived in the mail this week and I've been reading an article here and there as time allows.  This morning I was about to take a nap and settled in with TQL.  As I read Claire O'Donohue's "Shifting Gears:  Still Love It, Maybe, Over It" article, I felt inspired to head back to the studio to rethink some of my haunting UFOs.

While trying to meditate, Clare comes to the realization that her studio is filled with UFOs and fabrics/pattern kits that haven't even been started.  And while these UFOs once provided her with inspiration and creative energy, they have since lost their zeal and burdened her down to the point she considers giving up quilting entirely!  So she pulled out all her UFOs and purchased kits and sorts them into 3 piles:  Still Love, Maybe and Over It.  Those projects in the Over It pile were tossed and/or donated.  She finished those projects in the Still Love pile and afterwards revisited the Maybe pile, several of which were either finished or tossed.

This was just the spark I needed to sort out my growing number of ancient UFOs.  Reading her struggle with UFOs and how she developed a solution for deciding what to do with projects long past immediately called me to action and I went to the corner of my studio where I've been tucking away ancient UFOs.  Looking at this pile of mostly finished quilt tops and blocks/units, I remember the enthusiasm and excitement of starting each of these projects and all the work/fabrics invested.  However, quite a bit of time has lapsed since, my quilting style has evolved so much and my passion for these projects has fizzled.  Much of that lost excitement can be attributed to the fact that most of these projects involved less than stellar fabrics which no longer hold aesthetic appeal for me and I hate touching.  Now that they were out in the open, I went to work deciding their fate using her system of Love It, Maybe or Over It::

  • The purple and green pansy 9-patch quilt top was the 4th in a series of Pansy quilts using leftover fabrics/blocks.   I held onto it and a piece of pansy fabric backing with the hopes that I might use it as a practice piece for quilting.  But quite frankly, I do not like the design, the fabrics and would dread quilting it.  So OVER IT!  So off it goes to Philanthropy where someone else can practice their quilting motifs and make a nice lap sized cozy quilt.
  • The blue, green and yellow bow tie quilt was intended as a wedding gift.  I created a concentric circle design but wanted to add pieced triangle units to create a medallion quilt.  Problem was, I didn't have the design skills at the time and have since lost interest in the fabrics, design and doubt the happy couple would appreciate such a quilt when I am sure their color preferences have changed.  So it is with regret that I am OVER IT and it is off to Philanthropy where perhaps it will be finished for another happy couple in our community.

  • The other bag contains a pile of stack and whack blocks using red, yellow, green and blue fabrics and matching dinosaur fabrics.  Again, it used yucky fabrics and the little boy has since grown up and I suspect is well over his dinosaur phase.  So OVER IT and off to philanthropy for another young child who still loves dinosaurs!

  • The two projects in the top left were merely experiments for quilt challenges.  Both used good quality fabrics but the project design itself never went beyond the experimental phase, so they are both to be scrapped entirely.

I am left with a few projects in my Maybe pile:
  • A watercolor quilt that was intended as a baby quilt (and I am sure the child is now in elementary school.)  I thought it would make such a lovely Monet-esque Water Lily Quilt and I even found some cute frog patches that I thought I would stitch onto some lily pads.  But despite its small size, there were a lot of pieces and some of them didn't fuse properly to the fusible grid.  The strips are done and everything is numbered and I just don't know whether I would want to complete it or not.  Besides the fusible leaves a yellowish residue on my sewing machine surface.  So the more I discuss this project, the more I am leaning towards OVER IT!
  • There is one more UFO lurking beneath my sewing table, a crazy quilt made from baby clothes of a family friend.  As these are all precious and one of a kind fabrics, I simply cannot in good conscience, toss or donate them.  So I will have to continue making up a few more crazy quilt blocks and assemble it.  I think I had 10 or more blocks done and was aiming for a 4x4 block layout--so just a few more left to go.  MAYBE one of these days...
  • My Rainbow V's which hangs in our hallway.  While the fabrics are not the greatest, I still love the colors and design.  I look out at it nearly every night before going to bed and dreaming up possible quilting designs.  I've also purchased yardage of several different fabrics which might make fabulous borders (and any losing candidates will make great backing fabrics!).  MAYBE one of these days I will pull it off my walls and take the next step in its completion.
And who knows, I may have some other UFOs lurking about well tucked away awaiting their final fate.

But already I feel free to work on those project that I am passionate about, such as my Morning, Noon and Night pattern started this year while I still LOVE IT!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 New Year's Resolutions

With the new year, comes my New Year's Resolutions!  I actually enjoy the process of dreaming up and finalizing my top 5 resolutions.  There are usually 1 or 2 that are locked in early but then I need to whittle down my list and figure out which 5 will provide a fun challenge that will help me grow as a quilter.  So after some serious consideration, here are my top 5 New Year's Resolutions for 2014:

EQ7.png1.  Explore Electric Quilt 7:  I'd like to draft my own unique quilt patterns and designs.  I've heard great things about this software and know many top quilt designers swear by it.  And in my eagerness, I may have already purchased it with my American Quilter's Society membership discount.  Once I install it, I will look forward to exploring all its capabilities.  Several of the LQS offer classes on using it, and I noticed the Electric Quilt Company website has tutorials, forums, challenges and more that I plan on checking out to help me fully utilize this software.

2.  Learn how to hand dye my own fabrics:  After working with absolutely gorgeous fabrics hand dyed by Frieda Anderson and Marjan Kluepfel, I've developed a new love of hand dyed fabrics.  I've picked up a few bundles at recent quilt shows but will admit I am afraid to cut into it as they are just too breathtaking!  Perhaps if I had a way of replenishing my stash with hand dyed fabrics, I'd start actually using it in projects?!?  So I am setting out to learn how to hand dye my own fabrics and I've done a lot of preparation for this new adventure:  acquired several books on the process; enrolled in several Craftsy classes on technique and color theory, Jane Dunnewold's "The Art of Cloth Dyeing", Malka Dubrawsky's "Fabric Patterning with Wax Resist" and Joen Wolfrom's Color Play for Quilters on color theory; and finally gathered many of the supplies, dyes, fabric and equipment needed, many thanks to Doug's thoughtful Christmas gift.  I am sure the process will be a messy one but one that will yield a lot of beauty.

3.  Continue my FMQ Education and Experimentation:  Yes, I had so much fun with FMQing in 2013 that I want to continue the fun.  I will definitely continue my education with even more Craftsy classes:  Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Fillers Volume 1 and 2, Ann Peterson's Beyond Machine Quilting and Continuous Line Quilting, and Mandy Leins' A New Look at Long Arm Quilting (and any new classes they might offer this year!).  Additionally, I'd like to experiment with new tools and threads to enhance my quilting designs.  I plan on watching Superior's "Thread Therapy with Dr. Bob" to help me "eliminate frustrations with threads, needles and tension, as well as utilize the vast literature and education they have available on their website.  I'd like to learn trapunto to add another dimension to my quilting, as well as more bobbin work and texture. 

I will also be seeking out new sources of inspiration for FMQ designs and motifs.  Besides adding new images to my Pinterest board and journal, I also want to check out Zentangles.  I've picked up a few books to explore this art form which I believe will nicely translate with thread and fabric.

And who knows, maybe, just maybe, I will check out Long Arm quilting, whether this will involve taking a class to use a LQS machine or possibly purchase one of my own.

4.  Continue my UFO conquest:  I still have a few UFOs that are very dear to my heart that I want to prioritize for completion this year:  Butterflies in Free Motion, FMQ Sampler, Dresden Quilt, Hummingbird Wall Hanging, Double Wedding Ring,  Kool Kaleidoscope and both Black Opals & Ribbon Candy quilts.  I'd like to match, if not beat last year's UFO completion record of 7 UFO finishes.  Moreover, I may need to make some difficult decisions with regards to those UFOs that are no longer working for me and whether they might be best passed onto Philanthropy or another guild member who would find more joy finishing these projects.        

5.  Use what's already in my studio/stash:  After the recent studio makeover and reorganization, I realized how many tools, templates, rulers and fabrics I've accumulated that are just waiting to be used.  I've got special collections of fabrics and precuts that are just waiting to be turned into a quilt or project.  So I am determined to select projects that will utilize these fun finds.  I was recently invited to join a "Never Even Started and UFO" challenge with fellow guild  members determined to finished up 10+ projects in 2014.  Earlier this week I went through all my patterns and selected several that I want to pursue this year as part of this challenge.  I even started to pull out fabrics from my own stash to bring these patterns to life!

Top Left to bottom Right:

  • Fire & Ice:  This one will require some new fabric purchases, but all small yardage of various Kona solids
  • From the Blue Chairs Ombre Lattice:  I already had all the ombre fabrics and just needed to purchase 1 yard of white solid fabric.
  • Modern View from McCalls magazine:  Again, I had all the yardage and just needed 3 yards of solid white for the background.
  • Phillips Fiber Arts Squedge/New Years Resolution Quilt:  My plan is to use all scraps from my stash and the previously purchased ruler/template.
  • Some kind of Diamond quilt:  Possibly the Diamond Alley pattern shown and/or one from Jan Krentz Quick & Easy Diamond Craftsy class or books.  
  • Hexie Garden:  This pattern which will also utilize fabrics from my stash and has lots of negative space to feature some FMQing!!
  • X-Blocks:  This tool/technique has been on my to do list for some time now, as I am hoping to incorporate some fun magical fabrics to take it to another dimension.
  • Yolk Music:  This American Quilter magazine pattern will be a great project to use my growing collection of 5" charm squares and yardage for the center circles (possibly a yellow/orange print or possibly black and white fabrics?!?)
  • Morning, Noon & Night:  100% from my stash which should be a quick and easy projects.
I am excited as these projects are all perfect in my mind.  But I am about ready to start cutting into the Morning, Noon & Night fabrics to get started on a fresh, new project for a fresh, new year!