First Finish: Rainy Day Garden

Achieving my goal for January was easy, considering that all that remained for this finish was the binding.

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You can tell from all the creases that it had been folded up for awhile.

This is “Rainy Day Garden,” and it is the reason I began my blog. As my entry for the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid, I finished the top in March of that year. Then, because I wanted custom quilting but didn’t feel it was in the budget to pay someone else, I planned to quilt it myself. Which meant it sat in the closet for a long time while I thought about how I wanted to tackle it. I was getting closer to finalizing my ideas in early 2015, when I assembled the back, but then it got put away because we moved and had a baby. Then last year, my little sister’s boyfriend bought her a long-arm machine, and I decided to give it to her to play with.

While there are a few technical issues with the quilting, I am thrilled with her creativity! She did a leaf/scroll pattern on the grey print fabric below the flowers, and a rain-like line above, with individual designs on each flower that remind me of playing with a spirograph.

Regarding the technical errors–I knew full well that this would be a learning experience for her, and am totally okay with them. She and I are probably the only people who will ever know they are there, AND done is better than perfect! 🙂

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The technique I used to create the flowers is from “Quilters Playtime: Games With Fabric,” by Dianne S. Hire.

This was the first time I’d ever attempted a “modern” design, but as a print-lover I didn’t want to make something that was all solids. I wanted, as much as possible, to use materials and resources that I already owned. The one thing I allowed myself in terms of purchases was a small range of solids that fit in with the Radiant Orchid color of the year. I believe I owned one solid fat quarter that was suitable, and I purchased three others in half-yard cuts. Everything else came from my stash.

Anyone who knows me would agree that the word “rebel” would never come to mind when describing me, but I thought I was being rather subversive in using a Jinny Beyer print (the grey-on-grey) in a modern quilt. The juxtaposition still makes me smile. In addition, a couple of those prints were purchased nearly 15 years before modern quilting became a thing.

While there are certainly exceptions, I like to think that “modern” is the way you use a fabric more than the fabric itself. I know there’s a lot of debate over the definition of modern quilting, (and that there’s a lot more to the discussion than what fabrics you use) but for my own quilting happy-place, that’s where I am. Admittedly, this is in part a financial thing: I cannot afford to discard the bulk of my stash just because it is older than “modern quilting,” no matter how much I love much of what is being labeled modern. That said, I also did not abandon my love of many “contemporary” or “traditional” quilts once I began to explore and enjoy modern quilting. I guess I’m just an equal opportunity quilter.

I’ll step down from my tiny soap box now and show you the back of the quilt:

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Speaking of equal-opportunity, the WIP I am currently focusing on is nowhere near modern! 😀 It’s for one of my grandmothers, and is at least 90% from fabrics that were part of her stash before she downsized. As you can see, she has a distinct love of patriotic-themed fabrics.

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Hope your quilty year is off to a great start. Linking up with TGIFF, hosted this week by Jen at Faith and Fabric. Go check out some of this week’s other finishes!

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2016 wrap-up, 2017 goals

Since my last post I completed two quilts for new humans! Both are from Angela Pingel’s book, “A Quilter’s Mixology.” Not only am I really pleased with the way these quilts turned out, I highly recommend this book. The patterns are really great AND the instructions are clear.

The first is the Nine Patch Curves pattern, for a friend who really likes gender-neutral baby gear. After some thought I landed on red, yellow, orange, and aqua as a color scheme, amongst a low-to-mid-volume grey background. This was based in part on the sock monkey fabric you see below, and in part on the mushroom fabric in the upper right corner of the photo. The same sock monkeys back the quilt of baby’s older brother, so when I stumbled across a re-print, I had to have it. And my friend has a big love for tiny things, so I knew she’d enjoy the wee mushroom houses.

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Considering the “help” I was getting from my “design assistant,” aka toddler, I managed to complete the quilt BEFORE the baby arrived. This might be a first for me.

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npc-quilt-top

I quilted it very simply, outlining the petal shapes twice–once inside and once out. Even though gender-neutral was the goal, I feel it turned out rather pretty. The baby is a girl, but I’m told big brother appropriated the quilt immediately, “until she grows up.” 😀

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There’s that design assistant of mine, helping to get the photo just right!

Quilt number two is also for a girl baby, but her parents are more traditional in their aesthetic, so I went very girly with it. I chose the Medallion Baby Quilt pattern and selected colors to emphasize the flower shape created by the layout.

Regardless of how you may feel about curved piecing, this quilt comes together pretty quickly, as you have only ONE seam to complete for each block.

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I’ve been thinking that it would be cool to make four of these in bolder, grown-up colors, and combine them to create a larger quilt. For, now, I’m super happy with this little beauty even though crappy winter weather here has kept me from delivering it.

To quilt it, I outlined each ring of the medallion, then created three floral templates with copy paper and an old needle, then used my Quilt Pounce to mark them on the fabric surface. I chose hot pink thread. I love the way it looks but it also makes my wobbles stand out. Only one was so bad I had to pick it out and start the motif over, though. 😉

This probably took significantly more time than the piecing, but I’m thrilled with the way it turned out an am confident the family will be, too.

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I wanted to get at least one photo of the colors in natural light. This is post-laundry to get the Quilt Pounce chalk out. You can also see why I’ve yet to deliver the quilt–it’s sitting on about eight inches of snow. That may not be much for some of you, but we are not properly equipped to deal with it here.

Finally, my 2017 quilting goals should probably get a post of their own, but c’est la vie. I need to get them in writing sooner rather than later so that I have that extra bit of motivation to follow through!

  1. My biggest goal is to finish one thing every month. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be an old WIP or a new project or something in between. It doesn’t even have to be a quilt. I just want to bring more of my ideas–old and new–to fruition this year.
  2. Have a quilt included in my guild’s exhibit at the Sister’s Outdoor Quilt Show. I have wanted to attend this show since before I started quilting, and have never made it happen. Now I have an opportunity to have one of my own quilts in the show, which is ridiculously exciting! I just need to meet the deadline!
  3. Try some improv piecing. I took a class from Sherri Lynn Wood a few years ago, and recently some of her advice/guidance has really been resonating with me, so I felt I should re-visit improv. It should be a good break/challenge for me, as over the last few years I have been focusing mostly on precision and accuracy in my piecing.

That’s it for today! I’ve really been enjoying reading all of your quilty goals. Imagine me raising a glass of something carbonated to say: May we all meet all the goals we choose to! (Because life happens.) 😉

Linking up with TGIFF at the Devoted Quilter, where Leanne is showing off her mad quilting skills. I’ve got a long, loooong way to go before I attempt flowers like that! 😀

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TGIFF: Stars Gone Wild

Glory hallelujah, I made some time to sew! This was made possible by my awesome husband, who helped me create a new sewing space. (My MIL moved in with us in February. Her space is what used to be my sewing space.)

In spite of all the WIPs staring at me, I chose to start something new. And then I finished it. Pretty proud of myself. Of course, it’s not large, not complex, and not heavily quilted, all making the finish easier to achieve, but it’s still a finish, y’all. So I’m celebrating! Even if the celebration is just me doing a little chair dance.

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It’s a bit wrinkly after taking it to my local guild meeting.

The title, “Stars Gone Wild,” may seem obvious, but I’m liking it anyway.  🙂  This is for a little guy who just turned one year old. He’s just one week older than my own little WIP. The animal prints used for the stars are scraps from his momma and daddy’s wedding present.

Going Feral

“Going Feral” was a pre-blog finish for me. My girlfriend absolutely loves animal prints. This was one of my first attempts at modern quilt design.

Originally I’d planned to make a half-square-triangle based design like theirs, but then I realized his middle name is a star. So I started thinking about that….

That week, at our guild meeting, someone left the July/August 2012 edition of Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine on the “free table.” It contains Elizabeth Hartman‘s “Sparkle Punch” pattern. Serendipity! I made my stars just a smidge larger and made significantly fewer of them, but the technique and interlocking layout is hers.

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It’s backed and bound in navy minky dimple dot. I don’t cut a separate binding with the minky–I just fold the backing over the edge and stitch it down. It can look a little uneven due to the dimples, but I don’t mind. The important thing to me is that the kid have a soft edge to rub against his face if he so chooses. I do a semi-mitred corner and trim away the extra bulk, but that’s as fancy as I get with the minky. Otherwise I find it gets too bulky. Each star is quilted with a variegated blue/green/black thread which has lost its sticker label, and I stitched a few more stars in the solid ground just to hold the layers together and add a bit of interest for the little one.

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I’d have to look back, but I think this might be my first true finish this year. It feels so good! With some good time management on my part, I hope to have much smaller intervals between future finishes.

Linking up with TGIFF, hosted this week by Quilt Matters, where everyone is doing the Carlton Happy Dance!? LOL!

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“Peace In Color”

A.k.a. the MIL Quilt. Since it was for my mom-in-law, I asked my husband to help brainstorm names. He took one look and said, “Peace In Color.”

#LotusQuilt

#LotusQuilt

A few of you have already seen it, as I shared the finished top last month. (I also posted progress here, and fabric purchase here.) I added some white to the back to lighten things up a bit. Also those Jane Dixon poppies are awesome (you can still get some here), but the white of the background was just too bright to work on the quilt front.

"Peace in Color" back.

“Peace in Color” back.

The Laura Gunn “Daylilies” and “Tile Mosaic” fabrics had been lurking in my stash for a few years, waiting for the perfect project. And even though they lean more toward aqua than the “deep teal” my MIL requested, they provided just the right jumping-off point for me in terms of color. This was not a combination I would have been comfortable creating on my own.

Then I set about finding some deep teal fabrics to coordinate, which led me to one of the Moda Bella solids (sorry I can’t remember which one!) and more Laura Gunn (Painter’s Canvas in teal). Several of the reds came from my stash, and more came from various Christmas fabric collections–it seemed when I was shopping that they had the best “true” reds. One of my favorites is this crane print from Kona Bay Fabrics circa 2008:

Due to the large scale of the design, many cranes were decapitated during the making of this quilt.

Due to the large scale of the design, many cranes were decapitated during the making of this quilt.

And my unexpected favorite block came from a random Asian-inspired fat quarter. There was no selvedge, but I’m going to guess it lived in my stash at least as long as the cranes did before finding a home. I love the way the ombre stripes radiate out from the center.

I think it would be fun to make another #LotusQuilt that intentionally uses stripes as part of the design. This was a complete accident.

I think it would be fun to make another #LotusQuilt that intentionally uses stripes as part of the design. This was a complete accident.

I selected a floral (pansy?) pantograph stitched in aqua thread. I was too lazy This quilt was too big for me to wrestle it through my machine. 😉

Once the binding was on, I took it downtown to a mini arts park here in Vancouver (the original Vancouver, not the cool one) and photographed it around the shoulders of a statue called Winged Woman. I felt the statue represents some of the qualities I see in my mom-in-law, plus it coordinates with the quilt.

Sadly, some jerk decided she needed metallic-marker alien eyes on her face. I disagree.

Sadly, some jerk decided she needed metallic-marker alien eyes on her face. I disagree.

011 007 009Then I packaged it up and sent it off to my MIL for her birthday. She cried tears of joy when she opened it. That made me happy. Not the tears part. The joy part.025Quilt Stats: 70 x 90 inches; from the pattern “Lotus” by Julie Herman/Jaybird Quilts; completed August 2014.

Notes for next time: 1) I’d like to play more with stripes and color placement to emphasize different aspects of this pattern. 2) Consider starching fabrics before cutting–especially the large jewel shapes, as the bias edges can get a bit wavy as you work with them. (I’m probably too lazy to actually do this, but I want to at least remind myself to think about it.) 3) When assembling the rows, start from one side and add one triangle block at a time. On this first go, I chain pieced two blocks at a time, then stitched those to create sections of four blocks, etc. It meant that my last seam for the row was in the middle, combining two long chunks like this:002It was a bit awkward to work with long pieces that angled off in different directions, and I think it contributed to the stretching of the bias edges I mentioned above. This would be even more exaggerated with the queen/king size.

I do highly recommend this pattern and the HexNMore rulers it’s based on. The combination of straightforward written instructions and clear illustrations make it super easy to be successful, even if you’re like me and you only read the directions if the pictures don’t make sense.  😉

Linking up to TGIFF, hosted this week by Ms. Midge. Her Metro Twist finish is so pretty!tgiff-button-blog

Someone is loved.

This is what 49 QAYG blocks look like all in one stack.

The block on top was made using an orphan flower from my Radiant Orchid challenge quilt, Rainy Day Garden. And no, I haven't finished that one, either.  ;)

The block on top was made using an orphan flower from my Radiant Orchid challenge quilt, Rainy Day Garden. And no, I haven’t finished that one, either. 😉

I finally boxed them all up and sent them off to Alison for her Soy Amado project. Yes, I am very late in doing so. Something strange was happening in the interwebs and my comments were not showing up on her blog for a long time. By the time I succeeded in contacting her, she had already reached her project goal. In spite of that, she agreed to take them. I don’t know if they’ll end up as Soy Amado quilts, or if she’ll utilize them for another group in need, but I’m excited to see what other blocks they get combined with. They should arrive on Alison’s “Little Island” today or perhaps early next week. So you’ll have to keep an eye on her blog for the “real” finishes.

Since I hadn’t photographed them earlier, here are some of the last few blocks I quilted to complete the stack:

I didn't want to let this one get girly, so I kept the quilting simple. It ended up reminding me of Tron lines, though.  :D

I didn’t want to let this one get girly, so I kept the quilting simple. It ended up reminding me of Tron lines, though. 😀

To quilt this block, I attempted to imitate the design from the Quill fabric (part of Valori Wells' collection) in the center.

To quilt this block, I attempted to imitate the design from the Quill fabric (part of Valori Wells’ collection) in the center.

The quilting shows up better on the backs of these two: spirals practice and Leah Day's Heart Confetti. I'm not generally a heart kind of girl, but I really like the way this turned out AND it was super easy.

The quilting shows up better on the backs of these two: spirals practice and Leah Day’s Heart Confetti. I’m not generally a heart kind of girl, but I really like the texture this design created AND it was super easy.

I also finished adding borders to my VOWIP. I decided that my aunt would like it better this way. So the top is now done and I am piecing the back.001

That’s it this week, but I’m sooooo close to finishes on two other quilts. I hope to have at least one of those to share next week. Linking up to TGIFF, hosted this week at Quilt Matters.tgiff-button-blog

Kay is for Quality

Today’s finish is a retirement gift for the manager of our blood bank. At 60-something, this woman has more energy and drive than anyone I’ve ever known. (She did her first sprint triathlon at 60!!) Over the course of three decades, she has created and implemented a quality program that is unsurpassed. This is pretty much the safest place you could possibly get a transfusion. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to learn from her/work for her/be inspired by her.

Based on Lee Heinrich’s Sugar Snow pattern, most of the blocks were made by co-workers while I assembled the top and back. I also printed a personalized label with the names of all the co-workers who made the quilt possible, either by sewing or chipping in for materials.

I changed Lee's design just a smidge--she has two half-blocks which I left out. Instead I had my co-workers make only whole star blocks.

I changed Lee’s design just a smidge–she has two half-blocks which I left out. Instead I had my co-workers make only whole star blocks.

The back is a Violet Craft print from her Waterfront Park line in navy blue.

The back is a Violet Craft print from her Waterfront Park line in navy blue.

I found a photo of red blood cells online and used it for the background of the label.

I found a photo of red blood cells online and used it for the background of the label.

A close-up of the quilting pre-wash.

A close-up of the quilting pre-wash.

Quilting post-wash.

Quilting post-wash.

Her first glimpse of the label.

Her first glimpse of the label.

The unfurling. She loved it! :)

The unfurling. She loved it! 🙂

Linking up today with Quokka Quilts, hosting TGIFF (or at least the dog is–adorable!).tgiff-button-blog

Not Just One

I have TWO finishes to share for TGIFF today! That makes me a happy girl. Oooh, and this week it’s being hosted at Quilt Matters. There’s some pretty rad stuff on that blog. I especially like that several posts actually have me excited about doing quilt math. Weird, right?tgiff-button-blog

Both are pieces I started in February at SewDown in Portland. (SewDown: Nashville starts today. I am jealous!)

It was quite a memorable weekend. Both for the great instructors and for the crazy weather. I know that for many of you, what we experienced wouldn’t qualify as “crazy,” or even “moderately inconvenient,” but here in the Pacific Northwest we are prepared to deal with lots of rain. Once water changes to its more solid forms, we don’t know what to do. We lack the necessary equipment. As a result, even public transportation shuts down. FedEx, et al refuse to deliver things like fabric and sewing machines because they are not matters of life and death. (Are you kidding me? Of course they are!) Some serious improvisation happened in order to pull the event off, and I give kudos to those who worked their magic.

Since I live so close, I had only purchased the local package, planning to drive home each night with my machine. At essentially the last minute, I was able to secure a room at the hotel, and my dear hubby braved the roads to drop me off and then pick me up again two days later. (Good thing, as I would have done some serious pouting if I’d had to miss out.)

Pioneer Courthouse

Pioneer Courthouse

No risk of that, folks!

No risk of that, folks!

Enough about the weather. On to the good stuff! My first class was with Heather Jones. She taught her you + me pattern. I didn’t have time to select and pre-cut my own fabric (because work!), so I ordered a kit from Drygoods Design. Also, I have to admit I wasn’t all that excited about making this quilt, as I felt it was simple enough that a class was kind of unnecessary. Then I saw all the cool things people were doing with it to make it their own, and I was bummed that I hadn’t been able to do the same. On the upside, I am completely in love with the blue fabric that came as part of the kit and will be getting more!

I managed to complete one block during class.

I managed to complete one block during class.

Some of the cool variations made by my classmates.

Some of the cool variations made by my classmates.

Once I got home this and the other projects took a back seat to a BFF quilt (I’ll show that off in a later post), so I just finished it up this week. I’ve called it “Greek To Me,” because the design reminds me of the Greek national flag.

From the bannister.

From the bannister.

From the front porch.

From the front porch.

In the back yard.

In the back yard.

Because the front is so bold and graphic with its parallel lines and 90 degree angles, I wanted contrast on the back and in the quilting with loops, swirls, and filigree to “girly it up” a bit.

The sun cooperated nicely for this shot of the quilting.

The sun cooperated nicely for this shot of the quilting.

Two fabrics from the Zen Chic line made it onto the backing.

Two fabrics from the Zen Chic line made it onto the backing.

I bound it in Pearl Bracelets.

I bound it in Pearl Bracelets.

I love it when good things happen unexpectedly, and this quilt is one of those. I am so pleased with the way it turned out–makes me feel a little bad that I wasn’t looking forward to the class.

Finish number two this week was class number two for me at SewDown: “Improv Round Robin” with Sherri Lynn Wood. This one had me nervous! I’d never tried improvisational piecing before, and I’m the kind of person who agonizes over most decisions. So the idea of making decisions about other quilters’ projects was kind of terrifying. But this class turned out to be another of those unexpectedly good things. I learned not only that I can make decisions quickly, I can actually be happy with those decisions. Sherri Lynn’s instructions helped a lot. She compared the process to a conversation, and asked us to look at each piece and think, “yes, AND.” Time constraints were a major factor–no monologues allowed!–and if you were mid-seam when the timer went off, too bad! I got loads better with each round at determining what I could successfully contribute toward the theme of each piece. Some of them turned out so cool! Mine is nowhere near my favorite of the pieces created that day, but I was determined to finish it as a reminder of the experience.

The starting point for my piece. After this, four other people contributed to the "conversation" before I saw it again.

The starting point for my piece. After this, four other people contributed to the “conversation” before I saw it again.

At the end of class it looked like this.

At the end of class it looked like this.

I really wanted to stick with the spirit of the “conversation” metaphor by not changing the others’ work. But I couldn’t quite make myself do it. The Lotta fabric across the bottom with the gold flower buds had been torn instead of cut (to save time?), and the damaged portion was not concealed in the seam allowance. I removed it and replaced it with a slightly larger chunk, then added more bits around the edges until I had something I felt was balanced and that I would be able to square up. I backed it in muslin and quilted it with simple wavy lines. When it was time to make the binding I felt it needed just a touch more red, so I took a cue from the fabulous Molli Sparkles and added a bit of “glitter.”

My first ever improv project!

My first ever improv project!

As soon as I purchase a dowel of the right length, it will hang in front of my machine. I’m hoping it will remind me to keep trying new things.

Happy finishes!