Monday, April 30, 2012

April 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge

SewCalGal is hosting the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge and I have taken the pledge!  Every month, there is a new tutorial and a chance to learn something new, improve free motion quilting skills, complete that month's challenge and enter to win awesome prizes.  This month's tutorial is written by Don Linn.  Don showed us a technique using tulle to transfer a design or motif to your quilt with out having to find a way to see through the fabric to trace the motif or having to use a templates that are very limited in design and sizes.

I really loved working on the Heart and Feather Whole cloth quilt along with Leah Day, that I finished up this last weekend, so I decided to start another one, and put Don's transfer technique to the test. 

The first step was searching for a design.  The goal is to complete the tutorial/challenge in the month that it is posted, and since today is April 30th, the last day of the month (procrastinate much?), I didn't really have time to design my own motif. But I did find these really cute love birds online.

After printing out the design to the size that I wanted, I stretched some tulle into a wooden embroidery hoop and traced the design onto the tulle with a black sharpie. Don suggested using white tulle with a black pen, if your fabric is light, or black tulle with a silver pen if your fabric is dark.

Tracing the pattern onto the tulle was a little harder than I had expected.  About a quarter of the way through, I had to let go of some of my perfectionist goals, and even though it was not a perfect "trace" the design looked great when I was done.  If I try this method again in the future I would want to find a way to better secure the hoop and paper so that they are less likely to shift while I'm tracing.

I played around with some different fabric ideas, before I decided on a teal blue marble fabric.  I used two fat quarters and ironed, starched, and basted my quilt together.  Then I just laid the embroidery hoop with my design on top and traced the design onto the fabric (through the tulle) with a marking pen. My pen is a frixion pen that disappears when you apply heat (I also suggest washing after ironing to make sure you get all the chemicals out).

 It might be hard to see in the picture, but when you lift the hoop, you should have a nice motif drawn out on your fabric.  Since you have to trace this motif twice with a pen, I think it is a great opportunity to figure out and practice which directions that you will be going when you sew the design.  By the time I actually stitched it, I was very familiar with the design and how I would have to move the quilt around to avoid a lot of travel stitching.

After tracing the love birds motif, I also added some flowers in the corners.

Here is the finished quilted design.  Again, it's a little hard to see in the pictures.  Well, it's a little hard to see in person right now too because I used matching thread (Parakeet by Coats Clark).  I'm sure it will be a lot more visible once I've done some micro-FMQ in the background spaces, but that will have to be done another day.

I liked the look of the contrasting white thread on my green marble heart and feather whole cloth, but I know that traditional whole cloths use matching thread on matching fabric (usually white on white) so I wanted to try that look this time, just with blue instead of  white.

Here are some closer pictures to help show more of the detail.

If you are interested in learning more about the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge, hosted by SewCalGal, click here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Heart and Feather Wholecloth Quilt Along with Leah Day: Finished Quilt!

In my last post about this quilt, I was finishing up all of the micro-stippling.  Once that was done, Leah suggested blocking the quilt. We don't really have a tub in our apartment, so I just let it soak in the washer (not running) to get all the starch and chemicals out and tumble dried it until it was just damp.

Then came the fun part...reversing the shrinkage.  I bought some elastic from Jo Ann's and secured it to the edges of the quilt to stretch it out overnight while it continued drying. I had to call my husband over to help me secure it and in the end, it looked a little like quilt prison!  I felt like saying: "Now you just sit there and think about what you've done!"

The next day, when everything was flat and back to the right size, I measured from the edges of the motifs and cut the quilt down to 1 inch of stippling all the way around.

For some reason my motifs (even before I soaked the quilt) were not measuring square, but I liked the way that it looked and decided that I would rather have equal amounts of micro-stippling all around the edge verses having a perfectly square wall hanging. So that's why I measured from the motifs and not from the edge of the fabric.

Next was the binding.  I only have fat quarters of this fabric, so I had to piece my binding together a little more than normal, but I think it still turned out just as good in the end.

I used 2 inch binding, folded in half.  And started at the yellow pin in the picture here, which was about 3 inches from the corner.

This was my first time attempting mitered corners, so Leah Day's tutorial came in very handy.  I skipped some of the details below, but if you want to see the full tutorial you can check it out on the Free Motion Quilt Along page.

I especially liked the way Leah taught us to close the opening on the side of the quilt. When I've tried to sew bindings before, I usually end up with a raw edge in a corner somewhere that I don't know what to do with.  By closing it in the center of sewing it so that it looks pieced, it just fits right in with the rest and it's hard to tell where you started and ended!

 I decided to try a blanket stitch for the front side of the binding.  I really like it.  I think I might even like it better than the zig zag stitch I'm used to.

And here is the finished quilt!!!!

Even though the quilt along tutorial and link up have long come and gone, I did finally finish this little heart and feather wholecloth quilt!!  My first one! Normally I'm one to give all my quilts away, but I think this one is definitely one that I want to keep for my wall!

In my mind, I'm already adding more wholecloths like this one to my quilting que!  Any ideas for what kind of designs to do next?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Fat Quarter Idol Contest Week 2

This week's theme for the Fat Quarter Idol Contest, held by Sew, Mama, Sew!, is: Meet me at the Picnic! 

I found out after the first week that we are actually allowed to submit 2 different bundles for each week, so of course I did two!

Meet me at the Picnic makes me think of grass and flowers and butterflies which inspired my first bundle:

1. Pearl Bracelet Grass ~ Hello Pilgrim @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 2. Cashmere Blue Moon ~ Cocoon @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 3. Cars Blue COTTON CANVAS ~ Trefle @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 4. Canyon Stripe New Day ~ Hope Valley @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 5. Flying Geese Marine ~ Quilt Blocks @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 6. Liv Stone ~ Cocoon LINEN @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 7. Fern 1141 ~ Kona Cotton @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 8. Daisy Dots Green ~ Flea Market Fancy @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 9. Ruta Navy ~ Echo @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 10. Fall Leaf ~ Summersville @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 11. Ditty Cat Eye ~ Gypsy Caravan @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 12. Spring Tulips Aqua ~ Piccadilly @ Sew,Mama,Sew!

 I then thought of a picnic in the summer time when it's warm and fun which inspired my second bundle:

1. Pearl Bracelet Yellow ~ Outfoxed @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 2. Bright Pink 1049 ~ Kona Cotton @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 3. Triangles Gold ~ Alegria ORGANIC @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 4. Magnolia Road Spectrum ~ Quilt Blocks @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 5. Ornament Persian Rose ~ Tradewinds @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 6. Woodcut Yellow ~ Multi Black ~ Chickadee @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 7. Savannah Blossom ~ Karavan @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 8. Buttercup 1056 ~ Kona Cotton @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 9. Flying Geese Spectrum ~ Quilt Blocks @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 10. Flying Stripe Spectrum Yellow ~ Quilt Blocks @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 11. Stars Spectrum Fuchsia ~ Quilt Blocks @ Sew,Mama,Sew!, 12. Tonal Hot Pink ~ Pezzy Print @ Sew,Mama,Sew!

After seeing both bundles together in this post, I think I would definitely lean towards the pink and yellow more than the blue and green, but I think either would look great for a picnic quilt!

If you missed my post the first week, here are some details about the contest:

Each week for 4 weeks, participants will be given a theme and then will choose 12 fabrics that fit that theme from Sew, Mama, Sew's online fabric shop. Once you have selected your fabrics, you will need to "pin" each fabric on a Pinterest board. Each week the 10 best fabric bundles will be selected and opened to a public vote to choose the winner.  If you win, you and your bundle will be featured on the Sew, Mama, Sew blog, the bundle will be for sale in the online shop and  you will get a fat quarter bundle of the 12 fabrics you selected sent to your home for free!

If you would like to participate in the Fat Quarter Idol Contest, you can click the image below to read all the official rules and learn how to submit your fabrics for a chance to win!

Can't wait to see all the beautiful bundles that make it to the top ten this week!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Super Secret Quilt

So.... I have been feeling a little guilty because I really haven't posted anything showing new projects or progress on current projects for about 2 weeks now.  But, I have a good reason!  For the last 2 weeks I have been working on a new super secret quilt for a friend.  I have been taking pictures throughout the whole process and have been dying to post them each step of the way! 

The plan was to get the quilt top done this week and write up a whole blog post about it.  I wouldn't be able to give it to my friend yet, since I would still need to sandwich, quilt and bind it before it was finished.  But I would have the top done and I figured that would be a good place to stop and and show it off a little...mostly because it is really hard to keep this project to myself!

However, I soon realized that 2 weeks to finish a queen sized quilt top (especially with the incredibly small size of the blocks) was just not enough time and that selfishly posting pictures early would just ruin the fun. So, instead, I decided to keep it a secret and just post an update instead.

Today is the 2 week mark and so far I have bought fabric, cut, ironed, marked, sewed, cut, ironed, and trimmed 719 blocks!  Whew!  It took a lot of energy, long nights, and even sneaking some blocks into my work so that I could continue trimming them during breaks to finish them all this quickly!

Now I just need to sew them all together and add a border before the quilt top will be done...hopefully by the end of the week. 

And... just for a little is a picture of the huge pile of fabric scraps that are left from trimming all the blocks.

I promise to post more pictures after this quilt is finished and gifted to my very deserving friend!

I hope she loves it! 

Liebster Blog Award!!!

Saturday, I was awarded the Liebster Blog Award by Danielle Hudson of Fresh Off the Spool!

Total unexpected!!! THANK YOU!!!

The Liebster Award (Liebster means favorite in German) is for bloggers with 200 followers or less. As a recipient of the award, you have the chance to thank and link back to the blogger who gave it to you as well as pass it along to five other deserving blogs.

I have done some quilting/sewing here and there since I was young but I never really got serious about quilting until I finally got my own machine and had space in our apartment to have an actual sewing room (or sewing area - since our apartment is just a really large studio).  I really wanted to learn free motion quilting, and in the process of trying to teach myself, I found Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project.  I loved following along and sewing all the designs on little sample squares.  I decided that I wanted to participate more in the online quilting community and started a blog of my own.  It has been the BEST decision I could have ever made for my quilting hobby!  There are so many talented quilters in this online community that are always sharing their beautiful projects, tips and tutorials as well as providing inspiration, encouragement, and support.  It's amazing!  My blog has also helped me to stay motivated to sit down at my sewing machine as often as possible so that I can always be adding to my blog and also seeing what everyone else is doing that week.

The Liebster Conventions say:
1. Thank your award presenter on your blog and link back to him/her
2. Copy and paste the award to your blog
3. Present the Liebster Award to 5 blogs that you think deserve to be recognized
4. Let them know by leaving a comment on their blog
5. Have faith that your follower will spread the love too !

I have a huge list of bloggers that I love following and it was really hard to choose just 5...soooo...I chose 10!!  (...couldn't help myself)
Here are the top 10 deserving bloggers that I awarded with the Liebster Blog Award:

Megan at City Stiches

Amy at Crafty Shenanigans

Sew Lovins at Sew Lovins

Cindy at Spin the Bobbin

Debbie at Stitchin' Therapy

MB at MB in MI

Pat at Color Me Quilty

Elena at Breakfast for Dinner

Alison at Little Bunny Quilts

Jenna at Sew Happy Geek

I hope that all of my readers check out each one of these blogs because they are AWESOME!
Also, I hope that each winner will spread the love!!

And again thank you to Danielle at Fresh Off the Spool for giving me this award!

Happy Quilting Everyone!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fat Quarter Idol Contest

I recently found this Fat Quarter Idol Contest hosted by Sew, Mama, Sew and it sounds like a lot of fun! 

Each week for the next 4 weeks, participants will be given a theme and then will choose 12 fabrics that fit that theme from Sew, Mama, Sew's online fabric shop. Once you have selected your fabrics, you will need to "pin" each fabric on a Pinterest board. Each week the 10 best fabric bundles will be selected and opened to a public vote to choose the winner.  If you win, you and your bundle will be featured on the Sew, Mama, Sew blog, the bundle will be for sale in the online shop and  you will get a fat quarter bundle of the 12 fabrics you selected sent to your home for free!

I love these kinds of contests, because you're guaranteed to love the prize!  Also, by participating I had to create a free Pinterest account, which I already know I'm going to love using in the future to create all of my idea/inspiration boards! Why didn't I have an account on Pinterest sooner!!!

If you would like to participate in the Fat Quarter Idol Contest, you can click the image below to read all the official rules and learn how to submit your fabrics for a chance to win:

 This week's theme is "Sweet Child of Mine".

Here are the 12 fabrics I selected.  What do you think?

1. Ranka Sarsaparilla ~ Echo @ Sew, Mama, Sew, 2. Cashmere Sapphire ~ Cocoon @ Sew, Mama, Sew, 3. Bulles Blue ~ Cosmic Zoo ORGANIC @ Sew, Mama, Sew, 4. Dittybud Pink ~ Freshcut @ Sew, Mama, Sew, 5. Birdy White ~ Sugar Hill @ Sew, Mama, Sew, 6. Florine Dusted Plum ~ Echo @ Sew, Mama, Sew, 7. Pearl Bracelet Peach ~ Outfoxed @ Sew, Mama, Sew, 8. Circle Stripes Icing ~ A Walk in the Woods @ Sew, Mama, Sew, 9. Maybe Sixpence ~ Innocent Crush VOILE @ Sew, Mama, Sew, 10. Baby Pink 189 ~ Kona Cotton @ Sew, Mama, Sew, 11. Foxlets Cloud ~ A Walk in the Woods @ Sew, Mama, Sew, 12. Ruta Navy ~ Echo @ Sew, Mama, Sew

I hope you all have fun choosing your 12 fabrics and I can't wait to see if I make it to the top 10!

Now, back to quilting!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

March Blocks for Craftsy BOM

I have finished my blocks for March!  I am pretty happy to have finished these blocks early in the month of April, because now I have plenty of time left to finish the April blocks before the end of the month and successfully be caught up with the group.  Yea!

The first block for March was a String Block.  I followed Amy and used all warm colors: pinks, oranges, a little bit of purple and of course my white on white base/foundation fabric.

It was fun to try to piece both of the March blocks by randomly picking different strips as I went along.  Of course I narrowed it down to either warm or cool colors for each block, but I really like the random, scrappy look that I ended up with. Of course, you always have the option of being more deliberate in piecing all of the strips which would come up with a totally different but still beautiful look.

Both blocks for March were foundation pieced blocks.  It felt a little different at first to be sewing each strip through the white foundation piece but it really was quite simple and easy and it made my block a little thicker...which to me means cozy!  I think having a little bit of a thicker quilt top would be nice for a warm cozy winter blanket.

Here is a picture of the back of the String Block so you can see that all of the white on white foundation fabric is still intact. 

The second block for March was a Broken Spider Web Block. Very Similar to the String Block, this block used a variety of different strips of fabric.  The only difference really is the placement of the strips so that they form this star shape in the center.  Also Amy showed us with this block that if you don't want your blocks to be as thick, you can choose not to sew your strips through the foundation fabric and instead just use the foundation as a template and then cut it away when your done.

Here is my Broken Spider Web Block.  I chose all cool blues and purples for this one.

I really love how this block turned out.  I'm not sure if it is because it makes a star shape or because of all the beautiful blues and purples, but I will definitely have to try making a whole quilt top of this sometime in the future!

Again with this block I didn't actually sew through the white on white foundation fabric but instead just folded it away when sewing each strip and folded it back and used it as a guide when placing the next strip.  When I was done with each section, I cut away the excess foundation fabric, leaving the back of the block, looking like this:

Here are my two finished March Blocks together:

And here are all of my blocks that are finished so far for the Craftsy Block of the Month for a total of 6!

I am so happy that I found this BOM class on Craftsy!  I have already learned so much from this project and there are still 14 blocks left before the end! I will definitely have some awesome piecing techniques that I can reference long after this project is finished.

Now...onto my April blocks and some other works in progress!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Retro Flower Quilt Along: Part 1

 I recently found a Retro Flower Quilt Along and jumped on the chance to sign up! It is being hosted by City Stitches and Sweet Diesel Designs.  I am excited to learn how to sew some curves and see all the beautiful quilts and inspiration posted by all the talented quilters involved!

Christina's Quilt

Here is the fabric that I bought for my Retro Flower Quilt:

Does it look familiar?  Yes, it is the a lot of the same fabric I put together for the Pink Castle Fabric contest last week.  I didn't win the contest, but I saw this fabric at Piece by Piece Fabric in Eugene and just had to get it! I love the fruit patterns and all the bright cheery colors.

Time to get started!

If you want to join the quilt along and make a retro flower quilt of your own click here.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Heart and Feather Wholecloth Quilt Along with Leah Day: Part 3

The micro-stippling on this quilt took a lot longer than I expected, but it feels great to have finished it and be in the home stretch of my first wholecloth quilt!!!

Since the stippling is so small and dense, I had to break it up over a couple of days.  The first night I just focused on the very center of the quilt.

The next day I finished everything inside the feathers and started working on the corner hearts.

And here it is with all the micro-stippling finished.

All that's left now is squaring everything up and adding the binding.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

February Blocks for Craftsy BOM

I had some time this weekend to work on doing some catching up on the Craftsy block of the month quilt. For the February blocks Amy taught us two different techniques and designs using half-square triangles.

The first one was the Balken Puzzle or Windblown Star Block.

Amy showed us the magic half-square triangle technique where you can make four squares at once by sewing two fabrics together (completely closed), then cutting along the diagonals.  This technique was really easy and quick to make the little squares but when it came to piecing everything together, I realized that my triangles were not very even and I had to stitch and restitch a few times before I was happy with this block.

The second block was the Chunky Chevron Block.

I love this block!!!  It was also made with half-square triangles but this time, we sewed down each side of the diagonal.  You can only make two squares at a time with this method but each square was so much more accurate and this block flew together.  I think liking the design better might have had some influence too. :)

Here are my two February Blocks together:

And the all four blocks so far: