I’m still here and sewing, I promise

I really have no idea why it’s taken me so long to update, other than maybe I moved my laptop to behind my sewing machine for Netflix watching instead of next to it, because where it was was hurting my neck and I didn’t like having to reach to type.

I’m working on several things, one of which is still growing this baby in my tummy. I’m nearly 39 weeks, so it could be any time, really, although the last two have gone past their due dates, so I might still have two weeks or more.

Enormous belly.

In the past four months I also finished a swap, possibly my last swap ever (I’ll go into this another time).

This is the entire package I sent to my partner, who was a total joy to make for.

I used some really rich, saturating prints, focusing on some big name designers because at the time, my partner had only been quilting for a short time and this was one of her first swaps. I wanted to not only make something *I* found really pretty, but showcased some of the popular stuff like Kaffe Fasset, Tula Pink, and Kate Spain.

Here is another picture of the mini, this time in natural light.

I quilted the purple pretty heavily with a sort of swirl pattern, and then left the orange, pink and yellow fairly puffy. I was really pleased with this finish and was a little sad to see it go.

Something new I tried that I’d never done before was pattern testing, this time for the wonderful FromBlankPages, whose patterns I have used and loved before (I used the Celestial Star pattern again for the previously mentioned mini).

I chose the 9″ block and designed an 18″ pillow with it, repeating the block four times. I used my newly purchased and oh so pretty Shimmer 2 by Jennifer Sampou (because those metallics are HEAVEN)

I did some simple straight line quilting, following a lot of the secondary diamond patterns (because I’m just so over matchstick quilting) and ended up with this, which I gave to my brother and his fiance for Christmas.

The piecing was a bit tedious, with I think 212 total pieces, and some of them quite small, but I am so happy with it. The pattern is called Space Gem, and is now available in any FromBlackPages shop.

I have a lot more to write about, but I still have late Christmas gifts to finish and a hockey game to listen to!

 

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My first bag! and a swap finish

I’m trying to take advantage of a rare spurt of energy to catch up on all my finished projects from whenever the last time I wrote about any finished projects.

First up is a bag I made. My first bag, actually. All the quilters on IG are making bags, and my mom has been asking for one since I first started sewing several years ago, so I thought  I’d give it a shot. Plus, it was her 50th birthday, and it would have been kinda jerky to not get my mom ANYTHING for her 50th.

I used this free tutorial, and I think it turned out pretty nice. It’s not perfect. The bottom seams didn’t match up because I totally forgot to even check that, but my mom liked it and I can check “making a bag” off my list of things to make for her. Next up is tackling zippered pouches (check back in the next five years to see if I’ve ever gotten around to this).

I was really glad to find a use for some Tula Pink. It’s basically novelty fabric, which I really have no use for. I guess a lot of bags are in my future.

Up next is a swap finish I don’t think I ever posted. It was for the Spring Fling Mini swap way back in April.

My partner said she loved Bonnie and Camille fabrics in any of the Thimble Blossom patterns, so I thought I would rock my April Showers bundle in some adorable granny squares (seriously, Thimble Blossom and B&C fabrics are usually not my thing but I really loved these little granny squares. Granny squares make any fabric totes adorbs). This is what it looked like in the end –

I did matchstick quilting (not a fan) and rounded edges (it’s alright) for the first time on this quilt and I think it turned out nicely. I got a lot of positive feedback on IG, but I was actually really embarrassed when she received it because she had made THE EXACT SAME THING for herself, only she had never posted it on IG. Actually, she had made a full size version, but it was still April Showers in granny squares. She swore she loved it and loved the idea of having a mini of one of her favorite quilts, but I am still not sure if I totally NAILED this swap or bungled it.

A year in review – thoughts on using Instagram for quilt inspiration (part one – the good)

It’s been about a year since I first discovered Instagram as a great way to network and meet other amazing quilters. I’ll have to credit Molli Sparkles with being the first quilter I followed, and from his page, the three or so hundred I now follow. I think the easiest way for me to work through my thoughts on this would be a simple pro/con list, because I do have a fair few of both.

Pros:
1)This one is easy, really. Getting to “meet” amazing quilt artists from all over the world and being able to expose myself to a huge variety of quilts and styles. I’ve mostly followed the modern crowd, but I do have a few more traditional quilters on me feed as well.

2)The fabrics! I would have never, ever known about some of the amazing lines of fabrics that have come out this year or in the past. This has been a bit of a double edged sword (as you’ll see in the cons list), but overall it’s been quiet positive. I’ve learned about some great shops, both larger internet ones, small etsy shops, and my local modern quilt shop.

(Denise Schmidt fabrics are  my jam, yo)

3)The quilts, duh – Of course, amazing quilters using amazing fabrics are going to make some killer quilts. I confess, I have hundreds of pictures of quilts and quilts in progress saved on my phone just to easily refer back to and look at because so many are so gosh darn pretty.

4)Global participation/swaps/trades/etc – I think it’s just awesome that I’ve made some quilt friends from all over the world. I love it. I love thinking about how even though they might be on the literal opposite side of the world, we all share a common interest and spend many of our days sitting at our sewing machine, taking photographs of our work and sharing and commenting. Even better, that some of these people take it upon themselves to organize swaps so that we can gift each other with what I consider basically beautiful pieces of art, created from the heart of someone else for another, regardless of skill level. Through these swaps, I’ve learned how to appreciate fabrics and aesthetics that I might have overlooked as “not my taste” and never thought about again, but by using fabric out of my comfort zone to make something to the taste of my partner, or my receiving something my partner has made for me, I can see fabrics, techniques, everything in a new, refreshing, and inspirational light.

(Minis I’ve received in swaps so far)

5)Branching out – Not only have I really stretched myself this year in quilting, but I’ve also decided to pick up a few other hobbies. Many of the quilters I follow also do embroidery and cross stitching, so I’ve picked up some materials and have started a few projects I’m really excited about, too.

A year long sampler I am so, so, so behind on (this was for 2014)

6) Motivation – I don’t think I have ever sewn so much in such a short span, but this last year I have finished so many quilts, tried so many new techniques, just seen SO MANY new things. Plus, seeing other quilters just crank stuff out so quickly lights a little bit of a fire underneath my rear, so I’m really itching to get to a few unfinished projects that have been languishing so I can post them and call them DONE.

Swap progress, and a finish!

It’s been quiet on the blog,  but not at all in my house or my sewing area!

After I finished the high-stress wedding quilt, I took a little breather for a few days before jumping into new projects. That quilt was so much fun to do, and I was so happy with it, but it hung over my head for a good long time, and so having it completed was a huge weight, and I wanted to bask in the Don’t Have Any Project Timelines feeling for a bit.

But that time is over, and now I need to get started on some new projects. I’ve signed up for two swaps. One is a mini quilt swap called the Spring Fling Mini quilt swap on Instagram (where I find out about all my swaps, because as much as I’d like to, I just can’t keep up with blogs regularly). The next is a Tea Lovers Mug Rug swap, which I’m actually a little nervous about. I’ve made mug rugs, but my partner, at least according to the mosaics she’s posted on IG, has much, much different tastes, not only in regard to fabric choices but quilt preferences. Every one of her example pictures has fancy applique, and I have never, ever done applique and I don’t want to use this as a first for it. I’ll need to think on it a bit more. At least a mug rug is small and fairly quick, although I don’t quite know what I’ll do for extras at the moment.

The Spring Fling Mini is a little more straightforward. My partner was clear on her interests, and thank goodness I already had fabric of her favorite designer. She loves Bonnie and Camille, so I am putting together a granny square mini made of several of the fabrics from the April Showers line. I’ve got most of them cut, but not photographed.

Another new project is for the Sew My Stash 2015 challenge this month. The theme this time is using up some of our precuts. I decided to use my Winter’s Lane layer cake bundle to make a little Christmas throw quilt for our couch. It’s super simple – just mostly random placed fabrics in a chevron design, but I think it will look really nice in our living room. I need to get cracking if I’m to finish the top by the first week of March, though!

And now for my finish! Do you remember YEARS ago when I started working on some placemats? Well, they are DONE. Six placemats, all bound and now in use.



I’m actually really happy to finally have some placemats, and even two years later, I still love the colors on these. Green, gray, blue and orange are probably one of my favorite combinations.

Oh, and I nearly forgot to mention, I’ve also decided to join a quilt-a-long for spring. The pattern we will all be using is Alison Glass’ Timber pattern.

First, let me just say, I love this pattern. I love how bold and geometric it is, and I think it will make an amazing quilt for my husband. I’m also really excited about how customizable it is. I plan on making mine completely symmetrical. I’ve been wanting to make this quilt since I saw it, and a QAL is a perfect chance to do so. My fabric choices are going to be a lot darker.

Sorry this is such an ugly mock-up, but it’s just a general idea to work from when I get started. The main fabric will be black, with various grays and taupe making up the stripes, accented with Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer  line in place of the brights.

I’d like to make it queen size as well, so we can put it on our bed. I already have the wool batting (I’ve never used wool before, but it feels luscious!). My hope is that this will turn out, for lack of a better way of describing it, very “dwarfy”, as in fantasy/Tolkein/World of Warcraft dwarf, because my husband loves them and I love the design in the fantasy architecture and armor.

Linking back to the link up page!

First finishes for 2015

Yesterday was a really productive day for me! I was able to get my Schnitzel and Boom mini quilt finished, gather all of the extras, and mail it today.

Please forgive the bad lighting, on this one. I finished it late at night. I really liked the fabrics, although I am not totally in love with the layout. If I had it to do over again I might have picked something more cohesive, like chevrons or something, and I am a bit nervous about the quality of my hand stitching, but I still do like it overall and I hope my partner likes it.

I sent a few extras along with the quilt. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they make their way to Australia!

I also finished a ring bearer pillow for the wedding of some close friends. The wedding is in about two weeks, and the person who was originally going to make this wasn’t able to. I think I did a rather nice job, considering I wasn’t totally sure what the bride had in mind.

Now to finish the wedding quilt!

2015 quarter 1 link up party

These Finish Alongs are such great motivation to get all these half finished projects done. I’ve been feeling really creative lately and have drawn out patterns for several different quilt ideas, but I don’t want to start more projects without getting the ones in limbo all over my house completed. The further away I get from them, the less likely I am to actually finish them, and the thought of an unfinished, no longer loved, quilt project makes me sad.

My list of UFO’s

1. The wedding quilt. It’s so close to being done, and it needs to be finished by Jan 31
2. The Danica quilt. The anniversary of the death of the little girl that inspired this quilt is in just a few days, so it seems fitting I should complete it near that time. If I can, I will write about that precious little girl. I can’t promise though, because it is something I still get very emotional about, and I’m not quite sure if I want to share on this blog.
3. Bargello: Apocalypse. It needs borders and quilting.
4. Mini for schnitzel and boom mini swap. This one is a sure-fire finish, as I need to ship it in just a few weeks.
5. The blue and gold quilt kit from years ago. Yeah, I still haven’t finished piecing it. I won’t get it done this quarter, but I’ll sure as hell make some progress, dagnab it.
6. Christmas tree skirt. Yeah, I said I was going to make a table runner, but then I realized I didn’t have a tree skirt!
7. My arizona fabrics quilt. Not even cut, but lately I’ve had dreams about a lovely pattern I’ve started to doodle out.
8. practice quilted placemats from ages ago
9. Spring Fling Mini quilt swap using April Showers fabric

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oh boy

oh boy

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Schnitzel and Boom Mini Quilt Swap

I’ve joined my first Schnitzel and Boom mini quilt swap! I enjoyed my last swap so much I joined this one and another.

My partner this time has very different tastes than I do, so I hope she likes what I’ve come up with.

I decided to use the charm pack I won from the Celestial Star QAL, Birch Farm from Joel Dewberry, and really just made it up as I went along. I cut a bunch of half square triangles and rearranged it until I liked it.

My partner also said she likes hand quilting, and while it’s not my favorite (I haven’t done it in YEARS and when I did, it wasn’t that well), I would like to use these mini swaps as opportunities to try techniques that I might not otherwise use.

It’s not taking as long as I thought it would, and I can see some improvement in my stitch consistency. Still, not something I’m going to do often.

Linking up with Fiber of All Sorts’s goal setting party, as this needs to be done before the end of January.

IG Mini Quilt Swap completed!

I can finally post the finished pictures from my first swap! I didn’t want to write about  it on here so I wouldn’t give away the surprise, but now that the recipient has received it I can post pictures and talk about it a little bit.

Swaps are pretty popular on instagram, and I really wanted to join in on what seemed like a ton of fun, and I loved the idea of pretty mini quilt presents coming in the mail, and mini quilts are a small enough project that you can try something totally new, or do something really intricate, and it not take a long time.

When I got the information for my partner, I was initially a little intimidated. I’ve never made anything for another quilter, and so she would probably be quite able to pick apart all of my mistakes. What if I got her aesthetic wrong? What if my skill level wasn’t up to par? Everyone is usually such a good sport, but still, what if she was disappointed about what I made for her?

Her likes were Carolyn Friedlander fabrics, and she seemed to like really modern, clean and geometric patterns. She liked paper pieced patterns, and wonky stars.

I found a few different patterns (and then as I looked through her IG I realized one of my options was something she’d actually made before, so I didn’t want to make that).

I ultimately decided to make another quilt using the Celestial Star pattern from From Blank Pages, but instead of the normal border, I wanted to do flying geese because 1) they are really popular and 2) because I’ve never done it before.

15820605786_1d87c253bd_oThe entire top is paper pieced, which (especially the flying geese), was tedious as hell. I don’t regret doing it, but it just took a long time and I don’t think they’re something I’m going to do a lot of.

I went ahead and stayed within the entire Carolyn Friedlander Botanics line because she said she liked them. I was initially “meh” about the line, but as I worked with them they really grew on me. Normally I don’t like to stay within just one line of fabric because it feels a little too easy, but sometimes you just need everything to work together, and so sticking within a line works.

15846623245_804c86a0dd_o15820777766_b8bc012e60_o15225164464_13b8490fa8_oHere are a few detail pictures of the fabrics and quilting. My piecing isn’t perfect. I’ve got chopped off corners and some puckers, but I’m improving I think.

For quilting, I thought some echoing lines and semi-matchstick would work well around the center star and on top of the flying geese, which proved pretty difficult to decide on a quilting scheme that would work with the flying geese.

15660298489_fa2dc61620_oNow to wait for my mini to come in the mail!