Whoa

Wow. Where to begin?

Seven months goes by SO QUICKLY! I never meant to fall off the face of the earth, but here we are.

Our third little boy was born January 10, weighing in at 8lbs even. We named him Benedict Michael (hereafter on this blog as “Beanie”, thanks to his older brothers). He’s a sweetie.

The birth went really well and there were no complications and he fits into our family perfectly.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/91936282@N00/27333732630/in/datetaken/

His brothers are growing up, too. Yuri turned 3 a little over a month ago and is delightful and trouble and mischievous and clever and very hard to stay on top of. He colors on walls without abandon and without regard to consequence, cuts his hair with no second thought, punches his older brother on a daily basis, and really enjoys helping out in the kitchen. He has also recently learned how to play minecraft, so he and Kostya do that nearly every day, until Yuri starts breaking everything Kostya has made. I think this photo pretty much sums it up.

Kostya turned 6 in February, and he is a delight as well. He is progressing through his phonics, and he is a fantastic big brother and a great help around the house. He is usually at the receiving end of a punch from Yuri, but he almost always kind of deserves it, if that makes sense.

I cannot believe how old they are getting! I have three sons! It is the best ever.

After Christmas I decided to shut down my etsy shop, probably for good. Kostya was going to be doing proper homeschooling, I would have three little ones to look after, and with the etsy shop, all of my free time was spent working on it instead of doing any fun sewing. The money was nice, but after four years, it was time to say goodbye. I don’t miss it at all.

In the meantime I have made real progress on my WIP list from the past few years, and, of course, started many new ones and have about a million other things I want to make.

I finished this in the spring as a gift for a friend of ours whose daughter was born about a month after Beanie. I really enjoy using the Quick Curve Ruler and the patterns that go along with it, and this Bonnie and Camille fabric was darling.

After

After I gifted the quilt, however, Baby’s Mother told me they actually fell in love with the back side of the quilt. Mom had always referred to her daughter as her “Little Mermaid” in utero, and so I found a mermaid panel printed by Hawthorne Threads, and so this is the side they display in the nursery. (This shows off the quilting I did a little bit)

I also finally finished the pink and brown BOTM I started years ago (in my gallery is it’s twin, Jun) and gifted it to one of Kostya’s friends.

I also finished a Halloween wall hanging using Cotton + Steel’s Spellbound line. It’s actually quilted and ready to hang, but I don’t seem to have a picture of it all finished. I’m not sure why I made a wall hanging, and a Halloween one at that. I don’t typically decorate for holidays or anything, and I’m not particularly attached to Halloween. Maybe I just really liked the fabric.

Another big finish (well, almost), is this quilt top I started last spring, but then fell pregnant and felt absolutely horrible and set it aside until this year. The pattern is Alsion Glass’s “Timber” and I chose to use dark neutrals paired with Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer and Shimmer 2 lines because I felt that, altogether, it would feel “masculine” and even a little bit “dwarfy”. This quilt will be my husband’s when I’m finished and it’s the first quilt I’ve ever used wool batting in. I’ll report back on how we like the wool. In Texas.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/91936282@N00/28468222176/in/datetaken/

Of course there are a million other things going on. I’m homeschooling a bit and I need to update the homeschooling blog. I’ve been reading and cross stitching some. My brother got married. Our garden did well this spring. Life is busy and I am a terrible updater. Also I hate computer, the internet, and most social media, so there you go.

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An actual craft post, yay!

Sewing and crafting has been slow. Really slow. The first trimester exhaustion and nausea that inhibited my crafting abilities has yet to dissipate, even though I am now at 19 weeks, and so almost halfway through this pregnancy.

When I first fell pregnant, the plan was to just take a crafting break for a few months because I assumed this pregnancy would be like the other two and I would start bouncing back at around 13 weeks. That has yet to happen, and I don’t want to go this whole time in a crafting funk, so I’m trying to adapt and just work more slowly through projects (something I didn’t even think was possible, as I am possibly the Slowest Craft Ever).

Cross stitch has been a nice, easy, fairly mindless thing to do when I want to sit and do nothing (which is all the time), but also do *something*.

I’ve been working on this adorable little sampler from last year at Cloudsfactory. I started it last August, so I’ve been working on it a year and I’m still only in May. Like I said, slowest crafter ever.

I also started a little Halloween wall hanging in the Cotton + Steel Spellbound line, which is probably the only Halloween fabric I have ever liked. I figured since hubby and I actually own a home now and I sew, I should like, make pretty stuff for it. I’ve been “working” on these for about two months now, and all I have to show for it are just two blocks. Seriously. Sewing is hard when you can’t brain.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/91936282@N00/20526445639/in/datetaken/

I started a queen sized quilt way back in March and haven’t worked on it since I got pregnant, but I need to get back to it. It was originally from a quilt a long hosted by Modern Handcraft. I am only about two blocks into it because SCE (see above). I’m using neutral Kona solids with the Shimmer line, by Jennifer Sampou. It’s supposed to be dwarfy.

I’ll end the post here with some deep thoughts, brought to you by DMX:

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

Q4 To Be Finished Linky Party

Thanks to Alice at Blossom Quilts, I’ve just learned about a link-up party, complete with prizes, for WIPs I’m working on this last quarter. I need to finish all these anyway, and what better incentive to get off my bottom and get to work than PRIZES?!?

So here is my list:

1. The cream and purple batik table cover (needs to be basted, quilted and bound)
2. Metro Medallion wedding quilt (need to finish quilting and binding)
3. Tula Pink Moonshine commissioned toddler quilt (need to finish piecing, baste, quilt and bind)
4. Celestial Star Mini for the IGMiniSwap (need to piece, baste, quilt and bind)
5. Winter’s Lane Christmas quilt – I’m thinking a chevron quilt (need to cut, piece, baste, quilt and bind)
6. Danica’s Sampler (need to quilt and bind)
7. Bargello: Apocalypse (needs borders, basting, quilting and binding)
8. Christmas table runners using Kate Spain’s Joy line (cut, piece, baste, quilt and bind)
9. Scrappy Cathedral Window pincushions for Christmas gifts – have mats for 10, plan to make at least 8 (all hand pieced, about half done)
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Celestial Star QAL update

I’ve spent the past few days sitting, sleeping, and ruminating on my fabric choices for this mini quilt (I might also be procrastinating and putting off the actual sewing and cutting, since I’ve never done anything like this before). Fromblankpages (the host), has put some some great posts about color, value, and choosing the right fabrics for the most appealing end result, and I really want to take what she’s written into mind as I make this. My husband as always told me I seem to do well with color (and I believe him, first because it makes me feel good, and second because he is a degree’d artist. He might just be telling me to make me happy,  but who cares), but  I do want to take color more seriously. I can’t go and take college classes on color and design right now, but some craftsy classes and helpful blog posts will have to work.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is I’ve never really been so intentional about how I thought about color in my quilts. I just put stuff together until I thought it looked nice. This is really the first time I have taken a lot of time to sketch and color – and I’m totally seeing how beneficial this part of the process is! With my first quilts I was just so excited to cut into that fabric and get to sewing, and now I see how necessary taking the time to plan and imagine is for making something I could consider art.

Back to the QAL – I’ve taken a couple of pictures of a few different fabric auditions I did, although these are just a small fraction of what felt like a million different fabric pulls.

Let me apologize for not having pictures here – the few I took are terrible quality because I took them at midnight, and so there was no natural light.

In my original sketch, I have navy and a lighter blue next to each other, with a yellow orange and red orange set in between. I knew right off that the navy and the other blue would be solids, and since I had been working with navy and an aqua recently, I pulled those. Now came the hard part; deciding on my oranges. I wanted to use prints here, but the problem I found I kept having was that every single yellow orange I placed next to the navy and aqua fell completely flat. Bright fabrics were completely dulled. I tried so many combinations thinking I didn’t have enough contrast between the red orange and yellow orange. I had to sleep on it a few days, but when I came back to it I realized my problem was not with my yellow oranges or red oranges, but my insistence that I keep the aqua. The aqua and navy looked so nice together I didn’t even think about changing either, but what needed to go was the aqua, so I switched the aqua with a robin’s egg blue, which next to the robin’s egg looked downright green. After making the switch, the yellow orange was so much easier to place. I could actually do better and use this blue, but I’m currently all out of it and I won’t have time to order it before I need to  make more progress on this QAL.

 

When things don’t turn out as planned

A long while ago, I promised my mom I’d make a quilt for her. Now, lots of people have asked me to make a quilt for them, and I try to stress to cost and time it takes to do that, and usually this gets me out of it (I promise I do love making quilts, and making quilts for specific people, but gosh golly it can be a huge time commitment and is surprisingly costly – like in the hundreds of dollars range), but mom is a special exception. Like, duh. She said she wanted something simple and in just two colors – lavender and gray. Every pattern we looked at that she liked ended up being a pretty classic, traditional pattern like Jacob’s Ladder or a simple nine patch, so that’s what I figured I would make. But then the Downton Abbey line of fabric came out, specifically, the Dowager Countess line (this is no reflection on my mother, teehee). and I thought those would work perfectly.

For a while, at least. Then, in March, I went to the Dallas Quilt Show with my cousin and found this adorable bundle of lilac and cream batiks and my original idea went out the window. I collected a few more fabrics and slowly my idea evolved to where instead of gray, I was going to use cream, and in my head I had this beautiful watercolor-ish quilt planned, using the Carpenter’s Star pattern.

 

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Even though I’m rather “meh” about most batiks, I thought these looked lovely.

So I got them all pressed and starched, and tried several different pairings to make sure that the fabrics would look nice next to each other, and then started cutting away.

Finally getting around to cutting the fabric for my mom's quilt. She said she wanted lavender and gray, which after being translated in my head and many, many fabric auditions, turned into a range of purple and cream #batiks. #quilt #quilting #quiltplanni

So far so good. I even tried a new technique where to get a 6.5″ square made of two HST, I cut two pieces 10″, sewed all along the outside, and then cut the 10″ block diagonally each way, like this –

Then I laid then all out in the Carpenter’s Square pattern, and it was awful. Just… horrible. I could have cried I was so disappointed. There was no way, with what I had cut, I could salvage it to my liking. But I liked this fabric, even if some of my fabric combinations weren’t working, and I thought I could salvage this in some way, by trying a different arrangement.

So here are a few different layouts I’m considering. I may need to cut some more fabrics to get it perfect, but I have plenty and this is a start.

Idea 1

Idea 2, which I like more and will probably go with (extending the borders out a bit, since this only uses about a quarter of my cut fabric)

I didn’t even take a picture of my original, the Carpenter’s Square. It was terrible. I couldn’t commit it to camera because it was so bad I never wanted anyone to know I actually thought it might turn out well. (Seriously, Bria. What were you thinking?!?)

Still, neither of these new configurations are screaming “This is a beautiful quilt!” My SIL saw them and said they’d look amazing in 1987, which is a little harsh (only a little though), because there is a part of me I suppose that’s perfectly at home in 1987. Just kidding.

Anyway, the most important thing is going to be whether or not my mom likes it, because if she does, it doesn’t matter one bit whether or not I feel like these represent my artistic direction or nonsense like that. It’s my MOM.

In fact, this may turn out okay in the end. With a simple, even plain piecing configuration, I now have a great canvas to try some really lovely quilting. I thought I might grab some big medallion stencils for this to try something new.

And if mom hates it, she can use it as a table runner for a while or something, and I’ll make her a proper quilt in the fabric scheme she originally asked for.

fabric acquisitions and several WIP updates

I recently discovered a quilt shop near my house that sells modern fabric, so I’ve stopped by a couple of times to see what they have, and I have been most impressed. They’re getting new fabric in every day, and they have several classes that I’m looking forward to taking, including an into to long arm quilting (required to rent time on the house longarm machine, which I am curious about). They’ve also got free open studio time which I hope to take advantage of this week, because it’s becoming nearly impossible to make much progress on my work at home with the boys.

Here are some fabrics I’ve picked up recently

@urbanspools was having a buy four get one free fat quarter sale, and they just got in some gorgeous #kaffefassett #fabric, so of course I needed to get some #urbanspools

I don’t have any plans for these as yet, but I’m glad to finally have a few brand new pieces from some modern designers in my collection.

I also grabbed this little bundle, after Molli Sparkles showed it on his blog. These particular fabrics have been the inspiration for my progress in the Celestial Star QAL I’ve been working on at From Blank Pages.

I’ve printed out some pages to color to see what I like, and so far I think I’m going to go with something similar to this –

Of course, whether or not I actually *use* the fabrics in the mini quilt is another question entirely, but that’s really beside the point. That’s pretty much par for the course for me, in my experience – start with some fabric I really want to use, plan and plan, and then when the time comes to re-audition fabric to make sure everything works together in the pattern, I pick something completely different.

Besides the QAL, I’ve got a quilt I’m working on for my mom, and another for some friends. I really want to show both of them, but they are gifts and I don’t want the surprise ruined. Oh, and I still need to finalize the pattern and make some fabric decisions on that baby quilt for my friend. Sooo much to do..

Molli Sparkles

A Quilt Along!

I think I might do something I’ve never done before, and join a Quilt Along! Here’s where the information is. I’ve grabbed the pattern and I’m printing it out right now to color and play with. I’ve never done any paper piecing before either, so this is all going to be so new.

It’s so timely, though. Just the other day my husband started doodling a beautiful set of stars that he said he thought would make good quilt blocks. I told  him he was probably right, but as I’ve never done any foundation paper piecing it would be a while before we could try them out, and then viola! This pops up on my instagram feed.

I’ve always wanted to meet some other quilters and participate in these QALs and swaps that I see all over the place, so maybe I’ll make some friends! Hope so, at least.

What I’m currently working on

Now that I’ve finished ONE project that’s been in the works for a few years, I’m able to start on a few others.

Two of them I’ve gotten no further than just making fabric choices. One is for my mother. She requested something simple and traditional, using only lavender and gray. I had originally thought I’d use the purples from the Downton Abbey line from Andover, but a few months ago at a quilt show in Dallas I found a bundle of cream, gray and lilac batiks that just spoke to me. Since I couldn’t find any prints that went with the batiks I opted to go totally batik and picked up a few more from fabric.com. The pattern I’ve decided on is an oversized Carpenter’s Star.

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I’m not a big fan of really saturated and bright batiks, but these more muted colors are lovely, and I’m really looking forward to getting started on this. I *hope* to have this done for Christmas, but that’s just six months away and I have two other gift quilts that have to be done in that time, as well as making several small projects for gifts.

Another project that I’ve got to get started on is a baby quilt for my dear friend at Lattes and Rainy Days for baby #3, their second son. I “met” Kirsten in October of 2010, after she called into a radio show on EWTN (Catholic radio station) to ask for prayers for her first son, Ewan, who was born with some complex heart defects. I followed her blog, and came to know her through that and other social media. My heart broke into a million pieces when Ewan passed, and ever since then she and I have shared letters and texts and emails and I so want to give her something to share in the joy of this new baby. I don’t have the talent for words like she does to tell her how special I think her family is, so hopefully this quilt will convey a part of my feelings.

I haven’t ironed out the final plan, but I’ve decided on this color scheme, and I think I want to attempt something much more modern than I’ve ever done, with lots of negative space and very simple straight line quilting.
14440173676_5e03779d1b_bThat’s Kona Espresso in the background, with various blue prints I’ve got in my stash (you’ll see some solids in the stack, but I don’t think I will use those).

I’m all linked up here!

Molli Sparkles

 

Bargello how to (part 2)

Part 1 is here!

Step 8: Start Cutting Your Curve!

This is where we really get to the nuts and bolts of making your Bargello! If you are like me, and aren’t using the program to guide you on how wide to cut your strips, you’ll probably be making the curve up a bit as you go along.

There are a couple of basic ideas that will help you make a really awesome and dynamic quilt. Basically, the wider you cut strips, the more gradual the curve, and the narrower you cut the strips, the steeper the curve, which give you the ability to make some very interesting sharp points.

Here is my first cut.

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I think this is about 1.5″ to 2″ inches wide. It’s still a tube. You’ll do your cutting/unpicking of the seams in a bit.

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Cut a few more strips. Yeah, it’s a bit scary, but it’ll turn out nicely. Remember, narrower for a steeper curve, either up or down, and wider for a more gradual curve. Another thing you need to think of is how you want to stagger the strips. You could match seams and move each step a whole piece of fabric down, and that effect is quite lovely, but you will have to match seams through the whole quilt, and as this is my “lazy” quilt piecing method, I don’t do that. Or you could stagger halfway, with the seams of one strip coming only halfway, or to the middle of the next, pictured below.

13645661073_0e25bde478_zI prefer this way because the thought of matching seams throughout this quilt makes my head want to explode.

Here is another cut set next to the first two. I’m moving each fabric up a half block to create the curve. You could move them down a half block to make the slope go down. Also note that these are all still tube. I wait until I have several strips lined up before I do any cutting, in case I change my mind. When that happens, and I decide I want to do different widths of strips, I set these already cut aside to use later and cut whatever I need from the big tube.

13645646873_fa91cf4e11_zHere are a few more strips. I’ve already sewn them together here, but it’s to give you an idea of the curve I’m working on.

13645941394_c6a4fa2ed6_zNow, once you’ve decided on the beginnings of your curve, you’ll no longer want your strips to be tubes! Since we are staggering halfway here, you will either unpick the top seam,

13645987504_21210e64ca_zYour first unpicked seam will be between fabrics 1 and 12. Then, for your next strip, you will cut halfway through a block.

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This is cut through fabric 1, for the second strip.

For the third strip, I unpicked the seam between 1 and 2. For the fourth, I cut in the middle of fabric 2, and so on.

After you’ve arranged a few beginning strips to your liking, it’s time for

Step 9: Sewing Your Curve!

You will notice that your first strip, because the seam has been unpicked, there will be a little extra fabric up top that was in the seam allowance. Line up your second strip, the cut strip, up where the original seam was, and not flush with the top of the fabric, otherwise the seams throughout will not line up in the middle. 13645619265_d543dcbb27_z

A word on which way you press your seams. As you can see here, I was stupid, and didn’t pay a bit of attention to which direction my seams were, and so with these first two strips I had to sew against the direction the seams were pressed, which means if I wasn’t careful, my seams would get all twisted and make pressing more difficult.

Speaking of pressing seams, take care. These are easy to stretch and warp out of place, especially the narrower ones.

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I’m actually still rotten at pressing seams without any warp or stretch, so I don’t know if I can help with problems there too much. I still need practice.

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Here are several more sewed together and pressed. You can see where I am planning ahead, and working on a steep curve with narrow strips.

Step 10: Wine Break

This is necessary. Don’t spill. 13645937114_96668b2a5e_z

 

Step 11: Continue until done. 😀

There really isn’t much more instruction at this point. You just keep arranging strips until you get a nice curve. Try to do both narrow and wide, slowly moving from one extreme to another, and it should help add some interest to the quilt.

Step 12: Cake. 

I had a birthday during the piecing of this quilt. Yay cake!

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Step 13: Some Variations

I tried a few different things with this one, which you can decide to do or not. 14022950163_08fcce1e49_z

One thing I decided to do was break up one of my sharp points with thin (3/4″) strips of black. It’s a really simple addition. All it entailed was just deciding a width of fabric, cutting, and sewing those in. Because these were such narrow strips, instead of piecing each one to the pieced quilt up to that point, I pieced all these thing strips together first and then added this part of the quilt to what I had done so far. It helped me minimize warping and since I didn’t have half the width of the quilt to mess with in the machine, it was a bit easier and quicker.

Another thing I did, which you can see in the picture above, was I created a  bit of a mirror image with the fabric strips. 13999799141_4df27e1903_z

Above are the strips with just the black in between, before I did any mirroring.

14003382394_201427e629_zAnd this one above is in the middle of the process of mirroring. What I did was took my additional tube sets, and instead of cutting just enough strips for this part of the quilt (in this case, there are ten 3/4″ strips that make up this curve, plus the black strips in between. To mirror them, I needed ten more 3/4″ strips. I cut those and set them on top like above, arranging them so that the bottom and the top were mirrored.

Here are all of them, mirrored, but not cut at all. From the tubes set on top, I unpicked seams until they matched what would be showing on the bottom, and unpicked the seams from the strips on the bottom and took off the parts of the strip I needed to discard. For the strips that the halfway point (where I mirrored) was in the middle of a piece of fabric, I didn’t cut it because I didn’t want to create an additional seam – I either took that whole fabric off and used the fabric from the mirror strip in it’s place.

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Here is a picture of the strips finished in this way, before I sewed the black onto them.

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I apologize for ending on such a confusing note. I didn’t really have a plan for this part of the quilt, I just made it up as I went along until it looked like how I wanted it to.

As of right now, the top of the bargello is completed, except for the border. I have the border in my possession, but not cut. In the next week or so I will add the border and take more photos, hopefully getting some details of the piecing.

Quilting will have to come later. I have quite a queue of projects that need to be quilted, and I don’t have to add too many more without finishing up some other projects.