Wednesday, January 28, 2009

4500 Block

Today, after a productive day of working at home during yet another snow storm, I managed to put together the 4500 celebration block in the Carol Doak Yahoo group.  I've been in a paper piecing kick lately and thought this would be another quick, easy evening project.  Here it is.

I originally had a dark purple instead of the blue.  The purple ended up being too dark, so I pulled them all out and threw the blue in instead.  I like the blue better then the purple.  It looks better in person.  For some reason the color is a little off and makes this blue look more baby blue like then the brighter blue that it really is.  

Here's a close-up of the block.  You can see how the blue matches with the border fabric in this picture, although the color is still off somewhat.  
I'm thinking of putting some sort of fun applique in the center of the block to add another dimension.  Any suggestions?  Another star would be the obvious choice.  Any other suggestions?  Nothing too big though.

February BOM

The February BOM was posted early as Carol is traveling right now.  It was designed to be red, white, and blue on the bottom to symbolize President's day.  I, like many others, decided to do it in a Valentines theme.  I didn't want to do another red, white, and blue block because the November one was that way for the election and I'm sure the July one will be as well.  Here it is...

I'm sorta hoping that the next few blocks aren't houses.  I'd rather they be more scenic, since this is a "scenic block of the month."  So far 3 out of 5 of the blocks have been houses.  I'll just have to see...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Hour & Paper Plate Quilting

I finished piecing together all of the Happy Hour quilt today.  Talk about an easy quilt.  I think it will be a perfect quilt to start my mom off with.  Here are a few pictures of it up on my design wall.  I'm still moving some of the blocks around until I get an arrangement that I'm satisfied with.  I think I'm getting there.  It's probably going to be one of those quilts where I am going to need to tell myself to just stop and stop moving things around.  

Also, I promised I'd show how I use paper plates to help me organize my quilting.  It's a technique that I learned during my first quilting class several years ago.  

The general idea is to use the plates to organize your fabric.  Depending on the quilt, I'll either use one plate for one block, as in this example for the Happy Hour quilt or for one particular piece that's reoccurring in many blocks.  

You'll see that I have one block on each paper plate stacked in this first picture. It helps me to keep the order of the blocks in the same order the whole time while I'm chain piecing.  The stack of plates up front are the blocks yet to be sewn and the blocks in the back have already been sewn.  

The second picture shows how I stack the plates with the different blocks.  It doesn't wrinkle the fabric, which is a major plus. In stacking the plates it really does a good job of keeping everything together.

In this third picture you'll see a number on the plate left over from a previous project that I also used these plates for.  I was creating a quilt in which I needed to sort out the different shapes.  This is extremely helpful when you have, for example, 2 inch and 2 1/4 inch squares cut out of the same fabric.  By putting all of the 2 inch squares on one plate and labeling them and putting the 2 1/4 squares on another, you're able to easily tell them apart without having to measure all the time.  Again, you can stack them to save space, which is helpful during classes, retreats, or just in a small quilting space.  

I hope this tip helps some of you out there. Happy Quilting!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Box of Roses & Happy Hour Quilts

So I've had a couple of outings after work this week on top of not feeling that well leaving me little time to quilt this week.  I did manage to get almost all of the "Box of Roses" quilt.  I think I've finally decided to name the quilt I've been referring to as the mystery quilt "Box of Roses."  I quilted all of the inside and the inner border.  I just have to finish the outer border, trim, and bind.  
I'm going to be glad to be done with this quilt.  The machine quilting has been a pain in the you know what.  I've had so many issues with my tension.  I even got the screwdriver and cleaned out the machine to see if it was dirty or something inside was a little off.  I tried adjusting just about everything.  I think I've finally got it on the right settings.  

After a while of quilting this quilt tonight I really needed a brake from it.  Ever have one of those quilts where you're just ready to move on?  Of course you have, that's why we all have those famous UFOs.  

I decided to work on a tester quilt.  I'm going to be teaching my mom to quilt this year, so I thought I'd test out an easy pattern to see if it would be a good first quilt.  Ok, so I knew it would be, I just wanted to make the quilt.  There, I said it.  I've seen quite a few people making these quilts on a bunch of different blogs and I got the book for Christmas from my aunt, so why not.  

What is this quilt you're asking?  Why it's the Happy Hour Snapshots quilt from Atknson Designs.  I don't have a picture of all the fabric, but here's one pic I took of my strip piecing.  The quilt is being made with browns, reds, greens, and tans made out of the "Shaken Not Stirred" Sweet Treat from the pincushon boutique with a few fat quarters added in.

I'll have a tutorial for you soon on how I use paper plates to help me organize and keep track of different cuts of fabric while quilting.  It's a technique that I learned during my first quilting class several years ago.  People always think it's cleaver when they see how it's used to keep organized, so I thought I'd share.  

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Caught up on BOM

I'm finally caught up on the Scenic BOM that I started a week or two ago.  It started on October, and tonight I finally finished the last block I needed to catch up on, November.  It took a while for me to figure out what fabric I wanted for this block.  It also took a while for me to get motivated on this one because it was my least favorite of all the blocks so far, so I put it off to the end.  I think it ended up coming up cute.

I tried to make it more fall-like with the colors.  I was afraid that it would look too 4th of July with the flag that was supposed to be for the election instead. 

Here's a picture of all of them together to date: 

I've also been working on the machine quilting to the mystery quilt.  Here's a close up of one of the blocks.  It looks a little distorted in the picture for some reason and this was the best picture I got.  I think the settings were messed up on my camera.  I have to mess around with the settings.  

Monday, January 12, 2009

KK's Jelly Roll Quilt

A few posts back I showed you my braid quilt made out of a jelly roll. I made most of my quilt during a "quilting day" with my aunt, KK. She got most of hers done that day too. She sent me a picture of her completed top last week that she just finished. Isn't it wonderful? It has this calming, tranquil feeling to it that makes you just want to cuddle up under it.

It's completely different than most of the quilts we've made. We have a very similar quilting style. We both tend to gravitate towards the more modern, funky fabrics and colors.

On another note, I'm excited that Jim Rice got voted into the hall of fame today. As a die-hard Red Sox fan my entire life, this made me very happy. Congrats Jim! (like he reads this blog...)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Another BOM Catch-up

I completed the December Scenic BOM on Friday.  We had my father-in-law over yesterday for his birthday, so I didn't get a chance to post this earlier.  I think it came out cute.  I really debated on the setting triangles for a few days.  I continued to go back to this red poinsettia fabric but I was considering a few other new Christmas fabric choices that I recently bought at an after-Christmas sale.  The deciding factor was the fact that this Poinsettia fabric was a scrap and the other fabric would have required me to make the first cut.  I decided to leave the other fabric alone for another project and to use what I already had in my scraps.  I think it came out cute.

Now it's onto the November BOM and I'll be all caught up.  I've been putting the November one off because I'm trying to figure out how to make it appear more fall-like.  It's of a house with a flag for the election.  I'm going to try and pick my fabric carefully for this one.

I've also got the mystery quilt on my machine right now working on the machine quilting to it.  I'm hoping to be finished with it by the end of the week.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

BOM catch-up

So in my 2009 goals I said that I was going to do all of the Carol Doak Scenic BOMs even though I was starting several months into it.  I finished the current January block (previous post) already and moved on to the first block, October.  It was yet another quick and easy block.  I really like this block.  I think it came out really well.  Much better than the January one.  I love the way the colors work in this block.

Now it's on to the December BOM.  I'm stumped on the fabric for this one.  I just can't seem to find the right combination.  I've been playing with all sorts of combinations and different fabrics for the past couple of hours (interrupted by an hour+ phone call with my college room mate).  It shouldn't be this hard.  It's a cute house block and I just can't find the right fabric for the actual house and also tie in with the Christmas feel to the block.  I think I'm leaning towards using a bright lime green Christmas fabric but I'm still not sure.  I think this one is going to have to sit out for a little while as I think about it.  Hopefully it will just come to me soon.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2009 Quilting Goals and Scenic BOM Series

I really didn't get to quilt as much as I would have liked to in 2008 because most of my free time was spent planning and doing a lot of DIY projects for our wedding last year.  Now that the wedding is behind us I can go back to my quilting.  I have set several goals for myself for 2009.  Here they are:

  1. Machine quilt and finish all my unfinished quilt tops
  2. Do all the Carol Doak Yahoo Group Scenic Block of the Months (more about this below)
  3. Make a quilt for my mom (she's been asking for one for a while)
  4. Teach my mom to quilt (she's been wanting to join us for a little while now and it's about time we get her going...)
  5. Use as many fabrics and patterns from my stash as possible
  6. Spend more attention to color tones and values and how I use them in my quilts
  7. Finish our wedding guest book (we had people sign quilt squares instead of the traditional guest book)
  8. Name and Label all of my quilts (I know, I know... this is something I should be doing anyway)
Anyways, I started working on the scenic BOM series today. I've never done a block of the month series before and I thought it would be fun to participate in one.  I've decided to do the Scenic BOM series being done in the Carol Doak Yahoo group.  It was started in October, but I'll catch up with it.  I did the January block in about 20 minutes, so I'm sure I'll be able to do the others relatively quickly.  I really enjoy paper piecing.  It's super easy and helps you get an accurate block. The most difficult part was actually choosing the fabric.  Here's a picture of it.  It's a snow covered mountain with a brook babbling through it if you couldn't tell!

I also finished piecing all the blocks of the bright quilt I was making in the previous quilts.  I really think it's a little too fat and could use a little more length.  I think I'm going to add an inner border of the swirl fabric and then add some of the four-patches in a row on the top and bottom to add more length.  I think it will look nice and will be something different that I haven't done before.  Here's the completed, pieced top.   

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Moving Along on the Bright Quilt

So I decided to shorten the quilt that I blogged about last time instead of making the cross in the center of the quilt.  I'm happy with my decision.  What I'm probably going to do is take some of the extra four-patches and incorporate them into the border somehow, possibly floating around the side.  

Here are a few pictures of my progress.  The first picture is of all of my four patches that will be going into the quilt.  The second one is a picture of the solid square and stripe strips.  The third is about 2/3 of the top pieced together.  I still have a few more rows to stitch together.  

Once I finish this top I'm really going to start focusing on machine quilting some of the tops that I've accumulated. Last year was the first time that I began machine quilting my quilt tops.  I'm still somewhat new to it, but I'm getting the hang of it.  I've been holding off quilting several tops until I'm much better at it.  I think I'm going to tackle the "One Block Wonder" quilt that I made a while back.  If you haven't tried it, I'd highly recommend it.  It was super easy and you'll never look at fabric the same way.  The best thing about it is that you can piece it together in rows. Below are a couple of pictures of that quilt.  It was originally a tropical piece of fabric that has been transformed into this quilt.  As I'm piecing the quilt shown above I've been thinking of how I want to quilt this quilt.  I'm thinking it's suited for some meandering or swirls... basically an all over pattern.

It's back to work tomorrow.  :(  I've enjoyed being able to spend so much time quilting during my vacation.  I probably won't be posting quite as much since I'm starting a new role tomorrow and don't quite know what to expect.    

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Yet another Quilt

I've just been knocking them out lately.  I guess that's what happens when you're on vacation and your husband is working.  

This quilt, which I still have to piece the top together, is from M'liss Rae Hawley's Phenomenal Fat Quarter Quilts.  

I encountered one issue while piecing together the pieces of the top, I didn't have as much fabric as the pattern called for.  It wanted 15 strips of one particular fabric but I only had enough fabric to cut 13 strips. 
In the end, I needed 157 squares of the 3 stripe block (see below) and ended up with 156 squares.  I tried a few different arrangements of the pattern including reducing the size or changing the center pattern.  I'm still unsure what I'm going to do.  I might try a few other options because I'm not quite satisfied with either option.

The first one below is just a smaller version of what is called for.  I'm not sure if the proportions work.  The second one I tried putting the blocks into a cross shape.  Right now I'm leaning towards the first option.  We'll see how I feel after a few days.  Opinions Welcomed!