20 April 2016

Someone Made My Quilt!

Well, I've finally got proof that I inspired someone! One of my favorite quilts was the Night Music in the Desert.

Desert Music
Quilt top hanging from my old Brooklyn fire escape. 
A few months ago I got an email from someone who had seen the quilt online, and wanted to make it for her granddaughter. I explained that I'd be happy to send my (extremely cryptic) notes along, but that I hadn't made a pattern and wasn't planning to in the near future. She accepted my notes, and using just them and my old blog/flickr pictures put the top together. 

Carolyn's front. 

Carolyn's back. 

I was so flattered to see that she kept my color scheme, but was able to make it her own with the color improv. And look at that back! It's way better than mine! I guess that's what happens when you create extra blocks to play around with! I think she did a fantastic job, considering all I had were sketches of the central block, measurements for the log cabin variations, but no yardage or mention of my sashing methods, or the flying geese! And her quilting is even similar to mine!

It just made my day to get this email and see that someone had done all this work inspired by a quilt I made and love. I like how this quilting community feeds off each other and can create beautiful works inspired by others. 

16 April 2016

2nd Quarter Finish Along Goals

I've been pretty quiet on the blog front lately. Though my last two posts were related to the FAL, so I figure that if I post a list perhaps it will get me motivated to write more!

Last quarter I was able to check one finish off my list, so I think that most of my goals will just carry over. I have made some progress though. I can't wait until summer when I can just sit and be creative and get some of these things done!

Lindsay Quilt Top
This quilt is basted, I just need to quilt, bind, and gift it!

Finish Along Goals
Crane Quilt for my sister. I want to finish it by July so I can hand deliver it!

Fat Quarter Shop Star Cakes Quilt
This quilt, which has a backing, but I need to get some batting!

And then the final project that I'm going to add as a reach: 

Floating Squares First Attempt
My improv quilt. This is just one section, I need to make many more. 

The list is totally do-able, with the exception of the improv quilt. I may need to buy fabric for that one, and it will eventually be hand quilted, so I imagine it won't be a speedy finish. 

We shall see, though! 

04 March 2016

Improv Beginings

I got the Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood early this year, and I've just been dreaming about different ways to follow the scores. I find the concepts in the book so inspiring, yet I kept putting off starting a new quilt.

I have to finish the three I've got in progress...

I can't start a new one until I quilt these basted ones...

I've been telling my sister I'd finish her quilt for months...

The excuses just keep coming.

Even though I'm really excited and inspired by improv quilting, it is kind of intimidating. I tend to quilt with a rough idea of what I want to accomplish. General blocks I want to use, and a general layout for those blocks. I don't really write things down anymore, and I haven't sketched in while either. The compositions just come from my head. Following this method, my compositions have been getting looser, but still, I work from a plan. To start with some fabric selections and have no idea what will become of it - that's a little intimidating.

This week I took the plunge.

Floating Squares First Attempt
First attempt. 

I'm using Kona Ice Peach and Kona Black with some of the Alphabet Panels from First of Infinity by Kumiko Fujita. I didn't like how much peach there was, and then how big the black 'filler' sections were. That's the beauty of improv. I was able to change it in my next iteration. And now I like how they complement each other. I'm almost out of ice peach now. If I want that to be consistent throughout the quilt I'll need to order more, but maybe I will want to change it. I like being able to play around like this. I like it so much I had to share before I could get good lighting!

Floating Squares First Attempt
The bottom half was added after I modified my process. 

This is not to say I'm done with drafting patterns before I sew. I have a quilt that I'm itching to make - I just need the fabric for it. I'm so excited for just an idea that I can barely contain myself. Just as I'm very excited to see what comes of this quilt - because at this point it could go just about anywhere. 

Since I've finished my first panel, I'm going to share with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday

25 February 2016

A Two-fer

That's right, I've got a post that is BOTH a Finish it up Friday AND a Free Motion Friday quilt! I've finally taken pictures of my completed Star Jump Quilt.

Star Jump Quilt
Just hanging in the grove. 

I finished sewing the binding while at the regional science fair (the binding took an hour or two, the science fair took 20. We have 3 teams moving on to state! It was worth it). 

Star Jump Quilt
Star Jump Quilt, Pattern by Jess of The Elven Garden

I made the Star Jump Quilt as a pattern tester for Jess of The Elven Garden. I really liked the chain elements of the pattern, and my color choices gave the whole quilt a kind of a vintage feel. I was going for a genderless baby quilt, although it is probably a bit mature for a baby quilt. 

The background fabric is Carolyn Friedlander from Doe, and I also backed the quilt in more of her fabrics. 

Star Jump Quilt
Back of the quilt
I also added in a Lotta Jansdotter fabric that I absolutely fell in love with. I was so happy to have some scraps left over after quilting this guy!

Star Jump Quilt
My traditional label. Stamped! Also, close up of Lotta Jansdotter fabric.

Here you can kind of see the quilting. This is the first quilt I've free motion quilted. I learned with a Craftsy class, and now I just need to keep practicing. For this quilt I just radiated figure 8's from the center. 

Star Jump Quilt
Quilting texture

It's modern, it's traditional, it's textural. I love the effect. I just need to keep practicing so that I end up liking all the 8's. It stinks when I get a wonky one and that's all I can see. 

Star Jump Quilt
Center quilting.

For the center square I did long wiggles back and forth. It was good practice, and I like how it's a little different from the rest of the quilting.

Star Jump Quilt
All rolled up with nowhere to go.  Now I've got to find a home for it. So far, I've got two potentials, but I'm not sure who to gift it to. 

All the pictures are taken pre-wash. I just haven't had time to wash it AND take pictures! I also have to wash it because so far the cat's claimed it and he's leaving plenty of hair behind to prove it. 

I'm going to link up with Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday, and this quilt is on my Q1 finish along list, so at least I can cross one thing off!

As an endnote, here's a crazy link I found while searching for the original link to Jess's Star Jump Quilt Post. Apparently it's an image of my version of her quilt top and people vote if they think it is 'funny', 'cool', 'interesting', or 'stupid'. So far, stupid is winning! Who comes up with this stuff?

12 February 2016

Scrappy Baby Quilt

I had fun with this one. I didn't really start with a plan, just some blocks I like. A few pineapples here, a few birdies there, all surrounded in low volume prints.

Lindsay Quilt Top
Racing through the orange grove. 

One of the aspects of making a quilt like this that I enjoy most is how putting everything together is like a puzzle. I know I mentioned recently that my 1/4 seams aren't always completely accurate. Some people would really worry about that, but since they're always off by the same amount it just kind of works out. 

Lindsay Quilt Top
Leaping foxes. 

Also, I've become way less focused on 'perfect' intersections. Though, I admit, I do get annoyed if things don't line up the way I wanted them to. Here my measurements worked out. 

Lindsay Quilt Top
The whole shebang.

I ended up with three central pineapple blocks. Each with a fussy cut center. They're surrounded by 8 birds on the long sides. I kind of wish that I had them both looking towards the center, but I'm ok with they way they've ended up. Then on the top and bottom are some low volume bricks, and its all finished with a set of novelty corners. 

Lindsay Quilt Top
Still life: quilt draped over bricks. 

As you can see, I had fun with this photoshoot. I walked around the citrus grove, and it was a nice evening light. The only problem was the breeze, but I think I made it work in my favor. 

Lindsay Quilt Top
Terrible editing, but I liked this picture so much!

I'm going to link up with Finish it up Friday. Tomorrow is our regional science fair. I've got to be at school at 5 am for the trip to the science fair. Then I get to wait around for hours while the students meet with the judges. I'm bringing a quilt to bind, so hopefully I'll have a finished quilt (not just top) to share soon too! Keep your fingers crossed for my little nerd squad. May they do well enough to continue competing in science fairs even if they don't win a prize!

10 February 2016

WiP Wednesday

Even though Freshly Pieced is taking a WiP Wednesday hiatus, I figured I will use it to keep motivating me. At least, I'll try. It always depends on how much sewing time I have, and lately I haven't had much. I did make these bitty bear paws though.

Bear Paws In Progress
Stack of Paws

I like bear paw blocks, and I found that these were quick to put together - once I learned the secret to half-square triangle blocks. I always make them 2 at a time, but that always entails a lot of trimming. My quarter-inch seam is not perfect, mostly because I don't have a quarter-inch foot. Then I read instead of drawing a single line and sewing a quarter inch away, draw two lines one quarter inch away from the center line and sew along that. WHAT?!?! 

Bear Paws In Progress
Drawn lines for sewing along. 

Oh my gosh. Eight perfect HSTs. All I had to do was trim the dog ears. It made my bear paws finish so much quicker! In no time, I had a stack!

Bear Paws In Progress
So many paws!

One set of triangles makes two paws, and if you can make two identical or mirror image bear paws. I will admit, I thought I could use fabric that I don't love so much because I love the block itself. It didn't work out quite the way I wanted, but as these are part of a bigger scrap quilt, I think that it will all work itself out. 

Bear Paws In Progress
2 mirror images. 4 footies!

Linking up this week to Lets Bee Social with Lorna. 

29 January 2016

Free Motion Friday {Numero Tres}

I was hoping this would be a finish it up Friday post, but alas, I've had a busy week. I'm frantically trying to finish two grants for some school equipment, and have been working on that during the evenings, rather than sewing. I have noticed a change in my mood without a little creative time every day, and I can't wait to be back to sewing next week!

Free motion on an actual QUILT!
So much textureeee! Carolyn Friedlander backing in Weave in Yarrow

I've been plugging away at my figure 8s. I don't know how you tell time when you're quilting, but I measure it in episodes of This American Life. So far, I'm three episodes in. I'll admit that the quilting is taking a little longer than I thought, but I am enjoying it. Sometimes my curves are nice and smooth, other times their wonky. Sometimes my stitches are the 'perfect' length, sometimes they're too short or too long. But, as I sit back and stroke the resulting texture I realize that it's just not that noticeable. And then I mark another line and keep practicing. 

Free motion on an actual QUILT!
Almost 1/4 of the way done at this point. 

The one thing I will note: I don't like using painters tape. It never sticks enough, and then I sew over an edge by accident and it gets all jacked up. What do you like using to mark lines (if anything)? 

27 January 2016

WiP Wednesday {Scrappy Birds}

Scrappy Birds
Bird bod.

After I finished my 'The Birds and the Butterflies' quilt I continued to gaze upon those border birds. They just catch my eye, and I can't stop staring. I think it's because they're just cute enough to love, but not so old fashioned that they feel dated. 

Scrappy Birds
100% scraps!
As mentioned before, I used a tutorial from Block Lotto. It's pretty straight forward, and you can personalize details like the beak shape and leg arrangement.

Scrappy Birds
That blue Amy Butler print is one of my favorites!

I made 8 all together, and am going to use them as a border for the Pineapple Blocks I made the other week.

Scrappy Birds
I like the movement the leg angle gives this birdie. 

I'm following along with Meadow Mist Design's pattern design series, and I think I'm going to adapt this block into a baby quilt size.  I've got a co-worker with twins on the way... maybe that is the motivation I need for a test quilt (or two!) 

24 January 2016

Sunday Stash

I miss living near quilting shops! I was so lucky back in Brooklyn. I had a store with a wide range of fabrics (especially solids) within walking distance of my apartment. And if I didn't like what they had, I had multiple stores in Manhattan just a short subway ride away. Alas, now I don't even have good quality fabric within reasonable driving distance! It makes finishing a quilt take that much longer, though maybe it helps me find the 'perfect' backing, rather than the 'that's fine for now' backing . . . there's always a silver lining!

Now that I've been practicing my FMQ I want to try it on a quilt (gasp)! I got all ready to go, looked through my stash, and realized I had used up all my large cuts of fabric! So, to the internet I went. I was sidetracked looking for a good deal on Carolyn Friedlander's Carkai, and ended up at Jones & Vandermeer, which had the fat quarter bundle for $75, with free US shipping on purchases over $60. Sold!

Sunday Stash
Love their simple packaging! Plus, blurry background animals. 

I got the FQ bundle and some backing fabrics. For a quilt top I finished last year I got some Carolyn Friedlander Doe 'Weave' in Yarrow and some Lotta Jansdower Lucky 'Kamala' in True Green. I am in love with the Kamala print! It's so vibrant!

Sunday Stash
Taking pictures at night doesn't do the fabric justice...

I also bought some fabrics to round out the backing on a quilt top I recently finished. They are all from Arcadia by Sarah Watson. I got Mushroom March in Aqua, Dewey Garden, and Wheely Daisy in Aqua.

Sunday Stash
Mushroom Magic, Wheely Daisy, Dewey Garden. 

They're all going to be paired with that Liberty print in the background. Can't wait to get to this one!

I also want to point out that though Jones & Vandermeer don't have a physical store you can visit, they are based out of New York City! So, it's like I'm visiting my old hunting grounds. Also, this is the first time I've shopped with them, and I just want to add that their prices are some of the best I've found, and they had a great selection. I wasted took a lot of time browsing around. In case it sounds like I'm being sponsored, I'm not. I've got no affiliation with them, besides my current obsession with them. 

Linking up with Molli Sparkles Sunday Stash

22 January 2016

Free Motion Friday {#2}

I've been practicing! I can't complain about being bad about FMQ if I don't even practice. The Craftsy instructor even mentions that usually people only practice for 1 minute (literally), and then say they're never getting any better! I've been practicing this week, and trying new motifs.

Free Motion Practice {2}
Last week's assignments. 

I'm working at getting that hand and foot speed to coordinate. Also, to get my loops smooth. I'm feeling much more successful at this! For my first FMQ motif I'm planing on doing those figure 8s. I hope my backing fabric comes today!

Free Motion Practice {2}

I practiced more spirals. The round ones are getting rounder, and I'm getting better at keeping the swirls even on both types. I want to perfect spirals, because they're so fun! And I want to do spiral clusters. I'm currently not very good at those. As with the stipple I always back myself into a corner. 

Free Motion Practice {2}
Some of my early spirals. 

More spirals. They are luuuuumpy! Sometimes I'm not very good at stopping when I move my hands...

Free Motion Practice {2}
Close-up early spirals.

I can see how uncomfortable I was in the wobbles and the stitch length. I get very spurty when I'm not sure where to bring the fabric! 

Free Motion Practice {2}
Sampler! Wobbly sampler... :)

I didn't make the suggested blocks for practicing different FMQ motifs. I'm just using scrap batting and less than favorite fabrics/scraps. This might be slowing down my skill-building because I have long narrow fabrics with very little places to put my hand, rather than a nice 4" edging. The scraps above were the edging of the first machine-sewn quilt I finished. I decided that not only should I practice the different patterns, but also practice blending them together. This is my angular sampler. I think the bobbin ended on the right square spiral. It is fun seeing how I can make patterns interact. Can't wait till I get better at this!

One thing I've noticed: I'm much better in certain directions. Yesterday I was practicing arches and s-curves, and I can't do them from side to side, I can only do them vertically (if that makes sense). It's easy with these scraps, but I've got a feeling I'm going to have to learn how to deal with doing different shapes in different orientations - otherwise what was the point of learning how to 'free motion' quilt?!?!?! Are different patterns easier/harder depending on the direction for you novices/experts out there?

Linked up with Afton's Lessons Learned Linky!

20 January 2016

WiP Wednesday {Pineapples}

I love finicky, time consuming, old fashioned blocks. Which is funny, because I also love the free-form unpredictable nature of improv blocks. Anyway, I like finding shortcuts to traditional blocks. I'm working on a baby quilt, and I decided that I wanted to start with square-in-square blocks as 'I Spy' type blocks.

Baby Quilt
Some fussy cut centers. 

I took some of my novelty fabrics and added on some of the Melody Miller Apples from her Picnic collection I had on the top of my stash. From there, though, I wasn't sure where to go. I decided I wanted to make pineapple blocks. I didn't want to foundation piece them though! I adapted the tutorial by Crazy Mom Quilts for foundation free pineapple blocks. For mine, the centers ended about 6" square. I added 2.5" strips to the sides, and would trim as needed to get the pineapple growing. 

Baby Quilt
Octopus center.

I sewed for 5 rounds, and they finished about 17" square. Since I didn't do any math before I started I'm not sure if they were supposed to end that size. I know I wasn't being as precise as I could be as I sewed along.

Baby Quilt
Monaluna Llama Love center. 

I used scrappy fabrics for the blocks. I tried to keep it to the more primary colors: yellow, blue, red, grey, alternating with scrappy low volume fabrics. 

Baby Quilt
Melody Miller Mustang, with a little Charley Harper peeking out. 

I liked seeing these grow, but I was over it after I finished 6 blocks. Since these are going towards a baby quilt, I decided to stop for now. 

Baby Quilt
Meow! Cat from Austria. 

I'm almost finished with the next component of the quilt. It was inspired by a relatively recent finish. Can't wait to see how they look together!

Baby Quilt
Monaluna Roost center. 

Linking up to WiP Wednesday with Lee from Freshly Pieced!

15 January 2016

Free Motion Friday {#1}

So, I've started a Craftsy class on Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) - Free Motion Quilting Essentials with Christina Cameli. I like her, but let me tell you, it's hard! When I started quilting I took a class because I wanted to know how to do everything 'right'. The way my brain works, I need to understand a process, and then I can start playing with it. So, I learned about 1/4" seam allowance, and how to square up a block, how to follow patterns, and how to draft blocks. Since that class, the only patterns I've followed have been for the Fat Quarter Shop, and one test quilt. Turns out I don't like patterns, but since I learned how to draft my own and make my vision a reality on the first try, I don't have to follow them. And I'm good at making up my own designs. By good, I mean I like my own aesthetic, and I feel satisfied when I complete a quilt top.

And then comes the quilting. I thought the design part of quilting would be the hard part. Turns out it's the quilting. I've gotten better at straight line quilting. Part of that was getting a new machine that is better at keeping even stitches. But now I'm trying to FMQ. I like a good even stitch length. And it's so hard to maintain! Even when I make straight lines with my FMQ foot they're all over the place. So. What to do? I just keep practicing. I'm using unloved cuts of fabric basted right sides together so I can see the quilting a little better.

I'll start with what I'm 'good' at. Loops and the back and forth zig zag.

Free Motion Quilting Practice
Some figure 8 loops. The stitches still get so small in the loop!

Free Motion Quilting Practice
Nice back and forth. The row above it, kind of wonky. 

As you can see above, I struggled with the ribbon candy. But, want to know what I'm absolutely terrible at? The good old standby for many a quilter: the stiple!

Free Motion Quilting Practice
Colors edited to see the quilting lines better. 

I quilt myself into 'corners', I can't keep it smooth. Sometimes I go fast, sometimes I go slow! EWWW!!! Must. Practice. More. 

Free Motion Quilting Practice
Yucky stiple, nice back and forth. (also edited to see the 'quilting' better) 

So, while I have been complaining for most of this post, I must admit I am very happy with my machine. So far (this represents a few hours of practice over a few days) I have not experienced any broken threads, nor have I experienced tension issues. Which means it's all on me! My machine doesn't have a stitch regulator, so I need to learn how to move my hands and the presser foot in unison. Yikes. Well, wish me luck! And if anyone has tips for a newbie, please pass them on!

13 January 2016

2016 Q1 Finish Along

Looking back at my entries I haven't participated in the Finish Along since the first quarter of 2015! That's a whole year ago! It's because I ended up traveling for 2 months, and then made the huge life change of moving to Texas and becoming a teacher. I still find it hard to find time to sew, but I'm getting better at accepting I can't go on a sewing binge, I have to take the small increments of time I have free and make them count!

This quarter I've got 4 quilts I would like to finish.

Finish Along Goals
Baby sized Star Jump quilt by Jess of Elven Garden Quilts

First up is this baby quilt I made as a pattern tester. I just need a back and to get started with the quilting. It's going to be my first FMQ practice!

Finish Along Goals
Star Cakes by the Fat Quarter Shop

Then it's on to this quilt I did for the Fat Quarter Shop. I've got the backing, I just need to baste, quilt, and bind it. So, basically everything. 

Finish Along Goals
Birds for a border.

I'm piecing together a baby quilt, and I've got the central blocks, and now I've got some birds to incorporate. I need to finish the top, and finish the quilt!

Finish Along Goals
Stash Bee cranes. So pretty!

Finally, if I'm so inclined, I'm going to finish my Stash Bee blocks from this year. I was a terrible hivemate, and ended out dropping out near the end of the year. I just had too much on my plate last year, and couldn't balance everything. My goal is to put these blocks together and make a quilt for my sister. I think it will have a lot of meaning for her, and it will make me feel better to use these blocks instead of keep them hidden away. At least everybody's work will not have gone to waste!

So, 4 complete quilts in three months. Doable. I'm on a decent slow paced sewing timeframe, and I think I'll be able to do it. Plus, as I keep mentioning, my motivation is to start working on the Improv Quilter's Handbook, but I can't do that until some of these WiPs are out of the way!

I'll leave you with a pic of my handsome doggie-doo on top of some completed quilts!

Linking up to WiP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, and with the 2016 Q1 Finish Along!