Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Lovely Year of Finishes: August Finishes

Ok I'm very very happy with my progress for August.  I completed not 1, not 2, not 3 but all 4 of my goals. Yeah me!!!  Alright my goals were fairly light, but that was because it was going to be a busy month.  My first goal was got quilt my Watkins Star quilt. It was the quilt I made while testing the pattern for Sew Incredibly Crazy.  I did an all over meander in Signature's Pearl thread.  I'm very happy with how it looks.  I think it will go into my donate pile, ok start my donate pile because it is a little small for me.

My second goal was to complete my #TexasRoadTripQAL top, and I will admit this isn't totally done.  The top is complete, but I want it to be a little bigger so I'm going to add some borders to it.  My LQS is having a sale tomorrow, so I'm going to and audition some fabrics. I'm am totally loving this top!!!

My third goal was to get my Bee blocks done for my Compass Quilters group.  I finished these fairly early in the month, but didn't get them in the mail until last week.  I've got to get better about going to the post office.  I am very very happy with these blocks.  I really worried about making something for someone else, but with a little trial and error, these came out great.

My last goal was to get at least one new quilt cut.  I did even better than one.  I cut out a test quilt for Cora's Quilts (and the top is even done on it) and I got another top cut out this yesterday and today.  Ok the second one uses a jelly roll, but I got the strips sewn together and cut to size so I'm counting it. First is the test quilt cut.

And my jelly roll quilt cut.  The pattern is called Cupid Shuffle and seems to be pretty simple.  I hope to finish the top this weekend.

I'm happy with my progress this month.  I really wanted to get more quilts quilted, but My off days were booked pretty heavily, so I'll just have to be satisfied with what I did.  I am hoping that September is a little less crazy, so I can get more done.  I am linking up with Shannon of Fiber of All Sorts and Melissa of Sew BitterSweet Designs.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Finish: Bee Blocks

Ok I really finished these about two weeks ago, but I'm not letting myself count them as finished until they go in the mail, which they did yesterday.  This is my first ever quilting bee and it was formed from ladies I met through the New Quilt Blogger group.   We are spread all over the world, so we adopted the name "Compass Quilters" and one of our wonderful members created a logo for us (you can see it in my side bar).

This month the Queen was Rebecca of One Wee Bird who hails from New Zealand.  I wish I could have fit in the envelope I sent her because I would love to visit there. Rebecca picked the Hummingbird block from Red Pepper Quilts.  It is a paper piecing project and I she asked that we low volume fabrics for the background.  Well I had a few, so off the to my LQS and I found some more that I really loved.

I learned a lot during this process.  You may remember a couple weeks ago when I show you my two test blocks for this project. Both ended up being a little short when I put them together.  They look good, but were about 1/8 inch short all around.

My fellow bee mates recommended not trimming the outside edge until the after they were assembled.  So I started again.  Since my other bee mates had success with the block trimming later, I decided to go ahead and start cutting all of my pieces so the first thing I did was layout blocks auditioning different fabrics.  I would need to do eight, but here are 4 of them in a mini collage.  I took a photo of each one just in case something got bumped I wouldn't have to start from scratch.

I wanted to try and fussy cut a couple of the pieces, and also wanted to make sure I spread my low volume fabrics around so they wouldn't be clumped together.  Now here is the first thing I learned, fussy cutting is hard when you have sharp angles.  I did manage to do a couple, like the bluebonnets and an orange spool of thread (since orange was the opposite color). I also learned to cut things a little bigger to make those angles a little easier.

The next lesson I learned is there is a lot of "trash" with paper piecing.  First there is lots of little pieces of fabric.  So I got a small container to toss collect all the pieces.  I'm saving the tiny pieces to fill a big glass jar as decoration.

Trimming them was fast and I really loved how the pieces looked before assembling them.  The points looked so pretty and I have to say I really love the mix of the low volume fabrics.

Now I bought the Carol Doak's Paper Piecing class on Craftsy and the biggest thing I learned from it was when assembling blocks with points like these is to baste them first, so you can check your placement.  The first one it took me about 3 times basting it get it lined up correctly, but then I was able to baste them all.   And I really think that step helped a lot.  I just expanded my stitch length to the longest it would go and the basting went very quickly.

The next thing I learned is to empty the trash can because there seemed to be paper everywhere.  For eight blocks I was surprised at how much I had.  It is probably because they tear off in such small pieces.  I even took a photo of the last pile.

All of this lead to two very pretty blocks.  I love that with paper piecing the points look so nice. And trimming them after they are assembled worked perfectly.

We also were told to include a block with our name, location and date so that they could be added to the back of the quilt if the Queen wanted to do so.  I made mine a little more than a simple block by snowballing the corners with some of the low volume fabric.  I did try to write my label but the pigma pens I have really seem to drag and move the fabric when you try to write with them.  What do ya'll use to write out a label?  I need to find something better.  I printed mine onto the fabric and set it with an iron.

Now I will say I added a little bit of me to both of these blocks, how you might ask.  Well both of them say Texas on them.  The right one in the green/blue block has a low volume fabric that says "Quilt Across Texas" and it was hard but most of Texas shows.  The left one has bluebonnets on the top right block (fussy cut to boot) and a little Texas state shape.  My sister is doing the Texas Road Trip QAL and I stole some of fabric to use.  Here is a close up of the bluebonnet block. and if you look close you'll see Texas in the bottom right.

I am very happy with these blocks.  I was really nervous about doing blocks for someone else, but I think they turned out ok.  I'm hoping that Rebecca thinks so as well.  I did get something else completed this week but I can't show you yet.  Those 388 one inch squares are completely sewn into a quilt top and I love it.  I"m hoping to get it quilted over the Labor Day weekend.  But alas you don't get to see it until the pattern releases in mid September.

Today I am linking up with  Let's Bee Social with Sew Fresh Quilts, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Link a Finish Friday @ Richard and Tanya Quilts, Ms Midge, Finish It Up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts, Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation, Fabric Frenzy Friday @ Fort Worth Fabric Studio and Weekend Link Party @ Patchouli Moon Studio.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Around The World Blog Hop

Happy Wednesday everyone, I hope you are having a wonderful week.  For me it has been a super busy one.  I was asked by the awesome Shelly of Cora's Quilts to participate in the Around The World Blog Hop.  I have tested one quilt for Shelly and am in the process of testing a second one (and if you've not checked out her pattern you should, because they are great).  This hop is pretty simple it is a set of questions, and then I nominate three more people to do it next week.  I picked Cornelia of Pieced With Love XOXO, Barbara of Suzy Homemaker and Rebecca of One Wee Bird.

So first let me tell you a little about me.  I am a native Texan, and proud of it.  I love to quilt, but I also do digital scrapbooking, some photography, loom knitting, and love to read.  My sister and I live together (and quilt together) along with my nephew.  And the most important members of the house are Tucker (yorkie), Zoey (shih tzu) and Hollywood (lab mix).  We are a wild bunch, but that is how we roll.

Now for the questions

#1 - What Are You Working On?

Well I have a couple of things going right now.  I just finished the main part of my #TexasRoadTrip QAL, but still need to do borders on it.  I really really had fun with this one, because I love the fabric and as I said before I love being from Texas.

I am also working on a test quilt for Cora's quilts, but I can't show you that until it is released.  I will say that it has 388 1 inch squares on it.  When I read that quantity I admit I thought ohhh my I will never get done, but I finished the top yesterday.  I just have to iron it and get the back together and hopefully get it quilted this weekend.  Here are all the pieces cut out, so you can get an idea of what is to come with it.

Then the exciting prospect of starting a new project.  I have about 20 waiting, but I think I know what I want to do next.

#2 - How Does Your Work Differ From Other In This Genre?

This is a tough question for me, because I am not a designer and have no desire to be a designer, so in some respects my work isn't different than others.  But at the same time I think what I love about quilting is that you can take the same pattern, use different fabrics and it takes on a different life.  In fact my sister and I have made two quilts with the same pattern, same fabric line, and they are different enough for us.  Maybe where I'm different is I'm not compelled to design in any way.

#3 - Why Do You Write/Create What You Do?

Now this is a much easier question for me.  I'm am a left brain type of person.  I'm logical, analytical, and objective.  I don't have the artist flare of a right brain type of person.  I will never be able to paint a masterpiece, write a song or sculpt a statue, and I'm ok with that fact.  But some part of me wants to be creative and I do that with my quilting.  I can take fabric and layout it out and create something that is beautiful and useful (see that left side just has to kick in on occasion).  I love playing with fabric, and have an addiction to it. Taking a pattern and putting my fabric choices with it, makes me happy.

I write this blog not as part of my creative process, but more to let friends and family know what I'm doing. I also use it to document what I've done.  I've learned so much reading other blogs, and love seeing what others are doing.  So I thought I would share what I'm doing.

#4 - How Does Your Writing/Creative Process Work?

Hmmm...I am pretty simple in my approach.  I either find fabric I love and then match a pattern to it or a pattern I love and match fabric to it.  The fabric on the shelves above bother me, because I purchased them on close out, so they don't have any specific plan to be used.  I'm using them up slowly but surely, but I much prefer to have a plan.  Now once I have fabric and a pattern, I have to lay things out to see how it should go together.  I have the Electric Quilter program and will even use it, so that I can get a good idea of how things will look.  Yes I know, not very creative, but that is how I work.  I get my joy out of the actual sewing/quilting, not out of the creative part (in fact that is the toughest part of a project for me).  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not totally structured or anything like that, in fact if you could see my sewing area you'd know for as logical as I am, I'm not overly organized. While I work I like to listen to music or TV, I always have something to drink near by, and there is always at least one furry baby in the room to distract me periodically.

Well that pretty much wraps it up for me, and I hope you've enjoyed learning a little more about me.  Now if you would like the answer these questions, I love love to hear your responses.  So feel free to comment below with your answers.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Friday Finish: Texas Road Trip QAL Flimsy

It is Friday and I'm doing my happy dance, well maybe I'm just sitting in front of my computer typing, but I'm still happy.  I have finished my Texas Road Trip QAL top except for the borders.  I've been really unsure of what I wanted to do, but I now have a plan...or at least I think I do.  I am going to take it to my local quilt shop and audition a second border, and I'm thinking very hard about white/cream.  This will be a very small border only 1-1 1/2 inches wide and then I will do a wider border of the purple bike print.  If I can't find a color I like, I may switch everything up and do a scrappy border with my leftover fabrics.  Either way I go, I'm hoping to get figured out next week.  If you missed my earlier post this week, here it is as it stands now.

Now I didn't get anything quilted this week because I was working hard on the Texas top as well as putting those 388 1" squares to use.  So far I've used 298 of them and only have 90 left.  I was very afraid that it would take forever to do them, but it really has gone very very quickly. So I've gone from this

To this

But that is as much as I can show you for now.  I've got to finish my snowballs and do some cutting and pressing, and then I will be ready to assemble my blocks.  I did put one block together already because I was a little afraid that if I was slightly off (like on the top right corner of the photo above), it would be bad. But my finished block looked good to me.  So I'm off and running.

Today I am linking up with  Let's Bee Social with Sew Fresh Quilts, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Link a Finish Friday @ Richard and Tanya Quilts, Devoted Quilter, Finish It Up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts, Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation, Fabric Frenzy Friday @ Fort Worth Fabric Studio and Weekend Link Party @ Patchouli Moon Studio.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My 10 Little Quilty Secrets

Ok I've seen a couple of these posts going around and I personally love reading them, so I thought I would let ya'll in on my secrets.  It all started with Amy of 13 Spools and when I saw her list it just made me laugh. I hope mine does the same for you.

1. I hate, no HATE hand sewing, so my bindings and labels are always machine sewn onto my quilts.  About the only thing I use a needle for is to bury threads.

2. I use steam, always.  Dry ironing is just a waste of time, it never get anything flat enough for me. And I iron, not press.  I just can't help myself.

3. I never measure the middle of my quilt for my border size.  Nope slap that piece on and trim both ends.  Are my borders wavy, who knows, my quilts are meant to be put over feet not hung on a wall.

4.  I don't use Aurifil thread.  I did one quilt with it and I struggled with the tension.  I have the tension down when I use Signature cotton and that is good enough for me.

5. I will probably never do complicated quilting, because I like the look of a simple meander.  I see some of the really complicated quilting and wonder why.  I'm a simple girl.

6. I don't like applique.  I think it is beautiful, but I don't like doing it and don't think it is worth the effort it takes to make it look good.  I'm happy with my squares and rectangles.

7. I can't sew a straight line.  I know that means sometimes things don't line up, but if it happens I'm not going to lose sleep over it.  I make it work and keep going.

8. I have no plans/desire to be a quilt designer or fabric designer.  I'm perfectly happy making things from patterns other people create.  I know that even if I use the same pattern and line of fabric, my quilt will most likely look different.

9. I don't understand the small quilt craze.  A wall hanging is nice and everything, but a quilt needs to be big enough to tuck under my feet and come all the way up under my neck.  Unless it is a baby blanket why would you make a quilt only 50" long.  I like big quilts and I can not lie.

10.  I have been known to take my sister's quilt top apart and fix a seam or two.  She knows it, and I don't do it too often, but sometimes it is too wonky for even me.

Ok those are my secrets, do you have any? Come on fess up, it is good for the soul.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Texas Road Trip QAL - Finished Top

Ok to be honest it is not totally finished.  I want to put a couple of borders on it, and I just can't decide what I want.  But even saying that, the Texas part is done!!!!  I used Alison Glass' Sun Prints line for the fabric and Kona Ash as the background.  I love those sun prints, they are just beautiful.  I also did not do the city blocks.  But I had to do something special for Austin, the capital. But first here it is....

Yes I know it needs to be ironed but I was so excited to have this part done.  Now for borders, I was thinking that I was do a small...2 inch Ash border so that all of the state is inside of the grey.  Then this is where I get unsure.  I had thought to do a solid black border, but the other day I found the fabric for the backing on sale and got enough to do an outer border with it.

The fabric I found was the purple bike print, which I don't think would look good next to a black, but I just can't decide.  My other option would be to a white border, but I think I want something dark to frame everything.  I could look for some of the black bike print fabric.  What do ya'll think?

Now I did do a different block for Austin.  I knew I wanted a star but was having a problem finding exactly what I wanted.  I wanted a 5 point star, paper pieced.  I found a great one on the blog Charly & Ben's Crafty Corner.  So I emailed the wonderful Ruth who writes the blog and asked if she would be willing to share the block.  She not only graciously shared, she re-sized it for me as well. Now don't tell me quilters aren't the nicest people on earth!!  I ended up making the block a little smaller so I could outline it.

Please excuse the chalk I was using that for trimming purposes.  I also make the Dallas block with larger cuts, but since that is my home area, I thought it was only right.  Overall this was such a fun experience.  It was my first QAL, and I'm very happy with the results.  Now to just decide on the borders and soon I will have me a finished Texas quilt.  I am linking up with My Fabric Relish and Pretty Little Quilts and I can't say THANK YOU enough for leading this wonderful QAL.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Finish: Watkins Star Finished

Yeah I finished a quilt.  It seems like forever since I finished one, but it really hasn't been that long.  I just missed quilting so so much.  I will say I did still have a thread break on my machine but it was close to the end and I think I was pushing it, to get done.  Today I'm going to show you Watkins Star by Sew Incredibly Crazy.  It is all done, completely quilted and bound.  It turned out a little smaller than I thought it would.  I measured it before quilting and it was 50 1/2" x  50 1/2", after quilting it was 49 3/4" x 49 3/4 and after washing it was 48" x 48".  I had thought to put a couple of borders on it, but when I checked the backing fabric I only had just enough and I didn't want to go by more.

Did you notice I painted my chalk board.  I wanted something a little darker so I went with a grey.  I'm not sure I like it yet, but it is growing on me.  The sun was shining bright this morning, so it washed out some of the quilt, but I did an all over meander using Signature Pearl thread.  The thread matched the grey on the background wonderfully, and blended well with the other colors. I used the floral print for the background and binding.

I love a busy back, because it really hides any mistakes.  But I can say I don't think I made one single cross over on this baby.  I got close a couple of times, but no oopsies.  I plan on putting this quilt in my to donate pile...ok it will start my to donate pile.  I think it will make some little girl very happy.

I wanted to try and get a better shot, but I either had blaring sun or wind this morning, so these are about as good as they get.  I will say it was fun having a real finish. When I finished this Wednesday night, I took it in to show Sharla and Hollywood immediately laid on it.  It was a fight to get him off of it, so I'm thinking we have another quilt crazy dog.

All in all I'm very happy with the quilt.  It was super fun to put together, and I love that my HST look good on it.  If you want to check out the pattern you can find it HERE. I may make another one in a boys version to use up some of my fabric.

I also got started on a new test quilt for Cora's Quilts.  I can't show you the pattern yet, but it is really cool. I've picked out my fabrics and spent yesterday cutting it.  Yes I worked yesterday, but the great thing about my job, is if it slow my boss doesn't care how I keep myself busy.  So I cut 388 - 1" squares, yes you read that right, 1" squares.  I'm doing the crib size to hang on the wall behind my sewing machine.  I found some cute close pin like hangers that go up with the command strips.   I'm hoping they work, because they are cute.

Today I am linking up with  Let's Bee Social with Sew Fresh Quilts, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Link a Finish Friday @ Richard and Tanya Quilts, Quilting Mod, Finish It Up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts, Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt InfatuationFabric Frenzy Friday @ Fort Worth Fabric Studio and Weekend Link Party @ Patchouli Moon Studio.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Finish: A Very Slow Week

Ok last week just was the week from H..E...double hockey sticks.  Between my long arm having issues, me having issues, and a good friend having issues, I spent more time driving, in the ER or just wiped out on the bed.  So when Monday rolled around, I had to have a crown set, and then the plan was for me to quilt, but I just wasn't up to it.  After the rough week before I just needed some time to veg for a little while.  So I did very little.  I folded more fabric and decided that rather than quilt I wanted to work on my Bee blocks for Compass Quilters.

Since I don't have much experience with paper piecing I decided that I needed to do a test block, and I am so glad I did.  The pattern is very straight forward and the block went together very quickly, and the points matched.  But Houston we have a problem.  I measured it and it is about 1/8 inch short on all sides.  Just enough that it would be an issue.

So pretty, yet so wrong.  A couple of the others in the Bee had similar problems and they fixed it by not trimming the outside edge until the block was assembled.  So I printed another foundation and started again. I will say it is so fun to get something where my points look good.  The second piece worked great, I trimmed it to the exact 5 1/2 inches it needed to be.

So today I'm going to print out the foundations for my real blocks and hopefully get to work on them this weekend.  I'm loving the ones I'm seeing created by my other Bee-mates.  I can't wait to see the blocks/quilt finished.

I also finished my quadrant three of my #TexasRoadTripQAL and have about 1/3 of quadrant four laid out on my cutting board. I'm going to paper piece a star for Austin, and then the rest is pretty straight forward.

As long as I don't have too many of these this week...

I'm hoping to get my Watkins Star quilted and bound as well as my Bee blocks done.  They have to be mailed far far away, and want to get them in the mail asap.  I am anxious to make some progress this week. I am linking up with   Can I Get A Whoop Whoop @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Link a Finish Friday @ Richard and Tanya Quilts, Quilts Matter, Finish It Up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts, Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation and Fabric Frenzy Friday @ Fort Worth Fabric Studio.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Lovely Year of Finishes: August Goal

Ok last month wasn't my best month, but I'm going to make up for it in August, well I'm going to try.  I have four goals for the month and each is very doable, so here goes.

My first goal is to quilt my Watkins Star quilt.  I am going to work on the back today and hopefully have it loaded to quilt this week.  Now I want to do more than one quilt, but considering every Monday this month is booked, I'm only going to commit to getting this top quilted.

My second goal is to finish my #TexasRoadTripQAL flimsy.  I've finished quadrants 1, 2 and 3, so that just leaves 4.  I would love to have it quilted as well, but I will settle for finishing the top. Here is quadrant 3 which I finished yesterday.

My third goal is to complete my Compass Quilters Bee blocks.  This is my first time ever joining a bee and I'm pretty excited.  I love the block chosen is call the hummingbird block.  It is paper pieced and looks really cool.  I am planning on doing my test block this week.  But so you know what it looks like I'm borrowing the photo from our Queen Bee.

And my last goal for August is to get another top cut.  I honestly don't know what top I will cut.  I have my PB&J fabric ironed, so maybe that one.  Or I could do a charity quilt or I have so many to choose from, but one needs to be cut and ready to piece by the end of the month.

I am linking up with Shannon of Fiber of All Sorts and Melissa of Sew BitterSweet Designs.  Let's see if this will be a better month!!!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Finish: Hollywood's Quilt

Ok this quilt was the breaking point...what breaking point...the one that meant my Handiquilter aka Abby had to go to the repair shop/doctor.  I loaded it last week, and on row two started having thread shredding issues again, and by row three I was ready to throw everything out of the window.  I called the place I purchased it and since it was a long drive, they made arrangements for the "doctor" to meet me at the shop and work on it while I waited.  Since I was going to have to remove the machine from the frame I went ahead and finished the quilt, even though it meant having the thread break several more times.  But Hollywood now has a quilt.

About two months ago my local quilt shop "Quilt Country" had a sale, 25% off of everything and when we were looking around Sharla spotted this roll of nine purple fabrics.  It was for a quilt they had on the wall, but she thought it would be perfect for Hollywood.  We talked about grey or black to sash it, but I really liked the lighter lavender.  She pieced the top and I quilted it.

She decided to only use seven of the strips because it seemed to big, now it seems a little small.  When I loaded it on the long arm, I had a couple of choices of thread. I almost used a variegated purple, but it looked good only on some of the stripes.  So I chose Lavender by Signature.  I chose this because I wanted to see what happened if I made the thread more visible. Normally I want the thread to blend in, but since this was for Hollywood and I knew he wouldn't complain I thought it was the perfect opportunity to play a little. I also wanted to work on my loops.

Overall I'm happy with the results. Yes I still need to work on my loops, as you can see they aren't of consistent size, but I was also playing with size. I still like the meander the best, because it doesn't require me to think as much as loops. I found I would get on a roll and the loops would all be going in the same direction. This was an end section where I was a little better about keeping the loops going in different directions.  In the end all that matters is that Mr. Hollywood was happy with it.

Now the good news is that they believe they found the issue with my machine and it was repaired.  I tested it in the store and had no issues, now it is a matter of loading a quilt and testing it.  Hopefully that will happen on Monday.  For now I'm linking up with  Can I Get A Whoop Whoop @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Link a Finish Friday @ Richard and Tanya Quilts, Quokka Quilts, Finish It Up Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts, Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation, Fabric Frenzy Friday @ Fort Worth Fabric Studio and Let's Bee Social @ SewFreshQuilts.