Saturday
Jun182011

Happy Father's Day

Go get the man (men, boys) in your life and tell them a quilt blog has a Father's Day gift for them.

Watch to the very end.

May the force be with you. ;)

Friday
Jun172011

Project Simplify - Day 32

Okay.  It's official.  "Moonlight" is a keeper. 

Blue is his favorite color and there are soooo many pink & girly quilts in this house.  The guy deserves one that ... well ... he likes for reasons OTHER than because his wife made it.

So much for going traditional with this quilt ... despite using prints like a fine houndstooth, classic acanthus leaf, delicate florals and a sweet plaid, this quilt looks really modern to me. 

About the name - my helper & I talked about where you can draw inspiration from when choosing a name.  We focused on the colors & shapes.  I suggested "Arctic Circles", but she's only in Grade 2 and informed me that, "I haven't learned anything about that in school yet, Mummy."  Her sister suggested "Dancing Circles", but again the assistant explained to us - with all possible conviction of an 8 year old - that didn't make any sense AT ALL because the straight lines in the quilt would not allow any dancing to go on.  (I love hearing their thought processes .. kids are so funny!)

So "Moonlight" it is.

I had quite a bit more back-piecing to do for this one than the previous two Project Simplify quilts.  I just used up a bunch of fabric pieces that came in the "Glace" kit.  (Yay!)

Next week ... pillows!

Thursday
Jun162011

Project Simplify - Day 31

I made a few last minute fabric changes with this quilt. 

First, I had to banish the paisley print.  This post I wrote a while back will explain why. 

See? 

Too bossy.

Second, I planned to use this pretty print for the border. 

I thought it would frame the quilt nicely.  But when I got to the border part, I found it too overpowering. 

The cream just looked waaay better.

Ya know, this is one of the things I love about quilting.  You start off thinking you're in charge, but somewhere along the way the quilt takes over and starts telling YOU what it wants to look like.  Then you have a choice: either obey the quilt and do what IT wants you to do, OR be stubborn, ignore it and then have it hate you for the rest of it's life (and you it). 

I have chosen wisely ...

Wednesday
Jun152011

Project Simplify - Day 30

Geez, I had a string of bad luck with this quilt!  (All me, NOT the book!)

First, my border piece was short by about 2 inches.   (Because I'm using yardage that may have been previously cut, sometimes I have to wing it.)

Then this ... my bobbins ran out with, what, 3 feet to go?

And this ... my binding was short by, what, an inch?

And then this!  What are the odds of a binding seam landing exactly on a corner? 

No, seriously.  Anyone know how to calculate odds?  Six seams, 4 corners, 280”  ...  I really want to know!

As you've probably noticed by now, I retreated to the safety of my boring cross-hatch topstitching for this quilt.  I know, I know.  But I really like how it compliments the diagonal sashing and contrasts with the circles.  Ok, plus I needed to soothe my ego a little after the last chapter. ;)  I promise to get back in the saddle for the next quilt.

I went with blue thread because I like how it gently pops on the cream background.  My other choice was cream thread, but then I'd have these weird lines - only in one direction - on the sashing. 

And red thread would have been too Amityville Horror for me.  (I read the book when I was about 13 ... I'm still traumatized!)

Tuesday
Jun142011

It's What I Do

This is what I like to do for little girl birthday gifts instead of buying toys or loot bags.

Fabric is from the Flower Sugar FQ bundle by Lecien I got at Quilt Market last month.

Whenever my girls attend a birthday party (either as a guest or the hostess) I ask them to find out what the other girls' favorite colors are and I make something special for each with their initial.  You can't imagine how happy I was that the favorite colors turned out to be red, yellow & blue - no two colors the same -and that the Flower Sugar bundle had these fabrics!  (But I was surprised there wasn't a pink girl in the group ...) 

The pink for the monogram came from my scrap bin and matches the pink in the prints almost exactly.

I'll show you what they turn into when I've got them done.

Monday
Jun132011

Project Simplify - Day 29

(Sigh.)  Time for a cup of tea ...

This happens to me once in a while when my hand accidentally moves the stitch selection wheel on my machine as I'm shoving a large quilt through.

I think there's a way I can lock the machine from doing this, but that would A) require me to remember how to do it or B) dig out my manual  ...

Me pick PINK! ;)

Friday
Jun102011

Project Simplify - Day 28

I'm a cheater.  And I'm not afraid to admit it.

Yes, sometimes I look for the easy way out and bend the rules a bit.  In this case, I'm talking about the circle template for Spot On.  It requires enlarging.  I don't mind.  I'm lucky to have a printer/fax/copier thingy here at home. 

But I was thinking more about my little helper and making tracing easy for her.  So instead of making a template as per the pattern, I rooted around my kitchen for something round.  The best I could do was a plate that's about 1/4" smaller than the actual template.

It was so easy for her to use.  (Yes, that's a Laura Ashley saucer!)

I don't think the quilting police will come and arrest me because the circles are a smidgen smaller than the pattern said.  

But in case they do - and you'd like to make my prison stay more comfortable - I like Ghirardelli brownies (with chopped walnut, if you don't mind), Irish Breakfast tea and Japanese craft books & magazines

Thanks in advance.

Thursday
Jun092011

Logic is TOTALLY Overrated

So.  My husband was at Costco the other day and came across two women & a toddler, who was sitting in the cart. 

Halfway through the store the little one got antsy and started demanding her freedom. 

The mom said, "You have two choices:  either sit here in the cart, or let your Aunt carry you."

Little's response?   "Me pick PURPLE!"

Next time someone offers me two unacceptible options, I'm picking PINK!

Wednesday
Jun082011

Project Simplify - Day 27

Well, after MUCH fabric play & yardage consideration (I kept running into the "crap, I don't have enough of that fabric" problem) I surprised myself by going with this two-color grouping which is mostly Roman Holiday, and the blue and cream tonals from Glace - another 3 Sisters Christmas line (the same line Camille used for this quilt in the book) that came in a kit I've had for a while.

I mean, I love two-tone quilts and I really love this smokey blue-gray & cream combo (with little hits of red!).  But for some reason I was trying really hard to use the entire Roman Holiday line. 

For years I'd walk into a store, see a quilt and want those.exact.fabrics to make it for myself.  I had trouble imagining quilts in different colors.  I know lots of other quilters struggle with the same issue.  Let's face it, fabric ain't cheap and making quilts - especially big ones - is an investment in both time & money.  And believe me, I've made my fair share of costly "experimenting with fabric" mistakes.

I'm still not the world's best fabric picker for quilts.  I really admire people who can walk through a quilt store, "cherry pick" bolts from all over the place and put together a fabulous fabric collection for a quilt. More often than not, I rely on a fabric line when I make a quilt.  But time and experience has made me a little more comfortable & confident with my personal fabric likes & dislikes.

Plus - just a personal goal - I'd like most of the quilts I make for Project Simplify to look at least a little - and preferably a lot - different from the ones in the book, if only for those of you who are still learning to visualize quilts in different fabrics.  Maybe you'll be inspired to give future quilt designs a second look if they're made up in colors & prints that don't appeal to you.  You just might find an unexpected treasure!

Monday
Jun062011

Project Simplify - Day 26

Chapter Five - The halfway mark!

I really like this quilt - Spot On. 

Remember Donnie & Marie Osmond's hit "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock & Roll?"  This quilt - to me - is a little bit traditional, a little bit modern.  The large graphic circles strike me as contemporary, but the sashing & on-point set of the blocks reads traditional.  I think you could tip the balance either way with the fabric selection.

I'm going traditional with this fabric collection from a few years ago by 3 Sisters for Moda called Roman Holiday.  I'm a sucker for a good Christmas fabric line and 3 Sisters - more often than not - has me at "Hello". ;)

I made this quilt by Bunny Hill a few years ago for the shop and most of the fabric was from this collection.  It was so pretty I had to buy the FQ bundle (plus yardage, of course) for myself.

I also made this little wall hanging (my own design) a few years ago.  I hang it over my kitchen sink at Christmas time.  Kinda cute, no?

Hmmm, what a surprise ... it's cross-hatched.

Thursday
Jun022011

Project Simplify - Day 25

I'm pleased to introduce you to "Flower Garden".

Sooooo pretty, isn't she?  Wish I'd had her for Easter.

The pain of top-stitching this quilt is but a distant (ok, not that distant) memory.  I really am glad, (and maybe kinda sorta a little bit proud) that I stuck with it.

We did have a little boo-boo.  Remember that thing I have about not letting the same print "touch"?  My helper & I have absolutely NO idea how this happened!

Oh well ;).

For the back, I still had some of the Robyn Pandolph I used for the last quilt back.  If I'd planned things out a little better, I'd have saved it all for this one - because the quilt top is mostly Robyn and I just like doing little things like that - but never mind.  I took a bit more yardage from my shelf (yay!) to complete the back.

Stash Redux:

  • Yardage - 3.7 yds / 3.3 m
  • Weight - 1 lb / 0.5 kg

For a grand total of:

  • Yardage - 39.6 yds / 36.1 m
  • Weight - 13.6 lbs / 7.4 kg

Wow, can you believe it?  I'm halfway through the book!  Five quilts done - four more quilts & four pillow covers to go!

Tuesday
May312011

Oops, I Did it Again!

Ever since Camille gave me permission to blog my way through her fantastic book Simplify, I've been trying to think of a way to thank her. 

So when she mentioned how much she liked this bag I made based on her quilt pattern "Sugar Rush", I absolutely insisted on making one for her and I asked her to pick the fabrics.

Hmmm, I wonder what she chose ...

I'm off to the post office now! ;)

Monday
May302011

Project Simplify - Day 24

Kay.  You'd think I'd be used to making a fool of myself.  I admit it's getting easier, but still ...

See, when it comes to all things quilting I usually can pick up a new skill relatively quickly.  I think that must be why I love quilting so much - it's one of a VERY few things I can do well with little or no practice.  And I really thought that with the amount of time & effort I've invested already on this particularly elusive element of quilting, I'd be a lot further along by now.

Here's the latest damage ... (wimper).

This is supposed to be a neat, symmetrical design.  Not this wonky, amoeba-shaped ... mess!

It LOOKS so easy to do ... why can't I GET this?

I had a little (ok, an embarrassingly huge for someone my age) tantrum - which I kept on the inside, but let me tell you I was craaaaabby!  I thought, "Keep trying, you'll get better."  I didn't. 

I once heard that the definition of insanity was repeating the same action but expecting different results.  Well, it's official.  I'd gone banana-nuts-crazy.

But after, like, an hour of unpicking all 12 of these very badly stitched designs (seems my helper has lost interest in the job for the moment - I think I burnt her out), possibly a few bad words and an imaginary blog post in which I shamefully admit defeat, a light bulb came on.  I thought of trying a new tactic - s.l.o.w.i.n.g d.o.w.n.

And suddenly ... voila!

Still not as good as I'd like, but waaaaay better than when I started. 

But here's the thing ...

You know that saying "Can't see the forest for the trees"?  In this case, I think it means that if you look too closely at the details, the occasional imperfections that exist on a tiny scale can ruin your ability to appreciate a perfectly decent quilt.

This happens to me a lot - when I'm making something, I notice every.little.mistake.  But more often than not when it's all bound, washed and in situ, the little "blemishes" disappear into the overall loveliness of what I made with pretty fabrics and a pretty design and then, well ... just never mind the trees, I love the forest!

Here's a look at all three FMQ designs together in the quilt.

So if it's not too arrogant, I think I'll give myself a C+ or B- for execution ... ok, maybe a B ;) ... but a big fat A for effort! 

I can pretty much guarantee that I TOTALLY would have given up on FMQing by now if it wasn't for Project Simplify.  Thank you Camille for graciously giving me permission to blog my way through your book.  I know it was a big leap of faith on your part to let me - a virtual stranger with a fledging blog - use your book this way. 

And thanks to all you quiet and vocal visitors for hanging out here with me.   Your advise, encouragement & support mean so much to me.

I'm feeling much better now. :)

Friday
May272011

Laugh Lines

"Mummy, is there such a thing as extra-medium?"

I love her. 

Thursday
May262011

Project Simplify - Day 23

Sometimes I can think outside the box and come up with good ideas on my own.  But for now, I still need a crutch for deciding on a FMQing design.  So why not copy (again) what is shown in the book?

Camille's used three different FMQ designs on this cute little quilt:  stippling, that loop-dee-loop from "Little Man" and a sort of scalloped flower thing.  At first glance, I thought that was a bit ambitious for me to attempt, but it is a small quilt and if I want to improve my skills, I might as well go for it.  (You know, broadening ones horizons and all ...)

Here's my practice run.  Not bad, eh? 

The results:  not perfect - still a little jerky here and there.

And a little accidental loop ...

Is it just me, or is it easier to get out of a tight spot with swirly twirly?  Stippling just seems a bit less forgiving.

And then there's my old nemesis - tension.  Hmmph.

One of these days I'll remember that if you practice your FMQ stitching with fabric/batting/thread that's not exactly the same as your quilt, you must double check your tension when you start sewing on the actual quilt!  At least this stuff was easy to pull out.  I gave the fun to you-know-who ... little Miss Loves-A-Ripper.

I'll show you the embarrassing part next time.  That's right, dear friends, I'm not through humiliating myself for your entertainment!

Wednesday
May252011

Project Simplify - Day 22

Whoever invented these bent basting pins should be awarded the Nobel Prize for Quilting. 

Seriously.

I held out for a loooong time thinking my regular safety pins still worked so why should I buy new ones?  Yeah, smack me upside the head!  Best $5 I ever spent. 

Monday
May232011

Project Simplify - Day 21

Chapter Four is a sweet little table topper called Coming Home.

At Quilt Market in Houston last fall I met Robyn Pandolph and got a charm pack of her new line "Scarborough Fair". 

I love it. 

I also bought the FQ bundle. 

I know, you're shocked ... ;)

Except for a few squares that I used in Last Chapter's quilt I haven't made anything with this fabric yet and I'm excited that I finally get to play with it.

Since the taupe/cream background fabric I'd planned for the last quilt didn't turn out, I'm going to give it another try for this quilt. 

And FOR SURE this time I'm going to use pink for the border.

Promise! :)

Friday
May202011

Love Thy Neighbor

Especially if he's a carpenter and you bought a 1952 bungalow (14 years ago) with a "fireplace" that looks like this:

(Sheeesh, I still get the heebie jeebies just lookin' at this photo!)  Yes, that's a bizarrely located electrical outlet.  I know ... I don't get it either. 

I could not paint that thing white fast enough, which was a MAJOR improvement, but still ...

A few months after we moved in, I found a salvaged fireplace insert (dated 1951).  I was so excited thinking I'd solved our living room eyesore.  And it was almost perfect, but in our attempt to make it fit we (meaning not me) removed a few tiles and chiseled away some of the concrete.  

And this is as far as we (again, not me) got.  It’s looked like this for about ... well, 14 years.  Ugh.

There's just no disguising those unsightly air vents.  The duct work was moved a while back (that's right, not by me ... see, I'm the IDEAS girl, NOT the muscle ...) and the vents relocated to the floor, so these grills are now purely, uh, "decorative" for lack of a better word.

I can never not notice this ... this thing.  Let’s face it, it's just ridiculous.  And I'm always embarrassed by it when people come over.  I mean, it IS the focal point of the room, but for all the wrong reasons.

So recently I was chatting with my neighbor (the carpenter).  Long story short, I drew him this ...

And he turned it into this ...

(cue the angels)

 

I KNOW!!! 

Like I said, I'm the IDEAS girl.   I've been fantasizing about this moment for soooooooo loooooooooong.  It's so beautiful I could weep.  Wait'll Santa sees the stockings hung here.  Thank you neighbor!

Now, can anyone out there tell me how to dress this mantle?  I'm not good at that sort of thing.  All I know is that now the mirror's way to small and I have a whopping 17" deep shelf! 

I'm trying to figure out how to have an afternoon nap up there. :)

Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday
May192011

Project Simplify - Day 20

Woohoo!  Look who's getting all fancy with her swirly twirly FMQing by throwing in the occasional heart ...

and

This was fun (after I got over the trauma of my really lousy daisies and breaking thread and all).

When I was putting the binding on I did that silly thing of twisting the two joining ends ...

I love this gently scalloped edge.  It's so much easier than severe scallops with all the inside corners to manouver.

The jury is still out as to whether the variegated thread was a good idea or not.  What do you think?

Do you ever play that game with yourself where you try to pick your favorite block in a quilt you made?  I thought it would be fun to ask my helper which was her favorite .  She had a hard time deciding, but she chose this one ...

and this one ...

and this one ...

and this one ...

and this one ... :)

Mine is this one ...  In fact, it was the inspiration for the name my helper gave this quilt.

She was telling me how she didn't like this one block because it was the only one with a dress on it.  All the others had flowers.  I told her I liked that one little block because it was daring to be different from the rest and that it looked like it was going to a party.  Then my helper said, "Hey!  I'm going to call this quilt Garden Party!" 

Love it.  Hope you do too. :)

I'm regretting a little bit that I went with the yellow border instead of the pink (I already got an "I told you so, Mom!").  I think it turned out a bit too quiet.  Oh well.  It still looks nice.

Now, I usually try to use up leftovers for the back, but since the fabrics came from my scrap bin, I luckily found some older Robyn Pandolph yardage that did the trick.

Stash Redux:

  • Yardage - 4.4 yds / 4.1 m
  • Weight - 1.2 lbs / 0.5 kg

For a grand total of:

  • Yardage - 35.9 yds / 32.8 m
  • Weight - 12.6 lbs / 6.9 kg

Feeling good!

Wednesday
May182011

Project Simplify - Day 19

And now back to our regularly scheduled blogging. :)

 

Remember this sweet, innocent-looking spool of lilac variegated RAYON thread?

Yeah.  It's evil.  But I'll get back to that in a minute.

I decided that after my poor "daisy flower" FMQ results I should stick to what I know for now - which is the "swirly twirly".  Fine.

But things were not going well.  I'd only done about 5 minutes worth of stitching and the thread broke, like, at least 20 times!  I rethreaded, checked the tension, everything I could think of to fix the problem.  I was having a serious hate-on for the thread.  But when I started testing out different thread I discovered that the lilac rayon was only half the problem.  The other half?  Well, turns out you really do need A DARNING FOOT on your machine to do FMQing.  The open-toed applique foot won't work.  (Oops!)

When I finally clued in to THAT little oversight, my darning foot decided to punish me for ignoring it by falling off and breaking (another) needle.

Sigh.  So by this time there were so many stops & starts in my top-stitching I figured I should prob'ly take it all out.  I hate unpicking almost as much as I hate practicing.

But ...

Guess who discovered that the little helper girl L.O.V.E.S using a stitch ripper?  (This photo was her idea.)

She was all over that job!  Especially after I showed her how to cut every third or fourth thread and then after a few minutes do that oh-so-satisfying long thread pull.  :)  drrrdrrrdrrrdrrrdrrr!

I sent her off to her Grandmas with the quilt and the ripper and she happily undid my mess.

Then I showed her my secret weapon for removing all those annoying little bits of thread ... masking tape.

If you've ever had body hair waxed ... you get the picture ;)

I love this girl.  Who knew 24 hours of labour followed by a C-section would pay off this way?