Monday, November 24, 2014

mini trees!

Do you ever get one of those ideas that rattle around in your brain that just won't quit until you try it out? That's exactly what happened with these mini trees. I would think about them before falling asleep, when I woke up in the morning, when cooking lunch. After several days, I figured enough was enough and I finally gave the idea a go.
There was much squealing of delight when I made the first one. My kids squealed right along with me, which was a bonus. :)
I made 6 blocks.
Then 9.
Then I turned them into a mini quilt. I absolutely love it!!! Thankfully we have a fresh coat of snow today for photography purposes. (Ha!) The mini measures 15.5" x 23" and the pattern is in progress. Hurray for fun ideas that work!

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Saturday socks

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I'm so excited to share my finish for today....another pair of hand knit socks! I'm calling these "Saturday socks" and I knit them especially for my 11 year old son. He LOVES Saturdays, big comfy sweatshirts, being wrapped in a quilt (or two) and now he has a pair of hand knit socks to add to his Saturday ensemble. He's soooo excited for them, which I find absolutely charming. He's my middle child, so it is RARE that he gets new clothes, much less something made just for him. (It's usually all hand me downs.) I tell you, those middle children have it rough! Ha!

Turns out it isn't much easier to take sock photos on someone else's feet...
...but we had fun trying! :)
We joked that they look like old man socks. They do, but that works out, too. We always say he is an old man trapped in a kid's body. He's peculiar as the day is long and we love him to pieces.
These are my 10th pair of hand knit sock to date! My patterns are nearly worn out!
After 10 pairs, I finally feel like I can do a decent job at knitting socks! I've tweaked the pattern to my liking and I re-wrote it in a way that makes sense to me. I've got the PDF posted here as a free download. I'm not qualified to offer up technical knitting help, but if you want to have a go at the pattern, feel free to give it a shot!
 
Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week! Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

sewing for the fun of it

A few weeks ago a friend gave me a huge bag of scraps. A garbage bag full! There were a ton of denim scraps, lots of linen, some gingham, and several assorted utilitarian type fabrics, among other things. I sorted through the bag and I thought this would be a fun and interesting palette....in an understated way, of course.
Yesterday I started to sew from that pile of scraps, just for the fun of it. And it was SO fun! I thought I would call this quilt "moody", because it matches the gray blustery weather we have been enjoying (ahem) here in Minnesota.
I've also been toying with the idea of adding a streak of yellow somewhere in the mix and calling the quilt "mustard mishap". The title alone entertains me so much, I just can't tell you! I think I'm getting  a little loopy and already experiencing signs of cabin fever. (Although it's much too early in the season for that.)
Whether I add the mustard or not, I really like where this is headed!
 
I'm trying to convince myself that another WIP is not a big deal. I've added 3 in the last week! I'm up to 15 (official) works in progress with a few more that I'm still in denial over. It's a slippery slope.....

Monday, November 17, 2014

winner

The winner of the e-book Free Motion Quilting for Beginners (and those who think they can't) is Gill! Thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway.

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, November 14, 2014

doe quilt top

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

Yesterday afternoon I started making a contact print pillow (using the tutorial here). I love the pattern because it is simple and quick. Plus, it is a great way to showcase one mini charm pack. I made pieces for the envelope backing before I even assembled the pillow top, so I would feel like I was on the ball when I got to that stage. What can I say? I like to shake things up. :)
The fabric is Doe, by Carolyn Friedlander, which will be released in December. This is two weeks in a row that I've used new fabric. It feels great! (However, I'm not convinced that I've turned over a new leaf quite yet...)

At some point after I pieced the pillow top, I thought, "wouldn't this look great floating on a big solid background?" So I pulled out a yard of iron colored Kona cotton and tried it out.
Yep! Turns out it looks great floating on a sea of grey! I guess I didn't need those pillow backing pieces after all. (Figures, right???)
This palette is quite out of my comfort zone and I had doubts about it when I was laying things out. But, now that it's sewn up, I really like it! It's good to stretch yourself.
I like how the wide borders give this piece a gallery feel. Of course the quilting is going to make or break the quilt. (No pressure there!) Hopefully I can execute the fuzzy plans I have brewing in my head. The quilt top measures 42 1/2" x 43".

I love the simplicity of this project so very much. I also like how this project took a few unexpected turns along the way. It's keeps things interesting when a project takes you on a detour or two! Love that!

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Free Motion Quilting For Beginners (and those who think they can't)

I've had the chance to review the book Free Motion Quilting for Beginners (and those who think they can't), by Molly Hanson. I love that title!
I'm a big proponent of quilting your own quilts, as you know, and I've read a lot of books about free motion quilting. I like how everyone presents the information in their own personal way....there is always more to learn! This book presents all the practical information you need to get started. More importantly, it gives you the confidence to jump in and give free motion quilting a try. There are 15 projects in the book that encourage you to start small and increase your comfort level with free motion quilting before you tackle something larger, like a quilt. What I love most about this book is Molly's tone of encouragement throughout the text and the projects. She is great at guiding you though the entire process!
I've done a lot of free motion quilting and I love how relaxing it can be. I also know how easy it can be to get in a rut. I challenged myself to get out of my box, so to speak and try some new-to-me, designs. I gave this squared off stippling pattern a try and it went pretty well! I had to slow down and think about where I was going from time to time, but it was fun! I could see doing this all over a whole quilt.
I also quilted a few swatches of different designs and I turned them into a set of coasters. Binding them was a little fiddly, but totally worth it! (I can say that now that they are done. Ha!) These are great because I not only used scraps of fabric, but scraps of batting as well. Hurray! I'm happy to count these as scrap project #94/101.
 
If you would like the chance to win an e-book copy of Free Motion Quilting for Beginners, please leave me a comment in this post. In your comment, I'd love to hear what your favorite go-to FMQ pattern is. Or, if you are new to FMQ, I'd like to hear what pattern you would like to master. I will pick winner in a few days!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Machine Quilting 101: marking your quilt


Welcome to another installment in the machine quilting 101 series! Slowly but surely I will get to all of the quilting topics. This series has taken me much longer than I had originally anticipated, but that seems to be the way it is--with almost everything! All that to say...today we will be talking about marking your quilt!
 
Here are a few tools for marking that I've used again and again. I would recommend all of them! 3 out of 4 of them are made by Clover...I guess they know what they are doing!
From top to bottom:
Chaco Liner (pen-style)
Hera Marker
Water Soluble Marker (Fine tip)
Painter's Tape

A few things to mention right off the bat:

1. Before committing to any marking tool, test it on scrap fabric (or a scrap quilt sandwich). Do this before you mark your project, preferably using the same materials as your project, because the marking tools could act differently on different materials. It's better to be safe than sorry!

2. I always mark my projects after they are basted. Often times that means removing pins in certain areas before marking. I don't know if that's normal or not, but it's what I've always done. Also, I mark only a few lines at a time...sometimes only one line at a time. It's a lot of starting and stopping, but it seems to work the best for me. It prevents quilting fatigue, if nothing else! :)

Now, a quick overview of the tools:
The chaco liner is the newest marking tool that I have tried. It's nifty! Basically there is a tube of powdered chalk that you roll on with the built in marking wheel. It makes a little clicking sound as you mark, which is oddly satisfying. I have only used this tool a bit, but so far, so good! I was concerned that the chalk may not come out, but it seemed to pounce out when I sewed. Perfect! I did notice that chalk wears off fairly quickly, but not before I needed it to. For a small project like this pillow cover, it was just fine. I would recommend washing the project after it's finished to make sure all the chalk residue comes out.

The chalk comes in blue, white, yellow and pink. I had the hardest time deciding which color to purchase, but I ended up with blue. I could see adding more of the colors to my collection of marking tools over time. It was $9.50 and replacement cartridges are available.

The hera marker is another great tool! I've used this one quite a bit and I love it. All you need to do is run the hera marker along a straight edge and it creases/scores the fabric. I love this option because no chalk or ink goes onto your fabric. It's very temporary, but it holds up long enough to quilt the line(s) you need to quilt. I've found that this works better on darker fabrics than on white fabric. White reflects light so it's harder to see the marked lines. Again, I will say that I only mark one or two lines at a time, then I quilt those few lines. I repeat the process as many times as necessary.

I think I paid $6.95 for the hera marker at my local quilt shop a few years ago. It was money well spent! There are two kinds of hera markers: the larger one I've shown here and the slim. I've tried both and I'd definitely recommend the larger one.

The fine tip water soluble marker was the first marking tool I purchased that I actually liked. I've only bought two of them so far, because they last for years! I love the fine tip and it's been a very rare occasion that the ink didn't come out of the fabric. I was about to say that I never mark when I am free motion quilting, but when I am spiral quilting, I almost always mark the center (and I use my free motion foot for that part). Once the area is quilted, I spritz it lightly with a water bottle and just like magic, the ink disappears.

I have a hard time finding this particular marker in any stores that I shop at in real life, so I order them on-line from Connecting Threads. (They happen to be on sale at the moment for only $3.00, usually $5.00.) Like I said, they last for years, so it's a good deal, sale or not!

Painter's tape is another great option for marking, which I've covered in my grid quilting tutorial. This method of marking is perfect for small projects, especially placemats. I suppose you could use this method up to baby quilt size without a problem, but anything larger than that gets cumbersome! I haven't bought painter's tape in quite a while, but it is a reasonably priced option as well.

To mark or not to mark, that is the question!
If you would have asked me a few years ago how many quilts I mark, I would say very few. I've noticed that I am starting to mark more than I did in the past. I also do more straight line quilting than I used to, so that would be part of it. On the quilt shown above, it looks like I could have just followed the lines of the pattern, no marking required. However, some of the logs were uneven, and that made me stray in awkward places. I ended up ripping out those stitches and I went back and marked the lines using a combination of the hera marker and the fine tip blue marker. It took extra time, but I was much happier with the results. In the end, I think that is the key...a good finished product!

I think that's all I have for today! I'd love to hear your thoughts on marking quilts. If you have a favorite marking tool that you absolutely can't live without, please tell me about it!

Monday, November 10, 2014

and so it begins

I got the call at 5:45 this morning that we had our first snow day of the season. The kids were more than thrilled to stay home! I thought the 14" of snow that was predicted was just a bunch of hype, but as the day wore on, it was apparent I was wrong (so very wrong) and that "they" kind of knew what they were talking about.
We certainly are starting the season off with a bang!
I am so glad that I had a quilt basted and ready to quilt! It's been a busy day with everyone home (and all that snow to shovel) but I managed to find time to quilt two bobbins worth. It's not a lot, but I'll take it!
 
It's days like today that make me thankful that I am a quilter. I love not only the end result (the quilt itself), but I enjoy the process as well. It feels like forever since I free motion quilted anything and I forget how relaxing it can be! (When things are going well, that is!) And so far, so good. Hurray for that!
 
Happy Monday to you!

Friday, November 07, 2014

baggy pouch

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I ventured into uncharted territory this week. I managed to use new fabric (while it is still new!) and a new pattern...all in one fell swoop! It was fun to actually use the new stuff rather than to add it to a mile long "to do" list, you know? I need to do that more often!

The fabric is Fresh Cut by Basic Grey for Moda.
The pattern is Aneela's adorable baggy pouch.
This is the small pouch. It was a fun and fairly quick project. Of course making the patchwork and quilting it takes a little extra time, but it's totally worth it! I'm excited to sew up the larger size next.
I wish I would have used a longer zipper or added fabric tab ends, but now I know for next time. This project is just imperfect enough that I wouldn't give it to someone, so I guess I'm going to have to suffer and keep it for myself. Darn. :) I really love the sweetness and the colors of this fabric line.
It finishes at about 8" x 5".

I think that this is one of the best ways I've found to use a mini charm pack to date! All my kids want (at least) one of these pouches and I could use at least a dozen myself. Ha! It's a good thing I have a stock pile of mini charms and zippers on hand. I have a feeling I know what I'm going to be doing this weekend!

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

birch trees in progress

My ticker tape scrap drawer was packed to the gills, so I thought it was time to make another bright birch trees quilt. Yesterday, when I said that all the scrap projects I am currently working on are intense, I wasn't kidding! I've made quite a dent in my tiny scraps (yes, it IS possible) so I think it's time to set this one aside for a bit. Besides, I am in need of a few background pieces, and I don't want to break my fabric fast quite yet. I'm on day 94 (!!!) of not buying fabric so I want to keep that record going. At this point I might as well go for an even 100, don't you think?
 
It's been fun to revisit this pattern. I made the first version in 2012 and my skills have improved a bit since then. (Hurray for that!) I'm curious, do you ever sew the same pattern twice? Or are you a one and done kind of person? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject!
 
Happy Tuesday! xo

Monday, November 03, 2014

scraps in progress

I've been sewing quite a bit the past several days, which has been so nice! All of my works in progress are intense and scrappy, so I have been jumping from project to project to keep things interesting. I pulled out this WIP that my daughter and I have been working on together. It's quite hard for me to give up control, but it's nice working with her. She has dubbed it "the family couch time quilt". Since it's going to be for the whole family, we are going to make every member of the family (my husband included) make a few blocks for it. It looks kind of chaotic right now, but I love it all the same. Let me just say, no one (and I mean NO ONE) can do wonky quite like an 8 year old! Ha!
I hope that I never tire of working with scraps. They are my absolute favorite!

Yesterday marked 8 years since I wrote my first blog post. (!!!!) I can hardly believe that it's been that long, but then again, I can scarcely remember life before blogging. I'd like to thank each and every one of you for reading, encouraging and cheering me on. It really and truly means SO MUCH! Thank you! xoxoxoxo

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, October 31, 2014

finish it up Friday

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

Just a few things to share today....
I made a pair of pincushions (for gifts) using the tiniest of feed sack scraps. No fabric, especially feed sacks, should go to waste!!! :) The smaller pin cushion finishes at a touch over 3". These were made using a "quilt-as-you-go" technique and then I filled them with crushed walnut shells. They have a nice weight/feel to them and they could double as bean bags if you were in a pinch. (Because that happens every day, right?) They are scrap project #93/101.
 
My trees! pattern got a facelift! These patterns are now in print (available for wholesale orders) and the shiny new PDF version is available in my craftsy store, as well as my big cartel shop. This is the last of my patterns that needed major updating, so I'm thrilled with this finish! It's been a LONG journey.
And while this is not a finish, it's one step in the right direction! A pieced quilt back for a long time WIP. I LOVE how it turned out and it may cause me to start yet another quilt. And so it goes....
 
Since I'm nearing the end of my 101 scrap project challenge (only 8 more to go!!!) I am wracking my brain for what my next crazy challenge could be. I'm open to any suggestions!
 
Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!