We Bee Learning January Block

This is the block I made for one of my bees for this month.  The blocks are easy for those who are just starting quilting (not me) or joining their first bees (me).  The world of virtual bees is a big one, but I’ve just recently learned that they even existed.  I’ve quilted for many years, but I never even thought to look for blogs or ideas for quilts online.  I don’t know why– I’ve been a part of online swaps for handmade cards for years, so it only makes sense that there would be swaps for other hobbies as well.  Anyway, I joined a couple of swaps and decided to give this bee a try since we’re using our own stash for the blocks, so this saves on postage (less money spent on postage means more money for fabric!!).

This pinwheel block was for Hayley, and she told us to use whatever colors/fabrics we wanted, so I chose the same fabric that I’m using to make my mother-in-law’s sampler quilt for next Christmas (planning ahead a whole year in advance- I”m so proud of myself!).  Each month the “queen bee” will choose a block and either post or direct us to a tutorial, so I plan to make the queen bee’s block as well as make a block out of this fabric for the sampler quilt.  This way by the end of the year I’ll have at least 12 blocks in all different styles but in the same fabric, and all I’ll need to do is sew them together in a quilt top and then quilt it.

I’ll probably make an extra block or two earlier in the year so it’s not left to the end, but at least this keeps me working on a regular basis so it’s not all left until the last minute.  I don’t know why, but these colors/patterns make me think of my MIL.  I’m not sure if this will end up being bed-sized or lap-sized.  I guess it will depend on how industrious I get.

Central Park Quilt

     

Just after discovering the world of designer fabrics and finding out that we have a couple really nice quilt shops nearby, I stumbled onto a fat quarter sale ($1.50 each!) so I stocked up, buying with no particular plan in mind.  I bought several fat quarters from Moda’s Central Park line.  I especially loved the tree print.  So, then I set about to find a pattern that would work well with fat quarters.  I found this recipe on Moda Bake Shop.  I used a chocolate brown Kona for the frames, and I increased the border size to make it just a bit bigger since I intended to use it on a bed.

I didn’t know what to do about the quilting.  I ended up using white thread, but I really wanted the chocolate brown frames to stay sharp, so I was concerned that white wouldn’t look right.  I couldn’t come up with a better option, though, and it did end up looking fine with white thread.  At first I wanted to do square quilting lines, but since I’m not yet very good with straight line free motion quilting, I went back to stippling.  One of these days I’m going to start using my walking foot and just do straight lines, but that seems so boring to me for some reason.  I do love to stipple.  I like the puckery look it gives once the quilt is washed and dried, and I just plain have fun making squiggles on my quilt.

           

The binding is a scrappy one, made up of whatever was left of my fat quarters.  I also used some scraps on the back to fancy it up a bit.  I had planned to keep this and use it in our spare room, but I’m halfway considering placing it in my etsy shop.  My husband wants to keep it because he likes this one, but one house can only hold so many quilts, and I don’t have the usual emotional attachment to this one for some reason, so I’m thinking about letting it go. 

I’m definitely going to hit up the shop again when the fat quarters go on sale, though.  I do love this fabric.  I’m a sucker for anything in bright bold colors.

Fabric Friday

This week I ended up buying quite a lot of fabric (probably over 30 yards– eek!).  On Monday, I received an email from one of my favorite cross-stitch shops in Indianapolis announcing that they were having to close (so sad!) and were having a 40% off sale of everything in the store.  That was too much temptation, so I hopped in the car and drove the hour to see what they had left.  Here’s what I ended up getting:

There wasn’t a ton of stuff left.  I guess there was a big run on the store in the morning, and it was afternoon by the time I got there.  They had a lot of My Big Toe designs left, so I picked up three of those that I didn’t have, a Lavender & Lace bride that I liked and a few other things that looked interesting.  The pattern on the bottom right is for a needle roll, so I might make that as a gift at some point.  I also picked up a 17″ Q-snap frame, which is great for quilting and cross stitch.  I only have one other small Q-snap, so this gives me a good larger option.

Since I was already in Indianapolis, I decided to make a tour of the area quilt shops.  I had bought this Michael Miller print a couple weeks ago:

     

It’s called “Windy Day,” and I just fell in love with the little dogs and swings.  I’m terrible about buying children’s prints when I don’t necessarily have children’s things I need to make.  I’m sure I’ll be able to use it for a baby quilt as a gift at some point even if I don’t have another little boy.  When I was at the quilt shop on Monday, I found these other fabrics with it that weren’t in last week. They’re all from the same line– “Backyard Baby” by Patty Sloniger for Michael Miller.  The little bugs in jars were so cute that I just couldn’t resist, and then I had to buy little bits of the coordinating fabrics, too, of course.  Hopefully some little boys in need of quilts come along in the near future.

I also bought these fabrics just because I loved the colors.  I bought one fat quarter pack of the fabrics on the left and then I bought an extra half yard of the flower print because it was my favorite.  The other prints are by Ty Pennington, and again, I loved the colors.  I don’t have any specific plans for any of this, so into the stash it goes.

     

So where did the over 30 yards come from?  The $3/yd. clearance rack at the shop in my town.  They’ve been running a clearance sale for most of January, and it will go back up to $5/yd. after this weekend.  So, I decided I should stock up on whatever I wanted needed before the price went back up.  I got lots of fabrics to use for backings, and I cleaned them out of Moda’s Just Wing It line because I love those fabrics, and it’s really hard to pass up $3/yd.  I might make some little girls’ quilts to either give as gifts or sell in my etsy shop.

I plan to use the tree fabric from Just Wing It for the backing on a tree quilt that I’m making from blocks I’m receiving from Stash Bee.  My month is March, so it’s coming up quickly.  I loved the leafy print indigo fabric and thought it would also make a nice quilt back, so I bought the whole bolt.  It had almost 12 yards, so king size here I come!  The snowflake print is Kate Spain’s “Flurry,” and I bought several bits of fabric from that line for a Christmas quilt at some point, and this will make an awesome back.  I felt a little weird buying so much fabric all at once, but it’s tough to buy even a nice plain white muslin backing for $3/yd., so it really was an economical effort– or so I tell myself!  This was quite a fun week for me as far as fabric goes.

Modern 99 Bee- January

These are the blocks for a bee based on the book, Modern Blocks: 99 Quilt Blocks from Your Favorite DesignersThese were paper-pieced, and while they did take some time because there are so many seams, they weren’t at all difficult to do.

This particular block is not something that would normally catch my eye, but after making these I’m considering choosing this design when it’s my month.  That won’t be until January of 2013 (seems so far away!), so I have plenty of time to change my mind.  I’m curious how the queen bee will put these together in her quilt top.  There are so many possibilities if she rotates them or sews them together at the bottoms.

I ended up loving the colors, too.  They really pop out and grab attention. 

I’m loving this bee so far because it’s already making me try new techniques or at least blocks in a style I might not normally choose.

Work-In-Progress Wednesday: Zig Zag quilting

This week I should be able to finish the hand quilting on my zig zag quilt.  When I first decided to hand-stitch the quilting, I intended to do about half what I’m ending up with.  I was planning to only stitch 1/4″ away from each side on the white strips because those stitch lines would stand out more, and I’m using a more decorative (i.e. colorful) thread. 

Once I got started, though, I decided it would look better to put another row of stitching down the middle of every stripe.  I’m really happy with the result and as of posting, I only have two more rows to go!  Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have it bound, washed, and on our bed.  This quilt is nice and soft, and since it’s hand quilted, it’s not as stiff as my normal quilts, so it’s more cuddly and good to sleep with.

Laura’s birthday present

     

I made this quilt for my best friend’s birthday.  The living room in her new house is decorated in black, gray, and red, so I made it to match.  This pattern is a smaller version of the Portrait Gallery Quilt pattern on Moda Bake Shop.  I had previously made the full size version, but this was a good modern style to match the style in which she’s decorating her house.

It was also nice and fast, and her birthday, being January 3rd, always sneaks up on me after Christmas (sorry, Laura!).  I wanted to do an angular free motion quilting pattern to match the angles of the pattern, but in practice, it didn’t look that great, so I just stippled.  My inability to free motion quilt straight lines is a combination of a lack of quilting skill on my part and a machine that’s too small to allow me to move the quilt around easily.  I’m still working on a good setup and/or working on my husband for a new machine with a longer arm. ;)

Anyhow, I was happy with the way it turned out overall.  One thing that took some time was the washing.  I didn’t prewash my red, and it bled.  It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it still required several sessions in the washing machine with color catchers and oxiclean.  It came out of it, though, and I doubt Laura even noticed– until now that I’ve spilled the secret.

Here it is in its new home:

Don’t you just love her red couch?!

Triangle-free Zig Zag Quilt

This “stained glass” fabric has been lying around moving from house to house with me since before I could drive.  I bought it originally planning to do a cathedral window quilt with it, but while recently reorganizing my fabric, I decided that the stained glass pattern in that type of quilt was just too matchy-matchy, so I ended up turning it into something else.

I had recently found this tutorial on piecing a zig zag quilt without triangles.  While the no-triangle method makes for easy pressing of seams and faster piecing (I pieced long strips of fabric and then cut them into squares), the actual laying out of the pieces is a PAIN.  Unfortunately, I’m not smart enough to piece them correctly without laying them all out first and then stacking into rows.  So this took me a couple hours:

 

This is a large queen size, so luckily we had just refinished our floor, and I had a wide open space with no furniture.  Otherwise, I don’t know how I would have laid out a quilt this big.  Once it was all laid out, I gathered up each row on the diagonal and labeled them.

A few weeks prior to piecing this quilt, I stumbled upon this hand-quilting tutorial.  After it was pieced, in a moment of insanity, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t hand quilting look great along those zig zags?”  While I’m no stranger to hand quilting (in fact, it’s all I did for years, and I have that huge quilting frame in the back of my closet somewhere to prove it), I had never thought to use anything other than plain old white hand quilting thread. 

The tutorial suggests using perle cotton in size 8, but since I live in a smaller town and could only find white and ivory in perle cotton, I opted for what I thought was the next best thing:  size 10 bedspread weight crochet thread.  It comes in a multitude of bright happy colors for $1-something right at my local hobby lobby.  I bought a light teal green color that matched one of my fabrics.  I’m probably about 3/4 of the way through the quilting, and I’m so happy with the way it’s looking. 

Hand quilting this baby is taking for-ev-er, but I must admit that it’s kind of nice to have a project I’m able to work on away from my sewing machine.  I’ve been spending most nights curled up on the couch stitching away while watching TV with my quilt snuggled over me.  It makes for the perfect winter project since it’s 17 degrees outside right now, and our 1890s house has zero insulation in the walls!