Quilt for baby

A few weeks ago I made some little stuffed toys for the baby’s room… and then somehow a quilt sprung out of the same fabrics. Spontaneous combustion?

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It was more of a challenge than I initially expected! The pattern came from an older Fons & Porter publication (Fat Quarter Friendly). It suggested needle turn appliqué as an alternative to the curved piecing typically required for a classic winding ways quilt. Sounded good to me since I have needle turn experience but I haven’t tackled curved piecing yet.

Trouble is, the points really need to line up in order to create the “winding ways” effect. After my first block I realized it definitely wasn’t going to happen by luck. After a restless night’s sleep I came up with the idea to piece the background blocks first and then sort of manipulate the appliqué points to approximately come together enough to create the design. It worked! But it was definitely challenging and a little backbreaking. I quickly decided to reduce the overall size of the quilt and add a border! That cut the number of blocks I needed from 20 to 9.

Here it is before quilting.

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I hand quilted around all the appliqué shapes.

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And now I am feeling more ready than ever to have this baby!

Linking up with Crazy Mom for the first time in quite a while. 🙂

Friday finish: barn door II

I finished my barn door II quilt!

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Sorry for the inside pictures lately. It is seriously -16 today and the snow is above my waist in our backyard.

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I was so happy to finally use the Waterfront Park bridge print! I bought a whole yard of it because it’s so awesome, but every time I pull it out it’s not quite right. Until now! I guess the lesson is to be patient with those favorite prints; the right quilt will come along.

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I’m really happy with how the back turned out too.

I’m curious how you guys think this second version compares to the first?

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I’m not sure which one I like better.

Monday the final barn door quilt along link up opens! If you participated in the quilt along be sure to link up for a chance to win a Noodle-head divided basket handmade by me! I’ll even let you pick colors/fabrics. The link up will be open until Monday, March 10.

If you didn’t participate in the quilt along but would like to make this quilt, here’s the chart that basically gives you everything an experienced quilter would need to make the quilt: Barn door assembly chart. Just be sure to send me pictures!

A little extra blog business to tack on here: I owe you guys a book review winner! Random.org gave me number 55:

This book looks great, especially as I am not a solid lover either. I don’t buy them usually and have very few in my stash. My favourite quilt book is Sunday Morning quilts because I love the scrappy look. Thanks for a fun giveaway too.

Yay Kay! I’ll email you for your address and get that off to you right away.

Linking up for finish it up Friday!

Friday finish: when you don’t love it

Today I’m trying to strike the right balance of positivity and honesty when I talk about this quilt.

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I want this blog to be a fun place to spend a little of your precious time escaping from whatever it is that you are taking a break from.

But I also want it to be a safe place where I can tell you honestly how I feel about my projects so we can learn together and improve together.

So I’m going to be honest and tell you that I don’t love this quilt.

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I’m not upset about it. I definitely like it. It’s definitely pretty. But I want to learn from this experience and figure out why I don’t love it.

I knew long before I finished it that it wasn’t going to be a favorite. It was still important to me to finish. I try to finish all my projects because I know the end product will always be useful. And I don’t want the ghosts of unfinished projects to haunt me when I start something new. I like to approach my new projects with the confidence that comes from knowing it will get finished and someone will use it.

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As I’ve worked on this, I’ve tried to think about what it is exactly that went wrong. It’s not the simplicity of the patchwork. I love square patchwork. It’s what drew me to quilting in the first place.

I’ve come up with 3 main lessons about my personal quilting style:

  • I prefer more variety in fabrics
  • I prefer more variety in color
  • In a quilt featuring square patchwork, I prefer smaller patchwork (these were 5 inches unfinished)

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Do you agree?

Go ahead. Tell me what you do or don’t love about this quilt. It’s ok to love it. It’s ok not to. Either way I want you to think about why so you and I can both benefit from it.

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I hope to be back for work in progress Wednesday next week with my first gypsy wife blocks! I feel fairly confident that I am going to love those.

Linking up with Crazy Mom!

Friday finish: my 1st art quilt

Do you guys remember when I was inspired by Ann Loveless (art quilter)?

Last Saturday morning (when the kids were with grandparents) that inspiration led to this:

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Pretty cool, right?

It was really fun to try something completely different. Ann is writing a book about this method, so I think it would be wrong of me to do a full tutorial. But in short, you rough cut 1/2 inch squares and use interfacing to attach them to muslin. Then use more interfacing to attach the focal point (in this case, a fussy cut butterfly) and stitch over everything in the design of your choice. I’ll let you guys know when the book comes out!

This is the perfect use for those pretty strings that are maybe just a little too skinny for their own good.

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This is definitely something I’ll be trying again, perhaps with Anne and Adrianne’s Radiant Orchid challenge in mind.

On an almost entirely unrelated note, I came across the best tip on Pinterest the other day: Lynne from Lily’s Quilts has a quick tutorial on reinforcing a too-scant seam. I wanted to share that with you right away because it’s something I really wish I’d known when I was assembling my penny sampler! Then I wouldn’t be so afraid to wash it…

Linking up my first art quilt with Crazy Mom!

Year in review link party!

A couple of years ago when I was up a lot nursing my first baby, it occurred to me how very encouraging it is to see morning come each day. A new start. Today could be a great day! Let’s welcome the light and the fresh start it brings. 

But how much more so a brand new year!

And most importantly for purposes of this space, a new project year. What quilts will you make this year? What quilts are you most proud of from last year? How does your first quilt last year compare to your last?

After a great email exchange with Anne of Play-Crafts, we decided that it’d be great fun to review our year in quilts and encourage you to do the same.

So this is the first quilt I made in 2013:

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Complete with mistakes like this one:

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This is how I learned that my standard Singer presser foot measured 3/8 inch

And of course you guys have seen the last quilt I made in 2013:

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My beloved penny sampler

I feel like I have come pretty far in a year!

Here are a few more 2013 quilts you haven’t seen before because they’re from the first half of last year, BB (before blogging).

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And of course there’s the ones you have seen:

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Some of these I still really like, others I would definitely do differently now. But I share them with you this way because I want to be mindful of the possibilities this year holds, and really challenge myself to make the most of it. I think these mosaics do tell a story of growth and achievement. I want to take that further this year.

I’ve been hearing buzz that there is momentum in the quilt industry to offer alternatives to the quick and easy trend. Which is not to say that simple quilts aren’t beautiful (I will always love square patchwork) or that we’re going to abandon our beloved beginners. (You know about my beginner’s series, right?) But sometimes it’s exciting to take on more advanced designs and push yourself to the next level.

That’s one of my big goals for 2014: I want to carefully choose a few really complex and time-consuming projects that will (hopefully) yield really special quilts. My hope would be to look back at the end of 2014 and have a few new favorites to rival my penny sampler.

I’m not going to get too specific about my plans. I find that I get sick of projects even just thinking about them too much ahead of time! For now, it’s enough to know that my very first project of 2014 is our barn door quilt-a-long (so excited! I hope you’re joining me!), followed by some major WIP clean up (read about that here). By the time I get through those I’ll have picked out my next big project.

Now Anne and I want to hear from you! Write a blog post about your year in review and your goals for this year and link up with us! Many of you have already written about this, and we welcome you to link up any relevant posts here. (Anne has an identical link up on her blog so your link will show in both places.)

Barn Door (BQF: Part II)

I love working with patterns (I was an English major, not a math major) but there’s something extra special about designing a quilt yourself.

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Barn Door is my original design but I know it is the result of inspiration from a variety of sources. I spend a lot of my stay-at-home-mom-free-but-not-really-free time online looking at quilts. I’m a really obsessive focused person so quilting is much more than a hobby for me. I have a hard time not cringing when people refer to it that way actually. So when I have to step away from the sewing machine because I have something important to do (like eat) my natural inclination is to stay quilt-focused by reading books and magazines about quilting and more often than not, reading quilting blogs.

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I am constantly inspired by the quilts I see you all making. I know that this design springs out of the many, many quilt images that are constantly floating around inside my head. But I did have a few more specific inspirations at the time that I made this sketch.

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My primary inspiration was this quilt by Meg Callahan. (I know. Genius.) My fabric and color palette inspiration was master of low volume Red Pepper Quilts, whose blog brought this fabric line to my attention. The inclusion of dots instead of solid white is definitely inspired by Sarah Fielke, whose declaration “I don’t use solids” in the forward to her book Quilting From Little Things really got me thinking.

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I originally intended to piece the strips by joining the fabrics with 45 degree angle seams, like when you’re making binding. This would have given the whole quilt a smoother appearance (fewer seams). But when I got started I realized that the math involved would be way beyond me, at least if I ever had any hope of sharing this pattern with anyone else. So instead I opted for half square triangles and a lone hourglass unit at the center.

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For the back I knew I wanted to use up some of the leftovers. Of course then I got a little carried away playing with letters.

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As usual I did straight line quilting because I like the fabric and piecing to be the primary focus. And also free motion quilting scares me.

I would definitely consider sharing this pattern with you guys if there is interest. Maybe a 2014 quilt-a-long?

Linking up for Blogger’s Quilt Festival! I can’t wait to see what everyone else is sharing.

Also linking up for: Fabric Tuesday, Needle and Thread Thursday, Thursday Threads, and Finish it up Friday.