Monday 29 September 2014

Mint Julep: A Finished Quilt

A co-worker is expecting twins in November (to join her one-year-old daughter) and I made a baby quilt for each of the new babies (one boy and one girl). Monkey Business is for the little boy. This is Mint Julep for the little girl!

I have had navy and mint stuck in my head as a colour combo I needed to explore for ages. Pulling out charm squares from my scraps (I try to cut charm sized squares- 5"x5"- while cutting for other projects so I have a quick go-to for fast quilts) I was drawn to the navy ones. The mint jumped in to join the party and I was sold!

These are 5x5" squares in a simple patchwork.

I love how the navy plays with the mint.
 The back is again all one print, a zig zag in navy that I absolutely love. The binding is a mix of two leftover bits of binding from past quilts. Like Monkey Business, I was thrilled to use from my stash including my stash of leftover binding!
It seems that whenever I have the time to photograph a quilt lately it is in bad sunlight that back lits by quilts.

I used a stitch on my machine at maximum width to quilt this in these lovely waves.

Here is is basking in the sun.

The two quilts together.
The expectant mom is a lovely, kind woman who will definitely have her hands full with three kids under two. I hope these quilts are loved and well used when her two babies arrive this fall!


Saturday 27 September 2014

What Would Jenn Do?

Every month I get a lovely bundle of four fat quarters from Sew Sisters; four Kona solids are chosen and sent out based on an inspiration photograph.

Often I'm quite opinionated about which colours - and which bundles-  I like and dislike. Jenn over at A Quarter Inch from the Edge is sort of a Kona genius and she always manages to make the colours work, even if on first glance they are not my thing. This month's stumped even Jenn, though, who stated that this month's bundle is very...brown.

Now, Jenn is also very pregnant, expecting twins late this fall. And she was not feeling the browns nor does she have the energy to find a way to make the browns work. So I channeled her, jumped into my solids stash, and put together some bundles that I thought might meet with her approval. They certainly make me like the browns better!

In each picture below I've put the brown that came in the Sew Sisters bundle in bold so you can see how it played into the bundle.
What about this pretty combo? Left to right: Bison, Cappuccino, Jade Green, Willow, Kale

Or this fun, light bunch? Left to right: Melon, Punch, Bluegrass, Seafoam, Mushroom, Sand

What about a soft, neutral bundle for a low volume quilt? This one feels sort of antique-y. Left to right: Straw, Raffia, Tan, Putty, Snow
What do you think? Did I make the browns seem intentional rather than after thoughts? I certainly feel a wee bit warmer towards them. Though I sure would love some new colours in the next bundle...


Friday 26 September 2014

Monkey Business: A Finished Quilt

A work friend is expecting twins and so I put together some simple patchwork quilts for her. The first is for the little boy twin (she is having one of each sex, due in November) and I was working off a text from the mommy-to-be who said she was thinking brown and blue.

Here is Monkey Business:
The fabrics are all from my stash. I used the idea of brown and blue to choose that Ann Kelle monkey print and went from there.
I love how these fabrics play together. Brown, blue, green and teal is not what I would call a typical palette for a baby boy quilt but I think that makes these modern fabrics even more fun.
I used my favourite Denyse Schmidt print, eyelet in green, as well as some Riley Blake chevrons, quatrefoil, pearl bracelets, a solid I had some scraps of (not sure which one...don't tell Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge!) and some fun stripes and such from in my scrap bin. This was also my first addition of Cotton + Steel prints (that brown with the white diagonal dots).
The back is all one print which I don't mind as much on a smaller baby quilt like this where there is no need to piece anything.
The backing is Tim and Beck's elephant print. I got this on clearance in...Chicago? No, maybe Cleveland?
I did a free motion stipple all over the quilt because it is very easy and fast. I am taking an Angela Walters FMQ class on Craftsy to expand my skill set, though, so I'll let you know how that goes.
Here it is in the sunshine, looking all ready to be gifted to the expectant mom. Look for the post on the baby girl's quilt, Mint Julep, coming early next week. (I just need to convince my hubby that another quilt photo shoot isn't all that bad).

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday with Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Tackling Those WIPs!

Despite being back to work after my maternity leave, I have been tackling WIPs at a fast rate. I credit my husband being home all the time now (he is taking four months of paternity leave) to being as productive as I have been. I wish he could be home all the time!

Some binding finished on Monkey Business. Love this print but I don't remember what it is called.
I got the binding on Monkey Business and I felt fantastic about it because I used up some binding from another quilt and had the perfect amount. Total win not having to make binding and shopping in my "scraps."

I finally got the layout finalized on my red and white quilt. This has been a WIP for a very long time but I was unsure about the mix of reds, and I had a crisis of whites and off-whites not looking right. Some TLC and replacing all the whites with more true whites and I'm loving the result!
For the red and white quilt I decided to go outside of my norm. When I first started quilting I used white-on-white in quilts because I was shopping at more traditional stores and only knew traditional quilters. Some time on the internet and becoming addicted to blogs and I learned the way of the modern quilter. I now use a boat load of Kona White (I buy it by the bolt, people). 

This quilt, however, is out of my comfort zone already because it has all these reds that I got in a Blogger Bundle from Fat Quarter Shop with my monthly Blogger Bundle subscription. I decided I would use the reds together to make a quilt for my husband's stepmother's mother (Nana). Using a crisp, modern, plain white with the reds didn't look right. So I fished out any white-on-whites I had in my stash and bought some more to have enough true whites to get the look I wanted. And I love it! Here are some close ups to see the white-on-white prints that I chose:
Flowers. Poppies maybe? I love this look, actually.

I think this is meant to be tree bark? Wood grain?

I found this white-on-white at Greenwood Quiltery. It was the last of the true whites that I needed to finish the quilt.

There is a lot of movement in this white-on-white. I think it is quite pretty!
I did all the pressing of the rows with the white to one side onto the red (obviously the red can't be pressed to the white or it will show through). I then pressed open the seams between the rows to maintain a crisp white front on those blocks and to reduce the bulk of the seams.
The pressed seams look pretty from the back, don't you think?
And one very productive Sunday afternoon later, I got a quilt top done! Next to tackle the backing!
The reds all play together nicely now!
I also got on making lots and lots of crayon roll ups. Well, marker roll ups because they are going to be party favours (in lieu of goody bags) for my daughter's sixth birthday party. Each kid will get a marker roll up and a Playmobil figure. Way better than random dollar store junk, right? I'm hoping they think so!
This was a stack waiting to be turned right-side-out. I got ten finished and have five to go!
So my WIPs are coming along and I feel great! I have a long list of projects to get done soon, however, so I better not slow down!

Linking up with Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday!

Monday 22 September 2014

September Kona Solids

September's Kona solids arrived from Sew Sisters and it is a collection of four muted browns.
Hooray for books!
Though I am not really into browns I don't mind this combination. The Mushroom in particular has a nice tone about it that might make it a nice neutral in place of a white or grey. Don't get me wrong, I'll choose grey 100 times out of 100, but I need to expand my tastes sometimes too!
Left to right: Raffia, Straw, Mushroom and Cappuccino.
I have been working to see the good in all my Kona bundles, but I have the same complaint about this month's bundle that I did about last month. Two of the colours are very similar. As in, without a colour card you might not be able to tell them apart. You certainly wouldn't see much difference between Raffia and Straw on a computer (which makes me love this club because I get to see so many colours in real life). I am hoping that next month's bundle will have a bit more contrast between colours.

It does seem, however, that I can't be satisfied since I seem to complain every month. And yet I love getting my solids! I do encourage anyone who needs to start building a solids stash to check out this club. Though perhaps, unlike me, you will actually have time to sew with some of those solids...


Sunday 21 September 2014

Addition: A Finished Quilt

A friend whom I love dearly commissioned me to make two double quilts for her boys' "big boy" beds and though I don't normally make quilts on commission, I had to do it this time!

Check out my post on the eldest boy's quilt, Stone Arrow.

And here is the little brother's quilt, Addition.
The front of Addition. My husband had lots of complaints about this one because it is so big and it was hurting his arms to hold it up. As you can see, it never got perfectly flat being held up. And that is with my 6'1" hubby standing on a chair!
A certain someone wanted in on the photo shoot.

Don't they look dreamy?

I did straight line quilting diagonally through the pluses and then echo quilted all the seams. I used a clear thread on the top and Sulky in Smoke on the bottom because the quilt had a very light front and very dark back.
This shot gives you an outline of my hubby but not a great idea of the true colour of the backing! It is a dark tone-on-tone Pearl Bracelet (in Shadow I think?) which reads as almost black in real life.
I added these details to both quilts- their first initials on the back in such a way that it can be tucked on the bottom left (if you were lying under the quilt) or folded over on the top so you can see the initial. I surprised the mom with this detail and I think she loved the extra thought.
 Addition was made up of many nine-patch blocks and it gave me endless headaches. Like the quilting. Or the sashing. I often was cursing this quilt (especially since most of the mistakes were a result of my carelessness) but I didn't give up. It helps that the recipient is a super adorable almost two-year-old.
I love how they look together. I wanted them to be cohesive (the same fabrics are in both quilts, with a few extra in Stone Arrow) but not be exact matches. 
Maybe I overdid it with the pictures...

They both have the same AGF Squared Elements binding.

And they look so good tossed together in a bundle!
It was such a delight to take an idea from a friend whom I adore, turn that idea into a concept in my head, select the fabric over several months, work for many months on making that vision a reality and then sharing the results with that friend. She totally loved them and was glad she had just trusted me to make the decisions myself. And she cried (though, she is pregnant so maybe the hormones? I told her this next baby needs to be a girl because I am done making giant grey quilts) which I love because I wanted her to not just like them but LOVE them. 

I think J and E, both too young to appreciate quilts now, will have many years to enjoy snuggling under these dark grey and crisp white modern quilts, commissioned by their awesome mom and made, with love, by me!


Friday 19 September 2014

Stone Arrow: A Finished Quilt

There are times when a quilt sticks in your head and you can't get it out of there until you make it. When a dear friend mentioned to me that she wanted to commission me to make quilts for her two little boys' "big beds" and that she wanted the quilts to be dark grey I could not get the idea of a Pow Wow quilt from Cluck Cluck Sew in assorted greys out of my head.

In fact, I started sending her texts with pictures and ideas the day after she mentioned it. I would normally not make a quilt for someone on order. This was different in a few ways:
1. I love her to pieces.
2. She gave me complete creative freedom. She said "I trust you."
3. She was willing to pay for all the materials.

These parameters allowed me to give my time and creativity but still be able to afford to make two double sized quilts!

The first I will show you is Stone Arrow. It is for her elder son (who just turned three). He has an "E" name. I love this quilt so much, I can't even express how thrilled I am with how it turned out.

Front of quilt. It is quite big. The pattern only goes up to a twin size so I had to modify the pattern myself. The background white is Kona White (as always).

Fabrics used include: Denyse Schmidt grey eyelet, Madrona Road by Violet Craft, Juggling Summer by Moda, Ikat in grey by V&Co., Here Fishy Fishy by Heather Mulder Peterson for Henry Glass and Co., Minimalista by AGF, Feather by Alison Glass, Bella by Lotta Jansdotter, Pearl Bracelets by Lizzy House, Dumb Dot by Michael Miller, Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander, X+ by Alison Glass, Bike Path by Alison Glass, Remix Zig Zag in grey by Ann Kelle, Peppered Cotton
The back is an Art Gallery fabric called Pointelle in Shade.

My favourite part is the "E" done in tone-on-tone Pearl Bracelets using a tutorial from the Moda tutorials that went around the blogosphere a while back.

Doesn't it look so awesome bundled up? I used Art Gallery Squared Elements in Carbon for the binding (my go-to print for binding these days). I straight line quilted horizontally along each row and then did double lines down each vertical strip. I then did FMQ squares-in-squares for the white borders. All done with white Aurafil on the top and light grey Aurafil in the bobbin.
I was thrilled to bring this to the mom, R. She absolutely loved it, and the fabric choices. She loves the pattern and after admiring both quilts she cried! Stay tuned for my next post which will be the quilt I made for the younger brother, J. I made sure to take shots of the quilts together since they are meant to be a pair without matching.

The mom did say that she hopes they have their quilts for the rest of their lives and that she can imagine these quilts lasting them into adulthood because they aren't babyish in any way. And the dad gave me a high five for making "boy" quilts (he is generally anti-quilt because in his experience they are always girly and flowery).

It was a bit sad to say goodbye to a quilt that I think turned out so beautifully, but I love this family so much that I was also excited to see it go "home."


Saturday 6 September 2014

August Kona Solids: Making it Work

My Sew Sisters Kona Solids of the Month fat quarters arrived! 
Inspiration photo. Does this mean I should drink wine when I sew with these solids?
The colours this month are mostly blues with one yellow thrown in.
Left to right: Daffodil, Cornflower, Grapemist and Windsor
The two lighter blues are almost indistinguishable from each other but I really like the dark Windsor colour. I thought that the yellow was the lemon of the bunch (see what I did there?). But I decided rather than lamenting about not liking the sweet yellow I should shop my (very healthy) solids stash and put together a solids combo with that Daffodil to make it work. I was channeling Jenn from Quarter Inch from the Edge when I did this.
From top to bottom: Sprout, Kale, Jade Green, Daffodil and Bright Pink.
Doesn't the addition of those tealy-greens and that bright pink make that Daffodil so much more appealing? 

Hooray for thousands of Kona solids! (Well, not thousands yet, but Sew Sisters might make it happen!)
Here's hoping for some of the new colours in the September bundle! (Ultra Marine anyone?)


Tuesday 2 September 2014

In Excess

I often blog about the newest fabric that I have purchased. When I began sewing a few years ago I knew that I loved fabric but I very quickly became pretty much obsessed. I have a very healthy stash, and when I see fabric I love I often buy it because I want it, not because I have a specific plan for it.

But lately it has started to feel a bit...excessive. When my credit card bill is usually 50% fabric purchases (ridiculous, I know. Damn you, Paypal!), and when I look at fabric websites every day, and when my husband joked that he could see six piles of fabric just from where he was sitting in the living room (and he was right! There were six!) I started to feel a bit overwhelmed by fabric buying.
When friends recently went to the United States on a big fabric trip and they shopped for me (based on my instructions) I ended up spending more than them and I wasn't even there!
This Cotton + Steel will be a bag. The mint arrows will be the outside of the bag (it is a canvas) and the pink (cotton) will be the inside.

This Cotton + Steel print is one of my favourites.

They bought me an entire bolt of batting. Fifteen yards of it.
And there was a Pink Castle sale that had me buy some of this:
Purple unicorns from Far, Far Away by Heather Ross. My daughter saw it, took it and stole a pin from my sewing box to fashion a cape from this 1/2 yard. I think she loves it.

More Pink Castle buys, courtesy of my husband who lost a bet and owed me fabric as a result.
With this in mind, and knowing that I don't plan on cancelling my Kona Solids of the Month club, nor do I plan to entirely stop buying fabric, I have a plan moving forward.

For me, the year is actually September to June (because I am a teacher) and not usually January to December. From September to June I would like to "shop my stash" and resist fabric purchases as much as possible. I have so much fabric I could make 20 quilts a year for five years and still have fabric to make more. That is getting to be a bit gluttonous, I think. I am committing to making quilts using mostly my (very large) stash until June 2015. I may buy fabric, but I won't prioritize new fabric over current fabric. I hope I can do it and I start to feel less like I am buying beyond what is reasonable.

On a final note, I happened across a blog post from From Blank Pages where she is very candid about her fabric addiction. I was already planning on this post but I felt like she really highlighted how my jokes about being "addicted" to buying fabric can be a real thing for some people. I have never hidden any purchases from my husband, nor have I ever been short of money for needs (like mortgage payments or what not) but I can see some of myself in her. Read it. Does it strike a cord in anyone else?

So, wish me luck! I plan on shopping my stash for the next few months and spending time sewing instead of shopping for fabric. Is anyone with me?