Sunday, August 31, 2014

around the world blog hop

Last week I got an email from Beth asking me if I was interested in the Around the World Blog Hop.  Since I enjoy reading other people's answers to these kinds of questions I said that I would love to participate.  But these questions are hard to answer!  

1. What am I working on?

Right now I am working a project inspired by the fabrics in Hadley.  There are a few prints from the collection included, plus lots of other Denyse Schmidt prints and a few others.  It is a little out of my comfort zone, but a lot of fun.  The quilt is made up of 9 patch blocks and churn dash blocks set on point.  
I also pulled fabric today for a baby quilt for a friend of mine.  She has a very minimalist style so I am not quite sure where I am going to go with it, but I think it will involve a lot of white, blues, and grays.  

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I have no idea how to answer this question because I feel like I am still trying to find my own style.  I know that I always want to be trying new techniques and sewing with new colors.  My favorite thing is to have a stack of fabrics and then try to figure out the best pattern to use them with.  That's the best.
sparkler quilt

3. Why do I create what I do?

This is something I have been thinking about lately.  I really like to throw myself into projects. Quilting is particularly rewarding because when I am done working on a project I have something substantial to show for it. As much as I love being a wife and a mother, it is important to be my own person and quilting is a great way to express that.

I also enjoy that quilting has both an analytical and a creative side.
Sundown - 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge

4. How does my creative process work?

There are so many different places to be inspired, but I usually start by looking at books or magazines Sometimes I will find an idea, but usually this just helps me to focus my ideas and narrow things down.  

Sometimes I just start cutting fabrics.  I will usually change my mind and those pieces will end up in the scrap bin, but sometimes that sparks an idea.  I used to do a lot of sketching on graph paper, but I have been using EQ7 lately and now I keep a folder of saved projects on my computer that I can look through when I need an idea.  Usually I end up changing and adapting the idea to fit my current project, but that helps spark something.  
fall table runner
I am nominating Amanda from The Cozy Pumpkin.  I think I was supposed to nominate 3 people, but Amanda is so great she can count as all three :) Watch out for her post on Monday September 8th.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

do. Good Stitches Block Tutorial and August Bee Blocks

Before anything else, I need a little advice.  In a couple weeks I am going to be teaching a beginning quilting class to some ladies at church and I am not quite sure what to make in the class.  I am going to have 45 minutes (ha ha, I know, that's not enough time) and we are making a quilt top.  The fabric will need to be cut in advance so that time needs to just be for piecing.

Someone suggested that we make rag quilts, but I have never made one and I am not a huge fan so I would rather do something else.  I am thinking that we should just do a baby quilt with big squares (maybe 8" or 10"), but is that too boring?  What would you want to make?  Thanks in advance.  I have never done anything like this so I am a little nervous!

Ok, back to the bee blocks.  For August in the do. Good Stitches Wish Circle, Steph asked us to make Friendship Star blocks using this tutorial in pink, red, maroon, aqua, or mustard.
friendship star blocks
September is my month as quilter in the do. Good Stitches Wish Circle so as I was thinking about choosing a block today I starting sewing some scraps together and cutting them apart and sewing them back together and came up with a block that I will be fun.  I don't know if this block has a name or if there are other tutorials out there, but I couldn't find one so I wrote up a quick one.

Fabric Requirements:
4.5" square Fabric A (the green print)
2.5" x WOF Fabric B (the floral print)
2.5" x WOF Fabric C (the blue/black print)
10" x WOF White Fabric
dgs september block
So here is the tutorial for my fellow Wish Circle members (or anyone else who wants to make the block).  Sorry about two tutorials in one week, I can't keep up this pace but it just worked out that way!
dgs september block
dgs september block
dgs september block
dgs september block
dgs september block
dgs september block
dgs september block
dgs september block
dgs september block
dgs september block
It's a strip block without the paper piecing.  
Alternate these 4 blocks into the layout below and piece together.  The finished block is 16.5".
dgs september block

Monday, August 25, 2014

deep blue sea baby quilt tutorial

I am excited to share this tutorial with you today.  This quilt is pretty quick to put together and is a great introduction to curves since these are pretty easy.  You can read more about the quilt in my original post here.

If you have any questions or if you make your own, I would love to hear from you!
deep blue sea quilt tutorial
Cutting Instructions
When cutting your shapes it is faster to leave your fabric folded in half. 

Kona Navy - 
  • Cut 1 strip 4.25" x WOF.  Subcut into (4) 4.25" x 10".  
  • Cut 1 strip 7.5" x 40"
Kona Celestial, Cyan, Capri, and Aqua - 
  • Cut 1 strip 6.25" x WOF.  Subcut into (4) 4.25" x 10".
  • Cut 1 strip 4.25" x WOF.  Subcut into (4) 6.25" x 10".
Kona Sky -
  • Cut 1 strip 6.25" x WOF.  Subcut into (4) 6.25" x 10".
  • Cut 1 strip 3.5" x 40".  
You can download the templates for the quilt here (the original link was incorrect, if you downloaded it before the afternoon of 8/26 you should re-download).  Make sure that when you print that you printer is set to 100% and not "scale to fit."  You will know if you have printed the correct size because the template should be the same size as your cut fabric like the photos below.  If you have trouble getting the file to download to the correct size just send me an email and I can send you the file.  (This type of template is very easy and quick to make in EQ7.  You can read more about my thoughts on EQ7 here.)

Once you have your templates cut, place them onto your fabric.  The "A" template goes with the 6.25" x 10" pieces and the "B" template goes with the 4.25" x 10" pieces.  If you left your fabric folded in half you can leave the pieces together to cut 2 templates at a time.

Since 3 sides of your template are already cut, all you need to do is cut the curve.  You can either use a marking tool (I like Frixion pens) and then cut the curve with scissors or you can cut very carefully with your rotary cutter.

Piecing the curve
There is definitely more than one way to piece curves.  I like to use pins so that is the method that I am going to demonstrate.

You are going to piece 20 total curves.  Sew the "A" Navy pieces with the "B" Celestial pieces, the "A" Celestial pieces with the "B" Cyan pieces, and so on.

Fold the pieces in half and pinch it to crease on both the A and B pieces.
deep blue sea quilt tutorial
They should look like this.
deep blue sea quilt tutorial

Line up the creased marks on the A and B pieces and pin.deep blue sea quilt tutorial
And then piece at each end of the curve.
deep blue sea quilt tutorial
Now this part is a little tedious, but it doesn't take that long and it makes sewing the curve go pretty quickly.  You want to use enough pins to make the edges of the A and B pieces line up all the way along the curve.  Be careful not to stretch the fabric as you pin.
deep blue sea quilt tutorial
It should look like this.
deep blue sea quilt tutorial
When you piece the curve just go slowly and remove the pins as you go.  You might want to lift up your presser foot occasionally to adjust the fabric.  
deep blue sea quilt tutorial
Once your you have pieced the curve, it should look like this.
deep blue sea quilt tutorial
Very carefully press the seam toward the darker fabric 
deep blue sea quilt tutorial
And you have just pieced a curve!  Pat yourself on the back.
deep blue sea quilt tutorial
Once you have all of your curves pieced you are going to sew them together into rows.  Since your fabric may have gotten a tiny bit wonky when you sewed your curves, match the curved seam first and pin.  Then if the top or bottom of the blocks didn't quite match up it will be less noticeable.  
deep blue sea quilt tutorial
When I sewed together the rows I pressed my seams open but you can do whatever you prefer.
Once you have sewn your rows you can sew the rows together.  Sew the 3.5" Sky strip to the top of the quilt and the 7.5" Navy strip to the bottom.  Your strips are a little wider than the quilt, but this way you can trim the edges to make them nice and straight.

Baste, quilt, and bind as desired.
deep blue sea baby quilt
Finished size: 38" x 48"

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

deep blue sea baby quilt

A while back (more than 2 years actually) I took Rachel's Curves class and made this Scallop Quilt.  It is still one of my favorite projects and I have wanted to try something similar.  But I had no idea how to make templates for my own quilt until I started using EQ7 recently.

I knew I wanted to use some of my favorite blue Kona colors, but I mostly had darker blues in stash so I ordered a few lighter options.  But then they didn't arrive labeled so I am not sure what the 3rd color from the top is (oops).  I think it might be Azure I was wrong, it's Capri!  The others are Navy, Celestial, Cyan, Aqua, and Sky.  I really need to get a Kona card.
deep blue sea baby quilt
I was surprised how quickly the quilt top came together.  It has curves, but they are pretty big and wide and not difficult at all.  If there is any interest I might post a tutorial next week so let me know. The tutorial is available here.  
deep blue sea baby quilt
I quilted it with lots of wavy lines.  it gave the quilt a nice texture and I liked how it gave it an ocean-y look.

Since I posted about baby boy quilts they have been on my mind.  So here is another idea to add to my list for baby showers, especially since this one is pretty quick.

The backing fabric is an Ann Kelle Remix print.  I love the Remix prints.
deep blue sea baby quilt
Since I don't have any upcoming baby showers I am adding this one to my shop.  You can find it here.

Finished size: 38" x 48"

I also just wanted to plug Rachel's classes because I loved taking her Curves class so much.  She is currently offering an Angled class, which looks so fun.  She is great and I highly recommend her classes!

WIP Wednesday - Back to School

Today is the first day of school.  Not only will by daughter be starting first grade, but my son will be in preschool 3 times a week for 3 hours.  I don't know if this will mean more time to quilt, clean, or nap, but I will have 9ish child-free hours a week.  I won't get to find out until Friday though since my son's preschool class requires parents to volunteer 3 times a month and I'm on the schedule for today.
me and the kids
Photo of me with my kids on Sunday.  I am only including this photo because otherwise this post would have too many words and not enough pictures :)
I am looking forward to doing more sewing.  Over the past couple weeks I have been re-thinking my fabric storage and trying to rework my sewing room.  The plastic drawers that were holding my fabric have started to fall apart under the weight (oops!) so I bought an inexpensive dresser to hold everything.

Sorting through everything has reminded me that I have lots of fabrics that I want to use.  That doesn't mean that I won't be buying new fabrics, just that I don't want to forget the old ones.  It is fun to mix newer prints with older ones.

Speaking of older things, I have started a new project using fabrics that are a little more vintage-y that what I normally use.  The colors for the quilt are going to be based on Denyse Schmidt's new collection Hadley (you can find Hadley here, here, or here)  and use lots of other Denyse Schmidt prints plus a variety of others.  This is a little out of my comfort zone but it's nice to do something a little different.

These are my test blocks for the quilt.  The quilt is going to have 9 patch and shoo fly blocks.  I have made a little more progress on the blocks, but I have kind of stalled at trimming HSTs.  Once those are done this should come together pretty quickly.  Hopefully it's not a disaster.
vintage-y quilt blocks
Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Electric Quilt 7 for Mac - A Review

In the past I have admired Electric Quilt form a distance.  I am a loyal Mac user and, until recently, the program was only available on the PC.  Earlier this year they made EQ7 available for Mac computers.  Yay!  I contacted the company and they graciously offered me a copy of the program in exchange for a review.  I am going to try to be as thorough as I can and share what I have learned over the past couple months, and I will continue to share more about the program in the future because I am still learning.
So here is my review.  Let me say first that I didn't really know that much about the program.  Up until recently I have primarily done my quilt designing with a pencil and paper.  That method is limiting for me because I am not very good at drawing and it took quite a bit of time.  I have tried Photoshop, but I don't really know much about the program beyond photo editing, and designing quilts took me forever. I have also used Touchdraw on my iPad which is actually not too bad, but it certainly has its limitations.

I can honestly say that I was blown away by EQ7.  I'm not saying that it was instantly easy.  It definitely has a learning curve and I am still learning how to do things, but it has saved me so much time and has allowed me to try so many new ideas.

Electric Quilt also has tons of info on their website.  One of the nice things about EQ7 is that even though it's new for Mac, it's not a new program and there are a lot of resources available.

Here are a few of my favorite things about EQ7:
  • You can import your own fabric files. It is easy and fast and you can see the actual fabrics in your quilt.  You can also use the EQ7 library of fabrics and solid colors.  Even though I do like to try out specific fabrics in a quilt design, I also like the ability to play around with the fabrics in the program because I don't always have specific fabrics in mind. 
  • There is a huge library of quilt blocks and quilt layouts that make it easy to test new ideas.  You can also open up a block from the library and make changes to it to adapt it to your own project.  One of the most useful features is being able to easily change the size of blocks.  I made a mockup of my Schnitzel and Boo mini quilt using the program and altered the block sizes until it was the right size.  I didn't upload fabrics because I wasn't sure what I wanted to use at the time, but the colors that I used ended up inspiring my fabric choice.
  • You can design your own blocks easily.  The program has a grid with a pencil tool to draw straight (or curved!) lines which snap to snap points in the program.  Once you are happy with your block you can print out templates, paper piecing patterns, or cutting instructions.  
  • There are so many places online to find help:
    • There is a YouTube Channel
    • Lots of helpful resources on the Electric Quilt website
    • And you can email techsupport@electricquilt.com or call 419-352-1134 (Mon-Fri, 9-5 EST).  I submitted an email question a couple weeks ago and heard back within 20 minutes.  It was amazing.
    • Since PC users have been using EQ7 for a while, there are lots of tips and tutorials already out there. 
  • You can create foundation paper piecing patterns and then number them within the program. There is already a huge library of foundation piecing patterns in the program as well.  Below you can see the "Flying Away" block in  EQ7 and how the printed paper piecing templates would look.

  • You can also create template patterns.  A few months ago I drew up an idea for a wave quilt in my sketchbook but I had no idea how to make a template that was curved (I am almost finished making this quilt and I will be sharing it soon!).  It took me less than a minute to open the program, draw the template, and print it out.  

  • The program gives you estimated yardage needed for your finished quilt.  Awesome.

Even though I enjoyed most things about the program, I did still have a few issues.  Some of these have already been solved but these were my major bumps in the road while working with the program:
  • Saving PDF files of templates of paper piecing patterns.  Most programs on Mac have the option to "print to PDF" which means that the program will save a PDF version of the file on your computer.  The wonderful people at EQ7 explained to me that since there are some advanced printing features in this program, printing to PDF from the print screen is not possible.  But there are a couple free options out there (PDF writer and CUPS-PDF) that print to PDF.  Once you install the program, just open "print setup" under the "file" menu and select the PDF program as your printer.  The program saves the PDF to a folder on your computer.  
  • When I started my first project I didn't realize that the fabric image files I was using were really large.  When I tried to save the project file some of the fabric images were missing because the project became too large. Next time I will use more compressed fabric images so I don't have this problem.  I found this link which helped me out.  
  • When you want to place fabrics on your quilt design or add quilt blocks there is a little pop-up menu that shows up. Occasionally when I tried to work on a project, the pop-up would not show up.  I tend to move the program around on the screen and I suspect that the pop-up menu was there, it was just somewhere that I couldn't see.  I was a little perplexed, but apparently I'm not the only one with this problem because Electric Quilt has the answer.  
After two months of pretty regular use, I would recommend EQ7 to quilters who want to design more of their own quilts.  The program requires a little time and patience to figure out, but for me it is definitely worth the effort.

If you are interested in buying EQ7, you can purchase it from the Electric Quilt website.  I recommend starting with the "Videos" menu in the program to help you learn your way around.
There are many ways to design a quilt, but using Electric Quilt 7 has given me so many creative options and is so quick that hopefully I will be spending less time sketching things out and more time sewing.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

a scrap quilt for Kara

If you have been reading my blog over the past few months you might remember that I am making scrap quilts for my Mom and sisters this year (you can see the first two here and here).  I have 2 more quilts to make this year, including this one, and enough scraps to make at least a half dozen so I imagine that there will be many more scrap quilts in my future.  I may be making scrap quilts for my sisters-in-law next year.
kara's scrap quilt
Working with scraps is really satisfying for me; I could destash my scraps which would solve my scrap-bin-overflowing-all-over-the-place much faster, but I am attached to them.  

Kara, the sister I made this one for, is also the recipient of the Washi quilt that I made almost exactly 2 years ago.  I like to make quilts for my sisters because they are awesome and they all live places that are much colder than San Diego.  I feel like they are appreciated and get used.  
kara's scrap quiltI focused on small, square-ish scraps and long, skinny scraps for this quilt and almost all of the blocks are square in square and are 6" finished.  I did include a little bit of yardage; I saw the Butcher Block print from 1canoe2 and thought my sister would like it since she is really into eating a Paleo diet and loves bacon (you can find it here and here).  
kara's scrap quilt
I would love to say that making this quilt made my scrap bin lighter, but when I put the remaining scraps back in the bin after I made the quilt the bin somehow seemed even more full.  I think they are multiplying!

The quilt is backed with a Field Study voile print.  This is actually the first time I have used voile for a quilt backing and it was much easier to work with than I anticipated.  It seemed to make the quilting a little easier too because it adds so much less bulk to the quilt.  Plus it is so dreamy.  I free motion quilted it with orange peels, which is quick and fun though mine definitely aren't perfect.  
kara's scrap quilt back
The binding is an older Park Slope print that I really like and that is really the only reason I chose it.  I really just wanted to put a bird on it.

I had the kids go with me to the park to take pictures.  We had fun with it.
kara's scrap quilt
Kara is coming to visit in a few weeks and I think she may have to pry this quilt away from my kids. 
kara's scrap quilt
They love the voile on the back and it is making me think that it is finally time to do something with the fat quarter bundle of voile I have sitting in my cupboard!
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