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.  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.
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: 37" 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 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!

Monday, August 11, 2014

more reusable grocery bags

After making my own reusable grocery bags (you can find the pattern here) I thought they would make a fun birthday gift for my mother-in-law.  
emmy grace reusable grocery bag
This was the perfect excuse to buy a couple of the pretty Emmy Grace floral prints that I had my eye on and I paired them with Kona curry and Kona ash for the lining and handles.  
emmy grace reusable grocery bag
Since I had used canvas for my bags I was curious how the quilting cotton would feel, but they seem just as sturdy.  

I have been using my own bags regularly and love them, it is a great pattern.  

You can find these gorgeous Emmy Grace prints here, here, and here.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

*sparkler* baby quilt

A few weeks ago my sister asked if I would be willing to make a baby quilt for her co-worker's new baby.  At first I was going to say no because I have never met her co-worker and it seemed kind of weird, but I love my sister and I love making baby quilts so I said yes.
sparkler quilt
The colors that she requested were white, gray, various shades of teal, and pops of orange.  She gave me freedom on the design, but as I have discussed before, I have trouble with baby boy quilts.  I did have a photo of her baby's nursery so far and it was pretty bold and modern so I wanted to make sure this would fit in.
sparkler quilt
I decided to make a quilt similar to the Mexican Hat Dance quilt in Gwen Marsten's Liberated Quiltmaking II.  I bought this book after seeing versions of this quilt online (here and here).
Thank goodness for Carolyn Friedlander's (more or less) gender neutral Botanics collection because I relied heavily on it for fabrics in the quilt. It seems like almost every other teal or orange fabric I had was floral.
sparkler quilt
When my sister told me about the quilt she said that she wanted me to make a "crib quilt."  I assumed that she meant a normal, 45" x 60" crib quilt and started to make it that size.  I realized part way through that my math was a little off and the quilt was going to end up a little small.  When I asked my sister if that's okay she said yes because she didn't want a "crib quilt," she wanted a quilt to hang on the side of the crib.  Ha ha.  Hopefully it actually gets used and doesn't just hang on the side of the crib forever.  
sparkler quilt
This super terrible, blurry, dark photo is the someone the only one that I got that shows the backing fabric, which is Ann Kelle Remix.  Despite the bad photo, it is a great print and is one of my new favorites.  The binding is a gray Architextures crosshatch.
I took these photos in front of our church building after we left an activity for the kids this evening.  We walked out and the sun was just on the horizon and there were hot air balloons landing all around the building.  It was magical.  
harper at sunset
Overall making this quilt for my sister to give to someone I never met was very enjoyable.  I will be sending it off to Denver soon so that it can be gifted at a baby shower.

Finished size: 39" x 52"

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Nail Polish Mini

The Fat Quarter Shop recently contacted me about making my own version of their Nail Polish mini quilt.  When I saw it I knew that this would be a perfect project to make with my daughter.

I let her pick out her favorite nail polish color and then we did our best to match it to a solid.
nail polish mini quilt
The nail polish is Zoya Happi and the fabric is Kona Camellia.  
nail polish mini quilt
I really hope that my daughter is interested in learning to quilt when she gets a little older so I am always happy to find a project that gets her interested in the process.  It helped that this project is super quick because she gets a little impatient with long projects.

Finished size: 14.5" x 22.5"
If you would like to make your own nail polish mini, there is a video, a tutorial, and even a kit!

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