Category Archives: Quilt Alongs

WIP Wednesday: 11.14.12

There was quite a bit of sewing going on around here last week and unfortunately a bit of sickness too. I didn’t reach all my goals, but am still happy with what I did accomplish.

Edited: I can’t believe I forgot to add my little piece of exciting news. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Kate Spain’s Terrain line. Last week I received my copy of her November newsletter and she included pictures of two of my quilting projects. My favorite ongoing EPP project, Grandmother’s Flower Garden and Terrain Stairway to Heaven made using Geta Grama’s wonderful Stairway to Heaven pattern. As a new quilter, I’m beyond thrilled that she included my pictures. It’s always nice when someone you admire, thinks you’re doing fun things with their designs.

1. Scrappy Stash QAL: Progress made, but not in time to link up. All my blocks are constructed and I finalized my layout yesterday. I don’t have a design wall, so I cleared a large floor space and kept them out all day, tweaking as I walked by. Fellow cat lovers will appreciate that after being upstairs for several hours with my kids, I found my blocks flipped over, in complete disarray, with Sage’s favorite fuzzy mouse laying in the middle of the mess. I think she especially likes the feel of the batting on the back, because I saw her picking one up with her paws last night. Needless to say I made sure they were safely stashed away before going to bed. This morning during breakfast I heard her yammering in the other room. When I walked in, she was sitting in the empty space where the blocks had been with her mouse toy in her mouth. How dare I take HER blocks away. lol. The end of day pictures I took have extremely poor lighting. This one is close, but without my final tweaks of the yellows.

I’ve named this quilt Log Mansion in honor of its size. When finished it will be 88″ X 96″. The Scrappy Stash QAL Link Up has started at Ellison Lane Quilts and you can see more beautiful log cabin quilts there.

2. Tula Pink Sew Along: Quilt top COMPLETED!

I really love this quilt and can’t wait to have it quilted. Due to its size, it will need to be long-armed and I know that won’t be happening until next year. Full pictures and additional details can be found here. I am particularly fond of this picture of my kiddos helping me attempt to get a full picture on a windy Nebraska day.

The rest of my goals for November are coming along too. I will be back later this week with one last project! Have a great week everyone!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


Tula Pink Sew Along: Birds and the Bees Dream Weaver

I initially wrote this post and started out with a big long story about how this quilt came to be. I know you all really want to see pictures though, so I’m throwing them in first and if you’re interested you can stick around to read about the process. This is my finished KING size quilt top for the Tula Pink Sew Along…

Tula Pink Birds and the Bees Dream Weaver Stats:
Fabric: The Birds and the Bees by Tula Pink
Kona Parchment for the sashing
Finished Size: 104″ x 96″
Top Completed: November 2012

I made a few changes to the pattern, in both size and layout, while maintaining the feel of the original quilt. I also paid attention to a couple of special details. The things I love most about this quilt include the following.

Wider blocks show off the larger prints and the great details Tula Pink included in her prints. The full size squirrels throughout the quilt, make me especially happy.

I made sure all directional prints faced the same direction. I would have probably allowed my directional prints to be random if this was a throw, since it would be viewed from many different directions. But this was intended to be a bed quilt, so I wanted a definite up. Doing so ended up being a little harder than I had initially thought. Since I originally planned to have my quilt be 23 blocks wide, every other block using the same two fabrics would reverse whether the small strip was at the top or bottom. I had to construct each set of blocks two different ways and keep track of where each individual block was in the line-up while string piecing. Later when I had to reduce my quilt to 22 blocks wide, the reversals were unnecessary and I had to adjust my layout to accommodate them. I decided early in the process of making this quilt that my priorities would be how the quilt looked on the bed and consideration of value, over some of the other details in the pattern. I ended up with an unintentional alteration to the pattern due to my desire to keep these prints directional.

Not only did I keep directional prints facing the same, but I also made sure the top and bottom pieces (the ones cut from the same print), lined up with one another. This may seem like a small detail, but if you look closely at the orange and pink striped fabric you’ll see that if you were to take out the ladybug fabric the top and bottom pieces were once a continuous piece. This is especially striking with the swirled bird fabrics.

I maintained the color gradation in both the large pieces and small pieces, while also retaining the contrast of each individual block.

I kept value in mind throughout the construction of this quilt and decided it was more important than some of the other details. This might have been more effective if I hadn’t made any of the mistakes listed below, but I am happy with how value leads the eye across the quilt and makes it more dynamic. As does the Nebraska wind. Despite the best efforts of my trusty assistants, this is the best outside shot we could catch. They sure did have a good time trying and fortunately they held on tight! It does give you a bit of an idea of size.

And now, the story…

Last Spring, when I first became interested in quilting, I went to a local bookstore in search of a book to help me get started. There were many good introductory books, but often the fabrics used in the examples left me cold. I knew I could make them my own with different fabric choices, but I was really looking for something that would inspire me. Then I picked up The House of Tula Pink and my search was over. Not only were the sample quilts made with the most amazing fabrics (at the time I didn’t realize she had designed them too!), but the quilt designs had a freshness to them that I was looking for. From the beginning Dream Weaver was my favorite pattern. Not feeling confident enough to tackle one of her designs without doing something simpler first, I turned to the internet and discovered the online modern quilting community. I eagerly read posts about Quilt Market and drooled over all the new fabric lines with the rest of the internet. Not surprisingly The Birds and the Bees were one of my favorites. It was even more amazing when I saw it in person at my local quilt shop and I bought a half yard bundle with plans to make a Dream Weaver quilt.

Like many I was nervous to cut into my favorite prints and this fabric sat in my sewing cabinet for quite a while. Having sewed for such a short time, I didn’t want to mess it up. But when Sara at Sew Sweetness announced her Tula Pink Sew Along, I knew the time had come to get to it. The thing I love most about quilting is the process and all that delicious fabric wasn’t doing me a bit of good sitting on my shelf. By this time I had made five quilt tops, none complex… a twin stack and slash, two patchwork throws, and a wall hanging. Given my lack of quilting experience it would have made sense to follow the pattern in the book exactly. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wanted a king size quilt that utilized all 29 prints and had the colors flowing in a continuous line, rather than alternating directions each row (as shown in the book).

I have to admit I was stumped. Then I saw Sara’s Dream Weaver. She too used all 29 prints and had them flow from row to row in a continuous stream. While she stayed with the 20 block per row pattern, but I upped my to 23 per row (then reduced it to 22), in order to use each individual print as many times as possible. You’ll notice that the order I placed my main pieces in is very similar to hers, but the smaller pieces weaving through them are not. Sara very graciously answered my questions about the design decisions she made. In the pattern, you keep the order of the fabrics the same, but start with the last one when placing the small pieces. In doing so, the last fabric in line becomes the small piece in the first block and the first fabric in line becomes the small piece in the last block. If you lay it out like this with The Birds and the Bees fabrics, the center becomes a wash of green and you lose the great contrast seen in the quilt in the book. To retain some contrast Sara individually matched up the fabrics in each of the 29 repeated blocks, without retaining gradation. I decided to tackle it a bit differently. I wanted to retain the gradation, but instead of reversing their order, I shifted them to the right and placed them in the same order starting approximately 13 blocks down from the beginning of my row. It took a little tweaking to figure out how to place them to maximize contrast, make sure they were matched with a fabric that they looked good with and minimize the number of times the same print (though in a different colorway) landed together. Both the large pieces and the small inset ones cycle through a red, yellow, green, blue color order, they just start in different places, retaining the contrast between the warm and cool prints.

It will come as no surprise that there were problems along the way. I actually completed the quilt twice. Yeah.. Instead of detailing all of that here, I’ll share two big things I learned. First, if you’re making a quilt for a particular bed, actually test your measurements on that bed. Ours does not have a box spring which significantly changes the width. of the quilt. Second, when thinking about the layout of blocks, especially when it comes to value, take into consideration how it will be viewed on a daily basis. As I was laying out my quilt I was picturing it as if you would see the entire thing at once. When it is placed on the bed, the edges become much less important and how your eye moves through the middle section matters more. When I had to take the quilt a part to adjust the size, I also changed where in my gradation I started my quilt to adjust for this change in perspective. It’s still not perfect  (I was locked into the order of the fabrics) but it’s much better than it was the first way. Both of these issues were clearly a result of my inexperience and the quilt might have been better if I’d waited to make it once I had been quilting longer. Then again, if I hadn’t made this quilt, I may never have come across an opportunity to learn these things. In the end, I love how it turned out and am quite proud of it. Here’s one more peek in the sunlight.

It will probably take quite a bit longer to get this quilt finished up. Because of it’s size I know I won’t be able to wrangle it through my home machine. I want it to be a light weight spring/summer quilt, so the plan is to save up for long-arm quilting with the goal of using it next year.

WIP Wednesday: 11.7.12

I can’t believe we’ve circled around to another Wednesday. I can’t believe we’re already to November for that matter. It seems like with the amount of time I spent in October, I should have some finishes. The worst part of working on multiple projects at once, it’s hard to keep things in perspective. If all goes according to plan, I should have several “finishes” in the next 10 days.

Here’s what I worked on this week.

1. Scrappy Stash QAL: While all 99 of my blocks are pieced, I still have 33 more to QAYG. I ran out of batting at the end of last week, but hope to get some in the next couple of days. I am still desperately clinging to the hope that I can get this finished by the deadline. But, that’s a lot of binding to stitch down, not to mention quilting in the ditch between all those blocks to attach the backing. I’m starting to feel doubtful. Either way, I know I will have a completed top to share. It’s my first QAL though and given the amount of time I’ve put into it, it would be nice linking up. We’ll see. More about this quilt can be found here, here, and here. You can find Jennifer’s most recent post for her QAL here at Ellison Lane Quilts.

2. Tula Pink Sew Along: The House of Tula Pink was one of the first quilt books I bought and when the Birds and the Bees came out this past summer, I got a bundle with plans to make a Dream Weaver quilt. I hadn’t made my way around to it yet, when Sara at Sew Sweetness launched her Tula Pink Sew Along. Since I already planned to make this quilt, I decided to push it up my priority list in hopes of getting it done in time. With my log cabins on hold, I started on this quilt last weekend, grateful that a completed top was all I would need to link up. Yesterday, I finished it! Except I didn’t. This morning when I spread it out on my bed, something was not quite right. I hadn’t made a mistake, but was slightly unhappy with the sizing. Several hours later, a lot of quality time with my seam ripper and quite a bit of mumbling under my breath as I sewed things back together wrong, I have adjusted this kind size top by 4 3/4″. I am certifiable!

Oh yeah, I actually didn’t get it all put back together. I was so frustrated by the last row after I ripped, sewed, then ripped and re-sewed the same two blocks, I decided I needed a little breather before I attack the sashing. I don’t have room to lay it out, so the only way I could get a picture was to overlap my five main strips. I hope to have it ironed and stitched back together by the end of the day. In the meantime, I will luxuriate in all those gorgeous colors.

This coming week I’ll continue to hit my log cabin quilt hard. I also hope to squeeze in some time to finish work on a pattern I’m testing this weekend. By the beginning of next week, I’ll have at least one link-ups. Then I’ll be scrambling to finish a block in time for my stop for Travelin’ Pic Stitch the following weekend (fortunately this is already started, but there is still significant work to do). That should leave me just enough time to work on Bee Blocks before Thanksgiving craziness hits. Which means these are my goals for November…

  1. Finish piecing Tula Pink Dream Weaver quilt top
  2. Completely finish Scrappy Log Cabin Quilt
  3. Finish and type up notes for the pattern I’m testing
  4. Finish block for Travelin’ Pic Stitch blog hop and write post
  5. November Bee Blocks
  6. Finish Cate’s Weighted Blanket (just because it really needs to get done!)

Linking up to WIP Wednesday hosted by Svetlana at Freshly Pieced.

Scrappy Stash QAL Update

I made a lot of progress last week on my quilt for the Scrappy Stash QAL at Ellison Lane Quilts.I pieced 33 more blocks, including three big ones and got all seven of the big ones I’ve made so far quilted. I quilted diagonal lines using my presser foot as a guide, so it took awhile. I had hoped to start on my last groups of blocks this weekend, but I had two days with no sewing. It’s all good though. The hubby and I had our first date night in almost a year and went to see Red Hot Chili Peppers. A few hours of feeling 22 again does a body good!

This morning I used the time my kids were at preschool to lay out the blocks I’ve finished to get an idea how it’s going to look. I had to move furniture and the one place that is big enough in our house has crummy light, but I got a sense for how it’s going to look once it’s all together. I was worried that I wouldn’t like it as much once I threw more colors in, but I shouldn’t have worried. I actually missed those last two colors and can’t wait to have them finished. I have no where I’m going to baste this monster. One of my LQS has open sewing times a couple of nights a month, so maybe I’ll have to check out what kind of space they have.

Linking to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Here’s the updated picture…

When Josie and Leo walked in from preschool. Leo stopped, looked at it for a few seconds then matter-of-factly declared, “it needs more blue.” I told him I was going to add blue and purple and he replied that “it would be beautiful.” That kiddo has a good eye. Lol.

More as I finish. Thanks for stopping by!

Scrappy Stash QAL Update

Dear Husband knows I’m obsessed with these improv log cabins. This weekend, he did well more than his fair share of kid duty, giving me lots of time to sew. Weds I had 15 blocks, now I have 40! I finished my reds and did all of yellow and orange. I’m anxious to get started on my cool colors, so this post will be short and sweet. It’s rainy and dreary here, so the pictures aren’t great. Hopefully I’ll get a couple better shots by Weds.

Forty Scrappy Log Cabins, Quilted and Ready to Go!

All Spread Out
I plan to use a completely random layout, but that was hard to do with only four colors

Looking a little Blah you say?
I’m sure the green, blue, purple and gray blocks will help, but so did this…

I may have lost my mind! Now I just need forty-FOUR more blocks. Plus a back and binding. In two and a half weeks?!?! Two hours until I pick the kids up from preschool. Time to get busy!

Edited to add… Greens done, now purple. Can’t type, must sew!

Scrappy Stash QAL Check-In at Ellison Lane Quilts and
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

WIP Wednesday: 10.17.12

Looking back on the past week, I’m surprised at how much time I had to work on quilty things. Since my work space is right where the kids spend most of their time, I’ve found that if I leave stuff out, I can catch a quick sewing break several times during the day. I got so much prep work out of the way because they are finally old enough to leave everything alone. A generous husband who took the kids out for an afternoon this weekend and a bout of insomnia didn’t hurt either.

I’ve narrowed down my WIP list to the things I hope to work on during the rest of the month.

1. Scrappy Stash QAL at Ellison Lane Quilts: Who knew that scrappy, monochromatic, inprov, quilt-as-you-go log cabin blocks were just the thing I needed to get over my sewing anxiety? Improv doesn’t come easily to me. In this case, it’s only a handful of scraps and an 8″ block, I don’t have to worry about messing something up and ruining a whole project. I’m finding that it’s so much easier experimenting with quilting methods when I have something manageable in front of me. With that in mind, I decided to try a few blocks of spiral quilting. I figured if the first one was awful, I’d leave it out. If it was okay, but I didn’t like doing it, I could leave it in the mix as a singular surprise element. If I really liked it, I could continue and figure out a way to incorporate the randomness in the overall quilt. I ended up quilting three of my pink blocks this way and I love how they turned out.

They certainly aren’t perfect. The centers are pretty rough and I need to figure out how to get my inner circles smoother. If anyone has some tips, I’d love to hear them. I also kept spacing the lines wider as I moved to the outside. I don’t mind that part as much, since I don’t think it will be noticeable with everything else going on with the quilt top. You can see what I’m talking about better on the back.

The top block is the first one I tried. The lower left was the last one. I think I improved a little and hopefully will continue to get better as I try some more. As of this morning I have 15 blocks completely done and have started in on my orange scraps. I’d like to double that by next week.

2. Cate’s Weighted Blanket: I haven’t made any additional progress on this project. I’m still waiting to get the poly pellets I need for the center portion. Will see if I can work them into my budget before the end of the month.

3. Birds and the Bees Dream Weaver: I haven’t had a chance to work on this one either and don’t think I’ll get to it in the coming week. It will only take me a couple of sessions to piece the top, so I hope to get that done before the end of the month.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Make a List Monday: I Can Sew!

The other day I asked Leo a question and he answered me song.  He is such a goofball (though I was impressed that he selected a song that provided an appropriate answer). I don’t know where he gets it. Then again, I’m singing this post in my head because… “I can sew! I can sew! I can sew!”

Which means that this is the last day I’m ever going to complain about sewing machines! I finally had a chance this weekend to put my new machine through its paces and it is positively dreamy. It’s amazing how many of the things I was horrible at fixed themselves with the right equipment. I think I appreciate it even more having struggled with a really poor machine for six months.

Last weeks cutting marathon yielded this…

That’s 360 strips for the Many Trips Around the World, a king size Dream Weaver, enough for two Rainbow Stripe quilts, a full size Magic Numbers, three throw quilts and a table runner. Plus, I snipped several hundred 2 1/2″ squares for various EPPing projects, dug out all my WIP’s, made a list of next steps and completely organized my sewing cabinets. I have one small stack of fat quarters I need to go through for the Many Trips Around the World and Rainbow Stripe quilts, but I simple couldn’t cut another second. I like doing things in phases, but previously I did a weeks worth of cutting at a time. I should be set for the next six months!

Better yet, I was left with this…

These bags are stuffed tight. Fortunately, the Scrappy Stash QAL started up last week at Ellison Lane Quilts, so I knew just what to do with them. I dumped my red scraps and started piecing my improv log cabin blocks. Then decided to go all in and QAYG. I followed this great tutorial  provided by Maureen Cracknell Handmade. I have never done straight line quilting before and was so pleased with the results. It was so much fun whipping these out, I got five blocks completed!

I decided to quilt half of them horizontally and the other half vertically so when I go to put everything together I can alternate directions and not worry about matching up quilting lines. I also cut my blocks to 9″, instead of 8 1/2″ to accommodate the 1/2″ seams specified in the QAYG tutorial.

There is only one thing on my list for the coming week. More monochromatic improv log cabin blocks of course! This one is going to be easy.

Linking up for the first time to Make-A-List Monday.