Wednesday, March 30, 2011

WIP Wednesday...with images this time!

Greetings from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I am visiting law schools/quilt shops for the next several days! I arrived this morning, dropped my belongings off at my hotel (chucked my bag into my room), and immediately went to (ran and then sped to) what I had heard was the mecca of quilt stores: Ann Arbor Sewing Center. To give you an idea of its size and selection, the store has a 32' long wall for thread alone. AASC is about twice the size of the house I grew up in, with a room for just notions that is larger than my current apartment, though that probably doesn't say much to those of you who have been there. I actually managed to leave without breaking the $100 mark, but only because they couldn't guarantee that a sewing machine accessory I wanted would actually fit my machine. Thank God for small miracles. I'd rather buy fabric than eat, but I have to impose limits on myself once in a while (or have them imposed on me...whatever).

Before I left, I did take pictures of my Ocean Waves quilt, on which I am slowly and steadily progressing. I love this quilt, but I can only do so much at once. Each square has almost 150 triangles. It can be a bit overwhelming, and the last block I did was completely disastrous (at least in terms of my ability to match points). Some of my cut triangles must have been very misshapen. It's a feat of willpower to cut ~1,000 triangles over two nights (so much so that I just had to buy an Accuquilt so it would NEVER, EVER happen again).

The as-yet-unnamed Ocean Waves quilt is the first quilt in a series I am doing of Amish-inspired quilts. The Ocean Waves pattern was very common among the Amish from the late 1800s to early 1900s, though I'm not sure if it is anymore. I developed the "pattern" for my quilt myself, and although the blocks are slightly larger than I expected (and larger than how they usually appear in Amish quilts), they are not larger than I generally prefer. I think they're very bold and graphic, which is exactly the look I wanted to attain. The Amish almost never used whites or beiges for their background fabrics, but I felt that my fabric choices were so...hmm, in-your-face?...that they required a "blank" space for the background.

Hopefully sewing them together and matching all of those points will not be horribly traumatic. I have four blocks so far, and I only need one more full block and four half-blocks to finish the top. The blocks are ~24" across when square, but ~36" across on point (which is how they are assembled), so it will be a ~70x70 finished quilt. Not quite as big as I'd like, but you can't have everything.

I will list the fabrics again once I finish the top, but I'm posting them here now so I don't forget. The triangle/focus fabrics are: Amy Butler Solids in Periwinkle; FSDS in Grape, Red, and Olive; Moda Bella Solids in Turquoise; Kona in Cerise, Rose, and Violet; and Quilter's Linen in Orange. The center square/background fabric is Moda Bella Solids in Antique White. It is my understanding that Moda no longer produces this color, and now I must obsessively hoard the 3.5 yards that remain (I reallyreallyreally love this neutral).

Back soon with photos of my recent completed quilt top and back!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stripes and solids!

I have a new quilt in progress, this time for my brother Taylor (forget what I said about gift quilts, heh heh...he's been begging for one, and this is for Christmas). The inspiration for this quilt came from one of my favorite Amish quilt books.

This is the 44" center square of what will, I hope, become a quilt of 84"-86" square.

I cut out 8.5" square pieces of paper and string-pieced 1.5" strips of three color ranges of fabric (green, cerulean, and plum) with one gray and one black fabric. This 44" square went through several iterations on top of my duvet cover (downside of paper-piecing: paper doesn't stick to my makeshift design wall).

The gray is FSDS Dogwood (which looks remarkably similar to Ash...I had to sub Ash in one of the blocks because I ran out of Dogwood, and now I can't even remember which one it was), and the black is Moda Bella Solids in Black. I am hoping to find a richer black for the border. The colored strips are FSDS Emerald, Hummingbird Blue, Red Plum, and Oriental Blue; and Kona Cactus, Plumberry, and Pacific.

Naturally, I got slice-happy with my rotary cutter because I was distracted by the television, cut about three times as many strips as I needed, and now have a bunch of 1.5"x 44" strips I must use to piece the back.

I have big plans for how I'm going to quilt it, which do not involve the longarm...I've discovered I don't love it as much as I thought I would! Not being able to see the quilt while you're working on it is so frustrating.

I hope to have a completed top to show you soon. It will be my first completed quilt top since October or November, eeek!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

B is for...

A butterfly block for the NEMQG bee (ah, I couldn't resist). This one is for Aimee, who is making a butterfly quilt for her daughter. Aimee gave us more leeway in design and sizing than anyone else in the bee has so far (though she did ask for no applique). She only showed us one pattern as an example, and after I saw a few of my bee buddies use it, I decided to look around for something different. I searched high and low, and eventually found this pattern on Quilter's Cache, a website I love.

We were free to use some of our own fabrics. I ended up using only one of the fabrics she sent. I included a large chunk of a red floral print I bought from Cottage Industrialist. Her fabrics are, sturdy, and shiny. I thought the flowers were reminiscent of butterflies, so I included that print. Gotta keep the theme continuous.

I admit I was a bit nervous about this block because I've never made anything representational or figural before, but I'm happy with how it turned out. As I was making it, I thought that this might end up being my last bee/swap for a while. I had only four hours to sew for the entire week, and this took a little over two...leaving me with very little time to focus on my own projects. Like everyone, I have a million ideas in my head, but very few hours to execute them.

I hope you like it, Aimee!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Work in Progress Wednesday

I'm jumping on the WIP Wednesday train at freshly's my current (and only) project:

One day, it's going to be an Ocean Waves quilt. For now, it's just 700ish triangles waiting to be sewn up.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Long ago, back in the early days of NEMQG, our friend Alice told us about a longarm rental studio about a half-hour outside of Boston. After spending most of the year talking about how much we needed to go to the studio every time we saw each other, we finally bit the bullet and enrolled in an intro class at Laurena's Longarm Quilting in Burlington, MA.

We had to wait about five weeks for the session because there were enough of us to constitute a full class and Laurena is so popular! Laurie anticipated that it would be the highlight of 2011, and it was fantastic. Laurie showed up even though she and her son both had the flu all week.

I had used a longarm once before, for just a few minutes. This was a full lesson on using the machine, plus hours of practicing different styles of quilting. Predictably, I was the worst of everyone, by far. I felt like the machine was completely dominating me, like a cartoon robot that comes to life or something.

Laurena said she could "sense" that we were a "free-motion group," and she was right. We tried out the pentograms (which I liked) and the rulers (which we all thought were tedious), and then went crazy in the free-motion session...some of us more than others.

Isn't this a good likeness of Rebecca?

Rachel is a natural.

I am in the process of making the World's Ugliest Quilt out of all of the print fabrics I never liked to practice on when Rachel and I go to Laurena's next week. I think my learning curve will be steep.

Renting a longarm isn't appropriate for every quilt project, but it will be a huge improvement over my tiny machine on quilts larger than 50x50. But I've also been investigating frames for machine quilting at home. If any of you have any recommendations, please post them in the comments!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mini-quilt madness

I whipped up this mini-quilt the other day to practice combining solid colors (though I had to let one perfectly-matched print slip in, and I'm glad I did) and straight-line quilting. I love the color combination, although it looks a bit different in real life than in the photos.

I used Moda Bella Solids in Antique White, Free Spirit Designer Solids in Red and Toast, Amy Butler Broadcloth in Mango, and a Kona color I had in my stash that doesn't look like anything on my (newly purchased) color card. The lone print is Metro Dots in Turquoise.

It turns out that I absolutely love straight-line quilting. My walking foot is a bit finicky, but it was smooth sailing once I got going.

This mini-quilt has no intended purpose or recipient, and will probably become a mat on my sewing table. I just really needed to start and finish a project...hopefully you all know the feeling!

In other news, we had an honest-to-goodness sew-in at our last NEMQG meeting and actually sewed! It was amazing. See some photos from our meeting here (thanks, Laurie!).