Monday, July 27, 2015

Social Climber - Faith Circle Style

I just finished reading a post by Debbie at A Quilter's Table about how quickly a quilt can be made from start to final binding stitch. It seems that 7 hours is a real possibility for a baby quilt. Contrast that with my decidedly un-quick work on the Social Climber quilt. The Faith Circle ladies stitched up the blocks last October and mailed them off to me. At that same time I was spending every free moment working on the Snowflake Among the Stars wedding quilt for a dear couple. It had to be ready for a December wedding date. Then, of course, came Christmas and New Years - not a good time for finishing large quilt projects. As soon as the holiday season was over I knew I'd need to dedicate all my time to completing Mixed Flock in time for the Northern Shenandoah Valley Quilt Show in April. Fast forward to the end of the school year and another wedding gift (soon to be revealed) and Social Climber was just not getting the attention it so deserved.

Well, I'm so pleased to be able to say Social Climber is now complete!

Social Climber - pattern by Villa Rosa Designs

With a burst of dedicated effort I was able to finish the quilting, binding, washing, and photographing in a two day period. How's that for getting a second wind on this project?

My inspiration for the quilting came from a Craftsy class I bought, Creative Quilting with Your Walking Foot, taught by Jacquie Gering. One of the lessons teaches how to do sectioned curves. Needing something a little more at my comfort level I divided quilt into three sections and did straight line quilting instead of curves. I used masking tape to space the lines at 1" intervals - just moving the tape with each line of quilting.

Pieced back for Social Climber

For the back I used one large piece of My Sunshine, a Riley Blake Designs fabric and then finished out with several smaller cuts from my stash. This photo of the quilt back also shows the quilting better. I was looking through my stash trying to find enough fabric to do the binding, however there just was nothing that would work. As I trimmed down the quilt top I noted that there was significant backing fabric on all sides being cut away. It turned out I had enough fabric to cut down into binding strips - Hooray! No extra scraps created!

All in all this turned out to be a lovely quilt and I'm so happy to have it finished!


In the interest of ensuring a sturdy binding I machine stitched it - folding to the front so I could make sure it had the best results possible. I went ahead and used straight stitching and although not perfect, it's not bad! My sewing skills have greatly improved since my last attempt to attach a binding using this method.

The Faith Circle donates it's quilts to Restore Innocence. A Colorado based non-profit which aids in the restoration of young women rescued from human trafficking. You can read more about them here. Thank you Faith Circle ladies for your work on these blocks - you're a great group of ladies to sew with :o)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Let's see...where did I leave off?

Goodness, it hardly seems possible that my last blog post was in March. I knew as Spring was approaching things were going to go into high gear: I'm a teacher and Spring is "testing season," I've also spent a tremendous amount of time working on design plans for our log home, and working on the occasional necessary gifts. Something was going to have to give and blogging was it. Let's pick up where we left off.

The largest project I worked on and finished (Oh yeah!) is Mixed Flock. It appeared in the Northern Shenandoah Valley Quilt Show in the newly created Modern Quilts category.

Mixed Flock ~ Finished (at last)
Mixed Flock: designed stitched and quilted by me

In my last post I drew out possible quilting plans that included some pretty labor intensive straight line quilting. In the interest of actually getting the quilt finished in time for the show I ended up spiral quilting the center section and grid quilting the borders. I'm happy with how it turned out. 

In addition, I entered four of my mini quilts in the show:

Mini quilts

Clockwise from top left: Baby Nova, Dashing Geese Mini Quilt, Apple Blossom Celebration, and Wonky Crosses. Most of the time these mini quilts hang on the walls of my office at school. Making mini quilts is very enjoyable because they are so much easier to finish up on my small Janome sewing machine.

It was fun to participate in the quilt show. It's a biannual show so the next one is in 2017...maybe I should get started on a quilt now so it will be finished in time :o)

Well, that's enough to get us started. I'll be back soon with more of what I've been up to. Happy quilting!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Random Sampler & Other Progress

Hooray! I've made progress on my Random Sampler! Going with the idea to build one section at a time I took inventory of the blocks I've already made and began grouping them into a section. Then, I worked to fill in the holes. Here's what it looks like so far:

Random Sampler section one

The top row features a squash blossom, an applique branch, maple leaf cluster, and several flying geese blocks. The second row includes a basket, a wheel, Rocky Mountain Puzzle*, and finally Duck Tracks*. (Patterns for these last two blocks can be found on Quilters Cache.) This section measures 20" x 32". Due to the odd size of the maple leaf cluster I added a strip of fabric to the left side of the squash blossom block to bring the string of blocks up to the correct length. 

I'm so happy to have made a bit of progress on this quilt! Now I have to discipline myself and return to two quilts in the process of be quilted. One is the Social Climber quilt from the Faith Circle, and the other is my Mixed Flock quilt for the local show. I've made good progress on the Social Climber quilt and it shouldn't take too much longer to have it finished. 

Mixed Flock has me wondering how best to quilt it. To try out some possibilities I took a picture of the quilt top and lightened it up on the computer. Then when I print it out I used a pencil to draw out quilting ideas. Here's what I've come up with so far:

Quilting ideas

I need to stick with straight line quilting because I don't think my free-motion is where I want people giving it close inspection. I still have not figured out how to quilt the colored stars. I'm hoping that as I begin working on it additional inspiration will come. 

Finally, perhaps the most exciting progress!! On Saturday we met with a log home builder and walked over our land to select a house site! We gave him the plans we'd put together and now have to wait for a quote to come back. We'll see what comes of this once we have some solid numbers. That patch of woods up there in my blog header just may have a house on it!  For now, I need to hold myself in check and not get too that's possible :o)

Happy quilting! 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Planning Randomness??

In my previous post I noted how Anita, from Bloomin' Workshop, is once again leading a group of quilters on a journey...this time to finish the Random Sampler quilts we started some time ago. Earlier this week she posted The Finishing Plan. Until reading her post I had no idea how to take a mish-mash of blocks and turn them into a layout that would end up as a quilt top. 

To begin the process I decided to take inventory of my blocks - how many different block sizes have I made, and how many of each size. At this point I have blocks ranging in size from 2.5" square to 15" square. I know! Where did this weird quilt block come from?

Quilt blocks grouped by size

This maple leaf block is the odd-sized one. I'll probably add borders to bring it up to a more workable size. I can't even remember how many years ago I made this block - early in my quilting career. It's a bit wonky, but I love it :o) When we first started this quilt along I pulled this block as my cornerstone to build the sampler around. 

Maple leaves - inspiration for colors came from this block

I've pulled my instructions for Moda's Modern Building Blocks quilt and I'm looking at the breakdown of this layout to inspire me how to divide my quilt top into sections. 

Planning a random layout :o)

My quilt will be in the neighborhood of 60" x 72" so I'll play around with the mental challenge of how to best divide that into sections. Then, as Anita suggested I'll work on filling one section at a time. This will be fun!

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown Down

About a month ago I posted this picture on Instagram of blocks hanging on my design wall. These blocks belong to a quilt project named The Random Sampler. It was a quilt-along begun by my friend Anita from Bloomin' Workshop. Several of us started these blocks back in 2012 and to my knowledge only Lotje ended up with a finished quilt.

Random Sampler~Progress Shot
Random Sampler quilt blocks

Anita suggested we all pull our blocks back out in March and cheer each other on to a finish - effectively throwing out the challenge to the rest of us slackers :o) Now I have to admit, I love working on blocks for this quilt because I can toss in anything and everything I feel like making. And, this is a quilt I am making for myself so there is no right or wrong. Funny - We don't have any quilts I've made, except for a few small wall hangings, so this will be the first large-ish quilt I'd finish for our home. There are two other unfinished quilts that are also supposed to be for us. Seems the only quilts I manage to finish are those intended for others.

As much as I'd love to dive in and work on my Random Sampler I've got two projects I should finish first. I've been so good at working my way through the To Do list I wrote up some time last summer and I'm down to just the two quilts. Here they are:

Social Climber is another Faith Circle quilt destined to be sent to Restore Innocence. This quilt is pin basted and ready for quilting. As of yet I have not decided how to quilt it...any suggestions are most welcome! Feel free to leave them in the comments. 

Faith Circle Social Climber - pin basted
Social Climber ~ A Faith Circle Quilt

Then, I'm on a tight schedule to finish up my Mixed Flock quilt for a local show coming up in mid-April. I don't think I've introduced the Mixed Flock top on the blog...this is my original design using the Dashing Geese block I created for QuiltMakers 100 Blocks magazine, Volume 9. However, Mixed Flock puts a completely different spin on the block by mixing up the color placement. 

Mixed Flock - progress shot
Mixed Flock - progress shot

I'm hoping you can see four large, bright "interpretive" stars, and one gray star, too. In a way I think Mixed Flock has a bit of a Southwestern look to it. I'm in the process of piecing the outer borders to finish the quilt top. Here's a sketch to show where I'm heading with the final design:

Mixed Flock - the plan
Mixed Flock - the plan

So, the question is, "Will I be picking up the Random Sampler gauntlet?" Many times what I should do, and what I end up doing, are two different things...we'll see how the month of March plays out :o) 

What would you do?

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Faith Circle Finish ~ A While in the Making

Wow! Sometimes there are those quilts that you just don't think are ever going to get finished - as much as you want them to. They sit neatly folded in your sewing room just taunting you. This appliqued wonky disappearing 4-patch is one such quilt.

Faith Circle Disappearing 4 Patch
Wonky disappearing 4-patch with applique borders

It started innocently enough with the selection of an easy quilt block, the disappearing 4-patch. I knew I wanted my Faith Circle partners to use a soft color palette to make these blocks, and to add a bit of whimsy, I wanted the blocks to be wonky. Thinking this might be a good opportunity to try my hand at writing a quilt block tutorial I snapped lots of pictures of the construction process and wrote up the directions. (Tutorial can be found here.) I like to point out that I did not create this quilt block, I only wrote up a tutorial for it.

Once the blocks arrived I just knew they were the perfect candidate for my first applique border. 

Applique border
Applique borders under construction

I combined pattern elements from several different sources to come up with a flowering vine to surround the quilt blocks. Whimsical flowers was the look I was after. Naively I figured it would take me about a month of sewing to get the borders all stitched down using machine applique. 

One flower stitched down. :)
Machine applique on whimsical floral borders

In reality it took me five months of stop and go work to get the borders complete. For some reason they just seemed to be an overwhelming task. Finally they were finished and the quilt top was assembled! Next to quilt it. Over the summer months I had collected a few books on free motion quilting using your home sewing machine. I wrote up a blog post about my adventures in developing my quilting skills that can be found here.

As you can see in this picture the Loops and Poppies quilt design is so nice when the quilt is freshly washed and dried...there is just something so appealing about a nice, crinkly quilt :o)

Faith Circle Disappearing 4 Patch
Just look at this great texture!

Here's a look at the entire quilt all finished. It turned out exactly as I pictured in my head and I'm so happy with it!

Faith Circle Disappearing 4 Patch
Wonky disappearing 4-patch with applique borders
For the back I took two extra blocks that were not needed on the front, chopped them up, and created a ribbon. Then, I added large cuts of fabric on either side to finish out the scrappy back.

Faith Circle Disappearing 4 Patch
Quilt back

This quilt is on it's way to Restore Innocence where it will hopefully bring comfort and warmth to a young woman in need of it. I'll leave you with one final picture...I just discovered this great tree behind our fence - it makes a perfect quilt display!

Faith Circle Disappearing 4 Patch
Quilt in a tree