Friday, September 19, 2014

Sometimes We Are Our Own Worst Critic

In January I pulled this stack of fabric for a quilt.  It was totally "me" in terms of scale (small) and print (tone on tone and dots) but it was more monochromatic than I usually go.  But my friend assured me that it looked good and really, how can you go wrong any fabric pull that includes Flea Market Fancy?

I sent fabric packets off to more friends to test block patterns for me.  I got their amazing blocks back, made a few more blocks and started to lay them out.  I want to make it very clear at this point that my friends' blocks were perfect and wonderful and that I would never, ever, ever have gotten this quilt made without their help and that the feelings expressed in the next paragraph are me being crazy not a critique of their blocks.   So....

I got to this point in the layout and started to freak.  Why had I chosen those colors!?!  Those blocks* stayed on the living room floor for a week (much to the dismay of my husband) and I would move a block here or there each time I would walk by.  I finally sucked it up and decided it was what it was and started sewing it together.

And it wasn't as bad as I thought.  Then I added the borders and it looked better.

Then I quilted it.  And it looked good.  (I really like that section of quilting!)  It wasn't my favorite quilt, but I knew wasn't embarrassingly ugly either.  So I turned in my quilt to AQS and went on with life.

And then I saw this.  I realize that the American Quilter's Society Quilt Week header shows just the edge of what could be any quilt but it is the quilt that I stood in the living room and cried over because it was so. embarrassingly. ugly.  AQS has no shortage of quilt edges to photograph and they. chose. mine.  To say I was excited is a huge understatement.

Then this flier for QuiltWeek came in the mail.  I think I am going to have to laminate it.  Not just because they say my quilt is beautiful ;) but because it's message is one I think we should all remember - especially when we are being hard on ourselves.

Your quilt is beautiful.
Really, it is.  
You've poured your heart and creativity into your quilt.
Now it is time to let it shine! 

I think we are our own worst critics.  And to paraphrase a Jillian Micheal's exercise video, "This isn't about being perfect.  Perfect is boring.  Perfect sucks!  This is about pushing yourself and discovering what you can do.  When you push yourself that is when change happens." 

I know I'm not going to stop being a neurotic perfectionist overnight, but I am going to try to keep things in better perspective from now on.  So, love your quilts, love yourselves, be happy with your quilting and have the best weekend ever!

* I don't know if you noticed, but some of those blocks are from the Skill Builder Sampler!  More info on that next week!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Christmas Quilt

I finished something!  And I love it!  I bought the fabric last fall (thanks for making such cute Christmas fabric Micheal Miller!) and I think I will have it quilted by December.  That's pretty fast turn around these days.   :)

The fabrics and design are totally copied from this quilt by Amy Smart at Diary of a Quilter.  I love the gnomes, the retro ladies, the dots, the snowflakes, the reindeer, the red flannel polka dot backing fabric....I love it all!   I can't wait to finish it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What I Am Working On

Last week I made the backing for my star quilt.  I used up the leftover challenge fabric that I knew I wouldn't really use anywhere else and some larger cuts of fabric that I knew I wasn't going to use in a quilt anytime in the near future.

I think quilt backs are a great place to use up those cuts of fabric that you don't love anymore or just don't quite know what do do with.  There are just over 2 yards of fabric in that back - that's a lot of stash used up!  They are also a great place for me to use up those large scale prints that I love, but just don't know what to do with.

Last week I also worked on the Christmas quilt.  I have sewn all but two of the twelve rows (I need to cut more fabric for the last two).  Not bad for an afternoon!  I am always surprised at how much I can get done if I just sit down and sew for an hour or two.  I love quilting, but sometimes it seems overwhelming and like it is impossible to finish anything.  But if I just get sewing (instead of checking my email or other blogs)  I can actually get a lot done.

Another thing that seems overwhelming right now is the garden.  You won't be seeing any pretty garden pictures here because our huge garden is a royal mess.  I was out picking tomatoes and weeding with the kids and I kept telling them to just focus on pulling the weeds that were taller than their knees.  Don't worry about the short ones!  I pulled tons of 3-4 ft tall pig weed and the beets are much happier now that they can see the sun.  :)

Even with the garden being a weedy mess, we managed to get a ton of tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, squash and potatoes.  But that means I have been spending time making salsa (38 quarts so far!) and freezer pickles and trying to keep the fruit flies at bay.  I think I have the last major haul of tomatoes and cucumbers sitting on the counter right now.  I just have to motivate myself to do something with them.

Maybe sewing all day tomorrow can be my reward for spending today working on tomatoes.  And it will go faster if I just stop blogging and start working on it, right?   :)  I hope.  help!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and The Purge at Stitched in Color

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Quilt Update

I finally finished appliqueing on all the little stars and pinwheels onto the background fabric of this quilt.  In retrospect I don't know if it was any faster than piecing them it, but it did allow me to play with the placement quite a bit.  Perhaps too much.  There was a lot of rearranging and second guessing.

My clothesline is acting up (ie very droopy) so I hung the quilt sideways.  Just turn you head and imagine that the big star is in the bottom right hand corner. And imagine that I have trimmed up the edges too.  :)

(The tutorial for the big star can be found here.)

Here are some closeups.  I love that green color.  It is a bit more teal in real life.

And I love the mini Ohio star blocks.  I need a whole quilt of them!  It was fun to play with my Meadowsweet scraps and fussy cut the center of this block.

Now I just have to quilt it.  I have big plans for this little quilt.  Think swirls and ghost blocks floating in the background.  Hopefully I will be able to pull it off!

Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 Iowa State Fair

So we went to the fair on Tuesday and I finally got a picture of my quilt block.  It didn't win anything - no huge surprise there - but it was fun to see it and see a block a friend made too.

The walls of quilt blocks were...intense.  My friend Tara who loves orange and green together even thought it was a bit much.  It will make an interesting raffle quilt next year.

Every year they make a raffle quilt with the blocks from the previous year's competition.  Here is this year's raffle quilt with my Circle of Geese block in the middle.  A much calmer color palette.

This was the second year of there being a Modern Category at the fair.   Here are some of the entries.

And some more.

And more.  The entry on the right was perplexing.  I can only assume if was miss labeled and put in the wrong area because, while beautiful and well constructed, it is in no way modern.

Other favorites from the Fabric and Treads department were this cross stitched "quilt" and teal dress.  Each of the patches in the cross stitch was made to look like fabric - amazing.  I would love to make a quilt with that mix of colors and color gradation.   I also need to find (not make) a dress like the teal one for myself.  So classy!

The model gardens at the fair always get me motivated to do more in our yard.

Happy and calm before the ride

And I even went on a ride.  I am a ride wimp and it was scary and I felt like I was going to throw up.  The kid rides that I was too tall for seemed much more my speed.  :)

I am almost done appliqueing the stars on my Megan's Star quilt and hope to have pictures of that to share early next week.  I hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Megan's Star - A Tutorial


Well, I haven't finished my Micheal Miller Challenge quilt, but I did make the main block.  Baby steps.  Baby steps to the goal.  :)

I found some star designs that I liked and tweaked them to make this star.  I am calling it Megan's Star because the quilt is for my niece Megan (if I give it to her - I'm tempted to keep it - I really like it so far!).  

I really have a thing for pinky-coral fabric and wanted to work in some of my Meadowsweet scraps of into the quilt.  In order to get all of my favorite fabrics in, I decided to use "made fabric" a la Fifteen Minutes of Play for the side point of the star.  I think it adds a fun subtle scrapiness to the quilt.    But feel free to use regular fabric for the points instead.  To balance the scrapiness of the side points, I used solid fabric for the corner points.

It is jumbo sized at 18" finished and I thought I would share the tutorial for it today.  Are you ready to make one?

Megan's Star - 18" Block
Step 1:  Make scrappy fabric panel

The scrappy fabric is made by sewing little pieces of fabric together, trimming and sewing more pieces together again.  Go herehere or here to see how to make your own fabric from scraps.  Make sure the scraps are small enough that you will see more than one piece of fabric in a 3" HST.  You will need to make enough scrappy fabric to cut four 3 7/8" squares and one 7.25" square.

Step 2: Cut fabric

From white (background):
4 - 3.5" squares (for the corners)
6 - 4" squares (for the hst)
4 - 3 7/8" squares (for flying geese)
1 - 7.25" square (for flying geese)
4 - 2" squares (for inner star corners)
1 - 4.25" square (for inner star flying geese)

From yellow solid:
4 - 4" squares

From coral solid:
2 - 4" squares

From pieced scrappy fabric (or regular fabric):
4 - 3 7/8" squares
1 - 7.25" square

From dark gray (inner star points):
4 - 2 3/8" squares

From gray (center of inner star):
1 - 3.5" square

Step 3:  Piece the half square triangles (hst):

-Draw a line from corner to corner on each of the six 4" white squares.
-Place the white 4" squares right sides together with the 2 coral and 4 yellow 4" squares.
-Sew a 1/4" seam on either side of the line.
-Cut on the line.
-Set seam (press while the fabric is still right sides together) and press open.
-Trim to 3.5" square.  (Check out this post for step by step instructions on how to trim).

You should have a total of 8 yellow hst and 4 coral hst.

Step 4: Make the flying geese units:

The next step is to make the flying geese units out of the scrappy fabric.  You will need four units where the white fabric is the "goose" (the big triangle in the middle), four units with scrappy fabric as the goose and four small units with dark gray as the background for the small inner star.

I love this quick and easy method of making four flying geese units at once.  It is like magic!

-First, draw a line from corner to corner on the back side of the four 3 7/8" white and scrappy squares and on the four 2 3/8" gray squares.  
-Pin two scrappy squares right sides together with the white 7.25" square.  Put the smaller squares in opposite corners with the drawn lines running from corner to corner as pictured.  The small squares will overlap in the middle.
-Sew 1/4" to each side of the line.
-Cut on the line.
-Set seam and press open.  You will have two heart shaped units.
-Pin the last small scrappy squares right sides together with "heart" units as illustrated.
-Sew 1/4" on both sides of the line.
-Cut, set and press.  You will have four flying geese units with the scrappy fabric on the edges.

-Repeat with the 7.25" square of scrappy fabric and the four 3 7/8" squares of white fabric to make four flying geese units with the scrappy fabric as the goose.

-Repeat with the 4.25" white and 2 3/8" dark gray squares to make the flying geese units used in the center star.

Step 5:  Make sub-units

All of the block pieces are ready.  Now it is time to put them together!

-Use the white 3.5" squares and the yellow and coral hst to make the first sub-unit.  Lay out the fabric as illustrated.  Sew the rows together.  Set seams and press.  The arrows indicate which way to press.  Then sew the rows together.  Make four of these units.

-Sew the scrappy flying geese units together as illustrated.  Press 2 seams up and 2 seams down so the seams will nest well in the final block.

-Lay out the 2" white squares, gray flying geese units and gray 3.5" square as illustrated.  Sew the units together into rows.  Press towards the white and light gray squares.  Match the seams and sew the rows together.  Press towards the center.

Step 6:  Put it all together
-Lay out all the sub-units as illustrated.  (The scrappy flying geese units that are pressed downwards are on the top and bottom.  The units that are pressed up are on the sides.)
-Match seams and sew together into rows.
-Press as indicated by the arrows.
-Match seams and sew rows together.

Yea!  I love, love, love this block and hope you do too.  Let me know if you make one.

Now I've just got to find the time to sit on the porch swing and applique the little stars onto the background fabric.  It's a rough job, but someone's got to do it.  :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Iowa State Fair Block

When I got back from vacation two weeks ago I found these fabrics in the stack-o-mail.  They are the fabrics for the 9" Quilt Block competition at the Iowa State Fair.  This is my third year entering (see my other entries here and here) and I have to say that these were the most challenging fabrics to work with so far.

The first year's fabrics weren't my favorite, but there was a good distribution of color and value.  The second year they used some of Vanessa Christensen's fabric (loved them!) but this year.... Well... None of the fabrics is bad by itself.  I actually really like the orange dot.  The green is a nice basic and the others...well, I wouldn't buy them, but they aren't yucky by any means, but all together they were really hard to work with.

Because the values were similar it was hard to decide on a block pattern that would look good.  The orange and the dark green didn't have enough contrast and the stripe blended with all of the other fabrics.  And if I cut the leaf fabric too small the dark orange leaves blended with the orange dot fabric.  Ugh!  After looking through tons of block patterns trying to find one that would look good with the fabrics and look decently challenging without being too hard to make I came up with this foundation paper pieced block:

Nothing fancy, but the best of all the options.  (The chartreuse around the center is the stripe - fussy cut to add more interest.)  Unfortunately, I have forgotten how to blog this summer and didn't take a picture of the actual block before turning it in.  Don't worry, you aren't missing much.  ;)   But I will for sure take a picture of it when we go to the fair in two weeks.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer.  Only three more weeks until school starts here.  I can't decide if I should put multiple exclamation points after that sentence or a frowny face.  Being a mom is such a mixed bag.  :)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

This Week I...

...saw wagons on the Oregon Trail,

watched a vase be blown at the Tacoma Glass Museum,

hiked to a waterfall,

then up to a lake,

The view from Mt Constitution, Orcas Island, Washington

 then to the top of the island.  I thought I was going to Die.  
We hitched a ride back to the campground and fell asleep at 7:30.  
No sewing, but sometimes that can be the best thing.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Releasing My Inner Gee's Bend

 I know I said I was going to focus on my summer sewing on these four projects but I needed some handwork to take with me on vacation and the one project that required handwork was too unwieldy to take with me.  So I gathered up some scraps and decided to do some improvisational hand sewing kind of like the quilts of Gee's Bend.

 Right now I am cutting (with scissors) strips of fabrics and sewing them together with a simple running stitch.  I don't have any real plan for them now, but I think I might use them to make a medallion quilt.  I'll keep you posted.