Monday, September 15, 2014

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Next month I'm teaching a Jelly Roll Race class at my local community college. Jelly roll quilts are great for beginners, and are a bit like a blank canvas. I love how many variations there are of this quilt. I'm hoping that this class will appeal to both novice and more experienced quilters so I wanted to make a class sample that will appeal to some of the more experienced quilters. I've seen quite a few quilts with applique on them that are very beautiful. I had planned on using this blue jelly roll as a background for some dresden plate flowers. After procrastinating all summer I realized that there were two problems with my plan. I don't have a template for a dresden plate (and don't know how to make one) and I hate applique. (I should clarify that I've seen several applique quilts that are beautiful, but I don't like doing applique myself.)

When September hit I realized I needed to get working on this quilt if I was going to have it done for the class. I also realized I'd been putting off working on it because I didn't want to make dresden plate applique. I decided to cut pieces from my jelly roll and make some stars to insert into the quilt. After a weekend of sewing I had finished my top which I'm naming "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." I've instructed students to bring extra fabric if they want, but I love that this pattern just uses the jelly roll strips. If someone sees this the day of the class they can easily choose to make this quilt even if they didn't bring any extra fabric.

In order to get the HSTs to stay 2.5" I sewed down the center of my squares. It only creates one usable square for the quilt, but it keeps my squares the same size as the jelly roll strips. I also added 6.5" strips to the bottom of my Friendship Stars so that they were four strips wide. I sewed the jelly roll strips together like a normal JRR, and when my strips were 4 wide I cut them at random intervals and added the stars. After my stars had been sewn in I finished sewing everything together like you do for a traditional JRR. It's a lot more improvisational than I've ever done, but I think the placement of the stars came out rather well.

*Fabric is Symphony of Blues by Connecting Threads. Since their 2.5" strip sets only have 20 strips I used two sets. (It looks like they're out of the strips, but you can get 5" squares or fat quarter bundles.)  The fabric is thinner than what I've seen from companies like Moda and Kona, but at half the price I figured it would be a little lower in quality. So far I've been rather pleased with the fabric, and can see ordering from them again. Connecting Threads has not sponsored this post. I like to do lots of research before ordering from a new-to-me company so I'm passing my experiences to help you if you're doing the same kind of research.
Blogger Tricks

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Blog Around the World Tour

Today it's my stop on the Blog Around the World Tour. I was so excited when Lynn from Buttons Quilts asked me to participate. She's another blogger who hasn't been quilting for very long and is in love with solids. I love seeing that I'm not the only young quilter out there, or the only person who doesn't have a finish (or sometimes even progress) to share every week. She takes the time to make quilts that she loves and it really shows. She participates in Sew Sisters Kona Solids of the Month club and I love reading her impressions of the fabrics. I also love her ability to look at a color that she might not like and mix it with other colors to really make it work.

To share a bit about me I started quilting in 2011. I had loved quilts for a long time, but always thought they were too complicated for me. My mom taught me to sew when I was 7 or 8 and I made my own prom dress in high school, but quilts were scarier. I stumbled upon the moda bakeshop blog and as I read the tutorials I realized quilting wasn't has scary as I thought. For some strange reason I got it into my head that I wanted to make a denim quilt for our bed. The local second hand shop was having a fill-a-bag-for-a-buck sale so I stocked up on old jeans and set to work. As if that wasn't complicated enough I chose to make a disappearing nine patch quilt and then used left over 2" squares to make 9 patch cornerstone units. With my second quilt I discovered precuts (although I still made up my own pattern) and decided to do the piecing and quilting completely by hand. When I mention that these were my first two quilts lots of people wonder how I stuck with it. I have had the wonderful good fortune to start quilting with complicated projects which means that there is very little that scares me.

Lynn sent me four questions to guide my post for Blog Around the World. 

1) What am I working on?

I tend to focus on one project at a time, but I tend to have lots of projects going. The best example of this is my Blueberry Cardigan and socks for my dad. Both projects are on the needles, but as soon as I touch one I focus all of my attention on it until I run into a problem or just a part I don't like and then I move to the other project. 

With my quilts it's a little more complicated. I tend to start a lot of quilts in the fall and work on them throughout the year so that they are all finished in time for the quilt show in May. Right now I'm getting ready to teach a class at my local community college on jelly roll races so I've been working on a sample quilt. (Sorry it's too windy to take pictures outside so this is the best shot I could get.)

I've also been participating in the Supernova Friendship Swap. 

Last Christmas my husband got me the Farmer's Wife Quilt book. He knows that I enjoy designing quilts and thought that I could use it as a block encyclopedia and would like reading the letters that go with the blocks. Somewhere between December 25 and January 1 I decided I wanted to work on my piecing skills by making all 111 blocks in the book. I like black and white quilts, and had enough of those fabrics in my very limited stash that I could start making this quilt immediately. I'm not quite sure how I started such an insane project on a whim and have stayed focused, but I am on track to finish this quilt by the end of the year.

This year I've also gotten to design the Mystery Quilt for my quilt guild. The theme for next year's quilt show is going to be "Remembering Our Roots" so I designed a quilt based on an antique quilt I saw online. I've had a lot of fun writing a pattern that brings modern techniques to this quilt and gives the quilters lots of options to go either traditional or modern with their quilts. (Since several members from my guild read my blog I can't share a bigger picture than this. I can't wait until they get all of the steps though and I get to reveal this quilt.) 

2)How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I'm not really sure how my quilts differ from others of its genre. Last October I attended the AQS Des Moines quilt show. I was impressed by the amazing quilts on display, but wanted to cry because none of them were like what I make. Then I found the modern quilts and felt like I was home. I started to embrace the title "Modern Quilter", but as I was working on my Hedgepigs and Hares quilt I kept asking myself if the choices I was making were really ones that a modern quilter would make. I finally decided I was done with labels and was going to make choices that made me happy. I love taking traditional blocks that have been around for decades and making them "modern." (Most of the quilts that inspire me are from the 1930s and earlier so I'm not really sure what modern is anymore.)

3) Why do I write/create what I do?
I don't think I would have had the guts to start quilting if it weren't for quilting blogs. I might have figured out knitting, but it's been a lot easier with the internet. I love the inspiration and advice I receive from the community. When I made my Weekender Travel Bag I read tons of posts with advice on how to quilt the bag and ways to tackle problems. I write my blog as a way to pay it forward and also to get encouragement and advice when I have problems.

I create because it is who I am. The craft has changed over the years (sewing, cross stitch, crochet, card making, knitting, quilting, etc.), but I have always been a creative person who has had to do something to express that creativity.

4) How does my writing/creative process work?
I tend to be thinking through blog postings as I work so that when I sit down to the computer I have a fairly complete posting already in my head.

My creative process is a lot harder to describe. Occasionally I find a fabric that I love and will design a quilt to show off the fabric. More frequently I find a block that I love and will design a quilt with that block. Whenever I've had my quilts published by outside places (like the moda bakeshop) I wasn't able to use my first fabric choice so if I hope to get the pattern published I focus on the design and figure the fabric will get chosen later.

Patterns that I plan to self publish have yet another process. I will spend weeks months looking at inspiration and then will wake up one morning with an overwhelming urge to make the quilt. It has happened twice now that I've spent a massive amount of time working on a quilt pattern and then suddenly wake up and know that it is time to make the quilt. Within a week I will have a finished quilt top. I love that my designs take on this life of their own and let me know when it's time to stop thinking and start cutting. I've been working for a while on quilt designing and am very close to sharing a few more of my patterns. Hopefully as my quilting skills improve I will be more comfortable publishing more of my designs.

So now it's my turn to nominate three bloggers. First up is Kathy from Design Originals by KC. She has some crazy hand quilting skills and is the moderator of the Patchwork Friends facebook page that I belong to. She is always a great source of inspiration and encouragement.

I'm also nominating Cheryl from Sweet Dreams Quilting. She's my partner for the Supernova Friendship Swap. I love her ability to pull together great colors for her quilts.

Finally I'm nominating Cheriz from My Life... In high school I lived 18.7 feet from Cheriz (yes we measured it.) She's an amazing young woman who has Cystic Fybrosis. Her blog mostly chronicles what it's like to live with CF and how she balances her illness with her life. She's not a quilter, but is very creative and shares some great recipes.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Farmer's Wife 28

This week I've been feeling like I'm falling behind. This morning I realized I need to be easier on myself. Blueberry isn't progressing because I don't feel like ripping out the back. I'll get to it when I'm ready, but maybe it's time to knit some socks. I still have 10 days left until I need to finish September's Supernova Friendship Block. I also haven't received my partner's block for August so I don't need to pressure myself there. (She's still in contact with me so I know I'll get all of my blocks. This is supposed to be a fun quilt so I'm giving myself permission to have fun.)

With my Farmer's Wife quilt I'm going to focus on a different count. Rather than the fact that we are in week 36 and I should have at least 72 blocks made I'm going to focus on the fact that there are still 16 weeks left. Writing that sentence actually makes me feel a lot better. I'm only 2 blocks away from my "quota" of two blocks a week. I have 41 blocks left to make which means I'm pretty much where I should be to finish these blocks by the end of the year. I'm deciding to enjoy the journey of these blocks instead of stressing about a schedule or the fact that I haven't started attaching sashing yet.

Thanks for letting me get that out. Creativity can be challenging some days. I believe that blogs should be honest and show the hard parts of life too. I know that I'm not the only one who struggles with things like this. I've gotten lots of comfort from fellow bloggers and hopefully sharing my struggles will help some of you. So, are you ready to see this week's blocks?

#7 Birds in the Air

#25 Cups and Saucers


Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Blueberry's fronts are still on the needles, but I'm not really feeling guilty about it. When I started to dream about being a quilt designer I decided that knitting would be a hobby. I love knitting and yarn, but I don't wake up at 4 in the morning with a sweater that has to get out of my head before I can sleep. Last week the quilt design I've been working on for my guild's mystery quilt decided that it wanted out of my head. I've made several sketches of it on paper and EQ7 and have a pinterest board devoted to it, but there are some quilts that hit a point where the design decides it wants to become real. Last Monday I woke up at 4 and knew that I wasn't going to rest again until I had a quilt top. I managed to go to work and sleep, but by Saturday I had a finished quilt top. Sadly I can't share pictures until my guild has received all of the steps.

On Friday I went to the library and got "The Spymistress" by Jennifer Chiaverini. I've loved her Elm Creek Quilt books for years, but my library doesn't have very many of them. I was really excited to see that they finally got  this one. It has nothing to do with quilting (although there was a scene where two of the characters sewed pillowcases,) but I'm still loving it. "The Spymistress" tells the story of Elizabeth Van Lew who lived in Richmond, VA during the Civil War. A staunch Unionist she established a network of unionists who worked in Libby Prison, Jefferson Davis's house, and gathered information throughout the city. Although the book is fiction, I was really excited to learn that Elizabeth Van Lew and many of the other characters in the book are real people who really did operate a spy ring in Richmond during the Civil War. I keep finding myself saying that I'm going to quit reading after this last page and then reading 20 more. 

The last thing that has distracted me from my sweater this week are these flowers. I found a bundle of silk flowers when I was shopping and decided to bring a touch of fall into my home. I tore up my fingers trying to cut them with jewelry clippers and office scissors, but I smile every time I see them. I even had some extra flowers left over and was able to make a mini bouquet to put in our bathroom. I think my husband is still trying to figure that one out, but it makes me happy.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hedgepigs and Hares

Last week was my quilt guild's guest night. Since we're all encouraged to bring everything that we worked on over the summer it's a great motivator to finish up those projects that I've been slowly working on. I finished this flimsy way back in May. I'm not sure when I finished the quilting on this one, but I know she's been waiting for binding for a few weeks now. 

I wanted a lightweight quilt for my couch that I can curl under in the summer when the ac is making me cold. I decided to use silk batting so that I wouldn't get too hot (just call me Goldilocks okay.) I really didn't notice much difference in quilting the silk batting. The quilt is a lot lighter than other quilts that I've made and I think I'll use it again to make a summer quilt for our bed.

For the label I just used some extra binding strips to frame a piece of white fabric. This photo also shows off my quilting. I did an all over loop and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I think I'm ready to start doing some more intricate quilting on future projects.

Pattern is a variation of Sweet Girly Charm Square Quilt by Don't Call Me Betsy
Fabric is Bluebird Park by Katie and Birdie Paper Co.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Farmer's Wife 27

It feels like it's been a long time since I worked on any Farmer's Wife blocks. Life has gotten in the way of this quilt the past few weeks, but I think I'm back to working on this project every week. Hopefully this weekend I'll be able to make a few extra blocks and will catch up so that I can still finish by the end of the year.

#9 Box

I'm not sure how much I like this block, but I really love the name. There used to be a flour mill in my area called Prairie Queen Flour and several stores still carry the name Prairie Queen. I even worked for the Prairie Queen Bakery for a while when I was in school.

#70 Prairie Queen


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Almost there

Today's post is going to be short so that I can go back to knitting. I'm almost done with my front pieces for blueberry. The problems with the back still bug me so I think this weekend I'll be ripping that out so I can reknit it. After finishing the back piece I realized that this sweater is smaller than I thought it would be so I made the front pieces in a larger size. The fact that I'm changing more than just the placement of the lace panel makes it a lot easier to face the task of making the sweater back again.