October 28, 2022

Good Morning Sunshine Pillow

Earlier this year I converted my guest room into a full-time home office, replacing a bed that took up most of the room with an olive green velvet sleeper sofa from Edloe Finch. (The back lays down like a futon, but it looks much more like a regular sofa than the typical futon. It's firm but comfortable.) After months of it looking pretty bare, I decided to start making toss pillows for the sofa. For the first one, I used a template from the Good Morning Sunshine free quilt pattern from Heather Ross and Windham Fabrics:

I resized one sunburst template to fit a rectangle down pillow insert that I already had on hand. The toughest part was figuring out the rays -- what colors to use and in what order. I decided on a neutral background with the cutest tiny rainbows on it (from this bundle that I picked up at local Mountain Creek Quilt Shop) and a collection of solid raspberry, pink and coral scrap strips. The mustard yellow sun is also a scrap.

For the back, I pulled out a fat quarter of Tula Pink lady bugs that couldn't be a more perfect color match. I'm not sure how I got so lucky, but it pays to have a fabric stash! I also decided to put a zipper in the bottom seam in case I ever want to remove and change or wash the cover. I used this tutorial from Wren Collective and it worked like a dream.

I'm really happy with how this pillow turned out, and it looks so nice on the sofa every time I enter my home office. Now I'm brainstorming other pillows to add and considering a knitted or crocheted one to add some texture. I'm sure there will be more quilted pillows, too!

September 30, 2022

Works in Progress

This month I decided to put together a snapshot of my current quilting and sewing projects that are all in various stages of completion. Quilters usually call them WIPs (works in progress) or UFOs (unfinished objects). The projects below aren't all of them, but they're at the top of my To Do list and I'm hoping to finish them within the next couple of months. After these are complete, maybe I'll do another post with a second batch of WIPs!

Lucy Boston Quilt

This isn't my oldest WIP, but it's definitely my favorite. It's English paper pieced and all sewn by hand. I started it in 2017 with a little kit I threw together to take with me to Dallas to visit my friend Eryn, her family and her twin newborns. Those kiddos are in school now! And my quilt is pretty close to being finished! I just need to choose a backing and quilting plan. I can't decide if I should hand quilt it -- given that it's hand pieced, do it matter to me to be able to say it's 100% hand sewn? -- or if I'd be happier with an allover longarm quilting design (and a faster finish). If I hand quilt it, I have no idea what design to use...

Fishing Net Quilt

I made this one with the intention of submitting it to my guild's quilt show in March of next year. The large scale and graphic use of color fit the modern quilt aesthetic. Bonus - it was really quick to make. The pattern is from Suzy Quilts, and I made the baby size using fabric from my stash. It's basted and just needs quilted and bound. I'll be hand quilting it using big stitches and color-matched perle cotton thread.

Solstice Roses Mini Quilt

Last year I bought a couple clearance kits from Quilty Box (RIP), and I decided to make this EPP design from Paper Pieces and Sally Kelly first. The kit came with EPP papers, an acrylic diamond template, a pack of charm squares in Sally's Soltice prints plus some solids and thread (although using my standard EPP thread for the project). I only had one issue with the fabric and had to purchase one more print to finish the piecing -- the caramel brown one by Kathy Doughty. After I get all the large hexagons in place, I'll decide what to use as the background, as the pieced element gets appliqued onto a background for finishing. (The kit minus fabric is still available here.)

Neitherlands Quilt

In 2019, my mom and I attended QuiltCon in Nashville and took the Mystery Quilt Workshop with Jen Carlton Bailly (aka @bettycrockerass). We got copies of two of Jen's new patterns at the time, Find Your Fade and Neitherlands, a big set of curvy templates in various sizes, and the choice of patterns to work on in the workshop. We both decided to make a Neitherlands block, and I finished one during our time with Jen. I made one more block when I returned home, but then I packed the project away and put it on a shelf ... until last month. I pulled the project box out again, grabbed some fabric, miscut that fabric as I knew I would (the templates and pattern are a little tricky to sort out when you haven't worked on it in a while) and then found my groove. I made 4 blocks and plan to make 3 more for a 60 x 60" quilt. Needless to say, I'm feeling pretty confident about sewing curves these days.

August 26, 2022

Macaron Mystery Quilt


In July 2021, I decided to participate in the Macaron Mystery Quilt sew-along organized by Cheryl Brickey of Meadow Mist Designs. For years, Cheryl has designed a quilt, generously shared the pattern for free and organized an annual quilt-along for people who would like to make the quilt in (virtual) community. (After the series ends, quilters can purchase a complete, easy-to-follow pattern if they don't want to work through each individual post from the quilt-along.)

I was in the mood for a low-stress project with a leisurely timeline -- each step of this quilt-along is published at the beginning of the month, so there's plenty of time to get caught up in between -- and I wanted to be able to use fabric already in my stash. This project began in July with a fabric pull, so I gathered my spotted background plus peaches, greens, turquoises and hot pinks. In August, I visited friends in Indianapolis and snagged a coordinating floral backing on sale at a local fabric shop, The French Seam. It was nice to have the perfect backing ready and waiting when I finally got to the stage where I needed it.

The monthly assignments took us through cutting and then piecing with each color and finally assembling blocks and the final quilt top. There was an active Facebook group (actually I think it's really active all year long!) of participants to share photos and get/give advice and kudos. Cheryl posted that there were 189 versions of the Macaron Mystery Quilt shared in her end-of-project photo parade. That's impressive engagement!

My finished quilt top was large enough that I didn't want to try basting and quilting it myself, so I took advantage of the "penny special" from longarmer Sterling LaBosky, @sterlingquiltco in Instagram, whom I have used before. Her monthly deal was this cute edge-to-edge flower design -- it's something that I never would have chosen on my own, but it brings a lot of whimsy to the quilt. I love how it turned out.

July 30, 2022

Quilt Concert: First Notes

Last summer, I joined a sew-along for the First Notes quilt, a pattern co-designed by Lissa and Cassandra. It caught my attention because it features all kinds of different block designs in different sizes, which isn't really something I've done before. My fabric choices were all from my stash, which may be why they're a little wild and crazy -- lots of Rifle Paper Co. florals plus blenders and crossed fingers that it would all make sense together in the end.

The sew-along pace was one block per week, released on Fridays, and that turned out to be a pretty good fit for my schedule. I made most of my blocks over the weekends and didn't feel rushed.

It's interesting to see the blocks individually first. In my finished quilt, all the florals kind of muddy the design a bit and you lose track of some of the blocks.

At the start of the series, Lissa and Cassandra provided a coloring sheet that turned out to be tremendously helpful for me. It helped me figure out what fabric I'd be putting where before I cut anything out, and then I used it frequently as a reference to make sure I was everything was in the right place.

Around this time, I wanted to see how things were starting to come together, so I put the blocks up on my design wall. Interesting!

Then it was back to making blocks, with some large ones and some small ones and some just filling in the gaps.

That pinwheel above, which is pretty small, is one of my favorites. I used that caramel-colored print in another project and was happy to incorporate it here, too. I never would have expected that color to be so useful, but now I keep an eye out for it to add to my stash. It's the perfect warm, not-brown blender.

And that's all of them! So how do they look all together? Like I said earlier, pretty wild, but it's good to push your boundaries every once in a while, right?

I used a bright navy solid for the backing (from my stash) and free motion quilted it myself using a variegated blue thread. I dealt with many, many thread breaks and was very close to losing my patience, but I persevered and got it done. It's not perfect, but it's finished. 

From the beginning, I knew I would donate this quilt to a child in need through Project Linus, so I look forward to dropping it off for distribution soon. I don't think I'll ever use quite so many busy prints all in the same quilt, but it was good experience.

June 30, 2022

Kingfisher Quilt


The Kingfisher Quilt began with a stitch-along co-hosted by Rachel of Stitched in Color in 2018. I've read Rachel's blog for many years, and this quilt design caught my eye because it combines English paper piecing (EPP) with traditional piecing in a nontraditional layout. I already had hexagon templates from an earlier EPP project, and I enjoy having some handwork and a portable project, so I decided to join in.

Making hexagon flowers -- or any EPP motif -- takes a fair amount of time, so it's helpful to use fabric that you really enjoy looking at and sewing with. I chose to make all my flowers out of Lizzy House prints that I'd collected, and I put a black or dark gray center in each one for some consistency. I tried not to double up on the Lizzy prints, but I think that happened anyway because I didn't have enough to choose from that were suitable for this project. I don't think the duplicates are noticeable in the finished quilt, though.

I took photos of the flowers as I finished them in batches, so I know that it took me three months (June to August 2018) to make all 46 flowers. I'm not sure what happened after that -- I must have gotten sidetracked by other, time-sensitive projects because I didn't start appliqueing the flowers onto their background diamonds until May 2019. I used a machine blanket stitch in coordinating thread to stitch each flower onto its background, tackling a few in the evening after work for a few weeks. The background is a mix of low-volume backgrounds -- one of my favorite ways to do a background. I have a lot of low-volumes in my stash because they're easy to buy on a whim, with no color-matching required and no need to have a particular project in mind, given their versatility. I think mixing them up is much more interesting than using just a solid background fabric, so when it works for a quilt pattern, this is what I like to do. (Note: Many of these background fabrics also appear in my Flowering Snowball Quilt, which made good use of the scraps and leftovers from this quilt!)

The peach Pearl Bracelets, green leaf and green and ivory constellation prints are all also by Lizzy House. I found the green leaf print in an Etsy shop by pure luck and bought a lot. It turns out I should have bought more because there wasn't enough to do the whole back of this quilt. So I added in the ivory constellation print to make up the difference. I decided to use a facing instead of a traditional binding on this to keep the front edge visually clean. I plan to hang it for display instead of use it, so the facing will hold up fine.

As for the quilting, it's a story in itself. Deciding on the right quilting for this project has been a challenge from the start. With the diamonds and the appliques and the borders -- I couldn't make up my mind what would look best, and I didn't see a lot of finished quilts that inspired me in terms of quilting. I decided to just quilt straight lines horizontally on my domestic machine, but I asked a friend with a longarm to baste it for me because it's too big for me to do it easily myself. So I had a basted quilt waiting ... and waiting to be quilted, and I just never felt like I wanted to get started on it. It sat for an embarrassingly long time before I decided to remove the basting stitches and send it to a local longarmer for an edge-to-edge design, just to get it done. Great -- progress, right?

I chose a simple geometric design and it was quilted. I picked it up and, well, was disappointed. The scale of the pantograph was really large, there was lots of empty/unquilted space, and you couldn't even see the design since it was so big. The longarmer agreed that it was quite large and offered to quilt it again for me if I would rip out the quilting. So I thought about it for a few days and decided that I would never be totally happy if I left it how it was. I sat at my dining table in the evenings for about a week watching a couple of shows on my iPad and ripping out the longarm quilting. The bright spot is that, if you have to rip out longarm stitches, this was probably the best design for it -- not dense and straight lines.

I returned the quilt top, batting and backing to the longarmer, and we agreed on a different design -- the same one that Rachel, the stitch-along co-host, had used on her quilt, in fact. It's still a little large and spread out for my taste, but I like it much better than the first time around. I think this quilt was just destined to be a challenge! And now I know to consider the quilting scale upfront.

May 29, 2022

Flowering Snowball Quilt


This curve-filled Flowering Snowball quilt began when I bought the pattern and templates from Stitch Supply Co. but then stashed it with my other patterns without really making a plan to start. I knew that I'd want to make it someday, but I wasn't motivated to make that someday happen any time soon.

Then my friend Kelly (@stitchykelly), whom I've known since we were literally babies, posted on Instagram that she was starting on this very same pattern. I responded, "I have that too! Should we make them together?" and that was that. I had a fat quarter bundle of Elizabeth Hartman's Berry Season waiting for the perfect project. This pattern allowed me to pull out a half dozen or so of my least favorite prints (mostly yellow and brown) and use the rest. For the background I turned to my admittedly extensive stash of low volume neutrals and scraps from another quilt in which I mixed them up as well.

I enjoyed cutting all the pieces -- a rotating mat and small rotary cutter are must-haves. The only thing I would have done differently is to put something with more contrast in the junction of the prints, where the little square is. Maybe something dark, and the same fabric in each block so it shows up better.

Piecing the curves went better than I expected. The pattern offers good tips and guidance for best results, like which direction to sew in and where to pin. This was the first time I didn't load up my curves with pins, and it still worked out great.

Keeping with the theme of this project, sewing the blocks together into the top went better than I expected, too. I didn't need to trim the blocks to size, and my seams matched up surprisingly well. This could just be luck, but I think good directions and attention to detail contributed, too.

One thing I struggled with was choosing a backing. I wasn't sure which direction to go in since there are so many small prints and motifs on the front. But this orchid stripe by Rashida Coleman-Hale turned out to be the perfect choice. I ordered a charm pack of this Adorned line first, just to make sure I was happy with the color. Then I found the yardage on sale and ordered a lot (more than I needed for this quilt) because I know I can use it again in the future. Bias striped binding is hard to resist, and once you've made bias binding, you might as well round the corners, so that's how those two things came to be. The quilting was done by a local long armer using the Dainty Lady Floral design by Urban Elementz.

Overall, I'm very happy with how this quilt turned out. I'm keeping it for myself because, well, it was a lot of work! (Also I usually only invest in longarm quilting when I'm keeping the quilt or giving it as a gift.)


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