Sunday, October 8, 2017

Anniversary mini mini quilt: Sword Art Online

It's become a tradition around here to gift my husband a mini mini (very very small) quilt for holidays. He's got quite a collection now! You get to a point in a relationship where, sure, it's fun to gift gifts, but it's not always easy to find something meaningful. Enter quilting.

This past weekend was our 5 year wedding anniversary (I wrote about the wedding here!), so I wanted to make a really special little quilt (here's the image/screenshot it's based on). It's funny how your interests can merge and change when you're in a long-term relationship; Mike and I have been together for 11 years, so we've had a lot of time. For example, I've gotten him interested in musicals (YAY!), and this year he convinced me to start watching anime (Japanese animation style) shows with him.

His favorite show (and one of mine, too) is Sword Art Online. The premise of this show is hard to wrap your head around at first, but the characters and story quickly enveloped me. Trapped in a video game, the characters are trying to get back to the real world. The main love story follows Kirito and Asuna, who hope to meet up again (and be together) once they've found a way out of the game. The words "no matter what" are a paraphrase of Kirito's speech. Without giving too much away, it's a really sweet story.

Asuna's hair was the really exciting challenge I wanted to tackle in this piece. It's a beautiful, bright, orange-y shade (here's a good photo); after tracing the outline with a black chalk pencil, I quilted with a dark orange thread (Aurifil 2350). Then, I filled in her hair with two brighter, lighter oranges (Aurifil 2240 and 1133). I wasn't going for perfection with this thread painting. If I had quilted over it a couple more times, it would look even more full, but I wanted it to match the same messy style as Kirito's hair. Plus, in this scene, the characters are fading.

This is what the back looks like. I don't always cut all the little threads (and I certainly don't bury them on something this small). I used a fabric specifically bought for Mike (cats and dogs), and in my rush to start quilting Asuna's hair, I didn't realize it was upside down! :)

I really love making these little minis. Needless to say, this latest one is his favorite. Here are (some of the) others from the past with their blog posts. :)

 Final Fantasy X (video game)

 Hamilton (musical)

 Big Hero 6 (movie)

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Clamshell Wholecloth: A Finished Quilt

 *Enter my 7th Blogaversary giveaway here!*

Sometimes, you see something inspiring in nature or art, and think, "wow, that's cool, let me take a picture." And you go on with your life. Other times, though, you see something and think, "I could probably look at this for the rest of my life and love every second of that experience."

The latter was my reaction to the window below, which I stumbled upon in New York City early this summer. Almost immediately, I posted it to Instagram, where it quickly became clear that you all loved it, too. Inspired, I decided to make a wholecloth quilt inspired by this fabulous window, and I gifted it to my quilty friend Renee for her birthday. I figured I'd probably never make a "real" clamshell quilt because I'd rather quilt than piece, so this was a great opportunity! Plus, I REALLY JUST WANTED TO QUILT something half that awesome.

Like... whether this was an ad or just random window art (I didn't catch it at the time of the photo), isn't this this coolest thing ever?

After creating a quick cardboard template, tracing, and quilting the clamshell lines (see below), I chose a bunch of threads that would contrast enough with the teal (Free Spirit Spruce solid): Aurifil threads 5006 (light turquoise), 2520 (violet), 2710 (light robin's egg), 1148 (light jade), 3840 (French lilac, purple variegated), 2860 (light emerald), and 2810 (turquoise). I've only made one wholecloth quilt larger than this, and it was quite different, but the color-choosing process was similar. Wholecloth quilts need lots of texture, and to me, color and contrast are the cherries on top.

Since this quilt was a surprise, I couldn't share too much process this summer. Every clamshell has a unique filler design; sometimes I looked back at the window photo for inspiration, though I usually pulled from my arsenal of favorite quilting motifs. Also, I had to consider how they would look inside the curved clamshell structure. It's a bit more fiddly than simply filling up the background of a quilt.

This was the most fun part. :) Now I just want to make more wholecloth quilts.

Since Renee's blog is Quilts of a Feather, it seemed fitting to back this quilt with the feathers from Carrie Bloomston's Dreamer fabric collection. I love how the quilting shows up!


It looks cool from afar, too, in my messy sewing room. I'm glad it went to Renee because there are only a few people I could imagine gifting something this special to, and she is one of them.

I'm curious: what are your favorite free motion motifs? I enjoy collecting free motion quilting designs on this Pinterest board for future inspiration. Thanks in advance! :)

Linking up to Needle And Thread Thursday, TGIFF, Crazy Mom Quilts

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

7th Blogaversary and 2nd Newsletter Birthday Giveaway!

 *The giveaway is closed, and the random winner is Leanne! She has been emailed. Thank you, everyone!*

I'm excited to celebrate 7 years of blogging this month, and 2 years of writing The Wonky Press newsletter! This past year was one of the best of my 20's so far. I made some quilts, moved into a new place with my husband (we are celebrating our own 5 year wedding anniversary this Saturday), and, besides the weight of the political atmosphere of the United States, felt generally good about life.

So, this year, I'm giving away a mini quilt that I've been holding on to for the last several months (and never blogged about - whoops!). I made "Five" in late 2016 to celebrate the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild's 5th birthday. We were supposed to interpret the number 5 as we saw fit, so I chose some favorite fabrics/colors, favorite design (5 raw edge appliqued and slightly puffy orange peels), and favorite quilting motifs. All my favorites!

I found out with this quilt that quilting REALLY small pebbles (see above) is NOT an easy feat, even on a small mini quilt! It took over 3 hours but admittedly it was meditative and enjoyable. I used Aurifil 1100 (Red Plum) and 3840 (variegated purple - French Lilac) on the pebbles - it's really hard to get a picture of how they really look in person, especially the variegated ones!

The back has a pretty Tula Pink fabric and yes, you can really see the quilting on it. I hope someone really enjoys this mini! If the winner would like, I will happily sew on a quilt sleeve before delivery.

If you'd like to enter the giveaway (from anywhere in the world!), follow the instructions below. Good luck and thank you for being a part of my quilting life!


Details: This giveaway is open to all humans, all over planet Earth. Bonus points (but not really) if you love quilting. Please leave 1 comment for each entry you choose to complete - you have a maximum of 3 chances. The giveaway will run until 7 pm EST on Monday, October 9, 2017, when I choose a winner by Random Number Generator. I will email the winner (so PLEASE make sure you leave your email if it isn't linked to your account). I really love peanut butter - haha, okay, congrats if you made it through all that.

  • Mandatory: follow Quilty Habit (blog) via Bloglovin, Feedly, email, Facebook, or Instagram, and leave a comment telling me how. This special giveaway is only for followers -  you can be a brand new follower too, of course!

  • Optional: subscribe to The Wonky Press Newsletter (free, 2x monthly, full of modern quilting and sewing links and inspiration!) and leave a comment telling me.

  • Optional: leave a blog post comment: if you could eat one dessert in the world for the rest of your life, what would it be? Feel free to include a recipe link!

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Listening While Sewing: Suggestions

I've found that I do better work on a quilt when I'm listening to something. Plus, it's fun! I thought we could share some of the media we most enjoy. Here are my lists of music, movies/TV shows, audiobooks, and podcasts - please feel free to sound off in the comments about your favorite listening! If you want to read the absolute latest, I'm always sharing my current favorites in The Wonky Press Newsletter.

I grew up in the ages of iPod nanos, and before that, I had an old school Walkman, so I can honestly say I've never stopped listening to music (also, remember when the "Now" CDs were just starting to come out, and we all wondered what number they'd reach? Ha!). Naturally, music has played a huge role in my 7 year quilting journey.

I make playlists quite often, but I also get lazy and just add to other playlists. I use Spotify for all my streaming (I can listen on my computer or phone - perfect). Sadly, I just got rid of the last of my CDs. I don't even have a CD drive on my computer anymore, so that's kaput for me.

Anyway, here are some of my current favorite bands and soundtracks:
  • My Broadway playlist (changes periodically - I've listened to Hamilton pretty much "nonstop" since April 2016, and Waitress is a current favorite since I just saw it. More favorites: Les Miserables, Wicked, Ragtime, Little Shop of Horrors, Annie Get Your Gun. Honestly, this playlist is *most* fun to listen to for singing purposes!)
  • Panic! At the Disco (especially their latest album, Death of a Bachelor - this is good workout music, too), Bastille, Coldplay, MisterWives
  • Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, TLC, Destiny's Child (the 90s - good stuff, and perfect for car sing-a-longs, too)
  • Good Old War, The Lumineers, Regina Spektor, The Civil Wars, the Once movie album (the perfect chill out music at the end of the day)
This summer, audiobooks changed my life infinitely for the better. I've always been an avid reader, but for the longest time I was stubborn about trying formats other than the good old book-in-hand (can't really beat that, still!). I love reading books aloud to kids, so I should have known that good narrators can really transform a book - ESPECIALLY the ones who are narrating their own books (see below). It's actually gotten to the point where I'm actively reading one book on audio and one in hardcover. For years, I've been keeping track of my reading on Goodreads.

Through much trial and error, it's become apparent that I can only listen to audiobooks when I'm sewing or quilting without much thinking involved (free motion quilting and chain piecing are the BEST times!). If I'm cutting fabrics, it's not going to happen. Math and concentration means I can't focus on something else.

Here are the ones I've enjoyed most thus far. Of course, book preference varies widely per person. If you've never tried audiobooks, they can be quite expensive, so first check out your local library for their (free!) offerings. I also use Audible, which is subscription based; you can score a free month if you use Amazon Prime.
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (narrated by Poehler herself plus a host of friends and family - you'd never get that experience reading the book!)
  • What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton (also narrated by the author herself - I'm almost done with this one, and it's been worth every penny)
  • Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (the audiobooks come highly recommended by my quilty sister Jess, who insists that the whopping 40+ hours of narration PER BOOK is worth it - even after reading them paperback. Right now, I'm slowly listening to the 4th book, Drums of Autumn)
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (and a special essay from the current day, by her), narrated by Claire Danes.
  • A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, narrated by 166 voices including David Sedaris and Nick Offerman in major roles

Once in a while, I'll whip out a crafty podcast. Honestly, it depends on the topic and/or person who is being interviewed. Do you have recommendations for me outside of sewing?

TV Shows and Movies
While I'm sewing, TV and movies need to be something I can watch without seeing (I need to look at the quilt, of course; these are moments when I wish I had 2 pairs of eyes). Sometimes, if I'm doing handwork right in front of the screen, I can manage to watch something new and exciting. But anyway, here are the shows that I've seen a few times, or the shows I can watch without seeing every moment.
  • Friends (never fails to make me laugh - last year I had a Thanksgiving episode sewing marathon and it was amazing)
  • Will and Grace
  • Veep (although I've probably missed some hilarious faces)
  • The Office (same)
  • Parks and Recreation (hands down our favorite show)
  • Master of None (my current show)
  • Call The Midwife
  • Outlander 
  • Lord of the Rings movies (my favorites; I can pretty much quote them, so I don't need to watch... but I want to watch, so this is usually a no-go).  
So, what are your current favorites to sew to? Let us know in the comments!

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fall Spectrum - Blogger's Quilt Festival

Looking back on the quilts I've made this past year (those I can share, at least), this was the quilt that stuck out most. I started Fall Spectrum about a year ago, and it took me through all the fall months and a couple winter months to finish. Honestly, I didn't love every moment of the process, but there were times where I knew it would be a favorite of mine (especially when it was finished - ha!).

This quilt was painstakingly built on two design walls, and then joined in the middle (at about the halfway point). I used my planned improvisation method, brick-by-brick, to piece together a tree in five colors. In classes, I discuss how to piece together improvisationally to achieve a larger picture. My favorite parts of the quilt are the small scraps of fabric that stand out because they slightly pop out from their surroundings. I'm really glad I persevered to create this quilt.

I quilted it with five different motifs that overlap slightly - one for each color and with matching Aurifil thread to boot. It was a challenge but altogether, this part of the process brought me lots of joy. That's the best I can ask for! That's why I quilt. It might be almost time for another huge challenging piece like this one.

You can see more process pictures and read more in my original blog post. Since I finished this quilt mid-winter, I'm hoping to get a nice photo in front of actual fall trees soon (the leaves are just starting to turn here in New Jersey). I'll be sure to post it on Instagram. Right now, the quilt is proudly hanging out as part of my fall decor.

Please enjoy the Blogger's Quilt Festival (so many quilts to see and read about!) and thank Amy Ellis of Amy's Creative Side and her sponsors for hosting this event once again. I can't believe I've been entering quilts for 7 years, but there it is!

Past Blogger's Quilt Festival entries:
Fall 2014 (nominated for Viewer's Choice)
Spring 2012 (First Place in Baby Quilt Category)

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