Monday, March 31, 2014

March Goal Complete and FAL Quarter 1 Finishes

This March, I set a pretty easy goal for myself - commit to a design/fabric choices and sew together my central medallion. I've been talking about it around here a lot. Because I finished it and added the next border, here's what it currently looks like:

I wanted to balance out all the low volume with the gray Violet Craft birds, one of my favorite prints ever. Next is AMH feathers with AMH fabrics and solids! I'm having fabric-choosing-anxiety.

Also, Quarter 1 of the Finish-A-Long at The Littlest Thistle has actually come to an end already (hard to believe). Out of my 6 goals, I completed a whopping 2 quilts (lol). However, I finished a lot of other projects in the first 3 months of this year and I'm pretty happy about that! Plus, that just means I'll have more to finish for the 2nd Quarter, right?

Are you happy with your sewing this year so far? Have you done too much (I've gotten into funks about spending too much time sewing) or too little (also a funk I'm familiar with)? Or, are you just enjoying yourself? (I'm inclined to think I'm in the last group right now!).

Quilty Bucket List

I've already started number 1 on my "quilty bucket list" - an original medallion quilt - but I thought it would be fun to make this list for reference, especially when I'm craving inspiration (they are listed at random). Also, today's the last day to link up your quilty bucket list with The Tilted Quilt! It's been fun clicking around blogland to see I'm not the only one who wants to make a kajillion quilts and keep most of them. :D

1. A selvage bookcase quilt. I have a dream of organizing all my selvages in color order to look like books... we'll see. I'm still working that one out. Selvages are like a gift from the fabric gods. I save up to an inch of fabric on each one, and now my huge basket is actually overflowing... like, they won't even stay on top of the pile! This is a huuuuge problem in an apartment already overflowing with craft supplies and mini quilts. Just keeping it real here.

2. A sun/moon quilt. I sketched out an idea a few months ago but I haven't gotten around to it. Just one of those quilts that won't go away.

3. An entirely paper pieced quilt, like this gorgeous one from Freshly Pieced^^.

4. A quilt of crosses - wonky or Greek - or both at some point.

Ikat quilt for Color Intensive

5. This Ikat quilt from Rachel @ Stitched in Color^^ is pretty stunning. <3 I'd like to change the colors a bit for my version... but this would be the closest I get to do a scrappy trip-a-long quilt.

Arkansas Traveler Quilt

6. An Arkansas Traveler's quilt. I love this one^^ from Fresh Lemon Quilts.

7. A supernova quilt.

8. An Irish Chain quilt. Possibly double. Possibly modernized.

9. A color wheel quilt on neutrals.

10. A double wedding ring quilt - one day. One day.

11. An all - x-plus quilt, like this beauty from Bijou Lovely^^. Next to churn dashes, these are my favorite blocks!

12. A ticker tape quilt. Like, have you seen this amazingness^^ from Val @ PinkPlease?!

13. I'd love to do a series of mini quilts that play with color combinations. Maybe a project for the summer?

What has top billing on your quilty bucket list?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Retreat Prep

This blog has been a bit quiet the last couple of weeks. My work schedule has been a bit bonkers, and I'm just starting to get it settled down. I also haven't had any sewing deadlines (a huge relief) except Mid-Atlantic Mod, so all big projects have been cast aside for the time being (though that will change at the retreat!). So, here's what I've been up to:

1) Making two quilt starters for the progressive quilts. Everyone who is participating makes a starter (thanks, Pennington Quiltworks, for sponsoring the fabric!) and each person gets an hour or so to add to the quilt. They will be raffled off to the participants come the end of the retreat. I can't wait to see what these become!

Triangle quilt starter - stretching my slightly-rusty improv piecing capabilities

Low Volume quilt starter (with pops of color)

2) Making a tote bag for the Tote Bag Swap on Saturday night. Robert Kaufman donated Essex Linen for us to use (thank you!). I haven't worked with linen very much so it's been a treat. I'm using the Scraptastic Tote tutorial from Don't Call Me Betsy - it's almost done. That bottom piece is the lining!

At the retreat I plan on doing lots of things. I want to start quilting my Botanics quilt. I'll also get at least 2 borders done on my Medallion (hopefully!). I might bring some Radiant Orchid scraps, too, for our CJMQG April swap project. But who knows how much I'll actually get done (though I plan to be up sewing pretty late) - there's going to be plenty of shopping, eating, and walking around Lancaster with my CJMQG friends and those I'm going to meet (hi Liz!!) and new friends I don't even know yet. I can't wait to drive down on Thursday!! Now, to make some new CDs for the car...

Mid-Atlantic Mod

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Stephanie's Traveling Quilt


This was the first month for our progressive quilt/round robin style modern bee! I am over the moon to be working with Ashley, Laura, Renee, and Stephanie. I can't wait to see what becomes of our quilts.

Every month I will receive a quilt from Stephanie (passed down through the circle). This month was her own quilt starter and some beautifully hand written notes on inspiration. She sent the gorgeous sketch heart and the row of appliqued hearts, too!

Stephanie envisions a gray/red color scheme with a romantic element, so I started out with some cross stitch blocks (like kisses). I used Alyssa's awesome cross stitch block tutorial (in several sizes).

One of the tenets of our bee is experimentation. For this quilt, I mostly experimented with color (who am I kidding, that's my favorite kind of experimentation). I made the "JessBobSquarePants" block by Lynne... lots of HSTs but hey, it's funny how many I'm willing to trim for the prize of awesomeness.

Leanne just posted a tutorial for her BEAUTIFUL Reflection quilt, and I couldn't help but try it. I arranged the strips a bit differently just because. I'm so in love with this and don't want to let it go! Also, you can see my signature block (made from Rachel's tutorial).

I thought about doing some modern-improvy sections for the quilt, but resisted. It just didn't feel right to me, but my beemates might think differently. It will be fun to see what happens next. Stephanie's quilt is all packed up, ready to go to Ashley in a couple of days (P.S. Check out the awesomeness that Ashley is adding to my quilt)! My design wall is looking kind of blank... time to sew.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My personal quilt showcase


I am very lucky to live in a town that celebrates the arts so much (ironically, I went to a high school that holds one of the longest football rivalries in the nation with another school... :P). Every year, there is a "Day of the Arts," where the community is invited to see various artists at work. Kids also can make crafts for themselves. For a short while, I considered teaching a class, but with sewing, it seemed a bit complicated (unless we just used felt and dull needles). So, I thought I'd be better suited for the demonstration aspect.

If every Saturday could be like this, sign me up! My sister Marisa (always awesome) and I set up camp in the middle school lobby, which was PERFECT for hanging quilts. It was like a big quilt party - most in my possession at the time, including Marisa's, were there. I could feel all the hours I have spent working on them. I also hung some on the glass so you could see the other side! Double-sided quilts are the best!


Dresden Rainbow was the main attraction. I sent people (especially my students) around through the doors to see the other side...

 Signatures and pictures from the guests at our wedding. :)

All day (6 hours - yes, I was pretty tired by the end!) I quilted "Allons-y, Allonso" and showed students how I work a sewing machine! Many adults stopped by to admire the quilts and/or ask how I came up with ideas. One of the FAQs was: "Why are you wearing gloves?" People also asked why they were dirty if I'm just touching fabric (they just get like that, I swear, right Neva?). Most of my visitors mentioned a sewist in their families or circles of friends. I hope I inspired people to jump out of their comfort zones and try quilting! It was also SO fun to show my students my passion (besides just telling them all the time how much I love to sew)!

Some outtakes from the day:

 Haha, Ris is a ham. She loves selfies and Dunkin. And her quilt!

 I couldn't post this until now because Renee finally has "Plumes of Orchid" in her possession, and it was in most of the pictures! I love the picture above because it has BOTH of my Pantone Challenge quilts together ("Facets of Emerald" is from last year). :) Just realized that!

I can't wait until next year! Thanks to the PTA for everything!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday - Medallion Edition Part 1

This weekend, I finally started my medallion quilt, which I've been designing for the better part of two months! I cut into my (preeeeciousssss) (yes, I'm a HUGE Lord of the Rings fan, got a problem?) Anna Maria Horner stash and some favorite low volume fabrics (oh yes, AND those Pearl Bracelets).

It started with a ribbon star from Fresh Lemon Quilts (a great tutorial!). I also considered this star as an option. Then, it grew to some geese-like (but really just HST) units (kind of light-to-dark with solids in the middle) radiating out by color. I originally intended to frame the ribbon star in a diamond (to give the illusion that it was "on point") but then I really wanted some of the AMH prints to shine (after all, that is mainly what this quilt is all about). I was more set on the "radiating out" than setting the block on point, so that's the direction I headed. This center medallion took so many hours of just fabric placement - I can't even tell you how many - but it was worth it!

Friends on IG helped me with fabric placements!

Overall, the quilt is going to be a guessing game. I'm not one to do a lot of quilty math so I'm just going to take it border-by-border and see how it goes. The next border will likely be thin and gray (Violet Craft birds?), and then I'll do a round of four AMH feathers. After that... well, you'll just have to see! However, I don't think there will be any more low-volume for a few more borders.

This quilt is really going to test me as a piecer. I have a feeling I'll need to borrow a friend's long arm to quilt it (any takers?) because it is going to be ENORMOUS when it's done. The medallion itself is over 20 x 20... I figured out I can *just* comfortably FMQ a queen size quilt on my Janome... a king size isn't going to happen. And FMQ will definitely happen! This quilt is going to be the *main* project I work on at Mid-Atlantic Mod (omg, it's only 2 weeks away!!!). More on that soon... it's almost time to start packing!

P.S. Any ideas for a medallion name? I'm close to just calling it "the Jess Medallion" so it has something, lol.

Monday, March 17, 2014

"Plumes of Orchid" - A Radiant Orchid Mini Quilt

I'm so excited to share my mini quilt entry into the Pantone Orchid Challenge with Play Crafts and On The Windy Side: Plumes of Orchid! Purple is my favorite(st) of all colors ever, so I've been over the moon about this year's Color of the Year. My Modern Quilt Guild is even making swap items with Radiant Orchid (and/or purple) for the April meeting! They shall do my bidding... mwahahaha.

This quilt fell into place easily.  Between needing/wanting to make a Radiant Orchid quilt, and planning a mini swap with Renee, one of my best bloggy friends, I decided to "catch two butterflies with one net." I especially admire Renee's free motion quilting skills and her Doctor Who quilts! Check out the quilt she sent me this past week - o.m.g. I just keep switching it over so I can see both sides! And today, I'm sharing this one because she just got it in the mail!

Design: Renee indicated her love for the Anna Maria Horner feather pattern and for the feather quilt I'd made for the Madrona Road Challenge, Birds of a Feather (plus, her blog is Quilts of a Feather... so it was a no brainer!). I pieced two of them on the scrappy back (though I forgot to make the mirror image piece, and I noticed the error too late in the process. I think it looks ok!). I found a really great tutorial from the Intrepid Thread for the front feathers (or leaves, if you will). Julie emphasizes that the feathers shouldn't be "perfect" and I definitely didn't stress about that, lol!

The back - Anna Maria Horner feathers

Color: For Renee's gray sewing room, I used a dark gray (Kona Coal) background and pops of teal (one of her favorite colors). The orchid was a no-brainer. I did buy a few new prints since I had a lot of light purples but few genuine "orchids." The Collage border is definitely my favorite part - I feel like it pulls the whole quilt together. :) It even has pops of teal! It couldn't be more perfect for Renee!

Quilting: This is the first time I tried circle quilting with echoes. I was inspired by my friend Lorna @ Sew Fresh Quilts to try it (thanks Lorna!). I used my FMQ foot with much success! It's definitely a design I'll try again soon, but on a quilt much bigger than this, I'm not so sure it would come out the way I envision (too much drag - definitely doable on a long arm, though). I also pebbled on the border - a much-loved FMQ design in this apartment :).

Oh, I soooo had quilt separation anxiety this time (okay, that's usually the case). I think it's especially because of the purple, and how much I happen to have fallen in love with the combination of purple/orchid, gray, and teal. Overall, though, I'm glad it's going to a good friend. I hope she loves it! I wish I could take a picture with her, WITH our quilts!

Quilt Stats:
Designed, Pieced, and Quilted by: me (with tutorials from Julie Dueck and Anna Maria Horner), on my Janome MC 6300
Size: 28 x 28

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Stash

This week I received fabric that I've been waiting for/saving up for since I saw them on Lizzy House's IG feed: tone-on-tone and metallic Pearl Bracelets! I bought mine from Pink Castle Fabrics, one of my go-to online shops. Many of you know that Pearl Bracelets are my favorite prints ever, so they were a must-have in half-yards. I even started a Flickr group out of my need to see all the PB projects out there.

I've already cut into the gold and purple prints (of course - for those two, I might have to get actual yardage at some point). They are dreamy. For real. I'll show you what I've been working on for WIP Wednesday (or you can see it on Instagram). Hint - I started my medallion quilt!

Here's to many, many more projects with Pearl Bracelets, tone-on-tone and original! Linking up with Molli Sparkles.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Surprise Doctor Who Quilt - "Allons-y, Allonso"

Here's the quilt I've been hiding in my closet under rolls of batting for almost a year! It's HUGE (nearly queen size) and was only supposed to be lap-size... oh well. If you're gonna go for "special quilt," going big works!

I thought it might be fun to explain the process in list form. Without further ado, 8 Steps to making a quilt for your significant other:

  1. Get inspired and spend the money: The Doctor Who quilt idea was conceived last February. Mike and I were nearing the end of Season 6 (the newer episodes, not the ones from the 1960s) and I discovered this lovely (though understandably pricey) website called Spoonflower. Mike didn't have a quilt yet, and I wanted to make him something manly, tasteful, and special. Enter browsing and agonizing over several days about which prints to buy.

  1. Hide all supplies: When the Spoonflower order came, it took EVERYTHING for me not to show him how COOL the fabrics are! OMG! Seriously, Whovians, you get me, right? For most of the year (until this quilt became a full top), all fabrics and blocks were stashed in an innocent plastic bag, out of site.

  1. Be a sneak: Send him/her links to quilt ideas and ask for a ranking. Mike LOVES consistency and order, so it's no surprise he loved Churn Dashes the most. That happens to be my favorite block in the world, so this project got even more epic. Also, this survey was done shortly after I received the fabric, so it's safe to say he forgot all about it in a year's time.

^A catchphrase from one of our favorite characters, River Song. Plus, "sweetie" is a name we've been using around here for a while, so it fits us.
  1. Work on project whenever he/she isn't home: Since my sewing time often collides with times Mike is around, I brought this project  to at least 3 separate sewcials throughout the year. The added annoyance of pressing blocks that already had been pressed (but had been in a bag for a month or two) was part of the whole process. I learned to savor any time I got to work on this thing.

^Catchphrases of the 9th, 10th, and 11th Doctors

  1. Kick your butt into gear: When the New Year came, it suddenly occurred to me that there wasn't much time left (his birthday is February 22, and I definitely didn't want to keep the secret longer than that). I hastened to work on the top any time I was home and he wasn't. I also found the PERFECT backing (he loves the Hooty Hoot Owls by Riley Blake, and Hawthorne Threads had the flannel) around that time.

  1. Avoid social media: Just in case he's sneaky like my sister, I didn't post ANYTHING on here or on Instagram about this quilt. I worked on it so much lately, so this was a difficult feat!

 ^Silly sister

  1. Try, try, try: I got it basted  with a week until his birthday, but the week just didn't present the time I needed to quilt it. Also, I couldn't decide on a quilting design and that was bugging me. I'd rather wait than commit and/or rip (for something this special, it was worth it).

  1. Surprise!: My original idea was to throw the (just basted) quilt over him on the morning of his birthday, but I couldn't contain the fact that I had a really awesome present. He was so excited so I agreed to give it to him at midnight. :) I made him close his eyes and sit facing away from my closet, and I just threw it on top of him. HA. It ended up being QUEEN SIZE (non-intentional but perfect for another bed quilt), so it was pretty much impossible to wrap a just basted together (they are always so much bulkier before being quilted... right?).

I quilted all of the squares and triangles made from churn dash intersections with square or triangular spirals. Each churn dash and background got special treatment (I'm especially loving large pebbles right now). This was the second time I used Aurifil to quilt, and I was NOT disappointed! My machine loves it, too.

The quilt is bound in Lizzy House's Constellations, a line which also served the rest of the quilt perfectly. I threw some manly black and some teal in for good measure!

 Can you tell it was a bit windy on photoshoot day?


I'm really glad this quilt is finally with its rightful owner. After his birthday, all I kept hearing was, "when is my quilt going to be done?" Now he can stop bugging me and just enjoy it ;).

Oh... and if you're wondering about the name - I mentioned above that "allons-y" ("let's go" in French?) is the 10th Doctor's catchphrase. There's a really great random moment in one episode that we have recounted many times around here (geeky and proud!):



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