Monday, March 30, 2015

Cross of Rainbows: A Mini Quilt

When I considered design inspiration for the Mid-Atlantic Mod retreat mini quilt swap (coming soon, at the end of April!), I browsed through my favorite and most oft-used Pinterest board, "Quilty Inspiration." It's a blind swap, which makes it even more difficult to make something that you know someone will like (because you don't even know who they will be!). With a cautious/less in-your-face approach in mind (just to be safe), I was leaning towards a mostly low volume background with little pops of color. I started cutting up my recently-won Michael Miller Cotton Couture solid fat eighths into 1.5" strips, without too much direction. Hoping that direction would find me. As it usually does. :)

Then, I came across Alexandra Ledgerwood's (Teaginny Designs) cross pillow. I just love it so much - the colors, how they combine, the space to do really cool quilting - sign me up. It wasn't difficult to figure out the math to make something similar in the specified 15" square - trust me, it really wasn't, and I'm not a math whiz! Alexandra is right when she says that strip sets rock!

So, I took my solid strips, sewed them together in rainbow order, squared it up, and cut it in four. I did the same with the low volume/black strips except that I varied the strip widths for some interest, and that I cut in three (two small strips plus 1 long strip to be sewn vertically down the middle). The quilting was the most fun part, as it often is for me. I made some signature swirls - one of my go-to free motion motifs - and then pebbled the heck out of those little stripes. Even the really skinny olive lines got some tiny pebble action!

I decided to change up the thread colors, too - all the darker colors were quilted in dark gray Aurifil, while the light colors got light gray. It's just a little bit of a difference and I hope that if my future partner doesn't read this, they'll notice it themselves one day. Just a fun little detail.

The back - I had a fat quarter of Alison Glass fabric on hand and it just looks too cool with the swirls! Is it weird that I often match my backings to what I plan to quilt, for optimum visual impact? ;) Even though you definitely won't see the back of this ever, when it's hanging on a wall? Tell me I'm not alone! I love pretty quilt backs!

Looks like I made this little quilt pretty bold after all. Now I wish I could keep it (of course). I sure hope someone loves it and can appreciate that apparently I can't force myself to be "cautious/less in-your-face"... most of the time. I can't wait to see which mini I'll get in return! Another retreat prep item knocked off my list... so it's time to start really scheming for my secret swap partner...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Quilting in GIFs, Part 1

Some quilting humor this morning from some of our favorite characters... :)

When you see your new favorite fabric in person:

When you run out of bobbin thread an inch before the last stitch on a binding:

When you're in the middle of free motion quilting and someone asks you a question:

When you order a ton of fabric on sale and stash it away:

When it's time for a quilt guild meeting:

When it's time for a 4-day-long quilt retreat:

When it's 2 am and you're *almost done* with the project:

4 hours later when your alarm goes off:

I found all GIFs here.

Don't forget that Sew Me a Song is having a spring cleaning and clearance! You can't beat $2.50 for a half yard of fabric... just saying. Also, this fabric is to die for (I already bought the black and white version). Becca is the best, and she's been a sponsor of this blog for almost a year now!

And, because no post is complete without a picture, here's what my cutting table looks like this morning. This happy mini came to fruition last night. More soon! Happy Sunday Sewing!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Churn Dash Pillow

Last year, Betsy won my blogiversary giveaway, and I promised a handmade pillow. She requested green and blue with a nested churn dash. It was so fun to pull fabrics/scraps for this!

I used the Skinny Churn Dash tutorial by HoosierToni, which has never led me astray.  At one of our guild "sewcials"/sewing days, I free motion quilted the top of the pillow. There is one layer of batting and a layer of muslin behind it. Then, I made the rest of the pillow envelope-style, and voila!

I had hoped to get this pillow to Betsy earlier (like, before Christmas) but it stayed on my to-do list until the end of February. Thanks for your patience. :D Also, look how beautiful her pillows look together in her house! Love!! Betsy made the pillow on the right - it's Elizabeth Hartman's Mod Mosaic pattern.

Picture credit: Betsy

Thanks for all the well-wishes - I'm feeling a bit better today (maybe 70%). Hopefully I'll be done with this horrid cold this weekend! Then, I can get back to sewing!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Orange Peel Edition

This week, I'm mesmerized by another slightly unplanned project. While I wanted to make another sample for my Orange Peels and Improv classes, I wasn't necessarily planning on making another actual quilt-sized quilt. But it just keeps growing, and I don't want it to stop. Ever.

I've inverted the color scheme of "Scatter"- instead of colorful petals on a low volume background, I made white-based low volume petals on a scrappy rainbow background. I hope this will stretch my students' minds and show them more of the possibilities orange peels (and improvisational piecing) have to offer. All petals so far are sewn onto solid squares. I may add smaller petals here and there when I'm finished, because I feel like I'm getting carried away with all the pretty colors. I don't want the petals to disappear in chaos. But... PRETTY SCRAPS! It's a dilemma.

Every time I put solids next to each other, I feel something is missing... but I generally keep it the way it is (printed fabric owns my <3). All in all, I'm currently determined to improv-piece all week long!

 A bad-quality nighttime shot. I just had to share where it is at this point! :)

This is the project inspired by these AMH fabrics... SWOON. I'm including bits of both in the quilt, as you can start to see in the first two pictures.

More soon... I'm feeling under the weather so I'm hoping I have the energy to continue tonight.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Stash

After my fabric-buying frenzy at QuiltCon, I vowed not to buy any more fabric before Mid-Atlantic Mod at the end of April (and even then, I need to keep myself in check - I'm counting on you for restraint, future fellow shopper friends!). Giveaways don't count, though, right?

I was on the shuttle to the airport when I got a text from Michael Miller Fabrics saying I had won one of their fabric giveaways, and that I should pick up my prize at their booth. Say what?! Since I was already on my way out of TX, they very graciously shipped it to me. I was shocked to open up a fat quarter bundle (2 fat eighths of each color) of Cotton Couture Solids. I've used these before and they are the softest, especially when washed! I may be using some shortly, but I can't deny they are begging to be an all-solids quilt. Thank you, Michael Miller Fabrics!

I was also gifted a fat 1/6 pack from Oakshott Fabrics for allowing them to exhibit my table runner at QuiltCon. Just. Wow. Look at the shimmer on these - I believe they are from the New Autumn collection. Thank you so much, Oakshott! Maria was so helpful and kind. I can't wait to make something out of these for fall (can we say... fall mini quilt for the dining area?)

Finally, I've won many giveaways online in the past, but this one tops them all. Free Spirit Fabrics and Coats and Clark hosted a giveaway for 10 YARDS of Anna Maria Horner's new Folk Song fabrics. Renee tipped me off to it... I had seen it quickly before she mentioned it to me, but hadn't entered. This time, I said, why not? Well, you have to be in it to win it, because I did. Lol. It was hard to believe that there were ten yards waiting for me in a box after work last week! Squeals of glee. Thank you, Coats and Clark and Free Spirit!

Have you won any awesome giveaways lately? I can't wait to spread the love at Mid-Atlantic Mod and shower my Secret Sewist in lots of gifts!

Linking up to Sunday Stash.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The "W" Word: A Mini Quilt

  This finish was on my Finish-A-Long Quarter 1 goal list, and it was done on time! Yay! I'm linking up with Adrianne @ On The Windy Side.

It seems only fair that I share this mini quilt on the second day of spring (when it snowed yet again here in New Jersey - we even had an early dismissal from school yesterday!). I started 2015 with a goal to make a mini quilt for our apartment for each season. So, I finished this in early February and it hung in our kitchen area to cheer us up from the gloomy/downright depressing winter weather. I shouldn't complain because I know my friends in Boston, for example, got hit much harder with the bad weather... but it really was a long winter here (hence "The 'W' Word" - I'm bitter). :)

I used Elizabeth Hartman's Glam Garlands pattern from Modern Patchwork, which is my favorite pattern in the book (I also made a strand of these for my 2014 Sisterhood quilt). I need to make a whole quilt of these, stat. They are so, so, so pretty! I am head over heels in love with my friend/beemate Laura's version. The pattern evokes icicles to me (a little bit of a stretch, but it applied to winter). I grouped wintry colors into strands to create a bit of interest. What can I say - I'm fascinated with solids, but my true love is printed fabric. Oh yeah, and Netorious for the binding again. My name is Jessica and I have an obsession with that print (though it is hard to photograph!).

I quilted a few different free motion motifs across the icicle strands. Then, I used white thread to create more icicles, and black thread to create shadows of said icicles. I'm not 100% happy with the quilting though (especially the word quilting), and I've considered ripping it out several times. I kind of like the idea of it being more an interpretation than "in your face" winter. The whole quilt has grown on me bit by bit, though - it's a fun bit of whimsy. So for now, my best friend the seam ripper can relax. What do you think? I'm asking for some honest quilty feedback here. :)

This project was something fun to work on in between prep for QuiltCon. I really enjoy these little side projects; I've even started a mini for spring that will also serve as another sample for my Orange Peels and Improv classes. It's inspired by these two drop dead gorgeous prints from Anna Maria Horner prints from Honor Roll (I *may* have bought a yard of each from QuiltCon - seriously - LOOK at those COLORS!) . I'm not sure it's actually going to fit in our dining area though... it keeps growing! :) Stay tuned!

Happy Worldwide Quilting Day! Go and sew something (and/or teach or inspire someone else)!

Linking up to TGIFF,
Fabric Tuesday, and Sew Cute Tuesday.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Central Jersey MQG Modern Quilt Exhibit

Our guild was recently invited to showcase a second exhibit of modern quilts at the Quilt Fest of NJ XI. It was a thrill to see our quilts and get inspired by other quilts (most were traditional and there were several more modern quilts than last year). I posted a recap and pictures of all our modern quilts over on the CJMQG blog. Here are some outtakes:

I really love this pic of me with Scatter. :) She's like my baby... as in, she totally represents my style as a quilter. And I'll never let her go.

 Selfie with mom in front of Pixie Sticks

One more selfie :)

Seriously, you have to see these up close!! Great job, guild!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Community Quilt

Something magical happens when you give kids a chance to play with fabric. They are fascinated by the many colors, the patterns, and the options. Plus, they always stretch the boundaries, and their creativity is endless. I highly recommend it!

Earlier this month, I was given the opportunity to introduce and demonstrate quilting in my community for a second time in my school district (K-8)! For this free event, the PTA requested that artists create a class or interactive project if possible, and, after some thought, I decided it would be wonderful to make a special quilt for a 7th grader at our school who is battling leukemia.

She hasn't been one of my own students yet, but I know that she likes the movie Frozen. So, I chose blues, blacks, whites, and purples that fit that theme. I had such a fun time choosing fabrics at Pennington Quilt Works (I may have been a bit giddy as I pulled fabric off the shelves without a care).

My sister Marisa helped me set up the room (just like last year!) :). I precut the fabric and batting; basically, students chose 5-7 strips, filled a rectangular piece of batting, brought it to me to sew up, and had the option of watching how I work the machine. I found out quickly that there are a lot of Pearl Bracelet fans! Both boys and girls expressed interest in learning how to sew. It was invigorating. :) I didn't get any pictures of when the kids came in because it was madness; I was sewing and talking up a storm. We made about 80 quilt blocks that day!

Both adults and kids could sign the large pieces of fabric for the back of the quilt - I now have four of these filled with names!

Some highlights: my littlest former students (kindergarten/first grade) shyly shuffling in to say hello (with their wonderful parents). Telling some of the kids that my machine's name is Elsa and showing them the Frozen stickers that adorn its surface (I got lots of laugh and smiles!). The second grade girl who was watching right over my left shoulder and decided suddenly to help me guide the fabric through the machine (I slowed down a lot, and she insisted on repeating this process for each piece we sewed - SO cute!). The fascination over my knee lift by both kids and adults. My 5th through 8th graders coming in not only to make blocks and sign the backing but also to request more views of the "show way" I brought in for reading class. 

I laid out the top on Sunday, and finished piecing it together today! I let the squares (9 inches unfinished) fall relatively randomly (I tried to space out the all-solid blocks).

The project and my time were generously sponsored by the Lopatcong Township PTA and the Warren County Cultural and Heritage Commission (thank you!). I'm hoping to be asked back next year to work with the kids again. Maybe we can make a quilt every year!

Monday, March 16, 2015

QuiltCon Recap, Part 3: The Quilt Show

It's already almost a month since QuiltCon (that's really hard to believe - it's gone so fast), but I'm just getting around to looking through all the pictures on my camera from the quilt show itself! The show was, in a word, astounding. I've been to several traditional quilt shows and have appreciated them. I've seen small modern quilt exhibits (including our guilds') and I've spotted bright, provocative modern quilts within traditional shows. But this was very different.

This international modern quilt show alone was worth going to Texas for. I believe there were between 300 and 400 quilts (please correct me if I'm wrong - I can't seem to find an exact figure)! I realize there was/is a lot of dissension in the ranks about "which quilts got in" and "how the Modern Quilt Guild is defining modern quilting" (that last one is a post for another day). But... guys... we have our own show that will now go up every year. THAT is something to be excited about! You can see more thoughts about that in my post, Positive Thoughts on QuiltCon Rejection.

This was the GORGEOUS Viewer's Choice Winner: "Quilt For Our Bed" by Laura Hartrich. Those Drunkard's Path blocks - omg! A well-deserved win! Below, I borrowed a pic from Yvonne of my white gloving experience (before the quilt won that prize) - check out that back:

My sole grievance was the layout of the show itself. It was very easy to get "lost" in the quilts (not necessarily a bad thing), but I had a lot of trouble finding specific quilts I wanted to see and figuring out where I was within the exhibit. As a result, I missed many quilts, and I even spent over three hours volunteering as a white glove lady (I also went back multiple times on my own time to view more quilts)! It was almost impossible to see them all with a full QuiltCon schedule otherwise. It would have been easier to navigate if I knew what categories the quilts were in, and/or if the categories were set up in rows or aisles rather than staggered. That's just my two cents.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my favorites from the show. I literally ran around an hour before leaving for the airport to take pictures:

 "Refresh" by Anna Boenish

 "Feathers" by Shannon Page

 "After Dinner Mints" by Paige Alexander

 "Comma Comet" by Janet Gannon, quilted by Pam Biswas

 "Watercolors" - for Do. Good Stitches - pieced by Ara Jane Olufson, Jacey Gray, Rachel Hauser, Daisy Aschehoug, Jenelle Clark, Cat Downs, Deb Aspuria, Amanda Hohnstreiter, Jessica Rider, Natalie Sabik, and quilted by Natalie Sabik.

 "Facets" by Liz Harvatine

 "For Tanya" by Emily and Miriam Coffey

 "Face #1" by Melissa Averinos
Quilted by: Melissa Averinos & Suzanne Whiteside

 "Shades of Gray" by Terri Aske

 "Balancing Act" by Amanda Hohnstreiter

 "Long Island Modern Sampler" by Kim Soper (I can't wait to meet you next month, Kim!)

What were your favorites from QuiltCon this year?
P.S. All the QuiltCon winners


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