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02 May 2015

A Finish for a Very Special Girl

I am very pleased to announce a very special quilt finished for a very special little girl - my neice, who I called neice Quiche in my last post. I finally finished the quilt and got it sent off to the wild world of Wisconsin, where it has been very warmly received...and I'm super excited to show it to all of you!

Neice Quiche has been very long anticipated and finally arrived this past December (I know, I'm a bit late on this quilt). When my sister found out she was expecting, she and her husband made a deal that allowed him to pick the nursery theme (before they knew gender) and he decided vintage Star Wars. I was SO excited they kept the theme even after finding out they were having a little girl...and so I got around to designing a vintage Star Wars baby quilt.

I did a quick search on Pinterest for Star Wars Quilts and found a pin that linked to Andy Rash's Star Wars pixel art and I was totally hooked. I drew the characters on graph paper, cut them out, and moved them around until I liked the design (with the hubby's help to try to make them all fit). I had decided on 1.5" strips unfinished/1" finished and the size had to fit on the Warm and Natural crib-size batting (package says it's 45x60).

Left: the colored-in cut-out pieces; Right: we re-drew them to make it easier to sew from, but coloring was too tedious.
At first, I was afraid of the design - the characters had enough overlap between them that I was envisioning Y-seams and other terrible things (hey, I hate them...if you can do them, the more power to you!)...until my husband pointed out that I could just make blocks of a fixed size and the characters would still come together in the end. Duh!

To make the quilt as best I could, I used my Go! Cutter to cut 1.5" strips, then sewed those strips into the most common strip pairs I'd need for any given block. I then sub-cut those strip pairs down into doublets - two 1.5" squares sewn together, not pressed. I pressed the top seams of each block to the left, the next row to the right, etc. so they would nest well; waiting to press the sub-cut seams helped all of that lay nice and easy for me.


The solids are all Kona cottons, which I'd bought from the Fat Quarter Shop. In all, I'd bought 6.5 yards of the solids and either 3 or 4 yards of the background, which was Stargazers Sky Milky Way Yardage (I can't find it on the Fat Quarter Shop now, but here's a picture of the fabric on Fabric.com:



Overall, I definitely bought too much of the solids, but they'll get used in the future, I'm sure. This quilt was fun, if a little finicky to get all the seams to match. After all, it contained 2,240 squares in total, and getting that many to match up...isn't necessarily impossible, but definitely difficult.

The backing was Timeless Treasures Fairy Tale Mini Stars Fuschia. I bought 3 yards and it worked well - I had a few strips left over from each side of the quilt but not too much. To bind the quilt, I opted for a navy batik with a snowflake design left from Texas Mom's 4-Seasons quilt. I think I got it from Fat Quarter Shop, but I'm honestly not positive because it was bought in 2010. I picked this print because neice Quiche is a December baby, and my sister's wedding was in December - her colors were blue and silver and she had lots of snowflakes in her decorations. I liked that the binding tied that in there subtly.

I quilted in a squared-off spiral so the quilting would go through every square of fabric (gotta help reinforce those seams for baby quilts - they'll get spit up on and need to go through the wash!). I randomly quilted a few stars throughout, as you can see in the character shots below. For the two ends of the quilt, I just quilted straight lines (the rectangle meant that I ran out of width to quilt before I ran out of length) to make the eye think that the spiral was still going.

Pictures from before I sent it off (this is bigger than my usual quilt, so I had to stand on the couch and get pictures of it on the floor):

The whole front - isn't this fun?

Backing, binding, and helicopter label close-up
Chewie yelling - I love his ammo belt!
Little ewok and Yoda
Emperor Palpatine; it's hard to see the magic sparks coming out of his hands but you can if you click to make the picture bigger.
*cue the Imperial March here*

She looks a little awkward, but at least she has the cinnamon buns!






Luke and C3PO, who is appropriately in the middle of the fight, probably trying unsuccessfully to calm everyone down. Luke's light saber and eyes are the same color as the Emperor's electricity.

Han shot first!

R2D2 in the middle of the fight, right where he belongs!

Storm Trooper

And now a few pictures of the quilt in action, used with permission from my sister:




I absolutely love the location of the characters. The droids, just like in the movies, have managed to get in the middle of the battles. Luke and Han are both trying to protect Leia, Chewie is throwing up his arms and doing the noise he is so known for, and the Ewok is getting into trouble as always, unaware of how tiny he is. Yoda is even almost standing on Luke's shoulders.

Stash Report, linking up with Judy L. of Patchwork Times whenever hers goes live:

Used this Week: 7 yards (front, backing, and binding)
Used year to Date: 7 yards
Added this Week: 0 yards
Added Year to Date: 7 yards
Yards to Goal: 43
Net for 2015: 0 yards added - I'm even! Wahoo!

25 January 2015

High Tech, Low Tech

I wish I could just write *insert witty opening line about not having posted in years here* and have one appear but, alas, life doesn't work that way. Instead, it moves on and before you've realized it has been two years since you even looked at your blog. Go figure!

My quilting has been much slower lately. Since my last post (seems ages ago, really!) my left shoulder hasn't improved, unfortunately. I have had two surgeries on said shoulder, which has put a big damper on rotary cutting. I'm now still dealing with that shoulder's issues (how am I this broken? I'm still in my 20s!) after I fell off my bike on ice and landed squarely on that arm. My latest MRI shows that I have what appear to be small tears in my rotator cuff and possibly some scar tissue growing through some of the tears. I'll find out in late February if I'll have to have another surgery.

I had resisted getting a Go! Cutter until a couple of months ago, when I finally decided that enough was enough and I was being utterly ridiculous. I bought the Go! regular with a 2.5" strip die and a 1.5" strip die (the value die came with it but I haven't used it yet). I love it...absolutely love it. It's easy to use and I get so much more cutting done. Up until fairly recently I had been able to do some rotary cutting but was noticing that I was having more issues with reliability of those cuts. I'd slip at the end of the cut and it would be just a little too big or a little too small, but usually enough to swag and make it work. Getting the Go! has completely eliminated that issue for me, and my 2.5" strip bags are quite healthy.

I haven't had any issues with the fabric being distorted with my cutter, though that could have more to do with the fact that I'm using the strips and not any of the shapes. One of the rubbery feet on the bottom of the center of the cutter has fallen off, but mine gets folded up and moved around fairly often so I'm not too worried about it. I wasn't expecting how much static electricity it produces, but it's not really a problem, just a minor annoyance. It might happen less during the more humid summers, we'll see.

Lately I haven't been able to rotary cut at all, though, so I've gone back to the old days of quilting...drawing lines and cutting pieces with scissors. The Go! cutter is great for making me strips, but I don't have every die and when I need a 2.5" by 6.5" rectangle I can't make it with the dies I have. Rotary cutters were around when I started quilting, but the nice lady who taught me (whose name, unfortunately, I have forgotten some 15 plus years later) was a template woman. She had somewhat opened to the idea of a rotary cutter to add a seam allowance but she would trace her template and then use the rotary cutter to cut .25" away from her line. She and I both hand pieced back then, so the line was necessary to know where to sew.

I became an Auntie recently and, unfortunately, that quilt is still in progress and a secret. I've got another neice on the way soon but her quilt is only a few blocks that are now on hold since baby Quiche's quilt backing finally arrived (names obviously changed for privacy!). The quilt is not quite halfway done with the quilting.

My most recent finish has been for my friend's baby. Baby J-kwelin (it's an inside joke) was born in September and I was able to finish her quilt in time! Her nursery colors are yellow and gray. Her quilt was Bonnie Hunter's Jack in the Box pattern, 4 by 5 blocks with .75" sashing.

Don't look at my messy buffet behind the couch...

And the obligatory shot of the label on the back...
It was a fun little quilt to make. My blocks were a good chance to play with color theory a bit. I found I am not very good at finding "light orange" in my stash, since those color combos invariably didn't read well value-wise. I also started playing with varied neutral backgrounds, though I'm not as relaxed as Bonnie is (each block had the same background, not mixing and matching like Bonnie's quilts usually are...also, all stayed well within the tan color family). I quilted it in rows since the blocks had been made over a long period of time and weren't exactly the same size.

My other finish recently was for baby Jorgito. He was born in August and he's the most serious, studious baby I've met. I used string blocks for his quilt; his nursery was green and brown, hence the color scheme of the quilt!

Oh look...it's my couch again!

I love the backing fabric.

Helicopter!

The binding for this quilt was actually leftover bits from Baby S's quilt a few years ago. The brown/orange/blue/green/yellow stripes really looked nice with the colors on the front of the quilt. I had just enough of the stripe (in the direction it needed to go) to do this quilt with about 8" leftover. Stash for the win!

That's enough for now...wrapping up with a link back to Judy L's fabric report! Nothing finished so I can't count anything used yet. Drat! By way of explanation: all added yardage is backings for the two neice quilts. My goal is to use 50 yards this year.

Used this Week: 0 yards
Used year to Date: 0 yards
Added this Week: 4 yards
Added Year to Date: 7 yards
Yards to Goal: 50
Net for 2015: 7 yards added

14 September 2012

Is this my home?

I'm home. Home from my business trip...but it still feels a little like I'm not. What does home mean, really? After all, while I was on my business trip, home was my tent. My tent that I shared with 9 other girls who didn't know the meaning of quiet, especially when closing the door. Home was the hoodie that I brought with me and slept with every night...the hoodie my husband gave to me when we were in college after it shrank in the wash.

My first night home, so to speak, was spent at a friend's house since I wasn't allowed to drive for 24 hours (boss' orders). Me, her, her husband, and her two boys...I was still home even if I did have a really hard time figuring out the shower (hey, don't blame me - from MY height, the plunger thing to make it a shower was totally hidden by the temperature control knob).

Then I came home. But it still feels empty, even with me here. It's quiet, and I keep music or a movie/TV show on most of the time. And this IS home for me...but what is home? I don't think it's a place...although this is the place I keep my fabric and sewing machine, where I know what's in which kitchen cabinet and where things are in my messy but somewhat organized wardrobe.

Home isn't a building, folks. Home is a mindset. It's more an emotion, I think, than a place. I've never understood people being homesick for where they used to live, whether it's Mom and Dad's house, or a town that they've always been in. Maybe I'm just lucky that I moved around enough as a kid to realize that home, whether it was in one state, town, or country, or any other place, wasn't this place on a map. Even on sleepovers as a little kid, I wasn't homesick (at least not that I can remember!). Home was my family, my place to be comfortable, my place to relax.

So whether it's my tent on my business trip, my friend's house, my house, my parents' house, or any of the houses I grew up in, home truly is, as they say, where the heart is. Please smack me now, that was totally and utterly cheesy and corny, but it's what's on my mind.

Just because I've been away for a while doesn't mean that I've totally given up on my sewing. I've been sewing as much as possible since I've gotten home (though that isn't as much as I'd like due to some issues with my left shoulder...it's hard to hold a ruler in place to rotary cut if you can't push down hard enough) and I did work on a secret hand-work project while I was away. I can't post any pictures of that for now, but I can leave you with a picture of the first completed block for my next baby quilt! I'm using the Story Time Stars pattern by Bonnie Hunter, with a few tweaks of my own, of course. I haven't totally decided on my sashing or setting yet, but I'm loving the concept!



The center of each star is a crumb block (I don't have many novelty fabrics) of a secondary color. The points and background of the stars are the two primary colors that make up that secondary color. Kids are never too young to get some color theory! I've finally made a dent in my crumbs now that I've made six center blocks of each color (so I can pick and choose which blocks I like for the quilt). The added bonus? I'm finally moving into using Bonnie's Scrap User's System. Some day, I hope to be as successful with it as Bonnie...but until then, I'm happy with my tiny start of 2.5" strips left over from cutting the pieces for my stars!

Please don't judge the photography, either - it's getting late and I want to get this post up tonight so I took the picture with my webcam (hence the soft focus and odd angle). Just wanted to give ya'll an idea of the cuteness of a crumb secondary color center with primary outsides...I want to squeal, I think it's so adorable! Plus it's great at using scraps...trust me on this one!

Good night, dear readers, and I'll hopefully be on here a little more often again. Hopefully. :) After all, 12 babies who need quilts between last month and March? Sheesh...maybe not so many wordy posts, but plenty of quilty picture goodness! Please hold me to that!

Emma

26 April 2012

Perspective and other such things

I haven't posted here for a while. It's simply become a habit not to. But I need to vent for a minute, and while this probably isn't the best way to encourage readers to stick with me (especially since I've been gone for what seems like forever)...I need to get this off my chest.

November was when I last posted. It seems like years ago right now. If you've read this blog from its beginning (or read all of my ever-so-many posts), you remember that my husband was gone (I didn't mention it outright in every post, but it was mentioned at least once or twice in passing. He was on a business trip for 3 months. Well, he's on a business trip again, but this time I'll be on one while he's gone too.

He left before me, last week. It's funny, knowing that I'll be leaving too, because it doesn't matter how much I know that I'll be gone too. It doesn't matter how much my head knows something, because it still feels like it did on the last long business trip. Except for one glaring difference so far, which I'm not sure if it's because I know I'm leaving too or what...I haven't cried since he left.

Don't get me wrong - I was a miserable wreck for the five or so days before he left (when we found out the exact date). I mean that in every sense of the term - we got the exact date, I started crying for no particular reason. We'd be talking about something random and then WHAM, the tears were there. He was wonderful about it, though, and would just sit there and hold me the whole time, trying to make me feel better. The morning he left, well, every time I looked at him I'd break down sobbing. He'd make me laugh as tears were rolling down my face. I'd talk to a friend whose husband was going on the trip too and with no warning, I'd just start bawling. But as soon as he left and I can't see him or touch him (because Skype/Google Video Chat is AMAZING), nothing.

Last time, it was the one week mark that did it for me. One week in and I had what I referred to as my "breakdown day" because I just lost it. I'd woken up from a dream that he was with me, holding me, and then he wasn't there and that was it. I lost it and spent most of the day moping.

But this time...I haven't cried. And it bugs me enough that I just started a sentence with and, which I know is grammatically incorrect and should bug me. I want to cry but I can't, and because I can't I get upset because I want to, and it's this whole nasty cycle. I've watched romantic movie after romantic movie to no avail. My eyes might water up but then it all just gets sucked into my eye as if my eye is a desert. I even tried what I thought would be my secret weapon - this video. And nothing. I kind of feel all the time like I should cry, like I know that it would make me feel better and less mopey, but I don't. And I don't know why I'm confiding in you, whomever you may be, but since I've been watching too many girly movies, this quote popped into my head as being perfect for this spot. It's from "You've Got Mail" which is definitely high on my list of awesome girly movies for when I'm sad.
So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way around? I don't really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void. 
And now, since I've probably thoroughly depressed all of you, I thought I'd at least share something sewing-related. Well, I was going to share some stuff from my flickr stream but am getting an error because of the password on my flickr. And since I'm not about to lose everything I've written...hmm. Well, for one, I have kept my finishes and my WIPs up to date-ish. Except that the number of quilts I now need to make is up to 9, just for the babies. That's right - NINE baby quilts from now until March. And I'll be on a business trip (read: no sewing machine or fabric!) for at least a chunk of that! I choose to blame the pile-up of quilts on one coworker, whose wife is pregnant with triplets. One-third of my quilts are for his family, haha, not that he knows it!

And so, since this photo is on my hard drive, the recipient of this quilt just recently sent me a picture of it. I made this by hand when I was in college for a friend whose wedding I missed, then whose son's birth I missed. So I made them this quilt (drafted on my trusty graph paper!) by hand, piece by piece, in college, quilted it by hand, and for the first time, used a sewing machine to attach the binding to the front of the quilt and then sewed the back by hand. She sent me a picture of the quilt on her couch not too long ago so I could share it on the blog as it's a better picture than I had on my own. This friend of mine also happens to be an author who has a book that will be free 27-28 April on Amazon for your kindle, so check it out! Her blog, with info about the promotion, is here, so go check it out! And without further ado, the picture.


I probably love it more than I should, but I still love everything about that quilt. The design came from a website I'd found (this was back probably 7 or 8 years ago, so I have no idea where) and I simplified it so that it would work in a quilt. I added the border myself (original didn't have one) because it needed SOMETHING to enclose it. The backing is muslin, and the quilting is echo quilting in matching thread. As in, one line of quilting inside of each shape about 1/4" from the edge, and also one line of quilting outside of each shape in a nice harvest gold shade of quilting thread. I'm glad to see it's still holding up well, since it was not very densely quilted and it was pieced by hand! Let's hope it lasts as long as some of the old antique hand-pieced quilts!

With that, dear readers (if there are any of you out there), I'm going to say thank you. I feel much better after venting, so hopefully there will be no more angsty posts, and more posts in general. They won't all necessarily be about quilting itself since I'm not going to have a machine, but I should at least hopefully be able to catch us up with the quilts I've finished and haven't blogged about yet.

So this begs the question - what are YOU up to quilting-wise, or anything else-wise?

15 November 2011

Untitled by emmac350
Untitled, a photo by emmac350 on Flickr.

Top finally completed for baby Bryce, born a few weeks ago!

21 September 2011

Working, working



Just wanted to share a quick picture of my current project. Mod Mosaic blocks, 12.5" square. This has to be gender neutral which is hard. I'm loving the way it's turning out though!

I'm linking this up with Design Wall Monday over at Patchwork Times!

29 August 2011

Stash Report Week Something

This stash report, well, confesses a lot. Because I bought 30 yards of fabric (15 yards of Kona Snow for sashings and 15 yards of the chocolate helicopters from the Ready, Set, Go! collection by Ann Kelle for Robert Kaufman...I'm a helicopter pilot who works with helicopter pilots who have babies. It'll get used!)...I don't know if/when I'll ever get back in the positive! Oh, and I have a question - should I count the blocks I'm making for the Civil War Love Letters Quilt as I make them? They're going to take ages to finish, so I would like to, but at the same time, that means I can't count them when they're a top. So many choices! Gah! If I include the blocks I've done, then I have used another .5 yards...but if I don't count them, then at the end I can have a massive amount come off when I've completed the top...but that may not be for another few months! Or longer!

Used this week: 1.8 yards (hey...it's a start!)
Used year to date: 14.6 yards
Added this week: 30 yards
Added year to date: 90.8 yards
Net usage for 2011: (75.4 yards)

Fabric used:

Baby SM's Quilt Backing - 1 yards
Binding for SM's Quilt - .2 yards
Blocks for the Black Rock Stitchery - .3 yards
Block for August in the Scrap Busters' Bee - .1 yards

Baby SM's Quilt

Baby SM's Quilt was finished and delivered on a Sunday and she was born the following Tuesday. I finished it just in time! As for the quilting, I decided to do it all with my free-motion foot. I quilted in the ditch (with the FMF so it was all wobbly like a little kid drew on the quilting) on all of the stars. Then I tried out a few free-motion quilting techniques in the blank squares. Pattern is a edited version of Bonnie Hunter's Random Ohio Stars (I just scaled the stars down to make the quilt finish baby-sized).

Front of Quilt:


Back of Quilt:


My favorite free-motion block of all - it's based on Icicle Lights from the Free Motion Quilting Blog:


My favorite color combination block of all:


My mistake block (can't get by without confessing that one):


A few more awesome blocks and closer-in views of the quilt:



My new way of signing the backs of quilts - fussy cut helicopters from the Ready, Set, Go! collection by Robert Kaufman:


I hope you've enjoyed looking at this new quilt finish; hopefully I'll be able to blog a little more often in September as my schedule is supposed to be a bit less crazy. We'll see, but I hope to see you all again soon!