Gimmick or Great?

 

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Spoiler alert: I think they’re all great.

As I was packing up my sewing gear for our big move, I was thinking about some of the quilting products I’ve purchased that have had a big impact on either the ease of my quilting or the finished result. I thought it would be fun to make a list with five of my favorites and do a post about them. I know that sometimes products like these can seem gimmicky, but in my experience all of them have been worth it. The best part is that most of these things are relatively inexpensive- the most expensive thing on this list is still less than $30!

Invisi-Grip. For less than $10, I think that Invisi-Grip is a great investment. It’s a clear material that you stick to the underside of your rulers. Accurate cutting is so important for accurate piecing, and I’ve found my cutting to be so much more accurate since I’ve added these to my most-used rulers. It really, truly keeps the ruler from sliding around while you cut.

Bobbin washers. These Little Genie Bobbin Washers help your bobbin thread feed more evenly. I have noticed that things seem to go more smoothly when they’re in my bobbin case.

Machingers. Before I tried these quilting gloves I wasn’t sure if they would make much of a difference, but I’m totally sold. They give me much more control over my quilt sandwich, and really do help me grip the fabric better.

Supreme Slider/Sew Slip. I use a Sew Slip personally, and I think it’s great. The slippery material helps your quilt sandwich slide freely over it, which is really, really helpful during FMQ. Just remember to disengage your feed dogs before you start, or you’ll sew right through it. Ask me how I know.

The Binding Tool. No surprise here- I love my binding tool. It makes binding completely painless, and you get perfect continuous binding every time.

And there you have it! My five favorite (inexpensive) quilting tools.

 

Christmas Star Quilt Guide

I’ve gotten a few requests in the months since I’ve made the Christmas Star quilt for a pattern. Since it’s been awhile since I actually made the quilt and I can’t find my notes on the top in the craziness of packing and moving, a full pattern is just not in the cards at this point in time. However, what I can do is give you a guide with the basic info you will need to make your own. It isn’t as detailed as a pattern would be, but I hope it helps nonetheless.

For starters, it’s made of 6 slightly modified Memory blocks.

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That is the basic layout. I say “slightly modified” because instead of a solid center square that matches the background fabric, I had a mini charm pack that I wanted to use, so I made a four-patch in the center. The blocks finished at 12″, so each of the HSTs and squares that go into that block must be 2.5″.

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When I assembled the blocks, here’s how I did it:

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I first assembled grey V’s and red corner darts into little squares all their own, then simply pieced them into rows, then pieced the rows together. Again, this picture was from an earlier planning stage, so the center square was solid here but ended up being a four-patch of mini charms. What I ended up with was this:

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Ta-da!

You’ll need 6 of those if you’re following my quilt, and each block has:

-4 solid white squares

-4 solid red squares

-8 red/white HSTs

-16 grey/white HSTs

All of those, again, at 2.5″.

Now for the tricky part- the sashing and border. The white sashing between the blocks finished at 3″ (so 3.5″ unfinished). The border was 2.5″ unfinished. As for lengths, I’m sorry to say I don’t remember off the top of my head, but you could easily figure it out or even adjust the size of them to suit your own tastes.

I hope that is helpful to at least give some direction for the top, and of course I’d be happy to answer any questions. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific, but after the move is over if I uncover my notes, I’ll come back and add more info.

Bear Quilt Finish!

Hurray! The Bear Quilt is done and on its way to its new home with baby Elijah.

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I love how a quilt looks when it’s all crinkly in natural light. The stippling gave it such an awesome texture, and I’m so glad that I decided to go with that when it came time to quilt it. The back is just as crinkletastic:

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Here’s a shot that more clearly shows the top:

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And of course, in the focal block I quilted Elijah’s name:

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I really love how this turned out, and I think it’s such a fun quilt for a little boy. The prints are so cute and colorful!

 

Quilt Stats!

The fabric is S’more Love by Eric and Julie Comstock for Moda, and some Mini Series Cream Bears yardage by Timeless Treasures. As always, I used Warm & Natural batting, Aurifil thread for piecing, and Isacord thread for the quilting.

 

 

Bear Quilt Progress!

I really got underway on the bear quilt over the weekend. It is for the newborn baby boy of a very good friend of mine. The theme of his bedroom is bears, and I found a really cute bear print. When I saw S’More Love by Eric & Julie Comstock for Moda, I knew the outdoorsy prints and bright colors would be a perfect complement. Here’s what the top looked like before I added borders:

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That center square that the diamond HSTs echo is adorable, and when I found it in the charm pack I wanted to make it a focal point. Here’s a close-up:

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If the print is too tiny to see, it says: “Guess who loves you!”

I’m still in the quilting stage, and deciding how to quilt it was a bit of a challenge. I wanted to do something new, and I feel like so many boy quilts end up stippled. I had some ideas but ended up scrapping them, because they were all too elaborate. The top is very busy, and the prints are as well. There isn’t really any negative space or low volume prints in this quilt, and I didn’t want the quilting to compete with what was already going on. In the end, I decided that stippling really did fit best. I really want this to have a nice, crinkly texture when it’s done, and this just seemed like a quilt that was made to be stippled. So, that is what I’m doing.

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I can’t wait to see it finished. I love the binding fabric I have picked out so much. This is shaping up to be one of my favorites!

 

 

 

A House and Quilty Update

In my last post I talked about quilter’s block, and all the things that were going on in my life that zapped all the creativity and mental energy right out me. The really awesome, great, fantabulous news is: we bought a house! A house with a finished basement that will be a sewing room for me (and play room for the kids, because I’m a sharer like that).

The relief of that huge decision behind me, I’ve noticed in the last few days that all of a sudden I’ve been getting all kinds of quilt ideas. The dam of frustration has burst! But now… now I have to pack and clean and move. Oy! I’m hoping to squirrel away a little time before my machine has to be packed to finish a quilt, but I know that realistically I won’t be back in the swing of things until we have officially moved.

So, that’s where I’m at. Looking forward to the new house for my little family, and new quilts to be made!

Quilter’s Block

When I was home in NY over New Year’s, I made a list of all the projects I knew I wanted to accomplish in 2014. I got out my calendar, and scheduled everything in, allotting myself however much time I thought each project would reasonably take. When I was done, I looked at my color-coded calendar with admiration. Look at how organized you are! Look at how successful you will be! 

Then, when I got home, I immediately started on the first project in my queue. When it came time to decide how to quilt it, I froze. I couldn’t make a decision at all. With all kinds of fabric in my sewing area and my calendar breathing down my neck, I decided I’d put it aside and start the next project while waiting for inspiration to strike. Except, I couldn’t decide how to even piece the next project. Or the one after that. Or the one after that.

I had the worst case of quilter’s block I’ve ever had.

Simultaneous to this, we have been insanely busy with so many little life changes and occurrences in the past month. Mark started a new job, we got sick, the baby is teething, we’ve been house-hunting, etc. My free time is going to just sitting on the couch in exhaustion. Not physical exhaustion even: I’m just mentally tired. Spent.

Today I read this interesting article called 5 Scientific Secrets to High PerformanceOne of the first things they talk about in the article is how much energy goes into decision-making. If you’re expending energy to make many little decisions, you won’t have any left over for big ones. This is my life! I thought. The past month has been a relentless series of machine gun-style decision-making. What insurance plan do we want to choose? What houses do we want to go see? Which house did we like the best? Do we want to make an offer? What should the offer be? The list goes on and on.

So, I’ve scrapped my calendar. I wake up every day and hope that maybe today is the day that I find some untapped reservoir of energy and motivation and get started on something. Today was not that day. Maybe tomorrow will be.

Projects Galore

It’s been awfully quiet around here and on my Instagram, because I can’t post pictures of what I’m working on since it’s a gift for a friend and a surprise. Looking ahead, this is what I’ll soon be up to:

Valentine’s Quilt

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I have a Surrounded by Love charm pack (and some fat quarters) that I want to make a lap/throw quilt with. I’ve started playing around with ideas, but I’m really not too sure what I’m going to do with that yet. I need to decide like, yesterday, because Valentine’s isn’t too far away, and I want to get started on it by this weekend!

Bear Quilt

My good friend is expecting her second boy at the end of March. The theme of his room is bears. I just ordered the fabric for this, so I can’t start any actual work yet, but I need to settle on a pattern. I think I know what I’m going to do… but nothing is set in stone until the rotary cutter comes out. And even then I’ve been known to change my mind.

Honeysweet Quilt

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I got a surprise jelly roll in the mail yesterday from a friend! Getting a gift of fabric that you weren’t expecting- is there anything better? I think I am going to use it to make a quilt for my bed (finally!). I’ll need to get more fabric, but I need to decide what exactly I’m doing so I know how much fabric I’ll need (all the fabric!!). This is in the very early stages. I don’t expect I’ll get around to it for a bit, but it’s fun to think about all the same.

So, as you can see, a lot of thinking is happening over here. I’m in a weird sort of funk in which I have many projects (besides these) that I want to do, but I’m lacking in the inspiration department on how to execute them. Quilter’s block? Let’s go with that. I hope you are having better luck!

My Word for 2014

I’m home! After a week in New York visiting my family (and watching my brother and sweet new sister-in-law get married), we are back in Ohio and back to our routine. It was nice to see everyone, but it’s nice to be back. My mind has already turned to all of the projects that I know I want to do this year- keeping in mind, of course, my list of quilt goals for the year. This brings me to my word of the year.

Whitney at The Running Stitch has an amazing post up about what her word is for 2014 (seriously, go read it). I loved the idea so much I decided that I must have a word, too! I thought about it and decided that the best fit for this year is:

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Looking back at 2013, it was kind of a rough year. There were some definite high spots, like my sweet little Mellie being born, but there were many hard things as well. Ending the year at a wedding was so special because it was awesome to see the love, joy and excitement of the bride and groom and to be a part of their day. Their excitement was tangible, and it rubbed off and gave me a real sense of excitement and hope for 2014.

There are so many things I want to accomplish this year, both in quilting and personally. Looking ahead to all of it is more than a little bit daunting. I’m hopeful that this will be a banner year for me, and so my word is determination.

  • I am determined to work hard, and to be willing to take risks and try new things.
  • I am determined to kick bad habits and start good ones.
  • I am determined to continue learning and practicing to grow as a quilter.

So, that’s my word for the year. It’s the best word I can think of that captures an optimistic, can-do attitude that I hope stays with me in 2014.

If you have a word for the year, I’d love to hear it!

Final Finish of 2013!

Whew! This quilt was a marathon to get done in time to give to my mother-in-law for Christmas. And it was… an adventure. Let’s put it that way.

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One of the things I love about quilting is that there is always something new to do or try. The possibilities are endless. The flip side of that is that quilters can tend to get really particular about the materials that go into a quilt, and I am no exception. I only use Warm & Natural batting, and I only use Aurifil thread for piecing, and Isacord for free-motion quilting. The thread was the result of trial and error, but the batting isn’t at all. The first quilt I made I used Warm & Natural, and I’ve just kept using it ever since. I like it, and I’m used to it. Sometimes I’d toy around with the idea of branching out and trying something new, but when I’d finish a top and see all the time and work that goes into that part of the process, I’d chicken out. If it ain’t broke…

Well, I branched out this time, and not by choice. When I made a last-minute stop to buy batting for this, my Warm & Natural was gone! I didn’t have time to drive all around to find some, and beggars can’t be choosers, so I ended up getting Mountain Mist Cream Rose, because it looked and felt most similar to Warm & Natural out of the options I had.

When I basted it, it seemed so thin. Since I had to buy queen size batting, I decided I would double it up. Suddenly it was quite poofy. That poofy quilt was not so fun to maneuver around when I was quilting. It was thick and heavy, and I fought it the whole time.

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Little thimble just chilling…

 

I had to talk myself into being content after this quilt was done. Overall I think it looks nice, but on the micro level when I start to look at each individual petal and stitch that I couldn’t form just so because the weight of the quilt was pulling, I was starting to get bummed. But why do I feel like it needs to be 100%, absolutely perfect? Who is going to come take my quilting license away if some feathers go wonky? Nobody. And probably nobody will notice. I had to take my own advice and “be lovely to yourself.”

I wanted to do quilting that combined straight lines with free-motion, and I really like the effect overall. I like how the negative space is broken up by the quilting, and I think it gives a lot of visual interest. It was a fun quilt to end the year on!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I’ll be packing and cleaning all day, because I get to go back home to visit my family and attend my baby brother’s wedding, so I am officially on vacation for a week. 2013 was an awesome year, and I’ll see you on the flip side.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my home to yours!

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Linking up with Leah Day!

Crochet Hook Case and Another Finish

I’ve been waiting to blog about these for a bit, because they were gifts in a Secret Santa exchange and I didn’t want to risk the recipient seeing them before she received them!

My friend Julie loves to crochet, and she’s a whiz at it, so I made her a quilted case to hold her hooks:

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Yellow is her favorite color, and I happened to have some fun yellow fabric here!

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It rolls up, so it’s nice and portable:

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If you follow me on Instagram, you might recognize it as this:

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She has a four-year-old daughter, and I made her a quilt:

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This was the quilt that I free-motioned loopy daisies on.

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I used that blue daisy fabric and the coral swirl fabric from the backing and binding of the quilt in her crochet hook case, because I thought it would be neat for the two of them to have quilted gifts that match.

As for me, I’m still plugging away on the Christmas star quilt for my mother-in-law, but unfortunately have been seriously hindered by a terrible cold. It’s going to be a race to finish it in time for Christmas! I hope everyone is making progress in their projects. Can you believe Christmas is only five days away?