Friday, April 30, 2010

Retro Wave Quilt

First I saw these frolicking puppies.

And then these adorable elephants.

And they both found their way into this quilt, which is made up of 30's reproduction fabrics and feedsack prints. It seems everyone in the world has made one of these quilts. This is the first time I've ever followed an actual quilt pattern and I must say, I like that all of the measurements and "quilt math" have been done for me. This is a pretty straightforward pattern and the instructions are easy to follow. I've got all the sashing cut out and three of the columns completed. It's coming together pretty fast so I should have no problem getting this one done for my Spring to Finish challenge. And I'm more than half-way done with the hand-sewing part of binding Owen's I Spy quilt. YAY ME!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring to Finish :: Update

I don't know how, but I managed to get a few things done over the past couple of days. The reason I don't know how it happened is because things have been weirdly busy around here - in-laws over for a visit and dinner over the weekend, getting the garden all planted, taking my sweetpea to get the staples taken out of her head - you know, the usual.

So, those up there are the two potholders I needed to finish - both in yummy Amy Butler fabric that I didn't have very much of but LOVE to look at. I'll probably end up using them more as hot pads because most of my potholders end up getting pretty gnarly after I've used them in my actual cooking adventures.

Even better: the I Spy quilt I'm making for Owen is amazingly close to being finished! All the quilting is done and the binding has been attached. Only the hand-sewing finishing of the binding is left to be done. YAY! Tried a couple of new things with this project. One was using nylon/transparent thread to do the grid quilting. I was having a heck of a time trying to decide what color thread to use with the variety of prints in the quilt and figured I'd give the transparent stuff a try.

After finishing the top I have to say I'm not really a fan. Well, I'm thrilled with how it looks because the stitching really is almost invisible and I think that's way better than how it would have looked if I'd had to choose a color and just run with it. But my machine was not so thrilled with it and I had a pretty steep learning curve in terms of tension and general handling of this type of thread. I won't say I'd NEVER use it again but I do prefer cotton thread.

Okay, I really struggled with how to quilt the red border. I knew it needed something but I wasn't really sure what. Originally, I was going to do a kind of wonky zigzag but I ended up doing this swirly free-motion design. It's a little rough because I'm still very VERY new at free-motion quilting, but overall I'm pretty happy with it. I think you can get away with a lot on a kiddo quilt. What I see as huge glaring mistakes actually kind of add to the charm of a children's quilt. Some places remind me of Owen's scribbles!

And I LOVE that red and yellow cherry print!

Friday, April 23, 2010

My reality.

Sometimes I get really down on myself because I can't be working on my various projects. But then I realize that when I spend my time with this guy:

who can ALWAYS make me laugh,

and this girl, who has a pretty serious crush on piles of dirt,

and bowls of brownie batter;

that's when I realize I'm already working on my best projects ever!

The quilts and crafts sometimes have to wait, because my kids aren't going to. They keep growing and changing right before my eyes. And I don't want to miss it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Little Retail Pick-Me-Up

Okay, so I was feeling the need to visit my local IKEA and see what new goodies were lining the shelves. This may have been the first trip out there this year. Because I had an adorable 2 1/2 year old companion with a low threshold for this kind of outing, we ditched the showroom and went straight for the marketplace. I saw this and it was love at first sight:

I love the pink owl there in the corner. Isn't she fabulous?

And then I had to get some of this fabric - bright and cheery with a good dose of humor.

Check out the rams - either nuzzling or about to lock horns. You decide!

And this awesome mountain climber.

And these floating (?) ram heads.

I have no idea what I'll do with it, but I HAD to have it. Thank you, IKEA, for making my morning.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ahhhh! The Pressure!

I thrive under stress. And I love a challenge. And I sometimes need someone else to light a fire under my booty in order to get things done. That's why I joined Spring to Finish over at Tallgrass Prairie Studio. Nothing like a little public accountability to give me that extra little incentive to get sewing!
So, my goals are to do the following by the May 31 deadline:
  • finish two more potholders (yummy Amy Butler fabric!)
  • complete I Spy quilt
  • piece my retro wave quilt (baste, quilt and bind if possible)
  • piece Farmer's Market picnic quilt
Anything else would be awesome but I already feel daunted by my list! Time is a pretty precious commodity when there are two kiddos constantly underfoot. But no excuses! That's my list and I'm going to do my darndest!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Well, doing the I Spy quilt forced me to rearrange my work room and finally put up a design wall. YAY! There was no way I was going to just start stitching those squares together without knowing that I wasn't going to end up at the end with a big clump of dark ones in one area or two matches close together.

Did I mention the whole matching thing before? Well, my big boy is kind of enamored of matching things and finding pairs so I made two squares of each pattern for him to "spy" and then match. I really like how it worked out for a few reasons. One, it meant two games in one quilt. It also meant that I could get more bang for my buck when acquiring fabric. There are something like 120 different prints in the whole thing. I would have had to double that if I hadn't done the matching thing. Oh, and a side note, by making 4.5 inch squares, I was able to get away with only getting an eighth of a yard of each print. From that I was usually able to fussy cut at least four squares, sometimes more. So, after my eyes adjust back to normal from making this one, I've got another one all cut out and ready to assemble for little sis. I was thinking about making one for next year's preschool auction, but I have to admit that I don't think I've been bit by the I Spy bug. I'm glad to be making these ones, but I'd rather get back to my other stuff. I'm so selfish!

Anywho, spent a good amount of time last night stitching away on this puppy. The entire quilt top (with red and black borders) will probably be finished by the end of the weekend. This is probably where I should admit that this is the first quilt top I've done pressing my seams to one side instead of just open. I'm sure there are still times when I will press open but it really does make it easier to match up those intersecting seams. It's fun to be a beginner - there's always cool stuff to learn and try out!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


My very first potholders.

The Portland Modern Quilt Guild is having a potholder swap at their next meeting so I figured I'd better get busy and make one. Well, much like potato chips, it's hard to stop at one. I've finished these two and have three more cut and ready to be assembled later tonight. I'd never made a potholder before and it was really fun! I expect I'll be making up a bunch of these to give as gifts and my kitchen will probably get a few to add to it's wardrobe as well.

I really like this bright floral print but it is REALLY bright! A little dab'll do ya. But I do love the happy colors and the stripey binding. It all feels very spring to me.

The back and binding. I love knowing the CORRECT way to do binding! I cringe when I look at my first few attempts on my earliest quilts but I guess you have to start somewhere.

This was one of those fabrics that I bought with no plan for it at all. I just really really liked it. Those flowers are so yummy!

The back and binding. I have to admit I kind of have a crush on the whole binding process. I use a 2 1/4" strip and love the hunky chunky way the edges look and feel when it's all finished. I also really enjoy hand-stitching the binding in place - very relaxing.

So, the other thing I did with these potholders was a very simple wonky straight line quilting. I was going to try free motion quilting but the quilt sandwiches were pretty thick after adding the insul-brite and cotton batting. I like how they are both simple but have a little personality. And I learned that a little wonk goes a long way. Can't wait to try it on a bigger quilt.

Now I just need to figure out which one I'll be taking for the swap!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Crazy for Coffee Cozies

Raw materials

My first cozy!

My favorite!

Having so much fun making some small projects that give me a chance to practice free-motion quilting. Mostly, it just scares me crazy to think about doing all that work to piece together a beautiful quilt top and then I am convinced that I'll screw up the quilting part by trying to FMQ so I chicken out and never even try.

Well, I finally came to the realization that I could quilt something a little bit, you know, SMALLER than a whole quilt and maybe, just maybe, I'll practice on enough small stuff to get the courage to attempt something larger.

Inspired by the blog Anyone Can Quilt and Sarah's gorgeous cozies I figured I'd make a few to work on FMQ and practice attaching binding. Well, mine will never be as completely adorable as hers (and check out her etsy shop for even more fabulousness), I think I did a pretty good job. And I feel like my morning cuppa joe is one of the most well-dressed coffees in town!

Next on my list: potholders! I'll be making one (my very first!) for the next Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting swap. Lots of firsts: first guild meeting, first swap and first potholder. Very exciting!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Poochie Bags and Crayon Rolls, Oh My!

Found this great little tutorial over at Happy Zombie
for these sweet little bags so I had to make one for each of my kiddos. Also made little crayon rolls and put a little sketch book in the bag for each of them.

This all came about because Owen's preschool has a literacy project where each child gets to take home a class critter (stuffed animal) about once a month. There are five different animals and they each come in a little canvas bag with their own book and their own journal. Each time we've had a critter, we take lots of pictures and Owen will dictate to me what to write in the journal. He likes to pick out what color marker I use and then he also usually draws a picture to go with that day's entry. He LOVES it! I figured we could start doing a little journaling over the summer when preschool is out. This little bag set will be perfect. Plus, he picked out the lizard material himself.

Bailey loves to do anything Owen does so she gets her own bag, journal and crayon roll, too. Her favorite color (of the moment anyway) is orange and she picked out the orange and yellow floral stripes for her bag. My favorite thing about making the crayon rolls is that it gave me a chance to practice free-motion quilting. It scares the bejeezus out of me to think about doing a whole quilt but I enjoy getting the chance to do some little practice pieces. Maybe someday I'll work up the nerve. Until then, I'll stick with my little crafty projects.