Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bookshelf Mini Finished!

I had so much fun making this bookshelf mini quilt. I have been somewhat down lately about starting school again and having to tuck away the sewing machine for awhile, but this project totally cheered me up. It was quick to put together, but full of creative potential.

My favorite thing about this quilt is using selvages for the book titles. I never would have thought that selvages could look so pretty!

This was my first time using Steam-A-Seam to iron on the book titles, and it worked great! I still stitched around the book titles for extra security and to make them pop.

The back is almost as cool as the front!

And best of all, it looks so stylish hanging above my sewing machine (although I need to come up with a more "stylish" hanging method that doesn't involve scotch tape).

I can envision a whole wall of these little quilts. Now you know how I'll be spending my spare time this fall, at least when I need a study break.

Friday, August 26, 2011

WIP, as in "Work in Progress"

I can be kind of dingy sometimes, which is why when I started quilting it took me awhile to figure out what in the heck WIP meant. This acronym kept popping up on quilting blogs, and I thought it must be some kind of weird technique that I was not yet aware of. Well, now that I know WIP means "work in progress" I have a sneak peak of a WIP to share! My bookshelf mini quilt!

Ever since I spotted this tutorial on Don't Call Me Betsy's blog, I knew I had to make one for myself. My "real" book collection is ever growing and if I'm not sewing, you will definitely find me reading. But since I have a rather large stack (or stacks) of books to read before I am allowing myself to buy more, I figured a fabric bookshelf is the next best thing.  

What better way to build a fabric bookshelf than from scraps?! I love a project where I can use up those little scraps of fabric that I just can't bear to part with. This project is perfect for that. But I couldn't resist buying some new fabric for the backing of my bookshelf mini quilt. Check it out- could it be any more perfect?

Now that I have been quilting for almost two months now, I completely understand why the acronymWIP is used so much in the quilting world. I typically have 4-5 WIPs going on at once and there are some quilters who have long lists of WIPs to share every week (just check out Don't Call Me Betsy's WIP Wednesdays). I guess this is just one of the things that comes with being a quilter.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Color Trends

I was reading Ryan Walsh's blog, I'm Just a Guy Who Quilts, the other day and he had a really interesting post about the color gray as a trend in the fabric market. He is starting a new thing called "Trendy Tuesday" where he talks about the latest trends going on in the fabric industry, which I think is really cool. I have always been interested in fashion and fabric. I actually took several classes in textile and apparel management when I was an undergrad. One of my most memorable experiences was the textile class I took where our exam consisted of identifying 100 swatches of fabric according to its material, hand, and weave. Call me crazy, but I thought this was the coolest test ever!

As a new quilter, one of the most exciting things for me has been learning about, selecting, and working with different fabrics. Although I have been working with all cotton in my quilts (and will probably continue to do so), there are so many different options out there as far as prints, colors, and textures. I love staying "in the know" about color trends and watching for new collections coming out from my favorite designers, such as Amy Butler and Michael Miller.

So, back to Ryan's post about the color gray. It struck me that the color gray is to the fabric industry as the color black is to the clothing industry. It's sleek, sophisticated, goes with everything, and never goes out of style. I have used gray in several of my quilts so far (my "Little Man" quilt and "Metro Pinwheels") and I love how it gives a modern flair to my quilts. I like that gray is neutral, but not white, and that it looks great paired with brighter prints. I have also been drawn to the fabric lines that contain a lot of gray such as Aneela Hoey's Sherbet Pips, Michael Miller's Citron and Gray,  and Bonnie and Camille's Ruby.

sherbet pips fabric bundle--6 half-yard pieces (3 yards total) from the Sherbet Pips Collection, Aneela Hoey, Moda Fabrics
I love the pink and gray combo of the Sherbet Pips collection. It would be perfect for a little girl's quilt!

Citron Gray Fat Quarter Bundle Michael Miller Fabrics
I used part of this line in my "Little Man" quilt.

Ruby Cotton Fat Quarter Bundle Bonnie & Camille for Moda Fabrics
I have some charm packs in the Ruby line and can't wait to make something out of them!
 On a side note, did you know that "gray" actually does have two spellings- something that I have been confused about for some time now. I did a google search on it and would you believe that there is actually a site devoted to this very topic: Who would have thought? And, both spellings ("grey" and "gray") are correct! The difference actually depends on where you live- if you live in the U.S., "gray" is more popular. Whereas in England, it's "grey." Weird, huh? The English teacher in my thinks this is interesting, but probably not all that interesting to anyone else.

Anyway, the point of this post is that Ryan's post on color trends inspired me to think about color. And what I realized is that color trends are everywhere. For example, how cool would it be to base a quilt on color trends in nail polish? This proves that inspiration can be found anywhere if you take the time to look for it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Stack is Growing

My stack of finished quilts is slowly growing- and no surprise, so is my list of projects to do! Today I finished quilting and binding my Nicey Jane quilt top, and I think it's a nice addition to the stack.

I quilted it the usual way- straight lines in the sashing and borders and to emphasize the squares. I really like how the quilting emphasizes this pattern. It's simple, but effective.

I pieced the back with two of my favorite prints from the Nicey Jane line, the stripes and the lindy leaf.
And the best part is, I have a pillow to match! Except now, I want more pillows. I guess I'll add it to the ginormous "to do" list.

With less than a week left before school is back in session, I'm pretty pleased with the progress I've made on my quilts. Once classes start, I know I won't have as much time to spend on quilting but I still hope to squeeze in a sewing moment every now and then. And maybe I'll have time for some smaller projects. I'm working on one right now that is going to be really cool if I can pull it off. We shall see...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Metro Pinwheels

Remember all of those colorful little pinwheel blocks? They are happy to have found a home in a new quilt.

I ended up using the gray linen-like fabric for the sashing that I had originally envisioned. This gray is from Robert Kaufman's Quilter's Linen line and the cool thing about this fabric is that it is 100% cotton but is made to look textured, like linen. It is kind of hard to find this fabric, but it has been popping up on Etsy recently. I purchased it from the Fresh Modern Fabric shop on Etsy, which has some really cool modern fabric if you are looking for something different and unique. 

You can kind of see the linen texture in the following picture but you really have to see it in person to appreciate the effect it gives the quilt. 

I really like how the dark gray tones down the bright colors of Kate Spain's Central Park fabrics. I had thought about using white sashing instead, but after seeing the finished quilt, I am really glad I went with the gray.            
I used straight line quilting in the sashing and borders, just like I did with my "It's Hip to be Square" quilt, and I think it turned out great. The back is probably my favorite part of this quilt because it looks like it could be the front. And that purple and gray color combination is so metro looking.
Although this quilt is small (it only measures about 31 inches square), I think it has a lot of personality, and it is completely reflective of the modern take on quilting that has inspired me as a new quilter. Now, if I was only brave enough to make a bigger version of this quilt....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's Hip to be Square

I finished up another quilt top that has been hanging in my closet for awhile. This one is called "It's Hip to be Square." I thought this was an appropriate name for the quilt because the fabrics, which are from Liz Scott's Sugar Pop line, are retro inspired and the quilt is made up of 5 inch charm squares.

Because the quilt is such a simple design, I really wanted to do something different with the quilting to make the fabrics pop. I still used straight lines, but instead of quilting the entire quilt with lines, I used them to enhance the square design of the quilt. I stitched both horizontal and vertical lines in the sashing between the squares and then I quilted continuous lines around the borders. I also used echo quilting by stitching about a 1/4 inch within each square. The quilting was more work than I expected it to be, but I am thrilled with the results. I love how the quilting draws your eye to the focus of the quilt, which are the squares.

Here's a closeup of the quilting. One great thing about straight line quilting is that once your quilt is washed and dried, a lot of your stitching flaws disappear!

The back is pieced, of course. I have a hard time not piecing a back- I just love how it adds something extra to the quilt. And, you can't see him but my husband is standing behind the quilt. I coerced him into helping me with my photo session this morning while he was getting coffee in the kitchen!
I take a lot of pictures of my quilts (I'm sure you've noticed), but one of my favorite shots is of the quilt casually folded, like it's sitting there waiting to be used. My quilts are definitely made to be used, and I think this one found its first user....

My Sadie seems to really like this quilt. Either that or she was jealous that I was taking pictures of my quilt and not paying any attention to her. Just look at that face! Those puppy dog eyes get me every time.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Little Man" Quilt

I finished up my "Little Man" quilt this weekend and I think it turned out super cute.

I just love this pattern by Camille Roskelley. It is simple and modern and I love how it showcases the fabrics. The quilting of this quilt didn't go quite as smoothly as I would have liked. While quilting, I accidentally stitched a fold into the back of my quilt and ended up ripping out about 13 lines of stitches as a result. It was pretty painful, but I'm kind of glad it happened because now I know to be extra careful to prevent this from happening in the future. As the saying goes, live and learn.

I think what I like most about this quilt is the way the soft muted colors create an understated but cohesive look. The fabrics are from Michael Miller's Citron and Gray collection. I used Kona cotton in Ash for the sashing which is one of my favorite solids. I tend to gravitate toward brighter colors in my quilts so I was surprised to find how much I ended up liking this muted yellow and gray color combination.

The bicycle print really makes this quilt so I knew I had to use it on the back too. And look, no folds! You would never know how much time I spent carefully taking out those rows of stitches!

I will definitely be using this pattern again to make more quilts. I have some fabric in my stash that has "Little Man" written all over it, so be on the lookout for more like this!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Moving Along

I finished up another quilt yesterday and took these pics after taking it out of the dryer. I gotta say I am loving the walking foot for straight line quilting. I have not had any problems with the quilt layers shifting and the guide bar makes it really easy to keep those lines straight. I also learned how to baste my quilts using 505 spray adhesive and I can't imagine basting any other way. It is super easy and works great. Thanks to my Mom for introducing me to this method!

The binding turned out much better this time. I used the same method of machine stitching the binding to the back of the quilt by stitching in the ditch on the front, but I made a few alterations. I made my binding 2 1/4 inches instead of 2 1/2 and I also sewed the binding strips together using a diagonal seam instead of straight across. I didn't think this would make much of a difference, but it made those seams much less bulky. I also used thread in my bobbin to more closely match the binding. I am really pleased with the results and think this is an efficient and effective way to attach the binding.

The quilting really stands out in this picture. I used straight vertical lines spaced one inch apart again and I really like how it transforms the quilt. It is modern but it also gives the quilt that soft textured look that makes it cuddle worthy.

I was surprised at how quickly these small quilts come together. They can easily be finished up in a day. Which is great if you're making a gift for someone and have a deadline.

On to the next project. If I had as many quilts as I have books, then I'd really have a problem. I wonder if that's even possible...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Getting Distracted

I know I should really be working on finishing up the projects that are currently hanging in my closet waiting to be quilted, but I got a little distracted today. So, this is what I did instead.

These pinwheel blocks were kind of addicting once I figured out how to do them. It was a little tricky at first figuring out how to sew the pieces together and which way to press the seams. But after doing 25 of them, I think I got it. I was even able to make a really cute scrappy border from the extra material. I love it when I can use my scraps. Now, I just have to decide what color of sashing to pair with these bright and cheery blocks. I am thinking maybe a gray cotton with a linen-like texture to make it modern.

I just love a stack of finished blocks! Now that I have these blocks out of my system, hopefully I can get back to quilting those patiently waiting projects.

The First of Many

My very first quilt is finished! Binding and all!

I quilted it with straight vertical lines spaced about 1 inch apart. At first, I thought the lines might be spaced too close together, but I really liked the effect once it was completely finished. It adds so much texture to the quilt and really makes the fabric stand out.

The back is pieced with the same fabrics from the front. I have to admit that the binding is a little sloppy although you can't tell from the pictures. I wanted to experiment with machine stitching the binding to the back of the quilt instead of hand sewing it, which is something I still need to learn how to do. Rita from Red Pepper Quilts has a great tutorial on her blog for machine stitching the binding. (just search for binding tutorial on her blog). Her directions were easy to follow and I really liked the idea of not having to mess with hand sewing. You machine stitch the binding to the front of the quilt, just like with the traditional method, but when you fold the binding over to the back of the quilt you stitch in the ditch on the front of the quilt which catches the binding on the back. Rita explains it much better, but that is the general idea. I think I would have liked it better if I had used thread that matched the binding in my bobbin (which the directions tell you to do- unfortunately my thread stash does not include neon green thread). But, I would definitely try this method again. I am sure with practice, I would master this method.    

I couldn't wait to get this quilt in the wash to give it that soft crinkly look that I love, and straight from the dryer it is perfect! It's just waiting to be used!

I am completely hooked. If I had any doubts before, now I know that this quilt is only the first of many in my future. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Making Progress

Are you ready for this? I can officially say I quilted!! After getting my walking foot this weekend, I didn't waste any time diving into my very first quilting projects. Like I said before, I wanted to start small so I quilted my pillowcases, which didn't take long at all once I got into the groove. Here they are finished.

I'm really quite pleased with how they turned out. I kept it simple with straight horizontal lines going across the pillows. Although the quilting isn't fancy, I love the texture the horizontal lines give to the pillows. I also think this type of quilting lets the fabric speak for itself.   

Since the pillows went so well, I felt more confident about starting on my quilts. I am about half way done with my first one, and so far it is going great. Once I got over my fear of ruining my quilt, I was able to relax and have fun. I've heard people say that quilting is relaxing which I never quite understood, but now I get it. There is something about sitting down at a machine for several hours and doing nothing but stitching that creates a sense of calm. That is, when my dog isn't begging to be let outside every five minutes.

I should have more to show soon! I have a closet full of quilt tops just begging to be quilted!  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Testing Skills

So, I've been doing so many simple quilts lately that I decided it was time to try something a little more challenging to test my quilting skills. And, they were definitely tested with this quilt. I am sure for an experienced quilter this type of pattern would be a breeze, but for a beginner quilter I found it a little tricky.

The blocks that make up this quilt are called bow tie blocks. They are made by putting a smaller square on top of a larger square and stitching across the small square diagonally. Once stitched, you cut across the diagonal line (leaving a 1/4 in. seam allowance) and flip the triangle up to complete the square. I've heard of these referred to as stitch and flip squares. Anyway, the point is it took me some practice before I really felt comfortable making these blocks (my seam ripper became my best friend during this project). I also struggled a little with matching the seams once I put all of the blocks together. With this type of quilt pattern, it is important that the seams match because otherwise, it will not create that neat hexagon shape that defines this quilt.

Although the seams aren't matched perfectly, I am pretty happy with the way it turned out and I am glad I gave it a shot. I would definitely make more quilts like this. I think it would make a really cute wall hanging in a baby's room.

This quilt pattern is a more traditional design and I used vintage-style prints (the fabric is from Tanya Whelan's Delilah line). But I think the bright white gives it a more modern feel. I also love that scrappy border surrounding the quilt - adds a little something special.

I used up extra scraps on the back. I really like that rose and polka dot print. I could see a chair made out of it, or maybe a pillow. Hmm....

Since I have no idea how to upholster a chair, I will have to settle for a pillow! I told you there would be more of these! I just might need a bigger couch to fit them all.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vintage, Yet Modern

This is one of my favorite quilts that I have pieced so far. The fabric is Nicey Jane by Heather Bailey and it has a vintage feel to it. But I think the white sashing and the simple design of this quilt make it very fresh and modern. I also like how this fabric collection pairs modern and graphic prints with the more vintage florals. I think they work together nicely. Once it's finished this quilt just might find a home on my guest bedroom wall for awhile. It makes me happy looking at it.

I am also working on a pillow to match! I can see how these could be really addicting. They are fast to make and I am always changing the decor in my house. So, don't be surprised if you see a lot more of these! You can never have enough pillows, right? Oh wait, maybe that's shoes.
As for what I am working on now, a boy quilt! And, no I am not expecting (sorry to disappoint you Mom- I know you're reading this). But, my husband and I do plan on starting a family some time in the near future so I figured it would be a good idea to have some baby quilts on hand. For some odd reason, I have a feeling we will have boys (probably because my husband really wants a son who he can hunt and fish with). I have a hard time finding "boy" fabric that I actually like, so I was thrilled when I found this cute bicycle print by Michael Miller of his Citron and Gray collection!

The quilt pattern I am using is called "Little Man." It is featured in Camille Roskelley's new book Simplify, which I love. Again, it is a simple design but modern and perfect for today's "little man." Can't wait to show you more of this one! By the way, my Mom is coming to visit this week and will be bringing my much awaited walking foot! So, hopefully I will soon have some actual quilting to share. I think I am going to start small- like with the pillow!  

Monday, August 1, 2011

Let the Quilting Journey Begin!

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Jenny and I am a new quilter! (Click on my name on the right side of this page to read more about me). This is my first post and I am excited to be joining the blogland of quilters. Today I just want to share how my interest in quilting began and show you the very first quilts I pieced (they are not actually quilted yet, but that is my next goal!). About a month ago, I decided I was going to give quilting a shot. My Mom has been sewing since she was a child, but she just got into quilting about a year ago. Ever since then, she has been trying to persuade me to join the quilting bandwagon. Keep in mind that at this point I did not even know how to sew. To be honest, I always thought quilting was for old ladies. The words "modern" and "quilt" are not words that I associated with one another. But, I started avidly reading blogs about quilting (such as Diary of a Quilter, Cluck Cluck Sew, and  Red Pepper Quilts) and discovered just how modern and fresh quilting can be. So, I spent a week this summer with my Mom and learned how to quilt!

This is the very first quilt that I pieced during the week that I spent with my Mom.

This quilt was made with Riley Blake's Sweet Nothings line of fabric. I immediately fell in love with this fabric line- it is very girly and I liked how all of the bright colors worked together. This quilt is baby-quilt sized (perfect size for starting out) and is a very simple design (also perfect for starting out). With this quilt, I learned the basics of quilting- rotary cutting, 1/4 inch seam allowance, and matching seams. By no means is this quilt perfect. But I have since learned that quilting is not about being perfect. I recently read a blog that said the imperfections of a quilt are what give it character. I loved this comment, and will try to keep it in mind with each quilt that I make (for those of you who don't know me, I am a huge perfectionist). I have also learned the importance of naming your quilts, so this one I am naming "Whimsy Garden."

Here are a few more baby quilts that I pieced on my own.

This one I am calling "Sweet Tooth." It is a coin strip quilt (although I didn't know that's what it was called until after I made it!) I used the Sugar and Spice fabric line by The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake. It just reminds me of candy!

This is another coin strip quilt made with the same line, Sugar and Spice, in a different colorway. I did a pieced back, which is on the left in the picture. I have found that I absolutely love pieced backs. Even though they take more time, they are a lot of fun and I think they are also very fresh and modern. They are also a great way to use up extra scraps from the quilt top! This quilt I am naming "Picnic in the Park." By the way, did I mention that I love red polka dots? Well, I do!

I realize this blog is getting exceedingly long, so time to wrap it up. I hope you enjoyed reading about my first quilts. My next goal is to actually start quilting these- a process that I am very nervous about but excited to learn also. I am going to start with straight line quilting and see how it goes. Free motion quilting is something that I would eventually love to learn how to do, but it seems a little overwhelming at this point. Stay tuned for more of my quilting journey!