Friday, May 30, 2014

A garden of options

My garden inspired scrap project continues.

Have I mentioned yet today how much I love the log cabin block? One of the things that make it such a great block is that it works on it's own and in a big setting. I think it's very interesting how the effect of having only two rows has on a block. The overall design affect is very different than a big quilt that can carry a secondary pattern. Sometimes I look at a block design and think it's nice on it's own - or nice when there are a bunch of them and you get the overall effect. But the log cabin really works both ways for me.

O.K. My eight blocks are made. Decisions, decisions. Here are some possibilities for the layout of my table runner:

Option #1
Option #2

Option #3
Option #4

Option #5

Option #6

Option #7

What do you think? Hard to pick just one, I know!

And how are we doing in the Christmas category? When I pulled out the scraps for this project I was pondering whether I could do a red/white/green project and not have it scream Christmas. I think the jury is still out on this project but the tipping point may come with the quilting and the binding. Stay tuned...

Happy scrap stitching,


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Garden inspiration

Man, oh, man. The weather in my corner of the world has been beautiful lately. There has even been reported sightings of the S-U-N!!! (Well, o.k., not this last weekend - but before that!) It's also been time to get my veggie garden going. So I've been out weeding, and tilling, and weeding, and raking, and weeding, and planting....know what I mean?

All of this outdoor stuff cuts into my sewing time a little bit but that's o.k. It's also a great time to get some inspiration from the garden and use it on some smaller, more manageable projects. Especially scrappy ones!

I had a simple log cabin table runner in mind. What's not to love about the log cabin block? It's the queen bee of scrap thriftiness. Here are some of the scraps I pulled out - all 1-1/2" strips:

Can green and red be your main colors and not look like a Christmas project? I think so, but I think the key is the ratio of each. If you have equal amount of red and green, you might as well put a ribbon on it and put it under the tree. My plan is to use about 90% greens and white/lights with about a 10% accent of reds. Just about as much as you see in the picture. We'll see how it turns out!

Next, I'm adding some fussy cut 4" squares from a fabric featuring seed packets I had leftover from a different project:
(This fabric was so cool. It's an older fabric from a line called Annie's Farm House by Holly Holderman of Lakehouse Dry Goods. I bought and used it for some placemats I made for my mom a couple of years ago. The seed packets in the print feature the Card Seed Co. that was located in Fredonia, N.Y. - very near the little town my mom grew up in. If you click on the picture above, it should enlarge so you can see the print better.) Just for fun, check this out...

Anyway, back to the blocks! I'm using the fussy cut 4" squares as the center of my log cabin blocks and using the strips on light and dark sides, ending with white so it seems a bit more "summery". (Is that really a word?) I went out 3 logs on each side so I finished with a 10" block.

My plan is to make 8 blocks and try some different layouts but I should end up with a 20"x 40" runner for my oval kitchen table. I'll be back soon with some layout options!

Happy summer stitching,


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tickled Pink Take 2

Here's a little sew and share for you today. I had an email question a while back from Cindy about a border fabric I used in my Tickled Pink quilt that appeared in McCall's Quilting last July. She also shared a great idea for how she planned to make her version even more special for her little girl. She writes...

"...My daughter had a cat for 15 years and Tippy had an old pink quilt that she slept on. Tippy passed away last year and my daughter won't part with the old quilt that Tip slept on. It is very faded and threadbare. I work with a lady at Mayo Clinic who makes beautiful quilts as a hobby so I asked her if we could make a quilt and use Tippy's quilt for the inside material. That way my daughter would always have Tippy's quilt with her but inside a new quilt. When I suggested this to my daughter she was thrilled with the idea..."

I think that's such a great way to bring together the old and the new memories - all through a humble quilt. And look at the smile on this little cutie's face! (The little fur-baby in the corner looks like a keeper too!)
Cindy's friend and co-worker Rita made the quilt for her (nice friend! - hope you'll catch the quilting bug too Cindy!) I love the selection of fabrics chosen for your blocks. Thanks for sharing such a sweet idea for honoring memories through our quilting.

Happy stitching,


p.s. If you were curious about the border fabrics on this one too, the inner border is a Brandon Mably fabric from Westminster called Shingles and the outer border is Magenta Miami by Philip Jacobs.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Practice makes....not quite perfect, yet.

I have been quilting for about 10 years now and I have a love/hate relationship with free motion quilting. There. I said it. I want perfect stitches, smooth curves, even patterning and balanced tension. Right now. Is that too much to ask? Probably. After all, even after 10 years of making quilts, I haven't spent all that time honing my free motion skills. It's usually the part of the process that I have enjoyed the least - and spent the least amount of time on (so why am I surprised at my results?!) So I've been trying to take my own advice and spend some little snips of time practicing.

I have done my own quilting on many projects in the past up to twin size and I have also loved, loved, loved the talents of my favorite long arm quilters (and will continue to!) But I still want to improve my free motion skills and my main motivator is simply so that I enjoy it more!

Nothing big, nothing stressful. Sometimes just extra orphan blocks I have left over from a project, sandwiched up. I like these little minis because there's no stress and I can practice quilting designs without stressing about ruining a bigger project. It's a good time to test the thread color effects on different fabrics and block patterns. And the small size makes them very manageable under the machine.

Free motion practice, meandering with  loops
Here's the back (just batting, I didn't add a backing fabric on this one) but you can see the design better.
Under the machine, grippy gloves on - this means business!
For me, part of the success or enjoyment of free motion is becoming one with the machine! I basically have sewn on two different machines. They each seem to have distinct personalities, thread they like or don't like, certain stitches that go smooth as butter, and then others that are a thread-breaking nightmare.
This is what happens when I get too impatient and get lead-footed on the pedal.
 Tension issues!

This was the second pattern I practiced on today - kind of like a shark's fin, palm tree kind of motif. 
So to all of you fellow aspiring free motion quilters, I say, practice, persevere and may the force be with you! You are not alone! If you are anything like me, cut yourself some slack. At the end of the day, you are probably way more critical about your work than the folks that are receiving the lovely quilts you are making for them.

Happy stitching!