Sunday, March 22, 2015

Elephant Parade table topper

I'm so happy to tell you, I completed my elephant table topper today!
You can find the instructions for the blocks on Lorna's site at
http://sewfreshquilts.blogspot.com/p/elephant-parade.html
 
I had assistance while quilting last night, Thomas made sure to sleep while I stayed awake, so I leeched energy off him.

Trusty Bernina is working like a charm!  I used my Clover Wonder Clips to help keep the fabric rolled up as I quilted, it worked just fine and didn't leave any lasting marks.

You can see the quilting from the front pretty well in this photo.

Here is Belle, helping me sew the binding on by chewing on the clips.  Thanks little one!
 
This is the first time she's experienced hand sewing, and the first time I've tried to do so with a cat on my lap.  I'll get it figured to where it won't feel all twisted like a pretzel.
 
 
Thomas is wondering why I'm outside in my pajamas...
 
 
I quilted around the heart with red thread on top and bottom after I took this photo
 
This little guy finished at 22" x 12.5"
 
Things I learned:
-use 2 layers of batting if you're going to FMQ, it will make it poof out in a nicer way.  I did not do so in this, and I remember saying the same thing when I worked on my dresden flower
-I left the ears with no quilting on them, and I love how they feel when I run my hand over the top, very soft and silky
-I need to not quilt after 8pm, I tend to get into "hurry up" mode and my quilting does not look as nice
-I should probably add a sleeve or hanging corners to ALL my pieces, whether I think they'll hang or not (I'm planning on entering this at our quilt festival later this year, pretty sure I'll need a sleeve)
-this would make a really cute wall hanging for a nursery, I see some more in my future for baby shower gifts
 
Also, from now on, when someone compliments my work, I will say "thank you" and not point out all the flaws I know exist.  And I will work on not running through the flaws in my head either.  I noticed myself doing this on Saturday, and it's a bad habit I do not want around, so I'm taking steps to make it better.  Do any of you find yourself doing this too?  How do you help keep yourself from going down that path?
 
Thank you for visiting, I hope you'll be inspired to make one of your own, and please feel free to leave some comment love!
 
~Brandy

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Snapshots QAL March Block

 
 
Oh dear, it has happened.  I have officially deviated from the very first block of the month I've ever participated in.  I didn't realize I'm such a rebel!  The thing is, I connect so much with the concept of the quilt, capturing moments in my life with fabric (and in a quilt!) but when the teapot came along, it didn't click (haha, pun intended).  It has no intrinsic value to me.  But a nice hot mug of hot chocolate, oh yeah, there are memories there!
 
I used the pattern for the mug from the free pattern In From the Cold available from Moda.  Here's a link to where you can find all sorts of free patterns from their blog!

Pixelated much?

Pressed all my seams open.

The butterfly is inspired by the pattern from Fig Tree & Co.  I do not have the pattern, I just figured out the measurements I needed for my block, but it certainly looks a lot like Joanna's, so I give her credit.  You can get her pattern here.
Also, I just really like butterflies, that's why it's on my mug.

And here is my nearly completed block!  I have not actually sewn the white pieces around it to bring the block to the 12.5" x 16.5" size that the blocks have been finishing at, because I noticed they end up with what looks like an additional 1" white border before the red border, and I would rather do a solid piece all the way to the edge, less waste that way.
 
And I am so happy so say I organized myself a little!  I was carrying my fabric for this quilt along on a cutting mat for the last 2 months, and finally remembered we have these nice little storage boxes that they would fit in.
 





A mug memory for you: when I was growing up it seemed like it always started snowing at 9pm, so dad would let us play outside for a while (even though it was past our bedtime) and mom would prep these huge mugs of hot chocolate for my sister and I.  My mug has a peach on a blue background with a yellow brim, my sister's has grapes on a yellow background.  I also still will join my mom for cups of cocoa when I go to her house sometimes, and we just sit and pass the breeze.  It's so relaxing.
 
Thank you for stopping by, have a great day!
~Brandy
 
 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The fastest I've ever made a quilt (so far)

Some background:
John and I had been planning a visit to his hometown of Eureka, CA for over a year before we were finally able to make it happen this last weekend.  It had been 5 years since we'd last been down!  It's a 12 hour drive, and we knew it would cost at least $400 just in gas, thus the wait.  Then gas prices dropped, and his grandmother offered to host us at her house, and we said let's do it!  So we drove down Thursday, and came back Sunday, then suffered all this last week from lack of sleep and exhaustion.  The price you pay!n
 
Now, one of the things I was most excited for was to meet our niece, Eryka, for the first time since she was only 1 month old the last time we saw her.  I decided the Saturday before we left that I wanted to take her a quilt, as her 5th birthday is next month.  Since John and I are working on keeping our budget under control I decided to try to work completely from the fabric I have on hand.  Turns out I had a charm pack from Southern Fabric called Textured Basics that I had ordered with a sale-priced charm thinking I would like the colors more, and it turned out it was a different palette than I care for.  But it is perfect for a 5 year old!  I like bright colors when used with black borders, so I used up the rest of the black yardage I had on hand.  I see why people invest in solid jellyrolls, it would save quite a bit of time in the assembly process.
 
 
We had all sorts of things happening that weekend, so I was squeezing in 10 minutes here and there throughout the weekend and the 3 days at work.
 
 
I tried using my bodkin to help keep the fabric in line all the way to the needle, and wow!  All those people on YouTube really DO know what their talking about!  LOL  Seriously though, when I tried leading the fabric in with my fingers it kept wandering off course, and with the bodkin it stayed where it needed to and I was able to keep my seams laying the way I wanted them to.
 
I had some assistance, they were quite confused about this "thing" in the middle of the racetrack (aka our living room)
 
  I had the top finished by Tuesday, then started on the back, which I had decided would be made with recycled jeans so she can use it outdoors with confidence.  I completed the back Wednesday morning, and ended up spray basting because I had just used all my basting pins on my log cabin quilt.  Turns out, spray basting is really nice!  It also doesn't stick to denim as well, FYI.  I assume it was because I didn't use quite enough, or just because the weight of the material.
 
I asked John to take a couple photos of me quilting, as proof that I really did do this :)
I used black Aurifil thread on top and in the bobbin, remembered to put in a denim needle, dropped my feed dogs, and lowered my tension to 2.  It is really nice not having to work around basting pins.

I have learned a lot from following Lori at The Inbox Jaunt, and highly recommend her site.
You may notice that I am wearing gloves that are not the ones you may normally see for quilters, that's because this is what I had on hand (ha ha), they are gardening gloves that are form fitting and they breathe.  I feel like they are a lot of help with maintaining control of my quilts as I move them around.

You can see thought that I didn't have problems with the back tucking on me, it actually held tight pretty well!  So I started the quilting process at 2pm on Wednesday, and finished putting the binding on (completely by machine) at 11:30pm.  I did stop to help pack suitcases and made dinner too.  I tried to add up the total hours on this quilt, 2.5 hours cutting strips and the jeans out, 3 hours piecing front and back, 5 hours quilting, and 1 hour for the binding.  Of course, all those numbers are approximate, I may have been even slower, or maybe faster!  It's so hard to keep track when you're doing all these other things in between.  But still, only 12 hours total to bring together a great picnic quilt for a 5 year old?
 
You can see here how I used the legs of the jeans to create the backing.  After I cut them apart, I sorted the pieces into two piles in a color order so it was kinda dark-light-dark etc., then sewed them end to end.  Then I cut I so each row would be the same length and have some extra for the quilting process.  I ended up having just enough, it's as if it were meant to be!

And here's pretty little Eryka, being a good model for Aunt Brandy.  She opened it while we were driving to Sequoia Park, and I loved it when she started tracing the quilting and said "Oh, I just love the pretty design"  I finally understood this statement: My heart sang when she said that. :)  Complete validation for my hard work (and last minute decision making).
 
Here is John and Joe (his brother) as we walked down the jetty.  Joe is his younger brother, and Eryka's daddy.  We were so glad to see him as a father, he's doing such a great job.

And Uncle John getting some fun times in with Eryka!  The trip went well, we got to see his parents in a healthy state of mind (recovering drug addicts) and visit with his grandma and her sister, Aunt Margaret, who is 92, and also spend quality time with Joe and Eryka.  We even saw John's best friend from high school for a little bit!  Also, the guys let me visit the local quilt shops, so here's a shout out to Bunny Hop, Ocean Waves Quilts, Fortuna Fabrics & Crafts, and Eureka Fabrics.
 
I am really proud of myself for making this quilt all with things on hand, I didn't even have to purchase batting for once!  I made sure to buy a large batting with a Christmas gift card while it was on sale at JoAnn Fabrics so I would have it on hand for my table runners and such, and this took a good sized chunk of it, but it was totally worth it.  For future reference, use at least 2 layers of batting if you are having jeans as the backing, the seams are quite thick and poke through a single layer easily.
 
This quilt measures 45" x 45" finished, and I signed it on the front, with a dedication to Eryka and the date.
 
I will sign off with a photo of our celebratory pie in honor of Pi Day (3/14/15 aka 3.1415926) which John and I ate at 9:26 this morning:

Have a super sparkly day!
~Brandy

Monday, February 23, 2015

Playing catch up

Just on my blog posts really, I've been keeping pretty busy, so here's photos of what I've been up to:
 
I participated in my first Quilts of Valor Sew In with some ladies in my guild.  I was only able to stay for half the day, but it was a lot of fun and I look forward to contributing again in the future.  My machine is the unmanned one at this table :)
 
 
Tried my hand at the disappearing hourglass, a mini of course, look at how tiny this thing is!
 
Treated myself to the Tri-Recs ruler so I can work on this awesome wall hanging I got from Connecting Threads.  So far I have everything ready to sew it all together, and the ruler made the cutting so much easier.
 
Thomas decided this was where he was going to lay at that moment, and nothing phased him for 30 minutes.  It was his spot.
 
I modeled my 2nd Snapshots block after my own machine, I may or may not keep it that way, I'll wait til we make the other blocks.  I do have plans to alter the vehicle block to look like my truck, and will change the teapot into a cocoa mug (I just have no teapot association at all...)
 
#fqssnapshots blocks one and two
 
And finally, John and I have been getting out into the sunshine, it's been great to get some walks in.  Today it was only 30 degrees, but the last couple weeks it's been in the 50s.  Weirdest winter, and I so wanted snow on my birthday last Wednesday.  But I settled for a delicious homemade steak dinner (which I made, my mom and I share a birthday so we had dinner with mom, dad, and my sister at my mom's house).  I actually had a really fabulous birthday!  Hard to go wrong when it starts with a foot massage.
 
And here's some happy cats:
 
Pillow Talk

"My kitty!" Thomas is telling me

Ahhh, sunshine
 
Have a happy day!
~Brandy

Monday, February 9, 2015

There are some perks to being sick...

Such as actually having time to write a blog post!  And getting some lap time with the kitty.
 
 
Belle has become quite the snuggler, and is actually asleep on my lap as I type this.  Thomas is getting better about letting us pet him, and occasionally hold him for a few moments.  Belle doesn't like being held.  I'm still very happy with how well they are adjusting.  Also, a plug for Fresh Step cat litter, WOW!  That stuff is incredible, and saves our home from smelling really awful.  Thank you to that company and the people who made such a thing possible.  I still think we ought to train the cats to use the toilet though... lol
 
So I am participating in a parade!  Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts is hosting a sew along for this adorable pattern she came up with, and I was instantly attracted to.  I love the colors.  I'm not obsessed with elephants, but I have a friend who is, so I made this for her:
 
 
 
 
 
I have it basted and ready to quilt, and hope to get it done in the next couple days to send off, she lives in Texas and has no idea it's coming
(as far as I know she doesn't read this blog...)
 
I actually had a customer recently!  I had dropped business cards at the quilt shops in case someone needs a small quilt quilted, or for when people who don't sew ask at the shop if someone can make a quilt for them, then they have my information, and a lady called with a top finished but needing quilting.  I was so excited!!  I did learn that I did not charge enough, basically I ended up being paid $5 an hour to quilt this for her, so lesson learned.  I underestimated how long it would take to do this (took over 8 hours) and I will not undervalue my time!  I'm worth more and am well aware of it.
 
 
I ended up not quilting on the bear, but did outline any place with lace, mainly to make sure the lace wouldn't get pulled out by small hands.  Also, that binding was from a yard sale, a JCPenney brand of pre-made binding which was in surprisingly good shape, but probably 40 years old.  I was a little nervous about it, but we shall see if I hear back from them.
 
Super Bowl Sunday was exciting, I made this block, which will become a pillow sham, and I'm trying out a different method of assembly which I will share in the future, when I actually get it finished.  I just LOVE this mottled brown I got, perfect football color.  I made this block based on the Touchdown pattern by Cluck Cluck Sew
 
Made some homemade bread for our chili cookoff, we all ended up winning, because the best chili was made by mixing all 6 of them together!
 
And look!  We used my table runner, Woohoo!
 
 
And I made this bag for my co-worker's other niece, who is a math teacher.  Perfect fabric find!!  Tried an Orange Peel quilting method, and it turned out ok, but next time I will make them smaller.  These were on a 2 3/4 inch grid, and weren't as tight as I would have preferred.  But it turned out pretty well.
 
Ok, off to the doctor's office, I hope you all are staying healthy!
 
~Brandy