Saturday, September 29, 2012


When I first moved to Boston several years ago, my family played musical sewing machines. My mother had gotten a new one and my sister liked the one my mother had been using previously. So my mother's machine went from DC to Philly. When my sister came down to DC to retrieve that machine, she brought the one she had been using, and that one came with me to Boston. It was a little Pfaff Hobby 1016. It's simple, it does straight and zig zag stiches, and that's about it. 

As I've gotten more into quilting, I've decided that I want to be able to do more. So after lots of research about different machines, and the different features, I settled on a Pfaff Ambition 1.0 - one of the really nice features of the high end Pfaff's is the IDT, as they call it, or built in walking foot as I call it. It also has an alphabet so I can embroider letters, 136 different stiches, and light! There are 3 LEDs lighting up the sewing area. The rest of the particulars can be found here: Pfaff Comparison Sheet

And now, you can see a small bit of where I sew. I have a tiny apartment - 284sq ft for a kitchen, bathroom, and bed/living room. Over the summer I lofted my queen bed to have a lot more space. And it has made all the difference. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

To add sashing or not?

All 16 blocks of the disappearing four patch are done. For the most part I made them in the pairs from when I cut them. It never seemed like much to do two at a time. I like that and may continue that for future blocks where there are many to be made so it doesn't seem overwhelming.

Now my question becomes do I add sashing. It's very busy as is, and I kind of like it, but I'm not entirely sure. I'll also lay it out with sashing strips before making my decision, but I haven't done that yet and only have a picture of it laid out. Without the possible sashing and without and border it's 32"x32", these will be 8" finished blocks.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What, when you go on a trip, you don't go to the local fabric store?

I went to Cornell this past weekend for homecoming (did the tailgate part then went on a wine tour, didn't actually go to the football game because it's Ivy League football, but hey Cornell beat Yale 45-6, so yay!). While I was there, I stopped in at Quilter's Corner which is a HUGE quilt shop that is similar to Intown Quilter's in Atlanta for the amount and variety of fabric they carry. I didn't go nuts though, but I did pick up what will make a fantastic border/binding:

Then I saw this and thought it could be a bag/wallet or something in that vein. The blues are a little darker and more vibrant than the picture shows, but I like that this picture was able to catch the sparkle of the gold in the print. 
 And then this was waiting in my mailbox when I got home. I already know what I'm going to do with it, but I have other projects that need to get finished before I can start on it. Have I mentioned that polka dots are awesome? Because they are. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kona Solids - Woodlands Inspired Bundle

Just like I'm now utilizing white to accent patterned fabric, I'm jumping into solids. I've always been a batik or small, repetitive pattern person. Enter Kona Solids by Robert Kaufman. I've discovered that there are many, many fabric boutiques on Etsy. I found the bundle pictured below on Sew Fresh Fabrics

Think very thin little stripes as concentric squares. And this is what you get (but now with a brown ring added, too - I had been back and forth on if I wanted the brown, and I decided that I did, but after I took the picture): 
It took one full Gilmore Girls episode to make this block (42 minutes). There won't be any more until I finish the red and white disappearing four patch. That gets top action, and this will be stewing. Not sure what kind of layout I'll do - it will certainly be paired with solid blocks, but I'm not sure if it'll be Kona White or mixing in more from these colors or both white and color squares; only time will tell.  

This weekend, there won't be much (read no sewing) happening in these parts. I'm heading back to my Alma Mater for Homecoming - Let's Go Red! I'm leaving Boston Thursday evening and won't be back until Sunday afternoon.

Another Chevron and Some Scrappy Play

I had my first day of clinical internship yesterday - 8 hours down, 160 to go. This means until the fall rowing season ends and I'm done coaching and practicing for my own team my quilting time is limited. Monday night, I decided to use some long, thin scraps to make a block - not sure if it's a one off, or if it'll actually go into a bigger project, but it's something. I might make more on a much smaller scale. One thought if I do more in this vein is paper piecing to make it far more accurate. 

And we have another paper pieced chevron block which brings the total to three (yeah, this set of blocks will take a while to become enough for a full quilt). 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wonky Squares Disappearing Four Patch

Who loves short cuts in quilting?! Me! I've learned that many of the most striking quilts are actually of simple design, but with both color choices or lay outs. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm using white to accent other color choices. The fabric that I'm using here is a strong pattern, and I don't want to compete with it.
 We see the essential elements of quilting in this picture. The Roku remote so that I can have something on the tv in the backround. Cutting mat, ruler, and a couple works in progress next to the iron along with many, many scraps. There are 16 four patch squares that are fully ironed and ready to be cut. The red has shimmery gold on it that looks like little cascading fireworks. 
And here we have two of the cut ones. The method: stack two four patches with the red stacked on the white. Make two cuts in each direction. Then rearrange like a little puzzle. There are now six of the sixteen squares fully sewn, and another two cut and arranged waiting for their turn to be sewn. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

I won, I won!

Thanks to Diary of a Quilter, I've won a fat quarter bundle of all the Madrona Road fabrics from Mad About Patchwork. By telling her my favorite fabrics on the Mad About Patchwork site, I was the lucky winner. I've only entered three giveaways like this before, so I think I'm doing pretty well with that ratio of entries to wins.

Today I'm doing more work on the tumbling blocks quilt. So many triangles. Triangles everywhere. I still have close to 75 to finish out all the long strips I've made, then it will be actual assembly time. But since I'm starting my final clinical internship (precepting in the nursing world) next week, my quilting time will be cut down once I'm spending 16-24 hours a week at the hospital. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Flickr for Inspiration

Some of the other blogs I follow have shown me that Flickr is a great way to get inspiration. And the beauty of people taking detailed pictures of their blocks is that I can generally figure out the construction just by looking at the seaming. And some, which I appreciate even more, have tutorial links in the description of the pictures.

The first picture here from mamacjt's stream is the wonky disappearing 4 patch which I think I will make at some point, but with a little more even spacing rather than the little center square and the big outer ones. I've got some great deep red fabric with shimmery gold on it that I think will work well for this:

And here are some of the others that I just really like and will keep in the back of my mind for future projects. The top is from mamacjt's photostream, the middle is from eschhousequilts', and the bottom is from hayabusagirl's. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Another non-quilt made in an afternoon

So when I was looking for the wallet ideas yesterday, I came across a 6 pocket bag made via the straps and the side seams. The last two days have increased my top stitching confidence quite a bit. This was also the first time I made fabric straps - which I made longer than called for so that they could go over my shoulder. I've had the star fabric in my stash for a while, it was nice to have three coordinating cuts to use in this project. The tutorial can be found here: Pick-A-Pocket.

 Making the straps - lots of ironing. 
 One side of the bag with straps sewn on making the first of the pockets. 
 Bag is done, 6 total pockets going around the outside made from the side seams and the straps. 
 Standing up against the batting.  It's not visible, but there's top stictching around the top of the bag 1/8" below the top where the lining folds back over itself
Boxed corners. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

No pattern, half hour wallet project

I have never particularly liked any of the wallets I've had over the years. Not enough card pockets or not the right kind of card pockets, etc. Today I decided that I would make a wallet. I've had the fabric that I used for this for quite awhile. I'd been saving it for the perfect project, but I'm not sure what that is, and this seemed as good a time as any to pull 8"x13" from each full yard cut. 

That said, I like this, but it's still not quite right. I need to made it with a second level of card pockets and a little longer than the 13" rectangle to accomodate that - the original sizing came from the Crazy Mom Quilts Checkbook Tutorial

Because these were just quilting cottons, I added fusible fleece to the back of the lining fabric to give it a little more strength. And now, the pictures. I didn't take any while I was making it - in total it only took about half an hour. 
 Folded and closed. I ironed the fold, but for future ones, I think a magnetic snap will be in order. 
 Open, you can see the three card slots I made and the other side for cash. 
This one lets you see that the lining is the inverse of the outside - white with red polka dots. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Forced perspective is my friend

I'm a modern quilter, but that doesn't mean that classic patterns don't interest me. Tumbling blocks is one of the more traditional patterns that exists creating forced perspective based on color choices with light, medium, and dark. A year ago, my mother got me the book ABC 3-D: Tumbling Blocks Made Easy. From there, did I start with one of the simble tumbling block quilts? No, of course not, I chose the one that was the most exciting for me - a forced perspective 3-D cube.

I chose opposites on the color wheel lime green and lilac as my base colors. I started with the medium values for each and then chose the lights and darks on either side. I bought all these fabrics last December while in Atlanta as my favorite quilt shop. 

I tell you all thise because I cut the strips for the final triangles yesterday - if you look in the lower section of the picture you will see the triangles that create the illusion. I also have 6"xWoF left from each color, so don't be surprised if some Chevron blocks pop up from this color set when I feel like doing something that I can complete in one sitting. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

School starts again today

Yeah - school starts for me. Unlike most of the bloggers I follow who relish this time because the kids are back to school, I am the one going back. Today, along with everyone else graduating in December or May has to go to a "Financial Empowerment Seminar".  This is meant for the first time undergrads who have always lived in the dorms or with their parents. Those of us who are in the Dix Scholars program (24 or older/already have a bachelor's degree) still have to go despite already managing our own finances. I think it's hilarious that one of the women in my program who is 40+, has 9 kids, and has been running her household for many, many years still has to go to this. I also have a meeting with the Asst. Dean of Students who works with the Dix population to try to get all future Dix student exempt since it's a waste of a couple hours.

So to deal with my frustration, this morning I made another chevron block. I think this might become my go to scrappy project since each angled piece is 3.5"x1.5". I've been doing unified color schemes, but it could be made quite scrappy just by alternating warm and cool colors.

Clearly this needs a little bit of ironing before it's joined with anything, but perhaps by the end of the semester I'll have a 12-16 of these blocks made in frustration from school things. And I have many scraps and color schemes from which to pull.

Monday, September 3, 2012

First time for everything

This is my first quilt where I'm not defaulting to Stitch in the Ditch for all the quilting. I'm outlining the accent squares, and I think I'm going to do a second ring of stiches inside the first.  The backing fabric is very busy and the quilting doesn't particularly show up there, but that's not such a big deal. So far, I like how it's coming on the front. I've done about half of the first round of rings so far. I'll finish the rest tomorrow then make the decision about doing the second set or doing another form to go through the middles of the blocks.

I'm waiting until I have the space (and really the money) to get a quilting frame to do the big all over patterns at home.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Sharp Chevrons (and why paper piecing is the greatest)

The first quilt I ever made was paper pieced. It holds the place of honor as being what is over the back of my couch. It's been on clear display everywhere I've lived since I graduated from college (a whopping 3 years). Suffice it to say, I like the precision that paper piecing gives. The sharp, crisp lines just make everything right. The only part that's meh is pulling the paper out of the seams once the block is done. I could do without that part of it.

My first quilt - It's a Jinny Beyer pattern but clearly not her fabric. 

This afternoon, I decided to make a tester Sharp Chevrons block before cutting into the real fabric that I purchased specifically for it. Also, It's Moving Day in Boston - I've heard various different statistics, but  approximately 75% of the Boston rental market is based on the Sept 1 lease date due to the 250,000+ college students in the city. This means the city is a mess with moving trucks and cars. I used this as a reason to stay in and piece (as if I really needed an excuse). That said about not going out, this morning I did 5.5 miles on a loop that took me all along the sidewalks full of Allston Chrismas (when all the furniture that is left behind on the curb by outgoing tentants creates a free for all).

I like this color scheme, it's fun, and it happened because the these fat quarters were on the top of a pile. But it's not what the full project will be. I might turn this into a bag - I got fusible fleece recently to make bags that have some structure.  

Busting through the scrap pile

I made a couple of full sized scrappy square blocks, and I'm having a lot of fun with them. I can also see myself making a top at some point using an actual color family making it coordinated and having all the sashing match. For these blocks, the centers are 8 little blocks long which turns them into 5.5" blocks. Then a 1/4" white, 1/4" color, and the white triangle. I'm pleased with how well the thin strips are turning out without paper piecing. This is a project that will grow over time - I expect I'll end up making a few blocks each week-ish, depending on what else I've got going on, or if I just want to sit down and sew for half an hour.

I've also now gotten an ironing pad which is set up next to my sewing machine which means I'm pressing all my seams open rather than finger pressing them to one side. Still have a few that are flipping back on the underside, but it's much smoother.