Friday, January 27, 2012

Quilty from the block

I'm a couple of days late, but still within the weekly allotment of posts. Yay, me!

Last weekend was mostly spent cleaning my house. If you're anything like me, your house gets a little messy while you're happily creating. Please, say it with me, "I am not superwoman. Either my house is clean or I get a lot accomplished sewing and that's okay. My children are fed, my house is standing, and I deserve some time for fun."

This week in the evenings, I've completed two VQB blocks before they were overdue. Again, yay, me! Look at me working my goals!

Modern Minx January 2012

Sewn Together Jan 2012 block 1

I also FINALLY designed a commission piece for my patient friend. (Hi, Sarah!) Sometimes the seemingly simplest designs just evade me. Does that happen to you? I was excited by the theme, then researched, then didn't know where to start, then became completely paralyzed and didn't want to screw it up. I stayed there for a few months and juuuuust as I was starting to wrap my head around it, the Christmas crafting season was upon me. I'm so happy to have this on paper!

Mondrian sketches

Since I've gotten burned before rushing ahead without feedback from my customer, I sent her sketches and am happy to report I have the go ahead. Cutting begins either tonight or tomorrow with piecing immediately thereafter.

How are your goals going, sewing or otherwise? Are you working on anything fun right now?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Working on my goals

So, I've been working on my goals this last week. How am I doing?

1. Respond to comments!
I've been diligent about responding to all comments made on the blog and my flickr photostream. Feeling good!

2. No new fabric (other than solids)
I did buy some fabric, but it was a solid - my absolute favorite Kona Medium Grey - and only about a yard and a half. That was all they had in the store. Will someone please tell me why it's nearly impossible to find Medium Grey anywhere, including online????

3. More tutorials!
No progress made here, yet.

4. Finish one of my UFO hand-quilted quilts
I've been working on this one a few nights a week. Still a bit to go, but making progress!

5.Wrap up my WIPs and some of my UFOs
No progress made here, yet.

6. Blog at least once a week
Here I am, blogging the week after I blogged before. Success!

7. Return all VQB blocks on time
The first step in reaching this goal is, of course, to catch my sorry butt up to where I'm supposed to be! Over the weekend, I was able to finish three very delinquent blocks all for my Sewn Together bee.

Sewn Together November 2011 block 1 Sewn Together November 2011 block 2
These blocks are on their way to Rick. He asked for improv, drunk cabin inspired blocks in any size for a guest bed quilt. I may need to make the trek to Sioux Falls to stay in his guest room when it's done!

Sewn Together December 2011
Hollie asked us to help her with a quilt of her very own. This is the first time I've worked on a lone star or with Y seams and neither were very easy. I was happy to be able to stretch myself and test my abilities on something new. This block will finish at about 25" square.

There is one more VQB block in my sewing room, but it's not due until the end of the month, so I'll finish it up this weekend.

I also drew up a plan for a not-so-VQB block. Melinda from my now defunct It's Sew Easy Bee-ing Green bee asked me a while ago to contribute to her house quilt project. Not going to ruin the surprise for her here, but I'm thrilled with the design and hope she'll love it as much as I do. Of course, the design is really intricate, so I hope I can pull it off! Wish me luck.

Tonight is my MQG meeting, so I'm in for a good time with some talented ladies!

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 goals

Well, for someone who really has never done resolutions, I seem to have come up with a lot this year. The more resolution-y personal ones are already toast. The sewing goals, however, are not lost causes, yet! I think since I set a goal for myself last year and met it, I have a good chance this year. I've got a lot more goals this time around, though.

1. Respond to comments!
I have gotten some really lovely comments from visitors to my blog and flickr photostream and always feel a little silly saying, "Thank you," but little else. Still, it's an important thing to do, isn't it? If I can be more eloquent than, "Gee, thanks," I will. If not, at least you know I've read what you so generously had to say.

2. No new fabric, other than solids or specific needs for a specific project in order to finish it.
I know I've shown you my stash before. Here it is now.

Hello. My name is Flaun and I'm a fabric addict.

If I can't find what I need in here to make a quilt, I probably should hang up my rotary cutter, amiright? I have very few FQs. Generally when I find a fabric I can't live without, I buy a minimum 1 yard chunk. If you asked me how many yards of fabric I have, I wouldn't even be able to hazard a guess. I may have to give myself a small reprieve when Curious Nature is released, though, especially since my sweetie is really excited about that line. He needs another quilt, already, I can feel it.

3. More tutorials!
How many? I honestly don't know. I have one in mind that's been brewing since I started the whole process of blogging, so I'll hold myself to one. What if I let you tell me if the tut is good and gauge from there?

4. Finish one of my UFO hand-quilted quilts
Around the World in a Day WIP

I've already pulled one out of the closet and have started quilting for a little while (just a few minutes, not hours on end) a couple of evenings a week. I figure if I keep that up for a bit, I'll be done before I know it! The quilt is already more than half-way done, so it really shouldn't take too much longer. The only problem is that the hoop on my quilting frame split, so I got a new hoop and haven't yet tried to work it onto the frame. Quilting without the frame isn't going well or quickly at all.

5.Wrap up my WIPs and some of my UFOs
*Sob!* I'll admit it. I have 5 UFOs.
There's African Bento,
African Bento WIP

Flowerbed (top is complete, just needs a back),
My Sweetie's Garden WIP

Around the World in a Day (hand quilting mentioned in goal 4),

Chain of Fools (hand quilting),
Chain of Fools UFO

and Candy Patch (hand quilting).
Candy Patch UFO

For WIPs, I've got Beach Blanket Buster (formerly a UFO, woohoo!),
WIP Beach Blanket Buster
Mauka (the top and back are BOTH done and have been for a long time so this COULD count as a UFO), 
Mauka WIP front Mauka WIP back
Snakes and Vines (I've been quilting this one for a loooooong time now, so this year is IT),
Snakes and Vines WIP
and my Kona MQG challenge (quilting has already begun).

I'm excited about the WIPs, so will try to finish them all. The UFOs are probably UFOs for a reason.

I've been thinking about ripping out the hand quilting I've completed on Candy Patch and starting over just machine quilting.
Candy Patch UFO detail

I didn't really know how to baste when I started to quilt and the top shifted so the back isn't quite long enough any more, I attempted to do a little FMQ on it before I got very good and it's crap - I've GOT to rip that out, and when I sewed the top, my daughter's favorite colors were pink and purple, but no more. It's been a few years... I can use it to learn how to stipple (I'm almost ashamed to admit I can't stipple) using Leah Day's great new quilting tutorials, then donate it to a charity. (I learned how to FMQ from her before she completed her 365 project. Now that she's concentrating on quilt basics, I'll work backward.)

6. Blog at least once a week
I know I've tried to do that before, but this is fer reals. I'm sure you get tired of checking in on my blog and finding nada since the last time you looked!

7. Return all VQB blocks on time
Of course, I have to get caught up, but I started last night and hope to have every block currently in my sewing room posted on Monday. If I'm more consistent with finishing my VQB blocks, I won't be asked to leave (my secret fear).

Seven is a magic number, so I'll stop there.

Do you have any goals this year? I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 in memoriam

No, I'm not going to list a bunch of things that died. I am going to list my accomplishments!

I had three goals going into last year:

1. Find a new job
2. Start a blog
3. Finish 1 quilt (no size requirement) per month - my 12 in '11 challenge - in order to push my boundaries and become better at FMQ (free motion quilting, for those of you not in the know)

How did I do?

1. I started my new job in mid-January. It has been really wonderful to go from a big corporate job where everyone is shoved into round holes whether they fit or not, to a small shop that is infinitely more flexible and works so much better. I went from feeling unappreciated to valued, from frustrated to excited, from discounted to included.

2. Self explanatory, I think! :-)

3. Do you really want to know?

Are you sure???

Drum roll, please...

That's right, friends, I finished 14 quilts. It really should be 15, but the last is 1/2 done and it's small - just a 20" pillow. I'm sorry, Pay it Forward friend! You'll get it soon, I promise.

Completed projects 2011

Don't they all look lovely? Let me take you through them all. (If you'd like to see larger pictures, please feel free to click through.)

I made this quilt with the help of my It's So Easy Bee-ing Green VQB for my partner's ailing father. The name means forest in Japanese. Unfortunately, he passed away just before I finished it, so I gave it to his widow, instead. My mother-out-law loves it and put it in a prominent place in her cottage on the island of Nantucket. I'm sure she'll fit it into her new home on the mainland, too. I really wish I had been able to get better pictures of it as this one looks very washed out. In person, the oranges and greens are much more vibrant.

Makai complete
All the fabrics for this quilt were purchased in Hawaii, where the word makai means toward the sea. I knew exactly how I wanted the blocks to look but I wanted the placement and size of each block to be random. The use of a design wall helped pull this together. I really stepped up my FMQ game here by going FAR outside my comfort zone and absolutely love the result.

Makai back complete
Makai (back)
This screams surfing and hula to me and is one of my many two-sided quilts. I love how the outlined hibiscus are easily visible and the quilted waves flow through all open spaces.

flower grrl front
flower grrl
This quilt was to be a commission for a friend who loved the quilt I made for their first born, a boy. She reached out to me, asking that I create one for their soon-to-arrive girl. Since we were communicating via email, things didn't go quite as smoothly as I had hoped. I asked questions and she, being a very busy, pregnant momma, didn't get back to me right away. I was inspired, though, and jumped in feet first. Unfortunately, it wasn't what she was looking for at all, which is just as well, because I fell in love with the quilt.

Roll 'Em Again, Sam front complete
Roll 'Em Again, Sam
This is exactly the quilt she wanted. The name comes from the way I literally randomize the layout by rolling dice.

Lucky Cat
Happiness/Lucky Cat/Anna is Cherished
Meanwhile, my acupuncturist wanted to gift one of her teachers with a quilt for her new baby. She and her friends pooled their money to pay for part of this quilt and she tossed in an hour long shiatsu to round it out. Both my acupuncturist and her teacher were very happy with the result and I was happy with the massage! ;-)

Max's Koi Pond front complete
Max's Koi Pond
And another of her teachers had had a baby boy. The fish came from a gorgeous piece I bought in Hawaii that I fussy cut for the focus blocks near the center. All the fabrics used in the strings corellated to colors in the focus fabric, though you can't really tell in the pics I have. I should have taken better detail shots. This quilt was my test to create a new string quilt method. Just WAIT until I tell you about that. You're going to love it!

Max's Koi Pond back complete
Max's Koi Pond (back)
I had an extra fish and wanted to piece his name in as well. From this side, you can see the wavy lines I used to quilt this piece. They seemed fitting, like the slow, easy waves over the surface of a mostly calm koi pond. Reminds me of Byodo-In Temple on O'ahu.

Breaking Free complete
Breaking Free
You may remember me posting about this one before. A very special lady and long-time friend of the family (notice I did NOT say old, J???) was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had signed up to get one of my Pay It Forward pieces, and I wanted to give her a totem and a hug rolled in one for her fight. Last I had heard, she was undergoing her final round of chemo and doing well.

Caribbean Queen complete front
Caribbean Queen
I found Hyacinth's Garden Gate block online and HAD to make this quilt. I picked bright blues and citrus-y greens (my personal favorites). I chose a lovely coral dot for the binding, solidifying the Caribbean feel. Billy Ocean sang in my head the whole time I was quilting her, so she is my Caribbean Queen. This quilt is so beautiful to me and went so quickly that I might actually go back and make another one like it (in a different colorway, of course).

Caribbean Queen complete back
Caribbean Queen (back)
I fell in love with Amy Butler's Trumpet Flower when I saw it online and had a dickens of a time finding it to add to my stash. It only came in home dec weight, but I was willing to work with something heavier simply to have the lovely flowers on the bright green background. I paired it with a bright green Bali Gate print, also from Amy Butler, to mimic the shape of the block on the front. I had to get a little bit creative with the layout, though, as I didn't have quite enough of the Butler prints to make it a larger version. It took a long time with my graph paper and pencil to work out.

Modern Baby complete front
Modern Baby
A lady I used to work with contacted me to commission a piece for a friend of hers that was about to have a baby. Her friend had fallen in love with the Amy Butler Sun Spot fabric (another home dec weight) and picked up a small piece without knowing what she would do with it. Enter my friend and her conspiratorial ways. She enlisted the daddy to sneak the fabric out of the house. She brought it over and we discussed what sort of design to do. She settled on this pattern seen online and I drew up a plan on graph paper.

Modern Baby complete back
Modern Baby (back)
Because the mommy-to-be loved it so much, I designed the back to use up the leftover Sun Spot. Very graphic. Very bold. Very simple. Love.

Leah is Positive
I'd wanted to do a plus-sign quilt since I first saw one online and finally got around to it. The name, of course, comes from Prince's lovesexy album.

White Wedding complete front
White Wedding
Another music named quilt! Billy Idol, of course. GenQ called for volunteers to take place in a some fun - the Scrap Splat Challenge. This was my entry. To my amazement, my first contest entry ever won! (You should really see the other entries. I had a run for my money, let me tell you.) It is now framed and hangs on the wall as a Pay it Forward piece and wedding gift at my sister-out-law's house.

Pay It Forward #3 complete
Dresden pillow
This is one of my Pay it Forward items and still needs to be delivered. I pulled from my scraps for the Dresden blades and my stash made up the background, zipper, and binding.

XOXOX complete front
My sweetie has patiently awaited this quilt. It now lives on our bed, along with Caribbean Queen. He says we have the two best quilts in the house all for us.

Purple Daisies complete front
Purple Daisies
My fourth Pay it Forward went to my dear, dear friend and all around goddess, M. She adores the traditional for her own home and appreciates my modern bent on things, so I think this is a Reese's-worthy happy combination.

Next up: my goals for 2012.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Merry New Year!

I'll bet you thought I'd forgotten about you. I swear I didn't! I was waiting until I could take pictures of a couple of my Christmas crafts, working at my day job, and catching up on sleep.

I knew my list to complete in 2011 was VERY ambitious and that I would likely not finish everything. Boy was I right!

1. Snakes and Vines - I set this aside until 2012, possible May delivery.
2. PIF 3 - done, but still needs to be delivered
3. 2. PIF 4 - still 1/2 done. I only need to put a back on it and quit it.
4. PIF 5
5. 3. Mondrian commission - beginning this month. Thanks for your patience, Sarah!
6. 4. Kona challenge quilt - partially quilted, would like to finish before the end of February
7. 5. Non-traditional Jack - maybe for my punk's birthday? (July)
8. My sweetie's quilt
9. Charity item
10. 6. House Project Quilt for a friend in the flickr-verse
11. Maverick Star for my MPLS MQG meeting this Thursday
12. 7. Sewn Together VQB blocks for Rick - fabric has arrived

Five out of twelve projects completed. Of course, I now have more VQB things to add:

8. Sewn Together VQB blocks for Hollie - fabric received
9. Modern Minx VQB - waiting for solids to arrive from (along with a BUNCH of other cuts I probably didn't need, but loved)
10. Baby quilt for a friend - I promised a quilt for a friend's baby when she was born... She's a year old, now! Oops.

But enough about my to do list! Let's get to the pictures.

Here is #8, XOXOX, for my sweetie. I gave him the top last year for Christmas, but this year put a back on  and quilted the dickens out of it!

XOXOX complete front

Normally, I run from borders, but I included them for a couple of reasons. First, the quilt was just a tidge too small for my bed. It would fit, but the two of us might fight over it in the middle of the night, and he already steals the covers. Second, I just couldn't bring myself to paper piece any more blocks for this. I spent 48 hours piecing and tearing paper from the string blocks. My fingers were unbelievably sore when I was done. (TEASER - I've come up with another method of making these blocks. More to come on that, soon!)

As I was laying the quilt out to baste, I realized the borders made it seem as thought the blue and green diamonds were floating on top of a red field. I actually really like them! Go fig.

XOXOX complete back

Not liking single-fabric backs, I pieced together a few from the top of the quilt. Love it!

XOXOX complete quilting detail

Here, you can see the convergence of the quarters in the center. Each line is about one inch from the other. I went through 3+ spools of thread just for the quilting, but didn't keep track of how many I used to piece the blocks.

And here's another quilt, Purple Daisies!

Purple Daisies complete front

Yes, Dresden plates are very traditional and I'm not, but my dear, sweet friend M is. Of course, I modernized it by using very modern purple fabrics (her favorite color) and increasing the size of the circles in the center (these were the pancakes you saw previously). You can't really tell, but the Dresdens are attached to a white on white stripe, which I knew she would love.

Look how happy she is!

Purple Daisies complete

Next up, a look back at the quilts of 2011 and a look forward to my goals of 2012!