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Thursday, August 15, 2013

The clue was in the fabric...

Hi everyone,

my productive quilty weekend didn't end with just that pink and green Flying Geese. I was literally on a roll and just needed to quilt some more...
Out comes another UFO that was standing by, ready to be quilted!
And with it - another story to be told!
What is this,  you may ask? It is one of the samples I did while working from a wonderful book I found on Amazon few years back: Anna Faustino's "Simply Stunning Woven Quilts" is a great one! It is a new, actually easy, technique of - yes, actually weaving to make great looking creations!

You can find out more about Anna on her web site and about the book here (Amazon of course... ). As soon as I saw just the front of this book, I knew I had to try this - it looked so intriguing, beautiful,
something new and yes - it used some of my favorite fabrics, color-gradation ones (or "ombre" fabrics as they are called too). Yeah - that "one click" shopping can be dangerous for me... :)
However, this book was a great find - I love this technique, my students loved the class I teach occasionally in my local quilt shop and I am going to be playing with this over and over again.
OK - back to the UFO!
How did this one come to be? Well, the introductory project in the book uses two fat quarters of two different fabric to be woven and then there is applique on top of that. After doing several of these, and by looking at my vast collection of ombre fabric I thought I will try a WHOLE half yard of this blue ombre and one of the bold Kaffe Fassett's floral prints and no applique this time and make it into a table runner (or a tall wall hanging?). I figured that parts of floral designs will come through and make it interesting - do you think it worked?
Now... how to quilt this one was a bit puzzling to me... Yes, you can just go down the wavy lines, but that is not as much fun...he, he. Also - this technique requires both fabrics to be lined with fusible interfacing, so we are talking LAYERS here - two layers of fabric WITH fusible, batting and backing! Yeah... This is the real test - for thread, for needles, for machine - agree?
For machine, I knew my trusty Pfaff will be OK, my recent discovery of Superior's Titanium coated Topstitch needles (size 90) was a great improvement for needles (love these!) and for thread - well my friends, here is your real test - Aurifil 50wt cotton thread worked like a charm, even in this situation!
Not to mention (again!) these brilliant colors...
Use one, or two, or all? Of course I will play with ALL of them! :)
However...there was still that question on HOW to quilt it! I sat on the floor looking and looking at this thing, stumped. And then - DUH!!
The clue is in the fabric:
 See how the center of the flower peeks through here?
 Or here?
Or how you can see almost the whole flower above just "interrupted" with some of the blue fabric?
I knew what I wanted to do!! Follow the lines of the flower starting in those visible ones (center and veins radiating from it) and extend the flower drawing from there! YAY!
OK, does this make sense to you? :)
Here is what I mean:
 Or multiple flowers:

Played with these in that deep plum colored thread and kept that one in the bobbin too:
On to try some other color, that beautiful light teal...

I had so much fun playing with this! I didn't try to follow those lines in the print exactly, just as a guide and inspiration to play. Do you do this, do you sometimes follow the lines of the print for quilting?
Here is how is all turned out:

Lots of flowers quilted, but I didn't want them to be all over. I left some space in the middle and tried just some wavy lines along the edges of fabric:

Not sure if I am done yet... Maybe some more of those lines? What do you think?
It was really hard to take a good overall photo inside and it was raining and wind was blowing, so I might go back to try some more photos today.
In the meantime - let me know what you think? How do you choose your quilting patterns and designs? What is your inspiration?

Have a wonderful weekend ahead,

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

More quilting fun

Hi everyone,

this past weekend was just so great, both outside and inside!
Outside, we had several as perfect summer days as they can be! Morning and evening a bit chilly, day sunny but not too hot. Yes please!
It's still summer of course but fall is knocking on the door...spotted these while walking Marley:
YUP - those fall leaves! And of course Marley says:
 Really mom, pictures again?? :)

I was thinking that this time of the year is "time to bear fruits" - flowers turn into fruits and seeds, as if to say "enough with pretty stuff, let get down to business" - ha, ha! So my fabulous Clematis
looks like this now:

But isn't it almost just as fascinating? I love these seed pods!
Of course there is still a plenitude of flowery garden inspiration - Coneflowers and Black Eye Susans, giant hibiscus, even some roses re-blooming...

I really am in love with nature and color...
Inspired already? :)
OK, now back to the indoors and some quilting fun! After I finished that baby quilt - I was on a roll to quilt something else! Remember this little piece?

Yeah - the one I did a tutorial on few months ago (you can find the tutorial HERE ) and yes - it still wasn't quilted!! WIP? UFO? Call it whatever, the best is DONE, right? :) Off to quilt I go!

Out of my stash of yummy Aurifil colors came these three beauties! Perfection, right? These are all 50wt cotton Aurifil threads, by far my favorite. Now was the question on how to quilt it? My first instinct was to go what I know the best and do the most - some free-motion swirls or curlicues get the picture. But decided this one needed some echo here is the start:
Well, definitely not perfection but you get better as you do more! (or that is what I tell myself, lol).

I discovered that after doing all this free-motion quilting, going in straight lines, with feed dogs up and all that, was NOT that easy! Yeiks! But it is SO good to step out of your comfort I plugged along:

OK - I did it! All echo-quilting in white fabric areas.

Time to switch to color and - yes, some free-motion! Ha, ha! Hey, it was my reward for being so good and disciplined with that straight line!
Oh and you know what else - my sewing room faces west, sunset was beautiful, light breeze coming through the window and it was just so beautiful sitting there, quilting into the sunset! :)
Some swirls in green:

Some feathery curly things (a better name, please?) in pink:
Some hearts for love...(bottom)
And that was it! All done!

 The back: (together with threads not cut yet... :)  )

Quilted into the sunset...
I think binding will be green...or pink? What's your vote?
Now I need a name for this one... HELP?

Thank you for spending some time with me. How do you usually quilt your quilts - free-motion or straight line? Matching threads or contrast?
I have yet another UFO in line to be quilted - one that first puzzled me on how to quilt it until I saw a clue in fabric....will share that soon!
Have a great week ahead,

PS - AN UPDATE!  Through great comments on Facebook (thank you all!) it occurred to me that some people would rather PRINT the instructions and printing directly from the blog can be difficult and take a lot of ink (photos, etc.). So, here is the link for downloading a PDF file with all instructions that you can then print easily! I hope that this, together with photo instructions in the post HERE will make it easier for you to try this! Have fun and happy stitching! Marija

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Baby quilt fun!

Hi everyone,

don't you just LOVE that feeling of a completed quilt?
I have several stages of "oh yeah!" moments when I make quilts and I guess when you string them together, you have a story of that particular quilt...
Baby quilts are always a special fun - there is a theme, or color preferences, sometimes you know if it is a girl or boy, sometimes not, you have all these happy thoughts and big wishes and dreams for the little one and his new parents...and somehow I want all of this to be in that quilt! Yeah, not always possible but then again, you just make it with love and joy and it is all there, in those stitches.

With this baby quilt loosely theme was Hungry Caterpillar, colors were bright, primary and no "preview" if it is a boy or girl. That was my starting point and I start to think and doodle...I wanted to make my own caterpillar, so - Snowball blocks came to mind!

So I started doodling in my current "take everywhere" notebook (more about that later)...but not as much this time. That on the left is the only drawing I did!

OK, so while in the "dreaming" stage I decided caterpillar will be in the border part, some "happy" blocks in the center part, Snowball blocks (caterpillar's body) must be somehow on different levels....and after I drew this, some math was in order:

Decided on 4" blocks, 6 different bright colors, remembered my 8" butterfly block that would be perfect for corners, hence the 4" snowball blocks will be 8"x4" rectangles and that will allow me to "move" them in different heights to achieve the caterpillar in moving...
Ha, ha - can anyone follow my crazy thought process?

I am so curious how YOU do these things?  What is your thought process when creating something?

Now I was ready to play in my trusty EQ and create this on screen first! I can of course pick simple blocks from EQ library, but my Snowball had to be a rectangle at the end, so I drew it:
Then the Butterfly block:
Started to play with layout - chose middle blocks to be "on-point", set border to be 8" wide and started to set the snowball variations:
Decided that my fun, happy block for the middle will be a Pinwheel block (it really is my "go-to" happy block for kids!), set Butterflies in the corners and voila:

At this point the print in the middle is just an example and the blue would be this sky fabric that I have and love to use in baby quilts, specially when they have pinwheels, but somehow it was A LOT of blue decided to change middle part to white:
Better, right? Well, maybe it is not as obvious in this "virtual" version but with real fabric it did make sense. Real fabric - that is where REAL fun is, don't you agree? :)
So now on to choosing fabric from my stash:
 So what do you think? Works? On the top of the photo is my favorite sky fabric, some pure, crisp white, a fun animal print for middle squares, some "green grass" for the caterpillar to crawl on and bright colors for pinwheels and caterpillar itself.
On to the cutting:
Snowball pieces
Pinwheel strips

I used Thangles for half-square triangles in Pinwheels - do you use Thangles? Love them! Ieven chain-piece them too - crazy, I know...but that's just me. :)
So here is the progress:
HSTs made!

Put into happy Pinwheels!

Some Pinwheels on-point, some fun print and center is done!
Once the middle was done, it needed a narrow border of the white to bring the size to what would fit with 4" wide Snowballs (aka Caterpillar) - you know how when you put blocks on-point, math is not that straight forward, so the simple solution is always to add a border, in the same colors as background (so it is "invisible", sort off), to bring the size to what you need. Once I solved that, stringing up Caterpillar parts and adding Butterflies at the ends was easy:
 Top was done and now is the time for some QUILTING fun - YAY!!
When it comes to quilting, it is all about thread, thread, THREAD! The colors, the effect, sparkle or not, thin or many choices!  And I tried them all... Lately though, what excites me the most is COLOR. And when it comes to color, one thread makes my heart flutter - AURIFIL. Besides being a really, really good thread in quality, colors that Aurifil has are just as exciting and inspiring as colors in fabric!! Honestly!! LOVE IT.

Yeah, you guessed it - I stash it now, just like fabric! I find it locally (preferred!), on-line, and even belong to a monthly Aurifil club (two new colors at my door, every month!). Above is just the latest find... :)
But back to baby quilt! With all the bright colors in fabric, thread choices are vast...right? :) I was really happy with bright colors and strong contrast between them and the white, so I did not want to change that with quilting...Here are some thread choices:
That meant matching colors of fabric and thread, at least somewhat.
So choose to go with white thread on white fabric,
 These photos did not come out as good as I would like them to - it is so hard to photograph white!! Do you have any good tips for that?

 Then some green for Caterpillar's grass
Then mostly used the bright yellow for butterflies and caterpillar

Beautiful variegated blue for the sky
And gorgeous dark plum to doodle the eyes and antennae:
 And stitched the binding with a bright red thread - in my old home country grandmas bring a piece of red thread and put it under the newborn baby's sheets - for good luck, prosperity and against evil spirits - so I decided to add that too! :)
Pardon the needle out of focus in this photo...oops.
By the way, I just LOOOVEEE this stripe fabric for binding! It came from my stash and now I must go hunt for more to buy - it is the perfect binding fabric for bright-colored quilts! Stitching the binding by hand, in my garden, on a beautiful, breezy but sunny summer day, with a cup of good coffee and birds was a gift to cherish. :)
So here we are, all done!

Well, not quite done - this quilt needs a label of course!
Do you label your quilts? How important is it for you? Any good tips or ideas?
I do label my quilts, specially ones to be given as gifts and specially baby quilts - I consider the label as my final message/wish for a baby.
So on to think about the NAME for this quilt and a whole label...
What would you call this one? Let me know please and thank you!

Have a lovely Tuesday and week ahead,