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Monday, April 28, 2014

Have you tried Quick Curve Ruler?

Hi everyone and happy Monday!

Spring is finally here in Buffalo, NY - the birdsong every morning just makes me smile!
Weekend was busy but really wonderful.
Some quilty fun, (meeting of the WNY MQG, read all about it HERE) some garden work, great walks with our furry kids and crowned with lovely Sunday dinner with our kids - can one ask for anything more? :)
Our grand-puppy Oliver was visiting Saturday - just love this cutie...
He was so excited to walk with his big buddy Marley, sometimes he almost walked sideways! :)
Neighborhood a big boy:

Hubby was just so happy, happy that he can dig in the garden again! He ordered a crazy number of new fruit trees (for the size of our backyard) and they arrived - he was just as happy as I am in the fabric store, ha ha!
But it is just so wonderful to see things budding and blooming... Apricot is starting:
 Quince too:

Just as it is to see something new develop in your sewing room, right? :)
This weekend I finished a quilt top! And it was something I haven't tried before!

Have you used new Quick Curve Ruler developed by Jenny at Sew Kind of Wonderful ? I am a big fan now!
As many things now, I heard of it on-line, it looked interesting enough that I wanted to explore - bought the ruler but simply haven't had a chance to play...And then Jenny and her sister happened to visit our local quilt shop and I was so, so inspired by their trunk show and demo - had to try it asap!! :) (I am sure you know that kind of feeling, right?)
Oh and these lovelies just happen to show up in my local quilt shop...So here is my stack of 8 1/2" strips, ready to go:
Ruler comes with great instructions and even one free pattern, so I was going to try that first. Establish the first curve:
and off you go cutting more:

And some prints too:
 Some curve-sewing, some squaring-up...
Some playing with layouts...

And before you know it, I made my test-table runner!!
Now on to the bigger quilt! There are so many great patterns already developed for this ruler - I chose Urban Pods to start.
After all the cutting was done, some serious chain-piecing was in order. Here is my confession: I LOVE chain-piecing!! I love the organized way - things laid out, things going in order... yep - you heard me say that before, right? So here - I chain-pieced one set and then turned it right around and continued with another... 

With this pattern - sewing through these gentle curves was almost like meditation! I just loved it.
And before you know it - VOILA!
This "green streak" as I call it was one of those "what if I...? " kind of things - rest of the fabric do come from one collection and this ombre green just popped at me as something that will add a little pizzazz?
Yes? No?
Normally this is where I would go back and fort for a while...but this time I just decided to GO with it!
Rows of blocks ready to be sewn together!
Stacked them in order and sewed them in long vertical rows. Now, that is something I normally DON'T like to do - I prefer to sew my blocks in square units rather than rows (to avoid sewing so many LONG seams and having to match things along the way), but in this case - this was better! Matching these seams was important:
So as I sewed long, vertical rows together and was placing them in order behind me. As the last one was going to the pile, I saw this:
Doesn't this look like waterfall? THAT'S IT - the name for this quilt - Waterfall! Yeah!
Eleven long seams later, my quilt top is done:

It really reminds me of fresh, spring waterfall!
Now how to quilt it? Any suggestions? Please share and thank you!! 

At the end, even though this is not any kind of official review or endorsment - I have to say that I LOVE this ruler! There are already so many beautiful and very creative patterns out there for it, but I can also see so many more possibilities - HOORAY! So - highly recommended!!

After my introductory experience with it, here is what I can offer as advice:

     - have a nice sharp blade to cut (as with all curves, that is important, since going back to re-cut is not a good thing here)
     - when sewing curves, be gentle with your fabric - no pulling, pushing... AND - having a 1/4" guide (either on your presser foot or using your own one - see HERE) really helped me staying "on track" and maintaining a nice 1/4" seam)
     - what I found most important was - SQUARING-UP your blocks PROPERLY. If you do that right, things work and match - pure bliss! :) What helped me A LOT was watching instructional videos that Jenny has on her site for this (squaring-up how-to among them) - really good!

Well I hope maybe you will be inspired to try something new! Thank you for spending some time with me and as always - tell me what you think!

Have a wonderful week ahead,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I love you Peaches - a baby quilt story

Hi everyone,

 I really really want to tell you this little story. :)
No big plot or drama here, just how I enjoyed every minute and every second of making a very special baby quilt - one for our first, beautiful, can-hardly-wait-to-be-born little granddaughter!
I already started a bit in a previous post, here but now here is a whole story.
For now, while young parents are still choosing the name, her nickname is Peaches. I just love it so much.
Mommy-to-be loves pale, gentle pinks and purples and she had fun picking fabrics from my stash and she did it so well! The idea for the quilt came from the fact that mommy loves elephants and from Pinterest, but I couldn't get the pattern (wasn't available any more). Not that I would really need one, but I wanted to honor the original idea and inspiration. It was this one:
You can see it HERE on lovely blog of Piper Girls.
So we were going to do our own...
First, beautiful fabric selections by my lovely Lauren (mommy to be) and Jelena (auntie-to-be):

Aren't these colors and patterns so soft and beautiful?
 And all from the stash - almost unbelievable! ;)
Since some colors were 5" charm packs and some from 10" Layer cakes, I had to skip Thangles for making half-square triangles (my fave way to do HSTs, talked about them HERE 
and go back to good old lines on the back of the squares...It helps to have handy tools though - I like these Frixion pens and this skinny little ruler that serves only this purpose (at least for me):
Of course, Marley was a big help and moral support, almost snoring across from me...
Notice how I lined up all these color groups (pink, purple, yellow and gray) from dark to light values - what I wanted here is to avoid pinwheels that have maximum contrast but rather to have a whole pinwheel block mostly light, or medium or dark. Since they will be sort of a background for the elephant family, I wanted them to be more..."blendy"? (I am sure this is not a word, but it just fits in this case, right?) :)
So here are all my square pairs (two of each color combo, so that I will have 4 HSTs that are the same, for one pinwheel block).
 All stitched  and pressed in order...
 All lined-up to become Pinwheels now:
I had to pull out my Aurifil stash at this point, just to play and plan what I will use for quilting later - as much fun as playing with fabric!

 Yeah, some pretty yellows are missing here... Note to self, to get some!

OK, back to sewing now! Stack them up, chain-piece, keep the order... Ha ha, does this "sewing in order" make sense to anyone else or is it just my crazy head?
Somehow I had so much fun doing all this (or I was so occupied with all of my "in order" sewing? LOL!), that I did not take any more pictures before they were all done and on the wall:

I played and played with block layouts but somehow this streak of yellows accross the quilt was speaking to me - like a little spot of sunshine for the elephant family to live in. :)
Then came auditioning for some solid pinks for mommy and baby elephant - those two pinks looked the best.
Now it was time to DRAW - yeiks! I am really not that good at drawing, but little by little...I came up with this:
Not too bad, right? Since daddy would be just a larger version of mommy elephant, I was all set! Time to cut into those solid pinks!
 For this applique I fused Mistyfuse on the back of solid fabric and then I even turned the edges under. This little quilt will be loved and washed and needed to be sturdy too.
Those elephant ears needed to be 3D too - cut the elephants on that left line of the ear, traced the ear shapes on two separate pieces of fabric, stitched them together, turned right side out, stuffed with little piece of batting and then stitched into the seam that joined elephant head and body back together. Here is a bit of a close-up:

Mommy's ear was done and baby's was still just pinned here. Wish I took more photos as I went, but again, I guess I just had too much fun!
Once elephant family was all done, blocks were sewn together and elephants fused in place! Time to have some fun quilting!
Before any free-motion quilting fun, I did stitch all around my little elephant family - again, this quilt will be loved and cuddled to pieces and I wanted it to be ready for that! You know, I really was thinking about all this while stitching...imagining this little one using it, dragging it around, wrapping her dolls in it later... such joy. :)
I first quilted my little Peaches - gave her some curls on the forehead, a little bird on top...
...and of course a PEACH, hanging on the branch, right above her:

She had a heart behind her ear:
 And mom and dad's hearts beating for her too:
So there she was, holding on tight to mommy and daddy:
 And them holding on to each other:
 That is how I imagine their lives together and really the best advice and wish I can give them.

Then I quilted some flowers for beauty:

 Some butterflies to flutter:

And a bird to sing:
OK, I am definitely not so good with drawing birds, but it was still stitched with LOVE! he, he..

And many other things too - curlicues and vines, sunshine too... I had so, so much fun!
Oh but here is the best part: I wanted to stitch-in all my love into this quilt. Literally too - I wanted to write "I love you" but I am really not so good in writing (while doing FMQ). I simply never practiced that much... Don't know what was I thinking that late night, was it all my emotions or adrenalin - but I went on to just DO IT!
Slowed down considerably, biting my tongue all the way...and VOILA:
" Love you Peaches" is written across the top third of the quilt! (Photo above is in 3 sections, just to show more detail). I was so proud of myself and so happy, I almost cried! :)

Oh and in case you are wondering - all this fun was done with this lovely, soft pink shade of 50wt Aurifil that totally stole my heart! And I am not even a "pink kinda girl" as they say!
Total #Aurilove .
Yeah, I will need a new spool soon. :)

You can probably see that writing a little better (although in reverse) on the back of the quilt:
I really, really LOVE the back of this quilt.
First, I found this perfect minky fabric for it, and quite by chance too. Then I got to fulfill new mom's wish to incorporate a piece of HER favorite blankie (when she was a baby) into the back of the quilt - that is a pink stripe you see. And then, see that little blue heart? That is a small piece of new daddy's onesie, when he was a baby:
I stitched that little blue heart by hand, with happy, happy tears rolling down. It was a late night, everyone asleep, house so quiet. It was the most beautiful experience that I will remember forever and I am so, so grateful to have had it. Just a pure joy.

I wish I can write better to be able to express all my emotions...but hey, here are more pictures instead:

Oh and Marley approves too! ;)

Most importantly - new mommy and daddy love the quilt!!
My wonderful daughter-in-law wrote me a thank you card that I will cherish forever. I am such a lucky, lucky Grammy-to-be.
Yup, you saw that right - rocking chair is ready to go too. :)

You know, just writing all this was such a joy!
Thank you so much for spending some time with me, I loved sharing this story. I honestly and deeply feel so lucky and grateful to have this luxury of expressing my heart in stitches and fabric. It is a privilege to never take for granted.

Tell me, do you have a special quilt you made? Or quilts? One you remember so well?

With a smile on my face and wishing many for you too,