Friday, February 17, 2017

New kiddo lovey blankies

One of the things that inevitably comes with having kiddos is the fact that those kiddos usually have lovie blankets.  Most kids pick one of their crib size blankets as their favorite one to snuggle with. When Jammer first came home I knew that it was only a matter of time before he had one too but I did not love the idea of carting with us everywhere one the size of the typical kiddo blanket. 

At the time I didn't sew really so I asked my BFF Lisa to come to the rescue and she created a lovie blanket that was just perfect.  Over the years I've had many compliments from other moms locally that are the best solution to the problem of those bigger ones they've had to deal with themselves.

Lisa made Jammer not one but two placemat size blankies with a great Peanuts gang fabric that, as you can see, he has loved to death.  This is just one of the pair.  The other one was in worse shape and has already been packed away for safe keeping so as to not damage it further.
The fabric has been completely worn away in many areas and although he originally wanted me to try and fix it, in the end after talking it over as to the possible options to do that, he decided to leave it as is for the memories and pack it way safe and sound too.

Somewhere along the way Lisa also make him this one featuring his other favorite character of the time Curious George.  This one isn't as old and was in better shape plus it was made with fleece fabrics not cotton so it held up better and only needed the binding re-attached.
Jammer just turned 10 and although some will say that he's too old to be still using blankies, he does mostly when he's not feeling well, which thankfully isn't too often.  So that he will have some new ones to snuggle with I took some new Peanuts fabrics that I've been saving just for this occasion to make a few.
The first one was completed quickly and he was thrilled.
Here's a view of the back.
Would you like to know how I make these?  I thought so.  I've made a couple of new ones for Sunshine too and will be posting a little tutorial for them very soon so stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The new Danny ornament - 2016

Back in December 2013 I wrote a post about my family's annual tradition of collecting an ornament to remember my nephew Danny who was killed in a car accident the week before Christmas 2005 and exactly a week after he turned 16 years old.

The post about the ornament that was chosen the following year is here.

This is one of the beautiful ornaments that we chose for 2016.  It is crafted from sea pottery and was created by Sue of Beachwoodstreet on Etsy.
  For the rest of the family I actually chose a variety of pieces.  Some are made from sea pottery but others are made from sea glass.  The one I chose for myself Sue said is rare as it is a piece of a plate that was in some sort of  bonfire that gave it the gray streak pattern.
 I enjoy finding handcrafted ornaments every year to honor Danny and I share his story with the artisans.  We now have a circle of crafters that have helped continue this tradition.

All of the ornaments still hang in my kitchen window every single day of the year and I love looking at them as I gaze out the window into our backyard. 
Although I forgot to post about the ornament chosen for 2015, you can see it in the lower right hand corner.  It is a celtic angel heart ornament made from heavy wire, again by Etsy crafter nicholasandfelice. This is what it looks like up close.
As you can see I only have 1 more empty section of my window.  I guess after that one is filled I will have to figure out how to rearrange them to add more in future years.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Daydream Frenzy quilt

Sometimes I just want to sew and so I look for a quick and easy pattern to use.  This really helps when I've been away from my studio for too long and it helps to start the creative ideas flowing.

I recently came across the Fat Eighth Frenzy quilt pattern by Fat Quarter Shop and decided to whip one up with the fat eighth bundle I have of Kate Spain's Daydream.
Originally the only change I made to the original pattern was I planned to add 2 additional rows to make the quilt just a bit wider and to use up all 40 of the fat eights that were in this bundle.

I made the 1st row, was happy with it and so then proceeded to work on the rest.
In the interest of total disclosure, what happened next was because of of my own mistake.  I joined the square and the 1st rectangle for every row, trimmed them, took them to the ironing board and then realized that I had sewn them all going in the wrong direction.  A couple of not horrid swear words then flew out of my mouth, aimed at myself of course.

I turned the sewing machine off, flicked the switch for the light off and went to bed.  An idea on how to fix this would come another day.

And it did.  First I decided to leave the mistake as it was and take it even further by doing 2 things.....cut the 1st strip down the middle the long way to break up the overall color and pattern some more and on the next row (the one I initially screwed up) I added in some accent triangles, to bring in a lot more visual interest and to make the whole quilt a lot less simplistic.  What I saw when I put them together was definitely more my style.
To say that the thought of this quilt now being quick and simple to piece together totally went out the window at this point and I kept slicing and altering as my mood struck.  After planning out the color and pattern placement for the remaining rows I set to work.  This is section one.
Section 2 was constructed in the same manner, with some of the rows sliced down the middle along the entire length and other rows getting a few pops of color with the little triangles.  This is the completed 2nd section.
Then it was onto section 3.  This one went together exactly as the other two.  The toughest part of the entire project was just planning the placement of each print so as to mix up both the patterns and the colors.  I love the way this is quite a bit different from the original design but that one definitely provided the inspiration for my altered version.
Ta Da!  This is my completed quilt top.  I really like the way it turned out and can't wait to get it on the frame and quilted. 
While trying to take these pictures this morning I gave up trying to get a good photo of it completely flat.  You "assistant" (the one with the fur coat and long tail that has the nasty habit of being my alarm clock at 4am every single day) kept walking and rolling all over it.  He doesn't get to go outside and is always really curious when I open the front door to let in the natural light for the photo shoots so he just had to test out the new quilt design too.
One thing I've learned about myself over the years as I've been quilting is that I like to look at a traditional block or quilt design and find new ways to break it up and change it up into something new.  I'm sure this won't be the last time that I decide to make a design a bit more "my own".

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Tumbling Hearts quilt tutorial

In my last post I showed you my recent finish, my Tumbling Hearts wall hanging.  

If you'd like to make your own Tumbling Hearts wall hanging, here is the info you will need.
I started with 2  one yard cuts of Sending My Love by Marie Cole for Henry Glass Fabrics and some White solid.  I did not figure out the total yardage as I was designing this on the go and wasn't sure how many blocks I wanted to make.  You could also use scraps to make your blocks if you'd like.
I cut 2 1/2" strips from each print and then cut 2 1/2" squares.  You will need 3 for each block.  If you duplicate my quilt, you will need a total of 24 in each of your 2 fabrics.
You will also need 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" blocks, 1 for each block you are making, or to duplicate my quilt, 8 in each of your 2 print fabrics.
These were my cut pieces for my Red blocks.
With the White solid fabric for each block, cut (1) 4 1/2" x 2 1/2" block, (3) 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" blocks and (2) 6 1/2"' x 2 1/2" blocks.  For my quilt I used a total of (48) 2 1/2" squares, (16) 4 1/2" blocks and (32) 6 1/2" blocks.
Layout each blocks as shown below.  Then you just sew together the pieces into rows and the rows into a completed block, matching up seams where needed.
While making my blocks I had someone that wanted a little bit of attention and some tummy rubs.  Who was I to deny him that? :)
I pressed all seams toward the print fabric.
This was the perfect little project to work on during some recent snow storms.
These blocks are great for chain piecing and before long all 8 of each color are completed.  Your blocks should be 8 1/2" unfinished.
Here is where my original vision went awry.  The intent was to have the print corners of each block meet up with the corner of the adjacent block but when I laid them all out this was the result.
While not a bad layout at all, it wasn't what I was going for and the fact that the blocks are tilted hearts totally got lost.  

I decided that I needed to separate the blocks in some fashion.  I pulled out the Brown print that I also had of this fabric line that I wasn't intending to use and tried a few settings using horizontal sashing.  These were cut at 2" wide to finish at 1 1/2".  Here is Version 1 that was rejected.
Version 2 was also quickly rejected.
Version 3 wasn't bad but didn't really speak to me.
Version 4 was getting a little closer to something I'd be happy with but I wasn't there yet.
Version 5 also was a possibility but I still wasn't loving it.
Then came Version 6.  No choir of angels were singing to tell me this was "the one".
Any of these layouts would have looked great for the finished quilt but for me, I was searching for a certainly vibe and I just wasn't feeling it with any of these previous versions. I gave up for the night and went to bed to wait for fresh inspiration on another day.

When I was able to get back into my studio, it was as if the light bulb went off when I realized that I didn't need to have the sashing strips going horizontal.  Why not try it vertically? I know that the print is a directional fabric and I already had the strips cut but that really didn't bother me at all since the blocks themselves are off kilter.

Once I set the sashing vertically I knew this was the right choice.  From there all it took was sewing the blocks into the rows, adding the sashing rows and sewing all the rows together to have a finished quilt top. For my sashing I used 5 strips 2" x 32 1/2" long and 2 strips 2" x 40" long.
It was quickly loaded on my frame and I set to work to add some pretty texture and design.
The binding I used was the Red heart print and that took a total of (4) 2 1/2" strips.
I think this quilt would look adorable in all sorts of color ways, even rainbow with each heart a different color.  I'd love to see your versions of my Tumbling Hearts quilt so please send me an email with pictures of your creations.

Happy New Year!

 Our family wishes your family a very Happy New Year!
 In Vietnam we refer to this holiday as TET.
 This is how you say Happy New Year in Chinese.
These are some of the personality traits associated with people born in a Year of the Rooster. 
 People born in a year of the Rooster are very observant. Hardworking, resourceful, courageous, and talented, Roosters are very confident in themselves.

Roosters are always active, amusing, and popular within a crowd. Roosters are talkative, outspoken, frank, open, honest, and loyal individuals. They like to be the center of attention and always appear attractive and beautiful.
Roosters are happiest when they are surrounded by others, whether at a party or just a social gathering. They enjoy the spotlight and will exhibit their charm on any occasion.
Roosters expect others to listen to them while they speak, and can become agitated if they don't. Vain and boastful, Roosters like to brag about themselves and their accomplishments.
Their behavior of continually seeking the unwavering attention of others annoys people around them at times.

People born in a year of the Rooster are typically healthy people. They are active and enjoy sports, such as hiking and swimming. Roosters don't get sick very often because they tend to fight illness well. Even when they do become ill, they feel better quickly. Roosters are a little sensitive, and they feel stressed and moody at times.  

In what year were you born?
 I just realized that for my family my zodiac sign is directly opposite on the chart from Jammer's and my husband's sign is directly opposite from Sunshine's.  Interesting.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tumbling Hearts - a Valentine's Day wall hanging

Do you find quilt block inspiration in the tile of your master bathroom shower. I do and this was the catalyst that was the spark for my newest finish.
I'm calling this quilt Tumbling Hearts.
The final design and block layout was not what I originally envisioned in my mind but I love the way it turned out in the end.
I quilted it using the Cutie Patootie panto and a medium Pink So Fine thread.  I keep wondering if I would have liked the other panto I had in mind and the lighter Pink thread better but I'm still happy with how this came out.
It's always fun to see the texture the quilting adds to the piecing.
It is now hanging on my wall in the great room, though the lack of sun on this dreary winter day doesn't make for the best lighting for pictures against the pale gold wall.
This quilt finished at 39 1/2" x 35".  For anyone that wants to make one for themselves, a little tutorial is coming soon.  Stay tuned.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Price Reduced - Voyager 17" machine, completely upgraded, with Hinterberg Stretch frame and extras

My Penelope has had a few serious inquiries from potential new owners but no one yet has made the leap and decided to make her their own so to help make the decision a bit easier for someone, I've reduced the price to $5,500.  She is located in Clifton Park, NY

Penelope is a Voyager 17" all metal machine that has received a complete electronics upgrade 1 1/2 years ago.
She now boasts push button Ram handles with start/stop, needle up/down and increase/decrease the number of stitches per inch right at your fingertips.  Her new features also includes 5 stitch modes (Stitch Regulated, Manual, Baste, Ruler and Robitic). Yes you can add a computer for automated quilting if you'd like. The upgrade also included great LED lights, laser light and ultraviolet lights.
Her first circut board (which was sadly inadequate) was replaced with a much improved version, all new wiring was added and new encoders were installed.  The only thing that wasn't replaced was the motor itself, which is a real workhorse and will last for years and years.
She sits on a Hinterberg Stretch frame, which is currently at 10 feet but you can easily make the frame bigger or smaller by purchasing new conduit at a local hardware store.  The stylus for the pattern boards is also included or you can flip those over and use the flat side to roll out a panto to quilt from the back of the machine.  You just turn the handles around.
Because my studio space is tight I added the laser stylus so that I could pantos from the front of the machine.  And of course you can use her to do free motion quilting.
My longtime readers know that before the upgrade was installed I struggled to use her mainly because her original electronics were subpar.  She stitched well (and still does) but the electronics just didn't work right.  Once her new parts were installed she became a completely new machine and I've really enjoyed finishing my quilts with her. 
I've done quilts as big as 92" x 106" with no problems.  The only reason she is looking for a new home is that more and more I'm quilting for others and needed to upgrade to a machine with a bigger throat and a bigger frame.  I purchased her in April 2013 and the upgrade was done in June 2014 so she is still a fairly new machine.  

Also included in the package are:  Red Snappers, extension base for doing ruler work, zippers for the leaders (if you'd prefer not to pin), ruler foot, Towa Gauge, bobbin winder, 50 bobbins, 5 extra bobbin cases, 100+ needles, 20 Magna Glide bobbins, timing needle, extra belt, machine oil, 2 DVDs and the manual. 

If you want to start into the world of longarm quilting, enjoy the freedom of creating your own quilting designs and have the satisfaction of completing it yourself, email me and then come check her out.