Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Dear Stella/Timeless Treasures Challenge!

        This weekend I was lucky enough to be working while the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild had a sew in at Island Quilter! As such I got to see all manner of fun projects and wonderfully quilty things! It was a blast to see what they were doing and I came away with a lot of really great ideas. I also learned about the Dear Stella/Timeless Treasures challenge just couldn't help but pick up some fun fabrics! I had been looking for an excuse to play with a certain fishy fabric so how could I possibly resist. (I am cheating a bit today and using my photos from Instagram... I kept forgetting to grab my camera...)

Photo: Just pulled my fabric for the #dsttchallenge at @islandquilter So excited I finally have an excuse to use those adorable goldfish! @sewtimeless @dearstellafab 

        Just look at those awesome fabrics! A while ago I saw the cutest quilt made with the fish fabric and decided to work with similar colors. I am starting to realize that I do a lot with blues and reds/oranges. I love the combination! So I set about trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I liked the idea of triangles but didn't want an entire mini quilt out of triangle... that would have been tedious and boring to make. I also thought stripes might be neat. So then I thought "Why not both?" It seemed a reasonable idea. But perhaps that still wasn't enough... or perhaps it would be too much, so I decided to add some negative space and my new favorite thing: swoopy geese! Once I had my plan I set to work.

Photo: Making progress! And totally digging it! #dsttchallenge @sewtimeless @dearstellafab

        Here's a shot of the triangles all put together. I pieced my half inch stripes first but failed to take a picture at the time... I am pretty proud of how most of my point meet! I can be obsessive sometimes and this was one of those times. 

Photo: How about some #swoopygeese? #dsttchallenge is coming along nicely! @sewtimeless @dearstellafab

        I pieced the flying geese last. While I love the look of the swoopy geese, I have come to realize that I am not a huge fan of paper piecing. I do think it was worth it in the end though. I used tracing paper as my foundation this time and it worked much better than regular printer paper. It has become my foundation paper of choice! So much easier to tear away! 

        I pieced each section separately and used freezer paper to define their edges.  I then appliqued the stripes and swoopy geese onto the central triangle section. I also added a little flange between the stripes and triangles to try and break up the designs. I thought it might be too busy other wise. I then trimmed down the wobbly and uneven shape to a 16.5 inch square and added my borders along with another flange. I love the word flange!

       Photo: Can't decide if I should stop here or add some adorable appliqué goldfish... #dsttchallenge @sewtimeless @dearstellafab

        Here is the finished product! I couldn't be more pleased! Now to decide if I want to applique a fish or two... It's already pretty busy so I might decide against it... Also have to think about quilting... and a backing before that. I wonder if the backing has to be Dear Stella or Timeless Treasures... If so I may have to go hunting again. I guess I could use the fish, I have plenty of that left over but it's so cute I don't want to waste in on the back of something. Oh well, that's it for tonight!

Happy Crafting!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mother-Daughter Quilt Complete!

        This past week has been very exciting for me and my mother. A little over four years ago we started out first quilt together and as of this past Tuesday we can finally say it is officially done... well, almost... there is still binding to put on but I am confident that we will complete that this weekend!

        Anyways, Let me tell you the story of this illustrious quilt. It all started around Christmas, four years ago. I had just started working at Quilter's Eden in East Grand Forks, MN and I was incredibly excited about my job and about quilting. I was also still pretty new to the craft. While visiting my folks I suggested that my mother and I make one of the quilts from Kaffe Fassett's book Quilt's in the Sun which I had just received for Christmas. So we flipped through the book for a while and decided on this one. Then came the fun part: picking fabric, so we headed to Island Quilter (which might just happen to have the biggest collection of Kaffe prints in the US if not the world! Shameless plug!). Let me start out by saying that picking Kaffe prints is not a talent that comes naturally to me. We stood in front of the wall for a while completely overwhelmed by the mass of color. Eventually, we received a bit (ok a lot) of help and assembled the striking combination you see before you.

        We then set off to Florida to visit the grandparents and divide up our fabric before parting ways and equally dividing up the blocks. There was a bit more math and planning involved than we had expected but we both emerged unscathed with our tidy stacks of fabric. It took two and a half years before we each had completed our assigned blocks and were ready to put it all together. In fact I may have had to encourage my mom to finish a few blocks on my visits back home. I think it was summer of 2012 when we finally put it together and pulled the fabric for the back.

        With everything put together we then came to the question of how to quilt it. We talked about hand quilting but didn't want to add another decade onto an already lengthy project. Then we discussed having it quilted at the shop where I worked in North Dakota. Well, long story short I ended up moving before we shipped it out so that option was eliminated, and the quilt continued to sit in a drawer in my parents house. That is until recently when I learned how to operate a longarm. Then a world of limitless quilting possibilities opened up to us. And so we decided to quilt it together. I taught my mom how to use the longarm and we took turns quilting the blocks. It was way too much fun and I think she might be a bit addicted haha. Just another reason for me to want my own sooner rather than later. It took two full days of quilting but it's done and if you ask me it looks great! I could not be more happy with it! Not only did I get to spend some really wonderful quality time with my mom, I got a beautiful quilt out of it.

        Now to finish the binding...


Monday, April 7, 2014

Garden Break!

        Today I took a short break from all the quilting I've been doing to spend an afternoon in the garden! Moving into an apartment with limited garden accessibility really made me long for my own garden. This came as somewhat of a surprise to me because as a kid I really could have cared less about gardening and I absolutely hated weeding. In fact I was fired from my first job as a groundskeeper for our family estate because I sucked at it. Think about that for a second: I was so bad my dad fired me from working in our own yard. And now if I get a sunny day all I want to do is be outside! And I find weeding to be incredibly satisfying.... Living in that shitty apartment really made me appreciate what we didn't have. I truly can't express how happy I am to be living in my own home and have control over how it looks. Granted we actually have to pay for a plumber now but I think it all evens out. 

        This spring is especially exciting because we get to see everything in bloom for the first time. Flowers keep popping up alongside the house and our trees are bursting into life. I loved the look of the Asian Pear tree in the fall and I am digging it now covered in these tiny white flowers!

        We also have what appears to be the largest Magnolia tree in existence. It's huge and beautiful.... and keeps shedding all those awesome petals all over the yard which I then have to rake up. Little by little I am starting to realize how much maintenance this yard is going to require. Totally worth it though.

        The previous owners of our house also happened to like birdhouses. They are everywhere. There are at least three in the Magnolia tree alone...

        In the past week we have been doing some much needed reclaiming of this bed. It was totally infested with overgrown ivy and while ivy looks cool I had much bigger plans. Truth be told I have no idea what I am doing so this year is a bit experimental. Could be good, could be a disaster. I probably planted things too close together or paired the wrong plants or something. I guess we'll see. 

        I am keeping up the tradition of my mini potted garden. It will grow a bit as my starts actually sprout but I have never had much luck with basil so I figured I would cheat again. I love having fresh basil! So excited for parsley too!

        Check out those awesome tulips :) I think tulips are gorgeous! 

         In the front yard I planed some dark red climbing roses... which desperately need a trellis... or will soon. It seemed silly to plant climbing roses without anything to climb but I figured I would get there. Can't wait to see them bloom.

        And finally, a shot of my newly sprouted sun flowers. I had no idea how quickly they would sprout and now I need to do something about them....

        Ok, so that was fun! and not about quilting at all which is really weird for me haha! And with that I am off to get some work done upstairs... or maybe play a game... it's been a long day and I am pretty tired... but totally satisfied and glad to be living in my own home. 

        I will be back soon with pictures of my most recent longarm project! 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

New York Beauty Block Update!

I know, I know! Two posts in one day is sort of overkill but I wanted to share that I posted a PDF download of a few of the New York Beauty block templates that I created! That's right! Not only can you create your own but you can use my patters to get you started! Check it out here!

        They are not perfect but they are really fun to make and they look so dang cool! I might have to make a few more now that I am thinking about it :) 

Until next time!

How to Make a Homemade Light Box

        I haven't done a whole lot of tracing of patterns onto fabric but when I do I find it much easier to do with a light source underneath. I've tried straight tracing which works pretty well for light colored loosely woven fabric and tracing against a window for slightly darker colors, but that isn't always convenient especially with larger designs. Last year, in preparation for our pacific cruise, I experimented with creating a makeshift light box and it was effective but not all that convenient so when I designed another image that I wanted to transfer, I decided to come up with a better solution. So here goes!


Work light fixture
Light bulb (I used a LED because they can stay pretty cool for longer periods of time)
Cardboard Box
Plexiglas Sheet (Big enough to fit your full design and sit on top of your box)
Tin Foil (Optional)
Masking Tape
Disappearing Marker (for tracing on fabric)
Dark Marker/Sharpie (Highlight the part of the design you want to transfer)

So now you've got all of your materials together let's get started!

Step 1:

Plan out your design! I am currently obsessed with the image of old ships and anything naval. Don't ask why. I just think they look cool. I wanted this design to be the center of a whole cloth quilt. This particular ship is partially inspired by Tula Pink's Parisville line and partially by Eiko Ishioka's ship hats from Mirror Mirror.

Step 2:

This step kind of optional. As I have mentioned in previous posts I like to keep my original images in my sketchbooks and unmarred so I typically trace any images I have designed. In this case I also didn't want to risk getting any pencil graphite on my fabric so I traced the image onto a lighter piece of butcher paper.

I also took this opportunity to reverse and tweak the image since I wanted to trace it on the back of my quilt as the top of my quilt was a darker colored fabric. Once you are happy with your design you will tape it to the bottom of your Plexiglas with the image you want to trace facing up.

You can see that I followed most of my lines but chose to change some on the go :)

Step 3:

Prepare your box! I thought it might be beneficial to add a reflective element to my box to bounce up any stray light beams. I figured a cheap and easy way to do this would be to coat the side flaps in aluminum foil. I would have love to use mirrors but I was in a bind and couldn't afford to go hunting for them. This step isn't necessary but I thought it helped.

Step 4:

Assembly your light box! The work light I purchased is perfect for this because it doesn't have all the extra bulk that a standing desk lamp does. I simply rotated the head of the lamp so that it faced up comfortable and clamped the end onto one of the box flaps. My box is tall enough that the edge of the lamp shade is still below the edge of the box. 

Step 5: Attach your fabric to you Plexiglas. you can use tape but I prefer to use clips (wonder clips, hair clips, magnetized refrigerator clips, etc), especially if the fabric I am working with is larger than my Plexiglas. Using the clips allows me to wrap the fabric around the edge of the Plexiglas and secures it much better than tape would. Once your fabric is securely attached to the Plexiglas set it on top of the cardboard box with the light on.

Step 5:

You might be able to guess that this next step involves...tracing! Using your disappearing marker (or non disappearing marking implement) trace your design onto the fabric. Attaching both the fabric and the design to the Plexiglas makes your design more mobile. You can move your fabric and design around over the light without risking losing your place. It's very convenient. If your design is bigger than your Plexiglas then you might want to break it down into chunks using the same basic technique. 

Ta-da! You have successfully transferred an image onto your fabric! What you do with it now is up to you! I think I might embroider mine :)

Hope this helped!

Bonus pic of Tula Pink's Anchors Away in progress!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thoroughly Modern Emily!

        I have finally completed what I believe to be my very first truly modern quilt. I've been in love with the idea of modern quilting and the patterns and fabric I've seem but before this quilt, I don't think anything I did was very modern. Improvisational maybe but not really modern. So I present to you modern quilt entitled "Garden Party."

         I've had a few of the blocks in my stash for the past year. A friend and I had tried to start up a modern quilting class in Grand Forks which ended up being mildly unsuccessful but did encourage us to create a few block samples. I decided to use my collection of shot cottons and solids that I bought here at Island Quilter as well as a few fun prints with gnomes and produce (apples and mushrooms). I thought I was being clever... haha! I do love how it turned out! It's bright and cheerful and nothing like anything else I've done recently. 

        I especially like how the top turned out. I had the floating circles and Dresden plate finished before hand and had to come up with a way to tie everything together. I improvised a few small blocks with floating quadrilaterals and played with arranging them until I found something I liked. Initially I was going to leave the upper right corner mostly open but I like the addition of the Dresden plate, and yes I had forgotten to applique on the circle before I took the pictures but I can guarantee that it has been completed. Anyways, I love the current arrangement because I think it has a lot of motion. But it also seems somewhat contained. I had to figure out a way to get the eye to travel down which is why I moved the floating half square triangles somewhat offset from the rolling hills and angled down towards the swoon block in the bottom right corner.  I also pointed the pieced feathers that way hoping to assist in the redirection. 

        At first the improve piece block looked a little out of place because it is composed mainly of reds oranges and greens but then I though about adding the long shattered block as a way of transitioning between color palettes. I LOVE the shattered block and really would like to do another one. It was a little frustrating at the time but totally worth it in the end. 

        Once I had all of my pieces I had to put it together. This involved a lot of measuring and math... which got much harder as the night wore on. As I approached 2 am I started making lots of silly mistakes and probably should have stopped but I was determined so I sallied forth and completed this somewhat unorthodox arrangement. If I were to do it again I might actually plan how I wanted it rather than measure and go but it all turned out in the end :)

        And now I am off to other exciting things! Be back with a report soon! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


         So I was reviewing the minutes from out most recent guild meeting (part of which I missed because I was working) and I discovered a site called Bloglovin... and now I am obsessed!

Next Step? Figure out how to get my blog on there.... hope this works: Follow my blog with Bloglovin

        And since no post is truly complete without a picture here is a preview of one of my upcoming projects! Yay! Can't wait to get started!