Monday, February 16, 2015

Fun A Day - Find Joy Quilt

If you follow me on instagram, you've seen the project that consumed my January. Let me explain a little bit about the event:

One of my husband's coworkers organizes an event every January called Fun a Day. It's not a Pittsburgh thing, in fact it was started in Philly. Here's the blurb that I found on the Fun A Day Philadelphia facebook page:

 The premise is simple: pick a project (take a photograph, make the bed, draw a picture, bake a cake, etc), do it every day in January, then show your work the following month in a big group show. Check out our website,, for inspiration and info on other shows around the world!

And the Flickr set from our exhibition!

For my project I wanted to create a quilt by making one block a day. I got the idea to chronicle the days by starting with a blank block and adding 1 "stick", or hashmark, for each day. I have to admit, I got to day 10 and started to wonder what I'd gotten myself into! I was worried about running out of space before day 31, or worse, running out of interest. I couldn't think of a cohesive way to change the design after I'd put in 10 days, though, so I pushed forward. By the end I was enjoying the time I spent on the block of the day, even when they took me 2+ hours. I'd become pretty efficient at cutting and piecing, and it was fun to watch the pile of sticks grow!

I only had a week to finish the top, quilt it, and bind it for the exhibit here. I could have displayed the top unfinished, but I had a design in my head, and I didn't think it would translate well without all of the pieces! To help with the time crunch, I was piecing the rows as I finished each block. I worked out all of the math and bought the background fabric when I was about half way through with the project, and I spent one day cutting and piecing all of the sashing and borders. It really helped to stay on top of such a big project!

While I was piecing the top I was also thinking about how to quilt it. 

I racked my brain for several days over how to quilt the background of this quilt. I didn't want to accentuate the grid pattern, but I also didn't want to "settle" for an all over paisley or something. I flipped through some books for inspiration when I found a zig zag quilt. Realizing that it would take a decent chunk of time to mark out, I tried to find something else. My brain just kept jumping back to that zig zag, though!
I started marking the design with Frixion highlighters but had to "erase" them because I measured wrong. The markings turned white on the quilt, and didn't come out in the wash! Luckily I did my second set of marking with chalk pencil, but I'm still bummed to see the original marks on the quilt.

I created a zig zag pattern in the background, alternating a dense back and forth with swirls. I wanted the dense areas to look like the actual zig zags, and the swirl to look like background fill. I purposely set the zig zags so that the denser focal areas ran between the blocks to try and break up the grid look.

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt
Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

In the "day" boxes I stitched in the ditch around each "stick" and pebbled in the background.
I knew weeks before the top was finished that I wanted to lay out the blocks in calendar format and include a "month box" at the top. I wanted to remember this project, but not necessarily make a January 2015 calendar. ;) I came up with the idea to quilt a phrase into the box...something that would always ring true. I settled on, "Find Joy In Each Day".
To tie together the brown sections, I quilted pebbles around the words and included some swirly bits to break up the monotony a bit. (Can I complain for a tiny second and just say that it took me around 3 hours to quilt the pebbles in the large brown area. No joke, my shoulders were so angry with me after that!)
When I stitched out the words, I first stitched around each letter with brown thread and then traced over them with magenta to help them stand out just a little bit.

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

Day 2 and day 3 - lots of pebbles!

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

Day 31! I stitched around each stick to make them "poof" nicely!

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

On the back I used the 2 rejected background colors and the Cotton and Steel arrows (my FAV!). For the binding I used a Cotton and Steel basic metallic. I really love how the quilting shows up on the back! (The teal pieces along the top are sleeves, from when it hung in the exhibit.)

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

Contrasting thread shows all of the mistakes, but it still looks fun!

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

I want to send a huge shout-out to my friend Kathleen at Kathleen Quilts. She was a great help to me as I was deciding on what batting to use (I used double batting: Quilter's Dream Wool over Quilter's Dream Blend), and even included my quilt in her Free Motion Friday! If you haven't heard of her, hop over to her blog!

And lastly, a few things about the quilt, in no particular order:

-I finished it at queen size so I can put it on our bed.
-I cut my strips from Cotton and Steel basics "spindles" (2.5" strip rolls), and I used almost 2 full sets of 40 - 2.5" strips.
-All of the strips are pieced. No applique!
-Strips finished at 1/2" wide. Blocks finished at 10" x 12".
-I used 12 bobbins of magenta thread and just over 11 bobbins of brown thread!
-I actually enjoyed quilting the blocks with more sticks. Quilting lots of pebbles gets really boring!

If you're going to QuiltCon, come say Hi to me! I'll be helping a friend at her vendor booth on the show floor, the booth is Sew Many Creations. And now I'm off to pack!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Seattle Wedding Pillows

Some good friends of ours were married in Seattle this last summer. We wanted to attend the wedding, but we ended up moving to Pittsburgh the weekend before, and it just wasn't going to work out. The bride and groom met and currently live in Seattle, and they really love the area. So, I knew I had to design a wedding gift that highlighted Seattle! We never know where life will take us, and I wanted something that they could take with them in their marriage that would remind them of Seattle.

Pund wedding pillows

I could have gone in a few different directions with that idea, but I quickly decided on a set of pillows, with one in the same design as my Home Is minis. I sometimes struggle between pillow and wall hanging when it comes to these minis, but these friends seemed like they would enjoy pillows a lot more!
I knew that the wedding would have navy tones in it, so I used that as my main color. For the state pillow I kept it simple, and for the more personalized pillow I added a magenta border to set the personalization off from the navy border.

My (current) favorite way to finish pillows is with piping and a back zip. It leaves a softer edge than binding, and it's a lot faster! Without the piping, I sometimes find that the pillow doesn't turn right-side-out very well, especially at the corners. Plus, I think the piping adds a nicer finish!

Pund wedding pillows

On the pillow backs I kept it simple with the navy print.

Pund wedding pillows

I didn't do a ton of quilting on these. The state pillow has a bit of topography quilting on it, but it's hard to see with the dark fabric.

Pund wedding pillows

For the personalized pillow, I didn't want any stitching details to detract from the name and date, so I left it really simple. (Also, that is actually my hand writing! I struggle with finding the right font for projects like this, so I will oftentimes write it out by hand and go over the lettering several times with sharpie to thicken the lines. I may not have the best handwriting, but it makes it a bit more personal!)

Pund wedding pillows

The quilting on the pillow backs was a sort of triangle maze, but again it's hard to see with that dark fabric! I think there's a bit of it showing in one picture above, but it's pretty hard to see.

I hear that the pillows are being well loved!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Long Arm Information!

If you're interested in more information on having your quilts long arm quilted, head over here to my long arm quilting page! You'll find a link to my Long Arm Quilting album on Flickr, along with prices and other info.

Older work will be added to the Flickr album, but perhaps not to my blog, so feel free to browse the album from time to time.

And as always, feel free to contact me with any questions!

Beaded String quilt

For Tucker With Love

Some of you may remember this quilt that I made for my first nephew. My step-brother and sister-in-law really loved the quilt, especially the message on the back. So, when they announced that they were expecting again, I knew I had to create something equally as special for this baby!

I started off knowing that I wanted to include the personalized message in this quilt, but I didn't want to use the same design idea. I had a few ideas for the front of the quilt, and I started out with the Sew Kind of Wonderful Urban Chained pattern. Unfortunately, I was working with fat quarters and the prints were set in the wrong direction. Does that happen to anyone else? I swear, no matter which direction the print is facing, it's always the wrong direction for what I'd like to do!

So, I used the cutting instructions for half of the quilt (the longer curves, I believe), and decided to modify the layout to suit my prints. After all, no one wants a sideways antelope on a quilt, right?

For Tucker With Love 

I also ran out of background fabric (pearl bracelets in sand), so I tossed in another print. I probably could have found some more pearl bracelets, but I ended up really liking the look of the text print (from the Collage collection)!

Somewhere in the design process I decided that I would quilt words into the background area. That helped to guide the layout a bit.

I used a cream thread and quilted lots and lots and lots of pebbles in the background areas. I played around with the idea of quilting the curved sections or changing up the pebbles, but I think the uniform quilting keeps the quilt from getting too busy. And after some instagram chatter, I left the curves unquilted to soften the piece.

For Tucker With Love 

For Tucker With Love 

Around the letters I quilted with the light cream thread and then again with a light grey thread. It's a bit hard to see in the photos, but in person it subtly draws the eye to the words.

For Tucker With Love

For Tucker With Love

For the backing I used a piece of the arrow print plus two of the C+S blenders.

For Tucker With Love

So much pebbling! And for you long arm quilters out there, I used the Sew Kind of Wonderful QCR Sidekick Rulers for this project. I really loved working with them, and I find myself grabbing them to quilt curves on lots of other projects as well!

For Tucker With Love

Here is a shot of the words, from the back of the quilt:

For Tucker With Love

I think this project really came together in the end! My step-brother and his family live in Arizona, so I think the colors were a fun nod to that. The prints didn't really scream baby, but still worked well. And they loved the finished quilt, which was the most important part for me!

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Simple Baby Girl Strip Quilt

I made this quilt a few months back for Matt's coworker and his wife, for their baby girl. I didn't know them very well, so I wanted to stay away from pink. When in doubt, stay a bit more neutral, right? :)

Baby Girl Strip Quilt 

I started with this fun feather print and pulled fabrics from there. I really fell in love with these colors! Most of the fabrics were prints, with a few solids tossed in as well.

Baby Girl Strip Quilt

I didn't have a ton of time to put this gift together - I stitched the strips at my mom's house when we were visiting, and I quilted it the day after I got back home (which was also the day of the shower!). Talk about pressure, I had to quilt, bind, and wash the quilt all in a day!

I quilted two zig zag sections, filled with some figure 8 quilting. In the larger spaces created by the zig zags, I quilted paisleys.

Baby Girl Strip Quilt

i really like how the zig zags at the bottom of the quilt seem to fall off the edge!

Baby Girl Strip Quilt

On the back I used a single cut of fabric. The quilt finished around 36" x 42", so it was a tight squeeze! 

Baby Girl Strip Quilt

I was surprised at how much I loved this quilt when it was finished! Sometimes it's nice to stay simple!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pittsburgh Love

I made this mini as a wedding gift for Matt's boss. He and his wife met here in Pittsburgh, though neither of them are from here. He loved the mini quilts in our home, so I knew it would be the perfect gift for them!

Pittsburgh Love Mini Quilt
(It was so cold and windy when I took these pictures, plus we were high above the city. Matt was really nervous that he would drop the mini, which it why he was bracing it against the railing!)

I had a hard time deciding on a background fabric, not knowing what their decorating tastes are like. Luckily I had this bridge print sitting out after a visit to a LQS! I wasn't entirely sure on the color, but I couldn't pass up the print - did you know that Pittsburgh is called the "City of Bridges"? It's true, we have SO many of them!

I decided to quilt the background with simple, straight lines.

Pittsburgh Love Mini Quilt

I again used a knife-edge binding, because I just love the look of the clean edge! On the back I included a label and a hanging sleeve.

Pittsburgh Love Mini Quilt

This is the 3rd "Home is..." piece that I've made as a wedding gift, and I think so far they have all been really well received! This one may be my favorite, but I have a few others to share when I dig up the pictures.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Free Patterns and a Barn Quilt!

I have a few surprises to share!

First up, some free patterns! Head over to Camelot Fabrics where I have a few pillow patterns and a quilt pattern - all freebies! Don't feel intimidated by the piecing - it's all very fast and easy.

Here's a quick 12" square pillow I sewed up from my trial block for the patterns:
Free pillow/quilt pattern!

And now, about that Barn Quilt! A few months ago I was contacted by the Thumb Trail Quilt group in Michigan. They asked to use my Modern Dresden block design for the quilt block in their quilt block trail throughout "Thumb Region" of Michigan. Not only was my design used, but it is on the Mayville Historical Museum building in Mayville, MI!

Here's a photo of the Barn Quilt, taken from the Thumb Trail Quilt facebook page. Be sure to check them out, and if you're in the area be sure to visit the Barn Quilts in person!

If you'd like to make your own Modern Dresden mini quilt, see the following links: