Love U Charm Quilt and Orange Peel Quilting Tips!

I sewed up this simple charm square quilt for a college friend who is expecting her second baby, and the first girl! I had a few charm packs of Love U by Deb Strain for Moda in my stash, and while I was touring a few LQS here in New York I found two of the prints in a brushed cotton. I knew they'd be perfect for the binding and backing!
Here are a few shots of the quilt. Keep scrolling if you'd like to know how I quilted the orange peel design!
Here is a closer look at the quilt front:
The brushed cotton on the back and the binding are so cuddly!
Here's my little helper:
I love the bright colors of this quilt combined with the yellow and blue play structure!
And now that you've endured my photos, here is how I like to quilt the orange peel design. (Clicking on the photos will take you to flickr, where you can enlarge them to see details better!)
-I find that this technique works best when you have a base grid, such as in this simple charm quilt. If your quilt has more detailed piecing, consider drawing a grid onto your quilt top using a water soluble marker, or whatever temporary marking tool you like best.
-I quilt this design with a free motion foot. I think it is a lot faster than trying to maneuver the curves with a walking foot.
-Because this quilt style involves crossing over your quilting lines, be sure to baste extra carefully. A poor basting job could result in a lot of puckers where the quilting lines intersect.
-I like to begin in the center on one side of the quilt and work my way out. This will make more sense with the photos below.
-And lastly, this is a technique that seemed the most natural to me when I wanted to try this quilting design. I'm sure I didn't "invent" it, and there are lots of other great tutorials and techniques out there. I don't want to step on anyone's toes, especially since this quilt style seems to be quite popular right now. I would just like to share what works before for me, in hopes that I can help someone else who would like to give the orange peel a shot!
I am going to use the seams in my piecing as a guide in my quilting. Here I've started with a seam that is in the middle of one side of the quilt. I anchor my threads and begin about 1/4" in from the raw edge of the quilt. This ensures that the quilting isn't cut off when I add the binding!
Now I'm going to sew a curve from my starting point to the next intersection in my piecing. The key to this technique, and really any free motion quilting, is to become comfortable with starting and stopping your stitching lines. The smoother the start/stop transitions, the better the quilting will look!
Now that I've quilted my first curve, I'm going to pause with my needle down in the quilt and reposition my hands to quilt the next curve. (Depending on the size of the grid that I'm quilting within, and my comfort level with the quilting technique, I don't stop at *every* intersection. But when in doubt, I like to pause and reposition my hands.) My first curve was on the right side of the seam line, so my next curve will be on the left side of the seam line, moving in the same direction. 
Here's a better picture of the curved lines:
I continue to quilt the curves in this "serpentine" shape until I reach the end of the seam line. Always remembering to stop my stitching 1/4" before the quilt edge!
(You can also see in the above photo that my quilting lines don't always cross exactly at the intersections of my piecing. That's ok, it will look great in the end! Also, don't worry too much if your curves aren't all the same size. Trust me, this is a really forgiving quilting style!)
I don't have a picture of this next step, but now that I have reached the end of the quilt, I need to continue back the way I came, creating curved lines on the opposite sides of the piecing seams. At the end of the row, I will end up with something like this:
And here's a close up, with a little bit better focus:
When I have 1 row done, I continue quilting these rows of curved lines-but I don't want to quilt the outside edges quite yet. I like to work from the center to one end of the quilt and then begin again in the center and work out to the other edge. When all of the rows are quilted, I turn the quilt 90 degrees and do the same thing over! The overall design will begin to appear as I quilt perpendicular to my original rows. I continue working back and forth in the rows, and I'm always surprised to see the circular shapes appear in my quilting! I'm always starting and stopping my quilting lines 1/4" in from the raw edge of the quilt.
When all of the rows have been quilting, from top to bottom and side to side, it's time to quilt the edges. I like to do this last, because it is less likely to pucker once all of the other quilting is done.
Two things to remember when quilting the edges:
-Start and stop all quilting 1/4" in from the raw edge of the quilt
-Quilt all of the curves the same way, it will look more like a scallop than the serpentine curve that I quilted before. Here is a shot of the quilting on an edge of the quilt. Notice in the background that my machine is stopped about 1/4" inside of the raw edge of the quilt.
And here's another shot of the quilt edge.
Once I have all 4 outer edges of my quilt finished, I'm done with the quilting!
Now that I've taken you through the quilting, take another look at the quilt once it's bound and washed. I can promise you that many of my curves were slightly off, and my quilting lines didn't always line up quite right. But look at the fabulous circular effect!
Now go try this out and tell me what you think! Next up, I think I'm going to try quilting the curves diagonally through my charm squares. I can't wait to see how that looks all quilted up!

Personalized Pillows - Charm Pack Friendly!

I'm still blogging about Christmas this rate, it maybe be Easter before I get through them all!
There was a common theme this year, which was that I gave gifts to several friends and their families. Typically I sew gifts for my family and a few close friends, but this year I wanted to do something more. It has been a rough year for a lot of people, and I wanted to help in some small way. So a few friends received surprise packages with gifts for their families!
This is the first set of gifts that I made, which I sent to a friend who bought her first house and moved her family in right before the holidays. For the kids, I made them each a pillow with their first initial appliqued on the front. I don't expect my friend to decorate the kids' rooms around the pillows, but I thought that a little special something for their new rooms would be a fun gift.
These came together really quickly and easily. I used a charm pack for each pillow and did a tiny bit of quilting on the pillow fronts and backs. The M pillow is made from Pure by Sweetwater and the E pillow is made from Love by Amy Butler.
For the M pillow I quilted random straight lines. I love the look of this quilting, and I think it's especially nice on boy quilts and pillows.
I quilted the E pillow with straight lines as well, but this time I quilted 1/4" from the seams. I never tire of this quilting style either!
I had a bit of yardage for the back of the M pillow, and I used more charms for the back of the E pillow. I finished these off with simple envelope closures.
Along with the pillows, I sent my friend a Christmas table runner. With the move so close to the holidays, she did minimal decorating at her new house. The table runner was the perfect little festive touch!

Eden Baby Stacks

Some friends of ours recently had a baby girl, and I decided to gift them a quilt.  I have quite the stash of charm packs, so I decided to make another Baby Stacks quilt.  I love the colors and prints in Lila Tueller's Eden-I think it's just perfect for a baby girl!  I chose one of the green prints for the borders, to help tone down the pinks and purples a bit.

Top and binding are Eden by Lila Tueller (charm pack plus 1 yard of 1 print)
Back is from the Loralie Harris Breast Cancer line
Finished size is 38" x 38"
Again I used some straight line quilting-I love the effect it gives the quilt after washing!

Front and back:

Some detailed pics:

I love using charm packs with 42 charms because I end up with a few extras.  I only needed 40 charms for the stacks, so the remaining pieces end up in my binding.  This is the second time I've done this, and I really like seeing the little bits of piecing in the binding!

Linked up to Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday!

Baby Stacks - Tutorial

Stacked coin quilts are really popular right now.  I needed a baby quilt for a gift, so I thought I'd play with the stacked coin idea with some charms.  For this quilt I used only the girl prints from 2 Funny Babies charm packs for a total of 40 charms.
This pattern could easily be altered for just about any charm pack, regardless of how many charm squares.  And the best part is that it can easily be pieced in an hour or two!

Baby Stacks, 38" x 38"
40 charm squares
2/3 coordinate for borders
1/3 yard binding
42" square batting
1 1/4 yard backing

Gather your 40 charm squares:

Chop them in half so that you have 80-2.5" x 5" pieces:

This step is optional, but it helps me embrace the random piecing.
Toss the 80-2.5" x 5" pieces into a bag and give them a shake!

Piece together 5 strips of 16 coins each.  I pull 2 pieces out of the bag at a time and chain piece.  When I have everything sewn into pairs, I toss them all back into the bag and pull 2 out to sew into sets of 4.  Continue until you have strips of 16.  Press.  The strips should measure approximately 5" x 32.5":

Measure the length of each of the 5 coin stacks and take an average of the 5 measurements.  Don't worry if they aren't all exactly the same.
Now cut the 2/3 yard coordinate print into 8 strips 3" wide by WOF.  Set 2 strips aside for the top and bottom borders.  Trim the remaining 6 strips so that they are the average length of your coin stack strips.
Attach the strips of coordinate fabric to the coin stack strips.  You may want to pin these a bit.  I usually pin at the top, bottom, and once in the middle.

Piece all of the coin stacks together and press all seams.  At this point you should have a nearly complete top with both side borders, 5 pieced coin stacks and borders between each stack.
Measure the width of your quilt top at the top, bottom, and middle.  Find the average of the 3 measurements.  Now pull out the top and bottom 3" border strips that you set aside earlier.  Trim the length of both of these strips to the average measurement that you just calculated.
Attach the top and bottom borders.  Again you may want to pin at a few places.

Press all seams.  Layer top, batting and backing.  Quilt.  I quilted straight lines 1/2" apart.  This is a great pattern for practicing straight line quilting without marking any lines because you can check your quilting lines against the seams in the top.  I used the edge of my walking foot as a guide to keep my lines 1/2" apart, and when I approached a seam I adjusted my quilting to keep my lines moving straight down the quilt.

Bind your quilt however you like.


(Now I need to find a baby boy who needs a quilt, so I can use the rest of this fabric line!)