Monday, March 31, 2014

Rhino Quilt

So, I made a rhinoceros quilt.

It was a gift for my brother. (He likes it, by the way.)

I pieced the rhino using 2.5" squares cut from a Kona New Classic roll-up. The background is made of 12 cream neutral pieces (6 different fabrics). The rhino is machine appliqued to the background.
I machine quilted the rhino with swirls and variegated thread, and the background with a fairly open stipple and off-white thread. There are some detail lines hand stitched on the ear, eye, legs, and tail, but they don't show up very well.

rhino back
For the back, I pieced together the rest of the Kona strips in relatively rainbow order, and then put that rainbow in between a blue solid fabric from Connecting Threads and a tan fabric I got from a giveaway at guild meeting a while ago. The binding is an eggplant purple solid from Connecting Threads.

Here's a close-up of the quilting:
rhino back2

I started this quilt back in the summer and had a different (crazier) plan before I decided on the random color placement. I was hoping to finish it for a Christmas gift and then my sewing machine had to go to the shop for most of December. I thought I might be able to get it done for my brother's birthday in February, but I didn't. I did finally finish it and send it, but before I did, I decided I liked it so much that I needed to make another one to keep. I'll show you my progress so far in a couple days.

I would love to hear about the craziest quilt you've ever made!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rainbow Scrap Quilt

I finished up my rainbow scrap quilt on Friday night. I started sewing 6.5" scrap blocks in the summer of 2011 when I still lived in Kansas, and ended up with 120 of them at the Seattle MQG quilt retreat at the beginning of February. I made one more block at the retreat and sewed together the quilt top there. It's about 54" x 78".
rainbow scrap quilt 1 

This quilt has scraps going back a long way, here's a short list:
*fabric from my 4-H shirt (that went with lavender stirrup pants) when I was 12
*purple poly/cotton calico that I used to make a Barbie dress when I was 10
*a blue/red print that my mom made a dress for me out of when I was 5
*fabric from at least 3 baby dresses I made for my daughter
*fabric from my 9-year-old's baby blessing outfit
*fabrics from many of the baby quilts I've made for my kids and their cousins
and lots of other good stuff.

 rainbow quilt back 

I used the famous Ikea numbers fabric for the back. I was really happy that it was wide enough for the back of this quilt! I love making pieced backs for quilts, but it was nice to not worry about that this time. There is enough happening on the front of this quilt, I think.

 flower fmq 

I decided to do a more open quilting design this time, and came up with this flower and loop free motion quilting design. I think it was more difficult than doing a simpler all over design like loops or stippling, because I had to look ahead and figure out where the next flower should go. And the quilting wasn't always easy to see with such a busy quilt top. I kept track of my time and it took 207 minutes to quilt, and 5 bobbin changes. 
gray dot binding 

The binding is a sort of grungy gray dot fabric. And... there's a funny mistake in this picture, want to see up close?

quilting mistake 
While I was quilting, the edge of the backing fabric got flipped over and caught in the quilting stitches. I just trimmed the fabric close and left it for now. I was not in the mood to unpick anything when I got to the end of the quilting.

I'm so happy this quilt is finished!

And now I'm planning to try something else with my scraps for a while. I've already started cutting 2.5" squares from a lot of my scraps. I don't know what I'll make with them but I'll figure out something good.  What are you doing with your scraps?

Monday, February 17, 2014

New York Beauty Zip Pouch--Riley Blake Challenge

I finished up my little project for the MQG Riley Blake Challenge the other night.

 riley blake challenge nyb pouch 
I had been thinking about this idea for a little zip pouch for a while, and then realized the orange, yellow, and light blue challenge fabrics would work really well. I hand quilted it with orange, yellow, and aqua embroidery floss.

 riley blake pouch back 
The back is another one of the challenge fabrics. This one is quilted with gray perle cotton. I quilted it while we watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

I made a big mistake when I was getting ready to assemble the bag, after the quilting was finished. I've made several zip pouches with machine quilting, and I always use my rotary cutter to trim the edges of the quilted pieces so they will be the same size. I didn't even think about it before I rotary cut some of the slightly crooked edges off the front piece for this bag... then I realized that cutting hand stitches is a bad idea. I ended up pulling out a couple inches from several rows of quilting, enough so I could tie a knot, and then requilting the areas I had needed to undo.

I'm glad I fixed it--the quilting stitches should all stay in place now--and I won't make that mistake again!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentines and Winner

I made some simple Valentines for my family today. We still have leftover pink construction paper from a birthday party a couple years ago, and I used a glue stick (to baste) and then free motion "quilted" the hearts to the paper. If my machine had been set up for regular sewing, I might have zigzagged them or done a cute decorative stitch.

 valentines says that the winner of the Seams Unlikely book giveaway is #2, Vicki W. I've already emailed her. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Seams Unlikely Book Review + Giveaway

I was asked to participate in the blog tour for Nancy Zieman's autobiography, Seams Unlikely: The Inspiring True Life Story of Nancy Zieman, and today's my turn to tell you what I thought.

And here's what I think: Nancy Zieman is an amazing example of hard work and determination and has endured significant physical and medical challenges to become one of the most recognized names in the sewing industry. She built Nancy's Notions, her sewing supply mail-order business, from the ground up starting in her basement, and has had a successful sewing television show for over 30 years. She is a true inspiration.

In her book, Nancy describes health challenges that started when she was a baby, including Bell's Palsy, knee problems, and multiple surgeries. She describes her life living on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and the work ethic instilled in her by her parents. I especially liked reading about her experiences in 4-H because I took sewing 4-H for four summers too--and I got an amazing education in apparel sewing through 4-H, even though I was so young.

It was very interesting to read about the growth of her business over time as technology changed and her customer base grew.

I appreciated reading about Nancy's family as well, and I loved the chapter near the end that described the adoption of her younger son (and her older son's reaction to the new baby... so, so sweet.) Nancy worked with her husband for many years and was honest about the challenges and benefits of them being in business together.

Visit Nancy's blog to read her explanation of why she wrote the book, and to enter in her giveaway of 20 copies of the book.

And I have a copy of the book to give away, too. Comment on this blog post and I'll choose a winner on February 14.

You can read more about Seams Unlikely at the other stops on the blog tour:

February 4          Nancy Zieman 
February 5          Eileen Roche
February 5          Pat Sloan
February 6          Melissa Stramel
February 6          The Long Ladies
February 6          Tori Thompson
February 7          Amy Barickman
February 7          Melissa Mora
February 8          Shari Butler
February 8          Vicki Christensen
February 9          Carolina Moore
February 9          Kate Mclvor
February 10          Amy Ellis
February 10          Melissa Mortenson
February 11          Ilene Miller
February 11          Liz Hicks
February 11          Rachael Pannepacker
February 12          Bill Gardner
February 12          Elizabeth Evans
February 13          Amy Webb
February 13          Lindsay Wilkes
February 14          Gertie Hirsch
February 14          Veronica Philips
February 15          Jenny Gabriel
February 15          Laura Wasilowski
February 16          Frieda Anderson
February 16          Rita Farro
February 17          Cindy Cloward
February 17          Joan Hawley
February 17          Patty Young
February 18          Nancy Zieman
Disclosure--this blog post contains an affiliate link. I was given a free copy of the book. All opinions are my own.
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Monday, February 03, 2014

Seattle MQG Retreat

I spent this past weekend at the Seattle MQG retreat on Vashon Island. I had a great time, sewed a ton, ate good food that I didn't have to make, didn't sleep enough, and came home happy to see my family and watch the Big Game last night.

One of the things I've been wanting to make good progress on is my scrap block quilt. I started making 6.5" scrap blocks sometime in 2011(in Kansas) and have worked on them off and on since then. I've made about 35 since the end of December. Here's the final stack:

Rainbow of 108 scrap blocks. Ready to take to retreat next week. 
I had a number in mind when I was finishing up the light blues and dark blues, but I ended up with more than I expected. I had to make one more block at the retreat to finish up the last row, and it was kind of fun to use scraps that a few different people gave to me for that.

This is the final layout:
Sewing it together. :) #seattlemqgretreat

and then here's what it looked like all sewn together (but not pressed yet.)
This. Is a quilt top. #seattlemqgretreat #stillneedspressing #gohawks 
This was an instagram photo and the bottom row is cut off. The quilt has 117 blocks in it.

I pressed all the row seams open this morning and I'm hoping to get it ready to quilt later on this week. 

I worked on a couple other things too, here's a few more scrappy trip along blocks:
I have 21 of them now, not sure how many I will end up with.

And I participated in a group Improv Round Robin session which was a ton of fun. We had groups of 4 people, and each person started with her own fabric and then passed it to the next person in the group a total of 3 times, so we all ended up working on each others' quilts. Here's my mini after Louise, Debbie, Chandra and I all worked on it:
My piece from the improv round robin session. I love it. #seattlemqgretreat
I'm not sure if I'm going to add more piecing or not, but it's a beautiful start and it was so fun to work with my group on this. I think I'd like to do this on a bigger scale someday, too. 

Overall the retreat was such a good experience. I didn't know anybody in the group really well before going, but I feel like I made friends and it was so cool to get to know people better in a setting of sewing and chatting all day long.


Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Finished Christmas Pillow

I finished up this Christmas pillow cover yesterday. I had to take my sewing machine in for a tuneup early in December, and when I got it back home I thought I would have time to finish this up, but my machine started squeaking partway through the quilting. So it went back to the shop for another week. The second half of the quilting was squeak-free, thankfully.

I had originally thought I would make the pillow with big triangles on the front, but decided I liked the smaller ones better. I had a bunch of the large ones cut out though so I made the pillow back with them. The back pieces overlap by about 5.5" and are made of a double layer of fabric, but not quilted.
I kept the quilting pretty simple, I like it. 

I cut out a few quilt blocks while my machine was back in the shop and that's what I started working on today. I hope to have some more finished projects to share soon!

p.s. I edited my Made in 2013 post to actually show my mosaic, changes over at flickr have been messing up my blog a little bit!