Monday, February 20, 2012

Friendship Swap Finale

Last year I participated in a Friendship Swap. I received all of my blocks just before the holidays and set them aside until the new year. January came, I pulled the blocks, and I pondered. Not feeling terribly inspired, I decided to take them to the next meeting of the church quilters for some guidance. Sitting with them, though, I realized, these would be best used as a donation to the group. All of our finished quilts go to the vets at the local V.A. It somehow seems fitting that these "friendship" blocks I received from virtual strangers, for the most part, will go with much love and prayer, in friendship, to another stranger.

Despite how different each block is, I think the completed quilt is beautiful. I'm so glad I trusted it to the talent of my quiltie friends!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cuddle Quilts for My Cuties

Hello, my name is Jacque and I'm addicted to blankets. I love blankets of all kinds; quilts, crocheted afghans, fuzzy store-bought, you-name-it, I love them. Though I have enough to ensure the warmth of my entire family through a deep freeze, I am very possessive. My blankets are mine. I do not share. If you want one, I'll make you one of your own!

When I was pregnant with Connor, I made each child a generously-sized baby blanket. Sadly, they've outgrown them. Loving to cuddle in blankets as much as me, both children have started pilfering mine. Of course, this is totally unacceptable, so I got busy on making them new ones to better fit their "big kid"' bodies. :)

For Grace, I decided a large rag quilt would be fun and funky. Not long ago, I came across a pattern on the Moda Bake Shop that suggested using another 5x5 piece of fabric as the batting and forgo traditional batting altogether. Having already made several rag quilts, I though this sounded like a great time-saver. Clearly, I was mistaken.

What I failed to consider is that the "batting" fabric will also show through in the ragging to the front. Heedless to this detail, I randomly used extra pieces as batting. Unfortunately, everywhere the hot pink and brown pieces are used, they show through fairly predominantly on the pastel front. This wasn't my biggest regret, though. The nail-in-the-coffin was the extra piece of fabric I had to cut through on every single seam for the rag effect. What the hell? Who ever thought this would be a great idea? More importantly, how did I not consider this before I had the whole thing assembled? Sigh. Another lesson learned.

On the bright side, the quilt is still completely adorable and cuddly cute!

I had so much fun making the Batman strip quilt a few months ago that I decided to duplicate the project with similar fabrics for Connor. Though Connor's first choice would have been Star Wars, such fabric did not exist. So, he chose Superman. Much to my chagrin, as I was hand-sewing the binding, I learned that Star Wars fabric is just days from release. Really? What are the odds?! What's that saying? If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all? :)


When I was first contemplating the project, I was thinking it would be quilted on a mid-arm so I went with a minkee back. As can happen, plans changed along the way and I decided to try quilting it myself on my machine. I was pretty intimidated and looked for advice from a couple quilters with more experience. Though my original thought was to meander, both suggested using a walking foot for straight-line stitching and leaving large areas of space to prevent puckering.

I'm so glad I sought their advice! Though the picture above makes it look like the back is incredibly loose, it really is much smoother than it appears and there is absolutely no puckering. Yippee! Boy, oh, boy does minkee stretch. I think I will wait until I get a mid-arm to try this again...unless Grace requests one, too. If so, at least I'll have a better idea of what I'm in for an how to tackle the project. 

So, all is well that ends well. Both kids received their new quilts, (which they love), I am now the sole occupant of my blanket, I finished my second UFO for Moneik's Challenge, and I learned a bunch of new things...again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hocus Pocus

I recently purchased 3 Times the Charm and have been excited to try out a pattern or two. I love the look of charm packs and frequently pick them up. Sadly, they usually sit just looking pretty. This book offers hope that they will finally be put to use!

Choosing a pattern and grabbing a charm pack, I got busy sewing. As seems to be the situation with so many things I make, I learned much as I went and think I will be better prepared with the projects that follow. For instance, I have not pieced blocks and then cut them down to size. I made the mistake of just being consistent in my cuts, trusting that my original sewing was spot-on. I failed to consider the true center of the block might not have been where I anticipated. Rather than dwell on this, I prefer to claim the prevalent trend of the wonky block. ;)

Then there was my thrifty attitude toward the project. In hindsight, it's really hard to call this project, finishing at about 40x40, thrifty. Still, attempting to keep the cost low, I was as skimpy with the fabric as possible. The problem is that this left me a wee bit short on the back. The quick problem-solve was a nice, wide binding to make up the difference where I was lacking.

And finally, the quilting. The bulk of my FMQ has been meandering. Not long ago, a quilter shared another simple FMQ design. Well, I thought it would be simple, but I was wrong. Despite practicing the motion quite a bit, I just couldn't pull it off...yet. So, I decided to try something else I haven't done before, loop-d-loops. Easier than my original plan, I clearly still have a ways to go before I feel like I achieve a polished look. Well, practice and a mid-arm, ha-ha!

Something that came together amazingly well was the scrappy back. I've never done a scrappy back before and I'm rather tickled with how it came out. Initially I wished I hadn't been in such a hurry to slap it together, but I actually think that my lack of thought really enabled a more successful piece.

So UFO #1 is complete. The biggest question is what the heck to do with the quilt? I had no plan when I started it and have yet to come up with something. I'm having a hard time thinking outside the box. All I see is a Halloween Baby Quilt, but who would want that? Help find me a purpose! What would you do with this quilt?

P.S. Foot-warmer has already been suggested by my husband. *sigh*

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

UFO Sew Down Challenge

Moneik has posted a challenge on her blog, Moneik Quilts. It's the UFO Sew Down and it runs until November 11th. The challenge is to make a list of your UFOs and try to knock some of them off of the "to-do" list. I'm not sure that I'll have much time to participate, but since I have a list of UFOs a mile long and the holidays are right around the corner, this seems like a good motivator! So, here are some of my UFOs.

1. Cut material for a Memory Project
2. Make a custom order Tag-a-long Tote
3. Make a custom order Packer Wall-hanging
4. Complete Connor's quilt (binding)
5. Fix the rows for Grace's rainbow quilt so that I can begin sewing strips together
6. Finishing piecing the strips of my batik quilt
7. Finish assembling the Wine Birdie Sling Bag
8. Quilt my Suduko Challenge quilt
9. Complete my Halloween quilt

Oh my. And this is hardly a dent in the list. No wonder I'm feeling overwhelmed by it all right now! It's a good thing Moneik has this challenge going. Hopefully it will encourage my muse and I'll get my butt in gear. All are welcome to play. Do you need some motivation? :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Beanies for my Babies

For as busy and diverse as this weekend's activities were, I would still say that this was a "family" weekend.  On Friday, Connor performed in his first piano recital (He was awesome!) and Grace attended the first sleepover of the season, helping her friend ring in the double-digits. Yep, the big 10! ;)

Saturday was a lazy-day, which afforded me a little time to start yet another sewing project. Sometimes I wonder what I'm thinking when I start a new project. There was a time when I didn't start something new until I finished the old. These days, though, I have the attention-span of a gnat. A little of this, a little of that, one day here and another there. Eventually I'll get them all complete, right?

I thought Saturday's crafting would be it for the weekend, but after attending Suessical the Musical with the family later that evening, I had yet another project. While there, Grace and I spotted some beautiful, crocheted beanies. One look at the price-tag, though, had me convinced that I could make my own. So, after a delightful evening with the family, I said goodnight and set about making Grace a beanie of her own.

Grace awoke and was delighted to find this on her pillow. Of course, since she was asleep, I could only guess on the sizing. So, it was no surprise that I was a little off. Not much, mind you. Certainly not enough to deter her from taking it for a test-drive to church. *giggle*

Speaking of church. Today we attended a new church. We have heard lots of good stuff about their children's ministries and faith community. Another plus is that it's closer to home. I'm so glad we went. It was nourishing for the soul and a great way to start the day with the family. We'll definitely be back.

After church, there were a few errands to run, but other than that, it was another lazy-day. What's a girl to do? Why craft, of course! I spent the remainder of the day making three more beanies.

A better fit for Grace.

One for Connor to match a scarf I recently knit.

And one for me! (I tried to talk Dave into one, too, but, though he confessed to feeling a bit left out, he declined my offer because he knows he'll never wear such a silly thing. Eh, at least he tells me these things before I make them.)

Here we are sporting our new beanies.

Last but not least, we finished the weekend with a birthday celebration for me. The kids made me cards, sang happy birthday, gave me gifts, bought me my favorite dessert and played a game. I love these moments. Good times, all weekend...and another addiction. Expect to see more beanies. :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gettin' Crafty

I have been running around like a crazy lady for the last, well, I don't even know how long. It seems like life hasn't had much of a lull since the last part of May. Perhaps these few weeks before the holidays kick off will slow a bit. Then again, my calendar already disagrees with this notion. Ah well. You take what you can get, right? Right! This why I'm so excited tonight; I made a little time for sewing. Yippee!

I had several little motivators to help me along. First, my dad sent home a curtain in need of some repair. I'd already had it several days and figured I should really get it done since it was just going to be two simple passes. I also had the deadline of the first Junior Girl Scout meeting looming. This is Grace's first year as a Junior so I needed to sew all the new patches on the new vest (I loathe scout patches; both the boys and girls!). But even more of a motivator than the fear of looking like the slacker-mom was what recently arrived in the mail.

I have been a SU! Demonstrator for many years. Though I'm strictly a hobbiest, now, something will occasionally catch my eye as a "must have." Most recently, it was the stocking Big Shot die. Those who paper craft will no doubt know to what I am referring. For my sewing friends, the Big Shot is a similar tool to the Accuquilt. It's a die cutting machine, and just last month, Stampin' Up! released a die in the shape of a stocking. Instantly I envisioned little treat holders. I knew I had to buy this and make a few.

Sew...what do you think? Isn't it adorable? (For perspective, those are two brand new pencils in the stocking, stuffed all of the way into the toe.)The only thing I'm still on the fence about is whether or not I should have added a loop for hanging. Ultimately, I think I've made the right choice. The loop would add significant fabric to a narrow seem. And, really, a thumb tack in the upper corner would be more than sufficient and probably look cute if color coordinated.

The first time around, this was pretty putzy. Already I have thought of several time-savers if I decide to make more. Maybe I'll whip up a few and try them at a craft fair. Then again, maybe not. That would mean finding more time, ha-ha!

If you're interested in making your own stocking and don't have a Stampin' Up! Demonstrator, I recommend contacting my friend, Tracy Filter, who is a very active demo with online ordering capability. And, if you love stamping, be sure to find her on Facebook because she offers tons of classes!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Friendship Swap Finale

Knowing that school would be back in session before long and that all of the related fall activities would dominate the bulk of my time, I worked to finish up the last two blocks of the Friendship Swap a bit early just to ensure that none of them arrived late.

This is the block I made for Patti. She requested the Greek Cross Block. I really enjoyed how simple and easy this block came together. I think it's probably a great block for a swap, too, because it will mix and match well with a variety of palettes and because it's quick enough to put together that it won't take long to add any additional blocks to either balance colors or increase the size.

And then there was one.

Though Linda's block wasn't due until October, I plowed through and finished hers up, too. She selected the Maple Leaf Block. This was another very quick and straight-forward block, but every time I see it, it causes me to break into "O, Canada." And, since I don't know anymore than "O, Canada," it makes for a pretty lack-luster rendition. :) Now the fabric, well, that's anything but lack-luster. Check out the rich oranges and elegant flourishes. B-eaut-i-ful!

All that's left for this Friendship Swap is for me to receive my blocks, add a few of my own, and assemble. September is "my month" and, after receiving Saturday's mail, I'm super excited. My first block arrived!

Isn't it gorgeous?! Gaila made this block following the pattern I found on Freshly Pieced. I think her fabric selections are perfect. That butterfly in the middle is just a bonus because what Gaila doesn't know is that I have a special fondness for butterflies. I even have one tattooed on my ankle! I can't wait to see how the remaining ladies interpret the pattern and fabrics. If anyone else is interested in adding to my quilt, I would love to include a few more blocks. If you're interested, let me know!