Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010 - The Owl Quilt

I decided in late summer that I wanted to quilt something for my parents as part of their Christmas gift this year.  At first I thought it would be nice to make them a quilt for their bed, but then realized that tackling a queen sized quilt as my second quilt ever might not be the smartest thing to do.  Luckily, I had some great fabrics in my stash that I had been wanting to use.  First up, I decided to make a wall-hanging sized quilt for my dad using two Japanese owl fabrics that he had picked up for me on a trip to Tokyo earlier this year (see below).
Owl Fabrics from Japan

I actually picked the fabric and the pattern to use simultaneously because they just seemed to go together.  The pattern is from Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts, which is a really fun book.  The pattern uses log-cabin blogs placed into a simple pattern of only two fabrics.  I deviated a bit from the design in the book because I wanted to make mine a bit smaller, so I reduced the overall size of each block.  I used 6.5-inch blocks and placed them in a 6 by 6 pattern so that the finished quilt is about 36 inches square.  Here's a photo of some of the pieced blocks:
Pieced Log Cabin Blocks (Almost Finished)

After I finished piecing the blocks, I had to decide on how to lay them out.  I didn't realize it before, but using these log cabin blocks is still very versatile when you put them all together.  Here are two patterns I was considering:
This first layout is very similar to the one in the book and I immediately loved it.  It kind of makes me think of a sunburst or something.  The other idea I thought of was the one below, but to be honest, I didn't really like this layout at all.  It doesn't seem very interesting - it's way too symmetrical, but I thought it was pretty cool that the same 36 blocks could make a completely different look just be rearranging the blocks!  This made me much more excited about quilting in general!

In the end, I decided on my first gut-instinct, which was to use the layout from the book.

For quilting, I followed the lines bordering the red and cream fabrics and I used matching thread so that the quilting itself never really shows very much.  A photo of the finished quilt, along with some closeups, is shown below.  The backing fabric was just a simple pattern of small black and white flowers on red - it had a Japanese feel to it.  Overall, I'm pretty happy with the results and I think my dad liked it too, which is all that matters!

The front of the finished quilt.

Closeup with Back
Look at the sweet owls!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Insanity - Owl Treat

Hi, everyone.  I haven't been posting because I've been too busy preparing for the holiday!  Plus, a lot of the exciting stuff I've been making has been for Christmas gifts, so I can't really post about them now - more to come after the holiday!

To tide you over (because I know you've been DYING for me to post something else), here is a photo of a little owl I made for my dad for his birthday earlier this year.  I based it on a pattern I found at Toad's Treasures.  Cute, huh?

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

PMQG Challenge & Curved Piecing

So I joined the Philly Modern Quilt Guild last month and at the first meeting, I decided to participate in the group's next challenge! The challenge includes using four fat quarters from Robert Kaufman's Kona Solids line plus up to 1 yard of any other fabrics. Candi picked the colors - snow, holly, chocolate and ruby. I wasn't sure how I would use the solids and I knew I didn't have a lot of time (the project has to be finished by the December meeting!). Then I was visiting Spool with Heather and we saw that they were offering a Curved Piecing class. We were both curious about the technique, so we signed up for the class. The materials to bring for the class ended up being 6 to 8 fat quarters of solid fabrics! So I grabbed my 4 challenge pieces and added in 4 additional solids that I had lying around. The class was really awesome! It was really all about freedom and I learned a lot. I didn't get all the way through piecing my fabrics, but I am well on my way to an awesome quilt! The instructor was Sujata Shah, who was featured on the PMQG blog recently. You can find out more about Sujata by clicking here. She was a fabulous instructor and I look forward to working with her again in the future!

Anyway, although I'm not finished with the quilt yet, I thought I would share some of the pieces. The first one shown below is a simple combination of 3 fabrics with some modest curves.
That on it's own is "ok", but isn't all that inspiring. So, one thing to do is to start messing with the curves and adding new colors in between so that you have some narrower strips, plus more than 3 colors. See the one below where I inserted some purple.

That definitely adds some interest, and you could see how one can just keep going. Well, the next step is to layer a bunch of these and re-cut them. Then you start to see all sorts of fun things, like certain colors being "pinched" out, or really thin sections of a given color. See below for an example.

See how the white in the middle gets pinched out and you start to get more pronounced curves in some areas? Well, I can see this becoming an addiction! I have a couple tricks in store that you'll have to wait and see when I finish the quilt.

Unfortunately (but somewhat fortunately) I took my sewing machine in to be serviced last week and I probably won't get it back until after Thanksgiving. It was my grandmother's machine and it hasn't been serviced since 1982! So I'm looking forward to having a much nicer machine when I get it back!

So what do you think of curved piecing? Have you ever tried it?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My First Quilt

Welcome to my blog, everyone. I've created this site so that I can share some of my projects with you. The first one I'll showcase is my first quilting project! My first project happened to be a baby quilt for my sister, who just recently had a lovely daughter, Anabel. I made the quilt over the summer and gave it to her before Anabel arrived. It was a lot of fun, so I'm sure I'll be making more! I'm already working on my second one right now. It's a slow process for me because I don't have a lot of time for sewing - but it's fun anyway!

So, onto the quilt project! Here's a sneak peak of some of the fabric:

The quilt I decided to make was a rail fence quilt. Someone suggested Start Quilting by Alex Anderson as a good book to start out with. As it turned out, the rail fence quilt was perfect for me! It was so much easier than I was expecting, which made the process more fun. The first step, of course, was picking the fabric. I decided to go with a general palette of pink, green, and brown. My wonderful parents were kind enough to go fabric shopping for me on a recent trip to Tokyo, so there are six different fabrics direct from Japan in this quilt! The rest of the fabrics were purchased from and Ikea (the backing fabric, which I found on sale for $2.99 per yard, was awesome because it was 59" wide - no piecing necessary!).

Piecing was easy! Long strips that were sewn together and then sliced into squares. I'm glad I read the directions for this because if I had done this on my own, I would have cut out each tiny strip and then pieced each square separately! What a waste of time that would have been ... After all the piecing, I had to pick a border fabric. I selected this awesome piggy fabric from Japan.

Of course, it wasn't all easy-going. I nearly had a nervous breakdown at the basting stage. I took the directions I had a little too seriously and it took me 45 minutes to pin about 1/10th of the quilt because I was putting them so close together! I was freaking out a little bit. After some more reading in other books, I determined that maybe I should try thread basting, so I gave that a shot. At the end of my basting process, I had a Frankenstein-like basting job with half pins and half thread - and overall I had spent several hours doing it. Then I started the quilting! This was a fun part of the project ... except for the fact that I was a bit anal and wanted my diamond-pattern to be perfect. I marked out the lines using blue painter's tape - which is a great way to do it, but it did take a lot of time.

After the quilting was finished, it was on to the binding. I got a tip from a quilting friend (check out her blog here) on how to do the binding and it really helped. Of course, I was following the instructions she gave me and I made a HUGE mistake. I didn't realize this mistake until I had attached the entire binding onto the front of the quilt. What was the mistake, you ask? Well ... I attached the binding upside down ... so when I went to flip it over the edge to hand-stitch onto the back, I had two cut edges, rather than the folded edge! Wow. What a stupid mistake. Of course, I had to rip the whole thing out and start the binding over! Needless to say, I was pretty frustrated at this point. Oh well - I redid the binding, hand-stitched the back side, and it was done! I was so thrilled by the result.

What do you all think? Want to see some more photos? Here they are: