Tuesday, March 26, 2013

HSTs + horses

Well, technically just one horse.  This guy:

A sweet, "peeping" horse, thanks (again) to the creative Sonja for the fabulously fun pattern.  (Note:  I poster-printed the file at ~180% so he'll be closer to 16" x 20" than the original 8" x 10").

He's in the mix with these HSTs (soon-to-be paper hats):

And this barn-sized carpenter's star in shades of burgundy and brown:

Side bar:  I thought about trying to get a better picture this afternoon, but melted snow doesn't make for the greatest backdrop, so this will have to do!

The top measures 90" x 90", yikes.  Still finalizing a quilting design, so any advice is much appreciated!  Right now I'm thinking of echoing the outer edges of the star on the background, then doing continuous line quilting along the spikes of the outer ring and center star... Hm, who knows!  Totally open to suggestions if any come to mind ;)

Also, non sequitur, but does anyone know how to tell the difference between the front/back of solid fabric? Is there even a true front and back? Sometimes the sheen looks a little different on one side, but even then I'm not quite sure what to make of it... just wondering if anyone had any tips to share!

Linking up with Lee at freshly pieced.  I wish I had time to write more (this post feels like a WIP!) but sadly non-sewing deadlines have kept me on my toes (and pretty much off my machine) the past week and a half.

Here's to getting back into the s{e}wing of things ;)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

sam's {scrappy} quilt

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This quilt top was inspired in a last-minute burst of creativity as I was flipping through the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns* and daydreaming of emeralds the other week.

The block itself (#3725) is titled "Sam's Quilt," which seemed appropriate seeing as it's a family name and my husband has hinted that we need a larger-than-lapsized quilt for the family room (finished top is 72" x 77").  So I set to work selecting prints from my stash, cutting plastic templates (and lots of fabric!), and chain piecing like a crazy person.  Now, typically I infuse order into everything I sew (e.g., this quilt), but lately I've been envious of several quilty peers' innate ability to whip up brilliantly scrappy designs that seem so effortlessly carefree and cheerful.  In fact, after seeing this particular beauty, I told myself the next block-based quilt I made would be off-limits to any attempts at order.

Seeing as this approach goes against every designer grain in my being, it's been an interesting experience, to say the least.  Ironically, my little helper's eagerness to participatenamely by tossing triangles all over the floor at randomwas actually quite useful in keeping me on my scrappy task.

Indeed, it's safe to say that from piecing to photography, she had a hand (or foot) in it all.

It's certainly not the "scrappy riot of colour" I one day aspire to achieve, but it's a start!  Entering this in the quilt tops category of a2(w)'s Pantone Challenge:  in addition to green, I used off-white fabrics (beige + eggshell + snow) for my neutral and various blue prints for my secondary color.

Much thanks to Ali for hosting and to the amazing sponsors and judges for your generosity and time!  You can check out the (steep!) competition here.

*Note:  Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns has been out of print for some time, and eBay/Amazon sellers have raised their prices in light of its relative rarity.  I happened to snatch up an old library copy at a fair price last fall, but I just stumbled up this newly released eBook for less than $30 in case spending upwards of $80 on a used book just isn't your thing ;)

Plum and June  WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced  A Lovely Year of Finishes
Edited to add:  A few of you have commented about the stained glass effect of this quilt.  And I must say, after walking out to this in my family room the past few days...

Yes, it's still up.  Don't judge!

...I'm inclined to add quilted curtains to my {lengthy} sewing/dream home wishlist!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

sea crystal + plaid

Without further ado, I am thrilled to introduce my latest creation to my quilty friends!

I call it "sea crystal & plaid," a two-sided quilt.  It measures 58" square.

The tartan side started out as a b&w sketch composed on an airline tray table during a flight to San Francisco last fall.  Inspiration for this particular plaid came from one of my husband's many (...many) plaid shirts.  I had originally envisioned using just three colors (light, medium and dark), but I liked the idea of toying with a number of hues so I ordered a little bit of everything and ended up using about a dozen different gradients of greenish-blues from that order and my stash.  (More on that here.)

Then it came time to decide what to do on the other side.  Lately, I've been content to piece a series of "paper hats" separating two panels of fabric (a print and a solid, comme ├ža).  But then I got to thinking... this is for the Emerald Challenge, so why not test out a round cut version of my paper-pieced birthstone?  I thought about making rounded emerald "top hats" but decided to go with the full 16" gems, bezel set in a pearly cream on a backdrop of half ivory, half kraft paper bag.  

Edited to add:  the round cut birthstone block pattern is now available for immediate download for $5 on etsy and craftsy.

I straight-line quilted using the plaid side as a guide, and bound the quilt in Simply Color Ombre in aqua (though it's really more sea green).  I have to say, I think I like this two-fer, I like it a lot ;)

Entering this in the quilts category of a2(w)'s Pantone Challenge, and linking up with finish it up Friday over at crazy mom quilts.  Thanks to both amazing women for hosting!

2013 Emerald Quilt Challenge
Edited to add:  For challenge purposes, in addition to vary degrees of light --> dark emerald tones, I chose off-whites (pearl + ivory + cream) for my neutral, and kraft brown for my secondary color.

And if you like this cool green/blue color palette, check out this top!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

tartan, triangle stars + trinkets

Still working away on my emerald-toned quilts... annnd about six other WIPs that I'll share another time in light of the hard deadline for these two (only five days to go... eek!)  You can check out some of the beauties that some very talented quilters have already entered in the challenge here.

After spending an absurd amount of time figuring out fabrics for the layout...

I finally started and finished the tartan top last week.

It's about 57" square.  I had originally planned on ~70" until I went to calculate yardage requirements based on my sketch.  (Note to future self:  next time, run the numbers before deciding to just order a half yard of every shade.)   I'm not *as* in love with it as I was hoping, but I think I have my haphazard ordering to thank for thatwith not enough of too many fabrics, not all the overlaps worked out how I had envisioned.  (Next time I'll take greater care to avoid that issue.)  I do, however, have an idea for a quilting design that I hope will unify the plaid, so we shall see!

On the plus side, having more leftovers of certain shades than anticipated, I decided to try some coordinated fun for the "back" (truth be told, by this point I think I've spent as much time on it as the front!)  Here's a sneak peak at the pre-set stones...

And a finished (bezel-set) emerald:

I have to say, I really have become quite smitten with the back and at the end of the day might just call this a two-sided tartan (or tartan-backed bezel emeralds).  But before I figure out which side is which and what to call the completed quilt, I have to figure out what to do about binding(!)  I'm really having trouble with this one.  As of right now, it's between Simply Color ombre in aqua and a random greenish/blue print from my stash.  Or I guess I could just go with white?  Beige? Oy.

Good thing I only have one set of binding to worry about before Sunday {for now, at least}.  I'm also hoping to complete a second top in time for the challenge.  I've made some progress on the "Sam's quilt" stars, though admittedly there are far more pieces lying around than completed blocks at this point.  Which isn't difficult seeing as there is exactly one fully assembled star {of 42}.

Wish me luck!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday ;)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

setting goals + seeing green...

Or should I say emerald?  Like many others in the quiltosphere, I've had the color on my mind since discovering a²(w)'s {irresistible} Pantone Quilt Challenge.  And what a challenge this "emerald" color has been (!)  Apparently I missed the memo about emerald being closer to teal than bright green (I suppose I should have paid closer attention during The Wizard of Oz).

My progress so far?  Well... there are two quilts in the works.  And by "in the works" I mean in the very beginning stages...

BUT, I am going to be optimistic about finishing my emerald-tone tartan:

It'll be made from a yet-to-be-finalized combination of these lovely (and freshly laundered!) fabrics:

AND this more traditional quilt comprised of 35 variations of the "Sam's Quilt" block: 

 Using a scrappy assortment of these prints:

As you can see from my pencil+paper sketch and literally cut+paste block, my design process isn't always the most technically savvy.  I do own the whole Adobe suite and love it for certain purposes, but when I get an idea, sometimes I just find technology (ironically) slows me down?  Guess I probably should just break down and buy EQ7 one of these days, but until then I'll keep my notepad and BICs nearby ;)

So, goal setting time!  "To do" list for March:  Piece one top and start/finish the other quilt.  Which is which?  Who knows!  I could wind up with two tops or {gasp} none at all... Yikes!  I guess for March goal purposes I should just say I'll finish at least one of the tops ;)

Linking up with A Lovely Year of Finishes and Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday.  Much thanks to Melissa, Shanna, and Lee for hosting!