365 Challenge – Week 4

Yay! Week 4 out of 52 complete! Still loving this challenge. Still somehow on track and not falling behind. I bought a couple of Kona layer cakes in some colors I didn’t have very many of (or any) to supplement my supplies, and I’m REALLY enjoying the purple one I got!

So far, even though the HSTs have gotten down to 1 1/2”, I haven’t had too much trouble with them. Even though you’re working with units as small as 1”, it seriously hasn’t been as bad as I feared.

The biggest trouble I’m getting is from my machine. I’ve had issues with it being able to sew over some of the thicker seams, and so I went troubleshooting. I found out that not only can I clean my machine, but I’m supposed to replace the needle after every project or after every 8 hours of sewing. I did not know that, and so for the past (almost) three years, I’ve been using the same needle and I have NEVER cleaned my machine.

Needless to say, after doing both of those tasks my machine works a lot better- but the issue STILL isn’t fixed. Is it the size of the pieces I’m working on? Is it that the machine just can’t handle these thicker seams? The thread will bunch up because the feed dogs won’t pull it through, which makes the seams VERY bulky. Could it be that I need to clean the feed dogs? I’m so frustrated- it’s making sewing a lot less fun and a lot more frustrating. Thoughts?

Anyways, onto the blocks:

I just LOVE these. The last two are made with NO black- just a really dark purple and a really dark navy, respectively.

I can’t tell if January 27th or January 29th are my favorite. My husband also likes Jan 27th but he likes Jan 26th better than the last one. (I secretly call that one my Caution block).

The 365 Challenge has given me a wonderful chance to play with colors together- the challenge also gets me out of my comfort zone and forces me to play with color combos I normally wouldn’t put together. Like the third block this week- the red was leftover from the previous day and the green was something I grabbed randomly. Anyways, have a great week!

Solstice Challenge Blocks 5 & 6 (And all of the old ones too!)

We’re down 6, with 19 left to go! I cannot believe it’s already 6 weeks into this Challenge. Time is flying by, and half of the year will be gone before you know it!!

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Week 5 – Gramma Anna’s Basket

Week 5 came with a challenge; applique a basket in the middle square! I’m not a huge basket person, so I was having a bit of trouble motivating myself to get started on that week. But! After seeing others on her Facebook page post photos of appliqueing other designs on the block, I decided I could do something different too! I made a Koi pond. I’m a huge fan of blue and pink together, and so I picked the pink to be the background.

I actually really like how this block turned out!

 

 

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Week 6 – The Crosswalk

For this week, Block 6 was a block I’ve never even seen before, much less done. Pat called it “Crossroads”. I could kinda see it. For this one, I went with several fabrics I haven’t cut into yet. Because I decided to do this with NO solid fabrics, it’s hard to see the pattern on this one. But I kinda like it. It’s cooler than the others.

I’m still not sure I like the fabrics together without a solid to ground them. They just seem too busy. But I’m not ripping them out now! I figure that at the very least, they will make the quilt a little more “scrappy” looking when they’re done. At least they’ll all go together, since they’re in the same line…?

As always, you can find her website on how to do this at www.ilovetomakequilts.com. Just click on the “Solstice Challenge” tab at the top when you get there, and it’ll take you to a page where you can download all the instructions for the blocks.

Here’s the total progress so far:

 

Have a great weekend! I will post the 365 Challenge blocks for Week 4 up on Monday!

The 365 Challenge!

Okay. I know quilters are known for taking on too many projects at once, but I may have just crossed the line. “But Jess, you’re just so talented and wonderful and incredible, surely you could handle ANYTHING!”

No. Not this time. This time I think I really might have bitten off more than I can chew. Let me explain.

See, there’s this wonderful lady down in Australia, Kathryn Kerr. And she has something called the 365 Challenge. You can probably already guess the direction this is headed based off of that name. But yes. Every day, a new block is posted, and by the end of the year, you have 365 blocks you put together to make a wonderful quilt. The one above as the feature image is one that she did last year. I especially enjoy it because she also tells you a little bit about the history of the block and some of the alternate names. I’m learning as I quilt!

I decided to do this after seeing someone who made theirs last year in batiks. Except I’m going to do it using solids. All shades of every color, backed by either black or white (or maybe some other dark colors). Hopefully it will be a colorful quilt full of happiness!!

Here’s the trick- these blocks are SMALL. Some of the pieces she uses are 1” square. But she promises to not go below 1” in measurements! (Ha! I’m crying from terror.) At least at the end of this year I should be REALLY comfortable working on small pieces, huh? So far, every block I’ve completed has measured in at 3.5” unfinished.

I do have ONE confession- when I did the first 10 or so blocks I didn’t realize they needed to be a “dark” theme. So some of them are pretty bright. Oops. I’ll just mix them in and hope they don’t stand out.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to get to go to my very first quilt retreat, and I was able to get caught up on the January blocks. They go pretty quickly, since they’re so small, so even though I don’t have much time to work on them during the week, the 4-5 I miss during the week come together in just a couple of hours on Fridays. Honestly, the hardest part so far has been picking the fabric!

I think I might make this into a weekly post where I post the 7 blocks I did that week. Y’know. As a way to keep myself responsible. (It’s like a diet or exercise blog, except for sitting, eating junk food, and sewing! It’s basically the same thing.)

Annnnd, here are my first few blocks! (1-21) I have more done, but I’ll start posting them in batches of 7 every week on Sundays. When I post their picture, I’ll put the name of the block and give a link to the block instructions, just in case you want to do this with me! Please note, I am cropping the pictures so they do NOT include seam allowances. So if you make them your blocks (particularly the 4-patches) will look kinda weird since they will still include their seam allowances.

Now onto the quilt retreat. It was so. much. fun. And so much sewing! I started on a quilt for my husband, as well as working on these blocks. I figured he’d been more than patient, being married to a quilter for 2.5 years and not having his own quilt yet. So when I asked him, “If I ever WERE to make you a quilt- now, mind you, I’m NOT- what colors would you want it to be?” and “Would you- again, just hypothetical- prefer a more modern or traditional look?” He told me a modern winter theme. I’ll share that one when it’s done… hopefully soon. It was going to be for Christmas but… well… it’s frustrating. So for now I’m doing other projects and letting my mind rest and reset on that one.

Well, at the retreat I almost had TOO much sewing. I’m not used to sewing for two days straight, and I was there the LEAST amount of time! (I came a day late because of work and had to leave a little early unfortunately. I’ll just leave you with the only photo I took that weekend- the room where I worked! This was room 1 of 3 (although it was the biggest)! If you look closely to the table to the right, you can see the blue and white beginning of hubby’s quilt. A sneak peek, as you say.

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Anyways, I had a fantastic time, and if we weren’t moving to Cleveland in just 5 and a half short months, I would DEFINITELY be going again next year!!

Baby quilt from a panel!

So my wonderful brother- and sister-in-law were expecting their very first. Baby, that is. They already have three cats. Now, normally my wonderful step-mother-in-law (the same incredible woman who taught me to sew and started this whole addiction- I mean passion-) makes quilts for all the coming babes.

But because this was Dan’s brother, he asked me to make a quilt as well. Of course, he asked me this about 3/4 weeks before baby was due. And we didn’t know the gender.img_0844

So I went to my LQS for some inspiration (read: I was going to buy something or drop of a quilt and… well… we all know how those quick trips turn into something else…) and happened to see this adorable panel of little birds, bugs, and insects. It had some matching colorful fabric that I thought would be perfect for either a boy or a girl. Made the tree fabric into borders and BAM- had img_0830my little quilt. I backed it with another colorful fabric and had it quilted with little dragonflies in teal thread.

I absolutely, unabashedly, wholeheartedly LOVE this quilt. Love, love, LOVE this quilt. I was so tempted to keep it!  It turned out SO darling, and it was quite large! Hopefully that means it’ll last the little (who turned out to be a girl, btw) quite a long time!!

I might start updating a couple of times a week- once for the Winter Solstice, once for any completed projects I’ve finished, and once for the 365 Challenge.

 

Pinwheel Perfection!

Got another completed quilt to show you! It was a lot of fun to put together- it went quickly and easily, and I LOVE how it turned out!

I actually designed this quilt based off of a picture I saw on Pinterest, and used a fat quarter bundle from Connecting Threads that was on sale. I cut out four 8.5 inch squares from each fat quarter and used the four-at-a-time method to make HSTs for each one using white fabric.

And then I cheated.

I didn’t trim my HSTs before sewing the blocks. Somehow, my blocks still came out beautifully! My points were, well, on point. Either luck or skill was responsible for that, but we’re going to pretend it was all skill and no luck.  img_1253

Got it quilted with a swirling bubble pattern that I really enjoy. It’s backed and bound with a gorgeously lush purple that matches the sashing/borders in the quilt top. (It doesn’t look like it, but it does match!)

We’ve had some snow recently (Thanks, Helena!) so I coerced the hubs outside in the cold to hold it for me while I snapped a few pictures. I really enjoy this quilt, and it will be up for sale on my Etsy shop! Check it out here.

I’ve also started a weekly quilt along with Pat Sloan called The Winter Solstice Challenge. Each Wednesday, Pat posts the directions to a block and we make the block. I’m using up fabrics from 13 fat quarters I bought at my local quilt store. They’re themed with Asian motifs (think Koi/blossoms/cranes/etc) and in shades of green, pink, blue, and grey.

Here’s the first three blocks I’ve finished! I’ll keep updating each week. If you’re interested in joining, I’ll always link to her page so you can find the directions for the blocks. Happy sewing!