To the Stars (and Back!)

My daughter just turned one. Yay! I am happy to report that her baby quilt was finished BEFORE her first birthday. (Or, realistically, happy to report I got it finished at all!)

43437529_10161146644090284_4594539284916076544_o

First draft of the quilt. Wound up adding her name and a few more stars before all was said and done.

This is my very first quilt that I designed, pieced, and quilted entirely myself. I drew it out on graph paper first, a very rough sketch, then cut out the background pieces. I printed out the stars and used my light board to sketch them on to freezer paper. I then ironed the freezer paper on to the main fabric, cut out the shapes, then iron the fabric onto the background panels, stitch them down, and then finally sew the panels together.

 

43302827_10161146644345284_8075668844498124800_o.jpgThe name was the hardest part- that and the moon, because it was so big it overlapped a few background panels, meaning I had to sew the panels together first and THEN stitch the moon down. I was worried about the moon moving during stitching (even though I used approximately 1 billion pins) and causing the fabric to bunch. But it worked out!

I then basted it using 505 Spray (I’m nervous because you aren’t supposed to use it when pregnant, and use it in a well-ventilated area… so I did it when it was nice out and in the garage and AFTER Athena was born) and started quilting.

43385965_10161146644260284_2340888610909192192_n.jpgFor the quilting I did an all-over meander… a very dense meander. It isn’t the best, but it isn’t the worst, and it was my first time doing a meander so I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

As for the stars/planets/letters, I started doing a double echo around each one but then went down to just one echo. Again, nobody is going to notice from 20 feet away so it’s good enough for me!

I was able to bind it in  some leftover purple that matched absolutely perfectly with the purple in the space fabric. Also, I didn’t know this at the time of purchase, but the space fabric has glitter in it… that is now everywhere in my sewing room. I think I’ll be finding glitter in my machine for the rest of my life!

00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20181030145637684_COVER

Elephant Baby Quilt

IMG_2011Another baby quilt; this time it’s for another little boy and my instructions were as follows: navy blue and lime green colors. The rest was up to me.

I had recently obtained a tumbler template from Missouri Star Quilt Company, and hadn’t had a chance to use it yet, so I decided this would be a perfect time to do so! Using some different shades of white/grey/off white fabric from my stash and some navy and lime green yardage, this came together quite nicely! (Especially since it was my first time using the template.)

Originally I had wanted to do triangles instead of the tumbler block, but I don’t have a triangle ruler and it was shaping up to be pretty confusing. (I’m sure, eventually, I will wind up doing a triangle quilt and I will find it much easier, but today is not that day!)

It turned out looking pretty modern – I have to say, when I heard the colors “navy blue” and “lime green” together, I was a bit nonplussed – I had never thought to put them together before.IMG_2013

But after this quilt… yeah, this is high on my color choice combos for boyo quilts from now on. It’s so striking, I absolutely love it! Not to mention the quilting, which is elephants marching from row to row. My LAQ even managed to get them marching around the corner instead of doing a simple edge-to-edge.

Fun story- I actually didn’t have this quilt finished in time for the baby shower, which actually turned out perfectly! When I went, the theme was green, blue, and elephants, so that decided me on the quilting pattern! (Oops!)

I’m just head-over-heels for this quilt! I think it turned out absolutely stunning!

It’s hard to believe we’re just a few weeks away from our move. I’m about two weeks behind right now on my 365 Challenge, but I’ve been feeling really under the weather lately, so hopefully when that clears up I can get caught up again!

Yer a wizard, ‘Arry! (Harry Potter Baby Quilt)

A good friend of mine at work is having a baby this June, and so of course I had to make her a baby quilt. It was super easy to come up with a theme- she absolutely loves everything Harry Potter. She mentioned once or twice that she liked the chevron pattern, so I thought it would be fun to do a chevron pattern with the Hogwarts’ House colors.

Originally that was going to be it. But as I was piecing it, I decided it needed something more. And I wanted to add her kiddo’s name- Liam. Now, Harry Potter has a very unique font associated with it- and it’s got lots of jagged lines. But I was determined!IMG955163.jpg

I freehand drew the letters of the name out, got them all traced and cut out, and then realized that there were font generators online where I could have TYPED it out in the font, printed THAT, and then traced THAT. So I did that with the date, but there was no way in hell I was redoing the name. Plus I was kinda proud of how it came out. Yes, the ‘m’ is slightly smaller – but nobody knows until I point it out.

Wait. Shoot.

Anyways, moving on – the IMG955155backing is just simple black because I REALLY wanted the quilting to stand out. My LAQ had a Harry Potter themed edge to edge design, and it was PERFECT. I chose a silver/grey thread to really pop on the back and somewhat blend on the front without blurring the lettering. I finished the quilt off with black binding.

I’m absolutely in love with this quilt. It turned out unbelievably well! I know it’ll be treasured for years to come- hopefully the little one likes Harry Potter!

I did forget to take pictures of the quilt before gifting it, but my friend was super nice and took some pictures of it at her house and sent them to me. So there isn’t a traditional “hung up” one, but they’re quality photos nonetheless! She has an awesome camera and a pretty good eye for photography. Maybe someday she’ll let me borrow the quilt for a couple minutes to snap a couple more.

 

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.

 

A Happy Accident

No, I’m not talking about my son. (Even though he was.) I’m talking about a baby quilt! I’m not actually naming the quilt “A Happy Accident”- No, wait, I’m totally naming the baby quilt/wall hanging that. That is hilarious.

This quilt came around because I made a mistake on a much larger quilt I was making that required me to buy a new jelly roll. But I hate wasting fabric, so I was trying to figure out what I could make with the rest of the jelly roll instead. And since it was all sewn together, I decided to cut some off-center blocks from the strips.

I went with a simple black to border the blocks, and used 9 of the 10 I cut in a roughly rainbow arrangement. I absolutely adore how it turned out! It’s going to be a perfect wall hanging or a baby quilt. It’s already up on Etsy.

img_0869The backing is black as well, which really shows the quilting off to advantage. The quilting was done using teal thread to create whimsical dragonflies and lightning bugs. I really enjoy how much it stands out on the back of the quilt!

I’m pretty proud of how my corners and the binding turned out too. I machine bind all my quilts now, because I actually like the look if it much better than hand bound, and I think it is much more secure than when it’s hand bound.

A Happy Accident is pretty special to me. Even though it was a relatively quick and painless quilt (if only because it wasn’t planned), it holds a special place in my heart. Every time I see this quilt, I’m reminded that just because something didn’t go the way you wanted or planned it to, you can make something wonderful come from it.

My kiddo really wanted to help hold the quilt, and who am I to tell him he can’t help out?! He definitely makes the quilt better. 😉

Follow the Yellow Brick Row!

It’s been awhile; it has been a crazy couple of weeks. The good news though, is that I have a lot of my quilts finished!

img_0813Back in February, I went to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Virginia. While there, I happened to come across a booth that sold exclusively Kaffe Fassett fabrics and kits that used his fabrics. If you aren’t familiar with K.Fassett, he creates quilts and fabrics that are full to bursting with vibrant, over saturated color. In the booth I saw a quilt made from a brick pattern, and fell in love with it.

I’ve always loved K.Fassett’s fabrics and quilts, and so I purchased the 18 fat quarters needed for the quilt and some white as well as the white fabric. Now, I am not usually a fan of yellow, but the colors and vibrancy of these fabrics… I fell in love.

So, I brought the fabric and pattern back home, and created the lap quilt. After creating the lap quilt, however, I counted my remaining pieces that I had and realized I had more than enough to make a baby quilt from the leftover pieces.

This is the baby quilt I made:

 

img_0798

I am absolutely in love with this quilt and I wouldn’t even CONSIDER trying to sell it except that I have the lap size quilt that I think I will keep.

The quilting pattern I picked out was that of a daisy, and I think it compliments both the quilt and the pattern on the fabrics very nicely. I call these two quilts “Follow the Yellow Brick Row” because, well, they’re yellow, and their bricks, and I went down the “road” when sewing the rows together… and everyone knows I stole the thought from The Wizard of Oz. I’m not fooling anyone, am I?img_0817

The lap quilt looks very similar to this, just larger. Getting the rows just right so the same fabric didn’t wind up next to each other too often was exhausting, but I really, REALLY like this quilt! I haven’t had my lap quilt sent off to be quilted yet, but I will be doing that very soon now! I’ll give it it’s own (much shorter) entry just so it doesn’t feel ignored.

Baby Quilt for a friend!

Everyone has that stage in their lives where all their friends are getting married and/or getting pregnant all at once, right? It’s like a bug that goes around and bites people and they just all start falling one by one. Well, my best friend from college recently had a baby, and so I made her a quilt for the little one. She asked for pink and green, and as I do fairly often, I found something perfect at Connecting Threads. I designed the quilt myself (read: decided on HST and just went with what I thought would look good).

I think it turned out really well! So well, in fact, that I didn’t feel guilty not giving it to her until her little one was almost 5 months old! To be fair, that’s what you get when you live in Virginia and your college friend is still up in Michigan.

It’s super soft and when I went back to visit, baby was all cuddled up with it in her bed. It was the first time I saw one of my quilts actually being used, and it made me all warm and fuzzy inside, haha.

Anyways, I’m really excited because I just dropped off a couple of my finished quilt tops with the quilter, so hopefully soon I’ll have a Halloween quilt, another baby quilt, a block of the month, and a wall hanging done! Yay!

Owl Baby Quilt & Asian Panel

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a post. And you know what? Not sorry! I am sorry for being not sorry, though. Kinda. No I’m not.

Life has been busy lately, what with my first year of teaching almost halfway done (what?!) and my husband in his second year of law school. He accepted an offer at a Cleveland firm for next summer, so if all goes well that is where we will be resettling to Ohio in 1.5 years. (The one place I NEVER thought I would end up… Ohio.)

Halloween was a ton of fun, what with my son being a cowboy and me being a mad scientist. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and then after that is my favorite time of year: Christmas! (That and snow, because snow days are awesome.)

I do have some exciting news, however; I have had two friends approach me and ask to make them quilts! And while I would love to do it free, I am a lowly teacher and have no money, so they were my first two commissions! And hopefully I can use the money I earn from these two to send out some other tops that need quilting that I can also put up for sale.

The first quilt is a baby quilt. The requirements were colors pink & grey, and an owl theme. Well, I couldn’t find owl fabric that I liked that was in pink and grey, so I got a bunch of grey and pink fabric. My original intent was to do a simple 5” square quilt and then quilt on the diagonal (my little brother machine, while a trooper, can’t handle anything more complicated than that and can barely handle straight lines). But then, after cutting the strips of grey and putting them together I *really* liked how they looked. And I could include some owls by doing a rough-edge applique of an owl in the corner. So this is what I wound up with:

IMG_0119

The backing and binding are the same fabric: a cute pink with white poka dots on it. It brings in a little more pink since the front is mostly grey. Which I actually really like. The owl in the corner was rough-edge applique, and it was probably the hardest part.

But I like how it turned out!

But I like how it turned out!

I’m still new to the whole applique part, but I had a lot of fun and next time I might try something a little harder when I applique again. And I will do it by hand as well.

Here are a couple more pictures: of the two with the quilt on the crib, which do you like the most?

IMG_0109

IMG_0110

IMG_0115

IMG_0123

IMG_0114

The second commission quilt I did was based off of my Asian fractured-panel quilt I did. (I’m almost done with that quilt as well, but that will be for a later time!) This one wasn’t quite the same style; the pattern is much different. Instead of doing strips, I had framed fussy-cut squares that I got from a fat quarter pack off of etsy (thanks, Shiboridragons!) If you like Asian fabric, they are my go-to. Anyways, here’s the quilt:

IMG_0126IMG_0129

IMG_0130

I really, really love how this one turned out. It was a lot of fun to piece together, as well, and honestly was not as complicated as I thought! All of the fussy-cut squares were from 6 different fat quarters. Asian fabric is great for this because they can have some seriously cool designs on them where you can have two totally different squares that came from the same piece of fabric. The background is very slightly off-white, because the white background on the center panel is not actually true white. Each square is framed with the same gold fabric, which I think really helps it come together. One of my favorite fabrics in this quilt, however, is the backing fabric.

IMG_0133

It’s a beautiful Asian fabric that is quite calming, with gold, pink, and blue dragonflies on the back with cherry blossoms delicately floating on the wind. The quilting was not done by me: we took it to our local quilt shop and sent it out to a long-arm quilter, Kelly. She did a great job with the quilting!

IMG_0131

But anyways, that was my weekend! Enjoy the rest of yours!

Also: I’m still trying to figure out the whole “photographer” part works out, since photography is not my strong point. What pictures are YOUR favorites, and why?

New Design and a Visit to Ann Arbor Sewing Center

It’s been awhile!

I was fooling around on EQ7 and was really getting in to some very colorful designs. Well, I came up with a quick and easy jelly roll design that I absolutely loved! Check it out:

Sunset on the Water

This would be a great quilt for someone who has a stash to get rid of or someone who has a bunch of batik (or Kona) jelly roll/bali pops. In my head it looks like a sunset reflecting off a lake or large river. Someday I will definitely have to make this quilt!

Also, even though it has been awhile (roughly two weeks… oops!) since I visited this store, I wanted to let everyone know about one of the most fantastic sewing stores I have ever been to. (Not that I’ve been to a ton, but this one was beyond cool!)

Its the Ann Arbor Sewing Center, which is located- you guessed it- in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The building was originally the area’s schoolhouse, and has since been expanded a number of times as the business grew. It is a fantastic place that has plenty of wonderful quilt samples around, but also many, MANY different fabrics, from Civil War-era reproductions, to the whole Kona Solids collection, to Kaffe Fassett fabrics and other prints. Take a look at some of the pictures I snapped!

IMG_0057 IMG_0058

IMG_0079 IMG_0081

IMG_0088 This was some of the Kaffe Fassett fabrics they had, as well as a few others.

Here are some of my favorite display quilts I saw there; I wanted to buy all the rainbow ones! (Their kits, I mean). Luckily for me, my husband was with me and he helped me keep control of my wallet! You can always click on the image to see it blown up. 

IMG_0070 IMG_0063 IMG_0062

IMG_0072 IMG_0068

IMG_0067 IMG_0066

IMG_0064 IMG_0071 IMG_0074

IMG_0083 IMG_0059 IMG_0098

IMG_0097 IMG_0094

IMG_0082 IMG_0060

This was a fabulous store, and I still can’t get some of the quilts I saw there out of my mind (or off my wish-list!). If you are ever in the area, or even passing by, this is a MUST visit store!

I also picked up their row by row, but forgot to grab a picture of it, so you will have to wait until I am all done. Unfortunately, due to a death in the family, I will be back in Michigan over the weekend. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Q & A with Ayumi from Pink Penguin

I have been a huge fan of the blog Pink Penguin by Ayumi Takahashi for quite some time now. (Make sure to go check out her blog- she is seriously talented!) It started when I saw a pattern of hers on Pinterest to make a bento/lunch bag. Her tutorial was easy to follow and straightforward, even for a beginning sewer like me! The bag turned out absolutely adorable, too. (Again, I will post pictures when I get a new camera!)

Well, I have been following her blog now for several months, and finally got up the courage to ask her if she’d be willing to answer a few questions. I was very intrigued – she lives in Japan and sews/quilts over there, as well as designs her own fabric. So, I went out on a limb and asked her if she would be willing to do a quick little Q&A with me. I really expected her to say no, so imagine how surprised I was when she said she would be happy to!

So, without further ado… Here you go!

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Ayumi Takahashi and I blog at Pink Penguin. I was born and raised in Japan but I spent 8 years in the US where I went to a college and also met my husband. We moved to Tokyo 4 years ago, had our first baby a few years later, and the next one will arrive in September this year.

2. How did you get into quilting and/or sewing?

I was much inspired by sewing/quilting blogs I randomly found online. My mother-in-law was also huge inspiration because she is a great quilter. She convinced my husband to get me a sewing machine for my birthday several years ago. (The best birthday gift ever!!) And I never went back to life without sewing regularly.

3. What is your favorite part of the process?

Thinking/designing a new project is so much fun! Choosing fabric for it is also thrilling! I like to learn new techniques, so if my project has any process that requires a new technique, I am intrigued. When I think I master the skill, it satisfies me and I love it!

4. What is the most challenging?

Finishing a project lol! It is very easy to start a project, but I get side tracked by other projects so easily. I have boxes filled with many work-in-projects from years ago!

5. Of everything you have done, what was your favorite project? Why?

5199414158_a34a04baaf_o
I love paper-piecing, especially designing a paper-piecing pattern. I discovered love for paper-piecing from joining a quilting bee called Ringo Pie bee where we made many original paper-pieced blocks. I enjoyed making all my blocks, but if I were to pick one favorite, I may have to say it is this popsicles block.
6. How did you get into designing your own fabric?
I had an annual column for a Japanese magazine called Patchwork Tsushin. The chief editor introduced me to a fabric manufacturer, Kokka, who was then looking for a designer who would design a fabric collection for patchwork/quilts. I was very nervous but thought it was a great opportunity to turn what I love into fabric I can sew with!

7. What is the biggest difference between living in the U.S. and in Japan as a sewer?

I wouldn’t say there are a lot of differences since I now have access to as many supplies as I used in the US. Some things I miss are rulers/measurement tapes/ cutting tables in inches. Everything is in metric here, but my brain still prefers inches/yards. I miss easy access to a lot of American quilting weight fabric too. Another difference is that quilting is still for older generations in general in Japan. There are a lot of younger people who sew but they often make zakka items like bags and clothes. Quilts are not often used practically here. They are rather art to put on the wall. I feel very lucky that I have spent enough years in the US to appreciate practice use of quilts.
8. How do you think up your designs for your fabric?
I had some ideas for my first fabric collection, Lighthearted, from a long time ago which were
Plaids by Ayumi! (Borrowed from her Etsy shop)

Plaids by Ayumi! (Borrowed from her Etsy shop)

– Small kitchen design that can be fussy cut for hexagons etc.
– Plaid because I just love plaids in general
– Text design because I can rarely finish a project without including a few texty prints
– Small polka dots for blending
– Little floral design which can be used for clothes making etc other than patchwork/quilting
Basically Lighthearted was a collection of all the things I love to use for my patchwork projects.

9. What is the hardest part about designing your own fabric?

I designed using my computer and was quite surprised when I first saw samples of printed fabric. They were pretty different from what I thought they looked on my computer. Unlike simple designing on the computer, there is a lot of knowledge you need to have about colors when it is actually printed on fabric. There are some colors I needed to give up because they just wouldn’t look good on fabric even if they were beautiful on my desktop screen. The stronger contrast is, the finished fabric comes put prettier, which I didn’t know, so working with color with consideration of a limitation due to nature of fabric printing was very difficult for me partly because it was fully my first time.

10. Could you tell me a little bit about the timeline of creating your own fabric line?

My manufacturer was hoping to debut Lighthearted in April 2014, which is about 4 months after I begun the whole process. It didn’t give me enough time, so the debut month kept extended til September 2014.
If you want to read more, visit Ayumi over at Pink Penguin or stop by her Etsy shop!