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!

Halloween Quilt – “Spectre-acular”

Get it? “Spectre-acular?” Spectacular? Don’t worry, I’m okay with being the only one to find that funny.

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I’ve just finished a wonderfully-timed theme quilt to get in the Halloween spirit. I used a new pattern (for me)- the disappearing 4-patch- to create this quilt. It  is such a quick and easy block,  it didn’t take me very long at all. I managed to get the whole top put together in just over a week to send off to the quilters. (I did work on it each night, however.)

I created this quilt on a whim, too! I was in JoAnn Fabrics for something else (can’t even remember what) when I saw that the Halloween fabric was 40% off. (This was back sometime in August – they are no longer on sale.)

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Sample block.

I got a half-yard of 10 different fabrics; I specifically tried to find prints that were either mostly orange or mostly black. (Included in those 10 were a half-yard each of solid black and orange.) Cutting each half-yard into 5 inch blocks, I made piles of each fabric and put them together in a simple 4-patch block. Then, I cut horizontally and vertically twice, each an inch away on either side of the middle seam. The hardest part of this quilt was stopping the fabric from moving when I moved the ruler. Then I flipped the little cut pieces and put them all back together (keeping the center square where it is. I always pressed towards the black fabric so that when I was putting the blocks back together the seams nestled neatly together.

I wish I had taken some more pictures of this process! Next time.

For the backing I chose a orange, light purple, and black plaid print. I was waffling between the plaid and glow in the dark bats, but for some reason the plaid was different enough from what you normally see in Halloween prints that I had to do it, and I’m so glad I did! I machine bound it using solid black. I was tempted to use orange thread to bind it, but my binding isn’t always perfect, so I held off this time. I was able to create 4 perfect corners this time, however, so that’s a plus!


For the quilting, I really love the pattern I picked out. Originally it was going to be witches’ hats, then bats, but then I saw the ghosts. (If I had seen one for pumpkins I probably would have picked that one.) I fell in love! Super cute!

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I absolutely love how it came out! It really feels like Halloween with it around. I’ve got lots more quilts out at the quilters right now, so hopefully soon I’ll have some more to share! Next weekend I’ll be making a post about different ways to display your quilts at home.

Also, does anyone have any idea why some of my pictures are showing up blurry when there’s more than one? Are they blurry on your screens, or is it just on mine? If you click on them to load, they sharpen up, but the snapshots are blurry. It’s driving me batty! (HAH- admit it, that one was funny.)

A quilty gift!

My husband’s best friend from college got married over the fourth of July, so we decided that rather than buying her a blender, I’d make her a quilt instead. So, I searched Craftsy.com and Connecting Threads, and finally found this (kinda) little beauty over at CT. I’m a huge fan of CT because their prices are very reasonable and the quality of the fabric is pretty awesome for the price.

Anyways, it was a full-size quilt (mostly) and for some reason, I really struggled to get it together. Not for any skill related reason, but simply because when I sat down to quilt I just never wanted to quilt it. It was a mental block, I think, most likely because by this point Dan had left Charlottesville to head to Cleveland for his law internship, I was home alone with the kiddo, it was the last two weeks of school, and I was just tired all the time.

But, once I joined Dan up in Cleveland, and once school finished, I found that I once again had the energy to quilt, and the quilt came together quite quickly. Plus, once I got past my mental block, I absolutely fell in love with the quilt. I sent it out to be quilted and chose a simple swirl stitch, but the quilter was wonderful and put some little flowers in the center of the nine-patch blocks to match the flower theme of the quilt, which I absolutely adore!

Anyways, enough talking, here’s the rest of the pictures!

I’ve been practicing my photo skills, and as an added bonus the apartment we are sub-leasing for the summer has fantastic natural lighting. But yeah! I really enjoyed how these photos turned out. Hopefully you do to!

2016’s Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show

Last year, I learned of the existence of one of the largest quilt shows in Virginia. Unfortunately, I learned of this show the day before it opened, and there was just no way for me to make it there that year. BUT, that meant that I planned ahead for this year! And despite being sick, I made it to the show.

Fair warning, this is going to be just a GIANT post with a TON of pictures. I really should have brought my camera along, since getting the pictures from my phone to my computer without a cord was a giant pain in my butt.

These quilts absolutely took my breath away with how intricate, colorful, ambitious, and ingenious they are. My favorites will be the first three, since I play favorites with quilts.

The picture with the pillows was probably my overall favorite. It looks like a photograph; but everything is applique. It is absolutely incredible. You’ll also see a strong rainbow preference in the second and third place favorites; I’ve realized I *love* rainbow quilts. Anyways, without further ado, here’s the rest:

 

Anyways, I’ve been able to have some of my quilt tops quilted (by check this time) and bound up, so next time I’ll post a couple photos of them. See ya!

Work in Progress and a visit to Quilt-n-Bee

Even though I have been away from home for almost three weeks by now, I have managed to keep working on a Farfalle quilt that I brought with me. As you know, my stepmother-mother-in-law is the one who got me into quilting, and she was kind enough to let me use her sewing machine to put together all the blocks I had.

IMG_0104I am very excited about this quit. When it is finally done, it will be the first ever Queen-sized quilt that I have made. The orginal Farfalle pattern is smaller than this – it is 6 blocks square, and measures about 48”x48”. It calls for two charm packs. For me, I purchased one Ambleside layer cake and cut it up into 5” squares so I could double the pattern. Currently, it measures 64” x 72”.

I’m going to add two borders to this- one 2” one in one of the Ambleside fabrics, and one 5” border in white to help tie it all together. Does anyone have a thought about what fabric I should choose?

I picked out this pattern because I looked at it and I could see the blocks and assumed “Well, this should be fast and easy!” …Yeah… It was relatively easy, but cutting and piecing together 84 blocks was not at all fast. But it was relatively easy for a beginner like me, so that’s good, I guess.

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Also, while up in Traverse City, we stopped by one other quilt store that was absolutely darling. It is a mother and daughter owned store called Quilt-n-Bee. They are an absolutely adorable quilt store.

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The store is a beautiful, clean space that I especially like because of how clean and open the store is. Unlike a lot of quilt stores, there isn’t a lot of stuff in there, and while it does mean that the fabric selection isn’t as extensive as some stores, it also isn’t overwhelming. It is very easy to see from one side of the store to the other side, and its a more restful feeling than some stores you walk into.

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Although their fabric selection wasn’t quite as impressive as other places, it did have quite a few kits available. They had quilts, some bags, and even some doll clothes.

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One thing I liked was that they had quite a few alternatives to just shelves for displaying their product. They had items like a rocking chair, a fireplace, a dresser… all of these I thought were adorable and brought a sense of being “home” instead of being at a store.

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I’d definitely recommend stopping by if you ever find yourself up in the Traverse City area; I also picked up their row-by-row for my Michigan Row by row quilt. (It doesn’t have the cherry border, but all the rest is there.)

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Have a great 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?

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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!