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!)

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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!

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Dream Big Panel

IMG_20181229_184223I bought this panel near the beginning of this year with the express purpose of using it to practice my free motion quilting on my new machine. But… it was daunting. And so it sat. And sat. Right before we moved, I got it out and basted it. And then it sat some more.

00000IMG_00000_BURST20181229185538135_COVERFinally, I pulled it out, because I wanted to complete my daughter’s baby quilt (which I did, post forthcoming) and figured if I was going to screw it up I’d rather screw it up on a $20 panel and not the quilt top I had spent 20+ hours making. So, after a couple of deep breaths, some frantic Pinterest searching for ideas, and I got started.

At first, each petal took me about 30-45 minutes to do. And the middle, with all that minuscule pebbling, took over an hour. But slowly, I improved. I decided to do a different design on each petal, which adds to the dynamic but also didn’t give me much practice time to perfect each design. As such, some designs are better than others, especially once you start reaching the outer petals. I tried so many new patterns; I even got comfortable using a ruler to make straight lines! (Two petals and all outer corners/background are ruler work.)

00000PORTRAIT_00000_BURST20181229185557785This project took months of on/off quilting work. Lori Kennedy has a bunch of ideas on Pinterest, and I used some quilting patterns I saw on Angela Walter’s Midnight Quilt Show, as well as some I saw used on projects throughout the time. And, although some of the quilting isn’t perfect, I learned a ton. And I’d like to think it isn’t half bad for a beginning “quilter”. (Do you like my dragonfly? I did practice that one.)

As I was doing this, I discovered a real joy in seeing how the quilting transforms a top. Since starting this, I’ve finished one big top (the Falling Leaves kit I posted earlier), one baby blanket, and a table topper for my husband for his table at work that he’s been asking for. And I’ve quilted each thing to death. I love it!

Hopefully this is the start of the next chapter in my quilting journey. I can’t wait to see what else I can pull off, just in time for the start of a whole new year! Happy New Years, everyone!

Tips and Tricks for Mitered Corners

As you probably know, I’m attempting to complete the 365 Challenge. Its a quilt along challenge run by Kathryn Kerr every year for the past few years where she gives you a block a day for you to complete and at the end of it you have a GORGEOUS quilt.

As you also probably know, I started this challenge in January 2017. It is not 2017 anymore, and in fact we are almost done with 2018. This may be a 2.5 (possibly even 3) year challenge for me.

However, it has been a lot of fun (mostly) and I have already learned SO MUCH from doing this challenge! Possibly the one thing that has taken me the longest to achieve are successful attempts at mitered corners. As I was doing it, I thought to myself- maybe I should write up a few of the tricks I found that help me get a smooth corner every time.

Please don’t judge my old nail polish- I decided to do this on spur-of-the-moment and obviously was not prettied up!

 

 

  1. Sew the first pieces together and stop 1/4” from the bottom (as seen in picture 1). **It is better to stop a stitch BEFORE the 1/4” instead of a stitch AFTER.** Backstick a few times. Press open. 

  2. Add the next piece, and sew to just before the first added strip (pink in this block). **DO NOT sew onto the added strip! It is better to be just short of it than too far!** Again, back stitch a few times. You can see in pic 4 that when you pull it back they shouldn’t be attached at all yet. If they are, rip a seam or two until they aren’t.  **DO NOT PRESS OPEN YET.** 

  3. This next part is the trickiest. Move the newest strip so that the corners match up with the second strip. Take a look at pic 7- the blue corners should match up and the purple corners should match up. When it is correct, you can fold the first piece (white) in to make a neat bundle. (Picture 12 is what I mean; the strips will line up.) 

  4. Now is the diagonal seam line. (Pictures 13 & 15) You can draw a diagonal line if you’d like; I was on a roll and being lazy. **Sew just off to the right of the diagonal seam, NOT directly down the diagonal.** Just like you do with covered corners, this helps so the block lays flat so you don’t lose your point at the end. Stop before you meet your prior seams. (Pictures 14 & 15) **Again, super important; DO NOT oversew this! Rip out a few stitches if you have to!** Back stitch a few times. 

  5. Press open; I let my block lay whichever way it seems to want to go, unless I have a specific direction in mind. Once its open I check my block, iron the back, and trim the excess. And viola! You have completed a mitered corner. And like anything else, practice makes it easier!

I hope this helped! Good luck completing your 365 Challenge, or any other quilt that has mitered corners!

The A-maze-ing Labyrinth

Another wedding, another quilt! This wedding was for a friend of mine that I’ve known going on 10 years, and was the Man of Honor at my wedding. (My husband had a Best Maid, so it evened out.)

His (now wife) fiancee has also become a good friend, and I was SO over the moon to hear they were getting married. However, they didn’t give me very long, and because they were such good friends I knew this quilt had to be something beyond what I usually do, so that put me in a bit of a tight spot. Plus, their wedding colors are purple and orange, and I was having a difficult time visualizing a pattern off the top of my head.

I decided to try the Amazing Labyrinth pattern that you can find on Craftsy. It’s a different design than the usual Labyrinth quilts you see, and I knew for certain that this quilt couldn’t be a run-of-the-mill quilt. Plus, I had always wanted to try a 3D maze pattern. The pattern itself comes with two sizes; full/lap size, and king size. I definitely didn’t want the king size, so I chose the full/lap size and added two borders. I wound up with a quilt 98”x93”, which I think is perfect for a queen size bed.

The way I chose fabrics for this quilt was I picked three solids (Kona) in shades of purple, and one batik that had the pop of orange I wanted. Originally, my plan was to get the same batik for the backing, but they only had 2 yards left when I went back to buy more, and I needed at least 9 yards for the backing. I wound up finding a solid orange 108” backing fabric, and thought that would be perfect. I actually used it as the binding, too, which I’m not sure I loved but was what I had on hand. (I forgot to add in yardage for the binding… oops.)

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There were 36 blocks in this quilt, and when people tell you that “these quilts aren’t that difficult, you just need to stay organized”… they are absolutely correct. The pattern recommended doing the quilt a block at a time- from cutting to piecing. So I cut out what I needed for the block, put it together, did the same for the second, then sewed them together. I made each row and sewed each block together as I went, and I did the same for the rows.


Each block was made of so many tiny pieces! As I put each row on, I would lay the quilt out on the floor to see if I could see the pattern emerge. And I have to admit, I was worried. By the 4th row, all I could see were the individual seams and I had a hard time finding the maze. I was really worried that I was about to spend all this time on a quilt that was going to be an utter failure.


BUT. The quilting saved this quilt! The borders helped, as did the last row, but it wasn’t until I got photos back from my long arm quilter (Julia Quiltoff; look her up, she’s purest magic with a needle!) that I really could breathe a sigh of relief. The maze pattern echoes the pattern in the batik, and smoothes out the quilt so that you don’t see just the seams and individual pieces, but the whole pattern. I was SO excited when I got the sneak peek photos back.


After putting the binding on, I had my exchange student (who had to stand on a chair) and my husband hold up the quilt before I wrapped it for the wedding. Which was the next day. I think my exchange student has a knack for holding up quilts for photos; can I keep him forever?

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It was really well received, which was the best part of the whole thing. I’m thrilled that they love it, and I hope it will keep them warm and comfortable for many years of marriage to come.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I started writing this blog post right after Thanksgiving. And then I left my computer charging cord at my mothers house… so now it DEFINITELY looks a lot like Christmas and I cannot believe it is only a week away!!

Luckily, I have all my presents bought and… thats about it. I still have to wrap them all. I hate wrapping presents. Its not even that I’m bad at it- I just don’t like it!! Fairly often, I wrap very last minute. But now with two kids, an exchange student (so basically three kids), and my husband (okay, four kids) to wrap for, I don’t have the luxury of delay anymore. Guess I have to put down the rotary cutter and put away my quilting gloves for the next few days.

…Yeah, right. Gonna be a last-minute wrap job as always! Quilting comes before wrapping, that’s what I always say!

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Anyways, in keeping with the holidays, I’m showing off a quilt I actually completed LAST Christmas, but wasn’t able to photograph/write a post about for the past year since I had my daughter one day after completing the binding on the quilt!

IMG_2061I used the pattern Scattered, sold by Freemotion on the River on Craftsy. If you want the pattern, feel free to click here. I chose this pattern because I wanted something to show off the beautiful collection of Christmas fabrics I’d been collecting (*ahem*hoarding) for the past few years without cutting them up too small. This pattern allowed me to do that, and came together quickly and easily. It’s a variation of a disappearing 9-patch, with sashing in between the blocks of the nine patch.

Below are some of the fabrics I used; this quilt is the closest I’ve come to fussy cutting my fabric… and I think thats the most I ever WANT to do!


For the border, I used a fabric by Robert Kaufman (I LOVE his Christmas collections), and for the binding a red and gold stripe I found at Joann’s. The backing was another fabric I found at Joann’s. I adore poinsettias, especially with Christmas colors.


IMG_2054The quilting is snowflakes on the main part of the quilt, to mimic the sashing fabric, with holly leaves and ornaments on the border. All in red thread. I adore this quilt! It is perfect for cuddling under during a cold night, with my snowman mug full of hot tea and a book beside me.

…While that’s a nice mental image, the reality is I use it when I manage to grab a couple minutes of shut eye during the day when my son is at school and my daughter goes down for her nap!

ALSO: If you want to see more of my day-to-day quilt and sewing shenanigans, follow me on Facebook and Instagram (@lemon_quilts). I post more often on there- my WIPs, sneak peeks of finished quilts, and I’ve also started practicing some free motion quilting!

I’m so excited to be getting back into my quilting groove. What Christmas projects have you finished recently (or not so recently? I love seeing them all!) I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season. See you all in the new year!

 

Falling Leaves All Around

Yesterday, our magnolia tree in our yard had almost all of its leaves. This morning, it had two. TWO. My 5 year old kiddo had a BLAST jumping in the piles my husband made. My husband did not have a blast making the piles. Meanwhile, I made cookies inside where it was warm while the baby napped.

I also just recently finished a very topical quilt called Falling Leaves, from Connecting Threads. I love them because their fabrics are always super soft and the kits are always reasonably priced.

When I saw this quilt I fell in love with the soft, warm colors of the leaves and the plaid (which I immediately bought 7 and a half yards for the backing).

IMG_2140The kit isn’t actually available anymore, since I bought it in fall 2017 and just this year got around to making it. This turned out to be an issue because Connecting Threads didn’t give me enough of one of the fabrics needed (although when I called they let me pick a replacement fabric and sent it to me ASAP) and there almost wasn’t enough for yardage for the backing even though I bought exactly as much as they said to buy. The lesson I learned is check your kits when you get them. (Not that I’ll ever follow that lesson…)

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My quilting mom (my mother-in-law who taught me to quilt) was extremely generous inletting me steal her long arm and use it to quilt this quilt. At first, I envisioned doing some real fancy quilting, but when it came down to it… I chickened out and just did an all over loopy meander. Which, to be honest, I loved the look of once it was finished. I’m pretty proud of how “circular” my circles actually turned out.

I bound the quilt with a yellow plaid and borrowed one of my new neighbor’s front yards (and their mums and their pumpkins) to take a few photos of the quilt before the good weather disappeared for good! I was trying to hold out to find a tree with low hanging branches and beautiful leaves, but… I didn’t find one in time. I also stuck it in our magnolia

I’ve been doing a few quilts in the past few months, but life is finally starting to slow down enough where I can find a few moments in between life to quilt a bit more. Hopefully I can pick up posting them as well.

Bonus picture of our cat enjoying the quilt just as much as us (if not more!) Enjoy the rest of your fall and stay warm!

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Caribbean Waves Quilt (Craftsy Kit)

A friend of mine from Virginia was getting married; and so of course I had to make her a IMG_2099quilt! I met her at work, my last year. (Of course). And over that year, we hung out several times a month outside of work; she quickly became my best friend. I was so sad that I was leaving Charlottesville after JUST finding her!

But after she got married she moved down to New Orleans, and I’m sorry love, but no matter how much I like you, I am NOT moving to where you walk outside and it isn’t air but humid soup you walk into.

I had gotten this kit for myself in purple (still isn’t finished, of course), and loved it so much I got it in the blue as well. I *almost* kept both of them.

This quilt is a pretty simple design, made out of just two IMG_2100blocks that alternate; but the result is a gorgeous effect that gives an insane amount of depth to the design.

The purple quilt makes me think of space, and I almost did quilting to reflect that in this quilt, but the blues put me in mind of the crystal clear waters of the caribbean. So I chose a swirl to try to mimic the waves, and I’m pretty pleased how that turned out.

IMG_2090The fabric line was a new one that I haven’t worked with before- Boundless Fabrics from Craftsy. I love how soft they are, but MAN do they put out some crazy lint! I had to clean my machine pretty much each bobbin change there was that much lint/fuzz. But the fabric was easy to work with and the colors were oh-so vibrant. I’d definitely buy them for another project in the future.

Since I had met this friend down in Virginia and her wedding was there, I knew on the way down there was a scenic overlook that I knew would be PERFECT place to take the photos of the quilt. And indeed; both quilt and backdrop are spectacular.


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This quilt was also one of the first times I put my tags into the binding, and I have to sayit was much faster and easier than hand sewing them on afterwards. And I think they turned out well! Maybe for future quilts I’ll have more professional looking labels made for the corners from Etsy.

 

Hopefully I get the purple version done soon so I can show you both versions completed! (Although the background for that one will not be nearly as gorgeous as this!)

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