Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bee Blocks

My quilting bee really is quite a diverse group, and I really appreciate the many facets of the group... there's a German married to an Irish guy, a Swiss in Germany, a Polish girl in Denmark, two German girls who speak English just as fast as I do (if not faster) and then of course there's me... an American in Germany. 

The personal stories of each bee member are just about as diverse as our tastes in quilting... which is fun to work with combinations that are different than mine. Melanie was the the last quilter who was up, so I'll start with the most recent blocks and work my way back. 

Mell's vision for her quilt is a "Good Wishes" quilt... text or symbols in black on a white background. Holy smokes, if you know me then you know that there's hardly a stitch of black in my stash, which is why I had to steal borrow a Kona solid the last time we met for our HH Patchwork Treffen

She left the method open, and I just HAD to use the starch method for these. She wanted encouraging words/good wishes that one might find in a birthday card, etc. We could use words in another language, but it had to be a language that was relevant to us. "Segen" means "Blessings" in English.

Since Melanie actually knows both of my boys personally, I thought that she would enjoy seeing my little assistant hard at work holding her blocks. 

Magda is a color genius with a soft palette... quiet and understated, yet a certain unexpected subtle interest. She had requested shades of soft peach and carmel colors, mixed with light colored low volumes... again two colors that stretched me, but a fun color combination nonetheless. I love how her quilt is coming along so far.

Daniela wanted to make a baby quilt for a friend and requested blue's and mustard's and picked a free wonky improv log cabin pattern from Debbie of A Quilter's Table (instruction link here) She has the top together already, and it looks like so much fun... you can see it here.

I usually try impov with a fresh outlook again convincing myself that if I try it again that I might like it again, only to come to the same conclusion as before... improv is just not my thing no matter which way I slice it.

But inspite my total dislike of improv, I do love a good fussy cut block.'s my turn to be queen bee for the months of July/August and I can't wait to see what my fellow bee members come up with for my blocks... here's my start.

Linking up with Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Christmas in July Take II

With two boys that are fairly close in age, I find that if I do something for one kid, that I have to do it for both kids... so this past Christmas I really wanted to give the boys something that I had made for them. I love paper piecing, and my oldest guy loves pirates... so why not combine the two? For the last three years his birthday parties have been about eye patches, treasure maps, and of course treasure hunts. Ahoy, Matie!

Pirates don't exactly fit to his tractor/automobile themed room, so it was a bit of a stretch, but I knew that this guy would flip over the dangerous pirate ship that was sailing the seven seas, (free pattern found here) and I would simply be happy that it somewhat matches his room.

I'm finding more and more that I actually enjoy spiral quilting, and have used it in some recent projects. I'm still working on feeling comfortable doing it, and practicing on smaller projects really helps.

In addition to the decorative pillow, both boys desperately needed a few pillowcases. I still had leftover fabrics from both rooms, and made a few "burrito pillowcases" This is a really nice way to add a few decorative pipings, but still end up with nice finished edges.

I'm pleased to say that both of pillows were a big hit and I'm looking forward to when I can make quilts for them... I'll wait until they get a little older.

 Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

#30daysoffabricstacks Take II

This the second round of the #30daysoffabricstacks challenge, and can I just say that I am truly in my element? If only actually quilting quilts would be this much fun too... hmmm.

#yellow is a pretty important color in my color stash, and I love to grab a little touch of sunshine for my projects. With that being said this good mood color can sometimes be tricky to mix and match because there are so many different shades... lime, gold, primary.

#handprinted. you may remember some time ago that I had shared those fabulous lampshades that I'd been drooling over for a long time... well, when I ordered them I threw a scrap pack into my cart with them. These treasured bits match my living room so well, but until I nail down the project, I'll have to be happy to pull them out every once in a while and stroke them.

#softlyagainstblack is a dig REALLY deep into the bottom of my stash fabric pull. I've only recently started adding the occasional grey to my projects, and black is pretty much a no-go for me. These almost blacks have made it into my stash through bundles, but I can only imagine them as very small accents to a project.

#fabriciwant the #30daysoffabricstacks challenge is being hosted by @stitchedincolor, and is being sponsored by @bobbieloufabric, and of course who doesn't love shopping for fabrics, right? any other "she who has the biggest fabric stash when she dies" folks out there? It actually looks like I might have purposefully matched my fabric wishes here, but I honestly threw in my folder what appealed to me, and this is what came out of it... ok, a little selection involved, but seriously, this was mostly by chance.

#complimentarycolors even though I have studied the color wheel enough to know what fits where, I've never been the biggest fan of complimentary colors schemes... they always looked more like football uniforms to me. But when you look at some of the secondary color combos, that's where my interest start to peak.

#green well, I suppose in light of things, perhaps it's only fitting to save the best for last, and that is my favorite color... green. I think I could pull about 30 different stack of just green if I wanted to! Seriously, this is the biggest and most dominant corner of my stash. There really aren't too many shades of natures color that I don't like. You might notice several Alison Glass fabrics that have showed up in stack after stack of mine, simply because Iove how such a subtle blender pulls out the other colors in the fabrics to add interest. FYI this AG sun print on the top will go down as my all time favorite green fabric. So sad that I don't have bolts and bolts of this for all eternity.

#30daysoffabricstacks runs until August 6th, so there's still plenty of time to join in on the fun!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Christmas In July

It dawned on me recently that the Christmas holiday seasons were so full, that I finished two projects that I never had a chance to share. Just when the weather is starting to warm up and one is thinking about cook outs, shorts, and swimming pools, and I'm talking about Christmas... talk about a way to make your ice melt in that perfectly chilled beverage?!? So, how about a little "where's waldo" search with me, then you might stumble onto a few background decorations that don't exactly fit in the hot weather months.

Last winter I had asked my youngest son what his favorite animal was? "A Bieber, Mama" (that's beaver in German) Well, I knew exactly where I needed to go for the perfect pattern... Lorna from Sew Fresh Quilts, of course. I've been linking up with her Let's Bee Social for quite a while now, but this is the first time that I've sewn any of her super cute, but equally well done patterns.

The orginal pattern, found here, is with a Canadian Leaf in the body area, but I adjusted the pattern without the leaf on the body. I picked colors to match his room, and made a couple matching pillowcases. If you've not tried the burrito method of making pillowcases, let me just say that I highly recommend it - super easy, and fully finished inside and out.

I decided on a simple wavy line quilting, and always love how easy it is, not to mention that it gives a little more interest than straight line quilting. I love my walking foot and I don't have to focus like I do with free motion quilting, so the fact that I don't have to abandon it is a big plus for me.

So, perhaps it goes without saying that I will be linking up this week for Let's Bee Social

P.S. I've been having problems with my emails, and I have not been able to answer emails for the past week. I've not forgotten... I can recieve them, but just not answer them.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Prism Quilt Finish & Q3 Goals

Despite the fact that my Prism bee quilt was already on my Finish-Along list for this quarter, I've actually had it in my head that I needed to get this one done before I start with another "queen bee" project. It just so happens that this meets that just-in-the-nick-of time deadline for both... it is my turn again already in July/August with my Summer Smoothie Block and the FAL quarter ends in June! Talk about killing two birds with one stone?!?

It all started with a jeweled color palette inspiration that I just coulnd't get out of my head... you may remember my Jeweled Kaleidoscope quilt and this improv project? While I was waiting for my busy bee members to finish thier blocks, other quilts just "skipped line". When you pack away a project for too long, then there is a real danger that something else moves up on the to-do list.

This quilt really only really started to make sense to me when I started grouping the diamonds together by color... it was quite a challenge since I hadn't planned it this way, otherwise I would have given my bee members different instructions. Once I had re-arranged, there were a couple of blocks that had to move to the back, but I really like the single "flower" shape that came of it. I kept it simple and did straight line quilting echoing some of the lines within the design.

Quilt: Pattern: Prism from Brigitte Heitland for Zen Chic (free quilt pattern)
Started: June 2016

Fabrics: various prints in jewel colors, low volume fabrics
Finished quilt size: ca. 62" x 62" in. (ca. 160  x 160 cm)

 Thank you @blockmquilts @iloveneutrals @machenundtun @mellmeyer @qvilted @venivedivicky for all your lovely blocks that went into making this quilt!

Since I only have just one finish from my FAL list, pretty much everything goes back on the list. Hey, better one finish than none, right? 

AMH Quilt – basted, partially quilted, but I took the stitches out. My second quilting attempt wasn't a hit either, so I will most likely invite my good friend, Mr. Seam Ripper, to the party, and hope that the third time is the charm. These were my very first quilting blocks, and needless to say it makes straight line quilting a little difficult.

My third quilt pattern top is FINISHED, which I’m pretty excited about since it was my pre-packed, take-it-with-you basket project. The back is partially pieced, and this has moved up to a top spot on my priority list.

My fourth quilt pattern top is ALMOST finished... just two side borders for a flimsy finish. This is another high on the list project as well as pattern writing. I consider it an accomplishment since I only started it last quarter, and the quilt is pretty heavy on applique.

Green Smoothie, Penny Sampler, Orange/Purple HalfSquare Triangle, and my Orphan Block quilts are back on the list just to have them on the list, but with two big deadlines, the reality is that they are low on the priority list.

Just for fun, I am putting my two summer projects on the list… my Chuck Nohara blocks, and my Summer Smoothie bee blocks quilt on the list. Like my Penny Sampler quilt, these are a no pressure, no deadline projects for me.

Linking up for Finish-A-Long 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Quilting Broccoli

While digging for fabrics for a project recently, I ended up stumbling onto a whole stack of leftover linen triangles from a pillow that I had made for my husband. Then the idea hit me that I could use them with the leftover scraps from my Modern Improv paper piecing pillow to make another coordinating pillow for my parents... but I wanted this one to just happen.

Am I the only who does this?: As I sat down to finish my husband's pillow I was quite perplexed because I didn't have enough triangles to finish all the blocks... so, what did I do? Cut some more... of course. You cannot imagine how annoyed I was with myself to find out later that I actually had cut them (like I thought), but they had fallen behind my sewing machine where I didn't see them.

I suppose if they come to good use in the end, then it doesn't matter how they get there, right?

I first started out with a random color layout, but found it to be a little chaotic. When I grouped the colors and organized them a bit, it seemed to have a better flow. There have actually been several projects where it felt like I had just hit a roadblock, until I reworked the color organization.

I also let the shapes within the pillow dictate how I did the quilting by first following them, and then simply echoing the quilting in various widths.

As I've said with just about every improv project that I've ever done, it's an uncomfortable stretch for me, and I'm still left asking myself if I will ever warm up to it. I guess it's a little like eating broccoli... it's ok to try it every once in a while to see if you still don't like it.

What's your "quilting broccoli" that you have to keep coming back to, just to see if you still don't like it?

Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

#30daysoffabricstacks challenge

Stitched in Color, is hosting a really fun challenge on Instagram, sharing fabric stacks from your stash based on certain themes for 30 days. (details on her blog) The whole idea behind it is to push and stretch yourself beyond your go-to color palettes. Perhaps you already know this about me, but pulling fabrics for a project is my favorite part of making a quilt (if only I felt that ways about actually quilting quilts, then I'd have it made). There are several color palettes that have been a challenge for me, and several that I would have never explored otherwise...

Day 1 #trueblue. This one is a bit of a challenge since blue is my second to last fabric that I grab for my projects... not to say that I don't use it at all, but it's not a natural for me when there are colors like green around.

Day 2 #ethereal. Despite the fact that I usually tend towards high popping contrasts when it comes to a color palette, there is a real appeal to me to have alluring and subtle contrasts. These soft corals, lilacs, pale aquas, and chartreuse accents give a quiet, yet impactful punch.

Day3 #orange. There was once a time that I literally had at least a touch of orange in every room in my house. I grew up with orange, and if I had it my way, there would still be orange carpet in my parents living room today. (uh oh, I'm dating myself as a 70's child) In any case, I recall that an orange and fuchsia color palette appealed to me even at a young age.

Day 4 #newfabric. As silly as it may sound, most of my fabric shopping consists of stash building rather than buying fabrics for specific projects. I have my go-to colors, and I am confident in my preferences. Even though I am simply adding fabrics to my stash, sometimes it ends up looking like a planned project instead.

Day 5 #baby. I know that it's possible to create gender neutral quilts for babies, but I much prefer more gender specific projects instead. Since I ended up with three boys in the house, (the one I married and the other two that look like me) I never really had a chance to play around with fabrics that I might have chosen had one of them been a girl.

Day 6 #folksyfall. I was actually really excited to "re-visit" this color palette... doesn't it remind you of this project? I'm quite drawn to bold and stark contrasts on a deep chocolate background. It gives another kind of pop than if it were on a light background.

In case you are wondering, there's still time to join the contest... it runs until August 6th, and in any case, it's good practice and fun to re-discover old favorites that might be hidden in your stash.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

FREE Summer Smoothie Block Tutorial

Even though it's still a few weeks away until it's my turn to be queen bee, I needed to get things prepared ahead of time for my fellow bee members since I have a couple pressing deadlines for the last part of June. Since I will be sharing the block construction with them anyway, I decided to share it with you too!

Start by printing the free drunkard's path template to actual size. Here's what else you'll need for the Summer Smoothie block:

Cut 4 - outer curve pieces (using A template)
Cut 4 - inner curve pieces (using B template)
Cut 4 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles
Cut 1 - 2.5" square

Just so we start things off on the right foot, let me just reassure you that if you've never sewn curves before, they really are not as scary as their reputation. The main thing to remember is to TAKE. YOUR. TIME... these aren't half square triangles, you know. There are so many methods, but I prefer the no pin/or ease method for sewing curves. (check out a few YouTube videos here) One major help, in my opinion, is sewing with a template that is slightly larger than the finished block size, so that one has room for error and can trim to the correct size.

With that being said, once you have your four drunkard's path blocks together, you will want align your ruler so it is1" from the curve, as shown below, and trim.

Rotate the block and trim to 4.5". Repeat with additional blocks.

NOTE: If you are using a directional print for the inner curve, you will want to make sure that you cut the print in the same direction on each set. Below you can see how the print is running horizontal on one block, and diagonal on the other.

Essentially this is a nine patch block, and the assembly comes together in a snap... just stitch the rows together, and then assemble the connected rows for your finished Summer Smoothie Block.

These blocks are super fun and look great horizontal or on point.

Have fun mixing up your Summer Smoothie just how you like it!

Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.
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