Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bee There or Bee Squares

I joined my first virtual quilting bee back in March. Another member of Bee There or Bee Squares changed jobs and had too much on her plate so she found me to replace her. It works out perfect because this quilting bee is over in September, just in time for me to focus on the 12 credits I will be taking this fall while working full time and doing my internship. (yikes!) August is my month, and I am so excited to have these lovely ladies make me blocks to create this quilt that I am in love with! My quilt is going to be 60" square. Since I am adding 3 more color blocks, I am adding grey and more brown as well. Here is the plan for my quilt:
 I sure wish I had a fabric cutter to cut all these 2.5" squares! Here they are in baggies ready for my fellow BTOBS quilters:

I would love for them to add their own squares to the block as well, to make them even more scrappy. Since this is my first quilting bee I am have made signature blocks to go on the back of the quilt. There is a block to coordinate with the color of block each member gets:
 Here are my three blocks I have made, and I am going to work on the white blocks along with another quilt this month (maybe 2 if I can find time.) I can't wait to get these back and put this quilt together!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let's Go Huskers!

I made this little Taggie blanket for one of my closest friends. We have known each other for 12 years and her little man, Patrick is four months old this month. I made them a Dr. Seuss baby quilt earlier in the year, and love seeing photos of Patrick using it on Facebook.
They moved to Colorado (Husker fans in the Rocky Mountains) so baby Patrick needs a little something to play with on Husker Game days. I hope he likes it!
I made these using the crazy nine patch tutorial here....I have eight more of these blocks now. I guess I will have to make more Taggies (too bad you can't sell taggies on etsy!) or I could make myself a Husker quilt for this fall.
And along with the sewing machine is having a little holiday at a local sewing machine dealer/repair shop: Husker Sew and Vac. The wonderful service people are going to clean her up and fix my tension problem for me. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Full Swing

I love the way this quilt turned out! I saw this quilt a year ago on Rachel Griffith's blog. I loved the pattern, and colors of the quilt, so cheery, so bright. AND Rachel shared the pattern for free at the Fat Quarter Shop. So I printed out the pattern, ordered the fabrics (minus the border fabric and backing) and it sat in my closet for a year! This spring got closer and I thought 'I really should make that quilt, it will look great on the couch and help bring sunshine and light into our living room' but I never did get around to making it. So I decided, 'I have lived without this beautiful quilt for this long, I really don't NEED it.' will soon be living with my aunt and new uncle in their home after their wedding this Saturday. :)
Lee and I were honored to be one of their host couples as well, thankfully the sunburn from camping last weekend is gone so I won't be bright red in my dress. You might remember the little gifts I made for the bridal shower with the same fabric. They loved those gifts and I am sure they will love this quilt to go along with them.
Here is a view of the back...
I used the left over fabric from the quilt top and binding, plus some Kona white. These three colors have become a new favorite color combo for me!
For the quilting I used clear Sulky thread for two reasons: a. I ran out of white and did not have time to get more, b. (and this is the main reason) I wanted the white swirls (for lack of a better word) to appear to be floating on the green. I didn't want to use white thread because that would stand out on the green, and green thread would stand out on the white, plus I didn't have enough time to quilt with both. If you have never quilted with clear thread before, it isn't too bad, Sulky thread quilts much like cotton thread, but it is HARD to see where you have been when quilting. I could only quilt this quilt in the late afternoon when the sun shines through our patio door, and even then I had a hard time. 
Here is a photo of the label for the new couple:
I use printable fabric from JoAnns to print my labels, and then write the name of the quilt with fabric markers.I like printing my little owl and name/location/year, but the past two labels I have made have become discolored, so when I run out of this stuff I am going to look for something better.

While making this quilt I learned something new about piecing half square triangles. Maybe this is something well known to other quilters but I thought I would share it, for those of you that don't know.

Cut a square to 7/8" bigger than you want your finished half square triangle block to be. So for these blocks, finished they are 5" so the squares are 5 7/8"- 5 1/2" unfinished block.
Place two squares that you want in your finished block right sides together and draw a diagonal line down the middle of the top square, to make your triangles:

Pin these squares together and sew a 1/4" to the left of your line. Then rotate the block and sew a 1/4" to the right of your line.
Then cut the fabric on the line you drew:
Open, press and you have two half square triangle blocks:
I thought this method was very quick and all my blocks turned out perfect.
I love this quilt! I almost want to curl up with it tonight while Lee and I finish our Harry Potter marathon....but I won't. Anyone else as excited as I am to see the final movie?! I almost re-read the books one last time before the movie tomorrow, but I don't want to be disappointed with anything they leave out.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I almost feel like re-naming this quilt. Rather than "Colors of Hope" in should be "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." I am really disappointed with the final product of my full size Colors of Hope quilt. I decided to make a lap quilt using this design for the live auction at my local Relay For Life, but I feel that it really isn't my best work!
The Good:
The front of the quilt. I think it looks great (although I am wondering why I added the little birds next to the HOPE.) I love the way all the colors look together, and seeing the bigger prints like the purple, black and blue are great in the larger scale.
The Bad:

The back; I did not plan ahead when piecing the back together. I love the pink fabric with the inspirational cancer words all over it, it is perfect! I thought it would be a great idea to do small blocks of the different cancer colors, and write which cancer each block represented. And I love that I added this....but I should not have put it on the edge of the quilt! When I cut the back down to even the sides, I cut off some letters....
and my label....
which I mistyped when I printed it as well. I pieced the label in with the quilt, so I am going to iron a new label over the existing one....and I wrote in the letters that were cut off on the cancer blocks, although some were written onto the binding. :(

The Ugly:

Not sure how well you can see my quilting stitches in this picture, but they are not great. My sewing machine and I are not cooperating when it comes to tension lately. When I started quilting this quilt the back tension was giving be a hard time, my top thread was showing through. Even when I tightened the thread tension it still gave me problems. I stopped quilting, took out the stitches and came back to it another night. This happened three different nights. Finally I got it to quilt for me....however after I was finished and looked at the stitching, I was not satisfied.
I am almost embarrassed to put this in the auction. My mom took a look at it and thinks it looks fine. I hoped after washing and crinkling it would look better, but I still am not completely happy. Any suggestions on why my thread tension is doing this? Is it my I not consistent with my quilting speed  and pedal speed or is it the machine itself? I plan to take it in for a tune up when we are on vacation later this month, hopefully that will straighten things out.
I'll leave you with one last look at "Colors of Hope" aka "GBU." I love this photo with my Relay For Life decal laying over it. If anyone would like to support me in the relay for life visit my donation page here. You can also follow some of the links to find out about a local Relay For Life near you.
Oh, I almost forgot...what I learned from this quilt. Make sure you remember that the back fabric is bigger than your front when making a quilt sandwich and that the edges will be trimmed down when finished quilting. I should have made the white fabric on the right side of the blocks an inch wider. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Camping Bound

We are home. We camped this weekend at a lake nearby Lincoln. It was a dry run for our trip later this month to my favorite state....Colorado. We took all the things we thought we would need for our week in CO, and then made a list during the weekend of the thing we forgot that we still needed to get. Surprisingly our list was small, little things like paper towels, a towel for the dog when she is wet/muddy, a meat strainer (I hate greasy hamburger.) It wasn't a bad weekend, although both Lee and I forgot why we enjoyed camping last night when the temps didn't get below 75 degrees. For those of you from Southeastern Nebraska, or for anyone that has visited in the summer, we have hot and HUMID summers. I personally prefer to camp in the spring and fall near home, or go somewhere cool in the summer. Somewhere without a heat advisory!

There are my two bound and finished quilts sitting in the sun (which fried my shoulders despite being in the shade the whole time) at our campsite. I'll have more photos once I get them washed and crinkly. I am looking forward to doing laundry today: it feels good to be back in the a/c!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Before and After

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans. Here are my little brothers and I many years ago with the birthday cake I insisted on making for America. This year I made two yummy jello cakes, I wish I could share some with all of you. :)

I thought I would share with you my "America" Quilt that I made for my father-in-law. He asked for an army quilt, however their living room and kitchen are both red, blue and beige....Americana. So I thought I would make hims something to match. He loves it, however he did mention, "where is my ARMY quilt?" with a mischievous smile.
I did this nine patch using Amanda Jean's  one-a-day nine patch quilt along. I really don't care for patriotic things in general., but I love the way this quilt turned out. And there it is on our old couch....before it was shredded up by Penny. :)
Which leads me to the before:
(don't you love the pillow under the cushion, our attempt at added support, oh and the beautiful duct tape!)
And after:
I got two pillows done for the new couch, and two other tops pieced, just need to quilt them. I decided this couch is going to have only four pillows, two to match the house and the other two will be seasonal. And let me tell you, the new couch is so comfy! I love being able to recline, and surprisingly it doesn't take up too much space in our small living room.
After three days of grilling with the neighbors, watching fireworks, drinking and eating too much, and being eaten by bugs, I am inside quilting today. I am enjoying this fourth of July, while listening to "Rockin' BBQ radio" on Pandora (a great summer rock station.) I am approaching the finishing line with my "Colors of Hope" quilt: 
Next in line is my Aunt's wedding quilt. Both of which I plan to bind this weekend while we are camping.