Saturday, October 13, 2012

Meet the Ghastlies!

Finally, I am posting my favorite quilt to date. The Ghastlies!!! Wouldn't you love to meet them:
I was inspired by this quilt, with a few differences. I went for muted oranges and fabrics that were not necessarily "Halloween." I love that fall weather is here now, I get to snuggle under the Ghastlies every evening. Here are my favorite Ghastlies:
 I love her hammer, such a sweet angel!
I love that I cut this guy out like he is in a coffin.
I quilted around the wonky log cabin blocks in each layer using my free motion foot. It was much easier to use this to make the "straight" lines than to use the walking foot and rotate my quilt. It was way too bulky. I got the hang of it after a few squares and only had to quilt one square. In other words, my perfectionism compromised so that I could finish this guy by October.
Hopefully you can tell from these two pictures that I did a crazy scribble quilting in the sashing of the quilt. I tried to mimic the scratchy scribbles from the Ghastly Bramble fabric that I used in the blocks. It created a nice texture on the quilt and allowed me to be crazy and wild as I quilted it. It was nice not having to worry about where my stitches were going and overlapping as I free motion quilted. I imagine the Ghastlies wouldn't care if their quilting were perfect and would overlap their stitches. It was carefree quilting, but it sure did use a lot of thread!
You can see the texture the quilting created on the back. I pieced together a strip of fabrics used in the log cabin blocks for the back with uneven pieces cut at diagonals. Then I pieced together light gray, dark gray, and black fabrics to finish it up. The binding is a fabric with uneven stripes of shades of gray and black if goes great with the back of the quilt.
In this picture you can see that the dark gray and black stripes of the back were cut at a diagonal then pieced together. My husband had to help me do some calculating for this because I was running low on fabric and really didn't want to make an extra trip to the store. I think this shot shows the textures a little better too.
I probably looked a little silly when I took my dog to the park with a quilt and camera to take some photos of this guy. Penny didn't mind waiting in the car as I got a few shots in though, we enjoyed a great run afterwards too. I love my Ghastlies quilt!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sneak Peek

I am so giddy with excitement! More pictures (and better quality) soon. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tension Headache!!

As I quilt my Ghastiles Quilt, I think I have spent more time with my seam ripper than doing the actual quilting. Any clue why my machine keeps doing this to me? Ugh!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Positively Ghastly!

My blog title today is intended for many different reasons...
#1 has been a ridiculously long amount of time since I have blogged! I am so sorry to all of you, I know you have been on the edge of your seats to see what is going on in my crafty little corner of the world. :)
#2 ...I am finishing up my final semester for my undergrad degree...and meeting with advisers on which route to take for my Master's degree. Why am I doing this? I think I am a little bit mad, wanting to put myself through even more school after this has taken me nearly 10 years to finish. I am weighing my options: Early Childhood Special Education, Counseling/School Psychology or maybe Cognition, Learning, and Development. This last one is most interesting to me. Recently in my preschool classroom I have had a few students that have expressed some sad feelings, unhappiness, stress etc. I would love to get an understanding of education and child psychology...someday work with families to help troubled children/naughty behaviors. Let's face it the "naughty kids" are the most rewarding to work with. Ghastlies Quilt is FINALLY being quilted. It WILL be done and on my couch by October 1st!
I am experimenting with my straight line quilting. Here I used a walking foot, which I do not have the patience for. Plus it is too hard to turn with this bulky quilt.
So I have tried free motion straight line quilting. Here is the first square I did. These are not "straight" lines. I think this block of quilting will have a date with my seam ripper soon.
I did a bit better on this block, the sideways lines are the hardest to keep straight and an even distance apart. I think I like this method of free motion straight line quilting is better. It is much faster, and a little wonky, like my blocks on the quilt.
I can't wait to finish this guy up. The back of my quilt is great, I love it and really want to show you how awesome it is. It took some careful calculations to work with what little fabric I had on hand, and a lot of help from my very smart husband. Stay tuned. I promise I will report back soon. :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Up and Running Again

This weekend my husband and I participated in our first 5k. The first of many to come I am sure, I loved it! I set a goal to finish in under 30 minutes and succeeded. Lee runs faster than me, but was kind enough to stay at my pace and push me along. I never told him what my goal was, which incidentally enough was his goal as well. He encouraged me to run faster, when I really didn't want to run any longer. The thing that kept me going was running with others around me, and running for a purpose. The 5k raised money for our local Relay For Life, as well as money to help out a local teacher whose cancer has returned.
Here we are after the race, hot and sweaty. :)
My post title has to do with more than running. My cousin came by this week to have me help her make a towel wrap for her new sorority "baby" in Alpha Phi at UNL. She and I made a trip to JoAnn's for materials and put together this fun little wrap for the incoming freshman to use.
I loved picking out the colors and materials and spending time with my little cousin. This towel wrap took very little time, although it was not so kind to my machine when it came time to add the Velcro (I broke 2 needles!).
Spending time at the sewing machine has released my creative juices once again and I am working on another new project. Which means I have way to many things  started and not being finished. Isn't that a true quilter though, WIPs always outweigh finished quilts. :) So this girl is up and running once again. I'm excited to get back into quilting and to prepare for the Color Run I'm doing this July in Omaha.

*sorry for the bad photo quality, one was taken with a phone, the other at 11pm

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Have Quilt, Will Travel

Remember my cousins quilt, the one with her shirts from cheerleading and dance. You know the one I've been working on for over a year. Well I'm hand quilting it...and it is much harder than I thought it would be! 
I think our ancestors who quilted for generations would cringe at my stitches and technique. I'm not using a thimble, which hurts! And I am only just finishing my first block...of twelve needing to be quilted. I'm thinking straight line stitching this with my free motion foot on the machine would have been better. I will not give up though, so I'm going to push through. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hippie Babies

It has been WAY too long since I last posted, sorry friends. I have been enjoying the freedom of no school work and have been busy reading books for leisure rather than quilting. I plan to jump back into quilting this week, I have a quilt on my design wall that needs to get down and basted, and another couple of quilts swirling around in my head. :)
Back in April I finished up these twin quilts for my neighbors' boys, they turned out great! I quilted them with random straight lines and I love how the quilting adds to the simplicity of the quilts. I wanted to do an 'I Spy' feel to their quilts using some of the fabrics from my stash, and I wanted them to be similar but different. I love how they turned out! The binding fabric is a polka dot, which has many colors that match the block alphabet fabric on the back. When Lee and I took the quilts over to the family, the big sisters decided to cuddle up with them too. I'm glad they can get some use when the boys are laying on them.
The boys' parents are huge Jack Johnson fans, so I named the quilts after Jack Johnson songs. This one here is for baby Max, the quilt is called "Banana Pancakes." I used alphabet block fabric for the backs of the quilts and was able to piece together the letters to have each boy's name on the front.
This quilt is baby Jack's, named "Better Together." I choose these song titles because they were both songs of love, and who can't love these wonderful baby boys.
What I loved the most about these quilts was how grateful our neighbors were to receive them. A few weeks ago Lee and I got a text from them saying how much they enjoy the quilts and how thoughtful it was for me to make them. It made my day to hear their kind words, and I hope all the babies I've made quilts for are able to enjoy them as they grow into amazing little people.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Giving the Left Brain a Break

The semester is coming to an end. All my assignments are in, and with 3 exams in 2 weeks I have decided to give my left brain a rest. My right hemisphere has taken over for the time being, and it feel great! I am finishing up two baby quilts for my neighbors' twin boys. Hopefully I will have pictures posted soon of the completed twin quilts.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I'm Still Here

Wow, time is flying by so quickly! This semester has kept me very busy, and with limited time to be creative. Classes have sucked up a lot of my free time, and exercise has taken up most of the rest. Not to mention we basically skipped winter/spring in Southeastern Nebraska and have quickly jumped into March! My last post of Lee and I making the snowman in the front of the house, well that was the end of our winter. Needless to say I have been enjoying the weather on walks/runs with Penny and riding my bike to and from class/work.
It has taken me 27 years but I am finally in love with exercise! In the last six months I have lost 35 pounds and am the most healthy I have been my whole life. The most use my sewing machine has gotten lately is to take in my clothes, none of my old wardrobe fits anymore! For those of you that hate exercise but want to loose weight, give it a try. Try new things, join a gym with group exercise classes and try a few out, you may surprise yourself. The Y has great exercise classes that keep you motivated and that allow you to challenge yourself at your own pace. I absolutely love kickboxing, I get out all my stress and aggression by punching heavy bags 2 days a week. I also love running now, something I NEVER thought would happen! Working out for an hour 6 days a week has been great for my stress and energy levels and I have such a happier outlook on life, gotta love the endorphins! For those of you that don't already, try getting in a bit of "me time" by doing exercise, once you start the habit, you will never give it up. :)
As I said, I haven't had much time for crafts and quilting. I slowly managed to finish my cousins T-Shirt quilt top and back, with a bit of a measurement issue along the way. I was off by a small fraction of an inch on my squares I cut for the pieced blocks on the cheerleading side of her quilt. This fraction of an inch caused the blocks to be 1/2" too big. Rather than taking all the blocks apart and piecing them back together I just trimmed them down...the squares along the outside of these blocks are smaller than those in the middle, but I know Nicolette won't mind. I am a prefectionist, so this flaw is testing my urge to start over, it has also made me realize not everything can be perfect.
Today I am basting her quilt. I decided I am going to hand quilt this one. I have an idea for the quilting and it is going to be way too much work to do it by machine. Since I pieced both the back and front of this quilt I have to try and line the blocks up while basting. Rather than start pinning in the middle and moving outwards I am starting on one end and smoothing and pulling it in line as I go. Hopefully this works, everything is a learning process.
Speaking of learning....I signed up for my last semester in my undergrad program this week! It has taken ten years, but I will finally have a bachelor's degree next December! Then it is on to my master's. :) There is no rest for this girl!

How have all of you been? Hopefully everyone is enjoying beautiful weather like those of us in the mid-west, yesterday it was 91 degrees! I hope to get in more quilting and blogging time, but the semester is coming to an end, luckily I have the whole summer to quilt. Happy Spring everyone!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Sound of Winter

We got a little snow this weekend in Eastern Nebraska....over 11 inches in 24 hours! It was beautiful and much needed after our 70 degree weather we had last week (I'm not complaining, but a girl needs seasons!).
I was ready for the sights and sounds of winter to come back, including:
Laughter as we built a snowman....
Barking as Penny caught snowballs...
 The hum of my sewing machine as I continued to work on my cousins t-shirt quilt...

I have enjoyed warm cups of coffee, playing Kinect on the Xbox with my husband, and sewing as I look out at the beautiful white snow on this wintery weekend.
 I finished the dance side of her quilt last weekend. The "white" squares are either white t-shirt squares or a rectangle of bumblebee fabric randomly placed inside the 13 inch square of white "buzz" fabric. For the cheerleader side I am doing scrappy patchwork squares in the alternate squares from the t-shirts. I have 6 pieced squares finished, 6 more to go.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

T-Shirt Quilt

Last spring my cousin graduated high school. Nicolette was a cheerleader for two years, and on her school dance team for the other two, so naturally she acquired a lot of t-shirts. For a graduation gift I offered to turn those shirts into a t-shirt quilt, and I am finally getting around to it.
For months I have had a very large stack of t-shirts under my quilting table, with two yards of fabric I planned to use for it as well. Yesterday I got stabilizer on all the shirts and cut them to size. This quilt will be a lap size, approximately 60 inches square, when finished and double sided. One side will be cheer-leading from her freshman and sophomore years, the other side will be from her junior and senior years as a 'Shirette'. I have a plan for pieced blocks to put together for the squares that won't have t-shirts, I hope it turns out as good as it looks in my mind. My goal is to finish the 'Shirette' side today (and finish a paper). Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Family of Trees

Finally, I have time to show you my last quilt from 2011, "Family of Trees."
This quilt was made for a co-worker who had her daughter right when I was learning to quilt. She is the only co-worker that did not receive a baby quilt from me, because I was not confident in my skills at the time. So fast forward nearly two years and I have finally created her quilt. I did not choose the fabric for this quilt, and was very nervous when my co-worker gave me the fabric because I didn't know how to bring it all together. My co-worker asked me a while back if I would make her daughter, Olivia, a quilt. I said I would love to and she took Olivia to JoAnn's to pick out fabric. Olivia, at the time 18 months old, requested the pink fabric with the trees, her mom then found 6 fat quarters to go along with the yard of trees Olivia wanted.
To be honest, I thought the fabric she chose was pretty ugly, I had no idea how to tie it together. I knew I wanted to add white to the fabric, and use squares, but that was where my ideas ended. So I searched Flickr for some inspiration and came across a tutorial from Allison at Cluck, Cluck, Sew for a Stack-and-Wack square block. I threw in another yard of white fabric and got to cutting my blocks, starting with 9 inch squares from the fat quarters (trying to use all the fabric I could).
I used the tree fabric for the back, along with the left overs from the fat quarters. I also used what I had left of the tree fabric for the binding and appliqued an 'O' on the quilt for Olivia using a scrap from my stash. For quilting I decided to do straight lines with a light blue thread, to match the blue in the tree fabric. I love the way the quilt turned out, the fabrics work pretty well together with the added white. And I was pretty happy with my straight line quilting....after taking out 4 lines of stiching and re-basting the quilt. I have a way to go before I am super confident with straight line quilting, my fabric pulled a bit as I quilted....practice makes perfect.
I wanted the quilt to have a name with "tree" in it, and I had "Kids" by MGMT* in my head, so the name of the quilt comes from that song. To me the song is about childhood and growing up, so it's kind of a fitting name for the quilt. Hopefully Olivia can enjoy it for many years. *If you check out the song by viewing the music video, be warned that it is very strange and a little disturbing. You may also want to watch the "making of" video to reassure yourself that the toddler was not afraid of the monsters. :)
What I learned:
As the tortoise taught us from has infamous race with the hare....SLOW and STEADY wins the race (at least when straight line quilting). I forgot this simple rule and had to un-stitch and re-baste after some bunching that occurred. Also, spray baste seems to help keep the quilt layers together well when making the straight lines.
Another thing that frustrated me a bit when making this quilt was using the tutorial. It was really helpful, and I appreciate all the tutorials I have used from so many quilters because they have taught me SO much, but every quilter is different in the way they phrase things. I want to make a note that when Allison says "finished block size" in her tutorial, she is not meaning finished size when the quilt is put together (which is what I think of when I hear "finished block size"). Instead she is meaning the size the block will be when pieced together. I started with 9" fabric squares, so my quilt blocks were 8" when pieced together, but the finished block size was 7 1/2". This really confused me when I was working on my quilt top because it ended up being a little smaller than I had anticipated and I was thinking I cut my fabric wrong. I just wanted to give a heads up to anyone that uses her tutorial, which I highly recommend!

Now I am going to try and get some studying done. I took Friday off work for a 'mental health day' and I am hoping to get some quilting done. I guess that means I REALLY need to work on studying now so I can use all my time Friday for quilting. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Look Back

I'm a little late in posting my past year of quilts, but the spring semester has started and it is going to be another busy one! Here is a look at the quilts I did in 2011. Thirteen full quilts from baby, to toddler, to lap size. I hope to do a king sized quilt in 2012, to replace the duvet cover Penny tore last year. Oh how I love my dog! I also plan to finish not only my Ghastlies quilt, but also two Christmas quilts. I have a small list started, and with a summer off from school, I will get it all done!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Max, Max, What Do You See?

My next two posts will be about my last two quilts of 2011. I finished this quilt early last week, but I haven't found time to post about it, despite my free time from a break in work and school.
My wonderful friend Mandy asked me to make a quilt for her nephew for his first birthday later this month. I was thrilled with this request because I love to make children's quilts, they are so quick and the fabrics are so fun and colorful! Mandy really wanted a "Where the Wild Things Are" quilt, as her nephew's name is Max, but there is no such fabric out there (someone should change this!). Her next request was Dr. Seuss, like her son's quilt, or Eric Carle. The preschool teacher in me immediately jumped at the idea of an Eric Carle quilt, an INTERACTIVE Eric Carle quilt!
I have wanted to make an interactive children's quilt ever since I came across this quilt made by Jacquie at Tallgrass Prairie Studio, I guess the early childhood educator came out in the quilting portion of my brain when I saw this and I added her quilt to my inspiration to-do list. So here is my Eric Carle quilt for the soon to be one-year old. I made this quilt using a panel of the Brown Bear fabric which has the animals from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do See? the children's book written by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by the very talented Eric Carle.

For Max, I wanted to make a quilt that a toddler could use to snuggle up with, as well as play and learn with. Originally I wanted to do a Very Hungry Caterpillar quilt, with a number on the top of the flap and the corresponding fruit underneath (for those of you that are familiar with this story, you will know what I am talking about.) However, that quilt would have been VERY expensive! Then I found a seller on etsy that had Brown Bear fabric available and snagged it up.
I cut out the animals squares and pieced them randomly into 12 by 15 inch blocks using a Kona grey (can't remember which one, sorry). I decided not to place the quilt squares in order with the story, this way Max's interactions with the quilt could be more challenging as he grows and develops cognitive skills.
I visited my favorite LQS for corresponding prints for the flaps, and put them together with batting in the middle to make them a bit more sturdy. Then I decided to quilt them too, using different quilting techniques. It was really fun to try out new quilting designs on these flaps, and each one is different. For some I quilted along with the fabric, like the blue, green and yellow squares:
For others I tried something new to me, like the purple flap loops, brown flap squares, and white flap pebbles.
I used corresponding thread for the flaps, and stippled the quilt all over with grey thread, except for the panel squares of the animals, which I stitched around with my walking foot a 1/4" on each side of the square. I didn't want the image of the animal to be distorted from the quilting lines. The brown bear is in the middle, without a flap. The idea is that brown bear starts the quilt just like the story so you would start by saying: "Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?" Then lift the brown flap.....
"I see a red bird looking at me.Red bird, red bird, what do you see?" Then move to the red flap.....
 "I see a yellow duck looking at me." And so on.
 For the back of the quilt I pieced together the fabric left from the flaps in order of the story. I also added gold fabric for the goldfish at the end of the story. My husband's comment on the finished quilt was "The back looks cool." I have to agree, I love the scrappy look of these colorful fabrics. For the binding I machine attached it using a darker Kona grey, I think the grey fabrics help to make the colors pop really well, and will hold up to a child's dirty play well.
This story has been a favorite of mine since I was a child, I still have my copy from the 80's! Every child I have ever taught has loved this story as well. My preschoolers "read" it frequently in our reading loft, and play along with our flannel board story as well. I think Eric Carle's artwork he uses in his illustrations is so appealing and inspiring for children. I have another set of animals left from the panel, I may have to make one of these quilts for my preschoolers to use in the classroom. :) Hopefully Max will love it as much as I do. Mandy should receive this quilt today or Monday, I can't wait to hear what she has to say about it.

What I learned:
I loved getting to try out different quilting techniques on the flaps. Usually I am afraid to waste batting and fabric as I try out new styles, this quilt was a great way for me to get my feet wet, without wasting materials. Plus, I think I have gotten pebble quilting figured out enough to try it on a full quilt!