Thursday, April 23, 2015

Modern Building Blocks, Blocks #5 and 6

OK, I'll confess - I did go back to my favorite way of stitching HST's (minus the trimming down part), whenever it made sense to do so.

These blocks are addicting!


Monday, April 20, 2015

Modern Building Blocks, Block #3

Pure piecing joy....

As I'm moving into the smaller, more intricate blocks, I was concerned that the triangle units might create some issues, as the directions call for traditional piecing and not some of the more popular, more accurate methods of piecing HST's or Flying Geese units.  But, I'm finding that if I take the time to make sure that both my cutting and piecing are accurate, problems are minimal.  After all, many, many women who came before me have pieced similar blocks with traditional methods and produced prize-winning quilts.  I have to admit, it feels good to be able to successfully use their same methods!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Modern Building Blocks, Block #2

Yikes, I'm quickly running out of space on my design wall!  But, as you can see, most of the remaining blocks are much smaller, the smallest being 6".  These first two blocks are 36" square, so I now have the biggest blocks out of the way.
Fun, fun, fun!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Practice Makes a Zip Pouch!

After reading Molly Hansen's Free Motion Quilting for Beginners and (those who think they can't), I was inspired to practice a new free motion quilting design, then turn the practice sandwich into a zip pouch.  I'm teaching another session of machine quilting to my quilt guild tomorrow, so I decided to stitch up this little pouch to encourage my fellow members to turn their practice sandwiches into something useful too.

This is a really cool design, but a bit time consuming and tedious, so it's ideal for something small.

These zip pouches are addicting!!

(Note:  I loosely followed Missouri Star's YouTube tutorial.)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Modern Building Blocks Has Begun!

I am so, so excited - I finally got started on my Modern Building Blocks quilt!!  I've been making myself finish up some old WIP's as well as some ho hum quilts (you know those quilts - the ones you once thought were all the rage, but now don't shine compared to all the new fabulous quilts you stumble across on someone's blog or Pinterest....), but I finally felt I earned the privilege to start a new really cool quilt.

I  got itchy to start piecing the blocks after I realized how much I enjoyed stitching Ronda's blocks.  Stitching a variety of blocks is so fun - you don't lose interest, and completing each block almost feels like a finishing a mini quilt top.

I've been drooling over the quilt for a while, ever since seeing it on Pinterest.  I bought the kit from the Fat Quarter Shop because I wasn't sure I could pull off all the color selections on my own.  The colors are so yummy - I never would have come up with those combinations, but I absolutely love them!!  You can also buy just the pattern cards if you prefer to use your own fabrics.

The cool box is worth the price alone (OK, well maybe not...)! 

And, I love the way they did the direction cards.  I hope whoever did all the cool graphics on this quilt project gets all the kudos they deserve.

The first two blocks are enormous, 36" square - almost the size of a baby quilt!  I'm stitching the blocks in order of largest to smallest to make the best use of fabric as I cut it out, just as the directions recommend.  Of course, I probably should do all the cutting first, then the stitching, but I couldn't wait to get started.

It feels so good to have finally be stitching this fabulous quilt!  Check out my Modern Building Blocks Pinterest board for more inspiration - you can make it out of your own selection of fabrics, not necessarily just solids.  I may just have to make a second version of this quilt in printed fabrics....

To be continued!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Consolation Zip Pouch

This little zip pouch is on it's way to my sister.  It's made out of the leftover Flying Geese units from the wedding quilt we stitched for my nephew back in November.

It's similar to a "consolation prize" - sometimes it's hard to give up a quilt after you pour your heart and time (not to mention money!) into a project.  I always like to have a little something I can keep to remind myself of the process.  My consolation prize will be the Little Leaves quilt I'm working on, and this will be Renee's.  :)

The zipper was from my thrift shop stash.  :)  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Afternoon Photo Shoot

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, so I took two completed quilt tops out for a photo shoot before shipping them across the country to their owners.

First up - I stitched this quilt top for Kathy O. of Stitch by Stitch.

The pattern is "Sweet Life" by Camille Roskelley and can be found in her book Simply Retro.

I love stitching a quilt top for Kathy O. - I get to play with beautiful fabrics, and it's always fun to see the magic she works with her longarm quilting after I'm done with the piecing.

Below are a few more shots:

Next, some pictures of Ronda's beautiful quilt top:

Named "The Generals' Wives", it was a Block of the Month a few years back.

The top contains 12 pieced blocks, representing 12 generals' wives from the Civil War.

In keeping with the Civil War theme, these two shots were taken in Columbia, PA, a town that played a significant role in the war.

I also wanted to include some shots of the Columbia-Wrightsville bridge since an earlier bridge was burned in 1863 to prevent Confederate troops from entering Lancaster County.  

This lovely landmark was built in 1930 and is still considered to be the world’s longest concrete multiple-arch bridge.

Click here to view a spectacular photograph of this remarkable bridge.

I thoroughly enjoyed piecing this top!  It was fun to piece 12 different blocks while learning a bit about each wife.  Discovering how fun it was to piece a variety of blocks vs. the same block over and over made me anxious to get started on my "Modern Building Blocks" quilt.

The stars on the center block were appliqued.  I debated about hand vs. machine applique, but felt that hand applique was more fitting for the era this quilt represented, but could I pull it off??

I did!  I was pleased with how well the star points came out with the freezer paper/liquid starch method - yay! 

Next project?  My "Modern Building Blocks" quilt.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Introducing Miss Juki TL-2010Q

 This machine purchase totally snuck up on me  - I honestly did not see it coming!!!!  It's almost as if Miss Juki was determined to come home and live with me; believe me, I did not seek her out!  I almost feel like I don't even know where it started or how it happened.  But, I am in love, LOVE, LOVE!!!!

She's wonderful, just WONDERFUL....  She's like a Featherweight on steroids.  So sturdy and trustworthy!  I wasn't even familiar with Juki's until recently.  Yes, Crazy Mom Quilts often referenced how much she loves her Juki, but it would always go in one ear (or should I say eye?!) and out the other, for I had no interest in purchasing another machine.  But, after reading Allison's post about her Juki TL-2010Q, I started getting the itch.  I just haven't been all that happy with my Bernina 710 for free motion machine quilting, even though it has a big throat space.  Bottom line, I'm not crazy about expensive machines with bells and whistles.  It seems nuts to spend a ton of money on a machine when all you're using it for is machine quilting, but I wasn't aware of any other options at that point.  Then, I recently heard someone say that using an expensive computerized machine for machine quilting is like using your Mercedes to haul gravel when you really should be using a dump truck; that got me thinking about the wisdom of an industrial machine for machine quilting.  All I want is some throat space, a good stitch, and dependability.  Maybe I tend to prefer mechanical machines over computerized ones because I learned to sew on a Featherweight and used a manual Kenmore for years and years before upgrading to a Bernina "sewing computer"??

So, I read some more reviews on line and couldn't find anything but Juki LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.  

But, what totally sealed the deal for me was sitting next to Ann at our quilt guild's all day sew last weekend.  I walked in, and there she was, sewing on her new Juki - the very one I had been researching.  I couldn't believe it, especially since I didn't know anyone who owned a Juki.  I sat next to Ann while we sewed pillowcases for charity all day.  I plodded along on my Featherweight while she FLEW through hers.  She was kind enough to let me sew on it for a bit, and I was blown away by how fast it sewed and how well it stitched multiple layers without a walking foot.  I kept asking her questions as we sewed and couldn't get the JUKI thoughts out of my head....

So, first thing Monday morning I ordered my very own Juki!

My original intention was to use my Juki primarily for machine quilting, but I'm so loving how she performs with piecing that I haven't done any machine quilting with her yet.  I'm not sure how convenient it will be to use her for both piecing and quilting, since my piecing area is in the basement, and the spot where I machine quilt is on the 2nd floor of my home.  It may make sense to invest in a second machine at some point if I can find a used one at a good price.  

Interestingly enough, when I upgraded from a Kenmore to a Bernina 440 a few years back, it took me almost a year to feel comfortable sewing on it after many years of sewing on my Kenmore.  But, the adjustment period for my Juki was less than 24 hours - seriously!!  It just took a bit of time to rearrange my sewing table, and figure out how to get a consistent 1/4" seam.   In fact, I felt like I had committed sewing machine adultery against my beloved Featherweight, but those guilty feelings rapidly disappeared when I saw how quickly I could piece a quilt, like the one below. 

I bought my Juki from a dealer at a great price.  Yes, you can buy them on line at a comparable price, but I like having someone to go to if there's a snag, which there wasn't, thank goodness.  The dealer's service was amazing - I called to order my machine on Monday morning in my pj's, and it was on my doorstep the very next day!!

I love my Bernina 440 for day-to-day alteration work; you can't beat Bernina's tension and its ability to sew a variety of fabrics.  And for now, I do plan to hang on to my Bernina 710 for it's large throat space and large bobbin which are great when it comes to walking foot quilting (especially those circular designs!).  I also love the using the 3-step zig zag stitch along with the walking foot; it performs beautifully for those applications.  It's just too bad there's not a cheaper machine out there with those features.  

Please know that that general consensus is that Juki's just don't do well when it comes to walking foot quilting.  My guess is it's because the feed dogs aren't as wide as on a zig zag machine, so it simply can't feed as well.  So, if you're considering a Juki purchase, keep in mind that you'll probably need another machine for walking foot quilting.

Also, she does require frequent oiling, just like a Featherweight.  Daily, if you're sewing a number of hours each day.  But, it's a breeze to oil her compared to oiling a Featherweight - no need to unscrew or remove parts.

Just had to show you a picture of a little quilt top I flew through this weekend, thanks to Miss Juki's speedy stitching and the automatic thread cutter.  I sped through assembling the blocks for two other tops as well.  I used to dread stitching borders and long seams, but no more!
(You can purchase the quilt pattern here.)

Thanks for inviting yourself into my life, little Miss Juki!!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hoppy Easter!

I had stitching these adorable yo you bunnies with my neighbor girl Megan last month.  She did great - her sewing skills and needle dexterity have dramatically improved since we stitched together last spring.  I'm rooting for a machine purchase and sewing lessons for her!

I saw this pattern at the AQS Quilt Show last month - I desperately tried to avoid purchasing it, but had to have it.  I'm glad now that it came home with me.  :) 
You can purchase it here.

Have a wonderful Easter!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

On My Design Wall

(Notice the Juki in the background??  Couldn't leave her out since she'll do wonders at piecing these large blocks...)