Friday, March 20, 2015

A Recent Addition

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I've been on a fabric diet for...gosh...well, since I ordered a few Far, Far Away reprints last summer? I don't know...it's been a long time. And before that, it was also a long time.

My point is, I realized one day that I have too much fabric. I don't normally believe that too much fabric can be a real thing. But when you're not sewing AT ALL...well...it begins to feel wasteful to keep ordering more. It also made me feel bad to look at all that pretty fabric and not sew with it. Hence the diet.

But, now that I'm back into quilting and have finished up nearly all of my unfinished quilt tops, I feel like one teeny tiny fabric purchase won't hurt anything.

It all started with thread. I'm almost out of the cotton thread I usually buy at JoAnns. And I don't really feel like going to JoAnns right now. And then I remembered everyone was going on about Aurifil thread years ago so I decided to buy some and see how I liked it. And while I was buying thread (at Hawthorne Threads), I remembered that one particular fabric had caught my eye within the last few months and so I bought just a few half yards of Mimosa by Another Point of View.

So, anyway...this will tide me over for quite a while. I won't need anything new until my stash is significantly reduced. It's actually more fun that way, I think. Maybe one day soon I'll even cut into my most treasured fabrics! Maybe...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Old and New

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Green Log Cabins

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This weekend I finished TWO quilt tops and started two more. The Simple Insanity quilt top was fun to make but I'm also happy it's finished. My sewing table was out of control with scraps for weeks!

The other top I finished was started way back in 2009. I made a bunch of blue and green log cabins and then put them in a box when I couldn't decide on a layout. But when I pulled them out this weekend, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. It took just a couple of hours to finish up and I really like it. It feels "dated", though. Like, remember when everyone was making wonky log cabins on a vast white background? It feels like so long ago, probably because six years is a long time.

After two finishes, I was excited to start my Liberty quilt. A while back I cut most of my Liberty stash into 9" x 4.5" pieces. This weekend I made 50 or so 4-patch blocks until I ran out of white fabric. At that point I did some math and realized I'd cut enough fabric for TWO quilts! So, I guess I'm making two Liberty quilts now.

Since my Liberty plans were on hold until the new fabric arrived, I stared at my shelves until a tiny bin of fabric caught my eye. Inside were 10" strips/strings left over from cutting fabric for another quilt. So, I started sewing them together with no real plan. Maybe I'd just sew them all together into one big row of strings. Or maybe into big squares and then turn them into half square triangles? Some sort of woven effect? And then I remembered I had some Kona Snow that I've been trying to use up.

Let me just interrupt here to talk about Kona Snow. It's like white...so much like white that I have a really hard time telling the two apart, even when they're right next to each other. BUT! If you accidentally use the wrong one, it's totally obvious in a quilt! There are these little dirty patches in your otherwise bright white quilt. What a mess! (Hey, I just saw this post! See what I mean?)

Don't get me wrong, Snow is a great color...it's a warm white and it's been the perfect color for a few of my quilts. But I can't have both in my sewing room anymore. It drives me crazy! I need to pick one and I'm picking white.

So, I'm using up my 10" strips AND all my Kona Snow in one quilt. I just love it when a plan comes together!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Generosity

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There are things in life that are as rare and as special as a unicorn. They are different things for different people...and mine is a bag that I didn't have to make. Oh how I love bags but loathe making them!

I swapped some mini skeins with my friend Sara at KnottyGnome and in addition to the minis and a beautiful handspun rainbow! skein I purchased, she sent along one of her gorgeous project bags. When I pulled this out of the envelope, I immediately ran to the living room where Ian was napping, woke him up and yelled in his face "OMG, she made me a bag and it's perfect and it has a BEE on it!" He was duly impressed.

This bag holds a lot! I'm so looking forward to using this as my project bag for the Follow Your Arrow 2 knit-along that Sara and I are starting this April. It'll make it all that much more fun!

My wrists are feeling awesome after almost two months of no knitting or weaving. It's going to be hard to not immediately overdo it once I start again in April. But if I want to avoid injury again, I'm going to have to take it slow. At least I'm still enjoying quilting so I can switch things up when I need to take a break. More quilting updates later this week...I got a lot done this weekend!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Simple Insanity

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There's been a whole lot of sewing going on at my house. I've been finishing up old quilt tops like crazy. I've never felt so inspired to finish things up...it's amazing!

One driver is that I have one pile of stuff that doesn't have a home in the studio. That pile moves from the sewing table to the floor to the chair to the laundry basket back to the sewing table...on and on for two years now. I'm just sick of it! I've been working to reduce the contents of my studio just enough so that everything has a home. And just this morning, I did it! I ironed the last piece of fabric that was waiting for months (in the pile!) to be ironed.

There's more to do, though. Everything may have a home but that home is not necessarily in the best location. But someday! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

One of the quilt tops I came thisclose to finishing this weekend is one I started FOUR years ago. It's a red/orange/pink version of Completely Cauchy's Simple Insanity quilt. What a quilt, right?? Mine doesn't even come close to replicating the beauty and sparkle of the original. But at least mine is almost done and that makes me very happy!

The design for the other quilt top was inspired by scraps left over from another quilt I made a while back. I had a million 4" pieces that I was planning to sew into a coin quilt. But when the time came, I didn't feel like making a coin quilt. So I put the strips on the diagonal and fell in love. Of course, I didn't have enough scraps to finish this design so I had to make more scraps (sigh) just to finish this top...but it was worth it. I totally love how this turned out and I was able to make a much bigger top than I had originally planned.

Next I'll be working on a quilt I started way back in 2009 and a patchwork Liberty quilt. I can't wait for the weekend!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Road Trip

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Road Trip. This quilt was a labor of love. It started the day I saw the "Happy Campers" print from the Circa60 Beach Mod Collection by Monaluna.

It took a split second for this quilt design to pop into my head. It would be a quilt for my dad. It would represent all the road trips and family vacations we had taken during my childhood. I would embroider the blocks with the names of places we visited. Some blocks would have woodgrain frames and it would be bound with woodgrain fabric. It would have a cozy flannel backing. It would be finished for Father's Day 2012.

And three years later, February 2015, it is finally finished! It looks exactly as I had imagined it and I am so, so happy with how it turned out.

It was a long road but well worth the time and effort. I learned how to make Y-seams. I embroidered almost every block even though I don't actually like to embroider. And best of all, I thought about our trips while I worked. That long trip to the coast, the shorter trips up to the North Shore. Those memories are so precious to me and to my dad. I wanted to give him a reminder of those times and how much they meant to me, how much he means to me.

And so, it was with great pleasure and much love that I gave this quilt to my dad on his 59th birthday, February 22, 2015. Happy three-years-worth of birthdays, father's days and Christmases!

Finished size: 60" x 84"

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

To all the Quilts I've Loved Before: The Plan

A Sampler Quilt

When I started planning this quilt, a certain quilt kept popping into my head: this oh so lovely Single Girl quilt from Blue Elephant Stitches.

What I love most about this quilt is the use of cream/white not-solids for the background of the rings. It reads as a neutral but it's so much more interesting. I know I will never come close to the perfection of that quilt but I will try my best with what I have. I'm just crazy about quilts with non-solid backgrounds! It will be a fun adventure!

I'd like to make a block a month but I don't want to feel pressured to commit. I want to be kind of chill about this quilt, just have fun and see where it goes. I don't want to come on too strong. That is, afterall, why so many of my past quilt relationships ended.

Here's the plan, in brief:

Background fabrics: various shades of white/crème/tan, solids and prints.

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Main fabrics: all the fabrics I like from my stash, any colors I feel like (but not purple because, well, I don't like purple.)

The blocks:
Blocks will all be 16.5" unfinished. The designs within the block will all be different sizes...probably around 12-15"?

The layout:
5 x 5 squares = 25 squares
80"x80" finished quilt

Designs:
Two or more of each design will be used, probably with different sized pieces to add more variety. I might come up with more to add to this list but for now, these are the blocks I'll be focusing on. I've gathered a lot of inspiration projects if you too feel like being inspired!

Clamshell (my current obsession)
Molly Flanders
Melissa
Stitched in Color
Three Kitchen Fairies

Dresden Plate
Raggedy Owl

Grandmother's Flower Garden (large)
Karen C.
The Eternal Thread

Grandmother's Flower Garden (small)
S.O.T.A.K Handmade

Hexagons
Comfortstitching

Stars
Stitched in Color

Coffins (Lozenges?)
The Workroom

Triangles
Stitched in Color
Little Edith Bee

Cathedral Window
Mary Dugan
Quilting Barbie

Lonestar (8 points)
Comfortstitching
Badskirt Amy

Lonestar (6 points)
Sew Me Something Good

I'm planning to start my first block this weekend! And just in case you find yourself swept up in a whirlwind romance with any of these blocks, I'll be sure to post any templates I make as well as descriptions of any techniques I'm using. This is going to be so much fun! Wait...dang it!...play it cool, Crystal, play it cool!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Compromises

I know I've said it many times before but Ian and I are pretty much opposites in the things we like/dislike. Food, tv, activities, hobbies, colors, music...the list goes on and on. If I like something, I can pretty much guarantee he will dislike it.

I bring this up because when Ian was in California over the winter holidays a couple of years ago, I decided to make a quilt for our bed. Usually I disregard Ian's feelings about such things (for example, this is our summer bed quilt which he hates) but for some reason I was feeling oddly generous. Maybe I missed him a little? Who can even know such things...

Anyway, after a bit of flickr searching and plotting and planning, I finally came up with a quilt that would make us both happy:

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When I'm in a good mood, I call this quilt "Opposites Attract". Because we're opposite and yet we get along so well and that's a sweet way to think of it, right?

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But if I'm being realistic, the better name is "Compromises"...because when Ian and I try to find middle ground, we both lose. It's best for us to each do our own thing and be happy than try to come up with something we can both (just barely) tolerate. This quilt represents the only kind of compromise that really works for us...two quilts we each love smashed together rather than one quilt we both sort of hate.

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You probably recognize the pattern. It's the Made in Cherry quilt designed by Sarah Fielke. That gigantic star was so fun to make and I'd love to use the pattern again sometime.

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The theme is carried over to the binding, the quilting and the backing. In a perfect world, a true Ian/Crystal compromise quilt would have double batting on my side (I'm always too cold) and NO batting on Ian's side (he's always too hot). Instead, I kept it simple with one layer and we'll use it in the wintertime. So far, it's a big hit with everyone and we all love it in our own way. And that's exactly what I was going for.

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