Saturday, March 6, 2010

Week 9 - 2010 Quilt Project

The first week of March!

Well, this was a tumultuous week for us. We had some bad news, and while I can't go into it, I felt my world crumbling around me. After a good crying spell, with my supportive husband and huskies at my side, I felt much better. You really cannot hold your feelings inside. You have to express them, or else they eat away at you. Or you cry....a lot.

So, why is this week colorful and full of flowers? 2 reasons.

FIRST: We got through it. And today (Saturday) was a beautiful day! We had the absolute perfect day today, and my spirits were up and all I could think about were flowers!

SECOND: I wanted to try my hand at playing with thread. So, I took a piece of bright green fabric, made a quilt sandwich, and began creating flowers out of my head with free-motion quilting, using different thread colors. So, another first! I love this project, because I am able to try a lot of different styles and techniques on a very small project.

By no means is this quilt square perfect. The satin stitching around the edge is all wonky and is not uniform. The flowers are cartoony and not realistic. And they don't have enough definition or depth. But this week was wonky. And to be able to end the week feeling like bright flowers in spite of everything...well, that's success to me!

Week 8 - 2010 Quilt Project

RAIN. That's the title of this week's quilt block. It was a rainy week, the last week in February.

Knowing I needed to continue practicing the satin stitch, I created each of the rain drops falling using it.

I plan to embellish this block further with beads, but to date, I haven't done so yet.

Week 7 - 2010 Quilt Project

This week was my step-son, Matt's, 18th birthday! This week's block is a tribute to Matt.

Matt loves music. 2 years ago, I made him a quilt for his birthday - the outer border had colorful electric guitars all over it. So, I definitely wanted to use scraps of that in this block.

I then took a photo of Matt from his 18th birthday party, cropped out just his eyes, and applied some fun photoshop tricks. I printed them out onto fabric that can go through the printer, and voila! The eyes on the block are his!

I then took some quirky fun prints and embellished with machine quilting. Again, as I am practicing the satin finish, I tried it again with this block.

Happy Birthday, Matt!

Week 6 - 2010 Quilt Project

Valentine's Day! Well, I knew all along this week would be a red and white heart.

My husband had the PERFECT Valentine's Day for me. I got roses on Friday night, then 2 cards, a big heart full of chocolate truffles, a heart necklace, and dinner on Saturday night. I felt like a princess! It was a very romantic, wonderful weekend. He treated me like a queen.

So, this week's quilt block was a tribute to the holiday, and my love for my husband. I downloaded a simple heart pattern from the internet and adjusted the size to fit. It is all pieced and machine quilted.

I haven't finished hand-sewing the binding yet - I plan to do that on my next business trip when I have time in my hotel room.

Week 5 - 2010 Quilt Project

Week 5....we ushered in the Year of the Tiger. I was born in the year of the Tiger, so I felt it was fitting to include a tribute to the Chinese New Year in my quilt project.

It was actually my husband's idea. I couldn't think of what to do for the first week of February. He said, "why don't you do something about the year of the tiger?" I thought - Great idea!

And I knew what I wanted to do. It took me awhile to find a tiger print fabric. And I knew I wanted to try my hand at satin stitching around the edges, and do an off-centered second block affixed with fabric glue for some added dimension, to include the Chinese symbol for Tiger.

This turned out to be more difficult than I thought! I decided to use the theory from the Art Glass Quilts book for the symbol. Well, when you are working with a symbol that is 3" by 3", it is REALLY tough to cut inside all those lines! I swore and cussed my way through it, and although it is a little messy, it looks as I had envisioned it in my mind.

The satin stitching around the edge was another issue. It looks so simple in the books. And of course, knowing me, I dive right in without practicing. Thank God for Sharpie markers to cover up all the flub-ups along the way!

All in all, I am very happy with the way this turned out. Happy Chinese New Year!

Bathroom Wall-hanging

I have had this idea since I went to a quilt show in early 2009. I bought the center fabric at the show, pre-stamped with the flower pattern. I had envisioned what it would look like all along, but since I had never beaded before, I tucked it away, afraid I'd screw it up.

Well, in early February, I decided that 2010 was the year I would break out all of those projects that I had bought fabric for and never did anything about. And my bathroom really needed some color!

So, I took this on. There was no pattern. I basically designed the 2 borders. Then I free-motion quilted around the leaves in the outer border. I then beaded and sequined the flowers in the center.

It took me a weekend. And now it is proudly displayed above my bathtub, so when I go to relax in the tub, I get to stare at it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Week #4 - 2010 Quilt Project

This week's quilt block was inspired by the poem, "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. Our lives have been quite topsy turvy the past several months, and I feel that with all the roads available to us at the moment, we are having to take the unknown roads...the unplanned roads...more often than those we are familiar with or have planned for. I began to think about this idea - that my journey lately is taken one day at a time - a lot especially this week. And on Sunday while taking a shower, I visually designed this quilt block. I later drafted a few drawings in my notebook, and the quilt block turned out pretty much exactly like I had envisioned it.

I am not an artist by any means, and I feel that when I do try to draw, it is very cartoony in nature and doesn't have a lot of elements or depth. But, I tried to stop judging myself and just go with what was in my head. I used two-sided Press n Steam sheets to iron the pieces together, and then used a variety of stitches and thread colors to sew each piece's edges. For the sign, I used permanent markers to give it a wood-grain look, and then chose the word "SELDOM" for the road sign. The road "less traveled" if you will. Still using only fabric from my scraps collection, I am very happy with the results of this week's block.


Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that, the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

two roads diverged in a wood, and I --

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Week #3 - 2010 Quilt Project

I chose a crazy quilt pattern for week 3, to reflect the chaos I'm feeling in my life at the moment. I feel like my life is a bit turned on its head, and I'm getting sucked into the whirlpool without a paddle. The red swirl represents my heart...and that it keeps on beating in the midst of the stress and chaos. I still have hope and heart. However, whereas I typically prefer symmetry and balanced design, I purposely chose to put the red off intensify the chaos that is around me. In creating this block, I mirrored what I typically do in life: I was trying to create a pattern and make sense of the randomness rather than just going with the flow and seeing what turns out. I was trying to control the pattern, rather than let it come to life naturally.

As with each week, I want to try something new. I used fabrics from my stash. I have never done a crazy quilt, and I used several of the decorative stitching choices on my sewing machine. Instead of binding the edge, I chose to try a zig-zag stitch to finish it up. I need to work on making my stitches more uniform, and testing the length and width of the stitches on a scrap piece before applying it to the finished block.

Week #2 - 2010 Quilt Project

Yes...I'm a week late, but with good reason! For week 2 of this project, I was in Virginia and Washington D.C. Therefore, upon my return, I had to play a little catch up and create week 2 and 3 at the same time.

For week 2, I was inspired by my trip to the east coast. Visiting so many historical locations - from the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, to the Berkeley Plantation, to battlefields, museums, and Washington D.C. I saw it all. On many of the tours like at Monticello or Colonial Williamsburg, I paid attention to the fabrics of the day. I also noticed that so much of D.C. is built from beautiful white stone - Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Capitol building, and of course...the WHITE HOUSE. My trip concluded with my first visit to an east coast beach and touching the Atlantic Ocean.

So for this week's quilt square, I dug into my scrap pieces of whites and creams with small floral prints that felt more "period" compared to the typical fabrics that I use. The pattern is reminiscent of all the stone structures that I enjoyed during my travels.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Week #1 - 2010 Quilt Project

As promised, this is my first week's quilt square for my 2010 Quilt Project. The goal is to create one 5" quilt square a week, based on how I'm feeling or what is happening in my life at the time.

For the first week, I challenged myself with the following rules:
1. Use only items in my stash
2. Try to do beading for the first time

My original design was going to be a starburst made entirely of beads. I sketched out what I wanted after having picked out the deep, dark blue fabric from my stash. I had some gold and copper beads - the only ones I had - so I had to pick something that would go with that bead color, and I felt a star would work well.

Then, I got sick. REALLY sick. I have been sick for 9 days now, and I wasn't sure I'd get this done. But I promised myself I would, and I didn't want to back out on my first week! I had picked out the fabric and made the square over the New Year's weekend, and then I just thought about the pattern. Actually...I was nervous. I had never done any beading before. I read up on it, and still wasn't sure if what I wanted would turn out like I had pictured in my head. So....I waited. And was sick. And miserable. And quilting something happy like a star just wasn't what I could do with how miserable I was feeling.

This weekend, I decided I had to complete the block. So, without thinking too much about it, I began quilting. And I ended up quilting a sun pattern with yellow and brown thread. I must be feeling better, because a sun is rather cheerful! Once I did that, picking out the binding fabric was easy, and it matches the brown thread and copper beading nicely. And the beading just came naturally after that. I tried not to think about it too much or analyze the pattern....I just beaded where it felt right.

I then added some bright yellow embroidery floss to the lower left hand corner to provide an anchor to the piece. I am happy with the way it turned out (although my photo is a little blurry).

I am beginning to feel better today, and was able to complete the block.

Green and Purple X-Block Lap Quilt

I made this lap quilt for a friend of mine. I have had the X-Blocks template for sometime now and have wanted to use it for a quilt. When I picked out these colors to go with my friend's living room, I decided this would be the perfect combination to test out the X-Block template.

It was really easy! It is basically 2 different 9-patch blocks (6" each) that, when you cut the edges using the X-Block template tool, you get a slightly diagonal looking block. To make it more complex, I created a lattice work of the 2 purples with them interweaving with one another, using the bright lime green as the background.

Originally I was going to use the polka-dot material for the outer border, but it muted the entire quilt and took away from the interior design, so I included a fabric with some white and brown to break it up and create a more contemporary feel to it.

I am really happy with how this one turned out! It is some of the best cutting and matching of corners I have done to date.

The final quilting was done by someone else using a "bubble meandering" pattern.

I haven't finished hand-sewing the binding on yet, but couldn't wait to post my first quilt of the new year!