Friday, October 12, 2018

WOWzer Bowser :: Pixelated Lunacy

First off, this is not a quilt I'll be entering at QuiltCon!  I'm quite sure it doesn't fit the 'modern' criteria!

Second of all, a theme quilt isn't my usual thing.  If you saw a picture of this quilt you would never guess I was the one who made it!

Thirdly, I was so not looking forward to making it.  But the second I started I was so stoked and excited.  I didn't want to stop!



Let's back up!  I've been laser focused on completing quilts that can be entered in shows...mainly QuiltCon.  Much of the stress is bought on by not knowing if they will even be accepted, let alone if they are up to par with other quilts.  I haven't entered any yet, but I'm on the backside of finishing what needs to be done.  Which left me with free time and a desire to let loose and have fun!  You know, let off a little steam!

I told my daughter that I wanted to make a Mario quilt for her god-son for Christmas.  We don't have grandchildren, but this little guy and his sister are what we lovingly call our surrogate grandchildren.  Anyway, she said why wait until Christmas, his birthday is in November!  And, he would rather have a Bowser quilt than a Mario quilt!  Well, okay!  

Searching for pixelated images was the easy part!  There is a million and one out there and any would be usable in a quilt.  It doesn't have to be Mario themed, it can be any pixelated art.  The only other time I made a pixelated quilt was this one:  Pixie Ghost.  Think cross stitch!  



Did I say I wasn't thrilled with piecing this?!  I did the math and figured I would need 1512 squares.  Right?!  When I saw that number I was certain I had lost my flipping mind and bit off more than I could chew...or wanted to chew.

Let me give you the details.  The squares were planned at cutting to 2".  That means the finished size would be 1 1/2".  The quilt would finish at 54" x 63".  In the end I added two more rows to the top which increased the size to 57" x 63" and the final square total...1584!

I made a test block.  A 9-patch test block.  So, okay...I can do this.  But the trick would be getting all the seams to nest from block to block.  That evening I calculated, figured, thought and was sure I knew what the plan was.  Seriously, 9-patch blocks...that would mean I'd need like 180.  Sleep on it.  Maybe there would be an elf that will get them done by morning!

That didn't happen, but I did have a fresh outlook and a new plan!  Instead of 9-patch I'd do 81-patch blocks!  If that's a thing, I'm doing it!  This way I can have each row pressed in a different direction for the nesting effect.  Which is crucial in a design like this.  And, I was able to figure out how each seam after the rows went together would go...it's all about nesting!



Another important key to a design like this is chain piecing.  I figured if I had units of one, two and three squares I could tons of save time.  Strip piecing and sub-cutting are your very best friend ever with a quilt like this!



I cut 2" strips from the width of the fabric (WOF) in the five different colors.  However I cut the WOF in half before sewing the rows.  I figured I'd have a better chance of keeping the fabric straight and it would be easier to work with.  I pressed the seams to one side and then sub-cut 2" sections.  The process was quick and efficient.  I was ready to begin the real work...doom, despair and agony...or so I thought!



As you can see from my chart, I wrote numbers for each main 9-patch block.  After which I drew lines for the '81-patch' blocks that I would make one at a time.  I picked a block and laid out my squares.  It made it so much easier with the 3, 2 and 1 units!  I grabbed what I needed making sure the seams were going in opposite directions in each row.  

I would sew one row at a time, press the seams in the direction needed and then sew the rows together.  The other thing to keep in mind is which way your press your row seams so that they nest with the other 81-patch blocks.  




Piece by piece, block by block it all came together.  I could see Bowser unfolding before my very eyes!  Seriously I was getting psyched!  More, more, more!  The blocks were lining up, the pixelated action was happening, I am reluctant to say it, but I was enjoying this probably far more than one should!

I should also mention that I cut my teeth on Mario gaming.  Maybe not exactly... Atari Pong was really my first but I didn't want to date myself...too late I guess!  And Vincent, who this quilt will belong to loves, loves, loves Mario and it's going to be his 5th birthday.  So, something special was in order!


  

Back to the quilt.  Maybe because it's something out of my norm, or maybe because with each block seamlessly fitting together, I could not stop!  It did take four days of piecing but it was fun.  Just plain and simple fun!  I want more...I wanna do it again!  Maybe Vincents sister will love Mario too and for her 5th birthday I can make Princess Peach!  



Close up isn't quite as good as far away when viewing this quilt.  I get it, I get the pixelation and the concept of Bowser.  I didn't think I'd really get it done by Vincents birthday, and even enlisted in to bribing for my daughter for help.  Not needed!  She was willing, and even she was blown away by the quilt and how fast it came together!  As much as I would have loved to have her making quilts with me again, I just could not stop!



Here's a picture of he back seams.  It ain't pretty, but it does show you the nesting factor.  To me I think it might be the most important part of making a pixelated or postage stamp quilt.  It really does make lining up the seams so much easier.  I won't say this is a perfectly lined up quilt.  I doubt I could ever achieve perfection.  And it really isn't the point of this quilt or any quilt for me.  I just loved making it!  It's so out of character (no pun intended) for me.  It's nice to change it up once in a while regardless of your style or comfort zone.  


I plan on making a pixelated strip for the back with Vincent's name and then prepping for quilting.  I'm not sure how.  Maybe diagonal lines which would be easier and better than stitching in the ditch!  How would you quilt it?

Hopefully in another week or so I can make the final decision!

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Cross Body Bag :: As Simple As It Gets!

Before you get too excited, I do not make bags.  I do not enjoy to make bags.  I find making bags beyond my capability and frustrating.  Other people can whip up gorgeous ones that blow my mind and I love seeing them.  They just are not in my wheel house.

I do however have one bag I make that suits me perfectly.  It's as simple as it gets, which is all I need.  Small in size, a three section pocket and a long wide strap that I can fling across my body.

10" x 10"
Cross Body Bag
My current bag has served me well.  Over time it has become a shabby worn out tattered and very sad looking accessory!  I knew one day I would make another, and hallelujah! that day finally came!

While waiting for my big sewing machine to come home (it has since returned), and being in between projects, I figured it was the perfect time to check it off my list.



Since I had been thinking about this for a long time, I already knew what fabric I was going to use for this one.  With pink being my current favorite color, I decided to finally use my Maker Maker Lines fabric for the outside.  It's has the pink I want, yet subtle and is a linen/cotton blend.  The lining is Freespirit Fuchsia.  It's a good combination for me!



I used a fusible fleece on the outside and a medium weight fusible interfacing for the lining.  As you can see the basic construction is so simple!  Think fabric baskets, but tall and skinny!  Outside, inside...plop together...sew...turn...viola!!  You got a bag!

I will say that I don't make these often or make fabric baskets often, so I have to think very hard when it comes time to assemble!



The pocket is simply a folded over piece of fabric that goes from side to side and has three sections.  One for my phone, one for my keys and one for my lip balm!  That to me is the most important component to me.  

 


















I thought I'd share the other two bags I made.  The first is a fabric my daughter made for me.  The second is a Home Dec weight Anna Maria Horner fabric.  I actually covered my dining room chairs in that fabric.  



With each version I make the only difference is the strap becomes wider!  I guess it's a comfort factor!  



Thought I'd add a fun shot of the outside before I turned it!  Now I have a new bag to drag through the mud...so to speak!  I'm sure I'll be posting in another year or two about the fourth bag in what has become a staple in my life!

I discovered today that yesterday was my 5 year Blogiversary!  How did that sneak up on me?!  I never would have thought 5 years ago that I'd still be doing this.  Heck back then I didn't think I had anything to say or share let alone think anyone would actually read it!  I sincerely love blogging!  It has opened my world!  I am so thankful to all of you who have read, commented, encouraged, inspired and keep coming back for more.  Thank you more than I can put in to words.  

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Geometry Lesson :: The Finish

I love happy quilts!  This is a happy quilt!  Happy because the design was everything that I had hoped it would be, I was able to use colors that I love and the quilting was intense but perfect to me!

GEOMETRY LESSON
48 1/2" X 64"
The top was finished a month ago (Geometry Lesson Process), but I wasn't ready to take on the task of quilting it at the time.  It sat for a while, not for lack of quilting ideas, I knew without a doubt I'd be doing straight lines of some sort.  I needed to wait until I could fully commit and focus on just this quilt.  


There was a lot of seriousness involved!  And a lot of flying by the seat of my pants!  I tend to take sections and quilt my idea until it's finished and then move on to another section.  The basic idea is there, but nothing is set in stone or planned ahead of time.  


I used three widths of lines: 1/4", 1/2" and 1" lines.  Diagonal, horizontal, vertical and curved.  I choose to use a Pale Pink (#2410) 40 wt Aurifil thread for all the quilting.  You can't really tell it's pink from these pictures, in person you can.  Before I started quilting I debated matching thread color to the fabric, but quickly dismissed that idea...although I did want to! 

The curve of the Drunkards Path block was continued into a circle and extended with straight lines across the quilt, or a full circle with different widths of lines.  Anything goes!  I found it to be quite effective and with each section, I was excited to see what I could do.


Usually when it's time to quilt I get impatient and just want it done!  By then I'm usually ready to move on to something else.  This time was different.  I took a lot of deep breaths, reminded myself it wasn't a race, and focused on trying to be as accurate as possible.  That's not to say it is perfect because it certain is not.  But I tried!  

It was weirdly satisfying to have that much focus and determination.  Perhaps it's because I'm proud of myself for sticking with it or because I absolutely love how it turned out.  It isn't easy to quilt a complex design on a domestic machine.  

  

On the back you can see the different widths and directions of some of the quilting.  If it wasn't for the fun geometric front of the quilt, I wouldn't have ever thought about quilting a design like this!


After putting my heart and sole into the quilting, I wasn't ready to go the easy route on the binding.  I decided it was worth the time to make a matched binding and extend the design to the edge.  It wasn't easy!  And it isn't perfect!  But I do love it!


After I finished quilting and binding this quilt I took my big machine in for a tune up.  I have one more quilt I'm anxious to quilt and can't do it with my pride and joy!  Next up...a baby version of Geometry Lesson if gorgeous aqua + teal + blue + green + grey!  Any day now...any day!

How do you make yourself focus and take your time when quilting?  Deep breaths, swearing, a glass of wine?!

Fabric:
Colors from left to right:
121-121 Linen121-049 Coral, 121-068 Rosebud, 121-028 Fuchsia, 121-066 Lipstick, 121-146 Dare Devil, 121-127 Burnt Sienna and 121-077 Moss

Background & Backing:  Moda Light Grey

Thread:  Aurifil 40wt Pale Pink #2410

Friday, September 28, 2018

Maelstrom :: Scraps & Improv

I finished quilting my Geometry Lesson quilt last week and decided before I could move on to the next one I had better take my machine in for a tune up.  It was getting a bit clunky and squeaky, which I'm sure isn't a good thing!  Hopefully it will make the machine quilting process a little less painful.

That very same day I started feeling blah...like getting a cold blah!  I wasn't feeling horrible, but not feeling well enough to take on a new project.  That being said, I also wasn't going to sit on the sidelines and not do something!  So, I blew my nose, made a cup of tea and grabbed a project that would be mindless and inconsequential.


MAELSTROM
17 1/2" x 17 1/2"
Do the colors look familiar?!  This quilt is from all the scraps I had leftover from my recent finish 'Bridges'.  Trusted Kona Deep Blue and Toasted Pecan!  

Several weeks ago I started sewing some of these scraps together for no other reason than they were there.  Simply put.  And now was the time to put them together and let the chips fall as they may.



This is where it ended weeks ago and where it started a couple days ago.  It certainly isn't very impressive is it?!



It wasn't long before things changed and the unimpressive slab morphed into what I think is a pretty interesting quilt.  



It looks a bit pixelated or a little chaotic, and that's all true.  Not all improv is 'flying by the seat of your pants', there is a part of the process that has to be planned to some degree.  That's my experience, loose planning.  

When I decided to add the curve around the center I wasn't sure which color to use.  I only had two to choose from so it didn't take long to narrow it down! 

 

I almost took the final border in a completely different direction and I'm so glad I didn't take that road!  The way the pecan and blue are opposite from each other exceeded my expectations!  I couldn't have planned it any better...or did I plan it at all?!  


Let's talk quilting for just a second.  Same same...dense and organic.  Enough said!  I'm not terribly creative!



One of my favorite details is the binding.  Look at that line up!  Adding a matched binding was the perfect final accessory!  It's a wonderful way to take the eye from edge to edge.

Hopefully I'll get a handle on this cold situation and be back on top of my game soon!  It would help if this rain would stop and the sunshine would make an appearance!



Sunday, September 23, 2018

Look Into My Eyes :: Hypnotize

Look into my eyes, you are getting sleepy...

I'm thinking Hypnotize might be a good name for this quilt, it seems so obvious!  One  definition of hypnotize is:  capture the whole attention of someone; fascinate.   

I can not get enough of my 'textured twists' these days!  The idea of a black and white quilt with twists had been brewing for a while in the back of my mind.  I wondered and experimented for a couple weeks before settling on this design.  The hardest part was getting the perfect half circles.  Persistence!

HYPNOTIZED
34" x 37"
I've made textured twists in panels, squares, curvy curves.  What else could I do?  Half circles seemed like the next logical shape to tackle.   



The trick was getting the curve just right.  There needed to be enough space at the top and bottom so that the twists didn't get lost in the seam, and with the bulk of the seams with the twist there had to be enough space on the sides...but not too much...just exactly enough! 

Trial and error played a big part in mastering the half circle block.  I made long panels that I cut the curves from using a cardboard template.  It made the cutting process go a little bit faster and while each block isn't exactly the same, they are about as exact as they could get.  What's that saying?  Done is better than perfect?!



The next step was the layout.  I had an idea on the layout before I started, but I wouldn't be me if I didn't change it along the way at least once.  My husband played a part in the final design and I'm thankful for his input.  But wouldn't you know after the first couple of rows were together he comes to me with a different idea!  He must know by now that once I get an idea in my head I'm not going to stop until it's finished! 


6 3/4" x 5"
Finished Block
I knew I could easily become confused on which side was up and which was down with the twists, and it really does make a difference in the overall effect especially with it being in black and white.  So I pressed all the blocks with the twists pressed in the right direction before sewing the outside on the half circle.  



I was shocked to see how much black dust came from the fabric after each sewing session.  I fine layer was all over my sewing space and I was compelled to clean each time I finished for the day.  I used Kona White and Black for this quilt.  If you have use a black other than Kona, I'd be interested to know if it does the same thing.



The quilting was intentionally kept simple.  Straight lines between each twist and 1/4" curved lines around each half circle.  In black thread of course!  Even though it's just black and white, there is plenty going on without overwhelming it with quilting detail.  



One other thing about this quilt, the visual effect is all in the pressing of the twists.  I wanted to get photos taken so I haphazardly pressed the blocks.  Now that I look at, I'm not sure I like the angles of the pressing.  I can easily change that with a hot iron!  What other block can you change the look of by pressing it differently?!  I'm not sure there is one!

You know cutting curves leaves you with a lot of scraps, so don't be surprised if you see another black and white combination one day soon!

My second entry for the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy at Amy's Creative Side.  If your looking for inspiration or new blogs to follow, you will certainly find it here!




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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Bridges :: Two Color Quilt

I might have mentioned that I had quite a stack of quilts that were in need of quilting in a previous post.  All my creative energy is on hold until each and every quilt is complete.  It's like dangling a carrot in front of me...complete the quilts, and the reward is making more when it's all said and done!

This will also be my first entry for the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy at Amy's Creative Side.  If your looking for inspiration or new blogs to follow, you will certainly find it here!


BRIDGES
35" x 45"
For the time being I'm calling it 'Bridges'.  During the piecing process I kept getting a vibe of building a bridge.  Steel, beams, rivets...all part of a structure that is vital in the building of bridges.  My mind kept wandering to my days in Portland Oregon where steel bridges are part of the landscape, part of the history of the city.  Sturdy, functional and amazingly beautiful these bridges are a mind boggling jungle of angles.


I designed this quilt with the sole purpose of making it a two color color quilt.  It wasn't easy!  After playing with many different combinations, I settled on this combination of Kona Deep Blue and Kona Toasted Pecan.  The warm pecan is the perfect companion to the rich blue, and a little unexpected!   
   

The design might look a bit familiar to some of you, as it's the same block design that I used in my  'It's a Gem' mini quilt.  Except this time I took my time and made sure each and every seam and angle was lined up perfectly.  

By using larger blocks (in this case 7") and paper piecing, it was much easier to achieve the accuracy I lacked with the mini quilt.  It also helped that I took my time with this one instead of rushing through.


'It's a Gem'
Quilting happened.  It was another instance where I had a vague idea what I wanted to do and hoped it would come together in the end.  And it did.  


It seemed appropriate to continue with the building of my bridge by adding 1/2" lines representing steel, and circles representing the rivets that hold it all together.  I'll tell you what...making perfect circles is hard to do!  I had to remind myself that even rivets aren't perfectly round!  


I love the angles in this quilt as much as I love the colors!  That Toasted Pecan...it makes my mouth water!  

There are so many design possibilities with this one block, and you can bet I'll be playing with it in the future!  For now, it's back to quilting!



Please head over to the Blogger's Quilt Festival and get your socks knocked off!  It's a quilt show you don't want to miss!

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Tidbits :: A Mini Break

I've been going full force designing and making quilt tops the past couple of months, and with that comes a stack of quilting that is waiting to happen.  Not too many years ago I never would have considered starting a new quilt until what I was working on was completely finished.  Gone are those days!

These days I have more ideas than ever and feel the need to unleash the monster every chance I get.  Reality inevitably sets in.  I see quilt tops laying all over and realize they aren't going to quilt themselves.  Arguably my least favorite part of the process, but one that must be done!

That being said, I can always fit in something small...a mini...or two!  Something that won't derail my plans, take up too much time and still feeds my need to design and create!



I'm a big fan of paper piecing and I'm a huge fan of reducing patterns.  I also love to make mini quilts and give them as gifts.  A little something to put a smile on someones face, say thank you, wish them a happy birthday or let them know someone is thinking of them.  

One pattern I like to reduce is 'Geometric Alphabet' designed by Quiet Play  I can take one letter and personalize a mini in no time at all.  



Once the letter is finished I like to add my own personal touch to an already amazing design.  



In this case a border using lots of tiny pieces!  With that all that was left was some quick quilting and binding!  

I'm not even sure what size this finished at!  I was on a mission to make, quilt and send it as quickly as I could, that I forgot to measure it!  It needed to hit the mail in order to make it to its destination in time for a very special day!

I thought the itch was scratched after making this one, but that was not the case!  I can get easily distracted!  


6" x 6"
Guess I was in a geometric mood!  Mmmm...K!  At least I remembered to measure this one!

  

If one was to save scraps on the tiny size, these letters are perfect for those golden pieces!  I just happen to be one of those kind of people!

 

The border is always the fun part for me and I kept it pretty simple with this one.  But I like it!  I used two colors for the binding and before I knew it this one was also finished!  

Minis like these go relatively quick, and I have to say I'm often left wanting to 'just one more'!  This mini will be gifted over the weekend...more about that later!

I bought myself a present.  It's nothing special and actually it's really a boring, not a big deal and practical gift.  



A new ironing board cover!  Isn't it gorgeous?!  I really would rather not use it and keep it in pristine shape, but that would mean I'd have to give up quilting!  And spray starch!

My last cover looked like a herd of cows in a rainstorm lived on it!  By that I mean...it looked like POOP!

I use starch all the time and it really screws up an ironing board cover!  You can't really wash these, trust me I tried on the last one and regretted it, so the only solution was a new one.  Only this time it was not going to let end up like the last one.  



I grabbed some Home Dec fabric and made a mat to go over the board for starching.  Now I can have a beautiful clean cover for normal pressing and have a mat that can easily be thrown in the wash periodically.  

You might be wondering why I just don't use a towel for starching, and to that I say...I have no idea!  I'm hoping by making a dedicated mat it will ensure that I'll actually use it and my cover can stay pretty and pristine for a longer period of time!

Tell me about your ironing board cover...is it clean & pristine or does it look like a herd of cows walked across it?!  


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