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'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!


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!!  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 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.  


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!

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?!

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