Monday, July 29, 2019

Free Motion Quilting With Angela Walters :: Book Review

Not long ago I was contacted by CT Publishing and asked if I would be interested in doing a book review of Angela Walters Free-Motion Quilting book.  They offered me a free e-book for the review and naturally...I jumped at the opportunity!

Many of you know my struggles with free-motion quilting!  I've tried with some success, and other times not so much.  The opportunity arrived at the right time for me as I've been trying to fine tune my quilting skills, knowledge and variety.  

I didn't want to give a review until I was able to put in to practice some of the designs and tips Angela shares throughout the book.  I was finally able to sit down and do just that, and plan on sharing my test pieces with you!  Bear in mind that I didn't practice enough to have each design burned into my memory!  It was more to see if I would be able to do it if I took the time to practice.

The book has three sections with detailed instructions, illustrations, tips and variations.  The designs range from simple to complex and is a fantastic guide to get you started with free-motion quilting.  

Here is a sample of a Basic Swirl design with illustrations, instructions and notes.  Angela walks you through the steps with easy to understand directions.  


I really enjoyed seeing the tips throughout the book too!  It gives you ideas and sparks your imagination.  

Angela clearly states that practice is a good thing.  I really should try that!  You'll see what I mean with my practice pieces!

I am such a 'herky jerky' free-motion quilter!!  Swirls, loops and oval pebbles were some of my first designs.

Then it was the double swirls with pebbles for added interest.  I am a pebble fan, so this was a fun one to try.  Although not perfect, it could be with practice! (note to self!)

This is the mash up version of all the designs I tried, and a few that I made up!  I did a little of each just to 'whet my whistle'!

What happened to me while practicing Angela's designs was it gave me other design ideas.  I guess you could say it sparked my imagination.  And that I liked a lot!

This part isn't related to the book other than the fact that the rulers are by Angela Walters!   


One day long ago...I bought two rulers in hopes of doing some ruler work quilting.  I went with these rulers because, well...they bear the name Angela Walters!  

The rulers are 1/4" thick and require a special 1/4" quilting foot.  My basic explanation:  the rulers are thick and if you don't have the special foot you are going to be sorry!  The key is to keep the ruler against the foot and if you didn't have the special foot and rulers, you would be breaking a lot of needles and probably swearing here and there!

I've been practicing.    

How awful is that?!  I have a hard time keeping the ruler against the foot.  Plus if you want a line to hit a certain spot, like in a corner, you can't just place your ruler and call it good!  You have to position your ruler 1/4" from said point allowing for the 1/4" foot!  

Complicated?  For me it is!  But it's worth a try!  Free-motion or free-motion with rulers gives me a whole new respect for quilters!  

If you are new to free-motion quilting, or not so new but are looking for ideas, I recommend Angela Walters Free-Motion Quilting Book. 

I'll continue to plug along trying to learn more and more about FMQ.  I may complain along the way or become frustrated, but it won't stop me from trying!  

As Angela always says:   Finished is better than perfect!


Monday, July 22, 2019

Humongous Finish!

There is something very satisfying about finishing a quilt top.  Any size, any style, any day!  However, this quilt top is even more satisfying if that's possible!

101" X 90"
Its enormous!  Ginormous!  Humongous!  It takes up my entire double design wall and then some!  Weighing in at 101" x 90" this is one quilt I will not be quilting myself!  Thankfully I handed it off yesterday to be long arm quilted by someone who can handle it's girth and weight!

I do love of pink!   And these neon pink Cotton + Steel prints (and one Alison Glass) were being collected until I found the right design.  That finally happened when I designed a quilt for Modern by the Yard Issue #11.  Interlocked is a modern graphic design that would suit my style and my bed just fine.  

Another reason I hadn't used my neon stash sooner was because I couldn't find a pink that would work.  I did find it though!  I was led to Purl Soho for the perfect Michael Miller pink.

Cutting and cutting and more cutting led to all the pieces I needed for the blocks and the piecing marathon began.  I knew it would be a slow process and I wasn't really in a hurry to finish.  With 91 blocks to make it wasn't going to be a fast project no matter how you slice it!

The real chore was layout the blocks!  I tried not to think too hard about placement, but you know us...the longer you stare at it the more you rearrange!  It can drive you insane and cross eyed!  But a necessary part of the process.  

You might notice that one of the blocks in the above photo is flipped the wrong way, but I assure you I caught that possible disaster before I added the sashing!

In order to keep things in order, I numbered each block.  It's worth the extra time and effort regardless of the what size a quilt is.

I promised my husband that it wouldn't be too pink after the sashing was added and he bought it!  While it did indeed tone down the neon a little bit, there is no denying its pink. 

With the quilt being massive, I bought three yards of a wide backing in Kona Ash.  It isn't the same color as the Burlap by RJR Fabrics that I used in the blocks, but such is life!  I'm good with it and it is on the back after all!


Had I been smart, I would have left the wide back as is.  It was the perfect size!  I couldn't bring myself to do that.  There might be a time when I want a muted version of Neon Pink on my bed...for something I was determined to add a pieced strip across the back.  

Since I've been on a circle kick lately, I decided to add a row of 8" circles across the back.  I could use some of my left over fabric and have a double sided quilt.  A crazy busy side and a calm peaceful side.  

The wait is on!  I'll get the quilt back next month at which time I can add the binding.  In the mean time I'll make a couple pillow cases to complete the ensemble.  


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hits The Spot :: A Quilting Adventure

If you know me, you know quilting isn't my specialty!  I try and try again, always hoping the spark will take hold and I'll miraculously 'get it' and become a bit more skilled than I am now.  

That being said, this last quilting adventure left me feeling like I knew what I was doing!  

20" x 22"
I've become a bit obsessed with circles lately.  Just when I think I'm done, some new idea or a scrap pile calls my name and there I go making more circles.  Mostly I've focused on full or half circles, a skill worth mastering.  I'm not quite a master...but my time has been well spent and I love it!

We all have days where we just want to make something.  There doesn't have to be a reason or a plan, it's the process and need that propels us.  Such was the case with this quilt.  It had no future until one day...I decided to make it into a wall hanging that would test my quilting skills!

I've never been able look at a quilt as a whole and come up with a plan, it's always been section by section and hope for the best.  Instead of dwelling on it, I embraced it.  And to make it a little more difficult I was going to match thread colors too!  Why not, right?!

I used Aurifil 50wt in Neon Orange (1104), Peony (2440), Yellow Orange (2145) and Canary (2120).

I channeled some of my favorite quilters, focused on some details I love seeing and prayed I could pull it off!  It also didn't hurt one little bit that this is a very small quilt and I would easily be able to handle it without a struggle.

Once I started I knew I couldn't or wouldn't turn back.  I was in it for the long haul.  Mostly I used my walking foot, but there were a few sections where I used free motion quilting.  The center has the best of both quilting techniques.  I'm a huge fan of frames with dense quilting placed around them.  


I worked from the center and tackled each circle with a different design.  There was marking, measuring and many times I was bewildered!  What should the next round be?  Too much, too little?!  And there were times when I doubted I could even pull it off.  

I was not going to let anything deter me.  If it works great, if not it was a good lesson and I actually was having a fun time with it!  

Finishing it with a matched binding was always in the cards.  Some things just have to be!

The detail on the backs of quilts is sometimes better than the front!  For this backing I used Kona Salmon.  It really highlights the quilting just as I had hoped it would.

Part of my motivation for this quilting adventure was to see if I could do it, and maybe gain enough confidence that I would tackle this quilt:

Which has been hanging on my design wall for a month or more.  The good news is I did gain long as it's a small, small quilt.  I don't think I can handle a large quilt like this.  SO, any takers?!  I don't have connections to long arm quilters and frankly don't know where to go to find one who would be willing!    

The upside is I love this goofy little quilt!  For something wasn't meant to be anything, it sure turned into something!  There were plenty of hours put into the quilting...but worth every second!


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

One Thing Leads to Another :: Skinny Minny

As with many of my projects creative license has a way of happening!  This doesn't just happen with my own designs.  When I use another makers pattern I like to put my personal twist or creative license in a design.  I give full credit to the designer, always love their original concept and especially enjoy that because of their creativity it inspires me to take it to another creative level.

Such is the case with Skinny Minny Geese.  The pattern is by Kelly of Jeli Quilts and available in her Payhip shop.  Who doesn't love flying geese, a rainbow and paper piecing?!  A couple of those might be an acquired taste to some, but for me it's the perfect storm!  

16.5" x 16.5"
It all started with the need to paper piece.  Something.  I settled on Skinny Minny thinking it would be a fun, small, quick-ish project.  The 'quick' part was a total fantasy, as paper piecing isn't usually quick in any way shape or form.  

And it's less quick when you decided to use one of every color for the geese, and decide to make the background gradient grays!  Once that idea takes hold I'm hard pressed to stop it.  It just happens and I have to go with it.

At this point I could have stopped and called it done.  I could have...but I didn't! 

I added three (3) 1/2" borders while carefully matching the seams along the sides.  I liked it so much that it made me want to do more round...of something...

With the tiny geese being so small I wanted to add a little more color in some way.  That became the point of no return and down the rabbit hole I went!  

More geese seemed like a great idea and with that I had to draft my own paper piece geese pattern.  It had to happen.  The idea was firmly planted, therefore it shall be!

The madness ended with another round of three (3) borders.  And with that, this part of my crazy train ride came to an end.

You know what that means don't you?  The dreaded quilting part rears it's ugly head!  Admittedly, I don't mind quilting small quilts like this.  It's a heck of a lot easier than big ones and it allows me to quilt like I know what I'm doing!


The center circle ended up not being perfect as you can clearly see.  I'm not terribly sad about that, as I am not a perfect quilter.  And I don't mind sharing, showing and pointing out imperfections.  There is no shame here!


My usual method of quilting is to take one section, or in this case one border at a time.  I've never been able to look at an entire quilt and come up with a good all over quilting design.  It just doesn't happen.  

I ended up with a combination of circles, echoed geese, grids and straight lines.  Somehow it worked and I'm pretty pleased with the results.  

Many times you can't see the quilting detail unless you turn it over and look at the back.  My one regret throughout this entire adventure was not using a solid gray on the back.  Then again I used a print and that means I have one less print in my stash!  

I feel like complete finishes have been few and far between lately.  Finishing this wall hanging has encouraged me to quilt up a couple projects that have lingered on my design wall for far too long.  And, I can't believe I'm saying this, I'm excited to be machine quilting again!  Coming from one who dreads that process...that is a monumental statement! 


Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Moment of Zen :: Bee Inspired

In my last Bee Inspired post, Bee Inspired :: All Caught Up, I mentioned that since I was in the bee block mode I may as well try my hand at my own prompt and make a couple blocks.  

The prompt I came up with was A Moment of Zen.

ZEN:  a state of calm attentiveness in which one's actions are guided by intuition rather than by conscious effort.

Finding the right balance in life isn't always easy.  Hectic schedules, work, family or deadlines sometimes throws us into a tailspin, when all we want or need is a moment of calm.  My life isn't nearly as crazy as so many others, yet I still search for that moment of Zen.  Centered, calm and peaceful.  



I wanted everyone to think about Zen Gardens.  Sand, lines and a focal point.  The center point could be round or oval shapes with the quantity up to the maker.  

I wanted the colors to be calm neutrals, sand, beige, gray, aqua, blue or off white.  Not my usual color palette, but necessary for a Zen state of mind! 


When I received the first blocks from Audrey @artandstole, I was super inspired and anxious to make my own Zen version.  I had a very hard time getting good pictures of the blocks! 

Here are Audrey's:

I love that each block is different, but still captures the calm vibe I was hoping for. 

Audrey wasn't happy with one of her blocks, so she made three!  I love all three and think they all work and certainly fit the theme.  

My first block started with the circle.  I'm a huge fan of the six-minute circle technique and used it with both of my blocks.  

I wasn't aiming for perfect circles but I did want three shades of blue and I got that!

My goal for the lines was to make them appear as if they had shadows by using a darker gray between a light gray.  Truthfully, I've never used a rake in a zen garden, but I'm imagine that it would be hard to keep the lines perfect!  


This block started with the lines which are about 1/4" wide.  I tried to keep the curves consistent, but it wasn't easy!     

This Kaffe Fasset Shot Cotton with hints of aqua and sand was perfect for this block.

Again with the six-minute circles!  I think I'm feeling a sense of calm after finishing my blocks!  Bee Inspired 2019 blocks are all caught up.  I cannot wait for the other blocks to show up!

I hope you find your 'Moment of Zen'!  

Bee Inspired Mates:  

Kathryn @kupitis
Heather @quiltachusetts 
Audrey @artandstole
Christine @ccpquilt 
Daisy @warmfolk 

Our Hashtag if you want to follow along and see what were up to:  #beeinspired2019 

And of course, the original Bee Sewcial group:  #beesewcial  #inspiredbybeesewcial