A quilt for Maddie

This little quilt was different than most that I make, because it's for my new little niece.  My husband's youngest brother and his wife just had their first baby, so I had a LOT of fun making this one!

These stars are actally 'wonky' or 'liberated' whatever you call them.  But I didn't try to make them funky, so just looking at them, you almost thing that they're 'proper' pieced stars.  Here's a great tutorial for how to make them.  (I made my blocks 8" instead of 12.5", so I cut the squares to 3" instead of 4.5")

These stars are one of my never-fail backup plans, because I think they always turn out.  Stars seem like such a classic quilt theme, yet these wonky ones have enough personality to keep from being all stuffy and best-guest-room looking!

For the quilting, I first quilted with my machine along the seam lines around each block.  I then hand quilted around each star with pink perle cotton.  It was so fun and easy to hand quilt these, because I didn't need to use a hoop or frame.  The reason being that I had machine quilted already, so it didn't need to be held together.

The back with her name embroidered in pink.

I'm linking up to Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival.  If you want to see a huge amount of awesome quilts all in one place, go check it out!

Rainbow Squared

I wanted to show you this quilt, but I don't have a lot of words to add.  I have purposefully chosen to keep this blog only as a journal of my quilting.  Most of the time, I'm great with that.  I enjoy reading about others' personal lives and find inspiration from blogs that talk about real heart matters and the deep down soul-touching stuff (like this).  But, for various reasons, that's not what I'm doing here.

So right now I go blah blah blah di blah about this quilt, when really this is just barely scratching the surface of things I care about, or am thinking about...Well it just feels a bit silly.    But, moving on...

Texas Star Quilt Block Tutorial

Yes, here's the tutorial for the star block that I first made in this quilt.  The pattern originally came from an older quilting book that is full of traditional quilt block patterns.  It included templates, but absolutely no instructions.  I've made the templates into a printable pdf for you to print out, and I'll try to give a few directions for making this block.  

This block does include a few set-in seams, and I am NO expert on this, but I'll do my best!  And if you like the look of this block, don't be scared by all the little pieces and the set-in seams.  You'll find that it's really pretty easy and you'll end up with a stunning looking block!

 The first quilt I made with this block used three of these stars, and my plan for the second quilt with these blocks is to make a lap sized version with maybe five or six stars.  I may do a slightly different layout for this larger quilt, but I'll let you know about that in the future.

For now, I'll show you the tutorial on how to make one of these star blocks, and then hopefully I'll soon have a minute to talk about different ways we can use one or three or six or twenty of these blocks.

What you'll need for one block:

- 4 1/2" by width of fabric strip of neutral colored cotton (I used Kona Bone)
- approx. 6" x 12" scrap for Print #1 (I've used the floral)
- approx 6" x 6" scrap for Print #2 (orange polka dot)
- templates - print off pdf pattern here on thick cardstock - cut them out carefully on the lines -

Go ahead and cut those pieces out!  There are four pieces in each stack shown above, and that's exactly what you'll need.

Now just a word of caution from someone who learned the hard way,  pull on your perfectionist panties when you cut these out!  I didn't on my first block and that little bit of extra that added itself on to some pieces as I traced and then cut them out?  It will make you grumpy later!

If you plan on tracing them out, and then cutting, make sure you use a narrow marker, and then cut out on the INSIDE of your line, so that the cut out piece is just like the template.  On my second one I just opted to lay my paper template on the fabric (double folded so I could cut two at once) and cut around with my rotary cutter.  This turned out to be easier and more accurate for me.

Now take these two sets and sew them together the way I've shown above, opposite prints to each other.  Remember the scant quarter inch seam!  Once you have these sewn together, iron those seams open.  You should have eight cute little triangles like these.

Next, take those cute little triangles you put together and pair them with these other triangles just the way I've shown above.  Sew them together and press these seams open again.  You should now have eight diamonds.

Things are getting exciting!  You should be able to lay your pieces out like this and see the beginnings of your star!  You are now going to sew these into four sets.  Make sure that each set is sewn in the same order or they won't come out right.  For example, put each neutral triangle to the left and each printed triangle to the right.

AND, before you sew,  here's one important little thing.  See that arrow above?  The dot to start sewing begins at that seam line, and not at the top of the piece.  So make sure to leave that top quarter inch open.  Also backstitch at this top point because we don't want our block coming apart later.

You should have four units that look like the one above.  Now we're ready to add these corner triangles.  This is what you call a set-in seam, and really it's not that hard.  But if you're an exreme perfectionist you may need to let go of that a bit and remember that practice makes perfect, ok?  My seams are not perfect and this is my fourth block using this pattern.  (but I think they are getting better!)

(ignore the different fabrics, I was working on a different star  when I took this photo)

So, sew just like the diagram shows you, making sure to stop a generous 1/4" before you get to the end and backstitch when you get to the end.

As you come to this inside corner, you'll want to make sure you don't catch any other seams in your stitch.  If you've ironed your earlier seams open, you will need to reach in, and pull those seams out of the way, just so you don't stitch over them.  Does that make sense?

Now sew the other side of this triangle on the same way, remembering to stop a generous 1/4" from the center and backstitching at the center.

The back of your unit should look like this.  This shows you how I ironed my pieces.  This seemed to work well and lay flat for me, but you can do what works best for you.

Don't be alarmed if your corners look a bit like this.  I'm no expert, so I'm not sure why mine tend to do this.  Maybe someone could enlighten me?

Hopefully some will look a bit more like this.  All I'm saying is that quite a few of the corners in my original stars looked a bit funky like this, but in the end it all looks ok :)  and if you're not willing to have a few less than perfect quilt blocks when you begin a new technique, then you will always feel frustrated and never learn new stuff!  (that's just my philosophy, and you don't have to agree!)

Moving on...

Now sew these four units together as shown in the photo above.  Again you will start sewing 1/4" in from the top.

Now the last thing to do is add those square corner units in.  Sew them exactly the same way you did those set-in triangles earlier.

Here's the back so you can see how I ironed the seams.  Well if nothing else, these photos should make you feel better!  You can see all the wrinkles and points that don't quite match and feel all superior!!

Now, if there's any part of the process that isn't quite clear, or doesn't make sense, please let me know and I'll do my best to change it.

AND, if you make one of these blocks, please let me know.  I'd love to see it (or them!)  And like I said earlier, I'll hopefully be back soon with more ways to use these blocks in a quilt without making 50 of them!

Innocent Crush Star Quilt

So finally some better photos of this whole quilt.  No, it's not huge.  It's baby size.  Like probably around 38"x42".  Is that any surprise?  I make a lot of baby size quilts, and there are a few reasons for this.

- my kids are little.  my 'baby' is two now, so i can't say I have babies, but these smaller quilts really are a nice size for babies.

-I make a lot of my quilts to sell in my shop, and at this point I've focused on this smaller size.  Larger quilts take so much more time and material, they just cost a lot!  So the lower price on smaller quilts makes them attractive to the buyer.  Talking about pricing quilts, you can read some interesting articles here and here.  One of these days maybe I'll give you my take on that one, but I don't want to get off track here!

-and let me say one more word for these baby quilts.  I know some people look down their nose and think they're useless and only for lazy people to make, but I HIGHLY recommend that if you're a beginning quilter, try making a small quilt like this first.  If you don't have a baby in your life to give it to, use it as a wallhanging.  You will have SO much less frustration starting out on a small scale like this.  And since you'll have so much fun learning the basics on this small quilt, you'll be ready to go onto a bigger project, rather than risk stalling halfway through your massive twin size quilt cause it's just too overwhelming!

Scrap Republic

Scrap Republic.  Isn't that the most perfect name ever?  I mean, I would have bought it on the name alone, not to mention all the delicious, scrappy, rainbowy goodness.  So I bought this book almost without thinking about it.  The $$ low investment helped this hasty decision somewhat!  I've almost finished my second quilt top from this book.  (Well, one was following a pattern, and one was "inspired" by a pattern)

So now it's time for a little book review.  I've pondered whether I should even give my own little review like this.  To me, a book review isn't worth a lot unless it's honest and not involving a free book in exchange for blogging about it.  NOW before you get huffy, please...I'm not downing bloggy book tours because I think they're a great way to spread the news about your new book and all.  I'm just saying that the reviews that have made me buy a book are the ones where I can tell that the person really did like the book just.because.they.did.

The problem with honest book reviews though, is that I absolutely do not want to say anything to hurt the author's feelings if perchance they did ever stumble upon my post about their book.  So hmmm...my solution:  When I find a book that I can't keep quiet about, then I'll tell you about it.  And yes, I'll be honest if there's something less than perfect about it, but obviously I love the book, so my gushing praise should be enough to make you go out and buy it, pronto, right?!

Here I am, busy at my machine, sewing my second!! quilt top from this book.  That alone should tell you something (other than the fact that my scraps are getting uncontrollable)

This book is packed with color, and I'm a sucker for Emily's style of quilting, so everything is win/win here.  Little photos of beautifully pieced quilt backs and bindings and dense quilting with lovely texture.  The photos honestly have me squinting and holding it up to my face in hopes of seeing more!

Now, I'll say that the instructions aren't just overly clear, but then I've never seen a quilt book that matched up to the lovely online tutorials we see nowadays with so many great photos, so that's hardly worth mentioning, and should not deter you if you've made any quilts before.  That is because these quilts are all fairly simple in design so they're not too confusing to begin with.

Here's a little glimpse of the first top I made.  Most of the patterns in this book are for fairly small quilts.  For example, this strippy rainbow one, (yes I'll show you more of it yet) I made into a large lap/almost twin size. This one I didn't follow the pattern or directions at all, just took inspiration from the yummy quilt in the book and dug in.  And you don't have to use scraps or use this color scheme.  See this pink one?  Wonderful!  And she includes instructions for making every one of these quilts from yardage.

Now this one is the really astounding one!  I made this log cabin patchwork quilt completely by following a pattern, down to the exact diagram and not changing ONE thing!!  Here's my experience with this pattern.

There's a cutting diagram that tells you the exact size and amount of strips to cut from each color of the rainbow.  While I was cutting, I was thinking that this was taking a long time and maybe overcomplicating it a bit.  BUT, I was having a blast!  I just immersed myself in my scraps and didn't spend a moment thinking about the final design.  I just cut 3 pink strips 2.5" x 8" and 5 pink strips 1.5"x4" and on and on.

And then the sewing.  All that time cutting made putting the blocks together go REALLY fast.  And this was all laid out precisely in diagrams too.  (you can kind of see it in the top picture)  I had a blast digging around in my pile of cut strips and pulling out the next treasured piece to sew on.

I haven't had so much fun putting something together for a long time.  And when I had all the blocks together, I was actually kind of sad... and that is VERY unusual for this quilter with a short attention span.

So I'll be making this pattern again, only instead of scraps I'll choose six fabric to take the place of the rainbow scrappy colors.  (yes, the instructions make this easy too!)  And maybe with a darker background color?!  Yummy!!

So overall, I'd say that the general way of constructing these blocks is different than what I'd do.  I'm much more improv and less exact directions, whereas Emily seems to be more mathematical and precise.  I think though, that the reason I'm enjoying this book so much is the fact that I'm letting go of the design, (cause let's face it, I love every design in this book) and just playing with color.  Well, duh, that's what any pattern does for you right?

Well, I've rambled on and I hope I've convinced you to go buy this book.  If you don't, you're just gonna be jealous whenever you see these bright scrappy quilts showing up around here!

sun shines on quilt

this quilt is completed.  more photos soon.  and yes, i'm gonna do a tutorial on this one.  i have the fabrics chosen already.  after all, i have to make another one so I can show you the process as i go along, right?  hopefully this will happen soon, but don't hold your breath...

Fuddy is Not Duddy

A couple months ago I read about this challenge that Cheryl was putting out there.  Make a mini quilt using the colors burgundy, brown and forest/hunter green.  You could add one other color to your quilt, but I chose to stay with just these three.  Try and prove that these colors COULD look nice in a modern way.  Of course I thought this sounded like great fun and totally planned on taking part.  

And then just yesterday I realized that the deadline is today!  Well what can I say?  I seem to work best under pressure. And since I had the design idea in my head, I decided to make it this morning.  I mean, I can always do the laundry in the afternoon, right?

It actually didn't take very long to make, it's only about 16" square, and pretty simple.

The design was kind of inspired by this, and I just loved this Moda Crossweave that I had in my stash.  Now this green (which is VERY hard to photograph and show it's true awesomeness) was the right color, but I was scared to use it, cause what if this little quilt turned out terrible, and then I would have wasted this lovely little hunk of fabric.  But I went for it, and I think it turned out pretty good.  I proved to myself, if no one else, that ANY colors can look good, even if they seem SO '90's.

And I have to laugh, because ten years from now, I guarantee that folks will look at all the aqua and orange, or gray and lime green that we might think is great right now, and it will be very outdated.  Just goes to show that most of us are eventually influenced by the styles around us! ... or maybe not... Maybe we'll all just keep liking the same stuff that we think looks good now.

By the way, you can go check out the rest of the entries for this challenge here.  It's very interesting!


You guys, this is the most exciting post I've written so far!  I'm just loving it!  My hair is practically crackling with excited energy!!  (and no, I'm not writing a book...)  so maybe I'm being a bit dramatic, since this isn't really a big big deal, it's just fun.

So before I get ahead of myself and tell the punchline first, let me explain.  Did anyone think my last post was a little wierd?  I got a few reminders to just be myself, and YES, I couldn't agree more.  My biggest pet peeve is when people apologize on their own blog.   Neither was I trying to lure more followers, or get more comments.

The reason I asked for your opinions was a sudden burst of curiousity, and a genuine desire to give you something you like to read.

 I've always had the niggling thought that I should do more tutorials.  There are a few reasons that I haven't.  Number one would be the fact that I don't really 'think' in instructions.  I rarely read tutorials, or directions.  I'll skim for the measurements if I need them, and other wise I just wing it!  Now this is NOT as glamorous as it may sound!  It makes for quite a few flops and messy mistakes, but that's just my natural instinct.

So naturally, I don't think about the fact that others might like to learn how to make something, and also I generally don't have the grand idea to make a quilt into a tutorial until the quilt is completed.  I have taken no pictures of the process, and to make another quilt just to document the process would be b.o.r.i.n.g.

Also, there are so many awesome tutes out there already, I'm not about to waste my time duplicating some one else's work, and I don't feel right sharing a pattern or process that is in a book still available for purchase.  That doesn't leave me with many options.

BUT, all this to say, I think I'm up for the challenge of creating a tutorial in the near future!  It maaaay be the one I showed you a peak of in my last post...

Ok, now for the fun part!!!  As I was writing my last post, I had this great idea... and it starts with the letter G...

Yes, a giveaway!  It's a surprise one, and there's no entering it any more.  All the folks who so kindly commented on my last post were sneakily entered and two winners were randomly chosen.  Those two will each win one of the fat quarter stacks shown here.  (the red isn't a full FQ, it was just the perfect fabric here, but I didn't have enough)

So it's a little thank you for taking the time to visit me and leave a comment, and an apology for my random replying to your comments.  (It all depends how much time I have available after posting)  But I don't pick and choose who I answer!  I either reply to every one, or no one on each post.  (unless you're a no-replyer).  and yes, I'm contemplating how I can change my own sketchy system, but enough of that! oh, and I appreciate EVERY comment, that's why I want to make it a priority to consistently reply.

So yah, I'm waiting till the very end to announce the winners!  And a little disclaimer for the winners:  If you already have these fabrics in your stash, or know that you won't use these in a million years, just let me know and I'll gladly customize a different bundle for you.  And since this was done without your 'permission', there's no obligation if you'd prefer not to be included.  I'll just choose someone else.

So here's the random winners:

#29 - Trish
#42 - Kimberly White

So Trish and Kimberly, I hope you're half as excited about this as I was!  If you don't mind, please shoot me an email with your address.  (Go to 'Contact' on the top of the page)