Monday, December 31, 2012

Last of the grandson quilts ... for this year!

Well, it's the last day of 2012, and here is the last finish for the year.  This quilt, completed in late November, was made for our oldest grandson, now nearly 12 years old.  His was the most difficult thematically to design and choose fabrics.  There are precious few kid fabrics for a 'tween' and I never did find a single Lacrosse fabric, which is the only sport he is playing or interested in at the moment.  He does have a keen interest in art and architecture, so I decided on this pattern from the Spring/Summer 2011 edition of Quilt Sampler magazine since it reminded me of building blocks.  I tried to keep the fabric selection fairly geometric and modern, and fairly bright.

The photos are far from ideal, taken during our dreary and rainy late fall days.  These few captured the colors as best I could.
This is the first quilt I've ever free motion quilted with an overall stippling design throughout.  It seemed best for this one what with the busy patterns contained in the blocks.  I used the same variegated Aurifil 50 wt. thread on the top throughout, with a dark slate gray Aurifil in the bobbin.
The back is an overall bright print on black featuring all things New York State related since that is where he lives.
The outdoor shots were taken during a cold drizzle.   We didn't have any sunny days between the time I finished and when the quilt needed to be washed, wrapped up and mailed after Thanksgiving.

So, that's a wrap for this year!  This was a most productive year in my quilting life: for the first time ever, I was able to complete 9 quilts, plus each of the monthly tutorials presented in SewCalGal's 2012 FMQ Challenge.  With luck, perhaps 2013 will be as productive - I hope so!

Wishing you all a most blessed and joyful New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Quilting Footballs

This quilt was made for our second grandson, now nearly nine years old.  He's the one whose dad took him out into the backyard and taught him to throw a perfect spiral pass at the age of two!  This kid lives and breathes football!  And other sports too.  The theme for his quilt was obvious from the start.  I spent several months rounding up miscellaneous fat quarters of sports related fabrics, and then adapted the size of a pattern I'd seen in the April 2012 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting called "Sticks and Bricks" to make this twin size quilt.
Free motion quilting this was fairly simple, with simple stippling in the blocks, wavy lines between the blocks and back & forth lines in the horizontal sashing.  The borders were the real challenge, and the most fun.  I made cardboard cereal-box templates of three different size football shapes and traced them randomly on all the borders.  Quilting a smooth line for the football shapes proved a bit difficult especially with the larger ones which required stopping the machine to reposition my hands, but the overall effect turned out well I think.  Footballs on mud-colored fabric - what could be better for a nine-year old boy?
This fellow seemed to think he needed to be included in all the photos!  I think he was hoping the quilt would fall off the line so he could roll around on it!
The quilt back was pieced with a long row of leftover blocks, breaking up the overall soccer ball motif of the backing fabric.
Close shot of the back.
So, with this year quickly drawing to a close, there's only one more 2012 finish left to show you, hopefully before the new year arrives.  Olie and I bid you adieu!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Because every boy needs the cover of a superhero sometimes ...

Next up in my parade of grandchildren's quilts is this one for a six-year-old aspiring superhero!  Super-fun to make, I only wish I'd been able to locate a greater variety of superhero fabrics at the time.    This one was completed after our rainy fall season had begun, here it is draped over towels on our wet deck rail.

The August FMQ Challenge tutorial by Wendy Sheppard was a little overall motif she called Jester's Hat, and it was absolutely perfect for this quilt!  The Jesters appear in each of the theme blocks as well as the dark blue border.  This was my first experiment using a variegated thread for quilting, and I think it worked well against the dark background.

I loved the way the gold/yellow background fabric popped with the outline quilting:
A bit of the back:
Quilted with Aurifil 50 wt. for both top and bobbin, with a low loft poly batting.  This quilt was totally fun to make, and was yet another great practice piece for the FMQ skills we learned during SewCalGal's FMQ Challenge this year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Catkin's Misadventure

It all started out so innocently.  I saw a magazine ad featuring Julie Paschkis' Catkin fabric collection, and knew this would make a perfect quilt for our youngest grandson who is now 4 1/2 years old.  There was a free pattern online for a Catkin Trip Around the World quilt, about 60 inches square.  Well, I was making twin-size quilts for each of the grandkids this year, so I figured how hard would it be to convert a square pattern to a rectangle to bring it closer to the desired finished size.  I decided to add two additional rows of log cabin blocks, above and below the original "around the world" square area.   Things were going along pretty well I thought as I laid out the pieced blocks on the floor.
Then, my spatial dyslexia kicked in, big time, and we ended up with this:
Now, mind you, I took photos of every step along the way, spread out the top once more when it was completely pieced and bordered, then layered it up and pinned it, took more photos, and NEVER saw this glaring error until I had already begun the FMQ!  Arrrrgh!  Although it was still at a point where I 'could' take it apart and reinsert the offending blocks, there had been enough stretching or distortion of the fabric the first time around to tell me that unstitching, repinning and restitching was definitely going to cause huge problems.  So, onward through the FMQ we continued, and rather than a "Catkin Trip Around the World" we now have "Trip Interrupted" or "Catkin Scales the Pyramids" - take your pick, LOL!   I'm sure Nathaniel will love it anyway, especially with his favorite trains rolling along across the back.
It's difficult to see the quilting on any of the photographs.  Basically, I outlined each and every one of the cats, did a continuous curve on the multi-color squares of the log cabin blocks and an easy meander across the black portions.    His name is quilted in a special secret place that only he and I know.  And we know these kitties won't run away when he tries to pet them!  Here are a couple close-up shots:

Did I not say spring and seed catalogs in my post just yesterday?  Not half an hour after posting that, the mailperson delivered the first of the seed catalogs from Territorial Seed Co.  Spring, however, did not arrive simultaneously - 38 degrees this morning.  Still, no snow, for which I'm grateful!

Yesterday's mail also brought this sweet fat quarter bundle from Barbara at Cat Patches.  She's hosting her popular NewFO Challenge again this year, and seems I was a winner just for signing up!  I totally love these prints, with their swirls and flowers - perfect for free motion quilting inspiration.
I'm thinking a summer bag or two from these delicious fabrics.  Thanks so much Barbara!  You can find out more information about the 2013 NewFO Challenge right here or by clicking on the cute button with the kittie & his quilter located on the right sidebar of this post.

With that, Catkin and I bid you adieu.  Three more 2012 finishes left to show you before the year draws to a close.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Another girl's fairy quilt

This was the second flower fairy quilt completed this year, made for our youngest granddaughter, now nearly two years old.  Her dad was the inspiration for these quilts, when he called to say their expected baby would be a girl, he added "she's going to need a fairy quilt."   I had just seen some of Michael Miller's gorgeous flower fairy panels and fairy frost fabrics and was only too happy to oblige!
This one, completed in March, provided a perfect opportunity to practice the first three months' tutorials from SewCalGal's FMQ Challenge, with Frances Moore's leaf motif, Ann Fahl's meandering loops and flowers, and multitudes of feathers both within the borders and the panel, courtesy of Diane Gaudynski's excellent tutorial.   A few detail photos:

I especially liked this sparkly, fun polka dot fabric used in the top and bottom panels, providing a bit of glittery accent, since the fairy frost fabric was only used sparsely in this quilt.  The soft peachy-pink border fabric was found at a local yard sale, as were the large central panel and the smaller side panels - lucky finds!

This was much fun to make and to quilt, especially the feather practice!  Quilting for both fairy quilts was accomplished on my 1942 Singer 15-91 machine, using Aurifil 50 wt in both top and bobbin, with the exception of the small fairy panels shown above, for which I experimented with YLI silk 100 wt. thread.

I arose this morning in time to see a beautiful pale orange full moon setting in the western sky.  It appears we're about to have several days' reprieve from the seemingly endless rain and fog this month.  In a day or two the garden catalogs will begin arriving in the mail, and we can begin seeing the daylight hours increasing once again!   The robins will be back in a week or two to eat all the pyracantha berries next to the front deck.  Can spring be far behind?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Shea's Quilt

I hope everyone enjoyed a Christmas holiday blessed with the cozy warmth of family and friends nearby.  We spent a quiet day at home, much time on the phone with family and friends in other parts of the country.   My foot is recovering well from the surgery last week, though I won't be able to put weight on it for at least a couple more weeks.  The walker is my new constant companion, but preferable to crutches for sure!  We managed to cook our favorite Polish holiday dinner, simple country fare of golabke with our favorite mushroom sauce and some of the pierogi my sister and I made a couple weeks ago.  My sister also gifted us with a homemade cherry pie before leaving for sunny (she hoped) California for the holidays, so that rounded out our holiday feast.

Now that the gifts have all been opened, I can share more of my 2012 quilt finishes.  Here is the first quilt completed after signing up for SewCalGal's FMQ Challenge.  Our January tutorial by Frances Moore featured a great leaf design which seemed perfect for this little girl's Flower Fairy quilt.  The leaf design covers most of the quilt, with some very primitive border quilting designs added in.  This was my third-ever FMQ'd finish!   I neglected to record the final measurements but it is around 60 x 70 inches.   It should be a perfect size for a toddler bed or a small twin size and was made for our oldest granddaughter, now 3 1/2 years old.  
The colors are a bit washed out in the photos taken outdoors last June, and are a bit more true here in these close-ups.

Overall I was very happy with the way this turned out, and although all of the many quilting errors were glaringly apparent while under the needle, now nearly a year later I don't remember any of them LOL!

Over the next week or two I'll share the other five quilts completed during the year, one for each of our grandchildren.   

No FMQ practice this week as I've decided to spend my recuperation time attempting to complete the hand quilting on a queen size quilt that was started nearly 16 years ago!  At this point it's probably the oldest UFO still awaiting a finish, now that the 30-year-old Christmas ornament has reached its new home!

Until next time, hope your quilting holidays are full of joy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

FMQ Challenge Wrap-up

What a year this has been!  It may be the first year in more than I care to remember that I actually completed my major New Year's Resolutions!  First and foremost was the Free Motion Quilting Challenge sponsored by SewCalGal, who has become a dear blogging friend to so many would-be quilters, including myself.  A huge Thank You! to SewCalGal for pulling together some of the most outstanding free motion quilters to provide a series of fantastic tutorials all designed to help us on our journey to become more proficient quilters.  What fun to see the progress everyone has made as we post a summary show-and-tell of our monthly samplers completed this year.

Here, then are the samples I've completed to date.  I still plan to do the last two bonus tutorials in the near future, most likely after the first of the year.  Nice to have a couple more to look forward to!

Our January tutorial was presented by Frances Moore who demonstrated a leaf design filler that I used on several quilts this year:

February featured feathers, with an outstanding tutorial and subsequent blog posts with additional photos and advice,  provided by Diane Gaudynski. 

March's tutorial was provided by Ann Fahl, who taught loopy free-form designs alternating with a simple five-petal flower motif.  My photo for March shows elements of each of the first three month's of tutorials - and LOTS of feather practice!

In April, Don Linn taught us a great method for transferring a design to your fabric for quilting, easier than cutting a stencil!

Leah Day brought us stippling variations in May.

June brought another favorite tutorial for me, presented by Cindy Needham, who taught us her divide-and-conquer method for quilting in large open spaces.  More feather practice and other new design motifs!

In July, Angela Walters brought us a tiling design, very adaptable to large or irregular areas.  Any number of filler designs can be used within the tiles.  

Wendy Sheppard provided our August tutorial:  a deceptively simple Jesters Hat motif that proved to be fairly difficult to move evenly across a large area!  Still, that design is intriguing and such a useful overall quilt design!  I ended up using this design on a twin size quilt completed in September.

Paula Reid provided us with practice in quilting along lines during September, with this great stencil pattern.  

In October, Teri Lucas challenged us to quilt our name in one area of our sample, then outline it and go on from there to create an overall quilt picture.  She also showed us a great shell design.

November's Challenge was to practice quilting rows of spirals or swirls in a variety of sizes.  Sarah Vedeler provided an excellent tutorial on creating a variety of swirl designs.

Our final monthly tutorial for December was all about design principles for creating interesting and eye-catching borders.  Patsy Thompson, so well known for her beautiful freestyle feather designs, provided an excellent tutorial and video demonstration.

We were also treated to bonus tutorials!  The first was provided by Linda Moran, who demonstrated free style quilting following patterns on gorgeous hand-marbled fabrics.  In this sample I used the hand marbled fabric to frame a piece of my grandson's art work that had been printed on commercial fabric for a school fundraiser.

Our second bonus tutorial, provided by Susan Brubaker Knapp, focused on finding design inspiration from things in our own environment.  We worked from macro photos we had shot of plants, architectural elements, etc.  This one is a sampling of hens-and-chicks.

Our final two bonus tutorials were presented by Diane Loomis and Teri Lucas.  I'm looking forward to getting these underway soon!

A huge thank you to each and every one of our tutorial experts who so generously gave of their time and quilting expertise to provide these invaluable lessons and insights; and to those who also took the time to answer individual questions about technique and other quilting-related issues with machines, tension, threads, etc.  And again, to SewCalGal, who made all this possible!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The 2013 NewFO Challenge

So, being a relatively new blogger this will be my first NewFO post, just in time for the grand opening of the 2013 NewFO Challenge, brought to us by Barbara at Cat Patches, just up the road a piece from yours truly.  Barbara's Linky Party is going on right now and you can also find more information by clicking on the cute link just to the right of this post.

So, just what do I really want to accomplish in 2013??  In 2012 I signed up for SewCalGal's Free Motion Quilting Challenge, which was enormously rewarding, not to mention a lot of work!  But now that the FMQ Challenge is drawing to a close, what's next?  I also resolved that 2012 would be the year I would complete a bed size quilt for each of the six grandchildren, and thanks to the FMQ Challenge, managed to get them all completed in time to mail off for Christmas!

For the most part I'm thinking 2013 will be a year of smaller projects, with the exception of a queen size wedding quilt for step-daughter which has been pieced for nearly two years now, and "just" needs to be FMQ'd and bound.  Deadline August.  That will need to come before too many other projects are started, since I suspect it will take at least 3 or 4 weeks to quilt this monster, that has over 1200 pieced HST's.  Photos will follow when I have some progress to show on the quilting.

So, smaller projects:

I've had this gorgeous fabric for at least two years now, several yards of it, plus coordinating prints.  This will be turned into place mats and napkins, first a set for the upcoming wedding shower; then another set or two for other gifting later in the year.

Then there is this box of squares and squares-to-be:
I'm counting this as a NewFO since these squares were cut in a fit of boredom some nine or ten months ago, and now I have to figure out exactly where I am in getting this pattern ready to stitch up.  The pattern is called Checkered Past 1862 and that one page you see in the photo is the entirety of the directions I have for making this quilt.  I believe I found it on Barbara Brackman's blog, but at this point I can't be positive ...  There's a combination of reproduction Civil War era fabrics and others that just appealed to me.  I think the quilt will turn out to be lap-sized.  Time will tell.

I'd really like to make a quilt for our bed this year.   You know the old story, the shoemaker's children have no shoes, and the quiltmaker etc. etc.   I've had my eye on a pattern called French Country Strippy from the Fons and Porter book Fat Quarter Friendly.  I'm looking at two possibilities as far as fabrics:
In either case other fabrics would be added to round out the basket variety.  At the moment I'm leaning toward the second set.

I'd also like to make at least two more baby quilts to keep in the event of another hoped for grandbaby.   And several more baby quilts for donation to the local hospital and social services layette projects for needy families.  And a small angel wallhanging for a young "Mom of an Angel."

Whew, that sounds like a lot right now.  Notice I'm not committing to what month I might start any or all of these projects! 

Changing subjects rapidly, what would YOU do if you needed to reclaim the guest room bed to get bedding defurred and washed for human occupancy, and the queen of country cats refused to give up her territory?
She's never let me do THIS to her before!  She barely lets hubby brush her occasionally, and tries to bite me every time I try!  But, rather than giving up her coveted spot, she just let me vac her back for at least 10 minutes!  And believe me, she needed it - she sheds more than any three other cats we've ever had.  I pulled wads of loose fur out of the brush about every 30 seconds.  She's really mellowing in her old age; she's nearly 16 years old now near as we can tell, and has called this home for about five years.   She and our aging Aussie-Sheltie mix get along famously.

Linking up with the 2013 NewFO Challenge and hope you'll check it out and link up too!