2018 Qtr 3 Finish-A-Long Goals

I have several projects that I plan to finish in the third quarter of this year. The first one is very doable since I recently finished piecing the Bowtie Pasta quilt top below, and since it such a large scale quilt, the piecing only took a few days of sewing. It will be going to my local quilt store, ThreadBear, for quilting as soon as the quilt top and backing are pressed. See my 2018 Mid Year Review post for more details on this quilt.

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I plan to turn the Red Backed Fairy Wren bird block pictured below (pattern by The Tartankiwi) into a pillow cover for my 88-year-old aunt who is also quilter:

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Another block that will be turned into a pillow cover is the Allie Owl block below (pattern by Elizabeth Hartman). This is my oldest UFO as I made this block in 2016.

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A couple months ago I started designing a quilt for my stepdaughter who is getting married. I’m using the Fire Whirl pattern by Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced. I’m calling my version, Wedding Whirl.

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I’m using many of the same Kona colors in the Butterfly Quilt that I am making for my best friend. Below are photos of the focal butterfly and two of the seven Butterfly Charm Blocks I am making:

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I recently purchased a Fat Eighth bundle of Alison Glass’ beautiful new Kaleidoscope collection and plan to make her Feathers Quilt using the Raven Kaleidoscope background:

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I will be choosing fabrics from the array pictured below (I’m referring to this fabric array as Colors of the Sea) to make a set of six paper-pieced string placemats:

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I will also be using some of the Colors of the Sea fabric array to make a SparkleStash’ Fly Delilah Fly mini.

My last proposed finish for the third quarter of 2018 is to quilt my Random Intention Baby Quilt.

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Linking up to 2018 Qtr 3 Finish-A-Long Goals.

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2018 Mid Year Review

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I am so grateful to Yvonne at Quilting Jetgirl for hosting several goal-setting planning parties and mid-year reviews in the past couple years as it gives me an opportunity to more clearly focus on what I want to prioritize, then reflect and re-evaluate, and shift priorities as needed. And as a bonus, there are awesome prizes that people can win simply by linking up!

At the beginning of 2018, I set a goal to learn how to free motion quilt. Toward that end, I did get my Juki threaded and put the darning foot on it and sewed a few stitches on an old practice quilt sandwich. Then I put it away when my new floor was being installed. I got it out again a week ago, and it won’t sew a stitch. Maybe it just needs to be re-threaded. I don’t know. But I’ve been rethinking my FMQ goal. I’m not planning to give up becoming proficient with free motion quilting forever, but I’m leaning toward postponing it until next year. With working full-time, there is only so much time to devote to my quilting hobby-passion-obsession. And these days what I’m finding myself drawn to is playing with different color combinations, especially color gradients, and developing my confidence in choosing colors for my quilt projects. 

My Evolution with Color Design

Feel free to skip the next several paragraphs if you are primarily interested in what I plan to make in the next six months, but as I was writing this post, I started to see my evolution related to color design more clearly and decided to share more in depth about it. I’m going to hold back on including pics of old projects, but I’ll include links to blog posts about them in case anyone wants to take a look.

When I made my Summer Sampler 2017 quilt, I used the colors included with the pattern mock-up except I used a dark grey background, and while this quilt is this project I’m most proud of because of how much my paper piecing skills improved from sewing all the blocks, I came to realize that using other people’s color schemes isn’t as satisfying as creating my own. But it was helpful to immerse myself in a beautiful palette that used colors I normally wouldn’t use, and I learned a lot about color working with this palette. The main pattern designers for the Summer Sampler 2017 are Katie Blakesley, Lee Heinrich, and Faith Jones. These women have also written one of my favorite quilting books, Vintage Quilt Revival: 22 Modern Designs from Classic Blocks, and from reading their book, I learned about creating a jeweled look by using a few different shades of each color fabric which is evident in the pattern mock-up palette for the Summer Sampler 2017. 

The first color gradient quilt that I made was the Blue Ombre HST quilt I finished in June 2017 using Sarah Goer’s Ombre HST Pattern that she designed for me, but again I did not choose the colors, instead using the Kona colors suggested by Sarah.

My next experience with color gradient was when I made my Rainbow Hexie Pillows in September 2017, but most of the work was done for me because I used red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple hexies sent to me when I participated in an Instagram swap. I did make the choice to divide the color green into yellow-green and green that had more blue in it, and I feel that slight change made a smoother color transition from yellow to blue.

I further dipped my toe in the water of color gradient design when I made two Autumn Chain blocks in October 2018 using Sarah Goer’s Color Configuration as part of her #getyourquiltywishesgranted3 request through Instagram. Making those blocks helped me to decide to participate in The Bee Hive again this year. I was the queen bee in January and asked my hive members to make a Rainbow Autumn Chain block using a light, medium, and dark fabric of their color choice. I was amazed when I started putting all the blocks on the design wall after pulling out a color wheel that was in my mom’s quilting materials, and all of the blocks just flowed from one color  to the next with me just needing to finish up the color wheel by making a red violet block.

I really started to gain confidence in my ability to choose both color gradients as well as triadic color wheel combinations when I designed Wedding Whirl in May 2018. I know many quilters are able to make their color design choices from Kona Color Swatch cards they have cut up and re-organized. I have not done that, and I don’t know how well it would work for me because those small swatches of color have led me astray. I have placed a scrap of a Kona solid fabric against one of the swatches and have thought that the colors looked good together, so then I ordered the new color fabric, and when it arrived, it was not quite what I wanted. I find the larger 3 1/2” swatch cards I am making work better for me as far as color design. I now have a good stash of Kona solids, particularly in the teal/turquoise/aqua colors as the red violet/purples. 

Projects I Plan to Make or Finish the last half of 2018

As far as projects I plan to complete in the second half of 2018, Wedding Whirl and the Butterfly quilt are my first priorities, and I’ve made a good amount of headway with each of these projects. I am especially fond of the Butterfly charm blocks pictured at the top of this post that will be part of the Butterfly quilt I am making for my best friend.

I have two other color gradient paper pieced projects I want to make this year: Alison Glass’ Feathers Quilt and SparkleStash’ Fly Delilah Fly Butterfly mini.

I also want to start designing my own paper piecing templates. I’m not planning to try anything super complicated. I’m going to start with some crazy paper-pieced blocks that I will use in my Butterfly quilt and later this summer some color gradient vertical strip placemats using the array of colors below:

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Two New WIPs:

I recently finished paper piecing a Red Backed Fairy Wren block designed by Juliet of The Tartankiwi. I plan to make it into a pillow cover to give later this month to my 88-year-old aunt who is also a quilter.

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A few days ago I also started working on a Bowtie Pasta quilt top below with my best friend as a gift for one of her sisters. She bought the kit at our local quilt store, ThreadBear, but we substituted three fabrics from my stash to make it more to our taste. This quilt top has come together pretty quickly. Yesterday I finished sewing the blocks together in rows, and today I sewed the rows together. We’ll be taking it to ThreadBear to be quilted in the next few days.

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Finishing Two UFOs

I originally planned to use the  Allie Owl block below in a Fancy Forest quilt (pattern by Elizabeth Hartman), but I opted to make my Modified Fancy Forest version instead and did not include the owl block. I am making this into a pillow for an owl-loving friend.

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Last year I designed a HST quilt top that used some of the colors of my Summer Sampler 2017 quilt, and I called it Random Intention. I hope to get it quilted in the next few months.

Christmas

Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I enjoy making a few Christmas items each year. I’m still deciding on what Christmas projects I want to make, but below are some possiblities:

Leonard the Llama pillow in Christmas fabrics

A Quilting Life’s Christmas Table Runner

I bought the supplies for the beautiful Purl Soho Ornaments pictured below almost two years ago, and maybe I’ll take the supplies out of the box and start working on them in the next few months. Or maybe not!

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Linking up to: 2018 Mid-Year Review hosted by Quilting Jetgirl.

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2018 Qtr 2 Finish-A-Long Finishes

I’m happy to report that I finished three of my 2018 Qtr 2 Finish-A-Long Goals. My most recent finishes were the Purple Quatrefoil French bulldog quilt pictured below and the accompanying Pink Quatrefoil French Bulldog Quilt. Both of these quilts were made for a set of twins born in April, and their parents are thrilled with the baby quilts. Mission Accomplished!!!

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My other finish this past quarter was to quilt Jackie’s Aviary. This baby quilt was named after my sister who was quite the bird fanatic. The pattern was designed by my friend, Sarah Goer, and I was honored to test the pattern for her.  It was an easy and satisfying project to make, and then I found the perfect backing fabric which just added to my pleasure in my making this quilt. I love the photo below of my cat, Rusty, on the quilt. He’s such a gentle giant who definitely appreciates quilts!

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Linking up to 2018 Qtr 2 Finish-A-Long Finishes.

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July ‘18 OMG

Wow, we are officially halfway through 2018! It’s been a productive six months so far, and Patty’s One Monthly Goal link-up continues to help me move forward with my quilting goals. For the month of July, I plan to make six more of Lillyella’s Butterfly Charm blocks to use in the Butterfly quilt I’m making for my best friend. I made the one below today, and I think it is SO cute!

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Linking up to Elm Street Quilts: July ‘18 OMG.

 

 

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Quatrefoil French Bulldog Quilts Finished

I’m so thrilled to have finally finished the Pink and Purple Quatrefoil French Bulldog quilts for twins who were born in April to a colleague at work and his wife. I got to see the twin girls earlier this month, and they are doing very well (and of course are cute as the dickens!). For a little background on these quilts, please see my April ‘18 OMG Finish post. Kid Giddy’s Doggy in the Window Quilt is definitely on my Quilty Bucket list which gets longer all the time! Her Tiger Tiger Quilt and Vintage Photo Album Quilt blocks are also tempting me!

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I was planning to quilt these myself since they are 36” square baby quilts, and that is a size that I’ve quilted myself in the past, but my sewing machine was not being cooperative, and after being totally dissatisfied with one line of quilting, I decided to have ThreadBear do the quilting. The drawback to that decision was a delay in the longarm quilting due to the owners going on vacation (the nerve!) and vending at several quilt shows. When Michael at ThreadBear finally had some time to start quilting, we decided that a simple stipple would be fine because he could get them done quickly, and the quilts would be cuddlier with less dense quilting. Below is a close-up of the French bulldog on the purple quilt that shows that simple meandering quilting. I requested that he not quilt through the eyes or the nose, and he did a great job at accommodating my request.

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Since I used such vibrant colors and did not pre-wash the fabrics, I was extra nervous that I might get some color bleed on the white background. Thankfully, Shout Color Catchers did their job and caught a little free-floating dye, and the quilts washed up beautifully.

Linking up to Cooking Up Quilts: Main Crush Monday. Also linking up to 2018 Qtr 2 Finish-A-Long Finishes.

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June ‘18 OMG Finishes

My June ‘18 One Monthly Goal was another two-fold goal which helps me make progress on more than project at a time. Just this morning I finished the feature 15”x24” paper-pieced butterfly that I will use in the quilt I am making for my best friend’s birthday in October. The paper piecing went fine, but sewing the sections together is still the most stressful part for me. The best suggestion made to me by Holly DeGroot of Bijou Lovely to make it a little easier is to use a basting stitch to sew the sections together, so that if everything doesn’t line up to my liking, it’s not as hard to rip out the seam to re-sew it. If the basting seam looks good, I just bring my stitch-length down the 1.4 and sew over it.

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I also finished the 700+ HSTs that I will use in my stepdaughter’s Wedding Whirl quilt. I’m using many of the same colorss in both of these projects.

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Linking up to Elm Street Quilts: June ‘18 OMG Finishes.

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Five Tips to Decrease Paper-Piecing Stress

There is no way when I was first introduced to paper-piecing in 2016 that I ever could have imagined writing this post. The mirror image nature of paper-piecing just didn’t compute, and I often cut pieces that weren’t big enough to cover a particular section. I gained a lot of confidence last year participating in the Summer Sampler 2017, and Lee’s mind-blowing paper-piecing tip was a total game changer for me. I have continued to improve my paper-piecing skills in 2018 and have come up with a few of my own tweaks that work really well for me, and hopefully they might help some other folks feel more comfortable with paper piecing. Below are some pics I took while working on a current WIP (see my June ‘18 OMG post if you are curious!)

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One:  I use Lee’s tip all the time, only I trim the fabric above the fold 3/8” rather than 1/4” which helps keep my seam allowance from shrinking to less than a quarter inch.

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Two: With the paper still folded, I peek under the fold to see how long my pieces need to be including an ample seam allowance and then mark with pencil the minimum length of fabric that needs to be used. I rarely need to hold my pieces up to a light source using this method.

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Three: Except for the smallest of pieces, I generally pin when I paper piece. After I have my next fabric piece aligned, I place a pin in the last section I sewed (reverse side of pin shown next to butterfly pin above). I then flip the paper over, and secure the fabric by pinning in two places an inch or two from where I’m going to sew. I then flip the paper back over and remove the initial pin if it is in the way of the next seam that I need to sew.

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Four: I will chain piece any time I can, and I’ve found that even when I’m working on a project with completely different units, I can sew the fabric strip down on one unit and pull it to the back, then place the next unit under my presser foot and not have to worry about holding onto my threads to keep them from forming a thread nest (or as another friend says, “thread throw-up.”) After I’ve finished sewing the strip down on the second unit, I reach around and clip the threads connected to the first unit and start preparing the first unit for its next fabric strip.

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Five: When paper piecing with longer strips, after the presser foot is down, I lift up the paper to make sure that the fabric hasn’t gotten folded over and everything is lined up correctly.

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Extra Tip Not Specifically Related to Paper Piecing: When working with solids, I like to make a fabric swatch for each solid I am using in a project. I cut a 3 1/2” square of the solid fabric and a slightly smaller square of white copy paper. I write the name of the color on the white paper square and sew it on the fabric square. It is so handy to have a quick reference to ensure I’m using the right color, especially when I am using similar colors in a project and am frequently rotating my colors.

I know many quilters have been paper piecing much longer than me. I’d love to hear some of your favorite paper piecing tips.

Linking up to Tips and Tutorials Festival: Sewing Tutorials.

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