Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Plethora of Pouches

I was really hoping to get my wonky fish baby quilt quilted and bound and ready to show off for Finish Friday. But. . . . it just didn't happen.  I spent the last couple of days making these owl zip pouches instead.

They are going to be filled with goodies and used as game prizes at an upcoming owl-themed baby shower. (For which the aforementioned MUST be finished.)

I have a few weeks before the shower but I decided to spend my time on the pouches because they were a great opportunity to practice some new FMQ techniques.

I followed the same basic construction in my improv piecing zip pouch tutorial but instead of piecing with scraps I just started with a half yard quilt sandwich with owls and pink solid.

You can't see the quilting very well on the owl side but check this out:
Pretty cool pattern, huh?  I recently ordered Angela Walter's Shape by Shape book and this is one of her negative space designs.  I totally love it.  I'm considering using it on the dot part of my wonky charm baby quilt. So the practice on this was really helpful.

Once it was all quilted I cut it into 10 rectangles and proceeded with the construction. The only snag I ran into was on the first bag I didn't like how it looked after I boxed the corners.  It was too squatty. So I went back and took in another 1/4 inch on the corner box seams and then it stood up taller.

Can you see the difference? The picture on the right is after taking in another quarter inch.

I have to admit, as cute as those owls are, I really love the pink side and almost wish I had sewn them with that side out.

I'm planning on a few more practice session with Angela's book.  She gives great tips and has some amazing designs I never would have thought of on my own much less figured out how to create.

In other news: I got my quilting T-shirts (Wonky and I Quilt so I Don't Kill People) and my thread cone holder in the mail today from Massdrop.  So excited! Massdrop is pretty awesome! You should check them out. So now I can use those huge cones I bought on my field trip to Superior Threads and look pretty dang cute while doing so!

Also, my friend Vicki of Orchid Owl Quilts and I are hosting a mini quilt swap on Instagram.  The theme is text fabrics. Sign-ups open Friday, May 1st and are limited in number so if you want to participate, find me on IG, idaratherbequilting, and click on the link in my profile.  It will take you to the google form to sign up.

Linking up with:
Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation
Finish it up Friday with Crazy Mom quilts and
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wonky Charm Baby Quilt WIP (With Tutorial)

Tis' the season for baby showers round here! So I'm busy working up some fun pint size, welcome-to-the-world kind of quilts. I have to admit I love me some baby quilts! There are so fast and fun and don't break the bank fabric wise. They are also a great way to improve your FMQ skills because you have a much easier size quilt to mangle through your domestic machine throat space. 

This is the cutie I've been working on this week: I'm calling the design 'Wonky Charm' although this particular quilt will probably be named something a bit more fishy and cute. 

I'm including a tutorial for this quilt. I took lots of notes and lots of pictures as I worked with that end in mind.  But here is my disclaimer: at one point I'm going to leave you alone and let you swim on your own.  (Did you like that fish reference?) In other words, when we get to the wonky part, everybody has to find their own wonky.  I'll give you some tips on how I did my wonky block but like all quilting wonkiness, it's not a precise thing - thus the moniker 'wonky'. So with that in mind, here we go!

What you will need:
5 charm squares or 5- 5 inch squares fussy cut from some adorable fabric (see goldfish bowls)
I've been hoarding this half yard for a few years and there was no selvage identifier so I don't have a clue who made it. 

3/4 yard solid fabric
5/6 yard (30 inches) coordinating fabric
1 1/2 yards backing fabric
1/3 yard binding fabric (see note below)

This is Kona cotton orange, 'Two by Two' by Beth Logan for Henry Glass, and a Riley Blake Ombre Dots. 

Cutting instructions:
Trim the solid and coordinating fabric to 42 inches wide.

From the solid cut 4- 2.5 inch strips.  Take 2 of the strips and sub cut at 28.5 inches.
Cut 1 - 3 inch strip
Sub-cut the 3 inch strips into 4 - 5 in pieces and 1 - 9 inch piece.
From your scraps cut 2 - 2x5 pieces and 2 - 2x8.5 pieces.
You should have a large strip of fabric left, roughly 14 x 42. You'll use this to make your wonky block.

From the coordinating fabric (dots in my case) Trim piece to 29 by 42.  Then cut at 19 inches leaving you with one 19x42 piece and one 10x42 piece.

From the backing cut 2 - 2.5 inch strips. Trim to 42 inches wide.

From the binding fabric cut 4- 2.5 inch strips.

*Note*  It's going to take slightly more than 4 strips to bind this quilt. You can add in some leftover pieces from your solid as you should have plenty left from your wonky block. Or if you don't prefer a scrappy binding you can increase the yardage requirement on this to 1/2 and cut 5 strips.  I am using my solid as my binding so I will have enough left from my wonky block.

Chain piece a 3x5 solid piece to the left side of each of 4 charm squares.

Press seams to solid and then join units together until you have a long strip.  Sew a 2.5 x 28.5 inch strip to the top and bottom of this unit, pressing seams to the solid.

Taking the fifth charm, sew a 2x5 inch solid piece to the top and bottom. Press to solid. Then add the 2x8.5 inch pieces to left and right side. Your charm should now be framed in solid. This gives you some insurance that no matter how your wonky block turns out, you won't be cutting Mr. Goldfish when you go to trim it to size.  You can leave this step out if you prefer and are confident of your wonky skills.

At this point you are going to use your remaining fabric to create a wonky angle block.  I started with what I wanted my angle to be, made my first cut and seam and went from there.

You should have plenty of fabric to play with and create an interesting and unique block.  The only goal here is to end up with a block that measures 9x12.

Once you add the remaining 3 x 9 inch strip to the left side, you will join this amazing block to the rest of the boring ones. You completed unit should measure 42 inches by 9 inches.

Now sew a 2.5 inch strip of backing fabric to the top and bottom of this unit, followed by a 2.5 inch strip of solid.

Final steps! Sew your 10x42 piece of coordinating (dots) fabric to the top  and your 19x42 piece to the bottom.

Sandwich with remaining backing fabric, quilt and bind. Come back on Friday for a peek at the quilted and bound final product!

Linking to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fall Out Finish

'Fall Out' is finished! Yay for finished quilts!
The pattern for this quilt was my own design. I wanted to experiment with simple patchwork disintegrating into random pieces and negative space. I also used some offset wide solid borders to continue the feeling of motion. The fabric is 2wenty Thr3e by Julie Comstock for Moda and some Kona solids. 'Fall Out' finished at 54"x 64" after laundering. 

I matched binding with each border color because I didn't want a visual interruption at the edge of the quilt. I've never tried to match up a binding so precisely. It was a bit tricky but worked out great. 
I quilted the borders with a combination of swirl feathers and dense matchstick lines. The center was an echoed orange peel quilting pattern. Once washed, this quilt had some serious texture!

The orange peels show up nicely on the back.  I have to admit, that pieced stip makes me happy. I like a pieced back so much better than a single fabric backing.  I was fortunate enough to find some yardage at my LQS of a 2wenty Thr3e print. This line has been out for a while so I didn't think of finding coordinating backing but there it was in the clearance section! 
I worked really hard to finish this quilt in time for my Modern Quilt Guild meeting this past Wednesday. I had discovered some tension issues in the green border and had to rip a section out and re-quilt it. Then there were the four bindings and about a million threads to bury. I finished Wednesday early afternoon and threw it in the washer while I prepared all the other things I need to have ready for the meeting. (I'm on the board and had several responsibilities for the meeting.) And it wasn't until after I was at the meeting location setting up the large basket for Show and Tell items that I realized - the quilt had never made it out of the dryer. 

At first I was really disappointed but then I thought about my goals in creating this quilt.  They weren't to get praise and pats on the back.  I wanted to experiment with some concepts that intrigued me. I wanted to improve my FMQing skills and try some new things there. And I wanted to make a gift for a lovely family who has helped us out quite a bit in managing a home we still own in another state.  None of those goals required me to have the quilt at the guild's Show and Tell.  So I let the disappointment and irritation go and chose authenticity over accolades.  

It's ready to ship but I think I may wait until I can get some custom quilt labels ordered. I'm excited about that but haven't got the design just right yet. Stay tuned. And if anyone has experience ordering custom labels from Spoonflower, please let me know if you like them. 
Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I hope you are having some great finishes in your part of the quilting world. 

If you are interested in reading my TGIF post - What I'm Trusting, Grateful for, Inspired by and how I'm practicing Faith - hop over to my other blog: What are you inspired by and grateful for today? 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Fall Out and Quilt Labels

Hope everyone's week is going well.  I won't lie, mine has been a little rough. But I've found time to sew everyday so far and that helps me find my peace. On the outside I'm a fiend bent over a sewing machine but on the inside:
I'm pretty zen.  Thanks goodness for that.

So what have I been working on?  Trying hard to finish my Fall Out quilt.  I learn from every quilt I make, especially if I try something new, and this one was no exception. The heavily quilted borders and trying to match the binding sometimes made me want to throw it out the window. I spent a good part of yesterday with a seam ripper after discovering that my tension was way off on the green border. Luckily the feathers were fine, it was the close matchstick quilting that suffered so out it came.  I went a little slower when I re-did the quilting and didn't have any trouble.
Then to match the binding. I took that slow, joined each section as I came to the color change and not before, and things came out all right.
My only problem was that I really didn't want to hand sew the binding on the reverse. This quilt isn't for a show, it is to give to a family who I hope will use it a lot. So I wanted the binding to be secure enough to last through many trips in the washing machine.  (Plus I hate hand binding. I know some people find it relaxing. I am not one of those people.) 

So I decided to carefully sew the back binding down in a way that would catch the front binding as well. This is tricky and there were a few spots (so far) that I had to go back and 'fix' on the front side. But mostly it's working out. Here's a section that is done.  I still have two more to go. And then about a billion threads to bury. 

But if I get the binding done, I'm going to take it to tonight's guilt meeting for Show and Tell. Cuz who doesn't need some oohs and aahs?

I'm also taking this jar of fabric treats to use as birthday favors:
Aren't they cute? It is a fat quarter wrapped around a sucker stick and popped into a cellophane wrapper. Cecilia from my quilt guild emailed me the link to this tutorial for these darling treats. They are super easy to make. I can't wait to be the candy man at our meeting tonight for all the birthdays we've had so far this year.

Okay, so one more thing.  I'm still completely in love with my new logo, done by the amazingly talented Elizabeth Young.  (Leave me a comment if you'd like her contact info.) And I've been playing with some designs for quilt labels using Pic Monkey and Spoonflower. I haven't ordered anything yet but here's my current progress:
 This one would be for gift quilts and the one below for quilts I make for myself or for shows.
I put the dashed line in the first one thinking I could add a year there. But neither label has a place for me to add the name of the quilt.  And I really do like naming them. So it's back to the drawing board for a bit before I order anything.  If any of you have experience ordering custom labels through Spoonflower or any other site, please chime in and let me know. I'd welcome suggestions for improving my labels as well.

Thanks for coming by today. I hope you find your happy place.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at and Let's Bee Social at

Monday, April 20, 2015

Road Trip! - Gems of the Desert Quilt Show in St. George

Last Saturday a group of us quilty gals from the Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild met up for a road trip to St. George.
I'm one of the two ladies in the back row who like we have a super novas exploding from our heads. I'm on the right and my BQF Vicki Ruebel of is on the left. We're both standing on our tiptoes, cuz we're not that much taller than the gals in the front row.

I really enjoy going to quilt shows. It settles my mind about quilting. I'm always wondering if I am really a modern quilter.  My friend Christa Watson (front row center) is completely modern. If you've seen her patterns or read her blog ( you'll agree.  Me? Maybe not quite so much. I'm never sure.

But whenever I attend a quilt show, it's the modern quilts that appeal to me. Like this one by Draza Esplin:
Or this cool hexie quilt by Florence Green:

And probably my favorite, this mini by Doris Claude called 'Pop Art'.
 So maybe I fit on that modern quilter continuum after all.

From the Dixie Center we headed to Superior Threads, which is also in St. George. But made a pit stop at Chik Fil A for some yummy chicken sandwiches and waffle fries. I haven't eaten at a Chik Fil A since San Antonio, two moves ago, and I'd forgotten how good it is.

 Although I've used their thread, I'd never been to Superior Threads warehouse. Vicki assured us it was worth the trip.

 Honestly, it was a bit overwhelming. Shelves and shelves and shelves of thread. All different kinds and all different colors.  Vicki is a long arm quilter and she knows her thread so I took her advice and tried to be decisive. After doing 90% of my quilting in black or white for the first several years, I'm trying to build up a collection of good quality, colored thread. Still it was hard to know what to buy.

Then we headed to the fabric side of the building. 25% off for quilt show weekend sweetened the deal and I stocked up on some solids. Here is what I came home with:

A grand total of 33, 500 yards of thread. Whew! That is a lot of thread. I hope I like those colors! And it's a good thing I just ordered a thread cone holder so I can start using up those 6,000 yard cones.
 If I had been smart I would've taken the thread into the fabric store with me or bought the fabric first and thread second. But I guess pretty well.
 I got home about dinner time, all jacked up on Dr. Pepper and shopper's high. Having spent way too much thread money, eaten too much Chik Fil A, and enjoyed myself throroughly!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Improv Piecing Zip Pouch Tutorial

Today I worked on a improv pieced zippered pouch for next week's guild swap. I am a recovering zipper-a-phobe and part of my therapy is to make things with zippers so I don't forget how. :)

A few weeks ago I found this three bears tutorial on box type pouches and loved the shape of them. She gives a great tutorial on an unlined, single fabric pouch.  But I had all these fun scraps to left over from my My Plus One quilt:
And I wanted to do some improv piecing and make the bag bigger so I could use more scraps.

I started with two lining/backing squares 11 x 7.5 inches and a 14 inch zipper.
I probably should've edited this shot a bit. But instead I'll just say, "Look, here's a peek at one our Turkish carpets!"
I cut matching rectangles from flannel to use as a thin batting. Then I just grabbed a scrap and sewed it down on two sides smack in the center of one panel.  From there I added more scraps, placing each one right side down on the panel, slightly overlapping a previously sewn piece. Sew it down, then iron it open (right side up) before moving on to the next scrap.
I worked in a fan pattern this time, but that is not necessary. You can add scraps in all kinds of ways. Just make sure that each new piece covers the raw edges of the previous pieces. Keep adding pieces until you've covered your entire base panel.  It will be a bit of a mess, like this:

But will trim up nicely to this:
Repeat on your other panel.

Now it's time to add the zip. Switch to your zipper foot. Place the zipper face down at the top of your panel, lining up the top edges. Like this:
Notice that there is plenty of zipper hanging over both ends of the panel. 
Sew along the top edge as close to the zipper as you can, using thread that matches the zipper.  Now turn the zipper right side up and top stitch about 1/4 inch from your seam. This will finish it nicely and make the seam lay flatter.

Repeat with the other side, making sure to line up the two panels. You should now have something like this:

Now match the right sides of your panels together and sew across the bottom. 

Unzip your zipper halfway. I'm going to say that again: UNZIP YOUR ZIPPER HALFWAY. If you don't, you will be stuck with an inside out bag with a non-functional zipper. 

Line up your bottom seam (that you just sewed) with the zipper and sew the sides. Like this:
I always sew back and forth across the zippers a couple of times just for added strength. You can cut off the extra zipper tails at this point. (remember your zipper is STILL halfway unzipped.)

Now you are going to box in the corners. 
It's easier than it looks. Hold the bag with the zipper to your right and pull the two seams away from each other to create some space in the bag. Then smush the end seam in to create a corner. 

How deep you make this corner will determine how 'tall' your pouch is.  I use a ruler and marker to ensure that each corner is the same. 
For this one I drew a line 1.75 inches down from the peak of the corner. Pin your corner at the top and sew across each line.  You'll now have something like this:
See those corners sticking out?  Turn your pouch right side out (which you can do, because your were smart enough to leave the zipper halfway down) and check the height.  If you like it, turn it wrong side out again and trim off those corners.  
If you are feeling perfectionistic you could zig zag or serg the raw edges. I didn't. Today was a loose, shoot from the hip kind of day. 

And there you have it!  Mine finished at 7 inches long, 4 inches high and 3 inches wide.  It stands up nicely on its own and has some body to it without being stiff. 

I'll be taking it to our guild meeting next week for a swap and will come home with someone else's zippered, improved creation!