Thursday, June 25, 2015

At it again! More practice squares with Angela Walter's Free Motion Quilting Book

Once again I'm working on practice squares, trying out all the FMQ designs in the two Angela Walter's books I purchased, Shape by Shape and Free Motion Quilting. Last time I used designs from her Shape by Shape book. You can see those results here: in this post (Scroll down to the end).

This time I worked from her first book, Free Motion Quilting with Angela Walters.  I think I have a slight preference for her second book mostly because I love the structure and organization of it. But this book has some great designs as well.  Here is my finished practice square.

As before, this practice square will double as an older sibling gift for an upcoming baby shower. This time I outline stitched the entire name instead of just an initial. Then I started on the left of the 'H' with those great funky filled in squares. I love these squares!!
They are so fun and easy to sew.

Next I tackled the flowers, which I have always wanted to do and never been able to figure out how. Angela's diagrams and instructions were so easy to follow that I was able to fill a big space with various size flowers without even having to plan it out much.

The pulleys were also really fun although I did have to think about putting the end pulley at least a 1/4 inch in from the edge so the binding wouldn't cut it off.
Next I tried some swirls and pebbles, which I have done before. And an all over leaf pattern which I haven't.  I think I still need work on that one. Maybe some pen and paper time as well.

Then I finished with what Angela called a fern feather and some pebbles in the corner.  I used a Superior King Tut thread again that was fabulous! I love how the variegated colors show up on this solid background. The black and white binding was left over from another project and made this a quick and simple finish.

I learn something every time I do one of these practice squares/mini quilts. It is so much easier to master the motion of a design when you aren't fighting the weight and drag of a larger quilt, even a baby quilt. I have three more of these made up and ready to go. And I haven't tried all the designs in these wonderful books yet. So thanks for stopping by today and stay tuned for more!

Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Raw Edge Applique - Function and Form

I'm still working on these two elephant quilts. One is a mini for an Instagram Favorite Designer Swap

And one is a baby quilt:
I got all the pieces ironed down and to the point where I needed to now sew them down. But there I got stuck. How should I sew them down? 

The pattern, Paisley Splash found here at, instructs you to sew the pieces down with a zig zag stitch.  But I wasn't sure that was the look I wanted. Or if I could zig zag the droplets without ruining the points.  

Several people I asked said they just use a straight stitch about 1/8 in from a raw edge.  I like the look of that better than a zig zag but I worried about the baby quilt wearing out and pieces falling off after a few washings. 

So I decided to compromise. I am using a straight stitch on the mini, which in all likelihood will never be washed:

And a zig zag stitch on the baby quilt, because it's really important to me that quilts for children be totally functional. I want them to be washable again and again and again. 
I used a fairly thin width for my zig zag, a 3.0 on my Husqvarna, tapering to a 2.5 and then a 2.0 as I got the the point. This helped preserve the sharp tip of the points. 

You can see I still have the yellow and the light blue to finish. And then a whole lot of threads to bury. I'm going to tuck them behind each droplet so the darker thread doesn't show through the light background fabric. 

You can also see a few pins holding pieces onto the background. I'm super frustrated with Heat N Bond. I had so much trouble with it in this project. Either the paper wouldn't come off or the adhesive came off with it. And once I got them all ironed on, some pieces started to lift immediately. A friend gave me a piece of Steam a Seam to try. I hope I like it better! 

So these are both still works in progress but I wanted to share the decision making process. I think considering each quilt's function and recipient is equally important to maintaining your vision of form or design. 

Linking to WIP Wednesday at

Monday, June 15, 2015

The first 10,000 hours - Setting yourself Free from Pressure and Expectation

           Yesterday Facebook did one of those memory post suggestions. Where the FB-powers-that-be pull up something from years ago and suggest you re-post it?  It's like a hardsell for Throwback Thursday. Here is the image that was pulled out of the archives for me:

I believe the caption read, " Matching quilts - the benefits of buying twice as much fabric as you ACTUALLY need to make one quilt."  

I added a comment about making these quilts near the beginning of my quilting addiction and hit the post button. But seeing these two quilts again got me thinking about what I was like as a baby quilter, 3 years ago. 

To be brief, I was brave.  Incredibly brave. About the same time I started quilting, my husband had read a book about experts. The author claimed that prodigies didn't really exist. Anyone who had truly mastered a skill did so only after about 10,000 hours of practice. 

When I thought about that in relation to my new quilting hobby I decided that I could either become discouraged about the long road to mastery ahead of me or I could allow that fact to set me free from expectation and pressure.  In other words, if I really couldn't become a master until I had put in 10,000 hours, why worry too much about the first 9,999 hours? I could just have fun!  

And so I did. These two quilts are a good example. I made one of these in June of 2012, probably the fourth or fifth quilt I made.  I purchased a pdf pattern online for the first time and then decided to modify it to make it bigger. (I've wracked my brain to try and remember who designed the original pattern. I've had a hard drive crash since then and lost my file of quilt patterns. If anyone recognizes the pattern please speak up so I can give credit.) 

It was the modifying part that lead to buying too much fabric. Which lead to me convincing my little sister to make a matching one when she came to visit me. We have boys nearly the same age and thought it would be fun for them to have matching quilts. 

Here are the backs. My nephew's is on the left and my son's is on the right.

I was still new to photographing quilts as well so I didn't get any great shots of the quilting we both did.  But I tried a different pattern in each colored section, some with a walking foot and some free motion. And then I convinced my sister, who doesn't sew at all, that she could do the same thing.  See what I mean about brave? Not only would I tackle modifying a quilt pattern (albeit a simple one) and then quilt it myself but I would teach someone else to do it as well. That's gutsy, huh?

As a baby quilter, every project I finished gave me a great sense of accomplishment. My thought was always, "Wow! Look what I just did!" rather than, "Gee, I hope this is good enough." Which brings me to today. Now that I've been in this field a few years and logged a few more of those 10,000 hours.  Now that I'm blogging and Instagramming and too often wondering if I measure up, if I have anything valuable to offer, if I'm a good enough quilter. I feel pressure to be be good at this. To be admire-able and admired.

I don't like that feeling.  I'm finding it all too easy to slip from the joy of sharing your work other people who share your interests into the pressure to produce excellence on a regular basis.

So it was good to see these quilts again. And these boys:
Because I needed a reminder that this joy, on these faces, is why I quilt. Why, for now anyway, most of the quilts I make aren't for shows, they are for people I love. And that I still have many thousands of hours of brave freedom before I even come close to 9,999. So why not enjoy every one of them?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Teacher Gift Mug Rug

Two years ago when we were stationed in Turkey and my youngest was attending the DoD school on base, a friend and I collaborated on this teacher gift:

The pattern is from Melissa Cory at Happy Quilting. 
 It was frankly a pretty awesome thing to pull off and it was for a really awesome teacher. You can read about it in this post.

But here is the problem.  It set the bar rather high.

Fast forward to the end of this year. Life is c-razy. I've got LV Modern Quilt Guild stuff I'm in charge of or helping out with, a church variety show I'm performing in and in charge of refreshments for, family coming to stay, friends visiting town, end of school class parties and hubby's work parties,
parties and GNOs for friends who are moving away soon,  etc, etc, etc.  I feel like I've been rushing from one event to the next all the while harboring the anxiety that I'm probably forgetting something but can't take the time to figure it out what it is.

I know, I know. You're all thinking that I clearly didn't take my Dramamine this morning. Cuz I just need to keep that drama to myself and not be sharing it all over the place. Point taken.

But I'm setting the stage.  Two days ago, my 3rd grader comes to me with a list of colors written out on a notebook page. "These are Mrs. ______'s favorite colors," he tells me.
"That's nice," I respond, slightly distracted.
Undaunted, he presses on: "So you can make her a quilt."
And now he has my full attention.

Clearly he is still young enough that he thinks I have magical powers.  Oh, how I wish.

But with a slightly embellished description of the wonders of  mug rugs as gifts, I manage to pull myself back from the edge of the 'disappointing mommy' abyss. And then I get to work.

A quick scrap fabric pull that includes my very last Eric Carle Grouchy Ladybug fussy cut square and (ironically) some leftover strips from that bookshelf teacher quilt, and I've got a mug rug.

Here's the back:

Yes I was finished up the binding this morning before school (today is the last day) but it got done!

I was going to pair this with a Starbucks gift card but since drinking hot liquids in Nevada summer temperatures has been known to cause spontaneous combustion, I opted for a Coldstone Creamery card instead. Popped that and a little explanation tag of what a mug rug is into a gift bag and I was redeemed!

Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday at
and Finish it Up Friday at