Friday, November 30, 2012

Bound and Determined!

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been making my way through the stack of quilts waiting for bindings. Here are a few finishes to share!

I made two Vroom quilts (by Leslie Grainger for Robert Kaufman fabrics) in the bright color way, and I will be making two more in the grey and blue color way. I'm not usually a big fan of panel quilts, but I loved the faux patchwork design of the main fabric. I used Kona cotton in School Bus for the orange inner border, and a striped fabric from the Vroom collection for the binding. I use stripe bindings whenever I can -- I love the interest they add to the overall design!

The backing fabric was a lot of fun, too! The two Vroom quilts are available in my Etsy store.

The next finish is Marmalade by Bonnie and Camille for Moda fabrics. I finished the top using an early release layer cake this summer, but I really wanted to use one of the Marmalade fabrics for the backing, so I had to wait for the yardage to be released in October.


The fabrics are so pretty-- love the combo of vintage and modern in all of Bonnie and Camille's collections. (On a side note, Camille revealed their Spring 2013 collection called Happy-Go-Lucky on her blog yesterday-- can't wait for that fun, new color palette!)

I used a striped binding on Marmalade, too! The quilt, and the pattern to make it, are in my Etsy shop.

I also finished a couple of custom orders this week. Another Backyard Baby quilt...

And a twin size Sophie quilt. So pretty!

More finishes to come, soon!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Show and Tell

Happy Thanksgiving! We are celebrating at my Mom's house, and I thought I'd share a couple of pictures of quilts that I made for her, while I test out the new Blogsy app on my iPad.

I have collected a fair amount of men's cotton shirts and upcycled them into quilts, inspired by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville. For this quilt, I used Bonnie's Smokey Mountain Stars pattern. It was a quick and easy pattern to make. I had fun looking for a variety of prints and colors in my thrift store treasure hunts! The quilt has been washed many, many times and has held up beautifully.

The second quilt is simply a mixture of patchwork squares. I was even brave enough to do a little freestyle quilting on this one-- a series of ups and downs that change direction every block. These two quilts are inspiring me to go home and play with my pile of cotton shirts! I forgot how comfy and cozy they are!

Hope you have a wonderful Turkey Day!



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Power Sewing!

My goal this weekend was to try to quilt as large a pile of tops as possible so that I'll have some bindings to hand sew during Thanksgiving break. I think I accomplished it!
None of these are huge quilts (I think the biggest is 48 x 55), which is why I was able to get so many done!  I've trimmed the edges, but I still have to clean up threads and machine sew the binding to the front so they're ready to take on the road.
Come to think of it, I also have to make miles of bindings!  And in case you're thinking I've managed to whittle down my pile of unquilted tops, here's a basket of evidence to the contrary (Disclosure: there is ANOTHER basket of tops to quilt near my quilting machine! This is just the one in my sewing room!)
 It has been great to finish so many things recently, but it has given me another goal/project:
 This is how I package up my Etsy quilts for shipping. I really like to look the quilt over carefully for loose threads, etc. and package it up ahead of time so that it's ready to go as soon as it sells. My policy is generally to ship within 24 hours, and if I wake up to find that a quilt has sold, I like to be able to take it with me on the way to work without worrying that I rushed through the packaging.
Usually, my quilts look like this: I have a numbered system so it's easy to find the one I need (and for my substitute shipping dept -- a.k.a my husband -- to ship for me if I'm not home).
You can see from this picture that I have a lot of catching up to do!
  I think I'd better try to package up 1 or 2 every night until I'm caught up!

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I have an ongoing battle with myself over quilt binding. Namely, whether or not I should switch over from handsewing my bindings to completely machine sewing them.

My earliest quilts had completely machine sewn binding, if you could call it that!  Basically, I cut the backing wider than the front, folded it over a couple of times, and then machine sewed it down.  It looked pretty horrible -- partially because I also didn't measure my borders carefully back then, so there were some pretty wavy edges to begin with.  Eventually, I moved on to cutting the binding separately and machine sewing it to the quilt.  I didn't have a way with dealing with corners, and I also didn't know how to sew the binding strips together diagonally, so I ended up with these really bulky corners and seams.

When I finally started reading the multitude of information available on how to cut and sew a double-folded binding, I couldn't believe that I had avoided it for so long, thinking it was too "hard".  There are so many great tutorials online -- here's one if you're not familiar with the process.  Although for the longest time, I had to have the instructions handy to remember the steps everytime I had a binding to do, I think I could do them in my sleep now!

My next battle, however, was blindstitching it to the back of the quilt.  I've never been a great hand sewer -- all of my attempts at hand quilting have failed miserably, and my applique stitches are definitely nothing to brag about.  I hand sewed a lot of bindings, but I wasn't too happy with the stitch, until one day when I changed one little thing by accident, and it was like I had a binding breakthrough!  (don't ask me what it was, because I have no idea!)  Anyway, after that moment, I was happy with my binding stitches!

I truly enjoy the process of hand sewing a binding.  I like to have something to do on long car trips (highway driving -- not windy roads!).  I bring quilts to soccer games, meetings, and doctor's appointments, and I love having something to bind when I watch TV.  I think I even enjoy spending all that time with the quilt, especially since so many of them go off to new homes shortly thereafter.

However, the process of hand sewing does take time -- in fact, it is usually the longest single time element in the piecing, quilting and finishing processes.  From a business standpoint, I've wondered if machine sewing the binding would be a better option.  There are some great tutorials -- I particularly love the way Rita's machine sewn bindings come out -- she has a really unique and professional looking technique.  I suspect, however, that the reason hers are so nice are that she invests a lot of time in them.  So, my battle always ends with picking up the hand-sewing needle, and enjoying the process!

I have binding on the brain, because that's what I've been doing the past five nights!  In anticipation of possible power outage due to Hurricane Sandy (we were thankfully out of the path of the storm, as it turns out), I quilted a bunch of tops, and prepared the bindings so they were ready for hand stitching.  It has been so cold the last few days that my project of choice every evening has been to sit in the toasty warm living room wrapped in a quilt that needs binding! 

Tonight's finish was a second "Ahoy Matey" quilt.  This is a brand-new fabric collection by Michael Miller Fabrics, and it is just so fun and cheerful.  I love the combo of navy, aqua, and orangey-red.  The center panel is actually sold as 24" wide, but I chose to purchase three panels, and cut them down the middle.  The ship is centered differently on the second quilt I made, which I think adds to the fun, modern look.  The larger width definitely helped the overall proportions -- I'm not a fan of skinny, long quilts.
Last night's finish was this Parisville (by Tula Pink) quilt made from my new pattern "Beads and Baubles". 
And the night before that, I finished this Peak Hour quilt in my Hip to Be Square pattern.  I have one more quilt from the pile to bind, and then I need to restock for Thanksgiving week car rides, etc! 

On an exciting note, I had an unexpected visitor to my blog the other day!  In my last post, I started with some pictures of the quilt I just completed using Kate Spain's "Flurry" fabric collection.  I was honored, and a bit star-struck, to discover that Kate had stopped by the blog and taken the time to leave me a lovely comment on the quilt!  It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Kate's fabric (as well as her blog)  so it was absolutely thrilling to find out that she stopped by!  Of course, it was a little like when someone stops by your house unexpectedly, and you wish you'd taken the time to fold the laundry or do the dishes earlier in the day!  I haven't taken advantage of the "labels" aspect of blog posts, and now I wish I had labeled all of my posts so that Kate could have seen some of the other quilts I made with her fabrics.  I plan to do some labeling this weekend in anticipation of the next unexpected visitor, but in the meantime, here is a little collage I made using PicMonkey:
Thank you for stopping by, Kate Spain!  It was an honor having you here!

Monday, November 5, 2012


I thought I'd better keep the momentum going before three weeks go by between posts!  Here are a couple of finishes to share:
Kate Spain always has the most beautiful Christmas fabric collections.  This is last year's "Flurry" collection, and the free Moda pattern that went with it.  It was a relatively easy quilt to make -- the only tricky part was all the narrow white strips that connect the various rows. 
This is a pretty generously-sized lap quilt -- about 49 x 58.  It is now available in the shop.
I have kept scraps of both Flurry and The Twelve Days of Christmas with the intention of turning them into these adorable stockings. Hopefully, one of these days, I'll get around to it!
Late last night, I finished hand-sewing the binding on this Fox Trails striped quilt.
I just love this fabric collection, and I've lost count of the number of quilts I've made from it!  I've made tumbler quilts (sorry about the sideways photo!)
and charm quilts:
I was sorting through some Fox Trails yardage this weekend, cutting up some tumblers for the next quilt, and decided to piece together a backing so I could finish the striped quilt.  The striped Fox Trails quilt finish also helped me reach a milestone in my Etsy shop: 75 items listed.  This is the most inventory I've ever had at one time.  Not all of them are quilts, of course, and some are made-to-order listings of quilts I have previously sold, but I'm excited about having so many different items in the shop.  My overall goal is to make it to 100 items.  Having a cleaner sewing room has certainly helped with the storage of inventory.
On top of that, I am nearing the halfway point of the summer's unquilted quilt tops.  If you followed my journey of quilt tops this July and August, you might know that I returned home with 38 quilt tops.  I had stockpiled some quilt tops before the trip, so when I returned home in August, I actually had a pile of 50 quilt tops awaiting finishing!  I've made quite a dent in the pile, despite an unusually high amount of custom orders.  I've quilted 21 of the 50 at this point -- it will be nice to get past the number 25!  (several are still awaiting bindings, however!)
Tonight, I'll be hand sewing the binding on another Peak Hour quilt which I will hopefully be able to share tomorrow! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Checking In!

October was apparently NOT my month to blog!  Only ONE post!  Not very impressive at all.  Let's see if I can get the momentum going again.
Lest you think I have been idle, here is a little collage of what I've been working on this past week:
I've been working on several new quilts for the shop, and I finally finished two new quilt patterns.  The patterns had been in my head for a while, but I hadn't had the time to get them on paper.  The first one is called Beads and Baubles.  It's a fairly easy pattern for a beginner, and it looks more difficult than it is.  I named it "Beads and Baubles"  because the blocks in the quilt remind me of a string of beads in a necklace.
I finished this version of the quilt in the spring -- made from the retro fabric collection "Flock" by Thomas Knauer.  Usually, I try to make 2 or 3 versions of a pattern as samples for my store.  This one sold earlier this fall.  I have two more that will be in the store as soon as I finish the bindings:
The one on the quilt rack was made from Amy Butler's Soul Blossoms collection.  I love the way the grey sets off the bright colors.  In fact, I tend to use grey a lot when I sew with Amy's fabrics!  Here's a Daisy Chain quilt:
A "Love" dresden plate pillow:
And another Soul Blossoms quilt -- this one in a chevron/ zig zag pattern:
Speaking of chevrons, I had wanted to write a chevron pattern for a long time.  I've done a lot of zig zag quilts for my shop, and they've been very popular.  To write the pattern, I made a sample using Denyse Schmidt's brand new line Chicopee:
The pattern has instructions for the row-by-row chevron design shown above, as well as a scrappy version with one background color, and a striking two-color version using solids.
Besides writing patterns, I've been finishing some smaller quilts for the shop.  It's always harder to find cute boy fabric collections, but these two are some of my favorites.  Peak Hour by Kellie Wulfsohn for Riley Blake Fabrics:
And "Ahoy Matey" (Michael Miller fabrics):
I'm working on some additional bindings this week, and hoping to quilt one or two quilt tops today!