Tuesday, August 30, 2011

To sew, or not to sew, that is a SILLY question!

First.

I've had over 100 views on the blog in the less than two weeks that it's been up and running! So exciting.

Although 30% of them are probably me, my mom, and my sister. Also, hit up the comments section! Even if it is to tell me my color choices are silly. Holla!

Second.

My research is WORKING. For the first time since, oh, I started grad school. Well, not exactly at the moment because I'm trying to fix all my apparatuses (apparati? whatever.) today. Nanoparticles are fussy little buggers.

Third.

I am a huge fan of the disappearing nine patch. I did as directed with 6 inch blocks rather than 5 inch, and sewed 9 blocks in 3 rows of 3, but if I was ever going to do this with a less scrappy quilt, I would definitely strip piece it. Forget randomness. I'm seriously in love with strip piecing.

These are the squares of the 8 fabrics that I am using. The reds, blues, the swirly yellow, and dark brown were all fat quarters that I got on SALE at JoAnn's. The leafy yellow and swirly tan are cut from full yard pieces from my most recent purchase from fabric.com. I think my favorite is the blue and brown print. What about you?


And here are a few nine patch blocks all sewn together... and cut up!

And the way that you twist the blocks around makes it look rather fancy:



There is a whole lot of color going on here, and I'm not quite sure whether to try to tone it down or to just go for it. I'm thinking just go for it! This is supposed to be a FUN quilt. I still have 5 more nine patches to sew together and cut apart.

So far, I am a big fan. What new blocks and/or patterns have you tried lately?

And then will be the fun part of trying to fit everything together without the same colors touching too much. That's when my over-particular (read: anal) self wins out.

Happy Tuesday, everybody!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Tale of Three Quilts, Part Three: X Marks The Spot?

So after two quilts, I still had lots of 4 inch pieces. But I had already used them as strip pieces twice, and what else do you really do with them?

I had to get creative. But I had never made any sort of my own pattern for anything. So it was scary.

Not that scary, but at least somewhat of a seemingly daunting task to design my own block.

Here's what I did (and what you can do too!)

With my four inch strips sewn into strips, I cut square right triangles (as in, the corners are 90 degrees, 45 degrees, and 45 degrees). This was really easy, and basically cut a zig-zag up the strips. Sometimes the strip would end up being a little bit wonky, so I would trim up the sides to be 4 inches and straighten things out by re-cutting the 45 degree angle across the strip as well.

These triangles are (if you lay them long side on the bottom): 8 inches along the long side and then 4 inches tall.

So then you have a pile of strippy triangles. And then what?

To piece them together, I cut two inch strips of a tan floral fabric that I had left over from another project (coming soon -- cheery Christmas quilt). So I sewed the triangles to the strips, two at a time, so that the triangles were sewn like mirror images to one another. Then, after trimming off excess from the tan strip, sewed two of these new tirangles together with a piece of tan stripping between. And tada!


So I kept on making blocks until I ran out of tan sashing.


Yesterday, I finished sewing the last block because I ran out of tan sashing.  I ended up with a total of 31 blocks.

I still need to find a coordinating fabric to use to sew the blocks together. Not sure what to choose... let me know what your ideas are! I'm thinking soome sort of floral tone on tone, similar to the tan, but in a different color. Maybe a light purple? I'm open to suggestions!

But to answer the question I'm sure is on all of your minds (or not if this is your first time reading Little Bunny Quilts): No. This didn't end up using all of the scraps. I could have used another quarter yard of the tan, but alas, too little, too late.

Whatever is left is going to be used as a border on this quilt when it gets finished. Which will happen once I make a run to the fabric store and find the sashing. It might end up being a border on just the top and bottom, but it all depends on how much scrap I really have left.

Even though this is the third quilt that I've made with this fabric, I am still really excited for this quilt! Mostly because its the first one where I "designed" the block myself which is a pretty cool accomplishment. More pictures to come once the top is all put together, of course, which is hopefully soon! This quilt may or may not end up being a gift (depending on if I can get the whole thing done before Christmas!)

I haven't worked on the blue and white stars this week like I promised (boo!) in order to finish up all my X blocks. But it is always better to finish projects, or at least get one stage of the project done, in this case. But, in the course of the weekend, I decided to start another (!) project--a baby quilt in primary colors and brown. I am planning to use the "Disappearing Nine Patch" pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew, using 6 inch blocks rather than 5. Pictures of progress soon! I cut all my 6 inch squares this afternoon and am going to start sewing nine patches tonight. What are your current projects? Sewing and otherwise, please!

Happy Sunday, and good luck on the rest of your week!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Five #1

Hopefully today starts YOUR weekend too!

There's a lot going on in my life other than sewing (unfortunately), so Friday is going to be "Five Favorites" day, to tie in the rest of my life. These are a few of my favorite things (cue Sound of Music soundtrack) that have brightened my day recently.

1. Fabric.com
If I had an unlimited budget, I would probably end up ordering fabric in vast quantities. The prices on quilting fabric, in particular, is out of this world. And then there is the clearance section. And then there are occasional extra percentages off on top of it. It's like a quilter's paradise. Granted, there is nothing that will beat the quilt shop when it comes to being able to match colors and getting ideas. But it is a great "stash-builder". In addition, its a great place to look if you want to see a whole fabric collection (and some collections have free patterns too!) I am going to use this City Girl Fabric in the chocolate and coral colorway (with a little green thrown in) in this Tula Pink pattern. After I bought a few pieces in a quilt store, I ordered a few of the coordinating fabrics and something for the backing at Fabric.com. I haven't bought anything other than quilting fabric, but I'm impressed with things so far!

2. Cluck Cluck Sew
I love this blog. I love the patterns. I love the color combinations. I love everything about it. If I had to pick a few favorites, I would say the Orange Quilt and Modern Meadow quilts are pretty high on the list. Do I aspire to be the next Cluck Cluck Sew? Possibly. We'll see how this whole "chemistry PhD " thing works out.

3. Boxed Cake Mix
If you have this on hand, you can always make somebody happy and celebrate even the smallest victories (like making it through one whole year of graduate school!) And you can always doctor it up to be fancy (my go-to's are marshmallows and chocolate chips in chocolate cake mix) so people think you're some sort of gourmet chef. I also find stirring by hand with a wisk is a fantastic way to work out some frustrations (like when nothing works in lab or you've realized that the next time you get to go home is Thanksgiving.) Washing up the cupcake pans is totally worth it.

4. Conquering Y-seams
I have successfully started making the snowflake blocks from this pattern (hopefully a progress update this weekend) and after a half dozen seams or so, I perfected my Y-seams. They are beautiful. I have such a sense of accomplishment when I see how lovely they are. The fact that most of the blocks poof in the middle is eclipsed by these Y-seams and I'll figure out how to fix that later. But now, I am still entraced by my achievements and am excited that I can do things other than half-square triangles.

5. Little victories
This week I have conquered:

Y-seams (see above), the oscilloscope and wavefunction generator, 2 discs of Alias Season 2, half of the new issue of Real Simple magazine, attempting to catch up on Bess's blog (I started at the beginning--August 2010-- and halfway through February 2011!), and a pile of other science-y stuff.

BUT.

Most importantly, I conquered my FIRST EARTHQUAKE. Being in central Pennsylvania, we definitely did not experience anything, pardon the language, "earth-shattering", but because I work on the 5th floor, the effects were slightly amplified. The lights were swinging and while it was going on, my office-mate and I just stared at each other without blinking. I can officially check earthquakes off my list of things to do. Now to move on to other important things like getting a PhD, moving somewhere without a coin-operated laundry, and expanding my shoe collection.

So that's my first Friday Five! There's probably a lot more that I could ramble on about, but this will do for now. Happy stitching!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Tale of Three Quilts, Part Two: A Mile of Scraps

As I had mentioned in Part One, I overcut the block sashings and the outer border like it was my JOB. I wonder why this occured, but again, cutting is just too fun.

This segment of the saga focuses on the what-seemed-like-miles extras from the 5 inch outside border. I believe that I measured it at one point and the extra was something like 20 yards or more. Which is even more ridiculous when you realize that the extra is more than the original quilt would have required for the border. Sigh.

So this extra (unlike all of the loose four inch pieces that I will talk about in Part Three) was all sewed together in a very long strip (hence why I measured it). I wrapped it around an empty tissue tube and it was about the size of a full roll when it was all wound.

All this scrap occupied its own basket in my mom's sewing room until last summer. Getting ready to move to Pennsylvania to start graduate school, I was mulling over the idea of making a new blanket to take with me. All of my other quilts (the original quilt and my teacup quilt--coming soon) were all full/queen sized, and my (free!) bed was twin sized. I had my quilt from undergrad (also coming soon), but I wanted something a little more "grown-up" than a tee-shirt quilt.

Not really searching for a pattern, I saw this Coin Collecting Pattern in Quiltmaker. This was exactly what all those scraps were waiting for. I cut my giant roll into pieces and found a pale green and white fabric to use for the setting pieces. The picture shows the pattern as a throw, and to make mine twin sized I just added an extra row of blocks on the side and bottom (or top, if that's how you want to think about it). And voila!


It reminds me of a weaving with the strips looking like they are going in front of and behind one another. Here is a few close up of the blocks:


This picture also shows the pantogram machine quilting of Ivy Leaves. My mom also made me two pillow cases to match:


This was a really easy pattern and I would definitely recommend it as a first project. The blocks are large, no intricate seams to match up, and a great way to use up scraps. I would do it again, but I might change up the sizing of the blocks/strips so its not exactly the same.

Did I use up all of the roll of border scrap? Not quite.



I have a few feet left. Hopefully I can use it up with the rest of the sashing scraps--a work in progress--coming in Part Three!

Do you have any "go-to" scrap patterns? Have you ever ended up with a situation like mine with too much of the same color scheme?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Tale of Three Quilts, Part One: The Original Project

Once upon a time, when I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to make my first quilt. I poured over my mom's quilting books until I decided on a Railroad pattern from this book. My color scheme is relatively similar to the one shown in the book, and buying only the fabric for the large blocks, setting triangles, and first border with the rest coming from my mom's stash and scrap bin, I embarked on my first quilt.


Obviously this doesn't show the entire pieced outer border, but you get the picture. My quilt picture taking abilities are severely limited by the fact that I stood on my bed to take the picture. And because this quilt is rather large.

Now, the directions would have you strip piece all the four inch shashings. And a normal person would do that, have a very easy time putting this together and likely get through this portion of the pattern relatively quickly.

However, I am not a normal person, and feel the need to make it harder than it has to be in the name of "randomness." So, being the genius that I am, I cut my scrap sashing fabric into four inch strips and then into a million individual pieces and then sewed them into the sashing pieces, so each one was different. Looking back, I am not sure that I would do this again, but I am pretty satisfied with the way things turned out.


Cutting is, by far, one of my favorite parts of the process. The zip of the rotary blade is so satisfying, you know? So, obviously, I proceeded to cut way too many 4 inch pieces. And then when I went to cut the pieces for the 5 inch outer border, I also overdid it.


If I remember correctly, I had the entire top completed within two weeks. The hand quilting, however, is still not done. It's shameful, I know. The center portion is more than half done, and then the borders would need to be done.

Originally, the excuse was "it's too hard". In undergrad, the excuse was "I'm to busy! I'm not home enough". This wasn't entirely valid because I had three months every summer to work on it. Then I moved to Pennsylvania, and the excuse was "I don't want to spend my time at home working on it! I came to spend time with my family!"

Then my mom finally took it out of the quilt frame and brought it to me. For a while it sat in the bag she brought it in, in the closet. Now it sits in my reading chair. Staring at me. Saying, "Finish me." And on a few occasions I have taken it up on its offer. Partially, this occured because I wanted to sit in the chair because it is ridiculously comfortable. But the summer heat makes me say "It's too hot! I don't want a blanket all over me when its 100 degrees in my apartment." So it continues to beckon and I continue to ignore it.

Currently, the goal is to get it done by the end of the year. Based on sporadic recent progress (partially due to instant Netflix), this is entirely possible. Maybe if I bought my queen sized bed (one of my many pipe dreams, along with a long-arm quilter) I would be more inclined to finish it and use it.

Would I hand quilt again? Oh, absolutely. Just not anytime soon.

But as I mentioned, this is only Part One because my fervor for cutting vastly exceeded the capacity of one quilt. Actually, it exceeded two quilts and it has yet to be seen if it can be contained in three. Needless to say that I have been a little more cautious in my cutting, even as much as I love it. And I am never going to use this color scheme again.

Parts Two and Three coming soon!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Here it goes...

Hello!

This blog is about my adventures in quilting while in a chemistry graduate school program, living on my own for the first time, and generally figuring life out.

First off, I'm going to try to post about some of my completed projects and then work up to my current projects. Unfortunately, I can't spend all day sewing most days (which can be torturous) so I won't be turning out quilts (or posts) on a daily basis.

My mom, sister, and I are all pretty avid quilters, so hopefully I can share a few of their projects as well! My sister is a whiz with bargello quilts (something on my list of projects to try!) and it's fun to work together and bounce ideas off each other for quilts. My mom and I are constantly sending picture messages back and forth of fabric and works in progress.

That's all for now -- off to hit all of the fabric stores in State College, Pennsylvania -- which is a grand total of two, but I will share the link to the quilt that I started this week! Mine is all blue and white to make it look very wintery. I think it would also look fabulous with traditional Christmas colors! This is it!
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