Blocks for Modern Trees Finished

I had some good time to sew this weekend and I was able to finish the blocks for the Modern Trees Quilt Along over at Christa Quilts.  I’m really happy with how they’ve turned out.  There are a couple edges that aren’t perfect but they should be hidden in the seams once the blocks are sewn together.

I’ve been testing some layouts and here’s the one I’ve liked best so far:

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Now I’m ready for the next step in the tutorial!

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Cutting Fabric for Modern Trees

After posting about how I was going to make a Modern Trees quilt by joining Christa’s Christmas Quilt Along over at Christa Quilts yesterday, I was excited to jump into cutting up the fabric I’d bought.

I know Christa was planning to make her Modern Trees quilt with solids but I really want to use some prints.  Maybe it is that I’m still new to quilting but I just love the fun patterns and designs you can find in prints.  So I decided to compromise and went with relatively small patterned prints that appear at least mostly solid.  And I did go with solid brown for the trunks!

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I also went ahead and bought all of my fabric for the backing, binding, and the border around my X-mas lights.  (Jo-Ann Fabric was having a good sale!)  I’m using the red and green plaid as backing, the red stripes for the border, and the red and green stripes for binding.

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I’m using Kona Snow for the background and bought some solid fat quarters for making my string of X-mas light border.

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Following Christa’s guide, I started cutting out my triangles for my trees.  As I only had 6 colors, I had to choose three of them to get 3 triangles and three of them for just 2 triangles to get my total of 15.  I tried to balance this with one dark fabric, one medium fabric, and one light fabric falling into each group.

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I also cut my white strips for both the tree background tops and for the strip piecing of the trunks (although I didn’t get to cutting my brown trunk fabric yet).

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While I think everything is looking good so far, I’m definitely going to have to allow more time than the quilt along recommends.  Christa had indicated that what I did last night took her about 45 minutes and let’s suffice it to say that it took me a little longer.  We’ll blame it on trying to catch up on my DVRed TV shows at the same time.  I was distracted!

Have you ever made a quilt with just solids?  Or are you too drawn to prints to totally give them up?

Joining Christa’s Christmas Quilt Along!

So I can’t decide if I’m a glutton for punishment or if I’m simply crazy but I’ve decided to join Christa’s Christmas Quilt Along over at Christa Quilts and make a Modern Trees quilt.  For those of you keeping count at home, that brings me up to 3 quilts that I’m working on at the same time (all while learning what I’m doing as I go).  Yeah – I think I’m crazy!

But you see, after seeing how fun the Modern Trees quilt looked, I simply couldn’t resist!  Check it out:

Modern TreesI love all of the different colors!  And if I’m being totally honest, I love that Christa will be basically walking me through it step by step.

But then, being me, I had to go make life a little more complicated.  The finished quilt top for the quilt along is 30″ by 40″.  But I wanted it to be bigger so that I could actually snuggle up beneath it.  So I’ve decided to add a 10″ wide border on all sides to make my finished quilt 50″ by 60″.

I’d seen this quilt awhile back made by Penny at Quilt2sr5:

     

I loved the Christmas light border and knew I’d have to do that at some point.  This seems like the perfect way to make my Modern Trees quilt big enough to snuggle with!

The border design actually originally came from The Christmas Trees pattern in the “A Slice of Christmas” eBook by Piece O’ Cake designs.

Penny from Quilt2sr5 did the same thing I’m planning to do – put the Christmas lights border around a different Christmas themed center.

So doing a little copying and pasting to attempt to combine the images of the quilt along quilt with my desired border, I’ve made a (slightly imperfect) mock-up of the quilt design I’ll be making:

X-mas Quilt Mock-up

Christa posted the first step in the process this morning so hopefully I can get started with my Modern Trees Christmas quilt in the next day or so!

Have you ever done a quilt along?  If so, did you have any problems keeping up with the quilting schedule?

A Quilt for My Sister

Just to keep me on my toes, I’m working on a second quilt alongside the quilt for my cousin’s new baby.  This second quilt is for my sister for a birthday present.  I got her input on colors (she requested blues and purples) and then I chose a pattern and picked specific fabrics.

For this quilt, I’m following the Refracted Quilt tutorial by Melissa at Happy Quilting.  The PDF version of the pattern is also available in her shop.

I loved how it showed off so many different fabrics (the picnic size uses 25 fat quarters)!

I took advantage of some great Labor Day sales at Jo Ann Fabric at bought a bunch of their blue and purple fat quarters at about 50% off.  I also bought a couple of coordinating fabrics off the bolt so I’d have a few things that incorporated multiple colors (all of Jo Ann’s fat quarters – at least that I saw – were basically single colors).  Here’s what I ended up with:

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As you can see, I’d already separated them into five groups of 5.  You can see the individual fabric prints better here:

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I’m planning to go through each set of 5 one at a time instead of cutting everything up at once.  It seemed like it would be easier to me.  So I took my first set of 5 and cut each fabric into an 18″ square.  I then stacked the 5 squares on top of each other and cut out my 5 various segments.

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Then it simply started mixing the segments up into 5 individuals squares until I was happy with the color combinations and the look of the various pieces.  Here are a couple of my layouts from the first set of fabrics:

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I have just a single square sewn together at this point so I’ve got a ways to go with this project.  It is nice to be working with such bright, bold colors though after spending the last couple of weeks working with the softer, pale colors in the baby quilt.  What’s you favorite quilt you’ve made for a friend or family member?

Work in Progress (WIP) Wednesday – HSTs Done!

I’ve made some really great progress on all of the HSTs that I need for my baby quilt.  I’m not sure if the method for making HSTs that was a part of my pattern is the normal method or if it’s a handy shortcut but either way, I really like it!

I started out by cutting out all of my 4.25″ squares (10 from each of my 9 colored fabrics and 90 from my white fabric).  I am now 100% sold on the use of a rotary cutter!  It makes doing all of this cutting so much easier!

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Then, I paired a white square with a colored square (right sides facing each other).  Using a pencil, I drew a line from corner to corner on the wrong side of the white square.  After pinning, I sewed the squares together, making a seam 1/4″ on either side of the pencil line.  I used my rotary cutter to cut along my pencil line, making two triangles.  When these triangles are pressed open and trimmed down to 3.75″, I have two HSTs!

Here you can see the progression of all of the steps:

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And here you can see where the stitches are a little better (since you can’t really see my white thread on the white squares in the above picture.

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It feels really good to have all 180 of my HSTs done and to be ready to start putting the quilt top together!

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My biggest question that has arisen from my progress so far is this: How often do you replace the blade on your rotary cutter?  I’ve decided it is my favorite tool but I don’t know how long the blades last.

Planning My First Quilt

I decided that I wanted to learn how to quilt so that I could make a baby quilt for my cousin’s new baby girl.  Baby Allie already joined the family in July (she is so cute!) but the quilt I’m making will be her Christmas gift from me this year.

I have a pretty large extended family, especially on my dad’s side.  My dad has three sisters, all of whom married.  Then there are 10 cousins and 4 of those cousins are married now.  And some of the married cousins have had kids of their own now (we’re up to 5 so far).  So when we get everyone together for the holidays, we sometimes have up to 27 people running around!

We decided long ago that for holiday gift exchanges, we’d draw names out of a hat because there are way too many of us to buy for everyone.  This way, everyone is only buying for one other person.  My mom has been in charge of actually doing the drawing and making all the pairings for a long time now but she will occasionally “cheat” on the drawing if someone has a really good idea for a specific person and wants to be paired with them.  So I asked my mom to make sure I was chosen to buy for baby Allie this year!

I was really drawn to the Derailed Quilt Pattern by FrivolousNecessity for baby Allie.  I loved the use of pinks and yellows together which made it look girly but it also had a bit more pizzazz than many baby quilts I see.  I don’t know if I’m adventurous or simply crazy to start off with a quilt with so many half-square triangles (HST) but I guess we’ll see how it goes!

Derailed

So off to Jo-Ann Fabrics I went to try to find 9 different pink and yellow fabrics that would work well together.  I’ll be honest, the fabric buying process really intimidated me.  There are so many fabrics to choose from and I just didn’t know if I had the eye for telling what fabrics would look good together in a finished quilt.  I’d read all about making sure you had a mix of small, medium, and large scale patterns and having different shades of colors to give visual interest but I wasn’t so sure I could actually put it to practice.

After spending a long time digging through the racks, pulling way more fabrics than I needed and narrowing them down to my top 9, I came up with the below prints.  My color scheme expanded a little bit to be a mixture of pinks, yellows, and grays.

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I found a white on white polka dot fabric for my background (unfortunately I had a hard time capturing the white on white with the camera but hopefully you can see what I’m talking about).

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Lastly, I had to choose fabric for the backing and binding.  For my first quilt, I felt it would be easier to decide all of this ahead of time and just buy all of my fabric at once.  But I also didn’t want to have to try to coordinate any more fabrics into the mix so I decided to choose two of the fabrics from the front.  I’m using a white/pink/yellow floral pattern for the backing (left) and a soft pink polka dot print for the binding (right).

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Now I should have everything I need to start cutting out my pieces and sewing!  Wish me luck!

When making baby quilts, do you prefer pinks/blues or gender neutral color schemes?

Tools of the Trade

Before I get to any sewing, I wanted to share the tools that I’ve accumulated to help me as I work.

The most important has got to be the sewing machine that my mom bought me, a Janome Sewist 500.  She told me that she wanted to start me off with a nice enough machine that I wouldn’t feel like I needed to upgrade it and she wanted it to be high enough quality that it would last me a long time.  So far, I’ve found it really easy to use.  Thanks mom!

Janome Sewist 500

Janome Sewist 500

She also got me a sewing basket filled with all sorts of different tools and notions!  I’ve got nice fabric scissors, a pin cushion and lots of pins, replacement needles for my machine (as well as needles for hand sewing), extra bobbins, a fabric pencil, a small metal ruler and a flexible ruler – what more could a girl need?!?

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I also got myself a mat and rotary cutter as I didn’t want to have to cut all my pieces for the quilts out by hand.  Reading reviews online made me decide to go with Olfa.  It seemed to be most people’s favorite.

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Lastly, I got myself a few rulers from Jo-Ann Fabric so that I can more easily get straight edges and make all of my pieces the proper size.

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So hopefully with all these tools, I’ll be ready to tackle my first quilt.  That said, I’m sure as I continue on my quilting journey, I’ll come across more things that make my life easier (or are simply just fun things to have)!  What tool do you find most useful in your quilting?