My Long Hiatus …

I have so much to post about but life has totally gotten in the way lately.  Time to try to catch you guys up to speed with my life and my sewing!

Remember the colorful solids I was playing with a while back?  I mixed and matched between designers a bit so the set had Kaffe Fassett Shot Cottons, Pepper Cory’s Peppered Cottons, and Andover’s Textured Cottons all included.  Last time I checked in, I had sewn them all up into a bunch of HST and hourglass blocks.

Well, those blocks turned in to not one but two different quilt tops!Baby Quilt 1

Baby Quilt 2

I had to get them both quilted up and bound really quickly too because they were for something really important.  Everything was happening so fast that I wasn’t even able to get photos of one of them outdoors!  My kitchen floor around midnight had to do!Baby Quilt 3

Baby Quilt 5

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I really love the look of the black and white striped binding!

Baby Quilt 4

Baby Quilt 7

Now what was the rush you ask?  Well – these baby quilts were used to announce to both my mom and my husband’s mom that they are going to be grandmas!  That’s right – I’m pregnant and we’ll be having our first child (a baby girl) in June!

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I couldn’t wait to tell them so both quilts were finished and gifted within a week of me and my husband learning the news ourselves!  Both of our moms loved their quilts and started crying as they read the label on the back!

Baby Quilt 10“Grandma’s First Quilt”
Quilt Stats:
Size: 42″ x 42″
Pattern: HSTs or Hourglass blocks
Type of Quilting: Straight line on my home machine
Date Finished: October 2014

So that is why I haven’t been posting as much lately.  Pregnancy fatigue and getting ready to grow our family has been stealing a lot of my time and, while I’ve still fit some sewing in, I haven’t found time to actually post about.  But hopefully I can get back on track here soon!

Colorful Fabrics for a New Project

Despite the fact that I’ve got a couple of WIPs that I really need to finish, I’ve recently gotten started on a new project.  I’m working on two different baby quilts now that are going to be a matching set.

On a recent trip to my LQS, I bought a variety of cotton solids in a rainbow of colors.  I mixed and matched between designers a bit so the set has Kaffe Fassett Shot Cottons, Pepper Cory’s Peppered Cottons, and Andover’s Textured Cottons all included.

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I tried to find fabrics that would pretty true to the “standard” colors of the rainbow.  I was basically envisioning opening an 8-count box of crayons and trying to match what the colorful crayons would look like.

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Since I’m pairing these colorful solids with Kona white for the background, my LQS recommended that I pre-wash everything.  They said my colorful solids would shrink at a different rate than the background.  So I bought some pinking shears and embarked on my first pre-washing ever.  And I’m going to be honest, I’m not a fan of having to pre-wash.  Between trimming with the pinking shears and cutting off the frayed edges after washing, you lose a good bit of fabric.  And it takes a lot more work!

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But I finally got everything pre-washed and re-ironed and could actually start cutting into it.  I cut out 120 squares (1/2 colored and 1/2 white) so that I can make 60 half square triangles and 60 hourglass blocks.

I know everyone seems to rave about shot cottons but so far I’m not a huge fan of working with these colorful fabrics.  I’ve had a lot more issues with fraying as I cut than I’ve ever had before with Kona solids.  I tried starching the fabrics and that didn’t seem to help either (if anything, it might have been worse after starching).  But I did successfully get everything cut!

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And now I’ve been doing a ton of chain piecing and sewing everything together.  Luckily, both HST and hourglass blocks make for easy chain-piecing.  I love how all the colors look all stacked together!

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I can’t wait to start getting everything laid out and see these quilts come together!

Star Light Star Bright – HSTs

Our assignment for this week in the Star Light Star Bright Quilt-A-Long was to take most of the squares we cut (in my case, it was my 32 3″ squares) and turn them into half-square triangles.

We used them same method for making the HSTs that I learned while making baby quilt I finished for last Christmas so this task went pretty quickly for me.  Soon I had 32 beautiful 2.5″ HSTs!

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Soon we’ll get to start putting everything together and I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone’s turns out.

Two Quilt Tops

Sorry I haven’t posted much lately.  Life has been really busy and I haven’t had much time to spare to sit at my sewing machine and work on my projects.  I feel like I’ve been “go, go, go” between out-of-town weddings (we’re going to another one this weekend too!), work, tennis, and starting to think about Christmas shopping.

But I have put in enough time to have some progress to share on two of my projects.  First off – I have 100% completed my first quilt top!  Last night, I sewed the last seam on the baby quilt top made of 180 HSTs for my cousin’s baby.

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Now I’m ready to try my hand at basting, quilting and binding!

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I’ve also finished the main, center section of the Modern Trees Quilt Along over at Christa Quilts.  I still have borders to add before quilting this project (including my applique string of lights that I haven’t gotten a chance to start yet) but I’m at least starting to see how it is all going to go together and I love how it is looking so far.

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I’m glad that the prints that I chose really do look basically like solids when viewed from a distance.

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I’ve also decided that my back deck works really well for quilt pictures.  I wish the trees had better fall colors though!

Now I need to get a walking foot for my machine so I can start my straight line quilting on the HSTs baby quilt!  Wish me luck!

Making More Progress

I had a pretty good chance to sew this weekend (no long periods of time but lots of an hour here, 90 minutes there) as well as a bit of time yesterday evening and I was able to make a lot of progress on my projects!

I’ve finished sewing together all of the HSTs that form the 15 rows of my quilt.  I also have all of the seams pressed (alternating directions with each row) so all I have left to do is sew the rows together and I’ll have completed my first quilt top!

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I also cut all of my charm squares for the Kate Spade Charm Swap I joined.  I turned this pretty stack of fabrics:

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Into these stacks of 56 charm squares each!  That’s a total of 224 charm squares!

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I’m so excited to get them sent off for the swap and see all of the pretty fabrics I get back.  It actually didn’t take nearly as long as I expected to cut all of the charm squares out thanks to the helpful tutorial on cutting charm squares from yardage that Elizabeth Hartman put together over at Oh, Frannson!.

I should have some time tonight to put some work into my Modern Trees quilt-along project.  I’ve been busy with other things and have fallen a little behind so hopefully a can catch up a bit!

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Sewing the Top for the Baby Quilt

I can tell that I’m already getting hooked on this sewing thing.  I’ve had a busy last couple of weeks and didn’t really get a chance to get behind the sewing machine much and I sort of missed it!  I’ve realized that I find sewing to be relaxing and am enjoying adding it to my schedule and making it a new hobby.

I did get a chance this weekend to transfer my focus back to the baby quilt I’m making.  I finished all 180 of my HSTs for it a few weeks back but then set them aside and have been working on other things.

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Well I finally laid out all of those stacks of HSTs into the layout for my quilt top and have started working on sewing the rows together.  It was quite a process trying to evenly distribute the colors across the entire quilt and I had to move things around a few times before I was happy with it.  Thankfully I can leave it on the floor of our spare bedroom and just close the door to keep the dog from disturbing all the squares!

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It is kind of amazing to me how much all of those quarter inch seam allowances add up when you multiply them across the entire width of the quilt top.  Check out how much the rows shrink when sewn together!

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I’m really excited about how it is turning out so far!  What surprised you the most when you were working on your first quilt?

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.