Saturday, June 28, 2014

Vermont Quilt Festival

I had a great trip to Vermont Quilt Festival today with my good friend Megan!  It was so nice to be back in Burlington.  I spent four wonderful years there at Saint Michael's College and have very fond memories of that place.  The quilt show takes place just down the street from Saint Mikes so I got to do a quick drive by visit of campus.

We had a great time at the show and spent plenty of time looking at all of the beautiful quilts.  Afterwards we even managed a quick trip down the road to Nido, a wonderful modern quilt and yarn shop.  If you've never been in I highly recommend it.  I picked up a few things there that I'll share at another time.

In the mean time I'll leave you with this antique double wedding ring quilt.  Feels very modern doesn't?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Little time for sewing

I've hardly had any sewing time the last few weeks.  Not since the triangle quilt backing debacle.  I still haven't decided what to do about it.

Last week my sewing mojo was missing in action.  My husband was away on work for the week so I had plenty of time to sew, but for some reason I just didn't feel like it... do you ever have those days?  I did do a bit of hand sewing with a batik charm-pack I had lying around. 

I started sewing them together but I don't really like how it's looking.  The stitches are really obvious and I don't really like the color placement.  I think I'll probably scrap this layout and start over.  I really love the modern feel of these floating hexagons.  I think that type of layout would help the batiks feel less frumpy and help the beautiful bright colors to really pop.

This weekend I wasn't able to sew either.  I ended up traveling to the Great North Woods of New Hampshire (Yes, that is a real place!) to spend some time with my husband on his job site in Pittsburgh, NH.  For those of you who know your northern New Hampshire geography,  that's the bit of NH that is further north than Canada.  We got a lot accomplished but, alas, little done in the way of sewing.  I did manage to stitch up a few more of the hexie's mentioned above.

I also recently ordered some cute mini-business cards from, which arrived last week. How cute are these?!  I plan on carrying some with me for when people ask me about my blog and including them in the Bee packages I send out.   I was inspired to create a design after two different bee-mates included them in their packages.  I used my new blog header for the front, featuring the Globe Trotting QAL in Rapture, and my new triangle quilt on the back.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Quilting Woes, among other things

I've had so much time this week to work on my triangle quilt along quilt.  I sat down last night after work and worked on the quilting for about two hours only to flip it over and discover......the dreaded wrinkles.  

The perfectionist in me says: "This is unacceptable.  You must remove everything and start again!  You won't love it if you don't!  That's all you'll ever notice in the quilt!!"

The realist in me says: "Big deal, so there's a wrinkle in the back.  It will take you twice and long to rip them all out and start over.  It is a handmade quilt, there are bound to be some hiccups along the way.  Accept it, learn from it, and move on."

So then the question becomes:  Do I rip out the two hours of sewing I did last night and start over to get the 'perfect' back? Or do I just accept it and move on?  What would you do?

While I was sitting at the computer contemplating my next steps and drowning in a pool of self-pity and doubt for my failure to make the perfect quilt, I had an unexpected visitor.  A bear came right up to the picture window, tore down one of our bird feeders, and proceeded to help itself to a hearty meal of sunflower seeds.  It certainly wasn't the largest bear I've ever seen but I tell you what, it scared the you-know-what out of me!  Ahh... the joys of country living.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Triangle Quilt Along - Making Progress

I finally had some time to work on my Triangle Quilt Along quilt.  Paula has graciously given us slow pokes and overachievers until July 31st for one final link up party and I'll tell you, I'm determined to meet that deadline.  I decided to spray baste this quilt since I've had trouble with pin basting on the last few projects I've done.

getting ready to baste

I picked up this fantastic Homegrown Bicycles on Cream fabric for the backing last time I was over at Keepsake Quilting.  It's the perfect amount of colorful and whimsy.  I had to piece the backing to make it large enough but I think I did a pretty good job of matching up the pattern.  From far away you won't even see the seam.

seam on backing fabric
The spray basting went really well too.  I started out by taping my backing fabric to the floor in our living room with painters tape.  Then I carefully spray basted the batting down to the backing, making sure to smooth out any wrinkles in the batting.  I used a nice, thin cotton batting that will make this quilt perfect for use on the sofa.

I always work from top to bottom in about 6 to 8 inch rows when spray basting.  It allows me to go slowly and correct any mistakes as they happen rather than getting the whole thing down and realizing there's a big wrinkle in the middle of the quilt.

In the past I've had difficulty with the quilt becoming sort of wonky and stretched as I worked but I was very careful with this one to only press and stretch top to bottom.  All those bias edges could have made for a nightmare!

I wasn't sure how I wanted to quilt this one.  Most of the ones I've seen are just following the lines of the blocks to create a diamond or triangle grid.  I wanted to do something a little different though.  I printed some isometric graph paper from this site and started sketching.  This is also where I print all of my graph paper when I want to draw out blocks or quilt patterns to visualize them before I start.  I still prefer good old graph paper over all of the fancy design programs when working out block designs.  I decided to go with some echo quilting, but in what will hopefully be an unexpected way.  

skteching designs

I got some pretty variegated purple and magenta thread to use for the quilting but neglected to capture a photo of it before I started.  It's a Coats & Clark cotton thread called Plum Shadows.  It will blend nicely in the darker ends of the quilt but really pop on top of the white, orange, green, and yellow blocks.  I'm hoping it will be nice.  My goal is to finish this quilt up this week while my husband is away on business.


I'm linking up with Stitch by Stich for anything goes mondays.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The 2014 New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop - Day Two

Today is day two of three days of blog hops for the 2014 New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop.  I'm so excited to be participating this year!  If you missed out on day one you can find all the links here.  If you aren't following along, you should be.  There are lots of great new blogs to check out, blogging and quilting tips, and even some giveaways.  So be there or be a half-square triangle!

Let me start by introducing myself.  I'm Jennifer and I've been quilting for about 5 years.  I'm a born and bread New England girl who loves the outdoors and bright colors.  My husband and I live in northern New Hampshire with our two newly adopted cat, Martin and Agent Archer.  I work as a Decision Support Analyst in Finance at our major area hospital.  In addition to quilting, I've recently started running (and just finished my first 5K last weekend), enjoy cycling with my husband, and hiking and skiing the mountains near our home.

far left: visiting MQX 2014; top right: Color Vibe 5K; bottom right: Martin and Agent Archer

I don't have many finishes to show right now.  I've been busy participating in both the 2014 Sugar Block Club and the 2014 Aurifil Block of the Month.  I'm doing them in the same color palette: a really lovely Peach, Coral, and Orange and I love how they are coming out.  It's a really beautiful, soft color palette but it's still fun and colorful and lively, just how I like it. 

left: 2014 Sugar block as of May; right: 2014 Auriful BOM as of May

I also recently participated in the Triangle Quilt Along, hosted by The Sassy Quilter, Paula.  I have very few of the quilts I've made currently in my possession.  Most of them are made as gifts so when I started this one, I started it knowing that it would be mine!

With that in mind, I cut into some long horded fabrics from this one, using some up some cherished Heather Ross mermaid fabrics and fun Japanese prints. Right now I'm working on the backing using the wonderful homegrown bicycle fabric in cream.  I think it captures the whimsy of the quilt and my personality perfectly.  I can't wait to get this one finished up so I can cuddle up on the couch with it.

I really love participating in online quilting bee's and have at least 6 projects in various stages of completion at the moment.  The variety of blocks, patterns, and fabrics that I receive through a swap like this is something that I could never achieve on my.  It's also really forced me to improve my skills as a quilter.  When I first started, I couldn't figure out why my blocks were all 3/4 to 1 inch too small.  I was so frustrated!!  But I soon discovered that the 1/4 inch foot that came with my machine, wasn't really a 1/4 inch!  Once I knew, my blocks quickly improved and my time spent with the seam ripper decreased dramatically.  If you've never done a swap like this before I highly recommend it.  Some of the ones I've participated in include:
1. Pink - Yellow - Grey Blocks, 2. Sew Pieceful Blocks Received, 3. Blocks Received - scrappy trip around the world., 4. Rocky Mtn. Puzzle, 5. Kitty/Robot Blocks in Aqua/Gold, 6. Sew Pieceful June Blocks
Blogging Tip:

The best tip I can give you when it comes to blogging is to Use. Your. Resources.  If you want to add a button to your page, or change the way something is formatted, or want to know how to do anything GOOGLE IT!  There are hundreds of people out there with the same questions as you and chances are someone has already answered them.  So before you give up in frustration because you don't know html code and therefore couldn't possible have a blog, try googling your question first.  You'd be amazed at what you'll find.

Quilting Tip:

When it comes to quilting, there are so many good tips and tricks out there.  What is there that I can possibly tell you that you haven't already heard somewhere else....?  The thing that really helped me to improve my quilting was when I started sewing with other people.  I joined my local quilt guild, got involved with online quilt bee's, and forced my non-quilting friends to make a quilt with me (we've now started our third one).  And I learned more from those experiences than I ever did from a book.  So if you really want to learn and improve your skills, look for people who have knowledge to share.

Just for Fun:

Dream Vacation Spot: Finland to see my many aunts, uncles, and cousins.  My husband and I are hoping to honeymoon there later this year.

Favorite Book: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams.  DON'T PANIC, I've only read it thirteen times.

And for my random, fun fact, let's play a game of what's in your purse!
  • my wallet
  • three cards waiting for stamps
  • a computer mouse
  • a box of sewing pins
  • reading glasses, sun glasses, distance glasses, and a strip of contact lenses (I'm pretty much blind by the way)
  • 3 bottles of ibuprofen
  • 5 sticks of lip stick
  • scraps of fabric from my most recent project
  • scraps of fabric from my last 7 projects
  • a real silver fork (no idea where this came from but it's been in there for months)
  • iPhone
  • Nikon DSL camera (I hate to go anywhere without it)
  • a packet of oatmeal
  • gluten-free pretzels
  • cup of microwaveable rice

Well that's all, thank you so much for stopping by and I hope you'll join me on this crazy adventure I call life.  In addition to this blog, you can find me on the following social media sites:

Be sure to check out all of the other amazing new bloggers posting as part of Day Two!

Camelia @ Camelia Elliott 
Nurdan @ Hug a Bit Quilts 
Lori @ Sew Psychd
Kitty @ Night Quilter
Judy @ Quilt Paradigm 
Jasmine @ Quilt Kisses
 Christina @ Wips and Tuts
Marcia @ Cozy Capatiller 

Cost vs. Utility - Making Quilts on Commission

Recently, I've had several people ask me about making them a quilt.  One requested a t-shirt quilt out of some favorite college shirts, one was looking to turn her wedding dress into a keepsake quilt for future children, and one sent me a link to a quilt she really liked.  And all of this got me thinking....could I make quilts on commission?  Would I even want to?

I found a post this morning from the blog of Ink & Spindle. called The Formula - or 'how to price your wares correctly'.   They are a boutique textile company so they aren't too far removed from the world of quilt making.  The whole post is about accurately pricing yourself and your wares.  So I thought, okay, using the method they discuss, how much would a baby quilt cost me to make?

First I needed to figure out the cost of materials.  I assumed I'd probably be working from a fat quarter bundle.  I found one made up of 7 fat quarters costing $17.50 amounting to a total yardage of 1 3/4 yards of fabric.  More than enough for a simple baby quilt.  That's also $2.50 per fat quarter; a standard rate for most quilt shops.  I'd also need to buy backing fabric.  The standard size of a baby quilt is 34" x 54".  Making it just slightly larger than a single yard cut of fabric.  Assuming that I'd have some scraps left over from the front to make up the difference I thought that I'd be able to get by with one yard.  The average cost of a yard of quilt-shop quality fabric is right around $11.00.  I'd also need batting.  Warm & Natural baby-size precut batting is $14.99 at Joanne's fabric.  If you're following along we're up to total material costs of $43.50.

Next I need to factor in the cost of the time it takes me to make the quilt.  From cutting all the way to sewing on the binding I think it'd take me about 12 hours to make a simple baby quilt.  At a living wage of $15/hr that's $180 in wages.

That means that the base cost of making this simple baby quilt is $223.50.  Then I need to cover my overhead costs.  Things like machine upkeep and maintenance, bulk thread purchases, rotary cutter blades, needles, even the cost of the electricity to run my machine, iron, and lights... you get the idea.  According to the post on Ink & Spindle a good rule of thumb is to double the base cost.  That means that this simple baby quilt now costs $447.

Because we live in a free market society, there has to be some profit built in as well.  Let's assume I want to make a 50% profit on this quilt (the Ink & Spindle post suggests another 100% markup).  With that in mind, the baby quilt now costs $670.

The exercise of moving through this thought process has certainly opened up my eyes to the true costs of making a quilt for someone else purely for economic purposes.  However, I rarely quilt for pure economic purposes.  I also gain some economic utility, or some measure of happiness and pleasure (my college professors would be so proud of me), from quilting.  So then the question becomes, do I discount the price to account for the happiness I gain from the process?  Does the fact that I get to make a quilt impact the cost of actually making it?  I don't know.

SO I'm asking you.  Have you ever made a quilt on commission?  How did it go?  What did you learn in the process?  Once I have some responses complied I'll do another blog post about the subject to further address these questions.  I know this can be a touchy subject for some people in the quilting community so let's keep the conversations positive and constructive from the get-go.

So that this post isn't entirely lacking in pictures... I've made significant progress on my modern double cross quilt.  I ran out of background material this weekend but hope to have it finished up shortly.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Special Delivery!

Last week I purchased some of the limited edition Arizona fabric line, designed by April Rhodes from Hawthorne Threads.  My real-life friend Megan and I have been drooling over the collection since it was first announced.  

I spent probably a solid 50 minutes on the website going back and forth over what to buy and how much of it.  I finally decided that I really wanted a taste of each so I ended up purchasing a yard of the 8 prints and a half-yard of the 5 supporting solids.

I also really wanted to try making some more clothes so I also picked up 4 yards of the Triangle Tokens Voile in Agave since I'm not sure what I'm making yet.  I'm leaning towards the Date Night Dress, also designed by April Rhodes.  I picked up the pattern awhile back and haven't tried it yet.

The colors in this collection are just wonderful!  I love the combination of strong navy with offbeat mustard, soft aqua, and girly peach.  And the geometric designs are so fun.  These are so soft too.  Not like regular quilting cottons.  I could easily see them working for clothing as well.  I can't wait to get to work with these beauties.  I"m leaning towards something inspired by Maureen Cracknell's Arizona quilt.  What do you think? What would you make with these?

Be on the look out on Wednesday for day two of the 2014 New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop.  I'll be posting along with 24 other talented, new quilt bloggers.

I'm linking up with Stitch by Stich for anything goes mondays.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The 2014 New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop - Day One

Today is the first of three days of blog hops for the 2014 New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop.  I'm so excited to be participating this year!  Look for my post on June 11th.  In the mean time be sure to visit today's bloggers.  The group below links to another group of blogger so click through and enjoy all the quilty eye candy!

Blogs to visit today:
Michelle @ Michelle Bartholomew
Yvonne @ Quilting Jet Girl

Jana @ Jane Machado

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Shameless Request for Votes

I've entered a mini quilt into the 2014 Umbrella Prints Trimming Competition this year called Tiny Heart.  I know, such a creative name...  If you love what I made I'd so much appreciate a comment or a repin or a like on the 2014 Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition Pinterest page.  Use this link to go directly to my entry.  Voting is open between June 1st and June 5th.


Prizes are as follows:

Special Industry Judge Choice Prize 
$500 cash + an Umbrella Prints product of their choice!

People's Choice Prize
$200 Umbrella Prints organic fabric package
Everyone gets to have their vote a little later and to help get things rolling when the time comes this prize is awarded to the entry with the most individual comments from the 2014 Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition board.

New Quilters Prize
Full Fat Quarter pack of the NEW 2014 Organic Cotton Collection (coming soon!)

Golden Ticket Prizes (5 up for grabs)

$50 Umbrella Prints organic fabric package

Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day & Small Blog Meet