Thursday, December 31, 2015

Modern Double Cross {a finished quilt}

This is the year of finishing things.  According to my blog history this quilt was imagined and started in February 2014 in the form of a tutorial for both 12 and 6 inch blocks for my turn as queen bee of We Bee Learning.  My cousin was graduating from High School that spring and I needed a quilt.

The blocks quickly came pouring in from across the country and, with the addition of a few more on my end, were ready to be pieced into a top by May.  Since the colors were so saturated I really felt like they needed breathing room, plus my cousins on this size are very tall and I didn't want to make 1000 blocks, so I played with some alternative layouts,

Once I had decided I bought the background fabric, going with a basic extra-wide blue and started to work out the piecing.  This was my first adventure into using an alternative layout so it was definitely challenging for me.  I eventually ran out of background fabric, purchased some more, and then it sat.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe I was overwhelmed with the though of trying to piece the whole thing together?  Maybe it was because it's simply larger than any of the rooms in my house so I didn't have a place to lay it out and work on?  Finally when I went on retreat this fall I brought it with me, hoping that would give me the kick I needed to get it finished.

Well I was right.  I found a big room, figured out how I had intended to put it together, and got to work FINALLY sewing the top together.  I had some much needed help squaring it up and learned some great techniques (the trick is to make the flooring work for you!) and it was ready to ship to the longarmer.  

Katie at Home Hearth Quilting did a fabulous job on it, quilting a fun bubble feather pattern on the blue background and crosses to echo the piecing through the orange and red.  She even added in a special quote for my cousin, who is studying music.

"Do not fear mistakes, there are none." - Miles Davis

Being a teenage male he was tough to read but I think he liked it. :) 

I gifted the quilt at our family Thanksgiving this year and promptly put him and his brother (both of whom are 6ft+, to work holding it for me for pictures.  This quilt finished at 107" x 96" so I really needed their help to get some pictures!

Nearly two years after it had begun, I was really glad to get this one finished.  Another WIP crossed off the list and happily received.  Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday and Finish it up Friday.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Best of Never Just Jennifer {five posts from 2015}

The lovely Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a fun end of year link-up highlighting your best content of 2015.  This year has been absolutely crazy for me.  I started right out of the gate with a strong January, almost doubling my blogging schedule and sewing schedule.  Life does have a way of getting busy though and I tailed off at the end of the year, really slacking in October and November particularly.

#1  Round Trip Quilts:  

My favorite project by far this year was working on the Round Trip Quilts round robin bee.  I got my quilt back in September and it's absolutely amazing.  I haven't had a chance to photograph it yet to share with you but fear not, it will be done.  I loved seeing the instagram/blog posts of when these amazing talented ladies received their tops.  I can't wait to see the finished quilts start popping up.

Some of my favorites to work on were:

#2  Two Birds, One Stone:

This is by far the quilt I'm most proud of this year.  I sleep under it every night and bring it with us when we travel.  My husband even likes it!  I put a lot of work into designing and thinking out this quilt pattern and could not be happier with the final result.  I still need to work out how to write up a pattern for it thought.  :)  You can see all of the posts related to this project here.

#3  Oakshott Scandinavia Challenge

This quilt was made a part of a challenge with Sew Mama Sew and Oakshott Fabrics, using their Scandinavia collection.  I loved the opportunity to make something that honors my family heritage and reminds me of the memories I made when I visited Finland as a girl.

#4  Twice as Nice Superhero Quilts

These matching quilts were made for a coworker who had twin boys in November.  They were really fun to make and I found it challenging to make these matching quilts different enough for the twins.  You can see just the tops here and the finished quilts here. 

#5  In Memory of, #1

This was by far the most challenging project of 2015.  I was commissioned to make two memory quilts using the clothes of my customers parents.  This first quilt was for her brother.  In the end, I'm happy with how it came out but have to admit that the whole thing was a challenge.  I struggled to find motivation to work on this quilt and really had to push myself through each step to get it finished.  I'm starting on the second quilt soon and hope that I can take away some of what I learned from the first time around.

Thank you for following along as I reviewed my best of 2015 posts.  I hope you'll take the opportunity to reflect on your best of as well!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Carpenter's Star {a finished quilt}

This quilt has been a long time in the making.  It began in early 2013 when I found out that my uncle was getting married and was born out of my strong desire to make a carpenters star quilt.  I queried my uncles then soon-to-be wife and we settled on a red and white color scheme.  Without delay I started buying up every red or white fabric I found on the internet, not really thinking about theme or overall composition.  Keep in mind I didn't have a stash yet so to make a scrappy carpenters star I needed fabric.  Since it's hard to tell what color red a fabric is online, the reds in this quilt vary from pink and peach to burgundy and orange.  Because of my buying fervor there are some really interesting fabrics in this quilt.  Some of my favorites include:

  • red and white zebras
  • balloon dogs
  • cutlery
  • "How to iron a shirt" fabric
  • coloring book animals
  • Pi and the angles of a triangle

I cut without a plan too.  I knew I needed to make half-square triangles so I started cutting ALL of the fabrics I had bought into 10" squares.  Then I sewed them into HST using the biggest, widest seam you can imagine.  This was before I knew was a 1/4" seam was.  The large seam resulted in blocks that were roughly 7", give or take an inch....more or less.  I wasn't big on consistent sizing yet either I guess.  Either way, the top came together fine.  

I added three borders to the top to bring the size up to just under queen sized.  One dark solid red, a 1 inch solid white, and then an red plaid to take it from square to rectangular.  I didn't actually get a measurement on it before gifting.  Let just leave it at "large cuddle couch quilt" / "small queen bed quilt" sized.  I used the same red plaid on the back, but again, I wasn't big on measuring so I had to supplement with the excess red blocks I had cut and a pieced heart using scraps from the front.  Personally, I really love the back of this one.  The splashes of extra color make me pretty happy.

Originally I wanted to quilt this myself but the size of it was overwhelming to me.  I made the decision and had it long-arm quilted locally.  This is one of the reasons that the quilt took so long to make.  When I got the quilt back I was really unhappy with the quilting.  It was not what we had discussed when I dropped off my quilt, whole blocks were not quilted and the wrong thread color had been used.  At that point I didn't know what to do so the quilt just sat for literally years needing only a binding.  

Finally I decided that it wasn't worth it to take the quilt back and have it re-quilted.  I certainly didn't want to rip all of those stitches out and frankly, didn't trust the long-armer to do it.  So I sucked it up, cut a binding, and finished it in time to gift at our family Thanksgiving this year.  And I'm glad that  I did.  They loved it, even though it was two years late, and were so excited to get a quilt.  And to be honest, I didn't even notice the quilting when I gifted it and I don't notice is now in the pictures either.  I guess I just needed an expectation adjustment.  After all, Finished IS better than Perfect.

Remember that pile of squares that I cut at the beginning?  Some of them became my Sailor's Take Delight quilt that I finished and gifted this summer.  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Open Wide Zipper Pouches, take two

I have been on a role since I got back from retreat in October.  I guess all I needed was a little extra time with my creativity and others like me to really get my sew-jo back.  This Sunday I worked on making a bunch more of the Open Wide Zipper Pouch by Noodlehead.  I made my first one back in May of this year and have been using ever since.  I love it so much and I thought that they would make great gifts this year (although to be perfectly honest my ulterior motive was to make more for me! Don't tell anyone.).

I have a bunch of canvas fabrics that I have been wondering what do do with for ages.  I found them again when I was cleaning out my sewing room post-retreat and left them out on the table figuring I'd make a bag or something.  on Sunday, I was having some trouble with the thread tension on a baby quilt I was quilting so I set it aside, picked up these fabrics and just started cutting.

The first fabric I used is Itsy Bitsy, by Heather Ross, which you can still find here.  The other is a fun records print by Melody Miller called Ruby Star from Spring 2012 for Kokka on an 85/15 cotton linen blend.  I have the color ambrosia, which is a lovely sage-mint green.  This is a really large scale print with the records measuring almost 7" across.  I made three pouches in these fabrics, one large in the records and one medium and one small in the the Itsy Bitsy.  I used a heavy weight Pellon fusible interfacing on all of these bags because I like them to have a little more structure and substance and I think they hold up better personally.  Overall, the added weight/bulk didn't impact my sewing.  They are also all lined with the same grey-brown Moda Grunge as my first pouch; perfect for hiding stains.

The second versions that I made are using a fun black and white forest animal canvas, that I think came from Spoonflower, and Essex Linen for the bottom.  I'm pretty sure the color I used is either Graphite or Black.  I made two large pouches and two medium pouches in this combination I love on these how the only color comes from the zippers.  I switched up the colors using various bright zippers.  Aren't they fun?!

My personal favorite is this Bear Boogie in Red by Kokka, a cotton linen blend.  I have no idea where I got this fabric but since it's just so darn cute I'm glad it ended up in my stash some how.  I only made one large pouch out of this one but would love a little set of them to use.  This one isn't completely done yet, I still have to sew the tag to the end of the zipper, but I was so excited to use it that I decided to do that part later.

While cutting/piecing this one I tried to make sure that all of my seams would line up around the bag  and was so pleasantly surprised when I flipped in right-side out and saw this perfectly matched seam!

I still have a few more to finish up before these are completely done.  And they're so fast and easy I might just cut out a bunch more for gifts and to list for sale sometime.  I think a fun modification would be to use laminate fabric for the inside for shower supplies or things that might leak.  I'll have to explore that further too.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday today over at Freshly Pieced.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Schnitzel & Boo Mini Quilt Swap - Sent

Shortly after signing up for my first instagram swap I saw the posts about round four of the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap.  I've admired the mini' that are made for this swap for a long time and immediately jumped on the chance to participate. 

I was paired with Joy, @J.Meadows, from Texas who said she loved bright happy colors.  In her free time, when she's not sewing, she likes to workout and spend time with Tiny, her Grate Dane.  I wasn't sure what I wanted to make at first and ended up pulling out the scraps from Two Birds, One Stone, my Pantone 2015 challenge quilt and playing with the leftover blocks.  I had a few small blocks left and started by chopping them up to piece a teeny-tiny star block.  This sucker finished at 2.5" square. 

After that I added two more rounds of star points to make the finished mini about 12" around.  It was fun to use of these little scraps from my favorite quilt.  I hoped that the bright, scrappy colors would translate to something that Joy would like.

I ended up procrastinating and getting caught up with work and other things and didn't get back to quilting my mini for about two months.  I finally sat down to quilt it two weeks ago.  I wanted to play with shapes for the quilting and started by outlining two squares, on point behind the largest and the middle stars.  Then I filled in the background of each star, starting with a micro-stipple, bubbles for the middle, and straight lines for the outside.  I'm really happy with how the quilting came on this.  Although I must say that the foot I used for my machine started to squeak really badly after a little while.  Any thoughts on how to stop that from happening again?

I used a large scrap for the backing that I happened to have on hand.  It's not my favorite fabric but I though the colors did coordinate nicely.  I bound the quilt using a bright yellow strip I had on hand.  It was a littler narrower than I usually like to go for bindings but I managed to make it work by glue basting the unsewn side down before machine stitching it.  That's a trick I picked up at retreat earlier this year.  It's my new favorite method for perfect machine binding.  Let me tell you, those corners are tight!

For extras, I included a charm pack of V and Co's Simply Style since my partner mentioned that she liked their fabrics.  I also had a cute notepad and package of buttons that I had won previously at quilt guild but wasn't going to use.    Joy asked for notions in her extras so it seemed like a good fit.  Since I'm on a diet and I know that Joy likes to work out I threw in some yummy EPIC beef jerky instead of chocolate or sweets which was a win.  She's had to hide the jerky from her husband since they both really like it!

This was a great experience for me and I think I would definitely participate in this swap again.  Hopefully I'll be on top of things and catch the signup period on Instagram before it's closed for round 5!

You can find even more of the amazing quilts that were made 
for this swap by searching instagram for any of the following hashtags

Linking up with Sew Modern Monday.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Jen Goes to Retreat

This October I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a retreat for the first time!  It is sponsored by my local quilt guild and really quite affordable.  The last two years I haven't been able to attend because it actually fell on the weekend we got married and then our one-year anniversary and since I figured my then-fiance/now-husband wouldn't appreciate me missing both of those events to go quilting..... well, you get the idea.  But this year it was the weekend after, and damn it all, I was going!  

I think I brought every WIP I have to retreat to work on and even some soon-to-be-WIPs but did manage to get a lot accomplished.  I started with several mini quilts that I needed to baste/quilt/bind and a block for a sampler raffle quilt for a local charity.

When I was done with the mini's I moved on to binding a large quilt that I'd been putting off for ages.   Jane introduced me to glue basting the binding before I machine quilt it and I am officially now a convert.  I stopped at Keepsake on the way home to get some basting glue for myself.  It made finishing this large quilt off so much easier.  It's a gift that I hope to give at Thanksgiving this year so watch for pictures soon shortly after!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nearly Wordless WIP Wednesday

package received

sneak peak of packaged received

finishing the quilting for my package to send

mini to send complete

All pictures are from my instagram feed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Modern Hexies Wall Hanging

I have had this fun wall hanging done for awhile now.  I made it to demo my machine binding technique at our local quilt show this spring but it was born long before that.  My husband is on the road a lot: travelling to and from jobs, going to look at other potential work, or driving to find a great deal on equipment.  Since he usually does these long drives on the weekends often times I'll go with him.  Which presents a serious dilemma: I can't bring my sewing machine with me in the car.  I don't do a lot of hand sewing or quilting but usually try to grab my bag of papers so that I can make hexies while I wait.  Since I get car sick so I can't do much sewing when we're actually moving so it's not really that productive but since we're usually somewhere without service, hours of facebook/instagram/candy crush are out of the question.  

I started these hexies on January 10th of this year and slowly worked up to 40 of them in various shades of peach and orange (probably my all time favorite color combination by the way).  They finish at 1.5".  I had some yardage of Moda grunge in the color grey and used that for the background, spacing them a little less than 1/2 apart.  I really eyeballed the spacing relying on my obsessive detail about space and distribution.  The quilting was done using Aurifil 28w thread in a light pink.  I followed each hexie from corner to corner to create the distinctive diamond pattern you see on so many of these quilts.  Normally I wouldn't use such a heavy thread but I really love how this one looks and will probably be using the weight again for future quilting projects.  Martin Cat helped me square up the edges when I was done quilting and then it was a quick machine binding job to finish this one up.  I used Squared Elements in Cetrine since I couldn't resist adding a little more color to the quilt.

I used lots of favorite fabrics in this quilt making something with just enough "whimsy" to truly reflect me.  There are lions, butterflies, bicycles, sea horses, and tiny hearts.  The backing is this fun large scale floral print.  I don't have any of the salvage though so I don't know what it is.

Since I'm short on wall space at home I've hung this one up outside of my cubicle at work.  I'm pretty much convinced that my coworkers think I'm insane though.  This quilt makes the total number of quilts and wall hangings at my desk 8.  I love having it though.  It brings a little sunshine to my otherwise grey and beige cubicle. 

Thanks for visiting!!