Thursday, September 15, 2016

Les Fleurs Makers Totes

Two small Makers Totes using the new Rifle Paper Co Les Fleurs fabrics!

A couple of months ago my friend Sara (she just started a blog, go check it out!) and I decided to make Makers Totes (pattern by Noodlehead) for ourselves and the other members of our Blue Moon Quilters group.

Makers Tote: zipper side!

I made mine (the patchwork one) and one for Afton back in July, but had to keep them a secret until we were able to gift them.  Later I helped Sara make one for Yvonne (you'll have to see pictures of it on Sara's IG or blog!).  Sara generously provided all of the brand new Rifle Paper Co fabric line Les Fleurs, which have the prettiest selvages!  I included them everywhere I could on both bags!

Makers Tote: zipper pull and borders are Rifle Paper Co selvages!
Makers Tote: selvage-edged pocket and FMQ goat detail.

For the interior fabrics I used Sarah Watt's new fabric: From Porto, With Love (also provided by Sara!).  All of the fabrics and colors coordinated so nicely!  

Makers Tote: slip pockets!

Makers Tote: pleated pockets--and selvage alert on the left!

I free motion quilted both bags with 2 layers of batting, but ended up adding a layer of medium weight interfacing so the bag would have more shape and stability (ideally I would have used Annie's Soft and Stable, but I didn't have enough!).

Makers Tote: Les Fleurs City Maps fabric with FMQ outlining of all the fabric details and loop filler using a matching Aurifil thread.

Makers Tote: FMQ vine-y swirls using a grey-variegated Aurifil thread.

This bag has so many places to show off these pretty fabrics!  I intentionally cut out my favorite parts of the fabric for most of both bags.  Even the gussets:

Makers Tote: gussets!  And selvage alert on the right.

Makers Tote: gussets (and binding!).

I was delighted to find that my Sew Together bag (a gift from Amanda at What the Bobbin!) fits perfectly in the bottom of the small Makers Tote.  

Makers Tote: perfect fit for the Sew Together bag (which I use for hand sewing, especially hexies!).

Whew, keeping them a secret for almost two months was hard!  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ballena Muerta mini quilt

Ballena Muerta (Spanish for Dead Whale), measures about 14" x 10"

This quilt started as one of those ideas that grips you and doesn't let go until you've turned it into reality.  It started while I was working on the Fractal Friendship Star quilt.  That quilt has the most basic of quilting--only in the ditch, so basically unnoticeable.  It worked really well for that quilt, but my swap with Yvonne was for straight line quilting, which is definitely a different aesthetic than stitch in the ditch!  So I thought, okay I'll make her a second quilt and go crazy with straight line quilting!  Then I broke more rules by doing the straight lines around intricate free motion quilting, haha.  I'm a quilting rebel!

Ballena Muerta: I made a composite bowhead whale skeleton from 3 different pictures I found online. I probably spent an hour in front of a sunny window trying to get all the details traced onto that Kona Pepper.  Cue the bright light induced headache.

I originally planned to make her a mermaid (I'm dying to make a mermaid!) but realized instead I should make her a creature she would like (and I'm not sure how she feels about mermaids, though I doubt it is negatively).  Then I remembered her saying how much she loved whales!  But I wanted it to be a part of my Quilted Mythological Creature Series, so set out to find some good whale myths to inspire the quilt.  Somehow I came across the Japanese myth of the Bake-kujira (meaning whale ghost/creature) and it struck a chord, partly because we came across a whale bone sculpture while in Oregon together last month and I liked that tie-in.

Ballena Muerta: outline and skeleton quilted.  And yes, that small floating bone is the whale's pelvis!  I was debating about including the baleen at this point since it's made out of keratin and not bone.

I picked Kona Pepper so the whale would be a really dark blue (and let it be known that Kona Pepper IS a dark blue, not a dark grey!), with the intention of filling the background with ocean-y colored threads:

Ballena Muerta: adding organic straight lines using with my FMQ foot and Aurifil variegated 4662.

I ended up going back and adding even more straight lines, but with medium and bright blue Aurifil threads:

Ballena Muerta: straight line quilting detail

I knew I wanted to decorate the rest of the whale with tiny flow quilting designs (including some quilted paisleys!), which ended up giving the whale a very Dia de los Muertos feel, especially on the back of the quilt:

Ballena Muerta: quilt back.  And how fitting is that dandelion in this photo??  I love it.

On the front of the quilt I used Aurifil Dark Navy so it would almost blend with the Kona Pepper--I wanted the quilting to add texture and a slight blue shine to the designs, but not really distract from the bones:

Ballena Muerta: quilting detail.  Check out those tiny hand/flipper bones!
Ballena Muerta: quilting detail.

I had fun going through my Aurifil thread collection and picking threads for this quilt!  I wanted most of the quilt to read as watery and the whale to be at least reminiscent of an actual bowhead whale in coloring.

Ballena Muerta: Aurifil threads used!  Top left were used for the whale and bottom left for the background and whale outlines.  I used the really dark grey in areas that I wanted the quilting to disappear, and black was used in the bobbin.

I was delighted to be able to gift it to Yvonne in person during a recent visit (how lucky am I that she comes to Albuquerque several times a year?!) and she's already hung it in her sewing room!

Ballena Muerta: back quilting detail.

Ballena Muerta: back tail quilting detail.

Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop: Berry Swirl

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Welcome to the Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop!  I'm Renee and these are some of the quilts I've made this year:

Some of my 2016 quilts!

Here is the block I designed this time around, and let me just say that the Cloud9 solids are so nice to work with:

Berry Swirl quilt block, measures 12" x 12" (finished).

You can download the FREE paper piecing pattern from my Craftsy shop here!

**If you make one and share it on IG tag it with #BerrySwirlQuiltBlock **

If you're new to paper piecing, here are the tutorials I liked best when I was getting started:

Here is the tester block I made using Hawthorne Thread Mojave fabrics:

Berry Swirl quilt block, rocks to keep it from blowing away!

Here's the block tiled into a quilt that finishes at 60" x 72":

Berry Swirl lap size quilt 

Check out the other new quilt blocks on from the blog hop:

Friday, September 2, 2016

Art Theory / Meadow Mini Quilt

Art Theory mini quilt, measures about 12" square.

Back in March my friend Sara @BlueQuailStudio convinced me to drive to Phoenix to take Lizzy House's Meadow Quilt class.  The class was okay, the road trip was lots of fun, but resulting quilt blocks were terrible and super frustrating (you can read my Meadow quilt template hack/fix here!).  During the class Sara and I decided to make mini quilts from our practice blocks and then swap them.  Well finally I decided it was time to turn my block into a mini quilt, but only after deciding to put it on the back so that the terrible waviness and inevitable wrinkles wouldn't show.  I used my last piece of Alison Glass's Art Theory panel for the front.

Meadow quilt block mini quilt (back).

But guess what?  All the wavy nature of the meadow block actually did quilt out and there isn't one wrinkle or pinch!  But!  The mini quilt was like a bowl, the corners curving up dramatically--so all that waviness just presented in a different way than I had expected.  Nothing a little (okay, a lot) of steam and pressing couldn't fix, right?!  Right.  Oh but then...

Art Theory mini quilt: back detail and color bleed.

All the steaming made the colors from the Art Theory fabric on the front bleed through!  I've never had that happen!  If I wasn't already expecting the worst on the back I would have been pretty frustrated/disappointed/upset.  As I was already resigned to the back being a hot mess it didn't really bother me, haha.

Art Theory mini quilt: back detail and color bleed (the greyish smudges and yellow)

Enough about the issues, more with the pretty!  I quilted this mini on my Hello Kitty Janome (a 3/4 sewing machine that can't drop the feed dogs) while on vacation last week!  I just covered the feed dogs with my Supreme Slider (the queen sized worked great sideways) and fiddled with the tension and everything went really smoothly!

Art Theory mini quilt: quilting detail

Art Theory mini quilt: quilting detail.

Art Theory mini quilt: quilting detail

Why yes, there were a lot of thread color changes for this quilt!  I used a full rainbow of Aurifil threads to match the colors on the Art Theory fabric.  I am pleased to say that my Hello Kitty sewing machine (which I've named Tealk) loves just Aurifil threads as much as my larger Janome 6300.

Art Theory mini quilt: a rainbow of Aurifil threads used on this quilt.

  For the bobbin thread I used Aurifil Done (2600), which blended well in some areas and added nice contrasting details in others!

Art Theory mini quilt: back quilting detail.

Hurray for another finished mini quilt!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Then and Now: Free Motion Quilting Growth

Then..and Now Linky Party |

I'm coming in under the wire on joining this link up, but I've been thinking of making a post showing my early quilting to my current quilting for a while now.  The Then and Now link up at Devoted Quilter finally got me motivated to get some pictures together!

Let's start with my very first free motion quilt (FMQ) and some of my most recent:

My Hippocamp and my first bed quilt.

That large stipple was done while I was 8-9 months pregnant with my first kiddo (awkward baby bump to quilt with!), was on my mom's small Janome from the '90s, and it was a queen sized quilt!  Seriously, it was my first at pretty much everything quilty.  You can see from the photo that my curves are not very smooth and my stitch length is far from consistant--and often as large as a 5, and sometimes as small as a 1!  After almost 7 years of heavy use (including 3 bug infestations, which require hot wash and drying to get rid of!) it definitely shows and there are holes in the binding, a lot of broken stitches, and the cheap fabrics are significantly faded.  PSA: always buy the best quality you can afford!  It was last far longer and age far nicer than the cheaper options.

(same quilt as above) Whoa big stitches.  I'd rip and redo that stitch size if that happened now.

About a year later I started getting into more detailed FMQ and made this red mandala quilt on my Janome 6300, and 4.5 years later my interest in mandalas and paisleys is still going strong:

Red quilt from 2011 and lavender quilt is the back of the Night Camping mini quilt from 2015.

The biggest improvements I see are the smooth curves in the swirls, consistant size of the scallop borders, and the density and diversity in the designs.

Here is another one, focusing on the feathers:

Pink feathers are from my Lone Star quilt and the dino feather is from my Dinosaur mini quilt.

That pink quilt marks a big turning point in my quilting journey!  It's when I decided to stop pining for a long arm and focus on what I could do with my domestic machine.  The whole quilt was an experiment to see what I could do, to see what would result if I pushed myself to focus more on the quality and details.  I was (am) so proud of the result!  It won 1st place at the NM state fair that year (wall hanging category, I think) and was juried in to MQX New England.

Of course now I look at it and also see the wobbly lines, the inconsistent feathers, the ugly stems and the poor travel stitching.  But I see that and am still proud and still recognize that that quilt was the gateway to the my current style and voice in the quilting world!  It hangs in my living room, though I am thinking of moving it to my daughter's room soon.

Reverse side of the Lone Star quilt.

To those that are at the beginning of their quilting journeys I say this: keep going, keep pushing yourself to try new things, focus on small improvements!  Don't stop practicing and experimenting!