Monday, December 12, 2011


Pin It So it's been a really crappy couple of weeks.  I'm not a huge fan of this time of year in general.  But this year it seems different.  For several reasons.  I just think there's something really off kilter in the universe (or maybe just Lisa-land) that needs to be worked out.

All of the crappiness is why I've been absent here the last couple of weeks.  Actually, that's not the only reason.  I also have been doing things that I'm not allowed to show you just yet (I know... AGAIN).  I'm either not able to show you, or it was really uninspiring.

Soooooooooooo anycrap.  Every other month I have a sew-in where my friends come and sew with me for the weekend.  I hadn't really planned on having one in December because I figured everyone would be too busy, but it ended up working out and I scheduled one last minute.  It was nice because I got my new machine nearly a month ago and hadn't used it!  But I didn't really have anything I wanted to do.  I mean, I have tons of things I SHOULD do.  But sew-in is supposed to be about want-to-do, not have-to-do.

Friday night came and I was in a crappy mood yet again, all because of Friday day.  I didn't have anything planned to work on and basically stared at the wall for a couple of hours.  Then I decided that I was going to make a quilt out of StudioE's Bubble Trouble line since I have a bolt of every SKU.

I had planned to make a throw-sized quilt of alternating wonky 16-patch blocks with wonky strippy or log-cabin-y blocks.  I had every intention of sending this to-be-quilt to Bumble Beans Basics.  I almost always make a test block when I'm starting a quilt to be sure I like the combinations of colors and prints, so I started strip-piecing.

It was then that inspiration struck, I suppose, everything went awry and my plan was foiled by my own need to do something creative in an attempt to work myself out of the crappiness rut I've been in.  I didn't really want to make any stinkin' 16-patch blocks.  If you happened to catch my guest post over at Generation Q Magazine, you know that I got to see at lot of crazy-inspiring people at Market in Houston.  I've been wanting to try Rayna Gillman's technique of creating a free-form quilt ever since her schoolhouse.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any UFOs to cut up (because I'm a serial finisher) and I also don't have her book (yet), so I had to wing it.

That pretty set of strip piecing?

Of course, I still had a bunch of fabric left so I cut that up too.

Then I cut up strips of a bunch of other fabrics.

And then I started sewing.

See those scissors right there in front of my beautiful new PINK sewing machine?  Those are the dullest paper scissors you'll ever see.  I didn't even use a rotary cutter on this stuff (until later)!  More sewing. And cutting up.  And sewing together again.

I finally ended up with this:

I really disliked the blinding chunk of black and white print in the center.  The chunk of solid black was planned.  But oh, no.  Those big chunks of fabric all over had to go.  So I started cutting it up again.

And then I sewed it all back together again.

Trimming that sucker down to a straight-edge rectangle was the only time during the entire process that I used a ruler (with the exception of the initial strip-piecing, of course).  But what was I going to do with an 8"x24" rectangle?  Add more black fabric, of course.

I've been trying to get myself to stop being obsessed with symmetry, and I've always liked the "rule of thirds" when it comes to photography.  While this isn't exactly thirds (8" to the left and 12 to the right), I gave it a go.  I  had tentatively planned to do another strippy-cutty-sewy stripe somewhere in that 12" but ultimately decided that since it took me all day to cut/sew/repeat an 8"x24" rectangle, I'd just leave it be.  Then I went ahead and loaded it onto Gammill #1 and did stitch in the ditch, pebbles and channels.

It actually is square but yet again, I'm a horrible camera-holder.  It now has the binding on it (applied by machine... baaaahahahahahaaaaad Lisa) and it is hanging over my thread racks in the studio.  Shattered seems like a good name for it, yes?

Speaking of shattered, this is also the prequel to my big Me Project.  Just sayin'! 

As for Bumble Beans Basics, they will still be getting quilts from this girl.  One of them will be made from Thomas Knauer's fabric line for Andover, called Pear Tree.  He also happens to be having a giveaway of fat quarter bundles of said fabric line on his blog (with the condition that you use at least some of it to make a quilt to send to Bumble Beans Basics) so you should go check it out.

And for something totally random and awesome, an excerpt from an email I received from one of my most favoritest people in the world:

"Remember:  You is kind. You is smart.  You is important.  Now go quilt like the amazing artist you are!"

There are other things to share but I've surely babbled on and on enough by now!  I hope everyone is faring well in the holiday madness that seems to be consuming everyone in the history of forever!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This one's for the girl. THIS girl!

Pin It If you've been following my blog for a while (long time), you might remember that once upon a time I made a quilt top for myself.
You can read more about it here (and a few others before that but Blogger is being an asshole and connecting all of my links).

I have been waiting for-ev-er to quilt this top.  It is the one top that I've ever made that I knew was going to be for me.  I knew when I started making it that it wouldn't be given to anyone, no one could talk me out of it, it was mine.  That has never happened before.  This was the one.

It has been sitting and waiting for nearly two years for me to give it a little attention.  I put myself on my waiting list at the beginning of last year, but other things always seem to make this poor little guy less important.  This year, when Thanksgiving came, I decided that the ONE thing I wanted to do, was quilt this top for my bed.  And if I did it over Thanksgiving, nobody waiting for their Christmas quilts (I only have two left, shhhhhhh) could complain, right?

I again entered into the quilting with the no-plan-plan.  I knew I wanted to stitch in the ditch in the "scrappy" areas.  I say "scrappy" (in quotes) because while it's supposed to be scrappy, it really isn't.  I can't do anything truly scrappy.  I very carefully chose the fabrics.  I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that now, since I started this quilt with only a year of quilting under my belt.  But I still love it. 

So!  Stitch in the ditch was done (which was really difficult because I love the look of a flat top with seams pressed open, but I didn't have the patience to quilt it actually *in the ditch*.  Customer top?  Yes.  Mine?  Nah).  Then I knew I wanted feathers.  But I was so confused by the continuous rings versus the cut off sections (I'm making my Elvis lip face right now), that I didn't know where to start.  So...  I just dove in.  I had the same mentality that I had with The Quilt Show block of the month quilt.  No ripping out, no second guessing, just get it done and have it over with.

I just started stitching away and then there was this:

Is it perfect?  Absolutely not!

Is it fancy?  Nope.

But it's done.

And it's mine!  I have never put this thing on my bed, not even before I quilted it to be sure it would fit.  Why?  Because I just don't care.  It's a quilt that is strictly for me and that's all that matters to me right now.  I have to pick out a binding fabric and then I can take it home for my kitty cat to crawl up into it while I meticulously hand-sew the under side of the binding (Elvis lip again).

I have a lot of fun and exciting things to share in the (hopefully) near future.  I know...  more secret stuff.  I'm sorry.  But it's exciting, I promise!!!  I hope you all had as much fun over the holiday as I did!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Celebrate Christmas Quilt-Along (Do not fear the y-seam!)

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It's that time!  It's my turn to post my tutorial for the Quilting Gallery's super cute Christmas quilt-along.

My block is called "Bountiful".  I have to tell you that even if you're afraid of y-seams, just read on.  I promise if you can't make this block you have my permission to... hug... me.  It actually goes together really quickly (the math is what takes forever and I did that part for you!) and I am planning to make a whole quilt of these blocks.  So here we go!

You only need two fabrics for this block.  Of course you may change it up however you wish. I also suggest having at least an 8 1/2"x24" ruler, or a 12" square ruler with 30, 45 and 60 degree lines.

Since this block is largely done on the bias, I want you to repeat after me:

I will not stretch my fabric.  I will press my fabric.  I will not *iron* my fabric.  I will not stretch my fabric.

Good?  Good!

From your focal fabric, cut a 3 1/2" strip x WOF.

With your strip laid out flat, line up the 30 degree line with the top raw edge of your fabric.  (I'm left handed, if you're right handed, I believe you line it up on the bottom edge and cut from the right!)  Cut off your selvage at this angle. 

  Flip your strip around, and from the raw edge that you just cut, sub-cut three diamonds at 3 1/2".

Lay your diamonds out in a cube:

Sew a simple seam from raw edge to raw edge on the bottom two diamonds of the cube:

On the top diamond of the cube, flip it over to the under side and draw a line 1/4" from the edge on two sides, forming an intersection at the point:

Now, take the top diamond of the cube and line it up with the raw edges of Unit1 similar to the picture above.  Match the raw edge of the top (the piece we're sewing on) to the very right side of Unit1, and the line you drew should line up with the seam of Unit1.
Now sew a seam, starting at the intersection point (DO NOT stitch into the seam allowance of either the top or Unit1) and backstitch at the intersection (beginning of the seam), out to the outside raw edge.

(Unit 1.1)
(Forgive my crappy seams.  I used black thread so you could see and my new sewing machine hasn't arrived yet.  Aaaaahhhhhh tension!!)

Now.  You should have three diamonds sewn together.  But you still have one more seam to sew.  Take Unit 1.1 and flip the seam you just sewed so that your raw edges of your next seam match top to bottom.

I am anti-pinning in my piecing, but you're welcome to put a pin at the top of where your seam will be and at the intersection if it helps you hold things in place.
Repeat the last step.  Starting at the intersection, be sure not to sew through seam allowances and sew a seam along your line to the outside raw edge, backstitching at the intersection (beginning of the seam):

When Unit1.1 is opened up, it will look like this:

From here I usually finger press my seams from the back, making sure that all of the seams lay flat.  Then I flip it to the front side and press with the iron.

Next, from your background fabric, cut a strip of fabric 3 3/4" wide.  Again, lay your ruler's 30 degree line along the edge of your fabric strip and cut the selvages at the angle.

From the raw edge that you just cut, sub-cut two (you will only use one) 3 3/4" diamonds:

Cut this diamond in half along the short side:

Lay your newly cut triangles out along your block:

Sew each triangle to the side of the cube with a simple seam.  You should have 1/4" (depends on the seam allowance you use if this is accurate or not) extending beyond the cube on each side.

Press seams out.
Now, from your background fabric, cut another 3 3/4" strip.  Once again, line up the 30 degree line with the edge of your strip.  Cut selvages at this angle.

Sub-cut two diamonds from the raw edge you just cut at 7 1/2" (if you want to make more than one of this block, you may cut the strip at 7 1/2" and make your sub-cut at 3 3/4" to make more out of one strip.  For the purposes of a single-block tutorial, you save more fabric with a 3 3/4" strip!)

Cut these diamonds in half on the "short" side.  It doesn't look short.  Just make sure when you cut, from point to point you have a 7 1/2" edge!

Lay out your block:

For the first frame, lay out your background on top of Unit1.3 right sides together.  The outside edges should be flush and all overlap should be over the point at the seam of Unit1.

Repeat on the opposite side, forming a V at the seams:

For the next two frames, we sew a little differently.  Rather than meeting the new piece at the outside raw edges, you extend the new piece of the frame out 1/4" from the edge of the block (which will actually meet up with the seam allowances of the seams you just sewed, and the other end will still overlap beyond the point):

Sew both of the final half-diamond frames in this manner.

This is a good time to square up your block.  Trim it so that your raw edge extends 1/4" outside of the points of your seams.  Measure your block when you're finished.  Mine measured 7 1/2" x 12 1/2".

For my final frames I sewed a 3 1/2" x 12 1/2" strip along the top and a 2 1/2" x 12 1/2" strip to the bottom for a finished block of 12 1/2"x12 1/2".  Wheeee!  That was fun.  Now for the bow!

For the bow, it is best to have plenty of ribbon (I bought a couple rolls since I'll be making a whole quilt) that isn't too decorative because you want it to look the same on both sides. You'll also need a little bit of craft wire or a twisty tie.

Leave yourself a long end and eyeball the size you want your ribbon by holding it up to your block and make a loop to one side.

Make a loop the same size (again, approximate) to the opposite side.

Repeat, making loops over one another until your bow is as full or as bare as you'd like.

In the center where you're holding it together use the craft wire or twisty tie and wrap it around the center.  Not too loose so your bow doesn't fall apart, but not too tight so that you can't manipulate the bow.  At this point you can start spreading your loops to make the bow more dome-shaped if you'd like. 

I use my sewing machine to run a basting stitch on each side of the twisty tie or craft wire.  I then run a seam right down the center of the bow, then remove the basting stitches once I'm sure the bow is secured.  AFTER your quilt top is quilted, attach the bow by hand or machine sewing it to the center of your cube.  You can even add embellishments like buttons or beads to the center of the bow to make it a little more fun.  If you'd like to make it removable for laundering and storage purposes, you could always attach it with a safety pin (quick and easy all the way).  And you're done!

***If none of this made any sense to you at all, please let me know!  I've been thinking about making this into a video blog to better show the steps and techniques.  If I need to, I absolutely will!