Sunday, April 13, 2014

Makenzie

This is my niece Makenzie...she is a sweet, happy little girl and she recently turned 8 years old!!  She is my sister, Jennifer's, youngest daughter.

She sings and claps and loves Dora the Explorer...

Last fall she began to take horse back riding lessons and this is definitely one of her all time favorite activities!


Makenzie is autistic and does not speak verbally, but she does communicate, especially with her mom!

Life has been challenging for my sister and her family, but they continue to amaze me every day with their strength, faith, and love for each other.  Makenzie has brought so much joy to all of our lives and we know that she is a special gift from God and we love her very much!

It's been my goal this year to make each of the nieces and nephews a new quilt for their birthdays, so as Makenzie's birthday approached, I was ready.  A couple of years ago Riley Blake released a line of fabric called "Pieces of Hope," which helped to raise awareness about autism and the organization Autism Speaks.  I immediately bought a bundle of the fabric and knew one day I would make a special quilt for Makenzie.  This was the time!

I used the pattern "Snapshot," from the book "Happy Hour."  I wanted something that would showcase the prints and not cut them up too small.

The outdoor lighting makes the colors a little washed out, so back inside for more pics.  This picture shows the colors pretty true to real life.  :)

Love the fabrics and colors...down to the stripe for the binding!

I used "Puzzle Pieces" for the quilting...how could I not? 

 Because the FQ's in the bundle were a bit small, I couldn't cut the amount of units out of each FQ as the pattern called for.  It worked out because I had plenty of FQ's to use, but that left me with extra strips from each of the FQ's.  Of course I couldn't let them go to waste, so I made her a special pillow.... 

...and I made zipper bags for her mom, nana, sisters, aunties, and cousin.

I was happy to get a couple of pictures of Makenzie enjoying her new quilt!




I hope you like your quilt Makenzie!  Happy birthday!!

Happy Quilting,
Michelle


Thursday, April 10, 2014

What I'm working on...

I feel a bit unfocused lately...and not just when it comes to quilting/sewing.  I've been wandering from task to task all week!  I'm not sure why...but it's getting annoying!  I think when I don't have anything I -have- to do, I don't know -what- to do.  Or maybe it's spring fever...the weather has been improving greatly in this part of the country and I'm enjoying getting outside to walk and enjoy the sunshine.  We're supposed to have more snow on Sunday though, so I'm taking it now while I can get it!

I can't even count the number of different sewing projects I've attempted to work on the last few days.  My brain is just mush!  But I'll show you a few things I have accomplished...

I've decided what project from the Cozy Quilts book I'll work on next, and believe me, it was not a simple task!  I kept changing my mind....but finally I settled on "Timeless Hexagons."

Luckily I had some template plastic on hand and got the hexagons traced and cut.  They aren't perfect by any means...I'm calling them "primitive."  LOL

 I made a few more blocks for my Points of Pride quilt...I have 27 of the 64 blocks completed.  I am loving this project!  It takes forever to layout all the blocks, so I don't know if I'll show them again until ALL the blocks are done.  :)

Yesterday, I made these two zipper bags.  I needed one for a gift, so I thought why not cut two?  There is a great tutorial here for the pattern.  You can see I was being supervised and I think they approve.


Hope you all are having a great week and that you are accomplishing more than I am!

Happy Quilting!
~Michelle
Monday, April 07, 2014

Midnight Twinkle

Back in October I showed you a new project I started from this book:


I had signed up for a "block of the month" program, which is more accurately a mini quilt of the month.  And this one called "Midnight Twinkle" was the first kit.  I had every intention of just zipping it out and getting it finished...but as we all know, that doesn't always happen.  LOL  I had issues with the lighting at my "spot" on the living room couch, I wasn't happy with my stitches, etc, etc.  I had it about 1/2 finished and it sat untouched for many months....


 Finally six months later, it's done!!  I love it!  My  blanket stitches aren't perfect around those one inch pieces, but even I don't see those individual imperfections anymore...I just see it as a whole with all it's wooly goodness!

I just did a simple machine quilting...I knew it wouldn't show up much no matter if it was hand quilted or machine quilted.

I think a lot of us go through phases of what we find motivating and enjoyable to work on...and this is an example of that.  I do love to work with wool and I'm itching to start another project!


I think it fits beautifully right there on my wall!  I moved that green and red one down to make room for Midnight Twinkle.

 Now on to the next one...hope it doesn't take me 6 months to finish!  :)

Happy Quilting!
~Michelle

Thursday, April 03, 2014

A new book!

I admit, I'm obsessed with Bonnie Hunter...well, that might sound a little creepy.  I'm not a stalker, just a fan.  LOL  I guess the more accurate description is that I'm obsessed with her quilts and patterns!  I discovered the "Leader and Ender" technique about 7-8 years ago and I was hooked!  Someday I should count how many "Bonnie" quilts I've made.  :)

Imagine my glee when her second "Leader and Ender" book was published and released!  She's published a few others in between, too!  But this is the second one focused specifically on leaders and enders.  You can check them out HERE!

My book arrived on Monday and I spent the next couple of evenings gazing at the wonderful quilts inside and planning which one I'll start next!!

She autographs the books when you buy them directly from her!  I've had my others signed at her workshops.  :)

Right from the second page...oh my.  I was smitten!  I. must. make. this. quilt.  The four patch unit is my favorite...so this is definitely high on the to-do list!!

Then I saw this one!  "Scrap Crystal" is amazing!  I really NEED to make this one! 

Ohhh...and look at "Lucy's Baskets..."  sigh...  Love it!

"Spoolin' Around" is just too cute!

And look at this!  "Easy Street!"  You might remember that I made this quilt when it was offered as a Mystery Quilt a couple years ago.  You can see mine HERE.  I love it!

And there it is!!  "Narragansett Blues!"  Love. Love. Love!

And look at this...I've been sewing 4 patches for a while now, and I've got a nice start for this quilt.  That confirms it...this is the quilt for my 4 patches!  Yay!

 This week I finished a project I can't share just yet, but I will soon after the recipient sees it first!  This morning, I did make this quickie charity quilt.  You'll remember all the charm squares I cut when I was making "Hook" a few weeks ago.  Our retreat Hostess collects baby/toddler quilts each year for their local Crisis Pregnancy Center, and it's almost time for retreat, so I needed to get busy with mine!  It's a simple Disappearing Nine Patch, but it's so bright and cheery.  I thought about adding a border, but I think it'll be cute with just a colorful binding.  It measures 39" x 39", which seems to be a good size for babies.  Now to figure out a backing and get it quilted.  I hope I have something in my stash!

Thanks for all the encouragement and advice about irons.  I know that STEAM is the culprit with the failure of these irons...I'm just too stubborn to change my ways.  The new mini iron is just "okay."  The steam isn't great...but there is a little.  It doesn't hold very much water, so it runs out quickly.  An interesting thing is the water is "stored" in the handle....not near the heating element.  Maybe that is a good thing?  We shall see!  It does heat up pretty well...so I'm happy about that.  I'll keep you posted!  :)

Happy Quilting!
~Michelle

Thursday, March 27, 2014

3rd time is a charm....


Unfortunately, it's actually the 5th, 6th, or 7th time!  I'm talking about irons!!  I have the worst luck with irons.  I know I've cried and whined about it many times before...but it's just something that bugs me sooo much!  LOL  My "big" iron has held up remarkably well (knock on wood!)...it's been almost TWO years ago that I bought it.  I'm sure I'm jinxing myself here...but I usually only get about a year out of an iron, no matter the price.

Over the past year, I've had issues with my smaller "travel" or table iron.  I use it on a side table next to my machine for smaller projects or for times like now when I'm working on a paper pieced project like the Points of Pride quilt.  I had a small Conair red iron that worked great for a about 6-7 years, but truthfully, I only used it when I went to workshops or retreats.  One day, the steam function stopped working.  Did I mention I love steam.  Must.have.steam.  :)

Then I went through one or two others and just didn't like them.  They didn't steam well, caught the edge of the fabric, etc.  Finally I found this one and it worked well for about six months.  Then with no warning...kaput!  No heat.

Ugh...back to Amazon I went.  I think I've tried all the "travel iron" options that pop up when I put it in the search box.  So, this is the next victim option....made by Hamilton Beach.  It had decent reviews (none of them get all favorable).

It's a bit bigger than the last few I've tried and the handle is a little funky...but if it does the job, I'm good with it!  I'll let you know how I like it after a few days of giving it a try! 

Happy Quilting!
~Michelle


Monday, March 24, 2014

Points of Pride

I pulled out an oldie but goodie and decided I'm going to seriously focus on this one to get it finished!!  This is called Points of Pride and was featured in the August 2010 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.  I knew right away that I -had- to do this quilt...but I think I've been a bit intimidated by the time investment it's going to be.  I lugged it back and forth to retreat a couple of times, but I've never really put 100% effort into it.  Now is the time!!  I know it's not going to be a fast project, but if I just stay consistent working on it, it will be done eventually!  I have 12 of 64 blocks finished, so I definitely have my work cut out for me!  I think I need to take Dori's advice (from Finding Nemo) and instead of counting how many more I have left to do, I say, "Just keep swimming...just keep swimming! (or sewing, in this case)!  :)


 The blocks are paper-pieced and these are the "trimmings."  I can't bear to throw them out, so I knew I would need to find some way to put them to use!

That's when I remembered this little gem.  I picked up this pattern at the quilt shop in Indiana during retreat week one year and it's the perfect solution to use up all those lovely scraps!

Now it's time to buckle down and get 'er done!!

Happy Quilting!

~Michelle
Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hook(ed)

It's official.  I'm hooked on Schnibbles!  I'm sure you've heard of them by now...cute little patterns made with charm packs or charm size squares.  I've always admired the little quilts and even have plenty of patterns and books, but they were just put in that "some day" category.  I finally made my first one last month, which you probably remember was called Plan C.  I found out about the Schnibbles Parade held by A Quilting Life and Pink Pincusion and decided to join in!  Each month a different pattern is selected and for March the pattern is "Hook."  How appropriate...because I'm completely "hooked" on Schnibbles.  :)

"Hook" from Miss Rosie's Quilt Co

First thing to do...pick fabric!  I did not have two matching charms packs (I think most of the patterns use two), so I needed to turn to my "stash" to find something.  I had this nice little stack of blues and greens leftover from the 2012 Quiltville Mystery quilt called "Easy Street," and decided it was time to use 'em up!


Most were FQ size or a little less, so I ironed them up and cut them into 5" squares...and added a few 2", 2.5", and 3.5" strips to my bins as well.  The best part is, they are cut and ready to be used and not stuffed in a box anymore!

This pattern looks complicated...and it is complicated to a degree.  But...if you follow the very well written directions, it's not difficult at all!  I was really pleased with how well it came together.  A 60 degree ruler is a must!  Here are all my stars...or half stars rather.  The directions have you assemble in rows as opposed to blocks, but that technique makes it possible to avoid any Y seams and that's a very good thing!!

Ta-da!  I'm so pleased with the end result!  I'm not used to using so much "white."  I'm usually drawn to neutrals that are off white or tan...so I wasn't sure how I'd like all the WHITE!  But it turned out fine!  I think it will make a nice baby quilt for a sweet little boy.


Of course, I tried to get an outdoor picture...but once again, the wind is a blowin'!  This picture gives an idea of all the seams!  So many seams!  And most are pressed open!  I love the little checkerboard border...

There were only two things I tried to control with the colors...I wanted all the blue "blades" pointing the same way...but you'll see that I rotated 2 or 3 of them.  I also wanted each block to have a blue and a green...but you can see here that didn't work!  LOL  But then after I sewed this one together, I kind of like the two-tone version!

 I think this block is the culprit...I think that darker color was one of my "greens," but somehow it got sewn together as a blue.  Oh well...I wasn't willing to change it at that point.  Once again, no one will likely notice if I would just stop pointing out my booboos!!  :) 

I'm not sure when I'll have a chance to quilt this one...I have a few others in the queue that must get done.  We don't have any babies coming in the near future, so it'll be okay if this one sits for a while.  I do have lots more blue and green charms...I think I'm going to make a couple disappearing 9 patch quilts with those, so stay tuned!!

Happy Quilting!
~Michelle