Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cuzco Complete! Pink and Black Cuzco

Hi All!

Apologies on reporting on this sooner - February sped by quicker than I realized.  

In my previous post, I relayed that I was working on a version of Kate Spain's Cuzco in pink and black.

Here is the final product:

The front...
and here's the back:
The back.  

 I felt like with the front, the back fabric should be busy because the quilting was going to be a little bit of everything.  I used almost every decorative stitch on the Opal 670, so each block is different.  

A variety of stitches.

 I *LOVED* this particular stitch; it looks like a little sunburst.  I think if I do another Cuzco, I would use this stitch all over.  At least as the stitch in the ditch stitch.  My biggest complaint for this quilt was not the fabric or the pattern, it was the fact that with the new machine, it wiggled as I quilted.  I think I am going to try the spray basting stuff next time.  I also need to find an insert or an inset table for my machine.   

This was my favorite!
Anyway! This came out to a perfect lap size, nearly 60 inches by 60 inches.  I deviated from the final pattern and add a slightly thicker boarder (3.5 inches).  I felt like it showcased the actual pattern better. 

Since I was in a hurry, I flipped the back over as the binding.   I found the 'instructions' at Quilting in the RainTried something new and it worked!  In fact, if I could I would bind all of my quilts this way!  I forgot to take a picture of the binding, but I was able to use one of the decorative stitches to bind the back piece to the front and it looked great on the back as well as the front.   

I loved it!  

More importantly, the birthday girl loved it!  

Have you tried Cuzco yet?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A 60th Birthday Quilt - Pink and Black!

Three weeks ago, I was on the hunt to find fabric to complete a quilt.  While I didn't find the fabrics I was looking for, I did find this fun site, Fat Quarter Shop.  They offered a number of free patterns, of which, I fell in love with a Kate Spain for Moda called Cuzco.  The fabric color combinations are beautiful!  I printed out the pattern for future use....

My MIL knows that I quilt and likes to bring up a quilt that her mother made but she no longer has, as it was lost in moves and a divorce.  She is turning 60 this year.  It's a big birthday.  So, to celebrate this milestone, there is a pink and black girls only party this weekend.  

When I found out about the party, I immediately knew what I would be giving my MIL for this birthday: a pink and black version of Cuzco.  Since I needed to find all of the material quickly, I headed out to Joanns on MLK day.  The fabric was on sale and I could use my 30% off total purchase coupon.  Doesn't get any better than that!  (Unless it's free, but it was pretty close at this point)

I picked out 9 different blacks and 9 different pinks.  You would think this would be easy, but alas, all blacks don't match and all pink don't go together.  I purchased  at least half yards of all of the fabrics; a couple of them were end of the bolt, so I was able to get a deeper discount on the little bits past half a yard.  
Ironed and ready to go!

I cut more 2.5 inch wide (by WOF) strips than I needed:

Really, it worked out for the best, because I realized that I prepared all of the pink strips to match only one of the blocks.  I also only needed 8 of each color.  I saved a print that was more red than pink for a future project.  The extra black pattern, a paisley -ish print, will be the back of the quilt.  
Two down, seven to go! 
Once I caught the mistake on the pink blocks, I was able to correct the issue with the black blocks.  At this point, I have more than enough strips to do one of two things: make a second black and pink Cuzco quilt OR a different strip quilt.  

I'll be posting a picture of the finished top in the next couple of days...just need to think of a quilting design....thoughts?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Stars are Bright Quilt

This is the quilt I've been working on for over a and on, but none the less, my goal is have it completed in the next couple of months. 

The pattern (Star Power in the April 2009 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting) was nothing too complicated; just fat quarters.  I traced the star pattern on to freezer paper and then did a 'stack and whack' kind of move.  While the pattern called for 13 fat quarters, somehow I end up with 14 stars.  Oh well!  Keeps it interesting.   You can find the template and the instructions for the stars here.  

From American Patchwork and Quilting 'Crazy Stars'

The project calls for one to shuffle the top piece of fabric around the star to back of the pile.  I did this part at the very beginning.  For the most part, I was happy with the combinations, but every once and a while I would adjust the fabric combinations to my liking.  Still ended up with 14 different fabric combinations.  I did run out of one of my fabrics.  I'm not sure if I used too much of the fat quarter, or it was a small fat quarter.  See if you can figure out which of the blocks has a different fabric in it in the photo below....

Using my felt wall, I organized the stars in a pattern that I felt was pleasing to the eye. I ended up with three gold blocks, two green blocks, two floral blocks and the rest, purple.  This is how I organized my blocks: 

So close, but still so very far away....
You can see the sashing pieces in the photo.  I learned that a design wall was vital to this quilt's outcome.  I took multiple photos once everything was up on the wall because I have a two and half year old that likes to help.  I printed out one of the pictures as a reference when I started piecing together the blocks. 

I also learned about 'scant' 1/4 inch seams during this project.  My mom helped me square up the sashing pieces; some of them came out small.  Turns out, I was using normal 1/4 inch seams, when a scant 1/4 inch should have been used. Lesson learned!  Since sewing the pieces together, I've had to double stitch some of them as they are not all the same size.  

These are the blocks put together so far:
Not too shabby!
The stars are one row; the sashing is a separate row right now.  

I'll keep posting as the project comes to completion.  Not sure about what color(s) to use for the backing.  Thoughts?  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Welcome Addition.....


On Saturday, I said I would post more about my stars quilt on Sunday, but I didn't! 


Because I went out to peruse new sewing machines and ended up purchasing one!  Meet my newest addition, a Husqvarna Viking Opal 670:

From the Husqvarna website

Honestly, it was not an expected purchase, although I've been looking for the last 6 months.  After talking to my mom, who has a Janome, and my cousin, who has a quilting/embroidery capable Brother (Babylock?), I grappled with the type of investment I wanted to make.  While I love the idea of having the option of embroidery, I thought that jumping from my Singer Featherweight 221 to something like an embroidery machine was a very large leap in terms of technology and machine size.

I ended up purchasing the Viking from a retailer within Joanns.  It seemed to be reasonably priced, and didn't come with any perks.  By perks, my mom ended up with a custom fit table and extra accessories when she purchased her Janome.   The retailer offers classes on how to use the machine and will service it if needed. 

Don't get me wrong; I love my Singer, and plan on having it service next month.  I'll probably use it to teach EllaBell to sew.  I think the Viking is a stepping stone to a larger, fancier machine in the future.  

So, I spent Sunday figuring out how it works.  I’m sure this seems like a ‘duh’ issue here, but going from a machine that was around before computers, to working on something that is a little computer, is quite a change!  It really is ready out of the box.  The manual was fairly easy to read – thank goodness!   

One of my practice pieces

My likes of this machine so far: 
  • the automatic thread cutter,
  • the bobbin winding feature,
  • ease of changing the foot,
  • ease of lowering the feed dogs,
  • the number of decorative stitches, and
  • the back stitch option. 
The feature that I LOVE: the self-adjusting thread tension!     

This will end up as a pot holder - its's the extra star from the "Stars are Bright"!

Any tips on using my new Opal?  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Stars are Bright - my quilt started in 2012

For the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting more about projects I've started or projects from the past, as my wonderful 60-something year old Singer Featherweight 221 goes to the shop.  

I'm a little bummed about giving her up for at least two weeks.  Really, she needs it - there's a thread stuck behind the bobbin area that I cannot get out.  And she's never been professionally cleaned.  I'm hoping that the shop in Humble will be able to fix her up as good as new.  

Besides the news about my Singer, I'm sharing a quilt I started last year.  Yeah, early 2012; it's about to have it's own 1st birthday.  It's not really a UFO....I started cutting out the fabric and just got busy with life.  Finally, to balance out the stress of classwork last semester, I picked the pieces back up....

Hanging out on the felt wall
This was one of the hardest quilts I've worked on so far in my quilting experience.  It looks so simple when placed on the wall, so why is it one of the hardest?  

The pattern, which I'll post about tomorrow, called for 13 different, but coordinating, fat quarters.  I had plenty to choose from....but I wanted something that would pop.  I knew that I would be using green and purple, but what else went along with those two colors?  I noticed that one of the purples had little flecks of gold.....which is when I remembered that I purchased several gold fat quarters for use in a Hanukkah quilt.  Since that quilt has not been designed yet, I figured I would pull out some of those gold fat quarters for this quilt.  

And that color combination worked!  Now, I have to say that at least four of the fabrics in the quilt are from a coordinating set, so really, choosing the purple and green combination was not too hard.  Finding the right golds with the 'right' patterns....that was not as easy.  Two of the gold fabrics that I used are light, with flowers or swirls, but one of the golds (see in the lower right corner) is a bit strong.  But I think it works.

I happened to purchase a white fabric with little yellow, coral, and fuschia squares as a close out bolt from Joanns; it ended up helping bring the stars together.  I'm not even sure how I ended up with the coral fat quarter that end up as the outer triangles.  I think it randomly jumped into my basket during a shopping trip, and I figured it was better to hang onto it than take it back.     

How do you choose your color combinations?  

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Candle clean up!

My candle collection is a little over board.  By a little overboard, I mean that I'm pretty sure I have the entire Yankee Candle collection at my house.  Maybe not the entire collection, but multiple sized jars of my favorites.  

When I found a pin with the description "What to do with those half used candles hiding in the closet? I might actually try this one!", I thought to myself, well it can't hurt to check it out.  

The pin links to Happy-Go-Lucky, a blog about inexpensive DIY projects, games and family activities.  Her post is from November 2011, and a number (146 at the time of this post) of people left positive comments, so I figured that if she could do it (as her profile says), then I could do it.  

First, I looked at what I was working with: 
5 + a couple more once I started
I had to run out to Michael's to buy wicks (and ended buying more than just wicks), and washed out the jars I planned to use.  I saved these over the course of a couple weeks, rather than recycling them.
Trimmed up and ready to go!
I used a shallow pan with deep sides to melt down the candles.  I kept the water a low boil and added more as needed.  Since these are glass containers, you need to paying attention so they don't crack during this process.  This pan fit two candles at a time:
Blueberry scone and pumpkin spice....
I tried to melt either the same or complimentary scents at the same time.  While the kitchen smelled nice, the smell did not make it through the whole house.  Well, maybe it did; I was probably super desensitized to smells as this project rolled on.   Most of the candles melted in about 15 minutes.  One of the deeper jars took about 25 minutes.  

The edges of the original candle glasses were not too hot; I was able to pick them up with a pot holder or tongs. I used the pot holder for the bottom, which made pouring way easier.  

I ended up adding ice to the bottom of the bowl to speed up the hardening process. 

The whole melt down took about a hour and a half.  Hardening took pretty much the rest of the day.  I melted down approximately 7 candles and ended up with four new candles.  It also worked out that I was able to upcycle two of the original candle jars.  The stickers pealed off easily after sitting in the simmering water.  I gave them a good rinse to rid them of the remaining wax, and now I have two new candy jars! 

Lesson learned about what types of (recycled) glasses to use: glass jars that stored garlic need a very thorough cleaning before use!  One of my new candles, the purple one in the photo below, that should be 'autumn fruit' has a slight hint of garlic to it.  
Tada! All new candles! 
This project turned out to be fairly inexpensive (only new cost was the wick at ~$2) and easy.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Transportation Quilt

2009 was the year of baby quilts...  

Shortly after finishing the red, white, and blue Peanuts quilt for my (impending, at the time) niece, one of my coworkers announced she was pregnant with her first child.  Knowing this couple’s love of the outdoors and fishing/boating, I really was hesitant to start work on the quilt before they knew the sex of Baby B. 

Well, it was soon announced that Baby B was a boy, and it wasn't too hard to plan what kind of quilt pattern and fabric design to use.   The expectant mother planned on a transportation theme for the nursery; think planes in the air, trucks and cars on the roads, and boats in the water.

The fabric is from Joanns.  Solids are from the Symphony Broadcloth Solids line.  Apparently, Joanns no longer sells the other two fabrics, at least not online. 

Since the recipient was a boy, I went with ROY G BIV minus the last two colors (I and V) for the solids.  The rows on the diagonal alternate the anchors and boats fabrics.  

The quilting is just a diagonal solid line set on the seams.  I used a variegated rainbow thread by Coats & Clark.        

I love the bright solids in this quilt, since babies do not see very clearly for the first couple of months of life.  The design on the backing is great for playing “I spy” as the baby grows.  The little anchors and boats on the blue background pull the theme together.  This quilt provides both a place for a fun tummy time or to just be a snuggly wrap.    
Fun side note:  Baby B is the older brother of this quilt’s recipient!