Halloween Quilt #2

And here is Halloween Quilt #2 – the one I am keeping for myself. I’m kind of in love with it. This came about for a few reasons. 
1- I’ve had a little pile of Halloween fabrics I’ve been collecting for the past few years – mainly on after-Halloween clearance sales, waiting for the perfect project.
2- I’ve always wanted to try something scrappy inspired by Denyse Schmidt’s Hop, Skip and Jump design. 
3- Last year I saw Allison’s quilt – the perfect marriage of the two ides. So I shamelessly copied payed homage to her creativity with my own rendition.
Here’s a little close-up of some of the fabrics. In addition to my Halloween pile, I pulled out every orange or black fabric I had to throw in.  I’m extra pleased with this endeavor because I did the quilting myself!! I really wanted just straight lines to echo the strips design. Kind of scary when you feel so proud of yourself for sewing straight lines (which, in reality, aren’t really that straight- but they go with the wonky feel, right?)
The pumpkins on the back are a Minick & Simpson print I got a few years ago – again on clearance. (I’m such a clearance fabric junkie!)

The one thing I didn’t have was just the right binding – and my friend and co-worker Sharon (hi Sharon!) found just the right black with gold print for a binding. Perfect – except I was 2″ short. So I threw-in a little orange patch for personality.

Here’s the picture where we tried to shoot the quilt on location. (I’m afraid you’re all going to get bored to death with my backyard fence.)  A great little ‘fallish’ looking spot, but we were on the way home from piano lessons,working against rapidly darkening skies and an impending snow-storm (I know) and my only option for official quilt holder was my 11-year-old.  Stalwart and brave (and ever patient with her mother’s weirdness) as she was, her arms just weren’t quite long enough to get a full body shot of the quilt. But it’s still kind of a cool picture, so it get’s recognition as well.

Hope your Halloween was spooky and fun. We had a cowboy, a camo/army guy, a cute girl from the 50’s complete with poodle skirt and pixie glasses – which she really doubted looked as awesome as they did – and Hermione Granger from Gryffindor. All was covered up in raincoats as our neighborhood tricked-or-treated last night in very soggy weather. Happy that all came together well and also happy to be done. (Am I a party pooper?) Halloween is fun but those costumes start stressing me out!

PS I delivered Halloween Quilt #1 this past week. Can I just say it brought me that weepy kind of happiness to see a 4-year-old rolling on the floor wrapped-up inside it?

Linking up to: 

Fresh Poppy Design

Blogger’s Quilt Festival – A festive flag quilt

I’m so excited that Amy’s Blogger’s Quilt Festival is here again! I love this event and the crazy amounts of inspiration to be found. This fall I wanted to share my favorite quilt I made this year.  Some of you have seen this before.  It was my summer project: the red, white, and blue flag quilt.

Here’s where it started. As a young adult I lived in the UK a couple of times: once as a student and a year later as a volunteer with my church. When I came home, I left a big piece of my heart behind.  I went back for the first time two years ago with my husband, and yup- there was that piece of me still there.  Last winter I started working on Union Jacks for a quilt.  (Because, in addition to my UK obsession, I just think the Union Jack is cool.)

Well, this summer one of my favorite flat-mates during my time in England was coming to visit me here in the States. She is from Oslo, Norway and I think we are long lost cousins because she is a kindred spirit. (I have a Norwegian great-great Grandfather so it’s genetically possible!) We will go for years without seeing each other and then when we do, we just pick-up where we left off like no time has passed. I love those kind of friends.

So, I decided it was time to make her a quilt. And I used the flags from our two countries – to which we both have ties – and the flag for the country where we met each other.  It’s extra great that their colors all coordinate so nicely.
The back.  The red gingham fabric in the cross is from Scandinavia.  The little blue and white floral reminded me of Julie’s mom’s kitchen in Norway.

The best part: all of the fabric was from the stash. Except one.  I needed something perfect for the binding and I found just the right thing.  I love this quilt so much – I really need to make a matching quilt for myself.  In the mean time, maybe I need to go to Oslo to check on the quilt in it’s new home. Oh to dream . . .

To see oodles of lovely quilt inspiration, check out the Blogger’s Quilt Festival

Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival

Past Quilt Blogger Festival entries:

Arcadia Quilt
Vintage inspired red, aqua & pink
Peas and Carrots

Intro to Quilting 101

originally posted at Make and Takes
We are now ready to combine the three layers of our quilt sandwich and ‘quilt’ our project. There are a variety of methods for quilting. I’m going to focus on machine quilting, but we’ll discuss others as well.
Basting is a very important step in the quilting process. It seems tedious, but doing it carefully will result in a professional-looking finished project. Basting is a way to temporarily hold the three layers together while you ‘quilt’.
First of all, it is very important that all three layers are smooth and wrinkle free. Iron the backing fabric and lay on the floor face down. Carefully pull the fabric taught (but don’t stretch it) and tape it to a hard, flat surface.
Smooth the batting and lay your quilt top over the batting.  I like to press both layers together to get all wrinkles out. Doing so also helps the quilt top adhere slightly to the batting. When top and batting are smooth and flat, carefully roll the two together.
Bring the top/batt to the quilt back and carefully unroll on top of the backing, smoothing all wrinkles as you unroll.  Make sure you can see backing fabric around all four edges of the quilt top.
Now is the time to baste all layers together. There are two options that work best for machine quilting: spray baste and/or safety pins.
  • Basting spray is available in the notions of most sewing supply stores. (Make sure you get one that washes out.)
  • Basting pins are slightly curved (as opposed to regular safety pins) to make it easier to pin from the top through all three layers.
Pin quilt top starting at the center. Working out pin every few inches, especially at the edges of the quilt top.  When pins are in place, remove the tape and check the quilt back to make sure things are tight and flat. If there are puckers or excess fabric, now is the time to fix the problems. If the fabric is loose when you start quilting, there will be tucks or puckers in the quilting. There is no way to adjust the back once you start sewing without a lot of headaches or time with the seam ripper. (However, using a busy, patterned fabric for the back will help to hide any small mistakes.)
Machine Quilting:
There are many options for machine quilting.  The first is to let the seams/fabrics themselves be your guide. Sewing next to the seams themselves is called ‘quilting in the ditch.’  (Top left) Works great.  If you want to create more visual interest in the quilt you can stitch lines or patterns in other directions.
There are lots of supplies for pre-marking your quilt before you start quilting.  Pens with disappearing ink, chalk pencils etc. work well.  I really like to use a hera which gently scores the fabric. (All available in the quilting notions aisle at most stores.)  You can use a ruler for marking straight lines or there are quilting stencils available in all kinds of patterns.  Or be creative. Here’s a great example of using painters tape as a guide for quilting. For my quilt I chose diagonal lines. I used my hera and a ruler to mark my lines.
It’s a good idea to start quilting from the center and work your way out.  Because it’s hard for all that bulk to fit through your machine, roll the sides in. You can un-roll as you work toward the edges.
I use a walking foot when I’m quilting.  It’s not necessary, but it helps feed the layers of fabric evenly through the machine.
Another machine quilting option is free-motion quilting. This process is kind of like drawing with your needle and thread. One kind of free-motion quilting is called ‘stippling’ and looks like a continuous squiggly design over the whole quilt.  For this kind of quilting you use a darning foot and drop the feed dogs on your machine – this means the only thing moving your quilt is you! Free-motion quilting  takes a little more practice because there is usually no pattern marked on the quilt and  it can be tricky to maneuver a quilt through a machine. But the results are fantastic once you’ve mastered the technique. There are some great tutorials herehere and here.
Hand quilting vs. Machine quilting:
Hand quilting is another option – and again, there are lots of variations.  If you choose to hand quilt, it is still important to baste the quilt.  You can use safety pins or baste in the traditional sense with very large stitches.  Traditional hand quilting requires a thimble, small quilting needles called ‘Betweens’ and a heavier thread specifically for quilting. There is a great hand quilting tutorial here.
I also really like to use the DMC pearl cotton for a bigger stitch look. It’s thicker thread, so you will need a bigger needle. The size 8 thread (center) works well for a running stitch and the size 5 thread (left) is great tying a quilt.
Quilting  is not only functional – holding the three layers together – but it also creates texture and visual interest. The more quilting – or stitching – there is holding those layers together, the longer the quilt will last; fabrics last longer, batting shifts less, etc.  But there’s no right or wrong option. As with everything in this process so far, choose what works best for you!
Up next in our Quilt Along Series: Binding – or finishing – a quilt

Halloween Quilt #1 + an ode to single moms

Finished Halloween Quilt #1.  This was a design I had in my head for a while – and I love seeing it come to fruition -esp when it actually looks like you wanted it too. (I hate when I try some new design and it just does not work. So glad that wasn’t the case this time!)

A friend, Becky, that works at the same shop I do did the quilting on this one, bless her heart.  Aren’t the spider web quilting details awesome? The fabric is from the Boo! to You collection by Riley Blake.  I’m not a big fan of the blood and gore part of Halloween and I like how this design throws in the good old Halloween motifs like ghosts and mummies and makes them cute and charming for scaredy-cats like me.

I know you’re wondering how in the world I made two Halloween quilts this year.  Totally abnormal for me, but my husband has been out of town for most of the past two weeks (yeah, not something I like to broadcast while he’s not here) so after the kids were in bed every night me and my sewing machine would go to town while I stayed up too late watching The Scarlett Pimpernel on DVD from the library.  That coupled with the fact that I just fed my kids scrambled eggs or Little Ceaser’s pizza at the kitchen counter every night while I left my mess creative endeavorers on the table for most of the time, meant I got a lot done.

To my credit, I shared the table with the kids’ creative endeavors as well and we got a lot of great Halloween decorations completed while we were waiting for Dad to get back. Because as fun as it all was to live our temporary bohemian lifestyle, we really like having Dad around.  My hat goes off to every single mother on the planet.  You are rock stars and completely heroic in my book.

Single moms have been weighing heavy on my mind (and heart) and were the whole impetus behind this very quilt.  One of my oldest friends – we’ve know each other since grade school – lost her husband to cancer last week. Talk about courage and grace. (If you want to be truly inspired, read her husband Ben’s final thoughts on his blog chronicling his battle with cancer.)

While feeling utterly helpless in Ben and Allison’s current situation I’ve been thinking a lot about another friend who lost her husband a year and a half ago – also at age 36. Her husband Chris, was another old and special friend of mine – and a total character.  He was also obsessed with Halloween – he loved going all out for it.  I kicked myself after Halloween last year for not thinking of it in time to make them a Halloween quilt in honor of their Dad. Watching Allison’s situation this year, it was not hard to remember.

And forgive me if I get a little bit deep – it’s been kind of a deep week around here – but I’m grateful to know that there is a “Father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5.) I know that He gives comfort and guidance when it is needed. I also know that those cases where fathers are no longer on this earth, they are close to their families and that their separation is only a temporary one.

So this quilt is for Chris’s wife and three young kids.  I don’t know exactly what they’ll do with it, but I hope they keep it around all year to think of their dad and know that it came from someone else who thinks their dad is awesome too.

If you’d like to make something similar, this free pattern at Moda Bake Shop will get you going!

Halloween Pennant

Yeah, I have been on a roll with the Halloween fabric this year. I’m feeling highly motivated to de-stash – or to actually put to use the fabric that has been waiting patiently for, in some cases, years. So while the Halloween pile was out, I went ahead and cut some pennant triangles with my Accuquilt GO! Cutter. I’m totally happy with the end result.
Hope you are enjoying your weekend. This is what I’m going to enjoy this weekend. The last of the tomatoes. My crop was not abundant but it was sufficient. And oh I will miss them. We’ve had the most gorgeous, warm fall/autumn this year. But it looks as though this weekend is the end. Winter is coming. Drat. So yard work is on the weekend to-do list too. I can’t get out of it any more – although an out-of-control yard might just add to the spooky atmosphere.  Hmmmm . . .

Oh Scrap! A giveaway!

A sneak peek of Halloween Quilt #2. Made with lots of scraps!

Are you a scrapaholic?? Scrappy quilts are my favorite kind and so I’m always hanging on to my fabric scraps because you never know when you might need them! And I always get so excited when I find the perfect place for them. (Plus I feel this weird [ok, pathetic] responsibility towards them. Like I need to provide them with a good home or something.)

The good old Table Runner tute is one of my favorite uses for scraps. 

But, if you’re like me, and your scraps are starting to take over your life, not to mention your storage space, go visit Jodi @ Pleasant Home (if you don’t already)! She is having a fun scrap-along and will help you get great joy and satisfaction out of those multiplying fabric scraps.

And just in case you are not like me (a budding hoarder who is on the road to reform), but you want to participate, I have some scraps to share!

Lots of pieces of Amy Butler’s Midwest Modern and Daisy Chain collections left over from making this quilt. Enough to fill a bulging flat rate envelope.  Leave a comment (one) to enter.  This giveaway ends Monday, October 25 at midnight.  Have fun!