Saturday, June 21, 2014

ONLY PLUSES picnic quilt finish!

After almost a month in Utah, we are settled in nicely.  Someone from the opera company generously loaned me her Bernina (getting spoiled with Swiss engineering already), and I was able to finish quilting and binding my new picnic quilt.

There was so much that went right on this one, and I am so relieved!  Our old picnic quilt is great, but needed some subtle improvements for PQ 2.0.

First off, our Crazy 9 Patch Lattice picnic quilt was just a wee bit small for the three of us (70" x 50").  I expanded it just a bit all around (80" x 60").  Not a lot bigger, but just enough to accommodate all of us, our snacks and toys for a day in the park.

Second, the cotton batting just wasn't working for me.  It was too damp after a picnic, and as we don't have a dryer at home, it was a pain to air out post-picnic.  We often skipped the picnic quilt altogether in favor of a twin sheet much of the time.  This was because it's light to carry and easy to wash and dry.  After considering a poly batting, I decided to skip the batting and use a flat sheet.  Some other bloggers suggested it, and it made perfect sense for our purposes.

Lastly, I wanted to use earth tones: not only to blend in with the grass, but also to mask any possible dirt or grass stains :)  Oh, and since I had lots of 4" x 4" green leftovers from my sister's Duck Duck Berry Duck quilt, it made assembly that much faster!

I pieced the top back in NYC.

 Late night feet- putting the puzzle pieces together after toddler's bedtime (and mine, probably).

I added a few new fabrics to the mix, and didn't just use up all of the leftovers from sis's quilt (and I always mean to do, but never end up doing).  I WANT to be efficient and use all the scraps, but if they don't all really fit for a project, I can't bring myself to "settle" with what's in the scrap bag...

So we loaded up the bags (6 checked! but THANKS Southwest for the gratis check-in!) and moved (temporarily) to Utah!  Our apartment here is so much bigger, and the linoleum kitchen floor was a perfect space to baste my quilt.

That was a DREAM!  At home I have to roll up the carpet in the living room!!  Also, check out how the design on the floor mirrors the pluses in the!  I went with a light green twin flat sheet (from Walmart)- in keeping with the green theme and won't show thru.

Didn't bring basting pins, but was able to borrow a few hundred safety pins from the costume department!  They even let me come in after hours and iron everything on their super hard-core ironing table with industrial iron!  That thing was a revelation - Thanks Phil!!!

I watch Kill Bill on Netflix while basting with my 300 pins...maybe I should have watched the movie "300"- probably would have been equally gory (not really my thing).

I straight-line quilted on the Bernina, and I am looking forward to FMQ'ing on that sweet machine before I leave here in August.  Beautiful stitches and deep harp space- I am in heaven!  Didn't take any pictures, anxious to finish :)

My wife and I dropped the little one off at the local gymnastics club, which has a Friday night "Parents Night Out".  For $10 your kid can jump on trampolines and run around the sprung floors, eat pizza and cry for their mommies for 3 hrs while we have fun- YAY!  We decided to hike to the top of a mountain nearby and do a photo shoot for the latest finish!

We had literally 5 minutes at top, as it was a tougher and slower hike than we had anticipated.  The wind was fierce, and I was practically blown off the mountain when I first unfurled the quilt (see pic at top of page)!  We decided it was safer to hold it behind me (ala Superman).

I love this shot!  A happy accident, as it looks like I am trying to line up the top of the quilt with where the hill behind me meets the sky.  Also, the quilt back blends in nicely with the trees in the background.

I'm not trying to pose or anything, just trying to get out of the way to show the quilt.  As you can see, the wind was rough, and I was holding on very tightly to that thing!

Oh, and the name- Most of my quilt projects have their pluses and minuses, but this quilt was only pluses: no machine problems, no major human error, and no regretted fabric choices.  I tried a new pattern and experimented with the "batting", and am happy with the result - Only Pluses :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Goodbye, Froggy Playground!

I am always happy to finish a quilt, but sad that it also represents a goodbye for us.

I finished my QAYG Goodbye Quilt for our friends who are leaving us and going back home to Germany this summer.  Their son is a week younger than our daughter, and since they first met, almost 3 years ago, they have been like siblings.  They have an amazing attachment to each other- when we left town for a few weeks this winter, he refused to leave the house because he knew his best friend wouldn't be at the playground.  They will both likely move on to new friends and new environments, but we will sorely miss the special bond these two toddlers share.  We will also miss his parents, who are both good friends of ours.  We hope they settle into their new Hamburg home comfortably and happily, and that we will see them soon!

This quilt is a new design for me (as most are, since I am a new quilter).  As I mentioned previously, Maureen Cracknell has a wonderful tutorial for this Quilt-as-you-Go project, and she held my hand just enough for me to finish it!

As I mentioned in my last post, my Singer is misbehaving, and so I am using my backup Brother, which is not much of a help in the FMQ department.  Fortunately, this pattern only requires straight stitches, and with my new walking foot, everything went smoothly.

We had a little going away party for them at the playground last weekend, and I arrived early to do a photo shoot before they arrived.  As you can see, the quilt is a little wrinkled as it was folded up in a gift bag...sorry about that :)

 Here's my little one peeking over to help.  This fabric is made from scraps I had left over from my Deco Supernova Quilt, which I made using Lee's Freshly Pieced tutorial.

Actually, Stephanie over at Late Night Quilter is doing a Supernova Friendship Block Swap, so the Supernova lives on!  I added a couple new fabrics, including a very cool Japanese Koi fish print, as well as a NYC-themed fabric with street names and boroughs on it (so they can remember their time here).

Hooray for scraps!!!  It's so nice to just have to add a few strips here and there to put together a quilt top!

Since both the quilt recipients are doctors, I thought it was the perfect occasion to use this fabric, which has kids dressed up as doctors and nurses.

Binding is scrappy and hand-sewn, using extra fabric strips from the same materials.  The best part of this binding was that I finally found a way of joining the two ends of the binding without having a little bump it the binding. Until now, I had been joining the ends with a 90 degree angle cut, which left a little bump in the binding when finished- something I never liked.  Using this simple tutorial from Sew Mama Sew, I joined the ends using a 45 degree angle cut and stitch.  I'm sure many of you already know this trick, but STEP 10 was a revelation for me, and makes that bump disappear- thanks Kristin and Beth!!!

Haha!  I didn't take a picture of that sweet seam, but I did happen to snap a camera pic of the binding before I attached it.  Not much to look at, I guess, but there it is.

It was convenient to take these pictures across the street from our apartment, but it was also a great spot because our kiddos shared so many great play times here, at what we call the "Froggy Playground".

There's the "froggy", which is a sprinkler in the summertime, and a fun place to climb year round.  Our kids had many hours of fun on and around the froggy over the years.

Lots of sliding on this slide...

Froggy keeping warm.  Thanks for visiting :)