Saturday, December 22, 2012

~ A Most Special Gift ~

Today is a most special day for a most special mother. Happy Birthday, Mom! My sister, Rene', believes strongly in celebrating all milestone birthdays (any birthday ending in a five or zero) in a BIG way. So to honor our mom's milestone birthday, we decided to make her a quilt...together. And I am so excited to finally be able to share it!!

 We started our planning this past summer during our Gruber's retreat. Even though I blamed gave credit to Rene' for coming up with the idea of a Great Granny Square quilt, it was our good friend Doris's idea (God bless her). It was a perfect choice!! After all, our mother recently became a Great Grandmother, but has also been a great grandmother and a great mother!!

We spent much time talking, planning, choosing the perfect fabric, stressing...

...for me, mainly stressing. So much, in fact, I was very careful to follow the directions
TO . A . T!!!
 In fact, the tutorial never left my side.

My Frustration was also nearby to ensure I did not miss a step.

As I completed each block, I would send a pic to Rene' through Instagram. Here are a couple of my blocks...

I must say, our IG friends were awesome in cheering us on during the making of this quilt...thank you!!

I played around with the layout of my blocks.

Not a great "design wall" is now located behind my bedroom door :(

I even labeled each block with a piece of painters tape so I wouldn't lose my place. As I have mentioned frequently, I am directionally challenged.

After sewing my two columns together, I shipped it to Rene' to finish piecing the top with her blocks. She then pieced the back, basted the quilt, and sent it back to me to be quilted. Yikes!!

My Frustration must have realized that I was a nervous wreck, seriously stressing, panic ridden really focused on the quilting, because he stayed as far away from me as he could that day (yes, I cranked this baby out in one day...not recommended).

We were able to get a couple of pictures of the two of us with the unfinished quilt when Rene' and her family made a quick stop over after an FSU game.

Rene' took care of the binding and a most wonderful photo shoot of the finished quilt.

Quilt Stats:
 finished size 58"x72
 pattern used: great granny square blocks
pieced by me and Rene', quilted by me
 fabric used Top: Kate Spain Serenade and Kona White, Backing: Rock n Romance by Pat Bravo (Rebel Cheri Whispers) , Binding: Kate Spain Fandango.
What a great time we had making this quilt!! I can't think of a better gift to give our mother, who has been such a big supporter of our quilting journey.
I can't wait to see the finished quilt in a few days...and to get a picture of the birthday girl with her birthday quilt!!

Be sure to check out Rene's blog and her post about our special quilty gift!

I'm linking up with AmandaJean and Sarah.

Happy Birthday, Mom!! We love you (most)!!!

~ Michelle ~

Friday, November 23, 2012

~ Lots of Work, Little to Show ~

I've been very busy with quilty projects this week. So busy, in fact, that just about every muscle in my body aches. However, I don't have much to show for know, 'Tis the Season to be working on Christmas gifts and such ;-) But here is what I can show...

I have begun my first scrappy quilt (barely) and I am SO excited!!!!!

This quilt is inspired by the Checkerboard quilt from Sunday Morning Quilts. Although I am piecing blocks instead of rows, as in Amanda Jean's pattern, I love how she combined whites and creams to go with her scraps.

I've been cutting and storing my scraps the past few weeks,

Putting my scrap basket from Cindy, Live a Colorful Life, to good use ;-)

and cutting and storing my whites and creams.

Love my bag from Michele, at Nostalgic Cafe :)

This quilt will be a long time in the making, so I hope I can remain patient and forgo my tendency toward instant gratification.

I've also been working on my FMQ skills. Typically, I do a meandering stitch, but I decided to try some loopy stitches.

I have to admit, I feel much more comfortable with the meandering stitch, but with practice, I'm sure I'll learn to love doing the loops.

Of course, my Frustration has enjoyed our quilting time as always...

Pretty pitiful showing considering the hours I've quilted this week ;-( Hopefully, I can show some completed projects soon!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful, restful Thanksgiving!!

~ Michelle ~

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival ~ Fall 2012

I am so excited to participate in my second Blogger's Quilt Festival. Thank you, Amy,  for organizing this great event and thanks to all of the sponsors!
This year, I chose to enter a mini/wall quilt that I gifted to my sister, Rene',  for her birthday.

I enjoy making quilty gifts, but I find it stressful to make quilts for Rene'. She is, after all, the one who introduced me to quilting. I still ask her lots of questions while making quilts, so it's difficult not to rely on her input and advice while making gifts for her.

The pattern, Fiesta Wall Quilt, is from the book Quilting Modern, by Jaquie Gering and Katie Pedersen. Fortunately for me, they were very detailed with the instructions. And trust me, I went step by step with this one, not wanting to make a mess of it. The fabrics selected were:

Center block: Couture French Dress by Laura Berringer for Marcus Brothers Fabrics
Inner Border: Kona Teal Blue
Center Border: Kona Azure
Outer Border: Kona Aqua

This was the first time I used my design wall for something other than just a place to hang my blocks ;-)

As I am directionally challenged, I numbered each strip with painters tape so I wouldn't get turned around.

And of course, I kept the book opened on my table for quick (and frequent) checks to make sure I hadn't missed a step.

My Frustration and I were quite exhausted, but pleased, once completed.

This mini quilt spent time in Georgia, Florida, Minnesota, Washington, Mississippi, and then back to Florida where it now hangs in my sister's house. Here are a few shots that were taken during its travels...

Blogger's Quilt Festival Stats:
Finished Quilt Measures 24 x 24
Quilted with organic lines by me using my home machine
Best Category: Favorite Mini Quilt, Favorite Wall Hanging
Edited to add: Festival Number:358
Thanks, as always, for visiting my blog!
~ Michelle ~

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pay Back

Any believers in karma out there? Or maybe just payback? Well, I got a little taste of both recently. As many of you know, I have a really awesome big sister. So awesome, in fact, that she loves me even after the angst of our childhood years. By angst, I mean that I was an absolute booger to her. I was the tortuous younger sister who would start fights, then sit back and watch smugly as she got blamed by our parents. Sweet, right?

I'm the smarty pants on the left pointing to the chalkboard.
 My mother used to say that I was spoiled, but not spoiled rotten.

Spoiled? Yes
Rotten? You betcha'

  What does this have to do with quilting? Well, I think Rene' got a wee bit of quilty revenge.

I've been a little bummed lately because I don't have time to work on any major project. Rene' has always encouraged me to try smaller projects like mini quilts or random blocks. One block suggested was the Great Granny Square. Isn't she sweet? Anyone who knows me (and my sister knows me WELL), knows the following:

1. I don't like working with small pieces (by small I mean less than 5 inches...haha).
2. I stress over my accuracy in piecing and matching seams.
3. I am directionally challenged.

Anyone familiar with the Great Granny Square must already see where I am going with this!!

I began my block by laying out my printed squares in seven rows as suggested in this tutorial. So far, so good. Then I added my 12 white background squares on the ends of each row. Huh? Something wasn't right. I was short two white squares. I counted the 12 squares, recounted them, counted the number of row ends, recounted them. UGH! Then I called Rene' ;-)

Our conversation went something like this:
Me: "My squares aren't adding up (Insert a panicked voice) !!! What am I doing WRONG (Insert slightly whiny voice)??"
Rene': "Did you read all the directions before you started?" (insert laughter)
Me: "Uh, why would I do that?"
Rene': "Well, it would probably help with this block."

I turn the page...

Notice the words "excluding" (in CAPS!!!!!) the middle row.

So, after reading ALL of the directions, my layout was much better.

I pieced the blocks in each row and carefully carried them to my kitchen, uh, ironing station.

My two must have and Best Press

Well, the directions read to "press your rows with the seam allowance going opposite directions (oh, crap...I have to remember the direction when pressing the rows?????). I'm sweating at this point and wishing my beverage of choice was not coffee!!! Meanwhile, I'm imagining my sister laughing hysterically!!! I press my first row to the right. No problem, that's how I usually press. Therefore, the next row needed to be pressed to the left. Hmmm...not used to that direction (kind of like writing with my left hand), but others do it, I guess I can. I start cussing and wondering why this was so dang hard!! I swear it took me forever to realize I could just turn  the row around and press it to the right. DUH!!! Now, I'm sure, Rene' is on the floor laughing her butt off, picturing my stupidity. She's probably crying at this point from the laughter!!

Sewing the rows together was relatively pain free, and my resulting block didn't turn out too badly!

My first block set "on point."

I think the next time Rene' suggests a smallish project I should question her motives. SERIOUSLY!!
 I mean really...
41 little bitty pieces (okay, not that small) and 24 connecting seams to match...for ONE block???
Two and a half hours later???
And making another Great Granny Square block? Well, let me just say that it would take some SERIOUS arm twisting!!!!!

Thanks, as always, for visiting my blog!!

~ Michelle ~

Friday, October 12, 2012

Chasing Butterflies For A Friend

I spent a beautiful afternoon chasing a butterfly, trying to get that perfect shot of this mini I made for a friend. The sun did not want to cooperate, and the shadows wanted to play with us, but boy did I have fun!

 This mini was made for a swap with my Gruber's retreat friends. I drew Terri's name, and it didn't take long for me to decide the fabric I wanted to use.

Terri is a huge fan of Anna Maria Horner, and I knew she was anxiously awaiting the arrival of her new line, Field Study. So while I began waiting for the arrival as well, I started brainstorming on what to make.

Once I received my Field Study order, I realized that the ideas I had come up with just would not work. So, back to the designing board.

Field Study has beautiful, large prints, and initially I did not want to cut it! Seriously... I really did not want to cut almost pained me to cut it!! I think I even heard a little groaning from the cutting mat.

But I know a quilt cannot be made without a little cutting. So cutting I did...alot...too much. It took me awhile to finally decide on what I wanted to make, but hopefully Terri will be able to use the scraps (big and small) that I included with her mini quilt. 

I wanted it to showcase the beauty of the prints. I fussy cut a butterfly (Terri loves butterflies!!) and surrounded it with some wonky log cabin strips. The quilt top, backing and binding is all from the Field Study collection with a little Kona White added to help bring out the beautiful colors.

I quilted this mini using organic lines (my favorite) using a pale pink thread.

I hope I did Field Study justice, and that Terri loves the mini as much as I came to love it!!

Thanks, as always, for visiting my blog!!
~ Michelle ~

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Between Friends

A couple of years ago, my sister had this hair brain idea invited me join her and a wonderful group of ladies  at a quilt retreat at Gruber's. Never mind that I had only been quilting for less than a year, and in no way could match the talent and creativity of this group. She must have caught me at a weak moment, as I said, "Sure, why not? Why wouldn't I fly from Georgia to Minnesota to quilt? Duh!!" Of course, my non quilty friends thought I had lost my mind.  Well, I've had the immense pleasure of quilting with this group for two summers. Last July, we decided to do a swap of "Happies." (hopefully, we have started a tradition to be continued next July). We drew names, returned home, and got busy creating!

I was totally overwhelmed when I received my swap from Cindy, of Live a Colorful Life. She is, after all, the Queen of All Things Selvage ;-)

I had a sneak peek of my "Happy" on Cindy's post Craft Book Month: Sunday Morning Quilts, although I had no idea I would be the recipient of this beautiful basket. Dare I mention that Amanda Jean, co-author of Sunday Morning Quilts, is one of the awesome ladies I have the pleasure of retreating with? I love how Cindy made Amanda Jean's quilted storage box with selvages!!

Included in the Happy was lots of goodies...magnets, tape, pumpkin gumdrops (a first for me), a fat quarter of the prettiest fabric, and ...

my own personalized pin cushion!!!!!!!!!
Michelle, Michelle, Michelle

I absolutely love everything Cindy sent me :) And I absolutely love the friends I have made through this quilting journey!!!

I hope you come back tomorrow to check out the Happy I made for my swap partner!!

~ Michelle ~

Monday, September 24, 2012

~ Monday, Monday ~

Any fans of The Mamas and The Papas out there? I love most music from the 60s and 70s. Their song, Monday, Monday is one of my favorites. No surprise that I was singing it to myself Sunday night as I was thinking about the last few Mondays and the Mondays coming up. It's been a rough beginning to my school year and the stress hasn't let up yet.

Okay...enough of the pity party ;-) Other than work, work, work, not much has been going on around here. I finally finished a little "Happy" to be mailed today to an awesome quilty friend of mine (never mind that I'm about a week, or two, late in mailing it). That's about all the quilting I've done over the last couple of months, but at least I had a little time in my happy place, which has kept me sane. More about this later...

But with no major projects being worked on right now, I thought I would share some pictures of  quilts I made for my dad and step mom. I'm still trying to play catch up with my journaling of this quilting process ;-)

This quilt was made with the very first line of fabric I fell in love with...Pure, by Sweetwater for Moda (I'm amazed that I can remember the name). The pattern is called Diamonds at Large, from the book Layer Cake, Jelly Roll and Charm Quilts by Pam & Nicky Lintott.

I loved the browns, tans, and blues together. I love the name of the line...Pure...ah!! And the print..."pure love, pure happiness, pure laughter, pure & simple"...
I wasn't sure if it would work with this pattern, but in the end, my dad liked it, so I guess it worked out just fine.

This next quilt was made with the first Bali pop I every fell in love with...can't remember the name...haha!! But, I did really, really love it. I remember driving home from the LQS after purchasing the backing fabric saying over and over and over "I.Love.Batiks!!" I actually called my sister to share this fact with her. I believe she thought I had lost my mind!! It was the first quilt that I ever made that I almost didn't gift. I loved everything about it!! Those of you who know me, know that I very rarely will use the word "love" with anything I that I have made...but I'm getting better at it ;-)

This was my first, of two, 1600 jelly roll quilts. I'm still amazed that such a simple pattern (and I use that word lightly) can result in such a beautiful quilt. I think I fell in love with the simple lines...or maybe the colors...not real sure. But this quilt was really special to me for whatever reason, and it was oh, so hard to let it go.  


Well, I'm off now, to start my Monday, Monday...wish me luck!!

~ Michelle ~