Friday, July 31, 2015

The Quickest Quilt

Some situations call for a quilt, others demand with such intensity that a quilt almost appears out of thin air. This was such a quilt. A couple I had met during my college years had recently announced they were in the midst of an adoption. They'd spent years hosting foreign exchange students, but knew they wanted a child of their own.  I knew right away I wanted to make a quilt for them and their little one, and I knew I wanted to use a + shape to celebrate the addition to their family. 

Fortunately, I had some yardage perfectly suited for this occasion in my stash. I used some Heather Ross strawberries in green surrounded by Architextures Crosshatch in Grey, I added a punch of pink with a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton.  

The pattern came from Southern Fabric and is aptly named The Easiest Quilt in the World. It really was super easy, and may become a go-to pattern for when the stork is out and about. This was so easy to put together I didn't even get to take photos while I was in process. Seriously, the top came together in about an hour, and that was from yardage to finished top! 

I did make one modification to the pattern. If you follow the links above to look at the original quilt, you will notice there are two black squares, one in the center at the top and one in the center on the bottom. They appear to be + that have run out of our line of sight. I chose to make these two squares out of the background fabric rather than the focus fabric so that all of the + were contained within the quilt. 

I quilted this little baby quilt on Louise, with some inspiration from Angela Walters who blogs at Quilting is My Therapy. I used spirals in the green + and cross hatching in the shocking pink +. I used a combination of leaves and pebbles in the background and drew a wavy meandering line and finished with straight line quilting. 

 The new family is special indeed. The two fathers were among the first who could jointly adopt in my childhood home state of Michigan. They were legally married during a brief period of time after a US District Court ruled the state's denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples unconstitutional and before an appeals court ordered a stay on the ruling. Little Baby "A" was due on June 13, but she didn't make her arrival until June 26th, the day the U.S. Supreme Court made their ruling on same-sex marriages. Not only does this baby quilt celebrate the addition to a family, but also the equality of the family with an = on the back. 

I have great admiration for this family and hope that one day my husband and I might follow in their footsteps and realize our dream of a family. 

This was my quickest quilt, from yards of fabric to the mail box in three days. I'd like to say this is the first #lovewins quilt. There are several swaps that have formed on Instagram to celebrate marriage equality after the SCOTUS ruling on June 26th. Check out #lovewinsmini and #winninglovemini on Instagram for more of whats going on there. Also remember to leave a little comment love on the TGIFF link party hosted this week by Michelle at From Bolt to Beauty. The button for the event is on my sidebar. 

What has been your quickest quilt?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Finish: Foothills Mystery

I'm linking up with the Thank Goodness it's Finally Finished link party which is being hosted this week by Janet at Simply Pieced.

  I wish I could remember when I first came across Cheryl and her blog Meadow Mist Designs, but all I know is that I found her before she started her Foothills Mystery Quilt last year. If you are not familiar with a mystery quilt, it is essentially a quilt whose finish is kept secret and has been expertly broken down into smaller steps that once put together create the predetermined design. Cheryl created this mystery to share with her guild, but decided to let her blog followers in on the fun. Each month a different step was provided which meant to me that I only had a small amount of work to do on this project before I could set it aside. I guess it made me realize it is possible to take a project just a little at a time and not all projects have to be completed instantly. 
My fabric pull for the project, which you can read about in an earlier blog post here.
 You may have noticed the colorful graph paper design that is hanging out with this pile of fabric, and I have to tell you that if you ever do a mystery quilt this is not a part of it! I made the process way more difficult than it should be. In the first step of the quilt, Cheryl broke down the fabric requirements for each of three different fabric groups. This is where I went completely overboard, probably trying to solve the mystery prematurely. I got out the graph paper to lay out the ratio of the three different fabric groups. From the blob of three colors on the left hand side of the photo below, you can see that there is more grey (3 yards total) than the other colors and much less orange/wasabi (5/8 yard) than the other colors. I wanted to see what this ratio might look like if it were randomly arranged in a quilt top. The left hand blob in the picture below shows one yard is 12 squares of the graph paper. The other rectangles are the same amount color, as squares or half squares to equal the yardage outlined! What?! Long story short, my brain doesn't know how to enjoy a leisurely mystery quilt along and has to complicate everything it comes across!

My fit of crazy trying to solve the mystery, instead of just enjoying it like a summer read.
 Cheryl was so kind to work with and she offered me some hints at this point in the mystery that allowed the wheels in my head to slow down just a bit. Month by month the quilt parts began to take shape. We made half square triangles (HST), square within a square blocks, hour glass blocks, and diamonds. There were several parts to the puzzle, but we still didn't know how they would all go together. During the month of the HSTs, I had to find an easy way to mass produce them, there were over 100 of them. You can read about my HST quilt hack in an earlier post.

This pile of triangles was actually fun to make after I made some modifications to my machine!
 This quilt was my second long arm quilting experience on Louise, my TinLizzie machine. I played with free-motion, pebbles and a little swirly design, all were hand guided.
Louise making pebbles until the cows come home!
 I took the photos below before this quilt was given as a thank you to the officiant of my marriage to my fantastic husband, and her husband who prepared all of the food for our intimate ceremony. 
I may have to change my blog to quilting among the pines! Pine trees seem to be taking over the orange groves.

A closer look at the pebbles.
 I used two different threads on this quilt, one an Aurifil in grey, and the other a verigated Superior Threads King Tut. The design that was created on the back of the quilt was an unexpected surprise that delighted both the recipients of the quilt and myself.

The secondary design that becomes apparent on the back of the quilt.

The Foothills Mystery has been solved. Stop back among the pines groves to see my progress on Cheryl's latest mystery the Midnight Mystery quilt along. Have you ever participated in a mystery quilt along? What have been your experiences?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Midnight Mystery Quilt

Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting another mystery quilt along! Check out the Midnight Mystery Quilt button on my sidebar to link to her blog and find out more. It's not too late to join in. So far we've selected fabrics for four distinct fabric groups and we've been given instructions on how to cut into the lovelies. 

I chose the fabrics below for my Midnight Mystery Quilt. It's my first time using Cotton + Steel and I'm excited to see how nicely fabrics from different seasons play together. See those little dots dancing above selvage on the dark purple fabric, I'm super geeked about them. I think they will make a great little bit of the binding on this quilt. . .when it's finished. . .next year! 

The Foothills Mystery Quilt, Cheryl's previous quilt along was so well organized and broken into smaller manageable steps that were easy to complete before the next set of monthly instructions arrived in my inbox. I'm lucky that she is so well organized, because before I could make it out of Keep Me in Stitches with my precious bundle of fabrics, my ever enabling husband had spotted the lot that you see below. This means I will be making not one, but two of these Midnight Mysteries! Sean was drawn to texture and understated hues of the quilter's linen by Robert Kaufman. He loves places like Restoration Hardware and West Elm, and thought these fabrics could make a quilt fit to grace one of their catalogs. There is one fabric in the selection that is different, the one with the fuzzy looking top, is a peppered cotton that was masquerading as a quilter's linen. . .but I don't mind. I think they will make a great looking quilt.

As an added bonus, the Midnight Mystery Quilt concludes in April 2016, so that neutral quilt with a pop of orange will be ready just in time for our one year wedding anniversary. 

Be sure to stop by this Friday for the reveal of my finished Foothills Mystery Quilt. I'm linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for her Let's Bee Social party! I've got her button in the sidebar too. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Stash: Carolyn Friedlander

I have a bit of an obsession with Carolyn Friedlander and her beautiful fabric collections for Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I purchased part of her Architextures line at my LQS, Heartfelt Quilting, way back right before I started Quilting Among the Groves. I've been hooked ever since, and have used some of her fabric in 90% of my projects since then. I am so obsessed that a couple of weeks ago, when I saw some Architextures languishing on the shelf at Heartfelt, I bought some. Well not really some, but the rest of what was left! The purple color on the left has already been used as the backing to the quilt that I wrote about in my blog post: A Quilty Coaster Ride

Part of my obsession with Carolyn is perhaps because she has a little paradise among the groves not far from mine. I met her last year at a special showing of her work at the central Florida landmark, Bok Tower Gardens. She hosted a local meet and greet where a handful of obsessed followers like myself met with her to have lunch, enjoy some slow sewing, and social time under the canopy of the oak trees surrounding the famous carillon tower.

I took some pictures of her work as it hung in the exhibits hall of the Garden's visitor center.
At the time her newest line of fabrics was Botanics. I have to add this beauty to my quilty bucket list.

She captures flat Florida landscape so well.
Did I mention that she also lives among the groves? Simple lines and bold colors make this depiction of the groves truly memorable.

Carolyn is an inspiration to me. Her designs are bold but simple. I love the way her quilts show that she has fun with fabric!

Are there any designers that you have an obsession with? What is it about them that sparks your imagination?

Speaking of 'spark,' I'm linking up with the sparkliest of them all, Molli Sparkles for his Sunday Stash!

Friday, July 17, 2015

LMQG Modern Elements Challenge

I joined the Lakeland Modern Quilt Guild in March of this year at the most opportune time!  Modern Elements Challenge Time! The guild partnered with Northcott Fabrics so that every participant had a fat quarter set of the same Modern Elements Fabric in the Cabana colorway. Click the link to see this collection that exudes energy. (BTW I am not affiliated with Northcott Fabrics in any way, I just enjoyed working with their fabrics in this challenge.)

Trying to keep my design hidden.
One of the purposes of this challenge was to help guild members embrace technology as a way to further connect with the quilting community. We were required to comment on the Lakeland Modern Quilt Guild (LMQG)blog, and on the LMQG page on the national site. Additionally, we had to document our creations by posting to other social media outlets about our progress. I opted to post with the #LMQGModernElementsChallenge on Instagram. You can follow me there here too!
Manipulating the patterns to make my own patterns.

Have you ever participated in a quilt challenge? This was my first and I was so excited to try new techniques. One of the fabrics featured a stripe motif that I manipulated by slicing and piecing back together in my own arrangement. Another fabric featured so many colors it was challenging to see how it would fit with my other fabrics. I surrounded small squares of this colorfully energetic fabric with wide swaths of coordinating grey fabric and placing them on an angle add interest.

The green fabric made me think of trees, so I thought I would try my hand at quilting some trees.
I had more fun with quilting where I experimented with how my long arm machine handles different threads. I free-handed trees using Superior Threads Bottom Line, a polyester thread, in green.  I added vertical and horizontal lines that crossed over each other in the grey that surrounds the small squares with a dark grey Aurifil cotton. I finished the bottom portion with a variegated Superior Thread King Tut by quilting a design that seems to combine the textures or scales and feathers. I want to further play with threads to see what works well and to see the different characteristics of the threads after they are in the quilt.

I find hand tacking binding to be a relaxing activity.
I used vertical and horizontal lines to create a filler.
The finished mini!
The whole quilt reminded me of the highways of Florida. Quilted trees along the roadways, cars lined up, four lanes across, the bottom part an expression of my frustration when stuck in traffic.

The back shows larger bits of the challenge fabrics.
My design was a success. It won first place! Now I've got this swell new Sizzix fabric cutter to play with!
A fun new toy!
What has been your experience with quilt challenges? I'm linking up with Thank Goodness it's Finished Friday (TGIFF) at Quilt Matters.