Sunday, March 30, 2014

A New Toy

Long before I ever made my first quilt, I made skirts.

So when I got news that my daughter would need a white skirt for her upcoming kindergarten graduation, I figured I would make one, rather than spend all my time scouring the internet for the perfect white skirt.

And then I remembered why I stopped making clothes - the seams! Finishing seams has never been one of my favorite things to do. I used to encase the seams with a zigzag stitch. Later on, I learned how to sew French seams. But it always seemed like extra work.

Then it occurred to me: get a serger!

I've always been intimidated by sergers. They seem so complicated - so many threads and a knife that cuts! For so many years, I thought they were above my skill level and out of the range of my wallet! But I started doing some research. I found that there is quite a range in price and features. I wanted something basic that would be easy to thread.

I decided to go with the Brother 1034D. It got great ratings on Amazon and a poll of my Instagram friends confirmed that it is easy to thread, just as it advertises.

I forgot to order thread when I bought the machine so while I waited for my order of Maxilock thread, I used some of my quilting thread. It worked, but I do like the Maxilock thread.

I'm having fun with my new toy! It really is easy to use. I've already used it to make a skirt for my 5-year old, using some fabric from my stash. I used a tutorial for a simple skirt by Dana Made It to figure out the measurements. Highly recommend!

I also made a skirt for my 2-year old, using some fabric from one of my favorite maternity blouses that I used to wear when I was pregnant with her. I love being able to give my maternity clothes a second life.

And check out the seams!

I see myself making lots of clothes for my girls now that I have a quick and easy way to finish the seams.

Now I just have to find the perfect white fabric...

Friday, March 21, 2014

Boxed Radiance

Have you seen the lovely purple quilts popping up all over the internet? I'm guessing they have something to do with the Pantone Quilt Challenge.

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

I've had my mind on the Pantone challenge ever since Adrianne of On the Windy Side announced it a couple of months ago.

I started working on a quilt for the challenge this past weekend. I had a couple of false starts and was about to pass on the challenge on Tuesday night after admitting to myself that I didn't like the quilt in progress.

Then I looked through the Modern Blocks book for inspiration. I found some in Faith Jones' Boxed In block. I drafted the block in EQ7 and played around with the layout, rotating blocks here and there. I came up with a design I liked and got started on Wednesday.

First came the blocks.

Boxed Radiance_blocks

And when I had enough blocks, a top was born yesterday.

Boxed Radiance_Top

Then came the quilting of a million stitches in straight lines, each 3/8" apart.

Boxed Radiance_quilting

For the binding, I chose a chevron fabric from my stash that I've been saving for just the right quilt.

Boxed Radiance_Binding

The quilt is done and I'm breathing a sigh of relief. I met the challenge by pushing past my initial false starts and making the quilt in three days.

Allow me to introduce, Boxed Radiance, my response to the Pantone Quilt Challenge. At 52" by 52" she is a great size to serve as a lap quilt.

Boxed Radiance

Now that Boxed Radiance is all done, I can get back to those Birds in the Air who have been waiting far too long for some attention.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


My Birds in the Air quilt has been sitting loaded on the longarm for a week waiting for my attention.

Today, I started the quilting. Here's a peek at my beginnings.

Birds in the Air_quilting

I'm finding that the paisley or "headband" quilting design is very forgiving of differences in the widths of the headbands, which is something I appreciate. For more on the quilting, see here.  

I would love to quilt these birds in one session, but the busyness of the week ahead tells me that I will only have time for mini quilting sessions.

Still, it's progress!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Practicing Headbands

This past week was full of free-motion practice for my Birds in the Air quilt. I went through lots of fabric and thread practicing paisley designs, but wasn't happy with the look of the quilting.

And then I went back to look at Diane Gaudynski's Quilt Savvy, a book that I've had for some time.


Diane writes for quilters using their domestic sewing machines, but the information is also relevant for long arm quilting. It is filled with lots of helpful information for tackling free-motion quilting, including quilting designs and troubleshooting problems. If you haven't read this gem of a book and are looking to improve your quilting skills, I highly encourage you to check it out!

After reading the section on paisley designs, which she calls, "headbands," I quilted this little practice piece. Diane describes the process of making the designs so well, that I got it after only one try.

Quilting Practice copy

My quilting is by no means perfect, but I'm happy enough with how it came out that I'm ready to use the design on my Birds in the Air quilt.

The quilt is loaded and ready to go.

Birds in the Air loaded

Now, for some time to tackle it!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Birds in the Air

Last January, when it was my turn to be queen bee of the That Stash Bee, I asked my bee mates for Birds in the Air blocks in blues and greens.

The blocks came in. I added a few more. And then they sat ever so patiently for more than a year.

Birds in the Air_Blocks
I picked them up last month and started to turn them into a quilt top.

I took forever to decide on the layout, mainly because there are so many different ways to play around with the blocks.

Here's one layout that Sarah from Sew What Sherlock shared of a quilt she made using the Birds in the Air blocks. Would you believe it was her first quilt? What an impressive quilt!

Big star quilt (my first quilt EVAR.)
Courtesy of Sarah Bailey
Deb from A Simple Life auditioned a number of different layouts. I can't wait to see which one she decides on!
As you can see, there are many layout options with the Birds in the Air blocks. That's what makes working with these blocks so much fun.

I'm happy to report that I decided on a layout - more on that soon - and finished the quilt top this past weekend.

Birds in the Air_top

If you are interested in making a quilt with these blocks, check out my tutorial here. At the end of the tutorial, I share a few different layouts. If you do make the blocks, feel free to share in the Mama Love Quilts Flickr group. I'd love to see what you stitch up!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Fresh Sewing Day!

It's Fresh Sewing Day over at Lily's Quilts!
Lily's Quilts

Fresh Sewing Day gives me a chance to look back over the previous month and look toward the next.

Filled with activities at my girls' schools and several deadlines, February just about flew past me.

I did manage to get a couple of projects done.

There was Treasure Boxes 2, a minimalist I-spy quilt, for my youngest daughter.

Treasure Boxes2_hanging

And there was Rocky Stars, my response to the Riley Blake Challenge.

Rocky Stars

Now, as soon as I recover from February, I'll start planning on what to do for March!

Saturday, February 22, 2014