Thursday, May 21, 2015

Really Random Thursday, 5/21/15

Last Thursday Mark and I left for the central coast of California, in a raging rainstorm. All of you who live in places where you have actual "weather," in other words, it isn't sunny 355 days a year, will think this is quite mild. However, when we came back and checked our rain gauge, we had over an inch of rain. That is a lot of rain in drought-stricken California.

This picture was taken on an actual freeway, not the carwash (for those of you who remember that I sometimes drive through the carwash pretending I'm in a storm).

The sun behind these clouds was so very pretty.
Friday night we had dinner at a restaurant Mark had heard about. It is at the very end of a long wooden pier.
With a beautiful view.
This sign made me chuckle.
Really? Just look at this sweet little face.
I always end up taking pictures from our room at various times of the day or night. Usually from the very same vantage point. The mornings often start out a little overcast.
Then the fog lifts and it is sunny.
And ends with a beautiful sunset.
The public works department for the City of Pismo is apparently doing some maintenance so they had spray painted a lot of identifying markers on the streets and sidewalks, indicating the sewer lines and water lines, etc. But when I saw this on the sidewalk, my first thought was, "What? Where?"
Naturally I had to come back and use it for a photo op.
What has your week been like?

Monday, May 18, 2015

My Small World Quilt-Along

It's beginning!

If you have been on Instagram, you may have noticed the buzz about Jen Kingwell's pattern, "My Small World." A team of us--KerryJohnMegan, Danielle, Lisa and me--are hosting a quilt-along. So if you have been thinking about making this quilt, but are a little unsure about it, please join us!

If you haven't done a quilt-along before, think of it as a support group. A group of people from all over the world will be working on this quilt, putting their individual stamp of creativity on it, and there will be guidance, assistance, and lots of inspiration along the way. The quilt is not a large one (33" x 52"), and an Instagram friend, Jo Dymont from Life in Lists, is planning on enlarging the quilt, so there will be hints on how she plans on doing that.

This would not be considered a beginner-level pattern, as it involves small pieces and lots of templates, but hopefully it should be relatively straightforward. We will not give specific construction details or measurements from the pattern so you will have to purchase the Spring Special 2015 issue of Quiltmania (Kerry has posted information on where you can find your own copy here), but we will be giving information on techniques, such as English Paper Piecing, curved piecing, applique techniques and much more, along the way. 

This will give you an idea of fabric requirements for the pattern as it is published in the magazine.
But have fun--modify and add your own style with your fabric choices. I plan on seeing how many solids I can incorporate.
As I was gathering together fabric, I realized that now is the time to break into some of the precuts I have been collecting and hoarding!

Gardenvale by Jen Kingwell (of course!), Doe by Carolyn Friedlander, and Lighthearted by Ayumi Takahashi

Need a little nudge? I found these three mini charm packs. I'll choose three winners on Wednesday, May 20--just leave a comment and let me know if you have ever participated in a quilt-along. I'll make a little confession--I have participated in quilt-alongs before, but usually I get a late start and the quilt-along has been completed long before I even get started. So maybe that doesn't really qualify as a quilt-along!

To get started today, check out each of our links for introduction and information. Then approximately every three weeks, starting the week of May 25, one of us will be hosting tips and techniques, section by section.

And Jen Kingwell will be watching everyone's progress on Instagram, so don't forget to tag your photos with #mysmallworldqal. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Blogger's Quilt Festival, Spring 2015: Under the Big Top

If you are here via Blogger's Quilt Festival, welcome. This twice-a-year overload of quilting inspiration is wonderful, don't you think?

This is "Under the Big Top," named because a couple of the blocks reminded me of those big striped circus tents. You can read more about the construction here.
It was made with a line of Kona called Dimensions, which has a wonderful honeycomb/hexie texture.

By pure chance, I saw a fabulous yellow Studebaker pickup in a parking lot, the very same color as the yellow block in the lower left corner. I was completely smitten so I left my card in the window, hoping that the owner would contact me and let me take a few photos.

The pickup turned out to be owned by a wonderful man who is a retired local bakery owner.  He met me at the park this week--and had already driven around and located the perfect location. So please indulge me as this might seem more like a photo album of this luscious "citrus yellow" pickup!

Quilt stats:

Name: Under the Big Top
Category: Large Quilts
Pattern: Curve It Up Sampler by Sew Kind of Wonderful
Size: 55" x 72"
Fabric: Kona Dimensions fat quarter stack and Kona black cotton
Quilted by: Karlee Porter

Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the rest of the show.

Blogger's Quilt Festival, Spring 2015: Animal Planet

If you are here via Blogger's Quilt Festival, welcome! I'm sharing Animal Planet today, so if you follow my blog you have already familiar with this quilt. You can read more about the details here, including lots of pictures.

This is probably one of my most favorite quilts ever, made for my 3-year-old grandson, Gabriel. A close-up of some of the blocks:

photo by Christa Wiens
Quilt Stats:
Name: Animal Planet
Category: Modern Quilts
Size: 62" x 62"
Fabric: Kona solids 
Pattern: Tutorial by Dani Miller (KSC Designs)
Quilted by: Darby Myers (Quilted Squid)

Thanks so much for stopping by. You can follow my progress on other quilts on Instagram, @liveacolorfullife. Enjoy the rest of the show!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Really Random Thursday, 5/14/15

Have you had a nice week? I have been getting a lot of sewing accomplished, and continuing to work on my Pattern Play quilt blocks.

Sometimes I follow the colors on the card as closely as possible.
And sometimes I choose completely different fabrics.
There will need to be some breathing room between the blocks so I'm planning on 1" black sashing strips. I think they will all end up playing together quite nicely.

Mother's Day weekend was really fun. If any of you have ever watched The Sing-Off, a reality show competition between a capella singing groups, awhile back a group from Minnesota called Home Free won the competition (and I highly recommend listening to them). Back in December we saw that they were coming to Fresno. At the time, we didn't realize it would be Mother's Day weekend, but it was the perfect thing to do on a Saturday night. The Tower Theater is a landmark in Fresno, completed in 1940, designed in the Streamline Moderne style (and yes, I did have to look that one up). As far as the group, we have probably never heard a bass who can sing sooooo low. Sometimes his voice literally rumbles. And the "percussionist" makes his voice sound like there is a full set of drums, yet it is just him and his microphone. Amazing. We are big fans.
This was on the counter when I walked into the kitchen Sunday morning, a bouquet of "china doll" roses and fresh coffee in a mug (from the college where we met).

Sunday night we were are Aaron and Christa's for s'mores. While we waited for the coals in the firepit to get just right, we played charades. Believe it or not, I have never played charades! Then we had gourmet s'mores: homemade marshmallows and homemade graham crackers.
Our granddaughter, Charlotte (third grade), and I are challenging ourselves to get moving. She made a chart for each of us. Our goal is to each walk (she plans on running) one mile, a minimum of three days during the week, and two miles on either Saturday or Sunday, for a month. If we reach our goal, we will go shopping for some really cute workout clothes.

The other day, Levi first grade), gave me this little fill-in-the-blanks questionnaire, "All about my Grandma."
 In case it is hard to read since it is written in pencil, here you go:

My grandma's name is Cindy.
She is __ years old. (Sheesh--you didn't really think I was putting my age in red, did you? You will have to read the pencil in the actual questionnaire.  And how did that 7-year-old even remember my actual age??)
Grandma and I like to quilt.
Grandma likes to say "I love to quilt."
My grandma really loves to quilt.
She likes to eat carrots.
She likes to drink water.
My grandma's job is to quilt.
If she had time, she would like to quilt.
Grandma's really good at quilting.
 If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we'd go to China.
I love my Grandma because she quilts for me.

I kind of sound like a one-trick pony, right? But, seriously, how well does he know me?! I probably love the answer to the last question the best. And I was curious about how he chose China, but then I remembered that for his birthday, Mark and I gave him a year-long subscription to Little Passports, (world edition, geared to ages 6-10), something I highly recommend--and each month in the mail he gets activities and information about a different country.

Proof that Levi knows what he is talking about. Quilty shoes.

Can't leave out the other two grandchildren:
school carnival
Her brother's baseball bat
 I would like to make this end table.
And Amazon now wants to make recommendations based on whether you are an introvert or extrovert? Do you notice that there are either more introverts shopping at Amazon, or simply more introverts willing to answer the question...
Finally, it is good to know that our Honda Pilot should be around for quite a few more years, based on this survey of models reaching 200,000 miles or more the most often. Our Honda is seven years old and just turned over to 50,000 miles. While tells you that I don't get out much. Or maybe I'm just spending too much time shopping on Amazon....
If you have seen Jen Kingwell's new pattern, My Small World, in the Special Spring 2015 edition of Quiltmania magazine...
...I'm part of a team hosting a quilt-along. There will be lots of support, advice, tips and inspiration. We hope you will consider joining along. It will be a fun summer project. So come back on Monday for more information.

How has your week been?

Friday, May 8, 2015

From Start to Finish: The Bullseye Quilt

This post will be the first in a sporadic series called From Start to Finish. As I'm sure a lot of you do, I find quilt inspiration in many unlikely places--flooring, rugs, pillows, tile, upholstery. I'll take you through my design process, from initial inspiration to completed quilt. Welcome to the first edition.

If you are here from the Sew Timeless blog, thanks for stopping by.

If you have followed me for any length of time, it will come as no surprise that I have a special love of working with solids. So a few months back, when Hayden from Timeless Treasures contacted me about possibly doing a project with their Soho Solids line, I jumped at the chance. It seemed perfect for a design idea that had been floating around ever since I saw this picture in a magazine.
I started sketching the idea on graph paper, changing the design from a hexagon to an octagon.

Then this arrived in the mail. Beautiful colors and the fun black and white stripe.
You can see my design changes in this first practice block.
The first completed block, which is 12 1/2 inches unfinished.
If you have ever made a kaleidoscope block, then you will be familiar with the construction techniques. I used a Marti Michell ruler, which is great especially if you decide you want to make the block larger or smaller.

You can also use this pdf template (although I have never tried to embed a pdf so you may have to email me and I can send it to you--the template should measures 6 1/2 inches from top to bottom). This particular block first involves making strip sets, and from then on the construction remains the same.

For each block, I cut three 1 1/2" strips of A, B (always the black and white stripe, although I considered changing its placement in one of the blocks--so that might be a fun idea to try), C, and D, and three 2 1/2" strips from E. Cut one white square and one black square, 4 3/8". Trim in half diagonally.

Because I was working with fat quarters, it required making three strip sets for each block.

When the strips are cut, it is time to sew. There are different opinions on how to sew strip sets together, and how to keep them straight rather than curving. Because these were each relatively short strips, for each set I sewed A and B together, then C, D, and E together. Your strip set should be 6 1/2" wide. I then pressed the seams open, and then sewed those two sets together and pressed that seam open as well. With one block I tried pressing the seams to the side rather than open, hoping that the seams would nest together in a future step, but that ended up not working well for me. Maybe you will have better luck, so use the system that works for you.

Now you are ready to cut.

Using your template or ruler, cut the kaleidoscope triangles. You should be able to get three from each strip set.
Set the remaining pieces aside, not just the triangles, but each end piece as well. Cut kaleidoscope triangle wedges from the remaining two strip sets until you have eight for your block.

(Side note: I didn't photograph the Bullseye block steps from start to finish. Oops. So the next two photographs will be from a different kaleidoscope block tutorial, but the construction is just the same.)

1. Take two kaleidoscope wedges, place right sides together and sew from the wide edge to the point, to form four sets. After sewing the sets together, press the seam to one side; be consistent, so all the seams are pressed in the same direction, either clockwise or counter clockwise.

2. Take two of these units and sew them together, again from the wide edge to the point, again pressing the seam to one side. There are now two halves of the kaleidoscope.

3. Carefully line up the two halves, making sure that the seams match. If all the seams have been pressed in the same direction, the center seam should nest together nicely. For good measure, stick a pin in the center to hold it in place. Sew the two halves together.

4. When pressing the center seam, again press the seam in a clockwise or counter clockwise fashion, which will create a little pinwheel at the center. This will help the block remain flat where the bulk of all the seams come together.

5. Cut the white square and black square in half diagonally, and sew on opposite corners. Press. Trim to 12 1/2". Your completed blocks will look like this.
You could stop here or keep going with as many blocks as you like. For the Bullseye quilt, I made 12 blocks. I knew I also wanted to use the stripe for the binding, but all these blocks needed a little breathing room before adding that striped binding, so I added 1 1/2" strips of white and black as an outside border.
 Now comes the really fun part. At least I had a blast. Remember all those leftover triangles and edge pieces from the strip sets? Start sewing them together. Don't try to plan. Just start sewing.

First I sewed all the triangles together.Don't they look cool when you alternate them up and down?
Then I sewed on the right and left ends of the strip sets. Sometimes I had to cut a triangle in half to have a straight edge. I didn't give it much thought, but just had fun. It ended up looking like this.
Then I determined the size I needed for the back and sewed some of the shorter strips together. And then it looked like this.
By then I had completely fallen in love with the back, so much that I briefly considered making two separate quilts so the "back" could star on its own. In the end, it became a two-sided quilt.

I took it to our local archery range, thinking I could get a cool picture draped over a target. I was imagining one of those large round targets made from hay, with the bullseye in the middle. Um,no.
This was the best I could do. If only I had had some help to hold it open below the archery sign.

I hope you will give the Bullseye blocks a try. If you have any questions whatsoever, don't hesitate to contact me! I'm working on a new From Start to Finish and you can catch progress shots on Instagram-- @liveacolorfullife.

I'm linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and TGIFF.