Category Archives: Pins and Needles

Helloooo Henrik Jane!

Almost exactly two years ago, I fell hard for Heather Bailey’s fabric line, “Nicey Jane”. Just as I was wondering what to do with it, I received a generous gift that included the Minick & Simpson pattern “Chippewa Nine-Patch”. At first glance I just knew the two were meant for one another. So I ordered a giant pile of fabric and started to cut a zillion 1 3/4″ squares. Months and months passed without much progress. Finally I had to admit that hand-piecing the whole quilt was not happening. (The pattern does helpfully suggest strip piecing, but two years ago I was still thinking strip piecing wasn’t for me. I was an idiot.) I dragooned Boomer and Schnookie into piecing the rows of the 81-patches that alternate with the snowballs. Turns out the sewing machine sews a lot faster than I do. I suspect this is because it doesn’t stop every hour to look at the “Coming Soon” section of fatquartershop.com while dreaming of the next quilt it’s going to start.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is, thanks to their help, I was able to finish Henrik Jane this summer! Woo-hoo! After a short spell with Mary, The Long-Arm Quilter, Henrik Jane was back at home, ready to be bound and washed. I put the final stitches in last weekend.

Henrik Jane Take 2

I am simply over-the-moon for how this turned out. It seems lots of little pieces combined with low-contrast fabrics is the signature look that’s going to make my quilts famous. Heh. I was concerned at first that the nine-patches weren’t showing off the fabrics well enough, but once I got going on it, I really loved how it ended up looking like confetti. Or an impressionist painting. Or an impressionistic painting of confetti.

Henrik Jane Quilting

There was a long time there where I thought this project would never be finished. I’m so glad I powered through, though. Now, if Henrik Zetterberg ever shows up at Maple Hoo, we can greet him with a quilt he can call his very own.

Henrik Jane

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Cheeky Dracula Cha Cha Cha!

Back when I was a cross stitcher, I earned the nickname “Threads of Fire” for finishing projects quickly. I hadn’t had such luck as a quilter until this summer. Last weekend I finished my fifth quilt top in the last few months! Behold, Cheeky Dracula!

August 7 2011

I seem to have lost my ability to take an in-focus picture of a quilt, but what you’re looking at is a scrappy dresden plate made of all kinds of Halloween prints, and with fussy cut centers from Alexander Henry’s “Ghastlies”. Yeah, it’s a little manic, but if you can’t go nuts on a scrappy Halloween quilt, when can you?!

This in-progress shot shows the plates better than the finished product:

September 13, 2010

The fabrics are mostly Alexander Henry, but there’s some Sheri Berry in there, and some Sanae Spooktacular, and some stuff leftover from Boomer’s Halloween quilt, and some random stuff salvaged from the great Basement Stash project. Oh, and the little candy corns are from my first seasonal-fat-quarter-impulse-buy-while-waiting-for-fabric-to-be-cut purchase! I probably — nay, definitely — should have switched to a different, less busy background, but I got that stuff on sale for half off, so that’s what I stuck with.

My favorite part, needless to say, is the pie centers, which you can see better in this in-progress shot:

Cheeky Dracula Centers

Look, there’s Cheeky Dracula himself! If you listen closely to this quilt, you can hear his theme song.

Cheeky Dracula will be heading off to the long-arm quilter soon. I hope he’ll be back in time for Halloween!

So what does a girl do when she finishing one quilt top? She starts a new project, of course! Two weekends ago we held Maple Hoo’s first (of, I hope, many) Irresponsibility Weekend. The idea was we all dropped whatever projects we were working on and picked up something brand new, and low priority. Schnookie made an awesome peacock. Boomer spent the weekend digging up a zillion new projects (but I don’t think she started anything; she’s a master, that one!). I dug out a stack of 1/2 yard cuts I bought with my birthday discount at my LQS two years ago. I had intended to use them to make American Jane’s Fiesta quilt, but never got around to picking the solid colors for it. Instead, I decided to be inspired by copy this quilt I’d seen on Flickr. Nothing says irresponsibility like using 1/2 yard cuts to get, at most, 6 2.5″ squares for a scrap quilt! Heh.

Here’s what I have so far:

Block 1 of Irresponsibility City

I’m planning on making it 6 diamonds by 6 diamonds, so while there’s still a long way to go, I feel like this is pretty quick work for just one weekend. It takes more time to decide which fabrics to use than it does to piece the block! Sadly, we don’t have a ton of scraps yet, so I can’t make it all from the scrap bin. Instead, I’m raiding the stash of fabrics that aren’t put aside for specific projects. It’s been fun to poke around in the fabrics we’ve collected over the last two years. I was especially excited to use the vintage hot pink fabric I got in Brimfield:

Brimfield Vintage Fabric

I love that I’ll be able to look at this quilt for years to come and remember the Brimfield trip, while also looking at the whale fabric Schnookie gave me for Christmas to commemorate our various trips to the American Museum of Natural History!

One of my favorite things about this project so far is that it’s giving me a great opportunity to play with fussy cutting.

Fussy Cut Fish

Fussy Cut Camel

Fussy Cut Bird

Any quilt that has that goldfish and that camel five inches apart has got to be a good thing, right?

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A Quilting Day In The Life, By Pookie

Last night I finished my fourth quilt top in the last few months! Woo-hoo!

Bliss Top Finished

I saw this pattern (“Hook and Eye” by Teacher’s Pet) done up in these fabrics (“Bliss” by Bonnie and Camille) at Quilt Asylum in McKinney, TX last year and decided I wanted a quilt exactly like it. I thought it would be a lovely Christmas quilt, but it could also be a plain old Winter quilt for January and February. I finished all the blocks just after last Christmas, but then dragged my feet on laying them out. Then I lay them out months ago and sort of forgot about them. Then I picked them up again recently, but lost track of how they were laid out. In the end, I had a lot of instances of the same fabrics showing up right next to each other. Um… that’s charm, right? ::shifty eyes::

Anyway, I’m quite pleased with how it looks, especially against a backdrop of July corn. Of course, now that it’s done, I’ve been thrown into a tizzy of having a billion projects I want to work on and a full Saturday with nothing else to do but quilt and watch DVDs. I’m so all over the place with what I want to be working on, so I figured I’d keep a running diary of what I manage to get accomplished today.

11:00 am: The first thing to do on a day like today is admire one’s work on a newish project. In this case, I laid out the first five blocks for FiestaFudd.

FiestaFudd In Progress

Just after finishing “Bliss” last night I realized I wanted to be working on something new. Something bright, sassy, and fun, but preferably with nice big pieces. Of course, starting a new project in quilting is tough because you have to cut the pieces and get them marked. So really, FiestaFudd could not have been more perfect! It’s bright (um, probably to a fault), sassy and fun, and it’s got big pieces that I had already cut and marked. But it’s not new! Waaaah! Just kidding.

11:15 am: Consider whether the panel from the giant stack of Helen Dardik fabric I got last week will work in this awesome quilt from the book “Gone To Texas”. The answer may surprise you.

Quilt Planning

The answer? No. No, it won’t work. Shuckydarns. But, there’s still hope that the fabric line will work for this pattern, just without showcasing the adorable panel. At least this means I don’t have to get online and order yards more of the panel today.

11:30 am: Press pieces stitched the night before.

Ironing

I had some loose FiestaFudd pieces, and the top to Bliss, and the background square for Cheeky Dracula to be pressed. Pressing is a great way to kick off a stitching day. It’s kind of like organizing a desk or weeding a garden bed.

12:00 pm: Seethe with jealousy over Schnookie’s new project, “Basement City”. It’s going to be an incredible quilt made up entirely of 1 1/4″ squares (3/4″ visible), all made with repro fabrics from Boomer’s stash. She ordered some lime green solid for the background, and then started picking fabrics for the prints.

Basement City Materials

Basement City Begins

At some point today, I have to start cutting these fat quarters up into thousands of teensy tiny squares.

12:30 pm: Decide the thousands of teensy tiny squares can wait. Sit down on the couch and waste time on the internet and on buying stuff on iTunes (I’m pretty sure lots of people buy Dolly Parton and Fantomas at the same time. I hope I screwed up Apple’s demographics on that spending spree.)

1:00 pm: Put in the first stitch of the day. Yeah! I’m stitching up a storm today!

2:15 pm: Two television episodes later, I have 1/3 of a Cheeky Dracula dresden plate attached to the background. Threads of Fire, that’s me! At this rate, I’ll have this quilt done in… um… ::does some math::… 100 years!

2:16 pm: Commence cutting the first of 14,000+ 1 1/4″ squares for Schnookie’s “Basement City”.

Schnookie and Her Squares

Dear Accuquilt,
Please create a 1 1/4″ square die.
Hugs and kisses, Pookie

3:00 pm Cutting several hundred 1 1/4″ squares actually went pretty quickly, thanks to Schnookie helping out with the trimming. If you ignore the 8 1/2 yards of background we have to cut, the whole thing doesn’t seem that bad. Since I still had some cutting get up and go, I launched into a proof-of-concept block for the Farmyard fabric we ordered a few weeks ago. SeptemberFever has been creeping into the air here at Maple Hoo (probably thanks to the 5 hours of rain yesterday) and there’s nothing more September-y than this line.

Cutting Scraps

4:00 pm: Time for more TV! What are the chances I can finish the dresden plate block before dinner?

4:43 pm: I was fairly confident that my zeal for all my quilt projects would overcome my recent obsession with “Red Dead Redemption”, a.k.a. Grand Theft Horsie. It’s now six hours since I got out of bed today and I’m starting to get twitchy. Must. Not. Turn. On. xBox… Must… Quilt… Arrrrgh!

5:30 pm: Dinner is still hours away, but the dresden plate block is done! I’m doing excellent stitching!

Another Plate Attached

6:30 pm: Test proof-of-concept block of “Farmyard”.

Farmyard Proof of Concept

Looking good! I was very worried that once again I’d have chosen poorly vis a vis the scale of the prints and the pattern, but I’m satisfied that even with the biggest print in the line, the pattern pieces are just the right size. We’re thinking a deep chocolate brown background will be the way to go. Of course, no more progress can be made on that quilt until getting the background fabric, so onto the next project!

7:00 pm: Finish cutting the centers for the Cheeky Dracula plates.

Cutting Cheeky Dracula

Boomer picked up a circular cutter and it seems to be working quite well. Also working quite well? The towel draped on the dining room chair. It’s meant to keep Rollie from scratching the chair’s upholstery, but it doubles as a very effective miniature design wall:

Cheeky Dracula Centers

7:30 pm: Dinner’s almost ready, so it’s time to hunker down for the evening. After all that work I put in today on Schnookie’s new quilt, Cheeky Dracula, and Farmyard, it’s now time to focus on either more FiestaFudd, or more V&A clamshells. Or both! Either way, I’m feeling very, very accomplished already today. (Which means, I could turn on that xBox afterall and not feel like I’ve wasted my day… If only Grand Theft Horsie had an expansion pack where John Marston goes to a county fair to learn how to quilt from all the local rancher’s wives!)

Clamshells

8:30 pm: Finish dinner, tipsy from a very full glass of delicious red wine. Yessiree, today was a Saturday well-lived.

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Another Finished Quilt Top! Another New Project!!

After last year’s miserable showing in terms of finished quilts (I can count on less than one hand the number of quilts I finished), I’m on a bit of a roll this year. Believe it or not, I actually finished piecing Henrik Jane! It only took two years! I finished six months earlier than my target date! And… I forgot to take pictures before I gave it to the quilter! Sorry. It ended up looking way awesome, if I don’t say so myself. I promise I will take pictures in August when it comes back from the quilter.

While working on finishing up Henrik Jane, and while working on beating Red Dead Redemption (a.k.a. Grand Theft Horsie), I also managed to finish piecing my MoMo-fabric-based bento-box-ish quilt, MoMoBeBo:

MoMoBeBo Top Finished

Sorry, this picture is totally out of focus, but I’m too lazy to take another. You get the idea of what it looks like, right? I’m such a great blogger. Sigh.

I am delighted with how this project turned out. I knew it would look exactly like what I wanted because I just copied someone else was strongly inspired by this post. I had long admired the bento box quilts I’d seen on Flickr, but most of them were done in either solids (which are lovely, but if you look at my past history with overly busy quilts you can tell they aren’t really my thing) or in wonky blocks which really aren’t my thing. I like my cutting to be neat and orderly, thank you! Anyway, I ordered the official bento box pattern right when I started quilting but it seemed way too complicated to a newbie. There were so many variations and the cutting seemed strange for something that was just rectangles. But this tutorial (which I originally found on Moda Bake Shop) was so straight-forward, and the result was so charming! Charming, and crazy busy and bright, just like I like ’em, and not at all wonky!

I had a “Wonderland” layer cake moldering in a closet upstairs, and a gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop burning a hole in my pocket so I picked up a layer cake of “It’s a Hoot” to go with it. Mixing the two lines was a lot of fun; I felt like “It’s a Hoot” made “Wonderland” a little more playful, while “Wonderland” lent “It’s a Hoot” a little sophistication. Sure, some of the colors didn’t seem to play perfectly together all the time, but this was a great lesson for me in just going with it, and seeing where the quilt took me. After all the tiny pieces of Henrik Jane, it was great to just rip through the easy cutting and enjoy the easy piecing. The MoMo fabrics were so soft and thin, I could finger-press most of the seams, too, making it even faster to hand-piece.

My only concern with bento box quilts is that I don’t like seeing the plus signs created at the corners of the blocks. I want to see the repeating squares. My solution to this is to hand quilt this puppy! Woo-hoo! My hand-quliting on Raccoonsweet has been going very well, and I’m really enjoying the process. It’s time to ratchet it up and hand-quilt a quilt I love, rather than one that’s only so-so. I’m thinking I’m going to use bright yellow thread to quilt squares in each round of each block. I just need to bite the bullet and get basting, which, let’s be honest, isn’t high on my list of things I’d love to do.

What’s more fun than basting a quilt? Starting a new project, of course! Meet FiestaFudd!

Feistafudd Blocks

The color in this picture is a little wonky; I can assure you the lemon yellow looks good in person. Honest!

When I saw the early pictures from Quilt Market showcasing the new Anna Maria Horner line, Loulouthi, I knew I was in love. Anna Maria’s “Good Folks” is still one of my all-time favorite lines, but the quilt I’m making out of it is slow, slow going (although I did finish another block for it in the last two weeks; that only leaves something like a zillion still to go). Meanwhile, I had fallen in love with the cover quilt from one of McCall’s Quick Quilting books. “Quick quilting” seemed like a really appealing alternative to the glacial progress on the Good Folks broken dishes project. It was a match made in heaven! The only catch was finding a solid to go with the prints. I got it in my head that I only wanted to use shot cotton, which, of course, I don’t have a color card for. I ended up ordering some lemon shot cotton for another project and lo and behold, it looked pretty awesome with the Loulouthi. At first I wasn’t sold, but after making these test blocks, I like how it gives it an almost Mexican pottery feel. Maybe it was all the time spent in Mexico in Grand Theft Horsie, but that was enough for me to say, “Lemon it is!” Each time I see this quilt, I’ll think of playing poker in Chuparosa with John Marston and the gang.

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Quilting? Hot Dog!

We have a long running joke with some friends about wiener dogs in booties, so in preparation for a big gathering in Buffalo last weekend, we whipped up this quilt:

Wiener Dog

We’d seen the wiener dog quilt in the book “Dare to be Square” and knew we couldn’t not make it. We added the little yellow booties to make it more fun. This was the first quilt we’ve made entirely on the machine, and the first quilt we’ve pieced in a day. It was such a blast to have all three of us working on the same project at the same time. There were bits of wiener dog quilt all over the dinning room table, both machines were whirring away, and the iron got a workout. We used mostly brown scraps from other projects; the background is Northcott’s new solid line (it was waaaay nicer to use than Kona; it was softer and didn’t have that Kona fraying problem).

We were also super-excited to be able to back it our new favoritest fabric ever, Alexander Henry’s Junebug print (shown here behind Blurch The Pincushion):

Blurch The Bird

Mary, the Long-Arm Quilter, did all-over quilting with dog bones, which could not have been cuter.

The wiener dog is now living the good life in his new home in Buffalo, where will hope his little booties will keep his feet warm in the cold winters.

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Works In Progress

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything about my quilty works in progress, but I’ve had good reasons! OK, I’ve had some good reasons and some bad. The good reasons are: I’ve been working on secret projects (whee!) and I’ve been too busy sewing to write. The bad reasons are: I’ve been lazy and I’ve been working on stuff that’s really sort of too boring to want to show off. Of course, I can’t show you the secret projects, but here’s some of the rest of what’s been going on.

Most excitingly, I finished the quilt top to Taffy City.

Taffy City Finished Top

Salt Water Taffy pattern by RJR Fabrics; Fabric: Everything But The Kitchen Sink V

Schnookie gave me this kit for my birthday in 2009 and now it’s finally ready to be quilted! I’ve wanted my own ’30s quilt for a long time, so I couldn’t be more thrilled with this. The fabrics are so charming and sweet, but with a little drama from the dark red and black accents. The process of making it was super fun, too. I learned a lot about using templates and about pressing 8 pointed blocks so they’d look good. I didn’t do any thinking of my own because I just followed the picture of the front of the kit, but sometimes that’s all I’m looking for. (I did give myself a challenge with the borders. I managed to cut 6 of the 8 borders 1.5 – 2 inches short each time. I still don’t know how the last 2 ended up being spot on when the earlier ones were all wrong.) Thanks for the delightful birthday present, Schnookie! (Anyone interested in the pattern can download it for free from RJR’s site.)

Next-most-excitingly, I’ve made huge progress on Henrik Jane. I have 17 of 25 of the 81-patches finished, all of the setting triangles sewn, and all but four of the snowball blocks sewn. I could, if all goes according to plan (which is probably won’t), be putting this together in about a month! I don’t have any good pictures of it, but here’s what it was looking like a few weeks ago:

Henrik Jane Progress End of February

I spent a chunk of time last weekend divvying up the rest of the 1 3/4″ squares for the remaining 81-patches, so it’s all pretty much downhill from here. I realize I still have a lot of work left, but the end is definitely in sight. My goal for this year was to have this pieced by Dec 31st, but now I’m thinking I could easily have it quilted and bound by 2012!

Since my approach of having Schnookie or Boomer take a few minutes on weekends to machine piece the strips of nine to make the 81-patches leaves me with downtime during the week, I’ve been puttering away some other stuff, including this little number:

MoMoBeBo April 2011 2

I found this tutorial and loved how it looked. I had a layer cake of “Wonderland” sitting in a closet upstairs, and had a gift certificate for Fat Quarter Shop so I picked up a layer cake of “It’s A Hoot”. The tutorial is for a bento box-ish quilt, but due to copyright issues, can’t call itself that. Since I purchased the official trademarked Bento Box pattern, I feel like I can guiltlessly call my quilt a bento box. And since it’s all the same designer, I’ve decided to call this MoMoBeBo. Heh. (If I was using Film in the Fridge’s modified bento box pattern, I could call it MoMoMoBeBo!) Anyway, this tutorial couldn’t be easier, this fabric couldn’t be nicer to work with (this stuff practically finger presses itself), and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s looking! I should have it finished soon and then I’ll have to decide if I want to hand quilt it. I’ve been having a blast hand quilting Raccoonsweet, and I’m tempted to try some big stitch quilting with some pretty perle cottons, but it’s just so much easier to have it done for me. We’ll see. (Raccoonsweet, by the way, is chugging along. I’ve only been working on it sporadically, but I think my technique is really improving. I’m getting about 7 stitches to the inch now!)

Since the last time I posted, I’ve whipped up a few more squares on Dolly Dresses:

Dolly Dresses April 2011

I also finished one diamond for my V&A Liberty clamshellstravaganza:

Clamapple City First Block

Last but not least, is a project that’s close to being finished:

February 22 2011

I haven’t written about this puppy at all because it’s modeled exactly after a shop model I saw at Quilt Asylum in Texas, so it doesn’t seem very exciting to me. I mean, I’m loving how it looks, but I knew I would since I’ve already seen what it will look like. Heh. I finished all the blocks for this just after Christmas, but I’ve held off on putting them together. I’m thinking this will be the perfect project to take on the two mini-vacations I have coming up. It won’t require thinking or pressing! Perfect!

So, in short, I’ve been busy!

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What’s Red And White And Quilty All Over?

On Monday we all took a day out of our glamorous, busy lives to trek into New York City to see the “Infinite Variety” quilt exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory. This was something we’d heard rumblings about a few months ago from various quilt blogs, and we were looking forward to it in a sort of “it’ll be a day off from work and we’ll look at quilts” kind of way. Then, in the weeks leading up to the exhibit, we started hearing a lot more rumblings from a lot more outlets about how this was a Big Event, a massive (and free!) public art installation of overwhelming beauty and grandeur. We began to feel a bit intimidated; public art installations of overwhelming beauty and grandeur are scary, yo! But we put on our brave pants and geared up for adventure, and boy we were ever glad we did.

March 28 2011

This exhibit was literally breathtaking. Literally. The display space is a 55,000 square foot hall in the Park Avenue Armory, and it was just towering swirls of 650 red-and-white quilts that started at floor level and spiraled up in brightly-lit columns. It was simultaneously staggeringly enormous and intimate and approachable, and the experience of spending a leisurely morning strolling in and among so many stunning quilts was truly one of the most delightful things we’ve ever done.

Infinite Variety Quilt Show

It was also a photography dream come true, and we took bazillions of pictures of the exhibit and of the quilts:

Mariner's Compass

Aloha Means Red And White Quilts

Deeply In Love

Quilts Toward the Exit

Big Squares Little Squares

Baptist Fans

Circular Quilting

Red and White Quilt Heaven

Orange Slices, Tomatoes, Pizza

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