Friday, August 29, 2014

a VMQG mini quilt swap

I finally managed to find a moment to blog about a recent finish. In between all the Sewvivor excitement, I have less than a week till I return to work, till school starts, and we are smack in the middle of house hunting. It's been a little wild and crazy over here. But, I digress.

A little while ago, our local VMGQ (Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild) decided to set up a mini quilt swap within our guild. Of course, I was all for it.

I was chosen to make a quilt for Amy Dame, a fabulously creative and incredibly talented person. I was a little bit (A LOT) nervous about what I would do. But in reading her questionnaire (you fill one out when you participate in a secret swap), I learned that she was obsessed with the churn dash block. Now, for no particular reason, I don't really like the churn dash. I find it a bit choppy or disjointed somehow. This year, there is a definite trend favoring "nested churn dash" blocks, where you have one block inside the next, inside the next and so on.

Always a sucker for a challenge, I figure what better way to challenge myself than taking an extremely traditional block that I don't like and change it to be something I would like, and modernize it.

So I made my own modern version of a nested churn dash, starting with a tiny little block, and setting it on point, like an economy block. Then I made a second churn dash around the edges, and set the whole thing on point again.

I chose to use colors Amy likes, jewel tones, etc. and tone on tone fabrics. But to make it even more modern, I off-set the colors so each churn had two colors. Set the whole thing on Moda Bella grey, add a couple borders to off set it even more, and you have a mini.
I did this within a DAY of receiving my recipients information. (And of course, feeling cocky, was sure that THIS would be the (one) thing that was finished in a timely manner.)

Initially I was going to hand quilt it, but then life happened and I started to feel it was the wrong decision for this particular mini. It needed more dense quilting to fill the negative spaces in a modern manner.

Fast forward to the day or two before we are to trade minis. And yes, there I am, ripping out my hand quilting, re-quilting it in a grid with some fun free motion pebbling.
I quilted it in a crossing grid, using a different color thread for each quadrant. I used white to pebble quilt the white spaces and left the actual churn dash un-quilted to allow it to pop and be the focus.

And of course, there I was, mere hours before handing it over, sitting by a creek, furiously binding, while simultaneously making sure my baby didn't drown. Skills, I tell you. (Because despite my crafty life, my children still expect to leave the house for fun excursions periodically. The nerve.)

So, I apologize for the lack of properly staged photos, but there you go. For some mysterious reason, fushia is practically impossible to photograph accurately. (My best friend and cousin was my model, and as she will probably kill me for posting this on my blog, I should say good bye now.)

There is something incredibly nerve racking about giving something to someone so talented (you should see the mini she made for another guild member!!!). But, she said she liked it. I'll believe her.

Linking up with Amanda Jean for finish it up Friday.

Monday, August 25, 2014

my hope tote - Sewvivor - Challenge #2

First off, I want to thank everyone for all their support and votes in the Sewvivor competition, Challenge 1. Because of you I made it through to round two!! Thank you SO much. You can read more about who else made it into the top ten here. (To vote for round two, click here.)

The second Sewvivor challenge is to make a quilted bag, any type, by personal design or someone else's pattern, and of any size. I waffled a bit on what type of bag to make but settled on designing my own perfect bag. I wanted to make something that I would use, that would be very practical, and as I am the worst packhorse, would be large enough to suite my needs.

So, I designed a bag that would be perfect for my impending return to work, post maternity leave. I've called it my "hope tote" as it will serve as a reminder that there is life after work, and that I can get through the next six months, after which I will hopefully return to my life as a stay at home mother with my babies. I LOVE color, and decided to use only fabrics that made me happy, and instead of keeping them on the shelf, I used my absolute favorite fabrics.

For this first side, I used equilateral triangle piecing. I'll be honest, I had no idea how difficult they were to piece and plan in terms of beginning size and finished size. But they worked out in the end, after a bit of creative thinking, and the addition of a print that would end up being my favorite part of the entire project (the Love Notes text print).

I chose to let this side focus on the fabric in all it's happy, floral gorgeousness.

The dominant fabric line in this bag is called "Lucky Girl" by Jennifer Paganelli. I used one of it's prints to line the pouch and included three pleated, and lined pockets on the inside. The top part of the pocket is elasticized to hold items securely.

Speaking of storage, this tote carries every essential thing I could possibly need for work, knitting, notepads, pencils, hexie bag and still contains room for the extra non-essentials like lunch, wallet, and sweater. :) (Priorities right??)

I used a new to me technique of using utility canvas as a stabilizer (as well as Pellon Shapeflex 101, and multiple layers of batting, depending on the piece). It adds SO much sturdiness. I can't believe the difference. This bag is SOLID. It can stand on it's own, empty or full. And I don't feel like if I look at it wrong, it's going to unravel on me. Some layers were half an inch thick during construction, and it was so worth it. 

In addition to the three inner pockets, there are four large pockets on the outside, perfect for a book or magazine, and my iphone, and all are easily accessible.This pocket is my favorite, incorporating a half-inch hexagon panel that I hand pieced. I can't tell you how much I love this pocket.

This is my new favorite size of hexagon. I foresee lots of hexagon lunch breaks. There may have been some fussy cutting involved, as a direct reminder of what is truly important.

Since this tote was a present for myself, I decided to make my first dresden plate block, which I absolutely love. And of course, there needed to be a healthy dose of aqua involved.   

I made the straps nice and wide, as well as comfortably long enough to easily throw over my shoulder. They contain four layers of fabric, one of interfacing and one of canvas.

For my photoshoot, I chose to visit one of my favorite happy places on earth - a family members garden. The morning sun and atmosphere was just perfect.

This challenge came at the most busy week of our summer. We had a visiting couple in our congregation, which meant we had the awesome privilege of having them for dinner, I am volunteering 30+ hours of my time to a worldwide education work, the kids are out of school, and we are house-hunting, packing, and I'm going to work full time in just over a week.

Several times in this challenge, I wondered if I would be physically able to finish this project. Would I be able to get the idea in my head out and into fabric. Should I have chosen to make something with a pattern already designed? Should I have made a smaller pattern? Did I bite off more than I could chew?

I literally didn't finish the project until late Saturday night, after a full afternoon and evening of sewing. It wasn't until partway through Saturday, that I realized it still had the hope of being a real bag and that I didn't have to show up empty handed. (Needless to say, I was shaking by this point, and there may have been some tears.) Happily, my hubby swooped in, managed the three kids and ordered take out. And in the end, I am so pleased that the design I made, and implemented is almost exactly what was in my head and my sketch book when I started. I definitely learned some new techniques with this challenge, and it had so many firsts for me.

It's a recurring habit of mine to seriously overbook myself, but boy did it feel good on Sunday afternoon when everything was done, commitments met, photos taken, and I could snuggle my baby, without the panic that I was not doing something I needed to do THAT EXACT MOMENT. Thankfully, the busy is mostly over and I can breathe again. (That being said, I now need to clean all the things... as housecleaning was not top of the list the last week or two.)

I want to thank everyone that voted for my last project. I am so honored to be a part of such an awesome competition with such talented people. I am also unbelievably floored that I received so much love from the public for my last project. You literally carried me into round two. THANK YOU!

It would means so much to me if you would be able to take a minute and swing by Rach at Family Ever After's blog and vote for your favorite bag (and if it happens to be mine, yay!!).
I am really wanting to be able to progress to the next challenge (I have plans...), and EVERY single vote counts. If you happened to look at the results chart from the last challenge (link is at the top of this post), you will see what I mean. You can vote here.

Thank you for stopping by!


Monday, August 11, 2014

sink or swim - Sewvivor - Challenge #1

Two weeks ago, I was ecstatic to discover that I was selected to be one of 16 contestants participating in this years "Sewvivor" competition. Its such an honor and my fellow competitors are all amazingly talented. Today we get to reveal our first challenge and I can't wait to see what everyone's been working on. I barely slept last night in anticipation. The theme for Challenge 1 is something (anything) nautical.

sink or swim
  1. fail or succeed entirely by one's own efforts.

For this nautical challenge, I used Tula Pink's Anchor's Aweigh pattern. I have wanted to make this pattern since I first saw it, but couldn't see quilting the full size pattern in enough time. I adjusted the pattern size and scaled it down by one third. It measures about 60 x 64 inches. Using a gradient of warm greys to creamy whites, against a aqua and white striped background really made the quilt for me. This one is my baby... the second quilt I've ever made just for me.

This quilt was definitely a challenge. It has more than 700 pieces and each of the background pieces required individual recalculation. I spent a couple hours with my calculator before ever cutting anything out, and the piecing took hours. I built a portable flat design board to hold the pieces for each part of each row in order to make piecing easier. The pattern is very well written, which definitely helped. I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out.

For quilting, I was planning on doing concentric spirals, but, long story short, this was nothing short of a disaster, and I ended up unpicking one whole spiral, and making the spiral quilting cover the whole top. It may be predictable, but spiral quilting is still one of my favorite textures in a quilt.

I did a simple backing with a gradient of the anchor colors pieced in. It breaks up the turquoise nicely and definitely draws your eye upwards.

My family and I couldn't have picked a better day for a photo shoot. We wandered around a small, local sea town, dodging tourists and ice cream cones and managed to find the coolest picture ideas. It was such a fun day and I'm so glad my family was able to share it with me. 

I've named this quilt "sink or swim" as the definition is to "fail or succeed entirely by one's own efforts". I ran into some pretty huge road blocks with this project, but was able to recover and in the end, whatever happens, whether I make it to the next round or not, I'll know that I "succeeded" - this is definitely a quilt that I will proudly stand behind and cherish for years to come.

Of the sixteen amazing contestants, only ten will be proceeding to the next round (I really, really want to make it through!), following a voting process where 50% of the vote is by selected judges, and 50% is by the public (that's you!). I cannot believe what an awesome experience this has been - my fellow contestants are incredibly supportive, funny, talented and I'm definitely proud to be a part of this group for as long as possible.

Rach, our amazing competition organizer, at Family Ever After has all 16 projects on her blog and if you like, you can vote for your favorite over there. The voting is only open until Wednesday, so head on over. :) Thank you for your support and for stopping by!