Swirling Leaves mini quilt

The finished quilt:

Swirling Leaves
 And the back:

Swirling Leaves
 I wish I could take a photo that would do justice to the vibrant colors in this quilt, but the contrast is just too much for my little point and shoot Canon.

Because the quilt design is double-sided, I spent a lot of time considering how I would quilt this.  A few months ago, I had subscribed to receive email updates from Leah Day at The Freemotion Quilting Project but had been so busy with life, I hadn't taken the time to really read and explore her blog.   I started spending time on her blog, perusing her designs.  By the way, Leah's blog is a fantastic resource for learning and improving one's quilting skills.  It's good to know there's a whole world of possibilities out there beyond basic straight line quilting and stippling.  On my own I have been exploring free-motion quilting designs over the last several years and in my opinion, the process of quilting seems to be an after thought for many quilters who just want to finish a quilt or feel their skills aren't up the the task.

I decided I wanted a "watery" inspired design.  I took Leah's Flowing Lines design as a starting point and added an occasional swirl.  Here's my practice piece - I was also auditioning various colored threads:

Excuse the lint!  I tried 4 different variegated threads before settling on a Gutterman's in earthy-tones that had  went to a black.  I liked the shadowy effect of the black areas on the black fabric.

This quilt has been finished for a couple of weeks and I haven't sewed a stitch since then as I've been deep into painting the dining room.  In some ways, this reminds me of trying out fabrics for a new quilt:

I'm going with the aqua blue, 4th down from the top.  It's Martha Stewart Lagoon MSL125. Wish me luck.


Log cabin tote

Happy Friday!  The kids are completing their first week of back to school; son is a Junior in High School and daughter is in 6th starting at the Middle School.  I guess summer is officially over for us although we're still deep into our summer fog season and hope there are many warm days in Fall ahead of us.

One drawback to working on long-term (somewhat tedious) quilting projects is missing that satisfaction of completing a project from conception to the finished item in just a day or two.  With this in mind, I decided to put aside my FWS and wiped out a tote bag for my daughter's friend for her 11th birthday.

Log cabin tote bag

I used mainly batiks which no one seems to like these days, at least on flickr.  I have a bunch of batiks in my stash in green which I'm not a big fan of but had purchased to make a quilt for my son and ended up never using.  I added some Jane Sassaman prints to the mix.

back of tote

Bag is constructed with a layer of batting (quilted to the front) and a simple lining.  I didn't care if this bag lacked structure but I usually do add some interfacing to my bags, and this could've easily been done if I so desired.

free-motion feathers

I've made a lot of simple totes, so this came together easily.   I thought this was a good opportunity to practice my free motion quilting skills so I quilted a meandering feather filler on the back of the bag.  You can see the quilting much better from the batting side.  The front is quilted simply in the ditch around the log cabin design.

Speaking of free motion quilting, here's a peek at my Swirling Leaves table topper quilt.  I'll  be sharing the completed quilt on my blog soon.


Farmer's Wife: there is progress!

I've been slowly and steadily working away at my FWS and have completed 26 out of 111 blocks.  I'm happy to report that I'm about one-quarter of the way there!

The First 25!
 The 5 blocks pictured above on the lower right side are the most recent:

#18 Century of Progress
 #18 Century of Progress.  Paper pieced using the patterns provided by the the FWS Yahoo group.  After seening how the block was constructed, I decided to eliminate the 2 unnecessary seams on the center pinwheel (see the red fabric).  This was a fun block that came together fairly easily. 

#19 Checkerboard
 #19 Checkerboard.  Even though I sewed this up about a week ago, I had to check my notes on Flickr to remind myself that I had paper pieced this one.  This is a good reason to keep a record or journal while working on quilting projects.

#20 Churn Dash
 #20 Churn Dash.  Wouldn't you know this is a super easy block requiring easy maths, and mine is wonky.

#21 Contrary Wife
 I LOVE the name of this block!  I went a little wild with the background fabrics on this one. Used math and pieced conventionally.

#22 Corn & Beans
 #22 Corn & Beans.  Dang it!  After finishing this one fairly late at night, I noticed I'd flipped a corn triangle with a background triangle.  I couldn't face the ordeal of taking it apart so I'm trying to live with it the way it is.  If it continues to bother me, I'll correct it later.  I've found this is a great way to deal with mistakes - sleep on it and see if you feel the same about it later.  Paperpieced.

#24 Country Path
 #24 Country Path.  I'm kind of in love with the way this one turned out.  I decided I didn't want to deal with PP, so I printed out the templates, cut them out,  glued the paper to some template plastic and cut the plastic out.  I traced the patterns onto the right side of my fabric and cut out the pieces with scissors.  Wouldn't you know, I finally came up with a block that was a tad larger than 6 1/2" because I was careful to sew a scant 1/4" seam.  This is one of my quibbles with paper piecing.  My blocks are coming out a tad smaller than 6 1/2" which means my blocks will be even smaller once I have them squared up.

No doubt someone has a key tip to share about how to get a paper-pieced block with a little extra around the perimeter?

Anyway what I like about this project besides the mini-design/fabric decisions to be made with each block is how I'm exercising my skills as a quilter.  On these 26 blocks, I've used a number of different techniques such as utilizing templates, paper piecing and drafting blocks by hand on graph paper, calculating cutting sizes and last but not least, hand sewing!  

In Process (pieces cut out using templates)

Pieced block...checking it one last time!