Letting Go of UFOs

Friday, January 29, 2016

The longer you quilt, the more likely you are to accumulate a few UFOs (unfinished objects). I used to think of myself as a dedicated finisher, but I've learned that no one is immune to the dreaded UFO. As my WIP pile grew, older projects got buried and my interest in them waned. For a while, I'd nag myself that I needed to finish those projects for good all the while longing to work on something else. I gradually accepted that UFOs are inevitable and it's okay to let some of them go for good.

We set aside projects for a variety of reasons. Maybe you made a mistake that you're not sure how to remedy. Or maybe your fabric choices aren't playing out the way you hoped. Sometimes our moods and tastes just change. I know I'm not the only one who has thought, "I can't believe I used to like this."

What's the point of forcing yourself to work on a UFO that no longer excites you? Many of us quilt for the joy it brings, and when something feels like a chore, the joy drains, and you risk burnout. Give yourself permission to throw in the towel and pursue other projects.

But what is one to do with abandoned UFOs? There are several options.

Donate it. Ask a guild if they'd like to adopt your UFO as a charity project. Making scrappy quilts out of orphaned blocks is a common practice I've heard of.

Pass it on. Let a friend breathe new life into your project and make it their own.

Sell it. Set a price and post your UFO on Instagram with the hasthtags #thegreathandmadedestash and #thegreatfabricdestash. "One persons's trash", you know? I recently sold my bungled La Passacaglia to someone who adored it and is taking the time to fix my mistakes.

Recycle it. If the fabric is stash-worthy, rip out the seams and add the fabric back to your scrap bins. Otherwise, donate it to an animal shelter. Some shelters use scrap fabric to stuff dog beds and the like.

Store it. If you're not quite ready to make a final decision, neatly pack your UFO in a plastic bag or container and store it out of sight. It'll take the pressure off, but still be available if you choose to return to it.

Rainbow Medallion Tutorial

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Last year, I downloaded the "Paint It" FPP pattern by ipatchandquilt on Craftsy in an attempt to get over my paper piecing aversion. After many diligent hours of work, I completed the block, but couldn't decide what to do with it. A year later, I picked it back up and used it at the center for a scrappy Rainbow Medallion.

Name: Rainbow Medallion 
Size: 50" square
Fabric: Assorted scraps and solids
Pattern: Rainbow Medallion 
Quilting: Custom w/ gray & white Aurifil 50wt

Completed: December 2015

I thought I'd share a rough tutorial so you guys can make your own Rainbow Medallion. You will need:
  •  A ton of rainbow scraps / FQs / FEs
  • The Paint It pattern ($1.49 on Craftsy) - print (4) copies of the templates
  • Gray/Dark fabric for paint tubes (I don't know exact yardage, but .5 yard should be more than enough)
  • At least 2 yds of white fabric
  • .25 yd of solid fabric for border #6
Start by making the Paint It block. The pattern is made up of four quadrants that form the circle of paint tubes. Each quadrant measures 10.5" square unfinished. Sew the quadrants together to get the 20.5" square unfinished block. 

Border #1 - Solid White

I added a thin white border (cut 1" wide strips) to my center block to bring it up to 21" square (21.5" including seam allowances).

Border #2 - Plus Blocks

To make each Plus block in Border #2 you will need the following colored pieces: (1) 1.25" x 2.75" and (2) 1.25" squares. You'll also need (4) 1.25" white squares. Make (28) plus blocks as illustrated. They will measure 2.75" square unfinished.

Sew (7) plus blocks together with 1.375" x 2.75" sashing pieces in between. Make (4) borders like this. Make (4) 2.75" unfinished HSTs using the one at a time method and add those as cornerstones. 

Border #3 - Solid White

I added another solid white border (cut 1.75" wide strips) to bring it up to 28" (28.5" including seam allowances).

Border #4 - Chevrons

I made (24) pairs of inverse flying geese to form (24) chevrons. Each geese measures 2" x 4" finished. The >< shaped chevrons are sashed by 2" x 4" solid white pieces. The corner stones measure 4" square, finished.

Border #5, 6, 7 - Solids

I sandwiched a solid Aloe border between white ones. I cut all strips 1.5" wide for 1" finished borders.

Border #8 - Rectangles

The last border is made up of (44) 2" x 4" finished rectangles and (4) 4" square cornerstones. Simple enough.

Here's a little grayscale planning sheet for you so you can better see the individual sections.

Drunkard's Wife Week 13: Piecing the Quilt Top

Monday, January 25, 2016

It's the final week of the Drunkard's Wife QAL and it's time to assemble our quilt top. You might want to sober up for this part unless you want a jacked up quilt top.

To finish our top, we'll need:
  • (1) Fat Eighth for corner stones
  • .75 yards for sashing
  • 1.625 yards for outer border (or 1 yard if you're okay with piecing them)
From your FE, cut (20) 2.5" square cornerstones. 

From the sashing fabric cut (2) 12.5" WOF strips, then subcut (31) 12.5" x 2.5" sashing strips.

If you are piecing your borders, cut (6) 5.5" WOF strips and sew them end to end to make a single loooong strip. Then subcut (2) 5.5" x 58.5" pieces and (2) 54.5" pieces. If you aren't piecing your borders, just cut those (4) pieces along the length of fabric. 

Make a horizontal sashing border with (4) cornerstones and (3) sashing strips as illustrated below. Press all seams towards the sashing strips. Make (5) of these.

Make a row of blocks with (3) of your blocks and (4) sashing strips as illustrated above. Press all seams towards the sashing strips. Make (4) of these.

Next, sew your horizontal sashing borders and rows of blocks together, pinning at the seams and nesting them. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Finish your top of with the borders. Sew the 58.5" pieces to the sides of the quilt top and press seams towards the borders. Then sew the 54.5" pieces to the top and bottom of the top, pressing the seams towards the borders. And there you have it! A quilt that will make your grandmother disown you.

Thank you to everyone who participated in my first quilt-along! Don't forget to share you quilt tops on Instagram with the #DrunkardsWifeQAL hashtag!

Previously: Introduction | Week 1: Happy Hour Star | Week 2: Whiskey Tumbler | Week 3: Dirty Martini | Week 4: Mint Julep | Week 5: Mimosa | Week 6: Mai Tai | Week 7: Sangria | Week 8: Amaretto Sour | Week 9: Pina Colada | Week 10: Sake Bomb | Week 11: Long Island Iced Tea | Week 12: White Russian

Free Pattern: Claptrap FPP Pattern

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Aside from sewing and illustration, my other great love is PC gaming. One of my favorite games of all time is Borderlands 2, and I recently stared playing it again while my Juki was away getting serviced during the holidays. I fell in love with it all over again, and it sparked the need for a Borderlands 2 mini quilt.

I designed an 18" square mini of Claptrap, the mascot of the series. High five, guys!

I'm not sure how many quilters are also BL2 fans, but I thought I'd go ahead and share the pattern with you guys as a freebie.

I'm planning on adding an embroidered speech bubble to mine before I quilt it. Claptrap has so many hilarious quotes. It'll be tough to choose one!

Drunkard's Wife Quilt-Along Week 12: White Russian

Monday, January 18, 2016

It's the last block of the Drunkard's Wife QAL! Today we're making the White Russian. You will need to cut:

Colored Fabric #1
  • A - (2) - 7" square
  • B - (3) - 4.5" square
Background Fabric
  • C - (3) - 4.5" square
  • D - (6) - 3" square

Pair up a B and C square and make a batch of HSTs using the 4-at-a-time method. Trim each HST to 2.5" square. Repeat with the remaining B and C squares until you have (12) HSTs.

Cut your A and D squares in half diagonally.

To make each quadrant of the block, you will need to piece (3) HSTs, (3) D triangles, and (1) A triangle. Sew the HSTs and D triangles together in rows as illustrated, then sew those rows together to make a triangle. Then put your pieced triangle and the A triangle right sides together and sew along the diagonal edge with your usual .25" seam allowance. It's way easier than it looks. Make (4) quadrants.
What we're supposed to do is lay the four quadrants out as illustrated and sew them all together.

Instead...*sigh*...do I even need to tell you at this point? As usual, your block will be 12.5" square.

Next week will be our last week and, we'll be assembling the quilt top! 

Chic Country Quilt

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Since I made my first curved quilt, piecing curves has been no big deal. They don't scare me at all and always seem to impress people. I purchased the Quick Curve Ruler and the Chic Country pattern from the Sew Kind of Wonderful booth at Fall Quilt Market because this design makes such a statement. It looks difficult as hell, and I love the chance to trick people into thinking I'm a prodigy. 
As is my tradition, I pulled my fabrics from the bag of Cotton + Steel FQ bundles I bought at Sample Spree. I started with Kim Kight's "City Afternoon" print from Penny Arcade as the inspiration for my color palette: warm purples, orangy reds, dusty pink, and an assortment of low volume prints. I also tossed in a few C+S basics and other low volume prints. 

Piecing the quilt was deceptively simple. I probably spent more time obsessing over fabric placement than sewing. The QCR makes the whole process pain-free. 

I went for a simple quilting approach, echoing the circles that the pieced blocks create. 

Name: Amusement
Size: 54" square
Fabric: Cotton + Steel Fall 2015 collections + basics
Pattern: Chic Country
Quilting: Echoed circles w/ gray Aurifil 50wt
Completed: November 2015

Drunkard's Wife Quilt-Along Week 11: Long Island Iced Tea

Monday, January 11, 2016

For week 11 of the Drunkard's Wife QAL, we're making the Long Island Iced Tea block. You'll need to cut:

Colored Fabric #1
    • A - (3) - 6" square
    • B - (8) - 2.5" square
    Background Fabric
    • C - (3) - 6" square
    • D - (4) - 2.5" square
    This one's easier than it looks! Use the A and C squares to make (24) 2.5" unfinished HSTs using the 8 at a time method. Next, arrange (6) HSTs, (2) B pieces, and (1) D piece to make the little birdies below and sew the pieces together.

    What we're supposed to do is lay the four birdies out as illustrated and sew them all together.

    Instead, yell "I do what I want!" in a tiny birdy voice. "We're going SOUTH, bitches!" Finished block measures 12.5" square, unfinished.

    Previously: Introduction | Week 1: Happy Hour Star | Week 2: Whiskey Tumbler | Week 3: Dirty Martini | Week 4: Mint Julep | Week 5: Mimosa | Week 6: Mai Tai | Week 7: Sangria | Week 8: Amaretto Sour | Week 9: Pina Colada | Week 10: Sake Bomb

    The Meadow Quilt

    Wednesday, January 6, 2016

    I think the Meadow Quilt is like the unicorn of quilt patterns. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, the Meadow is a quilt pattern taught exclusively in workshops by its creator, Lizzy House. There has been and will never be a print version available. The only way to make the quilt is to take the workshop, which Lizzy literally travels the world teaching. This past November, the Houston Modern Quilt Guild hosted Lizzy and I got one of the coveted 18 spots in her Meadow quilt workshop. 

    This was my first paid workshop experience, and I was very pleased with all that I learned. Lizzy's a wonderful teacher and she made everything so simple for us. As a thank you, I gave her the little Lizzy doll I made as a gift. 

    I used all Lizzy House fabrics + Kona solids for my meadow. It was so gratifying to watch the colored centers come together that I ended up putting the entire top together in two days, which Lizzy confirmed is the second fastest after herself! So I got that dorky bragging point now. I made my borders a tiny bit smaller than Lizzy's because I realized I could use 2 yards less fabric and the quilt would only be like 5" smaller overall. 

    I dreamed big with my FMQ quilting and went for custom centers and pebbled borders to mimic stones around a flower bed. I used a gray 50wt Aurifil on the centers and border and white 50wt Aurifil on the white petals. I ended up using an entire spool of gray, because pebbles are no joke! 

    I'm so happy to have this quilt in my collection!

    Size: 66" x 75"
    Pattern: Meadow Quilt
    Quilting: Custom center with pebbled borders

    Completed: November 2015
    Fabric: 48 Lizzy House prints, Kona White, Kona Aloe, and Kona Seafoam

    Drunkard's Wife Quilt-Along Week 10: Sake Bomb

    Monday, January 4, 2016

    For week 10 of the Drunkard's Wife QAL, we're making the Sake Bomb block. You'll need to cut:

    Background Fabric
    • A - (8) - 3" square
    • B - (4) - 2.5" x 4.5" 
    Colored Fabric #1
    • C - (4) - 2.5" x 4.5" 
    • D - (4) - 3.375" square
    Colored Fabric #2
    • E - (1) - 4.5" square

    Cut each A piece in half diagonally to make (16) triangles. Using (4) of those triangles and (1) D square, follow this tutorial to make a square-in-a-square block. Trim the block to 4.5" square, taking care to leave the .25" allowance like we did with the Mai Tai block. Repeat to make a total of (4) blocks.

    Place a B piece and C piece right sides together and sew along the 4.5" edge. Press seam towards the darker fabric. Repeat with the remaining (3) B/C pairs.

    What we're supposed to do is lay these (9) 4.5" squares out as illustrated and sew them all together.

    Instead, shout, "DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!" and do whatever you please. Finished block measures 12.5" square, unfinished.

    Previously: Introduction | Week 1: Happy Hour Star | Week 2: Whiskey Tumbler | Week 3: Dirty Martini | Week 4: Mint Julep | Week 5: Mimosa | Week 6: Mai Tai | Week 7: Sangria | Week 8: Amaretto Sour | Week 9: Pina Colada

    2015 Recap and 2016 Goals

    Saturday, January 2, 2016

    2015 has been an undeniably game-changing year for me. I was mentally listing out the main developments of the past 12 months and thought, "I can't believe this is my life."

    I only made three resolutions for this year, and I think I made good movement on all fronts. I increased my FPP skill level through sheer determination with projects like the Epic Game of Thrones quilt and the Forest Abstraction blocks for Fall Quilt Market.

    I spent a lot less time ripping out quilting by spending more time considering design options. Most recently, I've taken to printing out line drawings of my quilts and sketching my plan.

    Lastly, I put myself out there socially and professionally at Quilt Con, my first spring Quilt Market (which was also my first 100% solo travel adventure), and second fall Market. I was a guest on the Modern Sewciety Podcast. I spent the year as a board member for the Houston Modern Quilt Guild as historian and industry liaison. And biggest of all, I've joined the Windham family as a licensed designer. 

    For 2016, I want to keep the momentum going, and I've come up with a few goals for the year. 

    1. Pursue teaching opportunities. I'm already slated to teach a workshop on my Shieldmaiden pattern for the HMQG in January, and I'd like to track down more IRL teaching gigs. My pal Becca Bryan will be teaching a few workshops at Quilt Con this year and after chatting with her about it, I started thinking about applying for 2017 Quilt Con as an instructor. We'll see!

    2. Have a memorable Quilt Market debut in Salt Lake City. I've been dreaming about being a designer and having a booth at market since I first attended in Fall 2014. It's coming true and I've been busy planning all the details that will go into the debut of my first collection, Luna Sol. Unsurprisingly, I'm overflowing with anxiety, but it has a markedly positive tone to it. I hope to channel all that into making lots of exciting projects to share.

    3. Be a more ambitious quilter. The actual quilting process may be my least favorite part of making a quilt, which is why I'm prone to defaulting to simple all-over meandering designs. As I wrote earlier, I've gotten better at planning before jumping in. However, I want to take things a step forward and do more custom quilting when the quilt can really benefit from it.

    4. Spend more time working on new quilt patterns. I frequently try to sit down and diligently design quilts, but I have a hard time producing things I'm willing to move forward with. A lot of the times, I'm paranoid that something similar exists somewhere out there in the quilt world. Maybe by taking on more frequent, short sketching sessions, I can start to get somewhere.