Friday Finish: Hipster Cat

Hipster Cat. Pattern by Shwin and Shwin.

Hey look! It’s a finish! One of my biggest issues as a quilter is my inability to finish anything, whilst constantly starting new things. For the last three years I’ve been making a list to follow along with All People Quilt‘s yearly UFO Resolution list, which I then mostly ignore for the year. The first year I finished I think nothing, the second year 1 project, the 3rd year I finished two, and this year… I’m up to four! (I should be on project 8, since it’s one per month, but honestly I’m happy with 4. I hope I finish a few more, but if I don’t, that’s okay!)

Hipster Cat. Pattern by Shwin and Shwin.

Hipster Cat is a pattern from Shwin and Shwin that’s done with freezer paper applique which is sewn on a whole cloth piece of fabric and then quilted. Basically super easy and super cute!

I made mine almost exclusively with fabrics from Rifle Paper Co’s Wonderland line… with Moda Grunge in Vanilla for the background and one of Rashida Coleman-Hale’s prints from Kujira and Star for most of the backing.

Hipster Cat. Pattern by Shwin and Shwin.

Of course, I didn’t order enough for the backing (I ordered 1 yard instead of the 1.25 or whatever it should have been), so I had to piece some of my leftovers into the backing as well. The gold stripes and dots are a lot of fun though, so I guess I’m okay with that! (I’m less okay with the fact that I did not get it lined up straight and so if I showed a full on view of the back, that strip is noticeably narrower at one end than the other. Not enough to look intentionally wonky, no. Just enough to look like I was being lazy about it.. haha!) (I probably was being lazy about it!)

Hipster Cat. Pattern by Shwin and Shwin.

I quilted this one with a big cross-hatch in the background using my walking foot, and then just some really simple free motion quilting through the cat – the loopy meander through the dotted parts of his body, a zig-zag through his striped belly, and then just stitch-in-the-metaphorical-ditch around the eyeglass applique and the entire outside of the cat. It’s super lightweight and fluffy – probably because I haven’t for once quilted the project to death – and though it’s small (about 34″ x 42″) I think it’s just perfect to be loved to death by some grubby-fingered little kid.

Hipster Cat. Pattern by Shwin and Shwin.

I LOVE this quilt and I don’t have anyone to give it to, so it will probably go to charity at some point, which will be great. For now it’s been making the rounds for various photoshoots (I finally decided to buckle down and just photograph it pinned to my own deck where the shade was enough to keep it from washing out like it did pretty well every where else I tried) including one memorable trip to Calgary Zoo, where my friend Christina tried to hide behind it while holding it… her feet were just too obvious every time, so here is Hipster Cat with Zoo Lion Statue, and my friend making a silly face:

Hipster Cat. Pattern by Shwin and Shwin.

Come join us for Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday! I can’t wait to see what everyone posts!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Also linking up to Finish or Not Friday with Alycia Quilts!

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Carolyn Friedlander Patchwork Quilt

So I made my usual yearly goal of tackling 12 projects for the year. I’m pretty behind on the goal – it’s been a rough year for my family, so I’ve not done as much crafting as I might have otherwise – but I’ve gotten 4 quilts finished and this is the first of them.

January #apqresolution quilt, my Carolyn Friedlander patchwork quilt.

This quilt followed no patterns, it’s just a set of Carolyn Friedlander Botanics charms and Kona cotton charms matched to the Botanics line mixed randomly with the white charms to make it a decent size. (It’s about 63″ x 72″.)

January #apqresolution quilt, my Carolyn Friedlander patchwork quilt.

I wanted to use this lap quilt to practice free motion quilting, but I didn’t want it to take a decade to quilt so I did the white all in orange peels and then did different quilting in all the colour squares. This isn’t all of them, but it’s pretty close…

A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.
A lot of quilting variety on my January #apqresolution quilt.

This is probably the visual equivalent of Too Long; Didn’t Read. But I enjoy trying out different things with the free motion quilting and this gave me lots of chances to try things out.

The backing is a wide width crosshatch, also a Carolyn Friedlander print. I like this quilt a lot and I’m so happy to have it finished.

January #apqresolution quilt, my Carolyn Friedlander patchwork quilt.

Pink and Orange Windmill Quilt

Well, it’s been a lot longer than I meant to be! But I’ve got a finish to share:

Pink and Orange Quilt

I’ve finished my pink and coral and orange and black quilt made using fabrics from Fabric Spark‘s January blogger bundle, which was put together by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches. Back in January when I first got the fabrics, I talked a bit about how I found it sort of mystifying collection of colours.

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I expect it was a bit mystifying to me because I’m not generally a very big fan of pink and I don’t really like pink and orange as a combination and I don’t generally like florals and even though I think a splash of black is a good addition to almost any colour palette I sort of found it hard, mentally, to slot this much black in with such sweet colours and prints. But I decided to do something with it straight away and decided on a pattern from McCall’s America Loves Scrap Quilts Winter 2014/2015 magazine, Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman. I didn’t follow the pattern except to see what width to cut my strips; it was designed for scraps to create a larger quilt and I didn’t want to use more than my original 12 fat quarters, so my fabric strips weren’t going to match up with the pattern in any way (other than width).

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Twelve Fat Quarters turned out 36 blocks (with very, very little fabric waste) and then I had to figure out how to make it all a little bigger and also not square. I didn’t want a square quilt or a baby quilt, but I didn’t want to add too much fabric either, so I figured out that if I used a centre block with 5×6 blocks, then I could put my remaining 6 blocks around the edges to squeeze another 16″ in width/length out. And I could do it using only 1 yard extra fabric.

Pink and Orange Quilt

It took a little creative piecing of the borders, but I did it! Originally I was going to put five blocks up in the top corner and just one in the bottom left (well, this picture is sideways, because I hung it sideways on the fence, but if you turned it clockwise to stand it on end, then this explanation would make sense…), but I would have had to piece the border fabric in chunks and this way let me use 4 panels cut to 8.5″ x 40.5″ – no extra seams necessary! (Other than adding on the blocks, of course…)

I had wanted to use one of the 12 original prints as the border fabric, but I wasn’t able to get enough from Fabric Spark of any of the prints I was leaning towards, so I wound up choosing this Honeycomb in Marmalade from Bonnie Christine’s Sweet as Honey line. This was probably the better choice in the long run, since it’s uses the colours from the bundle, but also didn’t blend in with any of the blocks that might have butted up against it around the edges. And it had a lot of white, which I thought might help tone down some of the PINK ORANGE FLORAL-ness of it. I’m not sure that it worked in that way, but I can live with that anyway.

Pink and Orange Quilt

I constructed the back using yardage of one of the prints from the front, split up with pieced together scraps left over from making the blocks. I’m not sure why, but somehow I convinced myself that the scraps strips were going to be enough seperation that it wouldn’t matter if I lined up the back when I pieced it. Hahaha no. It looks terrible! But I’m reminding myself that it’s on the back of the quilt and most of the time it’s going to be hidden. What does it matter really, in the grand scheme of it all if the back side is a bit ugly?

Pink and Orange Quilt

I tried to think of this project as a practise piece for free motion quilting, since that’s something I’m always wanting to get better at but rarely willing to really practise. I wouldn’t say I did a great job – there’s lot of little jigs and jogs and I’m not very good at regulating my speed and stitch length or the scale of my quilting.

Pink and Orange Quilt

But I tried to have fun with it. I like spirals, but it took me a while to figure out how to deal with the weird awkward bits where one spiral didn’t fill in to the next space. I’ve still got a long way to go in perfecting them, but I like how it looks finished and I’m just not going to worry too much about the bits that didn’t turn out “perfectly” (because done is better than perfect).

Pink and Orange Quilt

I bound this quilt using a black and white dot from my stash (and a little scrap of honey comb in the corner).

I still haven’t washed it, so it might shrink up a little bit yet, but I think it’s going to look good finished (even if I am a bit iffy about pink and orange still!) And I’m just glad to have it done – it wasn’t a project that should have lasted 3 months, but I guess I’m pretty good sat distracting myself!

Some quilt stats
Name: Pink and Orange Windmill Quilt
Pattern: Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman
Size: About 56.5″ x 64.5″
Fabric: A fat quarter bundle chosen by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches, including fabrics from Cotton + Steel, Jeni Baker for Art Gallery Fabrics, and… others. The border is Bonnie Christine’s Honeycomb in Marmalade from her Sweet as Honey line.
Batting: Quilter’s Dream Wool
Thread: White Aurifil (piecing and quilting)
Backing: Amy Butler’s Pressed Flowers in Carmine from her Cameo line.
Binding: A black and white dot.

This was my March goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, so I’ll be linking up there and with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, hosted this week by Janet at Simply Pieced.

Jelly Roll Jam II

So I started the draft post of this on Thursday… two Thursdays ago. Apparently I haven’t been very talky lately! Anyway, I hardly had anything written in that original draft (and it referenced Friday Finish, which I’ve now missed twice because I keep on not finishing this entry).

You might have already seen it because I put pictures on Instagram and in one of my Talk to Me Tuesday videos, but I finished a baby quilt using Fat Quarter Shop‘s Jelly Roll Jam II pattern:

Jelly Roll Jam II

This pattern requires just 20 strips of fabric from a jelly roll for the top. I used 15 strips from a Kona cotton design roll – I think it was either the Rainbow palette or the New Colours (but the old new colours, not the current new colours, I’ve had that design roll sitting around for a while) – and added 5 strips of assorted prints. Three of the prints are polka dots, I think from Riley Blake, one is a Denyse Schmidt plaid (the orange one), and the navy chain link one… I don’t really know who that is. But I liked it enough to use it for the binding! I don’t have too much of it left now and no selvedge, so I don’t guess I’m going to figure it out! I forgot to photograph the back, but it’s backed in a navy blue flannel with while polka dots. Just a bit of random fabric I had in my stash. Actually, everything in this quilt came out of the stash – I didn’t have to buy thread or batting or anything for it! Go me! (It’s rare I don’t take the excuse to buy new things…)

This was the first project I sewed – beginning to end (minus hand-sewing the binding) – on my new-to-me Juki TL98E when it came back to me from the repair shop.

Juki TL 98E

By and large it’s been really wonderful to sew on. It sews really smoothly and has really beautiful stitches and it goes SO FAST. I keep saying that switching to this from my old Kenmore machine is like going from a moped to a Ferrari and it really kind of is – just basically no comparison between the machines, except that they both eventually get you where you were going. I love the needle down function (so love it!) and it’s smoother sounding and it makes nicer stitches. (Though I did take my old machine in to get serviced too … first time ever and it’s ten years old! Maybe it’ll make nicer stitches again now too.)

But I ran into problems almost immediately with the 1/4″ foot, which actually makes a slightly larger than 1/4″ seam, leaving me with an entire quilt worth of too small units! The thing is, I actually measured that first seam to see if it was the right size and it really did seem to be, but I think they were all just one or two threads too big and with five seams across a block, it was enough to eat up some width.

Jelly Roll Jam II

Because of the way the quilt is constructed (the blocks are not squares but rectangles), it didn’t actually matter so I just made the quilt slightly smaller in the width than it was meant to be. I didn’t want to pick out all those seams and start over again! So those strips are all supposed to be 2″ finished width, but are slightly closer to 1.75″ when they’re placed vertically. The horizontal strips are actually 2″ because I hadn’t sewn them yet when I discovered the error and I was able to stitch them up properly.

I did a lot (a lot!) of practise stitching with some different ideas for quilting, but I wound up defaulting to a basic all-over stipple. This was the first time I ever did stippling on a non-practise piece. On the old machine I’d always wind up with super tight and tiny little stipples because there was no room for my hands – I had to hold the quilt underneath in the harp space because there wasn’t room for my hand to sit flat atop the quilt and on the left because otherwise it would hang off the edge of the machine – but this Juki has a table and a lot more harp space, so there’s room for two flat hands, which meant I was able to get nice big curves without much difficulty.

Yikes! (some other quilting issues)

Not that it was perfect. I’m having a lot of difficulty keeping a steady speed on this machine. It’s just go so much power and then I wind up going too fast, start to panic, pull my foot off the peddle and then drop down to no speed. Which means there’s a whole lot of variation in my stitch length. But even the largest stitches here are less than a quarter inch in length, so I didn’t pick out any of my stitching. I decided to just let it go because eventually I will sort out the speed issue and as long as my quilts are usable, there’s no point in wasting time and getting really frustrated picking out things that aren’t perfect, but also aren’t that bad.

Yikes! (more quilting issues)

My other issue was the occasional bit of jerking around and making corners where there should have been curves (or little jumped stitches, where I suddenly veered an eighth of an inch to the left or right before continuing the original line – I do have photos of that, but I’m NOT going to fill this entire post with pictures of my little mistakes…). I did the quilt in kind of two passes – half of it on a Thursday and half of it on a Friday – and in the middle of that, I fell down a (short) flight of stairs and strained my back pretty badly in a couple places. Which I tell you because my second half of quilting was a fair bit worse than the first! I was so stiff that I would try to make a motion for a curve, twinge something in my back and wind up jerking around in pain and leaving evidence of it on the quilt top. So there are quite a few of those, and that’s maybe even what happened here. Sometimes, though, it was because I’d forget to stop before moving my hands or I’d try to keep quilting even though I was running out of hand space at all.

In any case, I really enjoyed working on this. I’ve always defaulted to straight line quilting in the past because I’ve been so intimidated by free motion quilting (I did do rows of loopy lines on one previous quilt), but getting this one thing under my belt makes the rest of it seem a little more possible. I just need to keep practising (and get that whole speed control issue figured out).