Thursday, July 24, 2014

Label me, baby!

Who's excited to receive her order of  custom woven quilt labels??
This girl!! posted the fresh-off-the-press photo teaser today....
Hurry postman!!

I've got to get my labelin' on!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Caring Star Quilts

I believe that as quilters, our ability to create something that is both beautiful and useful sets our craft apart. If you know any quilters, you know many of them (myself included) are frequently sewing for charitable organizations.  

I'd like to share with you today, a very special group...

Meg Martin is the woman who has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to turn the Caring Star vision into a reality. 

(Meg M, my sister Jessie, and me)

She's a fellow CAMQG member and a dear friend. Perhaps is it her magnetic personality, or the grassroots opportunity, but this cause has a very special place in my heart.  

This group is unlike any I have seen before, here is a little background:
The Caring Star Quilts project was conceived in 2013. This ongoing mission begins with creating and presenting pairs of quilts to honor the two-way bond of service and sacrifice between wounded, ill and injured veterans and their caregivers.  
Behind every wounded, ill and injured soldier... there's an unsung hero of a caregiver. 
Our sewing machines will sing... a song of warm appreciation for unsung heroes.

The Sewing day includes piecing quilt tops with music, laughter and hourly door prizes. Morning refreshments, luncheon and a guest speaker were included, too. Pre-cut fabrics and most supplies were even provided, making it a breeze to get right to the fun part, sewing!! Every team had an experienced quilter on hand as instructor -- so even first time quilters were able to get on board! 

(Jessie and me)

I don't think my words could ever do justice to the positive energy that was felt throughout the Kick-off sewing day in April. I was especially exited to be able to share the sewing day with my sister and mom, who drove 2+ hours to PA from NJ for the event.

The three of us, with Sheryl (another CAMQG'er) were Team Juliet!   Our team was assigned a modern cross block.

Once we got up and running, were given freedom to 'have fun' designing with the border. And we did! I was the only one of the group who had previously improv pieced, but they gave it all a shot and were hooked!

By the end of the day, 45+ volunteers had completed 14 quilt tops!

The next few weeks were a whirlwind of quilting, binding, and final touches.

The quilts were presented, "with love and pride" to 12 Caregivers of Veterans and the Veterans they each care for in May.  More than 100  people shared a warm appreciation for unsung heroes, and our nation's Caregivers that day.

The success of the inaugural sewing day and presentation day have driven Meg to raise the bar for the second event, to be held this Fall. Knowing her creativity and tenacity, I have no doubt that the reach and impact of this amazing cause will be far reach long and far throughout Pennsylvania.  I am so honored to have a hand in the project, it is a blessing and an inspiration at every step of the process. 

Keep your eyes open! Over the next few posts, I will share with you some of the quilts that I was lucky enough to help sew for CSQ, after the big sewing day. I'll also be giving you a sneak peek into preparation for the Fall 2014 the sewing day!

Team Juliet with our finished top
I hope you enjoy reading about and seeing the efforts of Caring Star Quilts, as much as I have enjoyed my journey with them so far.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Monkey Business (a finished quilt)

Big news, here! I have completed not one but two 2nd Quarter FAL goals!

Here is my second finish of the 2nd quarter, the Monkey Business Baby Quilt!

I actually had help piecing this one, over 2 years ago, from my mom.

I started quilting it with a walking foot on my old machine, but had wicked tension issues.
Then it got packed up with everything when I moved.

I didn't have the heart to re-start it until I bought my new machine this March.

It was a completely different experience the second time around!

I finished up the simple zigzag/stitch in the ditch quickly, and immediately stalled again on binding.

Fortunately, one of the perks to being in a local guild is that you get to pick people's brains for trick and tips! Just last month, One of the CAMQG members did a demonstration on bias binding.

 I took notes, seriously nerdy, right? But you know what...
it was exactly the guidance and confidence booster I needed!

The binding is machine stitched, per the instructions from Quilts for Kids 
(it needs to hold up to frequent washes).

It took a little time to get the handle of it, but I went slowly, used a small army of wonderclips, and TADA!  My binding looks decent! Those wonderclips are my new best friends.

 Perfect?  Of course not, but I am exceedingly pleased with the results, and am ready for more!

Quilt Stats:
Name: Monkey Business
Size: 36 x 48"
Fabrics:  Robert Kauffman
PatternQuilts for Kids
Quilting: Free Motion Quilting - Lines with walking foot on my domestic machine 
Completed: June 2014

Projects aside, I feel like I have made leaps and bounds over the last 3 months as a quilter.

From chasing that perfect scant 1/4" to conquering my fear of bias binding,
it seems like the things that I would have previously stalled on, are not so intimidating anymore.

The confidence and energy I've drawn from my fellow guild members has also pushed me further than I thought I could go in just 3 months. 

Time for me to get back to business, which at the moment involves going to the hardware store. Hubby and I are planning to build some much needed shelving... wish us luck!

Also, if you missed it, details on my first finish this quarter is here.

Linking up this finished quilt to the 2nd quarter FAL party Katy is hosting here.
Finish Along 2014

Also linking up linked up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday and  Quokka Quilts for TGIFF.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Welcome to the Jungle Quilt

Welcome, little Jungle Quilt, to the land of the finished projects!

When I wrote out my list of Finish Along (FAL) projects in April,
I stumbled across this work in progress.

At that point is was only a pile of strips and squares.
To be honest, I wasn't even sure what pattern I had planned on sewing.

By the middle of May the top was mostly pieced, but a long way from done.

That photo is prime late night cell phone quality, too. Yowza! Thankfully that's history...

With the 2nd quarter FAL deadline looming, I decided to kick my rear into high gear.

Here it is all quilted, bound, washed, and crinkly!

This quilt was my first attempt at free motion quilting on my new machine. Not bad for a first timer, right? I played with a few options, including the knee lift and the 'cruise control'. 

What I learned: 
- The knee lift is awesome 
- Pre-wind a ton of bobbins
- I am not a fan of fmq'ing with gloves on
- I need to practice, practice, practice curves

Some curves had those dreaded 'eyelashes,' but others were right on.

 The quilting pattern was simple, but it provided just the right level of challenge.
 And I even went on a limb with those corners, by improv quilting a squiggly fan.

I'm sure that's the technical description for that shape. Yup. 

Even though it wasn't complicated, it was scary going for those curves with no real plan.
Looking at it now, I'm glad I went for it! No risk - no reward, right?

An unplanned but cool effect is that the quilting sort of disappears into the stripe where the quilting was parallel to the print.

It sort of creates an illusion of a basket weave, see it?

Sure, I only have two finishes this quarter, but I feel like a champion! 

Quilt Stats:

Name: Jungle Quilt
Size: 32"x 36"Fabrics:  Stash
Pattern: Quilts for Kids
Quilting: Free Motion Quilting - Lines and Curves 
Completed: June 2014

"But wait, Annaliese, I only see one finished quilt here, didn't you say there were two?" 

That's correct. I am so excited about both finished quilts, that I think each deserves their own posts. 

Keep an eye out for my 2nd finish this quarter (teaser: I may have fallen in love with wonder clips and machine binding on it..)

Linking up this finished quilt to the 2nd quarter FAL party here.
Finish Along 2014

Happy Quilting!