Real Life in the way

Do you ever have those days, weeks, months where real life and all it’s responsibilities get in the way of what you really want to do? That’s the kind of summer I’ve been having. Hubby and I have both been working 60+ hours a week, for the last [I’ve lost count] weeks. It makes it difficult to make time to sew, to say the least.

But! I have managed to sneak little bits here and there in.

Woody loves yellow

A few heart blocks for Orlando.

purple heart

A curtain for my new kitchen.

curtain

A few blocks here and there on my Icy Waters quilt (started in a class with Amy Garro herself!).

Icy Waters

I am desperately hoping that when fall arrives, everything will slow down a little, so I can enjoy all my favorite bits (pumpkin bread! gingersnaps! hot cocoa!)

Use what you’ve got!

I’m sure this is not news to anyone, but moving is stressful! And quilting is a great stress relief (well, most of the time) — except the first few weeks of living here in the new house, I had no idea where any of my current WIPs were. So, I could spend my limited sewing time hunting for current projects, or just grab what I could find and start something new. I don’t think any of us are surprised with my decision, are we?

Trimming with Coffee

Unpacking can wait!!!

Trimmins

I won a fat quarter bundle of Best. Day. Ever! by April Rosenthal awhile ago (year+) and that was on the top of a box. Digging around to pull out my iron, cutting mat, ruler, thread, etc, I found a great selection of low volume fabrics. Done. Let’s get sewing!

Donkeys

I love these donkey’s from Laurie Wisbrun’s Jack and Jenny.

In pieces

I’ve loved this pattern from QuiltDad for awhile, and it works perfectly with fat quarters. Unfortunately, it’s a little on the small side for me. You may have noticed I have a propensity for larger quilts… So, I wanted to add a few simple squares.

Overall

With some assistance from the official Quilt Helper, I got it all sewed together… and it was still a little small. It’s currently at about 55 x 70 (I had a few cutting mishaps). I’m sure that’s a great size for quite a few people, just not me. So, back to the think tank.

My helper

It’s currently being unconstructed, strategically. I’m thinking that adding a few more flying arrows, in different sizes, and a bit more blank space. And more fabric, because I used up every bit of the fat quarters. It may be all the recent practice, but I’m thinking hot pink. Yellow would be the predictable, safe choice, afterall. Quilts shouldn’t be too predictable.

Soft kitty

Have you ever taken apart a quilt? Or been dissatisfied with the outcome? Did it eventually work out for you?

Another Baby Quilt…

Large Improv Curve baby quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

First, thank you for all the house congratulations! I very much appreciate all the warm wishes. We’re still taking our time unpacking. Hopefully, we’ll feel completely settled soon (and I can show off my sewing space!)

Until then, I have another baby girl quilt to share. I gave a little sneak peek of it a few weeks ago with this picture:

A girly charm square quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

And I’ve talked about it before here but you haven’t seen the final thing. Are you ready?

Large Improv Curve baby quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

Ta-da! I made it for a semi-cousin (close friend of my husband’s family) – I knew from the grapevine that she was going with coral and gold with a hint of black for the nursery. And, I must say, it was nice to work with coral more than pink.

Large Improv Curve baby quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

I started with this inspiration. I pieced the two sides with random-ish sized strings; one lighter side and one darker side. Then I laid both sides on the floor, overlapping slightly, and drew a curve. I cut along the drawn line with scissors, then marked an indicator dash every few inches to be able to line up and pin the curve accurately. This is very similar to the improv curve method in Sherri Lynn Wood’s book: The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. (I just used scissors rather than a rotary cutter, and the pieces were huge).

Large Improv Curve baby quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

After piecing, it came time to decide on a backing. I went to my awesome local quilt shop and after hemming, hawing, and petting all the pretty fabrics, landed about this unicorn print by Sara Lawson. Perfect, right?

Large Improv Curve baby quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

Basting. There’s really never too much to say about basting, is there? You kick on some tunes, change into super comfy stretch pants, and just go for it. At least it was baby sized…

Large Improv Curve baby quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

Then comes the super fun and kind of hard part — how to quilt it. I had found some gold metallic thread at the LQS while shopping for the backing, and that seemed to be the perfect choice. However, I’ve used metallic thread before, and it is not really fond of being intensely free motion quilted. I needed something straightforward and simple (so the thread wouldn’t break a jillion times) but still interesting. Talking it over with my husband, he suggested the triangle paisley I did on this quilt. Genius! The angles would counteract a little of the sweetness, and the metallic thread could hold up.

Large Improv Curve baby quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

At first the thread did break a few times, then I accidentally hit on the secret: Leave my stitch length at 2. I’m not sure at all why this worked, or if it was just merely a coincidence, but I left my stitch length dial alone for the remainder of the quilt with zero problems. None. I’ll have to do some more experimenting to see if this is truly correlative, but if you’re having trouble with metallic thread, give it a try!

Large Improv Curve baby quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

I bound it in a black sketchy print. I’m not sure if it was actually Architextures, or the Timeless Treasure Sketch (I didn’t have the selvedge anymore), but it compliments it nicely.

The quilt has now made it’s way home to the precious little girl, and I can cross another baby quilt off the list.

Large Improv Curve baby quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

All the busy

I think I’ve mentioned a few times that I’ve been busy – and some of you already know why: we bought a house! That exclamation point conveys so much doesn’t it? Excitement, frustration, exhaustion, worry… we’ve been cycling through all of it, almost on a daily basis. Organizing, packing, labelling, moving, organizing (again), unpacking… Ugh, my back hurts more just thinking about it all. We’re still not very unpacked, but we’ll get there.

Stack of Boxes

Those are my scrap buckets. What I thought was all of my scraps. Umm, yeah, that’s not all of them. The sheer amount of fabric I unearthed from every crack and crevice of that apartment is just astounding. Why were there scraps in the kitchen/bathroom/office closet/box with video games? Expect to see several dozen scrap quilts at some point in the future. After I find them again that is.

Woody in a box

Except for the day we had to put him in the carrier and drive to the new place, Woody has loved this whole process. Boxes everywhere!! His current favorite napping spot is a half unpacked box of fabric. Fabric in a box! When he’s not there, he’s on a window sill monitoring the local wildlife.

On the window sill

And boy, are there a lot of window sills for him to choose from. Our apartment had three windows. Total. Let me just let that sink in. The new house – well, I haven’t done an official count, but even the smallest bedroom has two windows. There’s somewhere around 10 in the living room. I think it’s safe to say, Woody is loving the house. And I’m loving all the natural light.

Version 2

I’m slowly finding projects to work on. This quilt top is a baby quilt for a friend of my husband. I finished it in the apartment, just before the mad dash to pack started. That cart underneath has any and all small, random craft related things shoved in it. Ribbon, buttons, some thread (but not all), a few templates, and yes, more scraps. If I get my act together, I’ll be basting it this afternoon. That’s the other thing! I now have giant open floors for basting. No more pushing all of the furniture to the side. I think I may be more excited about that then the washer and dryer coming on Wednesday (no more laundromats!).

Lilac

Since we saw, and bought, the house long before spring brought everything to life, it was a pleasant surprise to find we had two lilac bushes. In the three weeks we’ve lived here, I’ve added a hydrangea, a rose, and several annuals. You may not be aware of this, but I love to dig in the dirt and plant pretty flowers. Yesterday, I planted a few tomatoes for the first time ever. It was a very exciting day. And in a few weeks I’ll be able to say that I’ve eaten a tomato I grew!

Baller in Entry

It wouldn’t be home without a quilt hanging on the wall, right? This is a mini quilt my dear friend Stephanie made me. Isn’t it awesome and perfect? I actually brought it to the closing, so I could hang it up right after. We haven’t hung up any other art, or quilts, but we have the best one in the entryway, next to the stairs, so I can see it everyday. (Yes, that wall is yellow. Most of the downstairs is yellow, but it’s not going to stay that way. It’s the wrong shade of yellow to go with that much brown. Trust me on this.)

Backyard, with Machine

This is the view from my sewing machine currently. Not too shabby, hunh? I’m testing out sewing rooms. We have three extra bedrooms, so one of them will be my sewing room, I just have to decide which. The other window in this room looks over the neighbor’s pool… not quite as picturesque. The other major contender is currently painted a deep, deep, Tardis blue. It’s a little overwhelming. After it’s painted, it’ll probably be my sewing room. Until then, I’ll just float from room to room.

Trimming with Coffee

I have found a little time for sewing. I couldn’t find any of my current projects in the mass of boxes, so I started a new one. I went with what I found in the two boxes that contained my rotary cutter, rulers, and thread. I think it turned out pretty cute. Slightly smaller than behemoth husband would prefer, but that just means I don’t have to share.

What’s keeping you busy this summer? Kids on vacation? Trips to the pool? Travels to exotic locations? Locked in next to the AC with your sewing machine? Inquiring minds need to know!!!

A Special Quilt

Hi!! Today I get to share a very special quilt. A coworker’s daughter was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, so of course I had to make a quilt.

A girly charm square quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

I went with a simple charm square pattern, with a hefty dose of her favorite color: pink. Yes, I made another pink quilt. I did add a hefty dose of blue, based off an Anna Marie Horner print. That’s right. Pink and AMH.

A girly charm square quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

I managed to get the quilt top mostly done right before I went on retreat with the Seacoast and New Hampshire MQGs. Three days of non-stop sewing time was exactly what I needed to get this quilt done. A giant floor for basting was a really good incentive too.

A girly charm square quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

On the way to retreat, I stopped at a magical store called Marden’s. Now, if you google search that it says its a surplus carpeting store. Well, it’s sooooo much more than that. There’s a giant section of discount fabrics. All under $5/yd. I found this great pink on pink print from Michael Miller to use for the back of this quilt. And since I didn’t bother measuring a quilt (who has time?) I waaaay overbought, and now have pink fabric again!

A girly charm square quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

When choosing the prints for this quilt, I was trying to stay away from too baby-ish. I raided charm packs (Sew Stitchy was very fruitful), my scrap bin, fat quarters, really anything and everything I could get my hands on. Turns out I had more pink than I anticipated.

A girly charm square quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

For the quilting, I wanted to do something special. Special, but easy. And quick too. I went with a large paisley design, with a few hearts thrown in for good luck. Also, hearts are an easy way to fill in some of the pockets that form while quilting.

A girly charm square quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

What special quilt would be complete without a unicorn?

A girly charm square quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

A girly charm square quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

This quilt has been very, very well received by the little girl and her family.

And here’s a sneak peek of another pink quilt I made recently… I promise I’ll share that one soon!

A girly charm square quilt by Smiles Too Loudly

Conservative…

Hi! Thank you for the great responses to my tutorial I share over a month ago — has it really been a month? Wow, I guess I’ve been busier than I thought.

Recently, I had the opportunity to escape the busy and go on a quilt retreat with several dear friends. In between the catching up, laughter, and margaritas, I even managed to finish a few things! [Insert completely shocked face here] Before I went, my new-ish boss challenged me to make something more conservative than normally my style. See, I have a few minis hanging in my office (which I have never blogged about, tsk tsk) which, as you may guess, are very bright and colorful and well, yellow. Kona Sunny to be precise. Not high on the conservative scale…

A conservative mini by Smiles Too Loudly
This is the back…

The night before I left for retreat I grabbed a semi-random assortment of tans, browns, and a few blues. On Sunday morning, about 5 hours before leaving I decided it was time to whip it up. Since I was running on almost no sleep, I didn’t do my normal ‘agonize over every detail’ thing and just went with what looked good. I think it worked out. Does this read as conservative to you?

A conservative mini by Smiles Too Loudly

(please forgive the terrible picture)

I couldn’t resist including the little mouse on a bicycle. Whimsical can still be conservative, right? Well, for me.

A conservative mini by Smiles Too Loudly

A little quick wood grain quilting and Ta da! No yellow, no bright colors, very little whimsy, and would you look at that, it’s still a quilt I like. Maybe yellow isn’t everything… Maybe.

A conservative mini by Smiles Too LoudlyOn the right there, you can just see a little peek of the other project I worked on during retreat. Complete opposite.

When was the last time you jumped outside of your comfort zone? Was it to do something more conservative, like me? Or the other direction?

Broken Log Cabin Tutorial

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Hi! And welcome to my stop on the PaintBrush Studio Blog Hop!!! I’ve designed a 12.5″ block to share with you today:

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

There’s a few options when you get a finished quilt layout, but first let’s start with how to make it!

You will need:

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

(2) 2.5″ x at least 15″ strips of one color (light blue)

(2) 2.5″ x at least 15″ strips of another color (navy blue)

(4) 1″ x at least 15″ strips of contrasting color (pink)

(1) 2.5″ x 2.5″ square (white)

 

Sew a pink strip to each one of the blue strips. This will make it easier to sew the skinny strips.

Cut each strip into a 5″ long piece and a 10″ long piece. You will need two of each size, per color.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Now here is where it gets a little trickier: Partial Seams. Dunh dunh dunh.  They aren’t that bad, I promise. These are really, really easy ones.

First, you just line up one of the dark blue pieces with the white center square, and sew most of the way down.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Press the seam open, and sew on the next piece.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

And the next piece. Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Now with the next piece, you want to make sure you don’t catch the piece that’s hanging down.  Pin the next piece in place, and sew.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Now it’s time to finish the partial seam. All you have to do is line up the half sewn piece with the edge of the piece you just sewed. Unfortunately, this is hard to photograph, but it’ll make sense when you get here.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

You have now finished the middle of the block!  For the rest of the block you just do all the same steps, sewing each piece around the middle.  Starting with the first strip, only sew most of the seam.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Pressing the seams open as you go, sew the other three strips onto the middle.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

And then sew the last strip on, then finish the partial seam.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Tada! You have a completed block!

Now, there’s a few things you can do with this block…

You can sash multiple blocks with 1″ strips and get something like this.

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

Or, you can choose a nice big floral, a coordinating solid and get something like this:

Broken Log Cabin, a block tutorial by Smiles Too Loudly

I cannot wait to see what you come up with!!!

There are so many other gorgeous block tutorials being posted this week — Today’s offerings are:

Host: Cheryl @Meadow Mist Designs
Kim @Leland Ave Studios
Andrea @The Sewing Fools
Cassandra @The (not so) Dramatic Life
Stephanie @Quilt’n Party
Irene @Patchwork and Pastry
Tish @Tish’s Adventures in Wonderland
Abby @Hashtag Quilt
Sarah @Smiles Too Loudly
Carrie @The Zen Quilter
Wanda @Wanda’s Life Sampler

Jayne @Twiggy and Opal

ocean-sunrise-palette2

A long time coming…

There’s a finished quilt to share today! It’s been almost a year to the day since I pulled fabrics for this quilt… tick tock goes the clock.

from Smiles Too Loudly

I’ve shared a lot of details about the making of this one, and today is the final detail — how I quilted all that empty space! I used this really great pattern I found on Youtube, Loopy Clams from Lynn Durbin. Of course, she was quilting on a longarm, so I had to adapt it a little for my Juki.

from Smiles Too Loudly

This quilt was planned for my Mother In Law from the very start. Purple, teal, yellow, peach, all her favorite colors. Tiny happy sheep because she’s a knitter. I even bought the sheet to back the quilt when I was with her (she didn’t suspect a thing).

from Smiles Too Loudly

The inner hexagon is quilted with several different quilting patterns. Mostly variations on dot-to-dot quilting and big easy loops, with a few spirals thrown in for fun. There was also a fair bit of “following the fabric” like on those AMH flower prints. I just quilted around the flowers.

from Smiles Too Loudly

from Smiles Too Loudly

I used a scrappy binding, from mostly the same fabrics in the middle hexagon. Machine stitched as is my usual.

from Smiles Too Loudly

from Smiles Too Loudly

One thing I did learn with this quilt: Square your quilt top before you quilt it. There was so much quilting that I ended up cutting off. I could have saved myself at least 2 hours, and it’s a lot easier to fold and manipulate a top than a quilt.

from Smiles Too Loudly

from Smiles Too Loudly

When we took pictures today, it was a fair bit windier than is normally ideal, so there are a few outtakes…

from Smiles Too Loudly

from Smiles Too Loudly

Also, I handed my camera to my husband (Quilt Holder Extraordinairre) and he caught this one. It may just be my favorite picture of me ever.

The smile behind Smiles Too Loudly

Potholders, finally!

Recently, I needed a little break from quilts for others. I really enjoy making quilts that go off to get loved and snuggled, but sometimes you have to make something for yourself.

Bright potholders by SmilesTooLoudly

I started by cleaning, well, really digging, through some piles and ran across potholders that I started…oh, ummm… I’m actually not really sure. Judging from the fabrics used and the poor tension of the quilting, I’m estimating these are about 3 years old.

Bright potholders by SmilesTooLoudly

They had gotten a little wear in the pile — loose threads, frayed edges. So I trimmed them up. I dug some binding fabric out of my scrap bin and made some double fold binding (I cut it 2″ wide).

Bright potholders by SmilesTooLoudly

First step was to bind the top of the pockets. See, my husband is not really safety inclined when it comes to the oven… he’s constantly burning the top of his fingers, so a quilted pocket top is pretty needed.

Bright potholders by SmilesTooLoudly

Bright potholders by SmilesTooLoudly

Then comes the fiddly part. Putting the binding around everything. I initially tried to just clip the binding in place all around then stitch down. That turned out… well, it’s only a potholder. It doesn’t need to be perfect.

Bright potholders by SmilesTooLoudly

For the next one, I tried a more quilty binding technique. Very precise technical terms. I stitched the binding to the back first, then top stitched to the front.  It turned out much less wibbly wobbly, and I’ll definitely do it this way again.

Bright potholders by SmilesTooLoudly

Oh, I forgot to mention. There’s a layer of Insulbright in the gray sections. Make sure you keep the metallic side down (facing where the hot dish would be). Then there’s a scrap of batting on top of that.

Bright potholders by SmilesTooLoudly

The one on the left has the quilt-esque binding, the one on the right is the “winged it”.  And both loops are just what made sense in the moment.

After waiting three years, this whole project, including pictures, took only about 2 hours. And now I have two potholders! Ta-da!

Linking to Finish it Up Friday