Little Penguin Quilts Through the Year

Little Penguin Quilts Through the Year

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Looking Back

At the end of this week, I will celebrate my first anniversary as a quilt blogger, and it has been fun to look back over the last year's worth of posts and what I have accomplished.  Getting involved in the online quilt community has been fun, inspiring, and full of lots of learning for me!  Thank you to everyone who has hosted linky parties for me to join, posted tutorials that I have learned from, or taken the time to visit my blog and comment on my projects.  I think I have accomplished more in this one year than ever before in my 15 or so years of quilting.  It has been a year of many firsts!

My first Block of the Month to participate in, thanks to Kristy of Quiet Play.  From this first block in January:

to the finished product in November:

From my hours and hours (and hours!) spent reading blogs and tutorials, I have completed a Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt:


 an Open-wide Zipper Pouch:

several baby quilts:

and many other smaller projects, like this fun pincushion for my quilt group's Christmas gift exchange.
Of course there are various WiPs that I have plans for in 2014 as well!  And finally, yesterday, I finished up a Christmas quilt (only a few days late!) that I slept under last night.  I think it is true that I always love my current project the most, and that is definitely true of this particular quilt.  It is made from a layer cake of Aspen Frost, and the Layer Cake Lemonade pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop, so it went together quickly and was fun to make!
I love the bright, modern colors, especially the aqua, red, and olive green together.  I machine quilted it simply, mostly echoing the seams, but with a few curvy, "organic" lines through the middle of the bigger blocks.

I added a row of the leftover main fabrics to make a pieced back, which makes the back interesting to look at, too!

Even though Christmas is past, I'm going to enjoy this quilt well into the new year because it just makes me happy to look at, and isn't that what creating is all about?!

I am wishing all of you the Happiest of New Years, and a 2014 full of quilty inspiration!  I can't wait to see what I learn about next!

Linking up to Freemotion by the River for the last linky party of 2013!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

WIP for a Thursday

Between being out of town for Thanksgiving, and a busy week at work, I haven't had much time for sewing, but I have a WIP that I'm looking forward to working on this weekend.  A few weeks ago, a layer cake of this arrived on my doorstep.

I wanted to try making a simple, modern Christmas quilt.  I discovered that I love this line of fabric! Here are a few close-ups of my favorites.

About the time that I got the fabric, I saw this tutorial for the Layer Cake Lemonade pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop.  I decided it was the perfect pattern for a quick and simple Christmas quilt that my family would enjoy for the holidays.  It is also great for featuring the fun patterns in the fabric because there isn't a lot of cutting to be done.  Half of the pieces are used in their 10 inch square size.
My Aspen Frost layer cake turned into this:
The colors in this photo aren't the best because of the lighting in my sewing room, and the fact that I am not home much in the daylight these days!  But at least you can see the pattern.  I am really loving the teal and olive green in this fabric.  It's so different from the typical Christmas colors.  I was ready to try something more modern! 
I've been working on a pieced backing for the quilt this week.  There is one strip of the half-size pieces left when you are done piecing the top, so I decided to work it into the back.  The rest is a yardage of red with white hearts that I am also using for the binding.
I am definitely looking forward to putting the quilt sandwich together this weekend and starting on the quilting!
I'm linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday this week!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pincushion Project

My quilt group always does a fun project for our December get-together where we each make a gift and then bring it to the meeting where we have one of those crazy gift exchanges.  It's the type of gift exchange where you never know whose gift you're going to end up with - lots of stealing and hilarity goes on! We have made dolls, snowmen, pins, bags, table-toppers, mug rugs, and more that I can't even remember.  It's always fun and it is definitely the meeting I don't want to miss.

This year's theme is pincushions.  I was excited to give this one a try because I've been seeing so many adorable pincushions on many of the blogs I follow.  Finding the one I wanted to make required lots of searching for the perfect tutorial.  I always think (hope!) that if I make something I would love to have, then someone in my group will love it, too!  Here is what I came up with:

It is called a Couch Pincushion, made from this tutorial by Bree McElroy from Distant Pickles.  I found it posted on Riley Blake Designs where there were tons of pincushion ideas.  It is meant to hang over the edge of a chair or couch for when you are doing some hand sewing.

Since I love hand-sewing my bindings, I am always sticking pins and needles into the arm of my couch.  This is the perfect solution to that problem!  The pincushion also has a couple of built-in pockets for carrying your scissors, thread, and whatever other notions you need for your project.  I really love how this turned out!  I may need to make one for myself!

I'm linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Braided Herringbone Quilt Top

I just finished this quilt top yesterday from Kelly's tutorial on My Quilt Infatuation.  It is actually posted on Sew in Love (with Fabric) as a part of their Holiday Headstart Blog Hop.

I love this line of fabric - Hello Sunshine - from Connecting Threads.  Even though it isn't a fall theme, or anything remotely related to the holidays, it has been fun to work with this past week. 

Right now, this quilt top is about 40" by 50" which would be perfect for a baby quilt.  However, I am really loving it, so I'm not sure I will want to give it away!  It looks pretty good with my blue couch!

To make it more useful here at home, I am thinking of adding some extra borders to it to make it larger.  I have lots of extra fabric, so that will be easy to do.  For now, though, I'm going to set it aside because it really is time to get going on a few Christmas projects!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Braided Herringbone WIP

About a year ago, I ordered a kit with yardages of Hello Sunshine from Connecting Threads. Although I loved the fabric, I never really wanted to get going on the pattern that came with the kit.  So it sat in my stash for the last year, or more!

I can't decide which of the fabrics in this line is my favorite.  Maybe this one?
It reminds of fireworks!  Or this one?
It could be a galaxy up in the summer sky!

When I saw this tutorial from Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation, I knew I wanted to make her quilt pattern, a braided herringbone.  As I was thinking about my fabric choices, I remembered I had the Hello Sunshine fabric, and I knew I had enough of that for this quilt.  So, it was just a matter of cutting fat quarters from the fabric and then trimming them up to meet the sizes needed for the braided herringbone.  Here is what I've gotten done so far:

Kelly's pattern calls for 10 fat quarters of fabric to make the quilt top, and my Hello Sunshine yardage included 5 different fabrics.  I added in a fat quarter of white, and one of a creamy yellow that I thought would go with the rest of the fabric.  Next, I need to trim up the blocks, put them together, and add the borders.  I think I'm going to love this quilt!  I'm not sure what I will do with it yet.  Maybe it will go to a friend who is expecting a baby next summer.  I may love it so much that I want to keep it!  I'm excited to see the finished product! 
Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

And Sew On Wall-Hanging

When I joined this BoM back in January, I had no idea what would really be involved, but it has turned out to be a fantastic experience.  I am so excited about the way this project has come together that I can't stop looking at it!  It has so many fun details within each block. 

I think my favorite block is the one in the upper right-hand corner, the stash cupboard.  It was so fun picking little scraps to make those stacks of fabric.  Of course, the most challenging block was the final one, in the center, the Sewing Sanctuary.  I lost count of how many little parts were required to make the whole thing!  Fortunately, it came together pretty easily. 

I am almost done with the whole project, just need to sew on the binding, but I decided to link up today because I don't know if I will get that binding completed before the Nov. 7 linky deadline.  My goal, for sure, is to have it completed to show off at my November quilt group get together in a week and a half. 

Thanks, Kristy, for hosting a fun BoM, and sharing your wonderful patterns with us!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Although I made several baby quilts this year, my favorite was one I mostly made out of my scraps.  I just wanted to try something new so I started stitching!  Here's what came out of the trying:

This was a quilt of many firsts for me: first improv quilting, first pieced back, first FMQ (more practice needed there!), first black polka-dot binding, and first quilt to give away to someone other than family or friends.  When I look at the pictures again, I have a twinge of "Oh, maybe I should have kept it..."  But when I think about a young mom cuddling her baby with a quilt I made! I feel proud that I sent it off.

This will also be my first time ever to link up to the Blogger's Quilt Festival, hosted by Amy's Creative Side.  I have definitely enjoyed browsing through all those links in this last year since I entered the blogging world.  Excited to be a part of it!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pluggin along!

It has been a busy couple of weeks since I last posted.  Between work that takes from morning until bedtime, and a weekend guest, I have only been able to do little bits of sewing and no blogging at all! I'm missing it!  But I have been reading lots of blogs and getting lots of inspiration!

I have gotten a little behind on my last And Sew On block.  It was supposed to be for September, but I got busy on my 100 Quilts for Kids quilt, and put off the last block for the BoM.  Now I'm trying to catch up so I'll be able to join the linky to show off our finished projects at the end of October.

Since I took these pictures, I've made more of the pieces.  It's definitely labor intensive!  But I'm excited to get to the point where I can make it into a wall-hanging.  This weekend is my goal!  Of course, there is lots of paper to tear off before I can see some progress in that direction.

This has been my first BoM where I have sewn along with other online quilters.  What a fun experience it has been!  It will be almost a year-long process from start to finish, and a great learning experience.  Would I do it again?  Definitely!

Linking up with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday!  Happy almost Friday, everyone!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fall Patchwork

I haven't had much time to sew this week, but I did decide that my dining room table needed a little something to celebrate fall.

I cut 3 and 1/2 inch squares out of 6 different fabrics and did a very random placement.  The quilting is simple straight lines on the diagonal - my favorite right now.  I love the combination of oranges and greens!  Unfortunately, the lighting in my photo leaves something to be desired.  I couldn't quite capture the true colors, whether I tried inside or outside. 

The orange with fall leaves is my favorite fabric:
I had just enough of the green left to use it for the binding, and I'm so glad I did!  It's perfect!
As simple as this is, it's fun to have something new decorating my table.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A lot of firsts!

This week I finished the slab baby quilt that I've been working on for awhile.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  It's so much fun to look at!  Just like my Scrappy Trip Around the World, almost every scrap in this quilt has a story to tell.

This is a quilt of many firsts for me.  It was my first slab/improv quilt.  I had seen several quilts using these techniques on other blogs, so I decided it would be fun to try.  I'm really drawn to scrappy. patchwork type quilts right now, and it is so fun to pull scraps out and come up with something that is basically your own design!  It is also my first pieced back.  I really did that out of necessity as I didn't have a piece big enough for the whole back, but it was fun to try to put together fabrics that could really make this quilt reversible.  This quilt holds my first attempt at FMQ, which I blogged about here.  It's far from perfect, but you have to start somewhere!

It is also my first time using a fabric for the binding that isn't also somewhere in the quilt.  I chose some black and white polka dots, something I've never worked with before, and it makes a beautiful frame for the colorful slabs and white sashing and borders. 

Also a first for me - I'm going to donate this quilt!  I'm embarassed to say I've never done that before with a quilt of my own, although my quilt group has worked on group projects that we've donated over the years.  This quilt is going to A Mother's Hope for a new mom who is struggling with postpartum depression.  I learned about this through the blog Margaret's Hope Chest, and I'm happy to be giving a little support to someone who needs it.  Even though my sons are grown-ups now, I remember those stressful days all too well!  I hope a new mom will enjoy snuggling her precious baby with this colorful quilt.

And last, but not least, my husband said to me this morning, "You're giving that away? Because I really like it."  How's that for a compliment?  I couldn't ask for more!

I'm linking this quilt up to 100 Quilts for Kids at Swim, Bike, Quilt. and later in the week to Needle and Thread Thursday.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

I have a confession to make...

I'm afraid of free motion quilting...  I want to learn how to do it, and I keep trying little practice pieces, but I'm not sure I'm getting the hang of it.  I really should take a class on it, but before trying that, I decided to read up on it, and watch Leah Day's videos, and practice.  It still scares me!

So... I decided the only way to get over my fear was to finally commit to FMQing a whole quilt.  I've been working on a slab baby quilt completely out of my scraps, and it seemed like the perfect project to finally take the plunge.   Yesterday, I did it.  I FMQed the whole thing.  I'm not ready for stippling yet, so I decided to try loops meandering all over the quilt.  And I have to say, I got better at it as I went along.  Once I figured out the right speed at which my machine and I would work well together, and how much space I could cover at one time, I felt pretty successful.  That's not to say I don't have a LOT of practicing to do still, but I don't feel too bad about my attempt.

It mostly looks like this:
and this:

or this:

with a little of this:
I might need to rip that one out and redo it!
Unfortunately, I noticed some of this on the back.  I know that has something to do with my tension, but I'm not sure how to fix it.  Raise the tension?  Lower it?  Any suggestions?
Thanks for being a witness to my first attempt at FMQing a whole quilt.  Honestly, I'm pretty proud of myself.  But, I'm still a little afraid of it...
Linking up this week with Needle and Thread Thursday and Really Random Thursday.  Thanks for the fun linky parties!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Little More about Slabs and a Thank You!

Yesterday, I finished a baby quilt-sized top that is made out of 4 - 15 1/2 inch improv slab blocks.  It was fun finding all kinds of pink, green, yellow, and purple fabrics to try the slabs with.  I think my favorite is the purple, which I didn't think I would have enough of since I hardly ever work with purple.  Who knows where it came from?  I think my stash is reproducing on its own!

With the white sashing and borders, this quilt has ended up to be about 40" x 40".   It was fun to just start sewing pieces together without a real plan, other than the size of the blocks.  My plans is to practice some FMQ on it, and I want to donate it somewhere, so I can participate in 100 Quilts for Kids by the end of September.

On another note, I was the lucky recipient of a prize from the August Linky for the And Sew ON BoM.  I got my choice of three patterns from Kristy's (of Quiet Play) Craftsy Shop.  Of course, I had to ask for the Just My Type letter blocks.  I can't wait to try them out, maybe for a wall-hanging or a gift for a friend.  Thanks, Kristy!

I'm linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sewing Room Re-do and Slabs

I decided recently that I needed a larger table for my sewing machine if I was going to do more machine quilting.  We found the perfect table/desk at Ikea and put it together last Sunday.

I love the white table top!  It looks so clean and neat! (Right now anyway...). It gives me lots of space to lay blocks out as I work on them.

I've also been trying some improv/slab blocks for a baby quilt.  I'm working on pink, green, yellow, and purple 15 1/2" blocks.  I know I'll need some sashing or borders for this quilt, but haven't decided what to use for that yet.  I'm wondering about using some black and white with it, like the cat material I used for the backing of my Scrappy Trip Around World quilt.  

Since this is totally an improv quilt, I guess anything goes!  Finding that fabric will be my next step.
I'm heading over to My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday - so should you!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August BoM

Since school has started and I've gone back to work, not much has been happening in my sewing room lately!  I did manage to finish my August block for the And Sew On block of the month.  I think this one might be my favorite so far!  In looking at Kristy's example, it appears that her stash is neatly organized by color.  Not so in my stash!  I keep trying to come up with a system, and it usually just goes back to looking like this closet:

I'm getting excited to make the September block and finish up this wall-hanging!  It has been a fun process.  I'm linking up to  Anything Goes Mondays today, and also Needle and Thread Thursday later in the week!