Friday, August 31, 2012


So on Wednesday, I finished up the quilt top I was working on (more on that another day).  Then I started starching all of my Groove fabrics!  Aerosol spray starch leads to sore throats.  I think.  Anyhow, I haven't starched everything yet (the blue and natural are still a wrinkly post-wash mess), but couldn't wait to attempt curved piecing!  So I cut out the orange.  Then realized I needed to cut into the yellow to get the other half of the curve piece.

I pinned the hell out of them (seriously like 12-15 pins - better safe than sorry!) and my first one turned out pretty well!

My first curved piece!
The Groove quilt is coming together quickly!

I decided to deviate from the pattern and cut and piece things in my own way - it seems like it will go faster.  It might not be the "right" way, but as Homer told us, "There's three ways to do things: the right way, the wrong way, and the Max Power way."  Turns out the Max Power way is the wrong way, only faster.  Hopefully the Melissa way is the right way, only faster :)

It's going to be a busy labor day weekend (Friday evening wedding, Saturday county fair, Sunday outdoor adventure with the family), so things will probably be on hold for a few days.  I'm anxious to finish this one up though - the colors are so summery, it needs to be finished before fall!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I'm Still Alive...

Sorry I've been MIA for the past couple of weeks!  I've been busy - my bosses went on vacation (one two weeks ago, one last week) so it was a little extra busy for me at work, I went away the past two weekends (visiting family and a 15-mile kayak trip on the Allegheny River last weekend and learning to sail at Lake Erie this past weekend), and I've been too busy sewing to blog!  So here's a few things I've been up to.

QuiltCon Block Challenge:  The first QuiltCon will be held in Austin next year and they held a block challenge to make a raffle quilt and then the remainder of the blocks will be used for charity quilts for a local shelter.  The Pittsburgh Modern Quilt Guild decided to partake in the project.  I had intended to make something a little nicer but I was sick and ended up making these two blocks at midnight the night before our meeting.  I think they turned out well for being last minute!  Simple HST blocks.

My QuiltCon Block Challenge blocks
Charming Stars:  In the Spring, I was lucky enough to win a charm pack of Good Fortune from Kate Spain herself!  I bought a few more and turned them into this quilt, following the Moda Bakeshop tutorial for the Charming Stars quilt (with a few minor tweaks of my own for the sashing and borders).  Finally finished!  It took a few nights sitting on the couch sewing all that tangerine binding down, but it is done.  It has been on my bed for the last few weeks, but it might turn into a gift at some point.  It still needs a label.  I should get on that ASAP.

Charming Stars out on the patio!

A close-up of the quilting - each block is quilted the same way.

I used a larger print from Good Fortune for the backing and the binding is Kona Tangerine.

Birds of a Feather:  This quilt is currently in the trunk of my car.  The quilting was pretty simple, I didn't take a picture of it yet though.  And I used Aurifil thread for the first time and LOVED it - it totally lives up to the hype (hey Aurifil marketing people - I will take some free thread in exchange for that endorsement... please?)  The binding is sewn to the front (I did end up choosing Kona Ash, if you were curious!) and it's my "I'm in the field today and there's really nothing going on and I'm bored and don't want to kill my phone battery" portable project!  As much as I want to just take a night to finish it up (it's small so it won't take long), it's important to have a to-go project ready at all times to keep me occupied!  It's a little tough to use the sewing machine in the car :)

My latest greatest project:  This is still unnamed, but it's the first really really modern quilt I've made.  It's all solids (Kona Nightfall, Pepper, and Ash) and I just ordered some gray thread for the quilting.  It is inspired by my favorite parking garage in downtown Pittsburgh.  When you see the whole quilt, go to a Pirates game (at night) and look across the'll see it!)  This has been my major focus lately.  It's the first project I've starched from start to finish and it is SO much easier to work with starched fabric!  Coming soon: a post on different types of starch.  I've tried several.  The top will be finished tonight, then it's off to work on the pieced back.  Sometimes that's more difficult than the actual quilt...

Turn your head sideways... for some reason blogger is turning this picture sideways.  The rows are actually arranged vertically.

Groove:  Well, my poor Groove quilt isn't very groovy yet.  I was lucky enough to win a pattern from Pile O Fabric last week (thanks!!) after procrastinating and not buying the pattern, it worked out really well.  I've got my own pile o fabric sitting in my dining room, washed and ready for pressing/starching.  Maybe that will be a Labor Day weekend project.  We'll see.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!  Head on over and check out some of the other awesome projects in the works!

I'm also linking up with this month's At The End of the Hallway at From the Blue Chair!  Check out the other links and see some great finished projects!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


So I've decided to participate in my first (real-time) quilt along!  Pile O Fabric is hosting a Groove Quilt Along.  The pattern is from Carolina Patchworks.  I plan to make a crib-size quilt since there's just too much going on right now to take on a big project!  It'll be my first attempt at curved piecing.  Hopefully that goes smoothly :)

My completed Groove coloring page - fabric ordered!

I chose to use Kona Cotton Solids in mango, daffodil, asparagus, sage, and eggshell.  It may sound like a recipe for a disgusting health shake, but it looks so beachy and pretty! 

There is a nice PDF coloring sheet on the website that I used to lay out the colors.  And the colors are slightly off-looking.  That's what happens when you just copy over the swatch from the fabric website.  They're all a little more muted than shown above.  Now I've got to buy the pattern!

If you're interested in quilting along, there's a button on the right side of the page that will take you to the main page for the quilt along.

I'm also working on hand-sewn binding for my Charming Stars quilt.  Slow and steady.  It's just over halfway finished!  And I basted the Birds of a Feather quilt today.  It was my second attempt at spray basting - it seems to be okay so far, minus the fact that some of it ended up on the floor (oops, they say on the bottle to put down paper or something, and you should probably follow the instructions).  We'll see how it holds up during the quilting process!  Oh and finally, I pre-washed some fabric (*gasp* - from the girl who never prewashes anything) that I am using for a super awesome quilt to be shared later.  Hopefully I will finish it in time to try to get it into the Quiltcon show coming up this winter!

That pesky pebble quilting is taunting me!  It would be nice to be able to just check one UFO off the list!  Charming Stars will be the first to go!

Linking up to this week's WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!

Sophie... Fangs... Sophangs!

As part of the 2012 Pets On Quilts Show at Lily Pad Quilting, I would like to introduce you to my lovely little Siamese cat, Sophie Anne.

Sophie being nice.  She isn't always this nice!
She is pictured here on my first non-t-shirt quilt! During my senior year of college, I apparently wasn't busy enough between my senior design project and all my other classes and spending 5 nights a week at the bar, so I decided to start quilting...this time by following instructions online instead of just making things up as I went along! This quilt is made with fat quarters from Joann. I didn't know the proper way to bind a quilt and I basted it with straight pins and I quilted it without a walking foot. I have learned so much since then! Since I was broke for Mothers Day that year, I gave the quilt to my mom as a gift.

My photography skills were apparently horrible at this time in my life.

The rainbow pinwheel quilt currently covers my bed at my mom's house. Well it is now the cat bed. Sophie and her friend Elsie (for L.C., or "Little Cat") like to sleep there!

Sophie is my baby, but I can't have cats in my apartment so she lives with my mom. Sophie came to live with me when she was just a kitten about 10 years ago. I worked in a pizza shop with her original owner and she was moving and couldn't have a cat. I already had an old cat, but begged and begged to take Sophie and eventually mom gave in. She must not have been properly weaned because she loves to nest and purr and knead and then suck on her tail!

She has has many nicknames... Sophie. Sophus Minimus (kitten). Sophus Maximus (preggo). Bitro (she is a biter). Fangs (did I mention she bites?). Due to her temper, she is sometimes known as the Bitch Cat. She loves to talk to me! Yes I am a crazy cat lady, but we meow to each other and she loves it!

Sophie and Elsie patrolling the perimeter.

She is certainly an independent kitty though! She will let you know when she's had enough and it is time for you to let her alone. It starts with a tail swish. Then a growl. Then a little nastier growl. Then Bitro makes an appearance. And she's got some sharp claws! She also hates it if you pick her up and hold her like a baby.

Once you know what she doesn't like, she's pretty easy to get along with! Gee, I wonder if it is true that pets take after their owners...

Linking up to the 2012 Pets on Quilts Show! Stop by and check out some of the other cute pets!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Choosing a Chair

So I've been sewing at a small Ikea dining room table and matching chairs for 5 years now.  Before that I sewed at my desk (which is no longer in existence).  I recently got a Sew Steady extension table for my Baby Lock Elizabeth.  It seems like it is higher than the extension table for my old Singer and I find myself getting all hunched up and pulling my shoulders up to my ears when I am free motion quilting.  I don't notice it so much when I'm piecing.

So this leads me to believe that it is time to invest in a new chair.  I don't really want to get a different table because this is my dining room table I'm using and I don't have space for an extra table.  What is your sewing set up like?  Do you, like me, sew at your dining room table, or do you have your own sewing room?  What kind of table do you use (always good to know for future reference!) and what kind of chair do you have?  What do you love and hate about your sewing furniture?

I'd like to buy a new chair this fall sometime so any input would be appreciated!  I should mention that I'm rather short (my driver's license says 5'1", although the doctor recently told me I'm maybe not even 5'0" - they are measuring wrong. ha) so I am probably looking for an adjustable chair to get myself positioned above my work area!  Any input is appreciated!