Saturday, April 16, 2016

Finish-Along goals for Q2

Just a few more semester-weeks, which means stitch-related production is about to kick into high gear (despite my commitment to growing some vegetables this summer -- but most of that work is done by the sun).

Q2 goals:

  1. Cedric's zombie shirt -- now that we know how big he is, he's ready for me to make his summer button-up from the fabric he picked out in San Diego in January. This boy will cut quite the figure in a shirt made out of this:
  2. Secret Gift Thing #1 -- can't say publicly what this is, but it's a goal. Scout's honor.
  3. Secret Gift Thing #2 -- ditto. Scout's honor x2.
  4. Basic Mixologie hexagon wallhanging -- I did the first line of quilting on it, but I need to commit to finishing the thing.
  5. Gypsy Wife quilt -- I still have to do a bunch of filler blocks, all the strip assembly, and quilt the dang thing. And I might put a big scrappy border on this one just for fun. This is the most ambitious Q2 goal.
  6. Napkins, placemats, runner, and pillows for my aunt's new kitchen -- she picked out some wonderful fabrics at Loom (my favorite part of the Strip District, although lunch at the Smallman Galley gave it a run for the money this time)
  7. Finish assembling the Craftsy BOM quilt -- no problem, since I already have the strips together. I still have to decide how much more quilting to add in the grey negative space once the segments are attached to each other. Probably just some simple meandering for simplicity's sake.
  8. Kandinsky quilt -- this is my journal group's challenge for May. I haven't started anything yet, but the challenge was set in March.
    Composition in Red and Black (Wassily Kandinsky, 1920)
  9. Vintage Spin quilt -- I made the top last fall, and I want to quilt it soon. Too pretty to leave on a hanger.
  10. Seaside dress (left)
  11. Orange batik shirt (center)
  12. Summer skirt (right)

I suspect this list is a little too ambitious, but it's nice to have goals.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Wrapping up Q1

The first quarter of 2016 is behind us, and it was a productive few months here. I had nine specific goals for the 2016 Finish-Along, and I worked through six of them (so so close on the seventh!). 
  1. Junk drawer challenge (Poseidon) -- DONE
  2. Hexagon suns quilt -- DONE (but not blogged yet -- I'll take some photos and do that tomorrow)
  3. Best. Day. Ever. herringbone quilt -- nope. I'll probably finish the quilting tomorrow, and the binding is all ready to attach, so I'll just slide this one into the Q2 goal list.
  4. Triangle Tiles pattern finalization -- nope. But I'll be teaching this as a class in July at Lisa's Clover Hill Quilts in July, so that will be done in Q2 as well.
  5. Allure hexagon placemats -- DONE
  6. Skinny Mini quilt swap -- DONE, although I never received one from whoever my partner was. Sad face emoji. I posted a photo on Instagram, but I can't seem to get the link to work from the laptop and my iPad screen shattered today. Weeping face emoji. How sad is that -- I have to type out my emotions instead of using the handy options that the good people at Apple (apple fruit emoji) have pre-coded for me.
  7. Zombie shirt for my 12-year-old -- nope, he asked me to wait until the weather warmed up so it would be the right size for him to wear all summer. I like his optimism that he could grow through an entire (oversized) size in three months. The zombie fabric still awaits my attention. Zombie emoji.
  8. Two beer shirts for my extra-tall and hard-to-fit brother-in-law -- DONE, although I didn't blog them earlier because he wants to keep them secret until his big festival sometime this month. I won't tag him or put the photos on instagram with a million beer hashtags until I get the go-ahead, but I suppose his tribe isn't creeping my blog too often. Winky face emoji. I think (I hope) I finally have the pattern sized correctly for him, which means before too many more holidays he will have a closet full of custom barbecue shirts of the zaniest fabrics on the market. My husband has over twenty of these, I think -- I'll have to compile a photo collage sometime because his closet is an absolute hoot. Photos of the new beer shirts are below.
  9. Rocky Horror challenge quilt -- DONE. Thanks to my Loyal Readers I got over 100 votes!
Shirt #1
    For scale, this guy is 5'6" now.
Shirt #2, a little extra length in the sleeves. I think I got the pattern right this time.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Rocky Horror Badass Challenge

A few months back my wicked children strong-armed me (they're big enough to do that literally now) into signing up for the Rocky Horror challenge sponsored by the Badass Quilters Society. I dutifully did so, and received a lovely collection of Moda Grunge fat quarters in white, red, grey, and black plus a little chunk of pebbly gold pleather. I am deeply in love with Grunge. My boys are deeply in love with the sheer naughtiness of ths delightfully weird movie, which they saw in a double feature along with Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog last Halloween. They lobbied pretty hard for me to use at least one Bad Word, but--although I am not conceptually opposed--I ultimately decided on something that would be hangable in my husband's chemistry office. Maybe next time, boys...

Without any further blah-blah-blogging, here is my creation:

See what's on the slab...
Public voting starts on March 24, so please plan to pop over to the site ... Vote early, vote often!

ETA: this was #9 on my list of Q1 finish-along goals.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Junk drawer challenge: Results

[ETA: This was #1 on my list of Q1 finish-along goals.]

My journal group has recently adjusted the schedule so that we make a group challenge every other month with general show-and-tell/technique-oriented meetings in between. Unfortunately, winter got the best of us this month so we cancelled our February gathering. I had been hoping to get photos of the remaining one or two projects that were not shown in January, but I will just edit this post later to add them.

Our project for January was to use a collection of junk drawer items; each of us brought in fifteen identical (or mostly so) items, which we then exchanged so everyone would have the same collection of random items to incorporate into a piece no larger than 18" on any side. The items were varied:
Ribbons, beads, bells, doodads...
Mostly because of the purple tassels and all the spangly bits, my initial thoughts were of desert horses in costumed riders...then carousels...but I ended up taking the equine shape in a more watery direction. I don't have a lot of process photos, although I did post a few onto Facebook ( and Instagram (@quiltingafterdark). I started with some lightly textured mostly-solids (something like Moda Grunge for the sky and a darker more washed green-blue for the water), added just a little pearly paint for some foamy texture in the water, then stitched the two pieces together with the wiggly white ribbon sandwiched between for a whitecap effect. The rest was an exercise in fabric collage and heavy embellishment. I'll let the photos and descriptive captions do the rest of the talking.
Poseidon's Chariot (2016, 18 x 18") -- see the original inspiration image
Poseidon's Chariot, detail -- extra beads (not in challenge packet) used for hair and beard; seashell as codpiece (get it? cod? It's funny because it's Poseidon!)
Poseidon's Chariot, lower left detail -- chariot is fussy-cut from a commercial nautilus print; heart clips attached as tail fin; folded hexagon cut into scallop shape with pearl embellishment; painted ribbons and yarns used as kelp and sea ferns
Poseidon's Chariot, jellyfish detail -- made by quartering a felt sphere, hand-sewing beads along edge, securing decorative ribbons to bottom, attaching in front of transparent "bubble" sequins.
Poseidon's Chariot, hippocampus detail -- made by folding tassel trim in half, hand stitching along applique as "mane" with tiny decorative bells interspersed; heart clips attached as "fins"; additional charm (not in the challenge packet) added as headdress.
I took photos of the other group members' "solutions" as well. These are identified only by name below.
Paula Fullar
Mary MacIlvain
Marlene Shea 
Susan Kozikowski
Gerry Terninko
Patti Slason
Rosemary Dziubinski
Anna Tufankjian

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

February Minimalism: v1

The February challenge for the Mighty Lucky Quilt Club involves making a minimalist composition. I dug up some mostly-solids (not buying anything for these challenges is a second-level challenge) and slapped them onto the wall to audition a few ideas and colors. I pulled down the box of upholstery samples that my friend Hope gave me a few years back, lots of gorgeous linens and sateens in natural shades. The bits of satin-stitched sheeting were perfect linear elements, and I am pleased to say that I made this entire piece without any rulers or rotary cutting. Hand-driven scissorwork all the way.

Minimalism, improvised (Trial #1)
I'm going to put some simple quilting on this, then stretch it onto a frame. I have three or four frames the same size, so my hope is to do a few more pieces in a minimalist series. I'm already thinking about which fabrics I want to use for the next one...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Particle Decay (in bias)

I am incredibly grateful to Krista Fleckenstein for her bias-strip tutorial, and to the folks who put together the Mighty Lucky Quilt Club -- I bought the full-year subscription as a Yule gift to myself, and in my opinion it has already had a great ROI! I am very pleased with my finished project from January's challenge:
"Decay" (26.5 x 32.5")
Working with the bias strips as an interesting experiment. The thicker strips, more than a half-inch wide, were trickier to curve but easier to turn sharp points. I made Decay using 1/4" strips, the same width as the Wonder tape that holds them in place. I'm taking a class with Timna Tarr later this month that uses very thin bias strips like these, so I'm eager to find out if she has any other suggestions and tips for their use.

The original photo from CERN that I used as my inspiration is here; it shows the results of smashing a neutrino into a neon nucleus. I chose this beautiful fuschia Stonehenge fabric as my background because I loved the cosmic look created by the shading variation. The strips are vibrant lime with a very faint stripe in metallic gold. The line ends represent particle annihilation, where matter becomes energy; I attached tiny sunburst charms backed by lime sequins to catch the sunlight -- this is difficult to photograph, but very eye-dazzling in person.

"Decay" (detail of annihilation)
Even the back of this quilt looked spectacular, because I quilted through all three layers to stitch the bias strips down first, then filled the spaces between with tight meandering. The variegated thread blends beautifully into the cosmic background on the front, and the design really pops on the coordinating batik on back of the quilt:
"Decay" (reverse view)
Even the practice piece that I made to try out the technique turned out to be a Lovely Thing:
Bias strip sampler
And just like that, another 2016-Q1 finish! I'm eagerly anticipating the February challenge later today...although today is my baby's 12th birthday so some fun family time is in order after my classes are over this afternoon. Life is good, my friends.

Friday, January 29, 2016

FAL Q1--Charming table set: DONE!

Making time to write a blog post seems to be the trickiest thing for me to do (so far) this year, but here's a quick one. I finished the placemats and runner from my Allure charm pack. I intend to write a quick tutorial on the process, because I think this is a great way to feature an entire charm collection with no waste. Bottom line: Sidekick ruler 4.5" half triangles, left half from charms, right half from contrast. Sew the remaining charm chunks into a continuous strip then add borders of any width. The width of mine was determined by how much fabric I had leftover from another project.

So, pix or it didn't happen, right?

Charming "Allure" placemats
Coordinating "Allure" table runner
ETA: This was #5 on my list of Q1 finish-along goals.