Friday, April 27, 2012

my first blog anniversary + giveaway

Happy Friday, everyone!

First of all, thank you so much for all the kind comments you left on my yesterday's post. You guys are the best! I really appreciate it.

That brings me to the fact that today is my first blogiversary. Yay!!! I'm so excited, I had no idea what to expect when I started this blog exactly a year ago. And now I can't imagine my life without it. It's amazing to be able to connect with other "kindred spirits" all over the world who don't think that I'm not totally out of my mind for not being able to sleep at night just because I'm thinking so much about fabric and the next quilt I want to work on. (yes, that does happen to me a lot and this is a very long sentence, wow!)

What better way to celebrate than with a giveaway, right? I had such a hard time deciding what fabric to give away, so I raided my stash and made this scrappy layer cake of 35 different 10" x 10" designer fabrics.

And, because I usually like to have more than one winner, and I absolutely love books, I'm also giving away Fresh Fabric Treats book by Moda Bake Shop.

The giveaway is open worldwide and will close on Monday evening when Mr. Random will choose 2 winners. Just leave a note in the comment section and you're in. You could also let me know what you'd like to see more of on my blog. I'd really appreciate your feedback.

Have a wonderful day, friends! Thanks for stopping by. Svetlana

Thank you so much, everyone. The giveaway is now closed and I'll announce who the winners are shortly.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

liberated baskets

Today is not a very happy day for my family. My grandpa passed away this morning and even though we were kind of expecting it, it still made us all very sad. He was the last one of our children's great grandparents alive and what made it even more special was that our son was born on his birthday, they were exactly 77 years apart. He will be missed, but we know he's in a better place.

And, because life goes on, I'm glad that I had planned to show you my liberated baskets quilt today. It's so happy and springy looking, just the opposite of what I've been feeling all day.

The idea for this quilt came from Gwen Marston's book Liberated Quiltmaking 2. Making these baskets was truly "liberated" as I did not have to do any precise measuring or cutting, even the handles did not have to fit perfectly. I used mostly scraps for all the baskets and their backgrounds (always a good thing since my scraps seem to multiply like crazy).

I chose this gorgeous green flowery fabric by Denyse Schmidt for the back of the quilt. I really adore how beautiful and bright it is.

I decided to do straight line quilting using green thread about 3/4" apart. At first I alternated green and red thread for quilting, but that red was just taking away from the whole quilt. So, I went ahead and ripped out all the red. It was a lot of work, but well worth it.

I used Kona coal to bind the quilt - I always like how a darker binding frames the whole quilt. The finished size is 29" x 32", I think it will make for a perfect stroller quilt.

Hope you all have a wonderful rest of the day. Svetlana

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

zakka style sew along {sewing kit} + other small finishes

This week's project for Zakka Style Sew Along is an adorable sewing kit. I had a lot of fun making mine, it might just be my most favorite project in the whole book.

I used Essex linen in putty for the outside as well as pockets of the kit and the lining is by Aneela Hoey from her latest fabric collection Walk in the Woods. Aren't those little mushrooms just the sweetest?

I decided to do a little bit of hand stitching on the outside of the pouch as it seemed so empty with  just one lonely owl stamped on it. I actually had a piece of red leather string on hand which makes for perfect ties and I think it works really well with the rustic look of linen.

I also made a log cabin fabric cover for my notebook. It's based on all the gorgeous log cabins Denyse Schmidt designs. I have to say, I am so totally in love with all things Denyse Schmidt right now.

And, I finished this month's blocks for my Trust Circle of do. good stitches bee. We used this tutorial. The block seemed quite complicated at first, but when I actually read the instructions and got myself organized both of them came together without any major hiccups.

Hope you all have a wonderful day. Svetlana


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

improv block using stack and slash method {tutorial}

Hi everyone, welcome!

As promised, I'm back with a tutorial on how to make your own improv blocks using stack and slash method. I used these improv blocks to make this quilt for my son.

With regular piecing methods we usually work on one or two blocks at a time. This method, however, makes it possible to make 6 blocks at once. You will need six 16" x 16" squares of fabric. I think using 3 solids and 3 coordinating prints makes for a nice, balanced block, but you can go all solids or all prints if you prefer. This was my stack of fabric, but I actually ended up substituting some of the ash grey for a black print to add more balance to my blocks. I hope that won't be confusing, sorry.

Stack all 6 of your squares, right sides up, on top of each other. Make sure they line up well, it's very important to have them nice and straight, all sides aligned perfectly.

Before we start cutting, make sure you have a sharp blade in your rotary cutter - we are cutting through 6 layers of fabric, so a sharp blade will ensure that all cuts are precise.

I'm not going to give you precise measurements on where exactly to cut. It is, after all, an improv block we are working on. What I usually do is to draw a small picture showing how I want my block to look. There are so many options, here are some you could consider using:

Now we are ready to cut.  We will start cutting from the outside of the block, working our way to the middle. Use the picture of the block you drew in the previous step as your reference. This is how I cut my blocks. Each part is numbered, I start with #1 and finish with #9.

Please note: when cutting each part of the block, just move the whole piece a little out of the way so you don't cut into it as you go on to cutting other parts. It also helps to rotate your cutting board as you.

Once your whole stack is cut the way you like, we are going to make sure that each block has all the fabrics in it. Pick up just the top fabric from your #9 middle part of the block and place it, right side up, in the very bottom, under all the other layers of part #9. Now get two top layers of part #8, put both of them under the rest of the layers (make sure all the parts stay right side up). Do the same with part # 7.

Now on to parts # 1 and 6. Lift up the 3 top layers of fabric and put those under the rest of the corresponding pieces. For parts #2 and 5, lift up 4 top layers, place them on the bottom. For the part #3, lift up 5 layers of the fabric, put them on the bottom. And finally, the last piece #4 stays the way it is.

This is what your top block should look like. All 6 fabrics in one block, parts for the other 5 blocks are nicely stacked underneath.

Note: it's at this point that I realized my blocks needed a little more balance and I decided to substitute some of the ash grey for the darker color. This is what my top block looked like after the adjustments.

Phew, now that's done, we are ready to sew. It's best to work on one block at a time, this way you can make sure that all blocks have each fabric in it and are balanced well. To sew the block together, we start in the middle, first joining parts #9, 8, and 7. Press your seems to the side.

Now let's add parts # 5 and 6, trim the pieces as you go.

Keep adding and trimming all the other parts of the block until all the 9 pieces are sewn together.

Work on the other 5 blocks. When all 6 of them are finished, square them all up to measure 12.5".

Congratulations! Now you have 6 improv blocks finished and ready to be used in your quilt. You could go ahead and make more blocks. I decided to make a baby quilt, so 6 blocks were all I needed. I rotated some of the blocks when I put them in the quilt layout, I think that adds a little more interest to the quilt. I joined my blocks with 2.5" sashing and added a 5" border all around. Ta-da!!!  This is my new quilt top.

Hope you give this quick and fun way of making blocks a try. And, as always, if you have any questions, just let me know.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

improv quilt a la Denyse Schmidt

My little boy's quilt is all finished! As I mentioned before it started with a pattern by Denyse Schmidt. I loved her quilt, but hated all the templates and instructions included. I decided to use a stack and slash method to make my blocks which worked out really well.

This is what the quilt top looked like, all pieced together. It looked pretty crazy and random to me, and the fact that I usually work with brighter fabrics made me question myself a lot. I kept asking my son if he was sure that he liked it, I kept asking the girls (to the point that they tried to avoid even looking at my design wall). What finally helped was my husband coming home from work, and without me asking, said he liked the colors and pattern of the quilt I was working on. Phew! Peace at last.

I upcycled my son's old minky blanket and used it as a quilt back.

I did not do any heavy quilting as I wanted the whole quilt to stay very soft and cuddly. I went with both hand and machine quilting -  I hand quilted inside each middle part of the block and machine quilted along the sides of the main blocks.

I used green striped fabric to bind the quilt which I think frames these improv blocks pretty nicely. The quilt finished at  44 " x 51" a perfect size for a little boy. I'm happy to say it's getting a lot of use every day.

In case you're interested in making a similar quilt, I'm working on a tutorial showing how I made my blocks and will post it in the next couple of days.

Have a wonderful rest of the day, Svetlana.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

liberated baskets {progress}

I worked on a few more baskets yesterday and this is what the layout looks like so far. While improv baskets came together pretty quickly, the fact that all the blocks were different shapes and sizes made for some very "interesting" piecing - almost like putting a puzzle together. I'm thinking of adding some fun border and I'll be ready to quilt.

And, speaking of improv piecing, I also started a new baby quilt (I started it a few days ago, not yesterday, just so you know). I think this color combo - pinkish red, aqua, grey, and white is so wonderfully sophisticated and serene. It might be one of my favorites right now.

Hope you all have a wonderful and creative rest of the day. Svetlana

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