My foray into long arm quilting

One of my goals of the year was to quilt one of my own quilts. I'm not that enthusiastic about quilting on my own sewing machine though. The idea of wrangling a big quilt through a tiny machine just doesn't hold much appeal. I really like the idea of long arm quilting. Having the nice large expanse all laid out is pretty cool. Seems much easier. So I whipped up a quilt in a couple days, something really simple but with divided sections so I could try a different design in each section.

I practice on paper and a dry erase board almost everyday and also on our back patio with chalk whenever my little guy wants to play outside.

I was feeling really prepared as I went for my first session. Then I started quilting.

I am definitely not ready to quit my day job.

I was pretty frustrated at the end. The designs I'd spent so much time practicing on paper were just not happening on the long arm machine. I'm not entirely sure why. I'm thinking maybe I was trying to go to fast in order to keep with a good rhythm and not concentrating on the design I was trying to accomplish. Also, I think my thread choice fabric combo wasn't the best. I always like the look of thread that blends in with the quilt but it made it nearly impossible to see what I was doing on the darker patterned fabrics. Seeing the sashing was fine, but the blue sections were ridiculous.
I'm not ready to give up though. This was a really good learning experience and I think I'm going to try a pantograph on my next attempt to see if following a pattern will help me get a good rhythm and a feel for how a design needs to be stitched.

June & July HST blocks

I'm a little behind with the half-square triangle blocks but at least I've got June & July completed before August rolled around.


I'm finding with HST that how you press the seams really really makes a difference in how the finished block comes out. It's a little tricky though because you sort of have to plan it out from when you first create the HST. So depending on how energetic I'm feeling the outcome of the block can either be really great or sort of okay.

Boy's Shorts for Hopeful Threads

One of my favorite pattern creators, Bonnie, from Fishstick Designs created an adorable pattern for a set of boys shorts to help out a charity, Hopeful Threads, to provide shorts for little boys in Cambodia.
My little guys needed some shorts too so for every pair I make him, I'm going to try to make a pair to send to Hopeful Threads. I do realize I'm at the end of the month and may not make it, but I do have several pairs all cut out and started....

and I've even got TWO pairs completed. They are identical except for the tag on the inside.

My goal will be to complete the 3 remaining pairs that are already cut out sewn and ready to go by July 31st...and maybe add one more to make it even. We'll see. ;)

Quarter Two 3x6 Quilt Bee Saga

Wow, I can't believe it's been a month since my last post. I've actually been sewing quite a bit in the last month just slacking on the picture taking/blogging part. Hope to remedy that now. 

So I signed up for another quarter of the 3x6 Quilt Bee swap on Flicker. I missed getting signed up for paper-piecing so I signed up for a star block. 
I checked out one of those 'quilt block idea' books from the library. The one where they show you all these neat quilt block ideas and then let you figure out on your own how to accomplish it. 
Apparently I need some major work in that arena. I chose the block below: 

Love how it turned out, but it came in too small. The quilt blocks for the bee have to be 12 1/2" square and this one was under 12". So I tried a little math and came up with this one:
Too big. Like 14 or 15 inches. I literally started this darn think 6 different times. I'd get to a different part on each and realize my math was off. I couldn't get this dang thing to work for the life of me.
So time is running out and I decide to move on and try something else. Something someone else came up with.
Found this great website and this really awesome block, Jeri's Star.
Really lovely, but a little time-consuming and came out at 12" even, not 12 1/2". I was not even remotely interested in trying to make it 1/2" bigger. I'd had enough math that didn't work on the first block.
So the search began for another block. I bought a book at my local quilt shop and also checked out another book from my library. I combined elements from both books for a variety of far too complicated reasons and came up with my final design choice:

Made a total of 6 and frantically sent them off barely meeting the deadline.

I really need to stop being so flipping nit-picky about the design (and the fabric, good lord the fabric) I choose. My life would probably be so much simpler. Ah well. One project completed, several dozen left to go. :)