Friday, May 29, 2015

Happy Mail Mini Quilt Swap

One of my very favorite things to make and receive are mini quilts. I love them because they are the perfect way to try out a block or two of a quilt you've been wanting to make, or the perfect size to design something intricate that you may not want or have the time to do in a full size quilt.
I joined a couple mini quilt swaps this year and have had such a fun time with them that I decided to host my own. I wanted it to be small, just a handful of friends. I named it the Happy Mail Mini Quilt Swap, because who doesn’t love a bit of happy mail?!

It has been so much fun! Big swaps are fun too of course, but this one was extra fun because I knew everyone involved. 
Once the partners were divvied up, I found out that the friend I would be creating a mini for was Ayumi of Pink Penguin. Talk about intimidating! She is incredible! She just came out with her very own fabric line! (Lighthearted Fabric) Ayumi is one of the very first "sewing bloggers" that I started following when I started blogging/sewing. She is sooo talented, so to say I was nervous to create something for her, is an understatement! 

As I was planning the mini I wanted to create, I remembered a picture that I came across 2 years ago on Pinterest. At the time, the picture that I had pinned didn't have a link. So with the help of friends on IG, I discovered that it was a picture from the Japanese magazine Couturier. I don't speak Japanese, so I am not sure what is said about the quilt, but I decided to make something that was inspired by this image. 
I started by making 5 inch quilt blocks. (I made roughly 16 but only 12 made the cut.)  After each block was made, I took the block, batting, and 5 inch square of backing fabric and put them right sides together and then stitched around the entire block leaving a 3 inch opening to turn the block right side out. Then I whip stitched the opening closed (I know I should have done a ladder stitch, but for some reason I just can't get the hang of it.) Then I hand quilted each block with 12 wt white aurifil thread. 
Essentially I had 12 coasters when I was all done. 
I arranged them in the order I wanted and then it was time to stitch them together. I took my blocks, starting with 2, and put them right sides together and whip stitched the edge. If you have done EPP, you will probably know what I am talking about. (the trick was just catching the front quilt block fabric- I'll explain later.) Once the two were connected, I opened up the blocks and added the next one on. I created 3 rows of 4. Once the rows were assembled, I put the rows right sides together and did the same thing all along the edges to connect them- again, just catching the front fabric with my needle and taking small, tight whip stitches. Once the rows were all sewn together, I laid the quilt face down on a table and carefully whip stitched the back of the blocks together.  
This probably doesn't make a lot of sense as you are reading it, but the reason I did it this way was because just like in EPP, you don't want your stitches to be visible from the front when you are looking at it. So with piecing the blocks together just like EPP, the stitches aren't visible- the only difference is the back wouldn't be "hidden" with a quilt back, so that is why the whip stitches were necessary on the back, they kinda "closed up" the seams and hid my first whip stitches in between the blocks. 
In the end, this quilt is pretty much all hand pieced, with the exception of using my machine to sew around the edges of the blocks as mentioned before. 
I had so much fun creating the blocks. Most of them were hand appliqued, but all of them were of my own design. If I wanted to create something- like this pink penguin (a nod to Ayumi's blog), I just found a picture online to eyeball and drew out my pieces by hand to create my tiny patchwork. The blocks aren't perfect by any means, but overall I love the effect of the quilt. 

I hope my directions make sense! Be sure to let me know if you have any questions and I will be sure to answer them! 

Hope y'all have a wonderful week! 
Happy Sewing!
xoxo, Ashley

Friday, May 1, 2015

Seeing Rainbow

{photo by me}

I can not believe it is May already! April and March have been such a whirlwind for me! I had family come into town to visit for a couple weeks- which meant road trips all over the South, sightseeing and showing everyone a good time. Then we found out that we will be moving back to the midwest at the end of the summer, which somehow crazily resulted in a spur of the moment "book a flight the day before the trip" house hunting excursion last weekend- which was a lot of fun but also somewhat stressful and tiring! ;) Plus, regular everyday living has been busy busy busy- but I'm not complaining! Life is good and I am so blessed.

  I've been sewing off and on through it all, but everything is still in a WIP {work in progress} state so I haven't had much to show here on the good ole blog....... Soooooo.... I decided that I better do a "What I've been working on lately" post for those of you that aren't cruising around on Instagram seeing the progress.  

Over the last few weeks I've done a bit of work on my La Passacagliasewed a Quilted Suitcase for quilt market, but the biggest things that I have been working on as of late are a couple mini quilt swaps- one that I am doing with a few close IG friends, and the other is the #cottonandsteelminiquiltswap. Both are pushing me to create something that will be loved and appreciated by the recipients.
{Rainbow is a improvised version of the Pickle Dish mini I made, the January block is scaled down to 50% which makes it roughly 6" square. }

Here is the progress on my Cotton + Steel mini. It is looking like it will be a sampler mini quilt of sorts, but I still have a few more elements to add and then will start to figure out placements of each block and whatnot. The colors are so vibrant and I love each of the blocks! I'm gonna have a hard time sending this mini to it's new home! 

I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!
Happy Sewing!
xoxo, Ashley