Way back in 2020, I took part in a Round Robin project with a group of quilters I met at a quilt retreat. We each made a starter block for our own quilt and for 11 months mailed these blocks to each other, adding a block or border on to each one we received. In the end it produced a lap-sized quilt for each person.
The quilt I ended up with turned out amazing! (Read more details about it here: Round Robin #9 – Mine!) It was one of the first quilts I quilted on my longarm back in February 2021, but afterwards it sat folded up waiting for binding. I was stalled because I couldn’t make up my mind on whether or not to add a hanging sleeve, where I would hang it up, or to just use it as a lap quilt on my couch. It eventually got buried under other projects and was forgotten about. Here we are in January 2023 and I finally decided this deserves to be on my wall of my new sewing room! The colors are perfect and it’s such a joy to look at.
After winning the February pattern for the Front Porch Quilt Shop Stash Buster contest last month (check out my previous post here), I got to work on the project in hopes of entering the next contest. With only two participants last month and my free pattern there was nothing to lose! The Feathered Friends – Spring pattern features that cute bird again, but this time sitting on a flower in a basket. I chose summery bright colors this time around.
One of the goals of the contest is to show creativity, so instead of making a wall hanging per the original pattern, I decided to turn it into a pillow. But, my couch needs a pair of pillows… and I didn’t want to make the same exact scene for each! Coincedently that week I had also received Anka’s Treasures Wildflower Sampler pattern which included a flower very similar to the flowers in the bird’s basket. I made two of the flowers for the second pillow and it rounded out my pair of pillows nicely!
I’ve made pillow covers before, but I wanted to try some new techniques this time. I had come across the idea to quilt the pillows, which strangely I had never thought of doing before! Adding the batting and quilting really makes a more firm cover and it turned out great. I also added yellow binding around the pillows courtesy of a technique I saw in the Pillow Talk book by Edyta Sitar. Having never bound my pillows before, I found I really love the look. All my future pillow covers will be quilted and bound!
I had fun trying out new quilting designs! I tried to go for a whimsical look on the background and petal designs.
The results of the February contest are in and I won first place! Besides winning some credit to spend at the quilt shop, I will be getting next month’s pattern for free. Expect to see Feathered Friends – Summer soon. 🙂
I’m always up for a sewing challenge, so when I heard about a “Stash Buster” monthly challenge at a quilt shop and saw January’s pattern featured a bird I bought it and got to work! The idea is you make the pattern for the month using fabrics from your stash and you have creative free rein to make whatever modifications to the design you’d like. Then, during the following month, you post your picture on the shop’s Facebook page and whoever’s picture gets the most “likes” wins $20 to spend at the shop. I noticed only a few people submitted entries for the previous month, so I had a good chance to win something!
Choosing fabrics for this was quite different for me, as I usually make quilts from kits where the fabric is already chosen. I stretched myself on this and got to use some of my scraps. The mix of greens for the tree was fun to pick out. I decided I wanted a dark background so it would look like a midnight scene out in the stars. Well, I found some midnight blue glittery fabric scraps leftover from a dress I made my daughter and knew it was the one! I chose the blues for the birds in hues similar to the sky. I used neutral grays for the gift and borders because I wanted the focus to really be the bird and the tree.
I quilted subtle echos around the stars to try to bring them out and for the bird I did some angled lines. The quilting for the tree was my favorite part. I knew I wanted to represent the layers of branches somehow and when I came up with these curves I was so pleased! They add a bit of whimsy and make the tree more interesting.
In the end, I got second place (out of two total entries). No big prize money for me, but I did win next month’s challenge pattern for free. Coincidentally I also won $10 from the shop in a random drawing the evening of the contest results, so I came out good on this! The next pattern is “Feathered Friends – Spring” featuring this bird in a flowery Spring scene. Looks like I better get working on my next entry!
When making a gift for someone I’ve learned it’s just as much about the process of making it as it is about the finished product. First, you spend time picking out the perfect project idea and pattern for the recipient: what are their likes, what is their style, would they use this gift? After that there is much thought and consideration about the fabric selection. Their tastes might not match your own, so you need to consider their favorite colors and what style of fabrics they would like. Then while making it, you try to make everything “perfect”, sometimes ripping out and redoing many seams so the recipient will be pleased with it. It’s more pressure than what you are making something for yourself!
But another thing that goes on during this process is spending time thinking about the person. You picture them using this gift and imagine them surprised and happy to receive it. To handmake something takes a lot of time and you hope the person appreciates the work you put into it, but I’ve come to realize even if they don’t understand all that you’ve done it’s ok. You get to experience the joy of making it and thinking about them and appreciating them which is a gift to yourself.
This is exactly how my Little Bird Song table runner came to be. I decided I wanted to make a Christmas gift for my brother and his girlfriend and thought a table runner would be something useful for their pristinely decorated house. Their (her) style is modern and color palate is exclusively black, white and gray. They enjoy watching birds at their bird feeder, so I thought featuring a bird would be a special touch. I searched for modern bird quilt patterns and came across Little Bird Song by Robin Pickens. Perfect!
The pattern is actually for a wall hanging, so I had to figure out a way to adapt it to a table runner. I started by making two birds and then tried to figure out how to lay them out in a way that made sense for a runner. Through some trial and error (involving sewing and unsewing them multiple times when my ideas didn’t work out), I finally got them situated facing each other on their branches.
After completing my layout design and sewing it together I realized the empty space between the birds would be a perfect place for a candle or centerpiece! It looks intentional but it definitely wasn’t! 🙂
I used various black, white and gray fabrics from my stash, hoping to add interest through a mix of fabric designs instead of using color.
I kept the quilting simplistic using straight diagnol lines because I really wanted the birds to be the focus.
Though this modern design and color scheme aren’t my style, I am very happy with how it turned out! It was a good challenge for me and allowed me to excersize my design skills instead of simply using the exact pattern and fabric choices from a kit. It was an enjoyable gift to make!