You've got to try pillow shams!

They are incredibly easy, wicked functional and super cute! My Grandma-in-Law asked for a set of pillow shams to go on her bed to match the quilt I made for her this summer. Luckily I had 6 blocks on hand from the flying geese mishap. There were too many; even including the back piecing I did on it (whoops!)!!!! (that needed a few extra exclamations) But in true blue-bird style I turned a 'mistake' into an opportunity and sewed them into pillow shams GIL likes!

GIL's pillow shams posing on our bed
Gratuitous pic's of GIL's quilt :)

Look! She really needs those pillow shams! 
I used a great tutorial from Prudent Baby as a starting point. I need to re-size them for my pillows, but GIL's fit just fine.
So really -- you're bed probably needs some pillow shams to match that quilt too!


Celebrate Fall Tree Quilt

Hello and Welcome! Trees and I go way back. We have a relationship that looks a lot like this.

Autumn leaves, swirling wind, rocks with leaves trapped around tall grass and a trunk with a hole for a critter. I was inspired by the hike I took with the family this weekend and this tree; isn't that a beautiful Oak!

Fall is my favorite time of year because of the trees, the colors changing and the cold breeze that comes in to take the leaves off the branches. Oregon has four distinct seasons and this year we are getting an Indian summer - 80 degree days and cool nights. The absolute perfect weather. 

Fall is harvest; a full basket of tomatoes awaiting salsa and the canner sits by the quilt. This hanging measures 25" x 34" perfect for just about any wall of my house. I used scraps from Stashtacular plus a bit of my stash in reds, browns, greens, yellow and a bit of blue. There are even 3 little blue birds hidden amongst the leaves. 

I was able to free motion quilt like never before! Swirls cover the entire sky back ground and tree bark gets a 3-d effect. This is my first attempt at quilt as art, and I really enjoyed it. The process was so much different than a pieced quilt; much more improvised. 

The quilting in the tree is a loop-de-loop in brown and yellow, it carries out to the edges and loops the canopy together. 

I used a small brown hounds-tooth print for the back and binding, I am in love with it a little bit! 

These swirls are so versatile! I'm totally going to use them on my next quilt just bigger scale. The rest is just for eye candy!

A leaf or two dropping...

I really hope you like this quilt, please let me know what you think! Quilt art was so fun to make..just having an idea and letting it happen was creative bliss. Maybe we can make one together some time with a tutorial...a spring tree perhaps. 
I'm entering this tree quilt into the Celebrate Color contest happening at Stitched in Color. Wish me luck! And I'm also one of the lucky 30 linking up with Amy Lou Who for Sew and Tell Friday! On Monday there is Fresh Lemons Mini Quilt's and Canoe Ridge Creations Sew Modern Monday. As well as all the great linky parties you can find on my Link Parties I Love page. 

Celebrate Color

Fresh Lemons Quilts

{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations


Grandma's Quilt: The whole story

It's been a while since I posted a quilt and I am happy to bring you my latest finish from a pile of fabric to the finished quilt in it's new home. So sit back and let me tell you the whole quilt story (foul ups and all!)

My Grandma-in-Law (GIL for short) requested I make her a quilt about two months ago. She had only a few requriments: A queen sized blue and white quilt to match her bedroom -- by winter time. Little did she know I had a surprise in mind for finishing this quilt in time to give it to her during our vacation to visit the family in July! (more on that later) She left the over all design and fabric patterns up to me. It was a blast picking some favorites from my stash and rounding them out with just a couple of purchases - mainly a lot of Kona White! 
Fabric chosen, a perfect match to GIL tastes
The design came quickly, saw tooth stars set in an Irish Chain with a medallion in the center. I set about sewing my stars first, and then realized I'd made a big wonky mistake on each block!

First blocks

can you see the mistake? I didn't either until it was too late!
I thought I knew how to make flying geese blocks, turns out I was wrong! I centered the triangles when sewing them together instead of lining up the edges! How dumb right! I learned a big lesson that day, take a minute and read some directions before starting. But it wasn't the end of world, I just cut a new set of blocks and made 24 perfect Saw Tooth Stars.
Saw Tooth Stars; Take Two
A plan, new blocks and ready squares
The rest of the quilt top came together perfectly! And so far in my quilting career, it's the most accurate quilt I've ever made. I did a little happy dance about that! (sorry no picture of that!)
A perfect top ready to quilt
Long arm quilting is my new favorite part of quilting. Taking a top in for a few hours and walking out with a quilt sandwich is so gratifying. I found a great quilt shop close by to rent time on their long arm machine. After an intro class and a practice top session I was ready to try an easy stipple, loopy'd loops and a single flower in the center.
But not before I made one whole pass with the tension totally out of whack! Thanks goodness the ladies that run the shop are super helpful, because it took two of us 20 minutes to pick out all the bad stitches. But that's okay because in the end I was in love, look at that smile -- I'm a happy quilter!

I finished the quilting a week before we left for our NY vacation to visit the in-laws and introduce everyone to the latest addition, Baby J.  The quilt came with us so that I could give it to GIL in person! Hooray!

Grandma with her new quilt! She's happy too!
My in-laws live in just about the most beautiful little farming town in up-up State NY. The kind of place where there are old farm house and lots of corn fields. I am in heaven here, I'm a city girl trapped in a country girl's body. And with the most beautiful farm house just up the road we took the quilt over for a photo shoot with the barns, tractors and porches. 

Remember those messed up saw tooth stars? I put them to good use on the back of the quilt. They don't look wonky from here :)
This might be my favorite picture of the quilt!
Does it get anymore iconic? Nope!

A storm was coming and we couldn't get the
'quilt in front of a barn shot' so we
opted for in front of the trees
A shot of the full front
The whole back
And now it lives with Grandma and she couldn't be more pleased! It ties her whole bedroom together, don't you think.
The quilt in it's native habitat, Grandma's Room!
Thanks for coming along on my quilt journey. This quilt was such a joy to make and to give! But having all the pictures to share along the way is just awesome! 

Blue Bird Sews
I also have to share with you before I go the Stashtacular event I'm co-hosting with the lovely Jenna of Sew Happy Geek and Stephanie at Spontaneous Threads. There's only a week till it starts! The three of us have teamed up to bring you 4 weeks of tutorials, inspiration and camaraderie during our 4 week fabric fast & stash swap. But that's not all, there will be tons of prizes and even a 'Stashtacular Runway' contest. Check out all the details at my Stashtacular Page and hop over to the Flickr Page to post pictures of your fabric stash and fabric to swap. It's going to be a super fun time. There's already 30 ladies signed up, so get on board!



Up-cycle: Hubby Shirt to My Shirt

Hello there from Sew & Tell! I'm linking up this month with clothes instead of quilts! Isn't summer the best time for clothes making? Cute shirts and skirts, right! Well I want to share with you a couple up-cycled shirts I made using my husbands old button downs (old as in he never wears them!) This is sort of a tutorial but more of guidelines if you want to try your own - but if you do try and get stuck just shoot me an email at bluebirdsews!

I am a little addicted to sewing shirts right now. I spent the weekend holed up in the craft cave until 11:30pm each night! 11:30pm - so late for this lady as Baby J doesn't know when Mom is working on 6 hours sleep, but it was well worth it because I got some new clothes without having to go shopping!

Last week I scored some great patterns and I set about using them to turn old button up shirts of hubby's into cute little summer shirts for me. 
The key to using an old shirt for a new shirt is to make sure it's big enough to fit the pattern. This one worked but just barely. I used the original hem in the back as the pattern was just a bit too long & the sleeves work only because they are itty bitty cap sleeves. The shirt I used was an XL and I am a pattern size 8 so it just worked. 

I used Simplicity pattern 2255 and I like it! Super easy to sew together and the up-cycle worked well with the existing buttons. I made a couple modifications I'll show below.
I wanted to give you a big picture view of how to go about doing this and default to the pattern instructions to do the actual sewing part of it. But if you have some questions just shoot me an email and I'll be happy to fill in. 
Start by de-constructing the shirt at the seams

When laying out the top button the front sides
together with right fabric sides facing each other
Then lay out the pattern and match up the center
line of buttons with the existing buttons.
It's easy and pretty intuitive when you're doing it. 

All cut out, just barely! I even had to use the
 double layer upper back portion of
hubby's shirt to get the neck bands. I then sewed
them together at the fold line. 
Once you're all cut out just use the pattern directions to stitch it up. There are only 2 modifications I made due to the up-cycle aspect. One is at the open neck line, because I wasn't making a button band I had to sew the raw edge down.
Front neck modified by hand sewing seam down. Keep the
original fabric that runs down the button holes when cutting
out from the pattern.
And at the hem line I had to use the original hem in the back, but it worked out nicely.
Bottom hem integrated with original in back 

This shirt came together really well. It was easier than I thought using the old shirt and so much better than making my own button band - I'm kinda freaked out by that, lining up the two sides perfectly seems really hard! I'll do it one day, but until then I'm gonna go back to hubby's closet! 
Me and Baby J
I also made this shirt from Simplicity pattern 2936 using a tunic shirt of hubby's. It doesn't have the buttons all the way down but it works and is super duper comfy! Definitely going to use this pattern again. 
That's all for now! But just wait until next week, I've got a matte jersey tee half put together and I'm working on cutting out the most advanced shirt yet, it has neck ruffles and a fitted band at the waist. But it's really, really cute and I'm using some vintage voile in the cutest little pattern. Can't wait! 

Ribbon Rainbow

**edited to add: I'm also linking up to amylouwho: sew and tell for June! Thanks for stopping by!***

Hello! I am linking up for the first time to the Bloggers Quilt Festival 2011!!! It's an amazing show with so many talented artists and quilters. Go there right now to see them all!
This quilt is brand new but also a new favorite of mine. I've only been back in the quilting game for a year or so now. In that time I've made a bunch of quilts and this one really exemplifies my style. I have a quilt crush.  I  designed the quilt myself with two things in mind: rainbows and zigzags. Using fabric from the stash, mostly solids but a few polka dots here and there I pieced this using HST and solid squares. Simple yet complex! There are a lot of lines and colors to keep straight. I was humbled by the seam ripper more than once. This quilt was a challenge to make, but worth every effort and every seam I ripped out! Now I'll let the pictures do the talking.....
Ribbon RainbowFabric: cotton in white, solid or solid w/white
Batting: Poly/Cotton blend 80%/20%
Dimensions: 46"x70"
Started: March 2011
Finished: April 2011
Quilting style: Continuous Straight Line diagonals & zigzag boarder
Sewn & Quilted by me on Husqvarna Viking 980 Prisma

I am also linking with some great linky parties happening all week. Check them out in my side bar to the left.