Friday. It's a big deal.

Today is a big, big day here at Blue Bird Sews. The talented and gracious AnneMarie from GenX Quilters is featuring me for her weekly spotlight Follower Friday where she showcases the work of a fellow quilter from my generation, do you remember grunge, the Cosby show, light brights, keds or neon? Well then this is for you! Skip on over to the post and peel back another layer of the onion that is me.

But such an occasion deserves something extra, something special & I've got just the thing, well two things really. Here they are: double Concrete Cabin quilts. Cut, pieced, sashed, quilted and bound. Finished.

Just waiting for a picnic
Side by Side
The backing is pieced using two extra blocks. This side really shows off the
 geometric quilting on the purple quilt, I love how it makes so many squares.
Purple Concrete Cabin
Fabric: Legacy Floriana
Batting: Poly/Cotton blend 80%/20%
Dimensions: 47"x61"
Started: March 2011
Finished: April 27, 2011
Quilting style: Continuous Straight Line in Boxes
Sewn & Quilted by me on Husqvarna Viking 980 Prisma
Red Concrete Cabin
Fabrics: Various Quilters Cottons from JoAnn Fabrics
Batting: Poly/Cotton blend 80%/20%
Dimensions: 47"x61"
Started: March 2011
Finished: April 27, 2011
Quilting style: 1/4" stitch around inside of each square
Sewn & Quilted by me on a Husqvarna Viking 980 Prisma
I like how the 80/20 batting gives is a little puff

The white sashing pops these blocks out and catches their details.
And I am in love with this easy continuous straight line quilting
with a walking foot. There are lots of turns, but so worth it in the end.
The binding all nice and neat. I am getting good at those mitered corners :)

The tutorials for this block, sashing & easy peasy quilting are up right now free for your use, soon I'll be posting tutes for the more advanced quilting technique of the purple quilt and a binding tutorial to finish it up. I didn't plan on making a quilt-along but I kinda did : ) How's that for spontaneous art! 

Thanks for stopping by! I will be linking up for Sew and Tell Friday at Amylouwho and a few other great link parties, find them all and more in the side bar and share what you've been up too.
And you are invited to come by on Sunday when we start Eat, Grow, Sew - a link party that is always happening, hosted by me. 
Have a wonderful weekend & happy sewing!

Hooray for Mug Rugs!

Mug rugs are so much fun to make. They take no time at all and the design possibilities are endless. Sewing up a few mug rugs is like painting a few little pictures. The small format allowed me to try out my appliqué ideas. I love them all and had such a hard time deciding which to send to my partner.
Sun & flowers

My garden

Mug Rug for Carla my swap partner, she likes it!
A sunny day

My mug rug package!
My sweet, sweet mug rug partner is Carla at My 1/2 dozen daily, she's mom to 4 kids and an amazing sewer, quilter and card maker. She sent me a piece of fabric called 'Kyoto' which I love & the cutest card with an amazingly sweet message. It was so fun opening this up! Thanks Carla!!
Mug Rug! Might have a few crumbs already!
The mug rug swap at Sew Happy Geek was fantastic! Thanks to Jenna for putting it together & pairing  me up with a great match! I'll definitely be doing more swappy activities in the future. I think my next will be a pincushion swap, now I just have to find one!

I also want to spread the word about my link party starting May 1st. Click the button to find out all about it!


Work's In Progress #10

Wednesday check in day with all the ladies at Freshly Pieced is a great time to clear the mind of project clutter. 'What have I been working on, what stage is my quilt at, how does my blog schedule look, where does my creativity want to take me next' These are the thoughts going through my mind right now.
How about you?

To answer these questions let's take a look at some photos, shall we? Let's!

The Concrete Cabin is quilted! I made two of these quilts with different fabric and quilting techniques and they both have their own style. I still need to put on the bindings on, but I am determined to get this done for Friday show-off! I will also have a tutorial for this style of quilting, I hope you like it!  
The Happy Birthday Bunting for my son's first birthday party was a big hit with the family.

It is hard to see because of the balloons but I added a 1 and room for 9 more numbers, one for each year.

Mug Rugs! I made these for fun and sent the polka-dot flower to my partner, she really liked it and I like hers. Hooray, there are successful swap partners out there!

I am starting a link party right here on May 1st! Come and join me at anytime during the month to post your favorite projects, recent or past. I want it to be a really informal meeting spot to gain ideas and inspiration. No need to stress about what day this party happens, it's always going on! :)

All in All: 
Finished!: Birthday Bunting
Needs Binding: Concrete Cabin Quilt 1 & 2, Ribbon Rainbow
Needs Quilting: Baby Quilts: Love practicing quilting process on these little guys!
Long Arm Quilting Projects x3 
Needs Piecing: Small Nine Patch
Needs Cutting: My first modern is going to be my first pattern, moda scrap bag quilt, 1/4 bento box
Needs Design:  a whole slew of fabrics to create with

New Projects: 0
Completed Projects: 1
On Going Projects: 8

Not sure how my 'on-going projects' number hasn't changed but I've been getting tons done, ha! I think I've got enough going on in my head to last me a year! But in the mean time I will be switching gears to start working with paper and making note cards, also something I've done for a long time but haven't picked up in a while. We will see where that takes me. 

Thanks for reading, as always! Go on over to Lee's lovely site Freshly Pieced to be inspired by all the wonderful sewing ladies!


Quilting the quilt; part 1

 © Kelly Cole 2011                                                                                                                        

Concrete Cabin is easy to construct -- and to quilt. Quilting the top together with the batting and backing makes something useful out of the beautiful design, colors & fabric, instead of a UFO lurking in the stacks and drawers. Embellishments like feathers and swirls are exciting to think about but maybe a bit intimidating to start. There are some quilts that just don't need anything fancy and the concrete cabin is one of those simple straight forward quilts that looks good simply quilted. You can make this quilt from start to finish, I promise! You can quilt the quilt in just an afternoon, it took me two 1-hour (plus a little) sessions to complete -- and I didn't even mess up that much!
Find the block tutorial here and the sashing tutorial here.

You will need to start:

  • 1 concrete cabin quilt top measuring 44" x 69" approx.
  • 1 piece of batting measuring 6 inches larger than finished quilt top ex. 50"x75"
  •            (I use an 80/20 cotton poly blend)
  • 1 piece of backing measuring 6 inches larger than finished quilt top ex. 50"x75"
  • Spray adhesive -- So much easier than using safety pins. I only recently started using 505 fix spray and it has improved my end results and given me less frustration than safety pins. I strongly urge you to splurge on a can and see what you think. 
  • 2-3 bobbins wound with 40 weight thread in color of your choice*
  • spool of 40 weight thread
  • Walking foot (recommended, but not completely necessary)

Sandwiching the quilt together is a little tricky the bigger the quilt, you need a space big enough to lay everything out nice and flat. Sometimes moving furniture is in order. For the purposes of this little tutorial I'm going to show you the steps in a smaller format, but the end result is the same.
Start with supplies

Spray backing - not fabric
Notice the zig-zag joining seam? This is a really handy way to use leftover pieces of batting to make bigger batting. Just butt the two pieces together trying not to overlap and use a wide and long 3-stitch zig zag and presto scrappy batting.
Place backing first and smooth

Flip and spray batting again

Place top and smooth out wrinkles
Make sure there is batting, backing and top
on each side 
Now we are sandwiched and ready to go! Let's get our sewing machine area set up to go and figure out the plan of attack. I like to place an ironing board to the side of the machine to catch the excess weight of the quilt. This helps with keeping the stitch straight..
<<<----This is what your big Concrete Cabin top will look like when all sprayed and smoothed out. There is backing and batting bigger than the top all the way around, it might be wonky but  as long as there is batting and backing beneath it you are good to start.
Quilting plan block by block
I said we were going to quilt this simply and nothing is more simple than 1/4" seam around the inside of each of the three squares on each block. The picture above is the order to quilt the blocks in starting from the inside and working out and around. In the 1st square start on the very inside small square.
Start inside the smallest square of the middle block at 1/4"
 from the edge of the back and side.
Roll the fabric into the throat of the sewing machine.
Stop 1/4" from the edge in the needle
down position. 
Here comes the turn, careful not to get the quilt top bunched in your thread at the back of the sewing machine. Checking your thread line and making sure the thread is correctly done will save you many headaches. This is my number one reason for sewing errors - the fabric got mixed up with the thread and put it out of line.
For each turn have the needle in the down position, lift up the presser foot and turn the quilt being mindful about where the fabric is placed. While turning roll the quilt top up into the throat space just like with the first seam. Complete the inside square in the same way and backstitch* where the seams meet up.

Next move the needle to the next outer square without cutting thread. Keep the thread taught as you pull the quilt over, doing this negates any thread or tensions issues you might create when you cut thread or reach under to cut bobbin thread and move the quilt around.
Repeat seams on middle and outer square repeating the rolling, turning, back stitching and keeping the thread intact as you go. Follow the diagram at the top and go in order all the way around the quilt.
When each block is sewn and the quilt is laid on the table go through and remove all the loose threads being careful not to cut into the fabric. Do this front and back.
 Next trim excess batting and backing around quilt. Square up the side by keeping the ruler even with the line of blocks and the top of the quilt. There is usually a little fudging around at this point but try to keep it neat.
*This is what backstitching looks like on the back of the quilt,
especially noticeable when using light fabric and dark thread.
If you don't care for this look make sure your
thread/fabric choice is appropriate.
You've done it, a quilted quilt top. Wasn't that simple? I hope you liked this tutorial and that is was easy to understand. This is the third installment of making a Concrete Cabin Quilt. You may have noticed the title of this tutorial is Quilting the Quilt, part 1. In part 2 I will show how to quilt the top in a different way using the walking foot and continuous straight line quilting. This method does not use backstitching or moving the quilt from square to square. It gives a different look but still uses simple quilting techniques.
Back of the quilt all nice neat with threads removed
We began with a stack of fat quarters to make the blocks, then sashed in a simple fashion and now the quilt is held together and ready for the last step. The binding will be the last step of the quilting process and the last installment of this impromptu quilt along. If you do make a Concrete Cabin let me know and post a picture in the flickr group. I would love to see your imagination at work.

This tutorial is one of five in a Concrete Cabin Quilt Tutorial Series
Find the other tutorials by their links:


Spring Growth

I couldn't resist posting photos of flowers and quilts; Happy Easter! And I wanted to tell you about the party I'm hosting here at Blue Bird Sews called Eat, Grow, Sew. Find out all about it here -
 I can't wait to start!

Sisters Blocks

My sister and I are all stitched up and entered into the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show 2011.  I used my 4 fabrics and a background to make a Dresden plate, a block I'd been wanting to try but not commit to. I like the look of the Dresden but my technique needs some improvement -- there's a speed bump in the middle. My sister had a more difficult time deciding what to with do with her fabrics. But inspiration struck at the quilt show and she came up with a brilliant block based on the pattern Quilters Ark.

It was fun trying the new blocks, I'd make a full Dresden Plate quilt, my sis learned she didn't like the paper piecing aspect of the Quilter's Ark. I can see why quilt bee's are so fun and you would learn a ton about new blocks and techniques. So here's to throwing in my hat for the contest and sewing with my sister!

Work's In Progress #9

Hello All! I hope you've had a productive week of sewing, I sure have. I am almost done with a really cool one, I'm calling it ribbon rainbow (a name I got thanks to the comments WIP Wednesday :)!) and  almost done with one of my concrete cabin quilts! That will be 2 big finishes in just a few weeks! Which I guess isn't that hard to imagine when every free second I get I quilt! (Lots of exclamation points!) 

The Ribbon Rainbow, sneak peak
 If all my projects aren't enough I decided to add one in for my son's first birthday party this weekend. First birthday's are a big deal and I want to decorate but I refuse to buy a bunch of plastic throwaway decorations -- I could go on about this but I won't bore you on my soap box ;).  So thanks again to blogland; I learned about bunting and away I go......I am dreaming of raw edge applique that says HAPPY BIRTHDAY, we'll see if I have time for all that, it's a lot of letters before Saturday! But I think I will put everything on hold and make this happen, as well as his birthday pies and balloons ;)
Birthday Bunting

All in All: 
Finished!: mug rugs!!!!
Needs Binding: Concrete Cabin Quilt 1, Ribbon Rainbow
Needs Quilting: Baby Quilts: Love practicing quilting process on these little guys!
Long Arm Quilting Projects x2
Concrete Cabin Quilt 2, Quilt for MJ, 
Needs Piecing: Small Nine Patch, bunting for party
Needs Cutting: My first modern is going to be my first pattern, moda scrap bag quilt, 1/4 bento box
Needs Design:  a whole slew of fabrics to create with

New Projects: 1

Completed Projects: 1
On Going Projects: 8

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, I thrive on your comments ;) If you want more projects head over to Freshly Pieced for the Work's in Progress party!

My Little Pouches

You may have seen the pouch swap going on around the blogs and they are so adorable! I didn't get in on this swap but that didn't stop me from making a couple of my own. 
One for me and one for Sis. 
I used an incredibly easy pattern and tutorial from the site Skip to my Lou.
I'll be linking up with the great linky parties listed in the side bar this week, Sew Happy Geek, Sew Charity -- check them out - and speaking of link parties I am toying with the idea of hosting my own. A once a month, open all month, link party for showing off the summer gardening, favorite recipes & things we make with sewing machines (notice how open I left that one!!) ;). What do you think, want to join in?


A Weekend Away

1. Oregon coast, 2. Ocean Mist - Grey Whale Cove, California, 3. Pacific Ocean Beauty, Nature Colours, 4. Dawn Rip-Wave No.2, Atlantic Ocean

I am headed to the Oregon coast with my sister and our kids for a weekend away, but not away from our sewing machines. They will be making the trek with us and no doubt be tired by the time our getaway is over. So excited I can hardly stand it.......! See you next week!

Work's In Progress #8

Time for another Wednesday Check-in for WIP at Freshly Pieced. This is my 8th week, a milestone of sorts and I am happy to say I've been quilting this week -- and making mug rugs. 

getting the quilt situated, this will be my next
 tutorial: quilting the quilt

My first pieced backing, how fun!

The back of my mug rugs, a little boring, but I
don't want to give them away just yet!

Finished!: none this week, but lots of sewing done!
Needs Binding: Concrete Cabin, mug rugs
Needs Quilting: Baby Quilts: Love practicing quilting process on these little guys!
Long Arm Quilting Projects x2
Concrete Cabin Quilt, Quilt for MJ, ZigZag Rainbow
Needs Piecing: Small Nine Patch
Needs Cutting: My first modern is going to be my first pattern, moda scrap bag quilt, 1/4 bento box
Needs Design:  a whole slew of fabrics to create with

New Projects: 0
Completed Projects: 0
On Going Projects: 9
no change in the numbers but that should change next week after my upcoming sewing weekend!
Thanks for checking in with me, head over to Freshly Pieced to see what the rest of the ladies are working on. 

Blog Awards

This week brought me two wonderful pats on the back from two very lovely bloggers -- I got awarded! Such an honor to be recongized by the blog community for my little space here that I work pretty hard on, as we all do. It is a labor of love these blogs -- they just don't happen by themseleves!
Thanks a whole bunch to Lee at Freshly Pieced who passed along the Stylish Blogger Award. I did a little dance when I read I was the recipient of this award! She has such an amazing site and is doing a Super Nova quilt-along right now which is amazing, I only wish I had about 3 extra hours of sewing time in my day to fit that one in!

Here's the 'rules' for receiving and sharing this award:
Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.
Award some other newly discovered blogs
Contact those bloggers and tell them they won
Share 7 things about yourself

First the sharing: 

1. I married my husband in the desert of Eastern Oregon along side the Crooked River with about 40 of our closest friends and family. It was a camping wedding and everyone pitched in to make it happen. We had ice cream sandwiches for dessert & I wore a handmade fine wale corduroy dress (not made by me). It is one of my most cherished memories. 
2. I gave birth to my son at home. This may sound ridiculous to most people, that is usually the reaction I get which is why I hardly bring it up -- but I wanted to share it because it was the most amazing experience I've ever had, to give birth and then fall asleep in my own bed with my new family, well it was pretty special. 
3. When I was a late teenager my nickname was charlie's angels because of the way I drove my 1989 SAAB 9000, it handled curves like nothing else and I drove it like a race car. 
4. I am a Master Gardener and I love my flowers and vegetables. My garden plot is about 30'x30' and I grow tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, peas, okra, kale, eggplant, onions, garlic, squash, beans...I could go on. Growing and sewing are my passions. 
5. I graduated college after 8 years of going part-time and then full-time. It took me forever to finally decide what it was I wanted to study -- which was Environmental Science -- and then take all the pre-req's required and go all the way to calculus II. But I did it and am really proud of my degree from Portland State. 
6. I have 3 fairly large tattoos, 1 being a half sleeve. But they are placed so that I can hide them if needed and in the winter time I kinda forget they are there. 
7. My husband and I like to go to concerts. We've slowed since being pregnant and having Baby J, but in the day we went to a bunch like: Primus, Ween, Modest Mouse, Aesop Rock, Sage Francis, Atmosphere, Les Claypool, Floater, and Motor Head. 
Whew! that's a lot more info than I am used to giving out! I hope you enjoyed reading and learning a little bit more about me. 

So onto the blogs who deserved some recognition! 
Spontaneous Threads: She's always got some great project going on, check out her clothes pin tute for those sunny spring laundry days.

Kristen at So Happy: A gardener and a quilter. She has some yummy eye candy and the Dresden Plate Quilt  hooked me in! (sorry no picture, couldn't figure out the flickr restrictions -- but trust me it's beautiful!) 

Marie at Educator's Soliloquy : Marie has ideas I would never think of, an old kitchen cabinet  into a chalkboard -- I love it!

Carla at My 1/2 Dozen Daily: I found Carla through my mug rug swap and I love reading about her photography, crafts and saving money, another mom doing her thing! 

My other award came from Mary Jo from All This for Them she sent me the Liebster Blog Award! I am happy to have it! Thanks Mary Jo!

Again I am really touched to be noticed in this way! It gives me that extra motivation to keep blogging. Go check out these lovely ladies, hope you'll be as impressed as I am!
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