I've finally made my fabric selections for the 2015 Midnight Mystery Quilt-Along being run by Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs. I've gone with four Cotton and Steel fabrics from different collections. The mystery quilt is a new challenge for me in that I don't know what the final design will be, and I've decided to take that one step further and go with a color palette very far from my comfort zone. 

This color palette is bold and masculine, and I suspect at the end of the quilt-along this quilt may be destined for my cousin Will, a stage and lighting designer who just moved out to the midwest.

If you are interested in joining the Mystery Quilt-Along, the details are here. Cheryl will be sending out a new set of instructions for the quilt each month from June 2015 to March 2016 to keep us on our toes so that the final quilt is a surprise. It's never too late to join in! 

Have you ever done a quilt-along? Was it with a local quilting group, or online?

Hello! I'm Eileen, and I'm excited to be part of the 2015 New Quilters Blog Hop. I'm fortunate enough to have a day job that allows me to be creative, doing illustration and freelance art for various clients in NYC. I mainly work in children's media including card games and comics. I've always loved to play with blocks of color and patterning; last year I illustrated and published a book of fashion art that got me interested in fabric patterns and prints.

Since I grew up with a grandmother who lovingly made us all quilts, it wasn't a very big jump from there to learning to sew myself!

I began my first quilt in the fall of 2014, and it's been an interesting learning curve to say the least! I'm very grateful for the internet as a whole and the quilt blogging community for all the invaluable advice and support I've received already. Without all of the great tutorials that are out there, I suspect I'd have given up midway through my first (regrettably queen sized, as I don't do things by halves) quilt.

I started blogging to keep a record of what I'd made, and also to connect to other quilters since it's not a community I have much access to offline. NYC is great and we do have some incredible fabric shops, but quilting is not the most common hobby here!

I haven't made many quilts yet, but I can see how much I've improved already - mainly in speed and confidence as I learn shortcuts from other bloggers. These are the quilts I've finished thus far:

It is incredibly satisfying to be able to see myself improving! I'm becoming more comfortable not only with basics but also with experimenting already Sewing feels almost like meditation to me - I can just sink into the zone when I'm working with fabric.

One of the most useful tools I've found since I started blogging was the Pin It! extension for my browser - if you use Chrome, this extension gives you a little button to automatically pin an image to your Pinterest boards whenever you hover over it. This lets me quickly add pins even if a blogger's website doesn't have a built in Pinterest button on their images. I've also started tagging my photos in Adobe Lightroom, which I use to edit them; this allows me to search my photos as if I'm using blog tags and quickly find anything I need on my computer.

The biggest tip I have about quilting, though, is that sometimes you just need to trust yourself and go with it.

I had bought a fat quarter pack of Anna Maria Horner's Pretty Potent line when I fell in love with the fabric, and then I spent a few weeks staring at it every time I walked by my sewing table. We all know how it goes: you impulse buy some fabric, swearing you'll save it until the perfect project falls out of the sky into your lap... and then it sits there while you can't properly use or enjoy it.

I realized that what I loved most about this particular fabric was the large scale prints, and that I wanted to be able to look at it and use it every day - so one night I walked by it, turned back around, pulled it all off the shelf and just started slicing into it. I cut large half square triangles to keep the pattern as intact as possible.

It wasn't big enough to be a lap quilt and I'd run out of fabric, so I whipped up a border with some grey solid I had on hand and used the few remaining scraps to make flying geese. The small amount of scrap forced me to get creative, and I enjoy the partial border more than I would have a symmetrical full border of geese, so it worked out!

Do you have fabric sitting in storage that's too precious to cut into? Have you ever changed your mind about a pattern or design part way through and worked what you'd already made into a finished quilt you're even happier with? Or are you the sort of quilter who's happiest if you plan everything out ahead of time?

Some final trivia about me:
  • I love reading, but can't stand audiobooks - I can't focus unless I'm looking at it! I envy those of you who can listen to audiobooks while you sew. I do, however, watch detective shows from behind the sewing machine. My favorite classic detective is Poirot.
  • I read a lot of comics due to my day job. If you've never read comics or graphic novels but are curious, I highly recommend Shaun Tan's "The Arrival." It's a gorgeous, wordless sepia-toned story about an immigrant's life arriving in a new town - a fantasy version of Ellis Island.
  • My dream vacation involves going to Ireland again, and I'm making it happen later this summer! I've been playing traditional Irish folk music on the fiddle for the last 20 years, so I'm going to be traveling to a lot of small towns to play music and study with a violin maker. I can't wait!
For fun, I'll leave you with a video of me playing an Irish reel called Maudabawn Chapel.

I'm part of the New Bees group headed by Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs. Our other hosts this year are Terri Ann of Childlike FascinationYvonne of Quilting Jetgirl, and Stephanie of Late Night Quilter.

Please check out the other bloggers in the hop!

This is the first time I've participated in a swap on Instagram! I enjoyed scoping out my partner's feed and planning out this little quilt. I winged it a bit with this quilt, making a section of flying geese at a time and then moving around the layout as I went until I got something I liked.

Rearranging as I went was fun and freeing - and while my points aren't all perfect, my flying geese definitely improved! I quilted it with quarter inch straight lines using the walking foot as a guide.

I also included these two cute little kitties in amongst the flying geese. I think I hit a good balance of scrappiness through a variety of fabrics while still limiting the color palette and keeping it from becoming too busy. I'm very fond of the backing lightning bolt fabric as well.

I can't wait to do more swaps!

There are also progress photos on my Instagram.

Do you do swaps? If so, how do you find the swaps that interest you?

The first 9 of 25 rainbow cats! I am making Elizabeth Hartman (ohfrannsson)'s cat quilt for my aunt and uncle, who rescue and foster cats. They have bottle fed over 200 abandoned kittens in the past few years. 

The original pattern makes a small, roughly crib sized quilt, so I am going to play with sashing and maybe a border to make this a lap sized throw. 

Also, this was a test mobile post to see how well the Blogger app works! I am not keen on the lack of options (can't select image size, can't center text, can't insert links) but at least it allows me to make posts with photos on the go. I wouldn't recommend it to folks who have access to a regular computer, but it is a good stand-in while on vacation. 

Cynthia over at Quilting is More Fun than Housework is hosting an orphan adoption event to rehome those quilt WIPs and projects we've lost interest in or drive to finish. I hope this becomes a regular event!

I only started quilting a few months ago and don't have abandoned WIPs (yet), but I was very kindly gifted the above quilt patterns along with a fabric order. My taste runs more modern, so I'd love to see these patterns go to a quilter who can properly appreciate them!

1. Bayside Cottage (68 x 86in)
includes patterns for both solid and scrappy versions

2. Civil War Moments (57 x 71in)

3. Vintage Memories (56 x 68in)
Please note that the Vintage Memories pattern requires templates for the feathered star in the center that are not included in the pattern! They are available for sale through the Painted Pony 'n Quilts store, but there is also a diagram of the star in the pattern. I think it would be possible to blow up the diagram on a photocopier and then narrow or widen the yellow border in case of any inaccuracies, or to replace the center star with any other type of star sized to fit the rest of the quilt.

Just leave a comment letting me know which of the pattern(s) you're interested in and the charity or person you'd like to make it for. Please leave your email as well if you are a no reply blogger.  I will choose winner(s) on Saturday June 13 and will draw names if there is more than one person interested in a particular pattern. I'll also ship anywhere in the world for free.