May 27, 2013

Quilting Updates

It was a really productive weekend at my house!  The holiday didn't give me a reason to slack off; instead, I got quite a bit of sewing done!

The April do.Good Stitches blocks needed to be sewn up.  I originally had plans to make two baby quilts, but I only received blocks from about half of the members, so I only had enough for one crib-sized quilt.  

I quilted in straight lines about one inch apart.  I used a solid FreeSpirit for the binding (I can't remember the color name...) and Momo Big Dots for the back.  I had bought it on a whim for a backing and it worked out beautifully!

I still need to sew the label on the back and send it out, but that sounds like a job for the couch tomorrow night.

I also sewed the quilt top for the Rainbow quilt I mentioned last week.

It worked out really well!  I only had to buy the white fabric--everything else was from my stash.

It came together really quickly.  I cut out the blocks earlier last week, but cut out all the white last night, and then sewed it all together.  I bought backing and binding, but decided I needed a break!  The baby shower isn't for another month or so.  I have plenty of time!

 What'd you sew this weekend?

May 20, 2013

The Technicolor Baby Quilt

Earlier this month, I discussed the final baby quilt I have planned for this year.  My manager is due in August, and time is definitely ticking, as we're currently planning her baby shower.  She isn't finding out the gender before she gives birth, so to add onto the already nerve-wracking task of making a quilt for someone, I have to also consider that this baby could be a boy or a girl--and I really have no way to prepare (and, honestly, neither does she).

As of, oh, four days ago, I had decided on making the Thimble Blossoms Juggle quilt with fabrics from my stash. With all the awesome fabrics coming out this summer, I wanted to spend more money on fabric for me, and also create some room for it!  I grabbed about twenty fabrics and posted a picture to Instagram, asking for input.  It's so hard to stay neutral, because blues and green looks great together, and purple and pink look great together, but the four don't necessarily work well.  And I didn't want to go too modern with black and white--that isn't my manager or her husband, even.  But I was going to make it work!

Yesterday evening, after we got home from our road trip (you can read about it in Sunday's post in Queen City Stitcher), I opened the new Quilty magazine to relax.  Do you read Quilty?  I bought the first issue last summer, as I was getting into quilting, and wasn't impressed.  It just seemed too basic, maybe, or not modern enough.  I have a hard time relating to most quilting magazines because they aren't modern enough!  But I kept buying the new issues and it really has gotten better and better.  The newest issue has quilt patterns from Ellen Luckett-Baker, Sarah Watson, and Katie Clarke Blakesley, just to name a few.  Plus, it has some sarcastic/witty moments, and I thing the commentary is relevant.

Anyway!  I found a great quilt in it that I had to make: Rainbow Baby, by Cynthia Brunz.  It's a rainbow design on a white background--perfect for both sexes.  And the size--48" by 54"--is a great crib size, or would be perfect for playing on the floor, whatever my manager chooses.  It was kismet!

I started pulling fabrics and slicing squares today.  Here's some progress:

My current stash is color-coded, which makes this task pretty easy!

All five color families and the plan in Quilty

Red and orange--I'm using the same deer print in both colors

Green and blue--using the scissors in yellow and blue!


With the holiday weekend coming up, I should have plenty of time to work on this, my do.Good stitches quilt, and some other projects.

What do you think?  And what are you working on?  Thanks to Christina Cantrall for her guest post Friday!

May 17, 2013

Friday Stash Day: Christina Cantrall

Welcome to our first 'Friday Stash Day' post.  Our inaugural post is provided by an old friend of mine from high school.  Christina was crafty long before it was trendy.  We're talking about quality craftiness, here.  Today she gives us the story of her attempt at yo-yo quilting.  I love the presence of her grandmother and mother in this story.  They are only brief cameos, as it is Christina's story, but I love hearing about inspiration and skill being passed along.  I give you Christina and her yo-yo quilt.  

When I was 17, I had the idea to make a yoyo quilt. If you don’t know what that is, it is a quilt made from small, gathered circles that are sewn together. These quilts are used mainly as decorative pieces. This entire quilt also has to be done by hand. There is no way to cheat your way through making it. My mom had one hanging in the living room that was made by her grandmother. Granny, as she was affectionately called, had made it from scraps of left over fabric from other projects, like dress making. The quilt was not made into a set pattern but the disorganization of the colors and patterns made it beautiful. At least it was to me and Mom. I decided to carry on the family tradition of making a yoyo quilt. I would start off small, though, and only make a twin size.

When I announced to my mom that I was going to make a quilt one spring, I do not recall her ever discouraging me from attempting it. I think it was long after that particular summer I learned that queen size quilt hanging in my parent’s house took 2 years to make. If I had known that, I think I would have changed my mind from even starting. In any case, my ever encouraging Mom took me to the fabric store to look at prints and colors. Ironically, they had the exact fabric that matched the existing quilt on my bed. It was dark blue with pink and yellow flowers. It was as if I was destined to make this quilt. I picked a few more patterns to coordinate with the original because I decided mine was going to be an organized pattern. I hadn’t decided what that pattern was, but we purchased 1 yard each of 6 prints.

When we got home, mom preshrunk all of the fabric we purchased and I ironed them before starting off. Mom found some cardboard and we debated the size the yoyo should be. I believe we measured the yoyo on the original to get an idea of the “right” size. Decide too small and you will be quilting for 10 years; decide too big and it will look like a clown quilt. I went with a 2.5” diameter circle made from cardboard. I traced the circle on to the reverse side of the fabric and got about 50 circles cut out before my hand started cramping. Okay, that’s not true. I probably cut about 20 before my hand went numb. Did I mention I was starting this project in time for summer vacation? I was already staring longingly out the window and I had barely gotten started on the project.

After the hours I spent doing 20 yoyos on the first day, it took me a few days to get back to my project. Admittedly, I was enjoying my summer vacation but eventually decided to get back to work. I cut out several circles. I kept cutting even after extreme cramping had overtaken my hand. On the second day, I already wanted this project to be farther along than it was. I’m sure my mom heard many sighs from my bedroom that day. I persevered. I also was very impatient to get it done. Did I mention, even today, I’m not great at crafts that take a long time to accomplish? I am getting better with it but I’m admittedly, still not great.

I worked on the piece on and off all summer. I was taking it to the county fair as a self-determined project for 4-H, which meant it would be judged 4 weeks before the fair began. Without those 30 extra days, I knew I would never be able to finish a twin size quilt. Okay, who am I kidding? I admit the likelihood of me finishing a twin size quilt in one summer was incredibly slim. It probably would take me at least a year! The farther into summer it got, it became apparent I was not going to finish a piece of any great size in time for judging. I kept cutting, stitching and gathering. I also kept a mental block about how I still had to actually sew all of these circles together.

I found that I could no longer put off figuring out the pattern for the piece. I was cutting fabric at random so I didn’t have the same quantity of finished yoyos per pattern. I dumped the brown paper bag of them on my bed and sorted them by pattern. I noticed I had a lot more of one print than the others. I guess I should have been keeping better track of what I was making but hopefully I could get it to work in my favor. I decided on making a square print. I started with 4 of the same pattern in the center and went out from there. I used the same all-purpose thread to sew all of them together by hand. Knot, hold 2 yoyos faces together, stitch 5 or 6 invisible stitches, knot, cut thread and move to the next yoyo. It’s not tremendously difficult once you get the hang of it. It just takes a lot of time.

By judging, my quilted square was about 45” square. They gave me an A, mostly for effort, but honestly, it felt great to finish something well enough to submit it. I had enough left over pink yoyos to make a few loops to hang it from a rod in my bedroom. It hung there for many years above my bed, with the existing matching quilt.

If anyone asked me now what it was, I would say maybe a baby quilt!

Thank you, Christina, for sharing your quilting story.  I love that we all experience a bit of 'fatigue' when it comes to execution and completion.  But as I said at the beginning, this is quality craftiness, even when fatigued and improvised.  

Christina will be back with a yo-yo quilt tutorial.  Stay tuned. 

May 14, 2013

Exciting News!

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to update that Ariel is officially a mom!  We expect to have the baby quilting and blogging sometime soon, but until then, things will be a bit quieter!

If you have anything you'd like to submit while Ariel is on maternity leave, please don't hesitate to email me at the address in the sidebar, or tweet at us!  We'd love to hear from you!

Congratulations, Ariel!

May 9, 2013

Sew it would seam

Hand-quilting again.

And again, the lines don't quite match with the seams so I'm improvising.

Actually, in that photo the seams are pretty good.
One of these days I will master the quilting/seam match-up.

To be fair to myself, the vertical seams are true and that's where I chose to begin the hand-quilting treatment.  The horizontal seams suggest a lack of planning/measuring. I'm not sure if the same hand-quilting treatment will hide the issue or make it even more noticeable.

To be honest, this bit has taken quite awhile and isn't always pretty.  More of this might just clutter things up a bit.

And I still have to figure out how to attach the vinyl backing.

Good thing we aren't picnic-ing anytime soon.

May 6, 2013

One More Baby Quilt...

As you've noticed, it's been a baby-filled year in my life.  Thankfully, no babies have belonged to me, but it seems like everyone I am close with is starting a family.  My last (planned) baby quilt for the year is for my manager, who's due in August.  Plot twist: she isn't finding out the gender before the birth. 

As you can probably tell, this throws a monkey wrench into just about everyone's plans, including her own.  How do we avoid drowning in a sea of yellow and green?  I'm starting to work on her quilt--my go-to gift--and, as I'm pulling together ideas, I'm noticing the quilting world is very gender-specific.  You can find fabric with astronaut kittens, but it's difficult finding fabric that isn't almost stereotypically male or female.

Because of this, I've had to go a bit outside the box to gather inspiration. 

Both of these Thimble Blossoms patterns are fun for babies and can be adjusted in size easily.  For "Summer," I'd like to use solids with a printed backing, but for "Juggle," I'd use hexagons in all different prints.  A baby quilt uses 42 hexies, so even 21 different prints would give a nice variety, and I could fussy-cut if I found something adorable and baby-related.

Sarah Jane's new line "Let's Pretend" has the same playful feel as "Out to Sea" and "Children at Play," which are both part of my stash.  I could mix-and-match prints from this line with her others, and with some fabrics in my stash, to create something playful and childish but not specifically girly or boyish.

The above fabric is from Ed Emberley's "Happy Drawing" line with Cloud9.  I think animals are a pretty safe bet for kids--sometimes too safe, and then you get into cartoon or baby animals which are pretty boring.  But these are still fun, and I could use prints from this line--including frogs, owls, and giraffes--with some solids in the Juggle quilt for both a boy or a girl.

What have you done in the past for a friend who isn't finding out the gender of her baby?  Do you have any ideas?  I need to figure out something soon--her shower is in July!

May 2, 2013

Lessons learned

Well.  I called it.

I finished the top in three days.  It would have been two, but I forced myself to slow down.

Interesting tidbit from the construction which I did not encounter in the other quilts; when designing and cutting, add ~10% to the overall size of the quilt.  When I laid out all my blocks for this quilt, it measured 46" x 52".  When I finished construction, it measured 41" x 47".  I lost five inches all the way around.  I basically lost an entire row and column to seam allowance. Needless to say, the quilt is a bit smaller than I intended.

Lesson learned.  

This past weekend I bought the backing and the wadding.  The backing was an easy trip to the haberdashery department.  The wadding was a different story.  I had it delivered and the postman had an issue with ringing my doorbell to actually deliver the goods.

Apparently, there was a dog in front of our house which kept him from ringing the bell and delivering said packet.  However, the dog didn't prevent him from taking time to write out this card and stick it through the mail slot IN MY FRONT DOOR.  The mail slot which is just beneath the doorbell.  I ask you.

So, yesterday, on my due date, I walked a mile down the hill to the depot, picked up my wadding, and walked a mile back up the hill (and Pruin still hasn't made an appearance) because the postman was too scared to walk past this 'dog' to ring the bell, but was okay walking past it to stuff this note, along with junkmail, through my door.  FYI, we don't have a dog.


All that's left now is assembly.

Coincidentally, I cracked the code on how I could justify to myself the use of all these new materials when my brief is to re-use stuff.  I know you were all really concerned with this breach of procedure but rest assured I have a solution.

In the spirit of lessons learned, I am planning to re-use a technique I kind of 'made-up' in my first quilt.  I learned something in my first quilt that I am going to purposefully re-do here with similar, yet different, results.  Obviously, this happens in every quilt I make to some degree.  We're always learning from what we have done previously, whether we realize it or not, but here I am very consciously pulling on a very specific technique.

Coincidentally again, this justification aligns really well with some theoretical arguments I made in my doctoral thesis three years ago about the passing on of performance skills.  I won't lie.  It's a little bit comforting all that theoretical work isn't going completely to waste.

That's all fine and dandy (I hear you saying) but what is the technique?  What is the relevance?

If you recall, I only quilted the back side of my t-shirt quilt.  This was due to the two sides being completely different designs and not wanting to obscure the t-shirts on the front half but wanting to add some visual interest to the huge blocks of offending florescent colour on the back.  This time around I am also only quilting one side of the quilt.  I will quilt the top and leave the back untouched.

Here's why.  The back of this quilt is to be made of vinyl.  Sounds kinky, but it is for a specific purpose.  This quilt is earmarked as ground cover for Pruin when we head to the park this summer.  If you have any experience with the 'great British summer' you will know that the ground can be counted upon to be damp more often than not.  So I am making the back of this quilt wipeable/waterproof.  To that end, I don't want to put holes in the vinyl with quilting.

I'm also not completely confident in my machine's ability to stitch vinyl.  The final part of assembly may have to occur at my local sewing shop's quilting club where I can utilize their equipment and expertise.  Which again, will offer the opportunity to learn a skill/technique and make it my own in this particular quilt.

The quilt may be made of all new materials but that just makes the passing on of technique and skill and performance that much clearer.  With this quilt the story isn't in the fabric or in the future memories.  From the lesson of seam allowance to one-sided quilting to using a new machine, this quilt's story is about the discovery and re-using and re-honing of skill and technique.