Sunday, October 4, 2015

More Puzzle Balls

I’ve been working on several puzzle balls, trying to finish them up by the end of this week.  They take awhile to make and I don’t love the stuffing process, but they do look cute when they’re done.  One has already gone to its new home, so I thought it would be good to capture the rest before they're gone.  Miles really likes them too, which is great, since they’re toys.  He can’t resist grabbing them when he walks by.   

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stars — Work In Progress

For the past few weeks I have been working on a new baby quilt.  My sister Laura is expecting her second in October.  We don’t know if she’s having a boy or a girl, but the quilt I’m making her would work well for either.  I got it from Shots and Stripes by Kaffe Fassett and didn’t change much but the size.

His shot cottons are so soft and easy to quilt.  I made a baby quilt for my son using them and it is my favorite quilt, just because of how it feels to touch.  This quilt is square, 51” x 51”, because I think it’s a good size for a baby, but big enough to use in play.  I love that these stars really do twinkle!

It took me some time to piece the top.  The stars are not at all difficult, but there are quite a few of them.  Once I got a system in place it didn’t take too much time.  I used the no waste flying geese method for the points.  There are lots of tutorials around for that.  Its fast and, well, no waste!  

The quilting is proving to be one of the trickiest parts.  I wanted to do some dense quilting and really make some beautiful texture.  I have some pearl cotton in jewel tones to quilt the stars and thought I’d like to use some sashiko patterns in the alternating squares.  That’s not going to work.  I tried a small square of it and found that it really detracted from the stars.  Next I tried just straight line quilting with some of the bright thread.  This is also very distracting.  I have a grey thread that I’m going to switch to now.  I need to decide whether to do something decorative with it or very simple and de-emphasize the quilting.  I’m hoping to finish quilting it by the baby’s due date in mid-October.  

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Messenger Bag

School started a couple of weeks ago here and my oldest daughter needed a new schoolbag.  She opted for a messenger bag and I made it using a pattern by Sew Liberated called the mischevious gnome messenger bag. 

Paolina got to choose the fabric and she remembered these arrows that I bought several months ago.  She has a special connection with arrows ever since third grade when her class studied California's Native Americans.  She wanted us to buy her a bow and arrow, but since we were decidedly against it, she went to the playground and made her own out of wood and yucca plants (just like she learned in school).  We thought it was cute and weren't too concerned about it, until she sent an arrow flying.  It actually worked! 

Anyway, I’m not a bag person, so I read and reread the instructions several times before I felt comfortable.  Once I got going, the bag was simple and went together really well — even the zipper pocket!  I fussy cut some of the text fabric to send little messages to my daughter during her day at school.  I put I love you accross the front pocket, but forgot about the button closure going right through the middle.  Oh well!

We realized we needed the bag two days before school started, so we had to hussle.  I felt like I was in a circus, with kids "helping" at every turn.   James sat next to me and every time I made a cut would say, “Oh, I need this scrap for my project?”  Miles wasn’t at all interested, except to reorganize the fabric and pattern pieces into heaps.  Paolina was eager to help, and Lucia spent some time looking for fabric for her bag (which still needs to be made).  The pattern had to be good to get through it with a usable bag.  

Anyway, I’m planning to make one for Lucia next and then to reduce it to make one for James.  Does that work?  He’s about half the size of Paolina, maybe a little less, so I thought I’d just do some math reduce each piece by around 25% and give it a try.  
 I'm linking up with Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Finished Puzzle Balls

I’ve been working here and there on some puzzleballs.  I still have two to go, but I’ve got two finished.  I really like the little matryoshka dolls.  The next one will have Heather Ross’s unicorns, and I can’t wait to see how it finishes.  I had some purple all picked out for the last one, and I love that fabric, but I have a new idea that’s pulling me.  Last year I made a puzzle ball for my son with some cotton/linen blend for the center part and it holds its structure really well.  I like the heavier linen blends for the inside of the balls and I have some great dark pink kokka, so I think I’ll play with that and try to find something fun for the top.  The birds might be perfect because I can maybe pick out fabric in those colors for the top pieces.  Or I could go with neutrals and let the pink inside do the talking. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

Star Quilt Finish

I have finally finished a star quilt for my son Jim’s twin bed.  I initially blogged about it here.  He’s very excited about it, but not enough to sleep under it.  He still prefers his nest in our bedroom.  It does up the cuteness factor in his room though.  Before this was finished he had a small quilt that I made for one of my daughters.  It was one of the girliest things I had ever made and didn’t cover the bed, so this is definitely an improvement. 

I’d like to make another quilt for this bedroom in preparation for my son Miles to move in eventually.  I was thinking about a plus quilt.  I could use similar colors and the geometric shapes would complement each other without being to matchy.  I’ve seen two lately that I’ve liked, one at Kitchen Table Quilting and the other at Maidenhair Fern.  

This was the biggest quilt I’ve ever machine quilted, so that was a challenge for me.  I think I should have done the wavy quilting throughout the whole quilt, but I wasn’t patient enough.  I love the orange binding and I feel like the bright back helps lighten up the front a little bit.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Puzzle Balls -- WIP

I’m working on three puzzle balls for my sister’s sister-in-law.  She has three little girls who like pink, purple and green, so she needs one of each.  I’ve got the pink one started...

I've got the fabric picked for the purple...

And I have an idea about the green...  

The green has been the most difficult by far.  I’m not sure why- I’m a big fan of the color, but it has been a challenge.  I was thinking about making the side pieces out of the solid green fabrics and putting something fun on the top.  Not sure about what exactly to put up there, so if anyone has a suggestion for a fun green, I'd love to hear it.  My current thought is the unicorn fabric from Far Far Away by Heather Ross. 

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Finished Log Cabin

I made this log cabin for my daughter, Paolina.  Right now she is away with her grandma in Alaska, but the rest of us took the quilt with us to enjoy sundown over the Pacific and to see if we could get some pictures of the quilt.  I have been working on this for years now.  It took just a few evenings to piece it about six years ago and I’ve been slowly quilting it ever since.  I can’t say that I’ve been diligently working away, but I do think that it has taken a couple hundred hours to quilt.  Over the last several years I have had several bursts of activity on it, especially when my sons were born and I had a bit of recovery time on the couch or in bed.  After my youngest son was born I was able to finish everything but the border, and then, over the past few months I got quite sick and had the time to finish the border and bind the quilt while I recovered.  

I began to make the quilt on a whim so I just picked bright colors from what I had on hand.  I didn’t have enough of some of them, so I just substituted something similar.  I think if I were to do it again, I would adjust the layout and not make it so symmetrical.  

Once I started quilting it I was afraid that it wouldn’t be a quilt that would grow with Paolina colorwise.  I also wasn’t sure that I liked it, but when I had it flat to trim it for binding, I saw the whole thing in the light and realized that I really do like it.  It’s youthful and vibrant and has tons of energy, but also sweet -- just like Paolina.  I also like how pure and rich the color is, very saturated, not clouded with grey or white.  I quilted around the pieces of each section of the log cabin blocks using a light green quilting thread.  I used a between and a small stitch, the smallest I could manage.  It is an old fashioned look and it takes MUCH longer to execute, but I'm really a fan of this style.  For the border on the top of the quilt I quilted a twisted rope pattern and at the center of the bottom border I quilted her initials.  For the sides and the rest of the bottom I quilted little birds.  

For the birds we were inspired by an Emily Dickenson poem called, “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”.  I had initially thought that it would be a good poem for Lucia’s quilt, but she prefered another poem about roses and since she picked some fabric with roses on it we went in that direction for her.  Paolina was attached to the Emily Dickenson poem, and I love it too.  On the back I intend to make a label that includes the poem.  That’s the only thing that hasn’t been done yet.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Aunt Millie’s Garden WIP

A few years ago I took a hand appliqué class.  The teacher of the class brought in a sample of her work, a beautiful quilt made from a pattern called Aunt Millie’s Garden.  The sample on the pattern is made on a red background, which is beautiful, but my instructor had made her's on an orange background.  It was lovely, and it made me want to make my own. 

At the time she was clear that this was not a beginner project, but I really didn’t listen.  I bought the pattern and started working through the blocks.  I don’t think I’d win any ribbons for my appliqué, but I’m very happy with my progress.  It is a great long term project.  I can put it down and pick it up months later without any trouble.  It’s also very portable.  I have the project split between a couple of large ziplock bags, and I can take it anywhere. 

Recently I’ve finished some big projects and need something to do while I get my machine cleaned.  I have been able to dive right back into this and I even feel like I may finish it in the next couple of years.  (I want to be realistic, it will take time to hand appliqué and then hand quilt this quilt.)  I have nearly finished 5 blocks out of the 12 to be done.  I still have to finish the center circles on all but one of the blocks.

I have plans for this quilt.  I have never made a quilt for my own bed, and I think this might be the one.  I have tried to use scraps for the appliqué as much as possible, which is great for reducing waste, but it is also fun to see scraps from past projects.  It brings to mind people I love and projects I have loved making.  It will be fun to sleep under a quilt that brings to mind so many happy memories.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sasha's Quilt

My niece Sasha will be one in August.  This week I’ve finally finished up her baby quilt.  It took a long time to do this one, because I tried out some new ideas and really just pieced and quilted it by feel.  In order to know what to do next, I needed to live with it and see where it took me.  I also wanted to add text to the quilt and had to make sure it was just the right verse, and it took a little time to embroider it onto the quilt.

I’m happy with the finished product.  I’ve mentioned it in other posts, but I thought I’d just talk again about some of my process.  It started while I was working on a broken dishes top.  I started to realize that a heart was naturally coming to my attention and so I pieced that together.   I’ve seen other pixilated hearts around the internet and this is a similar idea.  I was experimenting with a solid white background, which is something I’ve never done before.  My sister really likes blue, especially light blues, periwinkle and some shades of aqua, so I wanted to incorporate that for her.  

For myself, I wanted to include text.  I have mentioned before that I like the stories that quilts tell, and since a baby quilt tells such a personal story, I wanted to include a message for Sasha as she grows.  The message I chose for her is the first verse of a beautiful poem about childhood by William Blake.  I love that it so perfectly describes the heart swelling feeling of the presence of children, although I’m aware she will not fully understand this until much later in her life, probably not until she has a child of her own.  

Here is the poem in its entirety:

Nurse’s Song
William Blake

When the voices of children are heard on the green,
And laughter is heard on the hill,
My heart is at rest within my breast,
And everything else is still.

“Then come home, my children, the sun is gone down,
And the dews of the night arise;
Come, come, leave off play, and let us away
Till the morning appears in the skies.”

“No, no let us play, for it is yet day, 
And we cannot go to sleep;
Besides in the sky the little birds fly,
And the hills are all covered with sheep.”

“Well, well, go and play till the light fades away,
And then go home to bed.”
The little ones leaped, and shouted, and laughed,
And all the hills echoed.

I also included her name, Sasha Rose and tried to quilt a rose into the o.  That gave me some trouble.  It looked pretty good in my sketches, but didn’t translate to quilting very well.  I had to go back to fill in and make a more solid looking line so that the rose can be distinguished.  

I don’t live close to Sasha and so I don’t get to see her nearly enough.  I know I will miss lots of important moments in her childhood, but that doesn’t dampen my feelings for her.  For all the times when I’d love to hold her, but will never get the chance, I hope this quilt provides warmth, both physical and emotional, as it is wrapped around her.  And years from now, when Sasha is a woman with a child of her own, I hope she can wrap this quilt around that child and feel both the love she feels for her baby and the love that I feel for her, and have since the very beginning.  

Sasha Rose
I'm linking up with Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Making Aprons

I’ve been making aprons for children for several years.  It all began by accident when I had some leftover half spiderweb blocks from a baby quilt I made for a friend’s new baby.  I wasn’t sure what I could do with the blocks, but I liked them and didn’t want them to go to waste.  I attatched a small skirt to the straight part of the block, added a pocket, lined it and added some straps made from biased tape I had lying around.  

I used the apron as a bib for my little daughter, who was just starting to eat food at the time.  I loved the apron and brought it out at most meals.  After awhile I started making more.  I played with the straps and experimented with different pieced blocks as bibs.  Then I started to give them to friends for their children, making bigger aprons for bigger children.  Eventually I was even asked to make some to sell for the children of acquaintances.  I really enjoy making them and have settled now on a few different styles.  A few weeks ago I sent off a batch with a few different styles to Wisconsin to see if they would sell at a breast cancer fundraiser in Shorewood.  I also sent along a puzzle ball and two baby quilts.  

I started out making these aprons to fill a need in my life and put some of my work to good use in a way that was pleasing to me.  Putting my work out in the world for sale in this way is new to me so I'm interested in how this process works.  I'm curious and excited to see if my work resonates with others.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Grazing Geese

I finished a new quilt this week!  It’s just a little guy, measuring about 36”x40”, but full of personality.  

Actually, I made it out of an orphan block that I originally made to be a part of a Nursery Rhyme quilt for my youngest son, Miles.  I’ve had such a hard time bringing that quilt to life.  Well, that quilt isn’t alive yet, but I hope it will be some day. I finally decided that I needed to start over with just a few of the blocks and build it again.  That’s left me with some cast offs that I really like but have nowhere to go.  I considered making them into placemats, but it would be unreasonable to ask people not to eat on them.  I also considered making them into journal or notebook covers, but I’d have to cut them down and I don’t think that would do justice to all the hand stitching involved.  Putting them all into one quilt hasn’t worked for me, so I thought I’d try to make each square the focal point of it’s own quilt.  I used some of the piecing I had tried to incorporate unsuccessfully into the original, failed attempt, and really liked it.  The quilt is bright and makes me happy.  

For the back I thought I’d use up some orange material by Kaffe Fassett that just looked like the path the geese may have taken while grazing.  I didn’t have nearly enough so I thought about picking up some more, but in the end I sewed it up with a few solids I already had.  I’m not a machine quilter, but I’m trying my best to learn, and I quilted straight lines into this quilt, some vertical, some horizontal, all about an inch apart.  The binding is made from scraps from the quilt.  

I wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but I like it and am excited to make a few more.  

I’m linking up to Finish It Up Friday on