Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Quilt Finish: Blue Strings

It took much longer to finish this quilt than I originally anticiapted.  First because I decided to hand quilt it and second because I bumped my niece's birthday quilt ahead of it and decided to hand quilt that one as well.  I've also had a few different projects that I've been trying to keep up with, so there have been plenty of distractions, but I did finally finish this project.  And it is a pleasure to have it on my bed.

Actually, it has been on my bed for a bit now, beginning right in the middle of a heat wave.  I finished up the binding poolside at my brother's house.  We spent some time there this summer working on our swimming skills, burning off extra energy, having fun and staying cool.

I really do like this quilt.  As I mentioned before, I saw the idea online somewhere, I think it was maybe a post from the MQG? Anyway, it works for my bed because it is clean, but not plain.  All the blues mixed together do have energy, but it doesn't feel busy.  Maybe that's because of the solids.  It also has great texture, just like Scarlet's quilt.

I worry that it will be torn up, with all the use/abuse it gets from my kids all over it.  Every night, they take a detour into our room and jump right on the bed instead of going to the bathroom to get washed up.  And then there's the reading.  On the one hand, I love that we lounge on a lovely quilt, on the other, it will shorten the quilt's life.  I knew this when I made it though, and I made it to be used, so I am doing what I can to accept this and enjoy it while it lasts.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Scarlet's Irish Chain

Over Christmas my (then 4 year old) niece Scarlet informed me that she was moving out of her mom's bed and into her own.  So she needed a quilt.  We talked about what she had in mind and she told me she'd like it to be red, of course, and also purple and yellow.

One of my favorite things about my own kids is their intrepid ideas when it comes to color. Sometimes, they end of with a hot mess, and sometimes their color combinations are refreshing or exciting.  But I'm always inspired by the way they go after it and come up with something interesting.  Which is exactly what I loved about Scarlet's order.  

I liked the idea of an irish chain for this project because it can be chain pieced quickly and still look great, and I knew I could get all of her colors in without much trouble.  When I talked with my sister about the quilt, she told me the only way she could see me going wrong was for the quilt to be too tame.  Scarlet likes colors, and they need to be bright!

I wasn't happy with the beginning work on this project, which was the chained pieced portion, so I ultimately decided to go the long route and cut and place each individual piece.  Doing this allowed me to bring in more fabrics.  I had a bunch of different yellows, reds, purples and oranges in my stash, so I felt that this would be a great way to use some of these up without having to go buy a bunch more.  I also cut up and used some of my daughters' old Peek skirts that I was saving for special projects, which makes it a bit more special for me.  This solved the need to buy more fabric, but made the project considerably more time consuming.  

Before starting the project I had intended to machine quilt it.  I kept that plan right up to the moment when I needed to begin the quilting part and realized I didn't want to do that.  Instead, I opted for a variety of celtic designs on the larger blocks, taken from a book I bought about 25 years ago while visiting Ireland, and then to finish the chain blocks with the same little xs I have been using for my blue strings quilt.

Scarlet had a birthday in April and I wanted to get the project finished as my birthday gift to her, so it really started to take up most of my sewing time for a couple of months.  In the end, I finally finished it, a bit late, but in enough time for my mom to take to her when she went for the birth of Scarlet's baby sister in late May.  

This is not my favorite quilt, aesthetically speaking.  I do love the texture.  The little quilted xs make it extra soft.  And it is made with much love.  I backed it with a red flannel that I thought would be cozy for her in the Wisconsin winters.  But despite the quilt lacking appeal for me personally, she loves it.  It is apparently just what she had in mind.  I tried to send progress pictures to her along the way to get her opinions and make sure we were heading in the right direction.  I wish that I could have been there to give it to her personally, but I love that she loves it.  And I love that she knew to come right to me for this quilt.

Monday, July 23, 2018


This is the second cover I've completed in the last few weeks and is from the book Modern Folk Embroidery.  It is a great book with fun and really easy emboidery designs and ideas.  This embroidery design allowed me to make small modifications on a whim, which I like because it gives me more ownership of the finished product.  While making this pillow, I found myself wanting to add orange, but sadly, I had none, so I limited myself to what I already owned rather than picking up anything new.

It was a quick and very satisfying project.  I admired the pictures from the book, and I love seeing it at home on my couch.

I've also got a third cover in the works.  I don't have a pillowform for this piece though, so I'm going to have to find one that will accomodate the pillowcase.  The unfinished block is about 22 inches square, so I'll have to see what I can come up with before going further.  I may need to add a border to it to make a size that fits a standard pillow form.

As I was playing with the shapes I realized it could be fun to turn the pieces so that the center piece was split and situated on the four corners.  It would change the block in cool ways...  I may try that next and have a set of related pillows!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Daisy Do Pillow

This pillow cover was initially started as a throw quilt from a pattern in Jen Kingwell's book Quilt Lovely.  It is a sweet little quilt, and, if, like me, you enjoy hand piecing, really enjoyable to piece.  But by the time I had a few of the flowers together, I realized it was going to have to be a long term project because I have so much to do ahead of it.  So I decided to use it to cover a bare pillow form that needed a case.  I had to work out the layout a bit because I wanted a flower in the middle of the case, but it wasn't difficult and I was able to piece and quilt the project over a couple of weeks in spare minutes while waiting for kids in classes or at pick-ups and end of the day sewing.

I fussy cut a few of the flowers, but felt that some of the flowers didn't need that treatment.

I tried out a few different backgounds, but picked a light shade of blue in the end, feeling that it receded into the background and let the flowers speak for themselves.

Here is the finished front panel, ready to quilt.  I didn't pin it because it just fit in my 18 inch frame.   I began quilting traditional small stitches, but pulled them out in favor of bigger stitches and some embroidery floss.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Laura's New Baby Quilt

I've had my babies, but my sisters aren't quite done yet.  One of my sisters will have her third baby at the end of the month.  Sadly, they live thousands of miles from me, but that doesn't dampen my excitement about this baby's arrival.  In fact, I've been working on a quilt...

I have tried to make a quilt for each new arrival in the family.  Each baby gets his or her own quilt that is different from all the other quilts in the family, and this baby is no exception.  For this one, I have drafted my own pattern from a block that I liked in a Jinny Beyer book.  I  had to relearn some geometry to do it, but I have really enjoyed the process.

First I pulled out my compass and straight edge and a journal and figured out enough geometry to make the sketch.

Then I made a new sketch, blowing it up onto butcher paper to the size I wanted it to be.  And then traced it onto freezer paper to make templates.  There are lots of pieces that have to fit together in just the right way for this to work out, so I had to make plenty of notes both on the freezer paper template and on the butcher paper, which I used as a map so that after cutting the freezer paper I could refer back if needed.  Once the freezer paper was cut I ironed it to my fabric, traced around the templates and roughly cut out the fabric.  Then I started sewing.

I had a really different idea for the center piece when I began the quilt.  I thought I would fussy cut a flower from a Kaffe Fassett print and sew it in.  When that was actually done, it looked sloppy to me, like I had just gotten tired and stuck it in there to be finished.  So I tried a few other options, but none of them spoke to me.

Finally, I decided to draft another center, this time with a star that I could use to pull in some of the fabric in the outer circle.  After a bit more work with geometry, and a star with too many points, I figured it out, repeated the freezer paper template process, stitched it up and added it to the larger circle.

First attempt with eight points.  I realized after I drew it that six or twelve points would work, but eight seems like an accident.

Second attempt at the center with six points.  This worked better and the points also were sized better for the little bears.

That worked better.  I love the little bears.  Actually, I ordered more, because they are super cute.

Once the center circle was complete I needed a background.  I ordered some daily linen from the Purl Bee.  I'm also using daily linen for the background of my Grasshopper quilt, a block of the month program through Sarah Fielke, and I thought it would be beautiful and a great opportunity to practice working with linen if I used it for this second project as well.  It is a bit tricky, and I put off cutting out the center circle for several days because I was scared I would mess it up.  There is so much movement, it feels a bit like working with water.  But it is soft and really a pleasure to touch.  Anyway, the circle went it without any real problem and the top is finished!  Now for the quilting...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Rocky Mountain Puzzle finish

This is a baby quilt.  I saw a version of this quilt on a blog somewhere and thought it was really sweet, so I made my own.  I finished it a few months ago and forgot where I saw it now.

I thought it was good color practice, which is something I am looking for right now.  I am happy with this project.

Here is a new small project I started recently.  This block came from a tutorial at Film in the Fridge.  The blocks are coming together fairly quickly, once I've chosen the fabric.  Colorwise it is going reasonably well.  It will be busy, but fun when it's finished.

I think I need six more blocks, but at least three.  It's a bit of a jumble right now.  I'm not put off by it, but I do think they need a little help looking like they all belong to the same quilt.  A bit of mustard in each new block may do the trick, since it is already in four of the six blocks.  The two bottom blocks have no mustard, but I'd really like to use them anyway.  I'm hoping that with more blocks, I can scatter those and it will be okay.  If not, I'll have to remake them with mustard and put these in another project somewhere down the line.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Blue Strings WIP

Right now I have a ton of quilts in progress, probably too many.  But there are some projects that need to be at the top of the pile.  A quilt for my bed is one of those.  My current bed quilt is now so worn that the top is disintegrating off.  The batting underneath is coming out and the whole thing is looking really sad.

My bed gets used everyday, obviously, by my husband and me, but also gets frequent visits from our kids.  I like that they curl up on my bed to read, or if they want to talk to me when I'm in my room. Sometimes I hear them jumping on my bed when I'm downstairs.  So, the quilt that lives on that bed needs to be pretty sturdy.  It is not the place for an heirloom.  However, I would love to have something there that makes me feel good as we live with it, and on it, for the next several years.  

After some deliberation, I chose to make a string quilt for my bed.  I've never made one before, but it's something I've wanted to try and seems like a great quilt as you go project.  So, not an heirloom, pretty sturdy and utilitarian, but also with the potential to be beautiful.  

I've seen a ton of versions of string quilts, but my favorite was one I think I saw on a MQG site.  I wish I remembered where exactly, but the maker had used old jeans to create and entirely blue string quilt.  It was spectacular.  I loved it.  

About a year ago I ordered a bunch of blues and some white fabric (for the center string) and cut tons of strings.  I started sewing it all together, but the lack of variety in the project and the fact that I needed so many blocks nearly bored me to tears.  So it has taken me some time to get it done, mostly at night.

I finally did finish all 64 blocks, but I still had to attach the backing.  I know there is a way to do this while making the blocks. It might have been the sturdier option, it would certainly have been more efficient, but I don't like the look of the extra sashing.  Anyway, after putting the whole thing together I still needed to think about how I was going to attach the backing.  I originally thought I would machine quilt it together, but the blocks are 11 1/2 inches wide, so it would need more reinforcing than just in the seams and that might mess up the look of the quilt.  I also considered tying it, but that didn't seem sturdy enough or comfortable for people who plop down on top of it for a bedtime story...

I finally chose to use a very simple hand stitch.  Again, it was something I saw online, I think from Jen Kingwell.  I think she said they reminded her of a sashiko stitch.  It looks more like kantha to me; sashiko is so precise and controlled.  But I really like it for this project.  It also has the benefit of giving the quilt a softer finish.  The big downside is time.  It will take me many more hours to finish, so I'll have to wait another few months before getting this guy on the bed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Finished Quilt Top

Last year I signed up for Sarah Fielke's Block of the Month Program to make a quilt called "Down the Rabbit Hole".  I thought it would be a good project for me and a challenge to get it done.

It is a pretty big quilt with a lot of handwork, which I love.  I also loved how she had several options in case the maker didn't want to do rabbits along the border.  I opted for cats, because I love them and almost always have at least one cat living in my home.  I realize that cats are not for everyone, but I've never understood why that is.  I really seem to have an affinity for them...

Anyway, I loved her patterns generally, but I don't think she's a cat person.  I say that without judgement, but I felt I needed to rework the cat profiles a bit to match my picture of a great cat.  Here is what I came up with.  I used her general pattern, but then worked on the heads and chests especially.  After I sewed the leaping cats down I wished I had reworked their hind legs too.  I think they are much more rabbit than cat, but c'est la vie, it was done and I wasn't about to unpick it.  I felt that the cats in the original pattern were a bit boxy;  in my version they look almost Egyptian.  One of my favorite things about cats is how beautiful and sleek they are -- always graceful, usually with a bit of attitude.  Definitely different from a dog- or a bunny.

Actually, I enjoyed the process so much that I signed up for her 2018 programs.  Both of them.  I'm not sure why I'm doing both, because I have a long list of WIPs and projects that I need to start and finish.  More than I can actually finish really, but I guess I'm doing it because I had that much fun.  I'm also using them as exercises to work on my skills, both in sewing and color.  I like that she brings a real sense of play to her quilts and that she uses traditional concepts in interesting ways.

To truly finish this quilt, I actually have to quilt it.  I pulled my quilt frame out of the garage (its been out of use for more than 20 years, so it is time to get it working again) and realized that it isn't big enough to accomodate this size quilt.  So, I'm working on that...

In the meantime, I've got some WIPs that need my attention.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts.