Work-in-Progress Girl


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Two Voile Scarves

Two Voile Scarves by clumsy chord
Two Voile Scarves, a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

Well, this should be my last post for the year! I had hoped to get a Year in Review type post done as well, but I guess I’ll save that for 2012… Something else I’m saving for 2012? Twelve for Twenty-Twelve. But more on that another day.

This are my last finished items for the year, though they were finished quite a while ago. I can’t really remember when! I’d have to go back and watch my old TTMT videos to find when I talked about them, because I didn’t take any photos when I made them and they just sat in a heap on the futon in my sewing room for a couple months (or more?). I’d planned originally to give these away for Christmas gifts, one to my Grandma and one to my younger sister, but I changed my mind and gave them away in the last Sew Mama Sew give-away day.

Here’s how I came to make them: I’d found a pattern/tutorial somewhere online for making voile scarves, in which you used 9-inch by width of fabric pieces of two prints, sewed them right sides together (leaving a gap to turn it right-side out), and then top stitched to finish off. Possibly the simplest scarf pattern ever!

I went looking for pretty voiles and decided on these two pretty Anna Maria Horner prints. The one on the left is the Forest Hills print in Sea from the Little Folks line, and on the right is Pastry Lines… in what I think is Sea. I’d hoped they’d match, and they did, but I didn’t like how the prints showed through when I used them together, so I wound up making one scarf from each print, rather than two scarves from a combination of the prints.

In any case, they’re about 52 inches long and 8 inches across, which means they’re actually a little too short to use as scarves – the drape is too stiff (even with buttery soft voile) for the ends to hang neatly. I guess I should have weighted the ends somehow – some kind of dangly fringe? – or tapered the ends so that they’d hang more neatly. In any case, my general dislike of the draping issue kept me from giving them away to family, but I needed to do something with them, so I gave them away to strangers instead! If they like, they could trim off the seams and use the resulting pieces of fabric in other projects or they could open the ends and add some sort of weight or add an extension to either end with a coordinating print or… I’m sure there are lots of things they could do! (Or, as some of the entrants to the give-away claimed, they might be just the right length for someone short.)

In any case, when I was writing up the entry for the give-away, I suddenly realized that I had exactly no photos of these scarves. And it was late and it was dark, so I tied them around the bar at the end of the futon, tucked a piece of un-ironed bright orange fabric behind them, took two very poor shots, and called it good. This was the best of the very small, very poor lot of photos. I wish I had something nicer so they’d look prettier in my “back catalogue” of finished items, but I guess you can’t have everything, right?


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Finished Projects: The Doctor and River Song Matryoshki

The Doctor and River Song by clumsy chord
The Doctor and River Song, a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

These should be my last dolls for the year and also my last Finishes for the year. (I still owe myself two more blog entries, though – one for a set of scarves I made but never posted about and one for a run-down of what all I accomplished in 2011.) They’ve been done since December 18, but somehow I kept putting off writing this entry in favour of travel, no internet, Christmas, Boxing Day shopping, and then having (alas) to go back to work.

I think these dolls might be the cutest things I made all year. Well,.. all my doll ornaments were pretty damn cute, but these are more fun because they’re fandom based, and that’s not an area I often dabble in with my crafts. (Fandom-wise, I have made, over the course if 5+ years: 1 messenger bag with a Harry Potter lightning bolt appliqué, 5 Harry Potter pillows with the Hogwarts’ house animals appliquéd on them – two for Gryffindor because I messed up the lion the first time, 3 Severus Snape fabric postcards, and 1 Doctor Who fabric postcard featuring my favourite, the tenth Doctor.) I think most of my readers are fans of Doctor Who, but just in case you’re not… these two Matryoshka dolls are based on characters from the new series of Doctor Who.

On the left is Ms River Song, known for her wildly curly hair and her Tardis-styled diary of ‘spoilers’, as well as her cheeky demeanour and hallucinogenic lipstick. Well, I’d hoped to give her a winking eye, but wasn’t happy enough with my attempts at an open eye, and red lips looked too ridiculous for words. So I didn’t quite get there, but I think most fans would recognize her just on the basis of the book, which I thought turned out quite well (despite my crooked stitching). You can’t see it in the photos, but I threaded the needle with two strands of white and one strand of a yellowish off-white to give the pages of the book a slightly aged look (which I am inordinately pleased by).

On the right is the Doctor himself. I haven’t seen all of the most recent episodes of DW, but what I think of, when I think of Eleven, is the bow-tie, the fez, and his floppy hair. Matt Smith, the actor who plays Eleven, has some prodigiously floppy hair, so I was really hoping to replicate that, even a little. I very nearly gave him a squarer than square jaw, but left off in favour of letting the fez and bow-tie speak for themselves.

The Doctor and River Song

I made these two dolls at the behest of Craftylilthing, the winner of an auction I was participating in to raise money for a cat, Lily, who was adopted by the sister of an online friend, Ofenjen. (Confusing sentence much?) This poor kitty had been shot in the leg and then abandoned, so Ofenjen set up an online auction to help raise funds for the necessary surgery and medications to keep Lily alive and healthy. I offered up two dolls, designed any which way the winner pleased, and this is what Craftylilthing requested.

It was a lot of fun working on something like this, trying to distill the essence of a television character into simple images that could be easily rendered in felt and embroidery floss. I love how they turned out, and I’ve got a real urge to keep making more. (And, well,.. I have sketches for two more fandom-based Matryoshki. But we’ll see if I get them made or not…)


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Giveaway Day! Post the first: Handmade Scarves

EDITED TO ADD: The giveaway is now closed, any additional comments will NOT be included in the draw. I will draw a winner and contact him or her tomorrow or Sunday. Thanks for all your great responses!

It’s Giveaway Day again at Sew, Mama, Sew! And for once I’m actually ready for it! I’m doing three give-aways, separated into two posts. This post is for scarves, handmade from some very lovely Anna Maria Horner voiles. The other give-away, for fabric charm squares, can be found here.

Both these scarves are made with double layers of voile and are about 8-inches wide and 52-in long. I’ll be honest and say that I find them slightly too short, and thus they don’t drape as nicely as they would at a longer length. However, you could always add some sort of weighted embellishments at the ends or perhaps simply trim off the seams and use the material in any way you choose ;D These scarves were made by me in my non-smoking, no pet home. The material was NOT pre-washed, so it may shrink a little in the wash. Or it may soften up a little and drape a little more neatly.

There will be two winners from this post, and here is how to enter.

1. Leave a comment!
2. In your comment, tell me where you’re from and which of the two scarves you prefer (white or blue).

I will be writing names/locations on slips of paper and drawing the winners myself. There will be one international winner (international, for me, means outside of Canada) and one Canadian winner, so don’t forget to let me know where you’re from! The winner in the first draw (for the Canadian) will be given their choice of scarf. Hopefully whoever gets the second scarf will be happy with it whether it was his/her favourite or not!

You can enter your name (once only please) between now and December 16, and I will make the draw on Sunday, December 18. Best of luck, and enjoy all the new blogs you stumble across this week! I think that’s always my favourite part of Giveaway Day, finding so many interesting new people.


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Finished Project: Matryoshka Dolls

This may be the dorkiest photo I’ll ever take, with my handmade Matryoshki mixed in with a bunch of the real deal. We’ve got bucketloads of them in the house, so I couldn’t NOT use them in a photo.

My sister and her husband had a few dolls already from his parents (who live in Russia) and when J and A travelled there earlier this year, they brought back more, including two of these which they bought for me. The tall red one on the left is mine as well as the shorter black one also on the left. (The only one I left out of the photo is one my sister bought which was painted to feature various members of the Calgary Flames hockey team.)

Anyway, there are 7 handmade felt Matryoshki in there, which are all just a tiny bit different, but are mostly the same. I had loosely planned to use different patterns on each of the bellies of the “girl” dolls, but I don’t have good software anymore on my computer for editing photos and I couldn’t seem to get anything the right size to fit (and I’m not very good at drawing by hand), so they’re all matching.

And I couldn’t decide what to put on the bellies of the boy dolls at all – you just don’t see male Matryoshka that often, and most of what I have seem have been political rather than folk art style – so they only got to have ties. (Which is a little funny, since neither my dad nor my brother in law wear ties with any regularity. Of course, none of the women in my house wear aprons either, even while cooking, and arguably that’s what those white patches are.)

A family of Matryoshka dolls

The embroidery on these was very simple, I did everything in a split stitch except for a few French knots in the flowers and for the cheeks. (I did one set of cheeks using a satin stitch, but found it pretty difficult to achieve a decent circle, so I went with three French knots for all the rest.)

Stitched Names

I stitched the name of the recipient on the back of each doll using… a back stitch? or a running stitch? I forget what it’s called, except on Alex and my dad’s where I used a split stitch. My own doesn’t stand out very much, somehow the white doesn’t pop against that lime green. Maybe I should redo it in black. Hmm. Anyway, they all look a bit like they were written by a child, but I found it incredibly difficult to draw names onto the felt with a chalk pencil. Any sort of curved letter came out a little more wonky than I’d hoped, but I sort of like the look anyway.

There’s a part of me that wants to try making dolls that are a little more like the real thing, with a different coloured head scarf above the dress and more involved patterns on the bellies. Or maybe make a series of different sized ones, starting larger and ending up smaller, with the kind of design variation you usually see on the different dolls in the nest. But I’m trying to let the idea go before I run out of people to make and give these to!

Anyway, these seven dolls are all made with 100% wool felt and DMC emroidery floss. They’re all about 5 inches high and about 3 inches wide across the widest part of the belly. The pattern came from this tutorial at My Sparkle. I used my own pattern for hair for the male dolls, and the ties.


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Wonky Star Quilt

I have a new finished project and I guess I should really talk about it! Like the quilts in my last post, this particular project is being donated to The Linus Connection in Austin, Texas. Which is miles away from me – I’m in Calgary, Alberta – but after the fires and the drought and heat wave in Texas, there is a lot of need for blankets to help comfort children in need, more even than usual. And of course, the lovely ofenjen is one of their members and a friend of mine, and I’m always happy to help out with this charity that means so much to her.

Wonky Star

So this is just kind of a teaser shot, I suppose, showing the basic blocks that make up the quilt. Ofenjen is collecting paper-pieced star blocks to put together into quilt tops, but I guess I was feeling contrary, because I decided I wanted to make something a little more free-form. And then because I knew I wasn’t going to be making the same star block as everyone else, I thought I’d better make enough for an entire quilt top. I had an awful lot of purple solids (leftovers from a quilt that I’ve got cut out, but have never got around to putting together), so I went into my collection of purple fabrics and pulled out one of my favourite pieces, a poppy print from Alexander Henry’s Good Earth collection.

Wonky Star

I loved that print from the moment I first saw it, and it took me a while to source a piece of it because I think I must have come across it after it went out of print. I often buy fabric with a plan in mind (I just never finish anything…), but this was something I never had ideas about. I just loved it, so I had to have it. The lighter, pinker purple in the poppies was an almost exact match to one of the solid Kona cottons I had, so it seemed to be a great match. And I even liked how it looked with the more berry-toned purples, as well as a pale lavender and even a pale pink.

I had high hopes of making 12 blocks and then putting a single border around it, using more of the AH print, but alas, I didn’t have enough purple (or pink, which I used to help bump up the number of blocks) without using a couple of much darker purples that I didn’t think would work as well for backgrounds, so I settled on making eight and then put the lot on point.

Wonky Star quilt

And I think it looks better for it! Somehow the stars seem to sparkle more on point. And I love the way the different background colours pull your eye around. Sometimes putting things on point gives me a bit of mental trouble because I worry about all the bias cuts on the setting triangles pulling everything out of whack, but this is the second time I’ve done it this year (see the first here, also donated to The Linus Connection) and I’ve liked the results both times.

I usually have a laundry list of nit-picks about the things I make, but this one I only have two small quibbles and neither of them bother me terribly much. I’m not the biggest fan of the purple print I used for the setting triangles, but alas, it was all I had in my stash that was big enough and didn’t look terrible. I think it’s not got quite the right base-note, so to speak, to match the border print – it’s a little more berry and a little less indigo maybe? – but I’ve also sent along enough strips (I think!) to bind the quilt, which I’m hoping will help tie it in a little better to have that extra little frame of it. My second nit-pick is that I didn’t get the print pointing the right direction on the bottom two setting triangles. Really minor problem, and I could have fixed it, but I wasn’t sure I had enough fabric to include binding strips if I cut out extra triangles just to solve the directionality problem.

In any case, it’s another finished quilt top. Not a large one, it’s about 45″ x 62″, I think, but I really hope some child will love it.


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Finished Project: Brown Quilt-along Quilt

I keep putting off writing about this project – which has been finished since July 25 – because I can’t seem to photograph it. If I use natural light it somehow picks up so much glare and the colours look more washed out than if I photograph it with flash. And if I photograph it with the flash, you can’t see any of the quilting detail. Anyway, I am about to donate it to a charity group in Texas, so I guess it’s really time to talk about it!

This quilt is actually one of two matching quilts done in different colour palettes. I finished the first one in pink way back in April, and I actually started them both in February, when Cherri House of Cherry House Quilts (and City Quilts fame – LOVE that book) came up with the idea of doing a quilt-along.

Cherry House Quilt-Along Quilts

It is a rather simple quilt, just squares in rows separated by panels of background fabric, but it’s such a sweet and elegant layout, and absolutely beautiful.

The first quilt, the pink one, I quilted in wavy vertical lines, about 1 inch apart all the way across the quilt, so for this one I decided to do rays angled across the quilt, with the plan of doing it from two different sides, so that the rays would criss-cross. Le sigh, my basting wasn’t good or my walking foot wasn’t working properly because the first criss-cross I tried shifted the fabric so much I’d have had a quilt full of puckers on the front. Gah. I wound up doing random triangles to fill in any of the big open spaces. While I don’t mind it, it doesn’t look how I wish it looked, so I have a hard time loving it when I see it. In any case, the brown quilt has a much nicer, much softer drape than the pink one, so I guess the looser quilting style was good for that at least!

Cherri House Quilt-Along Quilts

The fabrics for this quilt are all Kona cottons on the front, Espresso for the background, with Ivory, Sky, Robin Egg, and Aqua making up the coloured squares. The binding is more espresso with what I think is Robin Egg for the one corner. The backing is a Michael Miller print, although I’m not sure what print it is, exactly. (I don’t have any of the selvedge left.)

When I finished this in July I was really happy to get it done, since I started it in February and that’s a realllllllllly long stretch for a quilt that can be started and finished all in one day. (Seriously! Hit up Cherri House’s blog for the pattern, and go to it. I promise if you can focus at all, you’ll be done before you realize it.) And now I’m equally happy to have a plan for it. It deserves a good home, and I’m certain it’ll go to one via The Linus Connection in Central Texas. With the recent fires, they’re needing increasing numbers of blankets for children, so I’m really happy to have something I can send that’ll help someone out.


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Two Little Halloween(ish) Hooters

This is my slightly Halloween take on Ofenjen‘s Two Little Hooters pattern (available for purchase in hard copy here or via instant download here). I haven’t found the right branch yet, but I hope to find a broken branch, stick, or twig to slide into the hanging tabs (which may or may not get stitched down to the back) for hanging on the wall come Halloween season.

This is the first bit of paper-piecing I’ve done in quite a while. It was definitely more complicated than anything I’ve done in the past – typically I’ve done blocks which contain four units that are exactly the same and join together as a four-patch, whereas this is several unusually shaped units that fit together a bit more like a puzzle. But it was a nice reintroduction and not nearly so hard as I thought it would be. I did have some issues with the size where I didn’t get my units joined exactly as they should have been, so it was a touch too big in some places and a touch too small in others, but I was able to finesse things a little to get it together, and the centre came together only about 1/4-in smaller than it was supposed to be.

Because my centre wasn’t the “right” size, I let my brain get all CONFUSED and OMG about the borders and I couldn’t put two thoughts together to figure out how to make the border fit right, so if you go look at Ofenjen’s sample, you’ll see my border isn’t quite the same. Of course, the easy fix was just to make everything exactly as she said to, but then to scale down the length of the striped part of the border, but CONFUSED and OMG as I said, so I wound up whipping together something similar but not quite the same. Regardless, I think it came out pretty well. It’s adorable! And it has owls! Halloweenish owls!

I made this almost entirely with scraps. Both the oranges for the owls were fabrics bought for exchange blocks I’ve made in the past. I don’t know if I ever used the one that looks like bubbles, though I must have, since I fished rather small bits and pieces out of my bag of orange-peach-yellow fabric scraps. The other one, which looks a little like a painting, was bought entirely because it looked like the stars in Van Gogh’s Starry Nights painting (you’d need to see a larger piece to see the resemblance, though). In any case, the blues for the eyes/beaks were also scraps, and the variety of fabrics used for the branches (which were sometimes pieced mid-branch so I wouldn’t have to cut into anything) were all just blue-grey or very pale blue scraps from other previous projects.

The orange batik strips for the border also came from my scrap pile – I used that fabric in a quilt back for a quilt I haven’t shown online in at least 2, maybe 3, years. (I keep meaning to fish that one out and quilt it – the back is ready, the front is ready, I even have batting cut to size…) The binding fabric was the last bit of a Laura Gunn print from her Poppy line, which I used in a quilt top that I haven’t shown here, but isn’t finished anyway. (The top is finished, but I want to get it professionally quilted. Just haven’t made a move to find some one to do it yet.) There wasn’t quite enough scrap left to do the entire binding, so I pieced it with a little of a mottled blue-grey print, which is mostly behind the leaves of that plant in the top picture.

I quilted it all 1/4-in around all the shapes in the quilt, though in retrospect I think I should have gone much closer than the quarter-inch (either in “the ditch” or perhaps 1/8-inch). It works for quilting, even if it is very basic. I’d toyed with the idea of doing something more in the Halloween imagery line – like a big cob-web – using invisible thread, but I do hate working with that stuff, and I didn’t want to detract from the owls themselves.

In any case, I’m really happy with this finish. I think my mom will probably want it when she sees it, and I may even give it to her. (Although I really love that binding fabric and I might not want to give it away just because of that! I could make a dozen more Halloween Hooter wall-hangings, but none of them will be finished quite the same.)

Anyway, I finished this on 15 August 2011, and it’s about 15″x18″ in size. I feel like I’ve been posting more finishes and less Works-in-Progress the last while, but I sort of find it embarrassing when I think of how many unfinished things I have laying around, so I’ve been working harder to get some things done so I can mitigate that embarrassment at least a little. And that can only be a good thing.


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Bibs bibs bibs

Baby Bib (Front Side) by clumsy chord
Baby Bib (Front Side), a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

Another of my July finishes. I have three friends who’ve had babies in the last five months and although I had some pretty awesome plans for baby gifts, I could never seem to talk myself into actually making any of them. Or I’d get something cut out, but would be too scared of sewing them because of techniques I wasn’t familiar with. So finally I decided I just needed to do SOMETHING even if it wasn’t quite the thing I had originally planned or wanted to do.

Bibs are easy, but they’re also really useful, so that’s what I went with. I had done bibs in the past for other friends but never really liked the pattern I’d been using (I believe it came from the Michael Miller website, but I could be wrong) because it used bias binding (eek!) and the sizing felt wrong, but I also never had any babies nearby to try the bibs out on. In June or early July I bought a new-to-me book Simple Sewing for Baby: 24 Easy Projects for Newborns to Toddles by Lotta Jansdotter, and it had a different bib pattern that I liked a lot more.

Baby Bib (Reverse Side)

Jansdotter uses laminated cotton/oil-cloth and builds in a pocket to catch spilled foods, but I just used regular quilting cotton with a layer of fusible batting in the middle and skipped the pocket in favour of displaying a great big monkey on the front (of at least some of the bibs). Her pattern just requires one layer of the fabric, which is stitched with an overlock stitch or just a zigzag, but of course I couldn’t do that with my regular cotton, so I added a seam allowance to the bib and sewed it all together with right sides facing, leaving a gap to turn it right side out, and then stitched around the edges, about 1/8-in from the edges. It all turned out beautifully (except for the times I forgot to put in the velcro and then had to go back and unpick things so that I could add it without having to stitch through all the layers).

I only took photos of two, but I used the same two fabrics for all the ones I made. The fabrics are both from IKEA. The last time I was there they were selling little mini-bolts of children’s fabric for pretty decent prices, so I picked up the crazy print and the green hippos (they also had red hippos, which in retrospect, I wish I’d bought too) .

My favourite animal on the print was the monkey with the spiral on his belly, so I wasted a bunch of fabric to fussy cut that into the bib fronts – the backs are just whatever happened to land under the pattern piece when I made my cuts.

Baby Bib

Then the hippos.. well, front and back they’ve got the same print, but I did a dumb thing and cut them out with the fabric folded in half, so the fronts have right side up hippos and the backs have upside-down ones. Oops.

Anyway, I think they turned out really cute, and I’m really pleased to have them done. The longer I left getting the baby-gifts finished, the guiltier I felt about it, and somehow the more paralysed by indecision I became. It felt good just to get it finally done.


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Black with Brights Exchange Quilt

You wouldn’t think it, based on the infrequent posts in July, but it was the month of getting things done. I finished up two quilts and a small stack of baby gifts, which was pretty awesome, and although I didn’t start working on it until August, I pulled out a third quilt to get finished. It’ll probably take me a few more weeks – all that’s left is a mountain, A MOUNTAIN, of hand-work and weaving in threads from quilting – but I should have it finished by September. (Hopefully! It’s a gift for my grandma, and her birthday is in September, so the timing would be good.)

After that, I think I’ll go back to my mermaid/mod times quilt along quilt. I haven’t looked at it since June!

Anyway, this is a very, very old project, and one that I’m very, very happy to have finished. This project began all the way back in 2005 with members of the Quilting community on Livejournal. Someone had an idea to exchange quilt blocks using brights with black, so several of us joined up and we all made one block for each person, plus one for ourselves. There were 13 of us participating, as I recall, though I think one person had to back out in the end.

At the time I was quite new to machine quilting. In the previous couple years I had only done hand-work and then in 2004 I bought my first sewing machine (which I still have/use). I didn’t really know anything about quilting, and had only done nine-patches and some house blocks (by hand) and some very, very appallingly bad shoo-fly blocks by machine. The shoo-fly blocks had been for another exchange in that same community (mine is in the bottom right corner) and I was embarrassed by them (particularly when I got my exchange blocks of which several were immaculate AND significantly more complex), so I wanted to do something impressive and of good quality. I had heard about but never tried paper-piecing, which was supposed to result in perfect crisp points, so I bought a book – Carol Doak’s 40 Bright & Bold Paper-Pieced Blocks – and taught myself how to paper-piece.

Brights with Black block

Perfect! This block, called Chris’s Block in the book, has been used by me many times since then (once, twice, thrice, err… four times at least), usually for exchanges because it always makes an impact. More importantly though, it was something I could be proud of to send away. In fact, it hurt a little to send them all away – what if I didn’t like what I got back? Well, of course I did. I loved the way the bright colours popped up against the black and we got such a great variety of colours and block types. Here are a couple of my favourites:

I’d said before that there were 13 of use participating, which would have led to a rather difficult number of blocks to work with. Then one person backed out for personal reasons, so we would, including our own block, wind up with 12, which is not a bad number. But I couldn’t think of a good way, other than putting the blocks on point, which I didn’t want to do, to make the quilt large enough to use on the couch – my plan for it. So I made enough blocks to bring the quilt up to 16. I had some fun doing that – I made two more paper-pieced blocks and two fairly different looking Antique Tile blocks. Here are close-ups of all five blocks I made:

Both red stars are from the Carol Doak book, as well as the turquoise and green block. (The reds are Chris’s Block and Barbara’s Block, and the blue/green is Jenny’s Block. Doak named the blocks after women she was friends with or knew from the publishing company.) The other two are both Antique Tiles, which was traditional and looked easy enough for my then pretty weak machine-piecing abilities.

Obviously I used the same red/pink prints for both blocks. I’m not sure why, though probably I just didn’t have much of a fabric stash then to choose from. Some of the red blocks I sent away had a couple different fabrics in them, and I kind of wish I’d have had one of those alternates, but it’s not something that bothers me really. My favourite block, though, is the blue and green one. If I were making it now (and if I’d known then that I’d wind up using a printed sashing) I’d have switched the locations of my solid and print blacks, but never mind that. I LOVE that block. I wish I’d had tons of that green fabric, but I only ever had a 10th of a yard (or metre, not sure which) of it. And I have no idea who made it/what line it came from. (Not that I’d be likely to find it now!) I don’t know how well it’ll show, but it’s got little turquoise dots on it that almost perfectly match the solid blue. The kind of watery looking print is a batik with a range of blues and the print in a murky mossy green. LOVE.

In retrospect, there are some things I wish I could change about the quilt, namely I’d like to use a solid sashing and a different print for the border. Probably I’d do a 1/4-inch… flange-style framing border rather than the 1-in thick blue one I used. (What are those types of borders called, when it’s a little flap you can slip your finger under? I’ve used them frequently since, since they make a nice dividing line, but are very thin.)

But this quilt top has been completed since mid-way through 2005, and these are the things I choose 6 years ago. I was a starving university student at the time (counting pennies to buy apples!), so my budget was really limited and most of what I choose was on sale or gifted to me or already in my then very small stash. I think I was concerned at the time that a solid black sashing would make the quilt look dreary and too dark, so I wanted something with a print. The blue was chosen specifically to keep a pop of colour around the edge, and also to draw a little attention to the blue in the quilt, since I thought the warm colours were more predominant. The outer border, a kind of murky grey/black mottled print was chosen because I didn’t want a solid black, but also thought a more busy print would compete with the already busy sashing. I don’t know why I didn’t choose a coloured print border (except again for the competition with the sashing). Actually, it seems that the chosen sashing seems to be the sticking point. I could have done a lot of different things, if I’d only chosen a solid or a more neutral tone-on-tone sashing fabric.

I remember taking this project to show my grandma once, probably back in 2005 or 2006, and she wasn’t at the house (my grandpa was), but she was by chance at an Embroidery Guild meeting, though they were quilting that particular day. So I took the quilt – then a basted together top – to the Senior’s Centre to show her. Everyone in her guild all had to come have a look. The one comment I remember was that I’d chosen ‘weird’ colours. Hee.

Anyway, holy long post batman! After that point, the top just sat around. And it sat around some more. I was terrified of trying to quilt it on my little sewing machine (very nearly but not quite bottom of the Kenmore line in 2004), and so it sat. Eventually my mom decided that she would hand-quilt it for me, so the basted quilt went to her house. But it was summer, so she decided to wait until winter, and then it sat. It sat in my old bedroom for a couple of years, and periodically I’d tease her about it (since she often teases me about my unfinished projects), but still it sat.

Then this winter she decided it was time.

And so now it’s quilted. She did it all by hand, probably in the evenings whilst watching tv, quilting in the ditch of every single block and crisscrossing through the sashing. (She forgot to do the border, but for now we’re just leaving it unfinished. Maybe we’ll come back to it in a while and do some criss-cross quilting through that as well.) I’m so pleased to have it all done, and it was so exciting when she came out here to visit and pulled the quilted piece out of a bag. All that was left was trimming and binding. When I cut off the excess fabric from the back, I decided to use it for the binding. It was a strange fabric, a really tight weave and somewhat difficult to sew though. I wonder if I used a poly-cotton blend? I don’t know. (I disposed of the rest of the remnants so that they don’t wind up in my stash of good cottons.) But it works for the binding. I did a small section with some of the blue border print as well, which is sort of visible at the top left of the top photo.

So, six years in the making, I’ve finished my first non-baby sized quilt. (It’s about 6×6′.) And my first for-me quilt. SO happy to strike something off the WIP-list! And it’s not quite my oldest Work-in-Progress, but it’s good to knock something so OLD off the list as well.


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Fabric Postcards – Swap Cards

Am I getting behind on posting or what? I’ve got two other finished items to show and there have been one or two videos since my last update. Maybe I’ll remember this Tuesday.

Fabric postcard #1 by clumsy chord
Fabric postcard #1, a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

I made three postcards for the second swap at my Livejournal community for exchanging fabric postcards (Fabric Postcard – creative name, eh?). I had set an optional theme of rainbows, and intended to do something rainbow related, but I got distracted by the stuff on the top of my scrap pile, bits and pieces of aqua and raisin Kona cotton and scraps (little wee scraps that I couldn’t talk myself into throwing away) of Mendocino.

This was the first postcard that I made, and the most basic of them. Just slashes of purple in aqua, and I wish you could see it BEFORE I quilted it, because the quilting really ruined it. I should have done my usual type of postcard quilting and just done a light, decorative stitch around each of the purple pieces. It’s just too busy as is.

Fabric Postcard #2
Fabric Postcard #2 a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

When Canada Post went on strike just in time for the exchange, I decided to try remaking that first card, but the second version didn’t really turn out any better. I like the quilting better, but the purple slashes ended up more as chunks and they just don’t work, somehow. Or anyway, they don’t work for me. (Also, I rather obviously forgot to trim the excess purple from behind the aqua in at least one place. Eeep.)

In the end, I sent out the first card and still have the second one sitting around, waiting for me to decide who to send it to.

Fabric Postcard #3
Fabric Postcard #3 a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

This is the second postcard I made and it was definitely, to begin with, the most simple of all the cards – just a sea of aqua and that bright square with the seahorse. I had some blue variegated thread and had always planned to try stitching on some water movement, but decided at the last moment that I wanted to try embroidering fish on the card as well. I don’t know the proper stitches for embroidery, but I just winged it and I think it turned out pretty well anyway.

First I drew on the shapes with a pencil (they’re all based somewhat on another Mendocino print, the one with schools of fish) and then I stitched in whatever way seemed like it might work. The fish with the lower fin was done in mostly very small stitches, which I was hoping would look like scales.(I don’t think it does, quite, but it’s not bad.) The other large fishes were done with a lot of parallel stitches, just filling in space. The littlest fish were just two or three stitches done in the same entrance/exit holes, which was wide enough to make the fish body, and then two small stitches for the tail fins.

Creating the water look with quilting was harder than I thought it would be and less successful than I’d hoped, but I think it adds something to the card anyway and I wouldn’t change it. (Maybe I’d make it more smooth, if I could, but I wouldn’t do away with the quilting entirely as I would with the first card I showed.)

Fabric Postcard #4
Fabric Postcard #4 a photo by clumsy chord on Flickr.

In Flickr, I labelled this postcard as #4, but it was actually the third one I made. In terms of the fabrics I used, it’s the most complicated or… involved of all the cards. (It’s more wonky in style, and wonky is NOT a comfort-zone for me.) All the bits of colour are little pieces of Mendocino fabric. The pale and the bright pinks are both from prints that have giant octopuses on it, but my scrappy bits are just background only. I love the way the colours all work together though. The little gold octopus (and its even littler pink friend) were centred as carefully as I could so that I wouldn’t lose any of the print. I’m sure the seam allowance is at most an eighth of an inch, but that’s okay since this is a postcard and not likely to be used and abused like a quilt might. I really liked the postcard, it turned out beautifully, I thought. (Maybe I should have quilted some waves into the water, rather than just outlining things, but I’m happy with how I made it.)

In return, I should receive three cards, but I’ve only had one arrive so far (damn the postal strike/lock-out), but I’ll make another post once they’ve put in an appearance. If they do. (One may have been lost, and the third person is MIA. She sent out all her earlier cards on time, but I haven’t been able to get a hold of her in the weeks since the postal strike was over, so I’ve got no indication that she’ll have received the email saying it was okay to go send out my card.)

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