Work-in-Progress Girl


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Double Hourglass Quilt

This post has been a long time coming, but I didn’t like my photos when I first took them threeish weeks ago, and then kept putting off taking more.

Hourglass Quilt

Not that this is such a great photo, stuffed into the bannister of the stairs, but it seemed like the light was going to be good for once (and then it turned out kind of weirdly overlit anyway!). Winter in Canada. A whole season of everything being underlit or overlit via light bouncing off snow. Yay.

Anyway, I finished this one around Thanksgiving, maybe October 14 or 15. It’s a baby quilt, about 36″ x 43″. I didn’t follow a pattern, but this is a very jelly roll-friendly quilt, and a very easy one to make. (If anyone wants to know how, ask and I’ll let you know, but the gist is “sew two strips of fabric together, cut into triangles, rotate to create hourglasses, sew together into a square.”) This quilt was all tailored for an old friend who hadn’t been super into baby themed items for babies (you know, little teddy bears and… I don’t know, whatever), but I didn’t wind up sending it to her in the end. (And when she sent me a picture of her baby, he was wrapped up in something with cute child themed prints anyway – maybe she’s loosened up in the intervening years on the subject. It has been 6 or more years since we’ve seen one another!) I let my mom talk me into sending her the Star Surround quilt instead, so this one will get donated to a Linus group, which is a great way to use it regardless.

Hourglass Quilt

I talked a lot in the past about the fabric selection process for this quilt (here and here) and still wound up changing things a little (I took out one of the fabrics and swapped in a different one), but generally speaking it fits the colour scheme and the type of prints I was aiming for: orange, green, blue, and red using stripes, dots, and other geometric prints. The rope text print doesn’t quite fit, but I let it slide on the basis of it’s a baby quilt. The two Stof prints are certainly more organic than geometric, but they both created a striped effect so I thought that was okay too.

002

The fabrics I had the most difficulties with were the off-white ones. As a general rule, I don’t ever put an off-white print together with a pure white print, because the off-white one comes out looking dingy and dirty in comparison. But I bought the fabric online and some of them were more off-white than I was expecting. I even added in the blue/off-white loop print to try to tie in the three existing off-whites. I kept telling myself that all colours go with white and thus off-white also should go with white. It’ll be fine, Kristel. Don’t worry about it so much and nobody will even notice! But it does bother me if I spend too much time looking at those particular prints. (Colours pop so beautifully against pure white, it seems a crime not to use it!)

Hourglass Backing & Binding

I used my favourite print for the binding – that green and navy print from Emily Herrick’s Technicolor line – but it really wasn’t a great choice for a binding (seriously – scroll up to a picture of the entire quilt!) because the look varies so much from one part of the print to another. Still, I love having that green around the edges (and my different coloured corner, of course, in the red and white stripe). The backing you can see is a flannel version of one of the chevrons I used on the front of the quilt – it’s also a larger size chevron. (I think that is a medium size, where the front has a small size on regular quilting cotton. All three of the chevron fabrics I used are from Riley Blake, anyway.) This picture also shows the quilting. I went pretty minimalist with this one and only quilted on the diagonal, a little more than a quarter inch away on either side of the seams. (The foot I use has a marking on the inside of the foot at the quarter inch, but I lined it up with the outside of the foot, so there’s probably an extra 1/8-inch.) I had thought about adding something more, maybe on the white parts of each block, but didn’t want to overkill it, and anyway I find quilts more comfortable when they’re not quilted too densely (though it sure does look good!).

I always have a list of things I’d like to change about the quilts I make – there’s always something in retrospect I wish I’d done better – and in this case, I wish I’d pressed all my seams open. I’m pretty back and forth on that one, but in this case, all those dark edges of fabric that got pushed toward the white (this happened when joining the rows, generally I press toward the dark if I don’t open my seams) show through. When I first took it out of the wash, I was terrified that it had bled because I could see all these kind of streaky bits of colour, but when you get up close, it’s just the fabric pressed under in those particular places. Sigh. Oh well, as far as things I’d like to change go, I’m happy that that’s my only real complaint. I’m usually pretty good at picking apart my flaws, so that one little thing isn’t so bad at all. (Okay. That and those off-white prints. I mean, seriously, designer types: why the off-whites? Do you want dingy looking fabric, because I don’t!)

Anyway, done is good. And that’s another finish for the year. I’m not a terribly prolific quilter (like some bloggers are) and I tend never to finish things, so every finished piece is a bit of a victory.

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Star Surround Finish

I stayed up last night until nearly midnight so that I could finish and submit my Star Surround quilt for the SSQAL Parade at Happy Quilting. It might have been a dumb idea, I don’t know, but I had to get up at 4:30 AM, so dumb feels like an appropriate word. But FINISHED is another, and finished is a very, very sweet word indeed, because I never finish much of anything.

Star Surround

This quilt might be my fastest finish ever – I started it in mid-July and it’s just now mid-September and the entire thing is done and dusted. Well, I haven’t washed it yet, that’s the next step, but I’m pretty confident it’s not going to fall apart in the wash (which is my usual unfounded fear with quilting). Anyway, as a rule, the only things I ever finish in a timely fashion are small items, like pouches and pillows and pin-cushions. (Well, maybe not pin-cushions – I don’t think I’ve ever made one! Just wanted a third ‘P’ because things sound better in threes.)

On Saturday, I pieced the backing, basted the quilt, and got the straight-line quilting done on the top. Then on Sunday I spent most of an hour practising some free motion loopy quilting so that I could add that as well. And then I trimmed, made and machine sewed on the binding, and then stitched it down on the back. I was planning to try machine sewing the binding (and watched about six different videos on the subject) but got scared at the last second and couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Star Surround

Anyway, quilting. If you look closely at that photo, you should be able to see that in two quadrants I stitched north/south in the ditch (every 3 inches) and in the other two quadrants I stitched east/west in the ditch. In between those stitches, I FMQed the loopy lines, which are all kind of variable in stitch length and sometimes a tiny bit choppy, but largely came out pretty well. I’ve always been pretty terrified of FMQ and it feels a little bit like cheating to have chosen a method that didn’t just let me cross my own lines, but actively required it. But I’m really kind of ridiculously proud of myself anyway. I only had to pick out stitches once (where I kind of jerked and wound up with a toe-catcher), and that seems like a pretty big victory. I guess I unpicked a few more times, but that was always only because the thread snapped as I was sewing, so I had to unpick enough so that I could bury the threads and get back to it. I quilted it with Aurifil thread, 40 wt. 4663, which is Baby Blue Eyes Variegated. I had about 6 or 7 thread breaks, well, I say thread breaks, but it was more like it sort of shredded apart, and you could pull of loose tufty bits when it broke like that. I’ve never had that happen with other thread before, but I also have never really done FMQ before, just bits and pieces to practise in the past, so I don’t know that it wouldn’t have happened with other thread.

The fabrics, if you’re curious, are from two different Riley Blake lines, One for the Boys and Boy Crazy. (Two prints each – in the photo above, the dashed stripe and the stars are from one line, the cars and the spiral stripe are from the other.) The background fabric is Kona Robin Egg, which is a gorgeous blue, and the red binding is Kona Coral. The quilt backing is a random no-name flannel that was in my stash.

Star Surround

I didn’t take any particular good photos of the backing, but it’s not a great match for the front – it’s a slightly greener aqua than the Robin Egg, but I thought it worked well enough. Especially since it’s on the back. When I bought fabric for the backing, I accidentally bought enough for the length, but not for the width and so I had planned to piece the backing with… something that wouldn’t look terrible, but didn’t find anything that seemed like it would work. So I dug this aqua with white dots out of my (rather small) flannel stash.

Anyway, that’s that quilt done. Now I kind of want to make another one, but in fabrics I love, and large enough for my bed. But probably I should finish some things… Maybe quilt some of the tops I’ve got laying around. Especially now that I’ve lost my FMQ virginity ;D


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WIP Wednesday

I’m on vacation this week, so I feel like I’ve been spending all my time sewing. That isn’t quite true, but it’s true enough as far as that goes – I’ve sewn 15 quilt blocks and cut out somewhere in the neighbourhood of 300 strips of fabric to turn into baby quilts. (Twelve of those quilt blocks were made with strips from that pile.) It doesn’t seem like very much, spread over four days, but I’m not very good at sitting still and getting to work. Every day I try to go for a walk, and I’m trying to clean part of my bedroom each day as well, so I usually try to do those extra things in between bouts of sewing, whenever I start to get to restless.

Batiks

Anyway, I was mentioning the other day that I’m tired of all my batiks and so I sorted them all out of my stash into their own little pile so that I could do something with them to get rid of them. The general plan was to turn them into Scrappy Trip Around the World blocks and to make charity quilts out of them. After that little sorting expedition, I went on a much more arduous, harder on the back expedition and cut the entire pile into a nice, neat stack of 2.5 x 16-inch strips of fabric.

Batiks

I was able to break it down into six colour units of approximately the same number of strips: purple, orange, blue, yellow (which also has red, burgundy, and some other random bits and bobs), green, and brown. There are enough strips to make four baby quilts, plus I have enough uncut fabric left to add a border to each of them with hopefully plenty left-over to send along for binding. And then there are all the off-cuts. I have two fabric baskets stuffed full of my off-cuts, which… I don’t even know. I can think of nothing in particular I want to do with them, but maybe I’ll sort through and cut them into strips 5 inches long and then start making strips like a coin quilt. Or maybe I’ll find someone who wants a bag of mixed scraps (nothing longer than 16 inches unless it’s narrower than 2.5 inches). Who knows? I’ll be so sick of batiks by the time I’m done four small quilts with them, I probably won’t want to see them again, in any case.

Batik Trip Around the World

Still, there’s one mostly finished quilt. I’m still planning to put a border around it – probably a four inch border and it’ll be something blue based, since I’ve got mostly blue background pieces left over. (I also have a fair bit of a kind of beige one, but it doesn’t seem like it’d work for a border, so I don’t know what I’ll do with that yet.)

Anyway, to take a break from that, and to get some of my other responsibilities taken care of, I also made 3 blocks for exchanges. The first two are for my Livejournal Birthday Blocks exchange, both March birthdays. One was the dreaded Best of All block, which came together… fairly well, though my points are NOT exact.

Best of All block

The request, beyond being that very difficult block, was for batik fabrics, with medium and dark mauve where I have purple and a mauve floral for the centre. I think I really only managed to get the centre in the mauve range, but I couldn’t find any batiks that worked. I just really hope the recipient will like it. I have a feeling she’s going to get a whole range of colours beyond what she asked for, but sometimes a nice range comes together better than something really planned. I guess we’ll see.

Ship at Sea

This second block requested a ship at sea, with no other real directions (beyond, you know, sky coloured sky, water coloured water). I used a block from Modern Blocks compiled by Susanne Woods, which I actually also made last year for a different recipient. There are some things I like better about this year’s block – the water has a better contrast and although both are good water prints, I prefer the motion that this year’s block has – but it does look bare with plain white sails, and it really needs that flag blowing in the wind. I couldn’t find any fusible so I skipped over it, but I should have sent along the cut out flag (it’s in my garbage bin!) just in case the recipient had some and wanted to fuse it down herself.

Square in square

Anyway, the last block I made was for my Simply Solids group on Flickr, where the recipient mailed the pre-cut fabric and we just assembled it. (Precut but without direction of which colour to put where – we could have put the rings in any order because there was enough fabric for any of them to go around the outside.) I’ve had those fabrics sitting around waiting on me for nearly a month, so I’m glad to have it done. Somewhat frustrated to find that it was almost harder to put together than that Best of All block up above – I think I just don’t sew long straight lines very compentently because I do fine on weird triangles and corners, but this little 12 seam block gave me fits.

Anyway, I’ve also been working on pattern making, super secret pattern making, for Fandom in Stitches, and I’d really like to have this done by the end of the week, but I can’t figure out how to clean up my lines and make them LOOK like a pattern. I mean, it’s one thing to have scratchy pencil marks in patterns I use for myself, but you can’t exactly give that to other people, you know? And I don’t have any software on my computer any more for editing things like that.

All of this also represents HOURS of tv watching. I got through most of season 3 of Justified, two seasons of Slings and Arrows (short seasons: they only have 6 episodes each), and I’ve started in on season 1 of due South, which I never watched when it was originally on the air. (Well, actually I never watched any of this when it was originally on the air. I haven’t seen any of Season 4 of Justified, which I think hasn’t quite finished up yet. I’ll have to wait till its out on DVD and I can borrow it from the library.) I don’t tend to pay a huge amount of attention to the tv when I’m sewing, it’s more background noise, but I do watch parts of it at least, so I wonder how much more I could get done if I, I don’t know… listened to audio books instead.

Linking up to:

The Needle and Thread Network

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
WIP Wednesday at Freshley Pieced


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Beauty is You wall-hanging (#1)

Last year for Christmas I gave my mom a quilt rack from Robinson’s Woodcrafts and a couple of mini-quilts to hang on it. The mini quilts were this Halloween(ish) themed quilt and (I never wrote a proper entry about it, having never gotten any decent photos) a Christmas wall-hanging, which my sister and I made together. The two options didn’t exactly cover a great deal of the year, so back at Christmas, I promised my Mom that I’d make her another quilt, a more generic one, so that she’d have something else to put on the rack the rest of the year. It was due to be done in time for my parents’ next visit out here, which finally rolled around this past weekend.

My Mom’s house is decorated in some slightly… difficult colours for matching things. In the upstairs/main floor, some of the walls are a sort of buttery off-white, but some are a kind of dark brick red, and some others are a mustardy yellow. In my experience, quilt fabrics do not come in the colours that my parents’ house comes in. I had pulled a few fabrics that I thought might match, so that I could get my Mom to pick some favourites for me to work on another mini quilt for her, but when we were up in my sewing room, looking through them, she found my collection (small though it is) of Cori Dantini fabrics and fell in love.

I can’t pretend to understand the whys and wherefores of fabric sales, but I’m always sort of shocked that Dantini’s line for Blend Fabrics, Beauty is You, wasn’t some massive runaway juggernaut of a line. It’s utterly gorgeous, but I’ve seen very few pieces made using the fabric. (You can still buy it from some Etsy sellers and in part at Lark Cottons. Hawthorne Threads will be selling Dantini’s next line, which drops in July.) I imagine there is a lot more of it out there in people’s stashes than I know about, but every time I see someone post a picture of it on Flickr, there is an inevitable Oh my God, what is that where did you get it how come I haven’t seen it before? response. Which actually was my exact reaction the first time I saw it.

As it turns out, Cori Dantini is an artist who has moved, in part, into fabric design. She also has an etsy shop, Corid, where you can buy prints of some of her artwork. Before I ever got any of her fabric, I bought a print of one of her pieces, which I think is called “From Here on out, It’s You and Me.” I had to do my photoshoot at midnight in my bedroom (my little sister was sleeping in my craft room), so I taped the wall-hanging up beside that picture. As you’ll see, Dantini has a very distinctive style…

Cori Dantini x 2

My photos were all a bit dreadful, I’m afraid. As I said, I photographed this around midnight, just after I finished stitching up the last of the binding. I knew my parents were coming up this weekend, but I’d been putting off making the wall-hanging because I was afraid I’d ruin the fabric and I only actually started it Tuesday last week. I was stitching on the binding when my parents and sister arrived on Friday, and then didn’t finish working on it until the night before they left. (Look for a video post tomorrow or Wednesday in which I’ll talk a bit about the wall-hanging.)

The panel that I used for the main part of the mini is the centre panel of three large pictures. My mom’s favourites were the two on either end, but I wanted to quilt them by stitching around the pictures and I was terrified of ruining the two favourite pictures, so I started with the one my mom was least interested by. If it didn’t turn out well, then at least the others would have still been waiting!

Beauty is You wall-hanging

I do think it turned out pretty well though. The quilting doesn’t show up in any of my photos, but I stitched around the outlines of most of the elements in the picture. It wasn’t perfect – some of the tighter curves came out a little bit more… angular than I’d have liked, but it went pretty well. I didn’t use a free motion foot or anything for quilting, just used a regular foot with the feed dogs up, which makes for slightly more difficult movement, but more even stitching than I’m capable of with free motion just yet. On the pieced border, I just quilted in the ditch through the triangles, travelling from top to bottom.

Beauty is You wall-hanging

The seed fabric in the pieced border (and making up most of the binding) is from the same line as the printed panel, but the script print is Michael Miller’s Old Script. And that bit of red in the binding is something random from my scrap bins.

Every time I look at this, I just think the artwork is so exquisite. I’m really pleased with how it all came together and my mom seemed pretty happy too. Eventually I’d like to turn the other two panels into wall-hangings as well, so that I can give my mom the one she REALLY wanted, but for the time being, I think this one works perfectly. And the colour will probably suit her house a little better anyway!

This project is 16″ wide, but I’m not sure how long, perhaps 22″? It was finished on March 2, 2013, late enough in the day that it was almost March 3. I think this is my third finish for the year, which feels kind of good considering how slowly I usually finish anything.


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Vintage Modern Wonky Star Quilt

I suppose I should come up with more creative names for the things I make, but it’s always just the most basic information with me: a wonky star quilt, made with Modern Vintage fabric. Anyway, it’s my first finish for 2013! The first of several, I hope… (But I shouldn’t jinx myself by saying that.)

Vintage Modern Wonky Star quilt

I’ve been working on this one since November 2012, I think, which for me isn’t a very long time. It’s rare I finish things within months, rather than within years! It does help to have a deadline, though. I didn’t meet my original one – to have it done by Christmas – but I did get it done before my family comes to visit again (that’ll be end of February, most likely). My parents will be tasked with taking this quilt to give to my Grandma, who I made it for.

A very long time ago I started a different quilt for my grandma. It was an origami quilt, where all the nine-patch blocks had origami flowers made using all the ugly floral prints my mom had bought me. (She used to buy me fabric periodically and half the time it was weird floral prints that wouldn’t appeal to much of anyone, I don’t think!) It was the first big project I ever really worked on, and it had A LOT of construction issues. I mean, I didn’t really KNOW it, but I sure figured it out when I started quilting it.

Origami quilt, unquilted

This photo is from before I quilted it, but once I started… well, the borders were all out of whack, so much so that I actually had to fold-over and quilt down about an inch of fabric on one side. (It hides remarkably well – it happened to be right where there was a seam anyway, and it just sort of blends in.) I had a hell of a time figuring out how to quilt it, and I screwed things up a lot and tried mostly unsuccessfully to hide it. The more I tried to make things work, the more frustrated I got with it, and so it’s spent several years languishing in a closet while I mulled over what to do with it… at least, I mulled it over in between year long bouts of pretending it didn’t exist.

Fabric Origami Quilt, 2x2

During one of my annual bouts of mulling things over a while back, I realized the single biggest problem with the quilt: it’s full of raw edges. Every single flower has a raw edge on the underside of each petal, which you can see opened up in the photo above. I’ve made a lot (A LOT) of mini-pillows using these, and it’s not such a big deal that they’ve got raw edges, because you’re not using it, you’re not likely going to have to wash it. But how can you wash a quilt with 65 flowers, each with raw edges on all four petals? So needless, I think, to say… I’ve given up on that quilt. I don’t know what to do with it – it seems ridiculous to bag it up and throw it in the garbage, but I just don’t know how to salvage it.

Anyway, I had to make a new quilt. My Grandma has made me a number of quilts – I think I’ve got four from her, which really I should take proper pictures one day and make a post about them. But I’ve never made her something big before, and I thought she’d probably like to have something I quilted, since I know she’s pretty tickled by the thought that I’ve picked up quilting. The few times she’s seen things I’ve made, she’s had a kind of funny reaction. She finds the colours and prints I use kind of bewildering, I think. I mean, why would I want a quilt with black sashing and bright colours when there are so many pretty pink fabrics out there?

Anyway, Bonnie & Camille’s Vintage Modern is a very pretty fabric line, and although it’s not quite my thing, it’s still something that hits points that appeal to me (the interesting prints, like the houndstooth and those sort of circular ones, the colours – red and aqua and grey), but is traditional and pretty enough to appeal to my Grandma.

Vintage Modern Wonky Star Quilt

I made this using a layer cake – a Moda layer cake will give you 21 blocks, I used 20 and the extra may, if I get around to it, get turned into a cushion – and then red and white yardage, plus a little yardage for the border and binding. Using a layer cake (the equivalent of 4 charm packs) means the blocks are a little larger than standard, about 13.5 inches finished rather than 12 inches. Which is nice, because this makes a decent sized lap quilt for an adult, about 63 x 77 inches.

When I started making the blocks, I was a little concerned that the white stars wouldn’t stand out against the grey prints, so I separated out all of the grey prints (there were 8) and made four blocks in all grey, with the red stars to contrast. The red fabric is cherry Cotton Couture from Michael Miller, and is really beautiful feeling stuff. (I mean, I like my Kona Cotton, I’ve got yards and yards of the stuff, but Cotton Couture is just GORGEOUS stuff to work with.)

Vintage Modern star blocks

I like those contrasting stars in the quilt and I’m glad I did it. (Although I think that’s one of those things that will bewilder my Grandma!) I think those four red stars are probably the wonkiest of all my wonky stars, so that appeals to me too. I was really worried that I’d run out of the white tone-on-tone I used with the multi-coloured prints, so I was being very cautious about how I cut them and how much fabric I used. I did manage to stretch the tone-on-tone over the whole quilt, but I think I was only left with maybe 2 or 3 squares or triangles that would still have been usable. (I don’t know how much I started with – it was probably about a metre, but I’m really not certain.)

Vintage Modern quilt top

I don’t have any really good shots of the quilting in this one, but that’s okay because I kind of did it all ass-backwards and would have done things a fair bit differently if I’d really thought it through before I started, rather than doing the first thing I thought of and then having to slot in everything else around it. In any case, I quilted it in a pale grey that pretty much blends right into the quilt. Before quilting, I tried something new to me with the basting, which was to baste on a table rather than the floor! I found this tutorial from My Fabric Obsession and decided that even if it didn’t work out that well, it HAD to be better than crawling around on the floor to pin baste. It was! I had no problems with wrinkles on the quilt back, and it was so so so so so easy compared to doing it on the floor. No aching back! No worries about leaving pin gouges in the kitchen floor! (I probably left some pin-scratches in my sewing table, but I’m really not worried about that.) I’m definitely going to do that again the future, although maybe I’ll finally suck it up and try thread basting.

Vintage Modern Wonky Star Quilt

I decided when I was working on the top, that I really wanted to have a flannel backing, so that it would be nice and cosy to wrap up in. As a lap quilt, I figure it’s more likely to be used off a bad, and thus without a sheet, so who wouldn’t want an extra fuzzy and soft feeling fabric up against them? I thought I’d probably have to use a solid grey flannel, but Vintage Modern came with several flannel prints as well, and I found someone on Etsy who was selling yardage. I really wanted a grey print (I don’t know why, it just felt right) and was very happy to find that floral that you see up above. This Moda flannel seemed to be a nicer quality flannel than a lot of the solids I’ve worked with before. I didn’t pre-wash the other fabrics, but obviously I did pre-wash the flannel because that stuff can shrink A LOT, but it shrunk much less than any other flannel I’ve worked with in the past. It also didn’t seem quite as shred-happy as a lot of flannels I’ve used.

For the binding, I used a striped print from another line of fabric by Bonnie & Camille, Marmalade, which is another line of pretty vintage-looking florals. I had planned to use the red print with white dots that you can see in the quilt, but went with the striped binding instead because who doesn’t love a striped binding? There’s a part of me that thinks my Grandma would probably have liked the dots better, so that part of me kind of wishes I hadn’t switched to the stripe, but I love the stripe too much to seriously contemplate changing anyway.

So now I need to chuck this puppy in the wash. I’m always scared of washing things – what if it completely falls apart? what if the whole thing comes out in a big ball of shredded fabric and strings? – even though I’ve never had any problems. Irrational fears, eh?


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Vintage Modern Wonky Star quilt, finished (yay!)

Vintage Modern Wonky Star quilt

Oh, look. A finished project!

(More later. It was bed time almost two hours ago. Someone is shovelling their sidewalk right now, though, and I can’t fall asleep. SO LOUD! I work nights all weekend, so it might be Sunday before I have a chance to write a proper entry. And hopefully take a proper picture.)