Work-in-Progress Girl


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Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I finished a thing! And this thing was both my A Lovely Year of Finishes January goal AND my first project on my Finish Along Quarter One list!

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

This photo was just for my sister who, when I was lamenting the lack of clean outdoor places to photograph this quilt, suggested that I use her fresh-from-the-car-wash car as a backdrop. There was too much sun, but the car was nice and clean… The quilt, too, was sort of for my sister. She commissioned it for a friend of hers who was having her first baby. The new parents didn’t know if they were having a boy or a girl, so they were doing their nursery in browns and lime greens, and so that was my only requirements for the quilt. I gave my sister a few options of things I wouldn’t mind to try making, and she choose the one I was rooting for all along, a pattern published in the Spring 2014 edition of Fons and Porter’s Scrap Quilts magazine called 42 Hashtags by Tanya Finken of Squares and Triangles.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

The original version was made with 42 charm squares plus a little over 1.5 yards of white fabric – I made mine with 2 yards of some random brown in my stash (I think it was a Kona cotton, but I’m not sure) and 42 self-cut charms. I pulled all my fabrics except one out of my scrap drawer, leaning as much as possible on lime and grellow sorts of colours, but with a little bit of sky blue, darker greens, and some yellow mixed in as well.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

Fourteen of the blocks are made with a solid background rather than a print, which I think gives that hashtag centre of the quilt a bit of a twinkliness, as silly as that sounds. It just changes the way your eye moves around, somehow.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

Even though it’s a baby quilt, I didn’t want to have too many children’s prints involved. There are a few novelty-type prints to give a nod to the fact that it is a baby quilt, but otherwise it’s just dots and stripes and other mostly geometric prints. These few animals and the airplane are all I’ve got in that line of things! (And aren’t those sheep from Laurie Wisbrun just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?)

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I quilted this very simply so that it would remain soft and drapey, creating two sort of ribboned lines horizontally through each row of hashtags, plus through the borders. If I’d had enough time, I’d have done the same thing vertically, but I was a little short, so I did the vertical borders as well, so that it created a row of hashtags down the sides of the quilt. After that, I went back into the centre of the quilt and added vertical quilting lines to each of the blocks with the brown background, so that they have a completed ribbon hashtag, while the rest of the quilt just has the horizontal quilting. I used a green variegated thread, so that I didn’t have to try to colour match the variety of colours in the hashtags. I kind of like the green quilting on the brown – it gives it a little lift where otherwise it’d be a too big, too brown expanse of fabric.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I backed the quilt in a flannel with elephants to tie in with the elephant block on the front of the quilt. Colourwise, it doesn’t match my binding very well, which was largely done with that awesome plaid of Denyse Schmidt’s Chicopee line, but to be honest I don’t really care. I love how the binding looks on the front and the flannel feels nice on the back. That’s good enough! It’s not visible in this particular photo, but one corner of the binding was done in the same solid brown as the majority of the front.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I really love this quilt and it was the tiniest bit hard to give up. I may have to make another, larger one some day. Love.

Some quilt stats
Name: I mostly call it the Brown and Lime Hashtag quilt, but that’s because I’m never creative with names.
Pattern: 42 Hashtags by Tanya Finken
Size: About 39″ x 43.5″
Fabric: Assorted green, yellow, and blue prints, with a Kona cotton background, which I think is Espresso, but I can’t find my colour card to doublecheck.
Backing: Cheapie green and white elephant flannel
Binding: Denyse Schmidt’s Simple Plaid in Lime from Chicopee

Posting a #fridayfinish on my blog today about my green and brown hashtag quilt... Love these fabrics I put into it!

So if you made it all the way to the bottom of this ridiculously long post,.. you can be entered to win 42 charms in lime, grellow, green, yellow, and blue fabrics, all cut straight from my stash! They’re not an exact match to the 42 from my quilt, because some of them I didn’t have enough fabric to make two charms, but there are 42, which is enough to make this quilt (or something like it!) for yourself. If you’d like to be entered to win, just leave a comment telling me what you might do with these charms if you won them. (I’m perfectly okay with you saying, “I have no idea!” or that you’d filter them into your own scrap stash to be used as you find the perfect place for them.) [Edited to add: please don’t add this to any sites that compile lists of giveaways. I don’t care who enters my giveaways – they’re open to anyone – but I prefer they go to someone who is reading this because of a link-up I’ve joined or because they just read my blog, rather than because they’ve hit on a site that links them all up.]

Also, edited to add: I forgot to say when I’d do the drawing! All entries need to be in by Thursday, February 5 – I’ll do the drawing when I get home from work on Friday morning.

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Little Things

I’ve made a lot of little things in the last little while, so here’s a big photodump of an entry talking about all of them.

I guess I should go back in time to the thing I made longest ago, back in September or October, I think, which was a little mini-quilt, based on the Ravenclaw house crest:

Ravenclaw Mini

I made this for Mari-Ann/RockIslander, who is a Ravenclaw. I took a picture of the Ravenclaw crest from online, blew it up a fair bit, traced around the edges of the eagle and transferred the pattern (in reverse) to fusible web. So then I cut it out (using the sharpest cuticle scissors ever, which are so much more awesome for cutting delicate fabric bits than for mangling finger tips) and fused the bird to the background. It’s actually two layers of fused fabric – the background wing was done separately, so that I could use a darker portion of the fabric, which I hoped would give some depth and sort of visually separate the two wings. Then I stitched around the bird, creating feathers in the wings and tail. (You can see a photo of that here from Mari-Ann – my own picture of the back turned out terribly, but I’d already sent it away and couldn’t try for another shot!) In the crest, the stripes run the opposite direction, but I paper-pieced that portion as well, and forgot to reverse that pattern! Oh well.

I like to think that if I were a Hogwarts student, I’d have been a Ravenclaw myself, but I bet I’d have wound up in Hufflepuff because I was really far too lazy a student to have made Ravenclaw when I was in high school. Hufflepuff sometimes seems to be the fall-back house: you don’t fit anywhere else? Well, Hufflepuff it is, then.

Children's Wash Cloths

About two weeks ago I was clearing out some stuff from the plastic cabinets in my sewing room, and I found a pile of children’s fabrics I didn’t even remember I had. I tend to avoid buying children’s fabrics because I never know what to do with them and I don’t have children, so no particular need for items made using children’s fabric. But I do sometimes buy scrap packs of fabric, and I’ve started to amass a fair collection of children’s prints from those scraps and from the occasional times I’ve bought children’s fabrics to make gifts for friends who are having babies. When I found this particular print, I just got the urge to do SOMETHING with it, but it was a small piece of fabric – about 8 to 8.5 inches wide at the largest point by width of fabric – and I couldn’t decide what to do with it. Then I remembered having seen a tutorial ages ago for making wash cloths out of terry cloth and cotton. Well. Terry cloth I’ve got. Several years ago I had the genius plan to make little hooded bath towels for babies. Which, needless to say, didn’t happen. So yeah. Wash cloths. (I didn’t go look for a tutorial because… it’s just not that complicated.) I’m torn between making wash cloths till the end of time (or just the end of that million miles of terry cloth) to use up all the ginormous pile of children’s fabric I didn’t realize I had and just giving away the fabric. I was thinking about getting rid of it all on Sew Mama Sew’s December giveaway day, but to be honest, there’s such a big pile, I’m not sure I’m going to want to pay to ship it all away!

Liberty Pincushion

This is another slightly older one. Back in September I bought some Liberty of London fabric to try it out and see if I’d like it as much as so many people seem to. I don’t. I find most of their prints to be fussy little florals (which is pretty high up my list of dislikes) and while I’m sure it’s wonderful for clothing, it’s so thin that I can’t understand why (some) people want to use it for quilts. Yes, it’ll last for a while, but it’s kind of delicate stuff: I don’t think it’d stand up to continual use in a bed quilt. Anyway, in the pincusion, I blended the slightly thicker than quilting cotton Essex Linen with the slightly thinner than quilting cotton Liberty Tana Lawn, so I used interfacing on the Liberty fabric to give it a little more heft, which probably did it some good. The edges of the cathedral window, particularly near the bottom ends of it, are kind of loose and open in a way I don’t love, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to make them crisper, tighter corners. Maybe putting in a few whip stitches or something to join one edge to the other? (And also, maybe using a thinner fabric than the Essex linen.)

Anyway, you can make your own Cathedral Window pinnie using this pincushion tutorial on YouTube. The first one that I made, above, I made a little larger than the tutorial recommends. She says 10 cm squares for the patchwork back, which is about 4 inches, but I made mine 4.5 inches, and I shouldn’t have because it looks much nicer on the second one, which (though you can’t tell without scale in the photos) I made at the recommended size:

Liberty Pincushion

Okay, the tutorial creates a pretty great pincushion (I think) – I love the cathedral window look and it’s a pretty easy way of creating it – but it’s not the best tutorial out there. The words don’t always line up with what’s being shown in the video and there is one crucial bit of information that doesn’t get talked about that is only shown in text on the sidelines of the video (and if you’re watching the woman’s hands, as I tend to do, you might just miss it). So here’s the most important bit of information: the section that you leave open to turn the pincushion is in the patchwork portion of the sewing NOT when you sew the top to the bottom.

Liberty Pincushion

My stitches are pretty well hidden in the back, but that slightly rippled edge in the top right seam is where I left it open. When I made the first one, I sewed shut the patchwork and left open part of the side, which Did Not Work At All. I had fused on interfacing after stitching the patchwork section, so I had to rip it open and rip through the interfacing, and then restitch it closed by hand after stuffing it. Pain In The Ass.

Anyway, I made this pin cushion (and the following two projects using Liberty fabrics) for Cathy of Blueberry Patch, who won a giveaway prize from me alllllll the way back in August. Yes, it really took me until now to make and send it out. Cathy and I both own shoes made with Liberty fabrics, and I know she’s a fan of Liberty, so when her name was chosen for the prize, I decided to pick up the a Liberty scrap pack (and a couple Fat Eighths) from Pick Click Sew on Etsy so that I could try it out and have some fabric for making the prizes. At the time, I didn’t know what I was going to make with it, but I kind of love all the things I did make.

Liberty Fabric Bucket

The next thing I made was the good old fabric basket from Ayumi’s tutorial at Pink Penguin. This is a great tutorial and a great size and a great way to pull together some of the smaller scraps of Liberty that I’d gotten. The scrap pack had a real mishmash of colours and prints (because I used up all the good red ones in that first pincushion) and I had hard time figuring out how to make them all work together.

Liberty Fabric Bucket

In the end, I just went crazy with the colour combos and didn’t try to match things up at all. I added the little flange of green between the patchwork and linen portions to tie in the lining fabric a little more (especially since there was none of that fresh spring green in the rest of the prints). Some of these prints are just kind of crazy – scroll up to the other photo and look on the far left side at that little carriage print, can you imagine making clothing out of that? who would want to? Anyway, I think it all comes together better than I thought it would, even though there’s nothing in particular tying one print to the next. I used the Essex linen here again, which I think is nice for the base, since it gives it a little extra heft, which helps hold the shape of the basket. (I also put a fair bit of quilting into the basket bottom because I think that helps give it some structure as well. Though really at this small size it doesn’t need too much help. The one larger one I made was too loose and kind of floppy and really could have used a few layers of a nice stiff interfacing.)

Anyway, part of the reason I didn’t have a good grouping of colours to go into this was because I used up most of the red/pink prints on the first pincushion and then I set aside most of the “good” blues (all my favourite ones, anyway…) for making the next item I sent. I don’t have a good photo of this because we’re all light-shunning vampires at my house and I couldn’t find enough sunlight anywhere to photograph it properly, but a Tiny Tree Garland (tutorial/pattern by Noodlehead):

Tiny Tree Garland

I so wish I’d had some blue perle cotton to string these up, but all I had was gold, white, pink (sashiko thread), and red. I went with red because it was the most vivid colour (and white just looked… wrong).

Tiny Tree Garland

I made these using the aforementioned Liberty scraps, but also bamboo felt from TaDaa Studio Felt. I like the bamboo stuff – it’s as soft as nice wool felt, but doesn’t have the allergy issues I know some people have with wool (or the animal ethics issues some vegans have with wool — not that I’ve got that issue myself, but I’ve made things in the past for people who have).

Tiny Tree Garland

I was trying to leave enough space between trees that Cathy could cut it down into a set of seven hanging ornaments if she’d rather use the trees that way (garlands can be awkward! and I couldn’t figure out a NICE way to end the dangling strings – I was sure I had some giant shiny gold beads that I was going to string onto the ends, but I couldn’t find them for the life of me), but looking at the photos, I’m not sure I really left enough string for loops. Anyway, it’d be pretty easy to pull out what’s there and swap in something else. (I did knot the thread on either side of each tree, but… that’s what scissors are for :D)

Anyway, that was my special prize package for Cathy, who received it excitedly yesterday 😀

Okay, jeez. Epic length post here. One last thing:

Flannel-Voile Receiving Blankets

I’ve been all about using things up lately because I’ve been going through another crisis of OMGTOOMUCHSTUFF and these receiving blankets were a way of using up some voile and flannel I had laying around. If I had more flannel in the right colours, I’d use up the rest of my (small) voile stash on blankets just like these. These were made using a Self-binding Blanket tutorial. Mine are a bit smaller than in the tutorial because I only had 1 yd of each cut. I think I cut them in the end to 34″ square for the voile and 30″ square for the flannel, but I can’t quite recall. (I do know neither of the voiles were very well cut yards because I couldn’t get the full 36″ out of them!) Anyway, it came out to about 32″ square for the blankets. They’re not perfect by a long shot – the top-stitching is pretty appalling (I couldn’t find matching thread, so I just went for contrast, but ugh, every flaw is magnified) – but I think they turned out pretty cute anyway. And they’re so lovely and light-weight. Almost makes me want to make a giant bed sized one. (Not that I’ve got a source for extra wide-width flannel or voile, but.)

Okay. 2000 words. That’s longer than some essays I wrote in university. Time to wrap it up.


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First Time Ever

I haven’t done any sewing at all in several days – I worked nights over the weekend and I’ve been all STRESSCASE at work (which, let me say, is getting really old) and have just collapsed in a heap at home the last couple days. I did make the effort twice this week to cook, though, so I guess that’s something! Might not be much, but it’s something. In any case, I haven’t done any sewing for such-and-such reasons, but I’m posting anyway because one of the bloggers I read, Melissa at My Fabric Relish, decided to do a linky for First Quilts Ever.

Link party button

I’ve kind of sort of talked about the my first quilt in the past – my navy and off-white nine patch was the first quilt top I ever worked on, but it’s still not finished! The top is finished, but that’s as far as I’ve ever gotten. I did buy a lot of fabric for the backing last year, but I didn’t end up liking the fabric enough – it was too royal and not navy enough of a blue. So I’m still sitting on that one for now.

But if we’re going to get technical and require a first finish to mean an actually usable finished quilt, then my first finish ever was a baby quilt for an online friend of mine:

quilt-hourglasscomplete

I wish I had a better photo of it, but this is all I’ve got from back in the day (c. 2004 or 2005, I think). It’s all made with flannel, with hourglass blocks and it was quilted in the ditch diagonally and around the borders. I seem to recall having started with larger borders, but then trimming it down to this narrow size so that I wouldn’t have to figure out how to quilt them! I also imagine my mom did most of the quilting herself, because I was using her sewing machine and it always hated me – I’d get tangles and birds’ nests just for looking at that machine the wrong way and EVERY way was the wrong way. All of the fabric was bought at WalMart and I backed it in solid yellow flannel. I’m not in contact with Mandy (the friend in question) any more, but if I were, I’d love to know how the quilt held up! I can easily imagine it having fallen apart in the wash, though of course I hope it didn’t!

My next finished quilt after that was also a baby quilt, also done entirely in flannels. By that point, I’d bought/been given my sewing machine, and was living on my own in Saskatoon. I was in university and had no money (seriously, I grocery shopped with a calculator and kept track of the pennies and tax to be sure I’d have enough food to last out the month!), but a friend of mine was having a baby and at the time I didn’t have a fabric stash, so when I got some of my student loan funding, I went and spent a bunch of it on flannel at a fabric store I can’t remember the name of, but which was close to Midtown mall (if there are any Saskatoonians around to tell me the name, feel free, it was/is? right across the street at the Sears end).

quilt-trianglebabyquilt

I was never quite certain how the Mum in question felt about this quilt – it was garish and bright, but soft and cushy. I tied it with black embroidery floss and backed it with a kind of crazy print flannel:

quilt-trianglebabycloseback

I wasn’t totally sold on that fabric, but I let the shop owner talk me into it (it DID contain all the colours from the front, so…) and while I’m still not crazy about it, I suppose it does work for a child’s quilt. At the time I did this, I was terrified to try properly binding a quilt (I don’t know why! It’s so easy!) so both this quilt and the previous one had roll-over bindings. On the first, I rolled the yellow from the back over to the front and stitched it down, and on this one, the border fabric from the front (the plaid) was rolled over the back and stitched down. I’m not sure that’s the most secure method of binding a quilt, but it felt less terrifying somehow and I was always able to get my mom to help me start it out. (I was confident enough to sew it down, but never confident enough to START sewing it, so I’d have to get her to do the first couple inches and then I’d take over, until I got to a corner, at which point I’d enlist her help again.)

Neither of these are particularly embarrassing first attempts at quilting, but to begin with, I started out with the hand-pieced nine-patch (which would be hard to mess up completely) and then dove into these, which were both VERY simple. Most of my embarrassing early attempts were related to block swaps. The first swap I participated in, I used cheap and (I have to say…) ugly fabric to make really piss-poor Shoo Fly blocks. I’m pretty sure all the blocks were the wrong size and that all the people in the swap wanted to refuse to swap with me again! The next time we swapped, though, I made paper-pieced stars and they turned out pretty spectacular 😀 (That one would be the red and white star closest to the front in this quilt.)

Anyway, that was a bit of a twofer “first time” but it didn’t feel like there was much to say about the actual first finished one, and having not seen it in so many years, I don’t have any insight on how good a job I did (or didn’t!) do with any of it. I can imagine the binding coming unstitched or maybe the cheap fabric kind of wearing through with use. But I don’t mind if that’s what happened with it, so long as those quilts DID get used. Whenever I give quilts to parents these days, I tell them that they’re meant to be used, to be thrown on the grass in the backyard or used as a beach blanket and rolled around and ground into dirt and puked and spilled on and just… used. They can be machine washed and they’re not delicate heirloom quality, so give them a work-out because I’d be more offended to learn they sat on a shelf to keep them pristine for…. what?

Anyway, I’ve got the weekend off work, so I’ve got plans! Plans to make something for my last giveaway (there are two somethings in mind, and they’re both useless but hopefully will turn out beautiful!), plans to piece together the quilt back for my Star Surround quilt, and possibly maybe plans to quilt that quilt. (I’m thinking just plain jane straight-line quilting, just kind of… 1 or 1-ish inches apart, with hopefully a bit of an organic wave to them. I wanted to do free motion, but I’m recalling just how much difficulty I’ve had in the past when trying to do it, and I want to build some more practise sandwiches to work on before trying it on the Real Deal.) I also have a very loose plan to Clean The Fuck Up. (Pardon the language, I try to keep my potty mouth in check around here, but much like the book Go The F*ck to Sleep, sometimes the swears just make the title of the thing what they need to be.) I need to Clean The Fuck Up. And I’ll try to make a post about that. A before and after post, hopefully, but it’s going to be a big, embarrassing job. So we’ll see how that goes… 😀


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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.