So last year I decided not to participate in so many swaps, and so I didn’t, but then I missed doing it. It’s fun doing swaps… you get to try things you might never otherwise try and you have the benefit of quick finishes so you’re not adding another WIP to the pile (which, of course, is my usual MO). So when I ran across a quilted postcard swap on Instagram, I had to join!
This swap was run by Patty of Elm Street Quilts and had some fun and easy requirements. All we did was give a prompt word and then we made our cards based on the prompt that our recipient requested… however we wanted to interpret that prompt.
With this project I decided to try out trapunto and doubled up my batting under the round bits. It doesn’t show so well in any of the photos I took, but there is a huge amount of puff. I had planned originally to use a different shade of yellow in each of six squares, but got distracted by the idea of improv piecing and so landed on this look instead. To be honest, I’m not sure if I like it as much as I’d hoped I would, but I don’t dislike it either. It just sort of makes me go, hmm.
So, can you guess what prompt I received?
Well… it was ‘Summer’ but I immediately thought of sun and sunshine..
It’s just been nothing but snow, snow, and more snow this year. I’m desperate for some summer sun.
Funny thing… my prompt word was ‘Glow’ and I was sent some summer sun by Mommaneen on Instagram:
Also, there will be a postcard parade at Patty’s blog, Elm Street Quilts, on April 7, so do go check it out! I really should have held this post until then!
Every year I try to make my mom a mini quilt for a different holiday or season, for a quilt rack I bought her a few years ago, with my sister usually pitching in some cross-stitch (as her craft of choice). I’m slowing picking away at major holidays and some more generic ones to hang in between times. There are a few I’ve never posted here (including one for winter and an Easter one), but if you’re interested you can go see: a purple orchid, Valentines, summer/growth, Halloween/fall, Christmas.
This, of course, is for Canada day, featuring a beaver (our national animal) and the flag and maple leaves and little bit of anthem lyrics.
I drew out the lettering for the ‘Oh Canada’ by hand and stitched most of it myself, with a little help from my sister, using back stitch and chain stitch for filler. I should have drawn on a line so that my writing would have been straight, but I didn’t and so it takes a really sharp upward slant.. it’s a bit goofy, but there was no fixing it.
The beaver is a fantastic pattern by Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts. I think it’s so cute! Although my mom did say, ‘Now what creature is that?’ and…….. I don’t know how she missed the beaver thing. I told her to show it to her friends without telling them it’s a beaver and to see if they can figure out. It’s not that hard to tell it’s a beaver, is it? (Is it?!)
The rest of the pattern is my own. The leaves I just worked out based on the size of the partial leaf in the flag/beaver and I added the checkerboard at the top to get the project up to an appropriate size.
The quilting is pretty simple – a fairly tight meander in the background, some veins in the leaves, straight-line quilting the red part of the flag and an outline around the beaver. I did match my threads to the fabrics so nothing really stands out that much.
I’m really happy with how it turned out and even though my mom didn’t realize it was a beaver, she seemed really pleased with it. (Of course, the colours are amazing, so… how could she not love it?)
Finished February 17, 2018. Approximately 15.5″x 22″.
I film videos about what crafts I’m working on about once a month or so to share with friends in the Talk to Me Tuesday community. Usually I’m on camera showing things, but this week I filmed a lot about my Plume quilt, with all the focus on the quilting.
In the video I talk about the quilting that isn’t finished and trying to figure out how to finish it. I’ve decided to do straight line quilting every half inch, so I’ve got the inside part of the borders done and tomorrow will get the outside part of the borders quilted. After that it’ll be trimming and binding.
I need to make new plans for the binding. It was supposed to be the same brown fabric as the flanges, but I hadn’t been able to find the binding fabric anywhere. I went looking today again after filming this video and I found some of it… and it’s only about 8.5-inches by width of fabric. Definitely not enough to bind the whole quilt. I was prepared to swear I had at least a half yard of that brown fabric, but I must have…. used it for something. I can’t think of what or why I would have done it, but it doesn’t seem to exist anymore. Frustrating. I have very, very little Plume fabric in my stash, so I have to decide now if I want to just use a solid brown (if I can find a match!) or if I want to use some other Tula Pink fabric in my stash or…. I don’t know. Something else entirely? Brown feels like the right finish, like a frame around the project. Why on earth would I have used my binding fabric for something else?!
Okay, so my goal from last month is now my goal for this month. To finish – quilted and bound – my pink and coral windmill quilt. I did get it all basted and I even started quilting it, but I got hung up somewhere along the way because I didn’t like how it was looking… and I unpicked four blocks worth of quilting. (Which was not that much, but still felt like A LOT.)
The thing was, I was trying to do very large spirals, so that I could do one per quarter block, which is a 4-inch square space. And while it wasn’t a bad idea in theory, it’s actually pretty tough to make a spiral that big! Not just to make one that big, but to make one that big that looks good! I was ending up with a lot of squarish bits on my spirals and jerks because I had to move my hands too far to get the outer ring the right size. (It’s different when you spiral out from the centre, that’s not as tough – you just have to maintain a consistent space between quilting lines, but this is a the kind of spiral where you spiral in and then spiral back out in the empty spaces.) And it was leaving too much of a gap in the centre of the block, so out it came.
This time I’m doing a more organic spiral, trying to fill in the spaces with different size spirals that fill at approximately the same scale. I’m not that good at it – there are bits where I forget to leave room to spiral out and so have lines nearly touching that shouldn’t at all, and then there are some bits where there’s a solid inch between quilting lines. But this is practise and I’ll never get better if I don’t just practise.
I’m still having a pretty hard time with regulating the speed of my hands and speed of my machine… so I’ve got some giant stitches (along the lines of 1/4-inch length) and some very, very tiny ones. I have a tendancy to jerk just a little bit when I first start quilting again after I’ve paused to reposition my hands. And sometimes I panic while trying to decide where to quilt next. I’m trying to work in a fairly logical progression around the quilt (working out from the centre, essentially spiralling around that centre block), but I think just figuring out where to go next might be the hardest thing about free motion quilting.
Seeing this quilt in the machine in the sunshine is kind of making me like this quilt again, which hasn’t always been the case. I’m bouncing back and forth with this one. I bet when it’s done I’ll like it better than I ever thought I would.
If you can see that dangling thread in this photo, that’s because I had to stop here when the bobbin thread ran out. I didn’t feel like picking back my stitches last night (so that I’d have enough thread to buy), so that’s on tap for tonight, if I ever make it off the computer and into the sewing room. But before I go, I wanted to show you some of the more amusing (to me) parts of my quilting set-up.
I sew on a cheapie kitchen table which is taller than standard with shorter than standard kitchen chairs. With the machine on the table, it’s a bit like trying to quilt with my elbows at my ears, so this is my height solution:
That would be an Ikea neck support pillow, which was too stiff for sleeping, but is remarkably comfortable for sitting on while sewing, topping a double stack of quilting books (my bum is big – one stack of books isn’t going to cut it, comfort-wise). I don’t always quilt with the pillow on top of the book pile, because it sometimes feels a bit too much like I’m hovering over everything.
These books are pushed way too far back on the chair, normally they’re up closer to the edge of the chair so that I can sit on them more comfortably. They add a nice 4 inches or so of height! Some of the books in this stack… it’s the most use they’ll ever see. But the two up top – Sunday Morning Quilts and Shape by Shape – are two of my favourite books in my quilting collection. I’m sorry author-ladies: the fact that I park my ass on your books is not a reflection of my opinion at all! It’s just an added dimension of usefulness in a pair of already magnificent books.
Since I’m lifted so far up from the floor, I also need to lift my foot-pedal up from the floor – I’m a short person, so I can’t stretch down to the floor all that comfortably. The plastic box is a rather old piece of Tupperware that I probably inadvertently stole from my mom about 15 years ago. I’ve got it turned the long way now so that there’s more space to rest my foot, but that’s the basic set-up.
So my A Lovely Year of Finishes goal for April was to catch up on all my blocks for the Gypsy Wife quilts, both low and higher volume versions. And hey – I managed it! (Largely because I was on holiday in the middle of the month, so I did a whole lot of block sewing…)
Since I was most caught up on the Brights version, I’ll start there. Here are all my blocks so far – February, March, and April:
I like having all the blocks up on the design wall because it does help a bit to see where I need more or less of a particular colour… but they are not easy to photograph like this!
For April we were sewing seven blocks (see a chart with all the blocks and when to sew them here), mostly Courthouse Steps blocks, but also a Square in a Square and a heart-shaped block, which I totally swapped out for something without a heart on it because ugh.
There are a lot of small bits of fabrics in these blocks and I keep digging through my scrap baskets looking for stuff to use, rather than using the fabric I bought for it. Which is fine, even kind of great, but sort of makes me laugh because I probably could have gotten away without buying anything at all.
This Granny Square block is the one I made instead of the heart block. I just needed a 6.5″ quilt block, and there it was! I’m pretty sure it’ll fit in perfectly with the aesthetic of the quilt, and it saves me from having a block I don’t like taking up space in a pretty awesome quilt. I used a tutorial from Why Not Sew, if you want to try out making one too.
So after that was all the catch-up for the lower volume version – I had to do all of the March blocks and the April ones because I fell behind! Here are all the blocks – February through April – so far:
So here are my March blocks:
The slightly scary Pershing block! As with my brights version, this block came out about 1/8″ too small. Which isn’t bad, but I still wish the pattern had a little more detail about what size the central units should be as you go along, so that I could have measured and saved myself losing that bit of size. I think I pressed this one with a little too much steam and Best Press because I pressed some wrinkles into it. I’ll have to wash it to get those out at this point, I think.
I really love the fabrics on the outsides of both of these blocks. That red one surprises me because it doesn’t feel like a print I’d usually go for, but I just like what it’s adding to these blocks, with the bits of red but lots of neutral. The blue is such an interesting and strange print – I have a feeling it’ll pop up again before this quilt is through…
I question every decision that went into the making of these two blocks. Every single one. I mostly like the prints involved (I don’t like the star print, but I almost never like star prints), but I don’t understand at all why I paired those two blues and those two… whatever those other ones are. From a distance they just sort of blend into a block of nothing.
For my April blocks I did do the stupid heart block. I thought that since I was making two versions of the quilt, maybe I should make one of them properly. I reserve the right to change my mind eventually a swap this out for something else entirely… A note about this one: you’ll be left with a spare hourglass from the construction process, which will be useful in one of the blocks next month – if you save it, you can trim it down to the required size and save yourself a little time.
By and large I’m happy with these, although that peach number is another one that kind of blurs into nothing because the fabrics are two samey. (Also, I need to trim the borders on that one on the bottom left – I cut the outside ring too big.)
This block gives me some troubles. I keep trying to push myself a include bits that I don’t think are necessarily lower volume, because I’m afraid of the quilt falling flat if I don’t play around the the volume a little bit, but I’m not sure this was a successful experiment. I think it might just be too bright, regardless of how quiet they are compared to, say, a burgundy or a navy blue.
This one I think I pretty much got right, though. That blue is fairly dark, but somehow (in the group photo above) I think it just adds a little punctuation, without being such a misstep.
Anyway, next up is the Hope from Hartford block, 3 hourglass based blocks, and more square in square blocks! In the meantime, if you’re quilting along, come link up with Megan at Jaffa Quilts. Our prize this month is sponsored by the wonder Fat Quarter Shop:
Don’t forget to visit all our amazing sponsors who can be found here at Michelle’s blog, Factotum of Arts and check out the schedule to see where we are at! This is a very easy quiltalong to keep up with because there are only a few, often small blocks per month and usually only one slightly more complicated, intense or larger block to complement it. We’d love to have you, so just start sewing along and start linking up! (I don’t think anyone’s double checking to be sure you’re all caught up, so you know… dive in where we’re at and then backtrack through the previous blocks!)
So this is still my project because it’s very nearly May now, so I want to get started on my May blocks right away, before I have a chance to get distracted by all the other wonderful distracting things out there!
1. Two bee blocks
2. Sunshine Pillow
3. Cat Faces
4. Confetti Go Lucky quilt
The one that I cared about the most, that I set as my goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes was the Sunshine pillow. And it got done slightly last minute, but done it is!
This cushion cover was based on Katherine from Sew Me Something Good‘s Joy cushion that she created for Blogathon Canada last November. I don’t generally decorate with holiday things, but I really liked the idea of the pattern, so I kind of thought about it and sat on it and downloaded the pattern from Craftsy anyway (I think this will take you where you can get it…) and then I’d ordered some fabric from a shop that was giving away mini charm packs with purchases over x-amount of dollars, and I’d told the shop owner to surprise me. She sent me Kate Spain’s Sunnyside and I thought… sunshine? Yeah, I can do something with that.
As a bit of an aside, I was hugely amused by how few “sunny” prints are actually in the Sunnyside line: there are eleven or twelve that you could call orange or yellow, and then 28ish that are green, blue, or grey. Anyway, I arranged them from orange through yellow then green and teal to indigo from the left and light blue to grey to indigo from the right so that it would be like the sunshine was pushing in on a cloudy day, pushing away the clouds and wind and rain. The gold is just a Kona cotton that I had enough of and which worked the best of all the yellows I have. It was dark enough to provide some contrast with the lighter yellows in the line and didn’t seem to actively clash with any of the other colours (though that teal in the raindrop print is a near thing… it’s a bit of a strange colour choice in the line).
If you go check out Katherine’s Joy pillow, you’ll notice that I got lazy pretty quickly. I couldn’t settle on two different fabrics for the words, so that I could have the shadowed/layered effect used in the pattern, so I decided just to use one and then have a contrasting stitch instead. But then all I had was a copper coloured thread (I don’t have a lot of coloured threads) and it didn’t really contrast as much as I’d hoped.
Anyway, forget that, who cares?! It gets the job done and it doesn’t look bad. Let’s talk about embroidery instead – I loved the font I picked for the embroidery. I forget what it’s called, but I need to find it again because I’m totally using it for my next embroidery pattern (which will be part of the As You Wish quilt and stitch-along at Fandom in Stitches… and let me further interrupt myself to say how AMAZING the patterns are for this project… I’m not working on it right now because All The Projects Ever, but I’m totally keeping this one as a future thought because LOVE, and if you’re a fan of The Princess Bride – and how could you not be? Westley! Inigo Montoya! As You Wish! Giants! Adventure! True Love! (is this a kissing book?) – then you’ll love it all too). Anyway. Font. I love the shape of the letters, the curves and it stitched up beautifully with my favourite stitch, the split stitch (it kind of got mashed down when I pressed it the last time — forgot to put a towel under it!), and I think it’d work well with a stem stitch too (though maybe not with a back stitch, which a lot of people love, but the curves might be too tight for that). In another bout of laziness, I didn’t want to go buy thread that would work for the pillow, so I just used something I had – “Bell Pull” from Sublime Stitching’s Parlour colour palette – which is too near a match to the background fabric. But the stitching came out nicely and it’s readable if you’re not half-way across the room, so forget that, who cares?! It gets the job done and it doesn’t look bad.
You know what else gets the job done and doesn’t look (too) bad?
Grey zipper! If you were around on WIP Wednesday, then you know why I used a grey zipper. But just in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the original gold one:
This is why we shouldn’t sew when we’re tired. I didn’t want to go back to the store to buy another 22″ gold zipper (it’s an 18-in pillow, but that’s the size I had to buy to get a gold one that wasn’t ludicrously small for the size of the pillow), so I went with grey. I really should have made a flap to hide the zipper, but after sewing my zipper closed and then cutting off the business end of the zip, I thought I’d better stay away from anything more complicated than just stitching fabric onto the zipper and then top stitching it to make it look nice. The grey line isn’t horrible, but it sure does stand out, doesn’t it? Anyway, the fabric is Hive in Maize from Joel Dewberry’s Bungalow line. I love this print and am slightly appalled that I wasted so much of it on the back of a cushion (why didn’t I just use a solid gold? It’s not like I didn’t have more of the gold from the front of the cushion!) and I want to buy more! more! more! But I am supposed to be fabric fasting (and I totally crashed and burned today, but that’s a story for another day), so I’d better hold off and hope it’s still available in 5 months.
Anyway, back to my generalized laziness with this project. I really wanted to try out Katherine’s binding method for the edge of the cushion, but lazy. So very lazy. I even had a pretty orange fabric picked out that would have helped tie in the orange from the words, but nope. Lazy.
The quilting is kind of lazy too – a lot of organic lines, where organic means “can’t be arsed to make it straight, so I’m going to make it curve and call it intentional”. It’s a look I like though, so that helps! I had very little copper thread left, so I used up the spool and then used a basic off-white for the rest of the quilting. I also did a very, very quick and dirty stitch in the ditch around the four-patches, which I’ve very helpfully shown off in this picture where I just didn’t, couldn’t, you’re not gonna make me! stay inside the lines.
But you know what, for all my picking apart of the bits and pieces I don’t think are as awesome as they could be, I really love how this cushion came out. It makes me smile and it’s warmer and brighter than this miserable snowy winter we’re trudging our way through. This part of the winter (late January/February) is always sort of the worst for me.. it’s the bit when it feels the most never-ending, like we’re going to have snow for the rest of eternity because Winter isn’t just Coming, it’s already here and it’s got no plans of letting go. So a happy bit of sunshine is just the thing.
Naturally because I have a bit of a goal list for the month, I’ve so far only worked on completely different things. Two of them totally new!
The simplest thing on my ginormous To-Do list was to add borders to two finished baby sized tops and send them away for a Linus group to quilt and gift to a child in need. I even had the borders cut.
Sure, the lighting is horrible. But so are the borders! I don’t hate all borders on sight (like some capital-m Modern Quilters seem to), but there’s a time and a place for all things, and these two quilts were not the place for borders, apparently.
Thing was, they weren’t very square and if you have a not-very-square quilt, adding properly sized borders can really help fix a multitude of sins. But they’re just so awful looking! I couldn’t decide if I should take them off or leave them on, and I left them in the end. I figure if the Linus group that gets them really hates them as much as me, they can trim off 2.25″ width to use as binding fabric (and be left with a skinnier border, that maybe wouldn’t look so bad?) or they can rip them off entirely or they can leave them on because maybe some kid somewhere will appreciate it anyway.
Anyway, after I got that done, I went digging through my drawers looking for a needle. I can’t remember what got me looking for one – I don’t think I had anything that needed hand-sewing – but I did and then I found a little embroidery project that I bought a while ago and never got around to making:
An embroidered monkey stuffie from Kiriki Press. They sell a sweet little collection of embroidered stuffie kits. This is one of the simplest ones – you only need to know chain stitch and running or back stitch to do the embroidery. I picked it up because I thought it was cute and because Kiriki is an independant Canadian company (and I want to support Canadian talent) and did I mention it’s cute? I’ve only been working on it a little here and there while watching tv, but then I haven’t watched anything in a few days now, so I’ve set him aside again. I’m determined to finish him this month, though, so to that end, I’m going to link up to &Stitches January finish-along. I have lots of other embroidery projects I could try to finish instead, but I’m feeling this one instead.
I’m also working on some pot-holders out of that Christmas fabric I mentioned a couple days ago. I started out following a pot holder/hot pad tutorial, but I got distracted somewhere along the line and sort of did my own thing and then I thought how very boring it was (just this floral fabric on the front/heat reflective side, all that brown background fabric on the back side) so my brain went back to that original tutorial and thought I’d better add some kind of embellishment to break up the front a little.
So today I headed over to Fabricland and picked up a half metre each of those two crochet lace edgings – grand total of $1.13 – to test against the fabric. Neither matches quite exactly – in brighter lighting, the white is a much purer white than the fabric, which is a creamy yellow-based white and the beige is much too dark. (The beige does match the twill tape loops quite well.) But I have enough to do four hot pads, so I think I might just do two with the white and two with the beige and be done with it whether they match precisely or not.
So that’s what I’m working on! And then I need to get working on my bee blocks and some cat-faces…
Sometimes I get a little… weird about how little I finish in a year. Or maybe just how few big things I finish in a year. I read a lot of blogs (like… a lot), and some people seem constantly to be producing New! Amazing! Gorgeous! things every time I turn around, and it’s just not the way I work. But I still occasionally get all wibbly about it, as if it matters or as if anyone cares or as if the Quilt Police are keeping count and will take away my crafter card for not being that prolific.
Back in January 2013, I posted a list of five quilty goals:
1. To finish all my Simply Solids bee blocks in a timely way – DONE
2. To finish all my LJ Birthday blocks in a timely way – DONE (I mean, the last two were late, but they were in the mail long before the end of the year)
3. To finish quilting the seven quilt tops in my closet – Well…. one down, six to go.
4. Don’t start anything new, except some wall-hangings for my mom – AHAHAAHAHAHAHA.
5. Work on some of my unfinished projects – See above.
And five embroidery goals, of which I did exactly none.
Anyway, here’s a couple of collages, with most of the year’s things:
Quilt blocks. A lot of quilt blocks. Not all of the quilt blocks though. There were more churn dashes I made for my own quilt that I didn’t photograph. And then all the blocks that went into a quilt top I haven’t photographed yet (for the Confetti Go Lucky quilt) and more of the Cat Face blocks, which I didn’t photograph. The Doctor Who ones probably shouldn’t be in there because I’ve made them into a quilt top, which just needs its last border, but I don’t have any photos of the completed top, so I put them all in here.
It feels a little sadder looking at this collection of finished quilts and finished tops. There are two more than this (the aforementioned confetti go lucky and doctor who tops – well, Who is still in progress), but it’s the never finishing quilts that makes me feel like I’m not using my time wisely or whatever. I did get three quilts done to the binding and everything, and even though two of them are baby sized (and the other one was 90% finished with the clocked ticketed over from 2012 to 2013), I can still be proud of that. I am and always have been and probably always will be a slow quilter. I often get hung up right near the end. And I do quite a bit besides just quilts:
These are all minis of one sort or another. The two top left were for my mom. The hexagon one was for a Scrappy Swap. The three flags are were for Lac Megantic. The Ravenclaw was a gift for a crafty friend. (It could be used as a mug rug or a wall-hanging, as could the hexagon.)
And I did a small mountain of baskets, zip pouches, pin cushions, pot holders, and assorted small bits and pieces. I think it’s all a pretty… respectable amount of stuff to have gotten done over the course of the year, so I really need to get over myself. (Also, the embroidery shown here is not complete – there were several more of those little smiley faced summer things, but I don’t have photographs of most of them. One of these days…)
So that’s all of 2013. More or less. Next post… plans for 2014. I think I’ll make a combination Fabric Fast/WIP list/Another Lovely Year of Finishes/2014 Goals post. Else it might be the longest lead into 2014 EVER.
(With special thanks to Big Huge Labs for the mosaic maker, even if I wish it could deal a little better with non-square photos — I think it should make them all the same height, then adjust the column width to the widest photo. But anyway, I don’t pay for the use of it, so I shouldn’t complain too hard about how it works.)
I’m in Saskatchewan now for a week or so, but before I left, I had a mad rush to get a few things done for Christmas gifts. I’d promised to bring one of my friends some shortbread cookies on the Saturday before I left, but I forgot to buy butter, which kind of put paid to that idea, so instead I decided to make her some pillowcases using fabric I’d bought months ago with her in mind. She’s a huge fan of elephant everything, but only if the trunks are pointing up (because it’s supposed to hold in the luck?), so when I stumbled over this Madhuri line of fabric, I’d had to pick some up for her.
I made two pillowcases for her, and kind of did it in a fabric wasteful way – I wanted the elephants to be running left/right rather than up/down, so I cut the forty-four inches down the length of the fabric and then trimmed the 26″ from the width of the fabric – so many prints run in the wrong direction for the hot dog pillowcase method and that’s the only way around it, other than just living with it. Normally I am okay with that, but I guess the luck would run out if they’re sideways? I don’t know – this friend has a thing about the trunks so I indulged it!
Fortunately, these are pretty quick and easy to put together, even with the additional odd cutting. Not too much time or effort required to make them, and they look pretty great. She was also pretty happy with them, though I’m sure her husband wants to kill me. (Poor guy – I wrote him an apology on the gift tag.)
The other thing I needed to get put together was a wall-hanging for my Mom for a Christmas gift. Last year my sister and I made a Christmas wall-hanging for her and we also gave her a vaguely Halloween-ish quilted owl wall-hanging and for her birthday I gave her a more generic spring/summer wall-hanging, all for a quilt rack we also gave her for Christmas last year. So we’re trying to give her an option for every holiday, but we’re spreading it out a bit, rather than giving her a pile of them all at once. This is a Christmas gift idea that can go on for a few years!
We needed something pretty quick this year because my sister was in India for a good chunk of the fall (for work) and then everything after that just seemed to come too quickly and we kept putting it off and putting it off. Suddenly it was 5 days till I was leaving and my sister was so slammed at work that her job gave her carte blanche to work as much overtime (from home) as she can in order to get it done.
The only craft she really does (besides a tiny bit of scrap-booking) is cross-stitch, so we chose a really simple pattern from a book called Stitch Graffitti (the Christmas wall-hanging came from the same book) and she did a row here and a row there while waiting for her work program to load or run updates and so on. She got it done on the Thursday before I left, so Friday I pieced the stripes around it to bring it up to size (it’s about 15.5″ x 18″ I think – I don’t have it here to measure!).
I did matchstick quilting, which was unbelievably time-consuming, but which I think looks pretty great. The worst part was hiding all the gazillion threads on either side of the cross-stitch section – so very many starts and stops!
I was vaguely concerned the stripes of colour really didn’t work together that well, so I thought maybe quilting closely with the same thread over the whole thing would kind of help tie it all together a bit, as if it were one weirdly striped print, rather than all the random long strips of scrap solid fabric I had in a colour range between pink and burgundy, with a little purple and pale blue throw in for good measure. I was going to quilt it with a grey thread all over, but discovered a variegated thread in my stash that ranged from the palest pink to a deep burgundy – the perfect choice!
I bound it mostly with a grey dot, but also used a little of a pink flower dot that I’ve had in my stash for ages and ages. I intentionally avoided prints in the main part of the quilt – I thought it would be too distracting, and I wanted as much of the focus as possible to be on the cross-stitched area – so I thought the binding would be a nice place to add in a little printed texture. I had the whole thing quilted by Sunday, but then it was getting the binding done. It’s small enough not to take an enormous amount of time, but I didn’t want to have to bring it back to Saskatchewan with me – too easy for my mom to find it in my things. Monday night I stayed up stupid late to get it finished, since I was flying out Tuesday morning. I took my photos sometime after midnight, under the light of my harsh overhead CFL light – I’m surprised these photos came out as well as they did.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.