Category Archives: Quilting

Lots of sewing and lots of sneezing

Well it’s just been nuts here. The last month has been full of frenzied sewing and not much photo taking. Oh, and the spring crud that seems to be going around. Everybody in my family has been sick. I still sound like death warmed over. Ugh.

In between snotty tissues and coughing, there’s been lots of deadline sewing. First off is the wedding quilt for my sister-in-law. Who got married last June. Really, as long I they get the gift before their first anniversary then it’s not late. I love that tradition. It’s saved my bacon a few times for wedding gifts.

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The quilt is actually the 8th one I’ve finished this year. So I’m way ahead on my goal, but way behind on documenting any of it. If I can just make it through the next couple of weeks of scheduling madness, then I’ll have time to start photographing things.

The rest of the sewing is all related to the upcoming wedding of some good friends. First off was sewing one of the bridesmaid dresses. The wedding is going to be fairly casual, and the bridesmaids were simply asked to wear dresses in certain colors, no real specifications on style. My friend who I sewed the dress for is currently seven months pregnant and wasn’t too happy with the limited selection of maternity dresses she could find. Brilliant woman that she is, she tried tracing a pattern off an existing simple jersey dress she owns. We tweaked the pattern a bit, and with relatively few adjustments came out with a lovely dress for her. Gotta love good jersey! I made a copy of the pattern, and plan on making a few shirt versions soon.

Next up is a silk robe as a bridal shower gift. The pattern is from Amy Butler’s In Stitches. I haven’t actually made many things from this book other than the bathrobe. But I’ve made at least five robes at this point. It’s my go-to bridal shower gift.

My husband is one of the groomsmen in the wedding. The guys are wearing dark jeans, light dress shirts, light colored ties and brown vests. He already had everything except for the vest, so that’s where I come in. I actually made formal vests for my husband and the groomsmen for our wedding, so I’ve already got a good pattern. It’s just a matter of finishing the darn thing at this point.

Vest for husband

Vest for husband

Last, of course, is a dress for me. I’m not in the wedding or anything, but assuming I can find the time, I’m going to make a dress to wear. Nothing fancy, as the invite made it clear that the wedding is casual. But something that will look nice and at least be comfortable. I’ve got the fabric picked out already (from my stash of course) and the pattern. Whether I get time to sew it up before the wedding is a whole different issue.

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Aside from all that, there have been a few pairs of boxers for the husband, a quick t-shirt or two for me, and a pair of Thurlow shorts almost entirely finished! Look at me, sewing before the season, instead of halfway through it! That never happens.

So yea, really busy. Anybody feel like that happens every spring?

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12 Quilts – Number 2

Second quilt for the year is a quick little baby quilt for some good friends. Pretty basic, and very straightforward to piece and quilt, but I’m happy with it all the same. Hopefully it will be well used. This one I did actually start and finish entirely this year. All in about three evenings actually. You’d think that will nine months to prepare I’d have managed to get the quilt done more than a week before the baby was due, but no, apparently not.

Basic blocks and cross-hatch quilting

Basic blocks and cross-hatch quilting

The quilt is made entirely with stash fabric (and really, it’s prettier in person than the photograph). Mostly the fabric is leftover bits and pieces from other baby quilts. It was actually quite satisfying to pull the whole thing together from stash fabric.

Pieced block

Pieced block

My standard formula for quick baby quilts is to use 5 to 6 inch square blocks and lay them out in a simple grid such that the finished quilt is about a yard square. In this case, I added a few pieced blocks (just two rectangles put together to form a square) to make the most of the fabric scraps I had.

Back

Back

The backing fabric was just a little bit too small, thus the pink strip at the bottom. It’s hard to see in the photographs, but the binding is also pieced together from the scraps. Let’s just say there’s not much of this fabric left.

Not much else to say about this one. Quick and easy. Which is good, since the recipient arrived early! I’m not the only one who waits until the last minute to make baby quilts, right?

 

12 Quilts – Number 1

Okay, of the twelve quilts I plan on finishing this year, here’s the first one – the Wizard quilt (I know, really creative name, right?)

Kind-of hard to photograph...

Kind-of hard to photograph…

This quilt is from a kit that I bought probably at least a decade ago (yikes!). I followed the pattern, except for a little re-arranging of the final block layout.

Original pattern

Original pattern

Even if I didn’t remember buying it so long ago, I’d know it was an old quilting purchase by the backing fabric. In my earlier years of quilting, I would always buy large pieces of fabric for quilt backings, so the back would be all the same fabric. In more recent years, I try to piece the backing together using any leftover fabric from the top and whatever else I can find to match in my fabric stash. Does anybody else do this? Maybe I’m just weird. It actually feels a little weird now to have a quilt backing be out of only one fabric. Excepting baby quilts, which are usually small enough that I can find a single piece of stash fabric for backing.

Pegasus backing fabric

Pegasus backing fabric

I finished the quilt top during a really productive weekend retreat two years ago, put it aside for a while, and then at the same retreat this past fall I started quilting it. Finally got around to finishing it last month. And let me just say that quilting retreats are one of the best things in the world. I go on one every Fall with a group of women from my quilt guild, and it’s an absolute blast. Not to mention that I can cram an insane amount of sewing into a weekend where I don’t have to cook, clean, or take care of anybody or anything else. Such luxury!

Embroidered label

Embroidered label, still pinned on

Aside from the fabric, which I love (and really, it’s so much prettier in person), my favorite thing about this is the quilting. The whole thing is quilted in a spiral with my walking foot.

Spiral quilting

Spiral quilting

It was so easy, and sort-of relaxing to do. And it looks so finished! I don’t know how else to describe it. But I’m thrilled with the quilt. The technique is from a Craftsy class about quilting with your walking foot. To be honest, I still haven’t finished watching the class. I got far enough into it for the spiral design, and then promptly stopped watching so I could go try it out. Awesome, awesome way to quilt something, especially a larger quilt. This one, for reference, is about 64 inches square.

Spiral quilting and wonky log cabin blocks

Spiral quilting and wonky log cabin blocks

The one thing I will mention though, is that the quilt top can shift a bit during quilting. Even though I had the whole thing pinned pretty heavily (using those bent quilting safety pins), the top still shifted a bit. Had I left a generous amount of batting and backing around the edge of the top this wouldn’t have been an issue. As it was, I ended up having to add additional little triangles of backing at each of the corners before finishing the quilting.

Backing addition

Backing addition

I’m probably not explaining this very well. Imagine you have two squares of paper on top of each other. Twist the top square just a little and suddenly the corners of the top square are hanging off the edges of the bottom square, just a little. If you look closely at the back, you can see the seams where I had to add in the extra little piece at each corner.

See? Right there...

See? Right there…

Thankfully, it was a pretty easy fix. I plan on experimenting with this technique some more, so next time I’ll just allow for some extra batting and backing around the edges.

I smile every time I look at this quilt. I can’t even describe how happy I am to have it finished. And it feels especially nice to have made such a big start on my quilting goal for the year.

Anybody else out there making a good start on goals for the year?

Goals

Back in January, like most of the rest of the world, I started thinking about the new year and what I wanted to accomplish. Let’s just say it’s a long list, like usual. And not necessarily worth posting anywhere. But as I’ve actually made some progress on one of my goals, I thought I ought to at least put it out there to share.

I’m going to finish twelve quilts this year.

Yup. Twelve. Actually, it shouldn’t be that hard. It’s only February and I’ve already finished three. Maybe I should actually push myself and revise that number up a little. Maybe.

Note that I said “finish” and not “make” or “start and finish”. Really the main thing that makes this a fully achievable goal is that I have a pile of completed quilt tops waiting in my studio, and that I’m counting small wall hangings and baby quilts just as equally as bed quilts. I’m really bad about piecing a quilt top and then never actually quilting it. So, this goal is my attempt to clean out my studio a little bit, and get more into the habit of finishing my quilts all the way.

I’ve got to take photos of the quilts finished so far, but here’s a little preview of the first one. More to come soon!

Spiral quilting and wonky log cabin blocks

Spiral quilting and wonky log cabin blocks

 

Quick Baby Quilt

I had plans to make a baby quilt for some friends who were expecting their second daughter mid-February. As it turns out, she arrived a few weeks early (healthy and happy thankfully). Since I hadn’t actually started the quilt yet, I needed to get busy! They told me the colors for her nursery are purples and whites, both of which I have a decent amount of in my quilt stash. I made a quilt for their first daughter in purples and green, and since I had some of the fabric leftover I used some of that purple in this quilt.

I cut 5.5″ blocks from all the fabrics I gathered up and decided I’d figure out the pattern based on how many blocks I had of each color. I knew I had an 8 by 8 grid to work with, since I wanted the finished quilt to be about 40″ square (no borders). After piling up all my cut blocks I discovered I really didn’t have enough of any of the colors to do any kind of pattern I could think of. My husband suggested I just do a random layout. Even though I’m not generally a fan of just laying blocks out randomly, it worked out nicely in this case. Good thing too, since it was really my only option for using the fabric I had on hand.

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Randomly laid out blocks

Apologies for the lousy photos. The light in my studio at night is sufficient for sewing, but not really for taking photographs.

The whole thing went together really quickly. I had the blocks laid out on the floor, in the random arrangement I settled on the night before, and I just picked up a row of blocks at a time and started sewing. I think I managed to piece the whole thing during one of my son’s naps and quilt it later that evening.

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Pinned and ready to quilt!

The backing is a single piece of a cute bear print (also from the stash). That’s one of the nice things about baby quilts – usually they’re small enough that the backing doesn’t have to be pieced. I machine quilted the whole thing with a basic cross-hatch design. It’s what I use for most of the baby quilts I make. I love that it’s easy, looks good, and can be done as continuous line quilting (less thread trimming for me!).

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Cross-hatch quilting

After quilting it, I serged around the edges before binding. It’s a trick I learned from a long-arm quilter a while ago. Serging the edges just helps hold everything in place and makes it easier to bind the quilt.

Quilted, but not serged yet

Quilted, but not serged yet

The binding strips were cut 2.5″ wide and folded in half before attaching. I’ve always bound my quilts this way, since I figure the two layers of binding will wear better than just one.

And then it was done. Finished in record time. Now we just need to deliver it…

All done!

All done!

Here are some finished shots taken in daylight. The colors show much better with decent lighting!

Up close...

Up close…

Bears on the back

Bears on the back

On to the next project…

Just in time for…next year

As I mentioned in my last post, I finally got around to making a Christmas tree skirt. Technically it wasn’t finished in time for Christmas, but close enough to actually use.

Missing the binding

No binding yet…

After we finally took the tree down, I actually finished the skirt, so now it’s packed up and ready to use next year. All I had left to do was add the binding, so it was an easy finish. I won’t say “quick” since binding a full circle is somewhat time consuming, but it was easy.

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Now let me back up a little bit to the construction of the tree skirt. I originally thought I’d have to re-remember geometry to figure out the pattern pieces. Lucky for me, someone already designed a specialty ruler for that. I borrowed this ruler from my Mom (she has all the fun sewing tools), and used it to cut all the wedges.

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It’s a 9 degree wedge that works out to about a 50 inch circle with forty wedges. The ruler leaves a 6 inch (I think) circle opening in the center, with the idea that for a regular quilt you put a small circular block right there. I actually enlarged the center circle a little bit to be more like 10 inches (I didn’t actually measure) so there would be plenty of room for the tree stand.

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Also, I left an opening between two of the wedges so I could put it around the tree stand after the tree was in place. Because what are the odds that I would remember to put it over the stand before adding the tree if I didn’t leave an opening.

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I wanted the tree skirt to have a scrappy look, so I raided my collection of Christmas quilt fabric for a bunch of different prints I liked together. There are forty wedges in the circle, and I found nine different pieces of fabric I like, so the four quadrants of the circle are the same. One print is used twice per quadrant. I like the scrappy look, but couldn’t bring myself to do the order randomly, so the order of the prints is the same in each repeat.

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The back is a solid piece of a pretty red plaid with just a bit of sparkle. It’s the only piece I had enough of for the backing, which was the main factor in using it.

Overall, I’m pretty delighted with how the whole thing came out. It feels great to have finally made something that’s been on my to-do list for so long. And that I was able to make the entire thing out of stash fabric! Done and done!

Let me sum up

Well, since the last time I posted in, ahem, October, I’ve been a little busy. The fall was particularly chaotic for me and I felt like I could eek out enough time to sew or blog, but not both. Guess which one I chose.

But since the whole point of starting this blog was to keep track of all my projects, I thought I should at least run around and try to get photos of everything I’ve made since last posting. In the process of doing that I realized just how much sewing I actually got done! So, yea, maybe I could have found time for a post or two. Things to improve on in the new year.

Anyway, since I did get a fair number of things accomplished, I’m pretty much just going to post photos. There’s nothing too spectacular to show, but I’m still pretty pleased with everything I got done. So this isn’t a year in review post or anything like that, just a summary of this past fall.

Here goes…

My baby bear! I know, this is a Halloween costume and it’s now January. But it’s one of the things I’m most pleased with, so there’s no way I was going to leave it out. I figure I only have so many years of getting to pick my son’s costume for him, so I’ve got to make the most of it.

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Let’s see…I made a few more Renfrew tops…

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This last one is made out of a heavier sweater knit that I didn’t have quite enough of for both cowl pieces. So I ended up using a lighter weight gray jersey for the underside of the cowl. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I think it drapes better that it would have with two layers of the heavier fabric.

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Underside of cowl

The background for these photos, by the way, is the quilt on my bed. I made the quilt a few years ago and a friend did the quilting on her long-arm machine. I love the fabric, and the quilting really makes the whole thing pop.

Next, I sewed some bags…

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IMG_3267The last bag was a gift for my husband. We’ve been trading cars more lately, as kiddo’s car seat only fits in one car, so whoever has kiddo for the day gets that car. The bag is for the few odds and ends that my husband used to keep in his car. Now that we’re switching cars so often, it’s nice for him to be able to just grab the bag when using the other car, instead of digging around for loose items.

I should also mention, none of these pictures are in order. With the exception of the bear costume, I can’t really recall which projects came when. So I’m just grouping things in a sort-of logical order.

That said, here are some short sleeved shirts. I made two of these late enough in the year that it’s been too cold to actually wear them yet. Oh well. I’ll have some new clothes to wear in the spring.

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IMG_3311All of them are from a basic kimono sleeve self-drafted pattern that I’ve been using for a while.

Next up, stuff for the kiddo! First, we have toddler pants.

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IMG_3316Kiddo was “helping” with the photos.

Here’s a bean bag set, with carrying bag I made for him. They’re surprisingly fun to play with and toss around. I find myself practicing juggling more these days.

IMG_3283IMG_3284The bag and bean bags were made with some very bright (these photos do not do it justice) double sided-fabric. Stripes on one side and palm trees on the other.

And then came the Christmas sewing. First off, a new shirt for my son’s teddy bear, Bernard. I’m not sure kiddo really noticed, but Bernard certainly looks pleased.

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IMG_3307I just roughly traced a pattern off the (rather sad looking) t-shirt the bear originally came in. It was an absurdly quick and easy sewing job. I foresee more bear clothing in the future.

Then there were Christmas pot-holders. I’m not sure what came over me. I’ve never made potholders before. But I had a bunch of holiday fabric scraps, and some of that heat-proof batting and suddenly potholders sounded like a genius idea. They were kind of fun to make though. And two of them were promptly given away as gifts.

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IMG_3298Next, I finally made a Christmas tree skirt. Well, mostly anyway. Technically I didn’t finish the tree skirt until after Christmas, but I did have it done enough to use for Christmas.

IMG_3280IMG_3282The quilting and binding were all I had left to do. So as a temporary finish, I just serged the edges until I had time to do the binding.

Next, I finally finished the quilting on a wall hanging that I started right after the holidays, at the beginning of 2012. I had the wall hanging nearly finished, but decided it needed some more quilting. Somehow, that turned into a monstrous task (much like this post), that didn’t get finished until nearly a year later.

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Almost there. I hemmed a couple of towels that I wove earlier in the fall. Weaving is another hobby that periodically eats into my sewing time.

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And lastly, I made a pillow cover. I know, boring. But it was a good use of some stash scrap fabric and a horrid peach invisible zipper that I didn’t see ever using for anything else.

IMG_3285IMG_3286IMG_3287For reasons I can’t recall, I have more than a few pillow forms in my stash. I finally decided that instead of saving them for the perfect project, I’d just whip up some quick covers and “store” them on my couch until I could remember whatever the perfect project was supposed to be. Much better. My couch has pillows, and my studio is ever so slightly less full. I say “pillows” because I’ve actually knocked out two more covers since taking these pictures. And used two more random zippers from my stash! Really, where do these things come from? A peach zipper?

Anyway, that about wraps up the last 4 months. On to the new year.