To be a bit cliché, this shoemaker is a professional Web Developer and her child is this blog, but it was past time to launch what I have of a new design. All the content is still here, everything else is a work in progress (kind of like most of my sewing projects)!
The curriculum for one of the coding classes I teach used to have a meet and greet question that everyone would answer: “what’s your favorite dinosaur”? Without fail, I’d forget to plan for it, and have to wrack my brain for one from Land Before Time or Jurassic Park (those movies being the extent of my familiarity with dinos). I’ve found my new favorite (a bit too late, c’est la vie): the inimitable Winosaur!
I picked this embroidery up from Urban Threads a while ago, when it was featured as a freebie. It was perfect for a set of tea towels (wine towels?) to give as a hostess/housewarming gift to friends who recently moved and threw a BBQ.
Rwaar. Glug glug.
Learn from my mistakes
I’m glad that I bought a full yard of the waffle weave fabric I used to make these towels out of, as my first attempt and a half at stitching out the embroidery went awry. Most of this is Machine Embroidery 101-level stuff, but I thought I’d share everything I learned. I tried to cut corners and it bit me, of course.
Use a fresh needle. An embroidery one. In the right size. No, that one you just finished using to quilt something is not okay.
Buy the right-sized stabilizer. Yes, you may have the right type stashed, but if it’s sized for a smaller hoop, just go buy the right size.
Double (or triple) up your water-soluble stabilizer according to their directions, particularly with an unstable fabric and heavy line stitching.
Use spray baste to attach the stabilizer to your fabric.
Have your machine baste the design outline before stitching.
The Large Metal Hoop, while awesome, doesn’t ship with enough magnets to secure unstable weaves. Steal more from your fridge (TMNT to the rescue! Cowabunga, dudes!).
The towels themselves are simple. They’re a fat quarter of waffle weave fabric, hemmed with mitered corners on one short edge, and the fringed selvage left bare for that towel-like look on the other. I used a contrast thread with a zigzag for aesthetics. I couldn’t help making a spare set for myself in the name of ‘testing’ the final product! And by that, I mean I kept the awkward learning curve versions for myself.
Having free motioned text as quilting in the past, Angela Walters’ Mighty Lucky challenge did not strike me as the most inspiring—not that it’s a bad challenge, but it was nothing new to my skill set. I was all set to not make a project for it (just like the last few months… shhh…), until I remembered that I signed up at the beginning of the year to talk about the challenge at my guild meeting this month.
A pillow cover seemed the perfect project to showcase both cursive and block lettering in the form of my favorite Louisa May Alcott quote.
“She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.” Work: A Story of Experience (1873), Louisa May Alcott
Because my handwriting is horrendous, I arranged the text in Illustrator, then printed it out to trace. While not feasible for a sandwiched quilt, I was able to use my window as a lightbox to trace the lettering onto the top fabric of my pillow cover.
It’s quilted on linen, with wool batting and no backing, using a rayon embroidery thread. I considered doing additional quilting with a whitish thread, but my time was limited and I was happy with how the quote looked alone.
I finished the case with an envelope backing that matches the thread color and stuffed it with a purchased 12×16″ pillow form. It’s perfect as a bolster pillow for a reading nook!
I bought far more fabric than I needed to make the bridal shower tea party bunting (half yard cuts of six prints, a yard of another), so the obvious thing to do was to use some as part of a shower gift for the bride and groom. I ended up with a suite of gifts perfect for a picnic at the park.
I made a pair of basic mitered-corner napkins using a half yard of fabric. They finished at 17″ square. There are many good mitered corner napkin tutorials online if you need one. I used this one from Purl Soho as a refresher for the corners because I can never recall how to do it properly. Here’s another one from Craftsy if you don’t want to be sold hard on buying more fabric.
When I cut out bunting pieces, I ended up with extra triangles and end pieces since I simply sliced up a 9″ strip of each fabric. I wanted to use up those pieces in any piecing, so started putting together the placemat design with improvisational piecing taking cues from the triangles. I paired the Park Life prints with Kaffe Fasset Shot Cotton in Latte from my stash—slightly different than the solid gray I used in the bunting, but a better match for the colors in Park Life—it’s a slightly taupe-ish gray.
The back is pieced from more triangles and a strip of the gray. After piecing, I inserted a strip between one piecing seam and the binding that acts as a napkin ring on the front. I quilted them in 1/4″ lines with a gray-taupe Aurifil, then bound them in the gray with one small scrap of print to give a bit of visual weight to the right side.
Because the intent was that these are portable for a picnic, I tried to figure out a way to secure them while rolled up for easy transportation. Going back to the pile of leftover triangles, I made a pennant, slid it into the binding, and used a bit of Velcro to allow it to fasten flat to the back, or to itself if you roll up the placemat. It turned out to be my favorite feature.
What good are traveling placemats and napkins if you’ve nothing to carry them in? Using the Art Student Tote as a general design guide, I pulled together a bag made of dark gray Essex Linen, straps in a Park Life print, and a machine embroidered pocket using a coordinating solid from my stash and one of the tea embroideries from the bunting.
The bag is 13″x18″x4″—a hybrid of the two Art Student Tote sizes. I only added one pocket to the front, no closures, and no interior dividers/pockets. Since I lined it in the exterior linen, I modified the construction a little bit and added a flange for a pop of color around the top of the interior. Having learned from using my own Art Student Tote, I made sure to use a woven interfacing for the straps—mine are starting to stretch out and warp due to the medium-weight non-woven—and cut an extra strip to get the full suggested 128″ instead of the approximate three widths of fabric—mine are a smidgen short when the bag is loaded up. I also modified the strap construction to use two different fabrics (one on each side), as I didn’t have enough of any one fabric.
The Whole Package
To round out the picnic theme, I added a few store-bought gifts as well.
It was a dreary, rainy day when I tried to take photos before shipping it off. I hope the couple has many sunny days in their future.
Even with this whole package, I still have a quarter yard of five of the prints—and a few more triangles—but for now I’ll retire that to the depths of my stash and move on to some other things!
When I started working on this quilt in 2011, it was a chance to dip my toes into making a quilt for show and a way to embrace my love of history and research. The possibility that it would be accepted as one of 26 to travel after the initial show was never in my thoughts. The idea that the show would continue traveling across the country and internationally for four years was beyond my imagining.
Now that it’s home, I finally had the chance to take photos of the finished quilt!
Here’s the statement that I submitted with it, which gives you a better idea of why there are three distinct sections.
One fact about the War of 1812 that sticks with me is that the last living survivor of the War was only fourteen years old when he enlisted. Surely, he was not the only man to enlist that young—though we now call a fourteen-year-old a boy, not a man. Fourteen—even eighteen—years is not so many years at all to a mother. So my inspiration of cradle–to–cot–to–coffin was born.
My premise is that the center section originated as a cradle or crib quilt, sewn sometime post-1795 (when the 15th state was admitted, represented by 15 stars in the medallion) for the birth of a son. Sixteen or so years later, a mother extended the quilt to its final dimensions, and sent it off to war with that same son—now a soldier—to warm him once again.
I constructed the quilt in three separate parts, almost finishing them completely before putting everything together as one quilt. Although it is machine pieced and mostly machine-quilted, I did a lot of handwork: the medallion is hand-quilted, the edges were all done by hand, and actually connecting the three pieces was also by hand. If I recall correctly, I liked the wool batting I used in this quilt far better than the type I used more recently. It came from a bolt at Joann Fabrics, but I haven’t seen it since.
The edges are knife-edge finished. To connect the sections together, I pressed the edges of the center section edges in like I would if I were finishing them with a knife-edge, slid the other section into that resulting pocket, and stitched the center to the other section on the front and back.
The center medallion was a stock photo woodcut engraving that I printed via Spoonflower. Although the majority of the quilting is machine quilting, I hand quilted the center. I had no idea what I was doing or how to hand quilt, as evidenced by the back.
The back looks very make-do, as I tried to use up as much of the leftover fabric as possible rather than let it fill up my scrap bin. Don’t mind the selvages showing at that very top—that is the hanging sleeve. There’s a custom label pieced directly into the back, inspired by one memorializing Princess Charlotte of Britain c. 1817 (scroll midway down).
Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I’m not a big fan of the tension between traditional and modern quilting. I’ve made traditional. I’ve made modern. I’ve made modern with traditional. I’ve made a lot of things that are just quilts. I spend more time with a modern guild and modern quilters, but it’s not at the expense of respecting and learning from traditional sources. I think that we as quilters and people are better for acknowledging that both sides (and everything in between) have much to bring to our craft and art.
In my Web wanderings recently, I came across a digitized collection of early 20th century quilt design paintings. The 419 watercolor paintings were done by Virginia Beauchamp around 1919-1923, but many depict quilts from the previous century. What drew me into the collection was how her framing and cropping of the quilt down to the desired design motif is incredibly similar to how we often make modern traditional quilts.
Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a traditional quilt design and making it in solids.
Other times, we take a single block and make it very large.
Some of the paintings go beyond depicting what we call modern traditional and straight into modern.
We break the grid.
We decompose the design in places.
We use negative space to great effect.
This collection has left me inspired with ideas of quilts to make for years to come. I hope you find similar inspiration.
My sister’s bridal shower is fast approaching, and we’re planning it with a tea party theme. (The whole concept of what one does at a bridal shower is a bit of a mystery to me, having not been given one when I married, nor having attended any for others.) Seeing as I’m 1,300 miles away, my ‘hosting’ status is mostly honorary, but I am able to lend a hand with the decorations. Armed with a few embroidery files from Urban Threads and some half-yard cuts of Park Life by Elizabeth Olwen for Cloud9 Fabrics, I whipped up bunting for the party. Where by whipped, I mean I spent a lot of time at my machine over the course of a week or so, considering the 40 minute stitch out time of each of the embroideries.
I dare say the final result is pretty sweet. I made two of these strands, each 9’ long.
Here are a few tricks I found helped with creating it. When making your own, you can actually get a lot more bunting out of just a quarter yard of each fabric than I ended up making—my cut triangles had 7” bases and were 9” tall. I have so much fabric left over—stay tuned for future projects with it.
Cut strips of fabric, then rotate your template (or cutting marks) for easy cutting. If your fabric is directional, you can use the upside-down cuts on the back of your pennants.
Trim the seam allowances and use a chopstick to turn the point. I’m not great at sharp points, regardless of how I trim the seam allowances, but the chopstick is awesome.
Cut a template out of card stock to help with pressing. If you cut the template to the finished size, then slide it in with the seam allowances behind it, you get a nice sharp edge to your pressed pennants.
Use packaged double fold bias tape for a quick and easy finish, and a glue stick to hold everything in place while you sew the flags down.
This year, my quilt guild is supporting a local chapter of an organization that provides bags packed with a quilt, necessities, and toys to children who have been removed from their homes. After finishing Human, I pulled out my stack of Thomas Knauer’s Frippery and a couple of stashed blue solids, then sliced everything up into 10″ blocks for a quilt inspired by Amy Smart’s Star Baby Quilt. This straight-forward design with large blocks was perfect to quickly piece.
Instead of a single 2″ border like the original quilt, I added three borders to make the quilt 52″ square—a nicely-sized lap quilt for an older child. When I was cutting, it seemed like a brilliant idea to construct the opposite corners with a series of partial-seams so that I could reduce seams in the long strips. It turned out great, but would have been far easier to just construct the corner as a 8″ block instead of a continuation of the strips on either side.
The design of the borders had a lot to do with using up the fabric as I’d cut it rather than with aesthetics (although there was a lot of waste since I started by slicing 4 10″ squares out of my half yards, and mostly needed 9.5″ ones except for the central star half-square triangles). I like the surprise of half-square triangles in two corners instead of the expected border all the way around. We’ve started talking about what makes our quilts modern by the MQG definition when we share at guild meetings. To a lot of people’s eyes, the asymmetrical borders take this from plain modern traditionalism to slightly-more-modern, but it isn’t uncommon to see something like that in extant antique quilts.
The back is a solid piece of fabric from my stash (Erin McMorris Summersault, 54″ wide), used for convenience. In between is cotton batting (I think—it’s pieced from stash).
I couldn’t decide on how to quilt this, but knew I wanted to keep it simple (especially after just finishing something that was matchstick quilted!). Echoing seams with straight lines seemed too bland, so I selected a long serpentine stitch (E4 for other Husqvarna Viking Ruby owners), and stitched over the seams, then eyeballed a line down the center of each block. I used a variegated yellow-orange thread for all of it. After such little time to sew lately, it was comforting to me to whip up an entire quilt over the course of a few days.
The light is all over the place on these photos, since yesterday wasn’t the best day for photographs. The detail shots with wood showing are probably the best representation of the color. I was on a compressed timeframe due to donating it at today’s meeting. The finishing touch was a cute little label we’ve ordered for guild charity quilts.
I hope it provides a child a bit of comfort as they settle into unfamiliar surroundings.
While in the middle of working on the F Word Quilt (Feminist), I thought a lot about labels, discrimination, and qualifiers. Sometime during the experience of sewing the myriad straight lines of quilting and trying to puzzle out how to do quilted lettering, I came up with the idea for this quilt.
In between piecing what I thought was the back of this quilt and preparing a wholecloth front, I changed my mind about what was what and how I should do the front (back?). The black-on-white embroidery from the wholecloth edge was cut out and pieced into many shades of gray and a few leftovers from the front. The original embroidery was meant to parody the instruction text on inkjet printer adhesive label sheets, with the original quilting plan to mimic those label outlines and various words one might print to label someone. Now it’s fractured.
The other side is pieced, based on a pixelated font reading ‘human’. It’s busy by design, the words flipped and mirrored, blending between sections, flowing through the rainbow. There’s no right side up or up side down on this side.
From #lovewins to the passage of North Carolina’s HB2 and similar proposed bills across the nation (if there’s any question, I celebrated the former and decry the latter), discrimination based on how we label ourselves and each other has been on my mind daily in the past year (coincidentally the span of time from this quilt’s conceptualization to completion).
My initial vision included quilting a few different labels that describe aspects of me, but the final quilt isn’t auto-biographical. Despite barely carving out any sewing time in the last few months, I matchstick quilted this quilt. There is a meditative quality about going back and forth, closer and closer, over and over, a welcome respite from everything else on my todo list. While that decision was at the expense of working on any other type of sewing project, it was the right one. I did each section in matching thread, toggling between vertical and horizontal quilting, with a line or two of all the other colors in each row. I used a medium gray in the bobbin (mostly), which blends with the gray side.
I used Quilter’s Dream Cotton (Request) for the first time, and am impressed by the drape despite the very dense quilting. I also relied solely on 505 Spray to baste, but used a tip from my quilt guild’s president: after spray basting, iron the quilt from the center out to really smooth out the surface. Doing that made a huge difference in shifting and puckering (or lack thereof) while quilting. I recommend both of the products and the ironing process.
I kept the binding simple, black fabric with white plus signs (Cotton + Steel). I attached it by machine, using Steam-a-Seam Lite 1/4″ fusible web tape to secure it to the back before stitching in the ditch from the front. It’s one of the better machine binding jobs I’ve done!
Moof isn’t sure what to think. First, I made a quilt that said Human, then I photographed it in a place that doesn’t allow dogs. Sorry pup.
In 2015, I worked my way through some of my oldest unfinished projects, turning boxed-up, almost forgotten fabric into quilts. This second quilt of 2016 is more of the same. This one started life as a pack of 18 fat quarters in February 2011 (my fourth quilt started), and is now a 54×72″ quilt using up almost every bit.
I planned out this nine-patch with a twist, cut all the fabric out, sewed the heart section, and even created all the strip piece components for the blocks, then packed it away. The remaining construction comprised sewing lots of three-patch strips together into nine-patch blocks, then the row and column piecing.
I finally finished the top during a self-designed mini retreat when I found myself spending a snowy vacation day in Utica (thanks to Shelly and Sew Wilde Quilt & Co for providing workspace for me and my machine that day!).
I don’t recall why I purchased the fabric or started this quilt (although I think the inner dialogue may have been “hey, buy, buy, fabric, sale, sale, Fat Quarter Shop, buy, buy buy”). I do vaguely remember wanting to quilt it ambitiously for one of my first few quilts, but can’t pinpoint exactly how. The end is a rather scrappy quilt with very little thought into where each block would go apart from the pieced heart, and quilting that is far beyond anything I’d previously attempted when I cut the first pieces.
The backing and binding are solids that I bought years ago for this quilt. While not my first choice as my style has evolved, I stuck with them to get them out of stash. I considered doing something more complicated in piecing the back together somehow, but I only had the six 2.5″ squares leftover after finishing the top and a nine-patch for my history quilt. The brown reminds me of the ubiquitous brown glazed underlining in Victorian bodices, continuing the theme of old-timey romanticism with the color scheme, heart, and reproduction fabrics.
I quilted a few ghost hearts into the quilt, then did the rest in an orange peel pattern that was simple to pull off with the nine-patch construction of the quilt (although far from perfect). It seems appropriate that the orange peel quilting looks like exes and ohs. The hearts are quilted in two shades of pink, while the orange peel is mostly beige with a few pink highlights.
I used wool batting for the first time since my War of 1812 Challenge quilt, and am not sure what I feel about it. It is wonderful to cuddle under during winter here in VT, but I’m not sold on the texture and drape of the finished quilt. I’m also worried about washing this one, uncertain how the Quilter’s Dream will react.
As my mother very bluntly noted on an in-progress social media post, the colors and design of this quilt are really not “me”. Yet I’d count it as one of my favorites. There’s just something about it that makes me happy, and it’s pretty apropos to the time of year. I foresee it being my quilt of choice here at home until spring comes around. That is, if Moof doesn’t keep stealing it.
Just as 2015 kicked off with a baby quilt, so has 2016. The recipient of Disappearing Seven Wonders is now a big brother to a baby sister who needed her own quilt.
After pulling out a bundle of Pear Tree and coordinating fabrics a few months ago, all progress stopped. I couldn’t settle on a design for the quilt. Then I came across the Into the Wild pattern and was inspired to cut into the stack. I wasn’t incredibly faithful to the pattern (although it was great visual inspiration), but I like how it turned out with the fabrics I used.
The most obvious change to the pattern was adding a square in a square (in a square) to the center, highlighting a motif from the eponymous print in the line. I also added in a few more half-square triangles where the original pattern had squares, and dropped the top and bottom rows in favor of a square quilt due to the amount of fabric I had.
It’s backed with blush-colored, star-embossed Minky, using 70/30 Cotton/Poly blend batting in between. The batting is a bit higher loft than I normally buy—I bought it a few months ago for a different project, but decided to use it for this quilt instead, knowing that the high poly content works out fine with the polyester cuddle fabric. It gives the quilt a good texture in the looping quilting.
I quilted it with pink 40wt Aurifil in alternating free-motion patterns, building out from the center. My ability to free-motion stitch in the ditch has not improved since my first attempts, from what I can tell, but my consistency with feathers has improved. It’s bound in a textured green print. I’m very happy with how the quilting stands out on the back.
After a few months of not sewing (much), it was nice to jump back in with a relatively simple quilt. I hope it keeps the baby warm through her first winter and beyond.