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)!
It’s been three years since I finished the War of 1812 challenge quilt, and it’s still traveling around as part of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail 1812 Quilt Challenge traveling show! This winter, it spent time in Baton Rouge, and is now on display in the Classroom Gallery at the New England Quilt Museum through June 28.
I never would have guessed I’d be saying “one of my quilts is hanging at NEQM!” when I first started working on this one in 2011.
It’s been a while since we’ve been in Lowell, but if we make it back there to see the 1812 quilts hanging, I hope to stop at the American Textile History Museum as well. I visited Shelburne Museum multiple times when it was hosting the ATHM’s traveling Homefront & Battlefield exhibit. I don’t buy a lot of quilting books, because I rarely want to make the patterns they contain (although inspiration is nice), but Homefront & Battlefield: Quilts & Context in the Civil War made it into my library because of the history.
The book is dense but interesting, and has highlighted a few other museums I’d like to visit due to objects from their collection being involved in the show, including the Rokeby Museum that is just down the road from home. While the quilts in the show were wonderful to see, I was facinated by a shaker-style dress that belonged to Rachel Rokeby. The construction details were very interesting, including the obvious use of selvage along the skirt side seams (and pocket openings), and a very-tightly blanket-stitched hem.
We spent 10 days in April traveling from VT down to SC and back, with a chunk of time in Virginia. Between stops at Ashlawn-Highland, Montecello, and Colonial Williamsburg, I think I’m inspired to make another more traditional quilt in the coming months. I was focused more on experiences than photographs, but even floor-coverings were inspiring.
For now, though, I have a few more modern projects to muddle through. I haven’t sewn much this year, but I managed to put a dent in my current work in progress at the guild’s sew-in this weekend!
The embellished fabric bin I made two years ago has been taunting me to use the remaining fabric from Thomas Knauer’s Savannah Bop line that was sitting inside of it. Even after using strips to make the 1 + 1 = 4 charity quilts and the bin, I had about 1/3 yd. of each print in the line in my stash. Finally, the need for another baby quilt gave me reason to pull it out.
I settled on the idea of a puzzle—because what is quilt pattern design if not a giant puzzle to solve? As tempted as I was to throw in solids and a yarn-dyed once again, I decided to use up most of the prints in the line and only added in the Michael Miller Kryptonite solid for a bit of contrast. (Here’s my tutorial on how to make the puzzle block.)
Then, because the design needed a little something more, I appliqued on a few extra puzzle pieces to fill in the negative space. I especially like the one on the top corner that wraps to the back of the quilt over the binding. (I posted a description of my process back in February.)
I free motion quilted this all over in a loose meandering pattern, using a Gutterman green that matches the Kryptonite. The back is Minky Cuddle Pine Ridge in Olive. I tried out Pellon’s Eco Batting this time, a 70/30 cotton/poly blend. It’s bound in Kona Sunflower.
This has been a slow year for me, quilting wise (at least considering I don’t have wedding planning to blame). I finished the quilt in February, but just now got around to photographing it and dropping it in the mail. It’s my only finish yet this year, but that should change soon.
I did a demo for VTMQG last week comparing different types of batting I’ve used. I volunteered for purely selfish reasons—I needed to clean out and organize my scraps, and also take stock of which ones I like, and which I might not care to buy again in the future.
The demo was very hands on and doesn’t translate well to the web, but here’s what I found.
I created three quilt sandwiches of each batting (large enough to cut down to 9″). I used fabric from the same manufacturer to try to keep things consistent, but used a different design for each for ease of visual comparison. The back is a solid. I quilted one of each set with a rough 1.5″-2″ grid, another with feathers and pebbles, and and the third with both.
I trimmed them all down, then overcast stitched the edges of the gridded and feathered squares to keep them from fraying in the wash.
Then, I washed the two overcasted blocks from each set (basic cotton wash, normal dry) to see how they ended up compared to the unwashed third block.
Batting choices can be very dependent on the project type, and this is certainly not an exhaustive list. I imagine different brands react differently even with the same fiber content. But, knowing how the batting will react to quilting and washing is helpful in making that choice.
Batting Comparison Chart
*according to the manufacturer
Hobbs Tuscany Collection
Soft n’ Crafty Extra Loft
Pellon Eco Cotton
Soft n’ Crafty 80/20
Warm & Natural
The least affected by washing and drying was the 100% poly. However, it was not much fun to quilt, and the loft is higher than I personally like.
The most affected by washing and drying was the 50/50 Bamboo/Cotton. There was an extreme amount of shrinkage. A different wash type might reduce that, but be forewarned. It is gorgeous before washing, though.
I’ve used all of these for various projects, but the two I use most often are 100% Cotton and an 80/20 Cotton/Poly blend. The former is great for all-cotton projects that I want to wash up all crinkly and soft, while the blend is perfect for baby quilts that I back with Minky, as the slight poly content reduces the shrinkage a bit.
I’ve mentioned Spoonflower quite a few times, as I order all of my labels from there and used them to print the center medallion for the 1812 quilt. However, aside from those basic orders, I’ve never thought to try my hand at fabric design.
The VTMQG challenged us to create something this month using coral, mint, black, and white (and only those four colors) based on the Spoonflower Weekly Contest of the same theme. In honor of their inspiration, I decided to actually try to design something for the contest (plus, I knew sewing time would be sparse this month due to my work and teaching schedule).
So, decidedly unmodern as it is, here’s my attempt at designing fabric for the challenge. It seems very 1980s shabby chic farmhouse to me.
When I make baby quilts, I typically whip up a doll quilt with the leftovers—a winning solution that adds another gift for the kid and eats up scraps. Mustang Summing isn’t a baby quilt, per se (or maybe it will be whenever I give it away), but I needed something that could be bound with facing for a quilt guild demo I gave in November, so I played with scraps and made a doll-quilt-sized wall hanging.
The top is just a couple hours of playing around, growing it out from the center of the log cabin block, sewing things together that seemed to work. Cut, sew, press, trim, cut, sew and on and on.
I went simple with quilting, stitching out a square spiral in a gray thread that blends well with just about anything. In a few places, I added highlights using the heavier russet thread I used on Mustang Summing.
Since it’s a wall hanging, I just used a solid from the stash on the back and finished it with facings using binding strips that were leftover from the other quilt.
This is the first time I’ve used this type of binding, but it seems to work well for this sort of application. I especially like that the top can double as a hanging sleeve. For shows, I imagine you’d have to increase the size of the facing piece to create a standard 4″ sleeve, but I wasn’t too concerned about that for something at home.
It took me three months to sit down and take 30 minutes to sew the facings down by hand (and another two weeks to photograph it), and I still haven’t figured out where to hang it (not to mention that I need a better hanger)!
If you’re looking to learn this technique, I cobbled together my method from memories of various things I’ve read, so I can’t direct you to a specific tutorial for exactly how I made this (should have taken photos and made my own, huh?). Here’s one that seems similar: Super-Duper Easy Way to Face a Quilt (but doesn’t include the hanging sleeve). I know I read about turning the top into a hanging sleeve somewhere, but can’t find the article or blog post. Sorry!
Eight years ago, after realizing I’d been going through a computer bag/backpack a year, I made my first “spend money on quality” purchase—a Timbuk2 bag that I picked up at their retail shop while working and living in the Bay Area for the summer. I had hoped to get a few good years out of it; I did not expect to still find it just as integral to my life now as it was in college—nor still in almost perfect shape (albeit a bit dingy).
The one regret I’ve always had is that I bought a plain messenger bag rather than one with a laptop sleeve. I had a neoprene sleeve for the laptop I bought that same summer, but for some reason always found it awkward to use. Then, I was abusive to the laptop that replaced that one and never bothered with a sleeve.
Knowing that my new laptop deserves better, I scoured local shops and websites for a replacement bag, but couldn’t find anything I like better than my bag. So, I decided to retrofit my trusty friend.
I bought a piece of .5″ tall foam (kismet—there was a scrap of the perfect size sitting forlornly in the foam-by-yard section), some elastic, and Velcro, and combined them with minky scraps and a stashed fat-quarter.
I improvised the construction without a lot of forethought, so there are choices I’d have made differently a second time around—mainly securing the top flap and side elastic in the seams instead of hand-stitching them on later, and completely changing how the bottom is constructed.
It’s secured to the bag interior with a huge strip of Velcro, and allows the laptop to slide in and out easily without having to fiddle with a zipper. Best of all, it’s perfectly fitted to the laptop.
We’ll see if the bag and insert make it to laptop number four in a few years!
When I last listed out my various works in progress, I specified that the list included only projects with something already cut out. I felt the need to add that qualification, mostly because the skeleton in my closet is this quilt I designed and bought fabric for in May 2011, which never even made it to the cutting table. When I stumbled across the design file for it while doing some digital organizing, I decided it was now or never—either make it in 2015 or get rid of the fabric.
The style of the quilt doesn’t speak to me like it once did, but there are a few techniques I designed in that I still wanted to try, so cutting and sewing has commenced. Stay tuned!
My latest quilt needed something more than piecing for me to love it, so I decided to add a few applique pieces to it after it had been quilted. Then, I decided to step it up a notch and wrap one of the appliques from the front to the back (full disclosure, I’ve been planning on doing something similar on one of my long-term works in progress, so it’s not a terribly new idea of mine).
The trick is that the applique was added after the quilt was otherwise finished. I sewed a backing to the applique piece, turned it right-side out through a slit in the middle of the backing (for clean edges), then topstiched along the edge to secure it to the quilt. When I reached the part that would wrap, I just kept topstitching without the quilt underneath, so that it looks the same as the top.
Once I was done, I wrapped the piece around, and used a ladder stitch to secure the piece to the back by hand.
It also served as a good place to put the label for this quit.
I’ll be back with more info about the completed quilt once it reaches its destination!
Once I’d accumulated enough college tees, I took a pair of scissors to all the high school ones I’d toted north with me (or, I pressed my sisters into that service), planning to make a t-shirt quilt despite having no idea how to quilt. I was left with various half-shirt chunks, which were far less bulky to move around.
Surprisingly, most of those scraps made it through various moves (often as packing materials), and found their way into my sewing closet at the apartment. After decluttering a variety of other things over the long weekend last week, I decided it was past time to do something with the almost-rags.
Now I have a pile of pressed, interfaced squares and rectangles awaiting piecing. I imagine these will sit in a box for a while yet as my college tee pieces did, but progress is progress.
In addition to eight t-shirts (some with printed backs), I finally cut up my hoodie and baseball jersey. There’s not enough for a decent-sized quilt with just those 17 pieces, so I played in Illustrator and came up with a design that adds in scraps from the jersey with a yard(ish) of purchased fabric.
I may change my mind in the future, of course, but I rather like it right now.
I’m working on a new baby quilt that looks like a very large, squared-off puzzle. It boils down to a bunch of 8″ blocks, but I haven’t yet found a way to batch process them—I have to make each one individually to make sure it has the right fabrics to match up with the next in line, as a piece of each block’s fabric needs to end up in two different adjoining blocks.
But, I did sketch out the whole quilt with fabric placement, so it’s moving along steadily without too much ripping. Here’s a blueprint for the blocks.