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)!
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.
January’s challenge from the Mighty Lucky Quilting Club was to use bias tape to construct curves based on something in your sketchbook. I’m not much of a sketcher, nor do I have a sketchbook, but I do occasionally snap photos for inspiration, and often find it in my surroundings. The bit of inspiration I decided to memorialize was also an accomplishment of mine during the month. Seeing my newly-retired yellow belt hanging alongside my white belt sparked the idea of a design, with the added complexity of knots in the bias tape. The result is this 11″x14″ mini-quilt.
Rather than add the bias tape to the block, then quilt, I made a quilt sandwich and sewed down the bias tape through all layers after quilting the background. I used a walking foot for all of it to reduce shifting. The knots wrap around one strip of bias tape that was intentionally left with a gap in the top-stitching.
The technique of using bias tape isn’t any more of a challenge than other types of applique—so long as you don’t try using straight cut strips to get curves (it’s bias for a reason). The intent part of the challenge was much more difficult for me. I’m not sold on the idea of making a normal-sized quilt just to try a new technique unless I’m really excited about it—both from a materials and time cost standpoint. At the same time, I’ve never been a huge fan of mini quilts.
I suppose this isn’t even technically complete. I haven’t decided how to finish off the edges of the quilt. I don’t want to bind it. I considered doing a faced binding. I’ve also thought about just leaving the edges raw and framing it. But for now, I can call my foray into bias tape on quilts done, and admire all of the gorgeous creations being posted on social media under the hashtag #mightylucky.
I’ve tried to keep a 2.5″ square of most fabrics from each quilt project I’ve done. This week, I finally decided on a layout for a meta-history quilt of my quilting journey and started piecing together some of the blocks.
So far, I have a block for the first eight quilts I made (2010-2011), and one for the quilt I need to baste and quilt this month.
I’m not much the rah-rah “my alma mater was so amazing!” type, and high school is something I’m glad is over, not something I want to revisit. That said, I will be forever grateful for the three years I spent at this school, and particularly the education and opportunities it gave that have allowed me to go on to be the successful adult I now am. Perhaps that explains why I still had all these t-shirt scraps around. After carting around scraps of t-shirts, a baseball jersey, and a hoodie for over 10 years, it seemed time to either make a t-shirt quilt or clean out the clutter. Making a quilt won, of course.
When I cut up the shirts in January, I knew the eight tees wouldn’t yield enough fabric for a decent-size quilt, even considering the printed backs. My baseball jersey added a bit more, but forced me to consider using block sizes other than 12″ square. After sacrificing the hoodie (my ultimate slum around the house attire, even 10+ years out), and chopping up the rest of the jersey for filler, I had enough pieces to play around with a fun layout based on a 4″ grid.
I rounded out the clothing pieces with black Kauffman flannel (pre-washed!)—the woven fabric gives stability to the knits, but still has a slightly different texture from plain cotton. It’s a surprisingly thick fabric and wonderful to work with. Because of the thickness of the flannel, I used my walking foot for all of the piecing.
Working with the hoodie, different tees, and baseball jersey was less difficult than I expected. With a layer of lightweight interfacing fused to each piece, it all came together simply. The only tricky part was dealing with the jersey—I had to secure the buttoned opening, and fill in the neckline. When I fused the interfacing onto the back, I slipped in a bit of black scrap knit from another tee to provide coverage under the v-neck opening. Then, I used Steam-a-seam fusible tape to keep everything stuck together before storing the blocks away for a few months. I used a blanket stitch around the open edges during quilting to secure it once-and-for-all, although I wish I’d done that during piecing instead of as part of quilting. Regardless, it’s very secure.
Unlike my college t-shirt quilt, I quilted this one, echoing the seams with Gutermann variegated green-white cotton thread from stash (and black cotton in the bobbin). It’s backed with black Minky Ziggy Cuddle, and has no batting (it’s heavy enough as-is). It’s self-bound with the backing (somewhat sloppily), and I slipped in a flange made from scraps of white knit to break up the black. I’m really happy with the effect of the flange, and to have put the knit scraps to use. I’m also happy that the Minky pile hides many, many sins with the binding finish.
This isn’t my most innovative or creative quilt, but it will be nice to curl up with this fall and winter. I’m so excited to have a Minky-backed quilt of my own—so much soft, so much petting!
I had a very hard time figuring out how to quilt my F-word quilt. The final quilt looks a lot like my original sketches, but I made and then scrapped many other plans in between. A persistent idea with the quilt was obfuscation—hiding or obscuring the fact that someone is a feminist, whether because they have their own hangups with the word or because they don’t want to deal with societal baggage of calling themselves a feminist.
In that vein, iterations of the quilt plan involved quilting in “feminist” in binary, riffing on the equal sign pieced section (there, yellow is 0, black is 1), but couldn’t work the quilting in a way that seemed right. I also liked the aesthetic and suggestive meaning of quilting “feminist” spelled out in braille, but struggled with feeling like that was cultural appropriation. Both methods would clearly spell out the word, yet be illegible to most viewers.
A later plan involved quilting in quotes and definitions. This involved a lot of font-based machine embroidery that was ultimately too technically intricate for my tastes. I was able to create embroidery fonts of text outlines using free software that came with my machine, but the font kerning was horrendous, so I would have had to lay out each individual letter on my machine. I also never fell in love with a layout.
I liked the interplay between anti-feminist quotes from celebritized dogmatists and pro-feminist quotes from celebrities, and sometimes wish I’d been able to work it in.
“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”
“People feel removed from sexism. ‘I’m not a sexist, but I’m not a feminist.’ They think there’s this fuzzy middle ground. There’s no fuzzy middle ground. You either believe that women are people or you don’t. It’s that simple.”
I scaled back, thinking perhaps I’d use just the definition of feminist and feminism, but it was still too technically finicky in a way that wasn’t speaking to me. Perhaps the story would be different if I had a $3k embroidery software suite.
The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
A person who supports feminism.
In the end, I used machine embroidery to quilt the letters that are starred-out, and freehanded “F––t” in the partial equality sign in the top right. The remaining quilting is straight lines and single echoes of the pieced shapes, using a lack of quilting to outline a second equality motif for a bit of visual balance. A well-placed black-stitched toroid turns the ‘t’ in “Feminist” into the cross found on the astrological symbol for Venus, widely considered the “female” symbol.
Finally, a hand-quilted “Feminist” overlaps the machined “F––t”, bringing the word to the front of the quilt in a visible, rebellious way—no infanticide or witchcraft needed.
The end result is a quilt whose front is inspired by “Votes for Women” sashes for color, with a nod to technology in the binary piecing, and a visible representation of the censorship that is so rampant when one discusses equal rights for women. The back brings to mind my grandmothers’ decor (complete with my childhood baggage of anti-feminist sentiment), yet has the word feminist clearly displayed.
I don’t give a fuck about using or hearing a bit of blue language. In fact, whether such words are truly profane, taboo, or vulgar could be an entirely different essay that I’m not nearly pious nor pedantic enough to write (there are far more interesting things to hold sacred). Four letter strings can often sum up sentiment in an unparalleled way.
But, forget about that one particular bad word for a moment. Keep the first letter, double the character count and you arrive at the dirtiest, crudest, most offensive word in modern English: feminist.
This quilt came about because I’m tired of reading essays where the author says they’re not a feminist because feminism is icky while laying out arguments for what they actually are that are all dictionary feminism. I’m sick of reading screeds vilifying straw-men feminists written by people whose sole goal is fear-mongering. I’m weary from the constant low-level of discrimination I experience as a woman working in tech, even as I know that I’m privileged by a shocking level of near-equality compared to many of my cohort. I am absolutely exhausted by the media and people in the legislature telling me what is best for my body, income, career, mind, personality, and beliefs because I am a member of the so-called weaker sex.
It’s a rant in quilt form.
The F word. F——t. F******t. F#$!~+st. Feminist.
Front: Kona Cotton Honey, Kaffe Fassett Shot Cotton Butter, Andover Textured Solid Magnum
Batting: Warm & Natural Cotton
Backing: Heather Ross Briar Rose Cricket Clover Lilac/Gold, Kaffe Fasset Shot Cotton Quartz, Kona Elegance White
Binding: Kaffe Fasset Shot Cotton Quartz
Quilting: A mix of machine embroidery quilting and straight line quilting using Guttermann cotton thread, with a small bit of hand quilting using white 28wt Aurifil.
Look for a longer post on the quilting of this project later this week.
At the start of the year, I made a resolution to address all of my works in progress in one way or another. I cheated in a few ways (mostly unintentionally), as I only listed quilt projects and accidentally left off one entire quilt. Then, I spent most of the spring not sewing anything at all.
I haven’t made as much of a dent as I’d hoped, considering it’s the start of September (even my mid-year progress report is behind), but I have whittled down the list.
High-school T-shirt quilt—I pieced the entire top together in July, and the backing is in the mail. Status: plan to finish by the end of the year.
EPP Crosses (née Farmer’s Wife)—I’ve continued to slowly piece these EPP blocks together, although months go by between times I work on it. Status: long-term project, no estimated finish date.
Witches Bubble Brew—I sewed the background together, and added embroidery to the concept. There’s still a ton of qpplique and quilting to do. Status: plan to readdress in 2016.
Meta History quilt—I scavenged the scrap bin for 2.5″ squares from older projects, made sure I have squares from all of my recent projects, and modified my plan a bit. Now, the squares have a dedicated home and I’m committed to adding squares of the scraps of each quilt to this box before I call a project “done”. Status: long-term project, no estimated finish date.
Miniatures 9-patch—I’ve been using the strip-pieced chunks as leaders and enders for another project, and have 75% of the blocks finished. I can’t find the heart section that I pieced 5 years ago, so that will keep me from finishing until I figure out where I put it. Status: blocked, plan to finish by 2/2016 one way or another.
At our last guild sew-in, it seemed that half the attendees brought binding to hand finish (saving them having to lug their machines around). As we ooh-ed and ahh-ed over each other’s projects, I noticed that our president’s corners were so much cleaner than mine ever turn out—I always seem to end up with a gap in stitching on one or more corner, no matter how exact I think I am. So, I thought I’d share her corner trick, and my two finishing tricks to help ease your binding work. I use these tricks for both hand and machine-finished binding.
1. Perfect corners
These first few photos show the method I’ve always used—the only way hers differs is the very last step (photo 4), but it makes all the difference.
In words: mark the width of your seam allowance in from the edge of the quilt (photo 1). Once you stitch to that point, turn, and stitch out to the corner at a 45° angle (photo 2). Fold your binding up on the diagonal, and then even with the edge (diagonal shown in photo 3). The magic step: instead of starting part-way in, which often leaves a gap if you aren’t exact, start stitching from the very edge (photo 4). As long as you stopped at the seam allowance point from the first direction, doing this won’t screw up your corner. Once you’re finished, turn your binding to the other side, and admire your gap-free corner.
2. Measuring the overlap to close the loop
This one’s quick—to measure the amount needed for perfect-length binding (before cutting off the extra and sewing the final seam), simply overlap the ends by the width of the binding strip.
In my example, I’m using 2.5″ strips, meaning I need an overlap of 2.5″. I’ll cut on the purple line prior to sewing the seam.
3. Seam it the right way the first time
Until I came across this tip, I had to sew the seam to close my binding at least twice every time. I’d always sew the wrong direction or have it twisted. It’s just a quick memory trick to help keep everything straight.
With the edge of the quilt away from you, the left strip goes in back and the right goes in the front, because back/left have four letters each and right/front both have five.
Then, just make sure you have right-sides together (the peak of the folds should touch), align the strips for a bias seam, and sew from corner to corner as shown in the photo (a.k.a. the standard binding finishing).
Once you’ve sewn it, it should snap into place and be the perfect length (make sure to trim the seam allowance down, and press). So very satisfying!
Do you have any other handy binding tricks you love?