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 becoming quite the thing for me to start off the year with a baby quilt for friends or family. This year’s is incredibly hard for me to let go of as it’s one of my favorite quilts to date, but alas, it’ll look cuter with a newborn on it.
I decided to do a straight-forward representation of the different shapes and their arrangement in the photograph, but wanted to inject color and pattern to make it more kid-friendly. Since the quilt is for the daughter of one of my instructors and his wife (and fellow student), I wanted to incorporate a subtle (or not subtle) nod to our discipline into the design. Thus, the colors of the shapes are the eight colors of belts in our ranking system (in no particular order). The prints are mostly small-scale, pulled from fabric I already had. I can’t get over the cute little pandas in the white stripe.
Piecing this really pushed my skills in a way I’ve shied away from in the past. I had a few rough measurements, but did a lot of the piecing improv. The central angle was nerve-wracking, but I managed it with no ripping involved, mostly by using partial seams and a lot of patience.
The back of the quilt is pieced from the super cute cat polkadots from Cotton+Steel and a strip of the colors from the front to give me the length needed. The quilt was just narrow enough to use the width of fabric, which limited the piecing I needed to do. The batting is Warm & Natural, as I had a crib-sized package laying around.
I also approached the quilting improvisationally, doing each section at a time with whatever spoke to me. Most of it was done with a walking foot, but the green section was free-motion quilted. There’re straight lines, loops, orange peels, zig-zags, serpentine stitches, and more. Each section was done in matching thread. The red binding echoes the belts of our experienced black belts in addition to providing a contrasting frame.
I hadn’t yet ordered new labels for the year with the appropriate year and qr code on them, so I used just the logo and name section from an old leftover. I’m beginning to think it’s time for something new, though I haven’t yet decided what I want to do going forward. For now, this one’s got the basics, and has already been delivered when our newest (just a few days-old) white belt made a surprise visit to say hello to last week’s class.
Things have been quiet here. Everything in non-sewing life caused me to retreat from sewing for a solid two months, somehow. So, with my guild’s first ever retreat quickly approaching (this past weekend), I needed to get my sewing mojo back. The guild provided the perfect opportunity: a few mug rugs to give to women from the larger traditional guild in the area who provided space and support during their semi-annual retreat for us to do our own thing. I managed to pull three together in the week before the retreat.
#1: A scattering of hexies
I had a mini charm pack promo pack (~10 2.5″ squares?) from Windham sitting on my shelf, and was inspired by some of the hexie mini quilts that have been going around. I used plain gray fabric to turn out hexies, stuck them on to a background with spray baste, then used the quilting to secure them. The binding was leftover from a previous project. It’s a strange color scheme, but I thought it worked out well. I wish I’d ripped and fixed the top right corner, though.
#2: Masochist Shaman
Last winter, I used a bunch of 1/2″ off-cuts of Shaman by Parson Gray as leaders and enders and ended up with a strip of fabric. I’m not sure what possessed me to do something that fiddly, and had no plans for the finished piece. I cut into that, pieced it into some gray, and ended up with an interesting mug rug. I still have a few more cut strips from it, so there may be a matching one in the future. It didn’t take long to matchstick quilt something this small. I bound it with mostly matching leftovers from another project.
#3: The running out of time
I needed one more to meet my pledge and was lacking inspiration. I challenged myself to just pick some scraps within 2 minutes and start sewing. So, I grabbed three more of the Windham charms, leafed through a stack of orphaned full-sized ones for one that matched, and happened upon a scrap of solid that was the perfect compliment. It worked out surprisingly well. Quilting it was another matter, so again, I just started sewing and it worked out okay. I had a 2.5″ strip of green that made a great frame as binding.
For some reason, while machine binding the other two went very well, this one missed three of the corners. So, time being limited, I decided to topstitch all the way around in the binding to secure the corners on the back. Shh—that’s what we call a design decision, not an accident. 😉
So, those were my mug rugs. I didn’t actually complete anything at the retreat, but I made a dent in a couple of projects, so I should be posting about those soon. First, I have to go back to real life, which includes another retreat (or leadership summit, if you prefer) this week and a extra few vacation days where Carl will join me down in Austin, TX. Life never stops!
I started a double wedding ring quilt in the summer of 2012 as part of a local quilting group in Utica. At the time, I was still enamored with using all types of fabric for quilting, so I paired some Valorie Wells Cocoon with poly satin and a linen blend. After finishing three rings from a Double Wedding Ring pattern published by Free Spirit, I decided that was enough of that plan, and packed it all away. When I needed a baby quilt for another little girl this summer, I had the perfect excuse to pull it back out and cobble a new design together.
In addition to the three finished rings, the storage box contained a yard of a purple print, a yard of the butterflies print, two 6″ charm packs, a fair number of other charm squares cut into fourths, a quarter yard each of the five poly satins, and a ton of the linen blend. If I recall correctly, once I’d given up on doing an all-over double wedding ring quilt, I decided to do a somewhat complicated (and large) medallion quilt with the leftovers, but then put that off as well. This time around, I wanted something simple and baby-sized. Her sisters were recipients of the Impressions Baby Quilt (coincidentally started around the same time as this DWR) and Noble Blooms, both of which were around 40-45″ to a side, so that’s what I aimed for here as well. The length was easy—the rings were 40″ long—so I just had to worry about width.
After thinking about it for a couple of days, I decided columns of charms on either side of the centered ring applique strip would work well to finish this off. To tie it in to the shapes in the rings, I sliced off the edges of the charms at an angle for a trapezoid shape, which still stacks well if you flip them around back and forth. I meant to have the strips on the edges be reversed (long edge of trapezoid to long edge), but pieced them incorrectly. I decided to leave them as is. I could have paid better attention to pattern placement within the strips as well, but in this case done is better than perfect.
It’s backed with a dimpled cuddle fabric—I wanted to be consistent with her sisters’ quilts rather than use the cotton yardage I had leftover. In between is Soft ‘n Crafty 80/20. The rings are a bit loftier because they’d already been quilted to a layer of batting back in 2012.
Most of the quilting is straight line (and echoes of the rings). In the center of each ring, I used a machine embroidery quilting design for feathers. It looks okay on the front, but I’m a bit unhappy with the back of those sections due to the heaviness in the center. I considered much more intricate quilting, but didn’t want to squish the cuddle background too much. I used a pale pink Aurifil for all the quilting—it’s a nice contrast in the grey areas, and blends well into the colorful parts. (Also in the box of supplies—color matched rayon embroidery threads I’d intended to quilt with—those definitely wouldn’t have held up to use!) It’s machine bound in the purple yardage I had from the line.
As I did for her sisters, I made a stuffed animal and doll quilt to go with the baby quilt. The stuffie is made from backing leftovers using my trusty copy of Simplicity 2613. The 16″x18.5″ doll quilt used up the quartered charm square scraps (trimmed down to 2.5″ squares) and 2.5″ strips from the butterfly print. It’s backed with the pinstriped linen blend and bound with the same purple as the quilt.
It’s nice to cross another project off the “in progress but more or less abandoned” list and lighten my stash a bit! Plus, I’m glad that the new baby has a quilt just like her sisters do, even if it was a few months late this time around. Now to wash it and send it on its way! (Speaking of washing, please forgive the fact that you can see blue markings in some of the photos from where I marked to center the embroideries.)
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.
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!
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.
We’re heading off on a week and a half-long vacation, first delivering this quilt in NY and visiting Carl’s family, then on to MO to visit my family. Forgive the photos, as we took them the night before leaving on our trip. Hope you’re having a wonderful time celebrating the holidays!
If I’m going to stick to a formulaic fabric selection, I thought I should at least mix up the shapes I’m using. However, a condensed timeline dictated simplicity, so I stuck with squares and rectangles. This stack of six fat quarters from Daisy Cottage; fat quarters of a generic pink solid, Kona Sunflower, and Fairy Frost in snow; and a yard of Essex Yarn Dyed in Flax went together quickly, but the values in the fabrics didn’t work out as well as the stack of blues and greens for the layout I used in Mustang Summing, so I mixed up the layout.
The result is a message to our new niece spelled out in Morse code, with the yarn dyed serving as spacers between letters and words. The whole thing is built on a 4″ finished grid, as I started with 4.5″ strips cut down into squares, 8.5″ rectangles, and 12.5″ rectangles. It finishes at 48″x56″.
I feel bad admitting this, since the quilt became a gift (sorry, V!), but I had such a hard time focusing on this quilt. I cut the fabric into strips soon after finishing Mustang Summing, but kept procrastinating on starting. Originally, I was going to make an equilateral triangle quilt. Then we found out a new niece was being added to the family, so it became her quilt. It took until the day she was born for the idea of Morse code to inspire me. Maybe I was just holding out for the spark.
The back is nice and soft, courtesy Minky in the Dynasty pattern, oyster color (although the quilting hides the pattern). There’s low-loft cotton in the middle, as usual. I quilted it in an all-over swirl using Aurifil thread that I picked up from the local quilt shop. I forgot how much my machine loves this thread. The binding is a print from Brambleberry Ridge by Violet Craft.
Since I didn’t expect to finish any more quilts in 2014, I didn’t have any labels to put on this one. For now, there’s a handwritten one on the front. Perhaps I’ll have to add another in the coming months once I order more.
I hope the size of this can grow with her and keep her warm for years. Now I need to get started on quilts for her siblings!
I’m absolutely the worst at remembering to pop gifts in the mail on time for my various niblings’ birthdays. I think they’ve all come to expect that Aunt Rachael’s cards come sometime in the general month, likely mailed on their birthday or a few days after. Take these, for instance. Two of my nieces recently celebrated their 16th birthdays, one this past week, the other in September (to be fair, I didn’t have a mailing address at the time).
For birthdays, I usually drop a gift card in the mail, but since this was a special one, I added a small additional gift as well—a keychain composed of a free-standing lace design from Urban Threads and a pair of charms from Danforth Pewter (made here in Vermont).
This is the first time I’ve tried stitching out a free-standing lace design, and it was a little rocky. My first attempt failed compeltely. The second time, I doubled up the water-soluble stabilizer and it turned out okay but the top thread broke about ten times, and it skipped a ton of stitches. The final product seems okay, despite all that.
The third time, I used three layers of stabilizer, and didn’t have to fight broken thread, however the stitches pulled the stabilizer apart, scrunching and mis-stitching a part of the key. It still came out okay, but I definitely have room for improvement.
Now I just need to remember to make it to the post office tomorrow to send them on their way!
Have you had much experience stitching out free-standing lace designs?
A group of us are starting a Modern Quilt Guild here in Vermont. It’s very exciting, but also a bit drudging trying to get everything set up and official and to get the ball rolling with actual guild-type stuff rather than being all about business, business, business, and “do we want to be MQG-official?”, et cetera.
At our September meeting, we had our first demo, potholders based on the ones in Zakka Style—a great demo idea, since it shows all the steps of quilting in one small package. To encourage members to try out the skills and techniques, we’re charged with bringing a completed potholder of any type to the next meeting.
I thought I should tackle two to-do items at once and get a head start on xmas gifts, so I made a matching set for a friend. I’ve been saving a charm pack of BasicGrey Origins for almost three years now, purchased with this friend in mind. I paired it with stashed ivory linen, a brown texture print from JoAnn Fabrics (I had nothing in my stash that matched the linen and charms. Amazing!), and an embroidery from Urban Threads.
After I finished, I remembered that we said we’d do a swap at the meeting, so I made a third for that (a great time to incorporate what I learned from earlier mistakes!).
That time around, I cut the binding as a 2.5″ strip instead of the 3″ that I used for the other two, since I wasn’t entirely happy with the width. Next time, I know to use 2.75″; 2.5″ is slightly too narrow for me to machine finish cleanly.
I pieced the 2.5″ hexies by machine (not perfect, but nothing a liberal amount of steam couldn’t handle), and turned them into a pouch for better gripping (making the pretty side the won’t-get-shoved-into-food-accidentally side, which makes the ivory far more practical). All three are 8.5″ square, with a layer of Insul-Bright and low-loft cotton batting between. I do wish I’d remembered to add a hanging loop to my friend’s, and am not entirely happy with the contrast quilting on the back (which makes the un-quilted, embroidered area even more obvious).
As for the guild, join us the last Sunday of every month, 10am-noon, at Nido in Burlington!
Near the end of every semester, I send finals week care packages to my younger sisters (which also happens to conveniently fall near their birthdays in the spring and autumn). While they mainly contain tea, chocolate, pens/markers, post-its, and something relaxing, I try to slip in something me-made every time as well (to varying degrees of success).
This semester, they moved into an apartment together, so I thought of the perfect gift: a set of kitchen towels with awesome embroideries that I found on Urban Threads. Useful, not so precious that they can’t be used, and amusing.
There is one embroidered towel and one plain one in each set, each measuring around 16″x21″. One of these days, I’ll be making a set of my own from this one, which perfectly sums up my introverted down days: “Happiness is a cup of tea and a really good book.”
We’ve always ganged up a bit on the younger one, who claims she now reads, but didn’t for many years, so she got a different design (which could double as a coffee cup, since that may be her caffeine-delivery vehicle of choice). It may also be fitting for me to hang at work, if you ask my coworkers about my state of mind at our scrum every morning: “Death before decaf.”
I made the four towels from a yard of textured cotton I found in the utility section of JoAnn Fabrics. While not explicitly labeled toweling, it’s a great texture for a hand towel. I used cotton Gutermann thread to embroider them, matching the needle and bobbin threads. The 150m spools had just enough thread on them to get through the embroidery, then I switched the bobbin up to feed through the needle and put a cream bobbin to hem the edges. It made for an efficient use of a single spool that could have ended with a run to the store had anything gone wrong (I like to live a little dangerously some times).
Now, to start scheming about what to make for November’s package…