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)!
This is the last quilt I finished in 2017. Although I didn’t make most of the blocks, I’m counting it as one of “my” quilts for record-keeping purposes, since I came up with the project, managed the block collection, and put it all together. I also quilted it and bound it by hand (the first in a long time). Of course, I couldn’t have done it without all the work my guild members put into the blocks—I’m so thankful for what they gave me to work with!
My local MQG is continuing to grow and evolve, and this year we had our first changeover in presidents. We wanted to honor our founding president, and decided to make—what else?—a quilt.
We asked members to provide a signature block of their choosing in one of three block sizes. Additional requests were to use a light gray background and only solid fabrics. Beyond that, they were welcome to do any style of block they wanted.
I volunteered to head up the project, including the task of piecing everything together. One member spied some modern letter blocks on a Pinterest board curated by the recipient and chose to make those up instead of a single block. Inspired by them and one block that came in with a darker background than all the others, I ended up making two ‘tops’ for a double-sided quilt. The Thank You side has a few other blocks submitted by members that fit especially well on that side, and the other collects the remaining blocks.
The result was a quilt that channels both the guild and our president emeritus. We gifted her the quilt at our December meeting. I never did take any good photos, esp. since I finished hand-sewing the binding about 10 hours before our meeting (and slept most of the rest).
Adherence to the block rules was mixed, but it all worked out in the end. If I were to run a similar collection in the future, I would change the requests based on what I learned. Here are a few guidelines that worked well or that I wish I’d implemented (hindsight and all that).
Tips for block collection:
Decide how exacting you need to be. If they don’t follow the rules, will you still use the blocks or will you refuse them? Provide a disclaimer about using/not using a block, cutting blocks apart, restructuring them, etc.
Be very, very clear about block size. Give unfinished size for best results.
If it matters to you, specify an ink color to use for signing.
Be prepared to adjust your vision if you design the quilt before receiving all of the blocks.
Set a deadline and be firm. Make sure to publicize the deadline clearly.
If people donate materials to finish the quilt and you intend to return anything that is unused, keep track of who sends what. Or, consider passing on the rest to the quilt recipient if she is also a quilter.
Provide a visual guide when specifying something like “light gray” or “channel Jane’s style”.
Somehow, almost 50 members were able to keep this completely secret from the recipient, and she was completely surprised when we presented it at our December meeting. I call that a success!
This is quilt three of four that I’m behind in blogging about from 2017, and was the 5th baby quilt of the year (of seven total quilts)! I threw it together quickly in October, trying to beat his birth. Then it sat around in my house waiting for me to remember to ship it, so was a few months late, just like this post.
This has been the year of baby quilts, it seems. Or the year where only baby quilts were prioritized, perhaps. A baby boy is joining a family of three girls who have already received quilts marking their births (Impressions Baby Quilt, Noble Blooms, Jewelry Box), so after finding out, I quickly set out to make one for him, too.
I dug into my stash for inspiration, and found a charm pack from the line Apple Hill Farm. It was a small pack though, containing only 23 charms. After wracking my brain for a good, quick design that goes well with 5-inch precut squares, I settled on a disappearing nine-patch layout that needed 36 patterned charms. I dug through my scrap bin and cannibalized a few coordinating charms from other packs, and ended up with enough. I paired the printed charms with two greens from stash (Kona Cactus and Limelight), and one last print—Cotton+Steel blue confetti dots—to tie everything together.
I posted about disappearing nine-patch blocks a long while ago. They make a great pattern that is simple to piece, since you start with large pieces and slice the nine-patch blocks apart to create the look of complex, smaller piecing. For this design, the four corners were patterned fabrics, the centers were blue dots, and the solid green filled out the middles. I mixed the greens on a couple of the nine-patch blocks to let me shift between the two colors within the quilt. I didn’t have quite enough of either green to do the whole quilt, so I wanted to get a little creative with using the two.
I quilted it with an all-over angular meander using a light blue 40wt Aurifil thread. I don’t know if it was the thread, the unknown high-poly-content, low-loft batting (from the scrap drawer), or my machine, but this was a nightmare to quilt. I started out trying to free-motion quilt it, but after 4 broken needles, skipped stitches, and a few thread breaks, I switched to my walking foot. Jacquie Gering’s Walk (thanks for the b-day present, Mom!) talked about using reverse on sections of designs like this, and that was a brilliant tip.
It’s backed with a navy dimple dot cuddle fabric and bound with a red print from a Sock Monkey collection that I’ve been hoarding since the early days of my quilting hobby. It comes in a bit smaller than the three quilts for his sisters, but it’s still a nice play mat size. Alas, the poor guy won’t be getting a hand-made stuffy any time soon like his sisters did. Maybe I’ll get my act together by his first birthday!
I hope you’re all having wonderful holidays. I was hoping to get 100% caught up on blogging my 2017 finishes… we’ll see. So far, I’ve done a lot of nothing productive on my days off work.
This is another quilt that I finished months ago—September to be precise. I finished everything but the binding at my guild’s fall retreat with the deadline of a baby shower looming the following weekend. Life had other plans, and we had to fly back to MO that weekend due to the funeral of my step-mother. I finished the binding a couple weeks later and still gifted it well before my friend’s baby girl came into the world. My friend seemed a little unwilling to share the quilt with her baby though (at least, when I gifted the quilt)—a true compliment!
I really love it when I stumble upon my motivation trifecta: a spark of design inspiration, a stack of fabric that calls to me, and a (somewhat loose, but looming) deadline. That happened here, and sparked off the creation of one of my favorite finishes yet.
The design inspiration came from a rug I found online. Something about the triangle designs and arrangement really caught my eye. The fabric inspiration came from a stack of fat quarters of the full range of colors in Cloud9’s Cirrus Solids collection. I think I’ve talked about their solids before, but I love, love, love them. They are yarn dyed (but with the same color weft and warp), and have much more depth than your typical solid. The rainbow of colors kept drawing my eye as it sat on my shelf, and seemed perfect for this project.
Finally, the reason to make the quilt: the upcoming birth of a good friend’s first baby, gender unknown. This friend is a constant source of inspiration to me in our quest to get more women involved in tech, and is artistic herself, so I was happy to have everything click in place to come up with a design and finished quilt that I’m proud of and that I think she’ll really dig (and hopefully her small new human will too).
At first, I had triangles that were drawn a little more free-form, with varying sizes of stripes, and planned to paper piece them. I was inspired by a trunk show that Amy Friend gave my guild, along with her book Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design. But, paper piecing—especially at the scale of these triangles—just doesn’t seem to click for me, so I fell back on basic piecing and simplified my triangles into pieces that were straight-forward to calculate (or, in the case of the angles, to put a strip of tape on a ruler for consistency).
I paired the Cloud9 solids with about two yards of Essex Yarn Dyed (Indigo, if I remember correctly). For her registry, my friend focused on greens and grays, so paired with the rainbow of solids, this read as a good neutral gray. On the back is a solid swath of green Minky that has a tile texture. I used Quilter’s Dream low-loft cotton batting, and bound it in a rainbow of scraps from the front, plus a little bit of a black and white print to get enough length.
I ended up with a spare triangle that I miscut, which inspired me to whip up a gift bag to go along with the quilt (or, as something for mom to carry around?). The lining is pieced of strips of a few of the colored solids, and the straps are also scrappy, making use of the fabric I had left of the fat quarters. I didn’t work from a pattern from the bag, just memory of making similar ones—it finished at around 14x16x2″, and I used Pellon 101 to interface the outer fabric.
From a technical standpoint, this isn’t my best quilt—some points are missing due to in-progress design decisions and bad math, and the binding just didn’t want to go on all that well, in part because the Minky had different pile lengths. But, it still ranks high on my list of favorite designs.
It’s been some kind of a year. I have four quilts that I’ve finished but not blogged about, starting with this one that was finished back at a quilting retreat in May. I never did get around to getting more photos of it before giving it to my mother-in-law just prior to her starting chemotherapy in July. I’m hoping to catch up on posting the others between now and the end of the year. We’ll see!
Once upon a time, I was involved with two different monthly sampler quilts at the same time. Then I moved halfway through the year and this one ended up with five finished blocks in a box, one unfinished block kit, and a no urge to piece them into a top. This one especially didn’t call to me—it’s really not my style at all, and no amount of sketching could change my apathy (to be blunt). But, I’ve been on a mission to clean out my old works in progress, and realized at the guild retreat last fall that I could go super simple with the layout, try a new technique (setting blocks on point), and end up with a reasonably-sized quilt with minimal effort. So, armed with six 12″ squares and three yards of a dark blue tonal fabric, I went to work.
Setting blocks on-point isn’t that difficult, it just requires a few 4-letter words—one of which is math. The most important number is the square root of 2 (√2, or 1.414), followed closely by remembering that you add 7/8″ to a square for triangle seam allowances (think half-square triangles).
The other thing to consider is your fabric’s grain and bias. The reason we cut corner triangles as half square triangles, but side or setting triangles as quarter-square triangles is so that the outer edge is always on-grain, which makes those edges less likely to warp as we add borders or binding. (A secondary reason is to keep directional prints facing the right way.) A good tip when sewing your setting and corner triangles to your blocks is to always have the bias edge on the bottom, touching the feed dogs. That way the presser foot doesn’t stretch the bias edge (less of an issue for sewing machine brands with even feed feet or if piecing with a walking foot). That said, I broke the rules for a couple setting squares to conserve fabric (quarter-square triangles eat up fabric!) as I feel comfortable working with the bias while piecing borders and my fabric was non-directional. Do what works for you.
I talked about four of the blocks back in 2013. The other two are “True Blue” and “The Windmill” (which actually contains five windmills). I added a 6″ border on all sides to bring the size up to 46″x63″.
While digging through my reproduction fabrics scrap box for other scraps, I realized I actually had yardage stored in the box! So, the backing of the quilt is made from the remaining blue tonal, a half yard of a Windham repro, and the rest of a dark red solid (also used for binding). I used Quilter’s Dream Wool batting because I had a package on hand and to see how I like it for possible future projects (I was not a fan of quilting it, but it does make for a nice quilt).
It’s quilted in a mix of a modified Baptist Fan pattern and echoed scallops using a navy Aurifil 50wt. While I liked how the fans looked, I honestly got really bored quilting them, so switched to the much faster scallops. It’s machine bound in a solid with a little scrap of piecing leftover from a block. I’m happy to have another old work in progress finished!
Special thanks to Trista for holding the quilt, and Basin Harbor Club for the awesome location. The view was much better than my photography skills.
I’ve thought about making a hexagon quilt for years now. I even bought the Hex-n-More ruler two years ago to get started, but then couldn’t come up with the right project at the right time. However, the arrival of our friends’ twin babies and a stack of fat quarters from Birch Fabric’s Bear Camp (plus a few other fabrics thrown in) gave me the perfect excuse to make two hexie quilts—although I settled on half hexies to take into account faster piecing (the babies came quite early!) and cutting layout efficiency.
These 42″ x 54″ quilts use the 8″ half hexie size of the Hex-n-More ruler and were simple to piece row by row. I did a rough layout in Illustrator to try to spread the colors around somewhat evenly (also between the two quilts), although the final products are a little less random than planned—I didn’t do a good job of spreading around the prints, just the colors.
I mixed in a glittery gray, magenta shot cotton, and lavender Cotton+Steel polka cats into one quilt, then used the warmer red and orange Bear Camp prints paired with a solid orange (Cloud9?) in the other to make distinct, but similar, quilts for the brother and sister pair. A cluster of three solid hexies was the perfect background for machine embroidering their initials on the quilt. I originally planned to do a three-letter monogram, but couldn’t figure out how to place letters for proper readability in the cluster, so went with just first and last initial in the center.
The quilts are both backed with a gray cuddle fabric, and quilted by echoing the hexie outlines. I used coordinating, but not precisely matching thread for the quilting, as it was already on my shelf in the right quantity. The magenta version was a nightmare—I tried three different threads and a variety of needles and still ended up with skipped stitches that I can’t figure out (other projects have gone fine in the mean time). I had to rip out so many lines of stitching. I ended up leaving in a few lines of magenta that had fewer skipped stitches (and sewed a line of pink next to them), because I was at my wits’ end with ripping. Warm & Plush batting is in between (a higher-loft version of Warm & Natural), to make for very cuddly quilts.
This is the first time I’ve ever used Birch Fabrics’ fabric. They’re an organic cotton provider, but none of my local shops carry them. I grabbed the bundle from Massdrop (mixed feelings) late last year, knowing that I had a few baby quilts to make in the coming year. Overall, they’re a decent substrate to work with, but fair warning: they have very large (sometimes >1.5″!) selvages.
They’re both finished off with a new label style I made. I dropped the QR code, and left room to one side to add a personal note. I took photos prior to writing in a quick note for each baby.
I finished these up in April, but just recently had the chance to deliver them. Stay tuned for one more recent finish coming up shortly.
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!