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)!
At my guild’s quilt retreat last month, a project I’ve been working on for six years (sort of) finally started really coming together. I’ve tried to save 2.5″ squares of the fabric I use in my quilts to make some sort of meta-quilt patchwork. Last year, I finally decided on how to piece the patchwork squares together and made the first eight, and I’ve kept up with my quilt finishes ever since, so I had the latest 12. The 24 in between were another story.
I dragged my entire tub of scrap fabric to the retreat with one goal: to sort it out and find the scraps for those other blocks (oh, and sort all the scraps by color [done], and maybe make scrap bins [haha, no]). I spent most of a day on the project before deciding I needed a break, and made a lot of progress. There are only nine blocks left, and I have most of those scraps set aside ready for piecing. The solid blocks signify a few unique non-cotton-patchwork quilts—t-shirtquilts and a chenille whole-cloth one. A few 2.5” squares had to be pieced together from even smaller pieces.
I thought I’d share the progress now. After piecing the different blocks together, I decided to put the rows together in a quilt-as-you-go method, so I basted my batting and backing together and started sewing the rows available when I could. The rest of the blocks are just pinned on for show and tell.
I’m not sure how I’m going to quilt this. Some days, I think I should quilt each square similar to how I quilted that quilt, since quilting can make such a difference in the final product. Other days, I think I’d like the fabric and project to stand on its own, and say stitching in the ditch is the right choice. Maybe I’ll add something via quilting or embroidery to mark the different years.
I think I can squeeze in one more row before quilting and binding (once I piece the rest of the rows together), then I’ll start a second panel. If I eventually finish that (another 48 quilts!), I’ll sew the two finished panels together side-by-side and start another. It’ll truly be a life-long project, but I love looking back and remembering each quilt.
Wide borders and large sashing are easy ways to eat up fabric and make a larger quilt out of just a few blocks. Sashing can also help even out slightly different block sizes, such as was the case with my Altar Step blocks.
I like how this is turning out much more than I expected to.
More importantly than how the project is turning out, I want to take a minute to provide sponsor-free praise of Mary Ellen’s Best Press. I avoided buying it for many years, thinking cheaper box-store spray starch or sizing was perfectly fine. Curiosity got the best of me recently, and I’m convinced I’ll never buy anything else again.
Piecing these slightly wonky, flimsy fabric-made blocks has been amazingly painless after using Best Press. It really does make an incredible amount of difference. I don’t want to say it will magically solve all problems—such as the poor technique of a beginning quilter—but let’s just say it’s well on its way to being a scientific theory from this data set of one.
Once upon a time (circa 2010), a young woman decided that she should start quilting. Rather than design a simple project—or better yet, follow a simple pattern—she went a little crazy and pronounced that she would make a huge quilt in the span of a few months as a wedding present to a cousin. It was a dismal plan all around, and needless to say, that first project is still unfinished.
In the present time, a slightly less young woman has grown wiser with age and is tired of half-finished (or less) projects cluttering up her studio-cum-master-closet (and asking “what on Earth were you thinking, younger self!?!?”).
That wiser woman knows finishing it to the original vision is never going to happen, nor does she want to even try.
So, while she ponders what to do with ten blocks, a million little cut-out pieces, and three uncut yards of coordinating fabric, you’re left reading a blog post written about herself in the third person, all for the purpose of describing one photo that should have just gone on Instagram.
It’s dangerous work, delving into the dark recesses of the unfinished object pile.
Anyone want a bunch of tiny squares and trapezoids of questionable-quality fabric, possibly pre-washed?
For a time in 2011, I took Flamenco lessons. I’m mostly uncoordinated and soon decided to devote more time to my other fledgling hobby (quilting!), but was inspired to design this quilt. The design and fabric went hand-in-hand: I found the border print and designed the quilt around it. After building it out in Illustrator, I decided it needed ruffles—a decision that stymied immediate progress as I debated buying a ruffling foot or doing it all by hand.
Fast forward to 2015: the fabrics were tucked away in a box, I’d since bought a ruffling foot for other projects, and my quilting aesthetic has shifted away from the quilt design and the style of the fabrics. I decided to make the quilt anyway, mostly to play with ruffles and to mark one more unfinished project off the list (and reduce my stash at the same time).
The center medallion piecing is all straightforward pinwheels and flying geese, with a bit of machine applique added to the sashing (raw-edge via Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite, sewn with a ‘hand look’ applique stitch on my machine) . Instead of a plain inner border, however, there’s a ruffle—because what is a Flamenco-inspired anything without ruffles?
To make the 3″ ruffled inner border, I cut 3.75″ x width-of-fabric strips, sewed two strips together with a flat-felled seam, used a rolled-hem foot to finish one side, then gathered it all with the ruffling foot using a standard stitch length (2.5 on my machine) and a tuck every 6 stitches. Once ruffled, I pressed it all to keep the pleats in place, then sewed the ruffle and a 3.5″ strip of background fabric to the medallion. Because ruffles are a bit hard to predict length for, I made sure mine were longer than I needed and used the exactly-cut background fabric (35.5″ long) to measure and gauge length as I sewed the seam. I mitered the corners of the inner border, trapping the ruffles there, mostly because it was an easy solution to handling the corners and I liked how it looked.
The outer border uses strips of a border print, finished with mitered corners. I planned on adding another ruffle after the printed border just like the inner one with a background strip below, and then a final binding ruffle. But, when I attached the first side of this outer riffle, I found that the cheap border print fabric bunched and pulled far too much, so modified my plan to just use a ruffle on the binding. It worked out fine, and saved me having to purchase another 1.5yds of black for the second ruffle (they sure do eat up fabric!).
The back is pieced together from leftover border print. I must have purchased what I did with that plan in mind, as I had the perfect amount. The quilting is a mix of Gutermann 100% Cotton thread in black and white, with Pellon Eco 70/30 as batting. I free motion quilted a mix of pebbles, stitches in ditches, vines and leaves based off the center square motif, little loops, and echoed the printed design in the outer border. It’s bound in the leftovers of the fabric I used to fussy cut the center square, and has a 6″ ruffle attached.
At 47″ square (+ 12″ of ruffle), this can either be a large wall-hanging or a kid quilt. I don’t know where it’ll end up, yet, but it feels great to cross another unfinished project off the list.
Known fabric list: Michael Miller Fairy Frost and Rouge et Noir Petals; Windham Toni Floral Toss; Springs Creative Saroya Lace Stripe and Saroya Abstract; Free Spirit Black Solid.