Ashley's Baby quilt

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Now I don't know anyone who wants to announce they made their quilt on a budget ... but right now ... that's what I am all about (still looking for the right job ;-).  Funny how this works, when you're unemployed you have all the time in the world to do the things you want ... but unfortunately ... lack the key ingredient ... $$$. 

But, I have learned to quilt, which, in itself has been a great gift!

So ... Ashley's baby quilt.  Ashley is a friend of mine who is about to have her 2nd baby.  She's a traditional mom, so we're going to wait and hear what she had once the little one arrives.  So gender neutral it is!  So off I went to my favorite quilt fabric shop (the Quilting Loft for those of you near Seattle) and spent a little time looking for a few high-impact prints.  Found the fish fabric and then a couple of fat quarters of complimentary fabric and I was on my way for less than $12. 

A quick stop by JoAnns on the way home to pick up 2 yards of white sateen with my 40% off coupon.  This quilt is small enough that I was able to use the cast off batting from another quilt.   I trust we all have those pieces left over.  I now had the makings of a hand-made baby quilt for under $20 (of course I'll tell you that budget was a major factor ... but I hope that the quilt doesn't reflect that to Ashley !).

I love white space (or negative space, which I believe is the proper term).  My eye likes complex with restful spaces ... there have been some brilliant quilts that I have seen that really reflect that (like here & here). 

I went really tight with the meandering quilting ... almost taking it down to a stipple.  To me, the vast white space requires something to bring it to life.  And as the colors are pale, minimizing the risk of running, I also washed in hot to maximize the shrinkage & corresponding "krinkle".

The back is very simple ... it had to be based on the front.  My very first quilt had piecing on the back because I ran out of material ... this was before I even knew that piecing was the "in thing".  Now I can't put a back together without some sort of piecing, it just looks naked to me without it.  I used a pieced binding, because I didn't want to introduce any new colors into the simple scheme.  I'm kind of neutral on it ... probably would have been better to use one color since it is so simple, but I'm ok with it.  In the end, it's 36" x 39", which is a perfect size for the little one!

Off to package it up and get it ready to deliver to Ashely on Monday.  Have a great weekend!

Corner Block Quilt

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I got it finished this weekend ... but not without a couple of challenges!  After posting the pieced top on Flickr, asking for suggestions on thread color, the Flickr quilting community came through with some great ideas ... both for thread color as well as quilting suggestions. 

I had pieced the back last week, and we were off to the cabin this weekend, so I asked my husband to haul the sewing machine out there for me. On Saturday afternoon, after taping the the back to the floor, spread out the batting and then started to pin the top ... it quickly became apparent that the back was about 2" too short. Problem was, I didn't have any extra material out there, other than the navy for the binding.  After some careful measuring, I determined I could give up 2.75" from the binding to use to lengthen the back ... hence the navy stripe across the back.

Then I started quilting, I had decided to try a loopy pattern that Crazy Mom Quilts used (see it here) as recommended by Naptime Quilter.  After 3 starts ... and stops ... all with a lot of seam ripper usage ... I gave up.  I really had some tension issues with my 30-year-old Pfaff this weekend.  I barely made any progress with the loops, but even when I went back to my standard meandering pattern, I had several blocks where the thread broke over 10 times!  After a few choice words and a lot of starts and stops, I did get it quilted, but it was definitely one of my more frustrating quilting experiences.  Set the tension too tight and the thread breaks, set it too loose and the back-side looks like a noose. 

Aside from the frustration, I am really happy with how the quilt came out.  Another one that I designed from scratch and more exciting for me ... one that we're actually going to keep!  I have made approximately 30 quilts since I started 8 months ago ... and this is only the 3rd one that I've kept for us!

Oh ... and the quilting thread ... I used a tan with a green tint.

Tutorial ... Corner Block quilt

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I was asked to put together a tutorial for this quilt.  So here it goes!

Seems like it was just yesterday that I was scouring the internet for tutorials on how to put squares together and tips and tricks on quilting.  So I am going to give it a try.

The quilt I made has different fabrics (4 solids and 1 stripe).  There are actually 4 fabrics used in each block ... so each block is missing one of the fabrics. 

I have numbered the elements of the block, from the outside in.  The center fabric (#5) is the same as the outside fabric (#1).  So in the picture above, the colors would be:

Fabric #1 & #5 = Navy Blue
Fabric #2 = Stripe
Fabric #3 = Green
Fabric #4 = Rust

I have never been able to sew a 1/4 seam allowance.  My machine is metric and I haven't been able to mark a 1/4" seam allowance very well.  The widths are what are important to pay attention to in the following instructions, as I prefer to sew on the next piece and then trim it up once its is sewn.

So here goes ... I have thrown in the reference color from the photo to make it easier on your first block.

Fabric #1 (navy):
1 - 4" x 11.25"
1 - 4" x 7.5"

Fabric #2 (stripe)
2 - 1" x 6.5"

2 - 1" x 7.5"

Fabric #3 (green):
1 - 1.5" x 4"
1 - 1.5" x 5"
1 - 2" x 5"
1 - 2" x 6.5"

Fabric #4 (rust):
1 - 1" x 3"

2 - 1" x 3.75"
1- 1" x 4.5"

Fabric 5 (same material as Fabric #1) (navy):
1 - 3" x 3"

This block assumes .25" seam allowances.

Step 1:  Start with the 3" square (Fabric 5 - navy) and sew 1" strips (Fabric 4 - rust) around the perimeter.  As I mentioned, I cheat a little ... while you can precut both the width and length of the strips ... I often will cut the with first and then trim it up after I sew it on.

Step 2:  Next, add Fabric #3 (Green).  Note, there are two different widths used of this fabric  ... 1.5" and 2.0".  In the picture, you'll note the top and left strips are 1.5", while the right strip (and eventually the bottom) are the 2".  It's important to make sure you put the same width strips adjacent to each other (as opposed to opposite), otherwise you end up with a rectangle, not a square.  Having these strips different widths, gives the center box a feeling of "floating" in the larger box.

Step 3:  Fabric #2 (stripe) is all the same width wrapped around.  Be careful, however, not to stretch the material when sewing or ironing.  When strips are this narrow, they can get stretched out of shape quickly ... one of the reaons that I measure with and then trip to length ... that way if I'm off by an 1/8th of an inch, I don't have to stretch it to match.

Step 4:  In this step, you're going to add the final layer of the box (Fabric #1 - navy) ... there are only 2 in this step.  Again, if you're not perfect with your 1/4" seam allowances, it could be helpful to trim up length at the end, instead of precutting for length.   Because you had different widths of Fabric #3, the box now has a top and a bottom.  It doesn't matter which is the top or bottom.  If you want uniformity in the final layout (like I did mine) so once you pick a direction for the box to sit, you want to stay consistent before putting on the final fabric.  If you're going for a bit more of a 'wonky' look, it doesn't matter.

Step 5:   Finally, trim up your blocks so that they are completely square. 

As I mentioned, I have 5 different blocks, each comprised of 4 different colors.  To have the uniformity from block to block that I wanted, I used the following to design the color schemes for each block:

1st Block           to 2nd Block

Fabric #1 & #5 to  removed
Fabric #2          to  Fabric #3
Fabric #3          to  Fabric #1 & #5
Fabric #4          to  Fabric #2
missing fabric    to  Fabric #4

Follow this scheme until you've got your 5 blocks designed.  Then I made one of each color combo ... making it easier for me to follow and replicate. 

I like negative space in my quilts, so I also chose to use one color to make a few solid blocks.

Well ... this is my first tutorial, so please let me know where I can add clarity or if you have a better way to communicate something!

Happy quilting!

Totally random patchwork

So ... we call them random patchworks ... but they are actually very carefully planned patchworks ... carefully making sure no matching fabrics touch, moving them around to ensure balance, painstakingly positioning complimentary colors next to each other and favorite patterns in more important positions in the quilt.

But what would a TOTALLY random patchwork look like?  A bit like this ...

and this ...

Comprised of equal parts of 4 Kaufman Kona solids on the front (Straw, OD Green, Parsley and Caramel), cut to 3.5" making ~3" patchwork squares.  I let them 'fall where they may' ... there was no eyeballing or planning.  After washing, it ended up just shy of 48" x 60".  It's quilted in a large meandering pattern with tan thread and the binding is a remnant I picked up at JoAnns a couple of months ago.

I have to say hooray for the color chart I bought from Pink Chalk Fabrics a few months back, as I was able to use it to pick out and order the Kona solids that I wanted ... from concept to finished quilt took less that 8 days ... thanks to speedy shipping from both Pink Chalk Fabrics and the Fabric Shack!

The back is mainly Kaufman Kona Mustard, pieced with 2.5" cut (~2.0" sewn) window frame squares. 

The inspiration came from the tile work in my master bathroom -- the front from the wall and the back from the tile treatment around the window.

While it clearly matches my home ... this one is also a gift and will go to my cousin's daughter who just bought her first home!

I LOVE the postman!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Look what he brought me today!   Now the material is starting to become a regular event which I enjoy ... but the yarn ... it's new. 

Material first ... I love using solids in quilts.  Something about the simplicity of design ... anyway, I bought some Kaufman Kona solids for a quilt for my cousins daughter ... she has just bought her first house and I'm making a house-warming present for her.  The tile in this bathroom is my inspiration ... it works for tile ... why not a patchwork quilt?

Now ... the yarn.  I have never knitted a day in my life ... but I saw this scarf
on The Purl Bee and decided that maybe it was worth a try ...  The yarn was reasonable <$14 including shipping ... so all I need to buy is some knitting needles ... and a book on how to knit (I hear that they will be on sale at JoAnn's next week). And I'll be good to go!

The thread decision ...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

So it came together pretty well ... tried a new combination of negative space ... which I like.  But struggling to figure out what color to quilt it.  I will likely do the back in green.  There's a lot of navy, so going too light won't work.

What do you think of a silver thread?  This is where my inexperience shows up ... I just haven't quilted enough to know how different colors will work.  All thoughts welcome!

Scrap Buster

Well ... I've joined Loft Creations No Strings Attached Challenge ... essentially, a challenge to use up some of that scrap pile with some creative string quilts.

I made my first string quilt last fall using the Film in the Fridge tutorial.

It was for Kaitlin's (my niece) 14th birthday.  And apparently it was a BIG hit with her and her girlfriends!  This has to be the funnest quilts I have made so far ... you have no idea what it's going to look like until you have finished each block.  And each block is so colorful ... it's very different from most quilts.  I opted to make the strips different widths ... removing the need to match all points and, in my opionion, creates a lot more movement in the quilt with the opportunity to add so much additional color. 

I went a little crazy and used any and all colors, but I think it could be fun to make with a color theme ... which might be one of my first trys with the challenge. 

I also designed and made this lattice quilt during the holidays as a Christmas present for my step-son and his wife. 

It's essentially a "reverse" string quilt.  Not sure that this will qualify under the challenge ... but worthy of a share.  This one is made with Arcadia and an off-white sateen from JoAnns. 

I do find string quilts to be time consuming ... probably because I choose to use the paper-technique ... but SO WORTH IT !!!

Thrifted quilt

Monday, January 11, 2010

When I encountered my first "thrifted quilt" photo on Flickr last year, I remember reaching out to the photographer to ask what "thrifted" was.   

Last week I spyed 2 pillow shams for $0.99 at Value Village and couldn't resist using them as the inspiration for my first thrifted quilt.  This one is for keeps and will be for the sofa at the cabin.

I've been playing with block patterns (I design them on an excel spreadsheet) and came up with a floating block, inside a block that's pinned to the corner ... no idea what these are called in quilting terms.  There are actually 5 colors (including the stripe) and 5 different blocks (the green block isn't shown in the photo).  The blocks are almost complete and now I just need to fiddle with how to lay them out to make the quilt ... also struggling a little with what color thread to quilt it with ... thoughts?

We're heading back out to the cabin this weekend, so I'm hoping to get it completed before we go ... it will be nice to have quilt to cuddle under!

Tardy pillows and dye lots

Saturday, January 9, 2010

For Christmas, my mom asked for 2 pillows to go with the quilt I made her for her 75th birthday gift last fall. 

Since pillow crafting was new for me, procrastination set in as I worked my way through the 7 quilts that needed to get done and mailed before Christmas. 

Well, Christmas and New Years have come and gone and I decided I was going to get these pillows done this weekend.  A quick trip to JoAnn's for supplies, a FABULOUS "How to sew a throw pillow cover in 10 easy steps" tutorial from Cottage Magpie and assembly started this afternoon.  The first pillow was relatively easy ... I pieced the front and following the tutorial, I was able to quickly put the rest together ... even adding a zipper to the back instead of letting it stay open (I like to really stuff the pillow and didn't want the back to pull open, figured a zipper would help).  The back is here.

I ran out of the cream material and decided to make a quick run down to JoAnn's to pick up an extra 1/2 yard.  Here's where I learned that dye lots ... even for cream colored materials ... matter.  The Material was Quilters Only in Banana ... I actually found 3 noticably different versions of this same fabric on 3 different bolts at JoAnns this evening.  I grabbed the one that was closest to my scrap and in the end ... it's OK.  Lesson learned ...
Anyway, the pillows are complete ... it was far easier than I expected and I may even attempt a few more for myself in the near future!

She got the job !!!

The tulips are from a friend of mine who got a job offer this week!!!  I gave her the lead a couple of months ago and it turned into the perfect role for her ...

Given this economy ... I figured this was worthy of a mention and a celebration.  Congrats Jeannine!!!

A quick baby gift

A first baby is always so exciting!!!  It's been so much fun to watch a former colleague of mine, who's about to become a dad, get increasingly excited as the due date draws near.  His daughter is due the first week in February.

Not knowing the nursery colors ... decided a travel quilt might be a better option. This is so versatile! I figured it can be used with the car seat, stroller, carrying seat, tummy-time pad and, in a pinch, a changing pad. And it folds up smaller than an infant diaper … that ought to be easy to tuck into a diaper bag.

It ended up ~24" x 30".  The front is comprised of 4” squares of Kona solids; three primary (yellow, red and blue) and secondary (orange, green and purple).

The back is white sateen with falling blocks. I used the wonderful appliqué tutorial from Sew Mamma Sew to float the blocks.  It's quilted with a pale yellow thread, but I think next time I might use a white.
Hunted high and low for a print comprised of primary colors to bind it with ... surprisingly, that was harder than I thought it would be!

Turns out this size quilt is perfect for using up excess batting. Typically I use twin size batting and now have numerous ~ 72" x 30" pieces stuffed in drawers and cabinets – and it doesn’t store that easily.

I’m looking forward to seeing the new dad with his daughter!

How to make new ... look old

Thursday, January 7, 2010

OK ... it's not a new quilt ... but it's the place that inspired the quilting.  This is the master-bedroom at the cabin.  And it used to look like this ...
This is a weekend cabin, so we furnished it almost exclusively through Craigs List, second-hand stores and the like (except for mattresses & sofas). 

The cabin has a shed roof, which means we get a VERY high ceiling at the front, leaving you with what feels like a very tall room.  I wanted something that was horizontal and would bring the out-doors in.  With a limited budget, went looking and found some wood from old high-school bleachers (these came from RE Store -- they remove and take donations of used building materials, in this case they were removed from a Seattle High School prior to major renovations).
First, using a belt sander, on what was the bottom of the wood (other than a few ancient gum deposits, the bottom was in way better shape than the top and had far less shellac). We cleaned them up - the sanded wood is on the right.

Then we put a light coat of clear varnish on them just to make the grain stand out a bit more.

The installation wall got a coat of dark brown paint.  This wood is from bleachers and has small holes in it periodically from where the bolts used to go through, further, it isn't perfectly straight.  Since I couldn't eliminate the potential for gaps or holes, I wanted to minimize the impact it would have on the finished wall and the dark paint seemed to do the trick.

The lights went up on the wall this past weekend ... now all that is needed to complete the room is a quilt to hang over the bed ... which is where I believe this blog started ...

All the best

United scraps

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The idea to start quilting came early last year when we were finishing our weekend cabin.  I knew that traditional quilts weren't for me, I wanted modern quilts ... problem was, I didn't know what that meant.  Searching Amazon for "modern quilt" books, found and ordered the Modern Quilt workshop and Denyse Schmidt Quilts and was now pointed in the right direction!!!

This year started wanting to design my first second quilt (lattice was really my first), but also watching an ever-growing scrap pile coupled with a limited quilting budget. Out of this grew United Scraps.  The scraps are a variety of materials from my 2009 quilts, unified in color blocks (red, blue, brown, yellow, green and pink).

As my taste has evolved over the past year, I have found myself drawn to quilts with vast expanses of solids (is this what they call negative space?).  United Scraps is my first attempt at incorporating that into a quilt.

The back is also scrappy with larger scrap pieces than the front, set in a see of white sateen.  

Oh ... and the binding ... splurged a little and used Hope Valley Thistle to complete the quilt. 

It was a perfect project for out at the cabin over the New Year weekend as our Pacific Northwest weather lived up to all expectations.  Only problem was the batting got left back in Seattle  ... oh well, got a head start on a few blocks for my next quilt which I hope to share soon. 

Overall ... I am pleased with my first attempt and looking forward to better photo-op weather for the next production ...  The quilt was mailed this afternoon as an apartment-warming present to a dear friend who recently moved from San Francisco to Manhattan.  Sooner or later ... I will keep one of these for us ...

All the best

Now it's time to "create"

I started this blog in July 2009, shortly after I completed my first quilt. However, as rapidly as I found fabulous new quilting ideas, I also discovered a plethora of quilting blogs ... all with creativity that far exceeded my wildest dreams ... so it never launched.

I spent the last 6 months learning how to quilt ... looking at other peoples designs and bringing new fabric choices to them ... but little else.  Although I brought limited innovation to my quilts, I definitely pleased family & friends as quilts started showing up for unexpected no reason. I learned early on to give away the beginner quilts, you don't have to stare at the 'flaws' and your delighted recipients don't even notice!

My quilting skills have improved dramatically & my Christmas backlog is now behind me ... 2010 will be about focusing on the creative design of modern quilts.

Now ... I finally feel like I'm ready to start contributing to the quilting community and today am launching my blog.

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