Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Family Quilt


I've been on a bit of a sewing and quilting hiatus, as the arrival of Jonah Robert on June 28th commanded the vast majority of my attention.  Now that he's a bit older and is sleeping longer stints through the night and going longer between feedings, I've been able to make little pockets of time to work on some craft projects.  At the top of my priority list was a project for Grandma and Grandpa's 60th wedding anniversary, October 1.

While Gabby was out and we were at the IQF in Chicago in April, we visited a booth with a display of a quilt called "My Family Quilt" from the Whimsicals book, If Quilts Could Talk. While it featured applique, a technique of which I am not fond, I thought it was perfect as the pictures printed to fabric and text were appropriate for a 60th anniversary, and the size was such that it didn't seem too overwhelming.  Gabby was kind enough to buy the book for me as a gift, and I began thinking about what exactly I might want to do with the project.

I started on this very shortly after Jonah was born, but it has taken me until Sunday to completely finish it.  The main challenge was in getting the blasted photos printed to fabric.  It should NOT be that hard, but our home printer - the ink jet one required for printing to fabric - was having major issues and refuses now to render color properly.  I took the files to work to print on the printer there, but the files were corrupted somehow in the process and I had to recreate them all.  Then, when I was finally able to print again, I discovered that the work printer was also refusing to render color properly.  So the project sat and sat until Ben was able to print them on the neighbor's printer (thank you a million, Kathy Cayen)! From there, it went pretty quickly in terms of the construction.

I used almost exclusively Daiwabos and Daiwabo scraps from my stash.  The trims were purchased from Etsy (thanks to Susan Sponberg for her suggestion to look there).  I'd purchased additional trims, but to be honest, wasn't exactly sure how to apply some of them.  And others had means of application that were just too large for the scale of this project (most of these images are in the 2-3-inch square range and the entire project is about 40" wide by 16" tall).  I love the oversized rick rack, one of several color options I purchased from Tammy Tadd Designs, and the manner in which the border, rick rack, and center were applied was really slick, even if it does "waste" fabric. The rick rack just lies so flat!!

I presented it as a gift to Grandma and Grandpa this morning, and I think they loved it, even if it was nearly two months late.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lil' Twister

As I'm not entirely certain when my sewing time will come to a halt, I've been working on finishing up some projects and starting only smallish projects. Or at least I've been trying to motivate to do so.  I did drop two quilts off at the shop yesterday to have them quilted - the State of Grace quilt I finished last week and the Just Before Dawn top that I finished a year ago May and have just had sitting around! 

I'd picked up a pattern and template called Lil' Twister (by Country Schoolhouse Designs of Superior, WI) at the IQF show in Chicago in April and thought it looked simple enough to give a start.  You begin by sewing together charm squares in a pleasing arrangement with a narrow border, like so:

And then you use the template to cut squares out from the sewn piece to give the illusion of pinwheels, like so:

Not terribly difficult to do, but I'm wondering if it wouldn't have looked better with fabrics with more contrast.  I do love the Martinique line by 3 Sisters that I used, but the pinwheels aren't necessarily all that apparent. Once I sew the blocks together, I'm thinking of adding on a narrow cream border and a slightly wider red border to finish it off and brighten it up a bit.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

State of Grace

I've squeezed in a bit of sewing here and there for the past several weeks, working at a project that I''d had sitting around and cut out for some time. It's the State of Grace pattern (a Moda to Go jelly roll project) using the Shangri La fabric line by 3 Sisters.  I'm thinking that part of the reason I'd set the project aside (because I love the colors and design!) was that I had come up way short when I originally cut it out from the jelly roll. The good news is that I had significant portions of a jelly roll of a more recent line by the same designers - the Glace line - that mixed and matched well enough to allow me to finish the top.

Here's the full quilt (poor Ben did his best to hold it up, but it's on the larger side):

And a close-up.

I love the colors and can't wait to get this one quilted.  Ordered some backing fabric and might be able to drop it off this weekend.  Time will tell, though.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bathtime Hoodie

At our guild's show in March, I purchased a really cute pattern for a baby bathtime hoodie, designed by RoseHip Lane (two guild members joined forces as this creative duo), along with the yard of toweling required to make it.  On Sunday, I finally made time to sit down to make it up, using 2.5" squares left over from baby's Pearls 'n Pinwheels quilt (isn't it fabulous when you can directly incorporate pieces from one project into the next?). 

I love how quickly and easily it came together and plan to stock up on toweling so that I can make more as gifts in the future.  The most time-consuming part is sewing down the binding and trying to keep the thread from being visible on the opposite side through the toweling (I wasn't always successful at that).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sailboat Panel Quilt

When Mom and Dad were out a couple of weeks back, Mom pieced a quilt for the nursery to go with the sailboat theme.  We found the pattern and panel at the Fat Quarter Shop. It's the Nautical and Nice line by Sandy Gervais, which matches the Anchors Away hanging I made a few months back. Unfortuantely, due to all of the activity of the weekend, we ran out of time for layering, basting, and quilting the quilt before Mom headed back to Ohio, but I was able to finish it up this weekend so it's all set for the baby's arrival.

Here are a couple of photos.

The full quilt, hanging on the wall:

 Just the center portion of the quilt:

Thanks so much, Mom! He's going to love it!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Baby Quilt Finished

I finally finished sewing down the binding and hanging sleeve (not really needed right now, but it will if I want to enter it in the quilt show next time around!) on the baby's quilt. Here's the finished product:

Patched Works quilted it for me and the quilting design features little sailboats, which fits in with the nursery theme:

 The pattern, in case you missed earlier posts, is Atkinson Designs' Pearls 'n Pinwheels.  Images of the quilt in the room before the binding was sewn, as well as nursery decorating progress are available here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Charity Quilts

I'm finally taking a little time to post pictures of the two charity quilts I was able to complete recently.  I hadn't necessarily planned to make two quilts (a third is in the works as well), but after I made a mistake and cut the batting too small to allow me to quilt the first one during a charity quilt work day, I started on the others and well, that's how things snowball, isn't it?

Both are quilts from the Atkinson Designs' Yellow Brick Road pattern and used fat quarters from my stash. The border for the purple quilt was left over from a baby quilt I made last summer.  Always nice to use up some of the stash, and hopefully some young child and teenage girl enjoy receiving these quilts. Our guild's charity this year was the Child Protection Center of the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, which protects children from abuse and provides resources to help them heal.

Monday, April 19, 2010

IQF Chicago

April is flying by and I haven't had much time for sewing this month.  I did take last Friday off of work, however, to head down to Chicago for the final IQF - Chicago there (boo hoo... I'm not sure I'll get to the new location in Cincinnati unless I can combine it with a family visit). Gabby made the trek out from Boston and joined me for a weekend filled with quilty inspiration!

There definitely aren't as many quilts in Chicago as in Houston, but there's still plenty of amazing work to admire:

I got into some trouble with vendors, buying a few fat quarter packs, some patterns for baby-inspired gifts and notions, and a few small project kits.

We each spent Saturday in a different day-long class. I took a Color Play class with Anne Lullie; Gabby took a curved piecing class with Philippa Naylor. Here's the project I made. I must say I'm not quite certain I'm really up to quilting down all of those squares...

Of course, this quilty inspiration was all augmented on Sunday when Gabby and I headed to Patched Works and hit their Fat Quarter Frenzy sale, where I was able to score some additional fat quarters for some small projects I hope I might be able to work on this summer. Naughty, naughty!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Anatomy of a Quilt Show

It's been almost two weeks now, but I'm finally getting around to posting some photos from the quilt show.  I helped coordinate the set-up again this year, and it's just amazing that what takes an entire day to come together comes down in less than an hour.  It's all worth it, of course, to see the amazing work created by guild members, to earn funds for the guild's programming, and to get to know the other quilters better.  But the amount of work that goes into pulling off this two-day event is unbelievable.

First, a few photos from set-up day:

Our car loaded with some of the racks we used:
The main room at Mount Mary, empty at about 7:15 a.m.:
The stack of racks and poles after we carried them in:

Progress putting up racks and quilts, taken at some point mid-morning:
Hanging curtains in the smaller room (to which we would pin the wall hangings):
Hanging quilts in the hallway:
Having a good time:
After a long day's work, it was great to see the fruits of our efforts in the nearly 350 items hung.  Ben did a great job photographing all of the quilts; if you weren't able to attend, here is a slideshow with images of everything in the show.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pearls 'n Pinwheels

So a week after my half-square triangle catastrophe, I've completely started over and finished this quilt top.  I LOVE IT!  Gotta get backing soon and get this off to the shop to get it quilted before the baby arrives.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pinwheel Progress

Thanks to Jen's help in obtaining replacement red and white fabric for the center pinwheels, I've been able to make a bit of progress on the Pearls 'n Pinwheels quilt! 

Here's a photo of four of the blocks, completed through "round 1" of piecing around the center square.  I'm really liking it thus far and am amazed at how quickly it's going together due to the pattern's strip piecing instructions for constructing the side units.

Looking forward to more sewing this week and am crossing my fingers that this doesn't turn out to look too patriotic (I don't think it will)!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reading Instructions is Important...

and advisable before you sew 160 or so half-square triangles and trim them up and then realize that the pattern designer did NOT want you to sew on each side of the diagonal line you drew on the back - you were supposed to SEW on the line!  So I have twice as many half-square triangles as I needed, and they're all the wrong size!  ARG.

And I no longer have enough of either fabric to continue work on this quilt.  This is a major bummer - I'd wanted to make some progress and can't really do anything else until I make the center pinwheels.  Here's the project - Atkinson Designs' Pearls 'n Pinwheels.

Maybe I can sneak out from the quilt show on Saturday to pick up some replacement fabric from Patched Works...  and now I've gotta figure out what to do with all of these ill-fitting blocks!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Anchor's Away!

Amidst the quilt show preparation, I found a bit of time to put this quick little project together.  It's not large (about 25"x29"), but I think it'll be perfect to hang on a nursery door, and it was nice to finish a quick project and feel like I'm getting somewhere!

Pattern is "Anchors Away" by Sandy Gervais, and the fabric is her Nautical and Nice line. I resisted this for a while, but ultimately, had to order the kit from the Fat Quarter Shop. I may be in trouble - when I just created those links, I discovered there's another pattern for a really cute sailboat quilt!!! Can I resist temptation?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Strips 'n Curves

About a year ago, at a quilt guild meeting, we were asked to write on a notecard a quilt-related "resolution" to finish a UFO (or more than one) and told to plan to finish it for a meeting at some point this year.  I decided to write down the Strips 'n Curves quilt from Louisa Smith's book of that name that I started in a class a few years back at Fabric Fusion in Brown Deer (unfortunately, no longer there). It got set aside because I needed to make some more strata and had to find some additional light batiks to do that.  Never mind that I did find some light batiks at the Chicago IQF not that long thereafter, yet I didn't pick up the quilt again!

Well... the show and tell reveal is next week, and I hadn't made much progress on my resolution by about 6 weeks ago.  I managed to get a few strata sewn in late January and then life got in the way once again.  I found some time this week to lay out the units and sew them together.  Here's the current progress:

I really do love the colors and need to decide if I want to put on a border of the orange-red batik.  Not so certain about the layout and geometric nature of the work.  It's certainly a bit of a departure from my normal work. 

I'd originally thought there was still some hope of getting this done by next Wednesday.  But now that I've got quilt show preparation duties taking up some time on both Saturday and Sunday, I'm not certain how reasonable that goal is (the top is about 45" square).  But I can still try.  Anyone have any good quilting design ideas?  Thoughts about thread colors?

Sunday, February 28, 2010


I've squeezed in some short bits of sewing time over the past few weeks and completed the pincushions pictured here.  They're all from the Tuffets pattern by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.  The pattern was great and I was able to make all six out of leftover charms from the Chocolat line by 3 Sisters for Moda that came out a few years back. I filled them with crushed walnuts (walnut bird litter), as recommended by the pattern and I have to admit it has a nice heft, fills the pincushions well, and wasn't as messy as I thought it might have been.

While I'm not personally much of a pincushion person (I keep all of my Iris pins in the tins they come in), these will go to the upcoming boutique for the West Suburban Quilter's Guild's show on March 19 and 20.  I'd actually be half tempted to buy (or keep) one or two of these... hopefully someone will be willing to pay $5 to take them home!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Where does the time go?

This month has been off to a pretty crazy start, which has not allowed for much sewing.  However, I'm a bit behind on the blog posting, so I figured I'd take a moment to post one of the projects I worked on a couple of weeks ago.

On the 30th, a small group of us from guild got together to work on making quilts for the guild's charity, the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin's Child Protection Center.  I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to work on, but decided to try to make something from my stash.  A fun pack of 12 fat quarters that I received back in February 2008 when I received the Fat Quarter Shop's Moda fat quarters every month caught my eye as it seemed perfect for an older girl who might receive treatment at the Child Protection Center.  Twelve fat quarters is perfect to sew up a lap sized version of Atkinson Designs' Yellow Brick Road pattern, so that made my decision for me.

The great thing is the pattern whips up quickly, so I pretty much had it done at the end of our session.  I looked briefly for a border for the quilt, but have decided to wait a few more weeks until I should be able to find yardage of Deb Strain's next line, Cherish Nature, which looks like it will be the perfect complement to this earlier line, called Daydreams.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Art Quilt Challenge

For our upcoming guild show, there's a challenge to design an original work inspired by a piece in an art museum at a size of 24x28 (+/- 2 inches).  My art quilt group visited the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum and decided that we'd choose one of Warhol's works as our inspiration.

I decided that I wanted to choose some of his work that probably isn't as well known (i.e. not his pop art).  I liked the oxidation paintings that were included in the exhibit, which Warhol created using metallic paint (which oxidized when urine was applied).  Now I have no plans to use any of the latter substance in my quilting, but I did really like the effect.

Here's an example of one of Warhol's works (Oxidation, 1978, Urine on copper metallic painted canvas):

I wasn't quite sure how to approach this type of work, but the Warhol Museum had a great resource for teachers to use in discussing these particular works of art and the science behind them.  The activity sheet suggested using Modern Masters Copper paint on a canvas and then applying a variety of acids and bases to see how they might react.  I thought this seemed like a reasonable enough place to begin, although I wasn't certain how I might quilt through fabric that had thick paint applied.

Local art supply store Artist & Display unfortunately does not keep the paint in stock and the very helpful salesman was worried that the oxidation process would not stop and that my quilted piece would simply fall apart.  He's still trying to talk to the vendor for me to see if they know of any uses of the paint on regular cotton fabric.  So I had to abandon that avenue for the time being.

One of my art quilt books had some information on gold leafing, and I discovered that Artist & Display sold copper leaf.  I purchased a packet of this and sprayed some lemon juice on it, just to see whether it would have any effect and whether any oxidation might occur.  Unfortunately, the lemon juice dried and one really could not see any effect, although if you did get up really close to the sheet of copper leaf, you could see tiny bits of color change in a few places.  But you'd never notice unless you practically studied it under a microscope.  I was also uncertain how this would look once I'd actually ironed it on to fabric - would the wonder-under or adhesive product eventually show through the copper leaf?  That couldn't possibly be appealing.

So on to another plan.  Could I get some sort of similar effect by bleaching some black fabric, recognizing that you don't know what color might be revealed in the process?  I'd not done any bleaching before, so decided to opt for Soft Scrub with Bleach and a bleach pen as two alternatives.  I wasn't certain how best to apply the bleach, but played around and in the end I don't think this process will work either. Unless I use straight bleach (diluted, of course), I don't really know how I'll get the splatter/spray/random effect I'm looking for.  I was also shocked at how long I had to leave these products on the fabric to achieve much of any effect - close to 5 hours or so, I think. Of course this fabric discharged to a ever lovely brown color.

All but the one on the right were done with Soft Scrub with Bleach; the one at right in the photo was done with the bleach pen.


It also occurred to me that maybe I could get a decent effect by simply dying my own fabric.  About a year ago, I purchased supplies to dye some fabric in the microwave using RIT, based on an article in Quilting Arts magazine.  So I figured, what the heck.  I ended up trying a few different color combinations and while I have some nice fabrics, they're still not quite what I was hoping for.

Here are photos of the fabric I did dye.

Color combo #1 (violets, blues, teals; the third from left is a combo of the two to its left):

Color combo #2 (green and red on either end with a combo in the middle):

Color combo #3 (orange and blue with the combo in the middle):

My art group met last week and Karen suggested that it might be worth an attempt at rusting one or more of the pieces. I think this has promise, but I need to dig up the articles I've seen on rusting to refresh my memory on the process.  And I'm not certain what I'll actually use for the oxidation process.  If I lived closer to my parents, I'm sure there would be all kinds of wonderful things I could steal from the barn.  But I don't really keep around a stash of random metal objects.  I think steel wool might work...

Hopefully all of this experimentation leads somewhere.  I'm running out of time and ideas, however.  And I don't know if I have the energy to resort to a completely different project.  I probably could do something inspired by his Pop Art works, but most others in the group are doing the same, and I'm not sure what every day item I'd want to elevate to quilt status.  Anyone have any brilliant insights into how I might achieve the effect I'm looking for?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thistlepod Top in One Piece!

I'm very excited to have completed the piecing of Thistlepod as of Tuesday night!!  It's been a busy week and I've been rather tired, so I've just now found a few minutes to post a photo.  This turned out much better than I anticipated, which I credit to a really good pattern design. The curves went together really well, and while there are a few puckers in the curved piecing, I've not always had such an easy time, depending on the pattern.  Thank you, Judy Niemeyer!

Wasn't Ben a genius in his method for hanging the quilt top for the photo?  He mounted two quilt hangers on either end of a 2x4 and then just held the board in the middle, which was much easier than trying to hold just the top itself (and not having the wingspan)!

I've got backing fabric but need to wash and piece it before it's off to be quilted.  And there's quite a bit of extra fabric from the top; in some cases, a rather ridiculous amount.  They are beautiful fabrics, so I'm not all that upset, I suppose.  I'm thinking an complementary table runner would be nice, it's just a question of finding the right pattern (unfortunately, I have no extra foundations from this project, as they were all preprinted).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thistlepod - First Half Together!

I've made some good progress on Thistlepod in the past few days and now have a full half of the quilt together in one piece!  Yay!  I'm so excited, as I really love how this looks and it does seem completely realistic to think that I can have this quilt pieced and quilted in time for our quilt show!  Thanks to Ben for standing on the chair to hold up the top so I could take a photo.  It's pretty large - 96" from top to bottom.

I picked out backing fabric last weekend, so I'm set on that front. Now I'm torn about having it quilted. I'd originally planned to have it custom quilted - for all the work that went into it, an edge-to-edge design seems like taking an easy out!  But then, I'm not really sure what I'd want done custom, other than loads of feathers in those light areas. And I saw another Thistlepod with an edge-to-edge design and it was still gorgeous...  Decisions, decisions!  With everything else going on, it may be another week before I'm able to get the other half together anyways.  I can't wait to see it!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Moda U Blocks of the Month

Saturday was my monthly meeting for Moda U. at Patched Works.  I decided to do the "big quilt" this year because I loved the fabric line the shop is using for it, the Rouenneries line by French General.  Wonderful reds and pinks and taupes and the finished product should look really nice in my living room or hallway.  Here's the luscious fabric line:

I was a month behind in the blocks-of-the month because I was in New Zealand during the November meeting when the fabric kits were distributed, but I was able to get all 8 blocks sewn up prior to the meeting.  I'm really loving how these turn out, and the amazing thing is that the blocks in each column are the same, but can look so different, depending on which fabrics I chose.

I'd kind of forgotten what the finished quilt looks like, so I did some searching online to find it again. You'll see that most of those online showing the pattern - called Green Piece - are made up in a different fabric line and feature loads of applique.  I guarantee you mine will not have that amount of applique.  I'm figuring I will make myself applique the center "medallion" section and call that good enough.  Honestly, I think all that other applique is just a little over the top and a little too busy.

I'm making some good progress on Thistlepod.  Hopefully I'll be able to share a photo and update tomorrow!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Four Patch Shuffle

Amongst all of the holiday preparations and goings on, I had a little bit of time to sew before going to Ohio for Christmas.  I wanted a quick project, something that I could just sit down and sew on without any complications or bother.  I probably should have worked on Thistlepod, but I just wanted to sew, so I grabbed the Four Patch Shuffle quilt kit that I bought a couple of years ago and that I had cut out before November's quilt retreat (but which I had no time to begin then).

It was just what I was looking for: a quick, easy project allowing me to feel like I was making some progress while not adding another UFO to the pile.   I just sewed the borders on this afternoon.

The quilt is approximately 67"x78" and uses the Fresh Air fabric line by Chez Moi.  It'll be a nice complement to the Butter Charm & Jelly Quilt I made a couple of years ago with the same line. The Four Patch Shuffle pattern is a Moda University pattern. 

Hopefully I can find a good backing fabric at the quilt shop this coming Saturday! I'd like to get this baby quilted and off the pile soon!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Visually Representing My Blog...

It had been a while since I'd checked out Wordle, the cool online program for generating "word clouds" from text you provide. The larger the word appears in the cloud, the more frequently it appeared in the source text. I figured I'd throw my blog at it and, lo and behold, guess which words had the most prominence??

Wordle: Quilting Fever

I can't say that I'm at all surprised by the words that are most prominent, but this is a fun little program to play with - you can tweak the colors, font and alignment to suit your tastes. I'm going to print this one and post it near my sewing machine - I especially love how the words "make" and "time" appear next to one another towards the center of the image.

Have fun!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy New Year!

Yes, it's hard to believe that we're already a week into 2010.  While I haven't felt terribly motivated to post of late, I have been getting in some quality quilting time, mainly trying to plow through the Thistlepod quilt in the hopes of having it hanging in my guild's show in March.  We'll see how that goes... I think I'm down to about 10 units left to piece, and a ton of papers to rip off, but I have a Netflix movie and a couple of Mad Men seasons on DVD that I got for Christmas (jury's still out on how I feel about Mad Men).

I did finally quilt two of the three table runners I showed in early November as somewhat belated Christmas gifts.  I'll get to doing the third one for myself sometime in the future...

Here's the first, which I quilted using a grid.

With a close-up:

And the second, which I stippled in the large squares (a good idea in theory, but I broke two needles trying to cross over at the corners, where there is quite a bit of bulk):

And a close-up:

I've been busy with a couple other things too, but I'll save those updates for another day.