Mini Quilt for Erin

I’ve been working on this little quilt “on the side” for a friend’s birthday over the last month or so – whenever I was cutting fabric or piecing something else (or just wanted a 5 minute break in my day), I’d cut a few pieces of these fabrics and put them together. It’s about 10.5×15″, so she can use it for a tablemat or whatever. The free motion quilted words are a little crazy, but were fun to make. The hearts are hand embroidered.

Here’s the back. If it weren’t for the words on the front, it would be reversible. I was curious about trying a different kind of binding for art quilts that I’ve seen a few different places, and thankfully Robin shared tutorial recently (because I asked!) that worked out great here. I’m sure it’ll get better with practice.

(The photos aren’t great because I didn’t quite make my goal of finishing this before the sun went down the day of the party…but at least it got done before we went!)

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Sneak peek of Will’s quilt

I was going to post this to show how I baste my quilts without having a large un-carpeted space to tape my quilt backs to, but in the process of rolling this onto the ironing board the back got bunchy so it needs to be basted again. So don’t follow my example, even though it’s the method that works best in the space I have. If quilts are slightly larger and I can get the table cleared off enough, I use the dining table instead.

Anyway, this is a sneak peek of the quilt I’m making for our quickly coming baby, which hopefully will be re-basted and quilted soon. There are a couple projects for other people’s babies that are on hold until I can get this under control.

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Printed Linen Quilt

I have a couple projects I’ve worked on this summer that have no “use”. But I make crafts, not art, so there has to be a purpose, right? I’m really not sure, I just know that sometimes the idea for how to put several fabrics together comes to me and I have to get it out, and making them bigger just so someone could put this on their lap doesn’t really make sense. Plus, these fabrics are mostly linen blends and not the coziest things. It’s the size of a wall-hanging, but I don’t have enough walls for all the quilts I have, so it’ll go away in a stack for the time being. There was also a little bleeding that I’ll need to address at some point. Right now it’ll just get filed away in the portfolio of my work.

The other thing about this quilt is that it may be the most expensive piece in terms of raw materials that I could have done. Each of these fabrics is either hand screen-printed from an artist selling on etsy (hollabee & Lara Cameron), a limited sample from Lotta Jansdotter, or a Japanese import. The solid and backing are also linen blends. The quilt was pieced improvisationally – I cut the fabrics free-handed in varying sizes that made sense with the scales of the prints. It’s fun to play with no obligation, though, and have these fabrics out of the stash closet and into the real world.

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Baby Boy Neptune Quilt

Here’s the companion baby quilt to this earlier quilt. I took the rest of the charm pack and made little improvisational log cabins that I thought I would just stick on a gray background and call it a day. Except it looked oh so boring when I did that. I decided it was a good chance to stretch my quilt designing muscles. I was inspired by Victoria‘s approach to putting pieces of a quilt together, and was reading Gwen Marston’s Collaborative Quilting and liked the idea of a parts factory that I could move around and make different arrangements from. The zig-zags seemed like a good way to connect the different sections of the quilt and break up the solid ground of fabric.

I went to a quilt show in February, and I’m not sure if I thought of the jumbo ric-rac before I went or saw it and realized it would work with the zig-zags, but I did buy colors that would work with this quilt.I tried to follow the general shape of the ric-rac when I sewed it on, but it’ll still curl up in the wash.

I finished it up with curvy, wavy quilting lines which echo the shapes and work well with the Neptune theme of the fabrics, and put a little patch of scraps on the back.

Some friends of ours had a baby in January around the time I started working on this quilt, so I finished up the binding and was able to give it to them last week when they hosted us for a quick trip to the beach.

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Baby Jonesie’s Quilt

I have two friends here locally (plus many more far away) who are pregnant at the same time as me, and due within a month of each other. I’ve been working on quilts for their babies to make sure that I was ready in case I got distracted by my own life events first! Both of these families have chosen to be surprised by the gender of the babies, so that calls for unisex quilts, (which gives me permission to use bright colors!). Tarah’s shower was this weekend, so I can show her quilt here now.

The design of this quilt comes straight from color coding the fabric in my stash closet and noticing that these colors and patterns looked good together. I bought the solid green (Kona Kelly) to give the eye a resting place from the patterns because I didn’t want to use white. I cut strips from the 44″ width of the fabric in various widths and laid them out until I was happy with the design and the size. The only problem with this kind of pattern is that you need at least a half yard cut (a fat quarter won’t work) because you need the strips to be the full width of the bolt.

For the back, I just took the leftover strips and laid them the other direction so there’s an interesting design on the back, too. I quilted with diagonal lines (I marked in one direction but not the other, which is why they’re slightly off) with single lines in one direction and double lines in the other. I used a scrappy binding instead of focusing on just one of the prints. The quilt measures about 43×30″.

This is the first of my quilts that I’ve actually labeled, and of course I left that step until I was walking out the door for the shower. I  just wrote on some white fabric with pinked edges with a fine tip Sharpie and used embroidery floss to secure it to the quilt. Since I attached it after I washed it, the edges will curl up somewhat the next time the quilt is washed.

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Charm square quilt

Sometimes I just need an quick project that doesn’t take a lot of design decisions. I don’t mind cutting fabric as much as I did when I first started quilting (although I think I was more afraid to mess it up, and I don’t really worry about that anymore, because I don’t worry so much about following the “rules”), but I still keep a few charm packs around for a quick start to a project. They’re also great when I’m not sure if I like a line of fabric or not but I want to play around with the prints and see which ones are good looking in person.

This quilt was made from a Moda “Art Nouveau” charm pack, and I added 5″ squares of an Amy Butler dot (the gray and pink squares) to be able to make it a square and calm down all those florals a bit. The four corners of the quilt are from the one print in the line that I happened to buy, not even realizing it was the same until I started making this. The outer border and binding are different colorways in the same print (from another line) that again, I just happened to find in my stash.

I had a little more fun with making decisions on fabric placement for using some scraps for the back. I had to do those extra strips on the edges because when I started basting I realized that I had made the backing exactly the same size as the front, which left me no room for error. I guess that’s why you make the back a couple inches bigger than the front, even if you’re not going to be clamping into a frame.

This quilt is pretty small, approximately a 36″ square, but I think it could make a pretty play mat for a baby girl or a table topper for a feminine dining room. I’ve added it to my shop.

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Quilt 1 of 2010

I was beginning to feel like my stack of unfinished quilts would stay that way forever! I made 9 quilts in 2009, my first year of quilting, and while I had at least 7 in progress for this year, I knew I’d never catch up if I didn’t get moving. The problem was that all of my basting pins were tied up in this quilt (and have been for most of the year), and it would have been cheating to just go out and buy another set of pins. Well, going with the saying that finished is better than perfect, it’s finally done. The free motion quilting leaves something to be desired, but practice makes perfect and I’m sure the next one will be an improvement (besides being a long ways away – my other strategy for getting quilts done is to use lots of straight(ish) lines). My frustration with the quilting turned out not to be the needles falling out of my machine as much as it was that when I pushed the quilt away my stitches were fine, but I skipped stitches every time I pulled the quilt towards me, no matter how steady I thought I was in my motion. Side to side wasn’t as big of a deal, either. Hopefully it’s just an issue that practicing moving the quilt around and keeping my foot steady on the pedal would solve, and not a weird issue with the machine. From a distance, it does have a nice crinkly effect, though.

That being said, I do love the design of this quilt! I had a charm pack of Tula Pink Neptune that I used for the center of these squares, and pieces other little bits of them into the frames. The struggle I have with designing quilts is that I’m drawn to simple, modern, designs, but they aren’t challenging to make, the tops can be completed almost too quickly to be fun, and I don’t want to stay in the beginner place forever. However, all it takes is looking at Denyse Schmidt quilts like this one and this one that I love and I’m reminded that it’s worth it to make quilts that I love instead of making them to show off in some way. Plus, if I’m bored, there’s always free motion quilting to throw me for a loop! So I used lots of solids here, I think this is Kona khaki, which I bought a whole bunch of for a gender-neutral project last year that went a different direction.

The binding is a Japanese polka dot print (from superbuzzy, I think) and the backing is just two prints that I can’t see working into a top anytime soon. The finished project measures about 44″x65″, so it’s a snuggle on the couch quilt.

There’s a baby-sized companion quilt in the works for this one, that might be the next to get quilted (besides the three already quilted just waiting for their binding) if I can figure out how I want to back it. It feels good to be getting a stack of finished objects – I buy plenty of fabric that I need to actually use it sometimes, too!

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Quilter’s Blog Festival 2010

Whoo – time to dust off the old blog. No better time than a day set aside to talk about quilting, right?

 The sewing machine’s been gathering a little dust too, but I’ve been getting back at it the last few weekends, so there’s still hope that my big plans will get completed! I have at least 10 quilts in progress or drafted out on paper, so I have some work to do.

Since we’re here to talk about quilts, here’s my favorite of the quilts I’ve made so far:

When I’m making a new quilt and I’m tempted to take an easy way out, I try to remind myself of the things I like about this one and put more of that in my work. Mainly, the use of color and the improvisational nature. The thing is, this one is so “me” that when I’m making a gift for someone I’m not sure if they’ll “get” it, so I tend to play it safer. I think I might need to make more smaller quilts to work out my artsy ideas, and not feel like that time is wasted because I haven’t ended up with at least a lap sized quilt.

Now, since you’re here, and you like quilts, can you answer a question for me about some quilting I started at the beginning of the year?

 (I’ve been inspired by r0ssie’s process challenge, too). I made this quilt top and started quilting it back in January or February. I’ll show some close-ups another time, but it’s made with Tula Pink Neptune charm squares in the middle of improv’ed frames. My idea was to do free motion squares, kind of like on this sample piece:

They worked out pretty well there, albeit with a few skipped stitches and the rows aren’t perfectly straight, but I jumped right into my quilt. However, it didn’t really seem to work the same way on the bigger piece, and it’s very tiring to do this. I have about a third of the quilt quilted and it took at least two sessions to get it there. Free-motion on my machine is extra fun because the needles fall out (the screw holding them in loosens as I stitch) and so many get broken along the way. 3 broken needles in one session is my limit for quilting time, or until my arms get tired. A lot of the squares are overlapping now, and I’m thinking it just looks sloppy.

So the alternatives are that I could rip this all out and do straight line quilting in a fairly small grid, I could try to finish it as is, or I could rip it out and start over trying this pattern instead:

Thoughts? I’m really leaning towards straight line quilting at this point, but it would be a shame to lose the originality of my first idea.

Thanks for stopping by! And I really will try to keep posting and not just disappear for months at a time…a combination of a change in work schedule and real life stuff kind of got in the way, but I’m glad to be back.

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Sweet Peas and Carrots Quilt

Gasp! A quilt made from pre-cuts, all from one line of fabric! I made this quilt (started it this summer and gave it to my mom for Christmas) from a Moda Sweet Jelly Roll (that’s the 1 1/2″ one, right?), and added some Amy Butler solid orange because it coordinated so well and toned down the pinkiness for me. The quilt is bound in Amy Butler solid green, which brought the peas and concept.

The piecing was pretty simple. I sewed together groups of five strips with an orange solid in the middle, all the way along the 44″ length. Once the long strips were finished, I cut them into squares (roughly 5.5″), and then grouped them into blocks of 9 with white sashing in between. I tried to make sure the groups of five were all different prints and colors, and that each group of 9 was unique without repeats. Amazingly enough, with no advance planning I was only short one of the smaller squares for the layout, so I just used a solid orange square there. If I’d have been straighter with my piecing that probably would have been avoidable.

I have to say, even though using just one line can be less interesting than choosing my own fabric combinations, there’s something to be said for being able to sit down with a new fabric and sew right away, without having to do any first steps.

I quilted this in an all over, dense “scribble” design – loops that cross over themselves everywhere. That helps keep it from feeling too traditional. It measures about 44×70″, which is perfect for using a two yard cut of fabric as a backing, which I did since this line of fabric went on sale before the quilt was completed.

This is the last of my completed quilts to post – I have a couple cut, but not even tops put together, so I need to get back to work!

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Chocolate Lollipop Quilt

Well now that Christmas has past, I can post the Christmas gifts I made! This one went to my sister. I wasn’t sure when I started, but as it went along I realized that this would fit well into her tastes (she loved the border fabrics, and that the patchwork squares were still my style, but not “old-fashioned”).

This quilt was a lot more of a process than a lot of quilts are for me. I cut out all of the strips and then they sat that way on my dresser for a long time.  I started with fabrics that had aquas and yellows, and then wasn’t sure that I liked that combination so much.  I cut strings because there were a couple prints that I didn’t love, and I knew they’d blend in fine with the prints that were stronger.

I had a couple problems in designing the quilt, though. One was that I could not get my head around what I wanted to do with the strips. I didn’t really want to do a log cabin or set-in-squares design, I’ve just done enough of that recently. I kept thinking string quilt, but didn’t want it to be too pastel or too busy, and couldn’t excited by cutting muslin foundation pieces or paper to be ripped off. I knew I didn’t want to put white in the middle of each square, but wasn’t sure that linen would be substantial enough of a contrast. I tried to look at other options for strip-pieced quilts, but diagonal designs were definitely stuck on my brain. The first idea was to use linen on half of the string square, and then I realized that brown would set off the aquas nicely and take care of the problem of the pastels.

I didn’t get more excited about the individual prints that weren’t my favorites as I went along, but I was pretty happy to see that these two Chocolate Lollipop prints that I’ve been holding onto for awhile would work well as borders, and I used another for the binding. The quilt measures around 45×60″.

The backing is pieced from the leftovers (a patchwork strip and larger blocks), the green solid is a shot cotton. And here’s a glimpse of the biggest fan of my projects in process – no matter what fabric I lay out, he has to be right there (or chew on the pieces of batting sticking out), which makes basting extra fun!

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