Less thinking, more doing

I tend to overthink things. Lately I think of a lot of blog posts, but I think of reasons not to write them. I don’t want this blog to be an obligation, but I also think I have the potential to be a real blogger if I could just sit down and write things on a regular basis. Getting myself organized enough to take and post pictures on a schedule is probably the biggest hurdle for me. Last week I uploaded a bunch, though, and this one has sat on flickr without me writing anything. (I have the other issue now too of writing things on my pregnancy blog, but not having crafty things to write – I may need to figure out how to just combine them already). I have a bunch of things that are either in progress or like this that are done and ready to post, but the 3rd trimester tiredness means that I get home every night from work ready for a nap and to put my feet up, not use a sewing machine or tempt carpal tunnel by using the sewing machine or hand-stitching. I have big hopes for the weekend, but I’m also trying not to get my expectations up because I may also need to rest. Even if I don’t have the chance to make a lot of things, I’d like to keep writing about all the stuff I’m thinking about crafts and creating, and to find ways to fit that into my current schedule. We’ll see how likely that is 🙂

So this pillow…I’m still not really sure what to say. I made the front about a year ago when I was making some things for my shop and wanted to do some playing. I cut out motifs from fabric (inspired by Bari J’s quilts) and put them down on fusible web onto a blue linen background. I did some free motion quilting all over the same thing, made a pillow back with a zipper, stitched on some binding, and let it sit for 9 months before I finished it off. It’s a little too time-consuming to make a lot of these for the shop, not the style of my house, and I’m not sure who would like it for a gift. Maybe if I ever do a craft show I’ll take it along. I think it’s fun that the flowers and leaves are from different fabric lines but still work together to make a pretty little garden.

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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 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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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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