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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Knit Blazer

I have a length of gray knit that I’ve been thinking of making a slouchy shrug with – but then I saw this last night and it would be just as comfy but much more professional looking. Of course it would require a new fabric purchase, because I think my knit is not quite stiff enough. And let’s not discuss the messy hair, ripped t-shirt and funny expression of the model. Or the $98 price tag because this sweatshirt is “formal”. Now if this goes on sale, you’d best believe it’s switching from sewing list to shopping list.

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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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Butterick 5363

I’ve been tracking my pregnancy clothes and belly size over on my other blog (why am I keeping them separate again? oh well), but for things that I make it seems like I should keep them here, on the “crafty” blog. I would have no idea how much my belly is growing if I wasn’t taking these pictures- when I look at myself from the front or look down at the belly the growth isn’t this obvious!

This dress isn’t a maternity pattern, per se, but I bought it on a 99 cent sale because it looked easy and I liked the kind-of-racerback that it had. Plus, my sister would say that I have a thing for jumpers, which I deny, but it does have the potential for layering in a multitude of ways which I love. That and finding a couple of yards at Hancock on the same day that matched the style of the pattern (even though I have plenty in my stash to make it over and over) and I was sold.

My secret for making this big enough for the growing belly was from Anna Maria Horner’s book Handmade Beginnings – if you read the Mariposa tunic/dress pattern, the only thing that’s different from the maternity version to the non-maternity version is a bigger square for the bottom of the front. So I made my normal size for the top and back, and then extended out to the biggest size that I could fit on the fabric for the front skirt portion. It didn’t work entirely smoothly for the way the pattern was constructed- the gathering is only supposed to happen from the tie, but I had to gather the larger skirt before I attached it to the bodice and so the casing for the tie isn’t completely smooth, but it worked well enough and produced a functional garment that I’m not ashamed to wear. Technically I made the tunic length – I just made it as long as I could on the length of fabric I had, so I think the dress would have been an awkward below knee kind of thing. I feel like the color washes me out, but it was far too hot on Saturday to think about putting a pair of capris on underneath the dress.

Every time I decide to improvise with a clothing pattern it takes a little longer than I think it will, but at least in this case it worked out well enough in the end.

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I always get jealous of other people that seem to come across awesome vintage pattern stashes at garage sales and thrift stores, and I haven’t had such luck in the past. I was pretty excited to find these two patterns at my thrift store this winter for a quarter each. Of course, I had to dig through a huge rubbermaid full of early 90’s fashion disasters, and they’re not in my size, but I like the idea of the lace inset of the one on the left (especially the white top) and the closure on the jacket from the Vogue pattern.

Of course, we’ve been doing a lot of garage saleing this summer and I did come across a box full of patterns, mostly vintage, for $2. It was pretty fun to see the passage of time for this family- patterns from the 40’s from the grandma, halter bikinis in the 70’s for the daughter, maternity clothes in the 80’s, and kids patterns throughout. I’ll have to scan some- some I’ll obviously get rid of, whether re-donating or listing a big lot on etsy or ebay. Some of the vintage ones I’ll keep to make or for inspiration, but there are a few vintage ones I know I’ll never use because they’re just not right for my body type that I’ll sell individually.

Hoping to finish my first maternity sewing project today! Wish me luck.

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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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An attempt at refashioning

At some point last summer, I got tired of how much money I spent on fabric and decided to look creatively around the thrift store. I already had a stack of things to re-make, but sometimes you need a fresh inject, you know? So I started looking at things more for the fabric than for the size & fit. (And to give credit where it’s due, I was pretty inspired by Amanda’s group, and the things she was doing to garage sale finds).  Let me tell you, it’s much harder than it looks, and I found a new appreciation for Antoinette and Tina‘s work – and discovered that maybe improvisational clothing making is not a good idea. I’ll be pretty surprised if I get brave enough to wear this at all outside of the house, based on a couple of things.

The green top of the dress is what came from the thrift shop  – it was originally a t-shirt that was fairly short and boxy. I was glad to be able to use the original neckline since I don’t have a coverstitcher. The gray fabric is from my stash. A couple of my issues with making this have to do with my beginner status working both with knits and using a serger. I decided that instead of doing a long gathering stitch for the skirt, I would use the gathering function on the serger. The problem was that I didn’t know exactly how much the gray fabric would gather, so I got 80% of the way around the skirt and there wasn’t enough gray fabric left to finish the circle. I don’t know if you can adjust this, or if there’s a certain formula to figure out how much length you need to get a certain gathered length. So I had to piece in a scrap of gray knit, which ended up being crosswise instead of lengthwise – there’s not a lot of stretch in this knit so it’s not too much of an issue, but it’s not really a design feature either. To me, it’s kind of obvious that I stuck it in there because I was fixing a mistake. The other issue is that there’s a spot in the back that sticks out funny, so I almost have to wear that belt to cover the waistline. Oh, and it’s pretty short since I just kept cutting until it was even! I didn’t get it quite right until I had my dress form, which definitely helps! So it’ll have to be worn over skinny jeans or leggings if I do wear it out.

I let the sleeve binding roll up instead of folding it under to hide the raw edge. However, when I sewed it to the green fabric, the armhole stretched out significantly and I had to add darts at each side seam to make it fit again. This could have been because of the texture of the green knit, but I don’t know. I did use a walking foot, which I thought was supposed to avoid stretching. That’s where I got frustrated with this style of sewing and having to “fix” things along the way- I wanted a little more predictability. I really like the detail on the middle of the front with the gray inset and the buttons. To me, that’s the trendy detail that makes me like it all together. Let me know what you think of my attempt!

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