I’m still here and sewing, I promise

I really have no idea why it’s taken me so long to update, other than maybe I moved my laptop to behind my sewing machine for Netflix watching instead of next to it, because where it was was hurting my neck and I didn’t like having to reach to type.

I’m working on several things, one of which is still growing this baby in my tummy. I’m nearly 39 weeks, so it could be any time, really, although the last two have gone past their due dates, so I might still have two weeks or more.

Enormous belly.

In the past four months I also finished a swap, possibly my last swap ever (I’ll go into this another time).

This is the entire package I sent to my partner, who was a total joy to make for.

I used some really rich, saturating prints, focusing on some big name designers because at the time, my partner had only been quilting for a short time and this was one of her first swaps. I wanted to not only make something *I* found really pretty, but showcased some of the popular stuff like Kaffe Fasset, Tula Pink, and Kate Spain.

Here is another picture of the mini, this time in natural light.

I quilted the purple pretty heavily with a sort of swirl pattern, and then left the orange, pink and yellow fairly puffy. I was really pleased with this finish and was a little sad to see it go.

Something new I tried that I’d never done before was pattern testing, this time for the wonderful FromBlankPages, whose patterns I have used and loved before (I used the Celestial Star pattern again for the previously mentioned mini).

I chose the 9″ block and designed an 18″ pillow with it, repeating the block four times. I used my newly purchased and oh so pretty Shimmer 2 by Jennifer Sampou (because those metallics are HEAVEN)

I did some simple straight line quilting, following a lot of the secondary diamond patterns (because I’m just so over matchstick quilting) and ended up with this, which I gave to my brother and his fiance for Christmas.

The piecing was a bit tedious, with I think 212 total pieces, and some of them quite small, but I am so happy with it. The pattern is called Space Gem, and is now available in any FromBlackPages shop.

I have a lot more to write about, but I still have late Christmas gifts to finish and a hockey game to listen to!

 

Finished Mom’s mini quilt

If you couldn’t tell by some of my previous posts, I was pretty unenthusiastic about this quilt. I had such lofty goals for this quilt. It was for my mom, and when I picked the fabrics out, I looooved them and couldn’t imagine how they would go together in a way that didn’t look beautiful. I was mistaken, and lost all enthusiasm for a while.

But, I needed to actually finish the thing  because I didn’t want to waste a fabric, and after I decided on a layout for a large sized mini quilt, I thought I could, if nothing else, use it as an opportunity to practice some pretty free motion quilting. As the quilt isn’t modern at all, and seemed a bit, well, I’m not sure how to describe it. Classical? Traditional batik? I don’t know, I thought some more traditional quilting would work on it.

And you know, now that isn’t quilted and finished, I actually really like it. It’s quite pretty, delicate, and  I think it still shows off my own developing quilt style. Plus I learned how to quilt paisleys!

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I did cream thread on the cream fabric, and a dark purple on the purple areas. I quilted paisleys everywhere except the middle purple, where I did straight lines to break up the paisleys and frame the center, and the center purple where I did a freehand flower-ish thing with bubbles, which were a PAIN, but look okay.

15778049882_6567863814_oHere is a closeup of the center. These were my first attempt pebbling or bubbling, and there are some mistakes, but I don’t think anyone is going to look that closely.

15157056963_f32a598227_oA closeup of the paisleys in progress. The purple thread was not as forgiving as the cream, and so I had to rip out some a few times and quilt more carefully, but overall, for a first quilt with this particular filler, I’m pretty happy.

15870425975_0eb38d59a5_oThis quilt is my first quilt where the spray basting totally failed me. Whatever brand I used this time just didn’t hold anything together, so I have some serious pucker issues. I just sewed right over them to flatten them and hope no one holds it against me. By the time I realized how bad it was it was far too late.

15677140917_281eb5979c_oThe really good thing about this quilt, and a pleasant surprise considering all of my ups and downs with it is that for the first time, I have produced a quilt where I think the back is really just about as pretty as the front. I just love the differences of textures on top of the Kaffe Fassett fabric.

The stats
Size: 36″x36″
Fabric: various batiks on the front. Backing and binding is this purple striped Kaffe Fassett.
Thread: pieced and quilted with gutermann. ditched with superior threads bottom line.
Started/Completed: June 2014/November 2014

 

linking back to Q4 finish

plus sign quilt finished

Sorry it’s been so long. Christmas is in a little over a month and so it’s sewing crunch time. I have the list I would like to make a dent in from my previous post. I don’t think I’ll come close to finishing them all, but I hope to get at least half done.

Anyway, on to the finish!

This is my first commission, and I was so very excited to do it. The request was for a toddler, and the family, as far as I know, is pretty outdoorsy. She said she liked hunter green and was getting a lot of wood furniture for the little boy’s room.

I know the orange stands out quite a bit, but I wanted some fabric to really pop, and I wanted to use a little more of the Tula Pink “Moonshine” line to go along with that wonderful deer fabric.

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The backing is a beautiful wood grain, I think from the Joel Dewberry “True Colors” line.

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This was the first time my spray basting really failed me though. I ran out of one brand, and decided to try a different. I took more care to make sure the back and batting were almost-but-not-quite taut when I sprayed, and then I pressed to heat set, but by the time I got it to the machine, it bunched and wrinkled terribly. I only really noticed as I started to quilt, so I had some puckering issues that bugged me. Fortunately most of the puckers are not so noticeable now that I’ve washed the quilt (I do not pre wash). It seems the worst areas are where I used chambray, which I suppose is not a big surprise, as the weave is a bit looser and the fabric stretched during quilting. But as the fabric is a looser weave, they also shrank up nicely during washing and so you can hardly see any puckers. Lesson learned. I’d never used chambray before.

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Some stats

Started/Completed: August 2014/November 2014
Size: about 40″ x 48″
Pieced from a variety of designer fabrics including Tula Pink, Andover chambrays, Kona solids, and pieces from my stash
Quilting: Superior Threads Bottom Line 60wt.

Linking back to my Q4 finish list

When things don’t turn out as planned

A long while ago, I promised my mom I’d make a quilt for her. Now, lots of people have asked me to make a quilt for them, and I try to stress to cost and time it takes to do that, and usually this gets me out of it (I promise I do love making quilts, and making quilts for specific people, but gosh golly it can be a huge time commitment and is surprisingly costly – like in the hundreds of dollars range), but mom is a special exception. Like, duh. She said she wanted something simple and in just two colors – lavender and gray. Every pattern we looked at that she liked ended up being a pretty classic, traditional pattern like Jacob’s Ladder or a simple nine patch, so that’s what I figured I would make. But then the Downton Abbey line of fabric came out, specifically, the Dowager Countess line (this is no reflection on my mother, teehee). and I thought those would work perfectly.

For a while, at least. Then, in March, I went to the Dallas Quilt Show with my cousin and found this adorable bundle of lilac and cream batiks and my original idea went out the window. I collected a few more fabrics and slowly my idea evolved to where instead of gray, I was going to use cream, and in my head I had this beautiful watercolor-ish quilt planned, using the Carpenter’s Star pattern.

 

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Even though I’m rather “meh” about most batiks, I thought these looked lovely.

So I got them all pressed and starched, and tried several different pairings to make sure that the fabrics would look nice next to each other, and then started cutting away.

Finally getting around to cutting the fabric for my mom's quilt. She said she wanted lavender and gray, which after being translated in my head and many, many fabric auditions, turned into a range of purple and cream #batiks. #quilt #quilting #quiltplanni

So far so good. I even tried a new technique where to get a 6.5″ square made of two HST, I cut two pieces 10″, sewed all along the outside, and then cut the 10″ block diagonally each way, like this –

Then I laid then all out in the Carpenter’s Square pattern, and it was awful. Just… horrible. I could have cried I was so disappointed. There was no way, with what I had cut, I could salvage it to my liking. But I liked this fabric, even if some of my fabric combinations weren’t working, and I thought I could salvage this in some way, by trying a different arrangement.

So here are a few different layouts I’m considering. I may need to cut some more fabrics to get it perfect, but I have plenty and this is a start.

Idea 1

Idea 2, which I like more and will probably go with (extending the borders out a bit, since this only uses about a quarter of my cut fabric)

I didn’t even take a picture of my original, the Carpenter’s Square. It was terrible. I couldn’t commit it to camera because it was so bad I never wanted anyone to know I actually thought it might turn out well. (Seriously, Bria. What were you thinking?!?)

Still, neither of these new configurations are screaming “This is a beautiful quilt!” My SIL saw them and said they’d look amazing in 1987, which is a little harsh (only a little though), because there is a part of me I suppose that’s perfectly at home in 1987. Just kidding.

Anyway, the most important thing is going to be whether or not my mom likes it, because if she does, it doesn’t matter one bit whether or not I feel like these represent my artistic direction or nonsense like that. It’s my MOM.

In fact, this may turn out okay in the end. With a simple, even plain piecing configuration, I now have a great canvas to try some really lovely quilting. I thought I might grab some big medallion stencils for this to try something new.

And if mom hates it, she can use it as a table runner for a while or something, and I’ll make her a proper quilt in the fabric scheme she originally asked for.

Christmas in July!

Hah. Not really. Not really at all. I was just reminded that I now have less than six months until Christmas, and I should really, really get started on whatever Christmas gifts I would like to make for my friends and family.

Since people read this (in theory, at least), I suppose I should refrain from posting ideas here, lest I ruin the surprise.

I will say I intend to make lots and lots and lots of apple butter in the fall for gifts. I love apple butter. Maybe I’ll post my recipe when I make it.

Watch me sit here and goof off for another three months, and then just not be able to finish anything. Like every other year.

Someone want to babysit my kids so I can get started 😉