Thursday, August 21, 2014

Music and Soccer for the Bar Mitzvah boy

Ok, this one was a challenge. My nephew (well, technically first cousin once removed, but really, that takes too long to say) reached his Bar Mitzvah celebration and I wanted to make him a quilt. As he lives in a different county I have not had the experience (and pleasure) of seeing him on a regular basis and so was struggling to find the theme for this quilt. I knew he likes music, being a talented guitar player, but that was all I knew. So I reached out to his parents to ask what his likes/dislikes are. Here’s the answer: he likes music, and soccer, and bold colors. Well, what can I do with that? I went to the fabric store to get some inspiration and found fabrics fitting both elements.

But I could not figure out how to put them together. I mulled and mulled and finally decided to separate them into two designs. This way, I reasoned, he can have the music side visible sometimes, and the soccer side visible at other times.
I got some more fabric, in bold colors, including some from my stash and here’s the result
Music side:

You cannot tell by this picture, but the white fabric is actually patterned like sheet music.
Soccer side

I shipped it to him and about a month later got a VERY excited phone call from him saying how much he loves it.

And if, as teenagers are wont to do, he gets the quilt all crumpled up so that parts of both sides are visible at once, he can name the quilt “game song”.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Crazy Wall Hanging

As a teacher, I find I am often too tired for anything word-related by the time evening or the weekend arrive. In my off time, I like to do visual things: I sew, needlepoint, beadwork, etc. In saying this, I am attempting to explain my absence from this blog for the past few months: it’s not that I’ve neglected sewing, or quilting, it’s just that I’ve not had the energy to post. I have, however, been able to take pictures of all the projects (though not, sadly, while in progress). So, now that summer’s here (Hoooray!), I am catching up on the blog.
A couple of months ago I had the distinct pleasure of combining two of my interests, and challenging myself at the same time. We all know I like to quilt, but what may not be known here is that I am part of a regular theme camp at Burning Man. Every year, my camp mates (friends, family), go to Burning Man and run our theme camp, called Death Guild Thunderdome. I like to think of it as interactive theater, and as such, it take a lot of planning, and fund raising to get the camp and show to Nevada every year. To that end, we have fund raising events every spring. This year we decided to hold a silent auction to raise help raise fund and “bring the Dome to the dessert”. We have many wonderfully creative and talented people in our camp, and many of us donated items for the auction; I donated two quilts, a Disappearing Nine Patch (about which I’ll post next) and a crazy quilt wall hanging.
I had never done a “true” crazy quilt before, though I’ve made a couple of faux crazy quilts from patterns, teaching myself how the technique works. Now, I felt, I was ready to try the real thing.
First, I printed a picture of our logo on printable fabric (love love love that technology). This would be the center piece of the quilt:

Next I went to my scrap bins (yes, I have several) to find scraps of suitable material: mostly black, but with some green, red, blue and purple thrown in. I set all the scraps on top of my cutting table and started building the design around the center piece, sewing each scrap on before deciding on the next one.
This sort of “free hand” design is extremely liberating to me. It was quite challenging, but extremely fun as well, to put the patchwork together with no plan, and I learned a lot along the way
A close up:

When I was done with the patchwork, I added some embellishments, lace, ribbons, buttons. All of these were from my stash as well, with the exception of the anchor shaped pendant. I bought this, and incorporated it, in memory of one of our camp members who died suddenly, and tragically, last spring.
When I was done with all the elements of the front, I put in the hanging loops and sewed on the backing (of which, I’m sorry to say, I did not get a picture). Here is the finished quilt:

The wall hanging was a great success at the fund raiser. In fact one of my friends, who wanted and didn’t get the hanging, has asked, and is getting a different one, commissioned by her father. I am going to start that one this weekend. I’m loving the crazy quilts.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Dr. Seussian Quilt

A couple of years ago (I think) I decided to spiffy up the bathroom by making it a Dr. Seuss themed room. At the time the only shower curtains available were Cat in the Hat ones, so, naturally, I made my own:

And then, as often happens, I had a bunch of left over fabric. I mulled over for a bit what I might do with it, and then a conversation with my cousin decided the question: I’d make her a throw quilt. Now left over fabric, kind of by its nature, is almost never enough for a project all on its own. I buy fabric for a project by estimating how much I’ll need and then getting a “bit” extra. And this is what I had left of the Dr. Seuss fabric. So I had to mix it up with other fabrics, and turned to my trusty fabric stash to see what I had available. The challenge here was in finding a pattern that would work well with the Seuss fabric, and add to its “Seussian” flavor, while still using what I had on hand. I wanted something colorful, and with some whimsy, but that would not take away from the focus fabric itself.

Focus fabric (with the blue sashing I added):

As luck would have it, a few months previously I had gone on a monochromatic spree. I made several quilts exploring the use of a single color, but in various shades. I made a purple one, and a green one, and a blue one, and then I got distracted and forgot to make the red one, which left me with a small stack of different shades of red fabrics. So I laid everything out on the floor of my sewing room to try out different ways of combining the fabrics, and here’s what I came up with:

Here’s a picture of the whole thing:

And for the backing I wanted something that went with the front but was not officially Dr. Seuss. I found this wonderful fabric:

But alas it was not quite enough for the backing. So I added a stripe:

I even had enough of the lighter fabric to make the binding and thus bring together both sides of the quilt.
And now for the quilting itself. I was having a hard time figuring out how to do this; quilting the quilt is not my favorite part of the quilt, probably because I am not very creative or good at it. As a result I usually “stitch in the ditch”, which works, but is not really inspiring, and so I don’t get better at it. Conundrum.
But for this one, I wanted to use the quilting to add to the whimsiness of the piece, and so, with much enjoyment, I quilted it freehand, with a colorful, contrasting thread:
I sent it to my cousin all the way on the other side of the world, in New Zealand. She likes it, and so do I.

And at the end of it all I had enough to make a wee little curtain for the bathroom window!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tea Time Quilt

I know I said I'd post about the Dr. Seusse quilt I made, but it has not reached its home yet, I will have to wait a bit longer. In the meantime-Tea Time!

Last week I was on Spring Break. And while I did have some student papers to grade, and house guests, I also wanted to do some sewing. I had several UFOs to choose from, as well as designs for a couple of new quilts, and some fundraiser quilts to make.
So, of course, I ended up making none of the above.
Instead I made this. I call it "Tea Time Quilt":

It is made in the "attic Windows" pattern which I have used many times before. It is an extremely versatile pattern as anything can be used for the "windows, while the frames may be done in left overs from other projects, usually. And the trick to the three dimensional effect is in the placement of the light and dark colors of the frames. Here's a close up:

I fell in love with the tea pot fabric at the store, and I bought a yard of it even though I didn't have a project planned for it. When I saw it again on my shelves last week, the tea pots made me think of lace doilies. I then found the cream and tan fabrics to go with it, and the lacy black and white. As I only had small amounts of the cream, tan and "lace" fabrics, I decided to make the Attic Windows pattern.
Then I found the black and white fabric, which, I think I had bought as backing for a different quilt, and decided to use it as the border. Which meant I needed a different fabric for the backing. Luckily I found a yard and half of this:

I put the whole thing together and used left over strips of the border fabric as the binding. I have been using fabric as binding more and more lately, as I use mostly straight-up 90 degree angles (which are much easier than acute angles, for example).

The whole thing came out to a lap-quilt size, and up up up it goes on etsy tomorrow.
And now onto the other projects....

Friday, March 8, 2013

Two new Baby Quilts

A few years ago I made a quilt for my friend Ky, in anticipation of the birth of her first child, a son. They’ve used it and loved it since he was born and now I got a chance to make her family another baby quilt; this time for her daughter. As Ky was busy changing the nursery from blue to pink, I was trying to come up with a girl’s quilt that wasn’t too girly.

I was determined to use fabric from my “stash” and I’m not really a pink kind of person, which means I did not have any pinks…so I was trying to find something that’s feminine and fun, without pink. I realized I had quite a bit of red, in different shades, and so decided on a rose- and-cream kind of quilt, using scrappy reds on an off white background.

Here’s what I made:

The pattern is called “stepping stones” or “garden stones” depending on where you look, and it’s fun and easy to make.

Here it is with the binding:

The next challenge was the backing. I always like to make the backing a totally different type of color and style so the recipient will, in effect, have two quilts. As the front is fairly monochromatic, I wanted the back to be colorful, but as it is for a baby, I looked for something fun and child-friendly.
And here was an obstacle. When my kids were little I had tons and tons of child-themed fabrics. But now that the girls are both teenagers, I could not find anything. I dug deeper.

I found scraps of children’s fabrics, but nothing large enough to use for a backing, and not enough to make a new patchwork piece to use as a backing.

Finally, I looked in my UFO cupboard. And there I found this:

I must have bought it years ago for a project I was planning, but that project never came to fruition and, honestly, I don’t even remember what it was. So I used the fabric for this new project.
Kayden’s quilt was done and ready for the baby shower we were organizing for Ky and then, a couple of weeks before the shower, I learned that another colleague was joining the party, and she has a new baby, who would also be attending.

Time for a new quilt!

This one had to be quick, and I decided on strips. I had several different shades of Batik fabric left over from a different project and some left over white fabric (white on white technically). I made her this:

But again, I was stuck on the backing. Seeing as how I was almost foiled by the backing of Kayden’s quilt, I broke down and went to the fabric store (woe is me!) to get backing fabric for Leah’s quilt. I found this:
I also used this fabric as the binding and quilted the blanket with green thread (which you can see in the close up picture):

It actually works to tie the two quilts together, which I didn’t think of until they were both done…
We had the shower, and it was festive, and chatty (and the cake was delicious). And both mamas liked the quilts

Next up,  a post about a Dr. Seussian quilt.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mollie's Quilt

A few weeks ago I went into my local specialty fabric store to find just the right fabric to finish a project. I found it, and another fabric that I just COULD not resist. It included panels like this:

And this:

It was kind of pricey, but honestly, how could I not get two lengths of it? I know so many people who would appreciate this sort of fabric. So I bought it even though I had no project in mind for it. I knew, without a doubt, that I’d be able to put it to good use.

Quite serendipitously, a mere two days later, a project made itself known. A friend whose birthday was coming up has been spending some extra time on her couch due to various reasons. And she just happened to be one of the many people who I thought would appreciate this fabric.  The only issue was that I didn’t have enough on each length to make a decent size quilt, and I didn’t want to get more fabric (seeing as how my “stash” is still way to abundant). So I went to peruse my own personal store of fabric and found this:

Perfect! I thought. The cherries go with the 50s kind of style of the panels. And I had enough of it to make a 5 foot square quilt-enough for a lap or couch quilt. I put them together in alternating order and made this:

Since the blocks are big and the lines are all straight, I was able to finish the top fairly quickly, and now I had to decide on the backing. I checked and rechecked my fabric shelves and could not find enough of any one fabric for a backing. I have this idea that the backings should always be different than the front (sort of a two-in-one blanket idea), so in the end I did go to the fabric store, and found this comfy flannel fabric for the back:

Red satin blanket binding all around, and, Voila: Birthday quilt for Mollie!
She loved it, and so do her cats (what is it with cats and quilts, anyway?), and has decided to keep it on her bed even though it’s not a full size quilt.