Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mini-quilt for Gramma Mary

Gramma mini
At long last, the reveal of my mini-quilt for my grandmother's birthday! I used the Piece by Number pattern at the size it was intended (1" square blocks) but made some modifications. I added an extra row of four posies at the bottom, plus I added an extra row of posies and background color on each side, so I wouldn't have any half-finished flowers. The final quilt is 10" square and contains 182 pieces. Phew!

Gramma mini
I hand-quilted each of the flowers from the center out with two lines in each petal, then I stitched on a button in the center. Yes, it took a long time--about 8 hours--but my Gramma Mary is very special to me (and a quilter!), so she totally deserved it. I machine-quilted my swap version of this quilt plus the twin quilt for me in about an hour and a half total, so I definitely could have sped this up if I'd wanted to. 

Gramma mini detail
Here's a detail of one of my favorite fabrics. This quilt was made using 1930s repros, mostly castoffs from my Dear Jane quilt (and mostly because the fabrics were too white to contrast with my white solids) and a lovely 1930s green Kona cotton. There is love in every stitch. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

February STUD mini-quilt

I found out over the weekend that my STUD partner received my paper-pieced mini-quilt, so here's the reveal! It was the first and only paper-pieced pattern I've ever done. I found it free online here. I'm not a huge fan of paper-pieced quilts, and I couldn't really find something that I liked, until I saw these flowers. I thought they were so sweet that I had to do it. 

This was my second attempt at this pattern (the first was for the special birthday gift for my grandmother, which I'll reveal later this week). It takes a long time to do and is very seam-y, but I do like the final effect of it. The petal blocks are supposed to be 1" square, but when I imported the image into Quark for printing they came in at closer to 1-1/2" or something, so I kept them that way. (The grandmother quilt was done with the proper 1" blocks, so I thought I owed myself a little break.) The quilt is free-motion machine quilted with petal shapes in each petal, and buttons were sewn on by hand at the end. 

Here's a little glimpse of the back. I like how those flowers look, and I like that little backing fabric. I think it's Moda. It's called "Tiny Town," and it's just too adorable. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Unsatisfactory crafting

I very much appreciated having a long weekend due to President's Day on Monday. I was quite productive--finishing my swap quilt and its twin for me, doing three loads of laundry, and, on Monday, making the apron that's a belated birthday gift for a friend. The good news is it's done. The bad news is I did not like making it, nor do I enjoy the final product--but I also am not going to do anything about it. 

This pattern is from A Is for Apron, a book I've used before and liked. However, this pattern, the Lemon Meringue apron, is flawed. Here's what happened: The pattern says 1/2 yard of the focus fabric is required for the skirt, but that's not right. I have a bunch of 1/2 yards of fabrics, so I pulled these out to use. The pattern in the book is scaled down, so I scanned it, placed it in Quark, and blew it up the required 400%. Then I tiled and printed it, taped it together and cut it out. I measured the line that's placed on the fold of the fabric and, sure enough, it was the length it was supposed to be. So no errors in making the pattern. 

When I went to cut the fabric, I realized that even though I had a generous 1/2 yard of fabric (nearly 20" wide, I think) the pattern wouldn't fit. I had two options: 1) cut two pieces and sew it with a seam down the middle of the front, or 2) move the pattern down, crop an inch or so off the bottom, and re-grade the curve. I went with option two because the apron's recipient is short, so I didn't think an inch or so would be a problem. 

The next problem was the pocket. It's supposed to be U-shaped, but as you can see above, mine has more of a tear-drop shape. I omitted the rickrack from the pattern, so that's probably part of the problem. I made a 1/4" turn-under on the outer pocket and closer to 1/2" (turning under a scant 1/4" two times) for the inner pocket. That's where the main problem was. Even with seam clipping, even with stay-stitching, I could not get it to turn under and stay under. I considered throwing them out and making new pockets that opened on the top, but by that point I was swearing and just wanted to be done with it. When I attached the pockets to the apron, I let them go where they wanted to, which is how I ended up with this shape instead of the U in the pattern. 

So, although I am unsatisfied with the overall quality of this project, there are still some bright spots. I think the fabrics worked well. I didn't hem the apron skirt but used some double-fold bias tape I had on hand and I really like that effect. I used a contrasting red thread throughout and I like that effect, too. I think the waistband turned out well. It's interfaced, and that little bit makes it feel sophisticated to me. I feel a little bad that I'm giving this as a gift and the craftsmanship is not at my usual level, but I also don't think my friend will notice or care. Thankfully, a lot of my friends appreciate handmade gifts, human errors and all. 

For some good craftsmanship, check out this tea set on Ric-Rac. It's amazing! 

Monday, February 16, 2009

STUD February quilt received

On Friday I received my February STUD swap quilt from my partner, Kathy 2859. The theme for this month was paper piecing. Kathy says she loves to do it--check out all those points! She definitely does it well!

Along with the quilt I got all kinds of goodies--some Valentine candy, ribbon, pencils, jam, and some hand cream that is absent from the photo because I have it stationed by the TV (which is where I spent most of my long weekend, when I wasn't at the sewing machine)! My swap quilt for Kathy is going out tomorrow, so I'll be posting pictures of that one soon.

Friday, February 13, 2009

MORE fabric!

As I mentioned earlier this week, I had more fabric on the way. It arrived on Wednesday. I love it and I'm happy I got it, but the guilt is starting to seep in. Too much fabric! No plans for anything! BUT, I do hope to work mainly from my stash this year for my swap mini-quilts, so I suppose this is just building up ahead of time. I am done buying fabric for a while, though. I think... 

Ever since I saw these Feathered Friends fabrics by Wendy Slotboom, I knew I had to get some. Check out those polka dots on the leaves! Too cute. The bird prints are great, but the blenders are pretty fantastic, too. 

I've had some Shiki fabrics by In the Beginning for a while now, but I can't bear to cut into them. I thought that ordering some more would make that a little easier. Alas, I did not get any repeats of the prints I already had, but twelve new ones instead. I held off on getting these bunnies the first time around, but now I have three fat quarters of them. They are so adorable! I love them, but still don't know if I can bear to cut into them... 

I kinda splurged (well, I guess the whole purchase was a splurge) and bought two yards of this extra-wide Robert Kaufman Panda print. It's a 60/40 cotton/bamboo blend, and it is gorgeous! It has a nice weight to it but is also really light and flexible, too. I'm thinking a skirt, and...?? Not sure, but I believe this one will be so wonderful to cut into--and wear! 

I also got some charm packs on sale. Not sure what I'll do with those, either, but they might make some really quick coaster gifts! 

I have a long weekend coming up, which I'm very thankful for. We have a number of errants to run and other things to do, but will be spreading them out. I need to finish up my February swap quilt (and twin) and then get back at my blooming nine-patch quilt. I also have an apron to whip up for a birthday that was last weekend (though I didn't find out until I was on the way to the party). That's one good thing about handmade gifts: you can say you're working on something but it isn't done yet, and your tardiness is forgiven!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Criss-cross coasters

Lest you think all I've been doing is buying fabric, here's a little bit of productivity from last weekend. I used the Allsorts tutorial for criss-cross coasters that was passed on to me by a friend. Of course, the tutorial was bookmarked by me a few months ago, so when I went to actually make these, I didn't bother to look it over again. I used 5" charm squares instead of the 4.5" squares called for by the pattern, so I guess mine are a little bigger than they were meant to be. I also used batting instead of interfacing. I think it will make the coasters a little more absorbent, and it does make them a little softer. 

I ended up making six coasters, and they sure do come together fast. I definitely spent more time cutting and pressing than doing actual sewing. These three are for my coworker Lora, who has an average of three mugs or glasses on her desk at any given time. 

This one is for me. I used some 1930s repros from my Dear Jane stash (which I rationalized by stating that the fabrics didn't have enough contrast to be used or I had enough in the stash that I could spare a 5" square). This one is on my desk at work, under my Dear Jane mug. How appropriate. 

These last two are also for me, from some of the Garden Party fabrics I have hanging around. The one on the left is staying on my sewing desk at home for tea during weekend morning sewing sessions (or cocktails for the evening ones). The one on the right is also on my desk at work, in case I want to switch out the repro one and have some variety. 

I've had these coasters around the office since Monday, and I do notice a slight difference. It's really wonderful having some textiles around. I love the feel of these quilting-weight cottons. When work gets a little hairy, it's nice to just breathe, feel some fabric, drink some tea, and move on. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is there such a thing as FA (Fabriholics Anonymous)?

Hi, I'm Karissa and I'm addicted to fabric. I just can't help myself. I see all of these lovely quilting cottons and I can't NOT get them. The stack above arrived on Thursday and contains so many little bits of wonderful (well, okay, half-yards of wonderful) and is so delicious that I just can't stop looking at it, photographing it, touching it... Though of course, I have very few plans to use it, which amounts to about 7(!) yards. Here are some highlights: 

Have you seen the Dear Jane repros that Brenda Papadakis is doing? Even though I haven't made any progress on my Dear Jane since the summer, and even though I'm doing mine in 1930s repros instead of Civil War-era ones, I still couldn't resist that sweet little floral on the right and the panel on the left. Not sure what to do with the floral, but I'm thinking that the panel needs to be hand-quilted and either turned into a tote and/or some wall hangings (possibly left in the hoops?) for the sewing room.  

This print is probably my favorite of the bunch. It's from a line called Twiggy by Moda. I love it. I got two other prints from this line, but I think I love this one the most. You can see pictures of the rest of my haul (including some Alexander Henry and some Valori Wells) in my Flickr album

So, I think I might need an intervention. But it better wait until next week, because I have some of this and more of this coming in the mail this week. Oh, and that craft book intervention? That might have to wait, too, because this and this (squee!) are on their way from Amazon. Being bad feels oh so good. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sneak peek

(First, before I begin this post, I have to state for the record that one of the things I continually see online that grates on me like you wouldn't believe is the phrase "sneak peak." A peak is the pointed top of a mountain; a peek is a quick look. Please, crafty bloggers, show us your sneak peeks, not your sneak peaks!)

Here's a sneak peek of a little quiltie that I worked up as a gift for a very special grandmother of mine. Her birthday is tomorrow, so I sent her a little something. It is little--about 10" square. It was my first paper-pieced quilt, and it contains 184 pieces in those 10". It took me about 6 hours to piece and a good 8 hours to hand-quilt, but I think it's totally worth it. 

Unfortunately, even though my gramma will be opening the gift at her party on Sunday, I won't be able to reveal the finished project until much later. The theme/challenge for my swap group's February swap is paper piecing. I've done a lot of searching online, and have decided to use this same pattern, though at a different scale, for my February swap quilt. I won't be hand-quilting that one, and I'll be using completely different fabrics, but I don't want to ruin the pattern surprise with a full reveal. 

So, here's your sneak peek at a little quiltie that took hours and hours to create and has a little love in every stitch. That's the beauty of the handmade. 

Also, I've become an accepted Quilting Blogger! Click the link on the left sidebar for more great quilting blogs--there are thousands of us now! So much inspiration. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bird mobile #2

Here's the other part of the baby shower gift I gave last Sunday (the first part was the baby booties I already posted on). It's my second go at a mobile using the Spool birdie pattern. Again, these are all sewn completely by hand, stuffed with Poly-Fil and a little bit of flax to give them some weight. The ribbons are attached to the birds with some invisible thread (in "smoke" color, so not really invisible). 

For this one I went with a less scrappy theme, using all fabrics left over from the quilt I made for my parents for Christmas. I thought the colors would work well for a nursery. Instead of doing the stick thing (which was the most difficult part of assembling the first mobile), I hung these from some dowels I tied together very tightly. There are some knots at the ends of the ribbons, but I don't think they're too unsightly. I also ran a line of hot glue around each dowel, just on the outside edge of the ribbon so that the birds wouldn't slip off. I'm always interested to hear how my handmade gifts hold up over time... I sure hope this one doesn't fall apart! 

Iris sure liked the birds and wanted to keep them, which is precisely why we don't have things like this in our house. Iris is a destroyer of toys; we used to call her our little destructor. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

January STUD quilt sent

Sorry I've been quiet all week. I've been waiting for my partner to receive this mini before I posted on it. I'm also working on another baby shower gift, but it's not completed and not worth showing yet. More posts next week, I promise...

Here's the January S.T.U.D. mini-quilt that I made. It's inspired by the Life Aquatic, my favorite Wes Anderson film. And by "inspired by" I do not mean "literal representation of." I'm pretty firm about not wanting to craft like that. Anyway, I was inspired by the colors and shape and magic of the movie. I pulled in some of the colors for this quiltie, plus made it look a little wave-y, to echo the whole underwater theme.

Here's some detail of the quilting on the front. I did some echo quilting around the bias tapes and carried it between the blocks whenever feasible.

The technique for this quilt was new for me. It's from the book Easy Bias-Covered Curves. It's not like I hate curved piecing, but this book makes it easy peasy, especiallly if you want to design something yourself. Making bias tape is a little trickier for me, especially out of these batiks. It was especially hard to bind them. I broke two needles hand-stitching the binding on this one and the twin I made for myself.

Here's what the quilting looks like from the back. I think it really brings in that wateryness of the whole thing. This is possibly my favorite mini I've made for this swap so far. It's definitely in close competition with this one.