Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Excitement of a New Project

Since I have almost finished the baby quilt, it is time for a new project. Here's what I chose:

Two years ago, I bought this pattern at a yard sale - an enthusiastic quilter had passed away and the family was liquidating her stash. My, she had a quilt shop worth of fabric, precuts, patterns, and sewing machines!  I like simple but effective designs, and this appealed to me.

You're supposed to make this from a jelly roll or two. I had purchased one jelly roll a few years ago in some pretty fall colors. I didn't know what I was planning to do with it - so I'm using it for this project. I picked up 3 yards of Kona cotton in "Bone" (a cream color) for the background and I started cutting. I have enough jelly roll fabric for the Twin size.

It's a log-cabin-like block done in two styles. They call it block "A" and block "B" as shown:

Block A Block B

The fabric color and style is a bit "country" for me, but as I said, I liked the colors.

Every project teaches me something. This one is no exception, even though I've only made a handful of blocks so far.

I like to press my seams to one side. The trend for modern quilters is to press the seams open - I don't know why - I guess it makes the seams flatter.  Trying to sew open a 1/4" seam is tedious. When I was sewing some of the blocks together, the seam allowance on one seam was pushed apart by my feed dogs. OK, I thought, what the heck. I'll just press it open. Then I went on my merry way building the rest of the block, pressing my seam allowances to the side.

Don't do that. It resulted in an inconsistent block width, and the block looked "off."

Lesson - be consistent in how you press your seam allowances within your block, at least. Probably the whole quilt.

I don't know if I'll undo those blocks, toss them, of just leave them. It's not so bad that it will ruin the whole quilt. I have to think about it - if it bothers me enough, I'll have to get rid of them.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Quilt For Baby

This darling little quilt is nearly done. I posted pictures of some of the blocks on March 19 and since then I set them as shown and recently completed the quilting.

The colored blocks are simple string pieced squares on a muslin foundation, made from strips cut from a purchased scrap grab bag. I bought them while I was staying in Virginia at the Cottonwood Quilt Shop. I really liked the colors and patterns and whimsical designs.

I like kid prints. I admit it. I like cute.

I quickly ran out of long strips so I had to get creative. I didn't really want to buy any more fabric beyond the scrap pack because at the time, I was staying at Dad's house temporarily. I didn't want more stuff to have to pack and bring home.

I like a creative challenge. First, I bought a small pack of solid fat quarters - I needed them for the other projects I was making with the scraps. Then I looked around the house for fabric. None.  I found the backing fabric also at Cottonwood (deep discount - on sale!!) and I used a few strips of it in the blocks. I used some of the muslin I had picked up from a Joann's remnant bin. Finally, there was some fabric ribbon and I sewed some strips of grosgrain ribbon in.

When I got home, I made a few more blocks to make enough for this top. If Mom and baby are really clever, they will find fabrics from Mom's bed quilt made 10 years earlier and Mom's brother's baby quilt, made 11 years earlier.

Quilting Pattern

Deciding the quilting pattern is always a challenge. Quilting is fun, but marking the quilt for quilting is not fun. What can I do that doesn't require marking?

This design is featured on several Denyse Schmidt quilts.

Honestly, this pattern is a little tricky. You think the loops need to be opposing, but they do not - they are offset from one another. Once you realize that, it gets easier and the nice crosshatch pattern between the loops emerges. I must have started this design and taken it out at least 5 times, and that's after I filled several pages practicing with pencil and paper.


That was fun. The last step remains - binding. Should be done in a few days.

Friday, April 19, 2013


While I was still in Virginia, I decided the new baby in the family might like some bibs. There was a cute ladybug print in the scrap bag in a fairly large piece. Hmm. What could I do with that?

I found a pretty free pattern on A Spoonful of Sugar blog for "Boutique Baby Bibs."

I really needed size and proportions, not a specific design. Their designs were really cute and I was ready to do the hexagon design. But... when I put the tops of these together, I thought they were enough.

Lesson number one for downloading and printing patterns from the Internet:
  1. Check your PDF print settings. Make sure you're not printing with "reduce to fit page." 
Whoops. I had cut out and sewn the pieces together before I realized the pattern was too small. It was preemie size!  Reprinted and cut again.

I cut them out and put the tops together while in Virginia, and they arrived in my box last week. The back on the red one is green. The back on the green one is red.

Spoonful of Sugar has you use interfacing for substance and flannel for the back. I did a traditional quilt style with batting in between and fabric back. Quilting isn't necessary on theirs, but I like to quilt. As you can see, it's a simple grid design. The squares are 1-1/2" on the red one, and 1" on the green one.  Colorful and spring-y. I hope the family likes them and will really use them. These bibs are well made and tough, ready for spit up, slop, strained squash, and drool, and about a million trips through the washing machine.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Crafting at Home Now

Back at home, and due to the small size of my luggage, I had to ship the quilt blocks (and my scraps, and the fabric I bought!) back home. I have made little further progress on the strip piecing. By the end of my stay, I was so busy with household things trying to wrap up, I barely had any time to sew.

While in Charlottesville, I completed a total of 10 blocks (I think...I can't remember!!) I was hoping to make 16, so when the box arrives on Tuesday, I can get back to work. However, I was running low on scraps. That's a good thing!

I couldn't possible be idle, though!

Here's my block for Douglass in KC Scrappy Bee.

He asked for an improvisational piece. I intended to include some of my fabrics, but this block emerged and it didn't need anything else... well... at least... that's my story and I'm sticking with it. I didn't intend to make a square - it just turned out that way.

I also picked up a quilting project I needed to finish up. This is a very small quilt (for my dog's crate) made from scraps from Bev's Garden Quilt. I messed up a bit when piecing that quilt's dark brown frames, such that I made too many green pieces with brown lines. I had a lot of frame pieces left over. I collected the scraps and fashioned them into a of pattern that pleased my eye. Now I'm practicing quilting designs in negative space.

The center portion of the quilt is a woodgrain pattern. The surrounding rows have those loops you see in the middle. The perimeter has a straight line design that makes random size rectangles filled in with straight lines. As you can see I used variegated thread. I like the effect overall, but in the straight line pattern, when you have to over-sew to get to a new area, the color is often different. So over-sewing is not so subtle

That's what I'm crafting on right now! Off to the sewing room.

Monday, March 18, 2013

String Piecing

I have a bunch of strips and scraps left over. The natural fit is....string pieced blocks!  Looks like baby will get a quilt, also.  Or, at least, that's my good intention.

Simple diagonal foundation pieced blocks, nine inches square. I want the finished block to be 8 inches square, so I have a little wiggle room to square the blocks up.

I'm throwing in some strips of solids from the fat quarter pack I purchased at JoAnn.

The foundation is a 9-inch square of muslin. I had found the muslin at JoAnn in the remnant bin, and purchased it because I figured I needed at least one piece of scrap fabric for testing out the machine and the stitches.  I found a good use for it!

I don't have rotary cutting supplies here at my parents' house and I really don't want to buy a whole set. (It's bad enough I bought a machine just for the 6 weeks I'm here!) The foundation squares were cut with a cardboard template. I used Dad's right angle from his carpentry supplies and drew the shape on the the top of a shirt box. Then I cut it out. To make the muslin squares, I traced each square on the fabric with a pencil and cut it out by hand. The remnant was super wide, and I could draw 16 squares on it.

I'm not sure how many blocks I'll get from the scraps. The number will determine the setting for the quilt top. If I get all 16, I'm thinking a 7x4 block straight setting with 4 rows of blocks alternating with 3 rows of white.

These blocks are crazy fun to make! And, they don't have to be precise, another bonus!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

One little, two little, three little burp cloths

Sung to the tune of the children's song: "One little; two little; three little Indians..."

One little, two little, three little burp cloths:

The Modern Collection

Four little, five little, six little burp cloths:

The Whimsy Collection

Seven little, eight little, nine little burp cloths! Ten little burp cloths for bay--bee!

The Princess Collection

Construction Notes

As I said in my previous post, I got the idea to make these from Carla at Lollyquilts blog. I screwed up and didn't even realize that there was a difference between prefolded and non folded cloth diapers. Prefolded, as Carla used, cost a dollar more, so I got the cheaper ones. Who knew prefolded actually are made differently?? Not me.

I did not want to return my diapers, which were basically rectangles of cheesecloth-like weave of fabric, so I simply folded them in thirds, then in half. I zigzagged around the edges to seal the layers. With 6 layers of cloth, I figured they'd be absorbent enough for the job.

Then I decorated the edges using the scraps I had purchased.

Using Ribbon

I concealed the edges of the fabric appliqué using ribbon, much like Carla did. I wanted to use up ribbon I'm finding around my parents' house, and I pulled the ribbon from Mom's copious collection of gift wrapping supplies (I swear, I have uncovered at least 10 boxes of bows, wrapping paper, and ribbon! Geez, Mom!) Most of the ribbon was not suitable for sewing, but I found about 10 spools of fiber ribbon in different colors. I tested them to make sure they wouldn't melt when ironed. I also avoided wire-edged ribbon. We don't want baby to get poked!!

Not all of the ribbon worked great, but heck, baby's going to spit up on them. Doesn't need to be impeccable...just washable.

Project Burpcloth

The limited fabric selections and scrap sizes, and the uncoordinated ribbon colors made for a creative design challenge. Since I know several sewing techniques, I was challenged to apply them for interesting designs. You can see a couple of patchwork pieced designs, decorative stitching, and fancy embellishment (ruffle).

The most complicated was the one in the Princess collection in the lower left. I made two gathered ruffles out of a  folded-over strip of the princess-themed fabric and sewed it down. Nice and girly!

The biggest design challenge was the patchwork in the Whimsy collection. Nothing looked right to edge it. I ended up buying a pack of fat quarters in solids at Joann's and made simple fold over binding out of the dark gray.

The top one in the Modern collection was a lot of fun. I used a decorative stitch over a thin plain white ribbon in  contrasting thread color to add visual interest.

Thanks for looking! Now off to the post office to mail to the lucky little one.

Monday, March 4, 2013

It's a long story...

I find myself in Charlottesville Virginia on a 6-week leave from work, caring for my elderly father who has had a health crisis. He's in a rehab hospital and he is getting better, but it's slow. The family has "taken over" and we are gearing up to sell the house and move Dad someplace safer.

To maintain my mental health, I need to create. I expected to play with my mother's old Kenmore, but I arrived to find it had been donated! Woe is me! Ultimately, we would have donated it, I just didn't think it would be gone already. Dad hadn't been very motivated to clean out the house on his own, so I was surprised he had taken it to Goodwill.

It's gone, but I still have a need. What to do?

It has been said: a credit card can solve a lot of problems. So, I bought a cheapie:

It makes a decent straight stitch and does 24 other stitches. Good enough! Now I need stuff to sew. What's a good project?

There is a new baby in the family and, uh, that's another a long story. At first I wanted to make a baby quilt when I saw this pattern at the Moda Bake Shop. However, no shops seem to have the Moda Honeycombs pre-cuts yet.

Then, Carla from Lollyquiltz posted about the burpcloths she's making for her new grandchild. What a great idea!  I went down to Cottonwood Quilt Shop and found a scrap bag filled with delightful girly prints (the new baby is a girl). Perfect!

Cottonwood is a delightful shop in Charlottesville at Barrack's Rd. Definitely worth a stop of you are in the Charlottesville/Central piedmont of Virginia area.

Spotted at Cottonwood: the Zigzagged Quilt pattern by Empty Bobbin Sewing Studio. The proprietor of this company is in the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild. Yeah Shea!!