I'm bringing (machine) quilting back

I've been doing a LOT of hand sewing lately, but very little machine work (and blogging), despite the fact that I've got a LOT of projects that are in various stages of completion that really need to get done. Today I finally got back in the groove of things since I have to make a baby quilt for a girl. And fast. Like the baby was due today. Or actually yesterday since it's now like 3 a.m. Anyway. I found the cutest panels online a few months ago and just fell in love with them! It's from the What a World line by Jill McDonald. They are so, so cute. Here's one of the 15 different panels:


I don't have the best plan for this quilt; I've kind of been winging it so far. So far I've added a really thin border of white around each square and then am adding a thicker border of a black fabric with white polka dots. After that? I'm still figuring it out. Here's a preview though!


(And of course there's one of my quilting day essentials - a TV show on DVD that I love that I don't have to pay too much attention to, this time the Gilmore Girls.) Here's hoping I keep making progress tomorrow, er, today.


A finish!

I've been busy working on a top secret project lately: a quilt for one of my sisters for her birthday! This is the first quilt I've made for anyone in my family other than a wall hanging I made for my mom, so I was really excited to give it to her. My sister Michelle has got a great eye for color and design and has a gorgeously decorated house, so I also was a little nervous to make something for her. I'm happy to report that she loved it! IMG_2769

I was inspired by one of her guest rooms, which is painted a vibrant orange. She now uses it as a craft room when she doesn't have company, so I wanted to make something bright and modern. I bought all the fabrics the last time I went to quilt camp. They were already bundled together and I thought of her right away.


I quilted it very simply in orange thread with straight-lines about a quarter-inch from the seams of the zig zags.


And I had this awesome green chevron fabric in my stash. I bought a couple yards of it a few months ago from Connecting Threads on clearance. It was perfect for this project! The quilt washed really well and was really soft and wrinkly when I pulled it out of the dryer. Even though I'm normally somewhat selfish about keeping things I make, mailing it off to my sister made me really happy! Here are a few more photos of the quilt in progress, since I haven't been able to blog about it at all.

IMG_2655 IMG_2677

Am I the only one that loves looking at color-coordinated trimmings?

IMG_2662 IMG_2692


You're killing me here

I love visiting the local library every now and again to check out its selection of books, especially the ones focused on quilting, knitting and other crafts. I try not to buy many craft books, unless I know I will use them a lot. They are so expensive and these days you can find so much information for free on the Internet.

Anyway, as I was quickly picking out books this week, one of the ones I checked out was Cut-Loose Quilts, which encouraged a lot of "wonky" sewing ... free-form piecing and cutting.


Sounds pretty cool, huh? That's what I was thinking. And I liked a lot of the quilts pictured in the book. But then I started reading it.




I couldn't believe what I was seeing.



And this was included as an editor's note:

"With respect to Jan's wicked wayz, we have honored her use of the letter z at the end of many words, as well as her intentional misspellings of words such as "goosez." Her use of z in place of s reflects the rule-breaking freedom and poetic license of her designs."

Uh, no.

Reading that book was torture. I was done before I had barely started. What a hot mess.


Inspiration a la Pinterest

Along with a large portion of the Internet, I have recently found myself wasting, I mean spending, a lot of time on Pinterest. And wow, there is so much to look at and be inspired by! One of my favorite quilt projects I've seen there are quilts that have blocks that look just like Polaroid photos. So cute!

Of course I didn't waste hardly any time at all before I started digging through my novelty prints. I have a ton of novelty prints, but don't use them as often as I should in "normal" projects. So far, picking prints out that would work as "photographs" has been fun.

In progress - Polaroid photo blocks

I haven't worked too much on this quilt so far, but it has been nice to have a different project to pick up once in a while between my obligation projects and my ongoing handquilting spree.


My oldest work in progress?

For some reason, I've been OBSESSED with quilting lately. That, and fabric (looking at it, buying it, arranging it in coordinated piles, etc.) The fabric obsession isn't something new (duh), but I've really been quilting a lot lately. Like every single day for the last few weeks, which is pretty impressive for me.

I can't say that I've gotten a lot done, but I've endeavored to do a little every day, even if it's only for a half-hour or so. The main thing I've been doing is handquilting, and there is a reason you don't see a lot of blogs focused on showing people's handquilting work: it is so very, very slow!

I think it's a good thing my first two quilts were a) bed size and b) hand sewn and handquilted. It's taught me a bit of patience (this was about 15 years ago and before quilt blogs) and I had no clue that it didn't take most people three years or more to finish a quilt! Now that I've gone more the machine route, my patience isn't quite as good as it used to be, but I still enjoy sewing and quilting by hand. In my opinion, it's usually more relaxing than machine sewing.

Anyway, one of the projects that I've dug out of my (very crowded) box of works in progress is my first attempt at my postage stamp quilt. (I'm currently on version 2 - see *** details below.) I started the first version years ago, way back when I first started quilting, around 12-15ish years ago. It's hard to believe it's been that long!

I began by cutting 1.5-inch squares out of the very first fabrics I bought (boy, my taste was interesting) and from scraps my mom had. I started sewing them together by hand with white squares between them. My interest in the project waned and I abandoned it pretty early, and it's been sitting around ever since. (With the second version of the postage stamp quilt, I decided to get rid of the white and just work with all the other fabrics -- so far I like that a lot better.)

It seemed wasteful to just let it sit, so I finally pulled it out of my WIP box a few weeks ago and took it to quilt camp, with the plan to layer it and make it into either a doll quilt or a wallhanging. I decided to handquilt it, and have made a little bit of progress, although it's kind of hard to quilt, since there is so much fabric between the layers due to all the seam allowances (and it wasn't easy to press it very well.) I've just been doing diagonal lines through the white blocks in a rainbow thread. Here's a preview picture:


*** (I first mentioned working on a postage stamp quilt (this was version 2) on my blog back in February 2009! Links to current PSQ project: postage stamp quilt.)


New year, new project

After ogling the scrappy paintbox quilt featured on Oh, Fransson! for years, I've finally started to make one of my own. Actually I am making two (eek!) of them -- one for myself and one as a graduation gift for my niece.

I started them while at quilt camp last weekend, and so far they have been slow going. I'm trying to use as many scraps as humanly possible, so that is slowing me down a fair bit. With the help of my mom, we sorted through all my strip scraps and pulled out ones that go along with the solid colors that I have. None of them are cut to the right size though, so I am having to do that as I go along.

Here's the pile of 2.5-inch squares I am picking some of my centers from. Ahh, love the rainbows!


And my finished blocks so far. All I've done so far are pinks -- I need to get going! Still, I think it will be great when it's all finished.



Handmade Christmas, part 2

This post definitely isn't very timely, but seeing how it's posted within one month of Christmas itself, I'll call it a success in my book. :)

Anyway. I made this scarf for my niece, Stephani, as a Christmas/birthday gift. Last year (I think it was), I knitted scarves for my sisters, and my sister Cheryl (Steph's mom) uses hers all the time (yay!). Stephani asked that I make her a red scarf that was similar, so I was glad to. I love anyone that appreciates my handmade gifts!

I wasn't crazy about the yarn that I used -- Lion Brand Homespun -- because it was really splitty to work with, but the finished product turned out really pretty and soft, so that's the important thing. I made the scarf so long, it took almost two complete skeins of yarn! The pattern was just an easy K2, P2 rib, and it turned out plenty squishy but still laid flat.


This marked the end of my Christmas crafting this year. I really wanted to make more, but 2011 was not my best year as far as planning ahead and getting stuff done early. I was working on this project right up until Christmas eve! Next year will be better, I promise!



I was super happy to get this Jungle Baby quilt finished for my friend Elizabeth, who is due to have a boy in a couple of weeks. I gave it to her this week at work and she said she loved it.

These pictures aren't great, but they were the best I could get at work.




I used this Moda Bake Shop pattern for this quilt with a few changes. The original pattern suggested cutting all the pieces from a layer cake, but I just used fabrics I already had in my stash (yay me!). Another change I made was the size of the inner square in each block. The pattern said to cut that piece 3.5 inches, but I cut mine 4 inches, which worked better for the jungle animal fabrics I decided to use. I had these fabrics for quite a while, and fussy cutting them for this quilt worked out so well! I am really happy with how this project turned out.

The quilt got nice and crinkly after I washed it -- perfect! The back is the same striped fabric I used for the binding.

In unrelated news, I am having a bad pain night. :( The pain (which tonight is like stabbing in my left heel - fun!) isn't the worst it's ever been, but it's bad enough that I have been up for like 2.5 hours and not able to fall back asleep. I've taken a couple of painkillers and some Advil and I'm still hurting. Ugh, so frustrating. I really miss the days when I could sleep easily through the night. And be awake and alert all day at work. Sigh.


Preview from quilt camp

I just returned from quilt camp today (and had a fabulous time) and don't feel like doing a complete rundown of all the projects I worked on, but here's a little preview of the main project I focused on over the weekend. I'm so thankful I was able to go!