Saturday, October 25, 2014

Blocks and blocks…

And more blocks.  Piecing blocks is my favorite part of quilting.  I like doing the actual quilting, too, but the steps in between (sewing the blocks together, piecing the backing) are by far my least favorite parts of making a quilt.

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This block is an installment on another baby quilt being made for an expectant mom in the DC Modern Quilt Guild.  I just LOVE how it turned out!  The request was for blues and greens with plenty of graphic black & white.  Granted, it’s not the most creative quilt block  design I could have come up with, but I was able to use some 2.5” square scraps and I mailed this block the day after the request came out.  So for what I lacked in imagination, I made up for in timeliness!

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I’ve also been slowly working on some other projects over the past few weeks.  These are all the foxes I’ve sewn so far for a quilt made with Elizabeth Hartman’s Fancy Fox pattern.  I don’t have any more pieces cut out, so I need to find some time to cut more fabric for this project.

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And I started a quilt using Anna Maria Horner’s free pattern Spinning Stars.  I have 5 of these blocks finished now and am excited where this is going.  Remember these improv slab blocks I made in the end of the summer?  I am thinking of using them as an  asymmetrical border for the quilt once I have all the blocks made.

Do you use a design wall?  I’ve tried to use one, but it’s always too tantalizing for the kids and the cats to leave alone, a breeze just from opening the door would make blocks fly off, and I can’t stand all the threads stuck on it after  a while.  So after I moved sewing rooms earlier this year, I figured out a good way to make a temporary design wall that can’t be messed up…just use Washi tape to stick your blocks to the wall!

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It’s not quite as easy to use as just sticking a block to batting, but it works for me, plus it’s nice to know I can just take everything down and the wall still looks pristine.

Thanks for stopping by!

For the love of swaps

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I’ve participated in a lot of swaps over the years, from Block Swap Adventure to online bees to handmade Christmas gifts.  Sometimes I’ve been blown away by the creativity and skill of my partner.  A few times my partner was a dud or never answered any communication.  Oh well, the positive experiences far outweigh the negative ones.

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The DCMQG hosted it’s first swap among members this month, a mug rug swap!  My partner listed red and white fabric and batiks as dislikes.  She asked for a big-sized mug rug (around 10-12 inches) and I stalked her blog a little and found out she likes cats and dogs and dislikes tea and possibly likes retr0-looking funky fabric.  So going on that information, I got to work!

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Am I the only person who finds making wonky stars completely mind-boggling???  I know I’ve said it before, but visualizing where things will go is SO DIFFICULT!!!  Luckily it turned out that all the letters were upright.  I used white Aurifil thread to densely quilt straight lines on a diagonal.  (Aside:  I sent my sister the Aurifil piecing box for her birthday this month and she is now an Aurifil convert as well.)

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I wasn’t sure if my partner drinks coffee or not, so I sent some of my favorite hot chocolate and this cute owl mug with the mug rug.

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The backing fabric is this pretty Color Me Retro blue/purple/green  floral print.

It was mailed yesterday, so it should be received today or Monday. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Embroidery Idiot

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That’s me!  I’ve only hand-sewed just a small number of items in my lifetime, mostly buttons on my husband’s shirts and the binding on my first quilt (it took only one quilt for me to switch to machine binding!). 

Being under the weather lately and mostly confined to the bed or couch, I was going through sewing withdrawal.  So I pulled out a magazine from 2012 called Make It Yourself (published by Better Homes & Gardens), which had an embroidery pattern in it that I’d earmarked to make for my beautiful blond middle daughter…someday.  It only took a day to stitch, but what a difference a day can make in my embroidery know-how!

For example, notice how chunky the stitches are in the hair? 

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When I got to the nose, the thread was too thick and made the nose look just like a brown blob.  That’s when I remembered that embroidery thread can be divided into strands.  I tried and I tried, but the thread kept breaking apart into small fluffy sections.  It took about five tries (I’m not always a fast learner) but that’s when I realized that I was using craft thread that I bought for the kids, not embroidery thread.  I was also able to note, thanks to an informative night about thread at my local guild meeting, that craft thread has a very “short staple.”  Thank goodness I had some actual embroidery thread on hand to finish the project.  I used three strands for the rest of it.

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I quickly relearned how to do French knots and learned the “lazy daisy” stitch from the instructions in the magazine.  The pattern is called “A Mother’s Blessing” and is by none other than Sarah Wright, aka Sarah Jane! 

My daughter really loves it and wants me to turn it into a small pillow, whereas I envisioned a picture hanging on the wall in her room.  Now we just have to come to an agreement so it can be done with.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Shirt Fabric Salvage

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A few weeks ago I saw a beautiful quilt made with shirt fabrics on Red Pepper Quilts.  It made the cogs in my brain slowly spin, and a few days later when, serendipitously, my husband was cleaning shirts from his closet to donate, I grabbed a few before they were already loaded into the trunk of his car.  Wouldn’t it be a great project to save fabric for the next few years to make each girl a quilt from daddy’s shirts?

Unfortunately some of the shirts I grabbed weren’t 100% cotton.  Just to err on the side of caution (and because I have absolutely no natural sewing instincts—wait till you hear in my next post about embroidery!) I didn’t cut up any of the shirts with stretch or other fibers besides cotton.  There is one mystery shirt that my husband says is cotton, but I’m pretty sure it has silk in it, and it’s a custom shirt so there’s no tag.  But the fabric was so soft, I couldn’t pass it up!

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Here’s to the start of another project, he he!

Have a great weekend!