Sometimes it’s just fun to play with your fabric stash along with a color wheel. This mini made last summer—woefully overdue to be sent to decorate a baby’s room—is just four string quilt blocks that follow the colors of the rainbow. Kona Snow marks the center of each string, and a variety of my favorite fabrics are here. Though it’s subtle, each color progression goes from dark to light toward the center. Looking at this again makes me want to get out my stash and start planning color stories all over again!
This past year was my first time participating in Reddit’s Secret Santa gift exchange—and how fun! I was one of almost 200,000 people who signed up to exchange a gift with a complete stranger. Several of my coworkers participated too, and we had fun filling out our profiles and wondering what kinds of gifts we’d get. I was very sure that Bill Gates would give me a private island. (Spoiler: He didn’t get me in the exchange. Bummer.)
Anyway, I got my match’s profile and had no idea what to get! She is passionate about music (which I don’t know anything about), and I wasn’t sure what the perfect gift for her would be. She did mention wine tasting and liking wine so I’ll admit I went the safe route: I got her a Corksicle and an aerating pourer, so whether she wanted white or red she’d be covered. And even though she didn’t talk about being a crafty person herself, I decided to give her something handmade, too.
Enter a set of coasters. I found this wine-themed novelty fabric buried deep in my stash (in fact, I remember that I made an apron out of it probably 10 years ago, but for whom? No clue). I wasn’t going to fuss with these: Two 4.5-inch squares and batting sewn together on 3 sides, flipped right side out, open end folded in, top-stitched near the edge. I debated what to do for the quilting lines, and I was pleased to think up this simple “X” because to me it feels like the lines of a wine bottle holder. Is that reaching? Maybe, but I see it and I like that about it.
I also tucked a handmade Christmas tree ornament into the box—though she was doing a Secret Santa, I wasn’t 100% sure that she celebrated Christmas, but I have a ton of the ornaments so I figured why not. (I can’t link to more info on the ornament because it turns out I never blogged about them, doh. I made them in 2013, as you can see in the photo, but hers did not have the year embroidered on it.) In her thank-you note she said she actually collects ornaments! So that was perfect.
And as a nod to the only way that I can relate to her passion for music, I wrote my note to her on the back of a print of this photograph I took at Rudy’s Music Soho (it’s the guitar shop that’s next door to Purl Soho, so I’m around it often even if I have no business being in there!). It’s a desktop wallpaper available at dsktps.com if you’re interested!
As to what I got? Well, if I couldn’t get a private island, I like what I did get—my Secret Santa picked up on my love of traveling, and she sent me this National Geographic Journeys of a Lifetime book of the best places in the world! Flipping through it is endlessly inspiring; I want to go everywhere!
How is it that two years in a row I declared it the “year of garment sewing,” but I have only one measly finished garment from 2014 to show? Oh well—maybe 2015 is the year? But even if I didn’t make much clothing (in fact, I had an epic failure of a Moss Mini Skirt), I have plenty of finished handmade goodness to show off! Much of it of course is still not blogged—how is it I resolve every year to blog more and then utterly neglect this space by the end of the year? Anyway, I scrolled through my Lightroom and mentally assessed my whole apartment and discovered I’d made a load of things this year!
Let’s talk knitting. Not much, it’s true, given the continued pain I have in my hands. My first magazine cover, though, which was a particular thrill! I wholeheartedly enjoyed knitting Stonecutter, but the more I think about it the more likely I am to give it to my mother, who will wear it proudly when I am likely to ignore it in my sweater drawer. Those squishy monsters are hopefully making some cute babies happy, and though I really didn’t like my Follow Your Arrow upon completion, I wear it regularly! That pillow needs blogging…
Boy did I sew more quilts than I thought I did. Three full-sized quilts: two for wedding presents, one for us. Two baby quilts (one yet to be blogged, that I’d like to make into a pattern if I could get my act together to do so). Three minis, a set of coasters, and I threw that one garment in here because it’s made of fabric. I’ve been spending the end of the year slashing through my stash, trying to make a dent in the bins that are full to bursting! I am looking forward to making lots more in the coming year, as I think i’ve really got the hang of this quilting thing now. A year ago I was feeling confident but still like a novice; at this point, I think I know my stuff. My technique for basting still needs some work, and as a result I need lots more practice quilting items, but I do think my entry-level sewing machine is at least partly to blame here. It’s time to start saving up for something bigger and better.
But what I hadn’t anticipated upon starting this look-back is just how much embroidery I did in 2014. I love how satisfying it is to complete a project; plus it’s so comparatively fast (not like knitting or quilting!). Some of these are the elaborate quilt labels I made, others were just to be framed on their own, and others were part of a group project—they’ll be incorporated into a quilt or wall hanging. My embroidery supplies are in a completely terrible jumble in a Ziploc bag because it seemed like a lark of a craft, but it seems I do it a lot more than I thought, so I ought to get that organized. Tucked in the corner there are two of the onesies I made for the baby shower of my friend; these are complete no-sew projects that are great activities for a shower!
I don’t think I can express more strongly how surprised I was at my turnout this year when I gathered all the photos together today. Before I figured out how much I’d knit, I started to write my paragraph about it and I could think of only two things off the top of my head. Then I started actually looking, and I found that I finished 9 things!? One of them a highly complex cabled sweater? Yeah, I knit quite a bit. How did I not crochet anything, though?
Here’s to more making in 2015! It’ll be a #yearofmaking!
At long last, I have made a quilt intended to live on my own couch. I have one other quilt, my beloved KBeeC quilt, but that is large and sometimes we just want a little something on the couch.
I used the templates provided by Sing All You Want for the Arrow Tail quilt, but instead of matching each row I offset every other. I grabbed all shades of aqua, yellow, and gray; many of the fabrics in here are the last bits of some of my very favorites.
Once I finished the quilt top—a straightforward affair, though I am not in love with matching up angled pieces—I decided to keep all the scraps out and work with them to make up the backing. I cut squares and built some improv/wonky log cabins. It was a lovely, mindless sort of piecing and everything came together so nicely. In fact, it seemed easier and more satisfying than the front, where it was so much more structured.
Ultimately I took a ton of the small remaining triangle-shaped scraps and made those into HSTs that will appear in a different quilt, so I worked with 8 log cabinsto build the backing. I didn’t plan this out carefully at all (the 8 squares didn’t actually match up with the width or height of the front) and I love love love it.
I quilted it with wavy quilting lines, because that’s about all I can handle—my straight lines look wavy, too, so I might as well go for it. I bound it using the machine entirely; this was the first time I’d done that. The front looks really sharp and neat! I’m pretty pleased with how that came out. The seam line for the binding, though, is not flush with the fold from the first fold/seam of the binding, and that makes it more visible. (It’s about an eighth of an inch in from the edge of the binding.) But it’s really even the whole way around, so I don’t really care.
Some quilts hurt more than others to give away. Baby quilts, much as I love them, have no use for me personally so they can be given with no qualms. But full-size quilts could easily be incorporated into my life (in fact, the one for Patrick and Katie was finished long before I gave it to them, and I actually used it on the couch myself for… months (I washed it again before wrapping it!)). And this one, with so many different fabrics that have a tiny back story for me, well, it was hard to give it away to my cousin and new cousin-in-law to celebrate their wedding.
There are fabrics here that I used in Holly’s quilt, ones I bought while on vacation, some that were given to me by thoughtful friends, others that I particularly love for one reason or another . . . In sum: I love it.
I deliberately used two different khaki shades as the background fabric for the stars, to give it a vintage/scrappy sort of feel. I chose a color palette that was overall coordinated and sort of muted, with all colors represented. At the edges I got a chance to use some fabrics that I only had one square of from a charm pack—I’m particularly pleased with using one black-and-white print in the lower right corner. Something about having injected some actual black into this quilt makes me really satisfied.
The quilting actually goes in both diagonal directions, though now that I see it in pictures I see that one direction is far more dominant! I used different threads and I think one was heavier than the other. One was khaki/off white and the other was blue. Why? Because I had enough of each! I’m happy to report that the quilting went infinitely better than it has for me in recent quilts. I changed as many variables as possible: I spray glue-basted the backing (but for some reason pin-basted the front. don’t ask.). I remembered to put the more table surface thingy on my machine. I was sure to wear my quilting gloves. I used a superior brand of batting. I got no puckers when I went across the first parallel quilting lines—everything just sort of worked right out the gate! I look forward to doing it all again for a future quilt and seeing if I’ve solved my quilting issues.
The binding is pieced with two fabrics: both khaki backgrounds, one with circles and the other with small polka dots. The backing is a completely different neutral (with a very pink undertone—I didn’t think that would work on the front) with my “signature” stripe block.
The label, added after I took these pictures, has, I hope, special meaning to the bride, as I was inspired by a photo she posted online months ago. She went to a The xx concert and posted a picture of this quote, which was printed just like this on a pillowcase. I pulled the photo into Photoshop and resized it to what I wanted and traced it onto the fabric. I thought the sentiment was beautifully appropriate for a wedding gift, right? In case you can’t read it, it says “Being as in love with you as I am.” I know nothing about music, though (The xx… who?), so I had to Google this phrase to even know what song it was from. I added the date of their wedding and a little “love, Erin” to complete the label. It was stitched with black perle cotton on a piece of Kona that I, um, not too precisely folded into a “square” before affixing it. I put it in the lower right corner; the picture on the right below might give you a sense for where it is.
I wrapped it up in a simple ribbon and brought it with me to the wedding, and I was sorely tempted to tear it open and wrap up in it when the temperature dropped after the sun set! If I’d done so, I may well have just left with it. Instead I’m going to have to plan a quilt like this for myself.