archives: sewing

christmas tree skirt

This year, to increase the Christmas joy in our apartment, we got a real tree! This was a first for me in New York City and actually Jason’s first real tree ever. So I decided to make it a very special tree skirt. It’s just a large hexagon with one side unattached and the center cut out; each wedge of the hexagon is made up of equilateral triangles. I didn’t put this together as a tutorial but it’s pretty straightforward: I made each triangle 8 inches tall (I mastered using my long ruler’s angled markings!), and each wedge has 4 rows of triangles. I should have cut off more to make the hole larger, but live and learn! The end result is a large skirt, with a diameter around 5.5 feet—plenty of room for presents!

Between each wedge I did a small bit of welting in Kona Snow; I wanted some kind of border but didn’t want to fuss with piping. The backing is more Kona Snow, with the idea that its austere whiteness could go with a more demure tree in the future. I did use batting between the layers to give it a bit more substance and weight. The quilting lines radiate out from the center in alternating Christmassy green and red thread, which look fun on the white background, too.

I machine-stitched the binding entirely. The binding was cut on the bias but I mitered most of the corners and angles in the end. Still, it helped me get around the center of the skirt and was a technique I hadn’t done before. I used this tutorial‘s methods even though I was a bit suspicious of that last cut angle. I am not sure I would do it again this way—that last cut really isn’t precise enough—but wow it was simple!

I finished just in time for us to buy the tree and get it decorated! See more pics of our decorated tree plus a funny little video of our tree-trimming here!

spoked II

I am woefully behind on posting FOs! Sometimes I start posts and grow unsure of just how to write them, so I end up composing multiple drafts and I’m rarely satisfied with any. So forgive any inelegant phrasing; I’m just going to barrel ahead.

This second Spoked quilt was the one I’d been intending all along when I made the first one. My friends Emily and Jim were having a baby girl, and even though Emily is not particularly girly, a deep berry color was just what I envisioned. I bought a bundle of fat quarters that would all coordinate nicely, and I just needed a fun, bold design to go with what would surely be a fun, bold little baby. The Dresden spoke idea seemed fun, and so I made that one in all aquas. I then felt comfortable enough to tackle it with the “real” fabrics.

But wow, let me tell you, the second one did not come together as easily as the first! My seams looked impeccable but there must have been something off because the dang circle wouldn’t lay flat. As a perfectionist knitter, my instinct is always to take it all out and do it again. But that was not going to happen with this all-sewn-up piece. I learned to allow myself to fudge it, and I managed to wrestle it flat by sheer force (and by sewing a little more of some spokes into the seams). And I think it looks great!

The backing fabric is from a sheet I bought at Ikea for this quilt. I made a circle label for the middle of the back with an embroidered rose; I knew Rosie was high on the baby name list so I figured this would work even if they chose a different name in the moment! The binding is pieced using a few of the fabrics used in the spokes. I quilted it using concentric circles that expand by a half inch with each round, and within the spokes I outlined every other spoke. It’s really a rather simple little quilt, all told.

I gave the quilt to Emily while visiting before the little one arrived, but I was lucky to go back and be able to meet Rosie just 9 days after she was born. I think she was impressed.

spoked!

I predict that I will be making more quilts like this in the future. Actually, I know for sure that I am because I had mentally planned something like this but decided to try it out first using fabric I had on hand instead of the fabric bought specifically for that quilt. So basically, this is just a little test that turned out super awesome and I’m thrilled with the result!

I’d never made a Dresden Plate before, but a friend alerted me to the Salt Lake City Quilting Guild’s EZ Dresden Plate Challenge. So many cool things were made in their blog tour! This one spoke to me, and I decided to play with the shapes in addition to making it bigger so that it was a baby-sized quilt. It came together even faster than I thought it would using fabric from the Kona Poseidon pack (I’m getting so much use out of that pack!). I used the Dresden ruler as a guide to make blades that were 10 inches long (instead of the normal 8 inches). This makes the whole motif 24 inches in diameter. I think I want to go even bigger next time. I also used a tip I read about folding down the edges before seaming the blades together, but that was not the best idea because it’s super obvious when it doesn’t line up right, and the pressed seams are actually visible peeking up along the outside edge. The inner circle would probably benefit from a circle patch but I am not sure how to proceed there. The whole plate was sewn down with a straight stitch, but then I realized that I needed to deal with the little peeking corners, so I did a zizzag all the way around, which “captures” those little spots and solves that problem even if it’s not the most elegant solution visibly. I quilted it using concentric circles outside the plate (increasing in diameter by half an inch with each round) and traced the long spokes on the motif.

The pieced binding was more than a little tedious: Why did I make each length so short?! There was so much sewing involved, and there was no way to place it so that a color change didn’t hit a corner. Still, it worked out nicely and I like the look. The backing is a single piece of fabric that I thought coordinated and kept the whole quilt feeling fun.

I wish it could qualify for the Dresden Plate Challenge! When I made this I didn’t realize that their size limitations meant a 36″ quilt is out of the running. Still, it was fun to make and I’ll be making another soon, I’m sure. Today my coworker and I snuck up onto the roof of our office for the photo shoot (her nail polish even matched!). You can see the Chrysler Building off to the left in the one above, and the Williamsburg Bridge off in the distance. Oh, how I love New York.

a quilt for michael and heather!

I got it in my head to make quilts as wedding presents for my two cousins getting married last summer, despite not having any idea what kind of decor they have in their homes, or even, really, their taste. Would they like them? Or would they get shoved in a closet, only to be pulled out when a guest was in town or something. I was most unsure about my cousin Michael and his wife, Heather, because though we spend a week together every year down the shore, I really had no idea what they would think.

Well, they loved it and I am so relieved! Because we’re at a beach house, Heather immediately took it to her bed. (We take whatever beds we can get in this house, hence her single bed.)

The palette of mustards, grays, and blues was chosen for its sort of masculinity and its modernity, and log cabins were chosen for their traditionality. I think the combination worked well! All the center squares were given to me by JulieFrick, who cut me a little “charm pack” of her own fabrics when I said I needed more mustards. I worked concentric squares until each square measured 15 x 15, and then sashed all of them with the blue. I knew I couldn’t really make it all that much bigger without making more blocks, but I tried my best, because Michael and Heather are both so tall! (Both were basketball players in college.) The quilt finished up at 70 x 70. Wavy quilting lines and Kona butercup for the binding finished it off.

I pieced the back in the same way I pieced my other cousin’s quilt. I like the look, plus I sort of liked the idea of this being my signature backing for wedding gifts? Maybe? We’ll see what happens when a third couple gets hitched and I plan the back! Without real time to embroider and affix a label, I used a pen to personalize it. Since it took me more than a year to make (I started it before their wedding, but only finished it up shy of their one-year anniversary), I put the years that it was created. I hope they get many more years of comfort with it!

twitter bee picnic blanket!

Yesterday I finally—finally, as this blanket was begun 2 years ago!—debuted a picnic blanket that was made for me by friends, using materials bought with friends, and that will probably always be used in the company of friends!

(Photos above by my friend Jodi McKee)

Two summers ago, Andréa and a few others of us got to talking on Twitter about having our own bee. There’d been a handful of bees amongst knitbloggers already, but this one brought together a new group of crafty folk—some experienced quilters and some novices. My month was right in the middle, and I chose the disappearing 9-patch. On a trip to the burbs with fellow city friends (periodic visits to big box stores are crucial for city survival! And the Santa Fe Salad at the Cheesecake Factory, about the only thing that I truly love about the suburbs), we hit a Joann’s during a 99-cent fat quarters sale, so I stocked up on yellows and oranges with this project in mind. I invited my bee-mates to add their own fabrics (in oranges/reds/yellows, of course) but one rule had to be followed: The center square in the 9-patch had to be in the provided Kona Snow. This way every block would end up with four small white squares. But I wasn’t picky about how the patches were rotated and sewn together (however, any ones that came in with the same fabric next to itself were picked apart and tacked onto another square).

When I distributed the blocks I worked to keep the red squares scattered around. I sewed lots more squares to fill out the blanket—it can seat 2–3 people comfortably. I finished the top about 8 months after my bee month, but there it sat while I figured out the backing. I wanted waterproof, or something like it, and wasn’t sure how best to accomplish it. Then while in Boulder for a dear friend’s wedding, in line at a hardware store for sunscreen, I turned and saw large bolts of oilcloth for some amazingly low price (I think less than $2 a yard?). A yellow with green plaid lines seemed to be the right choice, so I bought several yards and smashed it into my suitcase. But I only finally got around to putting it all together a few weeks ago.

TwitterBee Picnic Blanket!

I didn’t put any batting between the top and backing—I figured, whatever padding I’d put in wouldn’t be any match against a rock, and I certainly wasn’t seeking warmth. But I did quilt the two together, just to be sure there wouldn’t be any shifting. I went on the diagonal in each direction. Stitching on the oilcloth was so easy! It moved through the machine just fine, and I had it all quilted in no time. I used another orange fabric as the binding, and machine sewed it down. This was my first time using the machine, and while it wasn’t a perfect job, it definitely did the trick; I was pleased with how successful it was!

While sewing down the binding I added two ties so that I could roll the blanket up and tie it shut. Ingenious, I think! This weekend I got to use the blanket at the Big Apple BBQ. Five friends and I sampled some amazing meats on the lawn at Madison Square Park and relaxed on our blankets—it was perfect! This was my fourth visit to the BABBQ but my first with a truly wonderful blanket to sit on. So big thanks to Sara, Nova, Sarah, Chawne, Kate, Stacey, Danielle, Carrie, Andréa, JulieFrick, and Caro for your contributions to my summer of fun with friends! I love that I can have my friends with me in so many ways. Just do not spill anything on my quilt, or I’m never hanging out with you again. You’ve been warned!

TwitterBee Picnic Blanket!

(Photo taken by Jodi McKee)