archives: sewing

finished in 2012

I almost didn’t do a wrap-up this year, but I just realized that I have done one every year for many many years now and why should I suddenly stop? First up, my knitting accomplishments for the year:

finished knits

Who knew I was able to complete so much while at the same time whining about not being “able to knit” because of my thumb pain? There really isn’t such a dearth of knitting, is there? There are two missing projects: one is a design I did for a book that’s not coming out for a while yet so I probably shouldn’t show it to you anyway. I also knit a hat for a work giveaway that I didn’t document at all. Those coffee cup cozies were a little thing I did for Knit Simple magazine. They assigned me cozies, and I couldn’t decide which pattern to submit, so I showed Editor in Chief Carla Scott all of them, and she said “yes! we’ll do all three!” Ha.

I like that you can see how I used the same yarn for my Buckwheat as the hat for Carol; I should start making hats out of all my leftover yarn! Thanks again are due to Caro Sheridan for the photo shoots we were able to do this year, for Buckwheat, the Bulky Topper, and the green hat!

I’d declared 2012 “the year of the quilt” and I wasn’t wrong. It was definitely a year of sewing. With my injured thumb, it was far less painful to sew, so our entire dining room area was pretty much unusable as a place of eating. (“Be careful! Don’t spill on that!” gets old fast.) Here are all my quilty endeavors (plus an embroidery project that I never blogged):

year in quilt

That lion embroidery? I made that for my dear friend’s baby; because mom and I met while taking yoga together 6 days a week for a few years, I added “simhasana” to the embroidery (the Sanskrit for lion pose) and stitched the little lion’s tongue sticking out (like you do in the pose). Just a little touch of something personal, and a really cute result. The one in the lower right has yet to be shot in daylight, but that will come soon, and the one in the middle on the bottom actually is basically finished and has been in use but has never been photographed! I need to get on that. The quilting that I did this year was mostly on my tiny machine, but I did do a mix of machine and hand quilting on the star quilt that hasn’t been blogged. I feel really confident in my skills as a quilter now, too, so I’m really happy with what I did this year.

Earlier in the year the last of my bees finished up, so I have some bee blocks in my catalog of finished stuff:

year in bees

I wasn’t good at documenting these, actually. And in fact, I may have never fully finished the Dresden plate in the bottom middle, but I don’t remember where I put the blocks-in-progress! (This is what happens when I actually clean the apartment.) I’m so glad that I participated in a total of 3 bees. You really gain so much skill and knowledge so quickly. I know that bees are tricky—I mean, you’re trusting other people to have the same standards and skills as you—but I also enjoyed being exposed to so many different kinds of blocks and ways of approaching a quilt. Actually, in my finished quilt mosaic are two of the bee quilts that I had made: the picnic blanket came from my Twitter Bee, and the stars (the unfinished one in the mosaic) was from KBeeC, a bee among my KBC friends. The third bee, the Solid 6, comprises most of my finished bee blocks in the mosaic above… But I picked a block for everyone to make that it turns out I really don’t like very much. I’m torn as to what to do with the blocks that were made for me, so I’m sitting on them until the right idea comes along.

What’s up for this year? Well, the month of January is going to be basically a rest from quilting. I’ve got two business trips, we have houseguests, and I’m just, I must confess, tired. I like having a clear dining room table! I’m enjoying just sitting on the couch watching TV when I get home—plus lately I’m so busy I get home late from work. But I’m sure when I’m back from TNNA things will come back—I intend this to be the year of sewn clothing! (Something that, despite having taken classes on the subject more than once, I am still quite intimidated by.) But I still have a bunch of quilt ideas swirling around in my brain that I can’t wait to make real. There will always be knitting, too, of course, don’t worry. Just this morning I bound off on a long-suffering project—stay tuned!

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!