To make your house warmed, you need pleasantly plump pillows, don’t you think?
I’ve always loved this quilt block, just an arrangement of HSTs. (I actually couldn’t find a name for this block—anyone know?) It’s funny how different it looks in a pillow, though, once the pillow is stuffed—more round, less sharp. I quite like the effect. The pillows are fraternal twins in more than one way: I split each HST up so that there is one in each pillow, just arranged differently (except for that center orange! oops!), and I used the same fabric in different colorways to back them.
I love the assortment of colors—on the pillows and on my friend’s couch. Many of those fabrics are beloved, as I’ve used them in many projects over time. They’re stuffed and seamed shut (rather than pocket pillowcases), using stuffing from small Ikea pillows that were about the same size. They’re modest, at just about 12″ square. My friend says that a friend of hers was hugging a pillow while they talked over some rough times, and she said the pillow had good energy. I couldn’t ask for a better compliment.
This is a story about a Churn Dash quilt whose promise was dashed to hell. All because I got the address wrong and now the quilt is lost to the streets of San Francisco. Read it and weep. (I already have.)
A friend from college had a baby girl in the spring, and I thought Churn Dash blocks, in a variety of bold colors, would be great, as my friend likes bold color combinations. I was slightly unsure about the amount of pink—death to the patriarchy!—but figured it was tempered by the green and the yellow. I liked that it was an old, traditional block done up with fun fabrics, unlike what you’d have gotten in the past.
For the back, I made 1 additional block that coordinated nicely with the simple polka dot print. I quilted it in diagonals, because my luck with quilting is such that if I cross lines, I get puckers. This worked out swimmingly, and after a wash it got nice and puffy and squishy.
Speaking of my issues with quilting, I thought back to when I’ve had success with quilting, and I realized that the times it had gone the best, I’d glue-basted with the sandwich hanging on a wall. But every time I did that, the spray glue distributed itself all over the entire room and EVERYTHING ended up sticky. And seeing as how I’m in a Brooklyn apartment, I only have the bedroom/office (with computer) or the living room (with TV) to choose from, really, and I didn’t want all my screens getting coated in glue. So this time I cleaned my shower and glue-basted in the bathroom! It worked really well, and even though this made the rest of the bathroom sticky, that was a cinch to clean up. Does anyone have a trick for dealing with drifting glue that doesn’t involve a bathroom wall? I can’t figure out how to deal with it otherwise.
I really love the label I made for this one (sigh, whoever took it doesn’t even GET IT). Our alma mater has a tradition of singing songs together, and this line is from one of the songs, called “Good Night.” I have always thought it was such a perfect sentiment to send to new parents and their babies! It’s such a pretty lullaby. (I can’t find an audio of it to link you to, just trust me that it’s super pretty.)
Here’s hoping whoever stole this package out of the foyer of her old building (because yes, I sent it to the wrong address, but she quickly contacted her old landlord, who said there was no box) is using the quilt and didn’t simply discard it when it turned out not to be the pair of shoes the Zappos box might have led them to believe. (Could I have done even more to make this package ripe for disappearing??) I’ve learned a shockingly terrible lesson about mailing my handmade items. But it means I get to make something new and fun and different to give to the little one!
I know that every new quilt is my new favorite, but truly: I love these quilts. I love them because I think they look pretty cool, but I also love them because they are exactly what I intended.
See, these were made for a close friend and coworker. Four years ago I was tasked with working with her team as a sort of adjunct help, and I didn’t know how I’d mesh with her, their leader. But it turns out we see eye to eye on so much—we approach the world in similarly straightforward, logical ways—and now I’m a full member of her team. I feel confident in saying that we trust each other completely, as colleagues and as friends. So when I was thinking about quilts to make for her upcoming twins, well, I felt as if the pressure was on.
I wanted clean, geometric shapes. Sharp angles seemed appropriate. Solids, definitely. The design needed to be a complete quilt—not made up of different discrete squares. I want to say “no creativity” but that feels too stark… except it’s exactly what I wanted. They needed to feel logical and sharp, but of course I wanted them to be interesting and attractive. I wanted the two to coordinate in gender neutral colors, even though I knew pretty early that it would be two boys. HSTs were clearly the answer.
They were also so easily executed in a completely logical way: One night, I selected fabrics from my stash of fat quarters and cut all the squares for both quilts (actually, the day she told me she was pregnant with twins). Another night, I sewed the diagonals of all the squares (that’s 128 diagonals—and epic chain-piecing evening!). A few nights later, I cut the HSTs apart. A few days after that, I ironed them all open, etc. It was just so… straightforward. Perfect. The only fussy time was spent arranging, and rearranging, the HSTs until I liked the look.
This might all sound weird, and maybe it’s not giving the right impression of my friend. Maybe she doesn’t even see or get what I was going for, but no matter—the babies will have cute little blankets to drag around, play on, or even sleep under!
For the backings I bought a gray gingham that was crazy off-grain or I don’t even know what but it made basting and quilting them absurdly difficult. (And was purchased at Purl Soho, so… that was exceptionally annoying.) A friend who is an experienced quilter was over the day I basted them and she was the one to point out that the fabric was causing my problems, not my skill level. For the labels, I wanted two matched phrases but came up blank. My friend Holly suggested these two sweet thoughts, so I embroidered them and sewed them on on opposite corners (because they’re fraternal! get it?).
Back around Christmas, when I was feeling the full weight of my stash, I decided to slash through my scraps a bit, get that bin under control, and start making more things out of leftovers from past projects. So one afternoon—until my wrists started to ache, in fact!—I cut all my scraps into 2.5″ squares however I could.
Of course, not being a sampling of all the fabrics in my stash, there was only so much I could envision doing with them. I’d kept them organized by color, so I thought about slightly organized 9 patches, in coordinated color schemes, which I’ve seen others do and really liked. I arranged and rearranged the blocks a few times and just wasn’t feeling it. So I just set out a 6×6 grid of them, pulled at random, and walked away.
Walking away was really key here because I thought it looked nice when I pulled the fabrics but it was only a while later, when I walked past the table, that the block really sang for me. Seeing it from afar made me happy, and so I sewed it up right away. I dumped all the squares into a bag so I could pull even more randomly, and I made another, and another—in just that one night I made 4 blocks. With each one I’d determine an initial layout quickly, then walk away, sit on the couch for a bit, and then come back to see if I wanted to swap out a block or flip the placement of two.
A few days later, I made two more.
It is amazing to me that I dipped into my scraps, which filled a relatively small plastic bin, and suddenly had the equivalent of a piece of fabric that’s 48 x 24! Obviously now that I’ve started I want to keep going forever—I’m not going to stop at a baby sized quilt; this one will be for me! A highlight of all the fabrics I had in my first years of sewing? What a precious thing. This means that the next time I feel up for an afternoon of cutting, I’m going to sneak off 2.5″ strips from various fabrics that weren’t in the scrap bin, to flesh out the variety a bit more. I suppose I’ll be adding to it in bits and pieces over time, too.
I hope it isn’t too long before I come back to these blocks, and I hope it isn’t too long before I have enough area covered to make myself a blanket!
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!