posts tagged: sewing

fraternal baby quilts!

pepperknit | twin HST quilts

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.

pepperknit | twin HST quilts

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.

pepperknit | twin HST quilts

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?).

pepperknit | twin HST quilts

wip: postage stamp quilt

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.

scrap squares

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.

postage stamp blocks

A few days later, I made two more.

postage stamp blocks

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!

rainbow mini

pepperknit | rainbow mini quilt

 

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!

reddit secret santa gift exchange

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.

pepperknit | coaster set

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.

pepperknit | tree ornament

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!

pepperknit | guitars

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!

2014 in review

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!

pepperknit | finished knits in 2014

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…

pepperknit | finished sewing in 2014

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.

pepperknit | finished embroidery in 2014

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!