posts tagged: sewing

a quilt for Holly

I somehow ended up with a copy of this book, 5500 Quilt Block Motifs, and every now and then before bed I browse it. The blocks in the book are all individually inspiring to me—as potential quilts. I have a long list of blocks from this book that I think would make great full quilts if blown up. I find it both inspiring and soothing to think about quilts before bed—in fact, if I’m having trouble falling asleep because of work stresses or something spinning around in my head, I shift gears and mentally plan quilts. Getting caught up in both color planning and actual math (calculating sizes based on internal blocks) is better than counting sheep for me—I zone out and drift off to sleep in no time. But I wake up with ideas solidified in my head, so it’s a win-win. My recent mini quilts are a perfect example of that. But this traditional square caught my eye; it seemed perfect for a Big Birthday present for my dear friend, Holly.

star quilt

It came together over a few weeks last fall, using fabrics in a variety of colors that coordinated, many from my stash. Rather than make HSTs by stacking two squares and cutting on the diagonal, I cut each triangle individually, decided on my preferred placement, and sewed them together. I wanted all the pairings to be unique, rather than structured in pairs. It was also not that useful to work it as HSTs because there are a lot of triangles that don’t have an opposite one. The backing, which is hard to see in the photos she took, is just a zig zag using up extra triangles I’d cut, and the binding is the Kona Berry that I used as the background for Rosie’s Spoked. The quilting is just double lines along all the angles.

a glimpse of the quilt back

Holly took these pictures for me on her birthday weekend trip to  Mexico. She took the quilt with her on her trip. Sniff. It’s just the best to make something for someone you love, and then find out that they love it exactly as much as you’d want them to, you know?

quilt on the beach

two mini quilts

A few months ago I got this idea in my head, and it’s been swirling around ever since. “Primary intersections,” I labeled the folder, and I sketched out some variations. Even though I have other crafting deadlines looming, this weekend I set to making them real.

rainbow mini quilts

I’m so pleased with these little rainbows! Someday, when I have an actual crafting space in my home, I’ll hang them up in there. And I can definitely see myself scaling the designs up and making them larger, maybe with all solids in a single palette (all greens, for instance).

primary intersections primary intersections

All strips were cut 2 inches wide, and the finished tops are right about 20 inches square. I did all the cutting first, making the sewing very speedy. Both mini quilt tops were finished in less than a day, once I had the fabrics selected. The solids are all Kona cotton, of course; the background is Kona Snow. Next up, sandwiching them and finishing them up; will they be the ground on which I practice free motion quilting finally?

intersections

 

 

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.