Friday, May 18, 2012

Bloggers' Quilt Festival

While I have checked in with quilting blogs for a year or two now, I haven't had my own blog, or even participated in others' events until very recently. I'm excited to finally take part in Bloggers' Quilt Festival at Amy's Creative Side!

Today I'm sharing my favorite quilt of the year: Tetris Love.

I had thought about doing a Tetris quilt for several years now, and have finally reached a point where I'm confident enough in my piecing and straight-line quilting skills to tackle such a big project.

The main body of the quilt is comprised of 2" x 2' (finished) squares, so that the blocks resemble the pieces from the video game.

I did straight line quilting diagonally across every square - the corners of the squares were a handy guide, so that I didn't need to mark my quilting lines. I decided to continue this quilting onto the outer black border, a decision that almost caused this quilt to languish on the sewing table for eternity! Because I didn't have the blocks as a guide, I had to measure and draw lines for quilting, which took ages.

For a little added interest (to keep myself from going insane with the straight line quilting, anyway!) I did some free motion quilting on the 1" purple border. That was fun, and a good way to practice my relatively new FMQ skills.

My favorite part of this quilt is actually the back, which inspired the quilt's name:

I had a lot of fun designing this guy on graph paper! It's entirely made from Kona solids, and while I love the striking look of a black quilt, it has the unfortunate effect of showing every stray bit of fluff and fuzz that comes its way. And with two cats roaming the house, that is a real problem.

While I had considered using it as a wall hanging, the finished quilt measures in at 86" x 68", which is a large twin, and seems a bit much for the wall. I may just have to give in and snuggle with it despite the fuzz problems; it's super cozy!

I'm linking up to Bloggers' Quilt Festival; I can't wait to see all the amazing quilts everyone has made!

Amy's Creative Side

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lemon Meringue

And then I made a skirt!

It's been really satisfying making clothing that I actually like wearing. I've tried a skirt once or twice in the past, to depressing results. This time I made sure to really think about fabric and pattern choice, and I couldn't be happier with the finished product.

The pattern is the Meringue Skirt from the Colette Sewing Handbook. The fabric is a sheet thrifted on my trip to Seattle a few weeks ago. It took me two days and many episodes of Murder She Wrote (love that Netflix streaming, and Angela Lansbury!)

I installed my first invisible zipper, which is a little crinkly, but functional. The hem I'm pretty pleased with:

Overall, the pattern and instructions were clear and easy to work with. I love my finished skirt!

I'm definitely going to make more skirts with this pattern; I think next time I will add a pocket. In the meantime, I've cut fabric for skirt number two, this time from the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook. I love collecting sewing books, and I'm glad to finally be getting some use out of them!

Monday, May 7, 2012

I made a shirt!

how happy do I look?

...and I wouldn't mind being seen wearing it! Which is to say, this isn't the first garment I have attempted to make, but it is the first successful one.

It wasn't even the first version. It's Colette Patterns' free Sorbetto Tank pattern, and my first try wasn't so flattering:

Even this one had some alterations - I lowered the neckline and made the armholes a little bigger. But my rather unfortunate color pairing (I'm lazy, and I already had a bunch of the bias tape made up) combined with the short length wasn't too flattering on me. I forgot to take a picture of it on, but I don't really want that documented.

But the second try made it all worthwhile! I added a few inches of length, and also moved the shoulder straps a little closer together. I don't know why I attempted such a complex (to me) alteration as a novice, and the result is a little wonky at the shoulder, but I don't mind.

I think the fabric was a much better choice, as well as the matching binding. It's a vintage sheet from the collection, and I'm loving the idea of making a bunch of clothing all from sheets - what a way to save on fabric costs!

I took my time and finished my seems with pinking and topstitching, because I want this thing to last!

Please ignore the bucket. At least you can't see the compost pile!

My photographer, sadly, was enthusiastic but unskilled. He claims no one would notice that little old bucket in the background, and maybe you wouldn't have but for my pointing it out. Better luck next time.

And now that I've finally had some success, I'm ready for more. I've cut out the pattern for a skirt, and maybe you'll even get to see it soon!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Time to Finish Things!

I've been MIA for awhile, mostly out of apathy. However! I finished the project that had me procrastinating for weeks, and have been seriously reinvigorated. Read all about it! Or admire the finished project:

Tetris Love: The Front

Tetris Love: The Back
Tetris has been my dream quilt for a few years, and it's nice to finally have a finished piece. Plus, now that I've finally finished it, I've been inspired to finish quilting the 4-5 odd half-finished quilts languishing in my sewing room.

Also on the must-finish-it-soon agenda: my Etsy shop. We'll be moving in a month or two, and the stack of vintage sheets have gotten out of control. I need to get rid of some!

and that's just a small percentage of the total...

Finally, I need to get going on my New Years sewing resolution (a little late, I know!). I want to start expanding my sewing horizons and branch out into clothing. I figure I'll start out easy, with Colette Patterns' Sorbetto Tank:

inspiring, no?

Pretty, free, and hopefully simple. It's on the agenda for tomorrow; results to follow. Wish me luck!

Linking up to Freshly Pieced.

Monday, April 30, 2012

At Long Last: Tetris Love

I'm a binge and procrastinate kind of crafter. The stack of almost-finished quilts (I think it totals 5 at the moment?) in my craft room is perfect evidence of that. I get super excited about a project, and the momentum usually holds out until I get to a boring part, or a hard part, or I run out of ideas. Thus the lack of updates for nigh on three months here.

But! I have been reinspired, and here is why: I finally finished a huge project! Allow me to introduce the Tetris Quilt:

The Tetris Quilt. It took forever.
This monstrously time consuming beastie has been floating around in the back of my mind for a year or two, ever since I starting making quilts the Dare To Be Square way. The push that finally made me start sketching was this awesome mug, a gift from my sweet husband.

pretty cool, right? ThinkGeek is an awesome website, by the way.
And something just clicked. So I started sketching. And since I can never make something easy for myself, I decided that this quilt should be a large twin size, and it should have a pieced back.

 Also, the entire thing would be pieced from 2.5" x 2.5" squares. That comes out to over 3,600 squares, cut, pieced and quilted.

just a handful of squares here
And sure, the designing, materials purchasing, cutting and piecing took a while. But it was the quilting that threatened to keep this project a half-finished work-in-progress for eternity. Because I thought it would be great to straight-line quilt through every single 2"x2" square (remember, almost 4k of these suckers.) Then I thought it would be even cooler to do a little free motion quilting around the inch-wide border.

Ignore all that cat hair, and focus on the quilting!

And to make it all super interesting, I would continue the straight-line grid around the outer border, sans quilted squares as a guide, which required lots and lots of measuring and marking.

that's a lot of quilting, I tell you!
So this thing sat on my sewing table, mostly quilted and partially marked (in messy, messy white chalk) for weeks. Month, even. Somewhere in there I got really sick of it serving as a glorified cat bed - by the way, did I mention that black fabric shows EVERY SINGLE CAT HAIR AND DUST MOTE that flies within five foot radius? because it sure does, and I'm never ever using black fabric again! - I finally sat down and did some serious quilting. And then the binding took maybe two days, and now it's done.

Tetris love

And I kind of really love it. I don't think I'm quite ready to let it live on my couch yet, given its high percentage of black (cat-hair-and-stray-fuzz-attracting) fabric, but eventually it may do so. I'm also thinking I might enter it into a very minor local quilt show this summer. And in the meantime, I'm ready to start something new, and maybe finish up one or two of those other long dormant projects...

Of course they love it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The biggest impediment to quilting... sweet little Dinsdale.

Daring to be Square (and some WIP Wednesday)

I love collecting craft books almost as much as I like crafting! The book-buying habit got especially bad when I worked at a Borders bookstore for several years, and one of the last books I got before joyfully quitting was this (seemingly littleknown?) gem:

Dare To Be Square

This is such an amazing quilting book! It is designed for brand new quilters, but the quilt patterns in it are so great that it doesn't matter what skill level you are. The premise is that you can make fun, functional quilts entirely out of squares and rectangles. The first part of the the book is dedicated to teaching you how to quilt, including cutting, piecing, basting, and straight-line quilting. Until I got this book I was afraid of machine quilting my quilts, and had only ever tied or hand-quilted them. It inspired me to buy my walking foot and opened up a whole new world of quilt design possibilities for me.

All of the quilts in the book are really fun (I love that owl quilt on the cover, although I haven't gotten around to making it yet) but my favorite design is a quilt called "Two Left Feet." It's the first quilt I made from the book, and I even used the exact same colors!

This was the first quilt I ever machine quilted, using Boo Davis' painters tape stripes techniques. Speaking of Boo Davis, she is the hard-rocking quilter/author. Check out her totally unique modern quilts! She also has a Flickr group for people who have made the quilts in her book, and even makes a point of commenting on everyone's submissions. How sweet is that?

Anyway, I loved that first quilt I made, and since I made that one for my Grandma, I decided to make one for myself too!

This time I got a little more creative, choosing my own colors.

I think my favorite thing about this book was that it finally pushed me to take the plunge and start designing my own quilts. I eased into it, basing my quilt design on one in the book. The one in the book looks a bit like this (link to an incredible version I saw on Flickr), a design that I liked from the beginning. However, I wanted to make a larger, bed-size quilt, so I adapted the pattern and sewed up this guy:

I decided to hand quilt this one, since it's intimidatingly large (almost king size, I think!). This is one of those projects that will take a while yet, as I don't pull it out too often.

Anyway, the point (and the Work In Progress Wednesday post) that I'm trying to make is this: I have just sketched up a new quilt design that is all mine, based on the techniques I learned from Dare To Be Square. I'm washing the fabric today and hope to get cutting it. I don't want to tell you what it is just yet, but here is a little hint:

(this is part of the back)
This is a quilt I've been thinking about for a long time, and I'm excited to finally be working on it!

Even though this point is only a little about works in progress, I'm still linking up over at Freshly Pieced. It's always fun to see what everyone else is up to!