Thursday, September 29, 2011

two quilts

So I posted a little peek of my Parisville quilt top the day I finished it. I've got the batting and picked out a vintage sheet for the backing, but now I have a problem: nowhere to baste it! The house I'm living in now is entirely carpeted except for the kitchen, which is a little too small for a full sized quilt. I could maybe fit it on the living room floor, but I'm hesitant to try it. I'm so used to basting quilts on wood floors that I'm worried I'll pin it all down onto a carpet, even a low one. So I'll have to think my options over for a little while longer, which is fine, since I'm not really sure how I want to quilt the thing once it is basted. I may visit my mom for a weekend - what a great excuse for a four hour drive! In the meantime, here is the quilt top in all its glory spread out in my front yard:

Parisville quilt top

I had most of the Parisville collection in the Sprout colorway sitting around in my stash for several months. It was only when my local fabric store was having a sale last week that a came across the missing piece. Once I had that I sat down and did some brainstorming. I had seen this quilt somewhere, and really like the simplicity, but didn't want to do the exact same thing. After working with curved and triangular pieces for my last few quilts, I really wanted to return to squares, with no fabric waste! I settle on a  disappearing nine patch block, and sketched out a pattern for how to rearrange the squares:

disappearing nine patch pattern 

Turns out the a disappearing nine patch pattern based on 4.5" squares takes a loooong time to piece when you're aiming to make a full sized quilt. Plus, once I had my blocks finished, my original pattern didn't show through clearly enough, so I switched it. All that sewing and ironing and cutting and rinse and repeat... luckily (maybe) I still don't have a job, so I finished it in two long days. But anyway, now I have to wait on basting, so I can ignore it for a while.

One of the reasons I'm not in a huge hurry to quilt this one is because I have just discovered free motion quilting. I've been hesitant to try it because a) I didn't have the right presser foot and wasn't sure which one or where to buy it, and b) I hate the look of stippling. But! my walking foot is kind of exasperating, and creates all kinds of puckers in my quilt unless I pull the quilt around really hard, or unless I put a roll or two of painters tape on the thing to make guidelines. Both of these options are exhausting and time consuming, and I'm kind of sick of it. On top of that, I keep making really large quilts, which are hard to quilt on my tiny machine. So lately I've been too wary to even try it, and am doing a LOT of handquilting (more on that to come!) I love the look of handquilting, but with two full/queen sized quilts already in the queue, there's no room for more!

So, anyway, now I live in a town with multiple (!) sewing machine stores, and the nice folks at the Pfaff dealership hooked me up with my very own darning foot. And surprise... I love it! My shoulders are sore and I used about a mile of thread, but I'm having a great time. I finished my superstar quilt top in a day (yay for giant pieces!) and decided to use it for free motion quilting practice.
super star quilt

I started by quilting all the outer gray bits with sort of a meandering, blocky filler. I really like the look of that, and picked it up pretty quickly.

Then, for each "petal" of the star I picked a random free motion design. I even did one petal with a plain old stipple, and I'm unrepentant about that one: I still think it's boring. However, I think I could really get behind free motion quilting when applied judiciously to the style of the piecing. By that I mean that rather than just quilting the whole thing with one all over design, I'd rather use different styles for different parts of the quilt, so that the piecing and the quilting work together to support one another. This is why I've always liked straight line quilting, because you can use the lines to emphasize the patterns of the piecing.

So I guess now I have to think about how to apply free motion quilting to the Parisville quilt, to work with the existing patterns. Either that, or I'll go back to my awesome sewing machine store and get a decent walking foot (if I get a job and can actually afford one!)

So here are a couple pictures of my very first attempt at free motion quilting. I tried to take pictures in some good light, but the white thread doesn't always show up too well.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Parisville quilt top done!

Or as I like to call it, the quilt of happiness. Now I need to figure out a low cost backing solution and find some batting. Full post to come when next I hit a Starbucks!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Time for a real post!

Ok, it's probably going to take a while for me to hit my stride, so I'm going to jump right in! This is my blog for sewing and quilting projects. For over a year now I've been silently lurking in the shadows of a quilty blogging world; I have over 50 sewing blogs in my Google Reader and I rarely comment or do anything but admire the work of strangers all over the world. Now that I live in a new town, with lots of time on my hands to sew and plenty of great places to get fabric, I'm ready to share my own work.

The main challenge I'm facing right now is a complete lack or internet service at home, and it's highly unlikely that this will change. At the moment I'm hanging out in Starbucks; I also have a Blogger app on my phone for little updates. Hopefully I can keep up (or at least keep caffeinated).

So on to the sewing! I made my first quilt top the summer after college graduation, when I received my very first sewing machine as a graduation gift. In the following few years I started a few halfhearted projects, but didn't really get going until maybe a year or two ago, when I decided that handmade gifts were a great way to avoid the expense of holiday gift buying (little did I know...) Now I'm obsessed with quilting, and collecting my quilts, but mostly just collecting fabric! This last summer I had three whole months to sew to my heart's content, and finished five quilts:

Quilts of the summer
I'm planning on doing a future post on each one, so stay tuned!

Since we just moved into a new place, I've been working on decoration projects. Eugene has about a million (like, at least 15!) thrift stores, so I've been shopping around and collecting some awesome vintage sheets. The ostensible reason for this was curtains:

Vintage sheet curtains

These are my favorite- the sheets were still in the original package! I may have bought all 4 packages... but I'm thinking a sundress would be beautiful in this fabric, which would be a great opportunity to break into clothing sewing.

Another vintage sheet project is from this blog: . I am totally inspired by the work here! I've collected the fabrics to make this quilt, and just have to get the right background fabric.

you can't keep a cat off a quilt project! (or anything...)

As for the hexagon project I kind of posted about, here is the finished result:

Brian's mug rug

This was meant to be a mug rug for my husband's office at school (sort of a glorified coaster/excuse to make a tiny mini quilt.) I say supposed to because he's afraid of spilling coffee on it, and thus uses it to rest books on, or something. Either way, I guess that means he likes it, and it's a success. Piecing the hexagons was a really fun project - it's all done entirely by hand, and I loved picking out the little Heather Ross images, especially that little goldfish.

Speaking of goldfish, meet Steve:

Steve Fish

He is our fish, and he does tricks. Check him out!

I'm going to have to end with Steve, because he's the best. Next time I hit a wifi hot spot, I will tell you all about my love for Tula Pink, and my quilts in progress using her Prince Charming and Parisville lines.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Secret project

Here's a little preview of a little something I'm working on as a back to school gift for Brian. It's my first time paper piecing hexagons, and it's pretty much exactly what I expected: fun, easy, and time consuming. Should be finished soon though, it's just a small project!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Picture

Dinsdale. Sent from the new Blogger app.

First Blogging!

At this earliest stage this poor blog is being composed from my phone, and thus it will have to be short and pithy. One day, perhaps, it will be filled with glorious floods of witty prose and bright, shiny pictures of pretty new quilts and other sewing achievements. For now: this is a test.