Monday, October 24, 2011

Disappearing Parisville

I love Parisville! I have had a yard of each print from the Sprout colorway in my stash for almost a year. Every fabric but one, that is! Enter the anniversary sale at my local quilt shop, Piece by Piece. There it was, Spencer Stripe in Mint, and 20% off, too! And thus a quilt was born.

Or at least the plan for a quilt. I had absolutely no idea how I wanted it to look. I knew I wanted to design the quilt myself, and that I wanted it to be big enough to go on the bed. Since I had exactly eight yards of fabric, it had to be a design that used roughly the same amount of each print. I loved this quilt, but didn't want to copy it exactly, but was inspired to do a design based on square blocks, just to keep things simple. And that's the beauty of the Disappearing Ninepatch block: the result is complicated looking; the sewing is simple.

I cut all that beautiful fabric into squares, sewed them, sliced them, and sewed them up again.

I had originally planned to arrange the blocks in this pattern:
When I laid it out on my design floor, it looked a little mushy, so I auditioned a few other styles. Because the fabrics use such similar colors, the end pattern is a bit confusing to the eye. So much so, in fact, that I had to mock up the entire quilt top on graph paper in order to ensure that I pieced it all together correctly. To wit:
In my quest to become a perfectly organized person (I am not) I like to try and plan as much as I can ahead. One reason I've been doing this lately is in an effort to use as much of a prepackaged bit of batting as a can - I have a huge bin of batting scraps that I can't throw away. The finished size of this baby is about 88" by 90" - exactly the width of my by-the-yard batting from Joanns.

Speaking of basting: some problems.
1. My living room is a bit small for basting a double sized quilt. Also, it's carpeted. I don't really like basting on carpet. No problem! I thought. I'm visiting Mom in a month! I'll based on her huge wood floor!
2. I took all my supplies to Mom's. But neglected to check the batting. Mountain Mist batting is really lame, you guys! It was all thin and stretchy and weird. I couldn't use such cheap stuff on a quilt already loved so much! Also, Mom lives in a tiny town. The only craft shopping option is Wal Mart, which, no. So I had to pack it all up and take it back home.
3. I bought higher quality batting. I decided to spray baste in my little living room. I finished off the can on the quilt top; none left for the backing. Speaking of the backing? Nice, stripey vintage sheet:
4. Yeah, it's a twin size. Too small. Also, for the record, I love a pieced backing. But designer fabric is expensive, and I didn't have much left over from the quilt top. So I had to dig through the sheet collection and find another, almost as perfect backing sheet.

Anyway, basting this thing was problematic, but I finally got it done. Since I used up the spray baste, I still had to pin the whole thing to the backing, but it wasn't as bad doing it on carpet as I had worried.

Quilting was fun, since the spray baste kept my finicky walking foot from puckering the seams too much. Princess Fluffbutt, as usual, objected to the fact that I was more focused on quilting than on her, and had to get all up in my quilty business:

I love how it looks like she's the one doing the sewing! Anyway, quilting and binding only took about three days, and I love the finished product! Even though the fabric is in the "Sprout" colorway, I think the fabrics are much more fall-hued than spring. 

I love the sort of faded decadence on the prints, and I think they really reflect the fading of summer. No every time I look outside at yellow leaves and green Oregon trees and lawns, plus the sort of paler autumn sky, I think of my quilt! And thus I'm entering it into the Celebrate Color festivities!

Celebrate Color

There are lots of amazing projects to check out, all Autumn-inspired! Also, there are prizes. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

W.I.P Wednesday (the second)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced 

Not much quilting got done this week, but I'm ready to get sewing a hopefully have more to show you next week! At the moment my landlord has some roofers working on our house, and the noise isn't exactly conducive to relaxing craft time; neither is Starbucks, but at least I can upload some pretty pictures!

New Projects
Just the one:
I put together this log cabin block from some of my favorite sheets, although I'm not sure if I'm ready for a whole quilt of these things. It just seems a little fussy. I might try making a few more blocks using the same floral fabrics but different solids alternating, so that there are squares of different color across the whole thing. I think I've got to stare at it for a while longer first though.

Ongoing Projects
I'm slowly quilting Giant Block Quilt #2.
After the fun of the first one, I sat down and sketched a bunch of 4x4 quilt blocks that would translate well into one large quilt. Then I picked my favorites and matched them to some vintage sheets and cut out squares and triangles. #2 here is the blue one, and while I love the fabrics, I realized while sewing them up that some are extremely thin. I didn't want to make a quilt that would wear out and come about quickly, but I didn't want to start over either. I decided that the solution was to quilt as densely as possible in the weak areas. For my lack of experience with different FMQ styles, this means a lot of pebbling, which is fun, but time- and thread-consuming. I'm about halfway through, and decided yesterday that I needed to throw in some straight line quilting, just for contrast. What I got was this:
pucker up!
This is why my walking foot stresses me out so much: the puckers! The darn thing just doesn't feed evenly. I had originally planned to quilt the entire triangle with straight lines, but the puckers just got so bad in that top left corner there -
- that I had to come up with plan B. I used some painter's tape to tape back the bunch stuff, and just quilted the smaller triangle in the center of the tape. There are four of these triangles total, and I'm in the process of repinning them to make things smoother.
I realize that part of my problem is because the pebble-style quilting adjacent to this block is distorting the edges, but that's not the only reason. My walking foot has always done this, and it's exasperating, especially since I really love the look of straight line quilting. So I'm wondering if maybe the solution here is basting spray? I haven't tried it before, because I don't really like the idea of spraying stuff on my quilts, and it seems like something I could easily mess up, but I also don't want to give up on straight line quilting yet! So anyway, I plan on acquiring some and giving it a shot, perhaps with one of my...

Completed Tops Awaiting Quilting
Parisville, still. But! This weekend we are visiting my mom and here lovely, large wood floors. I'm almost tempted to see if I can put together a second large, though necessarily much simpler quilt top just to take advantage of the opportunity!
Prince Charming's Wedding Ring and the Giant Tree Quilt are still hanging out, getting a bit of handquilting here are there. Those two will be a while yet. I did get some cute flowers under the tree:
I also did a squirrel, but story of my life, forgot to take a picture. Maybe next week.

No Progress
Drunkard's Path Quilt Along - fabric is in the mail though! Fabric requirements and basic instructions have been posted, and I'm really excited to get started!

Sewing Around the House

I didn't get as much quilting done as I'd hoped last week, but I did finish some projects that have been waiting in the wings for a while. The first, and my favorite: the cat mat.

or should I say, the fish mat?
This was a project in a recent Stitch magazine, I think the summer issue. I did most of the work over the summer, at my mom's house, but didn't have anywhere to buy the vinyl covering, which is a must for anything that will live under a tuna dish! I was hoping for iron-on plastic, but the best I could do was regular old clear vinyl. I cut two pieces slightly larger than the fish and just sewed around the edges, outside of the fish itself. It's not the perfect solution, but I think it should hold up to the average tuna splatter. Anyway, it was well received:
...or at least not rejected outright.
A few weeks ago I made some dinner napkins. I have a tendency to buy fat quarters of cheapo fabric when it's on sale at Joann's, and I had amassed quite a stash. Napkins were a nice way to use a lot of that up and not have to worry about "wasting" expensive fabric by getting it stained and washing it all the time. Since I had a lot of fat quarters, I ended up with a lot of napkins.

It was kind of nice to sew something so simple! I just stacked all the fabric in a pile and trimmed to pieces to about 17" square, paired up all the pieces, and sewed them into squares, leaving an inch or two open for turning. I quilted them with a few swirly loops (got to bring out my compass + memories of 9th grade geometry!) and then hand stitched the openings closed. And voila! One of the best results of this (besides 12 reusable napkins, of course!) is that we finally figured out how to use this amazing bowl:
 It's hard to see in the picture, but it's this beautiful blue glass bowl. It looks great with the tablecloth, but we never could find anything to keep in it.

Until now! This way the napkins are always available, no matter how big the mess.

And one more thing the house still needed? Coasters. Oh, so glamorous, coasters. And another great way to practice my free motion skills.
These are just 4.5" squares of sheet scraps with a square of batting in the middle, then FMQd with flower designs.
Action shot!

As I was cutting out the fabric scraps, I thought to myself, this is easy and fun, so I'll just cut out some extra that I can give as gifts! I cut out two extra squares, but then I started to wonder... do people actually enjoy getting coasters as gifts? I know I'm happy to have these guys, but we had a specific need. When people actually need coasters, don't they just buy some and stop worrying about it? Wouldn't a gift of coasters just seem unnecessary either because you didn't need any, or you already had some? I don't know; I feel like if I'm going to give somebody something I made, it should be a little more interesting than coasters. On the other hand, I have given people coasters before. Maybe I was just a lame gift giver then to? I don't know...
I also made a purse last week, but failed to photograph it. I shall endeavor to do so soon, although it does need a bit of tweaking still. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

W.I.P Wednesday (the first!)

It's started raining for serious in Oregon, so now I really can stay inside and sew instead of feeling guilty for not being outside!This week I was kind of disorganized, and worked on a bunch of random different things.

1. New Projects
After my first giant-single-block quilt top I was inspired. I spent a morning diagramming different possibilities for new arrangements of giant HST blocks, and put together coordinating fabrics for two different quilts. I even got so far as cutting out both designs: one is pink and one is blue. The blue pile got sewn up and basted, and is slowly being quilted:

As usual, her highness took exception to me ignoring her for too long to work on a quilt, and made her presence known in a very physical way. This was actually the sweetest way that she interrupted me during a long day of harassment; I had to lock her up in the bedroom for most of the basting. She likes to tiptoe gracefully into the center of a half-basted quilt and then dive for safety pins.
Anyway, barring too much distraction from the cat, I hope to have this one quilted up and bound in a few days. The pink quilt will have to wait a week or so. Another thing I love about these quilts, besides how easy they are to put together, is how little they cost. Since I started using vintage sheets instead of designer quilt fabric, I estimate it costs me between 5 and 10 dollars per quilt for the fabric. I only buy batting when I have a big coupon, so each quilt really costs under $25 in materials. This is awesome, especially since there are still a few people in my family who really want homemade quilts of their own; now I can afford to make this happen, maybe in time for Christmas! The only downside to that is my own selfishness: I love all my quilts, and wish I could horde them all in a giant pile and never give them up. Alas.

Ok, I got a bit off topic there. Anyway, another new project I need to finish this week is the last of my vintage sheets-turned-curtains. We have our first house guests this weekend, I I want the place to look homey! Ideally, I'd also have some place mats produced by then, but I'm not promising anything, especially when I'm having too much fun working on my free motion quilting.

Speaking of free motion quilting, how about this awesome blog? I was searching around for stippling alternatives, and I came across this amazing compendium of free motion quilting designs. I'm so inspired! I'm now trying to think of a whole cloth quilt design that I would like, just so I can free motion quilt it all! More on this to come, I'm sure.

Anyway, back to the meme:

2. Quilt tops awaiting quilting
*Parisville - we're visiting my mom next weekend, so I can take advantage of her lovely wood floors for basting!
*Prince Charming's Wedding Ring - Well, we haven't talked about this one yet, have we? Let me give you a peek:

Prince Charming's Wedding Ring

This guy is huge. It was also basted pre I'm-not-afraid-of-free-motion-quilting, and thus I'm in the process of handquilting it. This, of course, is taking forever, but I'm really enjoying the process. I get a tiny bit done each night while we watch tv, and it makes me feel productive even when I'm not going quickly. Plus, I have some super legit calluses on my fingers now.
*Giant Tree quilt - Another you haven't seen, also started this summer, also being handquilted, but a lot closer to being finished.

Giant Tree Quilt, half quilted

This one, at least, while even larger than PC'sWR (I think I was a little crazy this summer - I keep telling myself no more giant quilts) is being quilted with Perle Cotton. I've quilted around all the "leaves," the trunk, and the edges, plus quite a few clouds and flowers. I actually need to start working on this one again now that it's getting so cold at night! I started this quilt because I wanted to make something big enough to cover the bed, and this one does so, and then some! Maybe I'll be able to do a complete post about the process soon.

As for other stuff going on this week, it's mostly more quilty dreams. I know of three baby boys being born before the year is up, and I'm hoping to do something for at least the one who's coming this month! The other two are twins, so that might take a bit more planning. I'm going to participate in the drunkard's path quiltalong being hosted at OCD and Needle and Spatula, and I'm thinking a traditional version in blues might make a fun baby quilt. I might do a larger version as well, in orange and gray, as a Christmas present for my husband. (Lucky guy, he gets the most quilts of anyone, since it's my way of making a quilt for someone and still having it around!)

So I'm off to link up and look at fabric - what a way to spend a rainy afternoon!