Saturday, July 15, 2017

Zip It Pillow

My older son decided he wanted to take on a sewing project this summer, and he chose the Zip It Pillow from School of Sewing. He's done a little sewing before, so he was able to make it mostly on his own, including the lapped zipper (I helped with the rotary cutting and the binding). This is the book to use if you want to learn to sew or to teach someone to sew. Shea's instructions are precise and clear. Remember, I said my eleven year old installed a lapped zipper pretty much on his own. The result is a neat, sturdy pillow that should survive lots of squeezes, tosses, and otherwise affectionate use.
The novelty print is Supernova by Dear Stella, and my son chose this snazzy orange binding as a nice contrast. It turned out perfectly for his room, and he is very proud of his work.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Jewel Stars Quilt

This quilt proves that it's never too late to finish a long term project. I first blogged about these jewel stars as a new English paper piecing shape back in 2011! It seems I started  joining the stars to diamonds and wrote about assembling thee quilt top in 2014. Ironically I ended the post with a joke that surely it wouldn't be another three years before I finished the quilt. Ha! Guess what time it is, folks? Yup, three years later, but it is finally done.
My favorite part of the process by far was making each little star. Finding just the right fabric combinations and fussy cutting the jewel and hexagon shapes was a delight. I spent many a gymnastics and taekwondo lesson happily cutting, gluing, and sewing those gems. What bogged me down was the assembly of the stars into the background and to each other. That was not quite as fun, and the larger it got, the more awkward it was to hand piece. I'm happy I soldiered through it though, as the final 44 x 50 quilt is a fun I-spy game and snugly cover in one. Can you spot the annoyed owl? Cute frog? Cotton candy stand? Terrified terrier in a teacup?

I backed the quilt in scraps of flannel, making it extra cozy, and continued the scrap theme with several different leftover yellow binding strips.

Hopefully I've made everyone feel between about the WIPs or UFOs languishing in your sewing areas. They may get finished one day!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

En Pointe 2.0

I suppose En Pointe 2.0 is a bit of a misnomer, although I like the way it sounds. This was actually the original version of the wall hanging from Improvising Tradition before I decided to change the colors as inspired by Degas ballerina paintings.
I found the abandoned top a while ago and decided to finish it. My favorite bit is the sparkle of the golden shot cotton.
Do you ever make a quilt more than once, changing the fabrics? I tend to prefer the original when I do, but these each have their charms. I like the more masculine colors of this version, as well as the teal voile binding.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Scrappy Triangles Quilt

My first finished quilt of 2017 is this Scrappy Triangles Quilt. I took my time on this one and probably enjoyed the fabric layout the most of all the steps in the process. I limited myself to triangles I had cut from my scrap bins. Creating color gradations and a pleasing overall look was quite a challenge under that limitation. 
At the same time I always love using scraps. Revisiting favorite fabrics and seeing them play with new and unexpected friends in a layout like this is energizing and enjoyable. I definitely recommend making scrap quilts. Very therapeutic.
I quilted this with a variation on a paisley but with a rounded shape rather than teardrop. I like the bubble effect it gives and the softeness of the circles against the sharp edges of the triangles.
The backing was a gift from a friend, and I like how the circles echo the quilting design. The binding is a mix from my scrap binding bin, including a piece I trimmed from the backing after basting. Use it all.
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The quilt finished at 47 x 58, a generous baby size, and I think it will be a gift for a baby coming soon to a treasured teacher and grandmother.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Scrappy Triangles

Whew, it's been a while! A few kind friends have asked where I've been, and I thought I'd do a quick update post and share what little sewing I manage to do these days. The short version is that I've been writing - not another quilting book, but writing for educational publishers. My background is in teaching, writing, and literature, so it's really a great fit. It doesn't leave me with much time or energy for quilting though. As much fun as blogging is, it does require quite a bit of time. Instagram is a much easier way for me to share quick snapshots.  I didn't take the time to get "real" photos of this project along the way, so I'll share my IG shots. In need of scrap therapy, I managed to cut a few triangles in the evenings and ended up with an inspiring stack.

The next step seemed to me to be some mindless chain sewing around the holidays. So relaxing.

I played around with the triangles on the design wall and discovered that creating color gradations with a stack of scrappy print fabrics is a real challenge. Value is complicated by white in so many prints, not to mentioned how multicolored prints read from a few steps back. Then there is the fact that in places I wanted a certain color to transition between color blocked areas of the design, but that color wasn't present in my scrap bins. It took some careful arranging, thought, and compromise. I challenge you to try it; you'll see.

I am happy with my final arrangement, which I will share soon. I'm hoping to get a little time to baste the top this weekend. I am usually inclined towards limited color palettes, but there is something about a rainbow in winter. I decided not to fight it.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Appliqué Table Runner


This project has certainly been in the works for a long time (Instagram tells me I started is this past spring). I decided to take my time with it, which I think is the best way to approach needle turn appliqué. A variation on my MarimeFaux wall hanging, this 20" x 51" table runner uses a slightly different template but the same folding, cutting, and appliqué technique. The method is a cross between cutting paper dolls and Hawaiian appliqué, and its one I’d like to continue to explore.


Instead of the high contrast black and white solids, in this variation I played with fabrics that blur the boundaries between appliqué and background. It's a trick I used in improv piecing, and I think its so interesting in this application.

 
Once the appliqué was complete, the project stalled for a while as I tried out different quilting patterns. I settled on a free motion figure eights, as you can see. If I had it to do again, I think the modern design and fabric would be better complimented by simple, matchstick quilting.


I enjoyed the process of making this quilt, from the template creation, to folding and cutting, and appliqué. The quilting went quickly on the machine, but the facing did take some time. I think it is more tedious than binding, but some quilts really demand one.


I think I’ll experiment more with this technique, perhaps on a smaller scale.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Adventures in Indigo Shibori


I recently had the pleasure of taking a class with Kim Eichler-Messmer, author of Modern Color, on indigo shibori fabric dyeing. It was just a delight. Kim, a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute, also teaches private classes at KC Textile Studio. If you have the opportunity to take a class, do it!
 
We learned to make two different types of indigo dye vats, as well as the shirbori technique, including itajime, arashi, and machine sewn. This traditional Japanese dyeing method, which uses  uses clamps, string, and stitching to create resist patterns, creates truly endless design possibilities. I tried a bit of everything, which is the fun of this sort of class.
itajime
 
arashi
 
machine sewn
 
machine sewn
 
itajime

Indigo dyeing is certainly simple enough to do at home, albeit a bit messy. I hope an outdoor indigo party with crafty friends is in my future.