September 4, 2014 § 17 Comments
Recently, I was talking with a good friend about the fact that I have a hard time telling anyone about my quilts that end up in magazines. I admit it. I’m afraid. I’m afraid that no one will like them. Or worse yet, that someone will find a mistake or flaw in my design. Heaven forbid! I need to remember that lots of different people have lots of different tastes. And we can all make mistakes. Besides, it’s just a quilt. It’s not anything that has us hanging on between life or death. Away with you, my terrible insecurities!
And additionally, the quilts are often made in a mad rush to meet a deadline. Then I can’t say anything for several months until the magazine is released. Never-the-less, there is still a process from inspiration to actual finished quilt that might be worth sharing. So I’m going to make a better effort to document & share what I have been working on.
The most recent quilt is this one. It is made with Clothwork’s American Made Brand solids. The pattern is in the current September 2014 issue of American Quilter. They are also offering a kit, if you are interested. Let me just say that I have enjoyed working with these solid fabrics!
The fabric is 100% cotton that is not only manufactured here in the U.S. but it is also grown in the U.S. They feel lovely. Almost like a linen. But not a linen. The quilt has not yet made it’s way back to me so I can’t tell you how it feels after washing and using. But I’m anxious to do just that.
As for the process… when I design quilts for an entire line of fabric, I really try to make use of as much of it as possible. If the fabric is printed, then I often look for something within the prints themselves that inspire me. But sometimes, I am in a particular mood or caught in particular style of quilt or block. For awhile I was really into flying geese and many of my quilts ended up with flying geese in them somewhere.
For this fabric I was drawn to the color and really wanted to feature ALL of the colors that are available in the American Made solids. (I only used 25 for the blocks + 3 more for the sashing) And then the secondary inspiration is that I was/am caught up with the soft and light valued quilts. I made this quilt in April. Spring was coming. I was staring at my low volume quilt and longing for something soft and fresh. Or maybe the gray & rainy weather was getting to me. Hence, this quilt was born. Which, for a lack of a better name, became Kaleidoscope. I REALLY need help when it comes to naming on such a short notice! The names never come to me until much later. Or even sometimes at the last minute as I begin to type about them here on my blog. (Even now, I don’t know what to call this quilt)
And that, my friends, is how this quilt came to be. I hope you enjoyed me rambling on and on about it. And I will try to overcome my shyness about what ends up in a magazine.
August 29, 2014 § 20 Comments
Well, here it is. My low volume quilt that was started on a quilt retreat in 2012 and finished just last week. I’m quite happy that it is finally finished! In all of it’s goodness and badness. The goodness of all the different kinds of fabric that went into it. Some scraps. Some swapped with other internet friends. And some from my stash or purchase specifically for this project. And the badness of my free-motion quilting. (read the last note under what I’ve learned) At the last minute I added that scrap of lemony green print to the top and bottom to make it a little bit bigger without having to create a whole other row to sew onto the quilt top.
I learned a few things with this quilt.
- I need to make a habit of doing a little free-motion quilting regularly. It does get better the more one does it.
- I’ve decided that ALL bed quilts must now have wool batting. It is the softest, most snuggly batting EVER to sleep under!
- To become better at finishing things, I need to have only two or three projects at different stages to keep from getting overwhelmed or bored.
- And there should always be one at the quilting stage so that I can do more of what I said at the beginning… quilt a little on a regular basis. The Lord knows I have plenty of UFO’s to keep this practice going.
- It’s the texture of the quilting after it’s all washed up and ready to use that draws me in rather than the actual design that is quilted. I need to remember this more often so that I don’t get so discouraged about my ability to do the quilting. It’s the texture on this quilt that I love, by the way, in spite of my rocky start when I began the quilting. SCORE!
The backing is a combination of two different fabrics that I found on sale. The bonus is that it makes for a fun “second quilt” in case I ever want to flip it over. And it fulfills a little bit of that imaginary “need” to have a cross or plus quilt.
As the summer is winding down, it feels strange to be wanting to throw such a thoroughly summer quilt onto our bed. But that’s exactly what I am going to do. Put it on the bed and snuggle up underneath it.
When it came time to sew on the binding I was SURE that I had purchased some orange fabric specifically for this project. I looked & looked & looked but couldn’t find it. So my second choice was this older Denyse Schmidt print which I love. When I had just 30-inches or so left to sew down I came across the orange polka dot that I intended to use. That was a very “doh!” moment. I guess the orange dot was meant to be on a different quilt.
- Approximate size – 90″ x 86″
- Fabrics – scraps, stash, & swapped with friends
- Batting – Quilter’s Dream wool
August 20, 2014 § 6 Comments
I made a bag! The Departure Satchel by StudioCherie to be precise. It’s a downloadable pattern from Craftsy. I was inspired by my friend, Letty, over at Happy Dance Quilting and her travel bags that she recently made. So we had a sewing day that gave me a good start on mine.
The back has a wide sleeve to slip over your rolling luggage handle. It works better on the handles that have two rods coming out of the luggage rather than just one like mine. But it’s a clever pattern, none-the-less. We tested it out on Letty’s luggage before I finished the whole bag.
The wide sleeve was supposed to have a pop-up zip pocket on it, but I was too scared to make it and it didn’t seem very useful to me. So I left it off. There are so many layers to stitch through at that point that I was wary about how it was going to look.
Inside it has another small zip pocket and a large split pocket on the front side of the bag. The smaller zip pocket was supposed to have a flap over it to hide it and make it secret. But it seemed to make it harder to reach into for me, so I left the flap off.
And there is a big zip pocket on the sleeve side in the back. It’s called a laptop or tablet pocket in the pattern. I made it just as it said but there is no extra padding for fragile technology so I’m not that comfortable using it as such. And my husband’s laptop doesn’t fit in there. My laptop is even bigger so I’m not going to worry about the lack of extra padding and just call it a nice deep pocket.
Overall, I love this bag! It is a nice size and with diligent patience & study of the pattern beforehand, it went together well. I had to really study the pattern before cutting to determine which pieces were used where so that I could figure out which fabric it needed to come from. The pattern uses just one feature fabric for the bag and canvas as the inside lining. What the pattern calls the lining is actually the inside pockets, I think. I added an extra layer of fabric on the inside as the lining so that the canvas wasn’t exposed. It worked out great!
The canvas as a base gives it good shape without being puffy like batting sometimes looks. The assembly of the pieces is an efficient use of design but be sure to use a heavy jean’s needle when sewing because the many layers of fabric along with the canvas makes it quite thick!
My only real dislike of the pattern is that it is 42 pages long!! Forty-two! Twenty of them are pattern pieces that need to be taped together. And the rest are sewing instructions and extra images of the bag. I do love that it is downloadable. You can be ready to sew in minutes if you have all the fabrics & zippers on hand. I ordered the long zipper for the bag opening and the zipper for the inside laptop pocket from StudioCherie and found the shorter zippers at my local fabric shop. The instructions are fairly easy to follow. If you have ever made an Amy Butler bag… this one is 100 times better in understanding what to do next!
I’m contemplating making another one because I may OR may not give this one away. I haven’t decided.
August 11, 2014 § 7 Comments
I know that many people join up with finishing parties to get them motivated to finish their projects. But, I have a hard time committing to my LONG list of UFO’s. It’s so intimidating to look at the list and then think about how much time & effort it is going to take to finish ALL of them!
However… my piles of unfinished or half started projects is getting out of control. So, I’ve come up with a plan to trick my procrastination thought process and make some finishing progress. I just can’t bear the thought of counting all of my projects in process. But I can handle choosing two or three to work on at the same time with specific achievable goals.
Ironically, and really, I should already know this…. but while trudging through the quilting of my low volume quilt I have found that my quilting is improving and I am becoming more relaxed about it. I only commit to quilting two rows each day. One across and one back. This has been accomplishing two things. First, I am slowly making progress towards finishing this HUGE quilt. And secondly, it really is putting into practice that sage advice that we all know but hate to admit… that practice does make perfect. It takes about 30-40 minutes to stitch across the quilt and back. And that allotted amount of time is enough to be able to stitch a little each day without becoming overwhelmed. And if I’m feeling ambitious, I stitch one session in the morning and one session in the afternoon. I’m only 2-3 days away from finishing this baby!!!
Another discovery that I made is that focusing on one project makes for quickly becoming bored and dreading the finishing of it. I begin to hate what I originally loved. So a little piecing breaks up the monotony of free-motion quilting. And I make a little progress on another project in process.
Gathering Fabric, the shop where I work, was going to do a fabric exchange for the Steam Punk quilt in the 100th issue of QuiltMania. But we need a few more folks to sign up!! So here’s a shout out to all you local peeps who were thinking about it. Come join us in exchanging fabrics to make this fabulous quilt!!
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Projects in process in top photo:
Design wall top to bottom -
scrappy log cabin, Do.Good.Stitches castle blocks, Kaleidoscope II with printed fabrics
Ironing board top to bottom -
Crazy Snowflakes, Random Sampler, Brrrr Park, Garden Medallion in French General fabrics
August 8, 2014 § 5 Comments
Here are a few more photos from our vacation. On the way back from Copenhagen, we spent four days in Iceland. What a fascinating country! The photos above are the north & northwest corners of Reykjavik from the church steeple.
The Hallgrimskirkja church is in the middle of the city. There are lots of tourist shopping and places to eat nearby. Of course we had to do a little shopping. Hand knit Icelandic sweaters are everywhere! I bought one that was made by Olga. I can’t wait for cooler weather so that I can wear it.
We took a day to drive the Golden Circle, which included Geysir & the Strokkur geyser (above), Gullfoss Falls (below) and the Thingvellir National Park.
The falls were huge! And cold and blustery! But we were so lucky to have sunny weather the entire time.
The Thingvellir National Park is where the American & Eurasian Tectonic Plates meet. Apparently the plates are separating about one inch every year.
There are a few more photos over on my Instagram feed. We also visited the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa and took a Puffin tour. It’s hard to see the Puffins. They are so little compared to the seagulls. But they are so cute! We definitely want to go back to Iceland in the winter for the Northern lights. And I’m still dying to see a sheep farm. Not that I haven’t ever seen any sheep. But with all that wool… I don’t know. The sheep are cool.
August 7, 2014 § Leave a comment
Hey, local friends! Richla asked me to teach a series of classes that explore the basic shapes of Liberated Quilting. Mondays, Sept. 22nd, Oct. 6th & Oct. 20th. We were going to start in August but pushed the dates back to September. Now you have even more time to gather your scraps!
Bring a bucket of scraps or a stack of fat quarters and start sewing by intuition and without a pattern. Sign up for one class or all three. Richla is giving a discount if you sign up for all three. Come hang out with friends in her beautiful new studio!
Class 1 – Learn the basics of Liberated piecing with Strips (log cabins) & Triangles (stars, flying geese, trees)
Class 2 – Advanced Liberated shapes – birds, baskets, houses, people
Class 3 – Liberated Letters
The photos above & below are from a Flickr Bee group that I was in a few years ago. If you would like to see a few more examples, I’ve collected a few quilts on my Pinterest board.
August 5, 2014 § 2 Comments
I’m still trying to return to my own time zone and embrace our usual routine. But it is hard. I always have a hard time going home.
Gary, his sister and I decided that we needed to make a trip to Copenhagen where his niece, husband and daughter are living. We had no idea that it was going to be in the middle of a heat wave! Most days were plus or minus 80 degrees. Which doesn’t sound all that bad. But there is something about the sun on the cobblestone & brick buildings. It was warm. There isn’t much air conditioning to speak of either. Normally, they don’t need it. Like Seattle, it is generally a cool & mild climate. We even slept with the door & window open in our hotel room to try and get a cool breeze through it at night. Despite the heat, I loved Copenhagen. The healthy food, the bicycling and the walking are what I wish our lifestyle could be like at home. But alas, our country is stuck on junk food, cars, and a more sedentary lifestyle. Sigh.
Of course, we had to see many of the usual touristy things. Nyhavn canal was hot & filled with tourists. But the colorful buildings are to die for!
We bought 3-day Metro passes in the beginning that could be used on the trains & buses. When they expired we rented bikes for a day and rode everywhere! There are a few more photos on my Instagram feed.
These were just a few of the photos we took. Gary took many of the photos in Copenhagen. And I only took a few. It was too hot to carry the DSLR and I ended up using my iPhone more often. Plus, we were on the go most of the time and I am more of a rambling tourist. I like to stop and savor, take in the details and try to feel the culture.
On the way home we stopped in Iceland. Since we would have normally flown over it to get to Copenhagen, we decided to take the opportunity to visit. More photos to come.