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Summer Brick Road

4 Jan

Midwinter is the perfect time to make an “Indian Summer” quilt. The Christmas tree glowed cheerfully in the corner of the sewing room (aka dining room) while I stitched a quilt full of mountains, flowers, teepees, and wandering foxes. And mushrooms. So many adorable mushrooms.

I went nuts taking photos of this quilt, first at my house (before washing) and at a local park (post-wash).  IMG_7746

George Foreman is no different from most cats, she was pretty sure I was meaning to give her attention while I took pictures. Zero pictures were meant to be of her, half of them turned out to be. IMG_7747

If I could only one binding fabric for the rest of my life, Little Stripes would be it. The bias-look of the stripe, the fresh and modern pattern, and the fact that it’s grey (my favorite neutral color), makes it a clear winner. I may turn out to be wrong, but I don’t think it’ll go out of style.  IMG_7755

The backing fabric peeking through here is actually from a Target clearance sheet. So much fabric, for so little. And–the best part–no sewing.IMG_7758

The sun was almost at its brightest when I went out to take pictures. Not ideal, but I needed to get this guy in the mail post-haste. I tried to take advantage of the light, so I got these sunny, creamy-colored photos. On an old red caboose.

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The pattern is “Yellow Brick Road” by Atkinson Designs.

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Apart from Sarah Watson’s Indian Summer fabric, I used a few other Art Gallery fabrics, Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets and Kona solids.

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Tiger Squares Quilt

11 Oct

Earlier this week, I finished up this purple and yellow quilt for a friend. I don’t know why, but I sure did struggle with it.

Quilt-JC-LSU

1. Who is it for?
JC

2. Why did you choose these fabrics?
We were looking for more geometric fabric designs that are more modern and not too floral-y. I gravitate toward pink and flowery when I’m left to my own devices, so it was a challenge.

3. Why did you choose this design?
This is another quilt based off of the Lemon Squares quilt, with a little bit of Elizabeth Hartman’s Small Plates from A Practical Guide to Patchwork.

4. How long did it take?
Months. Dare I count?

5. Was it difficult to make?
It was an easy quilt made difficult by a lot of fretting.

6. What did you learn from this quilt?
This was my largest quilt so far, even though it’s smaller than a twin. At 73″ x 67″ this is about the largest quilt I can fit through my sewing machine (if I want to maintain my sanity), so that’s good to know. That’s why it was basic, straight-line quilting all the way.

7. What music did you listen to while you worked on it?
Lots of Justin Timberlake.

8. What would you improve, if you could?
I like it, but I might’ve changed the layout a bit.

9. What makes you happiest when you think of this?
My friend finally has her LSU quilt to wrap up in, just in time for fall!

Typewriter Cover

4 Sep

Spontaneous sewing. It happens. Suddenly, you have an idea for a thing and you have to put everything on pause until that project is done. This time, it was a bag, a laptop bag. I’ve never made a bag before, really, so I’m not sure why I was so certain I could pull it off.

Quilted-Bag-Front

I’m going to stick with the questionnaire format. Here goes!

1. Who is it for?
Me! It’s been awhile since I sewed myself something.

2. Why did you choose these fabrics?
I’ve been hoping to use this collection (Type by Julia Rothman) for a while. I love the old-school office supplies and the reminder of a simpler time. It makes me think of a typing pool (and how grateful I am for word processing). The complementary fabric was a challenge. I chose Bella by Lotta Jansdotter and Cotton Shuffle by Riley Blake, plus some gray polka dots from Hobby Lobby.

3. Why did you choose this design?
I’m not sure about others’ experiences, but I found designing to be much harder than sewing it.  Do I want a pocket? Do I want adjustable straps? Does it need a closure or clasp? I also fretted over how to incorporate all of the Type fabrics, but woke up one morning to the idea of making the little keystone nod to art deco at the top. I also wondered about which of the many-colored typewriters to use on the fussy-cut square so I deferred to 12 year-old me and picked her favorite colors, teal and orange. Done.

4. How long did it take?
A few hours total, over a couple of days.

5. Was it difficult to make?
It was different than anything else I’ve made, but relatively easy. I started with this tutorial from Sewplicity and it was very helpful.

6. What did you learn from this quilt bag?
I used the zig zag stitch for the first time (can you believe it?) to sort-of serge the raw edges on the inside. It made it look much more finished.

7. What music did you listen to while you worked on it?
I have a Pandora station that has become a Frankenstein-esque mixture of genres. It ranged from Michael Buble to Sam Cooke to Shaggy (and his timeless classic “It Wasn’t Me.”)

8. What would you improve, if you could?
I really like how it turned out, but I used some scraps where a full piece of fabric would’ve looked nicer. I also had grand plans for sewing the straps in between the layers and I sewed on the binding before remembering that plan. Oops.

9. What makes you happiest when you think of this?
It has a typewriter on it!

Now, Domo wants to show you the back and the polka dot lining:

Quilted-Bag-Back

Let me know if you have any questions!

Low Volume Baby

25 Jun

The last few stitches coming into place, the last few threads to be cut, the first trip through the sudsy, cool, gently whirring washing machine. I love those moments that take a quilt from being a bunch of cloth joined together to being its own entity. Something that will live a life that–if it’s going to a new home–you may never know about. It may be trampled, bundled, and spilled upon–if it’s lucky. But as its creator, I’ve hoped for a good way to catalog and chronicle its development. So I’ve come up with a little questionnaire for myself that I can fill out when I finish a quilt so those quiet moments of its construction aren’t lost.Low-Volume-quilt

1. Who is it for?

My college roommate/friend since elementary school who just had an adorable baby girl.

2. Why did you choose these fabrics?

I’ve been hoping to make a low volume quilt for awhile and this was the perfect chance to use a mixture of fabrics I’ve admired to make a piece that was just the right amount of girly. It has some Pearl Bracelets, Prince Charming, Architextures, and Salt Water, not to mention several others. I’m usually nervous about mixing colors and prints, but I loved working with this variety of fabrics.

3. Why did you choose this design?
Even though it’s simple, I’d never tried a patchwork design and I hoped that the simplicity of patchwork would complement the variety of the fabrics. I really enjoyed the process of chain-piecing and making the ninepatch. Something about this, even as simple as it is, says “hey, I’m a quilt!”

4. How long did it take?
A couple of weeks. It could have been finished in a day or two if I had been really focused (clearly I wasn’t!).

5. Was it difficult to make?

It was easy, but being different than anything I’d done before, it still took some concentration. It was a great stress-buster!

6. What did you learn from this quilt?

One thing I learned was that I like muted colors more than I think I do. I usually go for bold colors, but they’re harder to design with (for me), since they demand so much attention. I also took full advantage of chain-piecing, and I’ve been all about that technique ever since!

7. What music did you listen to while you worked on it?

The Great Gatsby soundtrack. (And some other things that have faded with memory.)

8. What would you improve, if you could?

I’m really pleased with this one as it is. I’m always quick to critique my quilts (or anything I do), but I’m happy to leave this one alone. Well, except for the photos I took. It was gloomy outside, so these aren’t the best.

9. What makes you happiest when you think of this quilt?

The thought of baby Lily all wrapped up in it!

Low-volume-quilt-2

Leaves, Trees, and One Happy Bird

2 May

I think it’s pretty fun that I finished my “tree” quilt on Earth Day. I’ve been working on it since December, when my friend and I made a deal to swap a painting for a quilt. Her specialty is painting trees, so we had a great theme to work from.

I struggled to find just the right fabric, to find just the right pattern, to find just the right backing, and so on. And then I struggled with my sewing machine, big time. The fabric bunched, the bobbin ran out at the worst possible times, and the thread tension went wacky. I couldn’t get the tension right, no matter what tricks I tried, and wound up taking the machine apart (for the first time) to try and fix it. I vacuumed it out, I fiddled with the bobbin case, I changed the needle, and nothing worked. In fact, I made things worse, so I put the machine together and took it apart several times over. (Have you ever cried on your sewing machine? Just asking, for a friend.)

I scoured the Quilterweb(tm) for just the right pattern and settled on Lemon Squares from Faith’s Fresh Lemons blog. Since I was using mostly Lotta Jansdotter’s Bella fabric, it didn’t really lend itself to the fabric color arrangement laid out in the pattern. I realized that after I started cutting, and kind of panicked, because I do love following a pattern. In the end, I just made the squares that I liked and added some sashing. I’m totally surprised at how it turned out, but I’m really pleased.

lotta-trees 

If you look closely, you can tell I’m still trying to the hang of quilting, but I’m pushing myself a little further each time. While it isn’t a large quilt, it’s the largest I’ve made so far. I learned how to piece more complicated blocks, to select fabrics for each block, to make a scrappy binding, and I even made and improv square! (You can see it at the bottom right in the photo above.)

lotta-trees-close

For the back, I used part of a twin-sized duvet cover I found at Target on clearance. I really like how it looks with the rest of the fabric and especially with the scrappy binding. The texture was a little smoother and less cottony than usual quilting fabric, so it was a little more trouble to work with than the usual, but the end result was good. All in all, I’m excited! I just need to come up with a name.

Next on the list: a low volume baby quilt and a high-contrast purple and yellow quilt!

 

Bathroom Window: Mini Before and After

1 May

When we moved into this house, it immediately felt homier than any other we’d shared. But it was also in need of the most work. As I think about it, that’s probably why I liked it immediately–it needed me and I needed it. I needed its high ceilings, its rooms full of uneven wood floors, its wall to wall windows in every room (26 in all!). It needed someone to scrape the gum off the floor, to paint over the scribbles on the walls, and tend to the overgrown brush in the yard.

One room in particular needed attention. No matter how much we loved the house when we moved in, Garrett and I were a little scared of that room–the hall bathroom. Everything was a different shade of white, from the three types of tiles, to the original bathtub, to the cheaply updated sink. Not to mention the trim and the walls and the wobbly toilet. It had something of an “abandoned sanitarium” vibe.

We ignored it for as long as we could, and even in the middle of the night, we’d happily take the extra steps to go to the second bathroom at the back of the house rather than risk the inevitable goblin attack in the hall bathroom three steps away. Eventually though, we took action. After weeks of fussing about what color would go with seven shades of white, I finally just grabbed a bucket of our leftover paint and took after it. (If you’re wondering, Valspar’s Filtered Shade isn’t so bad.) After adding that bit of color, the light bulb lit up and all sorts of colorful accessories were suddenly perfect for that space.

Until this week, though, the dilapidated mini-blinds were still hanging.  I was finally convinced of what to do about it when I saw this photo on Design*Sponge. The first photo connected the dots between that window and the chevron fabric I’d had in my cabinet for two years. After 45 minutes of measuring, sewing, and dusting, I had this:

Bathroom Window Shade

And it only took two years to get that from this:

Bathroom-Before1

(This is a cropped photo from my phone. Boo to me for not taking more before pictures of the house!)

There’s certainly more work to be done, but I’m happy to have this little project  completed. No goblins would dare live in such a cheery room!

Mod Baby

15 Apr

Spring has been unusually coquettish this year. Typically, the daffodils bloom in late February, followed by the dogwoods, and then the azeleas. By the end of March, spring flowers are belting out their final notes and in April we pull out our swimsuits and kayaks live outside until October.

But this spring has tiptoed in so daintily that it almost went unnoticed before it darted away again and we were back in our heavy raincoats. It has finally, slowly, washed over the state and brought with it a tide of glorious multicolored blooms.

It has also brought a persistent case of spring fever, which I’ve only been able to treat with a lot of gardening and intermittent quilting. I should note that, in my case, gardening has mostly been about pulling things out of the ground rather than planting things in it. So while our house was previously hidden behind some unruly, mismatched bushes, it is now free and bright and open. You can see the daffodils, lilies, and irises that were hidden under the shrubbery that had accumulated sometime in the house’s 70 year past. However, you can also see the house, which is a bit shabby chic. Emphasis on the shabby. But it’s well-loved.

Since the Summer of Babies is close at hand, my social calendar is brimming over with shower invitations. The first one just happened, I made a little Mod Century quilt for a baby boy. It was so fun to make, and I loved every bit of the fabric.

mod-quilt-long

After I started to add the binding, I second-guessed my selection of red, wondering if turquoise or grey might have been better suited to the collection of fabric. When it was finished, I decided that I really liked it. With every quilt, my goal is to try something new, and for this one, I stitched his name on the back. That way, I had to resist the temptation to keep it. (Kidding!)

mod-quilt-back

Branching Out

20 Jan

I started piecing the tree quilt for my friend today. I’ve alternated between staring at and ignoring a table full of little squares and rectangles for a few weeks now, and today struck me as a day to do something about it. I haven’t finished cutting yet, but I needed a clearer sense of what the squares were going to look like before I committed to all of those little pieces. And now I know!

I’m really looking forward to see how this comes together, because it won’t look anything like I originally planned. None of my quilts have so far–and I like it that way.

Tree-quilt-lotta

My Quilting Kit

16 Jan

I have a confession.

I’m not always the best at using the right tools for a given task. I’d often rather use what I have on hand than go out and spend money on something I’d only use for one project. Examples:

  • I use a tea strainer in lieu of a flour sifter.
  • The time I trimmed the bushes with a hand saw. Or trimmed weeds with scissors. 
  • For a long time, I boiled water in a frying pan because I couldn’t justify spending the money on a stockpot.
  • After I lost my travel mug, I just carried my coffee to work in a jar.

The list is endless. Really.

So, when I offer up a list of the most necessary quilting tools, you can be assured that I’m not listing a single item that you won’t be using constantly. Stated another way, these are the items that will help you maintain your sanity if you’re getting into quilting even a little bit.

Keep in mind, I’m writing as a beginner, for beginners. However, I’ve done a ton of research so–in an effort to save you some time–I’ve provided many links to folks who can build upon the basics I’ve outlined here.

quilting-supplies

Batting: If you’re making a quilt, you’ll need batting. Currently, I use Hobbs Heirloom Premium 80/20 blend. I read lots of reviews before buying, and this one from The Tulip Patch was one of the most helpful. In short, I picked Hobbs because it has the traditional look and feel (like a vintage quilt), but at a lower price than similar brands. When I want to level-up my quilting, I’ll probably choose another batting, like the 100% cotton Warm & Natural.

Sewing machine: (Not pictured.) I have a basic Brother sewing machine that I found on Craigslist for $30. The previous owner only used it for hemming, so all of the doo-dads (technical term) were still with the machine.

Feet: As in, sewing machine feet. From left to right you’ll see the walking foot, free motion quilting foot, and quarter inch (1/4″) foot.

  • The walking foot is used last (so, of course I list it first), when you’re sewing the quilt sandwich together. This foot moves thick layers of fabric through the sewing machine from the top and bottom (instead of only the bottom) to make sure the layers stay lined up as you’re sewing. Note: This foot is not 100% necessary, but it will potentially save you a lot of trouble. If you don’t have this, test quilt a small quilt sandwich to see how your machine cooperates.)
  • The free motion quilting foot has yet to be used in my house, because I’m still quilting in straight lines with my walking foot, so obviously it isn’t a must-have. When I want to start free motion quilting, this will become a necessity.
  • The 1/4″ foot has seen  a lot of use. Basically, it’s used when you’re piecing (sewing the quilt top together) to help you get those important 1/4″ seams. The tinier the pieces and the more elaborate the design, the more important it is to those seams just right. In-depth information can be found at SewMamaSew.

Rotary cutter, rotary mat, and clear acrylic ruler: In my mind, these items are a team.  I didn’t have them for my first quilt, but I also didn’t do any substantial cutting. After I finished my first quilt, I purchased these as a set on Amazon and haven’t looked back.

  • The rotary cutter, for me, is much faster and more accurate in cutting fabric than using scissors. 
  • The rotary mat is a must-have if you have a rotary cutter. Mine is 18″ x 24″ and I’ve found that to be a good size for my workspace.
  • The acrylic ruler makes sure your lines are straight, and it was more useful than I could have imagined. Mine is 6″ x 24″, a pretty versatile size. You can cut small pieces or cut long lengths of fabric (like for this strip quilt at Cluck Cluck Sew). There are many sizes to choose from as you grow as a quilter.

Note: If you’re using pre-cut fabric (i.e. charm packs, layer cakes, jelly rolls) and have no plans of cutting it, you can hold off on the rotary cutter and mat. I “tested” my interest in quilting with my first quilt by using pre-cuts and forgoing almost all cutting. This way, the financial investment in a potential hobby was minimal.

Scissors: I’m not picky when it comes to scissors, which is probably a problem. From left to right, I have some thread-cutting scissors, a nice (but short) pair of titanium scissors, and a long pair from the dollar store. You definitely need a good pair of scissors, but this isn’t where I’d spend much of my budget. I’d rather have a rotary cutter any day.

quilting-supplies-tutorial-close

Pins: These, I’ve learned, are important. The first quilt you make will probably be simple enough that you won’t need to do too much pinning, so maybe you can get away without these right off the bat. But, they are inexpensive (especially on sale!) and will save you time, so I’d say go for it. The two types of pins you see here are straight pins and basting pins.

  • Straight pins are used for various tasks, like lining up seams when you’re piecing a quilt top or when you’re folding and sewing the binding (the fabric “edges” of the quilt). The only preferences I have for these is that they not be too long and that they have colored tips on the non-pokey end. I drop them a lot. 
  • Basting pins are used when you are basting the quilt sandwich together. (You can also use basting spray, like here at Film in the Fridge). They are essentially curved safety pins, which are made to hold the layers of fabric and batting together (while you are quilting) without warping the fabric.

Miscellaneous: There are three other items I keep nearby while sewing.

  • A seam ripper, to fix those crooked lines and the messed-up machine tension mistakes. 
  • A screwdriver, to change out the feet on the machine. When I finally get everything together to start a new phase of the quilt, I don’t want this to be what stops me.
  • An iron, because there is a lot of ironing (well, technically it’s pressing) involved in quilting. My iron is the absolute most basic one offered.

I’m sure I’ve left some loose threads (pun intended), so feel free to leave a comment if you’d like more clarification on anything!

1960s Home Office

14 Jan

Look what came in the mail this weekend! As Garrett said, “Maegan, if y0u were a fabric, this might be it.”

Now, the hard part. What do I do with it?

Type1

 

Purchased from Amanda at Westwood Acres.

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