Monday, April 14, 2014

Quilts for Friends

Disco Quilt Basted

Our dear friends, Scott and Melissa, adopted a little baby boy last year and it took me until his first birthday to make him his own quilt. Scott and Melissa love nature and animals and camping, so I pulled together lots of fabrics with a woodland feel or palette into this quilt. I added a bit of the fabric from our guest room, where they stay often, to the quilt as a little personal touch (the brown leaves on the top of the stack below).

Disco Quilt Fabric

I used the Disco Quilt pattern from Jaybird Quilts and about 40 different fat eighths to make a scrappy patchwork quilt in the youth size. I'm pretty sure this was my first time pressing all seams open on a quilt. It definitely made for a flatter finished product without the extra bulk. My fingers didn't appreciate so many close calls with the iron, though!

Disco Quilt seams

I must have taken the three below pictures in the middle of a blackout. The colors in the top photos more closely reflect the true look of the quilt.

Disco Quilt

My one change to the pattern was to lop off the triangle points on the top and bottom of the quilt. I'm a fan of plain and simple edges. I quilted it with a meandering loop pattern.

Disco Quilt

The backing is a gold Juliana Horner pattern from Joann and the binding is from the Botanics line.

Disco Quilt

Melissa and Scott also have one of my blogging hiatus quilts, which was made in January 2013. I think this was mostly made up of Denyse Schmidt green prints and white Kona cotton, but my memory escapes me on this. I'll let the pictures do the talking...

HST Quilt

HST Quilt

HST Quilt

Friday, April 11, 2014

Charley Harper Quilt

Rapid City Quilt in Charley Harper Fabric

I fell in love with this Charley Harper fabric immediately, and I'm pretty sure I bought the entire collection the first day it was available. I didn't have a specific design or pattern in mind for it, so I searched for inspiration while waiting for the fabric to arrive.

Rapid City Quilt pattern from Modern Patchwork

When I checked out Elizabeth Hartman's book, Modern Patchwork, I was immediately struck by her Rapid City Quilt pattern. The pattern's aesthetic fits perfectly with the mid-century modern Charley Harper fabric, so it seemed like a perfect pairing.

Charley Harper Rapid City Quilt in Progress

Knowing that I was going to use the entire fabric collection in one quilt, I wanted to add my own selection of coordinating fabrics to make it more custom. The fabric line has two different color stories (blue/grey and orange/red), so I was also hoping to use these coordinating fabrics to tie the entire collection together.

Charley Harper Rapid City Quilt in Progress

Because the background grey that I used is very similar in value to some of the Charley Harper fabric backgrounds, I modified the pattern a bit. Each mini part of the block was fussy cut and the Charley Harper fabric was framed by coordinating fabric. The pattern, as written, only used four pieces of fabric for each smaller part of the block.  All of the rest of the dimensions in the quilt follow the pattern exactly.

Rapid City Quilt in Charley Harper Fabric

Rapid City Quilt in Charley Harper Fabric

Rapid City Quilt in Charley Harper Fabric

Charley Harper Quilt Back

The backing also followed the pattern, with the fussy cut modification for the for parts of the feature block.

Rapid City Quilt in Charley Harper Fabric

I followed the quilting guidelines in the pattern, which is based on Modern Quilt Studio's signature free motion pattern (also used previously on my Plain Spoken Quilt). I was nervous to start quilting this one, because it had taken so much time to develop the top and I was worried about ruining the overall design, but I'm super happy with the finished product!

Putting this quilt together was so much fun. It felt like I was making 64 mini quilts as I worked on the smaller portion of each block. As the blocks were combined into larger pieces, it was great to see how everything was coming together and unfolding. Lots and lots of pressing and squaring up went into this. I've finally realized that taking time to properly press and square up smaller portions of my quilts results in a much neater finished project and makes everything so satisfying! It was definitely time consuming, but I've found that the quilts for which I put in the most work, are usually my favorite.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Adventures with Wool Batting

My mom, thrifter, DIY guru, and now blogger, found 100% wool, farm grown quilt batting at a garage sale a few summers ago for $2. She gave it to me and it lived in my basement for a while before I used it in a quilt.

Patchwork Quilt with wool batting

I pulled a random selection of pink and green scraps and made a charm square top channeling Posy Gets Cozy's projects to the best of my ability. I wanted a really vintage looking quilt and I thought this style would pair well with thick wool batting.

Patchwork Quilt with wool batting

Basting the quilt was quite the adventure because the batting was so lofty. At some points, it was about two inches thick. I originally wanted to quilt diagonal lines with my sewing machine's walking foot. After I attempted one line, I realized that it would cause too much puckering and would be difficult to fit through the throat of my machine.

Patchwork Quilt with wool batting

I changed things up and used some leftover worsted weight wool yarn to tie the center of each square. (Hint: if you use a long enough piece of yarn, you don't have to re-thread the needle for each square!). Here's a great tutorial for tying a quilt that I wish I had seen before attempting this sans directions.

After it was tied, I added a double fold binding. I ended up having to use 4.5" wide strips for the quilt because the batting was so thick.

Patchwork Quilt with wool batting

I tempted fate by using the gentle wool wash cycle on my front loader and everything came out great. Then I laid the quilt flat to dry for a few days. This turned out to be the heaviest, warmest, coziest quilt I've ever made and we always have to share it with Koko and Nuku Nuku.

Patchwork Quilt with wool batting

A couple weeks ago, it was starting to look and smell a little bit too much like fur for my taste, so I threw it in the wash. For some reason, I wasn't thinking when I threw it into the dryer for a few minutes to fluff it up. After 5 minutes in the dryer, I pulled it out only to find that it had shrunk significantly. This was so disappointing! Now I have a super puckery, felted wool quilt. I can't believe I was so careless, especially after always treating my handknits so kindly.

patchwork quilt - after shrinking

I'm afraid this may be Koko's new crate quilt as she is such a fan of the wool fumes in this. I definitely want to make another hand-tied wool quilt, but I've got to get over the wounds this left behind first...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Super Totes

I first learned about the Super Tote pattern after seeing Sarah's in person. I still kind of want to steal Sarah's bag because I am smitten with the typewriter fabric she used!

Super Tote

I made my first version based around a Marimekko print I've been hoarding for a few years. I made a few changes to the pattern, including eliminating the inner zip pocket and outer magnetic closure, and adding bias tape along the outer pocket instead of piping.

I was happy with everything about this bag, except the inner pockets. As written they were too flimsy and didn't have any extra lining or interfacing. In my next version, I folded the pocket fabric in half (right sides showing) when cutting out the pattern piece, ironed on interfacing to the inside of the pocket fabric and then followed the pattern as written. The pocket is now lined and is much sturdier.

Charley Harper Super Tote

Charley Harper Super Tote

Charley Harper Super Tote

My second version came about during an evening of stash folding. I pulled out this cute Charley Harper fabric and created a 2x2 grid of patchwork based on the focal bird print. I quilted the front pocket and the back bag panel before following the instructions as written.

Charley Harper Super Tote

I was able to give this bag to my dear friend, Catherine, on her Christmas break visit from Germany. She's a science teacher and has lots to lug around, so this bag fits the bill perfectly!

Charley Harper Super Tote

Now I'm considering making a giant 2x2 patchwork quilt because I love the look of all these fun prints together.

Charley Harper Super Tote
(gratuitous Koko shot with the back of the bag)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Snowdrift Quilt

Snow Drift Quilt Kit

Last August, Sarah (of Hip to Piece Squares) and I headed to Grand Rapids for the AQS Quilt Show. I wanted to go to see all the pretty quilts on display....but we managed to spend our entire afternoon shopping and didn't make it to any of the quilts in the show (big oops!).

The highlight of the show had to have been meeting Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of Modern Quilt Studio in person. Their book, The Modern Quilt Workshop, was the book that inspired me and taught me how to quilt back in 2006. I love their simple aesthetic and clean designs and my Plain Spoken Quilt is one of my all-time favorite projects.

Snowdrift Quilt (and company)

Shopping at their booth that afternoon flipped the switch for me and I've been on a quilting bender ever since then. I purchased the Snowdrift Quilt Kit along with a few of their magazines.

Snow Drift Quilt Kit

The quilt kit sat on my shelf for a few months while I mustered up the courage to tackle curved piecing. I ended up pulling out the kit and making a last minute Christmas gift for Jon's grandma (bonus: curves no longer scare me). She's been hinting at wanting one of my quilts for many years now and the colors in this kit just happen to match her living room, so it was clearly meant to be.

(I'm pretty sure I cut out the printed pieces backwards, so the snow drifts in the opposite direction in my version!)

Snow Drift Quilt Kit

Monday, January 20, 2014

Llama Mania (of the sewing and real life varieties)

overlooking Machu Picchu

In September 2012, Jon and I spent 10 days traveling around Peru. We landed in Lima and then travelled to Cusco, Machu Picchu, Puno and Lake Titicaca. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking as Peru is known for having 28 of the 32 different microclimates in the world.

Lake Titicaca

Hand Knit Hats on Lake Titicaca

We were enamored by all of the artisans we saw. Weavings, hand knits, hooked rugs and dyes were available for sale.

Natural dyes for sale at the market

Jon with an alpaca and lamb

Of course, we loved seeing an abundance of sheep, alpaca and llamas. We quickly learned that photo ops like these were one of the top tourist traps.

Endless things (and photo ops) for sale

woman with her alpaca


massive Andes

We spent two days exploring Machu Picchu and attempting to overcome our fear of heights with lots of hiking mountain climbing (it didn't really work!). The actual site of Machu Picchu is surrounding by the Andes Mountains and makes it feel really intimate.

Llama stalking

We pretty much spent our second day stalking the llamas on the site. They are so cute!

Llama at Machu Picchu

Lauren, from the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild, wowed us all with her intricate llama paper piecing at our November meeting. There was a loud gasp from all the members as she held it up during show and tell. I had never really heard of or understood paper piecing before, but her project gave me the impetus to learn!

Paper piecing setup

The pattern is Leonard the Llama from Sew What Sherlock. I set up my sewing table with my light box, glue pen, add-a-quarter ruler and iron and ironing board and got to work. It was overwhelming at first, but once I focused on a small piece at a time, it came together during a day off from work.

Detail of Llama head

My assistant

Llama paper piecing

Pillow Covers

I free motion quilted around the llama and turned this into an envelope pillow case for our newly acquired down pillow forms from Ikea. I backed it with this llama fabric from Laurie Wisbrun. In addition to the llama, I made a contrasting pillow with some new Botanics fabric quilted in a random grid pattern. It's nice to have some fun new pillows that remind us of our trip to Peru!

Laurie Wisbrun Llama fabric