Just dropping in to include a few photos of all the things that have been happening over the last few weeks. Hopefully later this week I’ll be adding a post or two about some stuff that’s been going on in my head, but no guarantees. :)
We added a pool fence to keep the boy out… Now he can run around the backyard without one of us chasing him constantly!
The garden is producing! This is our very first harvest of beans, but we’re wondering if anymore are coming. The bean plants don’t look so hot. But the tomatoes are taking off! I can hardly wait for them to ripen.
April’s Do. Good Stitches block. Lindsay chose the knee socks block but using colorful solids and prints. I can’t wait to see the quilt!
March was my month to be the quilter for Do. Good Stitches, and I chose Ashley’s String block. Though, I also chose to lay them out in more of a herringbone pattern. I have the whole thing quilted now, but I am stuck on the binding. If anyone has suggestions, I’m open!
And stay tuned… I have a bit of my Mendocino Madness planned for Sew Mama Sew’s May 2012 Give Away Day!
Remember way back when I had the Mystery Quilt Giveaway going? Was that really nearly a year ago? Well, this quilt has been in the works for much longer than that. I first dreamt it up after our school’s spring auction in 2009. I had contributed this quilt for that auction, and started thinking about what kind of quilt I could make for the next auction. I think it was about that time that the students voted for the school mascot to be a Firebird, and the art teacher drew up a beautiful little firebird line drawing. That’s when it hit me that a mascot quilt would be perfect for the auction.
But, I have to tell you, this quilt has been nothing but trouble from the start.
It was a year before I enlarged the original sketch onto an enormous sheet of butcher paper. And did I mention that I was about 7 months pregnant at the time? So there’s an image for you. Giant pregnant lady crawling around on the floor sketching on a giant piece of paper that insisted on rolling up.
After the pattern was made, I sat on the project again for a long while trying to decide what fabrics to use. I knew I would use (obviously) fire colors, but no matter what fabric stacks I pulled I didn’t like anything. I can’t remember what I was working on when I realized that these “almost” solid cottons would be perfect for this project. Just enough movement.
The actual applique wasn’t bad at all, and it came together fairly fast. I was really excited at how well it was going so I was ready to get it quilted when I discovered I had no thread that I thought would work. Back then I did
all most of my quilting by hand and I planned to do the same on the Firebird. After searching at multiple stores for a variegated hand quilting thread in firey colors, I finally settled in and started stitching the starburst pattern.
It was not to be.
Some of you may have seen me sitting in the sewing room at Sewing Summit stitching a thousand straight lines on this quilt. I was about halfway through by the end of the Summit. That’s when I decided I hated the quilting. I mean really really hated it. So I put the quilt down and walked away. For about 6 months. When I picked her back up, I realized that part of what I hated was the fact that the quilting was causing the bird itself to bunch up in the middle of the quilt.
I decided that it must be picked out. Really, it didn’t take that long. Pretty much a snip at the starting end and a yank on the other end and out came each thread. I was still sad looking at that pile of used threads. It just seemed like so much work wasted. And by now I was running out of time to get the quilting done in time for this spring’s auction. I decided I would machine quilt it starting with stitching in the ditch around the bird to anchor it down this time.
I had this quilting pattern in my mind from the very beginning, and so when I finally decided to draw it on paper I was really glad to see that it looked as good in the real world as it did in my head. Now I was super excited to get the quilting done. So I fired up my machine with it’s new walking foot and started stitching. It wasn’t long before I realized that using white thread on both the upper thread and the bobbin was a mistake. The back of the quilt is Kona coal, and that white thread just looked awful. But by now I was feeling really pressed for time. I was exploring options to actually color the thread on the back with a marker or pencil or something… I wouldn’t recommend that approach. Both the sharpie I tested and the pencil showed through on the white front.
Ok, so the only option was to once again pick out the quilting and start over. And once again, it took a lot less time than I anticipated. It also got me thinking about thread tension because the lower thread tension was way too loose and the threads slid right out.
Well, third time must be the charm because I finally finished the quilting. This time with a dark gray in the bobbin and the tension adjusted properly.
The firebird’s quilting was done in various shades of red, orange and yellow, and it shows on the back. I think I like it, but I’m not sure. I love the gray though.
After making the label for Alexis’ quilt, I think I might be addicted to the freezer paper + printer method. Because this quilt shouldn’t need to be washed often, I just used the printed label and didn’t add any hand quilting.
The binding presented another challenge. I had originally planned to use a very pale solid gray, but after the way that turned out on this quilt, I thought that might just be too blah. I considered using one of the fabrics from the bird, but thought that might detract from the bird itself. I considered using the Kona coal, but decided that would be too much of a frame. By chance I had ordered some Sally’s Skirt from the Sweetwater Reunion line, but in cherry and ink (that’s red and black to the non fabric geeks). That tiny herringbone just speaks to me. The graphite color way was the perfect shade of pale gray. I love the binding on this quilt. Love. It.
I also added a dowel sleeve for hanging using Rachel’s tutorial.
As it turns out, the school wants to save the quilt for next year’s auction (hence the future date on the label). Which was fine by me, because when they called to tell me, I was still agonizing over the binding. I debated putting the whole thing away for a while, but then decided to get it off my to do pile once I found the binding fabric.
So, 3 years and 2 froggings later, the firebird is done. I couldn’t be happier with it.
I’ve been awful about blogging lately haven’t I? I wish I could say it’s because I’m swamped, but the deluge has let up a bit. But that’s another post in itself.
This year I resolved to get more active in the (awesome) online sewing community. I joined do. Good Stitches which is a really fun quilting bee for a really good cause, and I’m really enjoying my bee group. And I even signed up for my first swap on flickr. I’ve done swaps on craftster.org and etsy before, but they were never this active or organized of a group.
For the Love of Solids is a HUGE swap with 100 swappers! It’s a secret swap so no one knows who is making something for them. My partner had a really great inspiration mosaic that really helped me decide how to style her items. Everyone makes one big item (from solid fabrics), and then a second item can be either handmade or purchased.
I can’t tell you who she is, because she hasn’t received her package yet (even though I sent it a week ago!! — Yes, I’m panicking!). One of the items on her “big item” wish list was a knitting needle roll. So I made her one based on the design I did for Alexis’ colored pencil roll. I, unfortunately, don’t have the best picture of it.
For her small item, a little pouch made from linen and one of Faith’s solstice stars. With some hand-quilting. I also threw in a little stack of bright solids, and a sampler pack of Aurifil threads. I had an extra sampler and everyone should get to try them out don’t you think?
Then, last week I received my package from my partner, Five Baht Elephant. It’s so awesome! I love the dark neutral with the bright colors on this great mini. I just have to decide whether to take it to work to hang up or put it up at home. Sean thinks it’s a fabulous play quilt. I just think it’s fabulous.
She also sent along this really cute ruffled/pleated pouch. I mean, who can’t use another pouch. Noone, that’s who! And I wish you could see the awesome zipper pull on this thing. Amazing!
As if that weren’t enough, she even made some cute little scrappy coasters. My favorite is that stripey one in the middle there. It’s just so happy.
A huge success of a swap (so far… I wish my partner would get her package!! Stupid post office.) But it might be a while before I join another. Even though things have let up a bit, I’ve still got lots to do. But as I said before, that’s a topic for another day.
Have you joined any swaps? Which is your favorite?
It’s been forever since I posted. I’d like to blame being busy, and I have been, but last week I pretty much sat on my butt and didn’t do much sewing. I was working on other stuff though! The weather has also not been cooperating, and so pictures were terrible. And you know I feel like I have to have pretty pictures.
Sadly, these photos are not that great. And that purple fabric for some reason always comes out way too blue…
Anyway, these are the drunkard’s path blocks from week 3 of Curves Class… we’re on week 5 now and I still haven’t finished anything from week three other than this little bitty quilt, and haven’t even started week 4 projects. Boo.
So anyway, four drunkard’s path blocks, cut into a circle. This was the first time I tried a couple of things with the binding. First of all, curved binding… I’ve done binding with angles, but never curved, so it was a bit disconcerting that it didn’t seem to want to lie flat despite cutting it on the bias. In the end, pressing it was a huge help. It laid right down after that.
Second, I used Rachel’s method to sew down the binding on the front. She always uses a zig-zag stitch and it always looks so nice. Mine’s not quite as good, and the stitching on the back doesn’t really line up so great, but I still like the finish.
I wanted the quilting to go through the medallion on the back, so it’s a bit off on the front, but I like it that way.
I’m going to be sending this little mug rug off to a friend of mine who loves purple. She’ll especially like this (I hope!) because it contains fabric from both of the quilts I made for her two little ones.
I mentioned in the Bibs post, that a friend of mine is (still) expecting her first daughter any day now. When she didn’t arrive on time, I told the momma to be that I was sure that baby girl was just waiting for her quilt to arrive. Well, apparently not because the quilt arrived safe and sound yesterday, and still no baby… at least not that I know of.
Anyway, because it’s reached it’s destination, I can now show you the finished product.
Some of you on flickr will remember that I was stuck on which backing to use. When I first saw this Denise Schmidt Sugar Creek plaid I thought it would be a perfect backing for this baby quilt. I loved how the criss-crossed lines of the plaid sort of echoed the squares on the front. But when I got it home, I just wasn’t so sure.
The green fabric is something I had at home (no idea what it is, I picked it up for a buck a yard about a year ago) and it is a very near match to the greens in the quilt front. But it wasn’t really speaking to me either. I got equal votes on both fabrics, so I decided to go with my gut and use the plaid after all. I’m really glad I did.
I bound the quilt in yet another
DS fabric from JoAnn unknown fabric that I thought was a DS. The colors in this little polka dot match the back fabric beautifully. But again, I wasn’t sure how it would look for binding. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. I really like the dots… (surprise surprise. me? like dots on binding? never!)
The quilting is just 1/4 inch straight lines on the edges of each block. I probably should have done more quilting in the center of each block, but this seems to be sufficient and I was in a hurry to finish before baby arrived. I guess I needn’t have rushed.
So yippee! Another item off the list!