Friday, July 29, 2011

Sewing with Audrey

Imagine my surprise when for Audrey's birthday, the day she gets to do anything she wants, she asked if we could sew a wallet together.  She'd gotten a FQ of Riley Blake's Feeling Groovy Peace Out as a bribe on one of our recent trips to our LQS and found Lola Nova's summer wallet tutorial.  For the pockets she mixed in some Jennifer Paganelli Queen Street and House by Annette Tatum from my stash. 

I'm not comfortable letting her use a rotary cutter so I did the cutting but she did all the rest herself.  It came out beautifully and is perfect for holding all the gift cards she received! 

I really should make more of an effort to sew with her but it tends to takes more patience on my part than I have.  Bunny Hill Designs has started a Sewing with Kids series so I think in the fall we'll try to join them, maybe with a few of her friends to keep me on my best behavior: )

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My First Modern Quilt?

Since my machine is still AWOL there hasn't been much sewing going on here this week so I thought I'd drag out something from the vault to show you.  This quilt is unusual for several reasons.  First, it was made in 2001, before the modern quilt movement had really gotten started and funny because 10 years later I'm still not sure I consider myself a "modern" quilter.  The first time I saw Kaffe Fassett's fabric I couldn't figure out why anyone would want to use it.  Maybe I just saw it enough times that it started to grow on me and then when I learned it was called Roman Glass, and I was just back from my honeymoon in Italy I decided to embrace it.  While I'm still not a huge Kaffe fan, I have this in about six different colorways and it seems to show up in a lot of my projects.  Anyway, I was in DC on business and had dinner with my best friend from high school who told me she was pregnant.  I was still a childless workaholic but I figured I should make her a baby quilt and in the middle of the most boring PowerPoint presentation ever I had a vision for this quilt.

This quilt was hand appliqued (I prefer needle-turn) and hand pieced.  Even more incredible, it is the only quilt I've ever stipple quilted and I did it entirely by hand.  Around the time I finished this the intended recipient had a boy and I found out I was pregnant.  Alas, I never did make a baby quilt for my dear friend and this became Audrey's baby quilt.  It also went on to win a ribbon in the first and only quilt show I ever entered and still hangs in her room.

Happy Birthday, Audrey!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend Project

Have you been following the "Where I Sew" series over at Pink Chalk Studio?  It's better than Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous!  I'm very lucky to have a large dedicated space with lots of natural lighting for my quilt studio and while functionally it's working pretty well for me, I've been inspired to do a little sprucing up.  So as my good friend Megan would say, "It's time for a Do-Ovah!" 

First up, my sewing table with a how-to in case you want to try it also.  I rescued this nasty looking thing from beside the dumpster at my kids' school.  It had been rained on so the wood is kind of bumpy, plus the institutional gray isn't really the fashion statement I'm trying to make.  What I do like about it is that the legs are set towards the back so it doesn't get in the way of my knee lift and foot pedal while I sew.  I enlisted my DH's help since I have a fear of the staple gun but it was super easy and we were done in under an hour.  My table is 30"x36" and the top is about 1 1/2" thick so I needed:
  • 2, 24"x48" rolls of bulletin board cork from Lowes.
  • 1 1/2 yds. Jennifer Paganelli Queen Street laminated cotton.
  • Wood glue
  • Staple gun

We peeled off the trim that was coming off anyway and then covered the entire top with a layer of wood glue.  I stuck the cork on, lining up the top and left side flush with the edges of the desk.  You have some time to move it around.  Then I did the same with the second piece of cork, butting the edge up against the first piece.  You can easily cut off the excess with an exacto knife.  I weighted it down with the Twilight saga while it dried to keep it from bubbling.

From there I cut my laminated fabric 35"x41" so I'd have some overhang, centered it on the table, and DH went to work with the staple gun.  I tried to pull it fairly taught so the surface would be smooth and did the rounded corners like I was wrapping a present.  

My theory is that the cork will help absorb some of the vibration and the laminated surface will help my quilts glide while quilting.  In any case, the final result is a huge improvement!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Today's post is brought to you by the letter E

E is for the Empty space where my machine used to be...

My machine is off taking a little spa vacation so not much sewing going on here.  It had been starting to sound a bit clackity-clack and with houseguests arriving and several trips coming up it seemed like a good time to take it in for a cleaning.  Dropping if off at the store was harder than leaving my firstborn at camp but hopefully it'll be home soon!  In the meantime I'm hoping to work a little magic on the empty desk it sits on.  I "rescued" this from the dump.  It works but it's not pretty!

E is for Enders and Leaders...

I also cut a stack of 2 1/2" squares from repro scraps to use as enders & leaders so I'll be ready to go once my machine comes home.  Once you get in the habit it's so nice not to have to worry about big thread knots and it lets you know if you have tension issues before you sew all the way down a jellyroll strip.  If you don't know what I'm talking about you can check out Bonnie Hunter's website

E is for Elly Sienkiewicz workshop project...
With no machine I had to switch to handwork and this has been in the UFO pile for at least 7 years.  It's not really my style so I don't know what I'll do with it when it's done but after doing all those french knots I really should finish.  I love applique and once the prep work is done it's portable.  Yesterday I took this to the pool to work on while watching the kids swim.  Boy did that get a lot of funny looks but if this heatwave keeps up I'll be done in no time!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It Takes a Village...

With summer here my quilting schedule seems to fluctuate between flat-out and nothing.  After a not so relaxing, non-quilting week of vacation in Maine and another few days of catching up/recovering from said week in Maine, we had a horrible, cold, rainy Friday.  I had planned to take the kids to the pool again but with that out they parked themselves in front of the TV and declared it movie marathon day.  I've actually surpassed my quota for viewings of MegaMind so I snuck off to my quilt studio for some much needed quilt therapy. 

While I am in the middle of a few projects with so much time away I wasn't feeling particularly invested in any one of them and they were sitting with a stack of UFOs so I stared at those for a while also.  Last summer I'd pieced this top with Tula Pink Hushabye and started quilting it.  I wasn't happy with the quilting design and ended up ripping some of it out before tossing it in the "maybe later" pile.  Way back in May at the BMQG meeting the lovely Lia brought her Hushabye quilt.  This was her very first attempt at FMQ and she invented a beautiful paisley design with hidden hearts.  Her idea had been niggling around in the back of my mind and seemed like the perfect thing for quilting the owl stripes.  I owe her a HUGE thank you for her inspiration!!!

So I stared at her Flickr photos for a while and then I practiced... and practiced... and practiced...

until I ran out of thread.  So I pried the kids off the couch and dragged them off to our LQS which is so conveniently located only 7 minutes away.  Even better, they've just opened an ice cream shop across the street.  The better to bribe the kiddie's with: )  We got our thread and ice cream and I was ready to go for it.  So I quilted... and quilted... and quilted.  The first stripe was done and I could almost see the finish line on the second when I ran out of thread, again.  3 inches left to quilt and I run out of thread, probably a sign that it was time to go to bed anyway.

Luckily that LQS is still only 7 minutes away so in the morning I was able to zip back over and get another spool of thread to finish.  It's so important to support our local businesses!  I often find myself buying online because it's cheaper and delivered directly to my door but it's situations like this that remind me how lucky I am to have a brick and mortar store in my village.

I love how this came out!  Now it just needs to be bound so I'll probably make yet another trip to my LQS tomorrow to choose a binding.  I have enough of the brown raindrops but I'm still auditioning other options.  I love binding quilts so I'm not worried this will return to the UFO pile for another year but it may have to wait for another rainy day.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My First Quilt

This month's Boston Modern Quilt Guild meeting was share your first quilt.  I couldn't make it to the meeting but I figured this was a good time to blog about my first quilt.  I have to confess, I started quilting before the renaissance, before blogging, before the modern quilting movement, before rotary cutters... way back in 1993.  I did grow up with some quilters in my family but I certainly didn't know any other 20-somethings who were doing it.  Nevertheless, one day I woke up with a compulsion to learn to quilt and promptly signed up for a class at the only quilt shop around, Tumbleweed (if that gives you an idea of their fabric selection) oddly enough in Harvard Square. 

Back in the day most quilting was done by hand and was taught using the Sampler Quilt method.  Lesson 1: choosing your fabric, no precut fabric collections to make life easy.  From the awesome selection of calicos (at least we'd moved in to the era of 100% cotton) you were instructed to pick a "blender fabric" and then 7 coordinating prints in a range of lights and darks.  Solids were frowned upon, "they make your quilt look flat!"  Is anyone surprised my first quilt is pink and green: ) 

From there we made plastic templates for each block and assembled increasingly difficult blocks.  Curved piecing, the dreaded Y-seam, applique... I will say it was comprehensive.  Session 2 moved on to sashing with cornerstones and borders and finally our tops were completed.  Now it was time to sew baste our quilt sandwich and learn to (hand) quilt.  I dutifully stitched 1/4" from each seam line and did some crosshatching in the sashing but then totally punted on quilting the outer border.

I liked it so much I promptly made another one as a Christmas gift for my parents.  You can't really see it in the pictures but on this one I got really fancy and quilted feathers through the sashing and borders. 

Despite all the effort I was hooked and have quilted pretty much continuously ever since.  It actually took me an embarrassingly long time to switch to machine piecing/quilting and my beloved Bernina spent it's early years gathering dust before I committed myself to becoming as proficient with my machine as I was at handwork.  I still think I actually quilt faster by hand and with football season approaching I better start thinking about a new hand quilting project to keep me warm; )