23 December 2010

The stars and the planets

The second linen table runner is quilted and bound. Thanks so much to everyone who offered advice on how to quilt it! I went for a swirly effect in the background, as I suggested in the last post, then a loose echo stitch around the stars, connecting the stars in a wavy flow, and finally a meander through the stars, with the quilting for the star flow a slightly darker tan color.

I love the stars, but I'm also very fond of the back where it's all about the quilting.

It came out of the dryer beautifully.

And to stick with the astrological theme I'm pleased with the fresh-from-the-dryer pucker of the planets table runner, too.

20 December 2010

Table runners

My latest focus in the handmade holiday madness is a pair of linen table runners. The first is about 12" x 36", inspired by a project in Yoko Saito's "Patchwork Lesson." I came upon the book at the Kinokuniya Bookstore in San Francisco's Japantown. While the book is in Japanese and most of the projects are handbags (not at the top of my interests), the fabrics and quilting are wonderful. I think I'll buy it next time I'm in the neighborhood.

The inspiration project is a handbag with a row of wonky applique circles featuring the same cross effect. The circles are cropped on the cover of the book, though the actual project is more striking.

I sewed the contrasting strips into the circle fabric, then pieced the circles into the continuous background linen using the six-minute circle technique. The circles went well, though I would recommend leaving at least a 3/4" seam allowance on the background fabric, and I never quite achieved the advertised time of six minutes.

I finished with straight line machine quilting that echoes and extends the the circle strips, then finally some hand stitched circles.

The second table runner is a wave of wonky stars, again all linen, that I'll trim down to a finished size of 15" x 72". I'm having a hard time figuring out how to quilt this one. I'm considering some free-motion swirls for a "The Starry Night" effect.

How would you quilt it?

19 December 2010

Scrappy scottie

Another handmade holiday gift, this one for Malcolm to give to Hamish. Starting with a Denyse Shmidt pattern, I went back to the last extra fabric panel from my marquee projects. The squares are cut from bias strips, then pieced at alternating angles. Alert readers may remember that Hamish has been the recipient of two projects using these same fabric panels (the gaming quilt and the consolation quilt), so Scrappy should feel right at home.

16 December 2010

Hexy update

The one-inch hexy count has reached 820. I've started hand stitching the pieces together into larger hexagon blocks. Over the holidays I hope to start working in some four-inch hexies over the holidays.

13 December 2010

Wedding quilt

We just gave this quilt to some good friends for their wedding. The pattern is 'Sexy Hexy' available for free from Amy Butler. It was a lot of fun to make and I enjoyed working with the bold bright prints. It was also my first experience working with glue stick - the center hexagons are stabilized with freezer paper, the seam allowances glue sticked to the back of the paper, and then top stitched to the already assembled outer rings of the hexagon. It made the tricky business of matching the corners very easy.

The biggest challenge on this project was completely self imposed. I fussy cut all the hexagon sides (except the columbine and lindy leaf, if memory serves) for maximum kaleidoscope effect. That's a lot of fussing! But I'm glad I did it.

The pieced back is a calmer palette of two blue fabrics.

I ran with the floral theme for the quilting. It's a free motion loopy daisy pattern (photo by Stacey Sharman).

The quilt is finished with a hand-embroidered label attached to the corner binding on the back of the blanket (photo by Stacey Sharman).

Lindy Leaf, Pocketbook  and Welcome Road by Heather Bailey for Free Spirit
Sunflower, Flower Fields and Columbine by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit
Bubble Burst by Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit
Lotus Pond by Amy Butler for Free Spirit
Sophie's Garden by Erin McMorris for Free Spirit
Posh Petals by Khristian Howell for Anthology Fabrics
Mod Trees by Giancini Atelier for Anthology Fabrics

08 December 2010

Christmas list

I've checked the first item off my Christmas list. I used an Amy Butler pattern to sew these two kitten pillows for my niece. The larger one is the pattern size;the smaller is three-quarters size, though the face isn't reduced quite as much. I decided the two looked better together if the faces are closer to the same size. That's the way it is in real life, right? The proportion of a baby's/kitten's head to her body is larger than the same proportion for an adult.

The fabric is from the Clothworks Woodland Friends collection, with contrasting color on the back of each pillow. The faces are felt with a satin stitched edge.

The biggest challenge was stuffing the ears and feet without overstuffing. I popped a couple seams in the process and ended up whip-stitching on the outside to repair. I've decided to follow Cyn's lead and value the scars.

The back is finished with a bit of hand embroidery to personalize the gift.

28 November 2010

Something different

Here's a peek at another project I'm finishing up. In the past I've worked with finer, more tonal prints, so using large-scale, mostly floral fabrics was intimidating and exciting. The color palette also stretched my comfort zone. I'll have more photos soon.

20 November 2010

Name and date

I've resolved to be better about labeling my quilts. For the shirting quilt, I embroidered a tag and sewed it into the corner binding. The embroidery itself goes faster than I expected, especially considering all the time that goes into piecing and quilting a blanket. Now I have to finish hand sewing the binding to the back of the quilt.

What's your favorite way to label your projects?

17 November 2010

Shirting quilt

I'm finishing up two quilts, and they coud hardly be more different. One is bright, colorful, flowery and feminine, and the other is simple, muted and masculine. I'll have more about the first quilt soon. The second quilt top is getting layered with backing and batting today. It's a nine-patch pattern made from recycled shirts. The sashing between the blocks and the backing are cream-colored flannel sheeting. This blanket is definitely all about comfort.

I think this one will get straight-line quilting with alternating colors for a plaid effect.

28 October 2010

It's been a while

I put down my sewing projects for a while, but lately I've been busy again. I have several quilts in progress that I'll be posting about. Today I offer the hexy count update: 617
I think it's time to start sewing them together.

23 August 2010

When I started quilting...

I swore I would never do this:

Obviously something has changed. My first 125 one-inch hexies are basted and ready for piecing.

17 August 2010

Porthole pillows

I'm excited about these pillows I made to go with my marquee quilt. I used many of the same fabrics I used in the quilt. The neutral solid is a double layer of the same unbleached kona muslin I used to back the quilt.

I wanted to contrast the square geometry of the marquee quilt with some bold circles. The reverse-applique technique is inspired by Lu Summers's porthole quilt. The finished seam of the foreground fabric against the backing applique creates a striking sense of depth. I obviously took my quilting in a different direction than Lu.

The pillow binding matches the binding on the marquee quilt.

This project started with a doodle on deceptively rare and precious note paper.

I like the way the straight-line quilting meets the echo quilting around the circles. I think it evokes a bit of science fiction, or maybe crop circles.

14 August 2010

It's curtains

Here are the curtains I made for Matt and Jason. They make quite a statement! There are eight panels of a twill print from Amy Butler's Nigella collection, each fully lined. I mentioned before that Matt bought 20 yards of the stuff 2 years ago.
Matt had finished 8 panels of the white lining with loops and hung them in his living room. Unfortunately I had to rip out all the seams because the existing finishing on the linings didn't work with my plan for the curtains. It was a bit intimidating chopping into all that fabric with very little to spare. And I learned that needles dull quickly sewing through layers and layers of twill.

12 August 2010

Flip the switch

The Marquee quilt is done. I posted about construction of this Modern Quilt Workshop pattern the other day. I feel like I've been working on this forever, setting it aside again and again to work on more pressing projects.

The sun decided to cooperate today.

I wish the ginkgo applique were a little larger. It looks a little lonely on this queen size quit.

Here the applique is backlit with beautiful sunshine.

And here are a few detail shots of the fabric and the pieced binding.

06 August 2010

Stack and whack

I took my first stab at stack and whack today. That's when you stack several layers of fabric, being careful to align the print in each layer, then cut identical shapes through all the layers. You can get surprising pinwheel effects by arranging the identical pieces into a block. Even non-floral prints can begin to look like flowers.

I used six layers of fabric and cut equilateral triangles (60 degree angles) about 4 inches per side, then arranged the pieces in hexagon blocks. Four pairs of hexagons in the above picture have almost identical prints, but the triangles are rotated to create different effects.

Not sure what I'm going to do with them. I think I'll sew the hexagons and wait for inspiration -- maybe something like this blanket by Kristin La Flamme. I like the strip of hexagons surrounded by solids, and the fabric is great. I'm less enthusiastic about stack-and-whack blocks cut from purely floral prints. The results can be beautiful, but the effect is usually just too floral for me. It's floral raised to the second power.

My fabric is from a curtain project for my friends Matt and Jason using a print from Amy Butler's Nigella collection. Matt bought 20 yards two years ago to sew curtains for their living room. Well, there hadn't been much progress so he asked me to help him out. Now the eight curtain panels are almost done and there are a lot of scraps -- hello hexagons! The triangles are carved out of long 4" selvage strips left when I cut the curtain panels from the center of the fabric.

30 July 2010

Marquee quilt back

I haven't finished quilting the Marquee project I posted about the other day, but I like the way it's turning out, especially the back. I'm using Kona natural muslin for the back -- it's a nice compliment to the "all cotton" print that serves as the background on the quilt top. It's very simple except for a 3-foot reverse applique of a ginkgo branch. I've cut away the natural muslin leaving a raw edge to reveal white beneath.

I love the way the dense stippling stitch (at least it's dense for me!) uniformly covers the backing and the applique, sometimes pushing the raw edge back, and sometimes tacking it down. And I can't wait to see how it comes out of the wash.

To make the pattern I photographed a neighborhood tree, simplified the photo and generated a silhouette, printed it on several pages and pinned the paper to the two layers of uncut fabric. 

I sewed loosely several times around the drawing through the paper and both layers of fabric, then pulled off the now-perforated paper and cut away the natural muslin leaving about 1/8-inch of raw edge. I'm counting on the bits of paper still stuck in the tightest corners to wash out.