30 January 2011

Ready for my close up

I'm proud to announce my first celebrity quilter interview. Yes, I did mean to link to gameinformer.com.

Big thanks to Annette Gonzalez and Andrew Reiner at Game Informer. Annette's regular The[Crafty]Gamer series is a great source of fun and nerdy inspiration. Check it out.

28 January 2011


We discussed our quilting mistakes at the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild meeting the other night. I brought a project runner I'm currently finishing. The runner is about 12"x 76" and features 5 inset patchwork circles. I love the project but I wasn't happy with the quilting. Each inset was surrounded by three concentric circles of stitches about 1/8"apart. The first circle is a top stitch to secure the gray front to the red inset. The second and third circles quilt the top, batting and back.

It bothered me for two reasons. First, the close lines of quilting are distracting in contrast to the sparse quilting grid on the rest of the piece. Second, the closeness of the lines highlights any irregularities or inconsistent spacing. And there is plenty of that!

I decided to rip out the two quilting circles, but then realized I only had to remove the inner circle, making the job much easier.

It's already much better, but after the washer erases the trace of needle holes I am going to love this. I did end up with a lot of loose threads to tie off. I've become a bit of a stickler for clean thread ends. It's always best to secure thread ends in the binding, but sometimes your bobbin runs out of thread in the middle of the quilt, or you make mistakes.

I used to backstitch or reduce stitch length to secure the ends, but that always looks messy to me and I know the threads will eventually work themselves free. It was an epiphany when I realized I could pull the top thread to the back, tie a secure knot with the bobbin thread and pull the loose ends and the knot into the batting. Seems obvious, but it was just an article of faith that the top thread stayed on top, and the bobbin thread stayed on the bottom.

In case it isn't obvious, here's what the knot looks like on the back of my runner.

16 January 2011

Thuy's birthday

I sewed a pillow for my friend Thuy for her birthday. It's not quite her birthday yet, but today was the best chance for my son to giver her the birthday present. She loves red, and I've been feeling renewed interest in the porthole technique. The pillow is 16x16 (maybe a bit smaller--the pillow form fits in very snugly). with a foliage print base and a circle patchwork of reds in floral, solid and geometric patterns.

I used Erin's (House on Hill Road) zipper technique for the third time (hurray!) and her piping technique for the second time (still struggling).

The finished size of the red squares is 1 1/2", and the porthole diameter is about 10". I love the square patchwork circumscribed by the foreground porthole. More portholes to come in the near future.

13 January 2011

The shirting quilt

In honor of Peter's men's shirt sew-along, here are some photos of the recently finished shirting quilt. It's a basic nine patch pattern with ivory flannel sashing between the blocks. There are 12 shirting fabrics in brown and blue. Most were upcycled from men's shirts and a few fabrics came from Happy Stop in Oakland, where the hit-or-miss inventory is $2 per yard.

I wanted something quick, warm and comfortable, but it turns out that nothing queen-sized is ever quick. The warm and comfortable bits came out as planned.

It's backed with a double layer of flannel. The quilting is a wide-spaced plaid in tan and navy.

I posted the hand embroidered label before, back when I had just started to finish the binding by hand. After letting it languish for a few weeks I decided to machine-stitch the binding, which ended up being something of a disaster. My plan was to stitch in the ditch on the front of the binding (that is, run the thread along the edge of the binding so that it is almost invisible), catching the edge of the plaid fabric on the back. Perhaps because of the fluffy double layer of flannel backing, I had the hardest time catching the binding on the back and had to sew over most of the edge two and three times. The short cut turned out to be a lot more work than I had bargained for. Thankfully this quilt was never about precision and detail.

11 January 2011

Needle Case

I finished this project from Malka Dubrawsky's new book, Fresh Quilting. It's a needle case with a quilted patchwork cover and linen pockets inside to sort and hold knitting needles. The book has some lovely ideas and helpful techniques (machine piecing hexagons!), and I was happy to see some crafty projects in the mix.

The patchwork is made up of linen and cotton scraps from recent projects.  I followed Malka's lead and quilted with close parallel lines in red thread. The case rolls and fastens with two button loops.

The project in the book features rubber ink stamps for the pocket labels. I decided to go with some hand stitching.

And a monogram on the outside.

03 January 2011

Marquee quilt: the prequel

Here is a quilt I finished last year but haven't, until last week's jaunt to the snow, managed to photograph well enough.

I mentioned in my first marquee project post that I was making two quilts with the same marquee borders. The gaming quilt, the subject of this post, was finished first and lives in Hamish's living room. It measures about four feet by six feet, and is based on the funquilts marquee pattern

Its notable features include a foot pouch and an applique inspired by the Street Fighter II video game. The intended use is prevention of hypothermia while lost on a video-game bender.

I'm really pleased with the almost-solid red background fabric against the blue and brown strips. And I'm still crazy about the pieced bias binding.

01 January 2011

It's me, Mario

Happy New Year everyone! I've just spent a week in the mountains with my extended family, and we all had a wonderful holiday. I brought a couple quilts that I've had a hard time photographing in the hope that a snow scene would be more flattering. I show them soon, but for now here is a final handmade Christmas gift.

It's the finished Mario pillow I made for my nephew. Mario is much less obvious than he would be had I used solids, but I like the way he disappears when you get too close. I quilted straight lines on both sides of each seam.

I assembled the top by chain-piecing progressively larger patches of the pillow top.

Next time I do a project like this I'll probably be a bit more careful with consistent color value in the various color blocks. Or maybe not!