21 July 2012

Little Things

I made a couple things for Munchkin this week. He's been asking for them for a while. I'm afraid it can be easy to put that sort of stuff off when there is so little sewing time and my head's wrapped up in bigger projects.

The first thing is a messenger bag.
The bag is made out of up-cycled cargo pants, lined with quilting cotton and an up-cycled shirt, using a tutorial from Noodlehead.
It was easy to put together in a single morning session.
Munchkin specifically requested the mushroom print. In truth, I think he was disappointed that the mushrooms are on the lining, rather than the exterior. Alas, I was unable to find any mushroom pint cargo pants. I added pockets to each side of the lining using a check toddler shirt that hasn't fit for years.
The edges of the cover flap are finished with bias binding scraps from my recent shot cottons quilt and blue and brown quilt.
 When I put the whole thing together I extended the strap along the interior side gusset about 3", then stitched to reinforce after I turned the bag right-side out.
If I make another one of these bags I'll plan for 1/2" seam allowances instead of the 1/4" recommended in the tutorial. I worry that the seams won't stand up to Munchkin's abuse. For a bag measuring 10"x11"x2", the cutting sizes (exterior and lining) would be:

front & back: 11" x 12"
side gussets (2): 3" x 12"
bottom gusset: 3" x 11"
flap (with pocket on exterior): 10"x13"

Munchkin's second request was to make a blanket and pillow for his Totoro plush toy. I fear the window for this kind of request will be closing soon, and I would kick myself if I missed the chance.
He saw me making a log cabin block with this anthropomorphized sushi novelty print, and assured me the Totoro likes sushi, so it would be perfect for him. He also picked the coordinating Flock print.
He's probably right. What do you think?

19 July 2012

July Bee Blocks

I finished blocks for the Free Bee and the Traveling Quilts round robin earlier this month. July is Stacey's month for the Free Bee, and she asked for strip-pieced improv blocks inspired by the work of Rosie Lee Tompkins. You can read a bit about her at Collectors Weekly: 'The Beautiful Chaos of Improvisational Quilts'.

Stacey's sketch served as color inspiration for my block. The fabrics are cotton solids, linen, and shot cottons. The untrimmed block measures approximately 15"x23".

For the Traveling Quilts, I added my bit to Alissa's quilt. So far, this project has been touched by Alissa, Elizabeth, Heather, Monica, and now me.

I added the coloumn of circles on the left side. I used a bit of the Art Gallery chartreuse Alissa sent with her first block, along with various linen and cotton solids and prints from my stash. I love how each quilt in this round robin is developing it's own personality. This one is just so elegant -- I had half a mind to keep it and claim it must have been lost in the mail

Next up in the Traveling Quilts will be Amber's project, if Monica can stop staring at her amazing Ron Swanson quilt and sew along for just a few minutes.

18 July 2012

Picnic Nine-Patch

Thomas sent me a pile of scraps a while back. I'm not sure where he got them, but they weren't quick to make friends with my fabrics. I tend to collect saturated colors; Thomas's scraps were mostly pastels.
Picnic Nine-Patch, front
And I'm not very good with scraps. Where on earth am I supposed to keep them?I decided to whip up a quick picnic blanket to lay on the grass on warm summer afternoons.

Picnic Nine-Patch, front
I cut the smaller pieces into squares and made nine-patch blocks with various blue solids (at least one of which had some serious sun bleaching from sitting atop a pile by the window for too long). The bigger pieces I cut into larger squares to alternate with the nine patches.

Picnic Nine-Patch, back
I had to add a few prints from my stash to finish it. In the spirit of scrappiness I cobbled together a batting from at least 14 batting scraps, of at least 4 different varieties, including cotton, cotton/poly, and various manufacturers and weights. And you know what? When it came out of the dryer I was hard pressed to identify a batting seam, or where one type started and another ended. Granted, all the battings I used have more or less similar shrinkage characteristics, but it was still noteworthy.

Picnic Nine-Patch, back and machine binding
The back is really quite a collection of prints. It will be sitting on the mud so I went for darker colors, and prints I was eager to find a use for (i.e. I didn't want to see them in my fabric cabinet ever again). And the same for the binding. I finished the binding on the machine for a change, and was pretty happy with the result.

Picnic Nine-Patch, folded twice
I have to say, I'm amazed how well I like this quilt considering how ambivalent I am about so many of the fabrics. But the overall colors are cheerful, the back is solid, the binding forms a solid frame, and the composition is simple and satisfying. It's amazing how a quilt can transform the uglies into something beautiful.

16 July 2012

Stencil Quilt Workshop

Yesterday I finished up a two-session Stencil Quilt Workshop at New Pieces in Berkeley. We had a great time and my students did amazing work.

We started off discussing reverse applique technique and strategies for fabric selection. To simplify, we work with whole cloth in the workshop, though we do discuss how we might incorporate patchwork.

Susan picked a rich woven grey background and an amazing text print of Japanese characters for her applique.

Each student picked a stencil design and we set about transferring the stencil to fabric. Shannon and Kelly chose a dragonfly design, and Gail opted for a gingko sprig. My gingko quilt had hung in the shop as the class sample.

And Susan chose a tarantula. Isn't that print amazing?

I love it when students take my designs and make them their own. Kelly doubled up the dragonfly. With her wonderful blue scale print for background, the dragonflies look like they're chasing each other over the surface of a lake.

Somehow I didn't manage to get a photo of Gail's gingko, but she also had a wonderful innovation. She added a 10" inset square with three small gingko leaf silhouettes in the lower corner of the quilt. But she reversed the foreground and background, so the leaves are the background fabric and the square is the applique fabric. It really looks great.

And finally we sandwiched and started quilting. Shannon's fabric choices are so bright and summery -- her dragonfly glows. I'm confident all of these quilts will be stunning.

Class Announcement:
My next two-session Stencil Quilt workshop will be in September. Sign up soon to make sure you have a spot!
New Pieces Quilt Store
766 Gilman Street, Berkeley
Sunday September 16 & 30, 12:30 - 3:30

02 July 2012

Siblings Together

Several months ago Lily's Quilts Lynne put out a call for donations to the UK charity Siblings Together. Siblings Together works with kids in the foster care system (as we would call it in the US) who have been separated from their siblings. They bring the siblings together in camps and events to maintain and build family ties, in spite of the horrible circumstances.

This mission resonated with me personally because I'm a parent in family by adoption. In the states we call it open adoption, meaning the particulars are all in the open, and the amount of contact between adoptive and biological families are a matter of discussion. The stories of heritage, history, connection, and kinship with families of choice, families by law, and families by biology continue to develop in our home. I must admit that I have not always been great at maintaining all those connections. Contributing to this project was a way to remind myself how important all those connections are to my son and my family.

I pulled a quilt I'm extremely fond of out of my growing stack of quilts. It has four circular flower blocks in faded bright colors. Thomas sent me the prints from his first fabric collection, Pear Tree. For Siblings Together, I added a twill label with space for one child to write a note to his or her sibling, to remember their time together.

The Siblings Together project is participating in Katie Swim, Bike, Quilt's 100 quilts for kids blog hop.

Swim, Bike, Quilt

I'm now determined to find a local adoption-related quilt action group. Do you know any groups in Northern California?