Design Wall

Well. I lost my sewing mojo after a brief flurry of activity in January. Mostly, I think I had too many things happening all at once and my sewing space is limited and gets messy very quickly. Finally I just put everything away in a fit of annoyance. My parents visited recently and getting the house together in anticipation of their visit led to tidying up in the sewing area as well. I’m hopeful that this will lead to more productivity on my part, now! I’d like to at least finish ONE project on my Q1FAL goal list.

Design wall #1

One problem I’ve run into as I’ve started making slightly larger quilts is that I don’t have a great place to lay those quilts out as I’m putting together the blocks and then the rows. My bed is fine for baby quilts, but anything larger and it starts to get a little weird. Not to mention that my six cats are very interested in this whole process, so I try to keep this away from them if possible! A design wall would alleviate some of these problems. I wanted to build my own, but neither my car nor my husband’s will fit the large insulation panels that are used as the foundation for these walls. So that project lingered in my mind for a while — and while it shouldn’t have, it probably contributed to some of my sewing malaise. Because how can I sew when I am fixated on getting a design wall in my house?! ;)

Design wall 2

A solution came in the form of my parents’ van. They drove down rather than fly and they have one of those vans where the seats fold down into the floor. It’s kind of amazing, actually. You can fit a ton of stuff in the back of one of those vans!! The insulation panels were still right at the limit of what the van could hold, lengthwise, but we made it home. I think I ended up with 3/4″ panels 4′ wide by 8′ long. I knew that would be a little too tall for how I wanted to use them, so I cut the panels down to 6.5′ tall. I want to be able to move them around my house so that I can store them away from cats, but bring them out to where I sew when necessary. The full panels would have been the perfect size if I was planning to attach them to a wall, though. In the end, I have two panels 6.5’X4′. I like that I can move only one out at a time if I want.

Design wall 3

You can see in the pictures that I was not especially concerned with keeping my cut lines straight. I don’t anticipate this being an issue — I’m not really using the wall to square things up so much as to see the larger picture on a neutral background. If it really gets to me I can trim it down to be level. I also went with felt as my fabric cover for the walls — I know that batting would probably be a lot “stickier” but felt was a lot more affordable for me and…somehow I have a hard time putting batting that could be used in a quilt to a use like this. Maybe I’ll upgrade to flannel at some point. For now, this works. I may have to pin things occasionally, but I’m happy with this for now.

The quilt blocks on the wall were just to assess that the wall worked the way I expected. The final layout will be quite a bit different. I’m also realizing that I probably made double the number of blocks I need for this quilt, but that just means I’ve got a second quilt nearly done, right?

Linking up to Needle & Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation and Finish It Friday @ Crazy Mom Quilts.

Q1 Finish-A-Long Goals

2016 FAL

 

I’m hoping that accountability will be the key to success this year and so I’m linking up with the Finish-A-Long, a quarterly link-up to help motivate bloggers complete their started projects. This year the link-up is global; I am linking up with Leeann at She Can Quilt although there are many options out there.

After some thought, I decided to choose nine projects to focus on for the Finish A Long. This seemed like a good compromise between all the random things I have started and the projects that I should actually prioritize. It has taken me almost a week to finally admit that I am not going to get better pictures than I have right now, at least not before the deadline for posting projects. Pictures for the first six projects are in the mosaic below; I’ve lost the photos I have for the last three projects and will update this post when I either find them or retake the pictures.

Projects listed clockwise from top left.

  1. Bri’s Quilt — quilt top is done, backing fabric pulled and cut but still needs to be pieced.
  2. Brooke’s Quilt — quilt top is done
  3. Lanycea’s Quilt &
  4. Nyrie’s Quilt — fabrics pulled (L’s is blue stack, N’s is purple stack) and I’ve been ironing and starting to cut, just don’t have an updated photo, so they are sharing this one
  5. Rainbow Plus Quilt — fabrics cut and layout is being pondered on my “design wall” (guest bed)
  6. Rainbow Chevron and On Quilt — some blocks have been pieced

I don’t have photos yet for these quilts, although they are substantially in progress.

  1. Charity Baby Quilt — quilt top is done
  2. Michael’s T-Shirt Quilt — most tees have been trimmed and interfaced
  3. Landon’s Quilt — quilt top is done

I’m not sure if nine projects is crazy or not, although most of them are actually pretty small. I would very much like to have the baby quilts done before I visit my family again (probably sometime in February, if I can swing it) and Michael’s birthday is in March, so I would like to have his quilt finished by then. I had a furious bout of creativity and making in October and November, in anticipation of seeing my family over Thanksgiving. I’d like to think that I can replicate that kind of pace, but I would like to be a bit better about balance this time around.

In addition to linking up on the FAL page, I am also linking up to Finish It Friday at crazy mom quilts. Because pulling this list together has truly taken me all week, what with one thing or another!!

RSC: Block #1 Finished

RSC_Blue1

For several years I’ve followed the rainbow scrap challenge participants vicariously on my lap top. This year I’ve decided to join in. I don’t have a ton of scraps — I’ve not really sewn up enough of my fabric stash to have a lot of scraps (although I’m astonished by how quickly so much accumulates) — but I am trying to get a handle on organization generally and it seems like using them up is better than hanging on to them for no reason. I’m not doing the row by row challenge, just making one or two blocks each month in the allotted color. This month is blue.

The block design I ultimately decided on is the scrappy trips block. I am piecing it from 2.5″ squares rather than strips and I am once again confronted with how TERRIBLE my piecing is. This block is trimmed down to 12″ (should be 12.5″) and I’m adapting my plan to now sash the blocks and include a cornerstone. I seem to have more trouble with squares than I do with triangles, oddly enough. I have marked my seam on my machine, after measuring out from the needle. I’ve tried a couple of different presser feet; a quarter inch foot isn’t made for my machine, but I thought maybe I would have better luck with something different. Nope. I am really getting kind of frustrated and worst of all I’m pretty sure that it’s operator error more than anything else. I’m just not sure of the next step to take.

Anyway, I had hoped to have more done this week but I’ve been sick and just off. I may still get the back pieced for Bri’s quilt but probably won’t get much further than that. I also want to put together a list for the First Quarter Finish Along — another online group challenge that I’ve watched for a while and now plan to participate in. That should be up by this weekend. I just need to take some photos. I’ve noticed that some folks list a ton of things and that long list motivates them to get some of their projects finished, while others are much more circumspect but tend to finish most projects. I think I will be somewhere in the middle. Enough projects to stretch me, but not so many that I just think of it as a fairy tale!

Linking up this week at Needle and Thread Thursday (My Quilt Inspiration) and Finish It Up Friday (Crazymom Quilts).

WIP Wednesday: Bri’s Quilt

bri's quilt 1

I’m working on my youngest niece’s quilt today, trying out possible backing and binding fabrics.

bri's quilt 3_edit

I’ll have to piece a backing but I should have just enough of the pink polka dots to use for the binding. I hope. It’s a pretty small quilt so I should be able to just eek it out.

Excuse the crappy photos — it’s a rainy, gray day + I’m using my phone because it’s fast.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday!

ETA 1/8/16: After thinking about it for a while, I’ve decided to choose this quilt as my One Monthly Goal. I’m linking up at Red Letter Quilts and look forward to sharing a completed quilt sooner rather than later!

2016 Quilting & Sewing Goals

how-we-procrastinate

Goals, goals, goals. I am ever so good at setting them. I am not always so good at following through to completion. Often I try to improve all the areas of my life all at once. And make my goals and resolutions list one big, overwhelming tangle of obligation. This year I am thinking about what I would like to achieve in different areas, and keeping those lists separate places. And they are very task oriented. I do much better with task-oriented goals than I do with abstract self-improvement resolutions.

I’ve broken this list down into two sections, one for quilting and one for sewing. And each section has two parts — skills I’d like to build and specific projects I want to complete to hopefully achieve said skill-building. Of course, I do have some overarching goals that don’t settle nicely into either category or are applicable to both. They are listed below.

BIG GOALS

  • Stick to using fabric and notions primarily from my stash.
    • Items needed to finish projects are acceptable purchases, but I really don’t need any more fabric.
  • Put myself “out there” more often
    • Participate in a swap, comment on other blogs and instagram accounts, participate in link-ups and commit to keeping this blog going for a whole year.
    • This is a total stretch goal because I really, really like to fly under the radar and am kind of shy — pushing myself outside of my comfort zone for sure.
  • Set up a table with handmade items for sale at a crafts market sometime next fall.
    • A friend and I have been bouncing this idea around and while it makes me nervous, I think its the good kind of stretch goal that pushes rather than shoves. I want to feel a lot more confident about my skills before I do anything so drastic, but I like having this as a longer term goal.

Quilting

Skills

  • Perfect 1/4 inch seam allowance
    • I am so not perfect at this. I am not sure what the trick will be with my machine, but I really want to figure it out, as I think it will make so many other things go more smoothly.
  • Seam-matching and perfect points
    • I’d like to get to the point where these match up at least 90% of the time.
  • Curves and circles
    • Could use quite a bit of work. I tend to be drawn to more linear patterns, but I don’t want to avoid things just because I’m afraid of a little bit of curve.
  • Binding
    • Get to the point with machine-bound quilts where the final seam is straight and consistent.
    • Try hand-binding and improve hand finishing skills generally.

Project Goals

  • Finish the three quilts I’ve started for my little nieces and nephews.
  • Make the twins quilts using the fabric I picked out at the end of the year.
  • Finish the t-shirt quilt I started for my husband.
  • Make a rainbow quilt for two friends going through cancer.
  • Make at least one quilt per month.
  • Make a mini quilt each month and use that project to focus on improv and creativity building.
  • Donate at least two quilts to a charity.

Sewing

Skills

  • Learn how to install a zipper.
    • I am weirdly nervous about this, even after watching a number of video tutorials to the point where I can explain how to do it–I’m just reluctant to try it myself.
  • Learn more about pattern matching.
    • Sometimes I’ve done a really good job, but other times not so much. I don’t entirely understand how to make it consistent so it often feels like it happens by accident.
  • Improve my ability to work with fabric cut on the bias.
    • A lot of these skills actually require me to slow down and pay attention to what I’m doing. I have a tendency to go too fast or not think about what I’m doing. And that really shows up when working with bias cut fabric.
  • Build my ability to install closures cleanly and neatly (buttons, snaps, hook/eye).
    • I have a tendency to complete a reasonably nice project and then butcher it with my inability to finish it nicely.
  • Start using better seam finishes than just pinking the edges.
    • Trying to move away from the Becky-Home-Ecky look.

Project Goals

  • Finish the three aprons I’ve started.
  • Try three or four different pouch patterns.
  • Each month, try one new thing that could be sold at at craft table.
  • Make myself two skirts.
  • Finish the two tops that I have started.
  • Make a duffle bag.
  • Build a stash of pot holders and mug rugs to keep on hand for gifting.

Square Shadows

IMG_5785

This quilt is for my niece, Jane. She and my eldest niece are only six months apart and it is fun to watch them become good friends. Jane is a sturdy two year old who is still figuring out some of the finer points of running and jumping, but her vocabulary and imagination are off the chart. She loves to talk and take part in the dinner table conversation. She also loves to follow along behind her brother and try to do everything he does. He is not always thrilled about this!

IMG_5742

John thought the pattern on this quilt looked like squares and their shadows, so I am calling the quilt Square Shadows. These are simple half square triangles made using 5″squares, then trimmed down to 4.5″ blocks. This part of the quilt was rather small, so I added size with a couple of borders. I was really pleased with how the different fabrics in my stash worked together in this quilt and I am especially proud of the cornerstones, which were a happy accident that came about because I cut the border strips too short!

IMG_5788

The quilting echoes the square/diamond shapes in the center, with straight lines in the border area. The backing is pieced using various leftovers and once again I used the machine binding technique to finish the quilt. This is the third quilt I finished and the quilting and binding on this quilt are markedly better than on the other two. My triangle piecing, on the other hand, could use some work. I do love half square triangles, though, and have lots of ideas for additional quilts.

 

A Matter of Time

IMG_5752

This quilt is for my eldest (of the littles) niece, Leah. She is two and a half and likes to move, move, move. She’s been a walker since she was nine months old, a runner since she was a year and now moves like an athlete. Some of her favorite things include exercising with Mommy, “lifting” weights with Daddy (he works in a gym) and taking care of her little sister. She’s not often very still, but I feel sure that this quilt will have many adventures!

I used two charm packs to make the center hour glass blocks and then framed the quilt in some gray fabric I had on hand to increase the size somewhat. It’s the perfect size for this petite toddler; she goes to bed every night with her auntie’s blanket.

IMG_5750

I used the simple method of making hourglass blocks that I saw described on a MSQC video, although I don’t remember which video exactly. You sew two squares together on two sides only, then cut on the diagonal to get quarter square triangles. Two of these sewn together make your hourglass blocks.

I was pleased with my ability to meet points in the center of these blocks but found that many of my blocks weren’t exactly perfect when lined up beside one another. I think this is maybe due to the way I trimmed the blocks? Obviously, less than perfect piecing probably contributed as well.

IMG_5794

I quilted it by echoing the vertical lines of the rows, and then framed the gray space. If I had had more time, I think I would prefer to have a little more quilting, but as it is the quilt is nicely drapey and good for snuggling. I somehow ended up with a terrible flap of fabric that didn’t have anywhere to go and so there is a rather unsightly tuck on one side. It is less obvious that I had built it up in my brain, but still pretty large. I think it is due to not basting properly and to not paying attention as I quilted. I still am learning how to get the quilt through my machine and I think that my manipulations may also have contributed to this error.

IMG_5796

The quilt is bound in a bright teal and the backing is pieced from some fun fabrics I had in my stash. Once again I used a machine binding technique and am happy with the way that turned out.