Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You Know You’re a Quilter When …

Somewhere over the past 12 months or so I’ve transformed from being a general sewer to being a quilter. Even though I make the occasional tote bag or skirt or Roman shade, when asked about my hobby, I call myself a quilter.

I’ve been thinking about that phenomenon lately and wondering at what point the transformation happened.

Size of the Stash

Did I become a full-fledged quilter when my stash grew to a particular size? (There was not much need for a sizable stash when I stuck to bags and home-dec projects.) I actually didn’t think my stash was that unwieldy until recently, when I found these jelly roll strips.

When on earth did I purchase them? (Not being able to recall buying certain fabrics must signal that I have a big stash.) And why did I buy them? Because honestly, they’re really not me. Now that I’ve found them, they’re screaming to be included in the purge I’m working on right now. As if I needed another quilt project.

Backlog of Quilt Tops

Perhaps it’s the backlog of quilt tops that identifies me as a quilter.

I’m currently in those halcyon days with these two quilt tops—fooling myself into thinking how far along I am with them. After all, the tops are completely pieced! But I still have to baste and quilt and bind these projects. Sigh.

And this third one will continue to wait to be quilted. I have to learn how to free-motion quilt to finish it up.

The quilt-top theory is one worth considering, but I know that other quilters have many more tops in the queue than I do.

Postal Deliveries

So maybe the first two stabs at deciphering this weren’t fully on the mark. I think I’m getting pretty close now!

This is what signifies my “quilter-ness”: when a 40-yard bolt of batting is delivered to my front door.

No, no! I’ve got it! It’s when a 40-yard bolt of batting is delivered to my front door and my husband is completely unfazed by it.

Yes, I’m officially a quilter.

How about you? What is the dead giveaway that you’re a quilter?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ugly No More!

Readers of Stitched in Color are a few weeks into a purge of our unloved and neglected fabrics. Heaven knows I have a stack of them that needs to be used up. (Because, of course, that will be the green light to buy more fabrics—ones that I super-promise not to ignore!)

But there was one fabric that I thought was beyond hope …

I bought a half-yard of this Michael Miller print for my Penny Sampler quilt last fall. But honestly, when I received it in the mail (it was an online purchase, made sight unseen), I knew it didn’t belong in my quilt. There isn’t anything subtle about it. The printed design is thick white lines that give the fabric a substantial, almost stiff, hand. Ick. I tucked it under prettier fabric in my stash and conveniently forgot about it until recently.

In a moment of clarity, I realized I had been regarding this fabric only through the eyes of a quilter. I stopped thinking about what might make this fabric tolerable in a quilt and started to consider what other selections may suit it—and actually make it pretty. This is what I came up with: a print from Denyse Schmidt’s Chicopee line and Kona Tomato.

Once I had selected the fabrics, choosing a pattern was easy. I went with s.o.t.a.k. handmade’s  drawstring pouch, something I had been meaning to try for a while.

So I made one and liked it so much that I made another exactly like it. And then a version with Stitch Circle in navy. And then, clearly excited by bringing new life to this Michael Miller print and throwing all caution to the wind, a version with a chartreuse casing and kitty-cat lining.

Wow, it was helpful to realize that I’m capable of pigeon-holing myself as a quilter. Actually, it was surprising: I’ve been sewing for well over a decade, but I’m just a one-year-old quilter.

Furthermore, this experience solidified something I caught intimations of when I made my Hope Valley quilt. Just cutting a not-so-loved fabric into a manageable size instead of viewing it as a big swath can change how I feel about it. (With Hope Valley, there was one fabric I did not like. But in the context of the quilt and paired with all that white fabric, I love it.)

OK, one quick question for you before you jet off to the blog of another Finish It Up Friday or Sew Cute Tuesday participant …

Do you have any recommendations on what to use as drawstrings for bags like these? I used black leather cording for mine, but I’m not completely sold on it. In the past, I’ve used shoestrings for pouches for kids because they’re nice and durable. I like the look of ribbon until the pouch has been used a few times and the ribbon is no longer looking so great. Thanks in advance for your help!

Update: OK, so I have another question. The push to purge at Stitched in Color focuses on fabric, but I also have some accessories I would like to use up. What fabrics would you pair these handles with? I’d like to use them on a Miranda Day Bag from Lazy Girl Designs, but they’re a little fancy for me. And they’re brown—I’d be more likely to use them if they were black. Do any fabric lines come to mind when you see these handles? (Hmmm … maybe I should look at Art Gallery’s current offerings?)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

PB&J, Multimedia Style

I’ve been enamored with Basic Grey’s PB&J line, for Moda, since its debut a year or two ago. So when I won a stack of PB&J mini-charms from my local quilt shop, I was pretty psyched and started plotting what I would do with them.

During a visit to the Moda Bake Shop, I discovered Cheryl Brickey’s Candy Circle quilt. It was one thing to view selections from PB&J on the bolt or flipping through my little deck of mini-charms, but now having finished piecing my Candy Circle top, I have a whole new appreciation for the line.

When I look at the color palette, I feel as if I’m viewing it through an Instagram filter: the geometrics and florals seem to have the slightest of sepia undertones. Gosh, it’s crazy pretty.

Before I was a sewer, I was a paper crafter, and it just so happens that I have a stack of PB&J in paper form. I couldn’t resist … I need some blank cards, stuff I can use for thank-yous and such, so I made some simple quilting-inspired cards. See—I made a quilt and cards using them same designs from Basic Grey! (Clearly, I am easily amused.)

There is a constant stream of amazing fabric lines being released. I have to let so many of them pass me by. After all, there’s only so much time in the day to sew, and I try to confine my stash to an oversized dresser drawer (and a big plastic bin and a few bags here and there). I’m glad I got to work with PB&J—in different media, at that!—before it disappears from store shelves.

A word on our sponsor: A thank-you to the biggest sponsor of From Bolt to Beauty, my husband, who kindly took my older son on a 400-mile road trip, allowing me to get serious sewing and crafting done this week. I promise to rid Mantown of all craft paraphernalia before your return!

Linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday and ...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Zigs and Zags

I am happy to report that my version of Denyse Schmidt’s Big Zig is done. It has been pieced. It has been basted. It has been quilted and bound. I can only say: thank heavens!

If you’ve been keeping tabs on my progress, you know that this Big Zig withered away in my closet for too many months, just hoping to be a real quilt one day. With my brother-in-law’s half-birthday looming (you read that right: this puppy was six months late), it was time to indulge in a little binge sewing and wrap things up.

I’m so darn pleased with it. I thought that there would be little forgiveness in the chunky geometric chevron and the many zigs and zags that constitute the quilting. I was wrong.

I began the piecing in 2013. Sure, it was a different year, but also, I was a different quilter. I’ve learned so much, and I suspect if I had done the piecing in one fell swoop (either then or now), the math would have worked out a little better. For example, I was drawing some guidelines through the crests and valleys of the chevron to mark quilting lines. Two zigs that were adjacent vertically were off by a quarter of an inch. That is an order of magnitude to a quilter. For whatever reason—I can’t explain it and I’m trying not to overthink it—both the quilting and the project overall came out really well despite such inaccuracies.

Then there was the happy accident of the back. I bought many yards of Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics to make the back and then realized (duh!) it has a vertically oriented design and my calculations were based upon using it horizontally. (How many years and years do I have to sew before I stop making rookie mistakes?!) That, however, inspired the back my dear Big Zig now sports. Like its brother, the quilt front, the back is geometric and chunky. I quilted in thread that matches the front—some navy, some gray—which allows it to blend in nicely on that side. The back, on the other hand, shows peeks of the quilting here and there, hiding it in other spots. Super happy with it.

I’m sure many of you have a copy of Denyse Schmidt Quilts: 30 Colorful Quilt and Patchwork Projects, the book where the Big Zig pattern appears. It’s a classic. As long as you don’t stop midproject to make another three or four quilts as I did (!), it’s a pretty quick sew. I love how Denyse was tuned in to chevrons before chevrons were trendy and how, with different fabric and thread choices, one sewist can create a guy quilt and another can take the same pattern and make something distinctly feminine. Even after making my own, I still covet the original ...

Photograph used by permission of DS Quilts
Linking up to My Quilt Infatuation and Finish It Up Friday!

Update: I just joined in the fun at Blossom Heart Quilts!