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!

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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!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Turning Frogs into Princes

It happens to the best of us: we buy a fabric or 2 or 20, and then things change. Maybe our plan of attack for a project evolves and those fabrics don’t fit into our new vision. Perhaps we purchased some yardage online only to realize that, in person, it doesn’t work with our other selections. One way or another, we have some unloved and unused fabrics hiding in our stash.

Rachel at Stitched in Color is looking to do something about this problem for herself and, in the process, help you and me purge these no longer enticing fabrics. Step one: identify what needs to go.

I did not investigate my scrap piles. I went straight to my yardage and found this …

I can identify the projects these neglected fabrics were originally purchased for. The guilt lies heavily on me. But I moved things about, and look what I discovered …

Although these fabrics were initially bought for different projects altogether, two colorways emerged: orange/brown/mustard and teal/tomato/gray. Go figure. I think I can make quilts out of both of these groupings without buying much, if any, additional fabric. Somehow, these unloved chunks of fabric have a promising future. I may actually be excited about using them.

Starting with the teal/tomato/gray grouping, I looked through my scraps and solids. There are some Denyse Schmidt scraps from this quilt and some Kona tomato that I considered for this quilt. I also found that I own some selections from Tula Pink’s Prince Charming line. (Yes, this was news to me. I must have bought them in a pack of scraps.) The Tula Pink designs are small snippets of fabric, just 7 inches by 8 inches, but I could incorporate them and expand the color palette here to teal/tomato/gray/salmon. I have a bunch of Kona salmon and Bonnie and Camille’s Happy-Go-Lucky in salmon left over from my Farmer’s Market quilt.

Yes, yes—this is definitely excitement I’m experiencing over these previously neglected fabrics! Can I turn these frogs into princes?! You’ll just have to come back and see …

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Procrastination, Quilting for Dudes

I was recently over at 13 Spools, joining in the conversation about works in progress. How many should a sewer have going at once? Is every idea one worth pursuing?

It’s necessary for me to have more than one ball in the air at a time. I need the variety for those moments when I get bored with a project. Sometimes, I need a quick finish (and let’s face it: quilts are never quick finishes!) so that I can revel in that sense of accomplishment and propel myself into a more daunting project. Then there are those times I consider taking a pair of shears to an especially frustrating project (haven’t done it … yet!). In those moments, I slowly back away from my sewing table and move on to something else.

But it’s possible to let something wither away undone for too long. Case in point: my version of Denyse Schmidt’s Big Zig quilt. Originally, I was working with a December 2013 deadline (for a Christmas present). Then it was a January 2014 deadline (for the same person, but for his birthday instead of Christmas). Now I’m going for the recipient’s half-birthday, in July. Yes, I am ridiculous. But half-birthdays should be real things—like, with cake and presents.

Photograph used by permission of DS Quilts

My original stab at this quilt was delayed by my Penny Sampler, although I can honestly say that life in general was delayed by my Penny Sampler. The Penny Sampler has been done since January, so what’s the holdup? The Big Zig is super easy to piece, and I’ve had the fabric.

I think it’s the quilting. I’m drawn to the simple geometry in some quilts. But there’s little forgiveness in the quilting here—especially in the way that Denyse quilted the original, with a contrasting thread! I will be choosing a more matchy-match color of thread, which should somewhat hide whatever flaws appear in my final quilt.

Photograph used by permission of DS Quilts

So I’ve assessed the situation and confirmed that what I have cut I can use. I wish I had written some notes about where I was in the process when I set it aside. (Truth be told, I didn’t think it would be ignored for half a year.) For example, one cut triangle had a pin in it. I’m sure that was meant to indicate something. It’s like a secret message from my fall 2013 self to my summer 2014 self. Too bad I can’t figure out what it is!

My version of Denyse Schmidt’s Big Zig

What’s your take on WIPs, Goldilocks? How many are just right?

And on another subject: how do you feel about quilting for dudes? This is my first quilt specifically for a guy (the rainbow quilt for my five-year-old son doesn’t count). What have you made for the men in your lives? I ask because I plan on embarking on another guy project. Thanks in advance!

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