Friday, August 22, 2014

A Tangent in Voile

Summer in New England this year has been weird and wimpy. The dogs days have been few and far between.

On one hand, this is wonderful. Already, in August, it feels like fall. I’ve worn pants a few times, turned off the AC, packed my swimsuit away until next year.

But is the fall weather here to stay? I’m banking on summer making a reappearance, no matter how briefly. In fact, I worked on my wardrobe just in case I’m right with another flirting the issue skirt, by Anna Maria Horner and made in one of her voiles. I made one back in May. This latest iteration is pretty much exactly the same; I tweaked some of the measurements just a bit.

If the idea of sewing clothes intimidates you, this is the skirt for you. There’s no pattern to work from: you’re really sewing four big rectangles together and adding some elastic to the waist. I find voile a little annoying to work with (give me a hearty quilting cotton any day!). This skirt is so easy to construct, however, that you will have no need to unpick stitches and risk hurting the delicate fabric.

Can I just say that my other noteworthy finish of the week was Kate Racculia’s Bellweather Rhapsody? A skirt and a novel wrapped up in the same week that there’s no summer school, no camp? Yeah, I’m feeling pretty good, but still anxiously awaiting the start of school! (If you haven’t read my ode from earlier in the week, rest assured that I’m a better sewist than poet.)

Linking up to TGIFF at Devoted Quilter and Finish It Up Friday, as well as Sew Cute Tuesday ...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Ode to the Start of School

Summer-time slowdown, little time to quilt or sew.
I want to work on my WIPs, get in the flow.
I have bags to finish, quilts to piece;
It’s time I complete my flying geese.
Those two little boys have a summer with Mom
But—alas!—all the while, I dream of QuiltCon.
Just when I’m about to lose my cool,
I remember my only hope: the start of school.

Like you, I have too many WIPs to fit them all in one photo! Starting with the Anna Maria Horner print in the bottom left and working clockwise, the ones pictured here include: another flirty skirt in a fabric from AMH’s Innocent Crush (to be finished today!); medallions from Park Bench, by Jaybird Quilts, in Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics; two Amy Butler prints that will become bags; the beginnings of a rail fence quilt from scraps and Rae Hoestra’s Lotus Pond; various fabrics in poppy and gray that will become a pieced back for this quilt.

Are you, like me, anticipating your kids’ return to school?!

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts, WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, and Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation ...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Low-Volume Inferiority Complex

Hello! If the fabulous Molli Sparkles sent you, welcome. I’m Michelle: long-time sewist, newbie quilter, Sunday-stash virgin.

For the record, I’d like to say that I’ve been quite good. In fact, I’ve been purging. I have two quilts in the works that use up some long-neglected fabric, and I even transformed a lost-cause fabric into some sweet pouches.

But you know how it goes. I headed to a local quilt store for some yardage to back my Birds of My Neighborhood quilt. I didn’t mean to partake in any stash-building; it just happened.

I blame the low-volume collectors. They’re everywhere, and honestly, I want to be just like them.

First I saw the low-volume loveliness around Maryse’s crosses. And then Chelsea showed off the low-volume additions to her stash.

I limited myself to just three half-yards. Aren’t they beautiful? From left to right, they are Mod-Century by Jenn Ski for Moda, Edo Blossom from Makower UK, and a beige-on-beige polka dot from (I think) Quilting Treasures.

I did get my yardage for this quilt. It’s a light aqua and is also Mod-Century, which is such an awesome almost-solid. I love the visual texture that print adds to a quilt.

The frogs are Meadow Friends by Deb Strain for Moda. I needed a bit to add to one of my purge quilts. (Hey, sometimes to use up fabric, you need to buy some fabric. It’s the reality of quilting, people. Do not judge!) And the orange floral is Farmdale Blossom from Alexander Henry.

That last find was sheer kismet. I saw that print at Blue Elephant Stitches recently, in gray, and loved it. As soon as I walked into this shop I saw the orange colorway. I restrained myself to a quarter-yard, thank you very much.

I’m so glad I jumped on the Sunday-stash train. I’m feeling good about these purchases. My rationale is solid. The low-volume selections are the start to a nice collection. Nope, I have zero residual guilt about buying during a purge season. None!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

On Sewing for a Friend

Short version of this story: I’m making more totes!
Long version of this story: I recently ask a friend to choose some fabric for a tote I wanted to make her. It seemed like an innocent enough question, and I thought it would be a luxury to consult with her before embarking on the project. But her response gave me pause.

I had pulled five or six candidates, explaining that I’d be pairing her selection with some Essex Linen. I can’t remember all the fabrics. I know some had a vintage vibe, including the top selection, from Lori Holt; others were more modern, including the quilting-weight paisley and home-dec fabrics, all from Amy Butler. She liked the colors of the paisley but didn’t gravitate toward any particular design.

It was then that I realized my request for input wasn’t particularly fair.

Would an interior designer expect me to sit down and plan an entire room on paper? Would a landscape designer expect me to lay out the perfect flower bed? Sure, I could give either one some solid ideas—what I like, what is not me, and so on. But I don’t see the world through the eyes of an interior designer or landscape designer. And my friend doesn’t see the world through the lens that I do.

I actually think if I had gone ahead and made a tote bag with any of the fabrics I had selected, she would have liked and used the bag. Seeing the raw materials and envisioning the final product, however, was hard for her. (Heck, it’s often hard for me.)

If I had to do things differently, I think I would either have asked her for some general color preferences or have set her loose in my drawers of stash, just to see which fabrics resonated with her. Doing so would have given me some direction without expecting her to commit to anything in particular.

I decided to return all the fabric to my stash and come up with another pick for this project without her input. Here’s the result, completed with the little that remains of my Hope Valley fats and based on a free pattern from Noodlehead. The DS Quilt fabric below it is another tote in process. It’s for another friend, who has no idea that I’m making something for her, and the fabrics were chosen based only on my keen observations about this second friend’s fabric likes (no interrogation!).

A question for you: in the coming months, I plan on making a quilt for my mother-in-law, at her request. I need to take the lessons learned here and apply them to that project. Maybe I’ll present a few different directions the quilt top could go in and several fabric options. I could even show her my Kona Cotton color card and get some feedback about the palette overall. What do you think about that approach? Any other strategies that may help me?

In other news, I recently joined the New Hampshire Modern Quilt Guild (even though I live in Mass), which meets at Twill, a sweet fabric and yarn shop in Nashua, New Hampshire. In the process, I had the pleasure of meeting Chelsea, from Patch the Giraffe. Here’s the two of us. Chelsea is on the left, and I’m on the right. I’m sporting a ridiculously big grin—it was awesome to be in the presence of so many other quilters for an evening. These ladies are going to teach me so much, I just know it!

If you haven’t visited Patch the Giraffe before, can I point you to some favorite quilts of mine? I love, love, love Chelsea’s modern red, white, and blue palette for this quilt and her fresh take on a maple leaf quilt.

Thank you for reading to the end of a long post! ; )

Update: The second tote is done, made with a plaid from DS Quilts, Quilter’s Linen in navy, and Essex Linen in flax. Take that, Q3 Finish-Along list!

Linking up to ... Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts and Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A PB&J Finish

I’m happy to present the latest finish at From Bolt to Beauty: my Candy Circle quilt in Basic Grey’s PB&J …

I love the back. It features a print that gets lost in the patchwork on the front …

This project, like all of mine, had its highs and lows. Cheryl Brickey’s instructions were spot-on and easy to follow. It was the quilting that tripped me up. I experienced some puckering and ripped out about a fifth of the quilting. A second go-round produced some puckering but not as much as the first time. Sigh. I was lamenting recently to Audrey of Hot Pink Quilts: I’m sick of having to chalk quilt projects up to learning experiences! I just want something to work out the way I plan it to!

The triumph on the quilting, however, was that I did not mark every blessed line with my white Chaco liner. I just eyeballed the diagonal quilting in the 2.5-inch blocks. I think it’s the least anal-retentive thing I’ve done in my entire life—and it worked out pretty well. The way I saw it, even if I marked every line, the quilting would not be perfectly straight. This approach saved some time and produced about the same results as if I had tediously marked the entire quilt.

Another first: I bound the quilt in Kona Oyster (a cue taken from the Carnelian and Iron quilt by Kim, of Leland Ave Studios fame). Usually, I go for darker binding. Doing so, in my opinion, grounds a quilt. This quilt, however, is headed to a new baby girl. I purposely made this quilt more “little girl” than “new baby,” even adding a border to enlarge it overall, in hopes that she’d get a few more years of use out of it. A darker binding would have undermined the little-girl-ness, don’t you think?

I’m riding that postfinish high. (This quilt is on my Q3 list, to boot!) I hope to report that another project is wrapped up sooner rather than later!

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Finish It Up Friday ...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Two Birds, One Stone

I’m still chipping away at my unloved fabrics in a purge effort spearheaded by Rachel at Stitched in Color.

Here’s where things stand right now …

My 3.5-inch squares of poppy, teal, salmon, and gray have started their journey to becoming a quilt. The interesting part of this process so far has been realizing that what I originally identified as tomato in the Joel Dewberry Notting Hill fabric (second from bottom on the left) could be “read” as poppy. Isn’t that a weird phenomenon? What you pair a fabric with affects how you interpret the colors in it. And once I placed the Notting Hill fabric with the Jewel from Lizzy House (second from bottom on the right) at my local quilt shop, I knew I would include poppy in the palette instead of my original intention, tomato.

Yes, that means I added some newly purchased yardage to this project. I just needed some more variety, and my stash is especially lacking in the teal department. It’s a paradox my husband does not understand: sometimes, to use up fabric, one must buy some fabric.

My selection of orange, brown, and mustard fabrics—set aside for a second quilt—have grown. Taking a cue from the colors in the Tic Tac fabric (on the far left), I added green to the palette, searched through my scraps, and hit pay dirt. I also included half-yards of Rae Hoekstra’s Lotus Pond—one featuring snails, the other featuring frogs—that I had on hand. I think I’ll use Amanda Jean’s instructions for making a rail fence quilt.

(Update: I decided that the color palette in the pic above is hideous. Hideous, I tell you! I’m going to edit out the greens and add in some teals or aquas. The look I’m striving for is less 1978 and more today.)

The exciting thing about these two projects—in addition to putting previously overlooked fabric to good use—is that I’ve decided to jump on the 100 Quilts for Kids bandwagon and donate these to charity. It’s really a win-win situation: I get to join in the action at Stitched in Color and Quilts in the Queue, I use up neglected yardage and scraps, and two kids get a quilt!

Here’s the challenge. I’ve never donated a quilt before. When I start a quilt, I either have a recipient in mind from the get-go, or I have absolutely no one in mind. In the latter case, as I progress with the project, the quilt seems to decide whom it’s supposed to go to. Sometimes even I am surprised!

Here’s where you come in. You are my witness and can hold me accountable: I will not let these quilts go to friends! They are headed to someone I’ve never met who will love them and use them.

Of course, the question of where I’ll donate these quilts remains. I would like to send the finished quilts somewhere local (I live in Massachusetts), but I’m happy to send them to a faraway place as long as they’ll be put to good use. Any ideas?

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100 Quilts for Kids