September newsy post

I am trying hard to get back into the doll sewing groove after spending August working on other things. My garden is looking MUCH better after hours of weeding. Of course that job is never finished. The main thing I focused on during my doll break was this-

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Yes, I made (most of a) quilt! The way I ended up doing this is so classic me- I was doing some attic cleaning on one of the cool days (the weather in August was all over the place!). I came across a small plastic bin of wool triangles that I cut out when? Maybe early 80’s? I brought them downstairs to deal with- decide if I would move them along or what? I started playing with them and then… they caught me! I had been planning on working on the quilt I started last summer but, oops.

Here is the bin-

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Now that I’m done, I think I still have enough triangles to make another full size quilt! I didn’t use any of the darker greens and very few of the bright plaids. My entire plan was alternate rows of cool and warm colors, light and dark triangles. Pretty simple and it came together very smoothly. Here are my strips, laid out on the ironing board.

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Then laid out on the bed, sewing the strips together.

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I had to move down to the dining room table because I was causing destruction in my studio. My work space is not set up for large projects!

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And, the top, all sewed together with border.

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I sewed together a backing and sandwiched it with a wool batting. It is now all basted together and rolled up in my studio, ready for me to decide how I will quilt it. I am very happy with how it looks, and it was fun to work on something that was just about color. Kind of funny that what I did on my break was a different kind of sewing- a busman’s holiday, right?

Other things that happened- a day at the beach, a trip to Sturbridge, MA for the Vintage Fashion and Antique Textile Show where I found lots of great little buttons for my creations, freezing peaches, and not enough attic cleaning but really, who wants to do that anyway.

I am trying to get back to work. I’ve been fussing with a few designs- a mermaid that I had to put aside when I was so so busy. I made the mistake of not making a test design when I cut out pieces to dye. When i sewed up the first one, I was not at all happy with it so put all the pieces aside for later rework. Now is the time. Also, I have been thinking about a new way of making the lumberjacks so I wanted to test one before I start cutting out a pile. So far, so good! When I am prepping for a show it can be difficult to slow down and backup and figure out what is wrong. I am in a good head space for that right now.

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And 2 more things. My Etsy shop is chock full of all kinds of goodies so if you’ve been thinking you’d like a man or a fox or an owl, there are lots to choose from. Secondly, I am thinking about teaching 2 classes at my house this fall- tiny worlds and owls. I will post more in a separate post this week. Stay tuned :-)

Eleanor’s quilt

I made a quilt for my daughter who is having a rather big birthday this month. And, I flew to Chicago to deliver it. Some things you just have to present in person. Here are some pics from the process, most off my phone so they aren’t all that great.

Starting out, mid-January-

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The center of the quilt is a Japanese gift wrapping cloth. I made a similar quilt in 2010. Using the Japanese fabrics and piecing, quilting and then assembling. There were 5 main pieces- 2 sides, the center, top center panel, bottom center panel.

2:10:quilt2I machine quilted each section, then put them together with a combination of machine and hand stitching.

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Then sewed the sections together until,

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It was all together! I will confess that I am most certainly not an expert quilter and some of my machine quilting was wonky enough that I had to remove it and quilt some parts by hand. So, it’s a mixed hand/machine piece.

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It’s fun to do something completely different, every once in a while!

it’s been quiet here

But not so quiet in my actual life. Since my last post, I finished my prototypes for West Elm and sent them off. Fingers crossed that all proceeds smoothly from here! Then I started prepping for a class that I taught at Gather Here over the weekend. I was having a hard time staying focused on that task and did a lot of cleaning, sorting, picking through, inventory-ing before I’d have to give myself a stern talking to and get back on track. It’s a January kind of activity. Anyway, the class was terrific!

1:15:class1Everyone worked hard and made some wonderful worlds.

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And on Saturday night, I started a quilt. Because, you know, it’s January!

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I booked a trip to Chicago in February- Hurray! Now to look into all the fun stuff since it will not be a working trip…. hmm- how does one do that?

quilt details

since you seemed interested…

here are some close-ups. This fish fabric was something that my mom bought for me when I was in high school (think early 70′s). I loved it so much, I could never bear to use it. I have finally gotten to the point where that seems very silly. I worry a bit about how the older fabric will hold up.

This is a piece of Japanese cloth- probably a gift wrapping cloth. The weave is slightly looser than a standard quilting cotton but still a solid fabric.  I have been collecting Japanese cloths for years. My mom had some that I got when we cleared out the house. I got other from various places over the years- I visited Japan in 1983, my brother gave me some (he lives in Kyoto), there is a Japanese Cultural group in town and they have a yearly yard sale. I am always keeping my eye out.

This piece is more of a gauze fabric. Maybe a towel?

Another gift wrapping cloth-

And the top swirls are another one of the gauzy fabrics. I hope they hold up. The chain design cotton along the sides is from a roll of kimono fabric that my mom bought, sometime between 1965 and 1986- she went to Japan a few times during those years.

None of the main pieces are pieced- just big blocks. The strips of red and navy on the front, and golds on the back are pieced. On the back, that center section is Marimekko fabric. The stripes are printed on it.

I have made great progress on my studio clean-up. I think I am about to call it done… for now. There are always a few things that I can not deal with. They usually look like this-

Sort of my studio version of a junk drawer…

remember that quilt?

I pieced the top in January. Fast forward to April, when I pieced a back and basted it together with the batting.  Now it is September!

I have quilted it. Yes- I was very nervous. I did not want to do that thread knot quilting method- (whatever the real name is, I don’t know) like I did on this one. I knew I did not want to hand-quilt another full size quilt. I wanted to finish this before  another 20 years had elapsed. And yes, I could have sent it out, but really, I am too cheap. And, I wondered if I would be able to let it go enough to accept what someone else did with the quilting. So what method did I use? I cut it into pieces that I could manage with my sewing machine, quilted them, and have sewn it back together. That took a lot of nerve and I’ve been talking myself into it for the past 5 months!

Here it is, in 4 pieces. Two pieces that are the middle section and two pieces that are the sides.

I slit the seams on the front, but had to cut through the fabric on the back. And, I pretty much had to rearrange my whole studio. That wasn’t a bad thing though- one of my post-Renegade Market resolutions was that I needed to do a major clean in there. In the above photo, all the pieces are already quilted and I am ready to start the sew them back together process.

Here, I am sewing the 2 middle pieces together. My plastic folding table (behind my machine in this pic) proved to be very useful. I move it to wherever I need some quilt weight-bearing.

Now the table is on the other side of the machine. I am getting ready to sew the backing together along the cut line. Yes, I lost about 1 inch in total quilt size for each of the cuts.

Here is stitching the backing together. I have pinned back the batting and the top fabric.

I did the top finishing seam by overlapping the pieces and carefully sewing down, as close to the edge as possible. My walking foot was invaluable. I could never have done this project without it. I know this because I started without it- since I don’t do much quilting, I don’t even think about it. So, I started and was unhappy and frustrated with the results I was getting- within about 3 minutes. Queue lightbulb over my head!

Here we are, all sewed back together and ready to trim off the excess batting and even out the edges.

Now, on to the finish. And here I want to mention the power of stopping a project when you are tired. Last night I got the quilt trimmed, pulled out my bins of fabric with something in mind for the edging. I found it, cut out 30 feet of bias strips, sewed them together and ironed them. Then I went to bed. At some point in the early morning I got the message (weird, huh?) that I had made a very off choice. All wrong. This morning, back to the bins with a clearer vision. I am back on track and have spent the morning moving forward. Hurray!

wips

I’ve been working on basting the quilt together. It progresses slowly. I have an idea now for how I’m going to quilt it. But, on the basting- I collected all of my almost empty spools of thread and some random bobbins with thread but no sewing machine to use them in, and used that to baste the quilt. It is so satisfying to be finishing up all those last little bits of thread!

My desk, this afternoon-

And today we had our Patriots’ Day parade. This is Mass Ave in Arlington, about a half hour before the parade started. Sort of eerie.

And this group made me laugh-

Hope you had a great weekend!

the quilt

I’m working on the quilt- see resolutions here.

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The quilt has a Japanese motif. I gave Peter several choices for what kind of quilt he’d like- the only 2 I can remember are wool or choosing fabrics from my collection of Japanese cloths. I have a lot of Japanese cloth. Some of it come from my Mom’s collection, some I have collected over the years. There are the fabrics for gift wrapping and loosely woven fabric “towels”. (I know they have official Japanese names, but I don’t know what they are.) There was a roll of cotton fabric that my Mom bought on one of her visits to Japan.

Peter picked out what he liked and I added some other fabrics (with his approval) for color and connecting. We worked on arranging them on the floor of the attic. Then he left and I got to work on other things… all fall. I think the hardest part of making the quilt is me getting started on it!

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I am not set up to work on something this scale. I am making a full size quilt- approx 6ft x 7ft.  I was okay with the center panel- I made myself enough studio floor space that I could look at it. But this morning, when I need to expand out from the center, I spread out on my bed. That green in the upper right-hand corner is my blanket and not part of the quilt.

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The one fabric that Peter choose that is not Japanese is that circle fish fabric. It is a batik that my Mom bought for me when I was in High School- so probably 1970 or so? I loved it so much that I never made anything out of it. I hung it on the wall for a while in college. I think I might finally be getting over that craziness of not using my favorite things- seems silly now.

The top is now finished. I am very nervous about the next step. I am considering having someone else do the quilting because I am worried about making a big mess of it. And, frankly, I don’t think I’d enjoy doing it. I know I don’t want to hand quilt, so I’m talking about machine quilting. Any thoughts on this?

wing it quilt tutorial

This quilt is made out of old wool shirts. I had 8 plaids in different color schemes. Red and green predominated. I love color and when I am doing non-figurative art, I tend to do color studies. The idea here is green to red to green again. I first used this way of designing a quilt 30 years ago when I made this one. (blues, dark to light and back again) When I posted about it last year, I couldn’t remember how I did it, but somehow it all trickled back since then.

I am not an expert quilter. I have never progressed beyond squares or rectangles. This is a very easy and, I think, non-scary way to approach patchwork. Careful measuring, cutting and/or piecing is not required. This is one of those “wing it” projects.

The photos are mostly underexposed so you can see the different fabrics, even though they are dark.

1. Make a template. Mine is 12 inches by 24 inches and made by taping 2 pieces of 12 x 18 inches of paper together. It can be any size but take into consideration what size fabric scraps you have and what size quilt you want to make.

2. I cut up my shirts, trying to get any piece of undamaged fabric that was at least 13 inches in one direction.

3. I piled them up by plaid and arranged them in order from most red to most green.

4. Then I laid them out in order on my template,

5. sewed them together, and

6. ironed them flat.

7. I trimmed each block so the sides were straight across

and 8. when eight were done, laid them out on the floor and played with the arrangement.

9. I sewed the blocks together- first matching the red centers and then sewed the four strips together lengthwise. Iron everything.

Now your top is done! Here is the rest of what I did to finish it-

10. Here is the top laid out on an old blanket that I used instead of batting.

11. Here is the back- I used the biggest pieces that I had and put them together with the least amount of sewing and thinking that I could manage.

12. And now, here are the three layers quilted together and ready for a binding. I hand-quilted the layers together because I never could have managed it on my sewing machine. The edge is basted together at this point.

13. I folded over that part over on the right side of the above photo to make the binding on one side… since it was so conveniently just the right size!

14. I cut bias strips from the last of the shirt backs that I had and used them to bind up the 3 other sides. And here is another photo of it finished!

Let me know if I left out any important information or steps and I will edit this tutorial.

the last present is finished

It is another lap blanket for our cold house. This one is made of Ben’s old Pendleton shirts- which, of course, I could never throw away. They are all wool.

When I pulled them out of the closet, there were 9 of them in 8 plaids. They were discarded because of moths and worn elbows and various other issues that I needed to be aware of while I cut out the pieces.

I was going to use a pieces of plain wool fabric for the back but couldn’t find anything in my stash that seemed like a good match. Instead, I used large pieces of what I had left- which was still quite a bit! Most of the big pieces were from the backs of the shirts and were in excellent condition.

It is a 3 layer quilt- I used an old wool blanket for a batting and it is very heavy. I’m not sure how functional it is going to be but we’ll see. I did the minimal quilting by hand. I sewed 2 of the labels into the corners of the back. I have 7 more and thought about sewing them randomly all over the back but I controlled myself.

I made this quilt the same way I did this one. I am going to do another post about how it all went together- I remembered to take the pictures!