orange

9646350884_f66d517765_z 9646351064_d55104381c_z  9646355988_b73305a8bb_z 9643115217_7c224bfa49_z9646351918_ac8ef00c23_z

I have a friend who made a very difficult decision to brave a very risky surgery, and very much triumphed in the end.  At the beginning of her medical journey, I knew I wanted to make her something that would brighten up her hospital room.  Since I “didn’t have time” to make a whole quilt, I decided on a pillow.  I took a couple of arcs that were originally intended for my snake trail quilt, and appliqued them to an out-of-print Echino fabric that I adore. Once I sent her the pillow, I realized that I needed to make her a quilt. I asked her about her favorite color and got to work cutting up all of my most favorite orange prints.  Somehow I found the time to put it all together.  Funny how that works.

thoughts on the snake trail quilt

rings

I’ve mentioned previously that I have taken on Denyse Schmidt’s snake trail quilt pattern as a long term project.  I thought I’d share my thoughts on the process so far. I am really enjoying making this quilt.

-I don’t intend to sound negative right off the bat, but I think I’ve found some errata with the pattern pieces.  As far as I can tell, pattern pieces A and B are supposed to vary slightly, but I have discovered that they are exactly the same.  This is slightly frustrating because I was keeping track of the B pattern pieces I had cut and was making sure that I was only sewing them onto the ends of the arcs, as the pattern instructs.  In a word, I was wasting time organizing pieces of fabric.  Boo.  I have since emailed the publisher and author for clarification and will report back if I hear back from them.  I am discovering that the pattern is working out fine without the slightly altered B piece, so I’m not really concerned.

-I am hand- and machine- piecing this quilt.  I have cut thin strips of fabric to use as a guide for my seam allowance when I am hand-piecing.   These thin strips of fabric are the exact same width of the seam allowance that is created when I use the quarter inch foot on my machine.  I’ve discovered that my quarter inch foot sews a generous quarter inch seam, rather than the typically recommended scant quarter inch seam.  The small strips of fabric ensure that my seam allowances are uniform, whether I am hand- or machine- piecing.

-Because my seam allowance is wider than it probably should be, I am piecing eight A pieces into my arcs, rather than 7, which is called for in the pattern.  I like having the extra wiggle room and am able to cut any excess down to size once the block has been assembled.

-I had plexi-templates of the pattern pieces made by this Etsy shop, which was recommended to my by a friend who posts the most beautiful quilts on flickr.  Many of you will know her as jwc.  The templates have made cutting fabric quicker and easier and have been a huge help with fussy-cutting.  Also,  I can tell that the A and B pattern pieces are identical when I stack the templates on top of each other.

-Sewing the scrappy arcs onto the background pieces has been easier than I had thought.  It is really important to line things up from the center, as the pattern instructs.  Sometimes I pin the curves, sometimes I don’t. I don’ think one way is easier or saves more time than the other way.

-I’m pretty sure that I am going to have to cut down my blocks to significantly smaller than the 12″ squares the pattern calls for.  I don’t think this is a flaw of the pattern.  I think it’s because my seam allowance is a tad wider than it should be. Still, I think it would be great if quilt patterns gave you a half inch of wiggle room for trimming blocks.  I sort of wish I had enlarged the pattern pieces a tiny bit when I ordered the templates to allow for this.  Live and learn, right?

I really love this quilt.  It’s going to take me good amount of time to finish, but it’s going to be gorgeous!

slowly but surely…

breakfast mess  fave block 2nd fave block pattern emerges

…I am building a snake trail* quilt.  This hand-stitching** project is serving as an excellent reminder that, in my fairly busy*** life, I actually have quite a few small pockets of down time.

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*This is a pattern from Denyse Schmidt’s latest book.  I’m ALMOST completely sticking to the pattern, which is uncharacteristic — and really nice for a change.  I’ll write more on the process soon.

**I started this as a hand-piecing project, but when I do find time to use my sewing machine, I go for it.

***When I say “busy,” I mean “full.”  An abundance of good things.  I am SO grateful for that.

thoughts on motivation

This post by Chawne spurred some thinking about the types of quilts I most enjoy creating–the ones that give me that “rush to finish” feeling.  I’ve come to realize that I am happiest making quilts that are my own design.  Inspiration hits and I just go for it.  There is no pattern to follow.  Its just me, my ideas, and a desire to work with fabric until I make whatever it is I am hoping to make.  I love the feeling of not knowing exactly how the finished product will turn out, but trusting my design sense and technical skills enough to know that I will make something beautiful, or practical, or comforting {or whatever it is I hope to accomplish.} I also like making heartfelt gifts that are motivated by the prospect of giving a little bit of handmade beauty to someone who is important to me.  My goal is to make something that the recipient will love.  I try to figure out their style, their tastes, their favorite colors, etc.  This type of project can feel a lot more like work because its more about the end game than the creative process.  I still find great satisfaction in it, nonetheless.

As I was trying to coming up with ideas for the quilt that is pictured above, I endeavored to combine these two types of quilts:  heartfelt gift and original design.  I wanted to make a gift for a friend that she would love, but I also wanted to throughly enjoy the process of creating it.   I am pretty sure I didn’t even include her favorite color {purple?}, but I know that it is well-constructed, one-of-a-kind,  and will keep her warm. Its an added bonus if she thinks its beautiful, right?

Enough of the introspective naval gazing. Here are some details.  I was originally inspired by this piece of artwork by Mia Christopher, but I went in a totally different direction color-wise and skipped the rounded corners. I didn’t use a rotary cutter while I made this quilt; I tore the fabric strips instead.  The “organic” grid quilting was inspired by this awesome quilt.   I backed it in flannel and bound it {with the same flannel} using Sherri Lynn Wood’s fantastic invisible binding tutorial. I machine-stitched the binding to the back of the quilt for.the.first.time.ever because I knew that the stitching would blend with the quilting on the front. It went really quickly and makes the finish product a lot sturdier than if you hand-stitch.  I always forget to measure my quilts but my guess is that it is about 60″ x 75″ in size. I like to make sure that my friends will be able to cover their bodies entirely and wrap their quilts around their feet when they are snuggled up on the couch.

Now, I am curious.  What motivates your making?  What types of projects do you love to create the most and why?  Let me know if you have a minute.

low volume quilt

My friend Jenny and I made this quilt together.  We chose a very simple pattern {rail fence} and a color scheme {low volume} that was easy to pull from our stashes.  I think it took Jenny all of two days to sew her 16 blocks, assemble the gorgeous backing fabric, and mail it all off to me.  Super speedy!  Unfortunately, the United States Postal Service did not follow her lead.  Those gorgeous quilt blocks traveled to Massachusetts from Indiana via Florida and New Hampshire.  It doesn’t take a geography whiz to figure out that’s not the most efficient route.

But arrive they did, and a collaborative quilt was born.  I did my usual safe and steady straight-line quilting and finished it off with a scrappy binding made of matching low volume prints.  Jenny and I used a collection of some of our most beloved prints for this one. {Not that it really matters but the photo above of the whole quilt is driving me nuts because the colors are off.  I really had a tough time photographing this one!}

This is the softest, prettiest quilt I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting together. It was such a wonderful group project. It makes me feel so grateful for the internet and the generous, collaborative community it fosters.  XOXO.

fields and furrows

My god-daughter, who will receive this as a gift at Christmas, helped me chose the prints that were used in this quilt.  She sorted through a bunch of 2.5″ strips of fabric I had cut for another project and was very cute and also very opinionated as she worked through the pile.  {Apparently, she a big Laurie Wisbrun fan, too.}  Both my god-daughter and her mom are purple people.  You know what I mean, right?  Some folks just FEEL VERY STRONGLY about their love for that color.  I do not fall in that camp, but then, this quilt was not made for me!

I love making traditional log cabin blocks and ever since I saw this quilt-in-progess, I wanted to try to make one in the “fields and furrows” design.  I think my one minor error was to use the solid, lighter value pinkish squares that are grouped with all the purple solids.  I don’t think they ruin the quilt by any means, but if I were to make it again, I’d probably switch them out for more purple fabric.  {You may be tempted to be kind and tell me that the pink squares “add interest,” but I’m not going to buy it. Though Carolyn’s take on it –in the comments–is interesting.}  Really, the prints are what makes this quilt shine.  There are so many fun and bright novelty designs in the mix. I really love it–as evidenced by this photo-heavy post.

I quilted a four inch grid following the lines of the logs.  The backing is pieced with Kona solids, but I have no idea which ones.  I used the remaining scraps of solid purple fabric to bind it all up, and I think the thicker binding makes a nice frame.  I’m excited to wrap it up and give this throw-sized quilt to the sweetest little four year old around!

In other news, I started piecing my next quilt last night.  I’m using lots of linen and blue gingham, with a splash of text prints.  I really should be thinking about some of the smaller items I’d like to make to give as Christmas gifts, but I am so addicted to quilting right now.  I think I’ll just ride the wave.

a quilt for my girl

This is an over-sized twin quilt I made for my daughter.  I first started conceptualizing this quilt in June, 2011. I posted a photo of some of the fabrics I used here. I’m so glad I took Chawne’s advice and used an alternating solid–Kona eggplant.  She had mentioned that if I only used prints, I’d likely lose lots of the triangle points in the design. I thought I’d use charcoal gray as my solid, but I took into account that my pint-sized recipient would prefer something more colorful than gray. I threw in a handful of random pink and green solids as well. I was nervous about that addition, but now it is one of my favorite aspects of the quilt.

The piecing went slowly because bias edges are a little bit fiddly.  I used a specialty ruler and am convinced that the cut-out corners on the top of the triangle helped a great deal with accuracy.

I sent it off to be long-arm quilted by Emily Sessions of Emerson Quilting.  I saw Emily’s work here first and I wanted that exact same quilting design.  Emily was so patient with me as I peppered her with questions and her turn-around time was quick.  Her pricing is more than reasonable and the work she does is simply gorgeous.  I was thrilled with the results.  The backing fabric is a fun Heather Ross print that I had been saving for this project.  My quilt backings tend to be pieced together, so it feels luxurious to have something so uniform and, well, adorable. I used mostly hot pink prints for the binding because I wanted it to coordinate with the backing fabric and I knew it would match the quilt top well enough. If I had been considering the front side of the quilt exclusively, I probably would have gone with more of the solid eggplant.

My daughter is one of the best appreciators of my handmade items, and this one is no exception.  She points to different triangles and tells me which ones she likes best.  And then she always ends with, “but I like all of the fabrics, Mom.”  {Me too, sweetie. Me too.} It’s is so nice to see it on her bed, side-by-side with the one I made for her older brother two years ago.