January 27, 2012

owl + pussycat pleated purse

i made myself a new purse. the pattern ("tiered bag") came from the book "1-2-3 Sew" by ellen luckett baker (check out her blog here). 
i was so immersed in those quilts around christmas, i had almost forgotten how enjoyable and fulfilling other sewing projects could be. it was nice to try something new, and i learned some new skills in the process (making pleats and installing a magnetic fastener). the directions are very easy to follow, although i found myself a little tripped up making the vertical folds.

i used a precious piece of heather ross fabric for the outer fabric and lined it with the green "pearl bracelet" lizzy house print (totally obsessed with both these ladies and their adorable illustrations. they make me happy!)

January 26, 2012

sashing and rectangle modern meadow quilt

i immediately new what pattern/fabrics to use for carrie's quilt. courtney's quilt left me befuddled. i looked at patterns online and in my books; i browsed the online shops; i wandered up and down the aisles at textile, but nothing jumped out at me and screamed "COURTNEY!"
 until i saw this and my mind was made up:
i stumbled upon this pattern online. it seemed easy to follow and i liked how it showcased bigger portions of the print fabrics.

one of my favorite things about quilting is picking out fabric - i like pulling things from different designers and finding nice combinations.  this quilt pattern calls for 10 different prints, so i was surprised that i bought ALL the prints from the same designer, joel dewberry. most are from the older modern meadow line and one is from the newer heirloom line. they just looked so darn good together! i especially love the flower fields (i used it for my skirt), and the herringbone is one of my all-time favorites:
i used kona snow for the neutral sashing strips and the binding, and ordered a shot cotton called "nut" to use in the "B" rows.  herein lies the problem of ordering fabric online: while you save money, you really can't tell colors 100% accurately. when the order arrived, the shot cotton looked way too reddish-brown. so i went to textile - i couldn't find a single solid that matched perfectly. i found something at joann that was exactly the right shade i needed. all that to say: my goose chase for the perfect shade of brown really delayed my start, and i wondered if i'd make my self-imposed christmas deadline.

i had it in my head that this pattern would go a lot quicker than the small plates quilt, and while there was less cutting to do, pinning and sewing all the sashing strips took longer than i imagined. but it all came together quite nicely.

basting on the kitchen floor...barely enough room!

for the back, i sewed a strip of the leftover prints and anchored it with kona stone and kona mustard.
for quilting, i did vertical straight lines on both sides of the printed "A" rows.

i finished it on december 23...just in the nick of time. courtney had remarked to her boyfriend that she hoped i'd make her a quilt for christmas, so i am glad i could make her wish come true!

January 24, 2012

small plates / outfoxed quilt

i don't know when the idea first occurred to me to make my two sisters quilts for christmas - must've been sometime in early november, because that's when i placed my fabric.com order for the outfoxed prints for carrie's quilt.  regardless, at some point i got it in my head that a month and a half was surely enough time to complete 2 twin-sized quilts. i'm not an ambitious person, but this was certainly an ambitious undertaking (considering that most of my weekday hours are occupied by my day job- hence my sewing time's limited to the weekends).

i had purchased elizabeth hartman's "the practical guide to patchwork" book some months ago, and found that the "small plates" quilt pattern really appealed to me. since this was the first official quilt pattern i was following (the others had been more free form and random), it seemed like an easy enough undertaking, and i decided to use it for carrie's quilt.
i fell in love with lizzy house's outfoxed line the moment i saw it, and since carrie loves animals, purple and orange, it seemed like a good starting point for the fabrics. i used a few things from my stash and made trips to textile, joann's and hancock to fill in the rest.

the quilt calls for 80 square-in-square blocks made from 20 different prints and a solid, but hartman suggests a few alternatives (i went with option 3, which makes the same number of blocks using only 10 different prints). i used kona neutral for my solid.
i didn't keep a ongoing tally of my hours spent making this quilt, but it did seem to occupy every spare minute i had. i spent one afternoon doing all the cutting (80 center squares + 80 long strips + 80 short strips. hartman lays out all the cutting instructions in such a clear & non-fabric-wasting manner, so it wasn't that bad). then one night sewing the print blocks. another sewing the solid blocks. and another pressing all the seems open (time-consuming, but totally worth it).

i realized that most of my blocks didn't turn out as perfect 9" squares as called for (a lot were a tad short), so then i had to square up all 80 blocks to 8 3/4".  after posting cries of frustration to the discussion board for the elizabeth hartman flickr group, i concluded that i wasn't using a "scant" 1/4" seam allowance. (hartman personally responded to my inquiry in the discussion thread, which i greatly appreciated).

i spent a few hours laying all the blocks out for the final design. it about drove me crazy trying to come up with the most visually-appealing layout (and trying not to repeat the fabric motifs in the horizontal and vertical rows).  i never realize the extent of my obsessive/perfectionist tendencies until i do something such as this.

at that point i was finally able to sew the blocks into rows, and then all the rows together to complete the quilt top.  phew!
i made the quilt back a few weeks later, since i had to wait on my fabric order. i found a couple of coordinating lizzy house prints from one of her other lines:
(i didn't get a picture of the quilt back before i gave it to carrie, but this is one of the fabrics i used)
rather than basting + quilting carrie's quilt, i decided to start on courtney's quilt top. it was mid-december at that point, and i was kinda thinking that there was NO WAY i'd be able to finish both in time for christmas. i figured i'd rather have 2 incomplete things on christmas day rather than having 1 fully-realized blanket for carrie and nothing for courtney.  (spoiler alert: i got them both finished!)

basting on my kitchen floor went well (although i realized that i don't have the room for anything much larger than twin-sized). for the quilting, i went with straight, outline quilting around all the blocks, and i was able to complete it over the course of an entire day. thank goodness i had the entire week off work, otherwise i would not have finished. i used kona eggplant for the binding.
i was a little apprehensive about washing it, since i had some dark purple fabrics and i hadn't pre-washed the fabric. i scoured the 'net for advice, and washed it cold, gentle cycle with shout color catchers AND a splash of vinegar. probably a little overboard, but it turned out ok.

carrie was speechless when she opened it on christmas, so i take that as a good sign?

January 2, 2012

snickerdoodle quilt

another dear friend of mine is expecting her second baby (due sometime in the next couple of weeks), so i started planning/working on this quilt as soon as i finished holden's quilt.  since i had so much success with the 4 1/2" patchwork squares, i decided to do the same sort of thing for this one. i had fun picking out the fabrics, and my inspiration came from a few random sources: 

i saw this picture and immediately fell in love with the color palette (knitting pattern can be found here). i thought it would be a nice and unisex for the so-called "baby snickerdoodle", since mom & dad didn't find out the sex.  i promptly ordered a few kona solids that looked similar (seafoam, apricot, lake and medium gray).  i also wanted to include some fabrics from the adorable little apples line from aneela hoey; in particular, the little turtles. while visiting my friend over the summer in florence, al, she showed me all the turtles that stayed around their creek.  finally, i picked up a few miscellaneous fabrics at bolt fabric shop in portland, or.
 this japanese one killed me - Megumi Sakakibara's doodles are so so cute.

with all the fabric in place, i cut out a bunch of 4 1/2" squares. at first, i thought i'd just do random placing like holden's quilt.  then, i had a vision: group the gray print with the gray solid, the blue print with the blue solid, and so forth. (this idea literally popped into my head while trying to fall asleep one night). i scrapped the seafoam green altogether.
 when i laid out the squares, i was so excited to see it shaping up. 

for the quilting, i followed the shape of the rectangles and spaced the lines accordingly. i used a disappearing pen to mark the lines so that they'd end up straight, and a tiny orange/white gingham for the binding.  after the baby arrives, i will let you know if it's a boy or a girl!