Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Scrapping with guitars

I have trouble throwing away fabric.  I save scraps down to (probably ridiculously) small sizes: strips down to 1" in width and pieces down to about 1.5" square.  I store these small pieces in little ziploc bags by color.

I don't quilt as much as a lot of bloggers (full time job, 2-year-old), but even at the rate I go these little bags are starting to get pretty full.  Particularly the aqua one!

From time to time, I like to dump them out and choose a color way, then start piecing improv slabs.  Some of those I set aside with the idea of making a scrappy improv slab quilt someday.  Some of them I turn into baby bibs, like these.  

For this slab, I started with a few small pieces of Michael Miller's "Groovy Guitars" fabric left over from a quilt I made for my sister.  I grabbed some other small scraps in coordinating colors and started improv piecing.  I wound up with this:

My plan is to make it into a little zipper bag for my other sister, who plays the guitar.  I figure she can use it to hold random small music supplies (capo, tuning fork, etc) inside her guitar case.  Or if not, she'll have a cool guitar-themed bag to use for something else.  

My plan is to turn it into a boxy zipper pouch uses Jeni Baker's Triplizip pattern.  I've only every made one (super simple!) zipper pouch before, so it may not come out perfectly.  Hopefully it will be good enough to be loved.  That's all that matters, right?  

Linking up with Leanne and Nicky for Scraptastic Tuesday.  

Thursday, February 12, 2015

More scrapping: bee blocks and bibs...

Last year, I participated in Stash Bee.  It was a lot of fun, so I'm doing it again this year.

It's also a great way to use scraps.  Since you're only making one block each month, you don't need very much of any one fabric (depending on the block) and queen bees often request something super scrappy.

This month, Kim (who is expecting a little girl) asked for string blocks made from gold, melon pink, and teal.  She plans to make a quilt to match her new nursery.  I was a little short of melon pink, so I cut one long string from stash, but all the other strings here are scraps:

I still have a lot of strings left, although not very many melon-pink ones!  This block was easy to improv.  I grabbed the strings I had in the appropriate colors, then sorted them by length.  

I had a little bit of trouble figuring out my method for this block, in terms of getting started.  What finally worked was: 

(1) Use tracing paper so that you can see through it.
(2) Draw a diagonal line down the center.
(3) Then draw a line 1/4" and 1/2" on one side of the center line.  
(4) On the side of the paper you *didn't* draw on, lay down your 1" white strip and your first colored strip.  They should line up with the 1/2"-from-center line.  Pin fabrics in place.
(5) Flip over, and sew along the 1/4"-from-center line. 

Once you have those first two strips on, everything can just be gauged off of the edge of the previous strip, so no further line-drawing is necessary.  By having the strings sorted by length, it's easy to grab the right length string as you go.

I did find myself pinning fabric-side-up, then having to flip the block over to re-pin fabric-side-down.  Anything else didn't stay in place well enough.

One note: the tracing paper shrunk noticeably during ironing.  So make sure your strings run a little bit off the edge of the paper in all directions!  That way, when you trim the block to the correct size at the end, you won't be scuppered by the shrinkage.

And... because Kim is having a little girl, I pulled out this scrap-slab that I made a while ago and turned it into a bib.  

I love these patchwork bibs, and they are a favorite way to use scraps!  Only when taking a picture of the bib and blocks together did I notice that they match!  I guess I can be really confident that Kim will like the color-scheme.  :-)

So bee block done in plenty of time!  Now I just have to remember to get it into the mail before everything gets late.  That's always where I fail...

Linking up to Scraptastic Tuesday with Leanne and Nicky:

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Sanctuary Quilt

A good friend of mine has been having a tough time lately.  There's been work stress, health problems, career changes for her and her husband, and a cross-country move.  All with two young children.  They've all had a tough time.  On top of it all, my friend isn't getting enough sleep because her 6-year-old daughter keeps waking her up in the night, almost certainly due to transition anxiety.

I can't solve any of these problems, but a wakeful little girl in need of comfort is just screaming out for a quilt!

So I made her one (of course).

This pattern is from Simply Modern Christmas, by Cindy Lammon of Hyacinth Quilt Designs.  I love how it features a large-scale print, but has plenty of other interest to it.  

I had been hoarding a yard of a beloved fabric (Sanctuary, from Kate Spain's Cuzco line) and this seemed like the perfect place to use it.  It's just right for a little girl, without being too cloyingly girly.

I had been wanting a chance to make a bunch more flying geese, since getting all inspired by the no-waste flying geese method I discovered last fall (fast! easy! so perfect they don't need trimming!).  This was a perfect chance---plenty of flying geese, but not too many to intimidate a novice.

I had a fitted sheet left over from the Target sheet set I bought to back my mom's Queen-size quilt and matching patchwork pillows---it was great to be able to use it up!  And a fun zigzag stripe for the binding---again, something in stash that I had *just* enough of.  

I was very happy with how this quilt came out.  It's a pattern I may find myself using again.  I was dedicated and the quilt went fast: the whole things was done in two weeks, in time to gift while my friend was in town.

And the recipient loved it.  She said hardly a word the whole time they were at our house, but when she unwrapped the quilt, she folded herself in it and stayed snuggled up in it for the rest of their visit. I hope it makes her feel hugged and snuggled.  At any rate, I hope it's something she can love about her new room.  Change is hard for anyone, especially a little kid.

My son wanted to participate in the photo shoot, with Olaf in tow (as usual, these days).

I love the way this quilt came out, but it wasn't hard to give away.  On the contrary, I felt like it was going to the best possible home.  I hope it gets loved for years to come.  There is no better fate for a quilt.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

CatVent quilt: success!

A handmade gift success: my sister loves the Cat quilt.

She recently emailed me to say:

"I am love love loving my cat lap blanket.  I have already had one jealous friend (disclosure, it was ____, who's probably my most stylish friend) be like, where did you GET that? She did not like my reply."

With that vote of confidence, I can't help wanting to make *more* things for her to impress her stylish friends with.  I'm thinking maybe one of Elizabeth Hartman's other awesome animal patterns.   

Because she's cool, my sister already has a bunch of fox-motif stuff (and even sent a handmade "What does the fox say?"-themed birthday card to my 2-year-old son), but I'm starting to feel like foxes are a little bit over-done.  It's possible to be too trendy, right?  So I'm thinking maybe a hedgehog pillow.  

That way, my sister can move on from trendy foxes to not-yet-trendy hedgehogs before they are cool.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Science-y Baby Quilt

One of my friends from graduate school had a baby boy this summer.  Like me, she recently transitioned out of academic astrophysics into being a data scientist.  I feel a lot of parallels with her, but she lives in Switzerland so I don't see her often.

I wanted to make a quilt for her new baby, as a small part of celebrating her new life.

I used the "Jelly Roll Jam" pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop, except that I didn't use a jelly roll.  I started with a few strips from a jelly roll and then cut a lot of strips from stash.  I made sure to include some fun science- and astronomy-themed fabric.

This quilt came together incredibly fast!  I wanted something a little larger than 36"x36", so I added another row of blocks to make it 36"x48".  That's a size that will last a little longer, which is good because the baby is already 7 months old.  

Backed with this awesome planetary print and bound in Squared Elements.

I made the quilt top in a weekend.  It took me several weeks to get around to binding it.  And now it's been sitting in my house for two months, waiting to be mailed.  I'm really, really bad at that part!

This is my fourth and final finish for the 2014 Q4 FAL.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

CatVent #1

It hasn't been a good fall for meeting deadlines, at least not quilty ones.

My Q4 FAL list included a pair of quilts commemorating my parents' cat, Clea, who died about a year ago.  That event tidily coincided with the CatVent quilt-a-long hosted by Elizabeth Hartman over at Oh, Fransson!  Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I decided to make not one, but two CatVent quilts, one for my mother, and one for my sister Lucia.  Lucia is the one who picked Clea out from the shelter 20 years ago.

I was hoping to finish them both for Christmas.  When it became clear that would not happen, I opted to finish Lucia's in time to gift.  My mom has a birthday in March, so her CatVent quilt will roll over onto the FAL 2015 Q1 list.

Here's the finished quilt:

Rather than going with the rainbow scheme, I decided to make cats that actually look like cats: black cats, Siamese cats, ginger cats, and my favorite: calico cats.

I backed the quilt in minky, so that it would be soft and cuddly on a lap.

And then I made a fateful decision.  I decided to quilt in a heavy-duty top-stitching thread around each cat face to add a decorative touch (and help distract from the complicated sashing).

This was a mistake.  My machine *hated* the top-stitching thread.  It was a total nightmare, particularly in combination with the slippery minky.  I managed to finish, and I like the way it looks, but NO WAY am I going through that again.  My mom's quilt will have to be quilted some other way. 

This was a very fun project---I had a great time (a year ago) making all the cats.  However, the project eventually started to drag.  The lesson: make ONE.  Don't make TWO of the same thing.  Yes, it's efficient and faster than making two completely different quilts, but you lose interest a lot faster. 

Fortunately, my sister loved it.  She was snuggling under it as soon as it got unwrapped.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Stocking

December was a crazy month, work wise.  And then we spent a weekend away Dec 20-21.  That meant coming into Christmas week totally unprepared for the holiday, and feeling like my head was screwed on backward.  We had the tree up and decorated, but that was about it.

Fortunately, my CEO wanted a nice long holiday, so he closed the office for the week of Christmas and the week of New Year.  I've got work to do over the break, but it did mean that I could take some time to prepare for the holiday.

First up: my 2-year-old son needed a stocking.  As a quilter, I couldn't just buy one. So, to procrastinate the house cleaning, I made him one.

I love this 50's style Christmas fabric!

I used a tutorial I found here at Diary of a Quilter:

I made a few modifications, lengthening the stocking and adding a wide cuff at the top.  I love how it came out, as does my son (he particularly likes the picture of the train on the front).  And it held plenty of presents.  So a win all around!  

It was a fun, fast, easy project.

I guess wanting to make more stockings is not a good reason to have more kids, is it?  ;)