14 May 2014

In the works

The Bay Area is in the midst of a late spring heat wave.  It's 93˚ as we speak.  My poor tomato plants have wilted, causing an emergency run to the nursery for row cover.  Thankfully, the house stays pretty cool, thanks to many mature trees in the yard providing shade.  Luckily, the forecast shows temperatures cooling off by the end of the week.

My do. Good Stitches quilt has sat basted and ready for quilting since Friday.  The thought of handling a quilt in this heat is unbearable, so I've kept myself busy working on quilt blocks.  Aren't those japanese x+ blocks (tutorial at Badskirt Amy) all over blogland, flickr and instagram so cute?  They've been on my to-make list since I first made a trio of them for Ara Jane's do. Good Stitches quilt.

I'm finally getting around to making my own quilt based around those ubiquitous blocks!  Jennifer and I decided to join the Friendship x and + Swap party (albeit really late).  We are using only Art Gallery fabrics in our friendship quilt, which is fitting since we first bonded over Art Gallery fabric a couple of years ago.

Here is the first block:

Doubles are made so one can be kept, the other exchanged.  Two down, six more to go for this month's blocks.  Maybe more if we decide to accelerate the block-making process so that we can finish the quilt tops in September along with the other members of the Friendship x and + Swap.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.  Head on over there to check out some really inspirational projects in the making! 

02 May 2014

Mendocino Brick quilt

It's been quite some time since I posted a finished quilt.  As I was making Kieran's bed this morning, I realized that I never got around to sharing his Mendocino Brick quilt.  It was finished earlier this year (can't remember exactly when) and hastily thrown onto his bed for warmth.

I was afraid the binding I chose (Bob's Shirt from an old Erin McMorris line) would be too dark, but I think it's perfect.  And I adore the back, an oldie but goody from Deer Valley by Joel Dewberry.  I would adore it more if the lines were seamless, but apparently, this is what happens when you buy a stripey print from two different bolts:  

See where the lines match up perfectly on the left?  That's the middle of the quilt.  As you veer away from that middle point, the lines become more and more off-kilter.  It took me a whole day to get over it.

Kieran already has plans for his next quilt.  Take a number, kid.  I still have three other finished tops to quilt, plus a quilt to start and finish for an August wedding.

01 May 2014

It's that time again!

It's the first of May, which means it's time to share the plan for my next do.Good Stitches quilt.  I'm embarrassed to say that I have not yet quilted the last quilt I made for the group, but I intend to remedy that situation this month.  Must get that quilt finished before the May blocks start rolling in!

If you've read my blog (or have seen my Flickr or Instagram stream), you'll know that I'm drawn to vintage things.  Whilst perusing pictures of vintage and antique quilts on the web, I came across this lovely quilt.   A search for "rising sun quilt block" turned up similar blocks, but not the exact one used in this quilt.

After a little digging, I found that the block itself goes by a few names- Delectable Mountains, Sawtooth and Kansas Troubles (and each of these blocks have other incarnations).  Sawtooth sounds a little sharp-ish, and I’m hesitant to use the word “troubles” in a gift destined for a child via the Wrap Them in Love Foundation.  Delectable Mountains is whimsical and pleasing to the ear.  Perfect for a child's quilt! 

Below is the palette I've chosen  for this quilt: bright orange, blue (ocean, sky, navy) and white/off white.  The blues are a departure from the green-tinged blues I normally use.   

Below, I’m sharing the method I used to construct this block.  To my Love Circle friends, please make three blocks- one orange, one blue, and the third block in your choice of either orange or blue. 

Delectable Mountains Tutorial


Materials needed:
Rotary Cutter
Quilter's Ruler
Cutting Mat

Main color (in this case blue)
(1)    6 ⅞” square, cut corner-to-corner to make two triangles (you will only need one)
(5)    2 ½” squares- please feel free to use a mix of prints for variety!

Background color (in this case white/off-white solids or subtle prints with a white or off-white bkgd)
(1)    9 ⅞” square, cut corner-to corner to make two triangles (you will only need one)
(4)    2 ½” squares- again, varied white/off-white fabrics are welcome!
(1)    2” square

All seams are  ¼”

Make the half square triangles

Pair up the four light 2 ½” squares with four of the blue 2 ½” squares (you will have one extra lue square to be used later).  With right sides facing, pin them together and lightly mark a line down the center from corner to corner on the back of the light colored fabric.  Alternatively, you could draw two sewing lines ¼” from either side of an imaginary corner-to-corner line. 

If you marked a corner-to-corner line down the center, sew a line 1/4" to the left and to the right of the line using your presser foot as a guide.  

If you marked the two sewing lines, sew your seams on top of these lines. 

Cut the squares down the center between the two seam lines using your ruler and rotary cutter.  Repeat step for all 2 ½” squares (I speed cut mine by stacking and cutting multiple squares at once).  You should have eight hst's. 

Press the newly sewn hst's open and trim the dog-ears. eta- the hst's should be trimmed to 2" square.  (Thanks for the feedback Ara Jane!)

Lay four hst's in a row with the blues on the bottom left (see photo on the left).  Lay the remaining four hst's in a row, this time with the blues on the bottom right.  With rights sides facing, pin the hst's in pairs, (see photo on the right).  Sew the pairs together, then press open.

Repeat the previous steps with the newly made hst units above so that you have two strips of hst's.

Cut the remaining 2 ½” blue square from corner to corner, making two triangles (below left).  Lay them next to the two hst strips as shown below (right).  Pin the blue triangles to the hst strips, right sides facing and aligned at the top.  Sew together, then press and trim.

Place the first hst strip (blue prints on bottom right) along the left side of the large blue triangle.  Pin together with right sides facing.  

Pin the light colored 2" square to the left side of the remaining hst strip (blue prints on the bottom left), right sides facing.

Sew these units together, press and trim.

Pin the long edge of this newly sewn unit to the long edge of the large light colored triangle, right sides facing.

Sew, press and trim to 9 ½” square.  You’re done!

I hope this tutorial was clear and easy to follow.  Go forth and make Delectable Mountains! 

29 January 2014

Faux Snow Day

Once upon a time, I worked.  During the hour-long commute by train to San Francisco to my job, I taught myself to knit and crochet.  And I knitted and crocheted (and occasionally read or slept) on the baby bullet between San Jose and San Francisco.

Then I had another child (my third), and my hubby and I decided that it would be in our family's best interests for me to stay home and man the homefront, as it were.  And I learned to quilt.  Which became my new obsession.

Fast forward to 3 years later, when knitting and crochet projects on instagram and flickr inspire me to pick up the needle and hooks once more.  Besides, the sewing machine needs a break.

This week I've seen snow day pictures and posts from family and friends in other parts of the country.  Oh how envious I've been.  All the fun things you want to do, compressed in a single day.  I thought I'd take a snow day this week, too.  Of sorts.  Because I couldn't really take a whole day to do only fun things, I stole pockets of time on Sunday and Monday. 

I started a new project on my faux snow day.  Since watching Nanny McPhee with the kiddies a few years ago, I vowed I would make that granny square blanket.  After watching Nanny McPhee again last week for the umpteenth time, I'm finally making good on my word.

It's looking overcast today... a good opportunity to steal another hour or so for my faux snow day. 

23 January 2014

A New Quilt Top and an Old Cardigan

My first project of the new year is well underway- in fact, it's already a quilt top.  In starting this quilt, I decided I wanted simple patchwork with a riot of color.  With this in mind, I pulled together a stack of favorites, old and new (no low-volume prints) and settled on the simple half square triangle.

There's a certain pleasure in the whole quilt-making process.  The tranquil task of sewing small pieces of fabric into blocks under the needle of a machine.  Pressing these blocks into smooth squares under a hot iron.  Watching your fabric selections and blocks manifest themselves into the vision that started the whole process. And finally, that moment after the entire top is pressed, when you hang it up or lay it on the floor, step back and just take in the whole thing. 

It's exactly what I envisioned and I'm very happy with it.

I've started the back, and I'm none too pleased with it.  I decided to use leftover hst's with some yardage of Paper Snowflake from Meadow Sweet.  Not content to just sew the hst's up into a couple of rows and frame them, I decided on a scattered effect.  This led to the (perceived) need for more hst's to be made.  Which then led to quilt maths to decide how to cut the low volume yardage for maximum efficiency given the "random" hst layout.  Which led to my pulling out this old project (from 2011!) to give my head a break. 

Here is the Maple Street Cardigan, fresh out of it's holding place in a bag of scraps (I did pick off the threads and fluff before photographing it):

Thank goodness I noted where I left left off when I put it down.  It's been over a year-and-a-half since I've worked on this so I'm a little concerned about gauge.  The thought of frogging and starting over, complete with gauge swatching, entered my mind for a teeny moment, but I quashed itIt'll block out, right?!

Now I've just got to remember where I put the rest of the yarn during the big move.

08 January 2014

Post-holiday post

Now that the hubbub of the holidays is behind and the older kids are back to school, Kieran and I are getting (somewhat) back to our old routine.  We've spent the mornings playing multiple rounds of the Match game, Sneaky Squirrel, and Wii, plus reviewing alphabet flash cards (gotta throw in a little learning somewhere).  He didn't take a single nap while the "big kids" were home for the holiday break, and it's been a little bit of a fight getting the little guy to go down for a nap the past couple of days.

I've gotten in a bit of sewing time, either while the little guy naps or plays on his Leapster.  In fact, I've worked my way through a stack of 168 half-square triangle blocks.

I happened to have some 6.5" squares leftover from my Crazy Penny quilt top, and I thought "Why not cut them into hst's?  I dove into the fabric stash to supplement, pulling recently acquired as well as long-hoarded prints.  They're going to be sewn into a simple HST quilt, inspired by this one at Cozy Things (minus the low-volume prints).

This quilt works well with one of my 2014 goals:  maximum stash usage, minimal stash enhancement.  It's going to be tough, but I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced