Tuesday, November 9, 2010

quilting projects this year

So far this year I have been working on two quilts, in addition to a few smaller sewing projects, both to improve my sewing skills and to have fun and make nice things for people I care about. The first project that I did this year was a baby quilt for my friend Deborah, whose daughter Finley was born in late April. The baby's room was going to be done up primarily in greens, so I chose a palette of green, brown, and yellow to make a quilt with mixed blocks. Most baby blankets are 40" x 60" in size, so I decided to use 6" finished squares along with 1 4" x 6" finished rectangle per row, for a total of 10 rows of 7 pieces each. I picked out lots of fun fabrics, cut lots of squares (I have enough left over for another quilt of this style!), and then laid them out on my bed to find a pleasing arrangement. I then put the squares together into the 7-unit strips, then put the strips together to finalize the quilt top. The first backing that I chose was too light for the finished quilt (it was white with mint-green stripes), so I found a second fabric that was a nice dark green with white polka dots. I quilted the blanket using a feather stitch in diagonal rows with variegated green/yellow thread, which came out looking very lovely. Finally I used a gorgeous sage-green leaf print to put the binding on, and that was hand-sewn to the backing using the blind stitch that my friend Christy taught me. I finished off the blanket with a small tag noting the date and my name, and it was all done. I really like how it turned out, the weight is very nice and with the cotton on one side and the flannel on the other there are two options for how to use it for snuggling. It also turned out to be the perfect size for the bottom of the Pack-n-Play once folded in half, which is awesome and means I'll use that size for any future baby quilts that I make. Here's a picture of Ben holding up the finished quilt at the baby shower (both the above photo and this one are taken from Deborah's pictures on her blog).

The next quilt that I am still working on is a pattern from the book Quilter's Academy: Volume 1 Freshman Year which I am finding to be a great resource for basic quiltmaking techniques. While I don't quite agree with all that the authors talk about, I very much like how they've put together a skill-building course that involves making parts of a sampler and has at least 2 projects per skillset. The pattern I'm using is a modified log cabin that also uses character fabric panels, and since I am making it for my husband I chose a coffee theme with a touch of dog theme fabric. Once I chose the main fabric (the pattern for the panels, as well as coffee-cup fabric for the outer border), the color palette was set as blues and browns so I picked the other fabric to match. The inner border has flecks of red, and I found a beautiful red fabric with coffee beans on it too, which will be used for the binding.

It took me quite a while to make up the quilt top (shown with Chris holding it up at left), as the piecing was more complicated than simple blocks and I really wanted to take my time and make sure it came out well. I finally got the entire top finished in August, and then moved on to working on the backing and planning out my quilting pattern. I found a lovely blue swirl fabric for the backing, and even with cutting the outer border to follow the fabric directional design I had enough of that to put a stripe onto the backing to match. Since I had to piece the backing anyway due to the width of the quilt, I took the opportunity to put the coffee-cup fabric in as well, with the stripe offset from the middle up towards the top of the quilt (see picture to the right). It took using the ping-pong table in the basement and more safety pins than I expected to put this quilt sandwich together, I'll need more pins if I do quilts this big again! I've completed the quilting on the main part of the quilt, which I did using a large X across the pieced portion which was echoed by V shapes at a set spacing out to the inner border. That was done in blue thread, and finished by a stitch-in-the-ditch around the inside of the inner border also in blue thread. I'm still debating how to quilt the outer border but hope to decide and do that this week, and that quilting will be done in red thread. Once that's done then I just have to cut/make the binding and put it on, and the rest is just the handsewing to finish the binding and it's done! I hope to have it completed before we go to New Jersey for the Christmas holiday this year, so that we can take it with us on the plane.

I haven't done any sewing since before my trip to Can-Am, and I really wanted to play with a charm pack of Halloween fabric that I picked up when I got the backing fabric for Chris' quilt in August, so last night I made the pieced back of a small table runner using a "recipe" I got from the Moda Bakeshop blog. These fabrics just make me happy, it's really silly, but I like them a lot and this little project is perfect to do quickly to show them off. Below is a closeup of the center panel of the backing, followed by a larger photo showing the entire piece (the perspective is off because I used my phone in the other orientation to take the shot!).

That's all for now - next post will be about the scary proliferation of sewing machines that has occurred in the last eight months!

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