I managed to hand off three blankets to Project Linus last month. I had a fourth almost done, and do you know, it's still almost done. The first one is not very kid like, but I saw this as an art quilt and I had a hankering to make it. I drew lines to make the diamonds, and everything matched up perfectly (funny how that works). The red plaid flannel on the back worked well, and it was a donation scrap. I love when things like that work out.
Next, I made a blanket using a piece of fabric called "Fiestaware." It was definitely older, dated fabric, but I thought it would work well for the pattern I was using, the original of which used different colored squares of fabric sewn together. Using this fabric eliminated a lot of sewing. Honestly, I did not care for this fabric, but it was created by a quilter/designer well-known back in the day, so I felt like I owed it to her to make something with it. I do have a lot left over, but I'm moving that along at the next fabric swap.
Even though I keep wanting to use some of my newer fabric, I get waylaid by older fabric. I had these three prints that I wanted to use together for awhile, so I decided to throw them together. I tied them off with buttons, which I know makes people worry in case kids swallow them, but this is for a bigger kid and I decided I was just going to go for it.
I confess, I've been in a quilting slump. I have loads and loads of beautiful fabric, I peruse quilting patterns on blogs and Pinterest and Instagram all day long, I sketch out patterns and plot what fabric to use, and I sew...nothing.
A recent experience has moved me over the hump, I think. It was not a particularly pleasant experience, but I am choosing to see it was what I needed to get back on track. For a Christmas gift to myself, I bought a jelly roll of fabric that practically jumped off the screen at me...this one right here, on sale at Craftsy:
Next, I chose to buy a pattern, which I almost NEVER do. Part of the joy of quilting for me is to look at a pattern and figure out how it's made. I like the math of it, the visual planning, the configuring, the editing to fit the stash I have -- it's one of my favorite parts. I found a pattern that I was pretty sure I could figure out but I didn't want to take a chance on the size of one key piece, so since I greatly admired the pattern, I bought it:
Deep breath. So I tackled it on a weekend when my husband was out of town – all sewing, no interruptions! I started sewing at 6:00 in the morning, and it was grand. I had my doubts at a few steps along the way – the middle seemed too light and I found some seams had slipped so I had to rip and restitch (tended to occur when I got distracted, which happens when I sew for too long at a stretch). When the top was done, I had mixed feelings about it still, so I decided not to waste – I mean use – batting and just use the birthing method with a moss green fleece blanket I have had for probably a decade just waiting for the right quilt to back.
I sewed it, turned it, smoothed it out on the floor, and did some very minimal stitching from the center out to the corners. I didn't sew near the edges because I was already getting a vibe that the top and back weren't lying perfectly together and I didn't want to create problems. Ha! When I was done, at this point, it looked good. Yes, it looked good, and I was content.
Then I washed it. And the top shrunk. And the backing didn't. And now it's a terrible, terrible mess. There are big (and I mean big) wrinkles of backing on all sides that can't be smoothed out. I did the quilting (what quilting I did) with invisible thread, so there's no way I'm going to be able to pick those stitches out. My husband kindly said it would look nice draped over a couch, and I said, yes, as long as no one ever shakes it out to use it!
I set it aside then looked at it again this morning and saw a spot where one of the seams ripped loose in the wash. OMG, what next? I would be mortified to show this quilt to any of the quilters I know; their work is precise and perfect and they would never understand how I could produce something like this. This quilt is doomed, that's all there is to it.
And you know what? I'm okay with that. I may very well chuck the whole thing in the garbage, and I will consider it a lesson learned. You see, it doesn't pay to think so hard about quilting, or creating. Sometimes you have to jump in and just do it, and keep doing it. I tried to find the perfect fabric and the perfect pattern and follow the instructions exactly, and I ended up with something useless. In contrast, there have been times when I threw scraps together and ended up with something amazing.
Now, this isn't meant to diss patterns or following instructions. Rather, it was a big lesson to me to enjoy the process, go with the flow, and be patient and accepting of how things turn out. I am less afraid to tackle the next project because it can hardly turn out worse, right? Right? And even it if does, I will keep moving forward. The alternative, after all, is to quit quilting, and I have too much fabric to do that!
So I had this piece of striped fabric, less than a yard. It had lots of trendy, bright colors in it. I debated for a long time, on numerous occasions, about how to best use it. I decided on this layout. I used 10" solid squares I got from Connecting Threads during one of their clearance sales. They come in a pack of 20, but I only used 16.
I cut each square into two pieces, about 3.5" from one edge, then added a one inch strip of the striped fabric in the middle (resulting in a 10" square again). When the block was reassembled, I cut the block again, this time in half. I then swapped the half blocks with other half blocks other colors and reassembled, alternating the striped piece to the top on one side and the bottom on the other. I had to trip the block to 9.5" to make it square; I took a quarter inch off the top and the bottom. The finished block was 9", and the finished blanket was 36". I then used the striped material for the binding. I could have made the blanket bigger by using all 20 blocks, but some of the colors were very pale and I wouldn't have had enough striped fabric for the binding. Like I said, it was less than a yard, probably closer to a half yard, and I wanted to make the best use of it.
I backed it with white flannel, as nothing else really worked and the white made the background of the striped material pop. It turned out really cute and cheery, perfect for the baby shower my daughter attended for a coworker. I will keep this in mind for future irresistible striped scraps that make their way into my stash!
This blanket came from some fabric that was donated to us. Honestly, I think they were sheets, but I just loved the clouds and wanted to do something simple and classic with them. It's not fancy or ornate, but I do like it. And I'm glad to be done with that fabric.
Speaking of which, the lilac fabric below falls in the same category of having been donated and me glad to be done with it, but it is a tad bit more fancy and ornate. I started out doing Warm Wishes and had to add half blocks to make it work. Turned out okay. Usually I use fleece or flannel for the backing, but I used the purple fabric from the center strip for the whole back. It was a good use of the fabric, I think. I also tied it with embroidery thread, tying four knots each time. It frayed nicely into fuzzy little bows. I'm hoping the four knots hold!
I made this quilt for my son's friend from a pattern for Week 52 from this site. It's kind of cool -- this woman made up a pattern in EQ for each week of the year as a challenge to learn the program. This pattern appealed to me because it's clean and simple yet it showcases the fabrics. It went together really quick. I plan to do another in other colors some day.
I call this the Math Quilt because it has math stuff in it, and I made it for my son who is majoring in engineering. It was kind of fun to work with white and grays for a change of pace, and the backing is a dark gray pinstriped fleece. If you look closely, you will see that it has other types of science and school-oriented fabric, and if you look really closely on the last picture, which has fabric that looks like binder paper, you will see that the math depicted is quilting math! How's that for adding a touch of Mom to his quilt?
The block is a Disappearing Shoo Fly, and I got the pattern idea on Wayne Kollinger's website. He always does the coolest things with quilt design. I am thrilled to have turned one of his ideas into a reality, so much so that I'm putting this on the Blogger's Quilt Festival. Woo hoo!
UPDATE: I realize that this quilt pattern is NOT the same as the one on Wayne's site...that quilt top is still unfinished (and unpictured). I found this pattern elsewhere. I'm still happy to link to Wayne's site because he is a genius with designs, and hope I can find the source of this pattern soon. I used the Accuquilt dies for the triangles and it went super fast.
I made this a couple of months ago but forgot to post them. I have more of these fabrics, and I'm considering a log cabin with them. I was in the mood for embroidery for this one, though.
Ugh. This one used some wonderfully coordinating fabric, and the pattern was this interesting way of making a nine patch and cutting it up and reassembling it. It was all well and good, but I really should have had more fabrics in it to pull it off. This was the make-do result of not having sufficiently different blocks to make the layout work. Oh, well. Half of the challenge of quilting for me is making things work in spite of myself.
I had enough scraps left to make a second blanket, and while you'd think this fabric would definitely be out of my system by now, I have one more piece of the kite boys and a new coordinating fabric, so I think a pillow might come in to being in the near future.
I had fat quarters of this focus fabric with two backgrounds – the other one was light. I don't know why I was so called to this print that I had to make two blankets out of it. Of course, since the last one didn't turn out and I had to chuck it, maybe that's part of the reason...The quilting made the whole blanket crooked and there was no salvaging it, unfortunately. Plus, I had this piece to try again. I think it's very cheery, and it's quite small -- 30" x 30", so it will work well for an infant in an NICU.
This was my adventure in gathering. I saw this technique somewhere and thought it looked so delicate and pretty. The fabric is linen, and the color was perfect, but gathering is a lot more work than I thought. I can safely say that this is out of my system. This fabric was donated to us, and I loved the gentle colors. I used a dark teal Minky on the back. I feel done with this print and these colors for now. Time for a change of pace!
The dog endured me using her couch for pictures!
I saw this block once, and I thought it would look good blown up into baby blanket size for twins. The little stars are the twins, and the big star is the mom. I finally came across someone who had twins so I had my chance to make this project and get it off my list (I don't even know the woman, she's the friend of a coworker, but I had to seize the opportunity). I was kind of hampered by fabric choices because the new mom doesn't like traditional pink and blue nor bright nor baby patterns. In fact, the colors I was shown that were her style were decidedly not mine and I didn't have any in my stash. I finally settled on this fabric, which I have always loved. I think it's cheery and not traditional baby, so there's that. I am so glad this project is done!
The biggest challenge was the minky on the back. I have never had such trouble as I did this time, and I don't know why. The teal squares in the middle are minky, and I had to rip the seams out multiple times due to slippage. I used it for the backing, and that gave me more gray hairs. But minky IS so soft and nice, I was willing to soldier through. Again, I am so glad this project is done!
I got a bunch of scraps of fabric that were so orange, I felt compelled to use them all at once. It reminds me of California poppies. This blanket will brighten up your day whether you like it or not! Below is a pattern based on the Bento Box square. I also made it from scraps, flannel ones. Both are going to Project Linus.
How did I come up with this name for my blog?
I will never be recruited into the Quilting Police – I am not a perfectionist when it comes to quilting. I prefer my quilts done (not that I don't have plenty that are only partly done and many many more in the dream stages). I also like to get a deal on fabric, and I like to use up my fabric efficiently. I created this blog to show the method of my madness...
Some of my favorite sites: