Why UFO?

I just noticed this neglected project (UnFinished Object, which is something totally different from a Work In Progress, isn’t it) shuffling around in the basement… It was going to be a little circular pouch, last summer I think.  The pieces are almost all together, the inside of the pouch is already cut out, I even made a test pouch out of a single fabric to test my pattern.  So why isn’t it done?  I honestly can’t even remember why this got shoved aside.

Finding this set off a few days of self-reflection on my sewing habits and methods.  (I didn’t let myself start to obsess about my general life-habits; I’m taking baby steps…)  For a while I couldn’t stop thinking about how I must look through the eyes of my mother.  Mom is a very linear person and finishes everything she starts and doesn’t have 37 projects in various stages of completion cluttering up her basement.  I don’t even think she plans her next project until the one at hand is completed.   My fluttering about must make her feel all twitchy until she has to look away and shake her head.

What it is about me that keeps me from seeing things through?  Is it the lure of something exciting and new?  Am I over-committed?  Maybe just self-indulgent and undisciplined? Ugg, I think it might be those last two there.  Time to be honest.  If I don’t wanna do it, most of the time, I just don’t.

While I was working on the Strawberry Shortcake Quilt just now, I didn’t work on that many other things.  Just one quilt from start to finish; it was easy because I gave myself deadlines and I wanted to keep plugging away at it so I could be done and move on to the next project.  I had the goal in mind; gifting the quilt while the baby was still tiny enough to use it, so I knew I couldn’t set it aside and start something else. It worked.  And it felt so good! So I’m working on more of that now.  Goals, deadlines.  And the sweet taste of success when something is actually finished and put to use.  Why did it take me this long to figure this out?  Here’s hoping I do turn into my mother after all…

Star Count

Is it really Monday again?  I did not complete any new stars this week.  But, I did get a pile of pieces basted and ready, and that’s totally progress when you’re talking about English paper piecing.

I am trying to be more disciplined than usual with this quilt.  Normally I would choose a few fabrics at a time, baste a few pieces, make one star, then repeat.  But this time I want to get most if not all of my fabrics selected first, and mostly cut out and basted, so there’s no unhappy surprises at the end.  It’s a small quilt, so there’s less room to hide something that doesn’t work out as envisioned.  And less room for all the pretty stuff I want to fit in.  So I’m making sure it’s right before I sew it all together.  One thing I love about English paper piecing is that it’s so easy to play around with the basted shapes and see exactly what the finished piece will look like before you commit!  I’m bringing in some tan fabrics to give the pretty colors space to breathe, and the deep marine blue to ground all that sweet bright color.

Linking up again to Monday Morning Star Count over at Life Under Quilts!

Star Count

Last night I started a new English paper pieced project!

I have been completely smitten with this teeny floral since I found it at a quilt show last fall.  Like crazy in love, and I’ve been dying for a project where I could really enjoy using it.  Back then I was sure that the family-member-in-utero was a boy (and I wasn’t actually planning on finding out the gender at all until the big day, so a more neutral quilt would have been in order.) I thought this would make its way into a big quilt for me (it still might.)

But things changed and now that we know we are getting another little lady, I’m free to dream up sweet confectionery quilts in sherbert-y hues, and this fabric is the inspiration.

I started a preliminary fabric pull celebrating the pink-peach-orange-raspberry-lemon colors but I still need to pull some neutrals and something deep to ground all this sweetness.  How I love picking fabrics.

I’m linking up again with Jessica Alexandrakis’s Monday Morning Star Count and my count this week is: 1!

How to add a hanging sleeve to your quilt

Tutorial: How to add a hanging sleeve to your quiltIn preparation for the DC Modern Quilt Guild’s upcoming show, here’s a tutorial for a regulation hanging sleeve.  It has a D shape rather than being flat; this allows the sleeve to accommodate the width of the hanging pole without distorting the actual quilt.  The sleeve will be 1″ shorter than the quilt on each edge in order to hide the hooks that attach the pole to the wall.  This is the same sleeve required by the International Quilt Festival.  I’m using white muslin for my sleeve, but you can use just about any cotton fabric since it won’t be seen when the quilt is hanging.

1. Measure the width of your quilt.  Cut a strip of fabric the exact width of the quilt and 9 inches high.  My quilt is 33.75″ wide, so I’m cutting my strip 33.75″ x 9″.  ( You can piece the strip to get the required length.)

2. Fold each short edge over 1/2″ towards the wrong side and press, then fold over again and press.  Now your strip is 2″ shorter than your quilt.

3. Stitch the short edges close to the loose fold to secure.

4. Fold the strip in half, aligning the long edges with wrong sides together.  Press lightly.

5. Stitch the long edges of the strip together with a 1/4″ seam.

6. Using your machine’s longest stitch length, baste 1/4″ away from the long fold you created in step 3.

7. Refold your sleeve so that the seam and the basted fold are roughly centered.  Press the seam open and press the newly folded edges well.  You can press the basted fold to one side if it makes this step easier.

8. With the basted fold facing out and the long seam touching your quilt, align the sleeve 1/2″ from the top of the quilt, centered across the back of the quilt, and pin.  Hand stitch top and bottom edges to the quilt using a blind stitch, taking care not to stitch through to the front of the quilt.

9. Remove the basting stitches on the fold.  Now your sleeve is 4″ on the side attached to the quilt, and 4 1/2″ on the free side, making a D.  You’re done!

Oh by the way…

I have been working on another project that I haven’t talked about yet here.  Although it’s no secret at this point if we are friends in person…

I’ve been working on the best kind of project for the past 6 months or so; growing a new little person to add to the lovely craziness of our household… :) This will be kid #4 for us and I’m so excited to have some tiny-babyness in the house again.  These ones are growing up so fast…

(Baby Legwarmers are on Ravelry here, dress purchased from BabyGap)

A sweet finish

Here is a quilt I’ve been working on in little bits over the past few months…

Not my typical style for sure, but I loved the new English Paper Piecing pattern I got to use!  I wanted to make a quilt for our friend’s new baby, and the mom-to-be requested that I use these Strawberry Shortcake fabrics…

Strawberry Shortcake Collage

I don’t often buy novelty prints, so it took me a while to come up with an idea that would feature the prints while being fun for me to put together.  I knew I wanted to use English Paper Piecing, so I could work on the quilt in little bits of time- at the table with my kids doing schoolwork or on trips in the car.  Eventually I settled on this open-centered chrysanthemum (I’m calling it a sunflower) because I found the shape of the petals so appealing, and the big circles worked to feature the big prints.  I love the methodical pace of EPP- iron down the freezer paper templates, cut out the shapes, baste over the edges, join the shapes with tiny invisible stitches, remove the basting, remove the papers… then in this quilt the shapes have to be appliqued as well, so there’s another round of basting and more tiny invisible hand stitching… this is just the kind of quilt I love to work on.  I kept it ever handy in its little tray so I could work on it at any time I had a few minutes.  School time, car time, guild meetings, Sherlock reruns…  They all add up to a finished quilt before you know it.

After all the blocks were together and up on the design wall, I realized that the intense color was pretty unrelenting, so I added the tiny white sashing to break up all that color.   I used tiny yellow cornerstones for a little extra sweetness.  The quilt is backed with one of the Strawberry Shortcake prints which was a really thick, cozy flannel, so it has a nice heft.  It’s quilted simply with a little perle cotton.  Quilts like this that are all about the fabric don’t need extensive quilting, in my opinion.

The quilt was delivered last week, in time for baby’s 2 month birthday… pretty good by my usual standards and, in my defense, she came earlier than expected!  I am feeling antsy now without a project to focus on.  I’ve got too many up in the air and I can’t decide which is the most important.

I just found a new weekly linkup that is just my style- Monday Morning Star Count at Life Under Quilts.  Jessica Alexandrakis, author of Quilting on the Go, is a fellow proponent of EPP, and she hosts the linky to provide some encouragement to keep plugging away at our projects!  I”m really looking forward to watching other quilters’ projects progress!  For this, the first week, she asked for a picture of our sewing kits, so here is the kit I carried around when I was working on this quilt:

I loved using a tray rather than some sort of bag, because everything stayed so nice and flat!  Everything was easy to find, too.  Highly recommend it!

Winter Hike

We snuck out from the holiday clutter to get a little fresh air a few days ago.  Thank goodness because now it’s 17 degrees out and the wind is blowing like crazy.  The kids picked up pretty rocks and looked for tiny minnows and all those things that I always want them to do… getting boots thoroughly muddy was a highlight for some… and I loved finding dried flowers and seed pods and just enjoying that low winter light.  A lovely little trip!

An Art Show

I don’t often blog about the DC Modern Quilt Guild here, because I’m always blogging about it over here, but this time I am so excited about what’s going on that I have to share it here on my own blog.

My dear friend Frederick, who I met through the guild, has been exhibiting art of one kind or another for years.  Recently he exhibited a quilt in a show at the Anacostia Arts Center that included many different types of art.  His was the only quilt, and what he heard from the gallery was that his quilt garnered quite an enthusiastic response from the public.  So much that, they invited the guild to hold an entire show of quilts in their gallery.  Frederick and I met with the director of the center a couple of weeks ago, and we are making this happen, February 2014!  I have to admit that the rapidly approaching date is slightly freaking me out.  Mostly because, in addition to the work we need to do to coordinate the show,  I also plan on finishing a new quilt to enter into the show myself.   But this is such an amazing opportunity that Frederick scored for us, we just had to take it and run.

I have a couple dozen Works in Progress I could choose from to finish up for this… or should I start something totally new?  :)  I bet you know what I’ll pick…

For the boy..

I have a new stack of fabric that I am so in love with…

All shot cottons from Kaffe Fassett.  This fabric, plus Dream Wool batting, makes the most squishy, silky soft and cuddly quilt you could ever dream of.  And if a quilt doesn’t make you want to curl up with it, then in my book it’s not a successful quilt.  So.  These are for my darling 10 year old, my only son, who for the most part gets passed by when it comes to handmade things.  Dolly carriers and tiny baby knits are what pop into my head when I want to make something for my kids, and I have to work a little harder to think of just the right something for an older boy.  But he is such a sweetie, so loving, and for god’s sake he puts up with a lot, being here with two much littler sisters day after day.  He really deserves to have something handmade by Mommy.  So with much love I have been planning this project, and waiting and thinking while some other things were finished up, and now I’m ready to begin.

I have a couple of different sketches I’m deciding between, but it’s definitely going to be something improvised and free, just something fun for me to play with for a few weeks.  I’m planning on some medium-dense hand quilting to really play up the lovely feel of the wool batting and make it something he will love to curl up with.

I’m popping these in the wash now as I type, and tomorrow they’ll be ready to cut into.  Maybe I’ll have a quilt top by Christmas?

Stocking up

I’ve got nothing but computer work lined up today, but I am comforted by the basket of freshly washed fabric acquisitions at me feet. (and a plate of Cranberry-Quinoa Scones from Aran Goyoaga’s beautiful cookbook)

I feel like a squirrel, putting things by for the long winter… we canned over 100 quarts of applesauce, some veggie soup too, I stocked up on water and pantry items (because I dream of stormy days when we are all cozily house-bound), there is talk of getting a chest freezer and a pig to put in it, and now a lovely collection of fabric for the cozy crafting months ahead.

Some of the fabrics in my basket mimic the view from my window.  The children wore themselves out already today, playing with dad in the leaves, and I want to make a quilt to remember these golden days.