January 30, 2013

Scrappy Runner

It is done.

I admit I didn't touch this after the New Year's Day measuring lesson.  In the passing time my sewing/office stuff shifted out of the small spare room to make room for Pruin.  The writing and sewing materials and tools are now distributed around the house in a somewhat slap dash manner.  It is a relief actually.  When we agreed the purchase of this house I had a lot of fantasies about that little room and all the work I would get done.  By the time we actually got in the house I was pregnant and that room was bookmarked for Pruin.  The interim office never really felt comfortable or right.  Plus the view is not very inspiring.  The view from the dining room table is much better.  In the past two weeks I've witnessed the courting and battling and pairing-off of foxes.  Much better than a school building roof.

That's not the story of today.  Today, I show you the runner made completely from scraps or found material.  Everything, from thread to wadding to binding is re-used.  I ran out of thread three times so the quilting resembles the carpet in my house (a different shade/texture of off-white in every room) but I don't think it is too noticeable.

the last 2 inches and no thread to spare

 There were also some mysterious machine issues which ate up valuable thread.  I left it.  It's character, right?

The quilting itself was quite a lesson.  This was my first attempt at machine quilting and it was a bit cramped and awkward.  My sewing machine doesn't allow for a huge range of motion on the sewing deck (is that the right term? I don't know.) so there was a lot of tugging and rolling and folding and manipulating of fabric to get everything in the right position.  The needle threatened to snap numerous times as I shifted the fabric sandwich here and there, but it worked.  Sort of.

I have a sneaking suspicion that there are different kinds of feet and needles I could use to make this all a bit easier or at least run a bit smoother.  I might have to investigate.

However, I think it a decent achievement to create two quilted items with nothing more than the kit that came with the sewing machine.  No need for fancy schmancy (expensive) tools.  Just get stuck in.

Another reason for the delay of finishing this project, beyond my increasing girth getting in the way, was the question of binding.  It's the enduring question always, I find.  How to finish?

While digging through my scrap/discarded clothing/scarves, etc. stash for Pruin's quilt, I found a bit of fabric procured in a clothes swap.  The previous owner used it as a scarf.  I grabbed it that night because of its pattern with no idea if it would actually ever see the light of day.  Today was that day.

I do not recommend binding in this way. In fact, I have no advice on binding. 

The smaller print of the scarf was just wide enough to supply two lengths for binding.  To highlight the stamp or not?  I went back and forth with this for a bit.  Did I want to highlight the remnant aspect of this project or attempt to make it look more purposeful.  I went for purposeful.

And there we have it.  Done.

January 28, 2013

Finished: Inside Out Quilt

My first quilt of 2013 is DONE!  As little use as I have for them, I love making baby quilts because they're small and sew up super easily.  The binding only takes a couple hours to complete and my wrists don't hurt nearly as much as they would with a throw-size quilt.  So, friends and family, keep having babies, because I have a stash to work through!

I wrapped the quilt up this morning and forgot to take pictures with anything besides my phone.  Sorry, world.

Isn't that awesome calligraphy?  I would love to say it's mine but that would be a huge lie.  I bought it on Etsy from Parrot Design Studio and thought it was perfect for a little girl.

Is there anything better than a crinkly quilt?  I don't think so.  This finished drying after I went to bed last night so I grabbed it as soon as I woke up this morning.  I love it!  I ended up binding with a print from Ellen Luckett-Baker's Moda line Quilt Blocks, which was released last spring.  I forgot I had it in my stash but the crosses in the print mimic the crosses in the quilt.  I was worried about how the backing and binding looked together but after staring at them for a long period of time I can say it's really grown on me.

I posted this to my Facebook wall and a girl I haven't spoken to since sixth grade contacted me about making one for her!  She's due with her second baby, a boy, next month and loved the style.  First of all, let's try not to focus on the fact that she's my age (younger, actually, because I was always the oldest in my class) (until I graduated, but that's another story for another blog) and having her second child.  Second, how great is that!  I love hearing that people like what I'm doing.  That sounds narcissistic, but in 2013, we put ourselves out there a lot, and it's hard to keep going if you aren't getting feedback.

I will say that I am having a hard time charging her for it.  This isn't my design; I used a pattern while making this.  So I told her if she'll buy the supplies--around $40 is what I spent--I'll do it and send it to her.  Is that weird?  I don't like the topic of money and would rather barter, but because I'm not in the market for a newborn, I'll just take what I can get: experience and maybe some fabric scraps to add to my stash.

What'd you sew this weekend?  Ariel and I had an awesome Skype session Saturday and we have some big plans for the blog!  I hope you'll be as excited as we are!

January 23, 2013

Thinking ahead

The materials are assembled.

There are not as many shirts as I remembered. I guess I did manage to send some away in the charity bags.  These made the cut due to my husband's stubble.  I actively encourage stubble, but it does wear away at the collars of his shirts.

Unlike last time, I am attempting to do a bit of actual planning with this quilt.  As fun and illuminating as the improvisation last time was, I feel I want to expand my horizons a bit.  To that end, I was a bit stumped as to the backing for this quilt.  I think I will just have enough shirt material to make the front, whatever pattern I settle on, but there won't be anything left for the back.

For awhile I thought I might have to sacrifice some of our more ratty bed sheets (as my gig on this blog is to re-use materials and make it up as I go).  Have no fear, our bed sheets are safe.

This week, we brought the 'contraband' box down from the loft.  This is a box filled with kid stuff Pete and I have collected over the last five years and put away until it was needed.  Most of it is books and games but there is also a bolt of fabric from 2007 when IKEA started its circus range.

How perfect is that?

The right colours and just enough whimsy to be fun but not sickening.  It's also just the right width for a small cot quilt.  (A measurement I had to check with Emily about as she is the baby quilt maven right now).  I was sure I had another shirt of Pete's that was a similar colour blue which would have been lovely.  Two striped patterns and two solids, but it seems to have disappeared.

And so we're off.

Still not sure on binding but I am going to trust that the solution will come to mind, or hand, when needed.

Time to wash, iron and cut some pieces.  I am still unsure about the pattern, but I'm leading toward some triangles to reflect the triangle banner on the backing fabric.

January 21, 2013

An Almost-Finished Baby Quilt!

Finally--a productive weekend in the Sposetta-Regnier household!  I tell you, these lazy Sundays bore me to death.

Last weekend I wrote about plans for a baby quilt for a co-worker.  I was torn about the cross design.  Finally, I decided to just do it.  If I sat around and thought about it anymore I was going to drive myself crazy!  However, this quilt didn't move nearly as fast as my other quilts have recently.  It was also a ton of piecing: each block is made of eleven pieces, and there are 39 blocks in the baby quilt.  It's much more involved than my HSTs and basic patchwork!

As a reminder, the pattern is Cluck Cluck Sew's Inside Out.  I bought this pattern when I first decided to learn how to quilt and have been dying to make it ever since.  I love cross quilts!  The solids are all from Hawthorne Threads and are a mix of Cotton Couture, Bella Solids, FreeSpirit Designer solids, and one Laura Gunn Painter's Canvas.  I've found lately that I love working with solids and really enjoy adding the leftovers to my stash.

I started cutting Monday night and stopped working on it Sunday morning.  All I have left to do is quilt and bind! We'll talk about that after the pictures.

I chain-pieced many of the block parts.  This was my first time chain-piecing and, while I learned a new skill, it made piecing the blocks later so boring and tedious.

Laying this out was a labor of love.  I didn't make equal numbers of all the colors, and had a very specific vision in mind: I didn't want the same color touching in any of the rows, and I wanted the values to be equally spread out.  So at 11 PM Saturday night, after Nick was asleep and my internet had decided to stop working (rendering Hulu useless), I finally got it right!

I was up early on Sunday to photograph it:

Puddin' helped me baste (and thoroughly pissed me off in the process):

So now the quilt is rolled up in a tube, waiting to be quilted!

Which brings me to the question, how should I quilt it?  I don't have a free-motion quilting foot yet, which puts a damper on that plan.  I also can't do straight lines, because, with this sort-of wonky layout, it will look like I'm drunk or dumb, take your pick.  My mom suggested I quilt inside and outside the crosses, which I like.  I also saw wavy lines done with a walking foot (amazing and mind-blowing, at least to me) on Camille Roskelley's blog and am leaning toward that.  Do you have any suggestions?

What did you quilt this weekend?

January 16, 2013

The Pattern Continues...

Remember way back in July when I kept putting off the start of the t-shirt quilt?

I'm doing it again.

I think we can all agree that quilt was a success.  Now it comes to my next project and again I am stalling.  My excuse this time around is about pattern.  I'm completely lost as to how I want this next project to go.

Despite Emily's generous gift of a super-secret-quilted-baby-something (which she is crazy generous for making) I have been planning a cot quilt for awhile now.  I mean you can't have too many, right?  From what I hear everything baby related gets covered in puke and poo on the regular so having a couple quilts isn't a bad thing.

I have the materials picked out, again stuff laying around the house, but I am still in the process of tracking them down.  The last quilt was all about me.  It was made of my t-shirts and reflected my personal history up to a particular point.  That point being getting married.  Pete is only tangentially present in that quilt.  He is a much bigger part of this picture.

This quilt will be made from his clothes.  Unlike me, Pete keeps all his old clothes.  (I know I kept all those t-shirts, but i am horrible for donated buckets of stuff hastily and then mourning the loss of a particular item the next time the season comes around.) There are items in that wardrobe that have not seen the light of day since before we moved in together over six years ago. Items that were sent from his closet in New Zealand but speak of a much different boy than the man I know.

I'm not touching those items.  They are his to do with as he pleases.  I am going for his old work shirts and boxers.  A kinky combination on the surface but one that has precedent.  Back in my Kentucky days, before I met Pete, I had a colleague doing her PhD on a group of quilters in the Appalachian mountains.  Their stories were fantastic, as most old mountain ladies'stories are, but there was one that caught my attention then that I have held with me since.  It goes without saying that they reused fabric.  Rarely was any new material bought to complete their projects but some of their materials were not only reused, but hot.

It seems that many of the ladies worked in the Jockey factory sewing together briefs and boxers.  Occasionally a few of the larger scraps would accidentally appear in their handbags when they got home at the end of the day.  Beautiful deep blues and rich reds so rare in their usual threadbare offerings of old clothes and husbands' work shirts.  These pieces would then find their way into the quilts of the quilting bee and they would giggle about the story as they related it to my colleague years later.

Maybe it gave them a little thrill to steal these scraps, like children taking candy out of the pick n mix boxes, and 'hide' them in their traditional, and acceptable, hobby.  Maybe they just saw fabric as fabric and couldn't abide the waste of throwing away perfectly good scraps.  Maybe both.  Maybe neither.

Fabric is fabric.  Waste not, want not.

While I track down these old clothes of my dear husband I am also thinking about the pattern.  I don't want to do the free-form improvisation of the t-shirt quilt and in reference to this tradition of using the 'menfolks' clothes as material I'm leaning toward a more traditional pattern but I'm not sold on stars or rings or any of the traditional blocks.

A quilt with a traditional technique but a more modern look.  That would fit my husband to a tee.

January 14, 2013

More Baby Quilts

It seems like there's been a baby boom lately!  Besides our lovely Ariel, I know two women who are pregnant, and both work with me.  I guess I'm getting to the age where this is becoming more commonplace, but it's a little strange!  I tend to gravitate toward older friends, so I skipped the stage where everyone got married and jumped right to the pregnancy phase.  Personally, I think it's great because, a, I'm not having a baby, and b, I get to make everyone gifts!

One of my coworkers is due in about five weeks--so soon!  She's having a little girl and we're having a shower for her on February 1.  Of course I decided to make her a quilt.  Now that I'm more confident in my quilting, I can make someone a gift and not apologize for the stitching/binding/technique.

She's very picky (which is fine, I am too) and doesn't like animals, teddy bears, cotton-candy pink, cartoons, or anything too babyish.  I had asked her when we met about the baby's room, given all these restrictions, and she said they'd chosen grays, purples, and different pinks and geometric patterns, which all sounded great.  Of course, when choosing fabrics for her quilt, I remembered the nursery colors and chose something similar:

Sorry about the photo.  I didn't realize my camera died while I was gone over the weekend and I had to use my iPhone.

The solids will be the quilt front, and the print--from Anna Maria Horner's Field Study--will be the backing.  I also have some Freespirit NuGray that can serve as the binding, unless I find something better in my stash.

I'm still undecided on the pattern I'll use.  I'm leaning toward Cluck Cluck Sew's Inside Out, but could be easily swayed with the right suggestion.


I worry--always--that crosses come off as religious, and I don't want to be a pusher, especially because I don't belong to a religious denomination.  What do you think?  I'd make the baby size, which is 35 crosses, but something is still holding me back.  I better decide, though, because I have to have her present ready in two weeks!

My boss is also pregnant, but not due until summer.  They've chosen not to find out the sex, so I've already started thinking about possible gender-neutral fabrics to use for her.  I really like Sarah Watson's Indian Summer, which will be out in April:

All pictures from Hawthorne Threads

While there are two palettes--one more blue, one more peach--they work really well together and I don't think I'd have a problem using them and still maintaining a neutral quilt design.

And, of course, I have something planned for Ariel, but I'm not talking about that here!  :)

What are you sewing?  I just picked up some Aurifil (my first spools--thanks Mom!) and will be reporting back on that.  I hope it's as great as everyone says!

January 9, 2013

Made to measure

How did you spend your New Year's Day?

We spent it measuring.

Measuring our bathroom for an upcoming remodel.
Measuring our box room for an upcoming nursery.
Measuring our kitchen for a new shelf.
And finally, eyeballing some fabric for an almost finished project.

I just don't learn, do I? Measuring was in the air, the rattle of a retracting tape was the soundtrack of the day, yet I still 'winged it' when it came to my sewing project that afternoon.  Old habits and all that...

After a little fiddling, I decided to turn those remnants into a quilted table runner.  Or maybe a cushion for a shelf or a wall hanging.  Whatever it will end up, it is currently a long run of triangles.  In the quilting world this is called Flying Geese I believe.  Funny, when I was first laying it out I thought it looked like fish scales, but that could be my psuedo-maritime heritage coming through.

So New Year's afternoon found my husband putting up a shelf in the kitchen and myself sewing at the dining room table.  Each mumbling and grumbling to ourselves and at our tools.  He broke a wall anchor, I broke a needle.  He was temporarily stumped by the wall, I was baffled by my inability to sew a straight line.  

The beauty of a Victorian terrace house is in its charming (read: period) features, however this also means no wall is perfectly straight or square after 200 years of 'renovation.'  The *gorgeous* 70s vinyl on the wall in our kitchen hides a multitude of bumpy sins while doing a little sinning of its own.  The beauty of remnants is also in its charm and history and wonkiness.  Who else chose this fabric? What is it currently adorning across this borough? Why is it seemingly impossible for me to manage a straight or square cut with these pieces?

So while my husband cursed the hidden menace of wonky walls, I tried to make him feel better by explaining that I had done a bit of miscalculation of my own.  Somehow I had managed to make six out of the seven sections uneven.

It didn't really work. As he said, you can't un-stitch a wall.

But we both persevered and the shelf is up and holding and my fish scales came along nicely, if I do say so myself.

Here's to a year of measuring up and making it work.

January 7, 2013

Sewing Room Update

Hey there everyone!  Did you sew anything fun this weekend?  I wish I had a finished quilt to show off, but I focused on garment sewing this weekend, and a couple other small projects.  Even so, because I walked you through sewing room plans (and then my actual sewing room once we moved), I thought I'd update you on my progress!

I finally made a new cover for my ironing board!  I've had the fabric since before Christmas and the ironing board I had was just ugly.  I bought a cheap, large board from Wal-Mart, but the cover felt like it was covered in plastic (blech) and there was absolutely no padding in it.  Not ideal, but like I said--cheap!

There are a million tutorials out there on how to cover an ironing board.  I did some research and then mashed them all together, which was easier than following just one.  I will tell you, I used two yards of fabric, three yards of 1/2" knit elastic, and lots of pins!  I also bought an ironing board pad at Joann's while their 50% off sale was happening this weekend.  It makes the board much cushier so I don't feel like I'm hitting metal while I press.  I also measured and cut at 4" around the board, so I'd have plenty of room for seam allowances.  It was a beast to finally fit when it was done: it's like a fitted sheet from hell, so Nick had to hold one end while I fit the other, and vice versa.  Definitely not a one-woman job, at least for me.

Cut and ready

Making the casing.  I folded 3/4" twice, because I was using 1/2" elastic.

Hopefully that line goes away!!  It's from the padding being folded in its package.
The fabric is from Patty Sloniger's Les Amis line.

I'm also sewing a quilt with Lizzy House's Constellations line.  I can't go into too much detail, but here's the beginning of it:

I designed the quilt with graph paper and a pencil before Christmas--I mean, I didn't invent the HST, but I wanted it to be more than random so I went with a layout and followed it.  I sewed six rows together today, and will sew the rest probably next weekend.  I was looking for something more stimulating than sewing rows of HSTs together.  I'd love some opinions on how to quilt this; I wish I could FMQ so I could do stars or something fun!

I'm also going to start on Swoon soon, I think.  My mom has a big birthday coming up this spring and I'd like to make a Swoon for her present.  My new LQS (Quilted Thimble Cottage in Belmont, NC) has a ton of Bonnie and Camille fabrics, and they also offer longarm services.  Swoon finishes at 80" x 80", which is way bigger than even my new machine can handle.  Plus, for a special gift, I think it's worth it to splurge on the longarm quilting.  

I'm gung-ho but apprehensive at the same time about Swoon.  I've heard it takes two hours to finish one block!  There are nine blocks altogether, meaning a total of 18 hours, plus cutting time, await me.  That may not sound like much, but I don't normally spend more than 12 hours completing a quilt, so that's really a lot.  Have you attempted/completed Swoon yet?  Any tips?  I know it's worth it, and my mom will love it, but it's a large undertaking and I'm always a little worried (and excited!) at the beginning of projects.

What'd you sew this weekend?