28 February 2012

Bright, please!

Pillows are one of my favorite wonderful and relatively quick projects.  And it has been a dreary week here.

They're also comfy and useful!

I whipped these up with squares of bright floral Treasures and Tidbits in the center, along with plenty of one of my favorite fabric lines, LouLouThi by Anna Maria Horner. I love how the Treasures and Tidbits ones look almost like woodblock prints.  

They aren't quilted, just simply lined with some muslin for feather-poking protection.  

The backs are made of upholstery-weight cotton canvas, and I edged the envelope closures with more LouLouThi.

I can't get enough. I'm nowhere near done with this collection--watch out.

These are both 18x18 inches. 

I love using feather inserts because they make the pillows look and feel so puffy and smooshy. 

I also made a little friend to go with them!  This one has LouLouThi in the center and some Innocent Crush (Also Anna Maria Horner) on the outsides, and measures about 12x16 inches.  

This one IS quilted on the front, with a layer of batting along with the lining.  Smoosh. It's just perfect for putting behind your head when slouching reclining.  Another little friend is interested, too.  

I used this amazing home dec fabric for the back, Prairie Gothic.  Who knew bugs could be so pretty?! It's a little weird and I love it. 

Result, the glowing trio. ♥ 

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24 February 2012

A Lucky Shot

This past summer, I finished up binding a quilt up in Maine.  The perfect spot to take some photos!  My quilt photos were (and still are) a bit hit or miss.  I was never really interested in photography until I wanted to document my sewing.  It seemed too fiddly: too much setup, too much technical info, too much hassle. I've been working on it, bit by bit.

Like people's lives on Facebook, my quilt photos are selected and edited to only show the best. (Um, of course they are.)

With this quilt, I somehow struck photo gold.  Beautiful day, beautiful setting, interesting rusty chair, and the blessed "auto" setting on my camera.

I made this simple patchwork quilt from a stack of bright prints cut into 5-inch squares.  Sometimes you just have to go patchwork.

I like how it's bright and soft at the same time. At one point, I decided it needed more red for contrast.

I had some "creative assistance" along the way.

I stright-line quilted this one in a double-line grid, with quilting lines about 1/4 inch away from the seams.  Simple, but pretty dense.  This is a nice, heavy quilt.

And there was intensive "product testing."

I had added quite a few squares of white (Kona Snow, I think) into the mix.  Once the quilt was completely pieced and quilted, they looked too empty to me.

I decided to embellish each one with a bit of hand-stitching and embroidery.  I wish I had taken more photos, but each square had its own stitch combo.  It was really fun to think up new designs for each one.

Measuring about 60x70 inches, the quilt is backed in a bold Jennifer Paganelli bright blue damask stripe, with a line of leftover patchwork scraps pieced in on one edge.

I bound it in a pretty spring green solid.   (Sprout from Connecting Threads)

Of course, not all of the photos were gems. Over time, I've become much more conscious of what makes me like/dislike photos, and how to pick out the good and the bad. Here are a few "misses":
ugh, feet! shadow!
Want to see the quilt, or shrubbery? Certainly not my pedicure.
all washed out!
*sigh* missing summer!

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20 February 2012

Sometimes it's Easy

More often than not, one particular fabric will inspire an entire project for me.  In this case, a gorgeous citron tree print from Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow line was my starting point.

I gathered together some coordinating fabrics in citron, navy, aqua, and gray, fussy cut the trees in 6.5 inch squares, and set to work making improv log cabin blocks.  I then bordered each block in a citron lattice (Also Modern Meadow), to give them all a sense of continuity.  It's a rather unique and sophisticated palette, and at the time was a departure from my fixation with bright candy tones.  

Suddenly, I had four large blocks just begging to be a baby quilt.  Begging.  

So I set them up in some white. 

I bound it in a navy floral fields print, just scrumptious.  I really like using an interesting print for binding these days, and I think the flowers on this print keep the navy from overpowering the rest of the quilt, while still providing contrast.

All finished, it measures about 36x40 inches.

It's backed in a light gray, featuring one more of those pretty pretty trees (they have birds flying around them!).  I machine-quilted this in a chevron pattern, with about 3 inches between lines. I really love how it turned out and plan to do it again!

(This quilt found it's way straight to the shop.) (Sold)

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16 February 2012

Improv Chevrons

When I'm sewing, sometimes I like to make things that are very neat and precise.

Other times, however, the freedom of a crazy, possibly wonky, spontaneous design is my favorite thing.

Like these improv chevrons!

I'd estimate that a good portion of all handmade items are the result of a "I-want-to-make-that" impulse that occurs while browsing at onnnnee store in particular. Yes, the girly-boho-rustic mecca: Anthropologie. As I'm no stranger to that impulse, these chevrons are inspired by this pillow I saw there.

Here's how I did it! This is more of a technique than a formal tutorial, as no two blocks will ever be the same.

Strips of fabric between 1 and 3 inches wide.  A variety of widths is best! I started by cutting a couple of strips from the long side of a fat quarter from about 8 different fabrics, and then cutting more if needed.

1. I built these chevrons from small end to fat end. Start with a small square or rectangle, and sew on strips to one corner, like a log cabin block.  For improv piecing, I like to leave a little extra at the end, and don't worry about measuring or super-straight cuts.  When sewing, I use the edge of the top fabric as a stitching guide even if the fabrics on the bottom don't line up perfectly. 

2. Press open, repeat!

3. Once I have 3-4 rows of chevrons, I start to think about how I want my chevron section to look.  This one will taper from small to large horizontally across the block, and create the center section.  If it suits you, you can use a disappearing  ink pen (or any marking tool you like) to mark where you'll eventually cut.  First mark a vertical line to mark where the edge of the square will be. Then, choosing any angle you like, draw two lines radiating out from that across the block.  

Like a paper or fabric foundation, this ensures two things:  that you'll use enough fabric to cover the necessary area, and also that there's not a lot of fabric waste.  Imagine if the rows just got bigger and bigger! That would probably look cool too, though, come to think of it. You can also do this part in your head, but I find that it really helps to have a clear idea of how long the additional strips need to be.  

4. Continue until your block section reaches a width that's about 1/2-1 inches bigger than your desired size.  In this case, I wanted to create a 14.5 inch block, so I stopped around 15 inches and drew another vertical line to mark the endpoint.  This also helped me visualize where I needed to add more fabric to complete the left-side corners of the chevron section.  At this point, I trimmed along my marked lines, and then filled in the corners.

5. Fill in the corner gaps, and trim again!  One corner might need more fabric than the other.

6. The next two chevron sections will form the top and bottom of the block.  Unlike the first section, they'll need to have square outer edges.  I like to use my cutting mat lines (worn as they are) to visualize just where the chevron section has to go, and how big it needs to get. Sew a few strips together before lining up and marking.  

Give yourself at least 1/2 inch more than you think you need in vertical space to allow for squaring up and a seam allowance.  If there's not enough space for a full V shape at first, that's ok! Keep going!

If you see your chevrons heading in the wrong direction, and it seems that the section will be lopsided, you can adjust its general direction by angling the strips you add.  In the case above, I wanted my chevrons to point downwards a bit more to make sure there would still be an even V shape when I got to the fat end.

7. Mark the section the same way you did with the center one, this time making sure that there's room for the top for a 90-degree angle to create the top left corner of the block. 

8. Continue adding strips as you did for the center strip, marking a vertical line when your section gets wide enough, filling in the corners as in step 5.  Trim!

9. Attach the two strips, keeping in mind that because of the angle, they need to be offset by about 1/4 inch if you want the vertical lines to match up exactly. I tend not to worry about this and just trim later.

10. Flip your partial block.  Repeat steps 6-9, creating another chevron section, trimming it, and joining it to complete the block.

11. Square up your block to your desired size. Make more!

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15 February 2012

Wonky Stars Trio

Wonky stars on a sea of color.  What else do you need? This trio of baby quilts was inspired by a quilt at Film in the Fridge that i just loved.  I made all the wonky stars using this tutorial from The Silly Boo Dilly, which has since become such a go-to!

When I kept the design and process relatively similar, I got to change up many of the different technical aspects of the quilts as I went along, experimenting with color, quilting, and details. 

Each quilt is somewhat reversible, and there's a secret star on the Kona Lupine back of this one. I quilted this one in random straight lines radiating out of one corner.   

For this lavender, coral, and aqua one, I made wonky stars in 3 sizes, and then set them up with plenty of white.  

I love the stripey Kaffe Fasset binding! 

I added some light blue hand-stitching around the stars, which also shows up on the back of the quilt.

This soft yellow (Kona Maize), aqua, and gray crosshatch quilt was next.  

It has multiple stars on both sides, making it truly reversible.  

I'd say that this quilt's "special experimental feature" is its 100% hand-quilting.  I got the special thread, the special TINY needles, and got stitching!

I quilted alternating single and double diagonal lines with a light gray thread.  So much couch time, I loved it!

I love how this one looks folded up! Best of all, it gets a lot of use in its new home!

After such a soft palette, it's no surprise that I moved on to something bright:

Orange and turquoise! At the time, I wouldn't have been able to say exactly what made this my favorite of the bunch, but looking back, it's definitely the contrast between the saturated hues and the bright white.  

I think this quilt combines the best of both of my previous efforts! I went with a sunny bright yellow-orange for some hand-stitching around just the small stars.  Stars! Binding! Pow!

For the quilting on this one, I first did some horizontal lines, and then worked in diagonal lines inwards from the corners, making a diamond shape.

  This one has a solid Kona Orange back, and the binding is Kona Turquoise.  

Cute hand-stitched corners, something that I really loved, and have continued ever since!

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