Hands-On Quilting

Thank you all so, so much for your kind words about my big announcement. All the comments, emails and tweets gave me lots of warm fuzzies and mean more to me than you can know. If you’re on Facebook, feel free to “like” the book’s page.

The end of the school year is a lot like a mini-holiday season for the crafty, since there are so many gifts to make and give. This year was especially special, since it was Miss L’s final year in preschool. Yep, extra gifts to make.

I’d love to show them all to you — but I can’t. “Why?” you ask. Because a certain someone (that’d be me) had to go work out graduation morning, then run to the store to buy gift bags and tissue paper before dashing home to shower, dress and wrap everything so we could leave five minutes late.

So what you’re not seeing are the cute monogrammed travel mugs I made for the two pastors, Spanish teacher and music teacher. Or the embroidered tote bags I made for the preschool director and the other room mom (who is truly the best room mom in the entire world). Or the cute tote bag I made for the assistant teacher, which was based on the quilt pictured here.

The teacher and assistant teacher’s gifts were from the class. I knew I was going to make this small quilt since the teacher called me last summer to tell me she would be teaching the 4s. We’d had Ms. Kathy when L was in the 2s and just loved her. She really is one of those teachers who just gives it her all and I wanted her to have a one-of-a-kind gift.

One of the things she does with the class are color days. The kids are asked to wear that color to school and she structures the whole day around it. It’s really a fun thing and I wanted to reflect that with the quilt.

I chose six rainbow colors (1/3 yard cuts) from batik fabrics and cut them into 6″ strips x the width of the fabric. The strips were then sewn in ROYGB(I)V order along the long edges with a 1/4″ seam allowance. The handprints were made by tracing around each student’s hand, then tracing that outline onto some Steam a Seam. I ironed each one on to some of the leftover batik (two in five colors and three in the sixth, since there were 13 kids in the class). Each student used an extra-fine tipped black IdentiPen to write his/her name on the corresponding handprint.

The handprints were sort of randomly arranged on the quilt top. I say “sort of” because the truly random pattern I started with and then tried to refine for 30 minutes looked pitiful. I ended up arranging half of the hands on the diagonal across the middle of the quilt, then made two rows of three hands on either side of that. The “odd” hand was plopped in the lower left corner. Looking at it now, I realize I should have made the middle row from five hands so I could put a hand in the top right corner to balance it out. *sigh* Hindsight.

After appliquing the hands to the top, I made a tasty quilt sandwich before hooping the hands and echo quilting around each one by hand. By hand, I said! Be impressed. A lot. (See detail of the echo quilting here. Lots of ooohing and aaahhhing welcome.) Sarah actually suggested the quilting and I really like how it turned out, even though it’s probably all kinds of jacked up.

She also picked out the binding for me, a really fun stripe from the Maisy fabric line. It was just perfect with the colors and playfulness of it. It’s also the best job I’ve ever done on a binding — not that I’ve done all that many. You’ll just have to trust me that there was plenty of room for improvement.

Oh, and you can’t see it but the back is this super cool green ombre fabric. I used the pen to write the name of the quilt — “Ms. Kathy’s Handful — and the date and dedication along the bottom edge near the binding. I’ve never done anything like that before and wasn’t quite sure of the “right” way to do it, but I thought it was important to include it.

This is likely awful to admit but I really hoped the gift would make her cry. She is *so* not a girly girl but I thought I might drive her there.

I was right.

Quilt Talk

Recently I was asked to talk to a group about quilts. Now, I don’t consider myself a quilter and really don’t feel particularly qualified to talk about the subject, but this was a friend and I have a hard time saying no.

Everyone assured me it was no big deal, so I loaded up my quilt show-and-tell and faced my fears.

The group was enthusiastic, even if their questions were a little … unusual:

  • “Can you make the back out of marshmallows? That would be cool!”
  • “What about dinosaurs? Can you put dinosaurs on a quilt?”
  • “Do you have to use a needle to make a quilt?”
  • “Will you make a quilt for my baby brother? I just love him!”

As you might have guessed, this was no quilt guild. No, this was my daughter’s preschool class and I was a special guest during letter Q week. For the record, my answers were:

  • “It might be a little sticky, but you’d have something yummy to eat in the middle of the night if you got hungry.”
  • “Yes, you can use dinosaur fabric.”
  • “Take your finger. Now poke this quilt. Is it doing anything? Do you think you could push thread through with your finger? That’s why you need a needle.”
  • “You are a very sweet big sister!”

We sat on the floor and touched the quilts, looked at the patterns, block shapes and fabrics, and just enjoyed exploring something new. While I thought the quilts were pretty cool, the kids were most impressed by my quilting rulers — all four of them (and three of them are squares). My joke about a quilt sandwich was a huge hit, although it really doesn’t take much to amuse a bunch of 4- and 5-year-olds.

I’m still not ready to start talking quilts with the local guilds but feel free to book me for your kid’s preschool class.

Around the Block

I’d never heard of selvedge quilting before my buddy Katie made the most amazing pillow I’d ever seen. Love at first sight, I’m telling you.

I’ve recently joined a quilt guild* and our May challenge was to reinvent the classic log cabin block. My mind went back to that cool pillow and I knew what direction I wanted to take for my piece.

I used a 100 percent cotton babywale corduroy for the center. The rest of the block is made up with selvedges from various fabrics I’ve used.

Although I own the book Quilts From the Selvedge Edge, I didn’t look in it to see if there was a log cabin re-do until I was most of the way through my block. Come to think of it, I didn’t even look at the basic selvedge sewing directions before I started, which probably would have helped me a great deal. Live and learn, baby.

This was the first “free form” quilting I’ve done on anything, although I use that term lightly — mostly because I have no idea what I’m talking about. I thought the wavy lines would be cool and used my disappearing fabric ink pen to draw them on the block before sewing.

It may not be perfect but it was a good introduction to piecing with selvedges. I’m definitely hooked! You know, because I don’t have enough crafty addictions already.

*The Fearless Friday Guild meets at 10 a.m. on the first Friday of the month at Intown Quilters.

The Wallflower

You know that saying, “be careful what you wish for”? Back at the Sewing Expo, I mentioned to Sarah that I’d love to have pre-cut fabrics — strips and squares — in the fabrics I love so it’d be easier to piece quilts. Because I’m lazy like that.

I was reminded of these words when I stopped into the store one day and Sarah and Clare were planning the quilts to hang during this weekend’s Shop Hop. Before I knew it, I was volunteering to make a quilt out of the new Bubblegum Basics line of fabric for Henry Glass.

The pattern — Wallflower by Thimbleblossoms — was already in my collection; I’d just been waiting for the perfect fabrics to inspire me. I think these worked out rather well:

Let me tell you, it’s a bit nervewracking to sew a quilt that I know is going to be on display for quilters to check out. This is only my fourth quilt and the first with appliqu├ęs. Fortunately, it was basically just sewing together a lot of strips. I’m still not sure if I’m ready for more challenging piecing (although I’ve just signed up for a block of the month pattern that’s a lot more involved).

The colors are really what make this quilt for me. The pictures just don’t do it justice. They’re so much more vibrant and fun in real life! You’ll just have to trust me on it. Or see it for yourself at the shop.

A Little Quilty

Hey! What’s that thing hanging from the tree in my front yard? Could it be … a quilt top? Why, yes. Yes, it is. And I made it.

I made it! I made it! I literally wrapped it around me and danced around the living room when I finished it. Because I’m kinda nutty like that sometimes. (Like you couldn’t figure that out!)

It was such a big deal to me, that I told pretty much no one that I was making a quilt. Seriously, if it hadn’t turned out, no one would ever know I had even tried. It did, though, so now I’m going to be a total show off. Tee hee!

We’re all friends here, right? So you’re going to be nice and sweet and completely ignore my goof ups (which I’m not going to detail myself). I think it’s not half bad for my first attempt at making a quilt. I used my favorite beautiful Sugar Snap fabrics (with the exception of one print, which we could not find anywhere in the shop that day).

The pattern I chose because I thought it would be well suited for my temperament (i.e., lack of patience). It’s called Piece of Cake and it’s by Thimble Blossoms. Really met my expectations, in a good way. I think I did all the cutting one day and the sewing the next evening while watching TV. It probably came together in maybe three hours. That’s my kind of project! LOL!

I now totally get what everyone was telling me about quilting being addictive. I seriously can’t wait to start my next one and have a stack of patterns picked out for probably my next six quilts. No idea when I’m going to sew them because I can’t even come close to keeping up with my current sewing to-do list as it is.

I’m not sure about doing the actual quilting part of it. It’s part equipment, part skill and part time. Fortunately, there are plenty of folks who are willing to do that part for me, although I think I may do the binding myself, just because I love sticking myself in the finger repeatedly with a needle. OK, not really. But I do want to have that closure of finishing it. At least my first quilt.

To Quilt or Not to Quilt?

Right now I’m supposed to be thinking of the classes I want to teach at Intown Quilters in the next few months. Instead, I’m thinking about how weird it is that I teach at a quilt shop but I don’t quilt.

It’s interesting, actually, because Taffy and I had a discussion about the subject when we were at Quilt Market with Sarah last month. Her take was that by doing my type of sewing, I add something different to the mix, and that’s A-OK. Still, it was hard not to walk around the convention center in the midst of all these amazing quilts and not wonder if I’ve been missing out on something.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve found myself leafing through quilt patterns in additon to clothing and bag patterns when I’m in the shop. I browse the bolts and fat quarter bins, trying to picture in my head how this one or that one would look as a messenger bag or a dress or … well, a quilt. And it’s highly possible that in a very short amount of time, I’ve gone from owning no quilt patterns to having five in my collection.

It won’t be long before I give in to the urge, especially since I just committed to makea block for a friend’s quilt. Hope she realizes I’m not a quilter.


This Makes Five

Another one checked off my Try It! list! Can a get a wooohooo?

I spent Mothers Day parked in front of my sewing machine (more or less) and this is one of the projects I cranked out. It looks a little sloppy because I need to mount it on the canvas (it’s just taped down right now), so please excuse the not-quite-straight lines and floppy corners.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about venturing into the world of quilting. I have trouble following directions and the one thing I’m getting about quilting is that it’s vital to be precise. But I thought it out and worked at a reasonable pace, and this is what I created.

No pattern, no directions, just some fabric, trims, photo paper and cotton batting. I used the blank stitch on my sewing machine to sew down the pink panel; I think it’s pretty cool. The photo I tacked down with a straight stitch before adding the trim around the edges. In retrospect, I wish I had used a fusible adhesive first so it would stay nice and flat.

I was a little nervous about the corners, since each of the border pieces overlap. I spent a while trying to figure out that one and ended up leaving a bit of seam allowance open on the first one so I could get the last edge lined up there and that did the trick. (The crochet lace at the top and bottom are sewn in between the pieces.

Really happy with the results and I’m probably even more excited about taking it into the quilt shop this week to show it off.