Friday, March 27, 2009

They Call It Madness


Does this look like a basketball to you?

I have been working on a lot of different things (obviously), and jumping from project to project a lot. I started cutting drunkard's path pieces during my big scrap cutting marathon a while back. Last weekend I needed something to do with my hands while watching the first action packed weekend of the NCAA tournament, so I spent the time clipping and pinning drunkard's path units - because the clipping and pinning part takes for-ev-er. Sewing them once they are prepped is a pretty fast process, but the prepping...not so much.

I have only been planning on doing a small project - a baby quilt, I imagined - but since the largest units I can make with the templates I have are 4" unfinished, even a small project takes a lot of units. I decided to do 64, and got most of them done last weekend.

I was planning all along to do a traditional drunkard's path layout, but...come to find out that for that layout you're supposed to alternate the dark and light on the quarter circle and the arc. That is, half the units have a dark quarter circle and the other half have a light quarter circle. I did them all dark, with white arcs. Umm...duh? Sadly that never occurred to me - it wouldn't have been any problem to do 32 of each, but now that I have 64 of one kind of unit I do not think I'm going to make 64 more unless I can't find a nice layout for the ones I've got.

Soooo, I spent some time today trying out different layouts and snapping pics so that I could compare them and see if there's one I like. I actually have a book about drunkard's path quilts in hand, and I found a few traditional layouts that use only one kind of unit. These units need to be trimmed and steamed into submission, and I also didn't pay too much attention to color placement in these pics. You get the general idea, though.

This one is called "Baby Bunting"

Baby Bunting

"Anna Dancing"

Anna Dancing

"Around the World"

Around the World

I like the first two the best. I did a couple others, too, but did not like them as much. Of course, I certainly haven't exhausted my layout options. Once you start playing around with this things the possibilities are pretty limitless. I will continue to contemplate this for a while. Still enjoying the tourney this weekend, but as of this evening my bracket is officially BUSTED.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Successful Experiment

Color Block Quilt Close Up

My Color Block Quilt made from t-shirt scraps is quilted and bound. I love the way it turned out. I wish there was some way I could photograph the texture, or that you could reach through your screen and touch it. It is backed with a thick flannel sheet and the end product is super soft and cuddly. I think this would be a great gift quilt - perfect for going off to college or a first apartment. This particular version would be great for a guy, too.

See, cuddly:

Trying to show how soft it is

When making more traditional t-shirt quilts, I back the designs I want to use with featherweight fusible interfacing to stabilize them during construction. For this experiment I heavily starched the fabric instead of using interfacing. I was hoping that this would make the fabric manageable to piece with but, since when it was all finished it would wash out, the fabric would retain all its t-shirt character (I guess rinse away interfacing would be an option, too).

I also used fusible batting (scraps) - in this case it was a particularly apt application of the product, because it further immobilized the knit fabric to keep it from pulling around during quilting. Once washed and dried it does have a great texture, the jersey fabric stayed soft, and the top is flat. The flannel on the back actually moved around more than the knit during quilting, since I paid less attention to it (unfortunately). (As so often happens when machine quilting, the back is my least favorite part of this quilt.)

Color Block Quilt

It is 48"x60". A nice throw size. So long story short, I am pleased with the results of this experiment, and am already brainstorming the pattern for the remaining t-shirt scraps I have...still a lot. While you're waiting for that, you can hop over to see Michael's experiment with t-shirt fabric, and the other cool things he is doing with scraps.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Fabric Makes the Quilt

While I do have a few things I'm still trying to be focused on finishing, it looks like I am kind of shifting into "starting" mode again. As per my '09 resolutions, I am trying to prioritize what I start and think about which projects are really most important to me. One thing I am very determined to start is a memory quilt based on my trip to Namibia (a mere seven years ago). While I was there I bought these strips of folk art embroidery done by members of a women's cooperative.

Penduka Embroidery

The strips are about 40" long and 6" tall. I have a pile of fabrics for this quilt that I selected, I don't know, about five or six years ago. I was reading Roberta Horton's "The Fabric Makes the Quilt" at the time. I've been waiting for the fabric to make the quilt ever since. Maybe I was supposed to leave it out by the machine with a rotary cutter nearby?

But seriously folks. I like that book and found it inspirational like most of Roberta's books that I've read. Nevertheless I have yet to be able to tap into the quilt that the fabrics and these embroideries want to be. My original idea was to make a row quilt where I would leave these strips uncut and mix them in with rows of piecing. I still might do that. I'm worried that there might be too much white space. I could also cut the strips up, probably into a variety of sizes to keep designs intact.

Penduka Embroidery Close Up

I know you might be thinking...after seven years if she hasn't made this quilt, how much does she really care about it? I do, though. I really want it to happen, so I'm determined to make some kind of start on it. The reason I never have yet is, I think, due to that certain lack of vision. Quilters block. What have you. But I have lots of fabric, so I think I will just start cutting and sewing and see what I come up with. Hopefully in doing so I'll be able to strike upon some kind of plan.

On an unrelated note, look what I got from Dionne! A little taste of the tropics...I love it.

Gift from Dionne

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When Scraps Take Over


You may have been worried when you read about me cutting all my scraps up that I wouldn't have anything left for free pieced projects (like this one). No need to worry, I had a whole set of other scraps set aside for this project. I started this a while ago and have been thinking of it as a long term project - there wasn't exactly a goal or end in sight, just piecing scraps together at random until they become something. When I started it I thought it would be a good project to have on hand to just work on now and then, when I had time, when I needed a mental break, etc. It takes no planning since it's all random, so it should be easy to pick up at anytime. It's also a good creative boost because it is so free and spur of the moment.


The reality has been that I haven't worked on it very much. The only part I've consistently worked on is adding blue, green, and purple scraps to the pile. Now I've gotten it all out and put it by the machine (actually it's basically eaten the machine and the surrounding area) and I'm feeling like I may just want to work on it till it's done. I'm beginning to think there may be more than one quilt here. I had originally imagined creating a lot of units of different sizes and shapes and setting them together with thin black sashing so they look somewhat like a mosaic. I may or may not do that, but I'm starting to have other ideas, too.


These pictures cover only a few of the units and blocks that I currently have. I don't know how many scraps I started with, but I definitely still have plenty.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pillow Case Quilt

Pillow Case Quilt

This is another experiment in recycled fabrics. The top is made from six different pillowcases obtained from the linen closet clean out at the shelter. The back is an old flannel sheet retired from regular use. I used batting scraps and yardage from my stash for the binding.

Close Up of Pillow Case Quilt

The top section of the top is one pillowcase with a continuous design that I wanted to preserve. I kept the original seam in the middle. The colors are very subtle, so it was hard to photograph. It is a floral design that is solid across the bottom of the pillowcase and continues towards the top, but fades away. You can somewhat see the quilting in the top section, which I am pretty happy with because it is the first time I have done any machine quilting that wasn't just straight lines.

Top Section of Pillow Case Quilt

Top Fabric Close-Up

I learned a lot in making this, especially about working with poly/cotton blends. For example, you have to use a cooler iron. Yes, I am sure that's probably obvious to other people, but I did not quite catch on right away. Also, I don't know if it was the fiber content, the weight of the fabrics, the too hot iron, or...?, but it did not work terribly well with the fusible batting scraps I used. I normally like fusible batting and have used it almost exclusively, but I had to patch over stains from the fusible in a couple of places. (Having your iron the right temperature is crucial with fusible batting, and I think I needed to lower the temperature even more for these fabrics).

Close Up of Pillow Case Quilt

Not my usual colors, but it is a gift for a friend's 30th birthday next week. I think she will like it. About 50"x60".

My Favorite Quilt Pics From Flickr Users