Sunday, September 28, 2008

noughts and croseses / hugs and kisses baby quilt

So after weeks of procrastinating, I finally sat myself down and got this quilt finished yesterday.

Baby quilt

The pattern is derived from this one. The fabrics were cheapies I found at spotlight, the x's are actually pieced together from a fabric of "running eighths" - eight strips of different coordinating prints printed running down one fabric. I realised part way in I had bought no where near enough of that fabric, and of course when I went back for more, it was gone. So I decided an adaptation was needed, and decided to make it into a noughts and crosses quilt.

There are a few things I'm not super happy about with this quilt - the sewing is not my finest work; I chose a poly batting rather than the cotton I've been using and its not so great. I also didn't prewash the fabrics, knowing they would shrink but wanting to see how the shrinked effect looked... right now, i'm not such a fan, although I can see it would be good in the right context. Also I wont be using cheap fabrics again in a hurry, the quality is definitely not the same.

Having said all that, it was always intended to be a bit of a practice quilt, and it gave me an opportunity to try different things and so now I have some more ideas about which way I like doing things best. And the best part was that the binding is absolutely the best binding i've done, and gave me a chance to practice my mitred corners.

Baby quilt reverse

Next project is a big one - a queen size quilt for one of my bestest friends who is currently living in London. It took me ages to decide what I wanted to make for her, as she's not keen on lots of colour or bold pattern, but after lots of research I came up with a idea I think will work... I have the fabrics, I have even prewashed them. Its the first time I've prewashed, but I definitely dont want the shrinked look for this one, and as the fabrics are from a number of different places I really didnt want to risk them shrinking at different rates. So now for lots of cutting, lots of sewing, lots of basting, lots of quilting. Somehow its all looking a bit daunting at the moment!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weekend creations

On Friday night I came across this post on Craft City Melbourne, about Amitie, a fabric shop in Bentleigh. Now since I moved to Melbourne I've struggled to find any local fabric shops stocking fabrics I actually like, and so have been doing most of my shopping online. Something about the photo of their front window made me think that this one might be worth the drive to visit.

So Saturday afternoon having done the necessary cleaning and grocery shopping and finding myself with a couple of hours to spare before I was due at a friends place for an evening of mass production sewing, I grabbed my street directory and headed off to Amitie.

Now as mentioned in my previous post I have a bit of an obsession going on with all things Denyse Schmidt. I've been eyeing off her latest range "County Fair" which is a heavier "home dec" weight fabric. I'll been contemplating on Friday buying some of the fabrics online in order to make a new handbag, but had been unable to decide on whether the fabrics I was looking at would look right in real life and so had discarded the idea.

So when I walked in the door of Amitie, (having first noticed that the quilt in the window featured fabrics from the Katie Jump Rope collection) and found the entire collection of County fair stacked by the door way, I could barely contain my excitement.

Amitie is a gorgeous shop, an awesome range of fabrics without a hint of country or the an overwhelming array of shabby chic that seems to feature in most patchwork fabric shops. I wondered around for a while feeling a little overwhelmed and generally trying to resist the urge to come up with any new projects before I complete the ones currently on the go.

In the end I bought pieces of three of the county fair fabrics to make a bag, although without a pattern in mind.

I worked out the pattern this morning, and after a quick trip to Spotlight for some extra bits and pieces, I made this bag:

New handbag

I'm really happy with how it came together, and I'm particularly glad that I took the time to get a few things right - like adding an extra layer of denim inside the top panel to make it stronger. Tomorrow morning will be its test to see if it can hold all my usual handbag contents plus my lunch, apple, water bottle and book. I think it will manage fine, and I can stop carrying two pages to work each day!

I'd bought a new pair of ($12 Kmart) sunglasses yesterday and had decided that I would make a sunglasses case out of the left over fabric to match my new bag. In then end I made it out of the third of the three fabrics I'd bought, which I ended up not needing in the bag. That came together so quickly and easily that I tipped out the contents of my handbag to see what else I could make to go in my handbag. A small pencil case was next to hold the pacer, pen, eraser and mini ruler I carry so I can draw quilt patterns in my notebook. That done, I decided my notebook needed a cover with some pockets to hold some of the other loose bits of paper I carry around.

Handbag, notebook cover, pencil case, sunglasses case

The notebook cover is the only one I'm not overly happy with. I'd been using this thin stripe fabric as lining and really liked the way it looked with the fabrics, and thought it would make cute binding, but somehow its ended up looking a bit old fashioned. Still, its functional and I finally made myself take the time to actually figure out how to mitre binding corners, so it was a good sampler for that if nothing else!

Friday, September 12, 2008

quilt for claudia

So in the process of making my first quilt I discovered a lot of very exciting things... most of them are denyse schmidt. First I found her katie jump rope fabrics. I bought a couple of the green ones to use in my first quilt and when they arrived i fell in love with the quality of the fabrics combined with the vibrant patterns.

The fabric led me to Denyse Schmidt's quilts, in particular this one:

I loved the simple bold design, it made me really start to reassess my concept of how a quilt could look. I also loved the simplicity of making zigzags out of half square triangles, and spent a lot of time drawing up patterns in a graph paper notebook.

Meanwhile I fell in love with these fabrics and desperately wanted to make something with them:

The colours reminded me of my friend claudia, who i always associate with browns and reds and oranges. I started thinking about her and how homesick she gets sometimes. She lives in Canada at the moment, but works in tourism and so tends to move around a lot, and consequently has lived for some years without a permanent home, I can remember her telling me once about how she wanted to feel more settled, that she was tired of never having house things because they werent easy to pack up and take when she moved. And I realised how perfect a present a quilt would be for her - reasonably practical, reasonably light (i'm talking small blanket size, not large bed size). And I knew that she would love having something I'd made, and felt that I could pick her taste well enough to make the right thing.

And so I made her this quilt:

Zigzag quilt for Claudia

I really need to work out how to take better photos of my quilts, this is the best i could do.

Claudia's coming to see me in a few weeks time, and I'm so excited to be able to give it to her in person. Hopefully she'll have room in her bag to get it back, if not I'll post it and it can chase her back to Canada. And then she and I will both be able to sit on our couches and watch tv or do jigsaw puzzles on different sides of the world but both with our quilts wrapped around us.
Zigzag quilt for claudia

Saturday, August 30, 2008

back in business quilt

My green quilt
This is my "back in business" quilt, so called because its the first substantial thing I've made in about 4 years, and the thing that got me excited about sewing again.

The idea for this one came about when I was in the process of looking to buy a new house (or, more specifically, flat), and I was day dreaming about the interior design of the potential new property. I decided I needed a lying on the couch watching tv quilt to go with my new living room. Having more than a slight green addiction the colour was readily determined. I've always liked the idea of basic square patches in random fabrics, so I didn't initially put too much thought in the pattern. Originally I envisaged lots of vintage fabrics with a totally random placement, however that didn't quite eventuate.

I started shopping for fabrics with very little thought to how much of each fabric I would need. The majority of the fabrics I found on etsy, with a few from Spotlight and a couple from a quilting store in Geelong.

Once I'd started purchasing fabrics I started to give more thought to how I was going achieve that often unattainable "random" look on the front, and also what I was going to use for the back. One of my biggest concerns on starting the project was an intense fear of not being able to quilt the finished project, given the time I'd had away from the machine, and the fact that I'd never machine quilted anything large scale.

I decided early on to use an adaptation of a "quilt as you go" method my mum had used a few years before when making her queen size quilt. Hers had been a log cabin pattern which with each strip pieced direct on to the batting and backing. I knew that wouldn't work for my quilt, but decided to create the quilt in 9 fully quilted strips which would then be pieced back together and the seams bound . Each strip would be three patches wide by 21 patches long.

At this point I realised that I hadn't bought enough of my fabrics to create the nine long strips i would need for backing, and so decided on a pieced back, with each strip consisting of 9 large squares.

Looking at the fabrics I'd collected I had lots of small pieces (quarter or half yards) and only two fabrics in any sort of quantity (a couple of yards of each). Fortunately one of these two was one of the darkest fabrics I had and the other one of the lightest. After giving it lots of thought (and very nerdily creating an excel spreadsheet image of the quilt) I decided that instead of a totally random placement of fabrics, I'd use a pattern of dark / random / light / random, creating diagonal visual lines of the dark and the light.

My green quilt (reverse

I cut the fabrics (having worked out exactly how many of each fabric i needed, because again, I am a maths nerd when it comes down to it) and then stacked them up in the dark / random / light / random order. I then pieced them into groups of three, as I wanted to lay them all out before joining the full strips.

Once I had my mini strips of three I cleared the lounge room floor, and laid out the pieces, rearranging to achieve a "randomness" i was happy with. Actually it look me so long to lay them all out my back was killing by the end of it, and the last few rows include more repeats than I had allowed for the rest of the quilt, but I assured myself that no one but me would ever know...

The mini strips became long strips, and three long strips made a fully pieced panel. The pieced panels were basted to cotton quilt batting (which I had prewashed even though my patience didnt extend to prewashing the fabrics) and a backing strip of nine large squares. I quilted each strip with a very simple design of diagonal lines, intersecting the corners of the patches, with the line on each strip going in alternating directions to create a herringbone look on the finished quilt.

The quilted panels were then sewn together a piece of folded bias binding attached to the seam and then handsewn down to create a flat binding or sashing encasing the seams.

I then bound the edges of the quilt with bias binding, this is the most poorly executed aspect of the quilt, the binding kept roping and I was far too eager to finish to consider unpicking and redoing . Fortunately its something that doesn't bother me, although I'll have to keep mum from looking to closely.

I haven't yet washed this quilt, as I'm slightly afraid of what i'm going to have done mixing all those fabrics with out prewashing... however I'm gaining confidence having looked at photos of more and more post washed quilts online that if anything the shrinking and puckering will just enhance the quilt...

And so thats the back in business quilt, which appears to be the beginning of a new obsession. Its so exciting to be obsessed again!