Category Archives: Crafts

The Blues – Aerial Grove Quilt

The aerial grove design is by Carolyn Friedlander, undoubtedly my favorite quilt designer.  I’d had my eye on doing a version of this quilt ever since I got a copy of her book, Savor Each Stitch (not surprisingly, my favorite quilting book.)  Finally, I decided to give it a go.

The primary motif in the quilt is a series of columns of appliqued circles of different fabrics.  I did fewer circles than she’d recommended for a full-size quilt, since I was planning a baby quilt, though I wasn’t originally sure of the recipient.

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Fabric

For the appliqued circles, I used essentially every piece of blue fabric I owned.  For the rest of the quilt, I used predominantly neutral fabrics, with a few light blueish pieces thrown in for interest.  Most of the neutrals were Friedlander fabrics, as I think she makes the best neutrals in the business, while the blues were a wide assortment of fabrics.  I didn’t buy any new fabric for this quilt (a first, I think), and you can see scraps of nearly every quilt I’ve made somewhere in this one.

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For the back, I used primarily a couple of Lotta Jansdotter fabrics.  (She is another of my favorite designers.)

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The binding is a pink print from Carolyn’s Carkai collection.

Batting

Once again I used my favorite batting, 100% wool from Quilter’s Dream.  As always, it’s a bit harder to work with, but I love how light and warm the resulting quilt is.  For this particular quilt, it does a nice job showcasing the free-motion quilting.

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Thread

I did the entire quilt in Aurifil Make 50 Wt in White (2024).  This includes both the machine piecing, hand-applique of the circles, hand-sewing the binding, and the quilting.

Quilting

I copied the quilting that Carolyn did on her Aerial Grove quilt.  She did entirely straight-line quilting, vertical and horizontal, mostly alternating in direction and width from block to block.  The piecing beyond the middle is improvised, and I was definitely a little intimidated in try this approach for the first time, but I’m happy with how it worked out.  While this in theory could be done with a regular foot, I think you’d be mad with the turning by the time you were done, so I FMQed the entire thing.  The biggest challenge was going around the appliqued circles.

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Binding

I did my usual double-fold binding hand-sewn to the back.  I also did a hand-appliqued label.

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Right around the time I started this quilt, my brother and his wife became pregnant, after much waiting.  I can’t think of anyone I more wanted to make a quilt for than my brother’s first baby, Rita.  Anyway, hopefully the quilt will be well-beaten up by the next time I see it.

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The year in review: Sewing and knitting

I did comparatively less crafting in 2016 as compared to 2015.  About halfway through, the exercise bug bit me, and I’ve found I really only have time for one serious hobby.  I can do more than one hobby half-heartedly, and I can do some reading, but I can’t really engage with both crafting and exercising.  Perhaps as the kids get older, that will change.  Nevertheless, I did finish a few projects last year.

I started with a baby quilt for a friend’s little girl.  This project was based on a Red Pepper Quilts pattern, and I had to learn how to sew curves.  That was definitely challenging.

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My next project was a throw quilt for my uncle who is battling a recurrence of stage IV colon cancer.  He mentioned that chemo made him cold, so I made him a quilt with wool batting but all cotton on the outside.  It was quite an undertaking as it was quite large, and each square had to be cut out and individually placed.  I bought fabric for the recurring diamonds but otherwise used exclusively scraps.

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Next up, I made a couple of fully lined tote bags for L’s  preschool teachers.

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I also made progress on my Farmer’s Wife quilt.  I have between 40 and 50 blocks pieced now; that probably means I’m somewhere between a quarter and a third done with the project.  Ah well – I’ll finish it sometime.

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I ventured into the world of garment sewing last year as well.  I have mixed feelings on it.  I was quite pleased with the outcome of my first project, a dress for L:

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My second project was a lot more work.  I learned a lot making a princess dress.  I was frustrated, and had to rip out lots of stitches, and the finished product was far from perfect.  Nevertheless, it was overall fun, and I’m sure I’ll do better the next time.  The hardest part by far was the gathering.  The skirt and the bustles were extremely full and required very tight gathering which was quite hard.  My solution in the end was to use 18 weight thread for the gathering.  I have heard others recommend yarn.  50 weight thread just broke and broke and broke.

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I didn’t sew much else that I can recall, and I had no “finished objects” knit.  However, I did start a new knitting project that I’m quite excited about.  St. Brigid has been on my bucket list for many years, and I finally decided to take a crack at it.  I obviously have a long way to go, but I’m excited about this project.  Hopefully I’ll finish it in a year or so.

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I’m not sure where sewing will take me in 2017.  I’m working on an Aerial Grove quilt from Carolyn Friendlander’s awesome quilt book, Savor Each Stitch.  I’d love to do another Friendlander quilt, or maybe another Red Pepper Quilts design.  Hopefully I’ll manage at least a couple of quilts this year.  I’d like to do some knitting as well.  We’ll see where the mood takes me.

I’d also like to try some new type of crafting this year – maybe embroidery, or cross-stitch (which I’ve done before, but not for many years) or perhaps weaving.  Weaving would require a loom, which runs around $300 for a decent one.  I love wool, and I’m very intrigued by the possibilities of weaving.  My inspiration comes from photos from Virtual Yarns.

 

sewing in spring

I’ve been a huge slacker about sewing lately.  As Sarah would put it, I seem to have lost my sewing mo-jo, or at least my will to finish and photograph my creations.

I did make a First Day Dress for L.  It’s a twirl dress, so I encouraged L to do some twirling:

 

She seems to like it.  L is my most unreserved critic.  H always says he likes my creations, but he doesn’t notice the details.  L actually notices all the little things.  It’s nice.

I also made a couple of tote bags for L’s preschool teachers.  The free tutorial is here.  I appliqued little thank you notes on the inside of the totes.  The totes are fully lined and include a lined pocket on the front.

 

farmer’s wife quilt – 40 blocks down

After taking a break to make a baby quilt for a friend and a second quilt for my uncle, I returned to my somewhat neglected Farmer’s Wife Quilt.  I find making these blocks quite enjoyable, if a bit time-consuming.  The easiest ones probably take an hour or so, and the harder ones far longer.  I am shutting down any perfectionist notions and forging ahead despite imperfections, and I do think that in the context of a large quilt, mismatched points and the like will not be particularly noticeable.

I actually did seven blocks sometime earlier this year that I never blogged about.  It’s been so long since I made them, I don’t remember much about them.

#24 Country Path

I like the way the colors worked out on this one – dark and medium brown with subtle purple and pinkish orange.

#25 Cups and Saucers

I think I recall this one being harder than it looked, but again, I’m happy with the outcome and the colors.

#26 Cut Glass Dish

This block is arguably one of the harder blocks in the quilt with a total of 51 pieces, many of them small, and triangles are always more troublesome than rectangles.  I’m not thrilled with how it came out, but it’ll do.  The photos is appropriately a bit blurry as well.

#27 Darting Birds

I’m not wild about the colors here.  I seem to recall having a bit of trouble with this one.

#28 Duck and Ducklings

#29 Economy

I always find fussy cutting a huge pain and often don’t manage it well, so I’m pleased that I managed to center the buck in the square and not chop off feet or antlers.

#30 End of Day

A nice mix of purple and peach

That ends the older batch.  The most recent batch I did over the last couple of weeks and consists of blocks #31 to #40.

#31 Evening Star

This one was an easy one.

#32 Farmer’s Daughter

Very similar to #31, though with a few more pieces.

#33 Farmer’s Puzzle

The original Farmer’s Puzzle is a swastika with a cross through it.  I am blown away by the number of people who make the quilt block as is.  I flipped two of the arms, turning it into a bow.  I don’t know how much I love the block, but better than a swastika on my quilt.

#34 Flock

#35 Flower Basket

I used water to curve a straight rectangular piece into the handle and appliqued it on.  I’m not thrilled with how it turned out, as I would have liked it to be more curved, especially at the ends.  I forgot that using an iron with lots of steam can make the handle a lot easier.

#36 Flower Garden Path

This was a tough one.  The way the paper piecing was done required sewing Y-seams in order to assemble it.  I think with adjustments to the paper piecing layout this could be avoided, but it worked out OK in the end.

#37 Flower Pot

This one also required sewing Y-seams on the flower bud.  I think it’s a pretty block.

#38

This block took forever, with a total of about 65 pieces.  It wasn’t really hard, just long.

#39 Friendship Block

A pretty and easy block and a nice break after the one before it.

#40 Friendship Block

Another easy block, and I like the colors.

That’s 40 blocks down and about 70 to go.  I’ve been working on this about 5 months now, off and on.  It’s definitely not a quick project, especially considering adding sashing to these blocks and assembling the quilt will be a ton of work, and probably a bit monotonous.  I’m hoping to make the blocks into a kind-sized quilt for either our bedroom or our guest room, probably the latter, so it doesn’t suffer as much wear but is primarily decorative.

I’m taking a break now to sew a little dress for L, and then I’ll come back and do another ten blocks.

 

Scrappy Irish chain quilt

I created my scrappy Irish chain quilt using the Red Pepper Quilts tutorial.   The tutorial was easy to follow, and I’m quite pleased with the result.  I made mine with twenty blocks rather than twenty-five, resulting in a finished quilt 56″ by 70″.  Each block is 7 by 7 squares (49 squares total) and each square is 2×2 inches.

Fabric

The main motif was made using three four fabrics:

Grid Bits in Gold from Carkai by Carolyn Friedlander

Dentals in Pepper from Carkai by Carolyn Friedlander

Breeze in Sky from Doe by Carolyn Friedlander

Essex in White by Robert Kaufmann

The rest of the quilt was done using scraps left over from previous projects.  I didn’t purchase any new fabric for the 55 to 60% of the quilt that wasn’t part of the main motif.  It was definitely good to thin down my scrap storage a bit, though I still have plenty left.

The binding was done with Essex in Ivory by Robert Kaufmann.

The back was done with some extra Friedlander and Lotta Jansdottir fabric, as well as a large piece of green and white fabric I don’t know the origin of.

Batting

Once again I used my favorite batting, 100% wool from Quilter’s Dream.  As always, it’s a bit harder to work with, but I love how light and warm the resulting quilt is.  I had it draped over me as I was sewing the binding, and it felt lovely.

Thread

Piecing and hand-sewing the binding was done with Aurifil Mako 50 Wt in White (2024).  Quilting was done with Aurifil Mako 40 Wt in Natural White (2021).  I also used 2021 to sew the binding to the front of the quilt.

Quilting

I straight-line quilted the whole thing in a 4-inch grid, just like the last quilt I did.  A four inch grid should be plenty to make it sturdy and robust to heavy use, but it’s light enough quilting to keep the quilt nice and soft.

Binding

As usual, I did a double fold binding and hand-sewed it to the back.  I also did my usual hand-appliqued label on the back as well.

The quilt is intended for my uncle who is fighting a recurrence of Stage 4 colon cancer.  The chemo makes him so sensitive to the cold, he has to use gloves to get things out of the freezer.  I’m hoping a wooly quilt will be useful even though the weather is warming.

 

A scrappy color wheel quilt

I just finished a color wheel quilt for my friend’s baby.  I finished it Monday night, delivered it Tuesday morning, and her baby was born Tuesday night (last night) in a surprise home birth.  Wow!

The pattern is by Red Pepper Quilts and can be found here.

Fabric

I used a lot of Friedlander fabric from the Doe and Carkai lines.  I splurged on a Carkai bundle recently, and it got a lot of use in this quilt.  I am a huge fan of Friedlander’s neutrals, and the whites and beiges in this quilt are in large part hers.

I also used a lot of Tiger Lily by Heather Ross.  I absolutely adore that fabric line for a baby or toddler.  There are a few fabric’s from Elizabeth Olwen’s Park Life line.  I love the greens in that fabric.  There are a fair few Lotta Jansdottir prints thrown in as well and a few of my leftover pieces of Wee Wonder.  Otherwise, it’s bits and pieces of this and that.

Batting

The batting is my old favorite, 100% wool from Quilter’s Dream.  I absolutely love the light, thick, fluffy warmth of this batting.  I envision the quilt getting use to keep the baby off the floor, and hopefully she’ll enjoy the soft wooly filling.

Thread

The entire quilt was done in Aurifil Mako 50 weight White (2024).  In retrospect, I wish I’d used a slightly heavier thread for the quilting to make it hold up better.  Oh well.  Next time.

Quilting

I straight-line quilted the whole thing in a 4-inch grid.  I wanted it to stay nice and soft and fluffy.  The 8-inch squares were stitch in the ditch.  Technically I could have stopped there, but I thought I’d better add just a little more to hold it all together.  It was quick and easy.

Binding

As usual, I did a double fold binding and hand-sewed it to the back.  Also as usual, I found the little bit of hand-sewing relaxing and enjoyable.  I also did my usual hand-appliqued label on the back as well.

The binding fabric is from the Heather Ross Tiger Lily collection.

All in all, I’m very happy with this quilt.

sewing and playroom update

Inspired by Carolyn Friedlander, I decided to make a quick pouf for the playroom.  Like all sewing projects, it turned out to be not as quick as I had hoped.  I’m pretty happy with the finished product, but the directions were very hard to follow.  Friedlander had a number of tips and pictures on her blog that made it considerably easier.  The actual directions featured low DOF, over-exposed artsy photos that were not helpful at all.

I used several pieces of fabric from a half-yard bundle of Alison Glass’s Handcrafted Indigos, which I received for Christmas.  Following Friedlander’s suggestion, I filled it mostly with little styrofoam balls.  This worked rather well, but wow, they are a pain in the neck to deal with.

The fuzz on the outside is from soft stuffing I put in it as well.  Presumably that’ll come off.

It’s handy and cute in our playroom.  The playroom itself is coming along.

The rug is beautiful, and it’s great for the kids to have a dedicated place to play.  With H’s relatives continuing to send us a lot of toys, it’s nice to have a place to store them all.   I’m planning to move the couch away from the window to where a bookcase currently is, add an additional bookcase, and add a hanging tent for the girls to play in.  Standby a month or so for the finished product.