Category Archives: Quilting

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.

 

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.

my sister’s Christmas quilt

I did finish this quilt on time, by the skin of my teeth, but I was fairly uninspired by it, so here I am writing about it in January.  I ended up getting sick the first week of December, so I only had about three weeks to make it.  Three weeks is really not enough time (for me) to make a quilt.  But, here it is.

The design, such as it is, is mine.  The fabric is my favorite cotton/linen blend, and I used Mormor by Lotta Jansdotter blue and yellow fabric randomly in several spots and sizes on the quilt for interest.

The quilting is a pattern from Step-by-Step Free Motion Quilting.  I’m not thrilled with how it turned out, but it’s OK.  It adds some interest to the quilt.

The back is another Jansdotter fabric in sea green.  I really love this fabric.

One of the reasons I waited so long to post about it is that we have been having non-stop rain, and it’s been hard to find time to photograph it, but we finally had a sunny day yesterday.

After my big rush to finish it on time, my sister forgot to take it with her.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise since I’d initially forgotten to photograph it.

Farmer’s wife update

Having finished up my sister’s quilt, which I was not thrilled with but will get around to posting about one of these days, I’m back to the Farmer’s Wife.

I’m not sure if I posted this picture before, but my farmer’s wife setup was a mess.  I finally decided to get organized, and it’s made a big difference.  Now, I cut the pieces needed for each block before I start piecing, and I have on my desk only what’s absolutely required – a few pieces of fabric, the book, rotary cutter, a couple pairs of scissors.  Oh, and the wonder clips I got for Christmas which have been super useful for sewing paper-pieced sections together.

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#16

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#17 – This one came out very wonky as I realized halfway through that the paper-piecing instructions I’d downloaded required Y-seams.  I ripped it apart and re-made it using the *other* paper-piecing instructions.  I may have to re-make it.  We’ll see.  But I like the colors.

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#18

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#19 – This may be my favorite of this bunch.

 

 

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#20 – I love the color combination in this one.

 

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#21

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#22- I made a bunch of mistakes trying to assemble this one as I was rather distracted, but I like the end result.

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#23

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I’m planning to pause when I’ve finished thirty blocks and begin putting the sashing fabric on.  It’s going to be a bit tedious, and I’m not sure it makes sense to put it all off until the end.

Best of 2015

Best books

we Are All Completely Beside Ourselves By Karen Joy Fowler

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

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History of the Rain by Niall Williams

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Best Buys

For whatever reason, we seem to get a lot of power outages in our new place.  Hence, the Siege Lantern.  I wish we didn’t get so much use out of this thing.

 

My feet love these insoles.

My Kindle paperwhite allows me to easily read in the dark, an incredibly useful feature with a baby in the house.

How did I live so long without knowing about Satin Floss?

Oral-B Complete SaTinfloss Mint, 50m, Twin Pack

L and I color with these colored pencils basically daily.  They are way better than the Crayola variety.

Six bucks for rock awesome, comfortable and not bad-looking sunglasses.  What more could you want?

My favorite buy of the year: my sewing machine.

And, last but not least, love this quilting book:

Best Day

I haven’t posted about our successful landing of our rocket, but it was a wonderful day.  I can’t wait to fly it again soon.  Autonomy and re-usability.

Best Netflix

The Walking Dead

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Copenhagen

Bloodline

Angela’s Ashes

Best Quilt / Sewing

Facing West

I made quite a few quilts this year – I’ve lost track of how many – but this one was my favorite.

I also loved working on the Farmer’s Wife, but I have a long way to go on that one.