Thursday, April 30, 2009

zig zagging along

I've made a lot of progress on the zig zag quilt top! The tutorial is a little vague on how exactly to assemble everything (probably because it's obvious to the more experienced quilters out there!). But for the newbies like me, I took pictures of how I did it. First I combined all my blocks into pairs (making an "L" with the printed fabric), and grouped all the pairs into 9 stacks, one for each fabric's row.

(Note - I reversed the order of the stack from the picture above before I started this next step.) Take the first row (green), and set aside one block. That will be your upper right corner. Take your second row (pink), and chain stitch together one block from each row. When you're done, you'll have one leftover block from row 2.

Take one of your 1+2 combos (green+pink), and set it aside. Take that extra row 2 block (pink) and put it under your pile of 1+2 combos. Pull out row 3 (blue), and proceed to chain stitch one blue block onto each pink block.

Now you have sets of 3 (green+pink+blue), plus one set of 2 (pink+blue), plus one leftover blue. Put aside one set of 3, and put the set of 2 and the single under your stack of 3's. Grab the next row, lather, rinse, repeat!! Keep pulling one off the top, and putting the new single one on the bottom, and soon enough you'll be all done. Yay!

Here are the rows laid out on my "design floor". :-)

I was going through my stash of sheets, and this one caught my eye. I think it will be perfect for the back of this quilt.

Just for fun, here's a shot of my sheet stash. That's all pillowcases and small cuts on the top, and whole sheets on the bottom. Whee!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

this weekend's loot

Here's the loot from this weekend... First we have this wood box-like thing that I'm planning use for fabric storage of some sort ($1) and a really sweet vintage sheet ($4.50). I normally wouldn't pay that much for a sheet, but I just loved those oranges and pinks!

More movies for the kid (she's 3)... $16 for 10. I feel like I should explain that we don't have normal TV, just a projector and DVD player, so shows like these are the only things she watches. We watched Spirit together, and I was glad to see that the scary parts weren't too scary for her. I'm not sure she'll watch the Wiggles, but I like them, so I got them anyway!

Finally, I was super-excited to score this blank journal for only 50 cents! I've been keeping a journal for my daughter ever since I was pregnant, and am on something like my 5th volume now. I have only a few criteria for them - they have to be lined, sturdy, and open fully (like spiral bound). This one is perfect, and beautiful too. I love it when I find something that I actually use, and would have paid good money for.

By the way, I'm trying something new with this post (uploading straight from Picasa), so if it shows up wrong, I apologize in advance!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

recent project - little quiltie

I recently did a Swap-bot swap called "Just The Scraps Ma'm", in which we were supposed to raid our scrap baskets to make some sort of project for our partner. It was completely open-ended, so I decided to try out the applique technique I had seen on the Don’t look now blog. Her work is so beautiful!! I used the“Flower Garden Pillow” tutorial as a reference to make this little quiltie:

To start, I rummaged around in my scrap basket, and found these pink and orange scraps from a dress that I had made for my daughter last year, and thought they would be perfect for the flowers.

For the leaves, I used some green scraps from my first Project Linus quilt:

Here it is after fusing the pieces on:

And after the free-motion applique (which was MUCH harder than I thought it would be!):

And finally, after stippling. I was not brave enough to try the super-fancy quilting!

For the white background and the flowered backing, I used bits of the thrifted sheets that I'm using for my zig-zag quilt.

So, that’s the story. This little quiltie has scraps from my past and current projects, and I think it turned out pretty well for my first try!

Friday, April 24, 2009

another "baste as you go"

So, after learning a few lessons with the Happy Blocks quilt, I decided to try Des' baby quilt again. This time, I followed the example a little more closely! And indeed, it was much easier!

First row (heh - nice shot of the baby monitor!):

A couple more rows:

The whole thing:

I've since done the quilting over the novelty squares (random lines - I'm such a copycat!), but still have the sashing to quilt. This is another Project Linus quilt, and I'm hoping to have it done before our next meeting at the beginning of May. My goal for the year is to make one PL quilt per month, and I'm a little behind already with only 2 quilts completed. I've also made 4 swaddling blankets, but I'm not counting those. But here's a picture, just for fun:

They are just simple double-sided squares with decorative edging. I used the heck out of blankets like these when my daughter was an infant, as she loved to be tightly swaddled. It makes me happy to make them for other babies (though I try not to think of them being sick in the hospital!). I got a pretty good deal on this flannel from a person who was closing down her home crafting business - only $1/yard, and I got a ton (like 50 yards?). It's not pretty, just your basic baby pastels. I've used some for "batting" in rag quilts, but the rest will slowly be turned into swaddling blankets. I have a feeling that I'll be making them til the cows come home!!

thrifted sheets zig-zag quilt

I've been fantasizing about making a zig-zag quilt like Amandajean described on the Bee Square blog. And, I've been fantasizing about making all sorts of quilts using vintage/thrifted sheets. I've been collecting the linens for the last year or so, initially for use in making reusable grocery bags. I did make quite a few of those (and inflicted them on every friend and family member for the last couple xmases), but still the sheets kept coming home with me from the garage sales and thrift stores. I have quite a collection now, probably enough to make a dozen quilts! So, I figured I'd start off with that totally cool zig-zag quilt! I've gotten as far as sewing the blocks and pairing them up, in preparation for sewing the diagonal rows:

Actually, I went a little nuts and have another version that I'm doing at the same time, which uses lighter fabrics. But that one is not quite as far along. For the white, I'm also using a thrifted sheet. I can't believe I'm going to go on about a plain old white SHEET, but this one was just lovely. It was 100% cotton, with a really nice body to it. It was old, but perfectly clean, bright white, and pressed. I got it at a rummage sale for one dollar. I wish I could say thank you to the little old lady who took such good care of it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

basting as I go

Okay, so I'm new to this quilting thing. I admit that I used a spray baste on that first quilt, and I thought it worked pretty darn okay. But I'm, you know, cheap. Frugal, that's it. And basting spray is something like 5 bucks a can (with a coupon, of course), and supposedly only covers a few quilts. Not to mention, I'm basically lazy (or maybe "I'm an engineer"), so if I can find a way to streamline the quilt creation process, I'm certainly going to try it out. So, when I saw this post from Des on the Quilt Taffy blog, I had to try out her "baste as you go" technique. I happened to have a "Happy blocks" quilt in progress (and thank you to Mary for all your awesome tutorials!), and even though it wasn't quite the same as what Des did, I thought the same technique might work. Here are some pics of the process:

Starting out:

A few rows in:

And just for fun, me and my "helper", working on the quilting:

And the final product:

Not too bad for my first time at it, especially considering I'm such a newbie anyway! I did learn a few things. First of all, I was dumb and sewed down the edges of the quilt before I did my quilting. That was a bad move - it really got the edge quite out of alignment. Thankfully, this is a kid's quilt (donated to Project Linus, yay!), and I'm pretty sure they won't care that it's less than perfect. Secondly, I used a pretty fluffy polyester batting, instead of a nice flat cotton one. It still worked, but I think it would have been much easier with cotton. And lastly, when I was doing this, it didn't seem to matter whether I used the regular foot or the walking foot. Maybe the walking foot was slightly better, but it seemed like I still had to be very careful to keep everything lined up. I think doing this for a quilt that doesn't need to have blocks lined up (like Des' post!) would be much easier. That was what I tried next, and it definitely worked much better. That quilt is still in progress, but I'll post some pics of it soon...

where to start?

Now that I'm starting my own blog, I have a whole lot more awe for all you other crafty bloggers out there! I'm having a hard time figuring out where to start... I guess I'll go with my first real quilt, the one I've named in my head "The First Hit is Free!". (No, it doesn't have a label yet!)

I know, it's silly name. But it's because this quilt is the one that got me addicted to quilting in the first place, and because everything about it was practically free... Let's see:
  • The fabric was from a yard sale last summer, picked up for just a buck or two. It was a bunch of loose pages from a set of decorator sample swatches. I believe they were from some Laura Ashley line, and included several colorways. I wish I had thought to take a picture of them in their raw form, with the paper attached and all that. To prepare them, I cut all the paper off, washed and ironed them, and then cut them into rectangles. I think they ended up around 4"x8", and I got about 100 of them. I just randomly sewed them into rows, and then arranged the rows as well as I could to not have repeats next to each other, and sewed them up.
  • The batting was also a garage sale find. Can't even remember where or how much! It's cotton, but not as nice as warm&natural.
  • The backing was from a generous Swap-bot friend (hi June!) who I've done some trades with. She's an awesome quilter who does some amazing things with selvages.
  • The binding is from my stash, not sure where I picked it up!
The quilting is pretty simple, just "top stitching" (about 1/4" on both sides of the seams) along the row lines, and a sort of diamond pattern connecting the corners of the bricks. The backing is pieced with the leftovers that came from cutting off the short bricks on the sides of the front. I remember being really pleased that there was practically no scraps of fabric left when I was done with this thing!