Friday, July 29, 2011

top done and basted

Thanks everyone for the feedback on the layout... I went with the last option (mostly because I really want a mini quilt to keep for myself!), and here it is just before I basted it. I love it!

I had a heck of a time choosing fabric for the back. The recipient is a 6 year old old boy, who loves the color red. I wanted something colorful and fun, but not too juvenile. I was really tempted by David Walker's collections, especially robots or boys will be boys, or the rocket-related prints in Sara Jane's children at play collection. But then I took one last look through my stash, and found this old (2003) Alexander Henry print of hot air balloons. I think it's almost perfect - colorful and fun, and playful but not too childish. The red borders are from a (new) IKEA sheet I had on hand. So it turns out that everything except the gray background fabric was from my stash!

And here's a lesson I learned from this quilt... I rarely press my seams open (because I'm lazy, mostly), but I did for this quilt - I didn't know what my final layout would be, so I didn't want to end up having to join a bunch of seams going in the same direction. But then I ended up having to match a crapload of open seams, which wasn't much better. I ended up with several places like this, where tiny gaps opened up at the intersections:

Ug! I went behind and sewed them up by hand before I basted the quilt, and hopefully everything will be okay once it's quilted. But next time, I'll be sure to use a thinner needle and a shorter stitch length - I think both of those would help. And no more pressing seams open for me, if I can help it!

Next up - the quilting. What would you do? I wish I had the nerve to try something fancy, but I'm pretty sure I'll just stipple it. It's quick and easy, and I know I can do an okay job with it. I picked up some variegated thread (another first for me), and I'm going to try it on the mini quilt to see how that looks...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

the next quilt

This quilt was inspired by a book mentioned in this post of Deb's over at Works in Progress. To begin, I went through my stash and picked out a bunch of fabrics that were bright and saturated, and mostly monochromatic, with not too much white. I spent WAY too much time narrowing down the prints, with helpful input from Robin, Quynh, Chara and Ahava. After much back and forth, I ended up with 18 prints, and a medium gray background.

The design was inspired by the Random Reflections quilt, though I did things a little different (trying to be more efficient, as always!). I already want to make another one, and Chara has asked for a writeup, so I'll try to do that next month.

But for now, I need to settle on the layout, and get this puppy done. I've got all the strips sewn into groups of 6, and here's the most basic layout - all the rainbows going in the same direction (let's call that A).

And here's B - pretty much the same thing, but with the middle column reversed in direction.

And here's C, with the rainbows in the same direction, but each column is staggered by one group.

Those layouts are all a little large - 66" x 95". I could change up the layout by removing one rainbow (and make myself a mini quilt with it!). This would give me 4 horizontal stripes instead of 3 vertical ones, with overall dimensions of 63" x 88". Here's D, where two rainbows go to the right, and two go to the left.

Or layout E, where they go the same direction, but each row is staggered by one group.

Any votes? Or any other layout ideas? I did consider chipping each block in half (through the "center" of the colored portions), and randomly recombining them so that the colored bits are all varied widths. But I'm afraid that might not look great, and I don't want to risk it - I'll try it on the next version instead. So, I think I'm leaning towards the last layout... It's a little smaller, but still a decent size. And I really like the idea of having a small version to keep for myself!

I asked Trudy, but she didn't have an opinion. But at least she stayed off the "design floor" while I was working on the layouts! :-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

back, with a finish

I know! It's been forever! I have been doing a little bit of sewing this summer, and here's a recent 'big finish'.

I've been a member of the do. Good Stitches bee for the last 9 months or so, and have been having fun being a stitcher, making blocks for the Faith circle. A couple months ago, I also joined the Inspire circle (making quilts for my favorite charity - Project Linus), but this time as a quilter. Being a quilter means you get to choose a design, collect the blocks and assemble the quilt. My month was May, and I chose this beautiful quilt by Amy of Diary of a Quilter as my inspiration:

To make up for all the girly and toddler quilts I usually make for Project Linus, I wanted to make something for an older boy. I asked for blue and brown square-in-square blocks, with a touch or green and gray. They were to be either 12.5" or 6.5" square, or a mix of the two sizes. The members of my group made some really wonderful squares for me! To make it a larger quilt (those teen boys are big!), I made the equivalent of 7 more blocks (though most of them were 6.5" blocks, so let's say 2 big blocks, and 20 small ones). The final dimensions were about 54" by 72". It was pretty addictive to go through my scraps and stash, and to use fabrics I wouldn't normally pick out or put together. What a great stash-buster project!

As you can see, my layout is a lot more regular than Amy's was. I tried to do a random layout, but I just couldn't get it to look right! So, I gave up, and went for a more regular one. With all the variety in the blocks, it still looks pretty random! Many thanks go to Chara for helping me with the layout!

For the back, I used a large piece of this fantastic Katie Jump Rope fabric. I had picked it up at a Project Linus meeting, long before I planned this quilt. It was perfect! I bordered it with a medium gray - it doesn't quite match the lighter gray in the KJR fabric, but close enough!

I based the quilting on the diagonal print of the KJR print. After basting (using spray basting, as usual!) I took a kid's washable marker, and used a ruler to extend the diagonal lines into the border fabric. After that, I quilted it from behind. I've used this technique before, and I highly recommend it. It's super quick, and looks great from the front.

Sorry these photos kinda suck - I finished the quilt the morning of our monthly meeting, and was in a rush to get the photos taken so I could run off to donate it!

I wanted to do something special for the label, more than just the standard tag. The text reads "This quilt was stitched with lots of love, especially for you, by the members of the "Inspire" circle of the "do. Good Stitches" bee on, May 2011. We hope it keeps you cozy!"

I'm also pretty darn proud of myself for finishing it on time - the bee rules say you should finish the quilt within 30 days of receiving all the blocks. I think I got my last block in the middle of June, and the quilt was donated on July 10. Yay for me!!