Category Archives: Sewing

Yellow Brick Road

I have finished piecing the top of my Yellow Brick Road quilt, sans the border. I need to make a trip to a fabric store for material to make the border, as well as pick up batting and material for the back. That is probably going to wait until I am getting a pay check again though. So, in the meantime, I am going to start on another quilt top.

This photo isn’t that great, but here it is anyway. Once I get the quilt finished I will try to post a decent photo.

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This is the quilt I am working on now. I am using some fabric that I had originally purchased to make a Hopscotch quilt with, but when I pulled the pattern out to start on it I discovered I didn’t like it as much as I thought I did when I bought it. So I scoured the web for an alternative. Someone on the Quilting Board forum pointed me towards this one and it will be perfect for the fabric I have. I started planning out my fabric pairings tonight, and hope to get started on it in earnest within the next day or so.

Oh, and a couple weeks ago I posted about the nice lady that was sending a box of fabric to me so I could make a quilt for my mom. That box should arrive tomorrow! I am looking forward to seeing what she sent. While I am working on the flower quilt I will start planning out what to do for mom. I have a pattern in mind, and she said she liked it when I showed it to her last week. Once I see the fabric I will be able to make a plan for real; I will post photos when the fabric arrives.

In that post I had also mentioned the “I Spy” swap… the deadline for joining the swap passed on Oct 31, and the charms should be mailed out starting Nov 9. I am looking forward to seeing what is there. There will be another swap next month and I am already thinking about joining it so I can build up a collection of charms for a future quilt. I am thinking it will be a good quilt for Anna to have fun with when she is a little older.

Quilt Community

I am learning that there is a community among quilters, and they are generally pretty awesome people. My first introduction to the kindness of quilters was when I went shopping at Bernina World of Sewing for fabric to make my first quilt. It was a stroke of luck that I picked that store to start with. The clerk that helped me was super friendly and helpful, giving me lots of advice and assistance. She also gave me a large cutting mat that she had personally brought in, having replaced her mat with a new one. That saved me $45+. Later Sean went in to pick up a machine for me, and she remembered him. That time she sent a very informative introductory to sewing book home with him. I figured she was just super good at customer service, but now I am beginning to see the generosity she showed isn’t unique.

Backstory: When mom was here the other day she mentioned how she would like me to make a quilt for her. However, the cost of the material for her large bed was prohibitive. You really can buy quilts cheaper than you can make them. The fabric for a quilt is typically around $100 and up, and with her large bed it would definitely be pricey. And that is just the cost of the top… the batting and backing would add another $60 or so. Not to mention I am still learning, so paying that much for a potentially (re: likely) crappy quilt is just dumb. That is why I have been making small quilts; I want to keep the costs down as much as possible while I learn.

Yesterday I posted a message on a quilting forum asking for tips on saving money when making quilts. A lady responded saying she had a bunch of fabric she wasn’t going to use and didn’t feel like trying to sell it. So she is sending it to me for the cost of shipping ($17) so that I can make mom a quilt. I have no idea what the fabric looks like, I didn’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. It will be interesting to see what she sends. I was surprised at the unsolicited generosity. It seems quilters are always trying to help each other out, especially the newbs like me. At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I really hope what she sends will work. Who knows, it could be a bunch of crappy/ugly fabric, or just stuff that doesn’t suit mom’s tastes. Even if there is stuff we don’t like though, I can always pass that fabric along to someone else in need.

Another example of the quilting community also stems from my perusing of the forum. I found a section for swapping fabric, which in itself is helpful. One thread was perfect timing for me though. The other day, while looking for a pattern for a quilt to make mom, I stumbled on an I Spy quilt that caught my interest. The I Spy quilts have lots of unique fabric squares in them. To make this kind of quilt on your own you would have to buy a LOT of fabric, and then only use a very small amount of it (most stores have a minimum amount to cut). The one I linked has 88 different squares, which would be crazy expensive. However, quilters organize swaps to help each other out. It was this kind of swap that I happened to find in the forum yesterday.

So, today I ran out and picked up some fabrics and cut squares to join the swap. This is going to be fun! Not only did I get to go shopping for cute novelty fabric that I normally wouldn’t have a use for, but I get to send them off to help others and then wait for a package to arrive with a variety of mystery fabrics. I can’t wait to see what all I get. It will be like Christmas! I have a feeling these I Spy swaps could be a little addictive. I might have to do a few swaps before I get enough charms (precut squares) that I like enough to use in a quilt, but that is okay. It will be lots of fun participating in the swaps! And, now I have a reason to pick up random cute fabrics when I find them.

Quilt #2 Complete!

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I finished my second quilt last night. My fingers are still a bit sore from stitching the binding!

I think the quilt top and binding both came out well, but the quilting sucks. I expected it to suck though, so it is okay. It is my first free motion quilt, and only my second quilt ever, so I am mostly happy with it. I just keep saying it has character. It was a great learning experience though, with some good lessons learned. I am sure my next (several) quilts will continue to be learning experiences, although I am getting to the point where I have lots of quilts I want to make that I really like. Therefore I want those quilts to come out good, and I am going to start being much more critical of myself. I am also hesitant about the quilting of those future projects because I know I lack the skills to do it well. But I also know the skills only come with lots and lots of practice.

Now I will start on the “Yellow Brick Road” quilt, only it is more like a green brick road since it is going to be done in greens and blues. This is a quilt kit that I purchased a couple months ago at Wish Upon a Quilt, and it came with enough fabric to make the lap quilt size. I decided I wanted to make it twin size though, so I picked up some more fabric today. This means that I have only picked 6 of the 18 fabrics in the quilt top (haven’t picked the border or backing yet). And the six I picked were chosen from a limited selection, as they had to coordinate with the twelve that came in the kit. That is partly good because it meant I didn’t have to put much thought into fabric selection or planning, but at the same time it means the quilt isn’t really mine. It feels more like paint by the numbers, but more fun.

I ironed the fabric for it earlier tonight, and I hope to start cutting tomorrow!

Sleep, Quilting, Baby

Lately Anna has been messing with me when it comes to sleep. Earlier this week she actually let me sleep for five hours. Twice. Turns out that was just so the rest of the week would suck more when she suddenly decided she wanted to be wide awake until 3am, and go back to a 3 hour feeding schedule at night. Right now (at 2am) I have been trying to get her to sleep for a couple hours, and Sean was trying for an hour before that. Sigh. Apparently babies don’t make enough melatonin to get on a sleep schedule until about 2.5 months.

She keeps teasing me tonight. Several times now she has feigned sleep, only to be wide awake again after a few minutes. About 40 minutes or so ago I decided to swaddle her and shove a pacifier in her mouth just to see if it would help. After that she started looking sleepier, but was still fighting sleep. Now I have her in the bassinet with the swaying motion going… it has taken a while, but I think she might finally be asleep for real… or very close to it at least. Fingers crossed! Although, now it has been a couple hours since she ate last, so this is probably going to be a short nap. Sigh.

One day I will be able to sleep again right? I am just hoping for 6 hours at this point. I think I could live with six hours of sleep. The way it is now, there is no real routine. I am just at the mercy of when Anna gets hungry enough to wake up, which can be anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. And that rare 5 hour stretch we achieved earlier this week. Typically once I get her to sleep at night I do get at least 3 hours though, but sleep sucks being broken into what amounts to a series of naps. I am stuck being awake most of the night, then waking up several times to feed the kiddo (which can take an hour sometimes, or more even, since it also involves getting her back to sleep, diaper changes, and sometimes an outfit change too). This means I don’t usually “get up” until noon or so, at which time it is usually to feed Anna again and start the cycle over again.

So my typical day starts with changing a diaper around noon-1pm, then feeding her and often changing her again, followed by finally getting to eat around 2-3pm, then I get maybe an hour to do things non-baby before she wakes up and wants to eat again. Then the cycle of diapers and feeding starts over again. And of course there could be several diaper changes scattered throughout, she does manage to go through 10 or more a day. If I am lucky I get another hour to do chores or something for myself (like reading or quilting or chores) before Sean gets home. Doing anything else, like going out to lunch or running errands, typically requires sacrificing sleep.

That being said, between the time I can steal here and there, I have been able to work on my lattice quilt. It is nearly done! I just have to finish hand-stitching the binding (fabric covering the raw edge). I ended up doing a larger meandering stitch with black thread. This was my first attempt at free motion quilting, so it sucks as expected. Sean says it isn’t bad, but I think he is just being kind. Given the amount of practice it takes to get good at quilting, I am okay with how crappy it turned out. It has character. I started this quilt as a learning experience, and it definitely has been one. My next quilt will be better for it… although the thought of quilting the next one is even more intimidating now because I want it to turn out good and I know I lack the skills.

Oh, and remember when I said I thought Anna might finally be asleep? Not so much. At this point I am just biding time with a pacifier when she wakes up every few minutes, just waiting a little while longer so I can feed her again.

(and now at 3:20am I think she might really finally be settling in for a nap??)
(and yes it took me over an hour to write this… had to take several breaks to try to get Anna settled, and then to feed her, and a couple diapers were in there too)

Quilt Tour

So I probably should have posted this before the last post, since I got the materials for that thread catcher while shop hopping… oh well.

As I mentioned in other posts, the Quilt Carolina shop hop tour was last week. If you don’t feel like following the link… basically this is an annual event to promote local independent quilt shops. You purchase a “passport” for $15 and take it around to all the participating shops for a stamp. Each shop provides a pattern with the passport purchase, and then when you go to the shop for your passport stamp they give you another pattern, discounts, a coupon for a future visit, and there are door prizes and drawings at each shop. At the end of the tour you turn in your passport to be entered in a drawing for other prizes. If you got stamps from all the shops you had a chance to win a nice sewing machine, and there were other prizes for those with fewer stamps.

For the first time they had shops from the triad participating, which was actually kind of annoying because I really didn’t want to drive to Winston Salem for the tour. There is no chance I will be going out there in the future just to shop for quilt stuff. Plus it was hard enough getting out of the house with the baby just to go to the Raleigh ones!

There were originally 16 shops, but one dropped out. I managed to make it to 13 of the 15 though! I really wanted to go to all 15, but I think 13 is admirable given that we have a newborn. I could never have done it without Sean’s support though. He worked from home one day to watch the baby for me, went around to shops on the weekends with me (even though he hates shopping and has no interest in quilting), and even drove to the triad shops with me today. He drove and took care of kiddo while I gathered my stamps and looked around the shops. Unfortunately we ran out of time and didn’t make it to the Greensboro shop before they closed, and then there was no point in going to the last shop (in Fayetteville) after that. I was disappointed that I didn’t get all 15, but also a little glad I didn’t have to go to Fayetteville.

The tour was a great introduction to some shops I would have never gone to (or even found) otherwise. I now have a few new shops to add to my list of favorites, but unfortunately their locations aren’t very convenient. There was an awesome little shop in Fuquay that will be a great resource for the more traditional quilts I have planned because they have a lot of historic reproduction fabrics, and there is a shop in Chapel Hill with an awesome variety of fabrics and classes. The one in Fuquay also sells some tasty locally made treats. There is also a nice little shop in downtown Cary that I really liked. I doubt anyone that is interested in sewing reads this, but if you want info on any shops just let me know.

I also found lots of goodies, and spent way more than I should have. Now I have even more projects lined up, and I can’t wait to work on them. Hopefully Anna will let me! I picked up several new patterns, more flannels for changing pads (which I seriously need to make more of), a kit for another quilt (which means I have fabric for the next three quilt tops now!), and some notions like a special curved ruler, a small rotary cutter, some little clips to use when putting binding on things, a long measuring tape, and some other odds and ends.

With luck, my next sewing related post will be that I have finally gotten back to my lattice quilt. It is begging me to finish it, but I just haven’t been able to thanks to the baby. At first I waited because I was just too pregnant to sit at the sewing machine anymore, plus I needed to find thread for it. I did finally get some thread for the quilting, and hopefully it will work well once I audition it with the quilt top. And I did find time to get the batting cut for it… now I need to get the back pieced together, and figure out how I want to go about basting the thing. Maybe if I pull out the leaves for the table I can do it there… it seems most people baste their quilts on the floor or a wall. I don’t have wall space for it though, or floor space either really unless I move stuff. And if I move stuff, I am sure I will spend most of my time trying to keep critters off of it.

Sewing Again!

I finally got to sit down and sew something again! Thanks to Sean for watching the baby for me so I could have time to work on it, and so that I could go shopping in the first place. I made a thread catcher/pin cushion. Not that I need another pin cushion, but it acts as a weight to hang the thread catcher bag from. (thread catcher = little bag to put my cut threads and scraps in while sewing)

I snapped a quick photo of it. It is sitting on the sewing machine just for better lighting, it was in shadows hanging on the table. Even though I had bought a kit (I chose the fabric though) with a pattern for it, I pretty much had to wing it. The directions were terrible. For instance it told me to fold a 7.5″ x 15.5″ piece of fabric in half to form a 5.5 x 5.5 “rectangle.” See the problem there? First… that would be a square, second… how the hell do they get 5 1/2 from either of those numbers? And aside from things like that, the directions themselves were severely lacking. But still, I think it came out okay for my first non-quilt sewing project.

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Piecing = done

I finished the piecing for the top of my lattice quilt last night… AND finally put the buttons on my first quilt. I had to order them from frigging Germany. Who would have ever though finding a one inch, wooden, heart shaped button would be so damned impossible? I ended up with a 23mm (inch = 25mm) heart shaped button made of resin or plastic or something, but it is brown at least. It was the closest thing I could find. I don’t have a pic handy of the first quilt… but I do have one of the lattice.

I like the design of the quilt, but I am still not exactly in love with the fabric I chose. One day I might make this again with just a few bright colors and try to make it look like continuous strips of cloth woven together. That will take a little planning though, and it will be a while before I will get around to it… if ever. I have material for the next two quilts already, and still have a lot of work left on this one.

The next step is to figure out quilting. I need to make up some practice “sandwiches” and try my hand at free motion quilting. From what I hear it is really hard and takes lots and lots of practice, so I am trying to be realistic about the probable outcome (that I will suck at it). I will practice some quilting, but there is a good chance this one will end up with some plain old “stitch in the ditch” quilting where you just stitch inside existing seems. Oh yeah, and I am supposed to have a baby in less than two weeks… so that will probably put a crimp in my quilting for a bit.

Today I washed the flannels and batting I bought a few weeks ago for changing pads though. I think I will make a few changing pads before I try my hand at the quilting. I think I have enough for 3 changing pads, and then will have some left overs that might become burp cloths. They should be quick and easy to make, and I’ll hopefully end up with some more left over batting for my practice sandwiches.

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