Friday, August 24, 2012

Our Little Guy....

This may be a long post -- forewarned is forearmed!
This cute little fellow is our only grandchild who we went visit in Canada earlier this month.  While we were there, we were able to give him his gifts for his second birthday as well as his birthday quilt.  How much fun is that!
This was made following the directions in Tonya Ricucci's book, Word Play Quilts, and referencing some of her blog posts.  I have to say this was absolutely one of the "funnest" quilts I've made.  You really only need a ruler to square your blocks once you learn to cut generous strips.  I finally learned to make the outside background strips big enough to be able to square up the blocks and still allow for a seam allowance.  Blocks were not made to a specific size...I just started laying them out and if I needed to make one a bit bigger -- I added a strip of a complementing color.  Did I mention this was fun?
I will say that I never quite got my "N's" exactly right.  As you can see here -- the lower case "n" is pretty good here -- the upper case is not.  In some cases, the lower case "n" looks like it's backward because of my cutting angle.  In that case, I made sure the "f" was clearly lower case to make sure it was "alphabetically" correct.  :-)
In order to have a bit more fun with the back, I ordered five FQs from Spoonflower.  What a great business model.  I won't go into a lot of detail here but if you don't know about them, it's worth hearing their story and seeing what they offer.  I was able to scan their database and order the FQ in science-related fabrics (periodic table, DNA, elements, flame test, and molecules).  These were not for little Finn.  They were really in honor of his parents who are both microbiologists.
I wasn't able to get to Chicago to quilt this so I had to suffer through with some great variegated Valdani thread!  I didn't want a lot of quilting as the words are the stars so it went fast and holds it together.  Definitely not anything fancy.
As you might imagine, custom printed fabric is not cheap so I had to "make do" on the back and maximize the science fabrics!  You've actually seen the back through the pieced wool batting in this post.
As a bonus, since I had to fussy cut the periodic table so it was whole, I was able to salvage almost a complete one (roman numerals are missing at the top in case you aren't a chemist) and create a mug rug for our son.

I will definitely make another quilt with letters -- maybe all Christmas words?  Or family names?  Or friends' names?  I'm not sure but I have lots of wonderful solids and scraps and they will need a home one of these days.

When I look at finished quilts in the past year or so, this seems like a great quilt to enter in Amy's Creative Side and her semi-annual Bloggers Quilt Festival.  It meets all the criteria (it's actually quilted -- I have way too many tops that need attention) and I'll put it in the baby section.  If you have never spent any time looking through her festival, you are in for a treat.  Check out some of the best of the best of the blogging world!

I hope you are working on your "funnest" quilt.  If you're not -- check out Tonya's book and see if this might not be just the ticket for learning something new and creating a one-of-a-kind quilt!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

It Takes a Village

It's that time again -- Amy has her fall edition of Blogger's Quilt Festival active for a week, starting today.  If ever you wanted to see an encyclopedia of quilt goodness, it's worth taking a stroll through all the submissions.

I am going to submit my "It Takes a Village" because of what it means to me.  I love this quilt.  I love the women it represents.  I love to quilt.  

Seriously -- take a minute and walk through the incredible quilts and stories over at Amy's Creative Side!


I am a scrap hound.  I admit it.  I like it.  I profit from it!
I call this quilt "It Takes a Village" for a very special reason.  Only about 40% of this quilt is from my scraps.  The rest have come from my friends in the village where we lived outside Chicago.  It's all batiks and I haven't done much with batiks in the past few years.   A few of them, however, work mainly in batiks (to my advantage, I'd like to say) and aren't particularly fond of small scraps and using them up (to my advantage, I'd like to say!!!!!).

When we would get together to sew, it was always great fun to find a little baggie of snippets.  Some might be a bit too small to use but many could easily become 1.5" squares or greater.  And there was one particular trash basket at MacQuilts house that was always worth going through if I could get there before the cleaning lady.  My goodness, I've found some great scraps in there.  Tsk!  Tsk!

Even more touching for me have been the times that a package would show up at my door after we moved to Kentucky and there would be baggies of cute little batik goodness in there.  Hence, the name of this quilt.

I did lots of "cutting" for it but not in the usual sense.  I pulled out all my 1.5" squares, some 1.5" strips,  trimmed up all the donated scraps, and started sewing!  This has been such fun.  Between the fabric and the randomness of it, it really was "grab and go" sewing.

The quilt is modeled after Tonya Ricucci's "Lego" quilt that I found on her site about a year ago.  There are a number of posts where she talks about her process and that led to a plethora of similar quilts being made and enjoyed by other quilters.

Basically, these are 10.5" blocks that are set 6 x 6 so the quilt finishes at 60" square.  As I started to lay it out, I wasn't thrilled with the fairly apparent demarcation where all the blocks were coming together vertically, so I changed the setting a bit.  The first row is six 10" blocks.  The second row starts with a half block followed by five 10" blocks and ends with another half block.  That breaks it up a bit.  You can certainly still see the blocks when you look but it's a bit less obvious. The third row is six 10" blocks and so on.

As I laid the blocks out, I actually looked for places where the "logs" were the same fabric end-to-end -- or at least similar.  This is the first time in my quilting life that I wanted same fabrics touching!  That helped break the lines a bit more.  As you can see in the red piece here in the corner, there are two blocks there but the same fabric is a bit of a fooler unless you look closely.

So -- I love this quilt.  It's really not mine.  I made it but the fabric was from special people who are now in Chicago, Iowa, and the Bluegrass area of Kentucky.  My intention (once I get it labeled and washed) is that it goes to them.  It can travel among MacQuilts, CookingMama, Mom22SmartChix, MyNeicetheQuilter, LogCabinQuilter, and ShirasGram.  They can keep it as long as they want (years!) and then pass it on to the next one.  I certainly don't need it -- I've had my joy in looking at the fabric, playing with them, remembering the person that shared them, and often recalling the project they were used in.  Aren't quilting friends the best?

I would absolutely make this quilt again.  It's a great way to use those 1.5" strips of all sizes and walk down memory lane.  I hope you're finding time to be creative and remember those you enjoy sharing your quilting with!  Jan

Friday, August 3, 2012

Cabins Built and Garden Being Planted

So many projects -- so little time!  When I think back to what I've had a chance to work on, I'm pretty happy I was able to get all 64 log cabins blocks pieced.  You may remember from last week that these are from a good friend's sons' boxer shorts that they outgrew.  I had never really paid a lot of attention to how a boxer was constructed but there are lots of plackets and small pieces of fabric.  In order to make the most of available fabric, this ended up involving a lot of individual cutting of one "log" at a time.
You can see the layout here.  I've laid it out on a sheet to try to minimize snippets of thread on the back.  I hate show through when I'm quilting and then find a random thread between the batting and top and showing through a light fabric!  ARGGHHHH!  So, I've starched the fabrics to minimize raveling but decided to layout on a sheet vs the floor since my design wall is too small.  Each block will finish at 7" so the quilt will be 56" x 56" which is a decent size for a lap quilt.  I'll back it with a great chocolate minkee knockoff to make it extra cozy.
And, I couldn't help myself and had to finish cutting the squares for my disappearing nine patch out of all my florals.  I'm hoping this works.  Each square is cut 3" and my 3" x 18" ruler was a lifesaver for the cutting.  It was a lot of ironing, starching, and cutting.  And, an unabashedly bragging moment is that all the scraps are cut into squares or strips and put away.  Happy to have that done at the same time.
Since I'm going to do a dark in the middle, mediums on the corners, and lights in between, the piles above are divided in the appropriate value.  I have no idea how many I have nor how many I need but I'm thinking I should have roughly four times as many mediums/lights as I do darks.  That's not quite the ratio here so I will play it by ear.
This is the proverbial test block (actually, the second).  The first I did had the mediums and lights switched and I wasn't sure about that.  And let's be realistic, when you cut a floral fabric, values are a bit subjective as you can see here in the lower right hand corner block.  No sweat -- I'm going for a mis-mash of happy color.
Here are a few of the blocks that I sub cut and put on the design wall.  Hmmmm.....I don't dislike it but I don't love it -- yet.  The fabrics are such fun and very different from other types of fabric that I normally work with.  And a bin is empty!!!!  This will entail mindless sewing and a lot of it.
Finally, the sky scarf for Mr Iquiltforfun is done.  I mentioned this earlier this year.  I have knit one full row in popcorn stitch everyday since January 9th.  White for snow (or one day of total fog), gray for rainy or overcast, charcoal for stormy, blue for blue (obviously), and blue/white heather for those days when the sky is blue and peppered with white clouds.  You can see the impact of the drought with all the blues at the end vs the gloomier days of winter when I started it.  The last "charcoal" stripe you see in the lower left hand corner was the day of tornadoes that took lives in Kentucky and southern Indiana.  We will never forget that day.

I'm not sure where I'll put my energy for the next few days.  Probably in complete and total anticipation for our trip to Toronto next week.  We are finally getting up to see our son and his family who moved in early June.  We have not seen our grandson in person (thank you Face Time!) in four months.  For all you grammies out there, you know this is way too long to go without a reading a story, playing with Thomas the Train, or getting a hug and and kiss!  I'll probably take my knitting and some handwork and wait about taking my little machine until I get the lay of the land.

I hope you are having a wonderfully creative week and getting hugs and kisses from those you love!  Jan