Friday, April 29, 2011

there are things I shouldn't say

Besides things vulgar and flagrantly rude, what things shouldn't I say?  That question was on my mind Friday last and it's still on my mind today.  Today I want to share the comment from Friday's post that stood out to me the most, kind of the biggest "aha" moment for me.  Here goes (slightly paraphrased):

Rachel, it definitely comes down to a subjective/objective thing. I'm a lecturer on Ethics or responses to social issues. One thing we teach is that in society there are responses that should be subjective and some which should be objective depending on what we're responding to...
Confusion and anger occur when amongst other factors we mix this up. Art/Craft is a subjective form; objective responses bring out frustration.
Thank-you, Lucy Fleur, for sharing this little gem.   I'll be sending you the book.  For me, wrapping my head around this difference explains so much:  what I feel I can say, the origin of so many hurt feelings, and our frustration with issues like defining quilt styles as traditional or modern.  I believe that getting to the bottom of this can help our online community to maintain unity, a positive atmosphere and the ability to learn from one another.  But I think before we go on to discuss, I'll take a moment to explain what the heck I'm reading into this comment.

As I understand it (confessing now to a deep, abiding love for philosophy - blame it on Dad), subjective statements are those we make about ourselves - how I feel, what I like, what I believe, even what I think about you.   Objective statements are intended to be descriptions of truth - the way things really are, accuracy, facts.  Some examples from the sewing world...

*I love using white for sashing. OR White is the best color for sashing, hands down!
*To me, quilts patterns with intricate piecing are most fulfilling to make.  I love that I can make something so beautiful from little pieces of fabric - even unwanted scraps!  OR Quilting is really supposed to be a way to make something useful from scraps.
*I prefer to sew with designer fabrics, though I know they can be expensive.  In fact, designer fabrics are what inspired me to learn to sew.  OR Why would I put so much effort into a project made with lower quality materials?  Designer fabrics are the reasonable choice for any serious sewist.

See the difference?  In a normal context, the first set of statements just wouldn't offend anyone.  But the second set of statements... If you disagree, you are being told you are wrong.  Not just that they have a different opinion, but that your different choice is wrong.  But, can art be wrong?  Can it?  I hope you'll say "no".  I've seen art that is vulgar, art that makes no sense to me, but I won't say it's "wrong" - not artistically.

As one commenter noted, "quilts are an extension of the women who make them."  My sewing is an expression of what I find beautiful.  Feelings and emotions - not facts.  Therefore, art can't be wrong (objectively), but it can be something you dislike (subjectively).  And while no one would much like you if you ran around telling everyone politely, "I don't care for your art" at every opportunity, I hope one would still have friends if she occasionally said, "this time, your art is not for me."  Stating your dislikes politely is not wrong - it's just an opinion.  I want to talk another time about why I expect that sharing such opinions is in fact valuable.  I'll try not to get distracted by that thought now!

Moving on, what is the big deal about describing quilting styles as modern or traditional?  What is the hoopla with the "dumbing down quilting" debate?  I wonder if whatever careful language is used to discuss these things, the hurt and negativity might begin in the terminology itself.  Doesn't the word "modern" bring to mind "fresh, exciting, better"?  Or the word "traditional", doesn't it bring to mind "old, has-been, stuck" or something like that?  In another culture, the traditional might be given a position of honor and respect. But, here in the States at least, we lean towards assuming the new is also improved.  And I'm not saying we're right, but the underlying assumption may be there regardless.  Are we trying to be civil while using somewhat "objective" terms that do us in before we get started?  As my friend Miranda pointed out, what would it change things in our minds if "traditional" styles were called "classic" instead?

It's pretty easy to see the parallel with the term "dumbing down quilting."  The very word "dumb" is a strong statement that doesn't sound like an opinion as much as a judgement of failure and contempt.  Even if the points being made were respectful and fair, the label has an objective leaning I'd say.  And so the hurt starts right then and there.

One commenter said, "It's natural to try and put labels on things - it helps us describe them."  I so agree.  Someone new to quilting sees a style of quilts that excite her.  She wants to try them, and she wants to describe them!  Or, someone wants to describe herself or what she'd like to do in our community.  Perhaps we need new names for these styles; perhaps we don't.  But whatever we do, we need to speak about art subjectively, making statements about ourselves.  And, we need ears to hear these subjective statements without making the leap of applying them to everyone and to walk confidently along our way, without taking offense.  

One of my favorite comments was, "It's fun to talk over things with others that enjoy the same hobby, even if you don't agree. It's an afternoon coffee club with your friends - only long distance. And I can be happy with that I'm doing, and enjoy that others are having fun with what they do. And it can be the same or completely different! That's what friends do, right?"

Yes, that is!  And if our community is really a sort of friendship, I think that with some care and grace we can do this too.  So let's talk shop as friends, even when we don't all agree. And on that note here are a few questions. Take what you like!

Would it be helpful to replace the term "traditional" with "classic"?  Could "modern" benefit from a more neutral name as well?

Although we are each more than any label, how do you describe your sewing or quilting style?  Please don't argue with anyone else here. This question is about you.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April Favorites {Blogger's Pillow Party}

Ok, I'm exhausted.  So many pillows, so much creativity... however to choose?  There's no way I can choose favorites based on "most impressive work" or "most creative idea."  I'm in no place to judge such things!  Instead, I'm going to show you my nine favorites.  As in, 9 pillows from the April party that I'd like to steal for my home! 

Watch out ladies!

April Favorites {Blogger's Pillow Party}

1.  Lemonade by Erica's Essential Suchness
2.  Yo-yo Rosettes by the story of Kat
3.  Scrappy Hexagon by Little Miss MK
4.  Opposing Triangle Pillow from Sew Katie Did
5.  Bubbly in Nicey Jane by  Mommy's Nap Time
6.  Kaleidoscope from made During Quiet Time
7.  Color Path from Sew Homegrown
8.  In the Mood for Lime by Project Town
9.  Pineapple Pillow by Splendor Falls

The good news is that Malka, our judge this time around, can choose any entry - she's not limited to my favorites here.  Malka is one creative, innovative lady.  Look out for her to post the winner at A Stitch in Dye before the end of the month!  I'm going to be completely jealous of whomever wins those Kona solids...

Since we're wrapping up Blogger's Pillow Party this week, I want to extend thanks to the judges and fabric shops who gave freely to the online community to help me put on this event.  

To our judges - Anna of Noodlehead, Rita of Red Pepper Quilts, Aneela of Comfort Stitching and Malka of A Stitch in Dye - we really appreciate your time and input!  And thank-you for keeping up such inspiring blogs. 

To our fabric stores - Sew Love Fabrics, Fresh Squeezed Fabrics, Whipstitch and Sew Fresh Fabrics - a big thanks for donating fabulous fabric prizes!  You made this event that much more fun!

And finally, thanks to everyone who participated by entering a pillow!

Looking for more pillow inspiration?  If you missed them, here are links to March favorites, February favorites, and January favorites.  And you can see all the pillows entered into all 4 months of Pillow Parties right here

So, which pillow is your ultimate favorite (or your favorite this month, if that's just too hard!)?  Just curious. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

my Makeup Roll

Many of my favorite projects are born out of a personal "need" or desire. This is one of them!

Make up Rolls for Home & Travel

Over a year ago I designed a padded makeup roll that holds my everyday makeup in one organized bundle.  No more digging through a plastic cosmetic bag or taking one piece at a time from the drawer.  So tedious!  It's such a little thing, but it makes "makeup mornings" that much more pleasant.  Oh, and when it's time for a trip, it's all ready to go with protective padding built in.  I seriously adore using mine!

Good Fortune for Mama

By request, I made a second makeup roll for my mom last mother's day.

Makeup Roll for my Mother-in-Law

Since then I've made a few more, including this one that I stitched up for my mother-in-law's birthday.  Each time was an opportunity to improve the design.  And since many of my friends have hinted that they'd like one, I figured it was worth my time to make this into a full and customizable pattern.  To me the appeal is all the fun of pretty patchwork combined with its practical purpose.  I can't resist neat and tidy and organized.

all things neat & tidy

a new Pattern =)

After our little confession experiment, I realize that some find pattern-selling obnoxious.  I thought this might be a good time for me to once again make clear - I am trying to earn money through my sewing and through this blog.  I enjoy teaching what little I know through free tutorials and quilt-alongs, which I fully intend to keep up.  But, I also will offer some of my work for sale in the form of patterns like this one.  As I explained here, I'm on a mission this year to see if I can build up some sort of business with Stitched in Color to augment our soon-to-be-reduced income so that I can homeschool my littles rather than go out and get a new away-from-home job.  Of course, I so appreciate you're here, whether or not you're interested in buying patterns!  Really.  Thanks for reading Stitched in Color!

I put a lot of work into this pattern, so that there are a total of 12 pocket options with step-by-step pictures and directions to hold your hand along the way.  The pdf pattern amounts to 13 pages and is available for immediate delivery through the Stitched in Color Shop.  With a fat quarter and some fabric scraps you can whip up this half-day project to create a beautiful treat for yourself, your mama or someone else you love.

Click here to buy my Makeup Roll pattern.  As always, I'd love to see anything you create inspired by my patterns or tutorials at our Flickr group.

And thanks for stitching with me!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

George's Trick

Have you met George?


He's a Netherland Dwarf and the lucky roommate of Jeni Baker, who blogs at In Color Order.  I've been following Jeni's blog for quite awhile now, so I feel like I know George pretty well.  In fact, it doesn't surprise me at all that George has a trick to teach us.

Uh-huh, a sewing trick.  Of course, he's learned a thing or three living with Jeni all these years!  Don't be so skeptical.

Early this month I asked Jeni to be a pattern tester for a little something I'll be releasing tomorrow.  It's something I've had in the works for ages.  And, it's not a quilt!  Well, this mysterious object is made with not 1, but 2 layers of low loft batting for padding.  It's the kind of project where the final step is to sew around the edges right sides together, while leaving an opening for turning.  After turning, you press the seam allowance inside and topstitch closed.  Only try neatly pressing in a 1/4" seam that includes 2 layers of batting.  I had to redo it 3 times to get it neat enough for my liking.  And it still wasn't perfect.

So, I think that while Jeni was working on my project and fighting with that batting (and wondering "why, oh why, did I agree to pattern test!"), George kinda looked over her shoulder and suggested she just get the batting out of the way.  Which Jeni agreed was brilliant.  Suspiciously brilliant, in fact.  Like, where is George getting this stuff?

(I think Jeni's just too modest.  She's clearly his inspiration.)

I'm going to walk you through George's trick.  I tried it myself and it worked perfectly!  "Why do I want to know this," you ask?  Because it would come in handy for other projects like potholders made with thicker batting and who knows what else.  I'll be demonstrating on a bib I made last night solely for the purposes of testing George's trick.

testing "George's Trick"

So, here we are.  I cut an oddly rectangular bib shape (I was working with pre-pieced scraps, folks), cut a matching backing and thick batting all in the same size. 

#1 Trim Batting & Sew Right Sides Together

Since I knew I'd be sewing right sides together with a 1/4" seam, I trimmed 1/4" off the bottom of the bib, where I'd leave an opening for turning the work rightside out. I could have just trimmed 1/4" off the center of the bib bottom, leaving the edges intact so that they'd be caught in the seam. But, that really didn't seam worth the effort on this project.

# 2 Press fabric over batting edge

After turning the work rightside out, this is the opening I now need to close.  Next, I pressed the bottom fabric over the batting edge.  So nice and tidy!

#3 Fold/Press top fabric, Pin & Stitch closed

Then I folded the top fabric in along the seam allowance.  It was easy to make a nice straight line in that fold.  Gosh, just 100 times better than trying to press and fold with the batting too!  I pinned the fold and topstitched with ease.

Ta da.  thanks, George!

Ta da!  It's a pretty nice finish, in my opinion.  Yeah, there is a little messy part at left, but that's because of the piecing in that spot.  Scraps aren't always the easiest thing to work with, ya know?

scrappy bib

If you're looking at my completed bib and thinking that I didn't have to turn this work because I could have left an opening where I put the binding tape up top. Well, you're right. But, hey, I had to see if George was for real.

So, that's it - George's trick!  What do you think? 

I'll be back tomorrow to share my newest pattern.  It's something perfect for Mother's Day... hint, hint!  Thanks to my pattern testers, Jeni Baker, Mary Claire and Alecia Sharp for your feedback on this pattern!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter dress (and more)

Did you enjoy Easter weekend?  We did!  It was a whirlwind of friends and family fun (even including an impromptu shopping trip with the gals that actually unearthed a dress that suits me - amazing!).  Between the festivities and our discussions here, I didn't get a bit of sewing in.  Not to worry!

Aria wins Easter Croquet

You wanted to see Aria in her Easter dress, right?  Here she is grinning from ear to ear after beating us all at croquet.  See, totally fits!  Even after she ate all that ham and biscuit...

One of her Easter gifts was a charm pack of guess what?  Wait for it...

Easter presents

Sherbet Pips!

Yep, isn't that just too funny!  And, she loves it of course.  Scooters, swings, doggies - she's thrilled.  I bought her a charm pack so that she could play at making a quilt, and I wouldn't have to do the cutting.  I'm pretty sure that makes me lazy.  Lazy or too busy cutting my own projects?

While daddy made the ham, she created her layout and I showed her how to stack and pin rows.

rows marked, stitching commences

So all day long she's waiting for her chance on our sewing machine. You know, my cheap one!  My only one!  And once the guests left, she got it. 

Don't worry, the crochet hook kept me company.

Easter Dress!

And, sides, I enjoyed taking pictures.  Because, you wanted to see the dress, remember?

Are you new to all this sewing stuff?  You might find my guest post on Cutting at Chasing Cottons helpful if you're looking for tips on how to use a rotary cutter, especially when cutting yardage or working on a small mat. 


And, lastly, I hope you'll stop by Deborah's blog to pick-up a thread of the conversation that she's continued in a post titled "You. Can. Sew."  This in response to her sadness (that I certainly share) at those who confessed that reading sewing blogs makes them feel inadequate and often like not trying at all.  To me, her post is part of the discussion on how blogs make us feel.  She framed the question quite positively as well!  I trust it will be a fruitful discussion! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

oh, goodness

So, it's just after 10 PM here, and I've just finished reading and responding through all of the 200+ comments on yesterdays (infamous?) post.  I wish we had all night folks, because there's soooooooo much to say, isn't there?

1.  Your comments were incredible.  I made pages of notes. I will have an incredibly hard time choosing the book winner, but that kinda seems besides the point, doesn't it?  I will choose someone, but you'll have to give me some time!

2.  My posts are now available in full in your reader, not truncated.  Or, at least I hope so.  I checked a button...

3.  My only regret about yesterday's post experience is that it was somewhat negative taken as a whole with all of the comments.  I was going more for "confession" than "I dislike this."  However, several of my confessions walked that line closely.  There's an interesting discussion to be had here about the value of being "real" and the danger of being rude.  That said, I hope and believe that our dislikes are said as a personal statement only.  To dislike something does not mean that I think it's poorly done or "wrong". Of course not! Art is subjective. My view is not better than anyone else's.

4.   A few clarifications...  I did not say that I dislike Sherbet Pips.  I did like them immediately!  However, like many of you, I saw the line used so many times before yardage was available that the marketing itself kind of turned me off to the line.  That is why I said I need a "break."

On Innocent Crush, I want to state for the record that I've loved many things made in this line.  Just because I wasn't drawn to buy and stitch with the line as a whole (as I am with Good Folks, for example), doesn't mean that I haven't truly enjoyed things others have made with the line as a whole.

And, lastly, Single Girl... I  have no idea why this quilt pattern doesn't grab me.  It just doesn't.  But it's not as if I think they're awful or something!  Never said that.  If a pattern that doesn't appeal to you appears over and over again all over blogdom, you just might get tired of seeing it, that's all.   I will say that the Single Girl Support Group was obviously a fantastic idea, since so many people were interested in pursuing this quilt pattern!

5.  I love that lots of you had no idea what I was talking about - Sherbet Pips, Single Girl, Innocent Crush, yada, yada.  That's totally cool beans.  Sorry that I didn't take the time to include links so that you wouldn't have to do the searching.

6.  I could actually take some time to talk about all the subjects you brought up.  Fabric consumerism, marketing on blogs, labeling quilt styles (modern/traditional), what we want from reading blogs (closely related to how blogs make us feel), and so much more (like how you hate seeing people's feet in quilt photos - wink!).  So, like, really do you want to have these discussions?  As you can tell, I don't fear confrontation.  But, the thing is we've got to do this with manners - constructively!  I did not censor any of the comments from yesterday, and I really don't want to have to!  So, what do you think - can we handle this?

P.S. Actual sewing blogging should commence tomorrow.  Thanks for your patience!

Friday, April 22, 2011

there are things I don't say...

A public apology:  Some comments on this post are hurtful.  Please remember that they represent individual opinions.  I want to apologize to the talented women who have been hurt by what was said.  I hold myself responsible for starting the discussion and for what I said, but I hold each author responsible for his or her own words.  Still, I find value in what the comments reveal about ourselves and our community.  I know this has been a learning experience for me, and I know it has been for many others as well.  See follow-up posts here and here.

There are things I don't say, and now I feel like saying them.  You'll get your turn too, just wait and see! 

*I don't much like the Single Girl quilt.  I don't know why.  Sometimes it appeals to me as a pillow, but that's as far as it goes.  I wonder, what's wrong with me given the way the quilt has swept over blogland?
*I think I need a break from Sherbet Pips before I'll actually want them.  At first I was waiting for yardage, but now...  They've just been everywhere for so long.  I bet I'll want "Girl on a Swing" as soon as she's totally pricey!
*I sew on a sewing machine that's so cheap, it's not worth servicing.  If it ever becomes unusable, I'll seriously buy a new one.
*I never really crushed hard on Innocent Crush.  Anna Maria Horner is my favorite designer, so I feel weird saying so.  I do love "Woodcut" and "Maybe", but not the collection when combined.  I guess that's why I'm thrilled to find my heart a-thumping at Loulouthi.
*Driving downtown to buy up some of Denyse Schmidt's new line is not high on my list of priorities.  I'd love me some of those dots, but I don't have to have them.
*My son has an Ikea duvet cover that doesn't close at the bottom.  They should have finished it with buttons, but they left the opening finished but open.  I still haven't put buttons on it and it's been years.  It bugs me to no end.  How's that for lazy?
*I kind of got tired of making pillows by the end of January.  And Blogger's Pillow Party was all set up to go through April.  Oops!  Good thing I never got tired at seeing your creations!
*I would not continue blogging if it wasn't for comments.  All of the sponsors in the world couldn't get me to talk to a silent crowd.

So, what is the thing you don't say?  Come on, cough it up.  It feels good to get it off your chest!  What do you not say about sewing/quilting/fabric/blogging that you know you feel?  What do you not say about Stitched in Color that might be helpful for me to know?  Keep it real, but keep it constructive.

by Suzuko Koseki

Natural Patchwork by Suzuko Koseki

Natural Patchwork by Suzuko Koseki

Natural Patchwork by Suzuko Koseki

I have an extra copy of Natural Patchwork by Suzuko Koseki.  I'm going to send it to someone who comments with something they wouldn't usually say, and I'm going to hand-pick the winner. I don't know how I'll choose - maybe something that's most interesting to me, maybe something that's most helpful. 

So, go on - say it.

**updated to say:  The winner of this giveaway has been chosen!  But, feel free to add your thoughtful (non-bashy) comment.  See follow-up posts here and here.  Thanks for visiting!

Bottled Rainbows {Materials for Finishing}

This post is part of a series Bottled Rainbows {ticker tape quilt along}. You can join in anytime. We're going at a leisurely pace and using up our scraps! Please see this page for links to all posts, and join us on Flickr to share your questions and work-in-progress!

Welcome to my weekly edition of Bottled Rainbows!  I'm finding that one block a week is such a nice pace.  Delicious, leisurely stitching - continuity without cramming.  Lovin it!

Eggplant Bottled Rainbows

This week I stitched up the Eggplant block.  It's a dark, slightly warm purple that bridges over to dark Indigo blue on the Bottled Rainbow Color Grid.  I used Kona berry for sashing. 

Although eggplant is a favorite color of mine, making this block was the first time I felt the fabric "pinch".  Not a lot of scraps to choose from and no stashed yardage to fill in holes.  Thank goodness Ruth of Sew Love Fabrics sent me these lovely scraps a few weeks back:

Aviary 2 for Eggplant Block from Sew Love Fabrics!

Aren't they pretty?!?!  If you haven't already seen it, these are from Joel Dewberry's new release, Aviary 2.  Sparrows on Lilac wants to be a sundress, I say.  And that Bloom print would be perfect for contrast.  Did I already make Aria's Easter dress?  Darn.  Well, the entire green/eggplant colorway is on my wish list.  The tone is perfect for a Bottled Rainbow Eggplant block, so if you need an excuse to by a fat quarter or two...

Plum & Eggplant Bottled Rainbow Blocks

OK all you purple-dislikers, can you resist?

Alright, didn't mean to get all confrontational.  You can dislike purple if you want.  The truth is, I can't seem to find a color that I squarely dislike.  At first I thought I might dislike peach, but Dottie Angel convinced me otherwise.  And then I said, well, not black then.  After all, black is NOT a color (or so I tell my husband).  But lately I'm starting to see how black can be just as vital as white in the mix of color, color.  So call me a color-ambassador.  I'm just trying to spread the craze...

bottled preview
finished quilt-top by AquaKnits

Can you believe that it's been 2 months since I first shared Bottled Rainbows with you?!?  It has!  I never guessed that so many people would jump on board.  Since some of you are lightyears ahead of me on this quilt-along, I figured I'd better put out some info on materials needed for finishing.

A border is completely optional of course!  I'm planning to add one to contain all this color and bring the Bottled Rainbows quilt to a twin bed size.  A neutral border in natural linen, gray or white would be lovely.  Mine will be 5" wide with mitered corners.  For a 5" border, buy 1 1/2 yards of 44" wide fabric.

Ok, a backing is not optional (wink).  A border-less Bottled Rainbow Quilt-Top should measure 64" x 80".  Buy 4 1/2 yards of a 44" wide backing fabric and plan to piece your backing together with the seam running parallel to the shorter side of your quilt. 

A bordered Bottled Rainbow Quilt-Top should measure 74" x 90".  Buy 5 1/2 yards of a 44" wide backing fabric and plan to piece your backing together with the seam running parallel to the longer side of your quilt.  You may also consider sourcing a 108" wide fabric, such as solid colored broadcloth or natural flannel, if you are certain this quilt is going to be used on a bed.  After all, the back of a bed quilt is almost never seen and you would only need to buy 2 1/2 yards of 108" wide fabric!

Most binding is cut 2.25" or 2.5" wide.  On either method and whether for a bordered or border-less version of Bottled Rainbows, buy 3/4 yards of any 44" wide fabric for your binding.  Or, you could simply use leftovers of your Kona solids to make a rainbow binding!  After all, this quilt is all about scraps (and color). 

For each of these finishing processes, I'll give detailed instructions here at Stitched in Color when I reach that point in the quilt-along!  Let me know if you have any questions on the finishing supplies. Happy weekend, friends!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fairytale Patchwork for Quiltstory

This picture (finally) brought to you by the inspiration of Quiltstory!

I can't believe I never got my act together and took a finished picture of this quilt!  When Heather and Megan of Quiltstory asked to feature Fairytale Patchwork, it was the push I needed to get it done.  So, welcome to Aria's room!

Do any of you remember this quilt?  I made it last summer for my daughter, inspired by my wildflower curtains (there in the background) and Heather Ross' simply stunning Far Far Away collection (FFA1 on double cotton gauze).  The Far Far Away unicorns had my heart on first glance, and Aria was starry eyed over the Princess and the Pea!

Far, Far Away - Purple Unicorn

Combined with Anna Maria Horner Little Folks Voile and a few Good Folks, this stack of fabrics was sooo invitingly plush and silky.  Fabric heaven!  Still, I was a little nervous to cut into them, being so pricey and all, which is why I did a mock up of my quilt layout like this:

12" blocks, 2.5" sashing

The quilt design was inspired by Lauren's quilt for her daughter, Mira.  I added the occasional pieced block, to accommodate the tall pattern repeat of those picky princesses. 

Princess Block layout

And sashed the whole thing in natural linen (rather than white or pink), in hopes that the linen would temper the uber-girlishness of these fabrics.  Because, ya know, I'm hoping Aria will love this look for years to come!

Fairytale Quilt Over a branch

Piecing this quilt top was a breeze, even with a near-shocking interruption, thanks to the large cuts and simple design.  And, I'm still such a fan of that approach!  Large cuts really allow my eyes to appreciate the fabrics. Simple is beautiful.  Simple is fast. Simple is fun.  Yeah for simple!!!

Fairytale Quilt Top from the grass
Fairytale Snapshots from atop my Dogwood Tree!

And then this new quilter was faced with the problem of quilting and binding this pretty young thing.  Gulp.  First off, I decided to skip binding.  This quilt already had a linen edge border and I wasn't keen on hand-sewing so much binding.  I did right sides together, sew, turn right side out and close up edge.  Quick and painless.  I'd do it again!

For quilting, I tried machine quilting straight diagonal lines.  Marked them with ruler-drawn lines, marked them with masking tape - nothing worked!  It may have been my lack of experience or it may have been the slippery fabrics, but I couldn't stitch straight lines on this for the life of me.  Frustrating and sad.

Though in retrospect, it was just not meant to be. Hand-quilting was the absolutely delicious alternative!

Hand quilting - Diamond Mine

Hand quilting - Dobby Dots

Hand quilting - Princess Strips

I started work with needle and pearl cotton thread. And, oh my, how I enjoyed hand quilting Aria's Fairytale Patchwork quilt!  The entire process was so relaxing and satisfying, especially experimenting with different quilting patterns.  Here are a few more.

Quilted Diamonds

This pattern, quilted diamonds, ended up being my favorite style for quilting on the Princess and the Pea blocks.  It looks especially nice on this Diamond Mine (from Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks collection) block, which actually inspired the quilting pattern.

Quilted Star

Here's another fun one.  I only used this star pattern on a few unicorn blocks, as I came to the idea a bit late in the game.  I like how it works with the layout of the print!

Quilted Frame

And, a simple pattern.  It creates a clean-lined, understated effect that works on almost any block.

I've been asked how long the hand quilting takes.  Let me start by saying that 95% of the time, I was stitching while watching a show with my husband.  So, given frequent breaks to watch the screen and an overall level of comfortable distraction, each block took me about 45 minutes to complete.  I would begin a block by marking my stitch lines with a chaco pen, and then carefully centering the block in my quilting frame.   On the few occasions that I stitched sans TV, the work came along much faster.

All too soon, I had completed all 26 blocks.   The overall effect is fairly random, since I varied the quilting patterns enough so that no 2 touching blocks share the same pattern.  I reasoned that this sparse quilting pattern was "enough" since I had used a repurposed blanket for batting, which wasn't going to fall apart or bunch up within the quilt. 

But I'm not perfect, and it wasn't enough.  If you were reading Stitched in Color in December, you may remember my confession post, Sew Imperfect.   Here's what happened...

Week Seams

Weak Seams.  I had to wash Aria's Fairytale Patchwork Quilt recently for the 3rd or so time.  One of the children found a hole in the quilt top along the seam soon thereafter.  When I went to repair it, I noticed that several (and one was too many) of the seams were coming open.  Only the Far Far Away gauze and Little Folks voile were effected.  The sturdier quilting cotton seams showed no wear.  It's not as if the stitches actually came undone.  Instead the fabric frayed away.  What did I do wrong?  I wonder if a 1/4" seam allowance was not generous enough or if the fact that I only sparingly hand-quilted it just didn't give it enough strength to withstand normal pulling.  Ugh.  So, my solution was to zigzag quilt around most of the gauze and voile squares to close up opening seams and reinforce the others.  I'll confess, that was not a happy sewing morning.

Your kind comments on that post included so many suggestions for working with delicate fabrics like voile, including using interfacing and a wider seam allowance.  If I were to do it again, I might go that route, but I'm more likely to just avoid quilting with voile in the future.  Not that I think it's unwise or impossible, just that I'd rather save voile for projects that capitalize on it's lovely, drapey, silky properties such as clothes-making or a simple flannel-backed baby blanket a la Anna Maria Horner. 

Since the December incident, Fairytale Patchwork has held up beautifully and it's been enjoyed everyday.  I made Aria a matching pillowcase too!  It's such a privilege to be able to make these beautiful things for my daughter and so rewarding to express my love and creativity in this kind of tangible, practical way.

I bet you know exactly what I mean!

Fairytale Patchwork for Quilt Story

Thank-you, Quiltstory, for prompting me to share my journey with this project!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bee blocks

I gave you a sneak peak of some color play patchwork this weekend.  Golly it was fun!  Thanks for your encouraging reaction =).  On Saturday morning, I pulled solid strips from my scrap bin to make random patchwork in all the hues of the rainbow.  The blocks I made are "raw material" to fill in holes for a charity bee quilt I'm leading this month. 

So I was planning on photographing the finished blocks to show you, but I hadn't planned on it being so glamorous.  I think this particular block really does think it's "all that."  You see, the other evening when I photographed Aria's Easter dress, I glanced over at the ironing board to find miss hot thing sunning herself in full flirt mode.

miss hot thrandom rainbow patchwork (batting eying

and how could I resist?  I think she's batting those lashes now.

rainbow patchwork (batting eyelashes)

over-the-top glamorous?  yep.

And over on the table it wasn't much different.  I don't think she realizes she's just designed to "fill holes".  Like, literally, I won't hesitate to cut this pretty thing up to suit the other quilt blocks.  Well, let's not tell her. She'll find out soon enough.

Stacked Rainbows

Here's the other block I made for this quilt earlier this month.  I asked for random shaped blocks from my bee members, so the sky's the limit.  We'll just see what happens...

The rainbow quilt is the project of the Faith circle of do. Good Stitches, a charity quilting bee.  I'm also a member of the Love circle, whose April quilt is being designed by Natalie of Greenleaf Goods.

all from scrap!  heart.

Natalie asked for a particular strip, paper-pieced design in shades of yellow, pink, orange and green.  I've only done simple paper-piecing like this, but I do like it.  Someday I'll have to play around with the teeny-tiny kind to see what's what.

Piecing progress

Hope you like your blocks, Natalie! As it turned out, I did have enough scraps in these colors.

Love circle bee blocks - do. Good Stitches

So, what are you making lately?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Dress!

Hurray, it FITS!  Yes, it's official, I zipped Aria up in the finished dress and found that she does have room to breathe!  So it might not fit her by the end of summer and it certainly won't fit next year, but it totally fits now.  First dress + fits = success.  I'm so very happy!

Oh, and she is too!  Which is undoubtedly very, very important.  Of course.

Sis Boom Marissa Easter Dress!

Backing up, this is the Sis Boom Marissa dress - my first experience with a full-fledged clothing pattern and my first dress.  Without a doubt, it was a pleasant experience.  Such clear, detailed instructions felt like someone holding my hand all the way through. I'm a clothing-making convert, yes-sirree.

Now, if you're looking for pictures of said daughter actually wearing the dress, you're out of luck.   Or perhaps we're out of luck, cause I would like those pictures too.  But worry not!  I will be sure to snap some shots on Easter Sunday. 

So why post now?  Well, because I wanted to share my experience with putting in that tulle skirt lingin.  My request for advice was met with some great tips (thanks again!), and I also heard that some of you are working on the same skirt-fluffifying project.  So, here's a quick, not-tutorial on what worked for me!

skirt layers

From bottom to top, here's a snapshot of the skirt layers.  At bottom is the very wide Honey Child skirt outer.  Next is my muslin lining, which I cut 6" narrower than the skirt outer.  Up top is the tulle netting I bought for all of 50 cents at Hancocks.  I cut it slightly shorter than the muslin so Aria wouldn't feel the tulle and approximately as wide as the muslin.

Next, I stitched 2 rows of gathering stitches at the top of each skirt layer.  Then, I pulled the bobbin threads to gather the skirt layers until each was the same size as the waist of the bodice.   At this point, I had 3 separate skirt layers - all gathered to the same width.

Now the Marissa pattern doesn't include a lining in the skirt at all. But, I figured out (by studying another part of the pattern) that I could make the inner bodice/skirt seam smooth and scratch-free by sewing the skirt layers and the bodice in this order.

like magic

So, that's muslin skirt lining (right side up), bodice (right side up) and skirt outer (right side down).  I made a fabric sandwich of these three pieces, aligned the raw edges and stitched my seam.  I did not attach the tulle at this stage, because I wanted to minimize bulk at this seam.  Here's the inside of the dress when I was finished:

happy seam!

See, no raw edges! They're stuck inside the layers of the skirt.  Is it just me, or sometimes doesn't sewing feels like magic?

To attach the tulle, I pinned and stitched it directly to the muslin lining only, near the bodice/skirt seam where no one will see it.  Yeah.  Skirt is pleasantly puffy.  Joyfully twirly.  And, no scratchy tulle or saggy separate petticoat.  Victory!

finished + fits = HAPPY

And now this pretty little thing is hanging in my bedroom awaiting the big day.  Not sure why it's in my bedroom...  But I do know that I have absolutely nothing to wear. 
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