Posts Tagged ‘quilting’

Get Lazy with Sarah

June 27, 2011

Hey, I just remembered that I have a blog!  That hasn’t been updated since February!   Not sure why- maybe I lost my stitching mojo. Chasing an adorable toddler all day leaves little energy for much else. And although it’s been 19 months, it’s still not easy living without Gwen.

But I did manage to squeeze in a few projects. First, a mini quilt for DQS 10.  Disappearing nine patch with batiks.

Mini quilt for DSQ 10

And my first Dresden Plate for the Lovely Linen Bee.  I was plenty nervous about attempting this block, but it turned out nicely!

May block for lovely linen bee

This block for the Linen Bee was the most improvisational thing I have ever done.  At first it seemed I was just making a big ol’ mess.  But, again, the end product looked much better than expected.

April block for Lovely Linen Bee

Yesterday I made these bibs with my very best fabrics for a baby shower.  This was a really fun shower because there were many beautiful handmade gifts.

Bibs for a baby shower

In non-sewing news, we had a clematis explosion,

Clematis explosion

then a lily explosion.  We are still waiting for the tomato and green bean explosions.

Lily explosion

And after 10 years, I got a new car!  This comely machine is a 2011 Subaru Outback and I am in love with it.

New wheels!

The purchase of this vehicle was most exciting, yet somewhat bittersweet.  As part of the deal, I traded in the handicap van I had used to ferry Gwen around town for so many years.  I couldn’t help but feel that I was losing another little piece of the remnants of her life. Yeah, the van is just a “thing”. And  I will never lose my love for my daughter or the wonderful memories of our time with her.  But still….


Crosstown Quilt for Project Modern Inspiration Challenge

November 26, 2010

The quilt is finished and the quilt-as-you-go method gets two thumbs up!

The inspiration: a parking garage next to the historic Sears building in the Crosstown neighborhood of Memphis, TN.

Parking garage quilt inspiration

The quilt

Crosstown Quilt for Project Modern

Measuring in at 54″ x 70″, this is the largest quilt I have ever made. The prints are all leftover fabric from a stack of thrifted clothes I sent out for a block swap last summer.

I used the quilt-as-you-go-method and will definitely do this again unless the long-arm fairy visits me in the meantime. Here are the steps I used:

1. Made all lantern and rectangle blocks. Arranged them on design wall.
2. Decided the quilt should be larger and made 21 more blocks for an extra row and two more columns.
3. Pieced the blocks into 9 larger sections measuring about 18 or 20 inches square.
4. Quilted each larger block to a piece of batting.
5. Sewed the larger blocks together.
6. Pressed the seams from step 5 very very flat with lots of steam and Mary Ellen’s Best Press.
7. Basted the seams from step 5 down using long running stitches to keep them from bunching up in the wash.
8. Pin basted the top to the back and quilted the whole thing by stitching in the ditch on some of the vertical and horizontal seams.
9. Pieced the binding from remaining fabrics and stitched it on.

detail of Crosstown Quilt

I was concerned that the seams with batting in them would be too bulky and look lumpy. Here are my recommendations for preventing this problem

* Use low loft batting such as Warm & White.
* Piece blocks into larger sections before quilting them to the batting. Fewer quilted sections means fewer seams with batting in them.
* Vigorously press seams with batting and baste them down as in step 7 above.
* Allow for a 3/8″ or larger seam allowance (instead of 1/4″) as these seams have some extra bulk. I did not do this and found myself with a few seam allowances that were too narrow to be stable. They had to be reinforced with hand stitching and it took forever.

For the back, I used a thrifted sheet.

The back is a thrifted sheet

I love this quilt even though all that precision piecing nearly left me cross-eyed. Now I am inspired to do a series of smaller quilts with Memphis-inspired themes and imagery. But that will have to wait until next year because there is much holiday knitting and sewing to be done!

Outdoor shot

Here are links to other quilts I’ve made from recycled clothes:
Men’s shirt quilt
Cherry print clothing quilt
Jumpers Baby Quilt
Pink prints mini quilt

November Stitching

November 14, 2010

After some intense work on the parking garage quilt, I took a break from the sewing room. My loser sewing machine started acting up again after I had just spent a lot of money on it, so I had to switch back to the old Elna. Yeah, the one with no thread cutter, no needle up and down button, and (eek) no walking foot. But it gets the job done and I am feeling guilty about all the times I called it names and wished for something “better”.

I remembered yesterday that the kids at church needed something to auction at their fundraiser tonight, so I made this cool scarf from a thrifted batik wrap skirt. I will be handing this over with some regret, but there is plenty of fabric around here for other scarves.

Scarf from thrifted skirt

The quilt has also seen some progress. I had to make 21 more blocks than originally planned to get the thing to the size I wanted! I joined the blocks into nine larger blocks and quilted each of them to a piece of batting. The quilting is simple due to the lack of a walking foot.

Parking garage quilt progress

Now I am sewing the large blocks together and thinking that this quilt-as-you-go method is the best thing since sliced bread. The plan is to have a finished product to show you by the end of the week.

Parking Garage Quilt for Project Modern Challenge

October 2, 2010

The Modern Quilt Guild is sponsoring Project Modern, a year-long series of fun quilting challenges. Challenge #1, the Inspiration Challenge, is simply to make a quilt based on the inspiration of your choice.

The announcement of this challenge was all it took to get me started on a design I had been thinking about since the first of the year. Back in January, I took these photos of the parking garage adjoining the historic Sears building in Midtown. I thought the motif just screamed to be made into a quilt.

Parking garage

A lot of people hate this garage and call it a “mid-century monstrosity” because it doesn’t match the art deco style of the massive Sears Building. They’re right- it doesn’t. The store itself is an elegant structure, one of nine comparable mail-order and retail centers erected nationally by Sears Roebuck & Company between 1910 and the beginning of the Great Depression. The parking garage was added later.


My dad told me that he loved to go to Sears with his mom because they had rows and rows of shiny new baseball bats and gloves. Sadly, this building has sat empty for two decades despite several attempts at redevelopment. But improvements in the neighborhood make it much more likely that something can be done when the economy rebounds.

parking garage tail

I began by taking this close up shot of the concrete forms. Then I enlarged the photo so that only one repeat of the design was visible. From there, I printed it out and enlarged it a little more at the copy shop so that the lantern shapes were 12″ tall. I cut paper templates from the copies, transferred them to template plastic and started cutting my fabric.

I am using leftovers from the summer block swap quilt. The prints are cut from thrifted clothing and the sashing is Handspray by RJR Fabrics. This quilt will be about 54″ x 70″ and I’ll use the quilt-as-you-go method to quilt it. There is no way I am dragging such a large swath of fabric through my home machine! The backing will probably be a vintage sheet.

Here are a few of the 26 lantern blocks I have completed. I love them!

a few blocks for the parking garage quilt

I’ll keep you updated as this project progresses.

Rainbow Union Jack Mini Quilt for DSQ9

September 2, 2010

My favorite part of mini quilt swaps is getting my partner assignment, and I never start the project before I get it.

My least favorite part is sending off my creation. Even mini quilts take a fair amount of time, and I don’t want to waste it making something I don’t love. So there is the challenge- merging my partner’s preferences with my own to come up with a quilt that appeals to us both.

In this round, my partner gave me a some color preferences and then mentioned that she especially loves rainbows. Now rainbows don’t do much for me, but after reading this chick’s blog I knew I had to come up with something rainbow because she really likes them. As much as I like batiks. There was just no way to justify sending anything else. Fortunately, she is partial to geometric shapes, and that I can do.

After a bit of pondering I came up with the idea to make a Union Jack flag (my partner is from the UK) in rainbow colors. I could use all batiks from my stash! So here it is- rainbows for her, batiks for me and geometric shapes for us both.

Rainbow Union Jack

I set to work finding a Union Jack online, blowing it up and making a pattern for paper piecing. Then when I was halfway through with the quilt I found that two other people have done it for us.

The back is a pretty blue pheasant batik. To keep a sleek modern look, I did not use binding. I cut the backing 1/4″ smaller that the front so that it wouldn’t show from the front of the quilt when I turned the whole thing right side out. I quilted the colors to the batting and quilted the white stripes after adding the backing. The final measurements are 13″ x 22″.

Back of Rainbow Union Jack

The best part of making this quilt was rummaging through my batiks to select colors. I also love working with complementary colors, so for each narrow diagonal stripe, I chose a color that is complementary (or close) to the color of one of the two adjacent triangles.

This Rainbow Union Jack is heading eastward and I will be holding my breath to see the recipient’s reaction.

Fabric Selections for Two New Quilts

August 25, 2010

I have been happily rummaging through my stash, selecting colors for two new quilting projects. I chose all batiks- image that!

First up is a mini quilt for DSQ9. I will wait to say more about my plans for these fabrics so that the recipient will be surprised.

Fabrics for DSQ9

Next, I’ll start on a holiday gift. I have collected these batiks all year with a specific recipient in mind. *sigh* aren’t they just lovely?

Future holiday gift

I have almost settled on the modern version of the design on the front of this magazine. Find this publication if you can! It gives instructions for traditional quilts and then shows how to update them with contemporary fabrics.

I love this magazine

Now be careful. These next photos might make you envious and that is a deadly sin.

My friend Diane plucked these vintage 70’s drapes off of the curb in her funky midtown neighborhood. (I used to live there- oh how I miss it!) She prefers more traditional designs so I snapped them up when she offered them to me. There are two panels and they look brand new! They might even escape the scissors and remain intact as curtains for my sewing room.

Retro curtain curb rescue

Retro curtain curb rescue

Are you green yet?

The Cherry Baby Quilt is Finished!

August 21, 2010

All done, and pretty darn cute if I say so myself.

Cherry baby quilt finished

Turns out I DID have some fabric for the backing on hand. This red gingham had languished deep in the stash. Probably because I have had it since the 80’s.

backing and binding

I quilted it lightly with Warm and White batting so it wouldn’t be too stiff. It measures a generous 40″ x 40″. All fabrics were pre-washed so there are no worries about fading or bleeding colors. The cherry prints are from thrifted clothing, the backing is a cotton blend and the other fabrics are quilting cottons.

Cherry baby quilt block.

Currently I am enduring a crazy annoying case of poison ivy on my both my forearms. But I will persevere and continue working on a mini quilt for DSQ9. Then I hope to continue the destash by whipping up a few fall handbags. And, it’s time to get cracking on some holiday projects, as there are only 125 days left until Christmas. Yikes!

Have y’all started on Christmas gifts yet? What are you making?

Summer Stash Enhancement

July 23, 2010

“Enhancement” might be an understatement.

Purveyors of fabric, both online and in brick-and-mortar establishments, have been staging fabulous summer sales. In addition, I ran amok with a debit card through several fabric shops while vacationing in North Carolina. But then a textile overdose never killed anyone, did it?

I know you want to see, so get ready for some serious cotton eye candy.

From Hancock Fabrics. Three quilting weight, three home dec.

From Hancock Fabrics

From Klassy Katz in Memphis. They rarely have sales, so when the email announcement hits your inbox you had better get down there.

From Klassy Katz

From Delta Patchworks in Collierville (a Memphis suburb).

From Delta Patchwork

Lovely batiks from Hancocks of Paducah for only $6/yd.

Lovely batiks

From equilter. Some large scale prints drastically marked down.

Large scale prints

On vacation, I had a wonderful time at the Asheville Cotton Company and at Marti’s Patchwork Cottage in Black Mountain. I bought a few cute prints, but really splurged on batiks. *sigh* aren’t they beautiful?

Random prints

The motherlode!

I also visited Waechter’s Fine Fabrics in Asheville for the first time. This place is a treasure trove of quilting cottons, apparel fabrics and home dec designs. They also have an extensive selection of unique buttons. After much debate, I came away with these

From Waechter's Fine Fabrics

and this hilarious “religious” print. The Holy Trinity cracks me up. I have no idea what I will do with it, but my minister friend thought it would make a great skirt.

"holy" fabric

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Last week I checked out the new digs of Broom Corn Fabrics, a 100-year-old Memphis home decorating store still owned by the same family. Back in the day, I used to go there with my mother when the shop was located downtown. Although the store name suggests burlap and homespun, the inventory is a colorful mix of traditional and modern fabrics. I love the prints by Westminster and Free Spirit designers such as Amy Butler, Ana Maria Hornor, Joel Dewberry and the Kaffe Collective. I picked up a yard of this wild thing just for fun.

Crazy home dec fabric

Now I am home and my bank account is depleted. But I just heard that Delta Patchworks is having a major warehouse clearance blowout on Saturday with prices as low as $5/yd AND lots of new stuff ordered at spring market. Then Ruth linked me to an insane sale at with Westminster prints for as little as $2.50/yd.

I suppose I had better learn to sew faster.

Block Swapping

July 20, 2010

It’s high time this blog got stitchy again, so sit back and enjoy some block swap action from earlier this summer.

Last year my friend Mary Allison and her mom Sally did a swap with their friend Ruth who lives in Asheville. Then early this year, I stumbled onto Ruth’s blog, saw a pic of MA’s son and made the connection. After marveling at how small the world actually is, I friended Ruth on Flickr, subscribed to her blog and was lucky enough to be invited to participate in this year’s block swap which also included Ruth’s friend Emily.

We sent each other fabric and instructions on how to make the blocks we wanted. This sort of swap is a great way to expand one’s quilting experience by making different kinds of blocks. It’s also fun to work with new fabrics that someone else chose.

Ruth’s package arrived first with lots of Heather Ross’s Mendocino and instructions for spiderweb blocks. These blocks are not for beginners; it takes time and patience to piece all those triangles and match up seams. But the result is absolutely worth it. Check it out!

First we foundation pieced strips of fabric onto a triangle.

Spiderweb block step one

Then sewed four triangles together to make a block.

spiderweb block step 2

The spiderweb design will appear when Ruth pieces all the blocks to make the top.

spiderweb blocks together

Fortunately, the remaining blocks were not so complicated. Emily had us do an hourglass design with some really pretty fabrics.

Hourglass blocks for Emily

Sally wanted a straightforward nine patch using Hope Valley with a few other prints thrown in.

Nine patch blocks for Sally

Mary Allison assigned us large blocks inspired by Denise Schmidt’s Hop Skip and Jump pattern. MA instructed us to to do actual improvisation rather than fake improvisation using the pattern. I am guilty of having done said fake improvisation twice, but found out that actual improvisation is much more fun. Especially with the crazy combination of fabrics provided! There was an array of weights and textures that seemed very random, but made for some knockout blocks.

Actually improvised blocks for Mary Allsion

When all the blocks were finished, I wrapped them in pretty fat quarters for the recipients to keep.

Blocks ready to swap

For my blocks, I cut up this stack of thrifted clothes collected over several years, and asked for 10.5″ log cabin squares.

Thrifted clothes

The fabulousness I got back just blew me away!

*Edit* Copious amounts of leftover fabric from these blocks have gone into another quilt.

Quilt blocks from thrifted clothes

The best part was meeting up in North Carolina to swap blocks in person. Ruth and Emily drove up to meet the rest of us at the Montreat Conference Center. We had a great dinner with a variety of delicious homemade pizzas, Ruth’s mouth watering peach cobbler and gin and tonics all around. You can see what a great time it was!

block swappers

My blocks

Our work was subject to a rigorous taste test.

Blocks undergoing taste test

I spent the rest of the week in Montreat attending a women’s conference in the mornings, doing a lot of porch sitting in the afternoons, enjoying the cooler weather that comes with higher elevations and buying out four (!) fabric shops in the area. The textile goodness I brought home merits its own post which will appear soon in this space.

Not to be outdone, Larry took his own vacation. Can you tell where he went?

Where in the world is Larry?

Fabric shopping in Albuquerque

May 13, 2010

We have just rolled in from a fabulous vacation to Albuquerque and northern New Mexico. I needed to be out of here for Mother’s Day, so we rented a car and went to visit some friends who had been inviting us forever.

We could not have picked a better place. While Memphis is hot, humid and lush at this time of year, New Mexico was cool, dry and very brown. At first, I felt like I was in another country, or even on another planet! The flora, fauna, architecture, and food were all so different. After I was able to quit gawking at everything, I enjoyed being there and hope to go back asap.

I hit two of the three fabric shops on the first day. Quilts from the Heart had a huge classroom, a nice selection of batiks and lots of southwestern themed fabric. Quilts Ole in Corrales was a bright shop with modern prints and an even bigger selection of batiks.

I came home with some pink/coral batiks for a project later this year,

Fabric shopping in Albuquerque

Some black and white for my collection and a few other batik colors I was missing

Fabric shopping in Albuquerque

And this cute zigzag pattern with colors of the southwest.

Fabric shopping in Albuquerque

I was also lucky enough to visit Savers for the first time. The clothes were too pricey to cut up for quilt squares, but I scored this holiday table cloth and a twin sheet with cute dots.

I went to Savers!

When we got back, there was a package waiting for me from Kathy in Montana. She made me these pretty pot holders for the 2010 Great Potholder Swap. See how well they go with our retro oven? Thanks Kathy- I love them!

They match my oven

There is a lot more to tell, so stay tuned for more vacation posts!

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