Tuesday, November 27, 2012

White Space

Last winter, I had this crazy idea to make a quilt for my bed, my QUEEN-SIZED bed.


The starting point for this madness? These itty bitty 2.5" blocks.
(Note to self: if you ever stop biting your nails again, this is what they look like. Nice, eh?)

Yes, I stretched one of those mini-charm packs into a queen-sized quilt. All it took was a little bit of solid red fabric and a little bit of solid blue fabric and half a bolt of Kona White. Oh, and 8 yards of backing fabric. Yes, 8. I have never bought that much of one fabric at one time in my life.

The blocks themselves are pretty simple. I sashed the tiny 2.5" squares with a skinny border and then nested them in some Kona White to make your typical modern offset square in a square block that finishes at 12". See other variations of this pattern here, here, and here.

finished bliss bed quilt! 
With a 6x7 block layout, along with a few borders, I managed to make the quilt {just} small enough to fit batting from my trusty roll of Warm and Natural (90" wide). The quilt measures 88x100, so I was able to eke by with about an inch of batting on either side. Luckily, I quilted it myself, so I didn't need to worry about igniting any longarmers' ire.

This was the biggest beast of a quilt I've made. Ever.

Basting this quilt was enough to scare me off of the quilting. We moved almost as much furniture so I could baste this puppy as we did the day we moved in the house. Scratch that, we had movers move our furniture into the house, so we moved MORE furniture in preparation for basting this quilt than we did when we moved in the house.

To do clutter 
I spent one afternoon basting this bad boy and then folded it up, set it in a corner, and studiously ignored it for a YEAR while I worked on other projects. See that blue quilt at the bottom of the pile there? That's the Beast, hoping to blend in with the blue-ish carpet.

Enter the Durham-Orange Quilt show this fall, which had a newly-minted modern category. Over the summer, I was trying to decide which projects to enter in the show, specifically in the "modern" category. I decided this particular project is probably the most modern-looking project I've worked on thus far that was closest to being finished. It was time to swallow my fear and get the quilting party started. Once I finally worked up the gumption to quilt it, I opted to use a tried and true quilting pattern I'm comfortable with - the square stippling - in ALL the white space. I just stitched in the ditch around the printed squares to make them pop a little more.

a favorite 
I have a tough time picking out my favorite printed squares.

another favorite 
Seriously, don't make me choose.

This quilt breaks ALL the husbatron's rules when it comes to quilts for our bed:
1) It has pink.
2) It has polka dots.
3) It has flowers.

finished bliss quilt from the side

But he hasn't said anything, so I'm not saying anything. Maybe the quilt's modern-ish layout with its huge swaths of white space compensates for the girly prints? Maybe he knows better than to criticize my projects?

Started: February 2011
Finished: August 2012
Machine-pieced, machine-quilted

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fresh Starts

I've said it before, but I'll say it again. In some ways, I like Mondays - they smack of fresh starts, and I always have this glass half full Pollyanna kind of hope that this is the week I'll make something AMAZING happen.

This week, I'm feeling especially optimistic. I'm coming off an unplanned two-week break from work. I came down with the kind of cold that I wouldn't wish on the nastiest member of the quilt police force. The downside(s): my work email was a disaster zone when I got in today, and I think I'll be catching up on laundry for the rest of the year. The upside: I completely lost my appetite for two weeks straight and have started the holiday season 5 pounds lighter - hollaback, y'all! I'll claim my small victories where I can.

I didn't really have enough energy to muster sitting upright in front of the sewing machine while I was sick. I spent most of my time off curled up on the couch with my trusty heating pad and cozy fall quilts, watching Desperate Housewives, Bones, and Game of Thrones. Luckily, I had just returned from the TMQG retreat, where I had finished quilting my hexagon quilt and had the binding all ready to go. And there were a few other quilts that I had finished MONTHS back that still needed to have threads nipped and tucked before they were camera-ready. I logged many hours on the couch last week and the week before, stitching and snipping away in an over the counter drug-induced haze. When I wasn't sleeping or petting the pup, I was stitching and snipping. Also, just before I came down with The Pestilence, I had snapped some photos of other completed quilts that have been sitting in my mental "to blog" file for a good long time now. All this to say, I have a load of finished quilts to show this week.

How about a good old-fashioned quilt parade to kick off the holiday season?

In the spirit of the upcoming season, let's start with this beauty.

Joy string quilt!
I pieced this quilt top back in July for my jelly roll/strippy monthly challenge. I used some scraps of Joy, Kate Spain's holiday collection for this year, to make some basic string blocks.

concentric circle quilting
Then I cut them in half to make half square triangles with some Kona Snow a la this post, decided to lay out the blocks in alternating directions, and sashed them with some more snow fabric for good measure.

black and white to see the quilting
For the quilting, I used the concentric circles pattern from Angela Walters' book. It's my new favorite quilting pattern. I'm already plotting projects to use it again.

#Fmq from the back 
The backing fabric is Kona Chartreuse. Going into the project, I knew I wanted to do the concentric circles quilting pattern, and I wanted a solid backing that would highlight the quilting, for better or worse. It's definitely not my normal color palette - it's crazy-bright and always surprises me a little bit when I see it. I always think, "Whoa, who let that color in this house?" But I like it. I'm going to keep it.

Joy string quilt! 


  • Started: May 2012
  • Finished: September 2012
  • Machine-pieced, machine-quilted
For the first time ever, I actually managed to finish AND write up one of my modern-ish looking quilts on Monday, so I'm linking up to Sew Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I'm no stranger to having lots of, let's say, loose ends hanging about in my life. I start projects, lose interest for awhile, start something else, go back and work on the previous project a little bit, get stuck, start a 3rd project to meet a "deadline," and the vicious cycle continues until one day I make a spreadsheet of unfinished quilt projects that looks like this. And let's not even talk about the non-quilt related unfinished projects around the house, okay?

Believe it or not, I feel like I've been "holding myself back" from starting too many new projects this year.

I didn't realize that things had gotten so bad in the sewing room specifically, until we started straightening up the house last night for company that's coming this weekend. I got pretty snippy with the Husbatron when he tried to vacuum in the sewing room. I was worried he'd hoover up some of my precious scraps and half-started projects that are strewn across the floor. Then, there are the towers of fabric that are stacked "just so" in their proper order around the room that are prone to falling over if you even look at them the wrong way. Just in case you don't believe me when I tell you how bad it is, here are a few pictures.

1) You definitely can't say that I staged the photos for this post. Nothing but raw blurry phone photo'd honesty here today, folks.

2) Don't let the large quilt tops and backings that are classily draped over boxes and chairs to avoid wrinklage fool you. (Anything to avoid ironing fabric more than once, amIrite?) There are stacks of fabric that I've pulled/purchased for future projects and more WiPs hiding underneath them.

The truth of it all is that I'm afraid that I know I only have a little bit of precious time a week right now to work on my quilting projects, but I don't want to have to decide what to work on and what to put away, so instead, I leave all the projects where they sit and start something new.

Productive way to deal with the problem, eh?

But I'm afraid that if I "put away" any of these projects, that they'll languish and won't get done for YEARS. Unless they're in my line of everyday sight (and consequently in my way and serving as tripping hazards), they're likely to be forgotten.

I know some of you out there are shaking your head at me and wondering why I'm worrying and stressing out so much about my HOBBY. I do this for fun! Why do I always have to make life so structured and routinized? I think that sometimes too. But as much as I hate to admit it, I don't have as much tolerance as I imagine for clutter in my mind or in my physical space. The temporary relief that comes from starting a new project and being free from making a decision about which existing project to work on is fleeting and unsatisfying.

So in the spirit of creating some space in my mind, I'm shelving a few of my self-made commitments to get some stuff done. For the next week, I'm only working on one thing until it's completely done, and I'm putting away everything else.

I'll be working on my Central park flower garden quilt.

The top's done, the backing's prepped, and I've pulled out a slew of batting scraps to piece together the batting for it.

I'll spend the next few days piecing the batting scraps with a zig zag stitch, basting it all together, trying out this particular quilting design on it, and figuring out what the heck to do for binding

In the meantime, I'm giving myself permission to temporarily shelve:
the string block project from October
the postage stamp quilt I started last month
the jelly roll quilt I started for this month, based on this pattern
time to quilt
a couple of strippy quilts that are basted and ready to quilt
a double-sided quilt spawned by Satan bad quilt math

Working this way might mean that I won't have a finished jelly roll project for every month of the year, that I won't have a month's worth of string blocks to show for myself in october, and that I won't finish all my WiPs this year (a pipe dream if ever there was one!). But that's alright. I'll be decluttering my mind/space one project at a time.

If there's anyone out there who finished up a jelly roll quilt in October, please do share! I'll have the party run through next Wednesday, November 7. Then I'll pick a winner who will get a Moda Scrap Bag!