Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A new baby (...quilt) for Laurie!

Our guild president, Laurie, is expecting a baby any minute.  (seriously!  any minute!  today!)

Two months ago, the ladies of the BMQG decided we'd hijack the first part of our February meeting to flash-shower her, as that would be her last guild meeting, pre-maternity leave.   After a bit of back and forth, we decided on a non-quilt, gender neutral, "baby gift" theme.

Of course, by this time I was already about 75% done with a quilt!  (cue the wah-wah music!)  So I bucked the theme and landed here:

Laurie's bear quilt, February 2012

This was inspired primarily by 2 things:

1)  Thomas Knauer's "Growth Chart" quilt, which I received a free pattern for at one of his Quilt Market presentations.  I loved the shape of the block, and the ambitious negative space.

2) a Japanese bear-print fabric I saw somewhere online, and can no longer locate.    The bear had such a sweet face!

I'm sure there are more scientific methods, but ultimately I just Xeroxed the bear image several times to enlarge it by about 400%.   Then, I outlined the image with a Sharpie to highlight the 3 main components (head, nose, body), which were then traced onto template plastic.

I used the templates to cut body parts from my beloved Momo malt dots fabric and some Kona (khaki?  tan?).   Everything was then appliqued to the Essex flax linen I used for the field.   I also used some blue perle cotton to do a simple stitch outline, and filled in the bear's facial and toe detail with embroidery floss chain stitching.

bear applique

I more or less stuck to the Growth Chart formula for the blocks, using green blocks to indicate the ground, a blue to indicate the sky, and a few improv blocks in yellows and whites to stand in for the sun and clouds.

I wanted the quilting to be deliberate, since so much of the quilt is empty space.   I broke the quilting into three sections, and used a different thread color and free motion technique in each:  vertical linear quilting in green for the "grassy" mounded area at the bottom, blue squared stipple for the sky, and a loop/pebble hybrid of silvery white for the clouds.  The colored fabrics were left unquilted for contrast.

this was my favorite!
 I loved how the silvery pebbling looked after it was washed.

For the back, I went with Denyse Schmidt's blue and green dot fabric, from Joann's.  I bound the quilt in Joel Dewberry yellow wood-grain.  I knew Laurie would appreciate this, as she is aware I hoard wood-grain like a jealous lover.

Good luck Laurie!!!

ps - for a full rundown of all the baby swag Laurie received, see her blog post

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On the Road Again

Sorry for the radio silence.   I've been traveling a bit for work lately, which puts a crimp on the sewing time.

I suffer through this by taking handwork with me, and creating scenes such as this in Logan Airport:

Imagine many uncomprehending businessmen sitting around me with confused expressions.  "Why is she knitting here?", they wonder.     It's hard to look like a serious business woman while thimbled up and appliqueing a baby bear shirt at gate A8, but I feel I did OK.  (more on shirt later!)

Once I made it to Detroit, things got worse when I discovered the iron in my hotel closet:

Would you get a load of that beatiful cord?  Easily 15 feet long.   It was amazing!!!  I spent 5 minutes thinking of all the backing I could press with that marvelous device, and whether they'd even notice it was missing, when I  got sad for home and put it away.

Needless to say, after a week of this, I was happy to get home to my husband, children, and Janome.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sparkle despair

For a reason that escapes me now, I decided a few weeks back to participate in Oh Fransson's Sparkle Punch Quiltalong.

Now 2 weeks in, I have the following reflections:

1)  I am a complete moron for not reading the cutting instructions clearly.  If I had, I might have internalized that this quilt requires cutting and piecing 480 3.5" squares.   Let's just say the cutting should have given me pause.  It did not.   A visual of SOME of the fruits of my toil:

2)  Once I was through with this exercise in carpal tunnel, I plunged into the Valley of Sparkle Despair:   painstakingly sewing 2 tiny triangles to each of about 400 of those squares.   Which subsequently involves ironing approximately 800 tiny seams OPEN.   I hate ironing, so this is pure, unmitigated torture for me.  It is so bad, I can't even photograph it.  I'm just trying to get through living moment to moment.

I am about 85% done with piecing the squares.  I may not make it.

Elizabeth Hartman clearly has magical elves who do this work for her.  There's just no other explanation for how she cranked out this quilt without losing her marbles.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Epic Fons fail

I don't know how this happened, but I somehow managed to wear out my Fons & Porter free-motion gloves, in the production of 2 (yes, TWO!) medium quilts.   

I know, right?  Slack and shredded!

(Editors note:  Please ignore my mom-style lack of manicure and obvious man hands.  There is apparently no way to photograph my hands that doesn't result in them looking like scary monster meat hooks.)

So, I caved and bought my own extra-large pair of the much-lauded Machingers.   (Yes, I said XL.  See "man hands", above).  Long story short - they are amazing.  The fingers are coated all the way around with magical grabby something, and they're made of some kind of net that doesn't slack and doesn't give you sweaty pits (pardon) between your fingers.   Behold:

Best part:  they actually costed less than the Fons gloves!