Quilt and hammock – a pretty good way to let go of a stressful work day.
Quilt and hammock – a pretty good way to let go of a stressful work day.
The nine patch sewing continues, assembly line style.
No finishes this week – unless settling on a kitchen remodel design counts? – but I did make a new start.
I’ve been sewing lots of little squares together in spare bits of time. There hasn’t been a lot of spare time, because spring means getting to the neglected yard work and we’re also been spending a lot of time looking at cabinets and countertops, but I have gotten some sewing done. The dining room table is lost beneath all the scraps and cutting boards and irons.
For quite a while I’ve been cutting up leftover fabric after each project into whatever square sizes will fit. Five inch if possible, some 4 1/2″, and the rest become 2 1/2″. The littlest ones were really starting to pile up, although for once they were piling in neat little stacks instead of a mound. Some effort to be organized is going on, though my family would deny it.
I found an online pattern called Growing Up Odd that uses up a multitude of squares – 2,425 of them in the original pattern!
I separated out the lighter and brighter fabrics for the most part and stuck to the darker tones, but other than that it is very eclectic. There are batiks and 30s style little florals and the occasional giraffe. Everytime I pick up a square I remember the quilt or bag or basket that came before it, which is what I love about scrappy quilting.
The original calls for 2″ squares, and mine are 2 1/2″, so I’ll be making fewer blocks or it would swamp any bed we have. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to try for a king size, which would mean quilting it in pieces and then attaching them so I can handle it on my home machine, or if I’ll scale it down to the usual generously sized twin. We use those so much around the house, but I really need a king size quilt for the summer months when the down comforter is too hot. I’m just not sure this is the pattern I want for the bed – I have a picture of giant flying geese in my head for that one. On the other hand, I don’t have all the fabrics that I want for the geese, and we could probably stand to have more than one large quilt as an option.
Not a decision I have to make at the moment, which is good because my head is stuffed with kitchen backsplash tile options with little room for anything else – why are there So Many Choices!? I can just keep mindlessly chain piecing little squares when I can’t look at tiles anymore. It is soothing. I have 50 9-patch squares done, and a lot more little 3-patches to join together. Chain piecing goes so quickly, but I’m going to need a lot more.
After over three years, my son’s long wait is over – I finished his Oceans quilt.
There are many hours of happy sewing on this quilt. I really loved the process of putting the many blocks together. Paper piecing became a favorite activity. I’m in awe of Janeen Van Niekerk and Linda Hibbert’s abilities to design the block patterns. The jigsaw puzzle aspect of getting the blocks to fit together was fun.
But I am so, so sick of this quilt. I can barely look at it, folded up on the sewing pile. I don’t want to see blue batik fabric again for a very, very long time, to the point that I may cover bury it under some yellow and orange yardage.
It isn’t like I didn’t sew a lot of other things in between Ocean bouts. That’s why it took three years! But for the last few months, even when I was working some other project, I couldn’t escape it. Either a nagging little voice in my head said I needed to get back to it, or a large nagging voice standing next to me in the form of my younger son declared that I obviously didn’t love him since I hadn’t finished his quilt. (He is good with the guilt, that boy!) Pulling fabric for other quilts, surfing quilts on Pinterest and blogs, working on little sewing projects or knitting lace – I felt like I was neglecting a duty the whole time.
But now it is done! I’m free again!
If I ignore all the other unfinished WIPs . . .
But at least they don’t have a representative family member to harangue me about them.
And, it turned out just as I pictured it in my head, and more importantly, how my son pictured it in his head.
We chose fabrics that lightened from bottom to top, like the ocean does from deep to shore. I quilted it in two ways – individual outlining and details for the creatures, and wavy water lines to suggest waves for the background. I changed thread colors (when I remembered) from deep navy to a lighter blue as I progressed up as well.
Even a potential disaster turned into a plus. When I washed and dried it to bring out the crinkles, I forgot to put a color catcher sheet in, and the dark red fabric pieces bled just a little. It didn’t really show in most areas unless you look really closely, but around the mouth of the shark, the white jaw got a little bit of a red stain. My son and I agreed that it made it look even more vicious, the little suggestion of bloody teeth. He’d actually asked me once to embroider on some blood, so he was really happy about it.
This quilt is going to get used a lot. It may not survive all the washings for very long, and I know for a fact that a dog is likely to sleep on it while its boy sleeps under it. But however long or short its life, this quilt is going to be well used and well loved, which is the point of it all, right?
We’ve done a lot to our house lately (new floors, ceilings, windows, skylights, closets, doors . . .) but one very neglected area is the walls. There has been some painting, courtesy of my sister who actually likes to paint walls, a fact I am taking the utmost advantage of. But other than that, the walls have been left pretty much alone.
Our last house didn’t have a lot of open, bare walls, so we really don’t have enough pictures to hang up. Those we do have I’ve gradually gotten up around the place, but there is still a lot of open, empty space. And I’ve been suffering from terminal indecision about buying new wall decor, so it has been months of staring at emptiness.
This weekend I made a small step towards improving the situation. I used a Johanna Masko paper piecing pattern to create a small wall hanging for the entryway. I love it! It is made from various quilt scraps in warm tones that go with the yellow accent walls and the gray/brown living room furnishings.
This was a very fun and fairly quick project. It would have been quicker if I’d done a better job of fabric scrap selection on a couple of sections. I ended up making one of the trees twice and the modern ranch house twice as well. The tree didn’t have enough contrast the first time, and the way the ranch fabric lines didn’t line up bugged me until I remade it. Which is ridiculous, because I replaced it with a floral which is not more believable in a house siding, but when I kept going back and staring at it I knew I wasn’t going to be able to look at those offset lines every day up on the wall.
It also made for quite a messy work area as I tossed through all my scrap bins looking for the right pieces to include.
It is minimally quilted with just outlines around each house and tree and I put on a very narrow binding, the first one in a long while that I’ve hand stitched instead of machine stitching. I confess that that was less a design choice and more a factor of the fact that somehow I lost my focus (and/or mind) and cut the binding at 2″ wide instead of 2 1/2″. So there wasn’t a lot left to wrap around to the back and I was worried I’d miss it with a machine sewn line.
It is hanging on the small wall that is the side of our coat closet, just where I’ll see it first thing every time I come in the front door. I don’t think I’ll tire of it quickly.
My son, on the other hand, is very bitter that it is not his quilt. I really had better get to pinning that soon!
To my son’s joy, I’ve finally completed the Oceans quilt top. I think he wasn’t sure that he would ever see this day! All the blocks are sashed, quilted, and sewn together. I started this quilt back in 2015, part of a QAL from Quilt Art Designs, so it is great to finally see it coming into the home stretch.
For the most part in the quilting I just outlined the creatures, and then added some internal details. The sea lion pup finally got his whiskers, for example.
I tried to make sure that there weren’t any areas too large that went without quilting. I don’t want this thing to come apart in the wash after all this effort! But I didn’t do any quilting on the sashing yet, as I plan to add lines to look like actual waves once I’ve done the sandwich.
After the quilting, I sewed the blocks together with a slightly wider seam. After pressing the seams open, I don’t think the extra lines of thicker batting is going to be noticeable in the finished quilt. There are places in the paper pieced blocks that are thicker/stiffer feeling due to the many tiny pieces having overlapping layers.
I also got the back pieced.
Now, of course, my son has started nagging about getting the pinning done. He definitely keeps me on track!
We got another inch or two of snow over night, which combined with all the hills and the lack of equipment for snow means another snow day today for my district.
I am prepared!
The best part is that the kids’ district didn’t close, just has a late start. So I’m going to get a few hours in the house all to myself!
During yesterday’s work reprieve I dug out a box with my youngest son’s quilt-in-progress that hasn’t seen the light of day in many, many months. The pointed comments about chilly weather, upcoming birthdays, parental neglect, and brothers who already have quilts finally got to me. Who knew a 10 year old could be so naggy?
When last seen, the Ocean quilt was in the process of having borders added to all the creature blocks. That was April of last year! So yesterday I finished that up.
I still have no design wall, but a bare floor area in the living room is working for now.
The idea my son and I worked out is that the blue stashing gets lighter as the quilt goes from creatures in the depths of the ocean to those on the sand.
Adding the sashing is easy enough, like the world’s thickest log cabin rounds. (I love the fabric being added in the bottle picture above, because I think it looks like sea anemones.)
Some of the blocks still had the paper backing on them, so that gave me some Olympics TV time as I removed all of that.
At long last (I started this quilt in January, 2015) this project has reached the ready-to-quilt stage. A big, sarcastic Finally! from my son is still ringing in my ears.
I am intimidated by the idea of doing detailed quilting on the creatures while wrestling all the bulk of a big quilt, so I’m going to try quilting them in smaller blocks and then attaching the blocks and putting on the backing. It will definitely be more maneuverable under my sewing machine harp. My current plan is to quilt just the creatures, and then, after assembling it, put the background quilting in so that the backing is quilted also. Fingers are crossed.
If I lose courage, I can always go work on the snow fort.