quilting

Waka Waka

This summer has been a wild one, seeming so slow, then crazy busy, always going by too fast. (Summer is like that. I think it’s fleeting nature makes me love it more. It’s hard to love crazy heat and humidity when it hangs around too long.) Importantly, some dear friends of mine were expecting a baby midsummer. I had a grand plan for something highly complicated, and each time I simplified the plan the project got easier, but more importantly, better. My whole time working on it I’ve had this quote from the opening of Pride and Prejudice stuck in my head:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. 

Of course my mangled mind deemed that in the same vein that a fresh baby, in acquaintance of a good quilter, must be in need of a quilt. This baby has a big sister whose baby quilt features Kermit the Frog and as such needed something in the Muppet family to stay on theme.

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Now, I had planned this quilt far in advance to give myself lots of time. Unfortunately, all I had were plans, and all she had was hurry because she arrived three weeks early and I had only just purchased the fabric. In the end, this worked out well, as I was able to incorporate her name into the quilt. I used a paper piecing patter that was free from Fandom in Stitches, printed at 200% for a 20” block rather than the drafted 10”. This pattern looks great when done but it is decidedly not for the faint of heart. It had 135 pieces and even doubled in size there was a not insubstantial number of pieces that were so small I couldn’t read the labelling and had to fiddle around figuring out which piece was which. (The smallest was a piece of the eyelid so small that it was barely 1/8” tall.) I did do a dumb thing and print, tape and cut out the entire thing on regular printer paper before I remembered I much prefer my newsprint for paper piecing. It worked out well, since I cut out each individual piece from the thicker paper and was able to use them as cutting templates.

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The lettering is a personal favorite. The pattern is drafted so well, it always comes out looking so impressive. It’s My First Alphabet by From Blank Pages. Framing the text in a cartoon speech bubble was a stroke of a genius (if I may toot my own horn) as I was beginning to plan out the quilting. Beyond that I outlined Fozzie’s head, eyes and mouth and stitched vertical lines 3” apart, going around the main motifs. I’ll be honest, the quilting is my least favorite part (besides basting, but no one likes basting). I also really like fluff and drape in a quilt so sparse quilting works for me and is my go to. I think it works well here.

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I made a label using a Dear Stella fabric that has a bunch of printed labels you can fill in. I played with the monogramming feature on my machine to embroider the label. It did go a little sideways but I still think it looks nice. You can see that I am quite the novice at needle turn appliqué but hey, you know it’s handmade.

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I had the pleasure of gifting it to said lovely baby upon meeting her tonight and it was just a delight. My friend told me she had forgotten to buy a quilt in the lead up to baby’s arrival and was planning to do so ASAP but I beat her to the punch! Perfect. Then she said the thing everyone wants to hear about a thing you’ve made with your hands and your heart and given freely:

This is the best present we’ve gotten.

There is a truly nothing better. I am the cat that caught the canary.

400!

I guess I'm better at sewing than blogging. I know I've been making this crazy quilt longer than I've been blogging but sheesh! My sewing is pulling way ahead. I supposed I shouldn't complain, eventually I'll have to quilt the thing and at least I'll have a backlog of hexies to blog while you patiently wait for it all to be done.

All this commentary is brought to you by the number 400, as in I just finished my four hundredth hexie triangle! In celebration, I'm posting a favorite and bonus double block photo! The fabric came from my friend in Australia and is a fussy cut of the same fabric as the yarn balls block I posted way back as hexie #35.

Hexie count: 44-45

Green and Grey

I was planning out my next post and noticed that my photos of late had tended towards green and grey. I looked through what I'd shot but not posted yet and couldn't really come up with something that broke the pattern.  So I decided not to fight it.

I think the fabric came from Jo-Ann. 

On a mostly unrelated note, I love the song Green and Grey by Nickel Creek. It's one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands and just right for this post. Treat your ears for the next three and a half minutes.

Hexie count: 42

Bump on a log

Did you sing that song when you were a kid? The one about the hole in the bump on the log in the middle of a tree that just kept going and going? That's all I can think of when I see this photo. Honestly, that's why I'm blogging it right this very minute, so I don't have that ear worm of a song stuck in my head every time I look over my to-be-blogged hexie photos. 

The fabric came from a scrap bag at Handcraft Workshop and I believe that the print is an old Ed Emberly print for Cloud9.

Hexie count: 41

Surf Shack

I get my fabrics in all sorts of ways. First, I ran through every single woven cotton of a reasonable weight that I had in my stash (which, before this project, was pretty tiny!) Some comes from generous friends looking to share the textile wealth and free up some space in their own stashes. The rest I buy.

Because I only need six hexies per fabric (sometimes if it's a specific pattern I can get two separate triangles out of the same fabric. I'll have an example of that soon.) I tend to buy the very smallest cut I can. At Jo-Ann stores differ on the minimum cut (I've been told 1/9yd, 1/8yd and 1/18yd depending on which store I was at and which cutter I was talking to) but it's pretty universally small. I try to buy from the red tag section on a 1/2 off red tag day. If I plan it right I can spend around a quarter for a cut. Local quilt and fabric shops are different. Often they have a quarter yard minimum, though many will let you choose if you'd like a 9"xWOF (width of fabric) or a fat quarter. Factor in the fact that local stores tend to carry a much higher end fabric and usually a 1/4 yard cut works out around $3. Simply too much for every block in my quilt but worth it for a special fabric here and there.

This fabric was a special buy for me. I got it while on my birthday vacation to LA back in May. I managed to sneak away one afternoon while my husband stayed at the hotel with my napping toddler and I had 90 minutes of uninterrupted solo fabric shopping. I got tons of hexie fabric and a really great sweatshirt fabric I'm dying to cut. I loved this print so much that even though this particular shop would sell me 1/8 yd I bought a half. The little houses are just so cheery. I couldn't help but want to squeeze the last few juicy moments from this summer.

Hexie count: 40

Between a rock and a hard place

This fabric was a gift from my friend Meghann as a part of a knitting bag swap. She made me an awesome Road Trip Case (by Noodlehead) that used this fabric. It is a large scale print which sometimes makes use for hexies more difficult because a large print can be really hard to translate in a piece that is only 1" wide on a side. I sort of love them anyhow. They become like a pretty jigsaw puzzle that I have to figure out how to make play as nicely as the originally fabric or come together to approximate the larger pattern across several hexies. I think my favorite example is my Japanese crane triangle. I'll have to dig that one out of the pile and photograph it, it's soooo good, one of my favorites of the whole bunch.

Anyhow, I think this one is really cool. And the rocks felt right at home in Phoenix.

Hexie count: 38

Desert flower

Thanks for bearing with my on my impromptu bloggy summer vacation. Between the heat, travel, family and just being crazy busy my poor corner of the internet got a bit neglected. Fortunately the making of the hexies plugs along (I'm somewhere in the neighborhood of 385 triangles finished and many more in progress). I even had time to photograph another batch on a recent visit to my parents in the Pocono Mountains. 

I'm in Phoenix, AZ today where the high is a mere 106F/40C. At least we missed out on last week's 117 degree day! (Though we were in Austin, TX where the temps were barely more than 10 degrees cooler.) Oddly enough, even after all this heat I'm not ready for fall. Endless summer, baby. Here's a beach hexie for you. The sand feels at home in the desert where I am today.

The fabric is a scrap of an Amy Butler print that I got from Handcraft Workshop, a lovely sewing shop in Mount Airy. I highly recommend a stop in if you're in the Philly area.

Hexie count: 37

Knitterati

You might not know it from reading my blog, but really, I'm a knitter. Have been since my mom taught me when I was 15 (backwards and twisted, but knitting nonetheless!). I have a wonderful group of friends on the knitting/crochet/weaving/anything yarny website Ravelry. (If you are at all into yarn work/wool craft and aren't on Rav yet 1) Where have you been? and 2) Get thee an account ASAP!) Anyhow, yet another lovely Rav friend (most of the gifted fabric you see here is from my wonderful Rav friends) sent me fabric that I'm showing you today. This one is one of my all time favorites. It features knitting cats (featured soon) and balls of yarn. Some of my seam allowances are crazy small but I have no regrets, I had to eek out every last hexie I could!

And no, I obviously couldn't resist photographing a yarn print on a knit sweater.

Hexie count: 35

Bump it up

I don't know what it is but I love this shape. Scallops, clam shells, fish scales, baptist fans. I love it so much that I actually just bought more of this fabric in tan. I harbor an ambition to make Latifah Saafir's Glam Clam quilt. So yeah, I'm really digging on this particular hexie triangle. I like the orientation I ended up on, it's totally not what I saw when looking at the fabric on the bolt.

The fabric came from Jo-Ann and it reminds me of Smile and Wave from the Koi collection by Rashida Coleman-Hale, one of my all time favorite fabric prints.

Hexie count: 33

Sunshine day

The weather is absolutely perfect today. Sunny and warm but not so hot as to be sticky. Perfect day to sit in the shade in the backyard with a good book. I have no resistance so I did just that. I even painted my toenails while I was at it since it's impossible to ever be in a bad mood when your toenails are a happy color. (Copyright Shayna's Life Philosophy) Mine are a shiny orange as befits my upcoming trip to the beach.

Laser Face discovered dandelions this week. Seeing her face when I held up the little white puff ball and blew away the seeds was so wonderful. She was so amazed and happy. I love the daily discoveries. The world is so big and new to her. I try to live that way myself as best I can too. 

Have a sunshiny weekend!

Hexie count: 31

Point the way

This fabric came from Jo-Ann's. I am really pleased with it, it has such a nice hand. It's a great combo of geometric and organic. Thinking about it now I almost wish I'd bought enough to make myself a top of it. Speaking of tops, I finished two blouses last week; my first real garments in about 10 years. I'll play show and tell with those soon. But first, hexies!

Hexie count: 29

Party Cats

These cats are hearty and they're here to party!

I loved this print so much I bought a 1/4yd at retail because I just couldn't leave it there and that was the smallest cut I could buy. Leaves a bit of leftover for something fun I guess. I was walking around my neighborhood shooting hexies and saw my neighbor's motorcycle. I couldn't pass up the photo op. If cats could operate vehicles, you could be sure they'd ride bikes. Ride hard, meow loud.

Hexie count: 28

Waste not want not

These hexies were some of my very first. I made my daughter a cloth book from a panel. The instructions were printed on the fabric. Being the craft hoarder that I am I couldn't pitch the leftovers simply because I didn't need them anymore. To the hexie machine it went.

I love text fabrics. Like a whole lot. If you're listening fabric manufacturers, make more fabrics with tons of text. But plain text. I bet you could get a chapter of Pride and Prejudice or something else off copyright. Put that on a nice voile... oooh all the librarian type seamstresses would snap that up in a hot second.

Hexie count: 27

Return of the hexies!

Thought I'd never come back, did you? Hah! I've been stitching like a mad woman (tons of hexies, two blouses and a machine pieced quilt top) and finally managed to get out and photograph another batch of hexies while I was at it.

And because the name of the parenthood game is multitasking, I did it while walking the baby, the dog and the husband to and playing at the playground. I'm a little obsessed with how well the blue of the rubber flooring goes with the neon green of the hexie. A match made in 80's heaven.

It'll be back to regular posting from here on out. Thanks for stopping by!

Hexie count: 26

It Can't All Be Slow Sewing

I started my hexie quilt as a way to try to ignore my sudden desire for a really expensive sewing machine. Well, that mostly worked. I still bought a new machine. This time though, the "new" just applied to me, not the machine. I got an Elna 7000 (the first computerized machine they ever made) from Craigslist. After a service it's been sewing pretty well. 

I got adventurous and threw my hopping foot on there. I had some fabric I got on clearance from Gaffney, a pre-pieced fabric that I used for the top and a great hot pink for the backing. I ditched it all and then sewed diagonally through all the blocks. After that I did some free motion and did a wishbone stitch (alternating vertical and horizontal) in each diamond created by the diagonal quilting. I machine bound it in a soft navy solid to coordinate with the plaid blocks. 

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You can see the quilting a bit better on the back.

I really liked the wishbone. Not too hard so that I couldn't do it and not so easy that I got bored. I highly recommend this or a similar stitch as a first free motion foray rather than the stipple. Having something where you are supposed to cross lines makes it so so so much easier and takes a lot of the pressure off. I never quilted myself into a corner.

I used a cute little loop for the top and bottom edge triangles.

All in all, I'm really pleased with how it came out. This is my first quilt using free motion and I'm proud of my efforts. It's a great size for Laser Face (we've called her that since she was in utero!) and is currently folded up under her crib waiting to be used. There is hardly a better feeling than knowing I get to wrap the ones I love in the physical manifestation of my love.