Thursday, March 19, 2020

quilted clothes

Knowing that I take on custom orders, 
and use my earnings to help rescued women learn to sew, 
sweet Karen contacted me last fall 
to ask if she could pass along my contact info
 to a woman interested in commissioning a quilt out of baby clothes.

 I said sure!
 (and thank you!!) 
and that started a series of messages and plans, 
and in January I told Katie she could ship the clothes! 

We'd decided on simple patchwork,
 and planned for the more colorful pieces to form a heart,
and the lighter clothing and blankets and towels to be the background
 (I'm not sure I'd do that again, 
as Half Square Triangles out of stretchy fabrics were kind of a beast, 
even if they had been severely starched. 
But then, it does look awfully good....)

I got all cocky 
with how quickly cutting apart, starching, cutting 4 ½ inch squares
 and laying out the quilt went, 
and I texted Katie 
that we probably wouldn't even hit 
the lowest end of my estimated price range.

 Halfway through sewing the thing together, 
I had to text again and say,
 Ummmm. Maybe not... 

When it came time to sew the rows together, 
I got smart and pulled out the walking foot, 
which sped piecing up a little 
and I'm fairly certain helped (most of) my seams to meet up nicely.

The backing was a treasured jersey childhood sheet
 – about as un-square as it could possibly be. 
All four sides were angly. 

I folded it into fourths as best I could 
and cut it into a fairly decent rectangle
 and starched the heck out of it, too.

Once the starch was mostly dry, 
I pressed it and loaded up Lucy
then layered Quilters Dream Puff batting and the top. 

The quilting only took 3.75 hours,
 and I'm so so tickled with how it turned out. 

Jesse likes nature stuff, 
so I quilted in suns and seashells and leaves and flowers. 
And of course feathers, and even a few butterflies. 
Maybe some other things. 
It's been a few weeks, so who knows?
Silly me forgot to take pictures of specific motifs.
 Ah well. 
I did think to snap a picture of her name so they'd be able to find it.

I used the skirt portion of a 3T dress for the binding, 
and supplemented the length with a couple of strips 
from a Winnie-the-pooh blanket.
 I cut one lengthwise, and one width-wise, 
so put the join at the bottom left corner of the quilt. 

I'm famous for accidentally getting a seam in the corner, 
so it was no big deal to handle extra bulk of one purposely put there.

We'd discussed adding a bit of hand quilting, 
but I was so pleased with how the longarming turned out 
that I'd told Katie I'd be happy to add it,
 but I didn't really think it'd enhance the quilt
 and she agreed. 

So I decided to add it to the binding, 
and sewed it down by hand with navy perle cotton 
– which was a huge pain in the patootie
 and a super slow process. 
The needle just didn't like the knit. 
At all.
 Stitching through the flannel blanket went just fine, though. 
I was a little bummed I hadn't used more of that. 
But then I remembered
 that Katie had told me that dress 
was one of the really special pieces of clothing, 
so I quit my whining, 
and focused on how much they'll love it.

As soon as I finished the binding, 
I popped it in the washer
 that was already waiting 
with nice warm water and a touch of Dawn Pure Essentials. 
 I wasn't going to bother with color catchers 
since this was all worn clothing, 
but I noticed the water started turning a pinky purple right away, 
so I threw in a few,
 and some salt, too, for good measure. 
They came out saturated, 
but there was no misplaced dye on the quilt
 – whew! 

 I dried it about ½ way in the dryer, 
and then blocked it on Brandon's bed
 and let it air dry for 24 hours the rest of the way 
before snapping a few photos with Josiah's help, 
and sticking it back in the mail.

I'm really pleased with how this turned out. 
I was a little worried
 that a quilt made out of an assortment of special baby clothes 
 scream - BABY CLOTHES,
 but I don't think this does at all.
 In fact, Josiah said, 
“if you didn't know it was made from baby clothes, 
you'd never know.”

I hope they love it
and it brings comfort and lots of smiles for many years.

I was able to make this heirloom quilt 
for just $36.74 more than my low-end estimate
 (and, to be fair, $29.85 of that was postage, 
and I hadn't calculated that into my bid...) 
and best of all, 
I get to give 2 more sewing machines to Rahab's Rope 💗

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

stellar mosaic, squared

I got to pattern test for Fran of Cotton and Joy Patterns

(this is actually my second time testing for her;
the first time I never posted about it here...

but you can find quite a few photos on Instagram)

I've been on a mission to create lots of Christmas / Winter quilts
for our home for a while now,
and I knew this striking design
 would be perfect for Brandon's/the guestroom's bed.

of course
added more,
because we all know
 I am just not a '1 fabric line' kind of girl.

I reeeally wanted to use the gray metallic brushed fabric
from Ruby Star Society
as my background.
I thought it was just enough 'directional fabric' 
to be a challenge,
but there weren't actual stripes to have to try to line up.

The gold would add a festive bling
without being too feminine on that steely background.

I was worried about it matching
(grays can be tricky)
but didn't really have time to order a fat quarter
and wait for it to arrive
 (after paying exorbitant shipping costs)
check it
and order the yardage I needed,
so I reached out to the 2 Etsy shops I found
that carried both fabric lines.

They were both unwilling to assist,
so I bit the bullet and ordered 3 yards from a different shop
(no way those gals were getting my business!)
and it turns out it goes perfectly
and created the perfect bold and glittery backdrop,
and I want to order more and make something else with it
because I love it so much!

I wasn't able to get started on it before Christmas,
except for getting my fabric pull finalized,
but I started cutting my fabrics after presents had been opened
 and brunch was made and consumed
Christmas Day
and I spent the next week
slowly turning them into a stunning quilt top.

Even though I made the top in a week
(which, in my opinion, is pretty darn fast!
but - I had lots more sewing time than usual
thanks to a houseful of miserable sick people 
who didn't need much food)
I worked slowly and methodically,
never had the pedal to the metal,
and just really
thoroughly enjoyed the process.

I did have a bit of trouble on my first few blocks
with my points,
but once I figured out what my seam allowance
needed to be for sewing on those corners
to make the diamond in square components,
everything was golden
and I had sharp point after sharp point.

If you make this quilt
(and you should! It really makes a striking quilt!)
I'd recommend that
before you 'batch sew' your components,
you make 1 block at a time
until you're pleased with your points,
just in case, like me, 
you need to stitch that portion 
with a little bit of a different seam allowance.

Although - I do seem to be the only tester
who had this difficulty 
there's that, too.

(In case you're wondering 
I sewed the corners on with a .2mm wider SA
than my normal 1/4" seam allowance)

Since I did figure out my points
(by the 3rd block)
I am thoroughly thrilled with this pattern!!

So much so,
that I made a second one
so I could test and see just how quick it'd be
if I wasn't incorporating directional prints
or (much) fussy cutting.

Pretty darn.

and, thru Sunday the 19th,
 is 20% off when you use code STELLAR

Friday, December 20, 2019

December 18th, in (somewhat blurry) pictures

Congratulations, Brandon and Taylee!!
We love you both so much and are so excited for your future together

Thursday, December 12, 2019

woodland surprises

Jeremiah has been pretty desperate for a new quilt,
so in October
I decided he'd be getting one for his 16th birthday
(Dec 2nd)

I drew up a pattern
that was basically large patchwork,
but included some chaining 4 patches
a few diamond-in-a-squares
and several somewhat hidden stars,
and promptly started adding 'Jeremiah' fabrics
 to my teals collection.
(though - to be fair, it stretched from aqua to navy)

In November,
as soon as I'd finished a pattern testing project
I started cutting fabrics,
and sewing them back together.

I did this in secret,
in 10 -15 minute bursts
thanks to the knee injury
 I was (and still am) nursing.

remember, we homeschool, so secret sewing gets a bit tricksy.
I set up in our closet, because this was one that was going to have to be laid out for a few weeks

It all worked out though,
and we were able to give it to him
partially quilted on his birthday,
thanks to the Sunday afternoon
he spent at a friend's house
on December1st.

without having to be sneaky,
I re-loaded the quilt on Lucy
and added horizontal quilting.
Then hand quilted around the stars
and diagonally through the 4-patch chains.
Then added the binding
and hand-stiched it down to the front
using chunky stitches.

I finished it yesterday morning,
9 days after Jeremiah's birthday

and the boys and I
took a little walkabout
on our property in the afternoon
to snap some pictures
in some of the places Jeremiah loves.

Jeremiah is our nature boy
and his quilt is full of (some of) the outdoorsy things he is so fond of.

We love you so much, my boy!
You add laughter and fun
(and a few head shakes...)
to our family.

You are kind and gentle. Silly and smart.
Tough and teasing.
You love your mom and dad.
And most importantly,
you love our Lord.

You're well on your way to becoming an awesome man.

Happy Birthday

Monday, November 25, 2019

Terry Frey's jeweled butterly, a finished quilt

drumroll, please!

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

After 145 hours
 of cutting, sewing, pressing, and quilting,
a 4 day battle with bleeding dye,
lots of sweat,
and even some tears,
we have a finished
one of a kind

This quilt contains
117 different fabrics,
(many of them fussy cut)
2 battings
(Quilters Dream 100% wool on top of Pellon 80/20)
6 different threads,
and is
- quite possibly -
the most epic quilt
I will ever make.

Terry contacted me Oct 23rd, 2018
and asked if she could commission me to make a butterfly quilt.

We messaged back and forth,
and it turned out
that what she really wanted
was a jewel-tone version 

So that is what I set out to make.

I spent a little over a month searching for
and collecting fabrics,
and made my first block
on Nov 28th

Terry wanted me to 
'put my mark' on her quilt,
which I very much appreciated,
as you all know,
I'm not so great with patterns in general.
And honestly,
I'm not the biggest fan of that particular pattern

I bought the pattern,
but I took an awful lot of liberties with it 😉

(And then,
thanks to cutting mistakes,
bad maths,
and who knows what all,
I took several more liberties...🙄)

I swapped out blocks I wasn't crazy about
and replaced them with  a bunch of self-drafted ones
(and self-drafted versions of others)

that were either meaningful,
or would help me create the look I was aiming for,
for the butterfly.

At a glance,
the quilt looks like most of the other 
but when you look more closely,
you can see I changed things up a good bit.

I worked in pairs,
making mirror images of each block,
and made the heart borders 
when we couldn't find a fabric that would work.

I finished the (3 sections) top
in mid-February.

I basted each side separately
because there was no way 
I was going to attempt to quilt
a queen-sized
double-batted quilt
on my domestic machine.

(little side note:
I thread basted one side
and that took for-e-ver,
so I spray basted the other.
The thread basted side has several small tucks and folds
quilted into the back.
So - unless you're hand-quilting,
I'd recommend spray basting with 505)

I started quilting the wing portions on February 26th
(doing my best to quilt mirror images on each side)
and finished them March 7th

For a few weeks,
I quilted the background fabric on my Janome
while also practicing quilting on the longarm.

Every time I finished a section of background,
I'd add hand quilting with silk button twist
 to outline the butterfly.

(Terry could take or leave the hand-quilting,
but I figured it wouldn't really have my mark on it
if I didn't add a least a little 😏)

Terry was in no rush for the quilt
and I had some other quilts that needed to be made
to celebrate a niece's graduation
and the arrival of a new nephew,
so I put hers on hold
while I worked on those.

Somewhere around that time,
my left shoulder started hurting really badly
and I had seriously reduced range of motion,
which made pushing that quilt
through a domestic machine near impossible.

It suddenly became really important
 to improve my longarm quilting,
because the longer my shoulder hurt,
the more I wanted to be able to finish the butterfly quilt
on the longarm.
So I focused on getting my longarms skills
on par with my domestic machine quilting skills.

Longarming was a little painful,
but not nearly as much as regular machine quilting,
and it had the benefit of being soooo much faster.

When my longarming was finally up to snuff,
I loaded up the unfinished side
and completed it amazingly fast,
and even achieved reasonably decent symmetry.

and finished the rest of the quilting
in just a few days.

(this color is soo wrong 😑 )

Because I quilted the remaining background so fast
I had lots of hand quilting to catch up on...

Then I made and attached the binding over the course of a few days,
and sewed it down with big stitches.

I finished the quilt on Tuesday, Nov 19th,
took a quick celebratory photo,
 and tossed it in the wash.

To my absolute horror,
it came out with pink splotches 
where there shouldn't have been any pink.

After many soaks and washings
it was restored to its proper glory on Friday.


And now 
almost exactly one year after I started it,
Terry's Jeweled Butterfly
is finally ready
to go home.

and start saving for the next one 😁.

(You can find progress pictures
with  associated stories, whines, celebrations
and thought processes

Terry ~ this quilt is filled with love and hope and prayers
and fond memories.
Thanks for hiring me to make it for you 
and helping me save lives.

I love you!!