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Archive for April, 2015

As I set out to start on the March swatch of the month, I was somewhat disheartened with the pattern. I had waited long enough to start my March swatch that April had already arrived. Eagerly opening the package, I saw that April was circles, March was circles, and January was circles.DSC01847While the stencils were different sizes of polka dot (March was medium), they were still the same pattern. Instantly I felt bored. But I persevered, and asked myself how can I enjoy this month? I told myself just start it and see.

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Both the top layer and bottom layer were apple color. The suggested treatment was negative reverse applique. The stitching of the polka dots was finished quickly, and then I was cutting out around the circles.

DSC01854So then I had a swatch of funny little circles popping out of the background fabric. At this point, I was thumbing through the book, looking for ideas on how to make this month’s block more interesting. And I settled on adding some star embellishment with embroidery thread.

DSC01848Random circles received a random number of little red embroidered stars. Cute! But I quickly ran out of interest in doing the stars, and left most of the circles blank.

DSC01849What next? I had committed to myself to experiment more with adding beading, so wanted to find away to add beading. Since so much fabric was cut away from around the circles, this area between circles intrigued me. Grabbing chalk, I tried sketching a random pattern around the circles. And. I. Loved. It. Finally I found the thing that makes this swatch sing!

DSC01850I love the undulating curve of the beaded line, the way the sparkly beads catch the light and make the whole piece move. I used the bugle beads with button craft thread and a simple running stitch went quite quickly.

DSC01853I love that depending on the angle or direction you look, the overall effect has so many different repeating patterns. I started this month’s swatch less than infused, and ended up really enjoying myself. Or maybe I found myself somewhere in the thread.

721e84f2adc74a2d68645da8382da5f5Quote from www.slowstitching.com

 

 

 

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Opening up the February Swatch of the Month mail, I was thrilled to discover that it was the Angie’s Fall stencil pattern. This is one design I have long admired in the Alabama Chanin line. The top fabric was a lovely Italian Plum, and the bottom fabric a Ruby color. Yum!

IMG_3368The guide suggested to work in backstitch reverse applique with embroidery floss. I immediately started in, and enjoyed every second. Because of the intricate nature of the design, this swatch took a lot longer to complete, but was also very portable.

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Only needing the spool of embroidery floss and scissors, I could tuck in my bag and bring with me anywhere! I stitched a lot at work on my lunch break, and on the weekend in coffee shops. Anywhere I sat for a second I was stitching.

DSC01696After the stitching was done, I cut away the center pieces of the designs for the reverse applique. Many pieces were so small I didn’t cut them, so the pattern was very diverse. Adding in beading embellishment, I chose to do varying patterns in specific spots to emphasize the stencil.

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As this swatch took me so much longer than the other swatches I’ve stitched, this recent  article in Quilting Daily really spoke to me. I didn’t realize there was a growing interest in the “Slow Stitching Movement”, as I’ve always loved to hand stitch.

DSC01697In the article, they suggest to stitch intentionally. “When you slow stitch, think about what you want to accomplish with your stitching and focus on it intently.” The beading has been difficult for me, so I just try, and think about where I wanted to go, and do it slowly. The beading adds more time, but the end result is interesting and different. At first I was unsure of the beading, but as I added more, it added a pop and pizzazz that wasn’t there before.

DSC01699And of course here is my requisite back of the swatch photo. I love the tail ends of the string. There is one Alabama Chanin technique that keeps the knots on top of the fabric, I hope to try it on one of the swatches!

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As I’ve shared in previous points, I am drawing a quilt design each day. Sometimes it is a random sketch for the day and sometimes it is for a specific project. When I learned a good friend was expecting her second baby, I knew I wanted to make her son a quilt. I raided my fabric stash, and pulled out these fat quarters I purchased awhile back.

IMG_9156After sketching a design of large flying geese in a t-pattern, I did the math. Despite reading several tutorials on how to size flying geese triangles, and googling a fair amount of geometry reference, I still calculated my numbers wrong. Oops! When I sewed the triangles together, they didn’t quite match up for a rectangle, but it was easy enough to trim them down, and it didn’t affect the overall dimensions of the quilt at all. I will need to spend some more time with triangle geometry to figure out where I was going wrong! I think it has something to do with how much to add for seam allowance. Anyone with match skills have the answer?

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From my calculations, I headed to our local quilt shop to purchase a bit more fabric, as the fat quarters I already have weren’t enough. My phone came in handy to snap a picture in black and white to check my values. I was hoping to find additional fabrics to add to mix it up, but ended up purchasing more in the same fabric line.

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Because my block sizes were large, the top sewed together in a morning. What a thrill it was to see my first pattern materialized as a quilt top!

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For quilting, I wanted to go with a lighter colored thread so it wouldn’t stand out against the light colored fabric of the front and back. When in the quilt shop, I picked a turquoise to go with the tree color. Once I started quilting though, I was bummed with how it turned out, as the color became quite a bit darker against the white then I had expected. A good lesson to pick a lighter colored thread than you think you will want, as it will look darker against the white.

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This is also the first larger size quilt I’ve quilted completely on my new Brother sewing machine, and it was great! The machine performed wonderfully, humming away as I stitched, with no broken threads or weird tension or anything. The extended table made the quilt slide around easily, and I didn’t have any of the arm muscle stress I’ve had in the past. I also wanted to play around with some new patterns to stitch with, so spent a little while sketching with pencil different designs for the different areas. Quilting is a lot like zentangling!

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I think that is some of the pleasure of making a baby quilt. While I want the quilt to be nice, there is also a bit of freedom, because it is for a baby who doesn’t know if the seams match or the quilting is straight. All that really matters is I made it with love imagining the new little one coming into this world. I find it fun to make baby quilts because I can play with new colors and techniques. And no matter what, after popping them in the wash, they come out soft and snugly and perfect for a little one.

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Heading outside for a photo shoot, our chickens were very curious and came over to see what was going on!

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I liked the brown in the fabrics, so chose to bind the quilt with a brown polka dot I picked up in the Bay Area on our recent trip, when Lesley and I enjoyed going to the most delicious yarn and fabric shop ever, A Verb for Keeping Warm. I also tried a new technique in attaching my quilt labels. This time I ironed a quarter inch hem around the sides, then cut a piece of fusible webbing slightly smaller than the size of the hemmed label. I then ironed that to the label, and then to the quilt. This helped stabilize it as I whip-stitched the edges down, and kept the shape more square.

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After snapping a few photographs, I sent the quilt off in the mail. I’m super thrilled with making my first quilt design become a reality!

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