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Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

Give a Quilt, Give a Hug

My husband’s grandmother’s birthday is today. In collaboration with his aunt, I sketched a design and came up with a quilt to make. We talked about a shawl sized quilt, that is soft and cuddly to keep her warm.

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It was fun to pull from my stash of fabrics to select the colors for his project. Who doesn’t love  bright pop of yellow?

img_2542I added a row of turquoise squares as a bright pop of color. It was my first time sewing a square in a square quilt block. I like the look!

img_2538I backed the quilt with fleece to make it soft and warm. And the quilt arrived just in time to be delivered last weekend by my mother-in-law. Give a quilt, give a hug. I think I might have more shawl quilts in my future!

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Each Christmas, I enjoy putting up a tree and pulling out the ornament box, finding the right place for each ornament on the tree. Many ornaments are gifts from friends, and one ornament I made last year, an acorn with leaf. When I thought about what gift I would like to make for friends and family this year, I thought I would continue with the ornament theme. I like to imagine that each person I give an ornament to will also feel that pleasure as they decorate their tree, being reminded by the handmade ornaments of the people that love and care for them.

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As the early part of December past, I pondered and mulled over and thought about what type of ornament I could make. I had some vague sense I wanted to do something with my hand dyed fabric scraps and paper piecing quilt technique. Inspiration struck one evening as I was browsing instagram, and saw a photo of an ornament that was needlepoint, with a mason jar lid as the hoop/border. Perfect! I could paper piece a small quilted piece and then enclose with a mason jar lid.

img_2069Once I had my idea, I browsed pinterest, to see if anyone else had done this and if they had any suggestions. I learned from one tutorial how to use a hammer and nail to make a hole in the side of the lid for the hanging loop to go through, and learned from another tutorial to turn the inside lid upside down to make the design push outwards instead of pushing inwards.

img_2057Each evening I sewed and pieced and churned out ornament after ornament. I traced the lid on paper to make my paper piecing templates. In the beginning, I was more impromptu, randomly pulling fabrics and making a design. Then I started to curate my fabrics a bit, and pulled fabrics of similar hues.

img_2073One design led to another which led to another. Some designs were more complex, and I would draw on the paper to follow the pattern. Others were simple and came together quickly. From start to finish, each took me about 15 minutes.

img_2007My favorite comment was from our Great-Aunt Sue, who upon unwrapping her ornament, exclaimed that it will “make the mason jar look so nice!” Well, I guess that would be a good use for them as well. Really dress up your preserves!

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Baby Quilt for Hunter

I love making a quilt for each new baby coming into the world. I enjoy thinking about their parents and their personalities, and from there picking a set of fabrics and colors for their new baby. For Hunter, I knew he would be born into a family that loves the outdoors and is connected to the earth. Thinking about a quilt for him, I was drawn to this collection of fabrics from Hawthorn Threads, with its motifs of butterflies, pine cones, feathers and leaves and flowers. IMG_5226

I knew I wanted to pair the fabrics with solids, and decided I like yellow as the compliment. For pattern, I was recently drawn to the North Wind block.

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As I was sewing the quilt in March, our weather was turning from winter to spring. We’d have windy days with the wind blowing from the north, bringing us the warmer weather of spring.

IMG_5282And it felt like spring inside too! Choosing yellow was such a pleasure to work and sew with. As sunlight streamed in my windows on a weekend morning and I sat stitching with a cup of tea, I felt like I was calling spring to arrive.

DSC03092I chose to make the entire quilt one large north wind block. I quilted it with a walking foot, simple diagonal lines matching the points of the yellow triangles to emphasize the direction of movement in the quilt.

DSC03101I used all the remaining fabrics from the collection in the back. I imagine that Hunter will get lots of play time on this quilt, inside and outside!

DSC03103As I stitched, I hoped that Hunter would revel in growing up in the great outdoors, with the north wind bringing him fun adventures.

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Acorns – Seeds of Hope

In September, my childhood home burned in the Butte Fire. After four years of drought, California was dry and burned like tinder. The property was once a verdant forest, and in a moment became a blackened and bare world.

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After the grief and sadness at losing what once was, I started to feel hope. Visiting the property after the burn, walking the familiar trails and roads, I felt comforted by the resiliency of mother nature. The land will come back. It might be different, it might take a while, but it will. Already there are ferns and tree sprouts bringing green to the property, and we planted acorns and wildflower seeds.

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It was this thought of new beginnings that I started making wool acorns. My mom was visiting and we had a companionable day rolling wool roving into cute little acorn balls!

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I had collected some acorn tops last year for just such an occasion. We rolled balls and matched them to tops. So adorably cute!

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It was addicting, rolling each wool acorn. As soon as one was finished another was quickly started.

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Soon I started to get an idea about making them into ornaments. With Christmas approaching I thought they’d make great Christmas gifts! I drilled a hole in each top and strung it with string, and then glued the top to the acorn.

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After stringing the acorn, I felt if needed something more to stand as an ornament. What about a leaf to go with it? Beautiful black oaks grew all over our property, and I love the shape of their leaves.

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I found a sketch of a black oak leaf, shrunk it to a smaller size, and cut out shapes from wool felt.

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On each leaf I stitched lines for veins, and the ornaments were done!

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I loved each one, with its unique characteristics and style. I made so many, imagining that each was a gift of hope of what the future could hold for each person I gifted one to.

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And I remembered to keep a few for myself! Two acorns found their way onto my annual wreath, this year made from cuttings from our Christmas tree and sage brush collected here in the valley.

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Is it just me or do the acorns make everything look just that much cuter?

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Here’s to acorns that carry the hope of regrowth and a greener future!

 

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Stitch by stitch my equilateral quilt grew, until one day it was suddenly … done!
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After ironing the top flat, I prepared it for quilting by making the quilt sandwich. It was evening and I was tired and skipped a few steps thinking it would help speed things along.
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Famous last words. Skipping steps never speeds things up, and I discovered a number of bumps on the fabric backing. *sigh*
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I set the quilt aside and returned fresh at another time, carefully taping down my layers, keeping each flat and taut. Voila – the quilt was ready for quilting!
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I decided I wanted to use cotton perle thread for a large stitch look. And of course I then felt like being a little playful and using lots of different colors instead of choosing just one.
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I chose a radiating star pattern, using the natural diagonal line of the patchwork to make the quilting lines. I alternated colors randomly as each thread ran out.
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For the binding, I selected a mixture of yellow and yellow-green fabric. I think the bright colors complement the quilt well, while also blending in with the green.
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I gifted the lap sized quilt to my mother-in-law Joann for Christmas, thinking it would be lovely to snuggle under as a lap quilt or use as a room accent on a couch.
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All fabric hand dyed by yours truly, the quilt top is hand pieced and hand quilted. You can read three other posts on this quilt here, here and here.

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Potholders for Sue

I’m starting to feel like myself again. We bought our first home in May, and the summer has been full of moving and settling in to our new space. I plan to post on my new sewing set up soon.
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The last thing I sewed in my previous sewing studio were a pair of potholders for great aunt Sue. A few years ago I made her a pair for Christmas, and when we visited most recently, she had used them down to nothing.
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I love when something I made is used so much! With much pleasure I played with a few scraps of color, and soon had a pair of potholders to send to her.
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Not too long after, I packed up all my sewing supplies, and said goodbye to my studio set up as it was. Now I’m thoroughly settled, and look forward to showing off my new place!

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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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