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Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

I want to tell you about the quilt that marked time. That was made in the nick of time. That noted time passing. That indicated it wasn’t time yet. That the right time would soon be here. That measured time. But first, a digression.

I’ve made quilts for most (as many as I can) friends and family who have babies. Once I was expecting my first baby, my mom asked if she could make me a baby quilt. I of course replied I would be delighted if she did. So we raided my fabric stash together.

She chose a simple square patchwork design that complemented the beautiful fabrics. I love the scrappy feel of the patchwork!

And because how could I resist, here’s our little lady on the quilt. Later, my mom returned all the fabric to me that she didn’t use. When I looked at it, the first thought that struck me was noticing the beautiful green, turquoise, gray and orange palette. The second thought that struck me, was naturally, those colors would make a beautiful quilt!

I started and finished this quilt in the two weeks leading up to my little girl being born. If she hadn’t arrived one week late I wouldn’t have finished it. We liked to joke that she was giving me time to make one last quilt.

This Score, #4 Patchwork Doodle, invites you to take a shape, repeat it, add another, build off that block, add in another, and keep going like that. Like doodling!

Because I was just doing a small bit each day, and because each day the patchwork was slightly different, and mostly because I was existing in a strange time warp of when will baby come, I started a daily post of progress on Instagram.

Without realizing it, I had given friends a way to keep track of me. Each day I posted a progress shot, they knew baby wasn’t here yet.

Each day the blocks grew and changed and the rows on my design board grew. I kept expecting baby to come and the quilt put away, but she didn’t come and we kept stitching.

It was fun to start sewing up a block for no other reason than I felt like stitching that block that day.

Lets add more triangles, I’d think, and so we did. And without me realizing it, one morning I went to sew more blocks and when I looked at the top, I realized it was done.

For quilting, I decided on a meandering line, mimicking topographic lines. I thought of my soon to be born nephew and the adventures he would have.

And in the nick of time, the quilt was done, ready to be mailed off, and all I needed to do was rest before baby arrived.

Reflections

What surprised me?

I remember thinking at the beginning, how will I come up with new blocks to add? How will I think of them? And then once I was in the moment, it was no trouble at all, ideas just kept coming to me.

What did I discover or learn?

I learned how to sew some of the techniques shared in the book to deal with puckers and excess fabric. Once I had a few blocks together things didn’t always lay flat so I learned to dart and adjust seams.

What was satisfying about the process or outcome?

I really enjoyed having my design board out to look at each day. When I wasn’t sewing I was contemplating and pondering what would come next.

What was dissatisfying?

The quilted topo lines didn’t quite turn out as I had imagined.

If dissatisfied, what can I do differently next time to be more satisfied?

In a way at this point I was rushing, so to have it be more satisfied, I think I could have taken the time to sketch out what I imagined, maybe even chalking some drawn lines as a guide on the quilt top.

Where do I want to go from here?

My world has been completely turned upside down since finishing this quilt, in only the best of ways. I hope I can be present in the moment where I am, knowing I will return to quilting some day. And at that point I can bring my new experiences to my craft. And make more baby quilts. Try a few more scores. Maybe make a score for a second or third time.

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Quilts for Twins

When my girlfriend had twins I thought this posed a neat challenge for baby quilts. Of course first off I knew I would need to make two blankets. I imagined them being similar and distinct. And I knew I wanted to continue to try new scores from the Improv Handbook. So I went shopping in my stash.

I was also inspired by my girlfriends Japanese heritage and her love of the color red. I pulled fabrics for two quilts at the same time, the colors complementary and unique.

The first quilt I followed Score#5 Rhythmic Grid. I auditioned fabrics to check for value and contrast, deciding how I wanted to build my squares.

There is so much I love about this kind of quilting. How beautiful fabrics can be featured and combined. How quickly the blocks start to come together. How freeing it is to not measure and make decisions in the moment.

This top was pieced last summer while I was on break between jobs. Winston was my trusty companion for my staycation.

While I didn’t measure, this score was unique in building off each previous row, aligning key intersections. Here I’m adding the edge borders.

For the second of the twins quilts, I chose to follow the Score #2 Strings.

I divided my fabric selections into three groups, two bright and one dark, and then cut each into strips.

The strips then got pieced together randomly, giving me three large panels of pieced fabric.

I then cut each into skinnier columns, and pieced those into the final top.

I must have pictures of the completed quilts somewhere (on a camera SD card perhaps?). The second string quilt was completed last spring. With the twins first birthday fast approaching, I had extra motivation to finish!

It was such a joy to receive the following pictures from my girlfriend when she received the quilts.

Reflections

What surprised me?

It was such a pleasure to make two quilts at the same time. Pulling two sets of fabric from the same inspiration but making them different was a fun creative exercise.

What did I discover or learn?

It can be hard with all life’s competing wants to get a baby quilt done before the baby is born. I completed these a few months shy of their first birthday. Instead of being late, I think they arrived at the perfect time. How wonderful for my friend and her family to continue to feel loved and supported through all the months of raising little ones.

What was satisfying about the process or outcome?

It is such a joy to not know where the quilt is headed and to just go with it. Each step felt like an exploration to find out what would happen next. This kept the excitement high, similar to solving a mystery!

What was dissatisfying?

I made a couple of color choices I wasn’t thrilled about.

If dissatisfied, what can I do differently next time to be more satisfied?

By the second quilt I had noted what I didn’t like and was already practicing making different choices.

Where do I want to go from here?

I really enjoy baby quilts as the object to try scores on. They are small enough to complete quickly, are fun to use beautiful fabrics, and make heartfelt gifts! I think making baby quilts improv will be my new go to.

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Among my family and friends, I am so blessed to get to help welcome into the world many little ones! I love giving a baby blanket to each little.

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I remember starting this quilt back in winter, when snow piled up outside and storms raged. The outside temps are quite different now, but I was lucky to have some free time to finish up the quilt this summer.

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I love using printed fabrics for baby quilts, with all the cute and modern prints available now! I made simple large rectangles for the front, and used some bicycle fabric for the back, as Zylvanio’s parents love to ride bikes.

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For quilting, I did a cursive loopy line. I picked a bright green-blue fabric for binding. I love the feeling of pulling the freshly washed quilt out of the dryer! It’s so crinkly and soft. Perfect for baby!

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I promptly shipped off the quilt, and was so pleased when mom shared of video of baby Zyl hanging out on the quilt. Love! I can’t wait to meet Zylvanio myself. In the meantime, there are a few more little ones who will be arriving in the next year. Time to play with more fabric!

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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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