QIP – Quilt in Progress

quilts 202, originally uploaded by Compwalla.

This is the “real” version of the practice quilt I made last week.  I made 27 blocks for it but I’m not going to use them all. I make them in sets of nine because of the stack and whack technique that I use to start them and the second set of nine included a fabric that made the whole block look, well, ugly. It just didn’t go. So I made another set of nine and mixed those in and I like it much better.

It’s much brighter and busier than the practice quilt. I knew it would be because this color palatte isn’t monochromatic but I’m ok with that. This line is so bright and fun and summery and that feeling is coming across in this quilt which is just what I wanted.

Chaos Contained

My test quilt is finally finished and even though it’s supposed to be just a practice quilt, I’m actually quite madly in love with it. It turned out far better than I imagined it would. It’s not perfect – the wide 6″ borders came out a little wavy in spite of what I thought was careful measuring – but overall it’s a beaut.

The blocks began as stack and whack wonky nine patch blocks that you make by stacking squares of your fabric. I knew I wanted them crazier than that so I cut those wonky nine patch blocks apart, spun the pieces, and sewed them back together the way you do when you make a disappearing nine patch. Then I squared them up and set them in Kona Snow. I didn’t want the quilt to be square so I added a little piano key strip made of leftovers to the bottom to turn the square into a rectangle.

The quilting I made up as I went. I originally wanted to do the mitered quilting on the border and then free motion quilt the insides of the blocks but I couldn’t get the machine to cooperate and I went with concentric circles instead. And I pretty much love it.

This shot of the back really shows the quilting well:

And close-ups of the back:

I can’t wait to start the “real” quilt. There are a couple of things I will do differently but overall I’m going to make a larger version of this little practice one. And I think I’ll love them both. We’ll see!

Proof of concept

wonky disappearing nine patch, originally uploaded by Compwalla.

These squares have been made into a small version of a quilt that I want to make from Jenean Morrison’s California Dreamin’ fabric line. I know I want to make the blocks wonky but I am not following anyone’s pattern for this quilt. It’s going to be all my own. I’ve had the fabric for a long time and it’s now discontinued so before I jumped into making the quilt with fabric I can’t replace should I hose it up or not like the results, I decided to pull some fat quarters from my stash and do a test run first.

The blocks started out as 8″ squares and were turned into wonky nine patches using the tutorial at Oh, Fransson! Then I further liberated them by slicing them through the center once vertically and once horizontally, rotating the bits, and sewing them back together. It’s a combination of wonky nine patch + disappearing nine patch and I really love the way the blocks turned out.

I pieced them together into this quilt top:

And I’m madly in love with this! The things I am going to do differently are start with a larger beginning square and move the piano key strip farther down. The blocks ended up at 6″ by the time I got done slicing and dicing and putting them all back together again so the squares in the quilt are only 5.5″ square. I want the ‘real’ quilt to be bigger so I’m planning to start with 12″ squares and go from there. I still have not decided on how I’m going quilt it. I’ve got several test sandwiches and so far I’m not happy with anything I’ve tried. I’ll figure it out, though.

Thumbs up for the Fat Cats ruler!

***Note*** Several people are finding this post by searching for “template of the fat cat ruler.” But the fat cat ruler exists because people were tired of using templates to make trapezoids. So you want a template for a ruler which replaces a template? I don’t understand the internet.***End Note***

I usually don’t like rulers that do just one thing but I got an itch to make another New Wave Quilt from the Oh, Fransson pattern. The first time I made one I used a template and cut around all for all those trapezoids. Saw a shortcut posted later using the Fat Cats ruler and I decided if I ever made another New Wave I was not doing it without that ruler. It took forever to cut all those trapezoids using the template.

I ordered the ruler a couple of weeks ago and now that I’m done with my Quilts for Kids quilts I was ready to try out my new ruler. Holy moly. I cut out enough trapezoids for a twin-sized quilt in less than fifteen minutes using that ruler. I’m going to do this one in white, pink, and black with the sashing solid black Kona cotton. Or maybe pink sashing. I am worried the black will not contrast enough with the rows of dark fabric. Maybe bright pink would stand out better. I still haven’t auditioned the sashing yet so we’ll see. Either way it will be very graphic and bold and I can’t wait to start piecing it.

I did it! Four Quilts in Eight Days!

I have been making quilts for the Downy Quilts for Kids program over the past year or so. The program takes leftover fabric – often fabric that’s discontinued or not quite perfect – and instead of throwing it away, volunteers cut the fabric into quilt kits to be mailed to volunteer quilters all over the country. The volunteers sew the kits together, finish the quilts with batting and binding of their own, and mail the finished quilt back for distribution to a hospitalized child. Kids who are sick can’t take their stuffed animals with them for comfort because they can’t be washed but quilts are snuggly and can stand up to repeated washings in hospital washers and dryer so Quilts For Kids helps give as many kids as they can something warm, fun, and colorful as they go through treatment.

The program also asks quilters to make a second quilt out of their stash fabric to send back to double the donation. This time I accidentally ordered two kits so I decided to challenge myself to finish four quilts – two kits and two from my stash – in one week. I made it in eight days and I’m calling that a win. :)

The quilt pattern is very easy and the kits are definitely beginner level. If you’re a new quilter, these kits are a great way to hone your skills for a good cause. They ask that you return the quilt within six weeks which is plenty of time for a quilt this small and simple.

The kit quilts:

The two from my stash:

Rebirth of a Woobie

A friend of mine sent me a facebook message out of the blue. It was a picture of an Irish Chain quilt and the question: Can you make one of these for me? Irish Chain is pretty simple – just squares – and while I don’t usually sew quilts for money, I said yes. Turns out her son’s woobie is quite literally falling apart. She’s repaired it as many times as she can and it’s just too far gone and could I possibly make a replacement? I would be honored!

We messaged back and forth and I made sure to tell her that it would be impossible to get the same fabric as the original woobie. Since I hadn’t seen it yet, I suggested one of two ways to handle it. We could either emulate the color scheme or we could emulate the theme of the original quilt. Like if it was bugs or spaceships or sports, we could find new fabric with the same theme and recreate a woobie that would remind him of the original.  When she sent me the picture our decision turned out to be easier than I thought. There were no loud and specialized novelty prints and we managed to find a close facsimile of the dark blue cosmic print of the original.

The original quilt was tied and the “bumpies” were especially important to her little guy. But in my opinion, the main reason the woobie was disintegrating so fast was because the quilt was tied. Without quilting to secure the three layers, the repeated washings had shredded the batting and allowed the quilt to wear out. My advice was to quilt it and add the bumpies just for show. Otherwise we were wasting our time making a new quilt because it would shred in the wash, too.

It’s finally done and I’ll be doing a custom listing on Etsy for it but here is the original woobie:

And here is the new replacement woobie:

I hope he enjoys his new woobie. I had a lot of fun making it.

Open for business @ Etsy

After a year of resisting, I’ve finally opened an Etsy store. I have been doing well with the word-of-mouth sales over the past year and a half but a messy situation recently made it clear that I need something more formal set up as my customer base expands beyond the people I know personally. The storefront will make tracking orders, payments, and items easier for both me and my customers. I plan to do mostly custom listings so if there is something you want, let me know and I’ll make a listing for you. And please pass the link to anyone you know who might be interested. Thanks!

Compwalla Designs @ Etsy

One Week in Sewing

Someone remarked to me that I seem to sew an awful lot and I told her I did but I didn’t think it was awful!  Sitting at my sewing machine almost every night helps pass the time.  I’m so glad I have something I love to occupy the time that I’d otherwise waste watching TV and missing my husband. Deployment Coping Strategy Number One – STAY BUSY!  I’ve taken that to heart.

A typical week in sewing for me:

Monday is shipping day. Any orders I’ve finished over the weekend go out in Monday’s mail. Thankfully, the mail carrier picks up my outgoing packages right from my front door. I schedule pick up and pay postage online and it’s made shipping orders so much easier. Monday and Tuesday nights, I sew for myself. There is normally a quilt project or two that I have to work on and after the kids are in bed is my time to work on those. Unless it’s the 4th Tuesday of the month – that’s my bunco night!

If I’m lucky, Wednesday will bring new fabrics to my house. I place a fabric order almost every week and my package usually arrives Wednesday. I open the packages, caress the new fabrics, and toss them in the wash.  Then in the evening, it’s me, TiVo, my iron, and my new fabrics. Somehow vegging in front of the TV doesn’t feel quite so lazy if I’m ironing new fabrics while I watch.

Thursdays I cut out any orders that I need to sew that weekend. If I have time, I’ll start the sewing that night. Sometimes the fabrics are so pretty I can’t make myself wait. Consequently, I’ve spent far too many Thursday nights up late when I just can’t bring myself to stop working on a project.

Fridays I order fabric if I need to. I don’t always have to place an order but if I get a request for a custom apron, then I always order on Fridays. And if some other beautiful fabrics just happen to jump in my cart, what can I say? My favorite place to order is eQuilter.com but I also like Hancocks of Paducah. Both have really good customer service and ship fast. If there is a line they don’t carry, I’ll hop over to Sew Mama Sew since they seem to carry the bright modern prints I like best.  Friday nights are usually busy. This deployment, we’ve had something going on nearly every single Friday. Supper club, ladies night, you name it.  My sewing machine usually rests on Fridays.

Saturdays and Sundays I sew whatever needs to be shipped on Monday. I finish, photograph, package and label all the aprons, contact my customers with pics and final totals, and then get ready to start again on Monday!