Monday, December 5, 2011

My Round Robin Blocks

My Wednesday sewing circle recently got together to reveal our round-robin blocks that we made for each other.  We started this project in March.  Each of us put together guidelines for a 12-inch finished block, made one block ourselves to start our quilts, then passed the boxes along.  There were 11 of us in the exchange, so we each ended up with 11 blocks.  We all got our boxes back this week at our holiday get-together, and we all got to see all the block sets.

Everyone had unique guidelines - some people chose a fabric or two, some chose a theme or color scheme, and some chose the same block to be made in different fabrics.

My blocks were designed around this focus fabric, the bird print on the left. I found this in Peapod Fabrics and just fell in love with the colors and designs of the birds. I asked everyone to use at least one piece of the bird fabric in their block. Then I made this simple block, with the birds framed in the black, pink and gray fabrics.

Here are the blocks I got back from my talented and imaginative friends!  Two people made birdhouse blocks, framing the birds, and two used flying geese motifs...
 ...the beautiful Ohio star is from a friend who is also from Ohio and there are blocks with names like "Darting Birds" and "Hovering Hawks", and  one block was an intricate paper-pieced block (upper right).
 Some people used mostly the fabrics I provided, and others incorporated new fabrics, like these Australian fabrics forming the points of this star below.  And the bottom block is a color variation of my original one, to round out the cycle.
Everyone was really pleased with their blocks and we all agreed that it was fun to follow the guidelines for each block and try different things.  Now I will make another block (or maybe more) and figure out how to put them together into a quilt top.  Our goal is to have our quilt tops done by Easter 2012.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I won!

I'm getting hooked on browsing quilting and sewing blogs lately, and it's paid off!  I entered a giveaway on the blog of "Quilt Dad", aka John Adams, and I won a fat quarter bundle of these fabrics.   All I had to do was comment on a post. I think I'll be entering more giveaways now!

So, what should I make with these fabrics??

Monday, October 24, 2011

Design Inspiration from LA

 The last time Zac was in San Francisco, he said he'd like me to make him a quilt!  So we were talking about possible designs, and then Dan and I were in LA to visit him a couple weeks ago, and we all went to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) to see the exhibit "California Design, 1930-1965".  It had all kinds of cool things from the time period, from the first Airstream trailer to clothes, furniture, and a full mock-up of an Eames design house.  Several of the textiles made us think about possible quilt designs.

This one is an Eames textile that we liked.  I could imagine making quilt squares with the Xs and dots and uneven borders.  Zac suggested using large blocks and making the quilt just 20 big squares - we're working on that idea.

This is the book on the exhibit that was for sale in the gift shop.  Zac likes the solid-color stripes.  I don't remember seeing this in the exhibit, but apparently it was the cover of a Frank Sinatra album!  It could make a nice quilt, just using the strips of solid color fabrics.

Wouldn't both of these make great quilts?  And I don't even have a picture of Zac's other favorite item -  the bathing suit with the giant lobster on it!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Two little quilts

I recently finished two small quilts, both made from patterns from Elizabeth Hartman's blog Hers is one of my favorite blogs. It's full of ideas and free patterns and tutorials for her designs, most of which are bright, modern quilts.

This is a baby quilt made with her modified foundation piecing technique for this spider-web design. I wanted to try it, and I used scraps in blue, white, and green. Frankly, the technique is a bit labor-intensive. I'm not sure I would make this design with this technique again, but I made enough blocks for this baby quilt - it's only 36x45 inches finished.

This is another of her designs that she calls Crazy Nine Patch. (The back of the quilt is above - it shows the individual block better) It's fun to make - you layer 9 different fabrics, make a cut through all of them, shuffle the order of one stack of pieces, then sew two different pieces together. Then you keep doing that, till each block has one patch of each of the 9 fabrics. I put mine together in her lattice arrangement, and had three extra blocks for the back of the quilt.
This quilt started out as a baby quilt when Emily was pregnant, with a group of the gold, gray, and white prints. Then we found out that Russ would be a boy (!) and I thought that some of the yellow prints were too girly. I needed more fabrics and added the greenish gold to the mix and then decided to use the gray solid (rather than white) to keep the whole thing softer-looking. I hand-quilted it with gold perle cotton and big stitches. I really like it - now I wish I had made it bigger! It's 40 x 56 inches.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

College Dorm Room Bunk Bed Hangy Thingies

When I was in Cleveland, Kathy and I made this for Cary's bunk bed in her dorm room. Her bed is up so high, there's no dresser or nightstand or anything to set things on. So if she's reading in bed, there's nowhere to put a book, unless she climbs down. She didn't like my idea of making a basket-and-pulley contraption like in Rear Window.

So Kathy went online and found some instructions and patterns for these. Using them as a guideline, we made up this pattern on our own. The background is corduroy; the pockets are made from an old pair of jeans of Kathy's, and the pocket lining is a really pretty polka-dot. We used all of Kathy's fabric and supplies (just Velcro, thread, and iron-on interfacing to give it strength) so it didn't cost anything.

Cary loved it.

So I went home and made another one for her roommate, Claire.

I had trouble wrapping my head around how to make a lined pocket with a little band across the top, so I cheated a little bit and did some hand-sewing. But it looks fine. The background fabric is black with gray treble clefs, which I thought was perfect for a music student.

I told Cary we could start a small business making these and selling them to dorm students who are trapped in high bunk beds in dorms. :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Kathy's Wedding Ring quilt

I was going through my pictures from our recent trip to Ohio and found this one. It's from a meeting of Kathy's quilt guild (I forget the name!). They met the first night I was at Kathy's so I got to go along with her. And I got to be the photographer!

Kathy is hiding behind this quilt, holding it up! It's another in her Double Wedding Ring series. She made one for Emily and Brian when they got married, one for Rob and Sarah for Sarah's shower, and then this one for a quilt show that her guild is doing. Each one is in a different color scheme and they are all beautiful!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Real Men Do Crafts!

For his recent wedding, my son, Robbie, covered the buttons on his tux shirt with pieces of silk charmeuse from his fiance's wedding gown. He used his fly-tying equipment to do the work. That's my boy. :-)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Russell's quilt from Kathy

I don't know if anyone else was going to post this, but I can't resist showing the quilt that Kathy made for Russell. It arrived when I was in Baltimore, and we all fell in love with it! Here's Russ lounging on it with his favorite teething toy, Sophie.

The quilt is so cute with bright colors that Russell really likes now. He likes to be on his tummy on something bright, and he reaches for all the bright objects. He will love this!
The back of the quilt is as cute as the front. This picture doesn't do it justice, but is spells out "Good morning Russell" in yellow block letters.

Maybe Kathy will share her source for the pattern. Good work Aunt Kathy!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Easter Craft

I saw this post on PurlBee before Easter and really wanted to make the Sheep Pillow. It looked so easy that even a new mom could do it. I ambitiously ordered the supplies but then remembered that Russell prefers to sleep in my arms instead of his crib. I think I got one sheep cut out over a period of 3 days and almost called it quits, but then one Saturday we went on a long walk and Russ fell asleep in the Ergo Carrier so I just let him sleep while strapped to my chest and sewed for 2 hours. I made 3 sheep pillows. 1 for James, my neighbor's 15 month old, one for Clara, my high school friend Kate's 14 month old, and one for Elise, my bff Monika's 2 year old. Monika sent a picture of the pillow and her newborn boy Gabe.
He seems suspicious of it, but I'm sure it will grow on him :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Baby Quilt

I made this baby quilt for my friend Bridget's baby, Jake. I used the directions from a recent Martha Stewart Living magazine for a large-scale log cabin pattern. Then I added the monogram, since I had made a monogrammed quilt for Bridget's daughter, Penny, when she was born. Now I have to hurry and get it in the mail (since baby Jake was born back in October and is getting big, plus the quilt is flannel and it's going to get warm soon!)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

San Francisco Quilt Show

The San Francisco Quilt Guild held its biannual quilt show last weekend. There were over 200 quilts displayed, and it was a great show. Here are some of the quilts in the show that I made (or at least worked on).

One of the categories was Miniature Quilts. I was working on this small Amish-style quilt (the one on the right in the photo) so I decided to put it in the show as a miniature, since it met the requirements. I did the flying geese parts using a foundation fabric. I didn't have enough time before the show to hand quilt it like I wanted to. I might still do some hand quilting before hanging it in my house. I think it's too dark with the black border - I should have used a color for the border, I think now. You can see that this category had quite a variety of quilts, based on the two hung next to mine!

The quilts in this group were made by members of my sewing circle. We had a fabric exchange where we exchanged 5" squares of fabrics, a different color each week. We ended up with ~100 squares. Then we each made a quilt out of them. Mine is the one in the center of this picture. I made a spool block out of each fabric, using some of them for the background and some for the spools. Then I set them in a solid green fabric and quilted it with a multicolored thread.

These blue quilts are part of the display of Challenge Quilts. There is a theme for the challenge quilts - this year it was "Indigo Passport". Everyone is to make a 24" square quilt, interpreting the theme however they want. Mine is the quilt on the right with the circles. I wanted to make a larger quilt with these fabrics and the quarter circle blocks, so I "practiced" on this little one. I have some nice, textured Asian fabrics that I think are perfect for this quilt. The other 2 in this picture were done by friends of mine and show a little of the variation in interpreting the theme.

Finally, this is a group quilt put together in a joint effort by my sewing circle. We used Ruth McDowell's book of paper-pieced vegetable patterns, and each chose 2 vegetables to make. (I made the ear of corn, and the 4 tomatoes.) Once we were done, we all got together and put them together into the quilt top. That was quite a contentious process - quilters have strong feelings about these things! But we forged ahead, and completed the top, and one of our members coordinated the quilting on her mid-arm quilting machine. We're going to donate it to the Food Bank. I really enjoyed doing the paper-pieced blocks, so I made more of them for myself, and am now composing my quilt top with them.

One of my volunteer jobs for the quilt show was helping with the judging, which was quite interesting. There were over 200 quilts in the show, and there were 5 judges hired to judge the quilts for various awards. We spent one long day in the home of our guild president displaying all the quilts, recording comments, and helping the judges as they looked at all the quilts and chose the winners. I learned a lot about how quilts are judged, so maybe for the next show I'll have mine judged! This year I opted out of judging for my quilts.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Here's a look at Pam's and Kathy's entries for our local quilt show.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Friendship Blocks

I belong to the San Francisco Quilt Guild, and one of my favorite activities there is participating in the Friendship Block exchange. People submit patterns or kits for blocks that they want others to make for them. By making blocks for others, we collect points and when we have enough points, we can submit our own blocks for others to make. I enjoy making blocks for other people just to try new things - they vary from a straightforward patchwork blocks with fabric provided, to paper-piecing, or instructions for an improvised block using our own fabrics - almost anything goes, as long as you can convince others to make them!

I've had enough points for a while now to submit my own blocks but couldn't decide what to do. I didn't want to hand out kits with fabric for patchwork blocks - I wanted something that would allow some variation based on other people's design and fabrics. So I finally decided to ask for Paintbox Blocks.

These are blocks based on a quilt made by Elizabeth Hartman and described on her blog Hers is one of my favorite quilting blogs. She makes really vibrant, modern, scrappy quilts, and although she has a couple books out, she has a ton of free patterns and tutorials on her blog.

These green blocks are the first ones I made as a prototype to try out her instructions. The idea is to match a solid color with prints that are very close in color to the solid. I chose to do her "scrappy" version of the blocks to use more than one print fabric.

I really had fun going through all my fabrics, matching up solid fabrics with prints. The blocks use only small pieces of fabric (the finished blocks are just 6-in. square). So I was able to pull things out of my scrap bag for some of them. I made another set of blocks in grays- each color combination of solid and prints makes two 6-in. blocks. I think the gray ones are my favorite so far!
I ended up making 8 sets of blocks before I ran out of steam.
So for my friendship blocks, I just wrote up the instructions with a couple of diagrams, and decided to let each person use whatever color they want to. This way, I'm hoping to get a good variety of colors, and once I have them all back, I can make more blocks to fill in colors that aren't well represented. So far about 12 of the patterns have been taken by other guild members - I'm hoping to get 20 of them done eventually. The woman who organizes the friendship blocks warned me that it might take a while to get these back! So this is a slowly-evolving quilt, which fits with my quilting style anyway!

If anyone out there would like to contribute to my Paintbox Quilt, you can go to Elizabeth Hartman's website, and look under her "Quilt Along" link for the tutorial on how to make scrappy paintbox squares. If you make me some blocks, I'll make some for you, too! I'm asking everyone to provide, along with the 2 6-in. blocks, the swatch of solid color fabric that they use, for the back of the quilt.

Last night I went to the guild meeting and found that 7 sets of blocks have been done for me - here they are:

(Whoops - the dark blue set got cut off the edge of the photo.)

Looks like I'm off to a good start!

More baby things...

Emily's house is a treasure-trove of handmade baby items these days. They have so many crafty relatives and friends and Russell is the beneficiary of lots of beautiful things!
This is the baby quilt I made for him. I got the pattern from the book "I (heart) Patchwork". The pattern was for a lap quilt, so it's a bit big for a baby quilt (60 in. square), but I thought the pattern was cute for kids prints, and it can be a nap quilt or floor playmat. The main blue fabric is a cotton/linen blend, which is so nice to work with. It washes up beautifully and is so soft. I'm going to start using it more in quilts. The only drawback to it is that it stretches a bit more than pure cotton, so I was almost afraid to machine quilt it, but I followed the pattern recommendation and just machine quilted straight vertical lines down the rows of squares and it worked well. I used the blue/white/orange color scheme and used various prints for the cross pieces.
I added some hand quilting to define some of the solid blue cross shapes, where two solid ones overlapped. I used embroidery floss and big stitches. It helped anchor together the layers a bit better, too.
This is a quilt that Emily made for Russell. It's from Anna Marie Horner's book of baby patterns (I forget the name of the book). The pattern and instructions for making the wedges of strip-pieced fabrics are not very straight-forward in my opinion, and it ended up with a big "bubble" in the middle when the wedges were put together. Emily and I worked on it when I was there in October - we took apart the wedges and re-cut them with precise angles, then re-assembled the quilt top. Emily then hand-quilted it with embroidery floss and bound it. Isn't it darling? So colorful! And even though we cut it down a bit it's still plenty big for a baby quilt.

From the same Anna Marie Horner book, Emily made this little square bin in the owl print. She's using it for wipes on the changing table. It's one of a set of nesting blocks, intended as toys for the baby, but they make great bins for the baby supplies, too! And in front of it is one of a set of burp rags made by one of Emily's friends. She took a regular cloth baby diaper and sewed a panel of print fabric down the middle section. So clever - and they were getting a lot of use when I was there!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Three-Year Knitted Quilt

This is the quilt I knitted. I started it more than three years ago, when I was in a knitting group at my church and someone suggested I knit squares for a Warm Up America quilt. The Warm Up America project collects squares knitted by people all over the country (there are collection bins at most Michael's stores) and then puts them together into quilts and gives them to the homeless.

It was a good project for a beginning knitter like me, since the squares didn't have to be perfect and as long as you used the designated type of yarn and size needles, it was all good. I went to town and knitted a few squares. Then I started to get attached to my work and didn't really want to give up my squares to be integrated with others in a quilt that I would never see. So I decided to make my own quilt. It took me so long, I don't even think the Warm Up America project is around anymore. Besides, Cary said she wanted it (once it started looking good) so I gave it to her.

Another thing I liked about this project is that I got to crochet a little bit, too. I crocheted a black border around each square and then crocheted the squares together, also with black yarn.

The only negative is that it's not reversible. The back looks crappy because the crocheted edging only looked good on one side. It also weighs a ton.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tree ornament

I hang this ornament on our tree every year, and this year when I was taking it down, I looked closely at it and noticed how SMALL the stitches are! Who made these?? I think they were shower gifts for one of Diane's showers, but I can't imagine anyone making dozens of these. Does anyone remember who made these? Twenty-seven years, Diane - Wow!!