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!