Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Once in a Lifetime Quilt

I finished a once-in-a-lifetime quilt yesterday. I will never make another one like it. Truly! It turned out okay, but for so many reasons I won't try again.

This is my daughter's jeans quilt made from the jeans she wore in high school and just after. She had written on several pairs during classes, so she wanted a quilt to keep them with her. I learned so much from making it, but won't mess with again. I used this pattern, which is written and illustrated so well I thought I had it made.

My biggest error was in the size of the square template I made. (After cutting the circles of denim, you mark squares inside as stitching lines) Mine were a touch smaller than the edges of the circles. If you look at the tutorial above, you see the squares go right to the edges. This gives you your perfectly straight lines when assembling and finishing the edges.

If I were to do this quilt again (which I am NOT, even though I have enough circles left over and already sewn into small groups) here are some things I'd keep in mind:

  • Denim needle. Wow, imagine that! It only came to me toward the end and made a HUGE difference in sewing through the layers.
  • Make long strips rather than small blocks when assembling. Sew four columns of circles together, put the inserts in the center circles. Stitch down the flaps as she suggests in a long wavy line. Then add another two columns and insert squares again. Working in long straight sections is much more maneuverable than going round and round in small sections. I assembles mine into three or four long sections before putting the sections together, which meant sewing flaps down in between bulky finished areas. Not fun!
  • Perhaps I needed to press the flaps open better, but I was thinking a dab of glue stick or fusible bonding might have helped. But if I'd worked across in columns rather that finishing sections, it might not have been an issue.
  • Wind every bobbin you own, then go buy more and wind them before starting. Zigzag and satin stitching use a ton of bobbin thread! Better yet, buy a few boxes of prewound bobbins.
  • Use up all the leftover quilting threads you've hung onto, that don't have enough on a spool to do a quilt. The different threads are fun on a scrappy quilt like this!

While I don't want to work with jeans circles again, after finishing this I have a yearning to make a cathedral windows quilt. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Wallets and Grommets

My niece had a birthday this weekend and since she's on her own these days, I thought I'd make her a purse. Then I saw the pattern for a Wallet and Grommet Purse. My niece has a kitten named Wallace and plans to get a dog and name it Grommet, so I knew what I had to make her!

I started with the purse for myself, with grommets for a drawstring rather than handles, so I didn't make the sides of my niece's purse wide enough for big grommets. And I forgot interfacing!! But she figured it was a book bag which suits her. I had a FQ of jellybean fabric that I thought would make a fun wallet.

My own bag turned out pretty much the way I planned, once I found a big enough hammer to deal with the metal grommets. I was certain I'd never work with metal grommets again after the headache these were, but my daughter loved this purse so I guess I have to. But not right away! This fabric is the Tres Belle line. I collected enough for a bed-size quilt, so I should still have enough for a Turning-Twenty type lap quilt.

The pillowcases were cut out before I moved. I made my duvet cover with Bohemian Manor fabric. I already had two king-sized pillowcases to match, and these standard size pillowcases complete the set. I really love making pillowcases and love the look on the bed! I use the burrito method - enclosing the raw edges in the cuff fabric, and use French seams for the edges. They work up so fast!

I have a stack pf pillowcases to sew up for the pillowcase challenge, but I'll post about that another day! Happy sewing!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Catching Up and Settling In

I see it's been a while since I have posted anything! Luckily there's so much that's happened since July that I can write daily for a while and catch up.

The latest news is the recent move. Mom and I bought a cute little mobile home just a few miles from where my daughters and their husbands live. We're now close enough they can drop by before or after work just to visit for a few minutes, which means Mom will see so much more of them.

So, this is the new place. That front room is Mom's and the window bumps out, giving Jake a place to sit and watch for us to return home. Mom decided it's more important for him to be able to see out that for her to use the space, so for now we only have a doggy in the window, no pretties.

Between the deck and the fence in a narrow planter and path, both of which were filled with weeds. There is a honeysuckle in the center, and we added a delphinium and jasmine, so far. We're taking the planting and laying of bark a step at a time, as you can see. I've weeded almost all the way to the jasmine and laid bark on the cleared area.

This is the view from the other end of the deck, showing you what the front looked like pre-bark. The ground is sandy so after a brief soaking the weeds come right up. I alternate yardwork and unpacking or putting up shelves, so little bits of everything are getting done.

Here's our yard. The whole thing, except for a four or five foot wide stretch behind the mobile, at the back of the photo. It should be easy to keep the lawn trimmed with a weed-eater, once I win the battle over the weeds. The shady spot on the left has a rose bush under the cedar tree. I have a Spanish lavender, a hydrangea and a Bleeding Heart plant waiting to go in that corner.

Jake's wondering why there is a fence between us. He loves his little yard and doesn't bark at the dogs living next door. He only barks when people and dogs pass in front of the house. Good boy! This front bed has the mailbox. We planned to not plant anything there but when we pulled up weeds we found a couple of bulbs and a volunteer pine tree, all of which are too small to show up.

The bed under the front window had tons of volunteer plants coming up in odd places. In the far corner against the house is a blue potato bush. Toward the center is a small sago palm, and next to it, a geranium. Scattered throughout were a couple of strawberry plants, California poppy, alyssum, and a few things we hope aren't weeds because we didn't pull them. We added stock, snap dragons, thrift, Gerber daisies, and a few other flowers I can't recall.

On to the inside:

Our lovely, cluttered living room. We're blending two households, and most of Mom's furniture is family pieces and/or beautiful antiques. I had to get creative, thus the drop-leaf table computer stand and the buffet entertainment center. Most of the seating is covered with quilts, both to keep it cozy and to protect the furniture. Someday I'll make enough coordinating quilts so it looks a bit less cluttered.

Split up in photos, the room seems so much bigger! The room is actually small enough that with two footrests in the first photo, the coffee table in this one needs to be used as an end table. In front of the grandfather clock (assembled by my father years ago) is a box of photos that I'm still hoping the photo fairies will put up one night as we sleep. Note the Old English Dictionary on the stand to the left.

The kitchen is surprisingly roomy, and somehow I'm managing to fit almost everything we own in the cupboards. Of course, I suppose most people don't have canisters on the stove. I need to organize the pantry so I can put the canisters in there. Those that aren't on the stove are on the high shelf next to the window, which means Mom won't be cooking if I don't change that.

Speaking of the pantry, we have a nice one on the right here, the size of your basic coat closet. However, lots of deep tall shelves aren't great for storing foodstuffs. Another project for one of these days. Oh, don't you love the junk drawer? The three drawer unit on the left held fabric in its previous life. Now it holds tools and picture hangers, cable/electronic wiring, extension cords, and all the miscellaneous pet stuff I've collected and have nowhere else to put.

And finally, a shot of my room. Yeah, this is all you're going to see for now! I still have boxes to unpack, but I set up the green modern lamp that came from my younger daughter and had to show her. The lamp adds a green tinge to everything in my room when lit. That might disturb some people, but suits me just fine!

Slowly but surely we're finding a place for almost everything. We've fit a lot more in than I ever thought possible! I think I have enough projects to see me through a few years, although some unpacking can't happen until projects get finished. Thank goodness for the two sheds. At least we have enough in place that it feels like home already! Drop on by sometime! We'll have a glass of ice tea on the deck and listen to the trains rattle by.