Sunday, September 8, 2019

Birth of a Unicorn

This story begins with a gift of a charm pack of purple and green fabrics given to me by my daughter-in-law.  Little did I know what that would lead to!

I didn't really have a plan, other than to make something for my favorite purple lover.  She happens to be my granddaughter, Illaya.

I recently made this quilt for her sister BettyMae.  


I loved how that one turned out so much that I decided to try and make a purple version.  Well, that was the plan anyway!  I started turning those charm packs into 9 patches.  These squares are 2 1/2" inches unfinished.  I ended up with twelve of these.  All different.


So then I started searching for some nice purple border fabric to go with it. and found this pretty purple floral stripe fabric  by Maywood Studios.

If I was going to make a quilt like the other one, I still needed some small purple floral to go in between the 9 patches.  We (Illaya's mom and I) never did find something we just totally loved so I was getting tired of this project not going anywhere and decided I was going to cut apart the white floral strip and use it as sashing.  So this is what I did next . . .

It was meant to be!  
I only had about 6 inches of this white stripe left after adding the sashing.

Then I added the wide purple strip around the edges . . .

At this point, I realized that it would probably look a little strange if I added any more to it so decided to stop right there.  This is going to be a pretty small quilt.  Illaya isn't a baby anymore but she is still pretty young so a small size will still work.  At this point it measures 47 x 39.

Now . . . time to decide what goes on the back.  It does help to do the searching along with the mommy.  She spied this panel and said it was perfect as Illaya has a fondness for unicorns.  A very non-traditional choice for a quilt back but I'm going for it!  Oh the fun stories I can tell her inspired by this picture!  And it's got some lovely purples and lilacs and greens in it so will work very nicely as a back.  For not having a specific plan, things are working out pretty good so far!

 And the panel will fit on the back with just a little bit of border added to it.  Color works, size works, this is meant to be!


Now to figure out how to get it up to size.  I was thrilled to find two fat quarters in my own Etsy store!  (I recently bought somebody else's destash for resale but will probably end up using them myself!)  These two fabrics have the most beautiful blues and must have come from the same design line as they both have shiny gold accents in them.


I cut them both into 2 1/2" strips and sewed the strips together to border the unicorn panel.   It's almost like they were meant to be together!  And yet another sign this was meant to be.  The strips were the perfect length to fit two on each side with just a tiny bit to spare.


Don't you just love it when things fall together so perfectly??


  I ended up with enough border fabric to wrap a around a nine patch block to make a little matching pillow.  Now I just need to find some binding fabric and probably use the same fabric for the back of the pillow.  



Illaya's birthday is in October so I've got a few weeks to get this quilted and finish the pillow.  Hopefully, the next time you see this quilt it will be wrapped around a smiling little girl!  My this has been the most satisfying project!


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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Tips for a Great Half Square Triangle (HST) Quilt!


Isn't this GREAT???   My sister, Carla, sewed all these blocks while I did most of the grunt work of trimming and pressing.  This all took place at a sister's quilt retreat (just my sis and me) in the mountains of northern Idaho.  It was such a WONDERFUL time.  We got up whenever we felt like it, got dressed whenever we felt like it, (or not) and left the house whenever we felt like it.  Here is one of our little side trips . . .


Beautiful scenery . . .

Amazing antiques . . .

Cute outdoor eating places, 
this one for breakfast and a great little Italian place for dinner!


But MOSTLY lots and lots of sewing!

Yes, I did work on my own project as well but I couldn't stay focused on it.  I was working on adding solids to my crumb blocks that I made with vintage fabrics.  Here is how far I got on that.  What I really wanted to do was see how far we could get with Carla's quilt!

By the end of our stay, we had sewn and placed all  360 blocks and she got 1/2 the rows sewn to each other.  10 to go!  I have some tips about making one of these that we learned along the way. 

FIRST tip is definitely do not  make your HST's (half square triangles) one at a time.  Use a tutorial that allows you to create 8 HST's at once.  Carla's squares measure 5 inches trimmed and using the 8 at a time method, you start with 11 inch squares to make the 8 HST's.

These are the two reasons why I say use the 8 at a time method.

1.   It takes forever making HST's one at a time!  This will cut down your block making time.
2.   Making them in groups of 8 helps out in the design layout immensely.  I'll explain that in a bit.

I wrote a tutorial on the 8 at a time method here.  I included the math on how to figure out different sizes.  It has saved me oodles of time.  Note:  After you do the math to figure what size squares to start with, you may find that you can reduce the size a little bit to prevent waste from the trimming.  But it's definitely better to have HST's slightly too big and trim than not big enough.

TIP #2  Even colors that you normally wouldn't put together will look great in a quilt like this as long as you make sure the HST's are high contrast.   Here is a perfect example.  I think the pink floral is cute but the combo with this weird checker zig zag is icky to my eyes.   In this case, the colors don't matter so much as the fact that they are definitely high contrast of dark and light.  When you step back and look at the entire quilt, you no longer see the individual fabrics but rather the pattern created by the arrangement of the darks and lights.


Can you see the ugly blocks?  If you look hard you can find them, but they don't stick out like you think they might.


TIP #3  If you make your HST's in groups of four or eight, start in the middle and design your way outward.  You can create just a little bit of order in the what appears to be a chaos by putting the same squares in each quarter of the quilt.  In fact, in a few cases, we deliberately used the same dark fabric paired with various lights to create a definite line.  You can see this with the 12 black background floral triangles near the middle and again with those same black background HST's a little further out ward with four of each on each side of the design.   There was a lot more thought that went into the layout of this quilt than it seems.  I know it looks random, but it isn't.  If you study it, you can begin to see what decisions were made.  Each quarter of the quilt are repeats of the other quarters or as close as we could get.  So that is why it helps to make your HST's in groups of four or eight.

Hope my tips gave you something to consider and maybe you'll try your own HST quilt someday!


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Sunday, July 14, 2019

What I'm Doing With Vintage Scraps

Hello quilty friends!  As you know , I recently came across the most wonderful feedsack scrap quilt top.  I will finish this beauty one of these days!  All it needs is a back, quilting, and binding.

In the same store, I found baggies full of authentic vintage scraps dating all the way from the 30's and 40's up to the 60's.  I don't think these scraps are from the same quilter who made  the quilt in the picture above.  They are all completely different except for the red/white polka dots.

I've never sewn with real vintage fabrics before and I was fascinated with the different colors and designs from another era.

Now when I say I have scraps, we're talking SMALL pieces of fabric.  The largest shape I could get out of any of  them was a 4 1/2" square.   So I cut as many of those as I could.


You can tell from the color selection that these were probably the least favorite fabrics in the stash.  I ended up with 37 of those.

Then, from what scraps were left after I did that, I cut 2 1/2" inch squares.  I ended up with exactly 325 of those at last count.



Then last, but not least, I took all the remaining scraps and basically started creating crumb blocks with them.  Rather than trim the scraps into squares or rectangles, I decided to work with whatever shape they were and just start joining them together.  I trimmed off jaggedy edges to create a straight edge to join together, but other than that, I tried to cut off as little fabric as possible.  I still have more scraps I could put together if I wanted to, but the pieces are left are getting rather tiny and I don't know how much time I want to spend doing this.


Some of them I tried to connect like colors to like colors, like this . . .

Pink #1

Pink #2


Hmm, is this one green or blue?

This one mostly green . . .


A red one . . .


Most of the rest of the blocks are random scraps just thrown together.  
Whew!  This one is rather busy!


Before I started cutting squares, I threw a bunch of the scraps onto a large piece of solid peachish-orangish (tangerine?) fabric that I have and decided it went well with most of the fabrics and quite a few of them actually have this color or somewhat close to that color in them.  

So I decided to cut a bunch of 2 1/2" squares and made some four patches.  
At first I put two like squares together with two tangerine squares like this . . .

I realized I would quickly run out of "pairs" so decided to do the tangerine with random fabrics instead.

Still no plan yet.   I decided I needed to count up what I had of everything so far so I could start getting somewhat of a direction to head for.  

I have 31 tangerine 4 patches (4 1/2")

37 full size 4 1/2 inch squares

47 scrappy 4 1/2 inch squares

28 four patches of random 2 1/2" squares


If you're keeping track that is 143  4.5 inch squares all together.  OK now I'm starting to think about how I'm going to use them all.   I can't just sew them together because that would be an awfully chaotic mess and a little hard to look at!   I have quite a bit of the tangerine fabric left and I think I might use those squares as a checkerboard border like this . . .

This is how far I could get with 31 of them.  By making 4 more I can get a  40 inch square.  I have a lot of tangerine and quite a few 2 1/2 inch square left so I can enlarge that as needed.

OK, next I decided I would tackle the scrappy blocks.  To calm them down I am going to add solid colors to each one and make square in a square blocks like this . . .
I think I'm really going to like how this looks!  If you can't tell, I LOVE scrappy quilts!  I love the look of a quilt that reflects how they originally were put together with just any little scrap that was available to create something to keep warm with.  

I am making these blocks large enough so I'll end up with 6 inch blocks (unfinished).   Since I have 47 scrappy blocks and that's not divisible by anything.  I am going to make two more of those so I can have a 7 x 7 layout of square in a square blocks.   I'm not sure how the math is going to work out with the four patch border fitting around that, but I'll figure something out!

What to do with the random 4 patches and the 37 plain squares.  Hmmm!   I think I'll just set them aside for now until I get all my square in a squares finished.  

Whew!  That's what I've been making with my vintage scraps.  

If you didn't get a chance to read my last post, I am exploring uncharted waters for me by making a quilt out of my friend's wedding dress. 

 So far, all I've done with that is start to deconstruct the dress to figure out how much fabric I have to work with.  Those things are HARD to get apart!  It's been very interesting seeing just exactly how they were put together.  I'll share more about that in an upcoming blog post.

In the meantime, I have an exciting announcement which I'll blog more about later as well.  I've opened up an Etsy store called That's So Janice.  Thank you to my daughter Ashley for designing the logo!   


I need to declutter!!  Inventory will be mostly discontinued fabric (so I almost went with That's Sew Janice) but decided to avoid the sewing pun since I have other items as well.  I'll be adding a few new things every day.

Hope you'll visit !     

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Wedding Dress Quilt

Yes, I know I said I was going to talk about what I'm doing with my vintage scraps and I will.  But something came up!  I recently visited a college roommate of mine.  You just never know what you're going to be getting into when you're around Lorraine.

Lorraine is one of the most practical minded people I know.  She is in a major cleaning-out-stuff mode and as we were working on that, she said "What am I going to do with my wedding dress?"  She's kept it all these years (30) but hates the idea of it being stuffed away in a cedar chest for another 30 years.  She doesn't really have any one to give it to and it is not exactly the latest fashion in wedding dresses even if she did.   Kind of half jokingly, I said "You could make a quilt."  She said, "You can DO that???"  And thus the foray into the unknown was born.  She fell in love with the idea and not only am I using her dress to make a quilt, but her mother's dress and veil as well.

Here is the dress (1990).  This is a picture of a picture so not the greatest quality.  Lorraine was slender, but her mother was even tinier!  After doing some searches on Pinterest and Google, we had ourselves a start of a plan.   I am now back home and the dresses are on their way to me as I write.


And here is her mother's dress (1955) . . .

Here is a closeup of the veil lace.

OK, pause while waiting for the post office to do it's thing.  
Cue Jeopardy music, can you hear it in your mind? 
-----------------------------------
The dresses have now arrived!!
My daughter volunteered to be a model and had a fun time trying them on.  
Here is the 1955 dress without the jacket . . .

And with the lace jacket.


We were laughing about what Dad would say if he walked in on this.  



As you can see, the satins and laces may be slightly different shades, which is perfect.  Lorraine is envisioning a simple quilt with different shades of satin in it. We may have to purchase some additional fabric to supplement.  One possible idea is to do a much larger block in the middle featuring this bodice lace.

I think this is part of the sleeves.  I can't remember at the moment.


She doesn't like a lot of fru fru so it is going to be fairly simple, like this pattern below.  A kind of simplified log cabin in between some plain large squares.  We'll put some of the lace and beading on her dress on selected squares and pieces. I'm going to have to do some math to figure out how many blocks we can make and what size.  The outer border will have a contrasting background color as you'll see further on down.

In addition to this simple layout, she likes the idea of setting the blocks on point. Thanks to Kate for seeing this in a book? magazine? she was reading and sending it to me.  Lorraine can study these two pictures and decide which way she likes best. 


Another idea Lorraine wants to incorporate is the border  lace with a contrasting fabric behind as shown here.  This was found at Mary Manson Quilts.  I will be doing some quilting, but not nearly as elaborate as what Mary has done here.  Lorraine likes some quilting, but wants to keep the overall look fairly simple.   That is another decision to make.  The quilting!  I am going to be doing some practice pieces to show Lorraine to see what she likes. 


We will be using the lace found on the bottom of Lorraine's dress and around the edge of her train for this technique.    Here is what her lace looks like.  Leaves with beads and sequins.   I really like the color that Mary chose to go behind the linen in the piece shown here.  Lorraine will need to give me some input on that.

Will it be satin?  Silk? Tan? Taupe?  Beige? Cream?  Also, should we cut the stitches that attach the lace to the satin or just do a straight cut around the bottom of the dress with the leafy lace still attached to the satin?  Some of this might require some hand sewing.   Decisions!  Decisions! 

Any and all thoughts on this project are welcome!  I would love to hear ideas I have not thought about too.  You guys have always been such a help to me when I'm making decisions.  Has anybody out there made a quilt out of a wedding dress before?  I would love to see pictures if you have them.  And if you have, what tips do you have that might be helpful?

Linking to:
Needle & Thread Thursday
Free Motion Mavericks
TGIFF
Busy Hands Quilts
Can I Get a Whoop Whoop
From Bolt to Beauty