Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Productive Day

Trying to get in as much sewing and quilting as possible before returning to work next week.

Thanks, C., for coming over today for an old fashioned quilting bee and figuring out the best layout for the USC string baby quilt.

This one looks much better in person. The picture doesn't capture the subtleties of the different yellows and taking the picture at night in fluorescent lighting doesn't help. See that secondary square in the middle from the striped white/yellow fabrics? Her great eye caught that. Thanks, C.!

It was a productive day. Also finished

1) Upcycling some used clothing into two 16" throw pillows for my cousin who is a lifeguard with the Los Angeles County Fire Department:

I think they came out great. The two pillows are identical, and the picture shows the two sides. The white fabric used to be a polo shirt that was fussy cut to include the lifeguard patch. The red used to be a fleece jacket fussy cut to capture all of the embroidery on the back.

2) Upcycled an old blanket into the Everything Tote from Heather Ross' book Weekend Sewing

For those of you from first generation Korean American households, the fabric may look familiar. Very fun to think of a quilted blanket as fabric yardage. Oh, the possibilities.

3) Pieced the top of 1 of 2 baby quilts that C. is making for her friend who is having fraternal twins. This one is the girl's quilt.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

USC Baby Quilt

A co-worker's baby shower is in February so I'm taking advantage of the winter break to begin a string quilt in cardinal and gold. Each square is about 9" and the quilt should finish a little less than 36" square, which should be a good size for a stroller-friendly blanket.

All the schools who license their logos for fabric are genius. And all the schools that don't license their fabrics (cough, Cal) need to get with the program.

And after two months of promising, I finally made oven mitts for my mom.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Hope you all had a great Christmas!

Just to keep track of what quilts went where this Christmas. Based on the list below, the boys were neglected this year and will likely be getting quilts next year. They'd probably prefer a swiss army knife.

I'm Blushing for my sister
Per her request using the I'm Blushing quilt pattern by Natalina Bonner of Piece N Quilt and using the Whimsy fabric line from Moda. The back was pieced using the remaining fat quarters and could be a quilt itself.

Autumn Comfort for my aunt
Using Gobble, Gobble line from Moda and fabric from my swap partner for Stash Manicure's Brown Bag Quilt challenge. The pattern is Nice Day by Carrie Nelson from her book Schnibbles Times Two.

Improv for another aunt
Using a bunch of brown and blue fat quarters from my stash to match her home decor and using the disappearing nine-patch block plus some improvisation to make the quilt large enough to be used as a throw quilt. Backed in plush brown fabric.

Flowers for Joanne for my cousin
Made from fat quarters from my stash and using the pattern Sweet Pea by Heather Mulder Peterson of Anka's Treasures. I think the back is even better than the front and was a result of simply playing with the scraps.
Purples on Parade for a friend's daughter

Made from fat quarters from my stash and following the pattern New Wave by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson!  The friend's daughter's favorite color is purple (although that may have changed by the time she got the quilt). Backed in plush white fabric.

Hidden Pinwheels for a co-worker's daughter

Using the Freebird collection from Moda. The basic block is the traditional quilt block Broken Dishes. The quilt needed to be playful, but not too obviously girly.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Work in Progress: Last-minute Christmas Quilt

My mom suggested earlier this week that since I finished my cousin's quilt that I should also make one for my aunt. Maybe because it would be a bit awkward at Christmas when my cousin opened her present and nothing similar was available for her mom.

the quilt is actually square; the camera angle distorts the shape

So after some thought about my aunt's decorating scheme and colors she seemed to favor, I decided to focus on blues and browns.  The quilt also needed to be a quick design, but nothing too simple because then it would just be boring to piece and a chore to make.  The disappearing nine-patch block seemed a good compromise and the top came together quickly except that the finished size was too small: 36" x 36". Perfect for a baby quilt, not so perfect for a grown woman.

So I did what I always seem to end up doing whenever I make a quilt improvisationally, which is to say, get all the left over fabric and figure out something while munching potato chips for brain food. In this case that ended up being deciding to add a border made up of 2.5" squares strip-pieced together, which gets the quilt to an eventual 48" square. Since I want to make the quilt at least 52" square, I'll have to figure out how to add an additional 2" on each side. And soon.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

15 card cases

2(8"x5" piece of fabric) + 8"x5" piece of batting + 1 cool button = 1 quick and cute fabric card case

Over the past couple of nights, I made 15 of them using the Think It, Make It Pouch Tutorial as gifts for colleagues and friends. The most difficult part was finding just the right buttons to match the different  fabric linings and then hand sewing them to the pouch, which is to say not difficult at all.

The finished size is just right to hold a credit card or two or it can be used as an envelope for a gift card.  Or even as a tooth envelope for the tooth fairy. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Finished! Flowers for Joanne quilt

56" x 59"

 Hooray! The quilt for my cousin is done. For fun, I wanted to try a new quilting design, so instead of the usual stippling, meandering flowers. Still needs a lot of practice and more forethought when actually quilting, but a nice change of pace.

Close up (but don't look too closely) of the quilting as seen from the back
But what really makes me happy is the back.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

21 Headbands

A while back I made some reversible fabric headbands for E.  My sister liked them so much that she thought they would make great Christmas gifts and asked me to make 18 of them. That was months ago. Turning the buggers inside out tired my fingers so I procrastinated, but I found another tutorial online from The Long Thread that made making the headbands much easier. So here are the 21 that will soon tidy some little girls' hair in Utah.

one side...

... the other side
To finish them off, I need to get some 1/2 inch elastic from Joann. Very convenient that the chain is having a major sale this weekend. So the headbands will be finished in time for gift giving after all.

This project is a great way to use up scraps that are at least 13" x 2.5". And they don't take long to make either, especially if you make them assembly-line style.

Some tips if you decide to make your own:
  • The tutorial in the Long Thread recommends that you fold each side of the headband and stitch wrong sides together so that you don't have to turn the headbands inside out.  Well, the size of the headbands is large enough that turning them inside out is not that big of a deal with a sturdy safety pin. So I found it cleaner to sew the pieces right side together with a 1/4" seam and then turn inside out.
  • Also helpful was hemming the short edges of each piece to create a clean opening where the elastic will go prior to sewing the pieces together. Doing so provided some stability for the safety pin and also meant not having to fiddle with the opening to get rid of the raw edges.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Happy Accident

close up of the "j"


Wanting to use up as much of the fabric as possible, I randomly sewed up whatever was leftover from making the quilt top and borders for my cousin's quilt.  Lo and behold that the pieces so cooperatively configured themselves into a "j" for the quilt backing. How convenient.

The quilt top is a lot of fun, but in this case, the quilt back promises to be even better.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Work in Progress: Flowers for Joanne

This post is actually for S. in NYC who wanted to know what new quilt I was working on. My cousin likes blue, but she'll be getting a much brighter quilt instead for Christmas. I hope she'll like it anyway.

The pattern is Sweet Pea by Heather Mulder Peterson for her Sanibel line. The quilt top came together fairly quickly. A marathon cutting and piecing session Saturday night got the basic blocks together. I've been sneaking in time in the mornings to machine applique the flowers.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Zakka Pen Wrap

Freshly inspired by all the adorable, yet functional, objects available in Taipei and Seoul, I decided to make a simple pen wrap so that instead of carrying a separate pencil pouch, I could just carry the notebook and pen together.  The design couldn't be simpler: simply adapt one of the many tutorial available out there for a coffee cup cozy and increase the size to fit around the cover of the notebook.

The project came together very quickly so I can see myself making a bunch of them. Plus, this project is a great way to use up some leftover scraps or strips.

Isn't travel great for all the wonderful ideas it can inspire?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Still quilting

Need to finish some quilts that will be Christmas gifts, so no posting of the finished products for a while. But in good news, I now have finished 5 of the 6 appliqued flowers for the Fanciful Flowers quilt. Perhaps I'll finish the final one next week.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Quilting mojo

I lost my quilting mojo for awhile. After returning from Barcelona, I was so jazzed to be sewing again that I ended up piecing my brown bag challenge quilt in a 8-hour sewing marathon. Then, the quilt top sat on my floor for a month taunting me. I responded by walking all over it as if it were a new rug.

There is always some aspect of making any quilt that drags for me. In this case, it was the actual quilting. It started out exciting enough. Practicing quilting leaves, vines and spirals free hand. Then the tension on the sewing machine was finicky causing eyelashing on the back (really annoying). Then I kept having to change the bobbin and because of how I had my machine set up for quilting, another minor annoyance. Enough whining.

It's finally finished: quilted and bound. I had thought I would be fancy and do some non-stipple quilting all over (the leaves, vines, and spirals), but the quilting got tiresome toward the end and I just wanted to finish. So rather than do some peacock type quilting in the large setting triangles as originally planned, I made do with stippling. It's fine and a run through the washer and dryer I'm sure will do the trick to make this into a snuggable quilt. At the very least, I finally have my fall quilt.

A close up of the "fancy" leaf in a quadrant of the center star
This quilt is my response to the Brown Bag Quilt challenge from Stash Manicure. My quilting partner gave me a half-yard each of the green plaid and red floral (used to make the paws in the bear claw block) and yellow basket weave and large floral (used to make the body of the large bear claw blocks). I ended up using 98% of the challenge fabric; only a 2" x 6" piece of each fabric was left over. The cream and the Gobble Gobble 5" squares in the rest of the quilt are from my stash and so is the back, per the rules, so I did not need to buy any additional fabric, making this project very budget friendly.  The pattern is "Nice Day" by Carrie Nelson from her book Schnibbles times two.

Now that this is off my floor, I can begin making some new quilts as I generally don't like to have more than one quilt top to actually quilt at a time. And have a new temporary rug taunting me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

New quilt in progress

Measures 68" x 68"

I'm halfway done quilting my first ever autumn quilt, but lately it's been way too hot to wrestle the quilt through my sewing machine. The weather has to get cooler before I'll feel up to getting some quilting exercise. Who knew that quilting could make a person sweat?


Aside from the cream fabric, the fabrics in the close up shot are from my brown bag quilt exchange partner. She sent me lovely fall-inspired fabrics, which prompted me to want to finish a quilt in time for Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Jewels

Amy Ellis of Amy's Creative Side has been great about hosting a virtual quilt show on her blog. If you have a quilt that you would like to share with the rest of blog land, go ahead and sign up for the fall 2010 festival. It runs from October 29 - November 5.

The quilt that I'm sharing about is one that I made for my mom and took me approximately 1.5 years to finish and was my first (and probably last) king-sized quilt.  Not necessarily because the piecing was difficult, but more because I couldn't make up my mind about the layout design and then later, the actual quilting.

my first king-sized quilt

Roughly into my second year of quilting, my mom kind of jokingly asked when I was going to make her a quilt for her bed.  So I eventually came up with an initial design and bought a boatload of fabric in early 2009. However, during the course of the year I kept changing my mind about the quilt design because the fabric and the designs didn't work. I couldn't find the right fit between the fabric, what I thought was my mom's design and color sensibility and my skill level.  However, I finally settled on the Jacob's Ladder Jewel Box classic block. [Thanks, Barb, for reminding me of the correct block name.] I think finally settling on a design took 4 months.

A closer look at the blocks

Then I thought that I would just start piecing the blocks together, but I realized that I couldn't be as improvisational in the piecing as I initially thought I could because of how the colors wanted to play with each other. So that meant covering the floor of my small living room with lots of quilt blocks for a looong time and more indecision. That took about another 3 months.

Well, finally, I pieced it together  and I flirted for a brief moment about quilting the behemoth on my domestic sewing machine, but sanity prevailed. The quilt top then sat, and sat, in the trunk of my car waiting for me to take it to a long-armed quilter, which I finally did.  Because by that time I had missed my self-imposed Christmas 2009 deadline and then my parents' anniversary in March. I had to finish it by June 2010, my mom's birthday, because otherwise I knew that I would never ever finish it and would become the work in progress that would haunt me for the rest of my quilting days.

The quilter did a fantastic job and I learned a lot about accurate cutting, accurate piecing, sewing on the bias, the importance of 1/4 inch seams, and the challenges inherent in working with large pieces of fabric. Since making that quilt, I have felt more confident about working on larger quilts and think that the quilt was an important milestone in my quilting journey.

A closer look at the roses quilted all over the quilt


Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quilt: Hidden Pinwheels

Naming things is not my forte, so for lack of a better name, here is a quilt, "Hidden Pinwheels", that I made for a co-worker's 1-year-old child as an upcoming Christmas gift. It's a belated "congratulations on your new baby" and "Merry Christmas gift" all in one.

The quilt measures 48" x 48" and uses Freebird by Momo.

The back of the quilt

A close up of the label
The best part of the quilt is the label that is pieced into the back. Following a tutorial from Hazelruthe on how to print onto fabric using freezer paper and an inkjet printer, I used Adobe Illustrator to design a label and then had no problems making a custom fabric label.

Because I put so much effort into the front of the quilt, I usually get really lazy in making the back, but this one turned out just fine I think.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Barcelona's Visual Feast

Barcelona is a gorgeous city. I was so busy just looking that I did not take many pictures, but here are some highlights.

In the Barri Gòtic. Beautifully atmospheric alleys and side streets.

Rather than a boring metal façade, every store grate either had graffitti or some great drawing.

An ornamental ceiling design in the Park Güell

Main entrance to the Park Güell. Look at all the inspired tile work!

A close up of one of the tiles.
As far as I could tell, not one was the same throughout the multi-acre park.

The famous La Pedrera. Why can't Los Angeles have undulating façades?

Design inspiration was everywhere in Barcelona.
Just outside the Museu Picasso, as part of an installation, the public was encouraged
to play with Legos and make shapes to fill in cracks in the wall.
A serendipitous encounter.

One of the chimneys in La Pedrera. The chimneys are all different.
I like how this one is smiling.

A stained glass window in La Sagrada Familia. When the afternoon light is just right,
the entire interior of the church seems to glow.  A magical sight.

The stairwell leading down one of the towers in La Sagrada Familia.
The stairwell is as vertiginous as it looks.
I held onto the railing for dear life.

One of the many exterior statues gracing La Sagrada Familia. Look at the view!

I'm thinking that this is a great idea for a quilt. But instead of "Salve", Barcelona.

My own private balcony in my hotel room. I highly recommend the Aparthotel Silver.
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