Monday, March 22, 2010

A Quilt for Snowflake the Stuffed Dog and Friends

A couple of weeks ago, I suggested to my 7-year-old step-grandson that we could make a quilt for his stuffed animals. He's been fascinated by my sewing machine for years (along with nearly every other machine and gadget he comes across), and I figured he's old enough to do some simple, well-supervised sewing. He was delighted and a little awed. ("I'm really old enough?")

I chose the nine-patch pattern, got his input on the overall size (we decided on 12" by 12"), and said he could pick anything from a sizable stack of my shirt fabrics. With impressive sureness, he made terrific choices. This kid really does have a talent for art.

Yesterday, I cut the patches, he sewed them (after a few practice pieces, and all the while showing a healthy concern for safety), in exactly the layout he wanted, and I did the rest. Snowflake likes red (and, incidentally, so does his owner), so the quilting thread is red and the backing is a tiny red-and-white check.

Snowflake and his buddies will be sleeping cozily and in style.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Four Quarters Done

I've been happily picking fabrics, cutting strips, and sewing---and the four quarters of the wedding quilt are done!
I'm short on well-lighted floor space, but this photo gives the overall idea. Only a few fabrics were used more than once. Two (a very dark blue plaid, and the central orange) I used three times each. So, this top has more than 60 different fabrics.

Here are a few of my favorite fabric combinations. I love the peaches, tans/browns, and off-white next to the red.

I used mostly 2-1/2-inch strips, but sometimes I went with 3 inches, and sometimes on only one side (and the central squares are different sizes, too), so here, I added in the blue/yellow stripe fabric to make up some inches. 
Great rusty and brown colors! The rust and white plaid was all small pieces, so that strip has lots of crazy seams and grain directions.
At first, I thought that the intense red/navy/yellow plaid, the wild multicolored stripe, and even the bright yellow/blue/white stripe would be too much for this quilt, and I set them aside. But by the fourth quarter, I was ready for them, and they look great! 
Now, I need to decide on backing fabric. Time to dig through my stash and see what largish yardage I can find.

All except two of the quilt-top fabrics are clothing, and almost all are men's shirts, which means almost all the fabrics are very fine and tightly woven. Safety pins literally tear the fabric. So instead, I'm going to pin baste with large straight pins and be VERY careful while quilting. The plan is to layer each half of the quilt separately. I'm hoping that working on a 43-inch-wide sandwich, and free-motion quilting a simple, smallish meandering pattern will make the straight pins workable. Leather gauntlets would be nice, too.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

One-Quarter of the Wedding Quilt

My original plan was to focus only on value, to have alternating light and dark strips without much if any regard to color. But right from the beginning, I was organizing by color. I couldn't help it even when I firmly told myself not to.

After my first few fabric choices, which had color linkage despite my efforts, I could see that I just wasn't going to pay attention to the plan. I kept thinking, "That group of four greens looks so nice, and they segue so well into the beiges, which pick up the beige in the red-orange plaid, and the yellow/white/two-blue stripe looks great with the solid yellow," and on and on.

OK. New plan: groups of color-related fabrics, with the occasional sharp shift.

That's when it got fun. And I really like the way it's developing.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tracking Down Similar Quilts

I figured Deb Rowden's blog would be a good place to start looking for quilts similar to the wedding quilt I'm making. Sure enough! Here's one example, and here's another. I love these!

Beginning a Wedding Quilt

My husband's nephew is getting married in mid-May, and that definitely calls for a quilt! At first, I thought I had the perfect already-pieced top just waiting to be quilted. But, no. Although that one is very nice (albeit a bit straight-laced), it's mostly white with pastel stars. The nephew and the top are just not a good fit.

I took a look at those 100 shirts sitting on my cutting table. So many possibilities! But too many of my ideas were too labor intensive. I mean really, how much time am I going to have over the next two months?

The challenge was to find a pattern that (1) the soon-to-be-wed couple have a good chance of liking (2) I like, (3) is good for relaxed piecing (minimal need for precision cutting and matching), (4) has good energy---something on the bold and graphic side, (5) has enough but not too much creative challenge, (6) uses fabrics I already have, and (7) is easy to piece, with not too many patches. Not an easy task.

After much paging though quilt books and photos stored on the computer, and several days of brainstorming, I decided. It's a big, bold log-cabin-ish pattern---all plaids and stripes (and maybe a few oxford-type solids), sometimes cut straight, sometimes not. I know I've seen a quilt very much like it somewhere, but I can't track it down.

Here's the center:
The center is four squares, each 9 to 10 inches, finished, and these squares are not sewn to each other until the end. Strips (2 to 3 inches wide, finished) will be added to the outer two sides of each square until each quarter of the top reaches close to 45 by 45.  inches. Then I'll sew the quarters together. Actually, I think I'll make two halves, do most of the quilting, and then put the halves together. This is the perfect pattern for that approach.

I expect that 60 or more shirts will be donating to the project. The drabber blues will be underrepresented.