Sunday, January 26, 2014

30 years

Last Thursday, I celebrated my 30th birthday, and 30 years with my most beloved object, my baby blanket. This quilt has been loved, and it shows! I’m slightly embarrassed to share these photos and to admit that I still sleep with my baby blanket (but, I know for a fact that I am not the only adult on this planet that still does this).

My grandmother (my mom’s mom) made this for me over 30 years ago. At one time it was a jack-in-the-box, but now looks as if it has had an encounter with Hannibal Lector. Slowly, little bits of fabric have fallen off. I used to collect them and store them in a pocket created by an opening in the fabric. If there was a tornado warning, and we had to head to the basement, my blanket was the first thing I grabbed. My mom had to steal it away from me to wash it – because honestly, the smell is one of the most comforting things. Jesse thinks it’s pretty gross, so it only stays on my side of the bed, and I’m ok with that:) 
I would love for each quilt I make for someone to look like this 30 years later, but I know this kind of bond with a blanket or stuffed animal is a rare thing. But isn’t it a lovely idea? 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Our somewhat more organized entryway

The first thing we added to the entryway were colored hexagons onto the narrow window next to the door. I found this product (Hex6agon Vinyl) on Kickstarter and purchased it by becoming a backer. It was a lot of fun to figure out how we would arrange it, and how different colors would appear when overlapping. I think Jesse was hoping for something a little more opaque so people couldn’t see through the window, but I don’t really mind. It’s really neat to see the different patterns made when the light comes through the window.

I purchased the shelf during Hammerpress’ studio sale. It was already the gray color, and I painted a few of the sides the aqua color. Since it was going to hold shoes, I was fine with it looking a little rough, so I didn’t bother sanding or refinishing it. 

I had a small piece (1/4 yrd I think) of the hexagon fabric (Daisy Chain from Kokka Fabrics), which happened to be just enough to create the cushion for the top, and went along well with the hexes already on the window. It’s layered with plywood, foam (that thick green stuff from JoAnn’s), some batting and wrapped with the fabric. I stapled it on the bottom to hold it all in place.

I love the new additions to our entry. It doesn’t help keep us organized necessarily (there are usually shoes laying out despite the cubby space) but at least it looks a little cuter!

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Jean Quilt

This quilt was made for Jesse’s brother for Christmas. All the materials (except the thread) were “recycled” which really fits his lifestyle of living simply. It’s also extremely thick and heavy, which should be durable and hopefully keep him warm. He lives in Canada, and enjoys camping in the winter, so I hope it will get lots of use! The quilt top is made out of 7 pairs of jeans – all but one were Jesse’s. The middle layer was a fleece blanket we were about to donate to Goodwill. Backing was fabric their grandma had and passed down to me. The binding is a canvas type material purchased from Fabric Recycles (a local store, it’s like a consignment fabric/craft shop).

It was fun to put the top together, but a bitch to quilt. It was so thick and heavy, and while my machine held up to the task, it definitely was a struggle. I have to say, I did not have fun quilting this, and wonder if using a long arm machine would have made the process more enjoyable.

This is the first jean quilt I made, here are some things I learned along the way: 
*I cut out each leg, cutting around the seams/pockets/zipper/knee holes as I went along. If you are doing an improv style quilt, you can wait to cut down the pieces as you go along. You’ll have to adjust width and length as you sew pieces together anyway. 
*Use a jean needle. I should have changed the needle at least once. It got dull, especially when quilting through all those layers. 
*Due to the large weave and thickness of jeans, I used a 3/8” seam allowance. I also tried to avoid cutting small pieces. I pressed the seams open after sewing two pieces together, but pressed to the side when joining strips (it gets bulky fast). 
*I cut 60 degree angles for the strips. I like the way it looks, but it did create extra material waste.

I used one of the pockets as the label, and left it open at the top. I used a fabric marker to letter the label. I have a hard time naming quilts, but we decided on Reclaimed Blues.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fabric Shops and Color Update!

The holidays were wonderful and full of lots of time with family. I even got in a little fabric shopping:) I have been fairly good at showing restraint lately, because I really don’t need any more fabric, but I just couldn’t stop from making a few purchases. I also can’t resist super adorable boutique fabric craft shops. I happened to find two while traveling for the holidays. If you are close by, you should really check them out! 

Stitch is in the really cute area called East Village, in Des Moines. I love going to the East Village because there are several cute shops, good restaurants, and at the end of the street is the beautiful capitol building. Stitch opened it’s doors fairly recently, and this was the first time I was able to go. They sell goods for sewing and knitting, and they have a space for classes too. I went ahead and bought a bottle of Soak, which I’m excited to try out. I have a few old family quilts we’ve acquired recently, and I’m hoping the Soak will work well for cleaning them.

I visited Mama Said Sew while visiting Jesse’s family in Fort Collins. This is also in a really cute neighborhood with lots of shops and restaurants. They had so much fabric, it was hard to decide what to buy. The people there were so nice, and I even had a conversation about the modern quilt guild with another customer – which is a really big deal for an introvert like me! I’m so glad I talked with her though, because I learned about this great online tool provided by the site Play Crafts (this would have been great for the recent post I did about color inspiration) used to match Kona colors from an image. I just played around with the Palette Builder real quick, and you can see a little bit how it works below. It came up with different colors than I originally matched, but I would be interested to see the fabrics in person to see how they compare. It was extremely faster than using the color card, and the tool is very user friendly. A tip - it didn’t seem to work in the Safari browser, but when I tried it in Firefox it worked great!