Wednesday, April 28, 2010

a quilt for picnics

Have you heard of Lauren and Jessi Jung?  They are a mother-daughter design team who recently debuted their first line of fabric!  It's called Botany, and I am in love.  Notice the tiny spiderwebs, lizards, frogs and hummingbirds hidden in a few of the prints.  I found a Layer Cake (Moda's 10" square precuts of one entire line) on the cheap and decided to turn them into a picnic quilt!

Now, the first time I heard someone say "picnic" and "quilt" together, I cringed.  You mean to tell me, I thought, that you would spend hours of your life on something that will doubtlessly be decorated with potato salad and grass stains within the first ten minutes of use?  Yeah, pretty much.  What can I say?  After such a long, crummy winter, I've built up an appetite for picnics.  And a good picnic necessitates something nice upon which to eat, and read, and nap.  That is how this quilt came to be.

But I couldn't just sew all 42 squares together and call it a quilt!  That would be too easy.  Rather, I cut an assortment of squares, ranging in 1/4" increments from 3" to 4" each.  These I marked on the diagonal and stitched to two opposite corners of each block, making almost a stretched star block.  It was inspired in part by this quilt by Ashley, which in turn referenced this book by Gwen Marston.

Over the weekend I pieced the top, and Steven helped me pin-baste the quilt.  The backing is a nice organic cotton canvas in aqua, and the batting is mid-loft polyester.  Hear me out!  I chose polyester because of it's loft and resilience.  That's all.  I dislike working with it because of how much it shifts, but it seemed appropriate for this application.

For the quilting, I decided on a big spiderweb motif which I regretted once it was too late.  I think it just needs more stitching, so until then, this will be one of those eternal works-in-progress.  I bound it in this big leafy print from Sew, Mama, Sew, and finished it by machine rather than by hand.  It was my first attempt at all-machine binding and I did a not-good job, if you ask me.  But hey!  Potato salad and grass stains, right?

For your amusement, here is what happens when you lose focus for a fraction of a second (don't worry, the needle survived):

Next up: coordinating picnic placemats via Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter, available for free here!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mama-made: The Guilt Quilt, part II

 This is the quilt my mom made for my birthday at the end of February.  It was a response to the Guilt Quilt that I made her for Christmas.  I told her I'd like a quilt out of either Hope Valley by Denyse Schmidt, or Tanya Whelan's Dolce.  My mom chose the latter, and I referred her to the Fresh Modern Quilts pool on Flickr for inspiration.  After much agonizing and planning, she came up with this:  


But wait--that's not all!  She had so much fabric left over that she made a pieced back.  I especially like the patches of dark grey:

So this, friends, is how my dear mama out-quilted me, several times over.  She calls the quilting pattern 'chicken scratch'; it's a randomly-placed allover diagonal sort of design that echoes the lines of this print, used in the body and for the binding:

I really can't put into words how much I love this quilt.  Design-wise, it is kind of out of my mom's comfort zone.  She made up the pattern and went for it, and the result is stunning!  The center rectangle of each block is the same size, but is placed differently within the block.  (She did this by adding borders and then squaring up.)

My dad had the idea to sash the blocks and set them on the diagonal, and helped choose the two shades of grey used on each side.  I think he also helped arrange the blocks, which is something he likes to do and is good at doing.  


I also really like the back.  The stacked books design is understated and nice way to let the prints do the talking.  My little library is around 400 titles strong (most of them NOT about sewing, can you imagine?), so I am a sucker for book-inspired design!

This is one of the best gifts I've ever received.  Mama, you outdid me.  Moreover, you outdid yourself!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

return from Stumptown

I spent last week in Portland, OR with my mom.  We were visiting family--and buying fabric.  Oops.  We flew into Nashville and I spent a couple of days there before driving home last night.  And working this morning.  That makes three time zones in four days!  I'm exhausted, and still have little jolts of forgetting the geographical location of my person.

What are these flowers?  They are planted all over my grama's neighborhood in Portland.  I have developed a definite thing for chartreuse flowers.  Okay!  More about the trip (and the trip's fabric acquisition) shortly!

Monday, April 5, 2010

chaos week is over!

I tabled at my first ever craft show on Saturday, and now I can sleep in and sew for fun if I want to.  Amazing!  You may already know that I started a little sewing business with my gal Jessica.  We call it Owlette.  At the very last minute, we decided to participate in the Spring Bloomington Handmade Market, and spent the last month sewing and minding the details.  Jessica, being uber-pregnant, could not make the trip up from Tennessee and so I enlisted Steven, the manfriend, to help.

We had a corner spot!  Being the first booth as you entered one of the rooms kind of made official greeters out of me and Geek Soap, the table across the way.  Our banner, above, I finished at 1:00a the day of the show.  Slept a little, dreamed about fabric (not kidding), woke up and loaded the car.

Sorry the photos are blurry--that's what I get for not using the flash!  Here's our booth.  Steven is very proud of the display he engineered, which was built from about $20 in materials.  In planning this structure we did not consider how we would transport something that is 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall, and ended up strapping it into the trunk with the arms sticking out.  The venue was maybe two blocks from our house, so it wasn't a problem, but we'll have to rework the design for future tabling ventures!

Jessica's screenprinted bloomers are so cute!  A lot of ladies joked that they'd like a pair in their size.  I am a fan of bloomers for all ages, and believe they are on to something.

Here is my happy-delirious face.  Everything came together well, and I am still surprised.  I have tabled before when I operated my own zine distro, at huge indy book fairs when I worked for a small publisher, and more recently, at quilt shows large and small.  So standing behind a table, exchanging goods for money is nothing new; it's just far more nerve-racking when the thing you are selling is so close to your heart!

Do any of you table at craft shows, or do you have plans to?  What have you gathered from your experience, or what would you like to know?  I feel as though I was miraculously well-prepared, though I also learned an awful lot too.

In case you can't get enough, read the Owlette interview over on the Bloomington Handmade Market blog!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

spring reading, part II

Last week I posted about books I started in spring and have yet to finish, and which I find myself wanting to return to now that spring is upon us once again.  This week, we have more spring reads!  These are books I tore through at least once already and intend to revisit.