Monday, May 21, 2012

A Festival of Quilts

With all the sewing going on over here, I thought it appropriate to participate in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival this year!  People have been making some great quilts, and it's been great to hear a bit of the process or story behind them.

I'm going to talk a little bit more about my favorite quilt that I've made - the Rainbow Vortex Quilt.

Top Spiral

When the American Museum of Folk Art had the "Infinite Variety" showing of a vast collection of red and white quilts, I was floored by the red and white vortex quilt.  I couldn't stop thinking about it!  Pictures kept popping up online, adding to my obsession. 

Right around this time I picked up a rainbow of Kona solids - a half yard each of 12 different colors.  I had no specific plans for these colors - the only "rule" was that it could only be supplemented with white fabric. 

I continued to think about the vortex quilt. I got out some paper and mocked the whole thing up, did a lot of math, tried out different things.  I thought about the easiest way to cut and piece the whole thing.  I thought about it all again.  And again.  And again.
Sir Drafts-A-Lot on A Saturday Morning

I finally got out the rotary cutter and set to cutting.  I managed to sew the majority of the pieces together over the course of an afternoon.  The center of the top features an absurd 48 seams over a very very small amount of space - I had to trim these back, and in the end I placed a quarter-sized circle of white fabric in the center. 

Getting There!

Due to the close proximity of many of the seams at the center of the quilt top, I thought the best way to go about quilting this was by hand.  But I also wanted it to be DONE.  I invited some crafty ladies over and we had a splendid quilting bee, each working an arc of color in a matching thread. 

This quilt it gigantic, but definitely one of my prouder quilting achievements.  I'm thrilled with how it came out, I'm ecstatic that my math WORKED, and I love how the colors play together.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Springback Account Ledger

My friend Amy is scheduled to teach a workshop on Springback Binding in a few weeks, and asked me if I would help work out the timing for some parts of it.  It's not a structure that I've made before, so I was curious to see how it all came together.  And I like working on things with her!  We had one meeting to go over the initial steps in the structure and discuss where students may run into problems and some of the timing of things.  And then I got too excited about the whole thing!

Springback, Drying

I worked with a book that was converted from individual page .pdf form into a paginated collection of 4-folio sections.  This was I would have a completed, real book instead of just a "model" book.  The sewing took a bit (as this was a thick textblock) but after that it all went quite smoothly.  The main obstacle I encountered was drying time - I was anxious to continue!!!!

Hasty Corners

The flange for this thing is magnificent - it's got SO MUCH stuffed into it and ends up being ridiculously stiff.  The leather is easily applied and didn't stretch too much.  It took seemingly forever to dry though.


And it works!!!  And I'm thrilled with it.  I'm a fan of books with slightly-too-thick covers, so I love this structure.  The opening mechanism is great - you can feel it "pop" the textblock out of the spine.

Springback Test

The springback binding is most commonly seen in old account ledgers.  The "spring" allows the spine to pop out and lets the pages all open flat, straight across the gutter.  To do this you create a magnificent lever that is incorporated into the binding.  The boards for these books are generally quite thick, and the spine is solid as well.  The leather applied to these books was traditionally only edge-pared, allowing for a little bit more stability with the thicker leather.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Everything's Coming Up Rabies! I Mean Babies.

I'm in mega-making-things-for-babies mode.  Yet another racket!  Crib sheets are all sold in overpriced sets, everything is too precious.  Taking a hint from knotty bits, I picked up some fabric and made some crib sheets (so fast! so easy!).  Next up: The Quiltening.

Ugly Baby Quilt

Baby quilts are so fast and fun and easy.  It's great to be able to pick out a pattern knowing that you don't have to commit to making enough to cover the whole bed.  I tend to not be as fidgety with baby quilts either because I know they'll just be covered in bodily fluids instantly.  And they're easy to run through the machine for fast machine quilting!  And you don't need mega-yardage.

Anyway, this one.  I picked up that adorable bear fabric awhile back.  I had wanted to make a Carpenters Square Quilt for quite some time, and this seemed a reasonable opportunity to try it out.  It's a piece of cake!  Though I will say that before it got that brown stitching it was a little bit retina searing. 

Next up:

Baby Chenille

This is one of those Faux Chenille Baby Blankets and Boy Howdy is it easy to make.  And pretty fast!  It is super plush and delightfully soft and cuddly.  I think the rounded corners are charming as well.

I took a break from the quilting and moved on to some knitting and made this little Snug:


This was a super fast knit.  I think I knit it up on US7s?  The yarn is a 3-ply explosion of Hello Yarn goodness in 3 colorways and fibers: "Kale", "Fresh Start", "Spring Loaded" (Falklands/SAF/Merino).  I spun this up 2.5 years ago with no real plans for what it would end up as.  This seems as good a knit as any.  The pattern is clearly written and it is FAST.  It is also *almost* seamless.

I travel next!  Expect adventures and knitterly visits, cheese and mustard, and maybe some Big Sky :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

As Promised: SHIRT MAYHEM!

With skirt madness temporarily sated, D expressed interest in picking up a pattern to make some Hawaiian style shirts.  In fact, he wanted to make them himself.  So off we went to pick out a pattern.

Shirt Magic!

This is Simplicity 5581.  The shirt is pretty easy to make, except for the collar (of course) which is pretty fidgety (as collars go).  I've had this fabric forEVER, and it was great to put it to use.

Next up, D wanted to make one a shirt too.  I figured the best way to go about this would be for us EACH to make a shirt at the same time. This way I could walk him through some of the more difficult parts and use the shirt I was working on as the model/demo.  After a run to gather here to pick up some more fabric, we got to work.  Two shirts later.....

(this is the one that I worked on)

Mr. Roboto

...and ROBOTS!  This is the one that he worked on.  Pretty great, right?!?!?!

Next up: QUILTS!

Friday, May 11, 2012

More Sewing!!!

For a brief moment in early April, it was spring skirt weather here in New England. This was, of course, very short lived, but it was long enough for me to eagerly tackle many of the fabric piles I had purchased with the specific intent of making skirts.

Things got a little bit crazy.

Skirt Madness II

First, this denim-type skirt.  The lovely Miss Walsh was over with a delightful jean skirt on, and I reverse-engineered this from my memory of what her skirt looked like.  I added pockets - REAL POCKETS, not those dinky fake pockets - and went crazy with the top-stitching.  It's a maroon duck-cloth and it's mighty comfortable.

So nice, in fact, that I made it twice:


This one is with a Cotton/Linen blend Echino print.  I'm really thrilled with how the piping on this one turned out!  And it was easy.

I changed things up a bit after that:

Skirt Madness III

This is just a simple reverse box-pleat skirt in a much lighter cotton.  No pockets.  Invisible zipper.  


And the last one (for now!) - this is another reverse-engineered number.  It's based on a skirt that I wore CONSTANTLY and is made from a linen/cotton blend.  Again with the top-stitching!  Apparently that's my "thing".  This one is a bit longer, has some more swing and drape.  No pockets.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Some Sewing

I got this awesome new sewing machine for my birthday - HUMPABLE It's the Singer 160 and it is replacing my much-loved 25 year-old Kenmore. (I really wish there was a simple way to attach an odometer to these machines because I'd love to know the "mileage" I've put on it.) The Singer is great - my old machine was missing the wide-bed attachment for a loooong time, so it's great to have a nice wide bed to hold things a bit more. It's also super smooth and quiet - the Kenmore was like a freight train! I had been considering getting a new machine for quite some time, and when I saw this I knew it was the machine for me - not too many bells and whistles, slightly more high-tech than the Kenmore, and completely humpable. So with a new machine, what else to do but SEW???? First up, I finished up this Two-Zip Hip Bag. Two Zip Hip This was a great test for the new machine, as the pattern has you sewing through something like 12 thicknesses of decorator-weight fabric. It's also got some tiny, mildly fidgety bits. I'm thrilled with how it came out. And it was another chance to use my favorite goat fabric from IKEA. Next up, this adorable fitted tablecloth: New Tablecloth This is from a pattern in Home Sewn: French General, which is a charming book full of linen. I modified the way I approached the pattern a bit. This is a cotton/linen blend from Jo-Ann Fabric. I also made a slightly larger one in red, with a non-scalloped border. Next up: CLOTHING. QUILTS.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mini-Skein Madness

Lest you believe that the drum-carding extravaganza is the end of my fiber-related tasks, I present to you MINI-SKEINS: Pate de Fruit Mini Skeins That's HY "Pate de Fruit" in Rambouillet Mini-Skein Madness: Burnished HY "Burnished" (BFL) Mini-Skein Madness: Kitsune HY "Kitsune" (Polwarth/Silk) Mini-Skein Madness: Smells of the Sea ....and HY "Smells of the Sea" (Wensleydale) Now to figure out what to knit! Or maybe weave???? Anyway, mini-skeins are a blast to make. They are fast! They are really satisfying! And they are super cute! And then I lost my spinning mojo and moved on to sewing - I'll put all that up in the next few posts.