Friday, July 23, 2010

Cuddly Blanket

First of all - Happy Birthday, Mom!   Hope you enjoy your special day!
It’s rare that I can receive fabric and cut into it within a day or so of receiving it.  I like to gaze it from afar, pet it, imagine all the good times we’ll have – you know, normal stuff.  Not this fabric.  I couldn’t wait to slice into it and make it into something.  It helps when you have the perfect project in mind.  In this case, Anna Maria Horner’s swaddling blankets.  My one concern about jumping in – I didn’t prewash my fabrics and I have little experience working with either flannel or voile so I’m unsure of the shrink factor.  
Little folks Voile and
Flannel Blanket
Working with the flannel and voile is like working with butter and um, melted butter?  Both so decadent, both so perfect to have cuddle your baby’s perfectly soft newborn skin.  As proof, when I opened the package Alice quickly snatched a piece of the voile and proceeded to wrap herself up in it.  It appears I’ll be making a version for older sis, too.  
flannel and voile
I followed Anna Maria’s directions on her site – my favorite kind of directions – quick and to the point.  I’ve made other similar blankets with multiple-page tutorials and they take me forever because if directions are provided, I’m compelled to follow along, step by step. 
flannel and voile
The project flew by until I suddenly stalled out on the binding.  Voile is some slippery stuff, my friends.  If I can give you any advice, pin, then pin even more, and then pin even more.  Your blanket should look like an acupuncture patient.  And then pin some more.  Seam ripping through voile is not pretty and you want to avoid it at all costs. 
The finished project – I had to use every ounce of self-restraint to fold up the blanket and not bring it to bed with me last night.  So soft, so light and airy.  It’s like mousse in blanket form.  Luckily, I bought enough fabric to make two.  I think they will be getting lots of use. 
Of course, when I showed J he had to bring up the one fact that I was trying to shove into the back of my brain. That while, yes, the blanket is lovely and soft, it will inevitably get covered in spit up, pee, etc.  Well, if my child is going to poop on something, I guess I’d prefer it to be soft? 
I also made a couple bibs, loosely following this pattern from  I eliminated the batting and used a piece of terrycloth for the backing.  Great pattern – easy to follow and Jaime’s created so many inspiring versions!
Two projects down, manymanymany more to go!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Timeline for a Quilt

February 2009 – buy fabric.
February to Summer – pet fabric, envision gorgeous quilts, remain paralyzed in fear of cutting beautiful fabrics.  Scour flickr for quilt inspiration.
Summer – Select quilt pattern.  Engineer how to make quilt.  Cut bazillions upon bazillions of little triangles. Get sick of cutting.
Fall to Winter – Forget about quilt.
Spring – remember fabric half cut for quilt.  Dig out pieces.  Remember plan.  Finish cutting other bazillion triangles.  Start piecing.  Interest in other projects surpasses interest in quilt. 
June/July – In fit of motivation, finish piecing quilt. 
July – Momentum continues! Quilt top finished, sandwiched, bound, and quilted. 
Now the real question is how do all you flickrites manage to post freshly finished quilts on a weekly (or less!) basis? 

Pattern:  No real pattern. I found a couple photos of kaleidoscope quilts on flickr and fell in love.  I bought a 45 degree triangle quilting template, but halfway through the project ordered a kaleidoscope-specific template.  


We had some guests over while I was finishing up the quilt top and someone gave me what I consider the ultimate compliment – “wow, this looks like something you’d find in anthropologie!”

I really wanted to play with hot pink as an accent color, but knew there would be no chance J would be cool with a hot pink bedspread, even in miniscule amounts.  So, I went with red.  I still would prefer hot pink, but I’m digging the red.


Overall, I’m in love with the quilt.  I had some moments of doubt during its construction – things like whether or not the gray was dark enough, whether the colors would achieve the look I was striving for, whether my imprecise piecing would be evident, etc.—but now that it’s done, I love it. 

93 | 365 top, binding,

I’m usually drawn to the boldest prints and colors in each fabric collection, which are gorgeous on their own, but often too distracting in quilts. I forced myself made a strong effort to choose some small-scale prints and introduce a level of simplicity with the quilt.  Hence, all the 45 degree triangles are the same print in each block.  I think employing some restraint worked out.   

A mix of:
Anna Maria Horner’s Good Folks
Amy Butler’s Lotus 
Heather Bailey’s Pop Garden
Kona Ash
With this out of the way, I can work on some little projects for the little chicklet, set to arrive in 8 short weeks!

Because this is a queen-sized quilt, I kept things simple.  I stitched a line on either side of each block seam and then through the center of the block, both vertically and horizontally. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My new crafty digs

When I got pregnant with Alice, we converted our office/craft room into her room.  My sewing machine and piles of associated sewing / craft stuff was relegated to the guest room and closet.  While picking up a sewing machine and carrying it downstairs to the dining room doesn’t seem like that overwhelming a task, I dread it and will knit a sweater or bake ten pies before I carry the machine down a flight of stairs.

71 | 365 summer

Of course when I do drag the machine downstairs, I take over the dining room and often spill into the kitchen, much to the chagrin of my clean-freak husband.  And of course since Alice was born and we have another on the way, there are eleventy billion cute little baby projects that I must sew.  During my maternity leave, I spent hours sewing during Alice’s marathon newborn naps, the sewing machine humming along while she slept peacefully in her little swing.  Sewing these days requires much more planning and usually only takes place during the hours between Alice’s bedtime and my bedtime, which these days aren’t too far apart.  The occasional times I motivate to drag out my sewing machine, I try and sew everything sewy floating around in my brain so I can avoid carting all my materials back and forth.  Mostly I sew all small projects for Alice.   
Now that we have another baby on the way, Alice will move into the more spacious guest room, the new baby into Alice’s room, and my ever-growing stash of craft supplies will again be relocated.  Instead of the dragging out my sewing machine every time I want to sew, l’ve been bargaining with J on what’s an appropriate place.  Setting up a sewing area in the living room?  Not okay with him.  Plopping my sewing machine on a cardboard box in our leaky basement?  Not cool with me.  We’re working through it and eventually I’ll get my way we’ll make a perfectly amicable compromise with which both of us can live.  As a bit of an interim solution, I set up camp in our 3-season porch.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner.  Not only do I get to sew semi-outside, I’m far enough from view that my sewing stuff doesn’t take over the house.  And even on the hottest of days, a little breeze through all the windows and a ceiling fan make everything tolerable, if not enjoyable. 
I’m still working out where I’m going to store everything once I’m officially kicked out of the guest room and my stash moves into the basement (where all the scary things live!) and where my sewing area will move once it gets too cold to sew outside.  Which, in New England is in like a month and a half!
Those of you with tight spaces – how do you handle it?  Do you have a sewing nook or do you set up and break down every time you sew?  Or worse, do you just not sew?