Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sewing Log

A quick paragraph about my most recent quilt, a William Morris 9 block done by hand. The squares on this quilt are big, 13 inches plus 2 inch borders. Luckily Maria had a girl, as this quilt is very floral. It is the first time I've ever done the quilting myself, and with NO thimble. I also used canvas for the bias border, just for extra blood and pain. I am a glutton for punishment, but on the plus side I can now sand wood with my fingertips! This is my 9th quilt, but the first time I've done all the quilting myself. The quilt-as-you-go process made it simple and just as enjoyable as embroidery. Plus, think of all the money I'm saving by not paying a quilter $100 a pop. I could have improved the look by using heavier thread or even painting the white of the fabric. Good thing the quilt is scrappy and for a baby to play on as there are holes and measurement mistakes all over the place. I also had to use two different types of batting, so the some squares are flatter than others. Final measurement size: 4.25ft x 4.25ft

2012 Quilt #9 for Maria, Phoenix AZ. William Morris 9 Block. 

2011 Dress #2 for Aubrey. Laundry by Shelli Segal graduation dress upcycle.

2011 Dress #1 for Ana. Silk pillowcase design upcycle.

2011 Quilt #8 for Genevieve, Seattle WA. Vintage Christmas Cranston Works 5 Block
2011 Quilt #7 for Kelly, Chicago, IL.  Michael's embroidered baby iron transfers. 
2010 Quilt #6 for Kathy, Cincinnati OH.  48 Red, White, & Blue Ohio Stars all by hand! 
2010 Quilt #5 for Kristin, Portage MI.  Penny Lane by Abby Lane Quilts 
2009 Quilt #4 for Nolan, Sydney NSW.  Around the World
2009 Quilt #3 for Waneta, South Bend IN. Amish 12 Block
2008 Quilt #2 for Claire, San Fran CA. Embroidered alphabet Ocean Creatures (1 day old!) 
2008 Quilt #1 for Ana, Sydney NSW.  Michael's embroidered alphabet animals

The week after I stopped working at the beginning of my third trimester in 2008, I started quilting. Having never sewn anything more than a friendship bracelet, this was quite an undertaking.  My family has a long history of quilting and thought it was a good idea to bring back an old family tradition.  I started small with an iron-on baby embroidery kit from Michaels. After sifting through the patterns I decided I wanted to use some of my own and turned to the internet.  I went back to Michaels and bought t-shirt transfers which you can print images to from your printer.  I selected the images I wanted in black and white and could now embroider anything from the internet. Since this quilt was to be for my daughter, I decided on an ABC animal theme.  I had plenty of help from my mother and used her sewing machine since I didn't have one yet.

Two weeks before baby was born, my mother threw a huge shower for me and I had all the attendants sign the quilt.  This was very special as a few of the signers are no longer with us.  We bought fabric pens that matched the pastel colors of the animals and had just enough embroidered animals (48 in total). I always prefer that my quilts be used, but my mother insisted this one was special and should be hung so I  made Ana a simple quilt shelf for her room.  It cost about $15 for the supplies from home depot. Since it was my first quilt and I am self taught, I made several mistakes. I didn't pick out a border, or even know what a binding was.  I did the basic block work and sewed the entire 96 blocks together by hand.

Having thoroughly enjoyed making my first quilt I began a second right away. I had plenty of leftover material from Ana's quilt and loved the embroidery alphabet theme.  My good friend was expecting her first daughter and thought it was another good practice opportunity.  I again downloaded and printed 30 clipart images of ABC sea creatures and ironed them to the backs of muslin.  Every night while my husband watched his AMC turner classics or obscure shows on netflix I would embroider away.  Six months later quilt number two was complete AND I got to hand deliver it the same day the baby came home. I'm pretty sure this is the only quilt in history to contain an embroidered Rat-tail fish!

I really enjoyed watching Claire grow and get good use out of her quilt, so how could I stop there? I decided I needed more practice outside of embroidery and simple 4 block patterns. I picked up an old quilt pattern my mother had started and never finished.  Fortunately it didn't require a sewing machine and introduced the art of applique. Hooray for something new - and what a challenge! This 12 block set includes 2 Grandmother's Flower Gardens, 1 Ohio Star, 2 lovely Dutch Girls, and two made-up patterns. The design and material used were close to 25yrs old as you can see it is very traditional.  The applique practice was good and I decided to give this quilt to my grandmother for Christmas.  I have yet to see the finished bound product.

I'm not a personal fan of traditional looking quilts, by my grandmother LOVED it.  Still the Amish do quilts best, so I headed down to Shipshewana after completing my third quilt to look for some more modern and retro patterns.  This is where I found a pattern called "Penny Lane" by Abby Lane Quilts.  How could I resist?! I picked it up along with some fun fabrics.  My fourth quilt was a cooperative 2 year project with my husband. He suggested I quilt every country we had traveled for our second child and helped pick the designs. This turned out to be 60 embroidered blocks in a queen size alphabetical layout that I made a cheat sheet for (just in case).  This quilt took two years of embroidering, but the results paid off.  There are several intricate blocks I am very proud of, including Japan, Russia, Poland.  If ever there was a piece of inheritance, I stand proud in this one.

Quilt 5 was the breaking point for purchasing a sewing machine. I had been working diligently piecing a 50 block red, white, and blue Ohio Star queen size quilt for my mother by hand.  While the end product wasn't perfect, I was proud to have done all 50 stars by hand, and was very ready for my first sewing machine.  My mother bought me a used Jean's Machine for my 30th birthday in exchange for her Ohio Star quilt gift! It was only $50 and works great for what I need.

With a sewing machine I now had the perfect way to try out my Penny Lane pattern! I read it was easy to "rapid" quilt, meaning if you are experience you might be able to finish it in a week for sale.  It took me about a month, which was much much faster than six months per quilt by hand.  I have to admit, Penny Lane is one of my poorer put together quilts.  I put a firm end to paying someone to do my backing and bindings.  I watched a tutorial and decided to whip stitch it myself.  I bought a supper snuggly forest felt backing and some thick muslin for the middle as I knew Penny Lane was going to be a gift for my sister-in-law's baby up in Michigan. The end result was a warm, chunky quilt perfect for daily use in a girls room.
In 2011 I fell slightly behind in my quilting hobby due to another big move.  While this didn't phase me in the past, having two children does.  With Ana now in school I am able to resume my quilt gifting, and my most recent project is a square puffy piece for my friend expecting triplets. I should have made it a bit bigger, but really want to have a go at quilting it myself. It again has 30 embroidered pastel baby blocks from the original Michael's iron-ons I bought in 2008 (I really do use everything). We had to buy a power adapter for my sewing machine, but Jean is still running great here Australia.   More than anything I love seeing my quilts being used and I can't wait to see three babies crawling and drooling all over this thick squishy quilt. I wish more than anything I could hand deliver it as well.

I already have the fabric and design idea for my 8th quilt which will be a navy Christmas piece for my friend Genevieve in Seattle.  I try to keep my costs minimal, using all of my fabric and even old blankets as muslin.  I enjoy browsing so many great pattern ideas on Pinterest and above all love seeing my quilts being used.  I love the accuracy of hand quilting and piecing, but am glad to finally own a sewing machine. My Great Aunt Phyllis owns a quilting machine that is the size of an entire room.  While I'm not ready to take that step in terms of dedication, her quilts are truly an inspiration and have won many awards.  As the Backscheider family grows, I can't wait to gift more quilts or have a go at making clothes.

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