I’m back, I think…. [Smurf Forest] WIP

Wow, I really didn’t think my mojo would go on vacation for this long. I basically haven’t sewn since our guild retreat in November. I went on another quilting retreat about a month ago and didn’t even bring my machine or fabric. I brought scrapbooking supplies instead; but it was at that retreat that my mojo started to wake back up.

At the retreat, I saw Angie making blocks for her French Roses quilt. I really loved the look of the blocks and how tactile the quilt is in the end because of the layered raw-edge appliqué (more examples here). I decided I must make this quilt and quickly figured out for who and what fabric to use.

The only thing stopping me from making it right away is three commission quilts. The commission quilts are long overdue and what I blame for losing my mojo.

After making two commission quilts last year, the novelty of doing them has warn off and I have decided it is not for me. I need to do this hobby for me alone and without a goal of making money. I committed to these last three commission before I figured this out.

So, that leads me to my latest accomplishment… it is not a finished quilt, but a finished commissioned quilt TOP. I do not usually photograph completed tops, but this time it seemed warranted given my recent slump.

[Smurf Forest] WIP

The design is wholly inspired by Amanda Jean’s quilt blocks that I saw on Pinterest. Before sewing any fabric together, I did a digital sketch of it first to see if I liked the design in these colors and to get feedback on it. The finished top looks remarkably like the sketch.

I am calling the quilt “Smurf Forest” because it will be backed with a vintage Smurf sheet and I think the pieced strips look a little like trees.

I only have one more commission quilt top to make and then it is on to the quilting and binding for three quilts. I am hoping to get these commissions wrapped up in the next couple of months so I am free to quilt as I wish once again. Wish me luck!

Idling + Biography Quilt plans

I think someone puts a reverse magnet in my sewing room every December. Since I started this hobby o’ mine almost three years ago, I do not know that I have ever sat down at my machine this time of year. I am ok with that because I generally do not give handmade gifts for Christmas, so there is no pressure to finish projects.

My idle machine does not mean that my mind has been idle. I am back to dreaming of quilts to make and projects to work on.

There is one long term project that I am itching to start… biography quilts for my girls.

These quilts will tell the story of each of my girls, in a subtle way. To someone not in the know, the quilt will look like any other sampler quilt. But, there will be meaning behind every design and pattern in it.

I made up the name term Biography Quilt. There may already be a name for this type of quilt. I am sure someone has done something like this before.

Each girl will receive her quilt after graduating from high school. I envision each taking their quilt with them to college and then napping under it and cuddling with it.

Each year of their lives will be documented with a quilt block. I say “each year,” but really it is each stage of their lives. Because of the timing of my girls’ birthdays, there is not a clean way to jump from toddlerhood to preschool, so the toddlerhood block spans about 1½ years for my girls (12 months until ~2½). Once my girls reach school age, I am documenting their lives by grade instead of by year. There will be 18 blocks spanning birth unitl 12th grade.

Since 18 blocks do not make an even quilt layout, I am adding two additional blocks. One will represent their past (family history?) and the other will represent their future (college, plans, aspirations). I am still deciding how to handle these two extra blocks. I may change how I do them later if I think of a better solution. The blocks are 12″ finished. After adding in the sashing and border, the quilts should finish around 62″ x 76″.

Biography Quilt layout

Even though these quilts will not be finished for another 13 – 17 years, I am already planning the binding and backing (it is not unusual for me to plan my backing and binding at the beginning). For the backing I need four yards and for the binding need about a half yard. I am eyeing some of the Flea Market Fancy re-prints for all three quilts’ backing and binding. The prints and colors of FMF are timeless so for me they are a great way to go.

At this point, I have not made a single block. I am ready to start making blocks for these quilts; to get current with where each of my girls are in their lives. The blocks and most fabrics are planned out, I just need to get to sewing!

If you want to see what I have planned so far, you can check out the one working link below.

  • Mallory’s Biography Quilt plan
  • Chelsea’s Biography Quilt plan (need to create the page/graphics)
  • Tessa’s Biography Quilt plan (need to create the page/graphics)

P.S. I will be documenting the quilts and the blocks details for the girls so that they understand what everything means.

This is my plan… things may change once I try to execute. ;)

[BACKGROUND: I am in the process of making "Biography Books" (i.e. scrapbooks) for the girls. The books are divided into the same structure as the quilt blocks (0-1, toddler, preschool 2, preschool 3, etc.).]

Once I complete a quilt block, I will take picture of it and then handwrite a description of the quilt block. I will explain the block name and why all of the elements in the block relate to my daughter from that particular year.

(For example, for the preschool 3 quilt block to the right, the Spider Web block was chosen because at that point my oldest’s favorite show was Spider-man (not sure how that got started). For her 4th birthday party, we did an art party with a rainbow theme. And then the fabrics in each of the colors has meaning behind it, like, the purple fabric has crowns on it and she was a purple princess for Halloween that year.)

The picture of the block will be printed as a 5″x5″ photo and the description will be written on a piece of 5″x 5½” piece of card stock. Those two elements will be attached to a 6″ x 12″ piece of kraft paper cardstock which will be inserted into a 6″ x 12″ page protector and added to the appropriate year in the Biography Book.

As I make blocks and write the descriptions, I will update this page to show how it looks in real life since my mock-up may not be very clear.

 

Retreat

Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend several days with a great group of women at the annual retreat for the Dallas Modern Quilt Guild. My husband put on his Mr. Mom hat and took a couple days off work to take care of our girls (ages 5.5, 3.5 and 20 months) from Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon. And, when I got back home the house was clean. I think he is a better housewife than me! That doesn’t surprise me though because he’s a great dad and husband. I lucked out!

Seeing as how I haven’t been in the mood to quilt all.the.time. (which is generally my norm), I was very tempted to take non-quilty/-sewing projects to work on at the retreat.

Thankfully, I came to my senses and packed three QUILTING projects to work on. While there I completed two quilt tops (snippets of each shown above) and worked on more Liberty Stars. The best part of going to a retreat is getting to know my quilty friends even better. We laughed until we cried; stayed up way too late; ate too much; and collaborated to solve various quilting dilemmas. The next retreat can’t come soon enough!

[Kinder Quilt] Finished

I am not completely out of my quilt-funk, but I am feeling more quilt-y lately. I appreciate the kind comments and encouraging feedback from my last post. I truly feel like quilting is my ART and, like most artists, my desire to create ART waxes and wanes. I am comforted knowing that my mojo will be back.

Surprisingly, I have a finish to report. Who would have thunk?!

Before I post any pictures I have to apologize for the quality of the photos. I finished this quilt so close to my deadline that it was still slightly damp from washing it when the recipient received it. So, I had no time to take pictures prior to gifting it. These pictures were taken in a windowless fluorescent-filled-light classroom.

Receiving the quilt

I mentioned in my last post that I was putting together a baby quilt for my oldest daughter’s kindergarten teacher, Mrs. H. Prior to school starting, we found out Mrs. H was nine months pregnant. After that, it did not take long for me to come up with the idea to have the students help make a quilt for their teacher. Mrs. H had her baby right after school started and she just returned from maternity leave at the end of last month.

To personalize the quilt, I had the kids write their name on a pink or grey fabric square and I pieced those into the quilt top. I wanted the name blocks to blend into the quilt design (if you squint your eyes, they do!).

For my fabrics, I started with the Feather colorway of Red Letter Day and added other coordinating prints. I really like how the various fabrics work together. And I think the themes in the fabrics are appropriate for a kindergarten teacher: scissors, award ribbons (for the positive reinforcement required in the classroom setting), big ducks and little ducks (a teacher and her students), and text.

Interestingly, I would not have have used these fabrics together a year ago.

I’ve discovered that I inadvertently do something new with each quilt I make. With this quilt, several things happened:

  • I explored fabric selection beyond a single collection AND
  • I used fabric that I previously thought was too precious to cut into unless I had the *perfect* recipient and quilt design in mind AND
  • I did not try to find the print I was missing from the Feather colorway.

How ’bout that… I’m maturing as a quilter!

[Kinder Quilt] Finished

For the back of the quilt, I had enough fabric that I didn’t have to piece it, but I needed to incorporate a light grey strip so I had a place for my labels.

I stamped all of the label information using a variety of stamps. I used my new stamp for the date and to provide more details in the ‘made by’ area.

I straight-line quilted in a horizontal-vertical grid and then diagonally through the non-name squares. I bound the quilt in the pink/grey stripe from RLD but didn’t get a close-up shot of that in my haste to get these shots.

Another project completed, many more to tackle!

Funk

Quilting is my hobby-on-a-mission. I tend to make quilts for specific purposes, to fill gifting or other needs. “Other needs” range from making quilts for my immediate and extended family, for a good cause or on commission to earn a little money (to buy more fabric, of course!).

With that kind of mindset, I can mentally over-commit to what I want to accomplish and then I get overwhelmed with my to-dos. In turn, I do nothing. The thought of having a hobby that stresses me out is absolutely ridiculous when you consider the definition of hobby is:

an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.

I have been in a sewing funk since mid-August. I have had no real desire to work on anything quilty or sewing related which is not a good thing when I am up to my eyeballs in projects that I need/want to get done:

  • silent auction quilt (due in November; I need to make ~8 more blocks)
  • baby quilt gift (baby already born; no quilt started, but I may finish an old UFO for it)
  • two large quilts that are more than half way quilted
  • “Little Apples” challenge quilt (see below)
  • three commission quilts (due before Christmas; fabric has been purchased and designs determined)
  • plus the list of WIPs/UFOs that continues to haunt me

WIP: Little Apples Challenge{ My Little Apples” DallasMQG challenge quilt – that I failed to finish – is shown above. We were allowed to add in solids. I added white, two yellows, two pinks, and two browns. I love how the addition of those solids changes the look of the collection. }

I think my funk started because of the WIPs looming over me. I feel like I should work on those first instead of other projects, even if the other projects have deadlines; most of my WIPs have no deadline. So, instead of working on anything, I work on nothing and avoid my sewing space as much as possible.

The last time I lost my quilting mojo, it took me ten months to find. I do hope this slump does not last that long.

How do I adjust my thinking and make my hobby pleasurable again? The logical thought would be to stop quilting with so many goals and just quilt for fun. However, I just cannot see myself quilting with no purpose; that does not fit my personality. I like fulfilling needs by making and gifting quilts.

I should also try to work past that pesky thing called guilt so I can enjoy whatever project I am working on at the moment.

With that last thought in mind, I started yet another project. I know, just what I need. At this point, I figure anything to get me sitting down at my sewing machine is a good thing.

Oh, and now when I sit down at my sewing machine, I am sitting down to my new Sew Perfect J table that I absolutely LOVE! You can kind of see the table in the photo below. I talked about my search for sewing tables here.

I have enlisted the help of my daughter and her classmates to make a quilt for their kindergarten teacher’s brand new baby girl (the gift will be a surprise for the teacher). My daughter’s teacher, who was only in the classroom three days before having her baby, is scheduled to be back in class at the end of October. That gives me a little less than a month to get this done.

For the baby quilt, I am using the Feather (pink/brown) colorway of Red Letter Day plus a mix of coordinating fabrics (prints and solids). I ironed freezer paper to pink and grey solid fabric and then cut that fabric into five inch squares. I went into the classroom yesterday to explain the project to the kids and had them write their first names on a fabric square with a Fabrico marker.

WIP: RLD baby quiltI am using a square-in-square design for the blocks. The quilt will be about half signature blocks and half RLD print blocks. I want the signature blocks to be secondary in the quilt design, but still easily visible. We’ll see if that works when I piece the top. I am already more than half way done making the blocks. Fingers crossed that the rest comes together quickly.

I have 22 five year olds counting on me to complete this quilt. Hopefully that is enough to get me through this slump and help me finish the quilt on time.

Until then, I am not sure what I will do about my other commitments…

Finish it Up! Results

As summer vacation is coming to a close, it’s time to post the results of my Finish it Up! goals.

My goal was to work on my IN PROGRESS/DUE projects and skip the LONG TERM and ON HOLD/IN LIMBO projects (which I described here).

IN PROGRESS/DUE (i.e. want to finish before September or sooner)

  • [Arcadian Meadow] FinishedArcadian Meadow (throw quilt): finished!
  • County Picnic (picnic quilt): no progress; waiting until I get my new sewing table at the end of September to finish quilting
  • Knowledge, Faith, Nurture (potholders): no progress; must finish binding before preschool starts in September.
  • Sew Fun 2 | May | ErinBee Blocks (x3): finished!
  • Hopscotch Patchwork (picnic/throw quilt): now quilting; I will finish before end of month
  • Trudy Tres (throw quilt): no progress; will complete before end of year

It doesn’t look like I worked on much this summer, does it? Only TWO finishes?!? This list is deceptive. Despite trying to focus on my current WIPs this summer, I still managed to start new projects and create even more WIPs (total now at 14!).

I’m a strange soul. I don’t like to be told what to do, even when it is *me* telling me what to do. That doesn’t even make sense, does it? I generally work when inspiration or motivation strikes.

So, what new things did I start?

  • Apples Squared: a DallasMQG challenge mini quilt (status: making blocks, backing complete; due: September)
  • [Liberty Stars] WIPLiberty Stars (thumbnail right): a twin size quilt that I’ll donate to the elementary school’s silent auction (status: have made 30+ blocks, need 48; due: November)
  • Pocket Pixies Apple Core: nap quilt for Tessa (status: die-cut pieces cut out; due: August 2012)
  • Raw Edge Apple Core Tester: to make before Tessa’s nap quilt to figure out technique (status: die-cut pieces cut out)

In addition to these, I need to start a few more quilts in the very near future.

  • Baby quilt (fabric TBD): for J’s co-worker; baby was born today! (due: ASAP)
  • Rainbow Squares: commission throw-sized quilt (status: design determined; due: November)
  • Rainbow Circles: commission throw-sized quilt (status: design determined; due: November)
  • Blue + Green: commission throw-sized quilt (status: design determined; due: November)

I am afraid that my WIP list is going to continue to grow instead of shrink. Eek!