Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sewing for My Dad

So, it's been a while since I've posted. I don't have any good excuses, just that life seemed to intervene. But I've continued to sew and embroider. The latest news is that I just bought Liberty's new Bloomsbury Gardens line in blue and I'm in love! I finished up another baby quilt for my cousin's new little girl, Sarah, and I'm working on a belated 30th birthday quilt for my best friend, Drea.

But let's backtrack a few months. My dad requested a quilt for his bed when I finished my first quilt. I thought "Sure! It will be fun!" However, choosing fabric and a pattern for a guy quilt was surprisingly difficult. There aren't a whole lot of masculine quilting fabrics out there, and my dad is a pretty simple guy style-wise, so I couldn't venture into anything too modern. I kept it simple, using Amy Smart's Brickyard pattern, though I decided to forgo the borders and added some extra rows instead to make it closer to the size of my dad's queen bed.

I initially drew inspiration from David Butler's new Parson Gray line, which seemed like the perfect "dude" fabric, but once I had it in hand, it still seemed a bit too modern for dad's taste. I ended up using a few designs from it, but turned to the Saville Row line from Northcott Fabrics for the main patterned fabric of the quilt. It's a combo of traditional patterns -- houndstooth, plaids, stripes, argyles, and paisleys -- in black, cream, and brown. Perfect for dad's room! Since his comforter is green, I opted to throw in some green patterns and solids, too, just to add a little splash of color. The greens are from all different lines -- whatever was on sale and that I thought would work. I used a darker cream for the sashing and black for the binding. I quilted it using vertical straight lines, which was something a bit different from what I had done before -- no criss-crossing quilted lines this time! I love the way it turned out.

The back may be my favorite part, though. The main fabric is a brown plaid from Connecting Threads, a store that has great discount fabric. (It's become my favorite place to buy larger yardages of fabric since it's so affordable, but is still of a decent quality.) But the surprise comes in the Civil War print. My dad is a big history buff and would retire to become a Civil War re-enactor if he could. I found this print of Civil War soldiers with excerpts from real letters soldiers wrote to loved ones. It's in cream and brown, so it fit with the overall color scheme of the quilt. I just added a wide strip of it to the back, so it's a fun little secret that's purely "Dad." I embroidered a little note to him, too.

I gave him the quilt for Father's Day and he seemed to love it, even though he knew it was coming. Since I do a lot of my quilting at his house, it was hard to find time to get it done when he wasn't there -- but I managed! I popped into his room last week and saw it on his bed -- with the Civil War side facing up. Perhaps I should have made a whole quilt from that fabric alone. :)

With the leftover fabric, I made him a drawstring bag to hold the quilt using the same tutorial from In Color Order that I've used several times before. I figured he could use it as a laundry bag on vacation (which he did).

My dad's birthday is in early May and I knew I wouldn't finish the quilt in time. So, I made him a few throw pillows. Two are embroidered with Celtic-style symbols and two are made from home decor fabric. All of the covers slip off. (I'm getting better at making pillow covers!) I chose the fabrics to match the style of his rec room, which we've been working on updating. My only regret is not using heavier fabrics for the brown pillows. The Kona solid I used wrinkles easily. But it doesn't seem to be a huge issue. The striped fabric has held up really well.

Recently, my dad has also been learning how to cook. I'm very impressed with the progress he's made. He's gone from only knowing how to make grilled cheese and fried eggs to being adept at cooking 20 or so different meals in just two years' time. So, I embroidered "Chef Joe" on an apron for him. (The apron is from IKEA. If I had more time, I might have made him a whole apron myself, but I needed to make progress on the quilt. Sadly, I neglected to take a picture of the apron. Blogging fail.)

So, those are the "guy gifts" I've made. My brother is now demanding a quilt, too. He wants it to be LSU-themed, so it's a little easier fabric-wise -- at least I already have a color scheme!

In other exciting news, I bought a new camera! It's a Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot, and I love it. It takes much better pictures than the ones you've seen so far and is less fussy than my old Canon Elph. Unfortunately, it had a small accident on vacation and there appears to be a tiny scratch on the lens. I have to see what I can do about getting it fixed -- or if it's even worth it to get it fixed -- but either way, there are better pictures ahead!