Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Baby Quilt Two-fer

The babies in my life tend to be born in waves, and there were two awesome little ones due last spring. For the first time ever, I decided to make TWO quilts at the same time! This meant twice the fabric cutting, twice the piecing, twice the basting, twice the quilting, and twice the binding, but it actually went pretty quickly once I got into a rhythm. It was like having my own little assembly line.

I actually found all of the fabric I needed in my stash, which was also a first for me! I've used Anne Kelle's Urban Zoologie prints in quite a few projects now, and I had a fair amount left over from Baby Michael's quilt last year. Since one of these new quilts was marked for Michael's little brother or sister, it seemed appropriate that they would coordinate. Love those tiny animals.


To show off the adorable animal prints, I made large blocks with three even-width strips of fabric. I didn't use a pattern; I just figured out roughly how big I wanted the blocks to be and went from there.

You'll notice some differences in the blocks across the two quilts, which was mainly due to fabric availability. I had to improvise when I didn't have enough of a fabric to make another block! But this also ended up making the quilts unique, despite the fact they were made at the same time with the same general layout.

For blenders, I used Lizzy House's mini-pearl bracelets in primary and secondary colors. I bought a fat quarter bundle of them on Massdrop about a year ago and had been waiting for just the right project to use them on! The other fabrics are a mixture of solids and prints I had on hand. (My fabric collection is seriously getting out of control...)

The backs are both from yardage of a bright blue fabric I bought for another project, but whose color just didn't work out in the end. I like how it brightens up the back of these quilts without being too busy. The fronts are busy enough! I quilted diagonally across the large blocks, and I like the diamond effect on the backs.

These quilts are now with their adorable little owners: my cousin's daughter, Caitlin, and my college friend Emily's son, Kylian. (Perhaps Auntie Kym can do some matchmaking when they get older? They both come from good Irish stock!)

I'm currently working on a wedding quilt for friends who were married in June. (Eek! But you have a year to give a gift, right?) It's large and it has taken ages. Summer travel meant I didn't have much time at all to devote to it, and work got incredibly busy during the fall, so it sat neglected on my ironing board. But I've made a lot of progress on it in the past week, and I hope to finish it this holiday weekend. Then, I will be caught up on my sewing obligations and might actually sew something for myself!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A Well-Traveled Quilt and Pillow

It's been a busy summer and I haven't spent too much time with my sewing machine. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I sewed up a storm in the spring and needed a break! I took a 10-day trip to England in April to visit family, friends, and -- most importantly -- Liberty of London for some fabric shopping. It had been three years since my previous UK visit and I was missing England, and the people I love who live there, quite a bit. It was a great trip, but I did have some extra baggage with me...

Yes, I decided to make a quilt and lug it across the pond! My dear friends Alex and Annie May bought a flat in London last year -- no small feat. I thought that was deserving of a handmade (er, machine-made) gift. Alex is an Englishman who studied abroad at Lehigh with me for a year, then I studied in his mother country the summer after. He's become one of my closest friends and we've managed to stay in touch despite the miles. (Actually, I see him more often than I see many of my pals who live in the U.S.!) When he started dating a lovely English-born, New Zealand-bred gal a few years ago, there wasn't any doubt we would become amazing friends, too. So, I had it in my mind to make them a quilt after the holidays, hopefully in time for my April trip.

I started on the quilt some time in the late winter -- details are getting fuzzy because it was so long ago! Annie has an eye for art and impeccable fashion sense, so I didn't want any fabrics that were too stodgy, cutesy, or traditional. I decided that some big, bold florals and geometrics would be the thing. Alex has no strong opinions about design or fabric that I know of, but he does have strong opinions about football, so I designed the colo(u)r scheme around his beloved Tottenham Hotspur team. 

The squares are large -- 10 x 10 -- I think, but that's because I really wanted to show off the large prints. I set the rows en pointe (diagonally) to add some visual interest. I didn't make this from a pattern, but I did pull out Amy Butler's Lattice Quilt pattern for reference when it came to the triangles along the edges. (That's the one I used for Drea's quilt way back when!) I quilted in a grid, shadowing the squares as I normally do.

There's really a hodgepodge of fabric in there. I ordered a fat quarter bundle of Camelot Cottons' Mint to Be line in navy, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to figure out which ones came from that line. There's also some Secret Garden fabric by Sandi Henderson that I've had in my stash since I started sewing, a few blenders from V and Co. (another go-to designer for me), and my favorite Joel Dewberry herringbone pattern that ends up in many of my projects. The back is a large polka dot pattern (Michael Miller, I think), and the binding is from Cotton + Steel. I thought the little Xs were appropriate, since that's how Alex and Annie always sign-off on their emails and texts. (It's a British thing!)

My friends seemed really surprised and pleased with the quilt, which currently sits in their lounge, so it was more than worth the hassle of trying to squeeze it into my suitcase for a transatlantic flight. Even better, they had just gotten engaged a few weeks prior, so the gift had a little extra meaning!

But that wasn't the only gift I made. My friends Lisa and Andrew had a daughter, Hattie, in between my visits to England. I made a pillow for Hattie's big sister Abigail when she was born, so Hattie needed one as well. 

I'd been dying to use the unicorn fabric from Heather Ross since I purchased it about a year prior, and I used some other purples and magentas from my stash. I hand-embroidered Hattie's name like I did for her sister, but this time around, I used quilt-as-you-go method for the pillow front. I'm a new convert! Some of my favorite sewing bloggers swear by it, and it is definitely both easy and effective for a project of this size.

It was a delight to meet Hattie, who is now 2, and see how much Abigail has grown up. They are sweet and silly little ladies, and I hope they enjoy their presents from their American auntie.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't confess to spending way more time and money at Liberty than was strictly necessary. Annie took this shot of the awesome monkey quilt on display and inadvertently captured my super-serious fabric-buying face!

I don't know what it is about Liberty. My tastes in fabric don't usually lean toward dainty flowers, but there's so much history there and the fabric is so incredibly silky-soft, it's hard not to be enamored with it. They are an English national treasure! I ended up with 2 1/2 yards of fabric, a pack of mini-charm squares, and a large dent in my bank account balance. But when in London, right?

Next up: More baby gifts! (Shocker!)

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Quilt for Veronica Jane

I've written about Drea on here a few times, as she's one of my best friends and has always been a supporter of my quilting endeavors--and my life in general! I am happy to announce that she and her husband, Mike, welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Veronica Jane, on April 30th. I finally met her last weekend, and she is a little doll. Beautiful and warm like her mama, and curious and observant like her dad.

Drea knew she would be having a daughter and she kept me posted on decor for the nursery, so I was able to pick out fabric that was 1) a little bit girly, and 2) tied into the nursery's forest theme. Most of the fabric I picked came from the Owl & Co line by Riley Blake, featuring all sorts of cute owls, hedgehogs, squirrels, and birdies in pastel colors. I didn't want the quilt to be too pink, so I used green as a focus color for the blenders, binding, and back.

The pattern is based on this one, but I adjusted some of measurements. It has two large strips of the main animal fabric with rows of charm squares. As usual, I stressed out over the arrangement of the blocks so that similar colors and patterns weren't touching, but the variety of fabrics I used helped out quite a bit! I believe the final size of the quilt was around 40 x 55", so it's fairly large for a baby quilt. The quilting lines echo the charm squares, which gives the large strips of fabric a nice texture!

I am a sucker for cute animals!

Some of the blenders, like the Joel Dewberry pink hexagons and Lizzy House pearl bracelets below, came from my stash. The binding is from Connecting Threads' Good Neighbors line. (I ordered several different fabrics in various shades of green before deciding on that one!)

The backing is from Riley Blake's Halle Rose collection, and I was able to snag it on sale. I really love that shade of green! It's screamed "spring" to me. I used some extra Owl & Co. fabrics to piece together a strip on the back and added an embroidered note.

This quilt came together pretty quickly with no major snafus. I surprised myself by having it ready to go for Drea's baby shower in March. The big reveal:

And here's Veronica and I, hanging out for the very first time, with her quilt in the background:

I hope little V will enjoy it for years to come!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Quilt for My Goddaughter

I am lucky to have several best friends--as Mindy says on The Mindy Project, "Best friend isn't a person... it's a tier!"--but one of the very best is my girl Wendy, who I've known since middle school. I was honored when she asked me to be the Godmother of her little girl. Reese Autumn was born on November 15th and she's Wendy's mini-me!

Reese's parents and big brother love penguins, and when I saw Maude Asbury's "Snow Day" line of fabric at The Whale's Tail Quilt Shop in Ketchikan, Alaska while on vacation, I knew it would be perfect. I don't often see peach and aqua together and it was a stunning combination without being overly girly. I picked out some blender fabrics from Lizzie House (one of my favorites!), Bonnie Christine, and Jeni Baker. I also surprised myself by using more solids than I had intended, some of which I had in my stash.

Laying out the blocks!
I decided to go with a simple framed block pattern to highlight the uber-cute penguins, polar bears, and walruses. The blocks were about 10 inches square. The block frames took a while to piece together -- longer than they should have -- but I like the effect of the corner squares. To save some time, I used pre-cut strips for the sashing. (Seriously, Kona's jelly rolls have probably added hours to my life!) The quilt is large for a baby quilt and would actually make a decent-sized lap quilt.

The finished product, already washed and dried (so a little crinkly).

The quilting is a straight line grid, echoing the blocks. I thought about getting fancier, but I didn't want to overshadow the patterns on the fabric.

Polar Bear and Cub

Guys, these penguins are wearing bow-ties. So cute!

I had lots of leftover prints for the back, so I pieced together a few rows of bricks and used this excellent geometric print for the large pieces. (I forget where it was from, but I know the color is called "glacier," so it seemed like a good fit!)

The back!

I like the back almost as much as the front.

My embroidered John Hancock

Little Reese is growing by the minute and I'm excited for her to spot all of the adorable animals in her new quilt!