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Posts Tagged ‘quilting’

  1. Ava and Emma’s Quilts

    April 3, 2012 by Daniora

    I would like to apologize for the color quality on the images in this post. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I took these pictures.

    Companion quilts

    Ava and Emma are sisters and two of the most precious little girls on the planet. When I decided to make quilts for them, I wanted to make two that would go together and that would reflect their playful attitudes. Ava is two (almost three!) and Emma is still pretty new, so I wanted to make something kid friendly, but not something they would grow out of in a couple of years. The Moda “Amelia” line was absolutely perfect. Since I wanted the quilts to go together, I chose a pattern from another of my favorite jelly roll books, Two from One Jelly Roll Quilts. I wound up using the same pattern for both quilts, but I swapped out the dominant color; one pink, one blueish purple.

    Emma's Quilt

    Ava's quilt


    Each quilt is made up of a series of nine patch blocks, some with borders, some without, alternating with special blocks designed to make it look like the blocks are overlapping. I was able to make all the nine patch blocks for both quilts at the same time.  Then I made all the other blocks and assembled the quilt tops. My biggest complaint with any of the Lintott jelly roll patterns is that their borders are never big enough. I opted to put a thin black border and a wider colored border to match the dominant color in the quilt. I love the way the black really makes the patterns in the other fabrics pop.

    These are also the first two quilts that I’ve quilted using the longarm machine. My favorite local quilt shop, Bits and Pieces, does machine rentals. You can bring in your quilt and use their machines to quilt it. The fantastic thing is that they have the computer driven machines that you only have to program and it does most of the work for you. This is so fantastic and definitely on the top of my wishlist for when I have way more money and space than I do now. Both quilts have a solid pink backing (cute backing fabric is so hard to find), so I wanted to pick different quilting patterns for each. One has a star pattern and the other has an adorable loopy daisy pattern.

    A loopy daisy pattern I used for one of the quilts.

    I also tried a new binding technique for these quilts. I’m terrible at hand sewing and I don’t trust my stitches to stand up to the kind of wear that I hope these quilts will get. As a result, I’ve been machine sewing all my bindings. The thing is, until these, I’ve been doing it all wrong. I had been sewing the binding to the front, turning it, and then blind sewing it to the back. I always wound up with uneven binding on the back, which I would then hide with a decorative stitch. A little poking around online and I discovered that the way better plan is to stitch the binding to the back of the quilt, fold it to the front and then sew. I did still use a decorative stitch and a variegated thread to make everything just a little cuter.

    Binding stitch with variegated thread.

    I loved making these quilts and I hope my little girlfriends enjoy them for years to come.

  2. Finding Patterns

    September 23, 2011 by Daniora

    Finding Patterns

    Great patterns can come from almost anywhere.

    With both Halloween and Christmas right around the corner, this is one of my busiest crafting times of the year. When making stuff to sell, you generally have to make your patterns from scratch, but when making gifts for others, finding a pattern that suits your needs can be a huge time saver. There are plenty of places around the web that can help you get your hands on these patterns quickly and cheaply.

    1. Simplicity, McCalls, and Butterick: Unless I’m in a bind, I’ll only buy these patterns when they’re on sale for one or two dollars at my local Joann Fabrics. However, looking around online can help you make a shopping list for the sale. These usually occur on the weekends, and the pattern books can be crowded. If you’ve got a list of pattern numbers, you can skip the browsing and head straight to the pattern drawers. These patterns are great for costumes, clothing, and some gift items like bags or purses. These site also sell a variety of supplies and notions that can be hard to find at your local fabric store.

    Note: I generally don’t use any patterns from Vogue. They tend to be overly complex and don’t usually go on sale. Vogue also carries very few patterns for the type of items I make.

    2. Etsy: This is one of my new favorite places to look for inexpensive and unique patterns. They’ve got everything from sewing and quilting to knitting and crochet. Many of them are available as PDF downloads and will arrive in your email inbox within a few hours of your purchase.  This instant gratification allows you to get to the crafting faster. Another added benefit is that many pattern designers allow you to use their patterns to make things to sell, at least in limited quantities. Etsy is also a great place to find out-of-print patterns from the larger companies. These are usually pricier, and you have to make sure the listing states that it is uncut and complete.

    3. Moda Bake Shop, Connecting Threads, Freespirit Fabric: These are three great places to find free quilt patterns. They are available as downloadable PDFs that can be printed when you need them. In addition to traditional quilt patterns, there are also a variety of quilted gifts including stockings, bags, and these adorable floor pillows. If you have a favorite fabric line, be sure to check out their website. Many fabric designers also put out free patterns that they feel will best showcase their prints.

    4. Books: There are an endless number of books devoted to any craft you can think of. Most contain instructions or patterns that you can copy. It’s easy to wind up with a large pile of these books, so check and see if your local library has any books on the subject. While brand new fiction books can be hard to get your hands on at the library, the crafting section is usually well stocked. To top it off, most libraries have copy machines, so you can get your patterns copied before you even get the book home.

    A larger number of crafting books are also becoming available as e-books. One of the nice things about this format is that they are easy to carry, easy to store, and you don’t have to figure out how to hold the book open while you’re working. If you don’t have an e-reader that does color, however, you might want to skip this format; many of these books lose a lot when only in black and white.

    5. Magazines: I especially love special issues of magazines, like those devoted to special holidays or one particular craft. Some of my favorite special issues come from Martha Stewart and Better Homes & Gardens. The best specialty crafting magazines tend to be available at large bookstores and craft stores, but I’ve even picked up some great ones while waiting in line at the grocery store. The benefit to a magazine over a book is that they tend to be less expensive and have a wider variety of projects. They’re a great introduction when you’re getting into something new. These will also include patterns, often as a pull out section on a special pattern paper, no need for copying.

    6: Google: It’s amazing the results you can get just by Googling the pattern you’re looking for. I’ve had great success with things like “Free Stocking Pattern” or “Plush Bunny Pattern”. You might have to refine your search as you go, specifying whether you’re looking for a sewing pattern or one for crochet or knitting, but you can almost always be guaranteed good results. Google is also really great for solving any problems you might be having.  Starting your search with “How do I” can often find the answer you’re looking for in the first couple of links. Don’t be afraid to use too many words in your search; you can always remove some if you’re not getting the results you’re after. The internet is full of blogs and sites dedicated to the hobbies people love, and they are almost always willing to share their knowledge and experience with you.

    Searching for instructions and patterns online is a great way to kick start your projects and often save you time and money as well. Start saving your favorite free patterns today!

  3. Space traveller baby quilt

    July 11, 2011 by Daniora

    It’s time again for another baby quilt!

    In spite of appearances, this quilt is actually square.

    This one was really special to me for a few reasons.

    1. It’s my first commissioned quilt.
    2. It’s the first quilt that I designed from scratch, without using a pattern.
    3. It’s the first quilt that I’ve ever machine quilted.


    Quilt Detail

    Close up of one of the corners.

    My good friend Erik asked if I could make a baby quilt for a friend of his. He originally wanted a Star Wars themed quilt.  I had thought this would be no problem, until I actually went looking for Star Wars fabric.  For a while after the prequels came out, there were a fair number of different officially licensed fabrics to be found.

    Unfortunately, by now they’re long gone.

    My only option would have been to use the sheets sold by Potter Barn Kids, and that was entirely cost prohibitive and would only yield one fabric.  With the basic feel in mind, I went off to the fabric store. That’s where I came across the “Marty Goes to Mars” fabric line by Camelot Cottons.


    My selection of fabrics.

    Because I went into the store with no idea what I was going to wind up making, I really didn’t know how much of each fabric to get. I got some of each of them in varying amounts based mostly on how much I liked them. When I got home, I did check out a few books to see how other quilts handled using a big novelty prints like the ones I had just bought. In the end, I took ideas from a few of them and worked them into my own design.

    Design sketch

    My initial design sketch.

    Quilt Square

    One of the squares.

    In Progress

    The quilt top in progress.

    Once the top went together, I was ready to quilt*. All my previous quilts had been hand tied rather than quilted. It’s a somewhat easier technique, but a tied quilt can fall apart with heavier use. For these quilts intended for babies and small children, something a bit hardier is better. I was pretty nervous, especially since this would be my first quilting experience and the quilt was for someone else. In the end, I was really pleasantly surprised with how well it all went. I found a variegated thread in shades of blue to do the quilting in. I mostly stuck to stitching in the seams, but for some of the larger squares, I had to add extra stitches for stability.

    Because this was my first machine quilting attempt, I wanted to stick with straight lines.  So, I chose to accent some of the speed lines on the space ship squares and I quilted a large star in the center square. I was really pleased with how it turned out. It felt really well put together and sturdy. The fabrics were adorable and I loved putting them together.

     *For my readers who are not familiar with how a quilt goes together, let me give a brief explanation. A quilt is made up of three layers: the top, the batting (the squishy stuff in the middle) and the back.  You have to secure these layers together at regular intervals or the batting would wind up tearing and become all bunched up in one part of the quilt. There are two different ways to do this. Tying involves making little knots every few inches with embroidery floss.  Quilting is using strong cotton thread to sew lines of very small stitches. These lines can be different distances apart depending on the type of batting used. Quilting can be done either by hand or on a machine.

  4. Jelly Roll Baby Quilt

    May 4, 2011 by Daniora

    Last August, some friends of ours had a precious little girl named Ainsley.  About 2 months before she was born, I started working on a quilt for her.  I got behind on some stuff, and decided to save it for Christmas.  When Christmas rolled around, I was again really busy and didn’t finish the quilt.  It’s finally finished and has been sent off to them.

    Deatil of quilt blocks

    It’s my first quilt using a jelly roll.  For those not in the know, a jelly roll is a collection of 2 1/2″ strips of coordinating fabrics.  Moda makes some of my favorite fabrics, and their jelly rolls are a good (and affordable) way to get a sampling of them. In addition to not having to cut the fabrics, there are a lot of free patterns using jelly rolls to choose from.  I used this Whirly Wheels Baby Quilt pattern from the Moda bake shop. The only change I made was that I only used 12 squares instead of 20.Jelly roll baby quilt

    I loved this pattern since the last few quilts I had done had been relatively simple, and I was looking for something that was a bit more challenging. This was also the first quilt I made with my brand new sewing machine.  A few of the squares turned out a little lopsided while I was getting used to the new equipment.

    Edge stitches

    As a little added detail, I put a decorative stitch all along the border.  This took ages (and tons of thread) but I think it really adds a cute touch. It also manages to catch the binding on the back that was a little uneven. This quilt had a lot more steps and took a bit longer, but I think the end result was really fantastic.


  5. Nerdly baby quilts

    April 11, 2011 by Daniora

    These quilts appeared in a post on my other blog, but I thought they’d fit very well here.

    There has been a bit of a baby boom in my group of friends.  There are now six children three years old or younger.  As a result, I’ve been making a lot of baby quilts.









    It’s hard to believe that the twins I made these quilts for are almost a year old. Usually these baby quilts come one at a time. I usually prefer patterns that are a little complicated to hold my interest.  In this case, I had to make two at once.  Since the father is a big D&D and Warcraft player, I wanted to make sure that the quilts had a nerdy vibe to them. I had to balance making them different from each other but still make production easy enough to make two at once. In the end I opted to use the same pattern but with different fabrics.

    The first was based around a fantastic fabric I found with a large print of knights and dragons in a castle.  I fussy cut the center squares and pulled coordinating fabrics for the borders.

    I wasn’t sure about using black on a baby quilt.  However, it really made the outlines in the large print pop. Without it, the entire quilt would have looked pretty flat.   My only regret on this one is that the two green prints are a bit too close in color and design.  From far away, they really blend together.

    The second quilt was based around a set of robot and gear fabrics that I’ve loved for a long time.  I had bought a set of fat quarters a few years ago just because I thought they were so adorable.

    The great thing about these fabrics is that the colors are so different from what you typically see in baby quilts.  That made color matching a bit more difficult, but there were quite a few coordinating fabrics available.

    Both quilts were hand tied; machine quilting is still something that I find a bit intimidating.  I’m hoping to work on that for the next quilt I do.  I think it will go a lot faster and hold up a lot better in the long run.

    The boys love their blankets, and at least one of them is always on hand at all times.  With their first birthday coming up at the beginning of next month, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to top myself on this one.