I was shopping at the Grocery Outlet (a key to my food budget success) and came across these Jelly Belly rejects.
Yesterday was a huge binding day for me. This year has been an incredibly productive one for me, as far as quilt making goes, and I think a key to this has been the systematic approach I’ve ironically just stumbled into. I spend a few days just cutting the fabrics for several quilts that I have planned. I spend a few more days just piecing those together. This week, I spent all of Saturday just cutting and adding borders to 3 different quilts. Then I get my machine all set up and foot swapped out for my free motion foot, and spend an entire day (or 2…or 7) just quilting all those quilts.
This has worked out so well because I’m just changing out my thread and bobbin color on quilting days and for each particular quilt. I get so much more piecing done when I can keep the white cotton thread and bobbins going, no changes.
So today was a binding day. And since I don’t know anyone who does their binding the same way I do, I figured this was a good opportunity to post a tutorial. First tutorial!
I exclusively machine bind (I don’t hand bind. I know a lot of quilters have attitude about that, but I simply feel no shame in my game), and I use a combination of the no-tails binding method (see this excellent tutorial by Flourishing Palms for a detailed look) and the more typical folded corners method. The traditional (with tails method) has always bothered me because it requires you to leave an additional 10-15 inches of binding loose before you start stitching, and then you lose most of that when you attach the tails together at the end of your binding. The no-tails method only uses an extra inch or two at each corner, which is better, and easier, IMO. But the way I do it, I only need an extra 2-3 inches of binding. So much less waste. And you get one stitched up mitered corner, and three folded over mitered corners. It’s hard to explain. Like I said, I’ve never met anyone who does their binding the same way that I do. This does NOT mean my way is superior. But I dig it. So I’ll show you.
Today, I’ll show you step one, which is a completely optional step, really. But I’ve started doing it, and I highly recommend it. I serge all the way around the perimeter of my quilt sandwich using my Brother Serger. Not everyone has a serger, and for quilters, they are completely unnecessary. But I happen to have one because it’s fun and easy to make and mend baby hats and tshirts and blankets. It’s also nice to be able to quickly mend all the clothing in my home with no loose edges to get frayed in the laundry. You know I’m not hand washing ANYTHING, right?
Although completely unnecessary, if you have one, this is yet another fun use for it. Serging the quilt sandwich tightly connects all three layers so that when you stitch your binding on, your backing can’t fold over and get caught up, and your batting can’t wiggle its way out and make you miss your backing in the stitches. Also, if it takes you awhile to bind your quilts, they are protected from fraying while they sit around in the queue, and if there is some sort of emergency (an incident involving cat vomit comes to my mind, but i’m trying to forget) you can wash that quilt before it’s bound, and it will survive.
You will need to trim the edges of your quilt sandwich at some point anyway, so this just does that for me. The serger winds thread around the perimeter of the quilt, sealing in its quilty juices, and cuts off anything to the right of this thread web with its helpful blade. So I simply run each quilt through, one edge at a time, with the metal line of my serger foot (shown at the bottom of the lightning bolt in photo) directly aligned with the edge of my fabric. Where fabric meets batting. If you’re a little off, it doesn’t matter too much, as you’ll see in the next steps. I’m very imperfect at all of my steps.
I cut off the thread tails at each corner and that’s it!
Look at that delicious stack of serged quilts! They are ready and waiting for step 2.
When I was young, the year 2000 was such a crazy distant future it put visions of hoverboards and laserbeams in our heads. Which was not so far off. In the actual year 2000, I was a sophomore in college, and had a livejournal. This was an early iteration of blogging, or maybe an early iteration of facebook, I am not sure. But I had one. I kept up with it for approximately two weeks. Mostly to keep tabs on the inner workings of a boy I had a crush on, who was super techie and inscrutable, so livejournal was a perfect window into his soul. or whatever emoji best represented his soul.
In the year 2003, I was living in Texas for a couple of years, having followed a boyfriend and the promise of employment there. I absolutely hated it. I kept a blog of restaurant reviews and other musings and rants, and it does not surprise me now that I faithfully maintained that thing through my entire 2 year tenure in Texas. It was my way of reaching out to the non-Texas world.
I returned to my native Southern California in 2005, joined Facebook and its various social networking predecessors, and did not give blogging much thought. I have kept journals to varying degrees of success my entire life, but there is something very different and appealing about blogs.
Nearly two years ago, when my two small children were even tinier, I decided to stop looking for full time employment, and throw myself into a hobby. I had my friend Katy show me how to use the sewing machine I had received the year before for Christmas. And I fell down a crazy rabbit hole from which I have (thankfully) never emerged. I went from working as a solo practice attorney to being a slightly depressed mother of two babies, and then leapt feverishly and headlong into being a full-time quilter and crafter.
Part of me was a little embarrassed by this vocational shift. I was still connected to my teacher and lawyer and other professional friends. I am surrounded by other overeducated people like myself; we followed a treadmill that we were told was the ‘correct’ path for us. If you get the degrees, if you get the granite countertops, if you wear the suits, you are successful. But that equation only works if you define success as having those degrees, counters, and clothes. I can’t clearly define success yet, but it has to be related to the crazy passion that I feel for making things, and teaching my children to be self-sufficient thing-makers, too.
Of course, those teacher and lawyer and other professional friends might also be successful by each of their own definitions, and I really hope they are. I also hope it makes them happy to have an eccentric quilty friend in their contact list, who really wants their old clothes, so that I can cut them up and sew them back together.
However, I do know those friends are probably not going to be enthusiastic if my only forum for sharing quilting and kid art pics and tips is their Instagram feed. They have been supportive thus far, but if they only knew how many quilts I have NOT posted, they’d be blown away. So here’s a place for that.
I started this blog as a way of specifically connecting to the other eccentric quilty and crafty people that I know are out there. People who totally understand and wouldn’t even think to roll their eyes when I talk about my bobbin tension or mitered corners. People who don’t ‘go shopping’ as an activity because nobody wants to hear them say “I could make that” over and over. People who always watch movies with a skein of yarn or a stack of fabric hexies to keep them busy. These are my people, and that’s my whole deal.
Whether or not you celebrate Easter, there are so many fun egg dying and egg art projects out there for young kids, I hope you partook of some artsy craftsy eggs-perimentation (ha! i’m so clever) anyway. We think of all projects this time of year as celebrations of Spring and abundance.
We eat eggs all year. My son is the world’s biggest fan of quiche (I make mine with potatoes in it, which really increases its kid-friendliness), and I am a fan of frugality, and eggs are a super cost-effective source of protein.
I am not sure if it is my crafty DNA, or my previous career as a teacher, but something in me won’t let me throw away an egg carton, and I know I’m not alone. Luckily, with small children around, I finally have good reason. They come in so handy.
My youngest was on spring break from preschool last week, and in between frequent viewings of Moana, I created a lot of art and craft and experimentation opportunities for him. I was running out of patience and ideas after a few days, but in a surge of desperation-fueled inspiration, I handed him an 18-egg cardboard carton and told him to go check the backyard for rocks that might fit. You should have seen his little face light up! Who knew? His favorite assignment of the week by far.
After he filled his carton, he and his sister had some rock painting time. This was a free-painting process art kind of project, but I am already looking forward to making more directed paintings, like pet rocks or rock monsters.
So here are a few more ideas:
- Collections: If you also have a backyard or are near a park, collect rocks, shells, flowers, leaves, etc. If you are inside, collect small toys, crayons, legos. Littler kids love filling each cup and are reinforcing one to one correspondence.
- Paint Pallet: Fill each cup with paint and use the top to hold your brushes. If you have styrofoam containers (it happens), you can even put your water in one, for rinsing brushes.
- Sorting: Are your kids into pony beads or Perler beads? Sort those babies by color. Legos? size and shape. Do you have a button collection? If you do, it is surely not as intense as mine, but there are countless sorting opportunities in there. Sometimes when I’m stressed, a good button sorting session can really take the edge off.
- Snacks! a couple grapes in here, a couple goldfish there. I think you can fill in the rest.
- Planters: This works best with the smaller 6 or 12 count cartons, in my experience. 18 is a lot of dirt and seeds.
- This pirate ship! This activity is so great because making the sails could be an entirely separate art experience. Stickered, watercolored, stamped, crayon resisted, or even art they’ve already created and you don’t know what to do with it. Cut it up and use it as the sails.
- Animals: This is kind of the Old Reliable of egg carton crafts. Clams, penguins, frogs, chicks, just use paint and googly eyes as your basic prompts, and let those kids follow their own drumbeats. Maybe have some pipe cleaners or feathers handy, too.
- Someday when the children are both in school, I am going to crack open an egg carton for myself and do one of those gorgeous egg carton flower wreaths. I’ll let you know if those are legit, or merely a Pinterest urban legend.
I didn’t actually realize it until I typed this post title JUST NOW, but this meadow quilt was a journey of almost exactly one year. (Yes, i do realize ‘almost exactly’ is an oxymoron. I am super clever.)
But looking through my phone, I found these photos that I took at the Meadow Quilt workshop taught by Lizzy House herself with the San Diego Modern Quilt Guild on March 6, 2016.
Aren’t we all so cute? And it was a year ago, so we are all aglow with youth, too.
Then I scrolled forward to the photos of the nearly finished Meadow Quilt, with its adorable intended recipients. The photo says it was taken March 4, 2017, and I’m inclined to believe it. You’ll notice it wasn’t yet bound (I simply surged up the edges on my serger, a practice I have come to love), and I bound it a day or two later, so it was very probably on March 6!
I ended up binding it with Elizabeth Hartman Starlight in gray, from the Paintbox Basics collection (or maybe Pacific?) to complement the Cotton & Steel sprinkle stardust that I used as a background fabric on the top, and the extra wide backing that I used on the back, which is Elizabeth Hartman wide back, like a swollen and darkened version of that binding fabric. I love this wideback fabric so much, I had to stock up on it, in both the gray and the hot pink color. So you’ll be seeing more soon. I just love how quirky and cartoonish it is. It makes every quilt look more modern and fun.
And in between that first photo and that last photo, what happened during the 364 days in between? Well, sewing, obviously. But also, some meditative time on a long-arm quilting machine. I used the giant Bernina Q24 at Cozy Creative Center to stitch the twinkle lights pattern in the background and used my Juki to stitch a variegated pink thread onto the pink sections. The main contributor to all that delicious texture is for sure the wool batting. I used this Quilters Dream Wool Batting (93” x 72”) Twin, and I just can’t recommend it enough. Especially for a kid’s quilt that will be used year-round. It makes for a very functional comforter in addition to being a beautifully draped word of quilted art.
I am doing some secret sewing for the guild and I fell in love with one of the blocks. I have all the fabrics (or somethings very similar), save for the main charm square.
So it’s time for another exciting game of NAME! THAT! FABRIC! (Canned applause) please tell me if you know.
I have put “plaid and flowers” into every search engine and every fabric shopping site and have come up empty.
Help me, Internet!
Your goal is to actually complete your My Small World quilt from the pattern by Jen Kingwell. You made your blueprint and maybe some key fabric choices. What’s next? SKY!
Not the whole sky, mind you. Just a nice sizable panel of sky that will sit at the far right, at the top of section 1. Why start here? Because the sky is easy, it’s just squares, and for me (and you, if you’re like me) I need to immediately see some progress. I love reading books on kindle because it quantifies my reading automatically, and seeing that I’ve completed 10% of the book helps motivate me to get 100% of the way done.
If you’re doing the prescribed low volume neutral sky, well then this part is even easier.
At the beginning of the booklet, Kingwell notes that before you start you’ll want to cut 527 1.5″ squares from neutral fabrics for the sky and incorporated into some of the blocks. And, of course, if you opt to use some larger squares (like 2.5″) you’ll need fewer.
In my guild, we did a swap where each of 27 people brought a yard of fabric cut into 5″ charm squares. So we only had to purchase one yard, but we got 54 different charms to add variety to our quilt. I am not using these for my sky, like I said, but my skyline will be neutral instead, so I still needed these.
You definitely want charm squares, rather than mini charms since you will only get a single 1.5″ square from a mini charm, but you’ll be able to cut 9 from a charm square.
If you can’t organize a swap, fear not, as so many fabric designers have anticipated your needs and released low volume, super neutral collections recently, available in various precut bundles.
- Anna Maria Horner- Skipping Stones
- Lizzy House- Whisper Palette
- Jen Kingwell- Behind the Scenes
- Zen Chic- Modern Background paper/ink
- Alison Glass- Abacus
- Marsha McCloskey- Essential Lights
Or check out Etsy. Online fabric sellers have put together some great low volume bundles.
So the next item to handily check off the My Small World QAL is one or two of those panels of sky. The panel 1 sky block is 8 squares high by 12 wide, and the panel 2 block which will fall just left of that is 6 squares high by 8 wide (if you’re using only 1.5″ blocks, obvi).
I just laid my squares out, incorporating some of those 2.5″ squares as well, snapped a photo on my phone so I could keep the placement right (because my colors needed to be arranged just so) and stitched away while listening to the Dear Sugar podcast. Piece of cake and it feels so good to make progress.
So I’ll begin by saying that it’s not you: the pattern booklet for My Small World is confusing and hard to follow. But to be fair to Jen Kingwell (who is a creative genius for sure), the best things about this quilt are its intricacy and personalization, which are the very things that make it hard to translate into a clear, easy to follow pattern.
So rather than following the book’s list of blocks (which our guild’s schedule loosely followed), I thought of this as being broken down into discrete tasks (many of which could be split further into sub tasks). For me and my particular frustration and impatience thresholds (both very low) this worked much better than, say, making 23 pinwheels, then making 16 flying geese, three of which will be used for arrows and 6 of which will be paired as diamonds and then 4 churn dashes and then hourglasses and on and on and you get the idea. I needed to see progress regularly. This thing needed to take shape from the beginning or I was going to lose focus. And I needed to have the larger project in my mind. Which makes Task #1 so invaluable to successful completion.
Task 1: make a blueprint.
One complaint about the pattern is that only finished block measurements are given, all templates are sans seam allowance, and multiple sizes of similar blocks are used. Use graph paper to map out the entire quilt, using the Assembly pages 28-31 in the booklet, and a one square = one inch ratio. I buy these Five Star Spiral Notebook, Graph Ruled, 1 Subject, 8.5 x 11 Inches, 100 Sheets, Assorted Colors (06190) three or four at a time. They are hard to find in stores. I don’t know why, but I have preferred the gridded paper since jr. high school. They make me feel more organized, even when i’m just freestyle doodling. And they make a ton of sense for quilt planning, of course. (They make great bullet journals, too, if that’s your deal.)
I would make a printable copy for others to use, but I already colored mine, and besides it is easy and kind of fun and worth making your own so that you can see which bits you might want to customize as you go.
For instance, I have this amazing fabric that I wanted to cut large fussy cuts from and the 4×4″ spaces meant for orange peel blocks would be the perfect spots for them. This works well for me in a couple ways because I am also not so good at appliqué. “But wait,” you might be thinking, “this quilt is a great way to practice so many skills, and you should use it as an opportunity to improve your Appliqué!”
And I say to you: hush. My goal here is to actually finish the project within a year. I know myself. See above re my frustration threshold. There is still some appliqué with the little rounded door blocks and that’s quite enough practice for me.
So I’ve already mapped out which blocks I’m replacing with fussy cuts or special prints. I can see exactly which flying geese are being used in arrow blocks and which panel each pinwheel will be used in, which makes color planning more feasible. And I’m needing to do a lot of color planning because I’m doing a sunset sky and a low volume and neutral toned skyline. This would be very difficult without a blueprint to work from.
A subtask of this first important task is fabric choice. Once you’ve drawn a blueprint, you can color it in like an adult coloring book and make your fabric choices so you can keep all the bits of this long-term project together. I chose to work from mostly scraps, plus Carolyn friedlander’s Doe collection for the skyline and Moda’s Enchanted by Alisse Courter for the sunset sky.
I found it very helpful to:
1) have these specified collections to choose from in order to limit my options to some extent (I get overwhelmed by indecision and with so many tiny pieces, there are a lot of decisions to make here), and
2) use precuts. I had a charm pack of Doe and with so many 1.5″ and 2.5″ pieces required, a 5″ square of each print was convenient and plenty.
Task one done? Hooray! Congrats on your blueprint. Let’s do this thing.
And I’ll just toot my own horn and mention that my blueprint is drawn in my quilting notebook which I totally copied from fabricmutt’s tutorial (here) with strips of Anna Maria Horner’s Folk Song.
Full disclosure, I haven’t completed the My Small World QAL. Yet. SDMQG chose this quilt (pattern now available as printed booklet from Jen Kingwell) as their yearlong quilt along project for 2016. I only joined the guild in June 2015, and so wasn’t able to join their QAL from last year and I was so psyched to join everything guild had to offer this year, I’m doing this, I’m doing the Bee, I’m doing every swap they can come up with.
So Sue B. took charge of leading our group in this QAL, even giving us a schedule for what blocks we should complete each month, and making templates for us all to use. I was worried because I missed January’s meeting and so already was a month late on the schedule, which can really mess with my mind on a thing like this. January was the month I was supposed to be completing like 25 pinwheels and a bunch of tiny churn dashes, etc. I figured I’d never catch up and so I didn’t try.
Fast forward to April and I had an idea in mind for how I very generally wanted my MSW to turn out. So I made some fabric choices for the pinwheels and figured I’d at least get those done. I got about half completed. It took me a solid day. I figured there was no way I’d keep going, but I still had 8 months to think about it.
At the beginning of June, I attended a weekend long quilt retreat with the Guild and say across from the one member who had already finished (completely by hand) her My Small World. I had brought along my materials and pattern, and although I still didn’t get any further, I renewed my commitment. If Suzanne could complete hers in 6 months, I could too. The second half of the year.
I am much farther along toward my goal after the last 3 days and it is seeming very possible. So I’ll tell you how I did it over a series of posts because I’m excited for more people to create their own versions of this intricate and personal project. Stay tuned.
I finally took a longarm class in order to rent time on a longarm machine at The Quilted Rose, here in San Diego. I would now like to offer up my right kidney to the highest bidder so that I can purchase a longarm machine and use it everyday. The machines at TQR are pretty old and huge, and when I rented time, they actually gave me the clunkiest one. I was not super pleased about that, but it did not deter me from longarm quilting in the slightest. It just made me google my other San Diego county options.
So my pieced quilt began with the central fairies fabric which is an out of print Alexander Henry print that I had no idea what to do with, but loved intensely and purchased from an etsy seller that specializes in out of print goodies. Then after our guild (SDMQG) did a Lizzy House challenge during Lizzy house’s visit, I was inspired by my fellow runner up (yes! I was totally a runner up!) and her Unicornio quilt. It was a large scale log cabin with a variety of colors and featuring a Lizzy house unicorn right smack dab in the center.
So I have been adding rich log cabin walls around these mysterious fairies slowly slowly slowly.
If you look closely at the quilting, you’ll see that I basically tried everything I had practiced on paper from An Angela Walters book that I have, Shape by Shape. And it’s very beginner, but again, that machine was a rickety pile, so I am not totally to blame. And the prints are so busy, it doesn’t matter at all. I see it as a longarm sampler for me, and my daughter loves it on her bottom bunk (for when friends come to sleep over, she tells me). It couldn’t possibly go on the top bunk because, speaking of Lizzy House, that spot is reserved for the forthcoming Meadow Quilt (top is already complete!)