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Quilt & Sew

  • Of Quilts and Crafting Confessions

    3 Times the Charm

    Remember when I said I would try out the Jennifer pattern from 3 Times the Charm 2?  It's fine if you don't remember it because I posted about that little endeavor several months ago.  And then never followed up because I didn't want to say this:

    I think that I dislike sewing.

    I love handmade things.  I love quilts.  I love heirloom baby clothes sewn with love.  If you've done so much as seamed together some throw pillows, I probably love them.

    Fabric - 3 times the charm
    I LOVE buying fabric, too.

    But I do not like sewing.

    I can't tell if it's because I inherited my mother's fear of fast and noisy sewing machines, which is a fear made so much worse by watching The Brave Little Toaster at an apparently very impressionable age.  Or maybe it's because sewing requires the attention to detail that comes with measuring, marking, ironing, pinning, sewing, re-sewing, cutting, pinning, marking, dancing, tasting, pinning, throwing out your iron in frustration because ironing sucks, turning yourself about, breaking your thread, and screwing up your tension for the third time in an hour.

    Honestly, the part of sewing I'm best at is when I get really tired and frustrated and eat some late-night Taco Bell while checking Facebook.

    What? You can't tell me that's not part of the sewing process!  It must be, because that's what I did the last SEVEN times I tried sewing projects.  Seven is probably a conservative estimate, if we're being honest.  And I am, because this is crafting confession.

    So maybe I shouldn't have attempted the Jennifer pattern from 3 Times the Charm 2.  Maybe I should have remembered that I like quilts more than I like sewing.  And maybe I should have taken into consideration that I can knit or crochet a billion baby blankets in the time it would take me to make a quilt--especially when I'm WAY more likely to actually pick up my yarn and instruments to work on a project than I am to haul out all the gear it takes to sew something.  And in theory, sewing is faster.  But there's all that build up--the washing and drying and ironing and cutting and pinning--just so you can sew something incorrectly.  With yarncrafting I can work through my project one stitch at a time.  If there's a mistake, I can (theoretically) catch it in time to fix it.  Most projects I choose don't require the amount of precision I feel like sewing does.  There are fabric pens and cutting mats, for Pete's sake!

    And that's fine.  I'm just not a sewer.

     

    For someone who's just more comfortable with yarncrafting, sewing just doesn't hold a lot of appeal.

    And that's a real shame because that book is full of lovely patterns, just like the one before it.  The quilts are mostly lap-sized, which would make them perfect baby blankets without looking too 'baby blanket-ish.'  And the pattern I picked out has my name and everything!

    All that being said, I'm not tossing my blocks just yet.  They're safely sealed up in a Ziploc bag, right on top of 3 Times the Charm, Book 2.  And do you know why?  Because these little hearts:

    are waiting in a project basket somewhere in case my mom needs another 20 years to think about what she'll do with them.  That's not me making fun of my mom.  These heart appliques are just a bit old, but she's already cut them out and hemmed them.  So she'll do something with them, but there's no need to rush.  And they're not normally sitting out on the old deck with its warped boards.  I just thought that would look picturesque.

    Some projects just rest a while.  Like this.

    Yup, that's a tiny little quilt.  She made the blanket itself quite a while ago, and it was meant for my younger sister as a doll quilt.  Then my sister was a little old for dolls and then it was going to be a wallhanging.  Then I had a daughter three years, and this became her doll quilt this weekend!

    Ta da!  Heirloom!

    I don't even know if you can say "ta da" over something that takes two decades to complete, but my mom makes crazy tiny stitches and this is seamed and quilted by hand.

    My daughter loves that the hearts have hearts on the fabric, and the quilt is covering up her doll right now.  So I think I'll keep my stack of fabric for a little while longer.

    Maybe I'll have a free weekend where I just have a sudden and inexplicable urge to to piece together a quilt top.  I now have the manual for my husband's grandmother's old sewing machine, and that should really help me with the weirder intricacies of winding the bobbin and re-setting tensions.  Maybe my daughter will decide she needs a quilt that looks something like this.  Or maybe it's for some special little person I don't know yet.

    I know I'm not a sewer.  But maybe I should say I'm not a sewer right now.  I'll hang on to my squares, and my book, for a while.  Who knows what kind of crafter I'll be in a few decades?

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Trying Out a Free Pattern Friday Pattern

    Okay, have you signed up for Free Pattern Friday?  I feel like I talk about this a lot, but I also want to be sure that you know about it.  So, just in case: Free Pattern Friday is this glorious thing that happens when you sign up for the Leisure Arts weekly newsletter.  When that happens, you get to click on some boxes about your interests and decide if you would like a free crochet pattern each week, or a free knitting pattern each week.  So in addition to finding out about new titles,  sales, promo codes, and a featured blog post, you also get a free pattern.  It's a win-win-win-win-win situation.

    And last Friday, the featured pattern was the Knit Dishcloth and Potholder pattern.  Yes, I know that clicking that link takes to you the download page and you'll have to pay for it.  It's only free through email.  Which is how I got it.

    I'm repeating myself a lot because I love Free Pattern Friday and I love dishcloths and I love garter stitch.  So Friday's email was just full of happy surprises for me.

    Also, I love mixing up pink and red and the Valentine season gives me free reign to do so.  Fantastic!  I used red dishcloth yarn as my main color and some scraps of pink and white variegated yarn for the contrast.  There's a row of yarnovers and K2TOGs to give this dishcloth a little bit of pattern variety, but the rest of it is pure and simple garter stitch.   My favorite.

    I like the simplicity of the stitch, I like how well it cleans, and I honestly like how garter stitch looks.

    The color changes in yarn are just carried up a bit, and they would barely show even if you didn't crochet single crochet stitches around the edges.

    I liked that little detail, and I think it really tightened up the look of the dishcloth.  Does that makes sense?  I hope so.  At the very least, I know it made the whole thing look a little more put-together than just a square of garter stitch rows.  And chances are that even if you're mostly a knitter, you have a crochet around somewhere for something just like this.

    This took about a half-skein of regular Sugarn' Cream yarn, and a negligible amount of the contrast color.  I used Size 6 knitting needles and a G hook.  I think this would look nice and summery in some more muted solids, and maybe I make this again in plainer colors--especially if I need a nice hostess gift this summer.  But since I firmly believe anything can become a holiday pattern if you use the right colors, I love how this looks with the pink and red.  Yes, love it.

    Hey, can I mention Free Pattern Friday again?  I'm going to mention Free Pattern Friday again.  You should sign up and then you can have a free pattern on Friday.  It will be like getting a Valentine from Leisure Arts.  Let's be honest, if you're not getting yarn for Valentine's Day you may as well get a pattern.  It's going to be a lovely holiday indeed.

  • Talking with Mary Jane Carey About Christmas Sparkle

    You guys!  It's time!  Happy Friday After Thanksgiving!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you're ready for me to talk about Christmas-related goodness for the next month.  I've been waiting for this since January!  I love Christmas decorations, Christmas foods, Christmas projects--everything Christmas, except for "Little Drummer Boy."  I wanted to start off by talking with Mary Jane Carey, the designer of the amazing projects in Christmas Sparkle.  My sewing skills leave a lot to be desired, and I haven't seen that many seasonal quilts.  I mean, there are pillows and a runner and some wall-hangings in this book, but there are also some full! size! quilts!  And they are quite lovely.

    Mary Jane Carey was also quite lovely, and I had a wonderful time emailing her about Christmas Sparkle and learning a little bit more about her work.  Enjoy! 

    Why Christmas?  Instead of choosing a theme of something more general like 'winter' or 'spring', what is it about this particular holiday that made you want to open The Christmas Shoppe and design Christmas sewing patterns?

    For my whole family, and especially my dad, Christmas was such a joyful time.  Dad was like a little kid and would get up earlier than my sister and I wanted just to start the day.  We had what might be thought of as a "meager" Christmas by today's standards because we didn't have lots of presents under the tree.  It was more about family and lots and lots of homemade cookies that my mom made. So naturally I am drawn to Christmas things.  I've designed quite a few Christmas patterns and I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.  The Christmas Shoppe is the retail side of my business and Holly Hill Quilt Designs is the name I use for designing patterns and also for the fabric lines I have done with Henry Glass & Co., Inc.

    I don't normally think about quilts as something that would sparkle.  What made you want to add some flair?

    When I designed the cover quilt from Christmas Sparkle I just knew that the Christmas tree needed something shiny.  I wanted to make it look like there were red lights on the tree so the crystals worked out nicely.  They definitely sparkle and now I'm addicted to putting crystals on quilts.  My husband recently asked me if I was going to put "those things" on everything and I said, "Yes, I'm thinking about putting them on your recliner."

    What advice would you give to a new sewer?

    Just have fun.  Don't be afraid to experiment.  Not every quilt you make is going to be a masterpiece.  There will be duds--I've made them myself--but sometimes trial and error is the greatest teacher.  And it doesn't have to be perfect.  If you admire antique quilts, you will see that quite often the points aren't perfect, etc.  But that doesn't mean they aren't beautiful and created with love by someone.

    What would you say about sewing to someone who doesn't sew at all?

    Go to your local quilt shop or Adult Education at a local school and take a beginners class.  Even if you don't have a sewing machine, you might be able to "borrow" one from the quilt shop.  You can see how you like it.  But beware: quilting can be an addiction so be prepared to love it and give up having a clean house and sometimes good homemade food.

    Do you have a favorite design from Christmas Sparkle?

    I am particularly fond of the cover quilt [Starry Cabins] and the Christmas Tree pillow.  But then again,  the Holly Log Cabin quilt (pictured above) has yo-yos and I do love those too.


    ************************
    I think all of the designs are amazing, and so full of Christmas cheer.   I would highly recommend trying some of them out if you love sewing, or Christmas, or attractive projects.  Really, who wouldn't want to just flip through this book sometimes?!  (That's what I do.)  
    Big, big thanks to the very gracious Mary Jane Carey for doing this interview and letting me know a little bit about her approach to her craft and her personal connection to this designs for heirloom-quality masterpieces.
  • I Found Out Where Quilt Squares Come From!

    I know where quilt squares come from!  I'm still working on the Jennifer quilt pattern from 3 Times the Charm, Book 2.  The block-making process was going well until my bobbin ran out of thread and I made the very sad discovery that I bookmarked the wrong tutorial for winding a push button bobbin.  But before I ran out of thread, I did sew together enough fabric squares to finally understand what the instructions meant when I was reading about how to make the quilt blocks.

    The quilt is made up by arranging two types of blocks.  It's really that simple.

    First you take a base pattern block and a charm pack block (or a square from your own fabric stash):

    and draw a line diagonally across your base color block.

    Then you sew two lines on either side of your drawn line, at whatever seam allowance is called for in the pattern.

    80 pieces of fabric, just waiting for greatness.

    I took a picture right before I made the cut, and then I just held my breath for a while because I'm not too steady with straight lines and rotary cutters.

     I know, I know.  Why am I making a quilt out of more than just plain squares? I don't know!  I guess because I like pretty fabric!  Plus, why not?  Quilts are cool!

    Now look!  Two squares!

    When you arrange them like this, you get one type of block.

    And when you arrange them like this, you get another!

    My mind is blown by this pretty simple process.  Admittedly, it doesn't take much to impress me but COME ON!  This is pretty impressive. 

    I'm totally excited about doing this dozens more times!  I know I'll be fine, even with the straight lines and the rotary cutter.  Practice makes perfect, and I have a great lung capacity.  If I hold my breath, and maybe set my tongue just right, I'll get a freshly wound bobbin in that machine and I can really get started on this awesome project.

  • You Can't Hurry Love, or Quilts, or Anything Else

    My crafting weekend was not as productive as I had hoped.  But I must say, my expectations were pretty out of control.  I didn't factor in a day trip, or feeling sick, or spending time on the phone with a friend, or that some of my projects might bore me or take longer than expected.

    Especially that last one.

    I'm still working away on my little quilt project from 3 Times the Charm.  I picked the Jennifer quilt because that's my name.  Also, I like the pattern. But mostly because that's my name. 

    I didn't use a Charm pack because I don't have one, and because I have plenty of scraps.  However, ironing fabric and cutting out 80 squares and marking 40 of them takes a while.  A looooong while.

    Then I had to remind myself that I don't have backing for this quilt.  And that I don't 'believe' in machine quilting, so I'll be stitching this little creation by hand.

    And I don't have an intended recipient. 

    And this is craft.  It's supposed to take a while.  There are plenty of fun and quick crafts, and goodness knows I love a good simple crochet dishcloth because that's the epitome of fun and quick. 

    But most good things take a while.  I'm trying to teach my little girl how to hold a pen and use her indoor voice, and that obviously didn't go so smoothly on the very first try.  I'm going to start some knitted blankets soon and I'm going to have to resign myself to the fact that those certainly aren't going to be done in a weekend.

    Knitting and crocheting through my stash takes time.  Sewing takes time.  Doing anything worthwhile--and doing that worthwhile thing well--takes time. 

    This isn't quite the quilt post I wanted to write after a long weekend, but that's okay.  It's going to take a while to work on this quilt, and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it.

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