Archive for the ‘craft’ Category

Bet you thought I forgot about this project right?

Looks like the last time I blogged about the LTQ was back in February. I set aside the quilt blocks when I found out I would be moving in the summer and then spent months settling into the new place and taking my sweet time unpacking/cleaning/organizing. The craft room was my ground zero for all the boxes to sort through so using it was off limits until I had gone through over 15 years of accumulated ‘stuff’.

Realizing that the end of the year was rapidly approaching and I had barely finished 9 of the 48 blocks to make up the top I knuckled down and reacquainted myself with the trusty sewing machine.

What you see there are 48 finished blocks. Yup I worked my way through the remaining 39 blocks in 10 days.

Now I just need to assemble the blocks into a finished top and figure out how I am going to tackle the backing.


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Tis the season

I don’t think I ever had an Advent calendar as a kid so the only one that I remember having was one my Sis gave me a few years ago. It was from the ‘local’ coffee chain that has taken over every street corner in the world (this is not a negative IMO since it means I have even more places to get my caffeine fix). It was a cute cardboard tree with drawers and she had filled it with assorted candy but I think we only used it for that one year.

Well this year I decided to make 2 Advent calendars. The first was sent to the Sis down in LA and made it there just in time.

I made stockings out of cream wool felt, trimmed them with 6 different holiday fabrics and hung them from a wide ribbon. I even included sticky velcro tabs so she could hang it up without destroying her walls. While many of the stockings were filled with candy I also included some homemade shortbread, some cake decorating gadgets (the Sis who used to hate cooking has been on a cupcake baking kick) and what I think might get her through the holiday season since she works retail; baby bottles of booze.

The Advent calendar I made for myself is far less crafty and far less ‘fun’. It’s an exercise ‘Advent’. Each day leading up to Christmas I will open my little calendar and whatever exercise is written down I have to do it. It’s my hope that if I can make it through 24 days of little fitness goals then maybe just maybe it can become a habit. I reached out to a couple fitness savvy friends for suggestions and with some basic parameters I had a good variety of goals ranging from easy to slightly challenging. The only stipulation was that none of my days say “Run 10 miles” because the idea of being able to do that right now is laughable.

Here is hoping both my Sis and I enjoy our new calendars.

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High off the completion of the Bento Box quilt I jumped right into starting the London Tube quilt. The fact that I had set myself a goal of finishing it by Jan 1st 2012 and being able to reward myself with a new machine has absolutely nothing to do with it. ๐Ÿ™‚

First step was printing up the design (one I created based on the Zone 1 map) and making sure I could keep all the blocks straight. There are a total of 48 10.5″ finished blocks and only 5 of them are solid white, the remaining 43 are unique so being able to keep them organized was vital. A color printout of each block glued to an envelope means I can grab one and have a placement guide for the squares without having to pull out the master design.

The quilt has so much white I chose to pre-wash all the fabrics even though I typically don’t do this for any sewing projects anymore unless it is clothing. Even tossed in some of those laundry colorcatcher sheets and was surprised at how little color transferred to them. I think I would have been safe not pre-washing but wasn’t willing to take the risk. Since each square is only 2.25″x2.25″ I am also trying out some homemade starch spray. From everything I’m reading online it should make my piecing a little easier and more accurate considering how small of a fabric piece I’m working with. I noticed right off the bat that cutting the starched fabric was much easier than the non-starched, I got sharper lines and less fraying.

Incidentally I seriously underestimated how long it would take to cut 1700+ squares, I honestly thought it might take a couple hours tops. Turns out it took about 4 days of working a couple hours at a time so I wasn’t even close. This is something I will tuck away to remember the next time I come up with a “brilliant” quilt idea.

I have 8 months left in the year and am only now getting started. If I want to give myself a decent buffer for work/life/other hobbies that means I have to aim for completing 2 blocks a week. Aggressive yes but hopefully with all my organization at the beginning it won’t be too painful. I’ve decided that every time I blog (regardless of topic) I will post a little tally of how many of the London Tube Quilt blocks I have left to piece together.

LTQ: 48 of 48 blocks left to do.

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Holy crap I had no idea when starting on my first fullsized ‘real’ quilt just how long it would take me. According to my notes I started the Bento Box quilt back in Nov 2010. It took almost 6 months to finish everything and while I know my actual active time on the project wasn’t that much it was still a big undertaking.

Back in Nov I had this pile of fabric to cut and piece together.

By early 2011 I had 20 completed blocks to cut up and rearrange.

Then in early April I finally tackled the border dilemma and knocked out the backing in 2 days.

Mid-April I bucked up and powered through the quilting. I may have spent some time cursing my ancient Singer and resisting the temptation to run to the nearest Bernina dealer to sooth my frustrations. Turns out that writing a huge tax check to the govt on a day when all you want to do is shop is AMAZING at killing that desire ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s done!

I attached the binding in one evening and only had to go back on a few sections to make sure the binding was attached in the back. I used the handy binding tutorial from Heather Bailey. The binding was a great way to use up some of my scraps from the quilt top and I still have plenty leftover for another project. This was my 3rd or 4th attempt at this method of attaching the binding and the 1st time it even looked remotely close to good.

I opted to go with a simple quilting design for each block and quilted 2 squares in the center and the outside round in each block. The borders were quilted 1/4″ off seam. Very simple and yet with my machine at times a serious hardship. At one point I took a break to relax with some popcorn only to come back and find a cat cozied up on the half finished quilt. I can only describe the look she gave me as ‘oh like anyone would believe you didn’t make this for me’.

The colors are crazy, the prints are chaotic, the learning curve was steep and considering that Nicki refused to move from the bed the moment I put it on for photos I think it meets his approval. It was totally worth it. I already have the Tube Quilt fabric prepped and ready for action. I’m on a roll.

Quilt Details:
Pattern: Bento Box Quilt (I didn’t buy the pattern but made up my own sizes based on flickr photos and available fabric)
Fabrics: Kaffe Fassett Zinnia (Aqua), Fandango Sarabande (Azul and Ole), Michael Miller Emmaline (Teal), Happy Go Lucky Trefoil (White), Fandango Valencia (Sand), Michael Miller Peeking Polka Dot (Lime and Aqua ),Amy Butler Daisy Chain Wildflowers (Navy), Michael Miller Poppy Skinny Stripes (Aqua and Spice), Kaufman Kona (White) plus two fabrics I picked up at the LQS and never made a note of the fabric name (the green with red leaves andย  the white with multicolored flowers and leaves).

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Bento Box progress

I have to admit after I decided to keep the “crazy” print theme going with my Bento Box quilt I folded the top up and put it back in the box with my backing and border fabrics.
It took several months for it to reemerge and eventually a finished top was made.
I opted to continue the chaotic look and put a 5″ border of the striped lime and blue fabric only to find out it was still a hair too small for my bed. “Thankfully” I now have a healthy fabric stash and I pulled out the white Kona to add those precious few inches needed.

I actually think the trim of white works well to balance out the chaos of the blocks but isn’t so wide that the striped fabric looks out of place. Then again I could be fooling myself since I originally thought these fabrics would not look insane next to each other.

I had 5yds total of these fabrics that I had set aside for the backing and since I also had plenty of strips leftover from the block fabrics I decided to add even more color to the back. Nicki was nice enough to make sure the quilt didn’t run away while I took photos.

The layers have all been basted together and are ready to be quilted. The plan is to go with a simple straight line quilting to mimic the Bento design for 2 very important reasons.

1: Straight line quilting is all I know how to do right now.
2: My old cranky Singer doesn’t “do” free-motion quilting. I’ve tried many times. My machine quilting instructor even tried. If I want to stipple a quilt I have to go as slow as molasses uphill and even then my thread shreds after a minute or two (vs the 30 seconds at normal speed).

Nicki is looking forward to his new blanket being finished.


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The year long quilt project

I was barely a few days into my first proper quilt (the Bento Box quilt) when I started brainstorming my next one.

Inspiration hit in the form of the Tokyo underground map quiltalong by Film in the Fridge. Since Seattle has barely taken the first baby steps towards a proper mass transit system I couldn’t use anything local for my version. I looked at maps of the Hong Kong MTR and while the system has grown since I lived there it is still simplistic due to the geography of the region. While I would love to make an MTR design it sadly would be primarily blank space with only a few lines of color.

Finally I hit upon the mass transit that would not only have special meaning to me but also pose one heck of a challenge.

The London Underground aka the Tube.

Given the size of the Tube there is no way I want to tackle the entire map so my initial plans are to aim for only those lines in Zone 1. It houses some of the oldest stations in Central London and during all my visits to the London area that zone is also where I spent most of my time traveling around.

Thanks to my Kona cotton colorcard from PinkChalkFabrics I had a great guide for picking all my colors and when FabricDepot.com posted a sale I jumped on it.

I now have all the fabric for my Tube quilt waiting patiently for me to finalize my design and start cutting over 1900 2 inch squares of fabric.

Given the amount of planning and piecing that will be going into this quilt I am giving myself a whole year to finish it. This may be the crafting project that drives me to insanity. Only time will tell.

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Piecing the 80 smaller blocks back into the original 20 large blocks was surprisingly a much faster process than I anticipated. By chain piecing 4 large blocks together in one go I managed to save a lot of time by not starting and stopping. Pressing seams and making the final seams of each large block was done assembly line style and took maybe 1 evening.

Some blocks were practically spot on with my seam allowances.

Some not so much… Luckily due to my choice of 10 very different printed fabrics you have to get pretty close on most of the blocks to notice how far off some of the seams are.

The large blocks spent a day hanging up on my design wall so I could keep looking at it and move blocks around as needed before I settled on the final layout. Luckily the flannel sheet hangs up in front of my bedroom closet so I spent a good portion of the day lounging in bed reading and occasionally looking at the blocks.

Once my blocks were together I had to make a decision. I originally planned on using more printed fabrics for borders and backing however I hadn’t realized just how colorful the blocks would look on their own.

Does the original fabric choice make it too busy or continues the chaotic theme?

Or would solid white help calm down the crazy?

Decisions decisions.

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