The Beauty of Rejects, Leftovers and Foibles

Meet Annie, the Quilt

When I entered the quilting sisterhood, I did so with boundless enthusiasm and a charming naivety. It was cute how I assumed I would start a quilt, I would finish it in short order, it would be fabulous, and THEN I would move on to the next project. It would be as easy as – say – washing your hair. Lather, rinse, repeat… Hahahahahahaha.

It wasn’t long before I experienced the agonies of poor color choices, unrefined techniques and simple boredom. “Orphan block” and “UFO” became part of my personal quilting lexicon.

First there was the highly ambitious sampler quilt that exceeded my ability at the time. Some of the blocks turned out great. Some, not so much. I finally gave up in a fit of frustration. For years, I would pull the stack of blocks out periodically, shake my head, and put them back onto the shelf.

My most recent failed endeavor was the Splendid Sampler. A great project I joined with much anticipation. Five blocks in, I realized it wasn’t for me. Still, I made a few adorable blocks. I couldn’t throw them away. Onto the orphan stack they went.

There were MANY samples, mistakes and leftovers along the way. My orphan pile would likely have continued to grow, but I recently bought a Brother Dream Fabric Frame and I’m dying to try it out. Lord knows I won’t start with any of my real quilt tops, so I thought it would be a great idea to sew all my orphans together to make a practice quilt. I told myself, “It’s already ugly, so it won’t matter if you screw up the quilting.” Brilliant, right?

IMG_1283

As the idea gathered steam in my head, I began to research Orphan Block Quilts and found a wealth of resources. Books have been written. There are entire blogs dedicated to them. They are called by many names: Everything But the Kitchen Sink Quilts, Scatterbrained Quilts, etc. Some of them are really ugly. Some are more beautiful than my “pretty” quilts. I’m going for a semi-organized look with the black and pink polka dot sashing. I’m very excited about trying out machine quilting, but, surprisingly, I’m almost as excited about finishing this “ugly” quilt top.

Have you ever made an Orphan Block Quilt? Tell me all about it, and I’ll let you know how mine turns out.

Advertisements

The Scrappy Camper Strikes Again

IMG_1269

My youngest daughter is heading off to summer camp next week, so I took a break from quilting to make her this pillow case and yoga mat bag. (It’s yoga camp. How cool is that!)

These are both quick and easy projects. I could have finished them both in one day if I’d applied myself a little harder. The yoga bag is a free pattern from Amy Butler. She has a ton of cute projects, all free on her website. If you haven’t checked it out, you definitely should.

The pillowcase is a great first project for beginning sewers. Trust me, anyone can do it, and everyone could use more pillowcases, right?

Instructions can be found here.

Meet My New Big Brother…

For almost 25 years now, I’ve been merrily sewing along on my fabulous Bernina 1230. I love that machine. But…

It’s starting to show its age. The light quit working a couple of years ago. The dog toppled it onto the floor recently which cracked the case a wee bit. It still worked though. But then, the needle started falling out every few stitches and I finally said, “enough.” I packed it away until I could get it into the shop and dusted off my little Brother SE-350. I bought it several years ago to try my hand at machine embroidery, and it’s a cute little machine. Sews fine. No complaints. But, it’s not the same as my trusty old Bernina.

IMG_1266

And then…

I visited a dear friend who told me about the new Brother Dream Fabric Frame. We went to her local quilt shop to test drive it. They were running a special. A bundle deal. Ta Da…

IMG_1267

That’s how I ended up with a new Big Brother, the Innovis VQ2400.

I have been a Bernina enthusiast for 25 years, and I’m sure the new machines are fabulous, but I couldn’t be happier with this one. I really didn’t realize what I’d been missing. The light is super-bright, it threads itself, and it has an enormous amount of work space. At my age, the first two things alone make it worth the $5,000 price tag.

The first thing I did once I got it unpacked was wind a bobbin. It was so easy and so much fun, I ended up doing five in just a couple of minutes. I had been planning to order some pre-wound bobbins, but I don’t think I need to now.

I couldn’t wait to see how it sewed so I dug out some triangles I’d cut years ago and sewed a few pinwheels.

IMG_1268

Big Brother did a great job. I can’t wait to see what else this lovely machine can do. Of course, eventually, I will assemble my new Dream Fabric Frame and lock this machine into the frame. Not just yet, though…

Five Years Later…

tshirt1So… I offered to make a memory quilt for a dear friend using her father’s old t-shirts. And I did. But it took me FIVE years to complete. I have felt horrible about it for the last 4.5 years.

In the normal course of things, I’m a slow finisher, but this was ridiculous. I encountered several setbacks including a crazy work schedule, an overseas move, and technical issues with the quilt itself, but finally, it’s done.

In accordance with my goal of finishing a UFO a month, this was my April 2016 project. Don’t judge me, but I actually ran into May with it. Don’t worry, I’ll catch up eventually. Maybe.

One of the first problems I had was the machine quilting. I set my stitch length too short and that combined with a high-loft batting caused me to put a small hole in the green shirt. (Sorry, Carrie.) Discouraged, I set it aside for a few months until I ran across an article about hand quilting with Perle Cotton embroidery thread. I used DMC size #8 in a variegated blue and am quite pleased with the results, despite some sore fingers.

tshirt9

I used flannel on the back so it’s super-cozy. However, I wasn’t thrilled with the back of the quilt because A) I didn’t do a great job of getting the wrinkles out when I spray basted, and B) my stitching is not very pretty on the backside. Lessons learned.

 

tshirt12

On the plus side, my friend FINALLY has her quilt and I can mark another UFO complete. Yay!