Finished: An Adventure Quilt

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The first Christmas we were together, at the tender ages of 16 and 17, I knit Tyler mittens and a scarf for a gift. For the 6 following Christmases and his early November birthday, I’ve always made him something, usually knit– a better scarf after the first one felted, reversible double knit hat with a Mythosaur skull (double knitting is a beyotch,) another pair of mittens after the first ones felted, a sweater with sleeves that would thrill a Doctor Seuss character, and a small, frayed quilt.
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Having an early November birthday means double gift making in a marathon time frame– as soon as the birthday’s over, it’s a sprint to the next finish line. That means gift making usually starts sometime around September, so the “feel” of the gifts is always fall-oriented. Luckily, that aligns perfectly with his taste, because brown and forest green and neutral colors and  a love for the outdoors is never so strong as in the fall. Last year, I decided that the tiny quilt from five years ago deserved a worthy replacement, and this half-square-triangle-Ron-Swonson-approved-queen-sized-beast was created. I knew for Tyler only two things would really matter in a quilt: size (big enough for his 6+ft frame to burrito himself in) and warmth.
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Design
My initial plan was flying geese blocks, enough for a queen sized quilt, but after reading Jeni Baker’s “Patchwork Essentials: The Half Square Triangle” I switched gears and decided a “mock” flying geese (2 half square triangle blocks with dark colors together) would be much better. The book enlightened me to the 8 at a time method for making HSTs, and folks it changed my lyfe.
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Fabric
I ordered a fat quarter bundle of “High Adventure” fabric and added in a few favorites– “Sprinkle” from Cotton+Steel in Pickup Truck (the name alone would have made it perfect) and Counting Stars, and canoes from Trail Mix by Rae Ritchie. The neutral off white is Kona in Natural, which has tiny dark brown flecks in the weave that I just love. I wound up needing to order a few more half yards of some of the prints, but the 8 at a time method left very little waste from the fat quarters so I felt no guilt. I love the espresso colored Peppered Cotton from Studio E for backing, and as a special touch, Molly helped me embroider a gorgeous deer motif on a corner of the backing.
Sewing
There’s so much I could say about sewing a quilt this size I’ll save it for a special post, but I will say this– being organized and taking the time to sew where you can get it is crucial. So is good TV for endless hours of cutting, chain piecing, trimming, ironing, chain piecing again, ironing again…
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Quilting
I had my sister and two of my brothers help me stretch, tape, and baste this thing. The internet is also helpful. Then I straight-line quilted it on my new Janome AMH M100 and even though I forgot the extension table, not a single seam twisted or puckered or folded and I think that machine is my best friend.
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Binding
Is it weird that binding is my favorite part of the quilt making process? I hand bound this quilt because I was tired of sitting upstairs alone at my machine and wanted to hand sew next to the Christmas tree in front of Christmas movies. Also, hand binding looks so much better.
Washing
Wool batting has the loft and softness of polyester and warmth like a big, flat oven. I washed the whole quilt on delicate in cold water and it held up like a champ. Warning: it will smell like a dirty sheep when you open the washer machine. Relax, don’t take a deep breath, tumble dry it low and cool then air dry to get the final dampness out.
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After it was done, I felt triumphant and relieved and frolicked with it in the snow to take these photos, thinking about how happy I was it was done and I wasn’t chained to a huge project with a deadline anymore. Then I made a dress (post on that soon,) passed my finals and medicated my stress with wine and tears and cookies.
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He loved it, by the way, and was actually speechless, a feat I don’t take lightly.
Quilt Stats
  • Pattern: Technique for HSTs from Jeni Baker’s book,”Patchwork Essentials: The Half Square Triangle”
  • Quilt top fabric: “High Adventure” by Designs by Dani for Riley Blake, supplemented by “Sprinkle” from Cotton+Steel and canoes from Trail Mix by Rae Ritchie; Kona in Natural
  • Batting: Quilter’s Dream Wool
  • Backing: Peppered Cotton 108″ wide by Studio E
  • Binding: Red buffalo plaid from “High Adventure”
  • Quilting by: me, on my Janome AMH M100
  • Number/size and type of blocks: 256/ 6.5″ half-square triangle blocks
  • Finished size: 96″ x 96″
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Retro Pincushion Tutorial

 

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Sometimes you just need a cute little project to revive your spirit after hours of soul-crushing prototyping on another project, one that seemed so innocent and simple at the

time. Anyways maybe that’s just me. This little boxy pincushion, made from scraps of quilting cotton, took me about 30 minutes to make, and makes me happy every time I see it next to the sewing machine. It’s retro-ey in both spirit and fabric (the floral is a 1930s reproduction feedsack print) and something you’ll actually use. Try it as a beginner sewing project– the corners and button offer just enough complexity, and the quick nature of the project means almost instant gratification. Little girls might find it the perfect size for a doll chair cushion or pillow.

I just managed to write over 100 words about a pincushion. I have no idea what that says about me as a person.

Materials

-Two 5″ by 5″ squares cotton fabric

-One 20″ by 2″ strip cotton fabric

-Thread to match

-Small amount polyester fiberfill

-2 buttons, any size really, though tiny ones may be more difficult to sew on

3/8″ seam allowance

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1. With one square right side up and the band upside down, line up top edges together and pin. Sew along the top edge, corner to corner.

2. To turn the corner, fold the fabric up against the edge you just sewed. Pin the top edges of the next side together. Sew carefully around the corner, trying not to stitch any folds.

3. Repeat on the next 2 sides. Be sure to leave the one vertical corner with the binding edges open.

4. Pin the second square to the top binding edge and sew, carefully easing around corners.

5. Repeat on the other 3 sides.

6. Turn the whole thing inside-out through corner opening.

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7 & 8. Stuff cushion with polyester fiberfill. Use the eraser end of a pencil to get it in the corners (the gap is rather small.) Stuff firmly as you can.

9. Use a hand sewing needle and thread to stitch up the corner gap. Turn raw edges inside and use mattress stitch for the cleanest finish.

10, 11. Use a ruler to find the center of both the top and bottom of the pincushion; draw a dot with a pencil or fabric pen. Place one button on the bottom and one on the top; sew through both together. Tie thread firmly around both buttons to draw cushion in.Continue to sew on buttons together, pulling tightly through each round (the buttons equalize each other’s pressure and allow for a nice snug center.) Tie off and clip thread.

12. The finished cushion!

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“Bigger on the Inside” Zip Pouch Tutorial

DSCN2790So maybe the title isn’t perfectly accurate and I pushed it a little to get a Doctor Who reference. This tote is the same dimensions on the inside as the outside. Sue me. BUT it there is something about this tote that separates it from the last zip pouch tutorial I posted that could be argued as making it “bigger on the inside.” DSCN2787 The little pulley tab on the side allows the bag to open to 100% capacity. Most zippers lose space where the pull stops, which doesn’t seem like a big deal, until you try to fit an essential in but it just barely won’t fit. The squared off corners allow the bag to sit up, sealing the deal to make this the most useful little project. A gift for my Whovian cousin’s 16th birthday, I filled it with EOS products, nail polish, St. Ives scrub, Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Spray, and other little goodies just in case you’re looking for gift ideas. The fabric I found at JoAnn’s, a single bolt I grabbed like a greedy kid in a candy store. If you can’t find any in your local store, Spoonflower.com boasts a huge selection of nerdy prints (including BBC Sherlock, which I lust over until the day I can afford $17 per yard for basic cotton print.) The polka dot lining lends a girly touch. If you really wanted to be an overachiever, a reversible zipper would make the bag totally reversible and maximize your print fabric enjoyment. This bag is really just like my Simple Zip Pouch, with a few variations, mostly being the zipper tab and the squared-off base. It’s a little bigger, at 10″ by 11″, better for storing more stuff. I should have used a shorter zipper (the overhang is only supposed to be about 1″.) Just in case you were wondering, Matt Smith is my favorite Doctor. Materials -2 rectangles outer fabric, 11″ by 10″ -2 rectangles lining fabric, 11″ by 10″ -1 12″ zipper step1drwhozip 1. Lay 1 outer fabric face up on the table (note: if it’s a directional print like mine, make sure the print is oriented in the right direction before sewing.) Lay zipper face down on top of it, aligning top edges. Lay 1 lining fabric face down on top of the outer/zipper pile, aligning top edge, and stitch, but for the last 1″ or so, push the zipper out of the way so you’re only sewing on fabric. 2. fold fabric over and use iron to press. Note how the zipper is unattached to the last 1″ of fabric, but the fabrics are sewed to each other. 3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 on other side of zipper. 4. Unzip zipper halfway. Fold lining half together and outer halves together as shown with zipper in the middle. 5. Push zipper tail inside the outer layer and pin to hold it out of the way. The goal is to not sew on the zipper at all on one side of the bag. 6. Sew all the way around the bag, leaving a 3″ gap in the middle bottom of the lining. Press seams open as best you can; it will make the next step much easier. step2drwho 7. Take one corner of outer fabric layer. Pull the sides apart and form a triangle, side seam and bottom seam aligned on top of each other. Lay it flat on the table. Use a ruler and fabric pencil to mark off 3.5″ across corner. 8. Sew straight along the drawn line. 9. Use fabric scissors and trim off corner, leaving about 3/8″ for seam allowance. 10. Repeat process on other outer corner and on both lining corners. Press corner seams open as best you can so they will stack neatly when bag is done. 11. Turn bag inside-out through lining gap. 12. Use hand stitches to close gap in lining. step3drwhotabPull Tab 1. Cut a 2″ by 3″ rectangle of fabric. Have fun centering the print (I wanted to ensure the “Police Box” part was right on top.) 2. Fold tab in 1/2″ on each long side and use hot iron to press in place. Turn each end on short side under 1/2″ and press. 3. Fold entire piece in half, wrong sides together, and press. 4. Place folded tab onto the zipper end that’s hanging off the bag (opposite the pulley), sandwiching the zipper end in between the fold. Sew all the way around. DSCN2781 Optional steps: photograph in front of chalkboard 2 minutes before class starts. Make sure nail polish is chipped before photographing hands-on steps. Apologize to your readers for posting 2 zip pouch tutorials in a row. Even though you’re not sorry because it’s so dang cute.    

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