Sunday, January 29, 2012

T-Shirt Quilt

Last spring my cousin graduated high school. Nicolette was a cheerleader for two years, and on her school dance team for the other two, so naturally she acquired a lot of t-shirts. For a graduation gift I offered to turn those shirts into a t-shirt quilt, and I am finally getting around to it.
For months I have had a very large stack of t-shirts under my quilting table, with two yards of fabric I planned to use for it as well. Yesterday I got stabilizer on all the shirts and cut them to size. This quilt will be a lap size, approximately 60 inches square, when finished and double sided. One side will be cheer-leading from her freshman and sophomore years, the other side will be from her junior and senior years as a 'Shirette'. I have a plan for pieced blocks to put together for the squares that won't have t-shirts, I hope it turns out as good as it looks in my mind. My goal is to finish the 'Shirette' side today (and finish a paper). Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Family of Trees

Finally, I have time to show you my last quilt from 2011, "Family of Trees."
This quilt was made for a co-worker who had her daughter right when I was learning to quilt. She is the only co-worker that did not receive a baby quilt from me, because I was not confident in my skills at the time. So fast forward nearly two years and I have finally created her quilt. I did not choose the fabric for this quilt, and was very nervous when my co-worker gave me the fabric because I didn't know how to bring it all together. My co-worker asked me a while back if I would make her daughter, Olivia, a quilt. I said I would love to and she took Olivia to JoAnn's to pick out fabric. Olivia, at the time 18 months old, requested the pink fabric with the trees, her mom then found 6 fat quarters to go along with the yard of trees Olivia wanted.
To be honest, I thought the fabric she chose was pretty ugly, I had no idea how to tie it together. I knew I wanted to add white to the fabric, and use squares, but that was where my ideas ended. So I searched Flickr for some inspiration and came across a tutorial from Allison at Cluck, Cluck, Sew for a Stack-and-Wack square block. I threw in another yard of white fabric and got to cutting my blocks, starting with 9 inch squares from the fat quarters (trying to use all the fabric I could).
I used the tree fabric for the back, along with the left overs from the fat quarters. I also used what I had left of the tree fabric for the binding and appliqued an 'O' on the quilt for Olivia using a scrap from my stash. For quilting I decided to do straight lines with a light blue thread, to match the blue in the tree fabric. I love the way the quilt turned out, the fabrics work pretty well together with the added white. And I was pretty happy with my straight line quilting....after taking out 4 lines of stiching and re-basting the quilt. I have a way to go before I am super confident with straight line quilting, my fabric pulled a bit as I quilted....practice makes perfect.
I wanted the quilt to have a name with "tree" in it, and I had "Kids" by MGMT* in my head, so the name of the quilt comes from that song. To me the song is about childhood and growing up, so it's kind of a fitting name for the quilt. Hopefully Olivia can enjoy it for many years. *If you check out the song by viewing the music video, be warned that it is very strange and a little disturbing. You may also want to watch the "making of" video to reassure yourself that the toddler was not afraid of the monsters. :)
What I learned:
As the tortoise taught us from has infamous race with the hare....SLOW and STEADY wins the race (at least when straight line quilting). I forgot this simple rule and had to un-stitch and re-baste after some bunching that occurred. Also, spray baste seems to help keep the quilt layers together well when making the straight lines.
Another thing that frustrated me a bit when making this quilt was using the tutorial. It was really helpful, and I appreciate all the tutorials I have used from so many quilters because they have taught me SO much, but every quilter is different in the way they phrase things. I want to make a note that when Allison says "finished block size" in her tutorial, she is not meaning finished size when the quilt is put together (which is what I think of when I hear "finished block size"). Instead she is meaning the size the block will be when pieced together. I started with 9" fabric squares, so my quilt blocks were 8" when pieced together, but the finished block size was 7 1/2". This really confused me when I was working on my quilt top because it ended up being a little smaller than I had anticipated and I was thinking I cut my fabric wrong. I just wanted to give a heads up to anyone that uses her tutorial, which I highly recommend!

Now I am going to try and get some studying done. I took Friday off work for a 'mental health day' and I am hoping to get some quilting done. I guess that means I REALLY need to work on studying now so I can use all my time Friday for quilting. Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Look Back

I'm a little late in posting my past year of quilts, but the spring semester has started and it is going to be another busy one! Here is a look at the quilts I did in 2011. Thirteen full quilts from baby, to toddler, to lap size. I hope to do a king sized quilt in 2012, to replace the duvet cover Penny tore last year. Oh how I love my dog! I also plan to finish not only my Ghastlies quilt, but also two Christmas quilts. I have a small list started, and with a summer off from school, I will get it all done!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Max, Max, What Do You See?

My next two posts will be about my last two quilts of 2011. I finished this quilt early last week, but I haven't found time to post about it, despite my free time from a break in work and school.
My wonderful friend Mandy asked me to make a quilt for her nephew for his first birthday later this month. I was thrilled with this request because I love to make children's quilts, they are so quick and the fabrics are so fun and colorful! Mandy really wanted a "Where the Wild Things Are" quilt, as her nephew's name is Max, but there is no such fabric out there (someone should change this!). Her next request was Dr. Seuss, like her son's quilt, or Eric Carle. The preschool teacher in me immediately jumped at the idea of an Eric Carle quilt, an INTERACTIVE Eric Carle quilt!
I have wanted to make an interactive children's quilt ever since I came across this quilt made by Jacquie at Tallgrass Prairie Studio, I guess the early childhood educator came out in the quilting portion of my brain when I saw this and I added her quilt to my inspiration to-do list. So here is my Eric Carle quilt for the soon to be one-year old. I made this quilt using a panel of the Brown Bear fabric which has the animals from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do See? the children's book written by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by the very talented Eric Carle.

For Max, I wanted to make a quilt that a toddler could use to snuggle up with, as well as play and learn with. Originally I wanted to do a Very Hungry Caterpillar quilt, with a number on the top of the flap and the corresponding fruit underneath (for those of you that are familiar with this story, you will know what I am talking about.) However, that quilt would have been VERY expensive! Then I found a seller on etsy that had Brown Bear fabric available and snagged it up.
I cut out the animals squares and pieced them randomly into 12 by 15 inch blocks using a Kona grey (can't remember which one, sorry). I decided not to place the quilt squares in order with the story, this way Max's interactions with the quilt could be more challenging as he grows and develops cognitive skills.
I visited my favorite LQS for corresponding prints for the flaps, and put them together with batting in the middle to make them a bit more sturdy. Then I decided to quilt them too, using different quilting techniques. It was really fun to try out new quilting designs on these flaps, and each one is different. For some I quilted along with the fabric, like the blue, green and yellow squares:
For others I tried something new to me, like the purple flap loops, brown flap squares, and white flap pebbles.
I used corresponding thread for the flaps, and stippled the quilt all over with grey thread, except for the panel squares of the animals, which I stitched around with my walking foot a 1/4" on each side of the square. I didn't want the image of the animal to be distorted from the quilting lines. The brown bear is in the middle, without a flap. The idea is that brown bear starts the quilt just like the story so you would start by saying: "Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?" Then lift the brown flap.....
"I see a red bird looking at me.Red bird, red bird, what do you see?" Then move to the red flap.....
 "I see a yellow duck looking at me." And so on.
 For the back of the quilt I pieced together the fabric left from the flaps in order of the story. I also added gold fabric for the goldfish at the end of the story. My husband's comment on the finished quilt was "The back looks cool." I have to agree, I love the scrappy look of these colorful fabrics. For the binding I machine attached it using a darker Kona grey, I think the grey fabrics help to make the colors pop really well, and will hold up to a child's dirty play well.
This story has been a favorite of mine since I was a child, I still have my copy from the 80's! Every child I have ever taught has loved this story as well. My preschoolers "read" it frequently in our reading loft, and play along with our flannel board story as well. I think Eric Carle's artwork he uses in his illustrations is so appealing and inspiring for children. I have another set of animals left from the panel, I may have to make one of these quilts for my preschoolers to use in the classroom. :) Hopefully Max will love it as much as I do. Mandy should receive this quilt today or Monday, I can't wait to hear what she has to say about it.

What I learned:
I loved getting to try out different quilting techniques on the flaps. Usually I am afraid to waste batting and fabric as I try out new styles, this quilt was a great way for me to get my feet wet, without wasting materials. Plus, I think I have gotten pebble quilting figured out enough to try it on a full quilt!