Friday, October 31, 2008

Much Nicer

Okay, I added the smaller triangles, and I think it really takes it to the next level. Now I just have to figure out how to make it! The flying geese portion worries me, as the triangles on the side aren't standard, as does the pointer looking bits. I think I'll have to divide them into two triangles, and then I'll have to figure out how to attach the lower triangle.

Ah, but here it is with the new addition.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Inspiration in Unlikely Places

As an unemployed person, I've got a lot of time on my hands. This being the case, I decided to replay one of my favorite games, Final Fantasy XII. I've been rolling through the game, and what's this I see on the wall?
That looks like a quilt pattern on the wall. Who can care about manufacted nethicite when there is patterning to be done?
I scoured the internet for screencaps of the scene that showed the pattern, and captured the photo below from a youtube video.
Then I sat down with Illlustrator and tried to recreate the pattern. It took me awhile, and it's not exactly the same, but I think it would make a pretty nice looking quilt. I didn't get the small triangles on the outer triangle (that doesn't make any sense to anyone else I bet) and maybe when I'm more restful I'll see about adding them.
I think this will be my next project. I like the planning stage, but I know better than to stop work on BBW, no matter how frustrating I'm finding that particular quilt at the moment. I'm also going to need a few days to figure out yardage and piece sizes for what I'm going to call Fantasy, in honor of the game. Illustrator is not the best for creating quilts, and I really wish they made Electric Quilt for the Mac. I'll have to figure something better than Illustrator out. At least for Fantasy I'll only need to figure out two squares, instead of with BBW where there are no real repeating elements.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Quilting, A young woman's game?

These poorly shot things are the strips I have been using to create the BBW quilt. When all the edges are joined, the finished size vertically is 1 inch, so I've been working with a grid and using these pieces as building blocks. It's more complicated than it needs to be, and it's definitely been a labor of love. If I really didn't want to create this (which I'm not sure why I do!) I would have pooped out on this project. 

I stand by the choice to have a quilted element, rather than a straight copy, but if I had it to start again, I might not choose the strip element, just because it's a fussy way to do it. I don't mind the way it looks though, put together. These photos don't really show the detail well, but I'll take better close-ups when I'm closer to finishing.

I've been going back and forth to Portland to try and keep up the moving effort, and I stopped in Aurora on my way up when I saw a sign saying they had an antique store. I've been trying to furnish my new place with antiques, so I've hit almost every store between Salem and Portland, and all down 99. 

Aurora has more than an antique store, it has many. And they all have good stuff, and lots of furniture, which is what I've been mainly looking for. But the most exciting thing, was that there was also a Quilt Show going on. I'm kicking myself for not taking my camera. There weren't that many quilts, but there were some very impressive ones. I was there on a Friday, so there weren't that many people there but the average age was 40+. It seems like this is the case with a lot of the blog I've been reading as well. Married with, or with out kids is common too. 

It feels a little isolating. I've been entering baked good in the fair as well, and these aren't young people's hobbies. Granted, I haven't looked everywhere on the internet or around town, but it would be nice to have people more my own age involved in this.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quilting Like a Sailor

I've got a new project. 

When I was a kid, I had a book of Western art history. I used to pour over the pages looking at the various painting from the 15th century to modern art, and it fascinated me. My mother asked me my favorite piece, and I always said it was Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian, pictured below.

I'm very sure I wouldn't claim it as my favorite painting now (not that I could name a favorite right this second), but it's always held a special place in my heart. 
It is however, made of squares! And what's better for quilting? So I decided I wanted to recreate it in quilt form.

The debate in my mind then becomes, should I try and recreate this exactly with fabric instead of paint, or use the template of the painting and use quilting methods to make it art in a quilt form?

When it's phrased like that, it should be obvious that I am aiming for the latter. HOWEVER, this  project so far has been an exercise in frustration! The first quilt was easy! Someone else figured out the yardage, the pattern, how to cut, how much to do, but in this project I'm on my own, which has lead to a lot of swearing on my part. I'm building a template matching the original proportions in illustrator, and using that and a grid to figure out how to put it together but it's been frustration and long process.

I had originally thought to make the squares into 9-patches of solid color, unlike the one below. I figured that would add to the quilt like quality.

The scale of the project makes that difficult. The nine patch above would have a finished size of 3x3. The squares in my quilt would be 1x1, and I just can't wrap my mind around that. It's sort of hard to see, but the squares on the nine-patch are made up of three strips sewn together. It's my compromise between a pure copy and a quilted touch.

Sewing together all the strips (at 1.5 inch width when all three pieces are sew together), and making the illustrator guide have been really time consuming.

Each of the strips took a day.

I've also been focusing a lot more on matching the seams, as it's a really geometric design, and the iron has seen a lot more use.

Here is two more days of work, mostly due to my own miscalculations, and a computer crash. I've sworn more in genuine frustration doing this project than any other time in my life!  The rest of the row I'm working on should go pretty quickly, as there are larger white spaces, and I pre-cut 1 inch finished size squares.

A lot of quilters name their quilts, so the tentative title for this one is BBW, which unfortunately is also an acronym women sometimes put in dating ads meaning Big Beautiful Woman. I'll keep thinking about it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


In addition to being unemployed, I'm also theoretically moving to Portland. It's taken a bit of time to furnish and prepare my new place, and while that's been exciting,  I've been dragging my feet getting up there. Partly because I'll really and truly have to find a place for my dog, because she's too big for my new place, and partly because I just can't get motivated to leave the place I'm living now. I did go up on Friday and get mattresses though, so I can finally sleep up there on a bed, instead of on the couch.

While I was there, I met up with my friend Jennifer for a quick cup of coffee. I took this picture of her, and asked if I could use it in my blog. It didn't occur to me that she would ask to read my blog though! It's just that devoting myself to writing about this particular topic is a little new, and I suppose it may be a little different than expected. 
This flowers below are the craft project I used to fill my time before I started the quilt. It was a lot of fun to make these, and best of all, I can't kill them like I do all real plants in my care.
And, I finished the quilt! I found a pretty blue backing at JoAnn's (which was way better than Wal-Mart, and more price friendly than The Quilted Village) and finished the quilting and binding. Here it is in a natural habitat.
The quilting itself was a bit frustrating, but only because I had no idea what I was doing. Making the quilt top itself had three pages of instructions and diagrams. The binding process had at least thirteen steps listed in the directions. 

The actual quilting instructions simply read "Quilt as desired".

Wait, what? What does that mean? I had intended to hand quilt it, but got about a half an hour in when I realized it would take me weeks to finish. Maybe I'll try hand quilting something smaller. I don't quite know how people make all the really pretty designs, as I found it quite cumbersome to deal with the bulk of the quilt on the sewing machine. I ended up just doing straight lines with a fancy stitch.

I might have researched more options on how to do it, but I think I was mostly concerned with just finishing! Now, onto the next project!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Getting Closer!

I told my friend Elyse that I had started a quilt, and she suggested that we try quilting together. Elyse went to fashion school for awhile, and spent most of her childhood on a sewing machine, so she had a lot of stuff to show me. Like, what all the buttons on my sewing machine are (backstitch? what's that?). Her ex-grandmother in law had given her a bunch of fabric all cut up, so Elyse and I embarked on a mini quilting bee. We walked down to the library to check out different quilting books, and found one that just suggested laying out a bunch of fabric, cutting it in a square, and then cutting it up randomly. Which we did. The photo below shows one of the crazy cuts and all the fabric in the background.

Elyse (pictured below) did all the sewing, and I think she was drawing mostly on her fashion background, because all the seams were 5/8in instead of 1/4 in. The squares came out pretty wonky, due to the way the piecing worked out. It started out as a 6 inch square, and cut down to about 4 inches. We've still got a lot of work to do, but the ex-grandmother in law has a longarm quilting machine, so maybe we will send it through on that? That would be sort of exciting. I don't really like many of the fabrics we are using, but maybe when we finish a bunch of squares it will look alright. Elyse sent me home with the whole tupperware container full, so we'll see what happens with it.

In terms of my own quilt, I finished the top! I wasn't crazy about the dark red fabric through the whole process, but now that it's on the edges I really like it. Now I just have to figure out how exactly to put the rest of it together. I bought the batting, so I'll try and figure it out. The instructions in the magazine are pretty confusing. 

I drove my self crazy putting this together. I sewed the two longest strips of blocks the wrong way, and had to rip out the seams and re-sew it. I almost just said forget it, but then I realized that none of the outer strips would fit it I did that. Later I sewed one of the outer red strips on the wrong way, and had to rip out that seam too. Why didn't I pay better attention? Doh!

I'm so weird about buying things. I bought the batting at the locally run quilt store, The Quilted Forest (instead of Wal-Mart) because they had 100% cotton stuff, and when the saleswoman asked me if I was going to machine quilt it or hand quilt I totally lied and said I planned on machine quilting. I had told her earlier that it was my first quilt, and I guess I didn't want her to think I was too ambitious to try and hand quilt it. Why do I even care what she thought? She seemed really nice too. I can't seem to stop myself! Sales people make me flustered. I couldn't bring myself to buy romance novels at bookstores for years because I was afraid the clerks would judge my choice. 

I had planned on getting some backing fabric as well, but the fabric in the store seemed pretty expensive, most of it was at least nine dollars a yard or more. The fabrics at Wal-Mart were much cheaper, but the selection was way worse. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My first quilt

So, I'm currently unemployed. The economy is tanking, but hey, no big deal right? I'll get a job someday! 

But I need something to do in the mean time, right? I'm tired of watching TV all day, and the internet is getting old. Why the heck did I pick trying to quilt? I don't really know much about sewing, but what can you do? I tried knitting, but I don't really like the way the finished product feels, and I don't really want anything you can make by knitting or crocheting. The feel of yarn is sort of repulsive to me.

Blankets on the other hand, well that's a different story. I picked up a quilting magazine at the store, and picked a quilt that looked cool, and went to town.

Here's the other thing about me. I hate being new at things. I hate learning things. Well, that's not exactly true. I hate it when other people know I don't know how to do things. I didn't want to go to a quilt store to get all my new supplies (which is dumb because I'm sure they would be delighted to help) because I didn't want anyone to know that I don't know what I'm doing. I bought my fabric at Wal-Mart because I felt like no one would bother me there, or ask any questions about why I was buying what I was buying. Even then, my heart was pounding. What is someone found out that I was trying to make a quilt that was way to advanced for me? It's like I was afraid that the quilt police would burst in at any minute and tell me I was doing it wrong and that I shouldn't buy what I was buying!

I just bought supplies I thought I might need by skimming quilting how to sights, and came home with fabric, a rotary cutter, a fabric cutting mat, some thread, and some needles. Luckily, my mom was a sewer so there was a sewing machine in the basement.

Now, the quilt I decided to make was probably a bad call. For a few reasons. 
  1. It's a full size quilt.
  2. The magazine says it's for advance quilters.
After a lot of cutting, and swearing at the sewing machine though, I sewed together all the top squares, pictured below.

To get to this point was/is a huge learning process! It took about a week. This magazine isn't exactly geared towards beginners! I cut all the white fabric with the fabric completely spread out, before I realized that it would be a lot easier to cut the pieces with the fabric doubled over so I cut twice as fast, and the whole thing fit on the cutting matt. I also learned that I didn't have to sew something on the machine, cut it off, and start all over. I could just put in pieced square after square so they formed a little chain. 

Some square turned out alright, like the one with the red square center (a Martha Washington Block) Everything mostly lines up where it is supposed to, and all the points are pretty crisp and the triangles all have pointy ends.

The other blocks, with the pinwheels (Sawtooth blocks) well, some of them didn't turn out quite so well.

Yikes! The pinwheel points don't match, and neither does much else! Oh well. It's my first quilt. I'm looking at this as a learning experience. I've been reading this great blog by a woman named Tonya at and she talks a lot about just quilting, and not caring how perfectly everything matches, which eases my mind a bit. No quilt police are going to but into my house and tell me how much my pinwheels suck, and I'll have a nice warm blanket to watch TV with.

I'm going to my friend Elyse's house tomorrow, and she says she'll give me a few pointers. She also said she has bags full of quilting flannel already cut into strips and we can have a little quilting bee, which sounds fun.

On a side note, it was beautiful today! I'm savoring the sun while we have it, because god knows, here in Oregon it's likely it won't be seen from November to April. Here's the view from the deck.