Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quilts for Kids: The package has arrived!

I received my Quilts for Kids kit this week (very quickly from when I ordered it), and it contained some really cute dog fabric, all pre-cut and ready to sew, along with a label for the back of the quilt.

I remembered I had been fooling around with a dalmation strip scrap and some other doggie-themed scraps that I got in a "scraps by the pound" sale over at (my favorite online quilt store), and the "block" I made will go really well with these fabrics.

I am not sure I'm going to pay attention to the suggested quiltinng instructions for this one, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do from my stash for the second quilt, and I have to go get more batting (I just used up my last large-ish piece for Winter Solstice Sunrise, which I will be quilting this week, I hope. I want to get it ready for the Guild show, Sharing the Quilts XXVII,  less than a month away.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Vintage Doll Project: Step One - Design the fabric

I have a much-loved doll (á là the Velveteen Rabbit) that was given to me, new, almost 50 years ago, and that was given to my own daughter about 12 or so years ago. It's been through quite a lot, including a re-inking of the face by my mother after a traumatic laundry incident where my doll was returned to me, clean, but faceless.

The interesting thing about this particular stuffed fabric doll is that it has two fronts and no back. On one side, she is smiling and awake. Flip her over, and her eyes are closed - she's sleeping. So, after a successful search through the basement "archives" (yeah, the archives. *snicker*), I found the original doll, all the worse for wear.

Sitting her next to my computer, I got busy with my Wacom tablet and Illustrator, and drew her to scale, with the original eyes and mouth that I remember from my toddlerhood. Her original dress is long gone, and I don't really remember what color it was or what it looked like. My mother had replaced it with a red gingham A-line dress with pompom rickrack sewn along the bottom.

I figured that it would be a clever idea to get a doll and dress out of a Fat Quarter (18x22 inch rectangle of fabric), so I put the doll pattern on top of a polka dot and zigzag fabric, with the vertical repeat occurring about the right length for a doll dress, with some extra scraps for other accessories.

I want to mention that the doll body has no hair - that is added after stuffing, and it's made from yarn, I think to hide the opening where the stuffing was put into the doll.

I uploaded the design to Spoonflower a little while ago. I am having test swatches (actually full FQs) in both the quilting-weight and the upholstery-weight fabrics, to see which one makes a better doll. When I get my prototypes done, I'll post again here with pictures of the original doll and the reproductions. My plans are to sell the dolls on Etsy, and also make kits available.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quilts for Kids

Quilts for Kids is an organization that supplies quilts to hospitals for the comfort of children confined there. I've just requested a quilt kit from them, and I'll be making at least one quilt to donate to them.

From their press release: Quilts for Kids, Inc. transforms discontinued, unwanted and other fabrics into quilts that comfort children in need.  These children are fighting a life battle with cancer, AIDS, and other serious illnesses.  We also gift to children of abuse. Our goal is to link design centers and other fabric sources nationwide to their communities, so that children in need in those regions may be served.

The quilters who create and donate quilts have done a fabulous job - the quilt gallery on the website has some beautiful work.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Quilter's Library

Ruth B. McDowell's Piecing Workshop: Step-by-Step Visual Guide Indispensable Reference for Quilters Bonus ProjectsI will admit that I love to collect things. Fabric, books, music, action figures,  beach rocks, shells, and other things that pique my interest. Today, one of the latest two quilting books that I ordered was waiting for me when I got home from work today: Ruth B McDowell's Piecing Workshop. This book was recommended to me by Elettaria, a member of the Quilting group over at LiveJournal, and I'm really looking forward to reading it at learning the piecing techniques she explains.

I also thought it would be interesting to list the other quilting books I've acquired over the years. My library is segregated into 2 rooms and a garage (my fiction library is still in storage). My home office contains my non-fiction and "research" library, and my sewing room contains my fine art and crafts books.

1000 Great Quilt Blocks (That Patchwork Place)One of my favorite books is Gordon's 1000 Great Quilt Blocks. It's a small, square volume, but very thick. It's incredibly useful for looking up blocks and for getting desgin ideas. I picked this book up at The Quilt Patch in Fairfax, Virginia many years ago, and it's been an indespensible part of my library. I also like to sit and thumb through it, just to see the designs.

The Complete Book of Seminole Patchwork (Dover Needlework Series)Dover Books makes up a big part of my library in many categories (their costuming books are indispensable for the re-creationist), and I have a few of their quilting books: Quick and Easy Giant Dahlia Quilt by Murwin and Payne helped me with constructing my Giant Dahlia quilt (that you can see in the quilt gallery slide show in my quilting website) - but I used the Marti Mitchell templates to cut the fabric. And I also have been inspired by the Complete Book of Seminole Patchwork in some of my designs that are still only on paper or in EQ6 projects and that are on my "to do" list.

Pictorial QuiltingOther inspirational books include 20th Century Best American Quilts, America's Heritage Quilts, Pictorial Quilting (also by Gordon), and Mandala Quilt Designs. These four books are not instructional, but they challenge me to "up my game." It's one of my dreams to be good enough that my work might be included in books such as these.

The quilting itself is where I have the largest room for improvement at this time - I think my piecing skills are getting good, as long as I am careful and not rushing. To help me with quilting, I picked up 60 Machine Quilting Patterns, Add-A-Line Continuous Quilting Patterns and Continuous Line Quilting Designs. These books have all been reviewed on my vox blog a little while ago.

I would love to hear your list of essential quilting books.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Quick tips for constructing a design wall

If you are new to quilting, a design wall is something that is very helpful. It's a place for you to lay out pieces or quilt blocks and try out arrangements before you sew them together.

A design wall is usually hung vertically on the wall. This works better than the floor for a few reasons:
  • You don't need to clean it first before you put fabric on it
  • Your pets can't "help" you with your small pieces of fabric
  • You can stand back and look at it to get a better idea of how your finished quilt will look.
  • (if you have a dedicated space for it) you can leave the design up for an extended period of time to tweak it.
I made my design wall for less than 40 dollars. it may have been much less, but it's been so long, I don't remember exactly how much I spent on it. But this is how I made it:

Material List
  1. Covering. You need some kind of material that your fabric will adhere to without damaging your fabric. I use flannel. To get the flannel in the size I wanted (relatively large), I purchased a queen-sized flannel bed set, which was cheaper than getting yard goods (that aren't wide enough anyway and would require sewing). I used the fitted sheet, so I still have the flat sheet to use as quilt backing (or batting) if I want later on.
  2. Board Material: You can use peg board or masonite that you can get at your local lumber or big-box home improvement store. This is sold in 4-foot by 8-foot sheets, which is plenty big enough for most purposes. Plus, it's not too expensive. In fact, you are probably going to have to cut it down some to fit it into the space you have for your design wall. You can cut this stuff with a jigsaw or circular saw.
  3. Brackets: You are going to need something to stick this on the wall. If you can find U-shaped brackets, get them. I bought L-brackets and bent them into U-shapes. I got 2 for the top and 2 for the bottom and the board rests inside them
  4. Duct tape, bungee cords or other fasteners to keep tension on the flannel.
  1. Cut the board to the proper size.
  2. Cover the front of the board with the flannel.
  3. Tape the flannel to the board on the back, or adhere the flannel using some sort of tensioning system in the back.
  4. Mark on the wall where you want your brackets to go.
  5. Bend your brackets to hold the design wall (if necessary)
  6. Screw the brackets into the wall. Make sure to screw them into studs or use molly anchors.
  7. put the board inbetween the brackets.
You are ready to use your design wall!