Finished Baby Quilt: The first of many

It seems I have reached that stage in my life where everyone is having a baby. Which leads to an interesting problem — who do you make a baby quilt for? For me, it was a very difficult decision — and huge thanks go to Stephanie who talked me off the wall of making everyone a quilt! I got it narrowed down to 4, maybe 5…still a lot of baby quilts to make in a single time frame. Good thing they’re small!

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This is the first baby quilt. It’s been delivered to it’s new mother and baby. Well, I gave it to the grandmother a few weeks ago, so fingers crossed it has a baby drooling on it right now.

I started with the image of a quilt by Kelbysews. Side note: She’s releasing a similar pattern in a few months for Ann Kelle… I think it’s even going to be free.  There are a lot of variations on this type of quilt, and it is a pretty easy quilt to put together. I started with a panel of Urban Zoologie by Ann Kelle. Then I found a large piece of coordinating zoo animal fabric in my stash to use as the back, so that set my dimensions. I also found the turquoise pin dots (mother’s favorite color) to go with the panel parts, also in my stash.

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I cut apart the panel, and chose the 5 animals that worked best together (there are eight animals in each panel). Then I added random lengths of the turquoise pin dots to each side. I lined up the animals to look like blocks a child would stack — did I succeed? The strips on the sides, again, came from my stash, and I cut the width of each strip randomly. Based on the size of the back fabric I had, and how wide I had made the center panel, I determined how wide the side pieces needed to be. I did get a little carried away making strips, and enough for another quilt someday. Turns out that making improv strips is really easy, and more than a little addictive.

The cute little animals on the back. And my awkward hand....

The cute little animals on the back. And my awkward hand….

For the quilting, I really wanted the animal blocks to be the focus. So I went with my favorite spirals in the turquoise field. These spirals are maybe as addictive as the improv strips! For the strips, I just went with an easy loopy meander — another favorite quilting pattern. Then, I went and outlined the animals on the blocks, but rather than focus on being accurate, I aimed for character. After all, children aren’t known for coloring in the lines, so why should I quilt on the lines? I think it adds a little extra whimsy to the overall quilt design.

Isn't he adorable?

Isn’t he adorable?

The binding, again from my stash, is a print that says Hello in several languages. It seemed appropriate for a kid’s quilt, and the color was perfect. I bind nearly all my quilts by machine, using this tutorial from Wasn’t Quilt in a Day. The only thing I ‘change’ is I keep my quilting gloves on for binding. I find the extra grip really helps to keep my binding even.

Buon Giorno! Aloha!

Buon Giorno! Aloha!

I used Warm and Plush batting for the first time — amazing batting! I’m not usually a fan of Warm and White, I find it too thin for my liking, but the Plush was wonderful to work with. I wish I could still easily find it to stock up on. Maybe they will bring it back?

The overall shot. Looks so cheery hanging by dead leaves and leafless trees. :D

The overall shot. Looks so cheery hanging by dead leaves and leafless trees. :D

So now here’s my question. After this whole process (there are more baby quilts to share another day), I find it very difficult, and a little odd, to determine who makes the cut. How do you decide who to make a baby quilt for? Do you scale your efforts with the recipient? What I mean is, do close friends get super awesome quilts, while second cousins get quilts with less effort?

On Being Lost…

Do you ever feel like you have lost yourself? Everyday there is a barrage of influences — both quilty and non-quilty. Family members pass away, or have health emergencies. Grandparents need transitioning to assisted living. Cousins and friends have babies, buy houses, move away, and/or get married. Someone posts the quilt/tutorial/tip you’ve had on your mind for months, but haven’t posted yet. Mutual friends meet up, but don’t include you. New fabrics and wonderful books are released nearly everyday and fuel inspiration. Good and bad, constantly fighting for your time and attention. In all of this — where is me?

An improv curves project

An improv curves project

I feel lost in a sea of expectations and demands. Everybody wants and needs something, all the time. Some are benign, and take just a matter of minutes, some take days, but all of it is draining, and leaves little time for me. Recently, I was talking with a friend, and I realized I have never made a quilt just for me. The quilts I have, that I have kept, were all for a challenge, pattern testing, or blog hop — none just because. Where does all my quilting time go? I make quilts for new babies, to celebrate weddings and engagements, for those sick or going through a hard time. But why not for me? I can’t even remember the last time I made a bag or a pillow just for me, just because I could.  Even the skirts I made earlier this year, were to ‘compete’ with all the wonderful handmade items I knew I’d see at QuiltCon.

My gypsy wife progress to date.

My gypsy wife progress to date.

This is not a unique situation; quilters constantly find themselves caught between their generous hearts and a lost self.  Every year, in March, there is an event called “Selfish Sewing Week.”  Participants sew for themselves, mostly garments but quilters take part as well, and link up there final results for the chance at prizes. There are other similar events as well.  Events designed to encourage quilters to use their skills for themselves. Why must we wait for a wide event and prizes to sew for ourselves? If you are doing it to participate in such an event, is it really sewing for me, just because?

A personal project, started recently at retreat

A personal project, started recently at retreat

Do you ever wonder why? Why don’t I sew more for myself? Is it because I find others more worthy? Is it because I like other people more than I like myself? Is it because it’s easier to make design decisions for others? My husband often jokes that quilters are really just fabric hoarders who feel guilty from time to time so they make a quilt — is it guilt driving us to make for others? Is it the giving that makes a quilt special? Do you just have too many quilts in your own house already?

Maybe I will finally finish my Supernova?

Maybe I will finally finish my Supernova?

For me, it is a bit of all of these. I do find it easier to design a quilt for someone else. After all, if a design choice doesn’t work out like I thought, I don’t have to look at it every day. Perhaps most telling though — I do find other people more worthy of quilts than myself. Quilts are an external representation of something internal, like all art. It is much easier for me to love others more than myself, and what is a quilt but a big giant show of love and affection that also keeps your toes warm? I think of others and see all their amazing attributes — I think of myself and see the flaws. I am my own worst critic.

My farmer's wife quilt, still sitting unfinished in a box.

My farmer’s wife quilt, still sitting unfinished in a box.

Over the years, I’ve started many, many projects for myself, some of which are pictured here, but none have been completed. Either the harsh critics in my head stop me, or someone else’s needs push my “selfishness” aside. In an attempt to correct the problem, I am an engineer after all, and that’s what I do, I’m declaring this summer a Sarah Sewing Summer. I have just a few more commitments to finish up, but they should all be done by June 15. So starting June 16, I’m just sewing for me — finishing old projects I still love, starting new ones, or maybe even finally cleaning up my sewing space so I can find things more quickly. I’m aiming to last all the way until Labor Day, anyone want to take bets on if I’ll make it that far?

This has been waiting for quilting for over two years...

This has been waiting for quilting for over two years…

 

Sooo, I was at QuiltCon

I was. I swear. I’m terrible at having my picture taken, by me or others, so there’s not really any photographic proof anywhere (that I’ve seen anyway). But I really was there!!!

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Real life hit me hard when I returned from Texas, so this post is a little behind the rest of the blogosphere. As in a month behind. So, if you’re tired of hearing about QuiltCon, feel free to skip this post. I won’t mind at all. Of course, I won’t really know, so how could I mind, but semantics aside….

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Seeing quilts online or on Instagram is nowhere near the same as seeing them in person. For one thing, scale doesn’t translate well at all. At all. I can’t tell you the number of times I saw a quilt and went, oh, that’s smaller/larger than I thought. Also, the colors? Soooo much better in person. And we’re not even going to touch on the texture of the quilting, because that one is obviously much harder to see on a little phone screen.

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People sound differently in person than in my head. I know this is coming as a shock to most of you, but after ‘talking’ with someone online for months, and in some cases years, they sound a certain way to you. And then you meet them in person, and it might not be the same. Some people were spot on (way to go imagination!) and some people were so wildly different, it seemed nearly impossible. But everyone has been duly adjusted with my internal speakers, so now I can look forward to reading emails from people in the proper voices.

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Those, possibly obvious, things aside, the quilts were amazing. I may not agree with all that were chosen, or how they were categorized, or the winners (and if we’re honest with each other, none of us does), but they all had merits and they were all inspiring. I don’t need to like a quilt to find the skills/techniques/quilting/color choices wonderful. I don’t like every painting in a museum either, doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve to be in a museum. It also means I don’t envy the job of curating anything. :D

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This isn’t the last you’ll see or hear about QuiltCon for me, but it might be the only dedicated post (or maybe not, who knows!). There were so many inspiring quilts, and as those inspirations trickle into my work, I’ll try to include them here!! Hopefully, you won’t be tired of the phrase “I saw this at QuiltCon” anytime soon, because I have a feeling it might appear often.

And one last thing, if you ever get a chance to meet quilty friends in person, do it! I promise you won’t regret it. And those friendships will probably turn out even stronger for that in-person hug. :D

Video Killed the Radio Star | Bonnie Christine Ribbon Tour

Happy Thursday!!! Today is my stop on the Bonnie Christine Ribbon Tour to introduce her new line of ribbons from Renaissance Ribbons. Now, I may not have shared this before, but I have a serious thing for bees, and Sweet as Honey is one of my favorite collections of all time (I used some in this baby quilt too). So, when I saw Bonnie put out a call on Instagram for people to join her blog hop tour, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer.

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Now of course, me being a quilter, I instantly go to a quilt when asked to make a new project — It’s almost like a disease really. And did I plan on making a small quilt? No. I guess even though school is over, I’m still an overachiever at heart. I thought and thought, and looked all over the internet for something to compliment the ribbons, and went with a quilt based of this one by Blue is Bleu (love her too!).  It’s about 72″ x 80″, so a nice small throw size, right?

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I appliqued the ribbon onto the solid pieces, after they were cut to size, then joined them with the previous pieces, and mitered the corners. Sounds more complicated than it really is. I looked up this video for the miter, then after that it was easy peasy. Except when my cat tried to help. Claws and ribbon don’t mix so well, but it’s a problem easily remedied.

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So what can I say about the ribbon? It’s gorgeous for starters. Like keep it in eyesight at all times gorgeous. Though the ribbons are designed for Winged and Sweet as Honey, there’s some fabrics from Hello, Bear that also coordinate really well. If you’d like to purchase some they’re available at Renaisance Ribbons, and Bonnie’s mother’s store A Stitch in Time.

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Yesterday, Ashley at Mommy by day Crafter by Night posted about this completely adorable make-up case she made. Tomorrow we can all find out what Bethany at Bee Always Blooming has been up to. And the tour continues, with a new project/blogger every week day until April 8th.

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So now that you know all about the ribbon, you’re probably wondering about the name, right? Well, my husband and I have this arrangement – he names all the quilts, and gets first dibs on keeping them. So even if I make a quilt for someone else, it’s not allowed to leave our apartment unless he says so. When I first showed him this quilt top, he thought it looked like a broken TV…and then somehow in his head that became “Video Killed the Radio Star”. Don’t ask me how…his head can be a strange place, but the name is growing on me. In a few days, I’ll be sharing more details about the quilting of VKRS (you know an acronym was in order!). And yes, there is a QuiltCon post (or two) coming – I just got sidetracked by making a quilt. :D

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