Tumbling Tree Frogs

>> Saturday, March 27, 2010

Perhaps they're more tree slugs than tree frogs, but I like them nonetheless. That turquoise sluggy sort of thing on the brown fabric, I just liked it. I don't know why, since I'm no fan of slugs, but the fabric variety worked for me.

I knew I would design this quilt around my friendly slug (see, it's even smiling), though I had no idea what pattern I would use or what other fabrics I would select. I even picked it out before I knew the child's name which, as it turns out, is Ilan which means tree. All very appropriate. And, actually I knew the name before I was supposed to because I am a good name guesser or, in this case, more of a good listener in name conversations. My ears, they work well. And, yes, I am a bit punchy as a write this.

When I first pulled fabric from my stash, I pull all the wrong fabrics. They were too light or looked too washed out next to the slugs. I realized I needed vibrant and so I returned the first batch to my fabric boxes and started anew. The second time around I started with the oranges and then picked the blues and greens. It turns out it was the blues and greens that tripped me up the first time. With this second round, I ended up with a nice mix from multiple designers' collections -- there is some Anna Maria Horner, some Laura Gunn, some Sandi Henderson, some Erin McMorris, some Joel Dewberry, some Arcadia, and a couple more hanging out in my stash. 

I used Amanda Jean's tumbler tutorial which is straightforward and easy to follow. Just be careful with your fingers when using a rotary blade and cardboard template. Some unintentional slicing occurred, but nothing some cold water, pressure, and a bandaid or three couldn't fix. Luckily the blood stayed far far away from the fabric.

The quilt ended up a little more square than I originally intended. I laid out all the rows and there was a nice rectangle but then the seam allowances intervened and the shape rearranged itself, just enough to be less 4x6 (or pick your favorite golden ratio) than initially intended. As for quilting, I stitched 1/4" offset from each of the vertical seams, as you can sort of see outlined on the back in the above image. I really love this pieced back, in part because I really love that orange fabric (and now have about a 2" strip left, sad but good to actually use the fabric in my stash). I like the line of tumblers separating the 2 big pieces of fabric and well, I'm just pleased with how it all came together.

Garden Party binding sealed the quilt in. I knew I liked the colors of the binding, but I wasn't originally sure how the print would work in its binding role. I think it acquits itself quite well. After all, it includes not one but two shades of blue and how could that ever go wrong.

And the sun started to emerge as I took photos -- outside for the first time in 2010 first time in 2010 without snow on the ground. It should have made its way to California by now. This is definitely not what I imagined the quilt would look like when I plucked the tree frogs/tree slugs as my principle/origin fabric, but I love how it turned out. Perhaps I'll make one for myself.


Dipping Into the Crayola 64-Pack

>> Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chez Two Hippos hosted lots o' quilting this weekend, but most of it is in-progress and not yet ready for public consumption to be revealed to those who will receive said items. However, I embarked on a small project tonight that will accompany a quilt being shipped off to its new owner tomorrow. Its new owner has an older brother and, as an oldest child, I am well aware that it is critical to send the displaced older child a gift when sending something to the newborn (besides, until said newborn grows up and can talk, the older child is far more interesting to me).

I whipped up a crayon roll, using this tutorial. It turns out, they're quite easy to make. I had all the supplies on hand and it didn't take too long to put together. Now that I've made one, future ones will be even easier and quicker to put together. I had to sort through a few crayon boxes to come up with a rainbow of unused crayons, but that's why it's handy that I own at least 3 boxes of such drawing instruments. The ribbon is a velour black ribbon I found in my ribbon box. If I make more, I might invest in some fun thin grosgrain options.

I used Amy Schimmler's frog fabric (for Robert Kaufman) on the outside of the roll. The frogs seem pretty chipper and colorful.

On the inside, I opted for some green (the background) and turquoise and yellow watercolor-y stripes (the pocket). The stripes made stitching the individual crayon pockets very straightforward.

Okay, I'm just obsessed with cool crayon pics. The lighting wasn't fantastic, being indoors and night and all, but I had fun playing with my camera and figuring out how to photograph the roll.


Hollywood Quilting

>> Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring has arrived, though apparently the temperature is going to drop 20 degrees overnight. I've been enjoying 60 degree temperatures, lighter clothing, and sunny days. I have not, however, been enjoying spring's companion: allergies. Nevertheless, I've made some quilting progress this week. Nothing ready to unveil but one complete baby quilt, one in-progress, and one in my mind. The latter two are for twins who were getting evicted (their mother's words, not mine) this morning.

My quilting time is also my (internet) TV time, and this week I caught up on Numb3rs. It seems like the season finale is going to be the show's finale as well. My mom and sister introduced me to this show a couple years ago (though it had been on the CBS docket for quite a few seasons by then). Quilting time gave me time to work my way through the show from season 1 to the present. For those unfamiliar with the show, it features an FBI team aided by the team leader's (Don) math genius brother (Charlie). 

While the show received some (fair) criticism for poorly integrating real math into the plot, I still enjoyed it. Then again, I love crime shows and I'm not a mathematician (though one of the best college classes I took was a math class, for which I made a math quilt for a project, a quilt based on Fibonacci numbers). I think the show could have done more (and very valuable) work elevating the role of women as protagonists -- in the roles of FBI agents and mathematicians. But, I think it made (small) strides by simply casting a woman (Amita) as a mathematician/computer scientist who, as the show progressed, demonstrated she was as smart as any of the men portrayed. It was also gratifying to see TV show a relationship between Charlie and Amita, in which intelligence, even brilliance, brought them together (never mind the problematic origin of the romantic relationship in a grad student-faculty advisor dynamic). Family relationships comprised the best element of the show: whether immediate family or the larger network of family and friends, the relationships (good and bad) and character development felt real. As a result, it was a fun show to watch while quilting -- well-paced, well-acted, and enjoyable to watch. 

Watching TV shows in 43-minute chunks lets me take a break from my work to quilt, make progress on projects, and multi-task...then again, I'm not always good at limiting myself to one show! While Numb3rs will disappear from the rotation, I discovered NCIS this winter which now has a firm spot in my TV lineup and may be my new favorite show....more on that another time.


Number Quilt

>> Monday, March 15, 2010

When I make quilts, there is inevitably a moment of "is this really going to look ok?" No matter whether a start with a pattern or not, doubt creeps in and makes me wonder about the final product. Usually the moment is brief, even fleeting. Yet this quilt's moment lingered -- should I have used so many different colors? Should I have used such bright colors? Draped over a chair, I'd look at the pieced top and wonder how it would turn out.

Then I bound the quilt and wondered no more. I love how this quilt turned out. It just needed the final border to come together. Only when I laid it out for pictures did I even realize it turned into a number sign, or hash mark. I used Elizabeth's pattern but modified it: I started with larger squares (12") and used 25 total to make the quilt square (it's about 48" square). It's important to follow her instructions about how to move and cut the layers so you end up with all 9 fabrics in each block (a lesson I learned the hard way).

I backed the quilt with soft and warm (in hue and feel) yellow. I've never done a lot of quilting and certainly no free-motion quilting with a fleece back, so I was a little concerned about how it would turn out. It's fine, I learned. It's really no different than quilting with any other back, and it makes the quilt feel quite substantial (stuffing it into a box for mailing was a challenge!).

I went with orange for the binding, picking up on one of the fabrics used in the Crazy 9-Patch blocks. Machine-sewn like usual! To see a very different quilt using the same blocks as a starting point, click over to my flying zebra quilt.

There's just something about the diagonal lines of this image I like. The quilt should have found its way to its new home in Denver and its new own, Matan (means gift, in Hebrew) by now!


DQS Treats!

>> Friday, March 12, 2010

The mail brought me a fun package this week: a quilt from my DQS partner Shannon. She worked extra hard on this, after initially starting a pink quilt and then rereading my email noting that I love blue and don't love pink. Thank you for that extra work! She made a beautiful squares in squares quilt, named "Words in Blue Boxes."

Shannon included some extra treats -- 
some red and purple fabric as well as thread (plus the beautiful card)....

And this neat green fabric plus a journal.

Thank you, Shannon!


Flying Zebra Quilt

>> Friday, March 5, 2010

Who doesn't need a flying zebra in their life? You might remember this block from this post, and if so, your memory is quite good. I made a bunch of blocks for Elizabeth's Crazy-9-Patch-Lattice quilt, but commandeered a couple for another quilt.

This quilt uses two 9-patch blocks in the center and moves outward from there, with a series of borders framing the center blocks. I saw a quilt online somewhere that inspired this one and I'd like to give it credit, but I can't find it. Suffice it to say, it used borders to create a really neat quilt. So I did too.

I knew I wanted to construct the borders from the fabrics in the 9-Patch blocks and I wanted to intersperse white. I started with the red because I didn't have much left and knew there wouldn't be enough if I saved it for later. Originally, I anticipated no repeats, but midway through I changed my mind. The brown dots were striking and I didn't want to lose them as a powerful frame.

I debated backing the quilt with fleece or cotton. This IKEA hippo fabric ultimately won out. I'm considering buying more (if it still exists; it's hard to know with IKEA) and using the hippos as quilt labels, since it would be easy to write on the white part. The red might not look good with every quilt, but I think it would work with a lot of them.

Yellow dots for the binding -- I wanted to think of the binding as another border frame and thus selected a fabric from the center. It also had to coordinate with the red and white hippos, which the yellow does well.

Stipple-quilted, the quilt shrunk and crinkled nicely. (When they say comfort with stipplequilting comes with practice, they (whoever they are!) are right; it's getting much easier.) And on another note altogether,  I do love the little owl in the corner there.

The quilt arrived in Madison, WI this week and Gabriel appears to like it thus far, from afar.


Galaxy Quilt: Finished and Shipped

>> Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Galaxy quilt is complete and in the clutches of the U.S. Postal Service. I hope it makes its way to my DQS 8 partner in good speed, or at least the 2-3 days priority mail is supposed to take.

My partner expressed an appreciation for the brown/aqua/cream/red combination (and some others, but I went with this one). I've seen aqua and red pop up all over the quilt blogosphere, and it looks sharp. I like that it works as well with chocolatey brown as it would with a gray.

I made 7 wonky stars, originally thinking they would all fit on the front in some sort of random pattern. Had I made all small wonky stars, that might have worked. But the largest turned out to be 15" square and that created problems. As it is, the quilt is a smidgen oversized, clocking in at 27" square rather than the upper limit of 24" square. I hope my partner doesn't mind.

As a result, I used 4 of the stars on the front and 4 on the back. I wanted a decent amount of negative space, and I like how it turned out. In order to make sure there was some red on the back as well as the front, I added the red strip and placed the label on a red rectangle.

I quilted 1/4" away from each of the stars in the front (using aqua thread around the red stars and red thread around the aqua stars). The I opted for swirly filigree quilting in brown thread on the brown background. This is the first time I've separated out an element and quilted it differently. I think it might be better on a quilt with one fabric on the back, but I still like it.

This might be my favorite star. I like the mix of elpogated and squat points. Piecing the quilt together as tricky because I wanted some of the stars on an angle. If I were confident in foundation piecing, that might have been a better option. Instead, I pieced and cut and pieced and trimmed and pieced and cut until satisfied. I didn't even watch any internet TV while I did it, lest I mess it up.

I love this Tina Givens watercolor-like fabric and used it for the binding. Like usual, I machine-stitched it all. This was a fun experiment and the DQS folk are a neat bunch. There's loads of inspiration bobbing around in the flickr pool.


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