After reading a few others' posts on this latest Sewing with Certainty link up, it seems I'm in good company with my design process. While I'm not against using patterns, I definitely prefer to put my own spin on things and I either start from scratch myself, or change up someone else's design to fit my taste. I've only really stuck with a pattern from start to finish when attending a class or occasionally when sewing a small accessory project, but for quilts, I'm almost always flying solo.
I keep a gridded notebook handy (I really love my Whitelines notebook - the grid all but disappears as you work), and I use it for just about everything sewing related, from doodles and color layouts to taking notes at quilt meetings and jotting down measurements. My desk could use a little organization most days, so having all my notes for everything sewing related in one location is very helpful!
I'm also an old-school MS Publisher fan. I know there are tons of other design programs out there, but I've been using this one for... hmm... flashback to the rainbow dot matrix printer cartridges of wayyyy back... well, not quite that long ago, but twenty years?? close to? ... anyway, for a long time and I know it like the back of my hand, so when I want to digitally lay something out, I do it there. The more I see of E7, though, the more I want to make the switch to a dedicated program for quilt designing!
Since my background is as a math teacher, my prep work tends to be fairly calculated. I don't make a lot of changes once truly underway, and as much as I admire those who organically piece by just throwing fabric pieces up and sewing seams where they overlap, I know that at least for now, that's way outside my comfort zone. (That said, I did enjoy learning more about the process of piecing this way in Craftsy's Creative Quilt Backs with Elizabeth Hartman - she makes it look super easy! And I suppose it would be easier to try out on a quilt back to ease into it ; ) I am really obsessive about balance, though, so while I rarely change my design layout once underway, when I create something with asymmetrical color, I do spend a lot of time rearranging my fabrics within the design to get the right look. I love having a design wall for this purpose. I make up my mind quickly for small stuff, but large projects I will sometimes rearrange color-wise over a period of days or weeks till I walk into the room and it finally looks just right.
Some of my goals this year include writing tutorials and publishing my own patterns, so I expect my design process will continue to evolve as I start creating with a different audience and end goal in mind. To start, the tutorial for my Table Setting Placemats will be up tomorrow - I'd love you to check back and let me know if my first try at explaining a sewing project is successful!
I like assigning a title to my quilts, but I realized as I sat down to compose this post that I hadn't chosen them for the doll quilts that are part of this bedding set. (Um, maybe because I was finishing them the day after Christmas in a mad rush before the beds arrived for gifting the following day... yeah, that might've happened. See? I really need to start holiday projects earlier this year!)
I chose the fabric because last summer my daughters discovered that maple seeds can be stuck to your nose, and as I watched them laugh and jump around in the sunshine, I recalled my own childhood memories of happily doing the same in my grandparents' big backyard with soft warm grass beneath my feet. It was one of those moments where the world becomes softly blurred at the edges and the gentle chorus of birds chirping and lightly rustling leaves builds to a vibrant crescendo. When I happened upon Dear Stella's Piper line a few months later, I knew it would be the perfect reminder for me - capturing the innocence and joy of new discovery and maybe triggering a happy memory for my daughters, too, as they grew.
Fast forward to our car ride yesterday when I asked my oldest if she liked her new doll quilt and had noticed what was on it. We discussed the maple seeds, and she said, "Did you pick that to remind us of summer? To remind us about having fun? And when it's sunny?" And I got a little heart-swelled-with-joy that she made the connection, so I'm doubly glad for the fabric choice I made for her and her sister's new quilts: Summer Sun Rosa and Summer Sun Roxo.
The doll beds were made by my dad using Ana White's Farmhouse Doll Bed plan. I modeled the sheets after those featured on That's My Letter. They're reversible with Piper's Zig Zag Chevron in Yellow on one side and Patterned Dots in Cream on the other. The quilts are backed in solid Queen Anne's Lace in Purple, and the binding is the same. I fussy cut some Bluebird Park fabric to make the accent pillows - a bunny and a bike - the latter for my oldest who's been very busy practicing to make the jump to a two-wheeler come spring : )
I'm linking this up with SWC #4: Free Motion Quilting with Christa of Christa Quilts. Christa is an amazing FMQer and has some great tutorials up on her site. I've read a few, watched videos online from various quilters, and even taken a class back in Kentucky, but am currently not any good at it. I need a lot more practice getting used to my machine's pace, and these doll quilts were supposed to be a chance for me to play a little bit. I had intended to blog about it for the series link up, but after an hour on a test piece with a lot of swearing because my bobbin tension was off and I wasn't fully able to compensate for it, I realized my attempts at loops and maple seeds were just making me frustrated and the uneven tempo was twice as noticeable with the tension issues.
I ended up quilting wavy lines with my walking foot and honestly, I'm very glad I did. I *love* the way my quilting turned out. Not at all what I had planned, but really beautiful. I was even surprised about the thread choice but am thrilled with the result. I'd intended to use an off white, but for some reason the only thread that would "work" - and I use that term loosely because with the top tension turned up to the max, the bobbin thread was still tugging a tad too hard - anyway, the only brand that was working was Aurifil and I only have a very few spools in variegated colors (the delightful Tula Pink set). I tried a few and decided the pink was the best of my limited options (no one sells it anywhere nearby, so I couldn't run out for more at the last minute). I went with it and the finished effect is perfect! It tones down all the orange and yellow (with the sheets those colors, I really didn't want to play them up in the quilts), and makes my kids happy because I didn't use as much pink as they would've liked overall, so it brought a bit more into the bedding.
On a side note, my machine should be back soon with bobbin tension fully fixed, AND if you hear of giveaways or sales on Aurifil, would you please please pretty please let me know? I've used it on both these quilts and the placemats now, and I am absolutely in love <3 with Aurifil!
Today I'm really REALLY - seriously, hold me to it! - getting my sewing space organized for the new year. Without my machine, I have no excuse to not spend my usual time behind it cleaning up around it, especially with all the mess I've made jumping from project to project recently. One of the stacks on my desk is comprised of the past few Pile O'Fabric Stash Share pulls that I've set aside but not taken time to snap pictures of, so here you go! (Links if I could find them still available for sale online.)
(l-r) Constellations by Lizzy House, the other three are all from Stile by Liberty Lifestyle
(l-r) unknown, Hanging Gardens II by M'Liss, Lottie Da by Heather Bailey, Bright & Buzzy by Laura Wisbrun, and Scrumptious by Bonnie & Camille
unknown, Outfoxed by Lizzy House, Good Morning by Me and My Sister Designs, Paperweight by Kaffe Fassett, unknown
And then there they go - back on the shelf until they're needed again : ) Hope you enjoyed the quick color splash! I have to get back to tidying - the perfect task on this frigid day. It was -8° F here in Portland this morning, what's the weather like where you are?
I know, I know - a bit belated. I had meant to post this (and my final finish which will be up tomorrow) last weekend when they were gifted during our third round of holiday celebrations, but with a house full of guests and my kids running full tilt with their cousins, I reached for a glass of wine and enjoyed entertainment and laughter with my family instead of sitting down to blog. But these two last projects were my favorites of the year, so I didn't want to skip sharing!
Back in November I said I wanted to try longarm quilting as part of my SWC goals, and I took this camping quilt with me to my first session figuring the busy fabric and the parental recipients would both allow some newbie forgiveness, and they did ; ) The quilt center was pieced following Fat Quarter Shop's Jelly Roll Jam pattern*, and then I added some quick borders with the S'More Love striped print. I pieced the back using the extra jelly roll strips I had left over, and I blogged about the quilting process here.
The quilt is for my parents' new camper, hence the fabric's theme. Every August my extended family spends a week in the woods together in a different place around New England, so this quilt should be a nice snuggily addition to their camper's bedding and will accompany them for the making of some great memories in the years to come. I added words like "family camping," "kayaking," "hiking," and "s'mores" to highlight the best parts of our annual trips. My one regret with the quilting is that I thought adding words might be tricky and imperfect, so I hid them on a busy part of the border. They ended up being the easiest thing to quilt and came out great - I wish I'd written them where they would've been more contrasted so they were easier to read!
Oh, and my dad is a HUGE fan of Chevy Chase, so in a tip of the hat to how many times we've endured Clark Griswold over the years (like the recent annual viewing of Christmas Vacation), I titled the quilt after the song "Holiday Road" from National Lampoon's Vacation.
* If you're looking for an easy quilt to throw together, the Jelly Roll Jam pattern is simple and quick and makes either a lap throw (mine's a bit bigger with borders) or two crib quilts (I bought a roll of Jubilee by Bunny Hill Designs to make boy and girl angel quilts for the local hospital with the pattern, too). I'm not a huge fan of precuts because I find the pinking sheared edge a pain to work with for even seams, but sometimes quick and easy trumps exactly perfect, plus there's a great video tutorial if you're a newer quilter and need a little coaching : )
Have you made a special themed quilt for someone recently? Did you see fabric that just clicked or did you have to hunt down what you needed for the idea you had in mind?
Happy New Year, everyone! I've been enjoying everyone's musings on 2013 and many gorgeous mosaics and photo tours of just how productive a year it was for so many, and feeling inspired by all the 2014 goals being posted out there, so I'm going to throw my recap/resolution hat in the ring today, too.
My biggest goal for the past year was to start a business working from home which could easily be transported since we move so frequently for my husband's career. I had received a new sewing machine (thanks again, Mom and Dad!) and jumped back into quilting after a long hiatus, enjoying the creativity and flexibility of the hobby, so starting a craft blog and dipping my feet into the sewing and quilting business felt like a natural extension. I launched Berry Barn Designs in 2013, focusing on blogging, networking, and reading as much as I could to take fledgling steps down the path toward running a business. I'm proud to say I had my first customer, designed a few projects from scratch, and learned some new skills, but I'm still so green and have a variety of ideas that I haven't quite focused into a defined plan yet. Here's a glimpse of the year's completed projects from crafts to clothing to quilts:
In 2014, I'm hoping to see all of my brainstorming become more concrete steps in growing my business and my blog following. I've been voraciously reading books by Robert Steven Kaplan and Kari Chapin, plus soaking in all the great business tips I see posted on blogs like While She Naps. I'll be joining up with Sew Fresh Quilts' Let's Bee Social each week, participating in Stash Bee each month (yeah! so excited to do my first bee!), and continuing to link up with Quilty Habit's Sewing With Certainty series and Pile O'Fabrics' Weekly Stash Share. Additionally, I had so much fun hosting my first mini giveaway and later joining up with Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day last year, that I plan to make them regular events!
I also want to carve out time for more personal sewing (don't we all!), to try new techniques in small project/mini quilt form, and to stay ahead of the crunch of holiday creations that swamps me at the end of the year. I'm planning a 30/30 Challenge - thirty days of thirty minutes of sewing just for me! and to hold myself accountable, I'll be posting pictures daily once underway (soon! just waiting for my machine to return from it's annual tune up). I'm also excited to dive into the classes in my queue on Craftsy, including Designing Modern Quilts, Improvisational Piecing Modern Design, and Sewing Texture. And I don't have the details quite worked out yet, but I'm envisioning a Christmas in July linky party to kick off holiday sewing for anyone who needs a little gift inspiration or help warding off project procrastination (::cough:: ME!) Sound like fun? I hope so! (And I hope it'll mean Mrs. Santa isn't behind her sewing machine on yet another Christmas Eve hehe.) As a little disclaimer, though, it's always possible that all of these goals might get a tad sidetracked if we end up adopting (*fingers crossed* for this wonderful kind of getting sidetracked!), but at the moment, we're still a waiting family hopeful that this is the year we'll welcome our next child : )
I'd love to hear how you follow or found me, and what your most exciting sew/quilt/craft goal is for 2014!