Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Difference Between "Done" and Done

Once Upon a Time, when I put the last stitch in the binding of a quilt, I was done. Finished! On to the next project. Over and out. I am feeling some sweet nostalgia for that time right about now, because I am in the new " 'done' but not done" stage on my son's dinosaur quilt.

I've completed the binding, and if this were a regular quilt - the kind used for tummy time or cuddling on the couch - I would wash it, and that would be that. But this is intended to be a centerpiece to my son's nearly-completed nursery. So, it needs a rod pocket.

If there's one thing the mother of a 2-month old infant *doesn't* have, it's extra time. And this rod pocket has to be stitched on by hand! Sigh. I'm halfway there, but because I'm constantly interrupted (and back at work now) it's slow going.

I'm also tackling a hand-stitched dedication, much as I did for Star Trek and ConVivial Company.

This project-within-a-project is coming with me to doctor's offices and pump sessions, anywhere I think I can get a couple of stitches in. I know I'll be glad for this little piece of legacy in the long run (I have plans to go back and do one for my daughter's quilt too), but summer is giving way to fall here, and I am SO READY to tackle a fall project instead.

And I'm ready to have this hanging in little I's nursery! Once the dedication is stitched, I'll still have to attach it, so it sounds like Christmas Traditions and its fall ilk will have to stay on the backburner a little longer. I may take a quick break to sew a birthday shirt for my daughter, but I hate to let this linger in the to-do pile any longer than I have to.

Oh well. At least I'll have a lot to be proud of when I (finally) finish this. Done, as it turns out,  is better than "Done," even if it takes more work to get there!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dinosaur Panel Play 2

....Continued from Dinosaur Panel Play 1

Of all the different layouts I tried for the panel I'm designing around, my initial favorite was the "Three Cornerstone" (or as I thought of it, "gap-toothed sidelight") configuration, seen below.

This layout doe a nice job of highlighting the "center" panel (now in the upper left), and the overall composition is nice. I thought it would be fun to put all the dinosaurs all against a blue background and then "frame out" the dinosaurs in the darker blue from the fabric line, but it is still hard to fill those empty spaces. Both the smallest dinosaurs and the stripe with the scientific names of the species came from the striped fabric in the collection (see DPP1), and they do a good, if slightly repetitive job of it. So, I went to my LQS "for Inspiration" and came back with these: 

Ostensibly the blue fabric was for my blue background (and I did buy a lot of it), but the others were just too good a match to resist! And they looked so good together. Clearly, I had no choice but to sew them together and make a rainbow...

So I went back to the drawing board; I also did something I'd been loathe to do before: fold the individual dinosaur pictures up so their names were no longer visible below the dinosaur. Folding them out of the way meant working with dinosaurs who were no longer centered (and indeed, in some places it really limited the amount of fabric I had to work with before I cut off Dino feet), but it did mean I could go back to the "center panel and four cornerstones" look with a quilt that seemed more proportional.

And for for all my dreading, it didn't look half bad! Now I had a logical place to *put* my rainbows, and the color variety also made it easier to add in a dino names stripe I'd been admiring earlier. When I added those to the top and bottom it looked like this:

I debated extending the "dino names" stripe to all four sides of the quilt, but playing around a bit, it just seemed too uninspired. I liked the idea of incorporating more dinosaur images - but needed them to pop a little more when I set them against the rainbow. So, my mother came up with this idea:

In short, I "bound" each of the small dinosaur pictures in a "contrasting" color (the same fabric as the sashing), and now I can use a straight stitch to attach them to the quilt in the quilting stage. It's still a form of applique, but I get a border I like, and I don't have to worry about raw edges. Here's a "dry run" of the final quilt top, with the dinosaur pictorials just pinned on.

Not bad for an improv design!

Linking up to Freemotion by the River's Linky Tuesday and Blossom Heart Quilt's Sew Cute Tuesday because, why not?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Dinosaur Panel Play 1

To review, I am trying to turn this panel:

Into a quilt for my now 7-week-old son, using my own ability to design on the fly and tips found in the book Panel Play by Barbara Becker (see my full mission statement here, written while I was still pregnant). To start out, I cut the panel apart and played with the overall layout of the feature fabric. First off, I tried a central panel, and four cornerstones:

This layout does put the most interesting element in the center, but it just *feels* aproportional to me. It also makes for a larger quilt than I'd intended (45 x 60 rather than 36 x 45 or so), and so I went ahead and tried some other things.

A "sidelights" look does emphasize the four-dinosaur panel more, And it *feels* more proportional than the first one (yay rule of 2/3!). But, I'm not into blocks in just one place, so the space between the brontosauras and the tyrannosaurus would need its own strong "pictorial" design element - and I didn't want to spend too long on complicated piecing or applique.

Removing another "side singleton" does give me more room to work with. But since the two spaces had different aspect ratios, I can't just do the same thing twice. I did spend some time brainstorming on this configuration, though, and added in some other fabrics.

To Be Continued In Dinosaur Panel Play 2...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Quiltus Interruptus

And just like that, my major WIP for the last 9 months is finished!

Born on July 16, little I entered the world at 9 lbs 1 oz and 20.5 inches. He and I are both doing well, and Mr. RLQ couldn't be prouder. I is also enthusiastically greeted by A, who is 2.5 years old now and excited to be a big sister.

Of course, this little man (born at 39 weeks 4 days) is probably going to take a bite out of my quilting time. And, like most second kids, I am a *little* behind on the featured quilt for his nursery. I'm tracking the progress here and here, but here's what it looks like right now.

Needless to say, I might be a little behind. but while he is waiting to snuggle under this one, he can snuggle with me instead!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dinosaur Fun

39 weeks pregnant is... perhaps not the optimal time to start a quilt. With my daughter, I put the final stitches on her Winnie the Pooh quilt while contractions were 12 minutes apart (and Trick or Treat was done several months beforehand). But as is often the story with second children, I was too busy chasing the first (and having a rough second pregnancy) to get ahead of the crafting game. So although I've had the feature panel picked out for a while, I am just now getting to the nuts and bolts of fabric selection and composition.

I started with the Have You Seen My Dinosaur panel, by Wilmington prints. I love the colors in this, and it's hard to find a dinosaur panel that says "boy" without screaming it. Serendipitiously enough, I actually bought this panel in September of last year, exactly one month before our son went from "gleam in our eye" to "baby in my belly."

I love panels, but working with them is often a challenge. I wasn't terribly huge on either of the "suggested" designs that got released with the line (Designer PDF), so my mom (who also quilts) suggested a book called Panel Play.

I've done improv quilting with panels before (most notably on Spookyville), but the Panel Play book ups the game a bit - it has some neat ideas for putting panels in a "frame" of diagonal stripes, or making certain design elements appear to "spill out" of the panels, and it encourages a lot of creativity and use of a design board to "design as you go." Given that I have no plan yet, but want the quilt oh, next week or so, such an approach is not without its appeal.

Next up, the creative process. See Dinosaur Panel Play 1.

Monday, July 13, 2015

More Easy Peasy Peasant Fun

Why mess with success? As a reminder, I am 37 38 39 weeks pregnant and way way WAY behind on ALL of my sewing projects. Most notably, stuff for my own son (due July 19th), but also on a number of birthday gifts that were planned to be handmade.

My niece V turned 1 in April, and she was next on the list for some handmade finery. I was happy enough with how the Octopus Peasant Dress turned out that I decided to use the same pattern again; it's simple, the lines are toddler-friendly, and early reports from the first recipient were positive.

This time, I cut the drama and went to my local quilt shop, who stocked an irresistible print from Michael Miller's Oragami Oasis.

I'm not as nimble in this stage of the pregnancy, so the dress took a little longer this time around. But I got it done in a couple of sessions and was very pleased with the results:

I love the way the border print gives the dress a deliberate "direction," and skipping the ruffle this time around led to some nice, clean lines that I think I'll probably copy again. I just got word that my niece received the dress this past weekend, so now all that's left to do is wait for her to be big enough to wear it!

Friday, April 24, 2015

A Dash of Rainbows!

This was another fun weekend project - and it took almost no time at all! Little A is a My Little Pony fanatic, so when some pre-shirred MLP fabric showed up in my local Hancock's, I just *had* to figure out how to use it.

It turns out there are a ton of tutorials for making sundresses out of pre-shirred fabric on line, and after reading a few I was ready to strike out on my own. The straps are 8" x 2" strips from my stash folded over twice and sewn, and I went for the two-side-seam model on the body itself.

The whole thing took *maybe* 45 minute to whip up, and little A *loves* it. In fact, the hardest part of sewing it was getting the dress back from her once she tried it on for "strap placement" purposes. Here's hoping for a summer where it gets a lot of use!

And thanks to A for being my lovely little model.