Friday, May 17, 2019

needle notes

sunday afternoon i walked into my sewing room to locate a new needle for handquilting "beauty for ashes" quilt. as i looked around the room i recently (but not completely) rearranged, i realized i was looking in the proverbial haystack for a new needle! i have no idea where the particular orange box containing my tulip betweens was hiding in that vast and convoluted space. so i grabbed some sashiko needles from the same maker and quickly shut the doors behind me.

i've been using the same needle for several of my handwork projects for months now and figured it was a good idea to replace it, like you do with the machine periodically. it wasn't giving me any trouble, but it just seemed long overdue since i've handquilted a few quilts and bound several others all on the same little needle. it's slightly bent after all it's use.

i had the sashiko needles around because last time i was at the sewing store they didn't have the sharps i wanted in stock. sashiko is a handwork tradition so i thought it might be a good bet for my handquilting. i know absolutely nothing about sashiko other than what i just said, so i knew nothing about it's needle's dimensions or properties.

well, the needle is larger and longer. it's easier to get a grip on than my tiny little sharp was. and the eye is more compatible to 12wt thread. but it didn't allow me to make my stitches as small as i was used to doing. and it was difficult to push and pull through the fabrics. i felt like i was punching holes in the fabrics. perhaps this is all my inexperience or because i'm using it in a way not intended. who knows? obviously i need to research that more.

either way, after struggling through one row of stitches, i located my warped old friend and got back to work. despite it's age and extensive use, it still slides through the fabrics quite easily and oh so daintily. yes, the eye is still a challenge to thread, but it's manageable (with my readers on and a little patience) and i feel like it leaves less of a mark behind than the large needle did.

i don't have time to trek over to the fabric store across town, but i did locate more of the needles i want online. until then, this trusty little fella is working for me just fine! i'm curious to see if a new one feels any different at all.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Mildred and Ethel

The last time I was ordering crossweaves for some more Liberty + crossweave quilts, I saw an olive green crossweave that I thought might be nice to try for a change away from my neutral neutrals. (I think you can use certain colors as a “neutral” for a background, like in nature - blues, like sky, and greens, like foliage, in particular.) I was ordering from my phone and the thumbnail photo of the green crossweave had a sort of grunge/crosshatched look to it that all my other crossweaves and chambrays did not. I figured it must just be something about the way the colors photographed. Well, it came and it looked precisely like the photo did! 

I was really confused. The look and texture were completely different from all the other crossweaves I had ever seen, and not in a way that pleased me. I’ve lookked about a bit on the internet and apparently Moda makes two sorts of crossweaves. Now I know. This one is more like a barkcloth, similar to the Outback Wife fabrics I have. I really didn’t like it at first and didn’t know what I was going to do with it. 

But since it has such a retro look and feel to it, I decided maybe I could pair it with some other retro-ugly fabrics I have and it might actually make something I could love to hate. With more projects on my plate and in my head than I can ever complete, I don’t know why I even gave this a thought. But I scrounged through my Liberty stash for those prints I don’t like and also pulled some I do like that matched and came up with something kinda funky and vintage and likable. 

There are six Liberty prints here that speak a certain vibe to me which pairs with the grungy crossweave. Three of them are prints that I was never going to use anywhere else, so I figured it was worth a shot to use them now. The other three I do like but I’ve used them before so the leftovers were expendable. So despite the fact that I have oodles to work on already, I cut into this stack of funkiness and made some triangles. All my other Liberty + crossweave quilts are random bricks and strips patterns, but something about this pull was saying triangles and diamonds to me.

These are two of the prints I wanted to use up, so I cut as many of them as I could from my yardage. They will both feature twice as often in the quilt as the others will.

I'm using up the bulk of this Betsey in yellow for half the backing and on the front.

The backing is also a departure from my previous Liberty church quilt "score" I was working from. I didn't want any of those "ugly" prints left, so I worked what was left from cutting triangles into strips for the backing.

It's been a while since I sewed any triangles, so I looked up the method online, thinking there was some trick I was forgetting. Nope. Just line them up and fold them over to sew. They came together so fast!

I'm making green diamonds and the Liberty prints make patched together diamonds of two prints.
I could hardly have picked two sillier fabrics to cut into triangles and sew on the bias cuts, but they behaved nicely enough. my points aren't all perfect or completely lined up, but with the amount of distortion and stretching I could have had compared to what I got, I'm not complaining. Triangles want to be triangles even when your tana lawns and crossweaves also want to stretch bit.

This weekend my husband was so sweet and gave me the gift of time to do as I liked as a Mother's Day gift. So in only 4 days I had the quilt fully pieced, a backing done, and everything pinbasted, ready for some delicious handquilting. This is an unprecedented record for me. Have I actually gotten a bit faster at quilting? That seems to be a theme this year, so maybe I have. And along the way I've actually pretty much fallen in love with this crazy, funky quilt. 

It reminds me very much of something that would have been found in one of my great-grandmother's houses during my early childhood at the dawn of the 70's, perhaps something that had been there since before my birth. Maybe it was that combined with Mother's Day weekend that inspired me to name the quilt "Mildred and Ethel" after my two maternal great grans, both of whom I knew and visited a little in my toddler years. 

Four Generations: Grandma Dorothy holding my sister Loree, Ethel (Dorothy's m-i-l), me held by my mother Jan (Marmee)

Ethel, for certain I remember, and her lovely backyard garden in Logan, UT, with the Logan temple (where my parents were married) in the background. Her basement with the taxidermy always creeped me out, but I enjoyed the rest of the house. It's part of my earliest memories.

Mildred I remember less well, but I do have a few distinct memories of her home: the Christmas village with train under the tree in winter, a refrigerator on the back porch, and her cherry trees, which seemed a vast orchard to tiny me, but were apparently only a few in number. Apparently I don't have any photos of me with her, either. I'll have to go to my aunties and see what they have for me.

I'm not sure which lady is the green crossweave and which is the Liberty, but the two distinct fabrics make me think of there being two of them. I'm also going to handquilt this in two colors, white and olive green, one for each lady.

With summer coming on fast, I am trying to get as many projects as possible into handwork mode so i have something to take on our travels that doesn't require me to be a machine. I'm pretty chuffed to have this vintage-esque lady in the position to be handquilted to my heart's content.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

crossweave, pastels, pins

this past week i made time to complete the piecing for my newest liberty + crossweave quilt, "beauty for ashes." mostly i was itching to complete it so i could have a handwork project. now that it's ready for handquilting, i don't really care how long it takes. but since i like to work at it whenever i can, i don't anticipate it taking too long.

the black and white crossweave has the look of a nice deep grey linen. that's one of the characteristics i really appreciate about crossweave - it has a look and texture more reminiscent of a linen, but without the unraveling issues since it's actually cotton.

this liberty tana lawn "mitsi" print in yellow was an exclusive colorway made for alice caroline supply that i simply adore. this colorway is so buttery soft and cheery, not to mention "mitsi" was my very first favorite liberty print. i do have a few favorites now, but "mitsi" is still up there in the rankings.

i've put a lot of pastel goodies in this quilt; all my softest-toned tana lawns are here. as usual, there are a few i don't exactly like but i've used them anyway.

yes, there are liberty prints i don't like! and i own a few of them, too. online ordering does that to you sometimes. not everything is as it appears on the internet, in case you didn't know.

although there are some liberty prints that i don't seem to ever like, with others it's more a matter of the colorway. even my favorite prints come in colorways i'll pass on, while the right colorway will occasionally attract me to a print i don't normally like at all.

but i can tolerate the not-so-favorite liberty prints enough to include them in the quilt. i think they give that touch of subtle "ugly" that makes a quilt feel vintage and homey. some quilts need a touch of that. (if you know what i mean about the slight touch of ugly, you get it. if you don't - i don't know how to explain it!)

"eloise" (between my hands) is a print i've taken a liking to lately. there seems to be a handful of really cute colorways for "eloise" on the market at the moment.

"betsy" (the other yellow on the far left) is still a top contender. this yellow version is unusual and especially nice, too.

i was surprised once again as i basted this quilt that i do actually rather like pin basting. it can get hard on the knees since i do it on my tile floor, but the actual process is rather pleasurable. i enjoy it in a way i don't like the spreading and pushing involved in spray basting. maybe it's the slight similarity it bears to handwork?

with all the pins in place, it's on to handquilting next!

Friday, May 3, 2019

liberty makes do too, a finish

some late afternoon snaps of my latest quilt finish, "liberty makes do too."

this quilt came about because i overcut fabric for my first liberty + crossweave quilt, "liberty makes do." i had to "make do" with all those extra pieces, so i came up with a new variation on the pattern for the first quilt and called this one "liberty makes do too," a play on words and reference to the original quilt.

there are nice close-ups of this quilt in previous posts and on instagram, if you'd like to see more of the fabrics upclose.

my littlest happily snipped any loose threads and ends for me as i finished up the project.

for the backing, i again selected one yard cuts of two liberty tana lawn prints. it makes for such a snuggly, luxurious backing. it's definitely a splurge, but for a small quilt i will do it.

another justification is that this is a lap quilt and the back gets seen quite often. it's not as if i've hidden all that lovely tana lawn away somehwhere.

as with the first quilt, this one has become a "church quilt" - one we take with us on sundays to keep our laps warm in the frigid AC that's always just a bit too nippy for us.

this quilt has d'anjo in pinks and betsey in blues on the back, a pairing of two of my favorite liberty classic prints. i guess that's another excuse for the backing splurge - i want a place to preserve large cuts of my favorite prints so i can see them and revel in them on occasion.

another luxury i put into this is the handquilting (aurifil 12 wt in white).
giving myself the time and leisure to handquilt a project is a gift to myself. the more quilts i have done, the more willing i am to slow down and do this, particularly on smaller-sized projects like this one.

i've always loved the binding phase of a quilt for the handwork involved and i'm leaning more and more towards doing the quilting that way, too.

above photo is me putting the final stitch into the binding of the quilt. i happened to be wearing my liberty of london dressing gown, made in emilia's flowers print, which is also in the quilt in the same colorway.

which brings me to the binding. even though it began to pill, which is annoying, i decided i still liked the herringbone striped blue flannel i used for the binding on the first quilt. it's a nice contrast to the other fabrics and colors in the quilt and the pilling seems to have tapered off with initial use. 

this quilt is now fully in church rotation use. in fact, i've had to tell the girls they can only use these quilts on sundays because they tend to want to use them for everything. because of the delicate nature of tana lawn, i'm keeping these for sunday best.

we're going to need 6 church quilts total, and the next one, "beauty for ashes," is already in the works, as is the search for a proper name for the quilt series.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

wip wednesday 2019.18

at the moment, i have three main projects in the works (not counting all the other bits and pieces of projects having a lie about) but none have been touched in a few weeks.

"maude's chevron peaks" is about 1/4 - 1/3 quilted in some simple modern loops.

"groovy summer love letters" is hanging out in the piano room waiting for some binding, which i can't seem to find a good fit for just yet. all folded up like it is, it appears to be a finish. shh. don't tell.

newest project: my latest liberty church lap quilt, "beauty for ashes," is halfway pieced with 11/22 rows completed.

in the above photo i also spy "etoile de patisserie," which need the quilting fixed before i can get on with the binding, but since it's been so many months since i even thought about that, i hardly even consider it a wip at all. my daughter would disagree.