Thursday, September 24, 2009

On A Roll

When my son was born, he got a quilt I made. The only reason I was able to give Ely this gift was because right before I found out I was pregnant with him, I took a beginning quilt class where I made and completed a crib size quilt. I originally made the smallest size so that I would be sure to finish it by the time the 6 week class was over, but then it seemed like serendipity that I chose to make a quilt for a baby when I was going to have one of my own. At the end of 2007, I was 7 months pregnant with #2 and had already decided this baby was not going to get a Momma-made quilt. I had no time and was tired from being pregnant, working 30 hours a week, and taking care of the family. But then the Purl Bee posted a new project designed by Molly for a zig zag quilt and I fell in love. The design was great, the fabrics were great, and the quilt was in my colors. Since I didn't know the sex of my baby, the zig zag quilt was the perfect non-boring, gender neutral quilt (though Molly does talk about how you can choose other color combinations.) So, I started a quilt for the baby with 2 months to go.
I replaced a few of the fabric choices with ones I already had, but I did order 2-D zoo by Alexander Henry since that fabric seemed to make the quilt. I remember when it arrived - it was even lovely and softer than I thought it would be. The piecing of the quilt was easy. The quilting was easy too, though by now my baby - a girl! - was 6 months old. I machine sewed the binding on the front, then procrastinated on hand sewing it to the back. At Christmastime, I got my sister-in-law to give me a lesson on blind stitching and I finished the quilt with a few weeks to go until Agnes's first birthday. I meant to put a label on it and give it to her as my gift, but I never did. Now more than 6 months later and feeling invigorated by finishing Jesse's quilt, I pulled Agnes's quilt out and quickly made a label using a kona cotton square that was already cut out and a micron pen. One episode of The Office, and the label was sewn on and the quilt was done!
It feels good to finish two big projects in the same week.

A small note about comments - If you leave me a comment, I'm going to reply under it. It makes a lot of sense to do it that way with Typepad nested comments, and I'm not so good about replying to emails. Thanks!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dogs and Frogs

I started this quilt for a special baby in the womb more than a year ago. My plan was to give it to him or her soon after the birth, so I could sew a personalized label on the back with the baby's name and birth date. Well the baby was born - a sweet boy named Jesse! - and the quilt was finished within a few weeks of his birth, except for hand sewing the last couple of inches of the binding. And so it sat for a year. Clearly I have a procrastination problem, especially where hand sewing is involved. I always think I hate hand sewing, but once I start I remember that I actually enjoy it. How could someone who loves to make things a la the Alabama Stitch Book hate hand sewing?
This past Sunday was the annual Tashlich service at my church. Tashlich is the Jewish ritual usually performed on Rosh Hashanah of the casting away (often by throwing breadcrumbs into a moving body of water) and examination of your sins of the past year. It makes a lot of sense to me to do this at this time. Fall always feels like a beginning, because a new year of school has started, and the lush green Summer starts to fade as the trees and plants end their growing cycle and start preparing for the next. While I usually make a bunch of resolutions on New Year's day, I've been participating in Tashlich for a few years now* and it seems a much more meaningful way to reflect and change than writing down exercise 3-5 times a week or cook more vegetables for dinner on a piece of paper. As I thought about Jesse's quilt and hand sewing, I remembered a line from the Tashlich prayer: Let us cast away the sin of stubbornness, so that we will neither persist in foolish habits nor fail to acknowledge our will to change. A foolish habit indeed. I have pinned the prayer to the bulletin board above the computer and near my sewing area, where I keep not only my inspirations but the things I want to remember. But even though baby Jesse did not receive this quilt, I still think one year old Jesse will enjoy it.
Now, a few details about the quilt. Jesse's parents love dogs and the dad also has a bizarre passion for frogs, so I couldn't think of better fabric to use for this quilt than animal prints by Heather Ross. I kept the front simple with 8 inch squares paired with a cream border. I decided to piece the binding which was fun and something I will do again in the future, since I really liked how it created a subtle border with little pops of color. I like to make the back of my quilts reference the front but almost be a new quilt, so I chose brighter colors along with a strip of rejected squares from the front. I knew I wanted the turquoise fabric somewhere in this quilt, because it is from a bolt I bought at one of our auctions and Jesse's dad works with us. For the label, I used the method in Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts which I love and first used for this quilt along with a micron pen. The quilting is just a simple grid I've seen a lot of other quilters use, and I like how it creates a frame in each of the squares. I was hoping to get some better photographs but it's been raining here for nearly two weeks, so inside on the bed was the best I could do. In retrospect, I should have put a sheet on first, but I didn't realize how bad the mattress cover looked until after the gift was given at Jesse's first birthday party and I finally had a moment to sit down and upload all the photos I took that day. Another foolish act, but probably not a sin.

*Even though I'm half Jewish, we never celebrated Rosh Hashanah in my home growing up. It wasn't until I started attending a Unitarian Universalist church which uses rituals and sources from many religions, did I learn about Tashlich.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

(Not So) Patiently Waiting

Have you seen this? (Be sure to click on the preview on the right side of the page.)

I am beyond excited now. I wanted a dress and I wanted the lotus stencil, and both are in the book, sometimes even together! I have a feeling my birthday and holidays list will be comprised solely of organic cotton jersey yardage.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September Ramblings

School has started and my calendar is quickly filling up. I'm packing lunches and making pb&j, but there isn't much making in the rest of my life. I was made an aunt though(!), which means I'd better return to my sewing machine soon to finish up some secret projects. I'm back at work in the mornings with my 19 month old assistant, and we are busy busy busy. I guess the economy has finally picked up? It's nice to feel like we aren't flatlining anymore. We finally got ripe brandywine tomatoes from the garden, and they are amazing. I've noticed several new fruits on the plant and I'm hoping they will ripen before everything peters out. It's a good thing the family never gets tired of okra because we are still getting plenty. I went back to washing my hair with baking soda, and can't figure out why I ever stopped? We are still walking in the evenings after dinner, but every night it is a little darker when we set out than the night before. Summer is definitely starting to fade.

So far, it's been a month of nice changes.