Monday, December 17, 2012

Rob & Kim's Fandango Duvet Cover Finished

So, if it isn't obvious already, I'm a little obsessed with fabric designed by Kate Spain.  One of the first lines of hers that I saw and fell in love with was Fandango.  I had bought a little yardage of it from Hancock's of Paducah without having a real plan, but when I saw it in person, I knew the colors were perfect for my brother.  I was home after Christmas last year, and I showed him the fabric and asked him if he'd like me to make him a new duvet cover, and he chose the design I'd just used for my friend Anne's baby quilts.

The duvet top, with a small double strip of fabric that will fold over and encase the duvet almost like the old style of pillowcase.

My brother is a pretty special guy.  He actually inspired my interest in quilting by teaching me a really cool quilt design back in college, having learned it from his wife, and he helped me complete my second quilt (the first being more of an opportunity to show off cross-stitch).  I wish I had a picture of that little quilted wall-hanging we made together - I gave it to my best friend at the time, and it was really cool. Anyway, my brother is a professional potter who runs a studio in Athens, GA, called Good Dirt.  He is talented in so many ways, and I'm so proud of him for pursuing a career where he can teach, help people (he does so much for his community and for charity), make incredible art, use his science background and all of his skill sets, and spend quality time with his family, like walking his son to and from school.  A Rhodes Scholar with a D.Phil. in molecular genetics, he certainly could have been pushed into a career that didn't satisfy him, but he was brave and decided to pursue his artistic side, even though he works like a demon for a lot less money and accolades than he could have received if he'd taken a more traditional path.

So, I'd managed to get my hands on 2 charm packs of Fandango online, but I needed more fabric to make what amounted to two quilts sewn together!  Thanks to the awesome folks at one of my local quilt shops, Tomorrow's Treasures, who kindly sold me 1/8 yards from every bolt of Fandango in their collection with no argument about minimum cuts (so grateful), I was able to make this awesome duvet cover for my brother and sister-in-law, and I even finished it in time for Christmas this year.  Less than a year for a project of this size...I really must love my brother!  ;)

The back of the duvet cover.  The area on the right is actually at the head of the bed, so when they fold down the duvet cover, all those lovely blocks will show.

I pieced and quilted the front in 4 sections, which I then joined using a bit of trial and error.  I tried to take pictures to write a tutorial for how I did it, but I've realized that it really will depend on what you are trying to join as to the best way to approach the technique (plus I can't really show what I did in pictures that well).  On the back, I quilted it in two segments.  The blocks were one unit, and the fabulous print was quilted separately, and then they were joined.  I did a much better job on the join on the back, as it turned out.  Another great reason to practice an idea on scraps first to work out the kinks.  While the front required a lot of hand-sewing to create a smooth seam on the inside, the back was able to be pieced entirely by machine (and still looked really neat thanks to careful pinning on the back while slowly stitching from the top).  Luckily, that is the side that will be more up against their bodies, so a nice smooth join is more important on that side in terms of comfort.

While I did straight-line quilting with my walking foot on the entirety of the top and the pieced section of the back, I'd been practicing my free-motion quilting on all these charity quilts and decided to give it a go on the print fabric by following the design in the print - a great no-mark method for quilting.

Here's a look at the inside of the duvet cover, so you can see the quilting pattern better.  I wasn't perfect, but I think it will give it a nice light texture and a little added interest, and I used a thread that blends so any wobbles were less obvious.  Also, you can see in this picture that I made a hemmed facing to finish the bottom edge of the top, since I didn't want to disturb the pattern with any type of binding. I also did some other lovely couture touches, that unfortunately are hard to photograph, but I'm very proud of the workmanship in this's really well-made and should last them a very long time.  I hope it doesn't get too crinkly after it is washed...I love the crispness of the piecing and the quilting as it is.

And, as usual, I'm not sure whether I like the front or the back more.  I love reversible quilts, even if they are a lot more work!  It was pretty hard for my mom to photograph this monster, but I'm hoping when my brother picks it up from my parents around Christmas that he'll be able to help her take some pictures where you can really see the entire might take the whole family to hold it up!  Two quilts in one gets pretty heavy!  I also can't wait to see it in place on his bed...a bed that he made himself in a lovely craftsman style (did I mention that he is also an expert woodworker, or that he engineered and manufactured his own colored concrete countertops in a nice terra cotta to go on top of cabinets he built from scratch, or that he made his own sink out of porcelain?)  That bed/house deserved a finely made quilt to pull all the colors together, and thanks to Kate Spain's lovely fabric line, a nice design by Cindy of Hyacinth Quilts, and a lot of time and effort by me, I think this fits the bill!  Now I just need to make coordinating pillowcases for both Rob and his wife, Kim, with a bit of yardage and the little tiny scraps I have leftover from the top (and by little, I mean little)!  :)

Quilt Stats:
Rob & Kim's Duvet Cover
Fabric: Fandango by Kate Spain, Kona Snow
Thread: Gutterman and Mettler
Size: ~74" x 76"
Quilting: Straight-line and Free-motion
Special techniques: Precision piecing; Quilt-as-you-go and joining multiple sections, including hand-catching/tacking seams with invisible stitching; Hemmed facing; Enclosure flap with french seams; Zig-zag finishing on inside seams to prevent fraying & flatten seaming

Friday, December 7, 2012

December's Just 3

So, we're already well into December, but I feel like I should set some goals for myself this month, since I have been sitting out of sewing time lately.  I've been really tired lately, both from stress at work and the lack of daylight/incoming cold weather, and I feel like I need to motivate myself, or I'll continue to be a couch potato watching episodes of Elementary and the Mob Doctor (having finally caught up on Breaking Bad and Major Crimes).  There is a part of me that really wishes we never even turned the tv on, but the lazy part of me is happy for ready entertainment when I'm too tired to move.  I'm sure hoping I'll have my mojo back in January.

So, here goes:

1)  Make progress on the QuiltCon charity quilt that must be completed by January 31st.

We were sent a bunch of cool improv blocks that we need to turn into a twin-sized quilt for the Austin Children's Shelter.  By the end of December, I hope that the back and front will be complete, that a sandwich will be ready, and that it will hopefully be being quilted by one or more of the awesome members of the DC Modern Quilt Guild.  Hopefully much of that will happen tomorrow at our DC Modern Quilt Guild meeting.

2.  Quilt Rowan's Chasing Chevrons quilt

I showed my nephew the Chasing Chevrons quilt top that I was planning to give him if he liked it, and he absolutely loved it.  He's a wiggly sleeper, and we all decided this one will tell him which way to wiggle as he sleeps, except some paths might make him fall off of the bed! I just need to get it quilted!  My goal for December is to get all four quadrants sandwiched and quilted.  I can join them and bind them in January, but I'd like to at least get the quilting done while I'm in practice at free-motion quilting.  I am thinking about a concentric circle swirl design, but I'm still not positive about the approach, especially since I want to quilt it bigger than I have been lately.  Perhaps I'll seek the advice of my brave and trusty advisers tomorrow!  I'm still in the camp of preferring piecing to quilting, but I'm trying to teach myself that quilting is fun, too, and knowing a 10-year old boy in Athens, GA, is super excited about having this on his bed means it might actually get quilted in 2012 (and delivered in 2013).

3.  I should be saying "Finish charity quilts", as I know I would feel much better to get them all done and mailed out, but I think I need to take a small time out in sewing for others to make something small for me.  Specifically a pillow for my office chair.  If I end up having to sit at my office on Capitol Hill on the day after Christmas waiting for Congress to decide on how to avert the fiscal cliff instead of taking a week off to relax and sew and cook good dinners for my husband, I'd like to do it in style with something happy looking at me when I walk in.  My little purple placemat is not enough.  I've been watching all this pillow-making in the blog-o-sphere for awhile, and I have plenty of pillow forms that are eagerly awaiting covers/usefulness.  While I'd like to take time out to make myself an actual quilt (shocking), I have a quilt for my mom that I'd like to make first (now that she has seen and approves of the fabric/design), plus I really, really need to get to work on my husband's t-shirt quilt.  He is so patient, and I'm waiting on my test to see how it works to not interface the entire t-shirt, but I've been waiting for that for months.  I need to just get a back on there, sew over a few seams to stabilize it, wash it, and see how it looks.  I shouldn't actually call his quilt a quilt, as I am thinking very strongly of leaving out the batting, since, unlike me, he is often warm.  In addition to my giant granny panties throw quilt for sitting in my comfy chair under, I need to make myself an actual bed quilt with heavy batting, since I'm cold under my current sheet, blanket, and not-quite-large-enough flannel quilt.  Oh shoot...and I probably need to make the purse I promised last Christmas for my niece before this Christmas.  Argh...just 3 is hard...but thanks, Traceyjay, for trying to make me focus.  I have a lot of sewing to do without my mojo, but writing this out felt pretty inspiring.  Now let's see if I can accomplish the 3 (maybe 4, 5, or 6 things I'd like to do this month), and I'll have new goals for January!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Another charity quilt finish...

So, I was going to enter this quilt in the QuiltCon Modern Quilt show, and though I finished it in time, I didn't finish it early enough to get a nice photo of it.  It's amazing what a bad photographer I am...I really need to read the book my dear friend Anne gave me so that I can learn how to take awesome blog photographs!  And I need to set up a clothesline outside in my backyard, so I can have better light.  Anyhow, I ended up not entering the contest, as I decided I really wanted to enter quilts that I was super proud of, and I didn't want to spend $60 on entry fees with photos that wouldn't do these justice.  While I really like this one and the purple one I just finished a lot, and I like that they are my own designs (though the quilting was inspired by Angela Walters' book and they are based on traditional concepts), they really are just vehicles to practice free motion quilting.  The one I really love, that I finished over Thanksgiving and have no pictures of yet, since I literally sewed the last seam as I was supposed to be heading to the airport, well...that's the one I wish I could have entered.  Alas, it is a duvet cover, so two quilts in one and no binding.  My mom has promised to take photos, so I'll share it really is awesome, and I managed to finish it in less than a!

But back to this little quilt, here it is:

I'm really happy with how much my free motion quilting has improved. I used a variety of designs, including some stencils to stitch butterflies in the center and corners.  I'm still not perfect, but I've been noticing lately that very few quilters are perfect if they don't have a stitch regulator, so I'll give myself a break!  I'd like to practice on a few more of the charity quilts that are in progress (and I'm really looking forward to being done with them so I can start on new projects for family members, including my patient husband, and even a couple for me!).  I'm also just about ready to quilt my Chasing Chevrons quilt.  My nephew (10) is going to be the proud recipient, and now that I've shown the top to him over Thanksgiving and gotten him excited, I need to actually finish it so he can use it!  Little by little, I'm getting those projects checked off my list.  By 2018, I should be done!  ;)