Thursday, August 30, 2018

African Commission #1

Name: African Commission #1
Dimensions: About 60" x 60"
Pieces: Front - 115, Back - 4
Pattern: Unknown
Technique: Patchwork
Materials: Hand-dyed batiks from Africa, Kona White
Quilting: free-motion on my Juki

So this all started with an email from the guild passing along a request from a woman in Washington, DC who wanted some quilts made from the fabrics she'd brought back with her from her business trips to Africa and China. I sent an email to the address listed and let her know up front what I charge for this kind of work (supplies, plus $20/hour for labor, plus 10% overhead/profit, with a $150 down payment for supplies), not expecting to hear from her again, because that's been my experience when people are looking for someone to make commission quilts. They just never respond or tell me that's crazy. Much to my surprise, I received an answer and she accepted the quoted amount. So I drafted up a contract, since this was my first commission for a non-family or friend, and we got it all signed. She also sent me the fabrics and I got started. First up, washing and drying to get the excess dyes and wax out and shrink the fabric. The washing really changed the feel of the fabrics, because they were very stiff before.

She wanted two quilts made and sent me some pictures of ideas. She was adamant about this pattern being one of the quilts, and unfortunately even after doing an internet search, I still don't know where the pattern came from. So if anyone knows, I'd love to give credit to whoever came up with the original. I would have had to resize regardless, so I drafted the pattern in EQ7, knowing I needed a lap size quilt, and with the intention of keeping the large rectangles as big as possible to show off the fabric to full advantage. I think I may have even measured those fans to see how big they needed to be to get the whole thing on there. I also wanted to make sure that every fabric she sent me was represented in the quilt, except for the panel she'd gotten from China.

I fussy cut, where possible and tried to get the non-blue fabrics over the blue ones, because I was planning a blue and white quilt for the second one (more on that in the next post). I used Kona White for the sashing, because I wanted the colors to really pop and there were too many dark fabrics to consider black as an option. I got the top put together fairly quickly, once all the cutting was done. I do wish I'd maybe interfaced one or two of the loosest fabrics, because they stretched a bit when trying to sew the lengths together, but otherwise the fabrics held up pretty well. I kept updating her with pictures and got her go-ahead on the quilting pattern I wanted to use. My go-to for square quilts: free-motion boxes. Which I think turned out really well and only took me two or three hours. I bound it in the dark brown fabric that she had provided, because it gave the most contrast and also had the best hand for cutting into thinner strips.

It only took me about a year longer than initially agreed upon to get these quilts done for a variety of reasons, but luckily I had a very understanding client. She just wanted the quilts and loved the end result. This was my first quilt finish in 2018, but was quickly followed by numbers two through six. I'd more or less had quilter's block that entire year, plus an infant, moving, watching kids full time and so on. I'm really happy it's done, it's beautiful, and I got paid for it. Not that I want to do a ton of commissions, but every once in a while getting paid to do what I love, as long as it's fair compensation in my book and not a low-ball offer, is nice. So here you go, the first of the two commission quilts. Second one to follow soon.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Modified Bento Box Lap Quilt

Name: Modified Bento Box Lap Quilt
Dimensions: Around 68" x 68"
Pieces: Front - 425, Back - 17
Pattern: Modified Bento Box by Film in the Fridge (
Technique: Patchwork
Materials: 100% quilting cottons
Quilting: Free motion on my Juki and my sister's Singer

So my mom told me she wanted a quilt (a while ago). Said she didn't care when she got it, but she wanted one. As I was at least willing to entertain the notion, I asked her what colors: blue and green. I even sat down and showed her some pictures of fabrics in my stash and we came to the conclusion that she didn't want any fabrics with people, animals, or buildings on them. Primarily geometric with some butterflies and seashells mixed in. I had been wanting to give Film in the Fridge's Modified Bento Box tutorial a try for some time, ever since I had to make a block for someone in a bee, and decided that this might be the perfect opportunity. I was participating in the Stash Bee at the time (2014), so I wrote up a block tutorial based on Film in the Fridge's original. I don't remember, but I feel like I also asked for the same block from another bee, but it's been a while and I honestly don't remember.

Then the blocks sat and sat and sat, because I knew I wanted the quilt to be a decent size and I was missing a few blocks. Plus I had other quilts I wanted to get done. But I finally got my butt in gear, figured out how many blocks I still needed, did a quick fabric pull, and then chain pieced those suckers. The blocks are supposed to finish at 16" square, and I had deliberately asked people to leave them at whatever size they finished, so I could make decisions on final size later. Since some of the bee blocks turned out a bit crooked, when I cut them into quarters, I ended up with some warped edges. Which is why I decided to cut down the center as well, so I'd have consistent center sizes and at least one matching seam per block. Thank goodness for a sewing day with a fellow quilter, or that process may have gotten overwhelming. I believe I ended up somewhere in the range of a 14" block or so, after cutting down and reassembling. 

The only thing I really cared about was that the same fabric didn't end up next to each other, which wasn't a huge problem, because only a few of the blocks were made by the same people and had the same fabrics repeated. And then it took a while for me to arrange the blocks on my design wall to my satisfaction so the quarters weren't too close to each other. I did the arranging and sewed the top together during one of the trips my husband took with our son, when I was home alone and didn't have to worry about the little monster angel pulling blocks off my design wall. Then the quilt sat again, because I didn't have a back for it.

Enter one of our quilting retreats for the DC Modern Quilt Guild. I brought the fabrics I had bought, scaled up the modified bento box pattern to 70" squared and pieced the back (I'm rather proud of that one, tyvm). It took some piecing of strips, because I didn't have long enough lengths, and also some piecing due to cutting mistakes, but I really like the final result. I think I basted it at the retreat as well, but I don't remember, and maybe even started quilting it with the box free motion quilting pattern that I really enjoy. Then it sat again. And sat. I was trying to focus on my commission quilts, but they were just giving me quilters block. So on one of our trips to Michigan in 2017, I decided to bring this quilt with, plus the binding fabric, and see if I could finish it.

What I didn't bring... my beautiful Juki work horse. I figured I'd be able to use my mom's (old, solid) Singer or Pfaff, but neither had a free motion quilting foot. So I ended up borrowing my sister's small (cheap, plastic) Singer. It got the job done, but boy what a difference in quality of stitching and shakiness of the box sides. I also got the binding made and attached, though I forgot to embroider my initials and the date, because I figured I would see it again at some point. I got it done the day before or the day we were supposed to drive back home to Maryland, so ended up doing a quick photo shoot with my mom and my hubby of the final quilt. I'm quite happy with how it turned out. And recently it finally saw some use, after sitting folded at the end of my parents' bed, when I used it to cover up my sick son (which also meant it's first wash afterwards, which left it nicely crinkled). I think I like it so much because blue and green is my favorite color combo as well, and what I chose for my son's room. So I'm seeing another blue and green quilt in my future for his big boy bed at some point.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Travel Charity Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Travel Charity Quilt
Dimensions: 40" x 40"
Pieces: Front - 225
Pattern: 8" Economy Blocks
Technique: Foundation paper piecing
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons
Quilting: Free motion quilting on my Juki

This quilt started out with a pack of fabric from our charity quilt stash for my guild's 100 Quilts for Kids event. I decided to focus on the travel theme and pulled some additional fabrics from my stash for the centers and some additional green, blue, and black for the frames. I decided on economy blocks to take advantage of the fabrics and I knew the quilt only needed to be 40 by 40 inches to donate. So that meant 25 8" blocks total. I finished the front during one of my guild's sewing retreats and did the quilting at our next sewing meeting. The quilting has loops and words like "flying" and "driving" randomly placed. I bound the quilt in a grey stripe. I'm really happy with how it turned out. It was also my first quilt that I donated to charity as a finished product, which made me feel pretty good.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Diver Lap Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Diver Lap Quilt
Dimensions: 50" x 70"
Pieces: Front - 44
Pattern: applique pattern based off clip art found online
Technique: Patchwork, applique
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons
Quilting: Machine quilted on my Juki

So this started, like too many of my quilts, with a friend who told me she had a fairly serious health issue. She was a professional diver in a former life before I met her at work. And oddly enough, I found out at roughly the same time as I found out about my other friend's health issue. And both of them told me that purple and blue were their favorite colors. So during one of the 2016 DCMQG's retreats, I decided to bring the printed applique pattern that I had created, and a stack of solids in purple and blue. You would not believe how long I had to search to find what I was looking for in terms of the steps to a dive (I believe this is a pike position). Once I finally found something, I blew it up to about 30 inches by 70 inches in Adobe InDesign and printed it out.

I started the second day of retreat and cut 10 inch squares from the purple and blue fabrics and arranged them to my liking. Sewed the background. Then used light iron on interfacing to transfer the divers onto my pink and yellow fabrics and then ironed them onto the top. I basted the quilt sandwich using a 120" backing fabric and then quilted it using kind of an elongated meander that reminded me of waves.

Finally I trimmed and bound it, all before heading home for the weekend. In fact, I may have even finished it in one day. It's been a while though, so I can't remember for sure. I even managed to embroider my initials and year into the corner. As soon as I got home, I stuck it in the wash, and presented it to my friend at work the next day. She approved and told me that the positions of the dive were spot on. So yay for me. :)

Thursday, February 8, 2018


So I saw a meme on Facebook or Instagram at the beginning of the year that said something along the lines of, "2018, the year to finish the projects you started in 2016." I liked that, so I've decided to make 2018 the year that I finish some projects and catch up on obligations. Here is what I've got in progress:

1) Two commission quilts using African fabrics - both are quilted and trimmed. I have made binding for one, need to make binding for the other, and then machine bind both, create an invoice, ship them off along with any leftover fabric (estimated time left: 2.5 hours).

2) Baby Jane quilt in orange and blue - already basted, need to quilt, trim, bind, send off (estimated time left: 5 hours).

3) Baby quilt for my niece born in March - pattern chosen, cut fabric, make front, make back, baste, quilt, trim, bind (estimated time left: TBD).

4) Baby quilts for twins (science themed) born in October - pattern chosen for one, find pattern for the other, cut fabric, make fronts, make backs, baste, quilt, trim, bind, and send off (estimated time left: TBD x2).

5) Baby quilt for my niece born in December - nothing done, need to figure out colors/pattern, cut fabric, make front, make back, baste, quilt, trim, bind (estimated time left: TBD).

6) Plus wedding quilt - front is done, need to make the back, baste, quilt, trim, and bind (estimated time left: 11 hours).

7) Hexie wedding quilt - fabric is cut, need to finish piecing the front, back, baste, quilt, trim, and bind (estimated time left: 15 hours).

8) Scrappy Swoon wedding quilt - fabric is cut, need to finish piecing the existing front, figure out how to make it into a king sized quilt from the queen it is now, back, baste, quilt, trim, and bind (estimated time left: 15+ hours).

9) King-sized batik quilt - nothing except fabric picked, finalize design, make front, back, baste, quilt, trim, bind (estimated time left: TBD).

That's the extent of the time sensitive ones (by which I mean they are all long overdue). There's plenty more that I've started and would like to finish before starting something new that's not on this list, including a quilt for each of my kiddos.

Cross Stitch:
1) Fish - one fish done, the second is mostly finished, need to finish the second fish and then do the third, frame.

2) Carmagua Horses - started one horse, need to finish the whole thing (hard to break into sections), frame.

3) Alpine Flowers - Three flowers done, one started, finish the fourth, start on the other 11 (I think), frame.

4) Phoenix - almost done, finish up the last couple colors, wash, frame.

5) Forest - finished stitching in 2016, need to wash and frame or make into a pillow case.

6) Fairy Tales - Border is finished, finished several colors. Finish the remaining colors or do one square at a time. Frame.

7) Story Time - Finished January and February, started March - May. Need to swap out existing ones I don't like for new ones, finish, frame.

8) Happily Ever After - finished the title and started on the border, complete border, stitch Jan-Dec.

9) Travel - finished the title, working by color. Finish and frame.

10) National Parks - almost done with Yellowstone, finish and frame.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Minimizing Board Games and DVDs

So I recently decided to tackle our 2 DVD shelves' worth of DVDs and the crazy amount of nearly empty board game boxes we have at our house. This has become extra important, since we made the decision to move back to the Midwest at the end of the month. And I only booked a 16' truck, for a 2 bedroom house with basement (I refuse to believe that that's not enough).

In the interest of fitting into said truck, I've had to make some decisions. One, get rid of the dining room table and chairs. They are falling apart anyway and the table is too big for the space. Really sort through my books. So far I've dropped off 1 large laundry basket full for donation, have a second almost full, and plenty more behind that. Get rid of our daybed and get a pull out couch for guests once we find a place to live, potentially get rid of our current couch as well.

I bought a 300+ DVD binder from CaseLogic and ruthlessly purged the cases and the paper covers. The only thing I kept were the actual discs and any inserts. The inserts I put in the front of the case, the DVDs I organized roughly by letter and made myself a list in OneNote of what we have in there. The only ones I didn't get rid of were the collector's edition extended version LOTR discs, since they are super pretty to look at and there are three of them. I also got rid of the rest of our TV shows by consolidating the TV Show DVD binder we already had and sticking the last two seasons that didn't fit in with the movies until such time as I can order another binder. We had an entire large recycling container full of DVD cases when I was done, and two empty shelves. The only other DVDs that were spared (for now) were my hubby's Disney movies (yes, my hubby's, not my kids') until such time as he decides what he'd like to do with them. His options are 1) keep them as is (luckily there aren't that many of them), 2) put them in the Movies binder, or 3) get a smaller binder just for the Disney movies. I'm kind of liking this option for those.

That brings me to today's project. My BitBox arrived in time! With 8-12 days shipping, I was a little worried it wouldn't arrive before our move. The BitBox is a heavy, cardboard box with 4 drawers that have 1 medium and 2 small boxes each, and 2 board/instruction sleeves. It's supposed to fit in one compartment of one of those cube shelves.

I went through our collection of board games and sorted out those games that I knew we would want to keep forever (anything we might want to sell down the road stays in its box) and that also had a massive amount of wasted space in the box.

Here is what fit in the box:
  • Tokaido with one expansion (1 medium box with room for more expansions)
  • Five Tribes (1 medium and 1 small, would love to upgrade to 1 large at some point)
  • Netrunner (2 small boxes, should upgrade it to 1 medium box once I get that large box for Five Tribes)
  • Maharani (1 small box, it was a very tight squeeze, but I don't see any expansions coming out for this one)
  • Seasons (1 medium with room for more expansions)
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill (1 medium with room to grow)
  • Ascension (1 small, but it's pretty full, so would need another box for any expansions)
  • Patchwork (1 small)
  • Codenames (1 small, with room for more)
  • Morels, Set, Five Crowns (sharing 1 small)
That was a total of 12 games! And our recycling bin is once again overflowing with boxes and plastic box inserts.
I took pictures of all the boxes and if the front didn't have the age, number of players, and playing time, I took a picture of that as well. My plan is to eventually make stickers for the front of the drawers with the covers on them and for the tops of the boxes with the cover and playing info on them.
Overall, I'm quite pleased with the progress I've made thus far on both the decluttering and minimizing the space the items we do want to keep actually take up.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Declutter Challenge - Update

I did not finish out Declutter Like a Mother as planned, but it just seemed a little impossible to keep up at that late stage of my pregnancy. However, I did continue to declutter a little here, a little there. Mainly, I've been pulling books off my laden bookshelves that I either have in duplicate (this has mainly been an issue with the children's books, and not too many of those), ones that I have started and know I have no interest in finishing, ones that I have not even started reading and know I probably never will, ones I have read but just weren't good enough to re-read or keep for my kiddos/hubby to read, and old textbooks that I kept as "reference materials" but haven't touched since college (I'm actually having the most problems with this category).

So far, I have managed to put all my favorite books properly on their shelves, because I've cleaned out the stuff around them. I have also managed to free up an entire second shelf for our children's books, so they are no longer stuffed into one shelf. That has made a big difference in how often they end up on the floor, because although my kiddo still occasionally pulls out an entire shelf full of books, he's yet to do both at once, and each shelf only has about half the books.

Yesterday I went through our tablecloths and sorted out all the ones we've never used and don't plan to use (round ones, even though we got rid of our round table, and a few of the square ones that just never got pulled out). I put the rest back and they all fit neatly in their shelf. I also got rid of the silk napkins that just don't soak up any liquids and kept just the good cloth ones that do a much better job.

I've also been slowly sorting through my paperwork, getting rid of everything I can, taking pictures of stuff I've held onto for scrapbooking purposes, and then I'll figure out how to file/sort the rest once I've whittled it down more. I also desperately need a new shredder. My son managed to break mine somehow. It only goes in reverse, which is pretty worthless for actually shredding anything.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Granny Square Banner Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Granny Square Banner Quilt
Dimensions: 84" x 84"
Pieces: Front - 441
Pattern: Variation on the Banner Plus Block 
Technique: Patchwork
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons
Quilting: Machine quilted on my Juki
So this quilt started out as part of my DCMQG 2016 QAL (which will get finished at some point, when I'm not wrangling a newborn). I loved this particular variation on Block 7 so much, that I wanted to turn it into a quilt. So when one of my best friends, and college room mate, told me she'd gotten some bad news about her health, I decided to make a quilt for her to cheer her up and wrap her in some love, like quilters tend to do. I asked her what her favorite colors were, and the answer was blue and purple. So I pulled every fabric scrap I had in those colors, plus my low volumes, and proceeded to bang out 9 28" blocks, while my hubby and son were visiting family in Michigan.
The very center square is black and all the other center squares are a dark blue. I guess there's supposed to be some symbolism there about coming out of darkness and what not. I spent some time arranging the various pieces to my satisfaction and then also spent some time moving around the finished blocks. I had bought a bunch of purple backing, because I was making this quilt and another quilt (post coming soon), and both were blue and purple. And because I was trying to finish this quilt rather quickly, I also just wanted something easy. For the quilting, I did a free motion box-in-box pattern, which is more "boxy" in parts than in others. The benefits of the pattern are that its fast and I don't really have to worry about accidentally running over already quilted portions, because I just turn it into yet another box.
For the binding I used some of the leftover blue bike path fabric from Eric's Pixel Michigan quilt. I machine bound it, because well, it's faster and I hate hand binding. Generally by the time I get to the binding, I just want to be done already and get the quilt out of my house (or on my bed). One load of laundry and lots of Shout color catchers later, and I had a finished, folded quilt to gift to my friend. All told, this quilt took me just under two weeks. I finished it right before my guild's March 2016 quilting retreat.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Space Baby Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Space Quilt
Dimensions: 40" x 60"
Pieces: Front - so many
Pattern: Various 
Technique: Patchwork, paper piecing
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons
Quilting: Machine quilted on my Juki 

So the couple whom I made my second ever quilt for, the Circles Quilt, had a second kid and I wanted to make their son a quilt as well. As per usual, I asked my question about nursery themes and colors. Then the wheels started turning and I found this great paper piecing rocket pattern. I also found an amazing new (at the time) fabric line, Night Sky by Robert Kaufman, and took my color inspiration for the stars from one of the fabrics in the line that I ended up buying for the backing of the quilt. I also bought the more neutral black stars fabric for the background on the front.
I started looking for various star patterns and found some paper piecing patterns and also just dove in and made a few up as I went along (the wonky star, the QST star, and the star with the flying geese blocks, for example). I honestly don't remember where I found all of them, and I apologize for that. I do know that the Basketweave Star that I'd used for my Red, White and Blue Star Quilt was one.
I decided to stick to mostly monochromatic stars using the colors from the constellation fabric: green, blue, yellow, orange, and red. I only deviated from that with one of the stars and that was to make sure it had enough contrast to really make the pattern shine through. Once I had what I decided was enough stars, I spent quite a while deciding on the best placement for everything. Then I started filling in the background to make all of the blocks 12" square. And in between squares, I added 2.5" sashing to give everything a bit of breathing room.
I free motion quilted it with my favorite star pattern. It seemed rather appropriate. And I managed to finish the quilt just in time for our friends to come to DC with their two kids and have dinner with us.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Life Update

So life has been crazy. I was just starting to figure out the stay-at-home mom thing when we found out that I may be in the beginning stages of pre-eclampsia at 38 weeks pregnant. And so with a diagnosis of gestational hypertension, I was admitted to the hospital to be induced. Several hours later, which included 2.5 hours of labor and my husband literally catching our child after one push before she fell in the toilet (there was no one in the room with us at the time), and we had a perfect daughter. She's now just over 2 weeks old and my husband goes back to work tomorrow.

So that's the big news. In smaller news, I have been working on the decluttering challenge at my own pace. It was really difficult in the late stages of pregnancy, because I pretty much had to do the decluttering mentally and then expend as little energy as possible to get up and pull out the stuff I wanted to get rid of. I have continued pulling stuff off bookshelves and other places as I see things that we don't actually need. So while it's not going very quickly, things are moving along. I was able to remove enough books from my bookshelves to move some stuff around and put some of our baby books on a different shelf, where they seem to be existing largely undisturbed so far, while the board books that our son still loves for us to read to him, he has easy access to.

Finally, I tackled the kid's room for my dream house. I knew that I didn't want it any bigger than would fit a bed, a bedside table, a shelf, a desk and chair, and a closet. Since we have two kids, I would just do mirror image rooms for them and they'll look the same. With a good organizer system in the closet, they won't need a dresser either.

So first I figured out roughly how much space I needed for each item I wanted in the room. Then I started drawing. I wasn't satisfied with the extra space left in the first drawing (left), so I tried again. I think I like the layout of the second drawing (right) and that ends up at roughly 10 feet by 6.66 feet, or a total of 67 square feet per child, 134 square feet for both rooms.

I want the bed to be built in, either as a loft bed, or an alcove bed with storage underneath. I could see the desk, shelving unit and bedside table to be built ins as well, so that there is floor to ceiling storage in every square inch of the room. Not that my kids should need that much space for their stuff, but if they do, they'll have it. Hopefully they'll enjoy reading too, so they'll need some space for their books. One window at the end of the room, the bigger the better to let in lots of light.

So far that brings the total square footage of our house to about 218 square feet.