Do you quilt?

I recently visited a local flea market that sells vinyl so I could get the material for a truck decal that I promised a friend.  Of course I can’t go in and not mosey around, taking in all that I find so visually pleasing.  I just love antiques and shopping in thrift stores, yard sales and the like.  Among the timeworn items, unique decor and random treasures was a basket of fabric!  So much fabric!

I wanted it all!  I am obsessed with vintage quilting fabrics and especially random fabrics in the same color group.  Walking through a fabric store is overwhelming with all of the pretty fabrics, bright colors and modern prints.  But there is something about muted colors or those in the primary group, small floral prints or fabrics that you can tell what decade they belonged in.  I would love to someday make a rainbow quilt so scrappy that no two fabrics are the same.  That is definitely on my quilting bucket list!

I knew I needed to show the teeniest bit of restraint and not grab the entire basket of fabric scraps.  In hindsight, I wish I would have rescued all of the pieces and brought them home with me!  However, I plucked out the red fabrics and headed to the register while trying to hide my excitement over this haul.

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The shopkeeper asks me, “Do you quilt?”

It was a simple yes or no question.  But I didn’t know how to answer!

Since I do not quilt in the fancy ways of more experienced quilters with long arm quilting machines and I have only made a few to date, could I really consider the few blankets I have made as quilts?  Would that actually mean that I have quilted?  Does that make me a quilter?  To say that it is and that I am seems a bit silly to me.

I said, “Well, I like to collect fabric and sometimes sew them together”.

That was just about the dorkiest answer I could have given!  I have never been very good with words, during a real-time conversation.  I usually get tongue-tied, forget words completely or just draw a blank on how to respond.

But it is the exact truth.

I love finding fabric that has spent years hiding, tucked into a closet and long forgotten when its intended purpose was fulfilled.  I love taking them home and filing them into my grandfather’s old chest of drawers, reserved for my own collection, which my youngest daughter so thoughtfully arranged in color order.  And I love to see the large variety of fabrics I have been able to collect in the last year and a half.

I collect fabric and sometimes sew them together.

Lessons

Since I have began sewing and quilting, I have come to learn a few things.

  • I have more patience than I realized.
    It does not matter how many times I sew and rip seams and sew and rip seams, I keep my cool and continue on.  …except for that one time….
  • I can’t draw…er, sew…a straight line.
    Even when I use a guide line, my “straight” lines somehow are still a little wonky. And you know what?  It’s ok.  My goal is not perfection, it is completion.  Because sometimes, completing a project is the hardest part.
  • Basting a quilt should be considered cardio.
    I have learned that you should always have too much backing fabric because “just enough” makes for a lot of work.  I spent entirely too much time wrestling with the fabric for a large lap quilt on my living room floor.  It was a workout, for sure!
  • Machine quilting should be considered “arm day”.
    Due to the nature of my last large project, I only used straight (ok…sometimes wonky) stitches.  Feeding such a large piece through my machine, while keeping the excess on top of my small work space, to keep it from pulling, was a workout in itself.  My arm muscles were feeling the burn!
  • It should also be considered therapy.
    There is something about mindlessly sewing rows and rows of straight (well…you know…) stitches that is very relaxing and freeing.  In those moments, I could let go of worries, expectations, and daily responsibilities.

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Mario Bros.

As with most of my previous projects, I saw a picture of a completed quilt and thought to myself, “I can do that!”  I started this project shortly after completing my dads Tetris quilt.  I printed a picture, counted out the squares and did some sewing math (see kids, you really DO need math!) and planned it out.  I cut all 864 squares before starting to sew, which is unusual for me because I typically get too impatient to get to the fun stuff and cut as needed.  But given the large number of squares needed, I wanted to make sure I was organized.

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This kind of sewing is peaceful to me.  I don’t have to think much about what I am doing…just sew in a straight line.  I was likely binge-watching something on Netflix, sitting quietly in my own thoughts, or gabbing with my girls about the latest high school goings on.

I finished the top.  I quilted it.  And then it sat on the back of my couch, folded, for nearly a year!

Finally, recently I found the lost fabric I was going to use for the binding and got to work to complete it.

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This was a challenging and fun quilt to work on.  And I just love the finished product!  It takes me back to the 80’s, when playing Nintendo was one of my family’s favorite past-times.

One Year Sew-iversary

One year!

It was one year ago today that I borrowed my mom’s sewing machine.  I was most intimidated by threading it.  When I first sat down with it, I pulled all of the thread out, pulled up a video on YouTube and re-threaded it.  Whew!  Step one done.  I used a piece of scrap material and and sewed a few straight lines to get a feel for the machine.  Then I set out to make a cute little triangle pouch I found online.  I followed a tutorial on YouTube and it was much easier and way more satisfying than I could imagine.  I was hooked!

Here is a look at {most of} my sewing projects from the last year.

My first time running fabric through the machine

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Very first project…a triangle zipper pouch

Practicing quilting

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First fidget quilt, for my grandmother

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Trying my hand at a half-square triangle quilt block

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Wall quilt, made for my grandmother…but it now hangs on my wall

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Cricut covers for my mom and myself

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Cricut cover for a friend.

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Guard equipment bag (I also made another one but don’t have a picture)

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Bag made from a thrift store mumu

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Another tote bag made from thrift store clothes

Set of five placemats

Scrappy Monster

Pin Cushion

Quilt for my king sized bed (still unfinished)

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My first baby blanket, for my cousins new baby

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Tetris blanket for my dad

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Not quite ready to share this one yet 😉

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One cat block, I made this just to see if I could lol

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Fidget quilt, for someone to gift to their elderly mother

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Weighted blanket

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Another set of placemats, better suited for fall

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One matching curtain panel (this has since become scrap fabric – although I really should make some curtains)

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Wine glass coaster

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Drawstring bag (vinyl done by my mom)

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My Dollar Tree quilting gloves 🙂

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An evening “wine down” at my sewing machine

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My first t-shirt quilt

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Another t-shirt quilt

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Chapstick holders

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Practice memory bear, made from a shirt and scrap fabric

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Girafficorn

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Pencil pouch

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Cosmetic bag

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Cut pieces for one block

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Completed block for memory quilt

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The first blocks for a memory quilt, made from my grandparents’ clothes

If you’ve made it all the way to the end…thank you for looking.

And thank you to my family and friends for the continued support and encouragement in all that I do!

To the Moon and Back

I am not quite sure what it is about weighted blankets but the calming and relaxing affect is amazing.  Studies show they are beneficial for sleep disorders, ADHD, restless leg syndrome, anxiety and autism, to name a few. I have seen these around…mostly on Pinterest and was intrigued.  So when a sweet friend asked me to make one for her son, I gladly accepted the challenge.

I wanted to share the process of making this blanket, tutorial style.  But let me preface this by saying that I am still a brand-new baby sewer.  I was not following a set of instructions, but rather, random instructions I found online and on YouTube (which, there aren’t enough for this style of blanket, by the way).  My measurements, formulas and methods are probably not conventional or an exact science but merely what was working for me.  Well…now that I come to think of it, that describes most of my life…not just the construction of this blanket lol.  Ok…now on to the tutorial.

I was asked to make either a throw or twin sized blanket.  According to research, the blanket should be 10% of the recipient’s body weight, plus a pound or two.  This blanket is for a little boy who is 46 pounds, so I rounded up to 50.  I was shooting for between 6-7 pounds, since it would be a larger blanket.

I started by cutting the fabric out around 43″ by 76″.  With right sides facing, I sewed three edges together, with a quarter inch seam (and again with a half inch seam, for good measure).

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Then I flipped it right side out.  I knew I wanted 3″ squares.  So I sewed three inch columns that I could fill with the beads that would give the blanket weight.  These beads are called Poly Pellets.  They are non-toxic and machine washable!  I picked these up at Joanne’s.

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Whoever said you don’t need math after high school clearly wasn’t a crafter lol.  Since I knew I wanted 3″ squares, that meant I would have fourteen columns and 25 rows.  This equals 350 pockets to fill with these beads!

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I borrowed my dad’s scale and it only used whole numbers.  So even though I estimated 7.77 grams per pocket, I had to guess where that was on the scale…somewhere heavier than 7 grams but lighter than 8 grams.  Since I had 14 columns, I used 14 bathroom cups to divide up that rows amount of beads.  Then I could easily pour the beads into each column, the cups acting as a funnel.

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After I emptied all 14 cups of beads into the columns, I laid the blanket on the floor and raked the beads to the bottom of the blanket.  They were pretty stubborn and got stuck all along the inside of the blanket.  Using my ruler to rake the beads into their pocket was helpful.

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Since I didn’t have a proper marking utensil meant for sewing so that I could mark straight sewing lines, I used this doohickey that came with my machine to sew in a straight (ish) line.  After looking at my sewing machine manual, I see that it is called a quilting guide.  And after looking at my sewing lines, I see that it (ie, me) doesn’t work so well.

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Even though this isn’t that heavy of a blanket, lifting and pulling it for a few days definitely left my arms feeling sore a few times.  After hours of Netflix marathons of Criminal Minds and a string of thriller action movies and what seemed like a never-ending series of measuring, pouring, raking and sewing…it is complete!

The finishing measurements are 42″ x 75″ and it weighs 6 pounds 15 ounces.

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I had my friend write a message to her young son and added it to his blanket using vinyl, as well, so that her words could be with him always.

As with most projects, there are things I love about it, they are things I dislike, things I hope the new owners will overlook and most of all, a sense of pride for lessons learned and challenges tackled.

 

 

Throwback Throw

One of the best joys of creating is gifting.

Of course my family will be the ones to reap the benefits of what I sew (see what I did there…lol).

Recently my dad mentioned that someone made my grandmother a quilt and he’d like one also.  So naturally, I’d have to make one, right?!?

The hardest part of (most) any project for me, is starting.  There are so many decisions to be made.  Patterns and fabrics, oh my!  There are so many to choose from.

My dad has always been a gamer, of sorts.  I do not remember him playing it but I know we had an Atari when I was really young.  And I can remember him teaching me how to play The Oregon Trail on our Texas Instruments computer.  Then when I was around the age of 7 or so, my parents bought me a Nintendo.  I played Super Mario Bros. at my friends’ houses and was so excited to play at home.  Such fun!

When I was trying to decide which quilt I would make for him, my first thought was something neutral, maybe with beige and blues.  I would make a traditional quilt with a Missouri star, maybe.  But then I saw something like this on Pinterest and knew this was the one I had to make for him.

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Tetris!

This was a fun quilt to make.  There are definitely things I would change about it if I could go back.  I learned a few things.  And remembered some a little too late.  Like the measurements of the binding.  But hopefully he won’t look too closely at (or he’ll just overlook) those parts.  And hopefully he won’t try to fold it nice and neat because it simply won’t as it isn’t square like it should be.

A day or so after I finished quilting, but before I completed the binding, my mom called. She asked if I wanted to put a patch of my grandfather’s shirt on the quilt.  He’s been gone five years now and she thought it would be a nice, sentimental touch.  I agree.  And sure.  I have finished piecing and quilting at this point but no reason not to find a way to add it in.

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I will preface this by saying that I am a pretty sentimental person.

I took a square above the left pocket, the one that rested just on his heart and added it to the corner of the quilt that would sit closest to my dads heart.  I sewed the folded square into the binding of the quilt.

All in all, I am pleased with it.  My dad was also.  I love how fun and nostalgic it is.  And I can’t wait to make another 80’s video game inspired quilt!!

Precious People

I was visiting my almost 90 year old grandmother recently and noticed a bare wall where pictures once hung.  A picture of my grandfather and a picture of my aunt, both whom have passed.  The wall was bare now because it was it was too painful to see.

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She doesn’t remember much but she frequently talks about my aunt who passed years ago.  She has four sons that are taking good care of her.  And she knows in her heart that her daughter would have been by her side as well.  She spoke of the kindness of people and the reliance on our children to take care of us when we are unable.  She told me to have as many children as I could because people are precious.

A while back, I made her a small fidget quilt to keep her hands busy as she sat.  It has beads and a zippered pocket, soft materials to touch and a selection of textured buttons.  She didn’t seem to take to it and that is ok.  But she did say we should hang it on the wall, though I don’t think that would fit in with her decor lol.

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In the last few months, I learned to sew and have felt compelled to learn to quilt.  A few weeks ago, I told my mom that for some reason, I wanted to make a traditional star quilt.  But that is intimidating to a brand new sew.  Since she now had a bare wall, I thought I could make a wall quilt.  I had not done that before but I wanted to make her something beautiful.

I left her house that day and went straight to the fabric store to begin working on the quilt.

It is not unlike me to get geeky excited upon finishing a project.  I am proud of all of the work I create (but unfortunately I pick apart all of the mistakes).  However, I am most proud of this.

No pattern, no directions.  Only an inspiration picture and determination.

My first completed quilt, a wall quilt measuring (roughly) 36″ x 36″.

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I learned so much while doing this project.  Sewing skills aside, I learned to embrace the process, take pride in even the mistakes and that I have more patience than I ever imagined.

I brought this to my grandmother today.  She loved it and that is all that matters.