15 December 2016

Moving, Northern Lights, and Other Assorted Awesomeness

After finishing Niece Egg's quilt, I had two more quilts to work on pretty much immediately. This post will be about one of those. I found out that one of my friends, who we'll call M, was pregnant over the summer of 2015. I didn't know M too well but she was married to a friend from college and seemed really nice. Her husband worked with mine and they rode the bus to work together an hour each way, plus her husband loves playing board games and so do hubby and I. We found out about M's pregnancy after we announced our pregnancy to her and her husband - M and I were due 2.5 weeks apart.

M and I started spending a lot more time together. We commiserated about the unglamorous aspects of growing a tiny human, about living continents away from our families, and about our fears and insecurities about becoming parents. M was born and raised in Finland and married our friend, who's an American citizen. As we were all struggling to pick names for our fast-approaching tiny humans we joked that one American way to name a baby seemed to be to find a random word in a foreign language that you think is pretty and use it, regardless of the meaning. We decided to call their daughter Potato; it actually does sound pretty in Finnish - Peruna.

Since M was missing Finland, I wanted to do something with the quilt to remind her of it. M is a very conservative dresser compared to a lot of Americans with respect to color. I don't think I saw her wear anything that wasn't black/white/gray/navy/tan until she had to buy a pair of new sneakers to fit her feet as they grew a bit with her pregnancy and the only ones that fit her and were comfortable had pink stripes on the sides. This is where it got really hard.

I love color. I have never done a super muted quilt, color-wise. But doing my usual colorful quilt would have overwhelmed M and I didn't want to do that. I asked her what color they were generally trying to stick to with little Potato's stuff and she said purple, so that was the one color I let myself use.

I decided to use the Northern Lights as my inspiration for the quilt. A streak of color through an otherwise dark-ish sky would work well for my limited color pallette and would translate pretty well into a quilt. A bargello quilt would work for my intent, but I wanted to go beyond just sewing a bunch of black and white strips into a tube with some purple and seeing how it turned out...I wanted to know how it would look before.

In drawing it out I lost a little of the bargello functionality because every vertical strip wouldn't have every fabric in it, but I wanted the stripe to go like that through the center. I also knew I wanted the colors to be in a gradation - the lightest purple would be in the center of the streak, the darkest next to the black and white fabrics. I also laid out all of my black and whites in dark-to-light order so that the blackest fabric would be next to the dark purple. Basically, I took a bargello quilt and made it harder than it needed to be...but when has that stopped me?

I didn't get any in-progress pictures because I was pedal to the metal to get this quilt done before we moved. I was juggling having my own tiny human with quilting (and the sewing machine being in the room where tiny human slept so I couldn't work on it unless he was awake) and getting ready to move back to the United States.

In the end I messed up and didn't have a good backing fabric for it. I went through everything in my stash and finally decided on a light blue fabric with darker blue ginseng leaves on it, which seemed kind of appropriate since Seoul has ginseng all over the place (unfortunately; they're pretty but the berries smell AWFUL). I also had cut out a helicopter to do my usual label...and it got packed. So I just embroidered my initials and the year on the backing without a helicopter. But still, I'm proud of how the quilt turned out. I tied in Finland and Korea for a present to a little Finnish-American baby born in Korea...and that's a win in my book. Please excuse the terrible quality photos - they were taken with a backup cell phone while standing on a hotel bed. The laundry by the side of the's life. But life or not, hotel room living with an infant or not, I finished the quilt and delivered it before I left the country.

The motion in this quilt makes me smile.

Korean-inspired backing on a Finnish-inspired quilt.

Fail label. Still mad I didn't save the label from the movers.
Hope you like it, it's definitely one of my top few favorite quilts!

19 October 2016

I Need a Bit of a Rant

I just went to my first quilt guild meeting ever last night (I'm back in the US and have a local quilt guild! Eeeee!) and we were making donation quilts, which was pretty fun and took some of the awkwardness out of it being my first time. I had a ton of fun and got more sewing done that night than I've done for a while (more on that later). But the fabric we were making the quilts out of...was obviously donation fabric. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to be the first to donate my favorite fabric and keep my ugly/old stuff for my own use if I'm donating fabric. But there were some OLD fabrics in there. 1980s calicos and florals old, with a few newer pieces.

The design we were doing was supposed to have 3 values - there were white squares, darks, and lights. The fabrics we had weren't the easiest to divide up into lights/darks - a lot of them were medium tones, which would've been fine as long as we were consistent with using them as either a light or dark...but people were using them as both and, in one strip set I was handed to use, two fabrics with the exact same background color were sewn together with the only difference being that one strip had navy colored snowflakes on its pale blue background and the other was just a solid.

My mom's been telling me lately that she loves my eye for color, as she calls it. I'll be the first to admit that some of my earliest quilts are no longer my favorites - I used a lot of bright colors without much neutral to give the eye a place to rest. I still love scrappy quilts and make them all the time, but those quilts last night...they looked ugly to me.

I'm trying to figure out why I think they looked ugly (I had to leave early so I didn't get any pictures of them) since I love scrappy quilts and enjoy putting fun fabrics next to each other. Floral next to a plaid? As long as the values are right, sure! But something about those quilts just wasn't right for me. I think it's a combination of how the values weren't separated right and the total lack of a color palette. I'm all for rainbow quilts and using all kinds of colors, especially with a neutral like the white squares in our design last night. But there was no thought put into whether the fabrics everyone donated would work well together at all. A lot of the colors were very dated and the blocks just didn't flow well. Add to that the fact that a lot of the "dark" fabrics weren't dark (or that some blocks had the dark and light portions sewn in reverse) and the quilt's design just didn't come out.

I think if they'd stuck to a color scheme - everyone donate fabrics in these three or four colors - and then used those fabrics to still make a fun scrappy quilt but in a slightly controlled color scheme it would have worked a lot better. Or if they'd done a better job being consistent with darks/lights and had them divided up better within the anything goes color scheme (or cut everything into smaller pieces)...maybe.

Anyways. Enough ranting. I've got a lot of blogging to catch up on!

Last post I showed Niece Quiche's quilt. This post will feature Niece Egg's quilt! The pattern is Sister's Choice by Bonnie Hunter, though I added sashings and didn't do the borders.

This couch has been the setting of many quilt photos.
I quilted each square differently, but I'm not going to post twenty pictures to show each quilting motif. Here are a few of my favorites:

Squared off stipple sewn with a walking foot
Backing, label, and binding
I backed it with Winnie the Pooh fabric to coordinate with their nursery. The binding is more of the sashing fabric, which actually is one of little Egg's dad's old shirts. She and her family definitely appreciated the quilt and the personal touch the shirt added.

I'll end this here for now, more updates later (if anyone still reads this thing).