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Dollies, Not Doilies

May 23, 2015

Well, wouldja look at that. Another UFO finished.

This one is probably 5 years old. Pieced by my friend Pam as a sample for the shop, once it had done its time as a display I had that audacity (Gasp! Me? No!) to ask if I could have it. Since it wasn't Pam's preferred style (and really, not mine either and that's why I didn't make one myself), she didn't even bat an eye when she handed it over to me.

Then, as I'm sure many of you predicted, it sat in a corndog box for a few years before I decided to quilt it.

The straight-line quilting was actually more difficult for me to do than the free-form feathers in the borders. But I'm on a feather kick right now, so maybe that makes the difference.

The binding, though. I had some lovely sharp corners on this wallhanging. Then I washed it and the binding fabric shrunk more than the body fabric. That doesn't happen often, and I am very happy for that. Bindings aren't hard, but they're fiddly if you are like me and want picture-perfect sharp mitres at the corners. I guess I should have taken a picture those corners before washing (yeah, there's a riveting blog post), but this is luckily the first time and hopefully the last that the shrinkage completely distorted the corners.

If I can find some space on the walls in the guest room, I'll probably hang it there.


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The Mysterious Corn Dog

March 18, 2015

"All the time."  "Soulless" by Gail Carriger ♦♦♦♦♦

Okay, the title is a bit of a stretch, but better than "A corn dog box project and a mystery quilt", right? This is kind of a throwback post... I found it in my drafts folder. Quilt retreat is coming up in about 6 weeks and these pictures (and thoughts) are from last year's retreat. Let's call it a bonus post, mmm'kay?

Last year at retreat I put the final borders on the Oh! Christmas Tree quilt, one of the first corn dog box projects I grabbed for my (2014!) New Year's Resolution.

I've realized that a lot of my projects get stalled at the border stage; I wonder if it's because all the "hard" work is done? Maybe borders bore me? I don't know, but there are a couple-few more projects that are ready to quilt except for borders.

I already have the backing fabric purchased so 'all' I have to do is baste and quilt it now. (Like that's going to happen any time soon...!)

Aaaaaand the mystery part. I designed "A Day At The Zoo' as a mystery quilt for the New Year's Day 2013 class. Probably only the second quilt I've ever designed without triangles; it was a big hit at the class. All of the quilts finished in the mystery class were stunning, and the quilters really worked some magic with their fabric choices. Also, it was actually FINISHED in one day (everyone arrived with pre-cut strips).

What a great kit to cut and take to retreat, right?

I was able to pull all of the necessary fabrics from my closet (yay!). The kit fit perfectly into a corn dog box.

After less than a day of sewing I had the body done, but though I had time I waited until the next day to put the borders on.

Yes, I think there's something to my border aversion.

Anyhoo, here it is in all its blurry glory. It was a lovely and easy pattern (even if I do say so myself) with nice big pieces and almost no seam matching. (If I were ambitious, I'd go find the quilt top - because of course it's still 'just' a top - and take a better picture. I'm not.)

Hmmm. I think this might be the next pattern I publish.


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My Kind of Doily

March 15, 2015

And he would probably go on losing it, drop by drop, until the day he died.  "Cold Is The Grave" by Peter Robinson ♦♦♦♦◊

I participated in a group activity with one of the quilt guilds I belong to: An applique project. Ostensibly, the purpose was to teach different applique methods to those who wanted to learn. I joined... just because. It's not that I know ALL the ways to applique, but I've tried bunches of methods; hand-, machine-, fusible. I prefer fusible. It suits my desire to do complicated projects and my lack of attention (hand-applique, I'm looking at you).

The original project was to put the center motif on a background of Log Cabin blocks, then turn the whole thing into a sewing machine cover.

Obviously I didn't do that.

Anyone who knows me can hear my voice when I say for the umpteenth time, "I adore log cabin blocks, but they bore me to tears. I start sewing on one and immediately get whiney - 'Is it over yet??'" So I did a different background. The background is a variation of a disappearing 9-patch, using a random set of fat quarters that have been tied up pretty in a ribbon for a long, long time.

The colours in the applique motif are pulled from the main print (with the daisies), so even though the piece is mostly black and white and green, the other colours fit (maybe moreso if you're seeing it in person?).

I wanted the piece to be big enough to cover my semi-new printer, a lovely thing that is in a black shiny plastic shell. Lovely, yes, but that shiny black plastic shows every speck of dust. And my house is VERY speckled. So, 24-ish inches was the goal.

To tie in the pop of colour in the center, I traced the outer edges of the shape to put something in the corners. Then it still looked a little weird, so I borrowed a leaf shape (or two).

The appliqued part has got some trapunto going on, then I got into the groove and did some (very) free-form funky feathers in the body. I seem to have been channelling Patsy Thompson a bit, though without colour and, if I am honest, without much of a plan. Fortunately it worked out well enough. For me.

I managed to catch the light just right so the quilting showed up nicely from the back.

It's been a long time since I've done any free-motion quilting, and I've missed it. Now that my machine is healthy again AND now that I can see the top of my sewing table again, I'm looking forward to swirling, feathering, pebbling and meandering ALL the things!!


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March 12, 2015

I'm going to pretend that it hasn't been months since I've written a blog post. All is well, I have been working on projects by the ?illion, and I've actually taken pictures of a lot of things. In my mind, I've shared them all with you.

This is my WIP Wednesday project
(because I remembered to take a picture on Wednesday. It was 5 minutes before midnight, but it was still Wednesday!).

CanCan-ishDone in Sheep-ish yarn (the one with Vickie Howell's face on the label) in the colourway Teal-ish. I love the feel of the yarn, a smooshy acrylic/wool blend. It doesn't split, but if you have to un-knit at all, it doesn't want to play well. The yarn is barely spun (minimal twist), so after it's in a stitch, it holds on for dear life.

The pattern is French Cancan by Mademoiselle C. The pattern is very well-written and the voice of the author is friendly.

The body is all garter stitch (which is boring, but something to do with one's hands when one is sitting in one's comfy chair under a cat), but of course the border is what inspired me to start knitting it.

CanCan-ish border I seriously love this border. I've made two mistakes that I can find (in the border) but they're nowhere near fatal and I'm not going to point them out to you.

The border pattern is kind of memorize-able, though occasionally I find myself zigging when I should be zagging on the cables. Easy fix, though.

I knit on the body of the shawl until I had used two of the four skeins of yarn I bought. The border will use almost two skeins, too. I've just passed the halfway point on the border!

Now all I need to do is actually block the thing when it's finished. I don't want it joining the other FOUR unblocked shawls hanging on my wall. Above the blocking mats. Looking like a collection of some sort of curly seaweed.


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Why I Don't Make Quilts To Sell

July 04, 2014

Abandoned book "Wilde West" by Walter Sattherwait ♦♦◊◊◊

Beautiful-pink-flower - West Virginia - ForestWander

Pretty picture that doesn't have anything to do with what comes next.
Recently I've had cause to figure out how much it would cost to make a quilt to sell. It's a sobering exercise, to say the least.

I very rarely do 'just squares and rectangles'. I've long known that, to keep prices even semi-reasonable, I really can't factor in my labor. I am not a beginning quilter, so my cost per hour should reflect the years of experience I have and the skill I've gained through those years. It's not like I think I'm the bees knees or anything, but the reality is that a quilt I make is often a step or two above something made by a less experienced quilter. Please don't take offense; there's nothing wrong with being a beginner and/or sewing simple quilts. There are some lovely, lovely quilts out there that are not technically challenging and every quilt is (or should be), I believe, a labor of love and tangible evidence of someone's desire to make the world a more beautiful place.

But here's what I came up with as a really low-ball estimate of how much it costs to make a quilt.

Size: 60x72"
9 yards fabric @ $5.50-10.50/yard* $72 (avg)
2 yards batting @ $7/yard* $14
Original (non-resellable) pattern design $120
Purchased pattern $10
Labor $85 (~9 hours at minimum wage of $9.50/hr)
Custom machine quilting 4,320 square inches @ .015 (1½ cents) per square inch $64
Postage $17.45

*sale prices

That's  $72+14+6+120 (or 10)+85+64+17.45, or  $372.45 (or $262.45). And not everything is included - there's laundry, rotary cutter blades (at $6+ each), thread, band-aids, corn dogs, wear and tear on my tools and machine... a whole host of "hidden" costs that we can't even factor in accurately.

:-) Just checking to see if you're paying attention, kids.

These aren't unreasonable figures - I've researched 'normal' costs online, so I'm not just making stuff up. And these are U.S. prices. If a quilter is in, well, pretty much any other country in the world, the costs of materials alone are probably double or triple what I've quoted. Who would pay that kind of money for something that the dog or cat is going to claim as their own? Gosh, you can get a whole bed-in-a-bag from Wally World that includes a comforter, pillow sham, a set of sheets and 2 pillowcases for about $40 online.

That's why I don't start out making a quilt to sell. If I've made a quilt and someone falls in love with it and just must have it, I might - might - sell it. I NEVER get anywhere near the price of what I've put into it, though I try not to allow my potential buyer to think that I undervalue my time or skill and that they shouldn't, either.

This is one of those times I'm okay with having a fairly small reader base. Though I've tried not to, I'm pretty sure that some toes have been thoroughly trod upon...


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