Dress Shirt Quilt in Progress

Dress Shirt quilt

Here’s just a little peek at the quilt I’ve been working on for lo these many months. The quilt top is basically finished now, so I’m working on the back and making plans for quilting it.

It’s made up of my husband’s dress shirts that were on their way to Goodwill. Hope I can show you more soon.

Here is an earlier post about it, and if you want to see more patchwork projects, click here. I just realized I haven’t even blogged about another quilt I’m making. I’ll have to remedy that.

Hope you’re having a good Monday. American friends in the Northeast: stay warm and safe!

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New Year, New (ish) Projects

Dress Shirt Quilt

Happy New Year! Did you survive the holidays? Ours started out low key and then sped up after Christmas with the Colorado wedding of a dear friend, a couple of days of skiing, and 3 stitches in my lower lip after a minor fall.

Don’t worry, I’m fine! Luckily, nothing was broken, so I could go right back to skiing. Actually I can only find 2 stitches now. They are not the dissolvable kind, so I don’t know if I misplaced a stitch or if I just miscounted. Hmmm…

I’m finding, unexpectedly, that I kind of love January. Not for the weather. Who could love January weather, even in the South? But I love getting back into the routine and not having a bajillion outside actitivities to distract and exhaust me. And the days are getting just a tiny bit longer. So I’m told.

Currently I’m back to work on my nonfiction book for elementary-aged students. I’d taken several weeks away from it while focusing on my novel, and the break has really helped clarify things. It still needs a lot of work, but I’m excited to see how far it’s come since my initial brainstorm. I’ve been getting some feedback on both projects from writer friends, which is so invigorating!

The above picture is a sneak peek of a quilt I’m working on. It finally seems to be coming together, though it’s looking like spaghetti to me right now. For more sewing and quilting projects, click here.

What about you? What’s inspiring you this month? Reading anything fantastic? Stay warm, folks!

Gift Cloths

Gift Wrap Cloths

Sorry for being away so long! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. Ours was nice and low-key, and featured some gluten-free apple pie. There was a big to-do about who got the last pieces, and not just among the GF folks. It’s that good.

The hubs and I also took a trip just before Thanksgiving, which I’ll have to tell you more about in another post.

Here I wanted to show you a little holiday craft we did. Last year I made gift cloths with Christmas fabric and existing Christmas linens, but this year I decided to add to the collection by decorating and sewing up scraps of fabric I already had in my stash.

The red and green stripe in the back left corner was made with watercolor-type fabric paints by Deka. I’ve had that paint forEVER. I tried to find a link to a place you can buy it, but it’s looking like it’s not sold in the US anymore. Bummer. It’s good stuff.

We decorated the fabric for the center red-ribboned present with Target brand “slick” fabric paints (you squeeze the bottles to draw with them). My least favorite fabric paint ever. Really poor quality, but we made the best of it.

The blue-ribboned gift cloth is pale pink, and we drew on it with Tee Juice markers, which are great for quick and easy projects, especially with kids. They are totally permanent, though, so, as with all of these supplies, dress accordingly.

Lastly, on the red-spotted cloth with the dark green ribbon, we used stamps with cheap acrylic paints from Michaels mixed with textile medium. This is one of my favorite ways to paint on fabric, because mixing it yourself gives you a wide range of choices. And in the end you aren’t left with a bunch of fabric paint you may never use again.

Below are some pre-decorated and hemmed gift cloths: a thrifted plaid tablecloth and two tea towels from Target marked down to 88¢!

The kids loved trying to guess what all these fake presents were, the favorite by far being the pink one below that’s wrapped like candy. It’s a sack of corn meal.

Loving this free printable nativity the kids can color themselves at Made by Joel.

Hope to be back soon with some details of our trip.

Gift Wrap Cloths

Cashmere Patchwork Blanket

Patchwork Blanket

Sometime in the last few months I got it in my head that I wanted a cashmere blanket. Like, really wanted one. I think maybe I started obsessing when I was paging through Handmade Home and saw all the cozy, cozy stacks of blankets. I just wanted to curl up with them. I didn’t want to fork over the money for cashmere, though, so I started scheming. Could I possibly find enough thrifted cashmere to make a blanket?

Sometimes it’s hard to come by, but lo and behold, there was a bumper crop of cashmere at Goodwill this fall. Some of it was in perfect condition, in my size, with classic lines. What?! I washed those and put them in my closet.

The rest of it, the out-of-fashion, the holey, the wrong sizes, I cut into rectangles (excluding the holey bits) after washing it. I added in a few washed and shrunken merino sweaters, too, to round things out and make the blanket a little bigger.

Recycled Cashmere Blanket

In all I used six sweaters for the blanket. It went together pretty quickly, and the kids were very excited to help place the pieces. Everyone was already fighting over it before it was even done.

Cashmere Blanket

I had planned to lap the edges, but kind of forgot that plan until midway through. Oh well. Next blanket, maybe. I already have some cashmere pieces waiting.

Cashmere Sweater Blanket

Personally I like all the little weirdnesses of sweater pieces, the rolled edges, the seams and ribbing here and there. And it’s kind of nice to have a “smooth” side and a “wrong side.” I like them both.

For sewing the pieces together, I used (I think) a regular machine needle and upped the stitch length a bit. I had no problems with it. If you want specific instructions for sewing a cashmere sweater blanket, check out Betz White’s book Warm Fuzzies.

Random: love loved this fire and ice birthday party over at elsie marley. Almost makes me want to live in a frozen place again.

Also, has anyone been watching Parade’s End on HBO? I can’t fully follow the storyline, but wow, the clothes are incredible!

And lastly, next week I’ll be introducing you to a friend of mine, artist/ photographer Dawn Hanna. So excited! Her work is drop-dead gorgeous.

Okay, folks. Have a great weekend.

Cloth Gift Wrap

Fabric Gift Wrap

I’d been wanting to do this for ages and finally tried it. There are lots of ways it’s been done—-most notably, of course, Japanese furoshiki. And there’s lots of ways I’d like to try making wrapping cloths, but this time, I just made a simple rolled hem on rectangles of fabric. Directions for “cheater” rolled hemming here. Thank you, Pinterest for that great tutorial via Meg of elsiemarley.com.

The Santa and angel fabrics are thrifted linens (already hemmed) from my favorite thrift shop in Hannover, Germany where we lived the last couple of years. And the new green and red stripey fabric is from Joann’s.

To wrap, I just folded the fabric and held it in place with the ribbon. Easy peasy. They wouldn’t hold up to a toddler’s inspection, but they’ll work fine for us.

Cloth Gift Wrap

Simple Kid’s Hat from T-Shirt

For a mom from a warm climate, learning to dress the kids for northern Germany has been an education. Luckily, my son’s dear kindergarten teacher is more than willing to educate me. You may remember the story about the silk-wool undershirts. In addition to undershirts and of course a jacket, he is expected to wear (until it’s absolutely hot) leggings under his pants, a scarf, mittens, and a hat. Every day, even when it seems a little overkill. Rainpants are a whole other story.

Overdressing is the preferred mode, and with Hannover’s weather as changeable as it is, it does make sense. A common refrain around the kindergarten: “Wo ist deine muetze?” Where is your hat? Meaning: put it on!

This has become so much a part of our morning routine that the other day, when we were in a hurry, my daughter (6) scolded me for not having mittens and a hat for our 3-year-old. “Mommy, what will Frau X say?” she said.

The only problem with all this gear is that it’s hard to keep up with and easy to get lost. I decided to take matters into my own hands and whip up several spring-weight hats from his old t-shirts. These take literally about five minutes to make. Maybe less. This way, if we lose a few hats, it’s no big deal.

There are plenty of more sophisticated hat patterns out there on the web. For these I basically traced a hat he already had which is made from just two pieces shaped like little hills. I stitched them together with a zigzag stitch.

My favorite t-shirts to use are his old pajama tops, since those are not only super-soft but also stretchy.

I had a bit of a dilemma with this one because I wanted to use both the cute little applique at the top and the nice finished hem. So the hat is a little long and funky, but it can scrunched or folded, and really, who cares? He’s three.

Bonus:  He’s been proudly showing off his hats and (in German) bragging that his mother made them. I know this kind of pride in mommy-made items probably won’t last, so I’m just going to savor it.

Hand-Dyed Patchwork in Progress

I hadn’t planned to share from this work-in-progress until it was done, but then I was inspired by this post, which challenges bloggers (quilting bloggers in particular) to share more of their process, not just finished projects.

So, here I am, showing you a strip from a large patchwork I’m working on. When I do patchwork, I’m not usually interested in following a traditional pattern or in measuring. Some people call this “liberated quilting.” For me it’s about being able to enjoy the process (I hate measuring) and also something we used to talk about it in art class called “showing the artist’s hand.” In painting this often means that the artist has let the brushstrokes show. I enjoy having my patchwork look handmade at first glance. If you’re familiar with the Gee’s Bend quilts, it’s that kind of aesthetic I’m going for.

I also prefer to work with mostly used or scrap fabrics in my patchwork (I keep saying patchwork rather than quilting because this piece is not actually going to be quilted). I think it’s because historically that’s what quilts were made from, and that thriftiness and ingenuity is part of what attracts me to patchwork in the first place. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a beautiful quilt made from new fabrics—-this is just a rule I give myself (and sometimes break, of course). The history of the fabric creates a story behind the project, and it also provides an extra challenge, kind of like painting a still life using only four tubes of paint.

This patchwork is for my son’s duvet cover, and it’s made from his crib sheets, most of which I hand-dyed, and also from the fabric I used in a failed attempt at making a shopping cart cover. You can see one of his crib sheets in this blog post. There’s also a bit of fabric left from making the curtains in his room.

When I was pregnant with my son, I went snorkeling for the first time and was inspired to create a nursery mural of a very simple school of white fish on a grayish-teal backdrop—blogged here. Now that he’s in a big-boy bed, I wanted to make him a new bedcover with a similar theme. I didn’t want to make literal fish but  wanted to keep the feeling of simple white shapes moving over the space. Here’s my sketch for the piece—although I didn’t color it all in so you really can’t tell at this point which parts are going to be white. That part’s in my head. I may or may not follow the sketch entirely.

In addition to the Gee’s Bend quilters, another influence is the work of Malka Dubrawksy, a fiber artist, quilting blogger, and author I admire. Check out her gorgeous work made with fabrics she batiks and dyes herself.

Can’t wait to get some more done so I can show you my progress. Hopefully I’ll finish this before the little man goes to college. And if he doesn’t like it, I’ll hang it on the wall!