Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Playing with Hand Embroidery

I spent the last week battling a cold on the couch. Five of those seven days was spent with unbelievable sinus pain. Needless to say, it has not been the most productive of weeks in my household. It is going to take a few days just to clean up the mess my toddler enjoyed making while mommy was sick on the couch. However, I did have a few points here and there through out the week where my head would allow me moments of clarity. And so, at those points, I decided to play with hand embroidery.

The first thing I decided to do was continue practicing applique as I created a little needle book to hold all my hand sewing needles. I had seen a great needle book tutorial over at Nana Company. And so I followed along and had some fun with it.

Of course, I used some of my leftover fabrics from the baby's quilt so that I would forever have a piece of it for myself. I definitely still need some practice but I am having fun with the embroidery.

After finishing the needle book I decided to start working on some accessories for the baby. I started with a little something that I knew her daddy would love . . . a headband for her to wear during Blackhawk hockey games. I took some felt and decided to use some hand embroidery to create a feather head piece that could be attached to a headband. 

I was really pleased with how it came together. After all the hard work that it took, I decided to make it interchangeable. I would love if she could wear it on a hat, a headband, etc. So I attached some velcro to the back of the feathers. 

A little velcro sewn onto a headband and now we have the perfect headband, and possibly the perfect hat too! I absolutely love how it turned out. 

I have a feeling I will be doing a lot more hand sewing over the next few months as it is getting more uncomfortable to sit at the sewing machine for long intervals. I hope to have more to share next week!

Happy Quilting!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Creating an Ironing Board

As I have been sharing pictures of all of my projects I have found myself trying not to show too much of the ironing/pressing process. I struggle to crop my pictures just right or I am eliminating them from my posts all together. And why, you might ask?

This is why!

My ironing station is an old tv tray with some practice quilt layers on it. Definitely shabby but not at all chic! Finally, after months of hiding my tray/ironing board I decided to do something about it. I went up to my fabric stash and found some upholstery fabric left over from making a headboard for our bedroom. I also grabbed some scraps of cotton batting. I laid everything out on the floor and turned my tv tray upside down on top of it all. 15 minutes of staple gunning, a little duct tape to seal all the raw edges on the bottom from fraying and now I have a portable, store-able ironing board that I can be proud to photograph on top of!

It's nothing super fancy but it looks a lot prettier when I work and that makes me happy! 

Off to make more progress on the quilt I am making for my son. Stay tuned and happy quilting! 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Getting Creative with Quilt Labels

Remember that quilt I just finished for the baby's crib?

Well I spent the last week creating a very special quilt label for it. While browsing Pinterest, as I do every night before bed, I noticed some very unique appliqued quilt labels. Not only would it add a beautiful touch to my quilt but it would allow me to continue to work on one of my 2014 goals, learning! Why not take a stab at hand embroidery? I drew up a design, watched some YouTube tutorials and decided to give it a shot. 

I must say, I am addicted! This is a great way for to keep creating at the end of the day when my back is hurting too much to sit at the machine. I grab my hand sewing, put my feet up and enjoy some television with the family while still making progress on projects. And I love being able to turn my own sketches into a permanent fixture on fabric. After a few tutorials on needle turn applique I was ready to finish, and finish I did!

I was so unbelievably happy with how this label turned out. And it truly completes the quilt!

Now I am off to start work on a quilt for my little boy's new big boy bed! Stay tuned to see how it turns out. Happy quilting!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Value of a Quilt

We are only a month into 2014 and this year has already proven to be starting off with growth, progress, learning and a lot of soul searching. I have been busy sewing as we prepare to welcome our new family member and also have had my Etsy shop closed for a few months now to help me prepare. I thought I would be missing sewing for the shop but I have actually been happier than ever. The more I have had time to enjoy my sewing the more I realized why I was so relieved . . . I was being grossly underpaid through the shop. Like $1-$3 an hour for my time. 

I find that I dread when someone approaches me and asks if I can create a quilt for them. And why do I dread it? They are wanting me to craft a completely unique, quality quilt for the price of the quilts made in sweat shops that are being sold in department stores. Or they are browsing Etsy and seeing the ridiculously under-priced handmade quilts . . . sorry to say, when one artist under prices their work it effects the whole community.

So as I worked on a very, very special quilt for my baby's crib I decided to keep track of all that goes into a quilt (not including all of the love)! Typically I design my own creations but for this one I had seen a quilt shared on Pinterest that I just loved and luckily the blogger had shared her pattern at Ricochet and Away!

Obviously, the first step to a quilt is shopping for the fabrics . . . luckily I had fabrics of my own that I had bought earlier in 2013 and had been stashing away for a special project. I couldn't think of a more important project to use them in. 

Next I had to cut into these fabrics (often the hardest step for a quilter dipping into a special fabric in their stash). In this scenario it took me about an hour and a half. 

The third step was piecing. For this quilt it took me an hour. 

Then it was back to the cutting board to cut these pieces into the triangles that I needed. Luckily, this step only took me 15 minutes. 

Once my triangles were cut it was off to the ironing station to press them out into squares. Pressing took 45 minutes. 

Then it was back to the cutting board to trim all the squares to be the exact same size. It took an hour and 20 minutes but I consider this a crucial step to be sure everything lines up correctly.

Next I had to lay everything out to prepare for piecing the top together. One of my favorite steps because it is now that you can actually see what the quilt will look like. The most fun 40 minutes of the quilt at this point!

Then it is back to the sewing machine, this time with the iron set up right next to it so I can piece and press as I go. Piecing the entire top took 2 hours and 15 minutes. Following this I moved it to my table (I am now getting a little too large to be crawling on the floor to baste) where I could layer and baste the quilt without too much discomfort. This was another 45 minutes as I basted with safety pins every 4-5 inches or so. 

Then I chose some threads, attached my walking foot and began quilting. It took a total of 5 hours to quilt this top with simple straight line quilting. 

Once the quilting was finished I was able to once again turn to the cutting mat to trim the whole quilt to be sure that each side was perfectly straight and the quilt was squared off. I also created my binding. All of this took another hour and a half. 

Finally I had to attach my binding. I do the securing of the binding by hand so at this point I had stopped keeping track of the clock as I just wanted to relax and enjoy the process as I watched television with the family. 

I definitely put over 13 hours of work into this quilt. I felt it might be fun to share the process with those less familiar with what goes into a quilt so they maybe wouldn't be as shocked to hear what a quilter charges when they ask about having a quilt handmade. You certainly cannot expect to get a handmade, quality quilt for $50-75 dollars when someone is putting that kind of love into it. That wouldn't even be valuing their time at minimum wage, not to mention the cost of the materials that go into a quilt. I can say the materials alone for this quilt would value in at around $60. 

I guess I am also using this post as a huge explanation as to why I will not be selling my quilts. I would much rather put the love and time into creating for those closest to me. I also know I would one day like to quilt for competition . . . once I feel like I am able to compete with the best of the best! So I am much better off using my time to design and practice, practice, practice! :)

I don't like the feeling of despising, almost hating, a quilt as I work on it for less than $5 an hour. It makes me feel just as undervalued as my item is. I put so much love into my quilts . . . I really love creating an item that will be cuddled under for years and years to come! A quilt is so much more special when I know someone is appreciating its value and cherishing it for what it is . . . something so much more than what a sweatshop and cheap fabric has to offer. It is a piece of me that is put into every stitch that will hug them over and over and over again as long as they keep my quilt close at hand! 

Now I must go work on a very special label for this very special quilt. Happy quilting!