Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Elephant in the Room: The Quilt That Made Me Face My Fears

I have just finished what I consider to be the prettiest quilt I have yet to make! It was supposed to be a simple quilt made using just a large center panel but turned into a quilt that would make me face a ton of my quilting fears. I had found this beautiful Karavan fabric by Valerie Wells and knew I wanted to incorporate it into the baby's nursery. 

I loved the elephants so much that I knew I did not want to cut the fabric into a lot of pieces. So I decided to just do a large panel of this fabric surrounded by a few borders to highlight it. I placed a few borders on it and before you knew it, I was attempting mitered corners! Yikes! I was nervous but pleasantly surprised with how my first attempt turned out. 

Well, I survived that. Why not make these elephants really pop? So I decided to take a stab at trapunto quilting. Luckily I had a small amount of high loft batting that had been given to me by someone who is no longer sewing so I was able to dive right in. I decided to use heat-n-bond to make the task a little easier than the traditional method. I traced each elephant onto the heat-n-bond.

Once all the elephants were traced, I fused them onto the high loft batting and got to work cutting them all out. 

Then I fused the elephants to the back of the quilt panel. 

Once all the elephants were fused, I was able to layer my quilt top with some low loft batting and the backing and basted it all down. I then got to work stitching around each elephant. Once all of the elephants were outlined I decided to face my biggest fear of all . . . free motion quilting. To ease into it, I decided to use the petals surrounding the elephants as tracing lines. I just followed along the flowers until I had stitched across every petal!

I would be lying if I pretended that I was completely happy with how it turned out. I had some lines that fell off the petals but honestly, it is hard to find the mistakes on the quilt and I know this was a great attempt for my first time free motioning a quilt! I am just a crazy perfectionist and get frustrated with myself when I make a mistake. But that was my huge lesson . . . you have got to let go of perfectionism when free motioning. You just have to relax and have fun with it and not over think it. I found when I would start to let go and just do it that I was actually enjoying it quite a bit. My second lesson . . . I truly need to invest in a clear quilting foot if I am going to continue working on free motion quilting! 

I did some straight line quilting on the borders just to give a little contrast and then decided to attempt some more free motion quilting by stippling the outer border. 

I actually thoroughly enjoyed this process! I think I will be using stippling a lot more! 

Since I had faced so many fears with this quilt I decided that I had to finish it off with a bang. So I decided to try my first scalloped edge! Once again, I am addicted. It is so much easier than it would seem. Really not much different than a straight edge other than calculating the sizing of the scallops and having to use bias binding. 

And I had a little bit of help with the binding . . . hehehe.

I am so incredibly happy with the finished product! And it looks just perfect with the matching crib rail covers!

I also did a small side project in between quilting sessions. I had found a very pretty vintage bed skirt for $1.99 at the thrift store. Only it was a very peach bed skirt that clashed with the pinks of the quilt. 

So I also attempted my very first dye bath. 

I was so happy when it came out almost the exact color that I had hoped it would.

I cut the bed skirt up and created a completely custom crib skirt to match the quilt and crib rail covers.

The kids' room is really coming together. Just a few more projects that I would like to get made in the next month or so. In the meantime, I think I will ooh and aah over how great the elephant quilt looks! :)

Until next time . . . happy quilting!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sewing for the Nursery: Crib Rail Covers

I have found myself in a sudden state of panic. I do believe the nesting instinct has kicked in and suddenly I am realizing that there is so much that I have to do to get ready. Have we always lived in such a state of disorganized chaos?! Why am I just noticing this now? So this week I decided it was time to move my son's clothes from the changing table/dresser to his new under the bed dresser drawers and to start washing and moving the baby's clothes into the changing table/dresser. I had the room in a state of complete and utter chaos. I was moving blankets for temporary safe keeping in the crib when I saw this . . . 

How could I have forgotten that my son had been a beaver for a fraction of his babyhood?! Well, for a soon-to-be-mommy-again in her panicked and irrational state of trying to make things perfect, I found myself needing to fix this right now! 

Again, please excuse the messy background in these images. I am mid-transition as I decided this took precedence.

So I grabbed a notebook and my measuring tape and began plotting how I would execute sewing something to cover this. Refinishing the wood was just not an option at this point.

I grabbed some fabric scraps from a crib quilt that I am creating for the crib and started sewing away until I had the right size to match the main front crib rail size I had come up with. 

I then basted this to some batting and backing and did some quick quilting. 

I cut the edges straight and then got some binding on it. I had seen many crib rail covers online with ties on them but I am super paranoid and avoid any excess fabric or string in the crib so I decided I would make my crib rail velcro on between the bars. I took the piece with me to the crib with some pins and used the pins to mark where the velcro should be placed. 

Then it was back to the machine to attach the velcro. Since the velcro will never be exposed (aside from the photos in this post) I didn't bother worrying about whether it matched the project. 

Then it was time to repeat the process for the smaller sides of the crib (yes, those had been chewed on as well . . . gotta love the teething stage). Once again, I pieced some scrap fabrics together until I had the right size and got it quilted up with some batting and backing. 

Again I cut everything straight and attached some binding and headed back to the crib to find where the velcro should go. 

Then it was back to the machine and the velcro was attached. 

And that was it! My crib rail covers were complete. 

Now I just need to make some bedding and the quilt to match!

I also had some great success getting some receiving blankets done this week as well. As much as I love quilting, I know that some receiving blankets will get a lot more use in the first few months of the baby's arrival. I had stumbled across a great tutorial from Missouri Star Quilt Co. that showed how to make a self-binding receiving blanket out of flannel. 

Can you tell I had a lot of flannel in my stash from when I first started sewing?

Well, I definitely have a lot more to work on! Until next time . . . happy quilting!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Self Binding Baby Quilt

My cousin recently gave birth to a beautiful little girl and I just knew that I had to make a quilt to celebrate her arrival. I got to work picking some fun prints to throw together. I decided to keep the piecing simple by using a simple square patchwork and outlining it with a border. 

I was loving the way it turned out but I found myself wishing that there was something more to it. So before I basted it I decided to add a little applique and embroidery. I drew out a large monogram letter and began hand appliqueing it to the quilt. 

I know this would have been much quicker to do at the machine but as I am nearing the end of my own pregnancy, sometimes it is nice to prop up comfortably on the couch and just work with my hands. Plus, I really want to continue to improve my hand applique. 

Once the letter was on I found that it just didn't pop as much as I had hoped. So I decided to add a blanket stitch all around the edges with some black embroidery floss.

Now it popped off the quilt beautifully! Some hot pink embroidery floss stem stitched in the applique letter was perfect for personalizing this quilt. 

Now the quilt was ready to be basted and quilted. I laid it out on my dining room table and got to work. 

Once it was all quilted I decided it was time to try yet another new method, self-binding! After all, 2014 is my year of learning. I laid the quilt out on the floor and trimmed the batting down so it was flush with the quilt top. I then trimmed all the side of the backing to be one inch wider on each side of the quilt top. I then folded the overhang of backing in half once and then in half again and pinned to the top of the quilt. 

When I reached my first corner I folded the corner in to form a 45 degree angle. 

Then I proceeded to fold the side in half. 

And then folded it over on top of the quilt top and pinned it down. 

You will notice that I used quite a lot of pins. My backing for this quilt was a dimple dot minky fabric which is very slippery so I wanted to be sure that everything was pinned down extra well. That being said, I am not quite sure that I would use this method again with a minky backing. 

Then I took the quilt back to my sewing machine and began stitching the binding down fairly close to the inner edge.

Speaking of stitching down multiple layers of minky . . . thank goodness for my walking foot! During all of the quilting and the binding it kept everything unbelievably even and smooth. So once my binding was secured all the way around I went back around with a second line of stitching closer to the outside edge of the binding. This was just to be sure that it would be extra secure to hold up to all of the washing that I know baby blankets have to endure. 

And with that, the quilt was finished! 

Until next time . . . happy quilting!