January 8, 2018

Lucy Boston Blocks In Progress

It has been more than 6 months since I started this hand sewing project, and I still love sitting down with it almost every night, so it's time to share. I know I'm not the only sewist out there who got hooked on the Lucy Boston blocks thanks to Alewives Fabrics, a shop in Maine. Their Instagram posts of the English paper piecing blocks and kits drew me in, and I had to try this design out for myself. And now I can't stop.

My first Lucy Boston block

This pattern is also referred to Patchwork of the Crosses. There's a book by Linda Franz called Lucy Boston: Patchwork of the Crosses that a lot of folks uses as a reference, but when I get an idea to try something, I want to start right away, so I didn't wait to get the book. I ordered 1" honeycomb paper templates and a coordinating acrylic honeycomb template from Paper Pieces and starting coming up with a loose plan for fabric. Oh -- the other part of this story is that I was flying to Dallas for a week visiting a good friend and her twin babies, and I wanted a hand sewing project to take with me. So while I had enough time to order the templates, I didn't have all that much time to audition fabrics and prep it for the trip.

Block #2, playing with a little fussy cutting for the pineapples

I decided to forego the intense fussy cutting that a lot of people do for their Lucy Bostons. I don't have the patience for that, and I didn't want to delay the gratification of finished blocks. So I grabbed a stack of Cotton + Steel fat quarters that I won in a swap with my guild (the Knoxville Modern Quilt Guild -- check us out), some low-volume neutrals, and a stack of Andover chambray fat quarters that have been waiting for just the right project.

Andover chambrays

Here's my approach to each block:
  • One low-volume fabric for the center
  • Two coordinating prints for the next round -- sometimes they're fussy cut, but sometimes they aren't. It just depends on the fabric design and how much I want to play with it vs. get started sewing already.
  • One Andover chambray in the corners, to coordinate with the prints

Block #3 started out with yellow corners before I switched to orange

Block #3, final

Block #4, when I decided to brighten things up a bit

I started with one package of 100 paper templates. When I finish a block, I remove and reuse the papers from the center but leave them in for the outside ring, since I'll need them in place to sew the blocks together later. But then I ran out of papers. So I ordered more, but this time -- 200. I'm still working through that batch. I don't know when I'll consider the blocks done and ready to be assembled into something bigger...I have started thinking about a final layout, and I think I've landed on a plan. But with plenty of paper templates left to use, I'm not itching to work on that next step just yet. Instead, I just keep choosing fabrics, making blocks, and loving the whole process.

Block #5

Here's a look at the backside of one block. I glue-baste the fabric to the papers and then use an old manicure tool to loosen the edges and pop the papers out after the block is finished. I only take the 8 papers out of the center section, leaving them in around the edges so that I can easily sew the blocks together later.

I started out using a whipstitch to sew the honeycomb pieces together, but I didn't like that my stitches were so visible, so I switched to a flat back stitch, and I like it a lot. I just found a different version of the whipstitch, though, where you stitch through each layer separately and alternately, and I may have to try it out.

Block #6

Block #7

Block #8 - things were getting dark again, so I brightened it up with the orange

Block #9 - my friend and fellow quilter Kelly helped pick out this combination

Block #10 - this is one of my favorites

Block #11

Block #12 - another favorite (the colors are hard to photograph on this one)

Block #13

So that's where my Lucy Boston project currently stands. I have to take a little break while I spend my evenings knitting a baby blanket for a friend, but I'll be back with more blocks soon!

October 31, 2017

Spooky Book Nerd Quilt

I have a very good friend whose birthday is just a few days before Halloween, so the holiday has always been her favorite. I think it was last year when I came across these fat quarter fabric bundles at my local Tuesday Morning store. They're quilt-shop quality fabric, and I couldn't pass them up. (They're from the Spooktacular and Spooktacular Too collections by Maude Asbury for Blend.) I bought two bundles, thinking that I'd use them to make something for my friend, but I wasn't sure exactly what.

When I saw Angela Pingel's Book Nerd Quilt pattern, inspiration struck. These large prints would make perfect book covers. Plus, my friend is a serious book lover and collector, so the fabric and pattern were a perfect match. The pattern required more fabric than I had from the bundles, so I went to one of my local quilt shops, Mountain Creek Quilt Shop, to supplement the stack. It turns out that they had just received an order of new Halloween fabrics and they hadn't even unpacked the box yet! So I helped them out, breaking into some of those bolts for small-scale prints with bats and spiderwebs. I got the text prints to use as the pages and the oranges for book spines. The mummies are a Cotton + Steel design from last season, and I bought a bunch of them to put on the back of the quilt.

Assembling these book blocks was a lot of fun -- after I ran a test and figured out what sizes to precut all the sections for the foundation paper piecing. Everything went A LOT faster with precuts, so if you ever have to foundation paper piece a bunch of the same block and the pattern doesn't suggest precut sizes, take the time to figure it out.

(Pretty proud of my print alignment on this one!)

The pattern includes the option of cornerstones in the layout, and I decided to include them and use a dark print that I wasn't able to use in the books. If I were to make this quilt again, I think I would either leave out the cornerstones or add them to the outside intersections as well to finish framing the design.

For the quilt back, I didn't have enough of the mummies to use them exclusively, so I had to figure out how to piece it. My mom was heading out to Mountain Creek again, so I had her pick up the black with little white cat faces (another Cotton + Steel print, but from this season). I've made pieced quilt backs before, but I usually don't like how they turn out. I'm not sure if it's the size of the pieces or how I lay them out, but it never turns out looking like I expect. So I laid this one out and played with all my leftovers until I felt pretty confident about it.

My friend Jennifer agreed to quilt this on her longarm, and we picked an edge-to-edge spiderweb design. It turned out so well - I was blown away. Even the white thread on the dark backing worked out. I rounded the corners off and used a black and white stripe on the bias for binding.


September 27, 2017

Graphic and Modern Baby Quilts for Twins

I met my friend Eryn our freshman year of high school when her family moved from California to Tennessee and she showed up at band camp. We became fast friends and have remained close for more than 20 years through college, multiple moves, and more. I was on a quilt retreat last October when Eryn, who now lives in Texas, texted me to say she and her husband were expecting twins! I was more than a little surprised by the news (not one baby, but two!) and so happy for them, and my mind went straight to "I have to make quilts for the babies!"

I sent Eryn to a couple of online fabric shops to pick some fabrics she liked and give me an idea of her preferred color palettes. I also created a Pinterest board full of quilt patterns to share with her, again to get a feel for what she liked. She ended up picking fabrics that fell into two distinct palettes -- navy/aqua/cream and bright primary colors -- which was perfect for two distinct quilts. Eryn wanted the babies to each have their own quilt with its own look. They'll be twins forever, always paired, so a little individuality is nice.

The patterns that Eryn chose are Succulent Garden by Crimson Tate and Quilt Bars, a free pattern from Camelot Fabrics.

Here are some of her pinned fabrics:

That candy-colored circle print in the top row reminded Eryn of some bed sheets she used to sleep on at her grandmother's house when she was a kid, so I knew I had to use it as the basis for one quilt. That one ended up being the Succulent Garden pattern for baby boy Ryker. The aqua and navy prints became the Quilt Bars pattern for baby girl Sophie.

The Succulent Garden pattern, with its oversized hexagons, comes together really quickly thanks to the strip-piecing method. I cut my own triangle template for the wedges.

My friend Jennifer got an AMAZING longarm quilting machine while I was making these quilt tops, and she agreed to quilt both quilts on it for me. We stood there and watched it go -- it was magical. And the quilting turned out perfect.

One of the fun things about this pattern is that you're left with wedges that make a secondary scrappy hexagon. I wanted to use as much of the fabric up as possible, so I put the scrappy hexagon on the back and then filled in around it.

The Quilt Bars pattern also comes together really quickly. I think my biggest challenge with this quilt was figuring out which fabrics to use and where. With my fabrics, I couldn't get the same gradient effect as the original pattern, so I decided to go with dark vs. light, with the creamy pug print at the center and corners. After a lot of back and forth -- and a lot of photos texted to my mom for her opinion -- I'm happy with the final fabrics and placement.

This is honestly the fastest baby quilt I've ever made -- I highly recommend the pattern, and I'm confident I'll be using it again.

For the back of this quilt, I used the creamy pug print by designer Bari J for Art Gallery Fabrics. Eryn has a beloved pug named Auggie, so this fabric was a no-brainer. I actually saw it and planned to use it as a surprise before Eryn found it and added it to her "love these" fabric list.

And of course a show-and-tell of these quilts wouldn't be complete without photos of them with their new owners, Ryker and Sophie. I packed up the quilts and headed to Dallas earlier this summer to deliver them in person and snuggle the babes, who were just 2 months old. I can't wait to see them grow up with these quilts.


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