Reviving the blog . . . again

I can’t remember the last time I made a post, but I appreciate that this little blogging space is available for me whenever I’m ready to write again. I got very burned out with blogging when I was struggling to find time and light and space to take photos of me wearing the things I’ve made. And I think it didn’t help that I felt like every post needed to be about a new finished project. Stepping away from the blog for a bit has helped me re-envision what I can use my blog for and how I can make blogging work for my life now. So I’m hoping that I can post more regularly about whatever I have in progress and that I can get over my fear of inconveniencing Aidan and just ask him to take pictures of me when I’ve finished a garment.

Although, I am not actually sewing or knitting any garments for myself at the moment. This is mostly because I am 21 weeks pregnant with our second child, and I have no desire to make new maternity garments. But it’s also because the idea of making clothes feels very pointless to me right now given that I have no where to go. I don’t even feel motivated to sew clothes for Jude. In general, the stress of the pandemic and all the news, and the difficulty of working from home while taking care of a  2.5 year old has sort of shifted and tilted my interests. I was reading a ton, but I haven’t read anything since they announced that our classes would be moving online for the rest of the semester. Jude and I have been baking together at least a couple of times a week. I don’t care that much about tv, but I’ve been enjoying playing Animal Crossing. I only want to knit with bright colors. And I’ve been spending my sewing time working on a quilt.

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We did a lot of camping last summer and realized that we needed a picnic/beach quilt that we could take with us on our trips. Early this year, I saw a quilt that Anna Graham made with fabrics from her new Driftless collection and I absolutely loved it. And then she shared a post on Instagram about a shop selling kits for the same quilt and I bought it right away. The quilt pattern is the Geese in Flight pattern by Jeni Baker, which uses a really interesting (and probably easier) no-waste method for creating the flying geese blocks.

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The pattern is rated as “beginner friendly,” which I think is accurate, but that does not mean that it hasn’t been challenging. I have made precisely one quilt prior to this–a crib-sized quilt for Jude that simply involved sewing pre-cut jelly roll strips together. It was basically the tote bag of the quilting world. So I’ve never had to cut blocks before or had to do any serious piecing, and this pattern requires both. When it comes to garment sewing, I am pro-shears all the way. So I had to buy myself my first rotary cutter, which came with it’s own learning curve (although I’ve only given myself two minor cuts, so that’s something). Cutting squares from 15 fat quarters and the background fabric took me at least two and a half weeks–largely because I have had to work every weekend since classes went online, which means my only sewing time has been brief nightly sessions after Jude goes to bed.

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I thought that once I had the blocks cut out, piecing would go much faster, but that was a patently stupid assumption. I thought I was using a 1/4″ foot, but it was not, and I ended up having to rip out my first set of blocks and re-sew them, which took forever. So frustrating! But they have been salvaged, and the subsequent sets of blocks have been much more successful. Each fat quarter ends up yielding 4 of the larger triangle blocks and 4 of the multi-triangle blocks. I have been really taking my time and trying to be precise after my first big screw up, so while I’ve gotten into a rhythm and things are starting to move a bit faster, the piecing is still going very slowly. At this point, I have four and half sets of blocks (out of fifteen total) done.

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Since I don’t have a bunch of other projects that are calling my name, this slow pace doesn’t bother me, and I’m actually finding it kind of soothing to keep working through the same set of steps over and over. It’s also nice to be able to see my piecing getting a little bit more precise with each set of blocks. My plan is to keep chipping away at this through the rest of the month. I’m hoping I can piece the whole top together in that time, but we’ll see what happens.

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Where ever I’m at when June begins, this project will go on hold so I can start yet another quilt–this time, a baby quilt (using the Clava Quilt pattern) for baby #2. I want to make sure that it will get done before he gets here.

 

Rainbow Baby Quilt

All the knitting and sewing I was doing during the first half of the summer came to a screeching halt in July when I started teaching two summer classes and when my two teen sisters came to stay with us for two weeks. (Although I did teach both of my sisters to knit and crochet while they were visiting. My 17-year-old sister loved knitting and is now deep in the process of making a Doctor Who scarf, while my 15-year-old sister took immediately to crochet and has been pumping out projects at a break-neck pace since she picked up a crochet hook. It’s pretty awesome.) Unfortunately, at the end of the month, I found out that I’ve developed some health issues that mean that our baby is getting an early eviction notice. Everything should be fine, but that doesn’t make it any less shocking or anxiety-producing, so I cast aside the Andy Maternity pants that I was in the middle of and started work on a baby quilt in hopes that some color and simple, straight-line sewing would be soothing.

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Luckily, it worked. This is the first time that I’ve ever made a quilt, and I ended up really enjoying the process. I find that knitting and garment sewing tap into different parts of my brain, so that I tend to want to work on them at different times depending on how stressed I am. But working on this quilt produced the same kind of calming effect that a really good knitting project produces for me—it’s methodical and repetitive and very easy to get completely lost in. It was immensely satisfying to watch the whole thing come together, and it helped me work through many worries.

 

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Since this was my first-ever quilt, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible. I’d been planning this quilt since I found out I was pregnant, and I’m glad I had the foresight to go with something fairly easy since I ended up making this in a bit of a time crunch. The quilt design is based on pictures I found online of the Rainbow Jelly Roll Quilt that is the basis of Creativebug class taught by Heather Jones.

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I confess that I didn’t buy the class, which only focuses on assembling the quilt top. The quilt top is made by simply sewing together strips from a Kona Cotton Solids Roll-Up in the New Brights Palette, and I already knew enough about quilt piecing to feel pretty confident about sewing the strips together. So I just bought the Kona Brights roll-up and winged the top, cutting out almost all of the pink shades in the roll and eliminating a few other shades that looked a bit ugly or repetitive. I found a really cute blue and gray cloud print for the backing (I know it’s a Dear Stella design, but I’m not sure of the specific name or line—it doesn’t look like it’s available from Fabric.com anymore, which is where I bought it.) For the batting, I bought some Warm & Natural cotton batting in a pre-cut baby quilt size from Joann’s. The final quilt ended up being roughly 40″ x 53″.

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Since I really had no idea how to approach any of the quilt-making process beyond piecing the top together, I looked at the class offerings on Craftsy and ended up buying Maria Capp’s Mastering in Minutes: Finishing Quilts. I think this might be one of my best Craftsy class purchases so far. It’s actually categorized as a tutorial rather than a class, and is only about 17 minutes long. I loved this since my biggest issue with Craftsy classes has always been experiencing burn out—so many of the classes are so long and detailed, I end up losing interest. This class efficiently and clearly explained the process of prepping the quilt top, assembling the quilt sandwich, doing the actual quilting, and then doing a machine binding. The machine binding technique was especially easy and gave me a really nice finish.

 

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Because I wanted to keep things ultra simple, I just did straight line quilting 3/8” on either side of the quilt top seam lines. All in all, this is probably the easiest first quilt project I could have taken on. I’m glad I went with something so simple because it let me get the feel for the quilting process without needing to invest in quilting equipment I don’t have (like a rotary cutter, cutting mat, quilting rulers, etc.) or getting frustrated and bogged down by more complicated piecing or quilting. Plus, the end product is freaking delightful. I think this may be one of the most beautiful things I’ve made to date, and I’m really proud of how it turned out.

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While I really enjoyed this project, I don’t think I’m ready to launch into more serious quilting yet. Mixing colors and prints and patterns for more complicated quilt designs isn’t something that really appeals to me at this point—in fact, it seems pretty overwhelming and like it requires a skill set I haven’t really developed. But I definitely think there are some more simple quilt projects in my future. Craftsy actually has some really gorgeous modern quilt kits available for sale that look like they’re the right level of challenge for me. I’m thinking that once the infant fog starts to lift in a few (or many) months, and I’m feeling ready to get back to some simple-ish sewing I can tackle in short bursts, a quilt kit might be a fun and easy project to work on.

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Regardless, I’m glad I got this project done before the baby arrives. I’m looking forward to enjoying some sweet snuggles underneath all these bright colors.

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