Sunday, July 7, 2013

Family History in Fabric

A few months ago, Josh brought home an old quilt top that belonged to one of his coworkers. It was hand pieced by her grandmother out of fabric from clothes that belonged to her mother and her mother's siblings.  The top was beautiful, but there were some holes in the fabrics and some of the seams were coming apart.  She had heard I quilted and asked Josh if I could perhaps repair and finish it.

I'd never worked with anything like this before, but I did some research on restoring old quilts and decided I was game to give it a try.

First, I squared up the quilt, cutting off some raggedy edges.  This gave me some pieces of fabric from one side that were big enough to make patches.  With those scraps and some from my own stash, I made some patches that I pressed on with double sided adhesive paper.  I made sure to match the edge of the patches with existing seams so they looked natural in the quilt blocks.  Then I basted the top with batting and backing that she picked out.

I quilted it by just going over all of the seams because the pattern of the top was so interesting that I didn't want to add another pattern with the quilting.  In doing so, I was also able to reinforce the original seams, repair the ones that had come apart, and sew down the edges of the patches I had applied.  I also like seeing the unique shape of each block on the back of the quilt.

This quilt was fun to work on and neat to see completed.  Kara and her mom were excited about having it back in a usable condition and I was glad to be a part of the story of this family treasure!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Well, everybody, I'm feeling human again!  Jess is two months old, quite long (24.5 inches), and super chatty.  We're getting into a nice little routine together and that has made time for me to do some quilting and some Red Cross work again.

Officially, my Red Cross position goes away at the end of this month because of some national consolidations.  I wasn't planning to return after Jess was born, but I've gone back to work on a "consulting" basis until they're done with the transition to the new processes.  As of July 1, though, I can consider myself retired!

So when I haven't been snuggling my baby or back at work, I've been working on a quilt for the lovely Remington Bentley.  Remmy was born about five weeks after Jess and is already winning the hearts of the boys in her life.  Jess and Josiah got their first chance to compete for her affections last weekend!  Poor Josiah was at a disadvantage, having been given her feet:

Anyhow, Remmy's mom, Nike, had commented that these were her favorite quilts I'd done in the past:

I think the most striking thing these quilts have in common is that they used a wider variety of fabrics in smaller pieces.  So, with that in mind, I picked a bunch of fabrics in Nike's nursery colors (lavender and sage) and went to work!

I used the Kitchen Window block from Elizabeth Hartman's Practical Guide to Patchwork and followed her recommendation to make the "panes" scrappy so I could use a lot of different fabrics.  The blocks are 16x16" though, so I ended up with a long, skinny quilt top (her guide is for a full sized quilt and I was cutting it down to baby size).  So I added a strip made of all the different fabrics I used down the middle to make it a better shape.

To go with her colors, Nike picked a nature theme for Remmy's nursery.  So I quilted this swirly tree on each of the window blocks and surrounded them in circles that make me think of cobblestones or a creek bed.

Lastly, here is a picture of Remmy looking at Jess like he's the dreamiest boy she's ever seen.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Most Recent Creation

Look what I made!

Finally!  I can introduce Jess!  We had to wait an extra two weeks, which meant that I went into the hospital on the night of my birthday to be induced.  We ended up waiting around till the next day because there were too many active labors for them to start me right away.  Once they got to me, though, things really got going!  It seems I just needed a little nudge to be able to proceed on my own.

We had a really good experience with the induction, the hospital, and the midwife team.  They got a big kick out of Josh (who brought his own scrubs) as he floated between doctor-mode and husband-mode.  I was really grateful that he knew what everything meant and could help me make important calls like, "is now too soon for the epidural?"

Since I was having contractions with no break in between, we settled that question with a resounding "no!" and I got my relief.  The nurse told me I got the award for most constant contractions.  Hurray for me!  We passed a few hours after that with a Storage Wars marathon on cable.  It seems that whenever we have access to cable tv, there is always a Storage Wars marathon.  Which is awesome, because it's kind of our guilty pleasure.

Later that evening, after 2 hours of pushing, Jess was born at a whopping 9 pounds 13 ounces and 22 inches long!  The little guy had 42 weeks to grow that big, though.  He was a solid 33% of my pregnancy weight gain!

I'm so pleased that everything went so smoothly - from pregnancy to delivery.  Now all we have to worry about is recovery and baby snuggles.  Both of which are progressing well!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Waiting Game

As I mentioned in my new year post, though my due date was March 30, I didn't expect our baby to show up until April.  Here it is, April 3, and we're showing no real signs of his ever wanting to leave.  So, I've been using my off-work time to whip together a few necessities.

First, I made this diaper bag:

Josh picked out the fabric so it would be something he was willing to carry.  The plaid is canvas and the brown (which is also the interior) is plain cotton.

It has handles, a shoulder strap, and pockets on all sides.  It didn't occur to me until I was sewing the last side closed that the pattern didn't include any inside pockets.  Since you quilt the outer and liner fabrics together before cutting out the pieces, I don't know when you'd attach pockets to the inside without the seams showing on the outside or quilting over what you've added inside.  I would have to figure that one out.  Instead, I'll just make a little loose pouch that I can put smaller things in to find easily.  

Also, due to the piecing-the-interior-and-exterior-simultaneously construction method, you end up with open edges inside your bag.  I anticipated that, though, and serged the edges of each piece before I put the bag together.  So the edges look nice, won't fray inside the bag, and will stand up to washing.

Then I made a nursing cover.  Instead of just doing a rolled hem, I wanted to have a contrasting fabric around the edges, so I bound it quilt-style.  I've been wanting to use those cherries on something for a long time!

As with most nursing covers, the neck straps fasten together with D rings.  A friend recommended that I use a twist tie or something to fasten the two rings together before sewing them into the end of the strap.  This keeps them snug enough that your fabric won't slip out, extending your strap and revealing more than you intended while feeding.  It was a good tip - easy to execute and I can see the difference it made!

I also checked another quilt top off my list!  Assuming this baby keeps hanging in there, maybe I'll even get it quilted this week.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Reese Niece Number 3!

Josh and I were a bit relieved when we found out we were having a boy because the existing Reese Girls, courtesy of Josh's brother, are the most awesome and adorable:

Before I sneaked into the hospital one night while Josh was on call so we could "borrow" an ultrasound machine to find out what kind of baby we're having, the "Other Reeses" came up to Oregon for a visit.  I was 10 weeks pregnant at the time, and we had decided not to tell them because five-year-olds are good at repeating things they hear - and we weren't ready to spread the news just yet.  But on the first day of our vacation, Dave and Ruth told us they were expecting!  Josh and I didn't react with hearty congratulations right away because we were so surprised.  Especially when they said Ruth was 10 weeks along, too!  After some frantic texting across the living room, and what I'm sure they thought was the weirdest response ever to such fantastic news, we let them know that we were in the same boat.  The exact same boat.  Crazy.

In fact, years ago, I had a dream that Ruth and I were pregnant at the same time.  In my dream we were both having boys and were racing to see who could have theirs first because we wanted to use the same name.  Until their ultrasound, I thought maybe I could have been a prophet, but we diverged from my dream's plot and discovered they were bringing another most-excellent girl into the world.

We're both still waiting on these moseying Reese babies, but I finally finished a quilt before a baby was born!

The blocks came together very quickly, but I mixed it up in the sashing by adding those pinwheels.  I think the simple blocks, mix of fabrics, and pinwheel sashing ended up working really well together! Here is a closer shot so you can see more of the fabrics:

And a picture of the backing where you can see the roses I quilted all over:

This quilt was really fun to make; and it put me back on schedule with my quilt making!  Oh my goodness, I can't wait for Reese Niece #3!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Seeing Spots

My oldest friend in the world had a baby just a couple weeks ago!  Crystal and I met when we were around 3 years old, grew up together, were roommates in college, and now are having sons just a month apart.  Well, the due dates said it would be just a month apart, but little Josiah Wright decided to make his debut a tad early (not that I would object to mine doing the same).

Crystal has always loved giraffes and decided to do the nursery in a giraffe theme.  I figured she would get a lot of giraffe things, and she knows a lot of crafty people, so I tried to think of a way of making a giraffe quilt that no one else would think of.  This is what I came up with:

I appliqued giraffe spots onto squares to make a big giraffe print.  I was originally just going to use browns on the applique squares, but it struck me that I could incorporate her other nursery colors into the zigzag stitches around each spot!

I quilted around each spot in both light brown and dark brown so you can see the spots on the back side as well.

It took some time to figure out how to draw the spots so they looked good.  After trying to arrange random spots on a square, Josh advised me to notice how the spots fit together like puzzle pieces in the fabric that had the giraffe print on it already.  So then, I cut the applique paper into squares the size of my background fabric and sketched out an entire square as a cohesive unit.  They came together so quickly after that!  That Josh has a good eye.  And the observation came in handy when I frosted these cookies for Crystal's baby shower as well:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Quilty Catch Up Part 4

Last Christmas I made a quilt for Mema and Pepa.  I may have said on the blog that it was the best quilt I'd ever made; but I forgot to take pictures of it before we boxed it up, so I couldn't prove it.

Well, we surprised Josh's parents and grandparents by showing up in Tulsa for Christmas this year, and I was happy to see that Mema and Pepa keep the quilt out in their living room!  Since they didn't know we were coming, I think that means they really liked it!  I snapped a couple photos on my phone to share.

You can see in the last picture that I fussy-cut the cream fabric on the border to better frame the blocks. I need to get better at planning block layout, though.  5x4 square quilts don't really allow for symmetry, so I remember agonizing over how to arrange the middle row so it would look good from any side.

I'm still hard at work on other folks' baby quilts, and am having a lot of fun playing with a variety of styles.  We're on vacation this week, and then it's my last week of work ever.  We'll see how things balance out after baby Reese comes and if I'll really end up with more creative time after all!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Quilty Catch Up Part 3

This next quilt was made for Susannah Molinaro (Sue-Mo for short!).  For once, I was on track to finish a baby quilt before a due date, but Susannah decided to come a little early.  Then I waited for a dry day to take pictures of the quilt outside.  It's Oregon.  I waited a couple weeks.  But I was excited about the way the bright quilt looked outside on a grey day:

Although the fabrics made me think of fresh fruits for some reason, I quilted tulips on the squares.  For the border, I free handed some swirly, ribbon-like lines that followed the idea of the lines that connected the tulips.  I was pleasantly surprised at my success without using an image to trace!

I was also pleasantly surprised by this rose blooming in January.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Quilty Catch Up Part 2

The next quilt I made was for a graduated resident and her husband.  They decided not to find out what they were having until the baby was born.  But because of its parents, I knew that boy or girl, this baby would rock!

I was worried it might be too boyish, since it was heavy on the blue and green.  So Josh, in his professional medical opinion, suggested that I add some zebra print as the border.  I was once again impressed with his head for quilt design - I like the way the zebra turned out!  Once it was all together, I quilted some crazy lightning bolts on it, and we had a quilt fit for a future rock star.  With a future rock star name no less.  Odin McNeill, I'm especially happy with how your quilt turned out now that I know you're a boy!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Quilty Catch Up Part 1

Since I found out that I was pregnant in July, I have finished four complete quilts, one top, cutting for another, and I have one more to plan.  None of these seven quilts are for us.  Don't worry, I'm making lots of other things for our little guy, and my mom has him covered (ha! quilt pun!) in the quilt department.

All these quilts can only mean that Baby Season is upon us!  They always seem to come in waves, don't they?  I kicked it off in October with quilts for a fellow resident's new baby girl and older daughter, who is now a proud big sister.

This is the one I made for three year old Amani:

Using Elizabeth Hartman's Sparkle Punch Quilt instructions, I made wonky stars from bright, exciting colors I thought a three-year-old girl might squeal over.  The purple even has silver sparkles in it, which just seemed to fit the name of the quilt pattern.

Then I experimented with gathering pieces to make this quilt for baby Winnie:

I gathered center strips for some of the blocks and matched some to their base fabrics, and mixed up the rest.  The gathers made the squares look a little crooked as I put them together, but were easily manipulated back into their proper shape.  Even though I was a little afraid it wouldn't come out very square, they all turned out nicely.

Now the Christensens are a happy family of four!

Oh, I thought Super Bowl Sunday was an appropriate time to start my crafty catch up posts.  As a sports fan, I tried to get into the game, but I just couldn't.  My football season reached its peak yesterday when Adrian Peterson was named MVP!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wait, How Long Has It Been 2013?

I haven't been a good internet user lately.  My facebook posting and my blog updating have dwindled.  I could say it's because I've been out there living it up 24/7.  Sure, let's go with that!

When 2012 started, I made a list of things I was looking forward to and things I wanted to accomplish.  Let's look at the things I wanted to accomplish:

*Check out potential places to live after residency: Hey, Josh is done with residency in six months!  He has a contract from a practice that we are super excited about joining!  We're going to stay in Portland for a couple years before moving out to Clackamas county on a little plot of land!  That's a lot of exclamation points, but expresses how I feel about these developments.
*Take a serger class: I did this!  This year, though, I should make it a goal to use my serger more.
*Take better care of my hair: Curly hair is hard sometimes.  I found a spray conditioner that really helps with frizz control.  I'm still experimenting, and I'm sure the internet finds this riveting.
*Find a church home: Oh, fail.  We did not do that this year.  Do you want an excuse?  We're moving across the city in the summer and didn't want to find a place just to leave it?  Lame.
*Actually start exercising: I did really well for the first couple months, then in the summer when we hiked a lot, and then in the last couple months.  This is an improvement over last year.
*Meet my fundraising goal for work:  I didn't quite, but I came close, and my whole department saw similar results.  2012 was tough for everyone.
*Make more clothes: I made fewer clothes this year.  Partly because I discovered that it takes a lot of fabric to make a man's shirt, and none of the wool pieces I had are big enough.  Sleeves, man.  They eat up yardage.
*Send more fun packages to our nieces:  We did this, and it was fun!

When I made this list, I had a secret goal that I wasn't putting on the blog: 2012 was the year we planned to start a family!  So, let's look at all the wonderful things 2013 will bring:

*March - I will be done working for forever
*March (or April, probably April) -We'll have a son!
*June - Josh will finish his residency
*July - Road Trip! (yes, with a three month old)
*August - We'll move across the river
*September - Josh will start at his new practice

2013 will be full of exciting change!  I'm still considering what goals I want to add among these big, big changes in our life.  That will be for another post, though.  For now, Happy Belated New Year!