Back to the Studio!

September 21, 2011 at 9:47 am 1 comment

Where have I been? I’ve been asking myself the same question!

Ronan studioIt’s been a busy summer, especially as I’m still getting used to how much having a baby in my life changes things. Ronan is an absolute joy:  his sunny personality just blows sugar through my soul every time I look at him. He’s crawling now, babbling nonstop, giggling and dancing and chasing the cats, and I’m cherishing every moment. I can’t lose myself in the studio for hours on end the way I could Before Baby — which is a perfectly acceptable tradeoff — but that’s the way my OCD personality works best for creative endeavors.  I’m starting to acclimate to life in this warm messy new country called Motherhood, and am digging in some hand- and toeholds to find my way toward quilting again, albeit in the brief scrambled bursts I can occasionally scrape together. And hopefully, I’ll also figure out how to find time to blog about it as well!

It hasn’t been a total dry spell, though. I finished something!

Double Pinwheel Table Runner

Double Pinwheel Table Runner, with inevitable cats

Diane, Rhonda, Kathy, and Rhonda’s cousin Cathy (that was confusing!) came for a mini-retreat at my house in mid-July. Dan acted as the primary with Ronan so we could all get some concentrated sewing in. Diane had given me a charm pack (Lollipop by Sandy Gervais for Moda) with my birthday present, so I decided to use it for some relatively brainless piecing. For whatever reason, in my life, “easy” doesn’t usually turn out that way.

I planned to make some simple double pinwheel blocks using the Angler tool. Easy piecing, no marking. Well, first, the Angler just wasn’t working for me. I know quilters who swear by it, but I was finding myself more prone to swear at it. My seam allowances looked like my history with Weight Watchers:  straight and faithful at the beginning, but veering off the longer I went and, let’s face it, getting wider. Since ripping out and resewing was the absolute antithesis of what I wanted to be doing, the Angler came off the machine bed and I started marking my diagonals on the backs of the squares.

I made 2 identical half-square triangle squares from 2 contrasting charm squares, then sewed each of them along both sides of the diagonal to another charm square to make 4 pinwheel units. So far, so good. But those 4 units, put back together, didn’t make a pinwheel! Oops…

As someone who works in a mirror all day, I’m ashamed I didn’t see that one coming. (It works if you cut the charm squares into quarter- and half-square triangle squares and then sew them all together, but not if you use the “quick” no-triangle least not the way I did it.) If I’d been working from fat quarters, I would have simply cut more squares and continued to make my blocks containing only 4 fabrics each. But since I just had the charm pack, with only one square of each fabric, I had to either abandon the project entirely, or find a way to make it work. And let’s face it, one of the central tenets of Sarah Loves Fabric is that more fabric is better! So I ended up with five sets of identical-but-mirror-image blocks containing EIGHT different fabrics each, for a total of ten blocks with only two charm squares left over from the original pack of 42.

As it turned out, I’m glad my original plan fell through, and I’m glad I felt obligated to work with what I had rather than just cutting (or worse, buying!) more fabric. I think the blocks are more interesting with eight fabrics than they would have been with four, but I don’t believe I would have been brave enough to plan them that way. As I mentioned before, when it comes to fabric I definitely believe more is more; I get bored making a two- or three-fabric quilt, or one where all the blocks contain the exact same fabric combination. But until now, I hadn’t taken the plunge into making blocks that each contained quite this many different fabrics. I have to consider this a very successful experiment, and one that I intend to repeat — just so long as I don’t manage to manipulate it into an excuse to buy more charm packs!

Detail, Double Pinwheel Table Runner

Detail, Double Pinwheel Table Runner

I quilted the table runner using minimal-mark designs from Pam Clarke’s “Quilting Inside the Lines” with Lagoon Brytes by Superior Threads. These blocks turned out fairly lumpy in the centers, even after twirling the seam allowances when pressing, so I wanted to choose a design that allowed me to avoid those areas unobtrusively. Also, as I’ll be taking a class from Pam at Quilting with Machines in October, it seemed like a good mental warmup. I used a piece of Pellon Legacy wool batting (yum) left over from another project, and managed to find backing and binding fabrics from my stash that coordinated with the charm pack, rather than giving in and buying more of the Moda fabrics. I am appropriately proud of myself. I even hand-sewed the binding, and finished it in time for show and tell at Guild last week! It’s like I’ve turned over a new leaf.

For the happy dance for this one, how about two late greats of American comedy, Dom DeLuise and Gilda Radner, in the one bright spot in an otherwise dreadful movie:


Entry filed under: New Projects. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Classes at Quilting with Machines 2011 « Sarah Loves Fabric  |  October 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    […] as she responded to class questions. Also, since Matt and Alyssa’s wedding quilt and the double pinwheel table runner, two of the only projects I’ve finished in the last year, relied almost exclusively on her […]


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Siamese Cat on Sewing Machine

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