Chiagu Blog

Man, that sucked.

Posted on March 30, 2012 | 0 Comments

As of today, I'm 100% better after losing most of this week to the worst food poisoning I've ever had. It was so bad that I considered going to the hospital more than once! I'll spare you the details except to tell you the silver lining, which is that I lost four pounds this week. Oy.

Let's back up to Monday, before I ate the fateful cheeseburger that did me in:

I went out to Jersey to visit my dad who's in town for a few weeks. We had plans to eat lunch together and then do a quick photo shoot. I brought my new lace shawl design (now officially named Loida) and the Anthro quilt to shoot.

As you would probably expect, my dad generally looks at whatever I'm crafting and says "that's great" without really paying all that much attention, since he doesn't care much about knitting AND he thinks everything I do is wonderful anyway . . . so imagine how surprised I was when I pulled out the quilt and he almost burst out crying!

While snuggling under the quilt my dad tells me that his mother, who I never met because she died when he was only 16, was a quilter! And not only that, but she used every little scrap of fabric available (they were very, very poor) to make one big quilt for each of her six children. Those quilts were like binkies to each kid, and were never shared or traded. My dad had his quilt until he was 20 years old, when he moved from Brazil to the US and couldn't bring much with him.

As he examined details of my quilt he kept remembering details he'd forgotten about his, like how my grandmother always wore floral prints and how the "batting" was made from old worn out blankets. I am still kind of dumbstruck by the whole thing. Not only did I learn something about my grandmother that I never knew before, but my dad clearly has a very emotional connection to quilting that even he didn't know he had!

Needless to say after all that, I'm making my dad a quilt.

I bought fat quarters of several random prints, so that the finished quilt would have a very "scrappy" look without being too busy. Each of the fabrics I picked has a specific reason: the yellow because it's my mom's favorite color, the numbers because my dad is a big money/finance guy, the green check because it looks just like a shirt he loves. I made sure to include some flower prints to remind us of his mom, too. The collection is very random but all in all I think it works, what do you think?

After figuring out the fabrics, I decided to do simple squares, and went with 7" squares since that's my dad's favorite number (I realize that they end up 6.5" after seaming, but too bad, it's the intent that counts!). With some of the scraps I quickly pieced 4-patch blocks to add a little more interest, and then I started placing the squares on my design wall to figure out how they should go. I ended up pulling out one of the prints I started with because it was too prominent, and what you see above is what I ended up with (minus a square that fell off the wall just as I was shooting this picture!). I'm pretty pleased!

The whole top is now seamed and the flannel backing has been pre-shrunk, so the next step is basting and then quilting. I'm planning to quilt it in circles, which I've been thinking about ever since I saw it on the Film in the Fridge blog, so that will be a nice new technique to learn -- my first time quilting something that isn't straight lines!

Oh and speaking of new things, next Tuesday I start working part time at City Quilter. I know you totally saw that one coming ;o)

Posted in quilting

FO: Anthro Quilt

Posted on March 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

My second-ever quilt, woohoo! After washing it's beautifully wrinkly and, I think, even better than the pre-washing quilt.

By the way, there are 5 squares that are upside down, can you spot them? ;o)

I absolutely love the way this quilt came out and have been cuddling under it on the couch non-stop. Arnold seems to love it too, judging from how many times I find him buried in it, passed out.

To make this quilt, I started out with a charm pack of Tula Pink (my favorite fabric designer!) fabric from her Parisville collection, which I bought on Etsy from imaginefabric. I then added linen-colored solid and bits of leftover solid mint from the Robot Quilt, and made half square triangle blocks from all the charm squares.

For making the half square triangles, I followed the instructions from Sew Katie Did, and I have to say I'm quite pleased with how well my corners lined up. There are definitely a few that are messed up, but for the most part they look surprisingly professional considering this was my first attempt at this type of quilting.

To figure out how to arrange the squares, I put them all up on my design wall and then stared at it for a while, moving squares back and forth:

I wanted the finished quilt to be bigger, so I "stretched" it by adding solid squares in both linen and mint. It took me about two days of squinting at it and rearranging before I felt like no one area stuck out or looked out of place.

Once I was happy enough I started sewing the squares together into 9-patches, then sewed those together into the finished quilt. Then I added a linen border about 5" wide around the whole thing, to make it even bigger.

For the back, I used a Kaffe Fasset print that I fell in love with and then added bits of leftover solids to make it wide enough:

For the quilting, I went with simple diagonal lines that echo the triangles in the squares. This was my first "real" quilting and I was a bit nervous about what kind of quilting to do, and how much of it to put in. I didn't want to "mess up" the design of the quilt, which I so loved! In the end I think I picked well, and the diagonals had the added bonus of being pretty quick to finish up. I marked them first and then sat down at the machine and finished quilting the whole thing in about an hour. I chose pale pink thread so that it wouldn't stand out too much but would still be visible, and I like the finished result. I definitely want to do more interesting/visible quilting on a future quilt though!

Finally, for the binding, yet another Tula Pink fabric, this time from the Prince Charming collection:

This binding went much better than the first one, and I know that was largely because I used a different method than the first quilt. This time I used the seam-and-then-trim method instead of first trimming and then seaming, and it went much better. Here's a link to the technique I used this time. I'm pretty sure I'll be using this technique from now on!

All in all I'm very happy with this quilt and what I learned doing it. I'm definitely not done with half square triangle quilts though, as I have another one already started and a new one already planned!

Here's a sneak peek of the already-started one:

Ignore the insane colors, this was taken at night in my poorly-lit apartment!

Posted in quilting

The new is live, and update on the stacks quilt

Posted on March 12, 2012 | 0 Comments

I just finished switching everything over for the new website and it's all ready for shopping! Please hop on over and kick the tires a bit, and please let me know if you see anything wonky. I'm pretty happy with it and I hope you'll all like it too!

In stacks quilt news:

Yesterday was the final class at City Quilter and I got back to work on my stacks quilt. Here you see the blocks I've finished so far all layed out on the design wall (which even at the store isn't large enough for this queen sized quilt!):

I spent literally two hours cutting the blocks down to size. That wasn't fun at all, let me tell you. And to add insult to injury, I made a mistake on the very first block and cut it to 24" long instead of the planned 25", so ended up having to go with 24" for all of them. Oh well, 96" long is still plenty long for this giant quilt ;o)

The major news on this quilt is that I don't have enough charcoal gray to finish and the shop is totally out of stock. They could order more, of course, but the dye lot might not match. Where have I heard that before? *facepalm*

After much consideration and fabric inspection, I've decided to add in a grayish plum color (you can see it on the table in the front of this photo) in the remaining 4 blocks as well as the sashing. For the remaining blocks I'll be doing two thirds of the background in the plum and the last third in the charcoal, so that it blends in some. The empty spaces you see above is where those blocks will go. The plum will also be the 2" sashing between the blocks that form the "stacks." (it's actually up there in the photo but hard to see)

I think I'm pretty happy with this solution and while it's not the "ideal" I think I may end up with an even better finished product because of it. The added color in the background will add interest and make the quilt even more modern, and should also take away from some of the starkness of the design. One of the many lessons I've learned with this first quilt is that I have a tendancy to pick fabrics that all have the same saturation, so the end result can be a bit jarring. Something to work on!

Oh and if you're wondering, the other quilt is nearly done, just have to finish the binding:

This quilt will be known from now on as the "anthro quilt" after a girl at the shop said it looked like something Anthropologie would sell. I took that as a compliment =)

Oh and if you're wondering about the Sybil Sweater, yesterday we did the photo shoot! I'm waiting for Seth to get me the photos and then finishing the pattern is next on my to-do list.

That, and start running again. Seeing myself in those pictures has driven it home that I really have gained weight! Time to get it off so I can fit in my favorite jeans again.

Posted in Housekeeping, quilting

FO: Robot Cheater Quilt

Posted on March 06, 2012 | 0 Comments

Ta-da! My first ever finished quilt! I'm pretty damn proud of this thing, let me tell you.

Because the design of this little baby quilt is the cheater panel that I designed on Spoonflower, the whole thing came together in under 10 hours from start to finish . . . and that's including hand-sewing the binding. Not bad at all for a baby present, and you just know that if this weren't my first quilt it would have gone even faster.

Wouldn't this be adorable gifted along with a Trinket knit in coordinating colors? I think I may have found my go-to baby present . . .

I'm sure you're wondering what the back looks like:

The back is almost a baby quilt itself! I sewed together the samples of the coordinating prints and then added the solid mint around to make it big enough.

In terms of actually quilting, I feel like this project almost doesn't count because the quilting itself was very color-by-number since all I did was sew around the design of the panel. You can see the quilting lines better in this picture:

(you can also see errant hairs in this picture . . . that's a fact of life in my house!)

As you can see, the "quilting" was super simple on this one.

I did use a walking foot for the first time (and learned that there is such a thing! and ordered one for my little Kenmore) and learned how to do the basting step, so I do feel like I learned a lot, but not really a lot about actually quilting if you know what I mean.

My binding is definitely not perfect. Some areas are thicker or thinner than others, and you can see the hand-stitching in places, but I know that no one would notice if I didn't point it out, so it's definitely good enough. Even though I hate the term "good enough" sometimes you have to go with that when it comes to crafting, otherwise you'd never ever finish anything!

I learned some things doing my first binding:

  1. Hand-sewing the back is kind of fun! It's zen-like in the way that knitting stockinette is. I sat on the couch, put on the DVR, and covered Arnold with the quilt while I did the hand-sewing. I had been dreading it but it was actually very pleasant!
  2. I suck at sewing binding strips together perfectly. No matter how many times I tried, the strips never lined up exactly right. In the end I just went with it, and discovered that it doesn't really matter. The uneven edges get eaten up by folding the binding over to the other side of the quilt. Next time I won't waste so much time trying to do it "perfect".

My next quilt will have "real quilting" on it . . . and yes, I've already started it. And yes, that means it's not the original gray-and-pink quilt either, it's yet another one! Last night I stayed up late piecing the squares and laying them out on my design wall, and this morning I started putting the squares together . . . here's a sneak peek:

I'm pretty much in love with it. I should be knitting but all I want to do is quilt!

Posted in quilting

Running before walking . . .

Posted on March 05, 2012 | 0 Comments

Like I mentioned in my quilt update post, I've already dipped my toes into the world of quilting fabric design. I often say that I like to "run before I walk" and this particular endeavor is no different!

What you see above is all the swatches I ordered from Spoonflower. When you're designing fabrics, if you add a bunch to one "collection" in Spoonflower you are allowed to order swatches all printed together, like this, which saves you money. Each swatch is only $5 to start anyway, which is really affordable, but when you want to order 10 or more fabric swatches it really starts to eat into your project budget! So this option is awesome in my opinion.

Let's take a look at some of the fabrics more closely, shall we?

This Grellow Robots fabric was the first one I did and everything else came from this one. Why robots? Because I was inspired by the "robot cheater quilt" challenge that Spoonflower is running this week. If you didn't know, they do a Fabric of the Week challenge every week with some type of theme to it. It's so much fun to see and vote for the fabrics, and I love the idea of the contest, so when I saw a theme that inspired me I dove right in.

Because the entry had to be done as a cheater quilt (ie a large piece of fabric printed to resemble a pieced top, so you can "cheat" and just do the quilting step) and the size was 42" x 36", I decided to go with a baby quilt design. The robots you see above were the starting point, and one of the all-over fabrics I started with before building up into the Cheater.

You can also see that I ended up doing two colorways, one grellow (gray + yellow) and one mint + grey + pink.

I thought it would be cute to do both regular polka-dots and also do gears-as-dots, and in the end I think the gears may be my favorite print. The samples came with the repeat incorrect (I intend this to be printed with the half-brick repeat), but you can see it the right way if you go to the fabric page on Spoonflower. Oh by the way, all these prints can be bought from Spoonflower if you're interested! (10% of the price you pay comes to me via Spoonflower)

The last design I did was a larger-scale zig-zag, shown here in the Grellow colorway. I think this one would be great for the back of the quilt! This one was the most work to design (well, not counting the cheater) because getting the repeat to work out exactly was really really challenging. I learned a lot from this one, let me tell you!

I'm guessing that after looking at all those prints you're very curious to see the cheater itself, right?

Here's the digital version:

And here it is printed up (and all wrinkled!):

I have to admit that when I opened the Spoonflower package, I could hardly believe I had designed this myself! I'm totally in love with it and absurdly proud of it. I took it with me to quilt class yesterday and acted like a proud momma showing it off to everyone who would look! Luckily it was received well and everyone seemed to like it, otherwise that might have been awkward . . .

To make this panel into a quilt I still needed a quilt back and binding. For the back, I went with the swatches:

I cut out them all out of the sampler and sewed them together in a simple grid. When I got to the shop yesterday, I bought a coordinating solid mint green and put that around these blocks to finish the back.

Since yesterday's class was all about the "sandwich" step of the quilting process, I decided to learn on this cheater. Here is the quilt during the pin-basting step:

I kind of hated this step to tell you the truth. Pinning safety pins all over the place was really boring and hurt my fingers! But thankfully it was over pretty quickly. And after this I got to quilt with a walking foot for the first time! So much fun and so neat to watch it happen.

In class I finished all the quilting and started cutting the binding. When I got home I finished sewing the binding and even did the hand-sewing on the back, and cut off all the extra threads . . . so this little quilt is DONE DONE DONE.

In my next post I'll show it to you . . . stay tuned!

Posted in fabric, quilting

Recent Posts