29 October 2013

In Stitches

Welcome to the Jungle

My goal a couple of months ago was to finish one WIP quilt this quarter. My overall goal was to have TWO quilts ready for next year's Denver National Quilt Festival -- far enough in advance I don't have to crank out the midnight oil to get something done on time.

Although it won't be for the Denver National Quilt Festival, I planned for Lizard Leftovers to be my next finish because the top is done and it's ready to quilt. It will grace our guest bed when done.

lizard leftovers

My plans changed when I learned my very dear sister-in-law would like to have Leaf Me Alone. (Donna, you have to stop reading now! Turn off your computer and go to work!)

I decided the quilt would be the perfect Christmas present for her.

Last week, I got an unexpected day off from work, and I decided to make it special. I decided to do as much quilting and sewing as I could and to try to top what I might have been able to accomplish on a Saturday.

First I pulled out Leaf Me Alone, which needed four more squares, I intended to do the yellow leaves next because yellow is my least favorite color to work with, and I wanted to get it over with. Unfortunately, I discovered I'm not well stocked in yellow fabric. I don't have two shades of yellow! (Yet... I did order another shade of yellow, plus another shade of orange.)

Orange was my next choice, and ouch! I didn't have two oranges, either!

So out came the reds.

I'm not a huge fan of red either (Busted! I favor cool colors over warm colors...), but holy cow, this new 26-inch by 26-inch square looks awesome. The green square could be my St. Patrick's leaves, and the red square could be my Valentine leaves! This third square was fun to do, and I enjoyed working with the two reds in my collection. Three down, three to go.

Oh, and I finished cutting out all the black strips for the remaining three blocks. That will make the next three blocks faster.

The Dress, and The Quilt-to-be

St. Patty's Block

Valentine Square

Instead of pulling out Lizard Leftovers after I finished the red Leaf Me Alone Square, I yearned to take a stab at creating my own batik. Snowflake batik, of course.

I had attempted solar dyeing on a pair cut dress panels of prepared for dyeing (PFD) fabric. Although I loved the splashy texture of the dye on the fabric, the finished fabric just wasn't what I expected. First off, I thought the dye would be bluer, not that anything is wrong with turquoise green. It just doesn't really epitomize the charisma of snowflakes, in my mind. Secondly, the snowflakes didn't make enough of an identifiable impression. What a letdown!

Solar-dyed Fabric

So I tried again by hand-painting wax snowflakes on the fabric, then briefly dipping the dress panels in my stinky indigo vat. I wore gloves, but one leaked. I was Blue Hand Luke for a few days...

The experiment, however, was a rousing success. I think I will have a new favorite dress when I finish hemming this!!!

Homemade Indigo Batik

Oh, oh, oh, and the technique works on T-shirts, too!!! I'm getting better and better at this batik stuff! I can't wait to try this process again.


Next, I decided it's high time I take a stab at the round robin quilt I began more than eight years ago, working name Square Robin.

I'd bought my first fat quarter packet to participate in an online row robin. I and four others in our to-be-assigned group would each make one row, then send our row and fabrics off to the next participant. Each of us, hailing from four countries and all over the United States, would make a row for five different quilts. At the end, each of us in the row robin (a round robin would be going on at the same time) would have a five-row quilt with five different personalities at the end of five or six months. I'd signed up for the international group because I thought the cost of mailing would be worth having a quilt with techniques from other countries as well as my own.

I bought my very first cutting board, my very first quilt ruler and my very first rotary cutter. I waited on pins and needles for the groups to be announced.

When the groups were posted, I searched the entire list, including the round robins. My name was nowhere to be found. I was beyond heartbroken.

I wrote the moderator and asked if there had been a mistake or if one group had not yet been posted.

The moderator apologized over and over and over again. She had inadvertently left my name off the list. She promised I could participate in the next one, which would be in six or seven months.

big round robin block

I decided not to wait, but to start my own round robin, or, well, my Square Robin. The plan was to do a new round every six months or every year, and each round would reflect my growth as a quilter. I made a 23-inch by 23-inch rail fence square using every color in my fat quarter packet, and then I put the quilt center away.

Six months later, I was dating the man of my dreams, The Lizard, and there was no time for or thoughts of quilting, other than a quilt for him for his birthday, which finally was finished about four years later. Because seven months after we began dating, I was forced to undergo emergency back surgery to remove a dime-sized bone chip that had become embedded in my sciatic nerve. I didn't sew much for a very long time. Sewing hurt too much. Sitting hurt too much.

Last summer, I joined a quarterly quilting WIP challenge on Ravelry because I have too many unfinished quilts on our quilt rack. I didn't finish any of the projects on my list last quarter because there just wasn't time for sewing.

Now that cycling season has been brought to somewhat of an end by winterish weather and the nights are getting longer and longer, I have a little more time for big projects. I didn't finish the next round on my round robin quilt on my unexpected day off, but I did make significant progress.

Square Robin Progress

If I had worked on this quilt the year after I started it, the next round would have been mariner's compass-themed because that's where I invested my limited quilting time that year. I never did perfect the skill, so I don't mind so much that a mariner's compass may not appear in this quilt. I'd rather it be flawless when I do it.

If I had worked on this quilt the following year, the next round would have been applique. I could do that without sitting upright, and I could even do it with my legs propped up.

If I had worked on this quilt the year after that, the next round would have been log cabin. I love the look and the versatility of log cabin inspiration, and the technique is rampant in my WIPs. Right now, I think I'll never get tired of log cabin variations.

When I began working on Square Robin again last week, I seriously considered doing applique for the next round because the center is so busy. I decided to do uneven borders with a multicolor hand-dye so the quilt will be rectangle instead of square.

My current fascination is French braid, and the greens in my stash jumped out at me when I decided braids would be the perfect next round for the quilt. My quilting taste has changed dramatically since I began this quilt. I now yearn for off-center, and when I was trying to decide what to do next, every idea I thought of incorporated some asymmetrical aspect. I plan to do one more strip of French braid for one side of the quilt, then another solid border all the way around. I don't know yet what I will do after that.

When I picture what the quilt might have looked like had I finished it four years after I started it, I'm really glad I waited. I plan to not work on it again for at least another quarter, but this round is so much fun, I can't guaranty I will be able to resist the urge to pull it out again before Christmas!

Learning to Quilt in Photoshop


  1. That is sure colorful indeed, really stands out. You went right to town on your day off, hopefully she stopped reading haha

    1. Thanks, Pat! I haven't heard a peep from Donna, so maybe she hasn't spoiled the surprise...

  2. It's a sort of Dream Quilt at this point....

    I never dared attempt Mariner's Compass. Too many long skinny tiny pieces!

    I am SHOCKED that you didn't take your one shade of yellow and turn it into three by dyeing it or altering it in some way ... what were you thinking? ;) I have in my time used the reverse of a fabric, taken a marker to a fabric and hand-drawn a print on it, or tea-dyed fabric, when I was short of the shade I wanted.

    Cool t-shirt! :)

    1. Why didn't I think of that, Sue?!? I could have dyed my own fabric, and then it would be even more special.

      I'll just have to keep that in mind for the next new quilt...

  3. Thanks for leading me over this way! I love the batik! I don't see me trying it anytime soon tho! Except maybe a blue sweatshirt with snowflakes!?!? Or a long sleeved shirt made from t-shirt material. NOOOO I have so much crocheting to do!


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