Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lessons Learned

So, I've spent the past days working on two projects (dinner napkins for a friend and a baby quilt for my brother's baby who is due in June). Needless to say, focus is not exactly my bag--one project at a time?? Who wants the limited excitement of working that way?? Instead, I've cut fabric for one, then the other, reworked them both a dozen times and am finally making some headway.

A couple of things that became clear to me:
1) Why quilters talk about stashing in fat quarters and half yards (but never plain quarter yards)--It is extremely difficult to have enough fabric for a good repeating pattern using such a thin strip. In a half yard, you can make your own fat quarter, and fat quarters make for better (read: bigger) scrap pieces when you're finished. If you find a fat quarter you like, buy it. If you find a bolt of fabric that you like, buy the half-yard, make your own fat quarter and save yourself the heartache of reworking your pattern to fit the fabric you have.

2) Why quilters don't prewash-- If you've worked out your fabric based on yardage and know you have enough to make it work, it is incredibly disheartening to prewash and see those calculations go out the window because of shrinkage. I'm wondering, though, why that shrinking isn't an issue in a finished quilt. Any ideas? I lost up to two inches on a couple of my pieces.

All of this learning isn't the reason that I've made so much headway on my napkins and not on my quilt, but it certainly makes the project that will be finished in fewer steps a little more appealing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

planning, scrapping, planning...

I have truly re-conceptualized the quilt I'm planning to make for my brother's new baby about 100 times. I think this may be because I don't actually have a pattern but have sort of made one up myself. (This could be brilliant or disastrous!) Thankfully, my closest fabric store will let me return fabric, so as the plan changes, fabrics go in and out of my return bag. Once the dust settles, hopefully someone else will benefit after my returns appear on the remnant shelf.

In other news, I've heard from one of my scrap swap partners! (Hi, Monika!) Ms. Sara at SewSara put in some crazy hours to organize, and I can't wait to see how it all pans out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Questions, questions, questions

One of the major hang-ups about being new to this whole crafting thing: fabric. Is there any limit to what kinds of fabric one can use for quilting? Can people make clothing out of quilting cotton? Any thoughts on cotton versus linen for quilt backing?

A specific dilemma: I found some great tablecloths at a recent estate sale; they looked to be linen, but now I realize they are polyester/cotton. I had thought that I would use the fabric to cut down to napkin-size, dye them, and embroider them to become the new napkins for our friend's wedding gift. Question being: can a poly/cotton blend be useful for a durable, nice, formal napkin? Are they going to last? Are they going to pill? Are they going to dye well?

Is there some source for answering these questions? An online bank of knowledge would be tremendously useful.

Finding time

At the moment, our house is in a state of flux, and isn't that always how it happens? We've welcomed a new girl and are trying to figure out life with three Tinies under the age of five, and with her arrival, somehow, there's been a fresh spark of "Man alive, I would love to make something!" Anything, really, would do.

In my mind, though, I have a list about five timely projects long, starting with some napkins for a friend who is getting married in April and running the gamut through one just-born daughter of a friend, two expected babes in April and September and my first niece who is expected in June! Lots of baby things to make! The one that I'm really most excited about is my brother's daughter. Her mom, like me, is partial to colors other than pink, so the quilt I have in mind for her is bright and colorful. Hopefully, both my brother and my SIL will like it.

That said, all of these babies (mine and the other expecteds) are not the end of the "excitement" around here; two weeks ago, it came to light that perhaps a move was in our future. Yesterday, it became apparent that the future is here! We will be moving in the next four to twelve weeks, and not moving locally, but relocating back to our roots near both sets of grandparents three states away. Certainly, this is a welcome and timely change as chaotic as it may make our lives in the meantime.

So, my question is this: Is my desire to start a quilt in the middle of all of this a crazy example of lunacy and denial? Or do you think I could pass it off as wise advanced planning (in a delusional, deny-ing sort of way?)