Thursday, July 29, 2010

Christmas in July: Anna's Throwing Stars

Magnetic Poetry®. Gotta love.

Finishing a Christmas present in July. Gotta love that more.

At the beginning of the day I'd just outlined the central star.

Back, including view of basting threads

I set to work, hoping to finish quilting today. I don't have a walking foot, didn't follow lines or a pattern, just set the presser foot to a light setting and ran the machine in all directions and doodles. Poor baby got really hot about 2/3 through, so I gave her a rest and cut bias binding instead.

I used scraps for the binding and cut waaaaay too much. Oh well! Future string quilt, maybe?

Trimmed and awaiting bias application

My bias maker and I are on very good terms. Makes things soooo much easier!

Please excuse the quality of the photo above. I forgot to consider humidity when taking the picture, but I was so eager to snatch the last glimmer of light before sunset!

Amoeba-like, I think :-)

For my first major machine quilting project, I am SO pleased with the way Anna's Throwing Stars turned out! I love the contrasting turquoise thread because it's so evocative of Anna's personality. I learned a lot about what my little Kenmore is capable of and loved seeing the project come together so quickly!

Last night I watched a documentary on origami that was inspiring and fascinating. The interplay between art and science, technique and anarchy, resonated with me as a fabric artist and reflects my experience with Anna's Throwing Stars in particular. The following is a quote from the film by Paul Jackson (of--BONUS!--Tel Aviv):

The process of making is the point of it. The object looks good if the process felt good. This needs to be a kind of ballet. And this is what I try to with my work, to take it to an edge of something - because that's always where the interesting things happen.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I'm excited about my antique block pinwheel quilt. Check out my design plan:

To make the quilt oblong, I've chosen four fabrics that have a similar feel to the antique blocks. These will be added to the top. The idea is that you pile pillows at the head of the bed anyway, so the pinwheels with their dimensional yo-yos will be seen while the plain squares are tucked away.

Fabrics for the plain squares

Although I was originally intending to hand-stitch everything, I went ahead and did the plain blocks on machine. Then I decided to take a risk with the antique blocks...

VoilĂ ! They did fine on machine! Next step is to iron and chop the long length of muslin I pre-washed for the rest of the sashing. (In the photos above, I used leftover scraps off the same bolt.)

One of the projects I wanted finished this summer was Anna's Throwing Stars, a quilted throw consisting of my friend's favorite fat quarter pack. I did a bit of research before cutting the batting and backing. When I went to lay out the pieces--WOW! The backing is just the right size! Don't you love when that happens?

So now it's hand-basted and I've begun to stitch in the ditch, outlining the center star, thanks to a bit more research on how to adjust the presser foot on my machine, etc. Pics to come as progress is made. I'm not following a lot of the recommendations for machine quilting, but then again, what did people do before walking feet were around? And spray adhesive? Something like this, I suppose. They made do with what they had, right? Anyhow, I'm excited. :-)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stitched History

Time is quickly ticking down to the end of summer and the beginning of inservice days. As such I'm having quite a bit of satisfaction seeing that I've accomplished many things on my summer set list (as well as a TON I didn't even dream of doing!) One of those items, finished yesterday, was painting my parents' porch! After I peeled off the last bits of latex from my skin, I took the opportunity to photograph a sampling of stitched history around the house.

First machine-sewn American Girl dress, created under Grandmother's tutelage using a McCall doll pattern. I was eleven. In the photo above, the dress lies on top of the cedar trunk made by Granddaddy. The cedar came from my Papaw (mother's father) but was fashioned by my father's father to hold my American Girl doll and all her accoutrements.

Basket square pillow, put together as a Christmas gift to my mother. The square was hand-pieced by my mother's mother (daughter of Lillian, after whom this blog is named), and I appliqued it onto the pillow I constructed.

First quilt, part of a 7th grade pioneer project. For the project, my father helped me make a wooden rope bed for my American Girl doll. To go with it, I hand-stitched a pillow, mattress and quilt, all stuffed with polyester fiber.

More American Girl clothes, both hand-sewn and machine-sewn without patterns.

Mini Raggedy Ann and Andy, created by my mother. Each doll's face is about 3.5 inches in diameter, not counting the hair. Raggedy Ann bears penciled scars from my childhood play.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kimono Table Runner

What would you do if you were given a roll of vintage Japanese kimono cotton?

Make a super-simple table runner, right? Just hack off a length, hem the ends and wrap it up for a wedding gift without taking photos, right?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yo-Yo Tutorial

The artist of Lillian's Stitches can now be found at Walking With Feathers.

This one's for my friend from high school, EMParker :-) She requested a yo-yo tutorial after this post.

Before I put together my own tutorial, google found the following:
I also give props to this book that I picked up at my neighborhood thrift store.

You will need:
  • Fabric
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Marking device--water soluble pencil, tailor's chalk, marker, etc.
  • Circles to trace!

Circles from l-r: flask, dessert plate, German incense burner

When deciding how big a circle to trace, keep in mind that your finished yo-yo diameter will be half the size of the diameter of the fabric circle.

Gather your materials and you're set to go!

Step 1: Get ready to trace! Iron fabric, work on a hard surface, etc. Place your circle on top of your fabric.

Step 2: Trace or sketch about 1/4 to 1/2 inch around your circle. Here others recommend making a cardboard template. I like to skip this step and just go directly onto the fabric because (a) I'm not that persnickety, (b) it's just as easy to use a piece of fabric for a template, (c) it takes more time and (d) yo-yos are EXTREMELY forgiving!

Fully traced circle

Sketching other circles

One-fourth inch around the incense burner

Step 3: Cut out your circle!

Step 4: To make multiple yo-yos of the same size, take the original circle you cut out, layer it on top of another piece of fabric, and cut around. Pin if you want precision, but again, here's where the forgiving nature of yo-yos is so fabulous. Perfection is NOT required!

Circles of different sizes cut from templates of one another

Step 5: At this point you'll need your needle and thread. I'm using contrasting thread for fun and visibility. You may want to use coordinating thread because a few stitches will show on top.

With right side turned away from you, fold down about 1/4 inch of fabric towards you and insert your needle, making running stitches. Folding creates a finished edge. If you like the look of raw or frayed edges, don't fold.

As you stitch, keep in mind that you will be gathering the yo-yo with these stitches, so no need to make them tiny. The yo-yo will pucker as you go around. Again, a precise 1/4 inch is not necessary.

Step 6: Sew all the way around. Poke your needle up so that the thread comes out on the right side and begin pulling up your stitches. Pull tight so the thread doesn't show. Your yo-yo will look kind of like a puff ball mushroom!

Step 7: Flip your yo-yo to the back and flatten with your fingers, then flip and center your hole.

Flattened, centered front

Step 8: Pull the thread as tight as you want and pinch where it comes out. Stitch three or four tiny stitches to anchor your thread in place.

Anchoring the thread

Ta-da! You are done!

The following photos and captions describe variations and show contrasts between finished products.

Variation: longer stitches, half-inch turned down

Smaller stitches, 1/4 inch on left; longer stitches, 1/2 inch on right

Finished sizes

Finished sizes--backs

Happy making! :-)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Yo-Yo Pinwheels

I brought my antique blocks and yo-yos on my trip. Cousin and I worked side-by-side on different projects. Hand-stitching yo-yos to the centers was mine! Planning stages pics here.