Thursday, February 19, 2015

Quilt #40: Little People Quilt, part 2

In my last post, I showed how I made the little people in this quilt. (If anyone knows the actual name for those blocks, please let me know in the comments!) In this post, I'll show how I appliqued the logo and tagline.

I've made one other appliqued quilt, and learned a lot during that process. I also learned some ways to make the process a little easier. For starters, I had the logo enlarged made into two engineering prints at Staples for $3.89 each.

Next I selected bright fabrics that matched the logo. I was able to find most of the fabric from our stash, but I did need to buy a tonal black. While I was at Joann, I also found the backing fabric with handprints, which turned out to be a godsend when I started working on the handprints for the logo.

One lesson I learned is that Heat N Bond Lite works better for me than Pellon Wonder Under for applique. Not only does it work better with with my Silhouette Cameo, but the appliqued material is more flexible and less stiff than when I use Wonder Under (as I did with the previous quilt). 

After ironing on the Heat N Bond and removing the white paper, I was ready to get started. 

The tree trunk was the largest part of the logo, much too large for my Cameo, so I cut out the trunk from one of my engineering prints.

I used my small 28mm rotary cutter to cut out the tree trunk. 

I cut out just the tree of the second print, and used it to center the tree trunk on the quilt. 

Once I was happy with the placement, I ironed on the trunk. I was a little nervous about this part, because all the other little pieces would be based on the placement of the trunk. 

The biggest challenge I had with the logo was finding a handprint that would work with my Silhouette. I must have tried eight or nine different handprints before I found one that worked. The logo I used from the school was too pixelated for the Silhouette. And you'd be amazed by how different handprints can look depending on how wide the fingers are spread. Finally, I had the idea to scan the handprint on the backing fabric. 

All I had to do was add the circle in the middle of the palm in my Silhouette file. Of course, none of the hands were the same size so I had to keep playing around with sizes. 

 I forgot to take a picture, but before putting the fabric in the Cameo to cut (my favorite feature!), I ironed on the Heat N Bond and left the paper on. Then I was able to get perfect little hands.

As each hand was cut on the Silhouette, I cut a circle around the hand on my print. I then lined the print up with the tree trunk to figure out where the hand should go. It was tedious, but it worked!

By the time all my circles were cut out, the quilt looked like this. 

At this point, I was starting to feel pretty good about my progress!

When I make a quilt, I usually don't tell the recipient until it's done, just in case I mess it up. However, this time I caved and contacted the school so I could get a high resolution logo and correct font for the words. Once I knew that the tagline was in Berlin Sans FB Demi, it was easy to make the letters with my Silhouette.

I started placing letters in the center and then moved outward, using a ruler to keep them in a straight line. 

I changed the font to Century Gothic and followed the same idea for the rest of the letters. 

One last bit of text using the negative space. I had to be careful not to lose the little tiny pieces  in the As and D. 

And the applique is done!

I used two borders to finish the top. I used 1.5" strips for the black, and 2.5" for the green.

Before making my quilt sandwich, I reinforced all the applique.

I bought a new toy before I started the binding. It's a 1/4" foot with guide and I love it! I've learned that I tend to pull to the left as I'm piecing and quilting, so I think my seams are going to look much nicer now. 

After some straight line quilting, I added the label and called it done!

I delivered the quilt to school the day before the annual art auction. It was really fun to see it up on the stage behind the auctioneer, and especially at the end of the night as students posted for pictures in front of it. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Quilt #40: Little People Quilt, part 1

It's a miracle! I'm back with a new blog post! I made this little people quilt for my son's school. I've had several inquiries into how I made it. And since I didn't want to forget, I'm writing it all down for our mutual benefit! A few fun facts. This quilt is made of 622 individual pieces (yes, I counted!), 63 different fabrics (I raided my scrap bin), and 19 different colors of thread!

Last August I went to the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo in Pittsburgh, where I fell in love with this quilt:

About a month ago, I finally got around to re-creating the block pattern. (If anyone knows what it is called, please let me know in the comments). 

The people on the quilt I saw were pretty small, maybe 5"x7". When I decided to make a quilt with these blocks for my son's school, I decided to make them a little larger so that I could have a little fun with their outfits. My blocks were 9.5" x 12.5."

Despite making 18 of these blocks, I had to make two additional ones for this post because I never took photos of the process, mostly because I made a mistake on every one! I'm glad I did, because my notes weren't correct. Now both you and I will be able to make these cute blocks without wasting fabric!

So, we'll start with the boy, because he's a little easier. After you cut out the pieces, I like to lay them out to make sure I have all the pieces.

The head is the most complicated step, it took me a few times to figure out the right proportions. This is a good time to note that if I were to make this quilt again, I would choose a white pattern that didn't have a direction to it. That would have saved a lot of time and fabric, as some pieces needed to be cut a certain way.

First, take one of your little .75" squares and place it in the corner of your skin tone square. I used four different skin tones in my quilt. 

Because the piece is so small, I didn't draw a diagonal line or pin the pieces together. Just sew from one corner of the white square to the opposite corner.

Repeat with the other three white squares. Again, if you are using a background with a directional pattern, make sure that all pieces are placed in the right direction.

Use your ruler to mark a 1/4" and trim the excess.

Repeat all around.

It looks a little angular at this point, but it will look better when it's all pieced together. ***Note*** The photos here show a 1" square. In the actual quilt I made, I used .75" squares.

Assemble the rest of the pieces as shown. When I was making the actual quilt, I chain-pieced, but here you can see each step.

The main difference between the girl block and the boy block is the dress. As you can see in the finished quilt photo, I varied from this design a bit with the ballerina, tree hugger, and Elsa blocks. One the music lover block, I actually appliqued her skirt so that the music would run across her skirt. Much of the fun for this quilt for me was customizing each block. That said, here's the basic pattern for the girl block.

First, lay out your pieces. 

At this point, I hadn't yet created the half square triangles for the skirt. I always seem to need larger squares than the expert quilters recommend, so I used 5" squares to create 3.5" HST. If your lines are better than mine, you may be able to use 4" squares. If I were to make this quilt again (i.e., had I not already cut a ton of 5" squares, I would have split the difference with 4.5" squares).

Once the skirt pieces are made, follow the same instructions as the little boy block. 

Here are some close-ups of a few of my favorites.

Superman was a big hit with the students. I put my Silhouette Cameo to good use on this quilt. I'm still figuring out how to break apart images for applique, so that little S took WAY more time than it should have. On the plus side, I could make another in 10 minutes!

The artist is an example of how much more complicated my people got as I got into the project. This block was originally a simple girl in a yellow dress. I made a straight line skirt, but didn't like it, so I took apart the block and made the traditional yellow block. Then I had the idea to add the palette. You can see how tiny the pieces were!

While I was making this quilt, we had a French teacher staying with us for a month while she observed at our son's school. Sandy's favorite color is green, so I chose this fabric to represent her. To give perspective on the size of the flags, the arm to the left is 1". 

The inspiration for the ballerina came when I was at Joann looking at ribbon. D's school has new performing arts teacher who has taught my boy to dance (!), so I wanted to honor Miss J. You can tell that this is one of my earlier blocks because it was made before I realized it would be much easier to make one long white side pieces instead of three smaller pieces.

The musician was my practice run for the letters I would need for the school name and tagline. 

And here are close ups of some of the others. 

Once the blocks were done, I was able to figure out what size the middle section needed to be: 36.5" x 36.5"

In part two, I will show how I made the the applique logo and tagline.

Linked to:
Fluster Buster * Moonlight and Mason Jars

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

11 years...

Today marks 11 years since I fell and broke my head.

I've written about it before here and here. With more than a decade of practice in not taking my health for granted, I've become more accepting of seasons when parts of my brain aren't working so well. I admit, that as a former professional writer, it's difficult when the ideas in my head no longer translate well to words on a page or screen. One of the reasons we started this blog--in addition to creating an album of sorts of our home building process and noting the ways we've turned this house into our home--is to simply remember my life. The fact that others have come along for the journey is just a well-appreciated bonus.

I realize I haven't posted an update this November. I can't tell you how many times I've thought about posting, or even sat down at my computer with a goal on sharing something that I've done recently, but the writer's block has been become a wall. It has taken me over thirty minutes to write this paragraph, including three trips to to help me find the word I wanted or at least was close enough. Frustrating!

If my words were flowing more easily, I would write more about our incredible two week trip that I highlighted with our day at the International Quilt Show in my last post. For our son, it was a dream trip. We visited the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Mississippi, and Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. The high point of the latter was getting a private tour from blogger friend and NASA employee Sarah.

In December, my days were filled preparing for Sinterklaas (and making gevulde speculaas), our son's birthday, and Christmas (including our Sparkle Box tradition). I finished a few quilts and other sewing projects, but mostly enjoyed time with my family.In January, in addition to ringing in the new year, I celebrated my birthday last week and brain-aversary today.

 It's taken a little longer to get back into a routine with 2 rounds of croup for my son in December and 3 snow days in January, but hopefully we are on track now. We have a new guest in our home, Sandy from France, who is observing at my son's school for the next month as part of her education. She will also learn about living with someone with a brain injury.

And so I begin another year of my new normal. Life in the slow lane is peaceful. I love my family and I am loved. On good days, I quilt and play board games and maybe even write a blog post. On bad days, I sleep and thank God for the parenting respite called "iPad." On my average days, I do what I can and give myself grace for the things I cannot. Every day, I am thankful for the life I have been given.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Astronomical Quilt Block Revisited

Several months ago, I wrote about a block I made for the the Astronical Quilt Block Challenge. It was really fun to combine my love of quilting with my son's love of space.

When we made plans to take our son on a tour of NASA facilities this year, my only request was that we timed it to be in Houston for the International Quilt Festival, the world's largest quilting event. It was on my bucket to go someday, but with the NASA quilt blocks on display, I really wanted to go this year!

I also figured that it would be easier to get the boys to spend the day with me when they had things like this NASA display. 

Our first pleasant surprise happened when we learned that astronaut Karen Nyberg, who came up with the idea of the challenge, was going to be attending the festival the same day as us! We had a few hours before Karen's talk, but we couldn't help but start with the block exhibit. About a month before the deadline, I read an article stating that over 600 blocks had been submitted. Imagine our surprise when we learned that over 2,200 came in! Rather than seeing one big quilt, as we expected, a team of quilters put together 28 panels of blocks! There were also five albums of blocks that were either late or the wrong size, but still on display. 

I was wondering how long it was going to take to find my block, when my eagle-eyed hubby alerted me to surprise #2: my block was on the same panel as Karen's!

Karen's block--the one she made while she was on the ISS--is the red, white and blue one on the bottom.

What is especially fun about the placement of my block is that it is easy to spot on all the different photo ops with Karen, like this one:

Source: NASA
Then came surprise #3. As we were admiring our panel, a woman nudged me and quietly said, "You know, Karen is here." To which I replied, "Yes, I know! My 5-year-old son loves NASA and we are so happy that we were able to come on the same day she is speaking." The woman smiled at me and said, "No, I mean she's here right now, over there." I looked over there and saw Karen standing with another person from NASA. I pointed her out to my son, and he immediately ran over to her saying, "Miss Nyberg! Miss Nyberg! Excuse me! Miss Nyberg!"

She looked over and smiled at our son. He introduced himself and asked if he could show her our block. When she said yes, he took her hand and they walked over to our panel. 

After chatting about his dreams of being a rocket scientist, others noticed Karen and we moved on to admire the other blocks. 

One block I was happy to find was that of my new blogger friend, Sarah from

I wish I had thought to take full photos of all the panels, but fortunately, Cindy Campbell did. I took a ton of pictures of my favorite blocks, which can be seen, along with other photos from the show, on my Facebook page
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