My husband says he’s going to have an intervention. Over the past two weeks, he’s on multiple occasions accused me of not listening, of “getting a lost look” in my eyes, which he says he knows is me working out a problem… a quilt problem. And he’s right. Quilting has turned out to be a mathematical mindfuck.

Aside from the challenge of working with two different block designs and making sure that once sewn, they both end up the same exact size because I planned to alternate them in rows, there was the challenge of figuring out how much yardage to buy for the quilt back. How many times did I scrawl on a piece of paper a 45-inch by 72-inch rectangle to represent the two (not enough!) yards of tiny floral print cotton I purchased for the back, deduce that I needed to cut strips that were 60 inches long to sew together to make the length and then cut strips that were 50 inches!? This is what happens when you try measuring and cutting while two small people demand sippy cups instead of big-girl cups, water instead of milk and yogurt-covered raisins in the GREEN BOWL, MOM! And yell at me for picking the wrong fucking episode of Scooby Doo and not being able to work the Netflix remote. So my first lesson learned here in this phase of quilting is measure three times, cut once. And of course, use the green bowl.

For the quilt top, once Skye (benefactor of said quilt) and I figured out what we wanted our blocks to look like, I cut like a thousand pieces and laid them all out for her and told her to make 8 nine-square blocks and 7 diamond-in-square blocks. So I made the kid work for it. And she loved it. After I stitched each one, she ironed them. Once we had our 15 9-inch by 9-inch blocks, we laid them out on her bed, and I decided to piece them together in a grid defined by 3-inch-wide strips of this awesome white-on-white polka dot fabric I’d bought. We liked the contrast of the white strips so much we decided to make the entire border in the same fabric.

The bigger the quilt top got, the harder it was, of course, to sew. So after much layering of pieces and smoothing, I pinned every three inches or so on the seam. I learned my lesson because inevitably the fabric will get away from you and fly all over the place as you sew, which is why you must roll up the left side of the quilt to make it easier to move across the machine.

Anyway, we now have a fully assembled quilt top. Next up: assembling the quilt and well, quilting! IMG_0667



Wanna Be Startin’ Something’

IMG_0620Last week I launched a blog. But why, at 36 and in 2016, when there are millions of DIY blogs written by crafty mommies would I do this? Well, for starters, every good name I ever came up with for one had already been taken. So I put it off. Because I do that. Then I discovered a list from last year stating that one of my “goals” for 2015 was to “start something.” Which I didn’t really do, unless you count streaming workouts (also a required activity for 36-year-old moms). Anyway, I’ve been meaning to start blogging my adventures in crafting and home projects mainly to document my own mistakes, so that I (and perhaps others) can learn from them. When I get into a project, I don’t always prepare or have the right tools, and I ultimately learn by trial and error.

My goals for 2016: slow down, learn how to make pizza dough, and start quilting, with the ultimate goal of making a quilt for my 5-year-old’s bedroom. I’ve yet to slow down. The pizzas are tasting pretty good. And a few weeks ago I took an intro to quilting class to learn some basic quilting skills. We made a pillow, which was beautiful, but for the steep $65 price of another class, I decided I could purchase a few materials and essential tools to get started at home. My mother-in-law loaned me the Betters Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Quilting, and I was set. It contains so much clear-cut, useful information, but the main takeaway I got from that and the class was that you can start with a block. It could be a block that is the centerpiece or a block you’ll repeat over and over again. So I asked Skye (pictured) what she most wanted on her quilt, aside from like, every color in the rainbow, and she said, “Butterflies.” Damn, now I have to learn applique, too?! Eh, I’m always up for a challenge.

Wanting to do this as simply as possible, I decided to applique a butterfly inside a white diamond shape enclosed by four corners to make a large square (approx. 10 by 10 inches). I measured and cut the size of each corner to be about 4 by 4 by 5 inches, leaving about 1/4 inch to spare for the seam. I then faced all right sides together, as though cutting an X through a box and opening each piece to reveal a full square underneath, although the longest side of each triangle should be 1/2 inch longer than each square side. To see how to properly sew a diamond into a quilt block so that you can connect it with other blocks later, I recommend this video.

After sewing and pressing all the seams smooth, it was time to applique.IMG_0616 I used a precut butterfly form, and snipped all the curves so that I could fold it (not well, mind you) around the curve and press. The worst part, and this is what the book recommended, was hand-basting the seam closed. I did this as I ironed, which I thought would save time, but it still took an hour to hand-baste one single butterfly. Who has that kind of time?! Once complete, I tried affixing it to the square using different stitches (like a zig-zag) on my machine, but it didn’t look uniform enough around the curves and I ended up hand-stitching the entire thing to the diamond. Then I removed the hand-basting, and voila, I had a pretty cute, not perfect, first block! The true test of success? Skye’s smile when she saw it.