Synesthesia Quilt

I have epilepsy.  I’ve had epilepsy since I was 11 years old and it’s genetic.  Both my sisters have epilepsy as do other members of my family.  Among my sisters I have the most severe case.  It’s one of the reasons I’m permanent disabled.  I’m not resentful about it.  It’s just a part of life.  I honestly cannot imagine life without epilepsy I’ve lived with it for so long.  FYI I’m turning 35 in June.

On DeviantArt there’s a contest one of the members is holding.  All visual arts are accepted, be they crafts, cosplay, drawings, etc.  It just needs to be visual.  The theme is to take a word and create a visual depiction of it.  The title is the word, and the viewer must be able to see a clear image of said word.  We can choose whatever word we want, put the definition in the description of the work, and why we chose it.  In my case it’s “Synesthesia”.

After I have a tonic-clonic seizure (the link is to a video of me having a seizure; it may be considered graphic but I’m providing the information to give you an idea of what my seizures are like) I experience synesthesia for several days (or even a couple weeks) afterwards.  What’s synesthesia?

From Wikipedia: Synesthesia is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.  Full information can be read here.

In my case I see sound.  It can be overwhelming, especially considering it’s not something I was born with and only experience every once-in-awhile due to my seizures messing with my senses.  I hear and see sound for several days or even over a week.  Colors, shapes, patterns, they fill the room.  When I close my eyes I still see them.  Earplugs are my friend for the duration of the experience.  My favorite sound is my cat Cacoa purring.  It’s a soft brown triangle with waves of green moving in circles, the green being prominent when she inhales and fading as she exhales.  My other favorite sound is classical music with a prominent cello.  That’s a sound I can’t even describe.

For this quilt I’m using foundation paper piecing.  The pattern is from McCall’s Quilting and called Beacon Lights.  It’s a free pattern.  I’m not following it, just using the FPP block provided.  I used a tutorial provided by Teresa Down Under.  She has AMAZING tutorials; please go check out her blog.  FPP was really intimidating, even daunting, until I saw what she did with the Storm At Sea quilt block.  SO MUCH EASIER NOW!!!

The quilting will be done by hand, but I’ll do it in such a way that it doesn’t take away from the overall appearance.  I want the quilting to be background noise instead of being prominent.  The finished quilt will be three rows of three blocks.  It’s not large, and can work as table decoration, a wall hanging, or even a baby quilt.  I’ll have it listed on Etsy when it’s done.

I have videos of the WIP as well!  You can see them on my YouTube channel here.

I finally caved in and got a Smartphone via Credo in December.  Now I can make video and take pictures more easily and frequently.  My Instagram is WAY more active than my WordPress page, but I’m doing my best to remember to come by here and make a post more than once every six months.  My Instagram handle is ReneetheChaosfay.

FYI the featured image at the top of this post is a pincushion my mother made.  It’s an adorable penguin I’ve named Caesar.  If you know the story of Julius Caesar I think you’ll get a good giggle out of this.

 

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So many scraps…

I love scrap quilts.

When I was growing up my mother made a lot of scrap quilts.  I told her that I want one for graduation.  It took her four years to make it, I helped with the hand-quilting, and on graduation day the quilt was mine.  I was 18.  The quilt was “retired” over a decade later due to a lot of love.  It needs patching, but all the wear and tear will result in the patch looking very…wrong.  Currently I’m on a the lookout for a sealed quilt display case.  It doesn’t need to be large, but it does need to be sealed against dust, cats, spiders, moths, and other critters.  I want to show off the beautiful quilt that means so much to more to me than I can’t possibly put into words.  Right now it’s in a vacuum-sealed bag to keep it safe.

My love for scrap quilts is never-ending.  I’ve kept as many scraps as I think I can work with since I took up quilting three years ago.  My sister recently sent me all of hers.  I now have enough to make a lap quilt!  It’s strips because I have more of those than I do anything else.

For my new project I’m making a strip square quilt.  I cut a bunch of standard computer paper to 8.5″ x 8.5″ and am sewing diagonally across them with the strips, trimming the excess off afterwards.  Today I finished the first row.  Originally it was going to be 8 rows of 8 squares, but I’ve opted for 7 x 7 instead.

Thanks to Teresa Down Under for helping me figure out how to do this.  I had tried this before, but the blocks were so…flimsy and busy that I couldn’t get the blocks to meet at the corners.  It was a mess!  I watched a few of her tutorials and decided sewing to paper would save me a headache.  IT HAS!!!

What I’ve done is sew the blocks to paper, arranged the blocks to create a chevron effect, then sew them to each other one at a time, removing the paper from one block AFTER they’re sewn together, then repeating this to the last block.  All paper removed, all blocks pressed in one direction.  I don’t want to press the seams open but instead will nest the seams instead.  This will make lining everything up much easier!

Go check out her videos.  100% recommend!

After I finish this quilt top I have a few others lined up.  By a few I mean around half a dozen-ish.  I don’t have the funds to purchase any fabric right now, which means going through my stash to make a bunch of quilt tops.  After this quilt I think I’ll make a log cabin quilt.  I have others planned, but I just want to make some quick-and-easy tops for now.  Something to kill time while I wait for my Etsy inventory to be purchase.  Most of the quilts will be baby to lap size, but there are a couple larger ones as well.

I’ll take photographs when I finish the quilt tops.  This one will take only a few days to finish and already has a name: “Whimsy Sticks”.

Ideally I want to finish at least three more quilt tops before shopping for backing.  I have backing for my skeleton quilt, but that’s a personal project and 100% going to be mine.  What I need to focus on is making things I can sell.  “Cool Chill”, a baby quilt top I started and finished in a day, is hanging in my closet with the binding fabric of choice.  I’ll have at least five quilt tops done before I purchase more fabric.

Do any of you create a bunch of quilt tops before choosing which to make into a finished quilt?  Do you keep your scraps and make things with them later, give them away, or toss them out in the trash?  Do you enjoy scrap quilts at all?

Picnic Tea Party top finished

I finished the quilt top yesterday and it’s ADORABLE!  Perfect size for a picnic blanket.  I’ll be using a polyester batting to keep it lightweight and also fluffy.  Great for using like a regular blanket without getting too hot.

I used different FQ collections by Free Spirit as well as one solid.  They all look so well together I knew they had to be in a single quilt. There are 25 White House Steps Blocks, 12″ x 12″.  The pattern is from McCall’s Quilting and Quick Quilts 2012 ebook.

The backing is a batik in various shades of grass green with a fern print all over it, and the binding will be a solid brown.

I’m really proud of the results because it shows how much I’ve improved.  All the corners meet perfectly!  I pressed the seams open on the blocks, but pressed to one side when connecting the blocks and rows.

My husband is mildly terrified of all the prints, but the quilt isn’t for him.  I’ll be selling it on my Etsy shop when it’s done.

I also basted I Dream of Elephants yesterday and have started on the hand-quilting.  I won’t have it done by laundry day this week, but it’ll definitely be finished next week.  I’ll then immediately start on Picnic Tea Party.  This one shouldn’t take nearly as long because I’ll just be following the lines of each block for the quilting.

If I had the money I’d take this to a long-arm quilter or a quilting shop to have it done by machine.  Save me some time so I can move on to the next project.  Alas, I shall have to hand-quilt it instead.  I have a dark bright variegated thread for this, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the results.

As for my next project, it’s a Star Wars quilt.  My dream is to have Mark Hamill purchase it.  For those uneducated in Star Wars, he plays Luke Skywalker.  He’s also the voice actor for the Joker in various Batman games and cartoon series.  Oh, and he was the kidnapped professor in Kingsmen.

Binding Tutorial

My mother just put this AMAZING binding tutorial together for me.  Every binding tutorial I’ve found has been a bit fussy with my machine, and they’re really confusing for some folks.  Hopefully this helps you out.  It has certainly helped me!  Far simpler and less fussy than mitered binding.

Binding Tutorial From Mom

I’ve placed captions on the images so you can see what’s going on in each of them.  Hopefully the PDF file will download for you, but if not the captions should certainly help.

If you’re a little confused, she makes one long strip, sews to one side of the quilt, cuts, sews the parallel side, cuts, and does it again for the other two sides with an extra inch added to the ends.  It’s much easier than the mitered binding with its corners you have to fold twice, creating layers your machine might not appreciate.  I know my machine, which is AWESOME, doesn’t like mitered corners at all.

I recommend you use a thread conditioner for the hand-sewing.  It makes a big difference, and works better than wax.  You can usually find it in the thread aisle or near the cutting table at the fabric store.  For the hand-sewing/hand-quilting I never use thread longer than 18 inches.  The longer the thread the more likely it is to tangle.

Do you use a binding style or technique that differs from the more traditional methods?  Any tips you want to add?  Leave a comment!  If you have any questions feel free to ask.  If I don’t have an answer I’ll call my mom.

Baby Quilt and Haircut

I finished the baby quilt commission!  Well, I finished in last weekend, but it didn’t go through the wash until today.  A quilt is finished only after it’s been washed.  That’s when the details of the stitching show up!

The person who commissioned me LOVES it!  WOOT!  It’s 30 inches x 22 inches.  She wanted it small and gender neutral, and I think the results are beautiful.  The backing is a dark purple with light purple roses throughout.

It’s 6″ cut squares sewn in seven rows of five, a little less than half a yard for the backing, and I think about a quarter of a yard for the binding.  It’s really very simple, a great starter quilt, and excellent for scraps.

Also, I had my hair trimmed today.  The top is braided, the rest left loose.  Oh, and yes, that’s my itty bitty sewing room.

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Jasper approves of my haircut.  I had to sort of shove him away when he started licking the sides of my head.  He seems to enjoy the texture.

Raggedy Ann and Andy finished!

I have finally finished the quilt!  Cut, pieced, sewn, quilted, bound, and washed.  I’m so proud of myself!  This thing is so light and soft, and just downright adorable.  The Raggedy Ann and Andy print is 30+ years old, meaning gentle love and washing.  That may account for why it’s so incredibly soft though.

The process of making this was a great learning experience.  I figure out what techniques work best for me, how to measure properly, match corners, and what size of quilt my machine can handle.  I moved my sewing machine to my cutting table to make it easier, but it wasn’t enough.  I’ll machine quilt smaller items, but after this I’ll hand-quilt everything else.  Sure, more time and work, but less arguing and frustration for me.

Now here’s to hoping it sells soon!  You can check out details about the quilt, as well as the price, here on it’s listing at my Etsy shop.  I do ship internationally!

As for the pattern, I found it online with only descriptions.  No measurement of how much fabric would be needed, or a finished size.  Here are the details I figured out on my own.

It’s eight rows of eight squares, each square cut to 8 inches.  When sewn the squares come to 7.5 inches each.

Now I’m sort of guessing here, but the red and yellow combined are one yard.  The muslin is also one yard, which brings the print to I think one yard.  I always go with “better to have too much than not enough”.  The backing is 1.5 yards.  I purchased one yard of fabric for the binding and cut it into strips two inches wide and WOF (width of fabric) which was about 42 inches.

When I went to the fabric store and had it measured they told me I would need only 1.25 yards of fabric for the backing.  Turns out they were wrong.  I had to cut a good portion of two sides down in order to match the sizes.  That was a little disappointing, but I learned from it.

I’ll use a similar pattern next time I decide to make something this simple.  Instead of 8 inch squares I’ll instead go with 6 inch squares.  It’ll bring the size down considerably, but that will also make it significantly easier to quilt on my machine.  With the change it’ll also be less expensive for a potential buyer.

Seeing as I have finally finished this I can now work on Joanna’s quilt.  I didn’t like how it was turning out and have instead turned to using a pattern I found in a quilting book.  It’s a beginner pattern, simple, and with the fabric choices (same fabrics as before) it will look glorious!  The bit I did work on, before I improved so much with the baby quilt, will be turned into pillows, place mats or some other household items that will make this a complete set.  Nothing will be wasted.  Plus, after this is finished, I’ll have extra fabric leftover that isn’t used as well as a bunch of scraps for a future project.

Last, but not least, I now have a printer!  We’ve been without a printer for a couple years now.  Our old one broke in the summer of 2014, and getting it repaired ($150) would be more expensive than buying a new one ($100).  I printed out a lot of quilting patterns I’ve had saved on my computer, which now makes it so much easier to follow a pattern instead of running back and forth between my computer (located in my living room) and my sewing room.

Raggedy Ann and Andy Baby Quilt

I finished cutting all 64 pieces yesterday.  I didn’t have enough of the right blue or green so I went with red and yellow.  White fabric looked very off when set next to the print.  Instead I decided to use a creamy muslin.

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The print was originally a set of curtains I’ve had since I was an infant, making them over 30 years old.  By today’s standards they’d be considered vintage or antique.  I didn’t want to donate them, so instead I opted to give them new life.

For me these colors are rather boring, but I know someone, somewhere, will love this.

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I was squealing so much when I saw the corners meeting properly.  I’ve been trying to get this down for awhile now, and nothing was working.  After looking through the quilting books my mother gave me I decided to change my pressing technique.  IT WORKED!

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Seams are commonly pressed in one direction for one row, and the opposite direction for the other row.  I know that works great for a lot of people, and it’s the most commonly used technique, but it wasn’t working for me.  Splitting and pressing the seams works much better for me.  I’ve been far more successful at bringing corners together.  Only a small number were a little off, but only by about 1/8″ inch and only noticeable if you look for them.

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Here’s a closeup of what I’m talking about.  The red is pressed towards the red, muslin pressed towards muslin, and print pressed against print.  It was more difficult pressing the seams, but worth the extra work.  I also had to keep an eye on the side of the fabric touching the machine when sewing the rows together.  That makes things take a little longer, but I work quickly and it wasn’t a big deal for me.

The sewing and pressing took a total of three hours.  Not bad for a beginner!

The pattern is as follows:

Cut 64 6″x6″ squares of at least two colors, so 32 of one color and 32 of the other.  That’s roughly half a yard of each fabric.  In my case it was half a yard of the print, a fat quarter of red, and a fat quarter of yellow.

Sewing the rows together in eight squares x eight squares.  REMEMBER TO PRESS YOUR SEAMS!!!  After sewing a row go press your seams.  After sewing a row to another go press the seam.  It can be tedious but it is absolutely necessary.

I use a 1/4″ foot, which is really a time saver.  Every quilter should have one.  Nearly every pattern calls for a 1/4″ seam allowance unless otherwise stated.

This weekend I’ll be purchasing the three Bs: batting, backing, and binding fabric.

I don’t purchase bias for the binding.  Instead I purchase a fabric I like and cut it into strips.  Sometimes jelly rolls have just what you’re looking for and it’s already cut for you.  Make sure you have enough to go all around your quilt.  The way I do it is I add the length of all the sides together and then add an additional 18 inches.  It’s better to have too much than not enough.  There’s other methods for figuring out what you need, but this works well enough for me.

For this quilt it’s 40″ on all sides.  I’ll purchase just a yard and a half of fabric, cut it into strips, sew the strips together, and voila!  I have my binding.  Plus there’s the extra fabric for a future project!

Seeing as I got all the corners nice and neat I’ll be using the stitch-in-ditch quilting method with my machine.  I really want to play with the decorative seams on my machine, and this may be just the right opportunity to do that.  I’ll likely use a blue or a green thread to bring more visual interest to this.