Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to Crafty

Let's just call the last month and a half of silence a Summer break and get this thing rolling again.

Life has been keeping me busy with future planning at work, future planning with the Florida & Caribbean Chapter of SLA, and a little future planning at home. Unfortunately, all that future planning didn't leave me much time or desire to reflect on what's happening in the here and now. I'd just like to take a moment and update what few faithful readers I may have left on my current crafting project.

Back in 2003, my mom thought it would be a great idea to make matching Christmas pj's for me, my sister, and her. Aren't we cute?

For the next few years, she continued this tradition, expanding her repertoire to include my nieces, sister-in-law, brother, dad, and husband. After a few years, it was just too many pajamas. A while back, I started thinking about all that flannel going to waste in her drawer. Florida climate being what it is, there isn't much call for long sleeve flannel nightgowns even in the dead of winter. She was glad to make room in her drawers and gave me her nightgowns to turn into a quilt.

You probably thought I was going to post a picture of the completed quilt next. Fooled you!

I finally have all the squares cut from the three nightgowns. Can I also just say at this point that I detest cutting fabric. I'll even go one step further and say I loathe cutting fabric. I am convinced I am not an avid quilter simply because of the amount of fabric that one must cut before sewing begins. So. There you have it. I also have additional fabric from another year that I didn't even bother cutting plus a pair of pj pants that Jeff no longer wears, but with over 300 squares, I think I'm good for now. I didn't really think about making a tutorial for this until I was just about done with all my cutting, so bear with me a bit.

The first step was deconstructing the nightgowns to get the most use of the material without loosing my mind. I decided to just cut off the seams rather than rip them out. I started by cutting up the sides, cutting off the sleeves, and cutting the shoulder seams. I didn't bother trimming off the hem of the sleeves or shoulders, but I did cut off the neck line. The finished product looked something like this:
I chose to make 5 inch squares for my quilt mostly because of the the width of the sleeves (just over 15 inches at the narrowest point). I wasn't too concerned with grain and all that since I'm using scrap fabric. Just make a straight cut somewhere, and go from there. There are about a million tutorials online for cutting fabric, but I found this one on Make and Takes pretty useful.

Oh, and since you're using old nightgowns, be sure to iron the fabric really well after you detach all the seams and before you start cutting your blocks.

I started with the sleeves, cut long strips 5 inches wide and then cut the strips into 5 inch blocks. For the body of the nightgown, I folded the fabric in half to create a straight edge before trimming. While folded in half, I cut the material into the 5 inch strips. I layered these strips on top of each other (I only did 2 layers) and then proceeded to make my 5 inch squares. Twice as fast, twice as fun? Maybe. All of the scraps, I set aside to make my 1 inch squares. I followed the same method to do the inch squares, but they are just tinier. Here are my piles of squares:

Each nightgown gave me over 100 5 inch squares, but your results would all depend on the size of the nightgowns and the size of the squares you cut. I have no idea how many 1 inch squares I'll get because I'm still cutting them. Did I mention my feelings toward cutting?

I am now working on sewing together the 1 inch squares into several mini postage stamps quilts so that I can imbed them in the quilt. I am using a denim quilt I made many years ago as a model.

That's me, my sister, and dad a million years ago. You can see that the seams are frayed and fuzzy. I chose this method since flannel is nice and cozy, will fray in a similar way as denim, and you rarely need anything any thicker than a single layer quilt in Florida.

Here is the process I am using for the postage stamp portion of the quilt. I did a little geometry and figured that I would need to make these 8 x 8 squares with a little less than a 1/4 inch seam between each block. That gets the square down to the 5" x 5" size so that I'll be able to sew them easily into the quilt. Here we are in process and with my first completed block:

You can see on the right, the last row I've already sewn the blocks together. I am doing this part of the sewing by hand (I'm pretty good at judging the 1/4 inch seam allowance). Sew the blocks WRONG sides together (I know, it's a bit counter-intuitive) so the seams will be on the top of the quilt. My sewing machine is a bit... persnickity, and I didn't want to deal with the hassle. You can see how much the size of the block shrinks after you sew it. Once all the rows are sewn in this method, I took them upstairs to iron them. Alternate the direction of the seams so the rows will fit nicely together. Sew the rows together wrong sides together with the same size seam on your machine that you used while sewing by hand. The completed block is on the left.

I am taking the time to arrange each block, but as you can see, since only about 1/2 inch square is visible after everything is sewn together, you can pretty much just combine the blocks in any way you wish. I haven't quite figured out if I'm going to make the completed quilt 10 x 10 or 8 x 8. We'll have to see. I was hoping that I could submit it to Joann's Quilt Your Colors Contest since my mom did buy all the fabric at that store. After reading the entry requirements, though, you have to show the receipts of purchase. I doubt that she still has those :-) Besides, this will be more country comfort than work of art.

I'll be sure to post pictures when I'm done. Hopefully before Christmas.


  1. So, if it's a single layer, is it still a quilt? Wouldn't it be a bedspread, or a patchwork something-or-other?

    That's a lot of squares, no wonder you haven't had time to post. I'm not a fan of cutting out fabric either, and you have to be so CAREFUL when cutting shapes for patchwork. I also used to think I hated sewing, but I found out when I bought my new machine, that it was my sewing machine I hated.

  2. Good point. We'll call it a throw :-) And I totally know about the sewing machine frustrations. Mine has been less than agreeable the last few sewing projects I've done.