Disclaimer: “quarantine” is technically not the right word because I am not sick, thankfully. But sewing a quarantine quilt sounds so poetic, doesn’t it? Megan of Designing an MBA wrote a really fantastic blog post a few weeks ago about making “art babies” during self-isolation. Yes, it’s a weird way of putting it, but her post really resonated with me as permission to start a BIG project. Especially with the very likely possibility of staying home for multiple weeks, I knew a big project would keep me motivated, healthy, and clear-headed.
So as soon as the stay-at-home order began, I began pulling fabrics for the quilt that’s been rattling around in my brain for quite some time now.
I have many fabrics that I just love, especially my happy/cutesy Japanese prints, and sometimes I worry I’ll never get the chance to use them all. I’ve long considered a quilt to show off my favorite prints, and I realized there will be no better time: this is my art baby, QUILTID-19.
I’ve been saving aspirational quilts to my quilty Pinterest board for years, but these are the three that inspired me most for this project:
I made stacks and stacks of fabric, combing through all of my cottons for everything bright. I’m aiming for super saturated jewel tones. I ended up excluding the blacks and grays of my initial pull, as well as green, sticking to five main color groups: hot pink, red-orange, yellow, turquoise, and cobalt.
I did so much ironing, and then I cut squares for hours. Quilting is tedious but it’s also fun because so many of the steps are mostly mindless. And I’m using fabrics I really, really love, so it feels great to get to work with them.
The most consistent theme of my quilty Pinterest board is TRIANGLES. I am strongly drawn to triangle quilts and have always wanted to make my own. I’m still somewhat intimidated by the thought of lining up the points on equilateral triangle quilts, and I didn’t want to have to worry about cutting out something other than squares, so this time it’s half-square triangles (HSTs for those in-the-know).
Before I could start sewing blocks, I had to make one more big decision: random, like inspiration image #3 above, or rainbow gradient like the Alison Glass quilt (#1)? I was strongly leaning towards random – it seemed easier and more fun – but I laid out some sample squares to check my gut. And I’m so glad I did. The picture above shows the drastic difference in impact between the rainbow-sorted blocks on the left, and the random blocks on the right. Rainbow wins, hands down.
Finally, with most of the planning out of the way: the sewing can begin.
If you’re working on an “art baby”, I’d love to hear about it! And of course, if you’re making your own QUILTID-19… please share!
Click here to see all the posts about my Quarantine Quilt, QUILTID-19.
Even before all this practice, I’ve always been fantastic at self-isolation. There are very few things I love more than hiding inside with a pile of projects and sewing away, with occasional breaks for yoga, walks, or snacks.
So it should come as no surprise that this is what my sewing room table looked like a mere 48 hours into enforced isolation. I cut out a quilt! I made cushions for my mid-century lounge chair! And I made a very happy new couch pillow.
The front is a fabric I snagged as soon as it was released, llamas as part of the Stencil collection by Ellen Baker for Kokka. I never buy fabric online, so this was a rare exception!
As usual, it was hard to cut into one of my favorite fabrics… but, as always, I’m so glad I did because now I get to look at the pillow every day, instead of the fabric sitting buried in a bin.
I made my own piping using store-bought bias tape and some tiny cording that’s meant for Roman shades. I feel like piping elevates a simple project like this pillow so much, and it’s really not that hard with the right tools. I finally caved and bought this set of piping feet… it makes all the difference in the world.
The back fabric is a remnant I brought back from Japan on my recent (pre-pandemic) trip. I’m really happy with the way the colors coordinate with the llamas without being overly matchy.
I can never hide a happy colored zipper, so I left this one exposed rather than using a lapped installation as a couch pillow “should”. No-rules sewing! I’m such a rebel.
Especially when I’m spending so much time at home, it’s fun to change things up. I’ve been wanting to make new couch pillows for ages, and this one adds such a nice dose of brightness to my white couch! Are there any overlooked home projects that you’re diving into with this extra at-home time?
I often sew in silence, but lately I’ve been listening to audiobooks from the library, or watching through classes from the Bluprint Creative Care Package. Bluprint is offering unlimited free classes through April 9 to help with social distancing. It’s free to sign up, you don’t even need to give a credit card! Jen Hewett has a new block printing course for Bluprint and even though I’ve taken her class in person, I’m planning to listen through it to soak up even more the second time around.
Full disclosure, I am a Bluprint affiliate, but I’m also taking advantage of this special they have right now and I’m excited for the opportunity to learn some new tricks.
Two summers ago, on a visit to Ohio, my mom and I accompanied my aunt and uncle on a stroll through their local farmers’ market. We sampled some scones, picked out some produce, and saw many wonderful doggies, but what I remember most about that day was a pair of shorts.
I saw a girl about my age wearing the most adorable shorts. They had an elastic + drawstring waist, but they were made from a navy fabric with a floral border print that elevated them from “gym shorts” all the way to “dressy shorts”. In a rare moment of nerve, I approached her, gushed over how cute her shorts were, and asked if I could take a picture so I could try to sew them later. She was more flattered than confused, and didn’t even seem to think I was weird (although perhaps it was just midwestern kindness).
This all took place a few weeks before my move to Florida, and I knew similar shorts could play a huge role in my Endless Summer wardrobe. Who am I to refuse a super comfy pair of shorts that doesn’t make me look like a bum? Needless to say, for the past 1.5 years I’ve been on a mission to create my own version of the Canton Farmers’ Market Shorts.
My “house pocket shorts” were a step in the right direction, and my second pair sewn from Simplicity 1887: the pattern that I hoped would be the one. My first pair from S1887 was a navy rayon, sewn as a wearable muslin. They came out really big, but the flowiness of the fabric + the magic that is elastic made them work for the most part. I knew the chambray of the House Pocket Shorts wouldn’t have much drape, so I made those in a much smaller size for an exact fit.
After two very different pairs, that pattern went back in my binder and the Canton Farmers’ Market Shorts went to the back of my mind as I journeyed around the world.
When I got home from India, of course my sewing room closet wasn’t quite ready to accommodate the enormous stack of fabrics that I had acquired. So they stayed in the open, displayed on a shelf for inspiration. And inspiration they were… because one night, as I was falling asleep, I remembered this fabric and realized it could become some wonderful shorts.
I used my trusty Simplicity 1887 again, and cut oversized to allow for full comfy-ness and because this cotton has the perfect amount of drape. I elasticized the whole waistband, which made the front a little bit funny until I added extra tacked down pleats. I also put two minor darts in the back. The pleats + darts allow me to have the flowy culotte look I was aiming for, without weird puffiness near the waistband.
I didn’t have much extra fabric, but I did line up the pattern pieces carefully for appropriate flower placement. With such a big motif, I wanted to make sure I didn’t end up with a round orange flower like a target in the center of my booty.
The pocket fabric is another blockprinted cotton I brought home from Jaipur, and I can’t believe how well it matches the flowers of the main print. I let a little bit of the pocket lining peek out for a faux-binding look.
The jury is still out on whether I will add a tie-front, but otherwise these are done! I finished them over the weekend and immediately celebrated their wearability with a stylish beach walk.
And now, back to sewing with plain white.