Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival: voting ends today!

Today is the last day to vote on some amazing quilts at the Blogger's Quilt Festival!  In case you haven't voted in these categories, and would like to vote for mine:

Entered in the Bed Quilt category. 

Entered in the Art Quilt category.

Also, my Cesarean quilt (above) was nominated for the viewer's choice award (eeek!!  thank you all so much)--so if you'd like to vote on it for that award as well, you can do that here.

I'm glad I participated in the festival this year, it has been very inspiring to see so many amazing quilts and blogs!  I'm continually grateful for such an encouraging blogging community!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ready for binding!

I did more ripping of stitches, and am definitely happier with the way things are looking!  I decided the biggest problem with the peacock feathers (aka plume feathers) is the top part--it just doesn't fill the area well, or look very pretty.

This is one of the nicer ones, actually.

So I played with the sketches I had done earlier and figured out a way to make them work...more ripping of stitches, and then some more quilting, but here's how they look now:

I decided not to add any other quilting (for now!), and instead trimmed and squared up the quilt:

I hated to trim off that much, but it helped that I knew I would have to since sandwiching it.

The fabrics were no where near square, so I didn't have anywhere good to start, so I used the compass--I wanted the points to be due north/south, and then squared the quilt around that measurement.

Next is binding and a hanging sleeve, and figuring out where to sneak in a label.  My favorite side of the quilt has changed several time throughout making it, first the grey, then the pink, and now the grey again.

Which side do you like better?

Monday, May 27, 2013

More Quilting

After my last post, I decided to just dive in and get the second star quilted...even though I was second guessing the design.  When I finally flipped the quilt over to see how everything was looking, I really didn't like it...pulled it off the machine and started ripping out the stitches.

The front--I like the way it looks on the floral fabric.

The back--I do not like the way it looks with the elegant feathers and border curves, plus it emphasizes where the points don't match up well on the front...just looks sloppy on the back.

It is so frustrating that 20-30 minutes of quilting can take 3+ hours to rip out!  I wish I had remembered to try doodling the pattern on the drawing I had first.  So once I was ready to figure out a new quilting pattern, I tried it out on paper and then scraps first!

Side A shows a bunch of doodles for various parts of the quilt.

Side B shows mostly sketches for the pink star.

I finally decided on the peacock feather design from Angela Walters.  I have been trying to find a good place to quilt it for months/several quilts now!  After sketching a few I tried quilting them on some scrap sandwiches (also to make sure my thread tension was right):

This is my junky practice panel--a bunch of practice designs and curves to test the tension with different feet and threads (I used three colors and four different brands, ugh).

Other side for contrast.

Then I got out another practice quilt to try a bigger feather on:

I added some extra filler lines to test out more new threads.

The peacock feather on the actual quilt went okay, I am still debating adding some more accent lines.  It just doesn't seem fancy enough?  I don't know, they didn't turn out as nice as I wanted, I guess.

These feathers are about 12" long, which is a little difficult on a domestic machine.

It took me forever (okay like a week?) to finally decide on some filler quilting for the negative space (between the stars).  I knew I needed to break it up, and came across a mariner's compass pattern by Green Fairy Quilts that I added first.  And then I found this great video on a swirly-McTavishing design that I knew was perfect too!  I've never done a McTavish design on a quilt.  But on my thread/tension testing, the Gutermann (pink) and the Super Fine (black) didn't play well at all doing free motion, so I decided to just use the pink thread on both sides.  Here's my test block:

I had to piece together the last of my pink scraps, but wanted to be sure the pink thread on pink fabric lived up to my expectations!

And my Mariner's compass went smoothly using my walking foot.  I really hated to use that foot since it requires rotating the quilt like a million times, but so worth it for the super straight lines!

The swirls and McTavishing went mostly well, but on a few of the swirls I tried adding extra lines (to look like a shell, maybe?).  But when I finally finished and looked at the quilt laying flat, the swirls with the extra lines just looked congested, too busy.  And kind of ugly in places.

Here's one of the better examples.

The one on the *right* is one of the not-so-good (okay, terrible) examples.

So, hurray, I'm done quilting!  But now I need to rip out the extra lines in the swirls...hopefully it takes less than 3 hours this time.  Once that's done I'll post a full-quilt photo!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Work in Progress Wednesday(ish)

This quilt (last updated here) continues to be difficult to figure out.  So, here's the how far I am on the Lone Star quilt:

The grey is Kona Charcoal

The pink is some random stuff someone gave's probably a polyester/cotton mix.

I think I know how to quilt the star on the pink side, but am kind of second guessing myself.  And then next is all the negative space, which I have been trying to plan out for months!  Ugh I hope I figure it out soon, I just want this quilt to be done!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival: ChrisBobSquarePants

This is my first year participating in the Blogger's Quilt Festival!

Pattern is LynneBobSquarePants by Lily's Quilts.

I made this quilt for my older brother's birthday gift this year.  I let him choose the pattern from a few I had pre-selected.  I got some guidance/ideas on colors from him as well.

The back--he loves airplanes.

I had a hard time figuring out the right way to quilt it.  I wanted the front to have different quilting in the light and dark blue squares and the back to have flowing lines.  I think I managed to find a nice compromise!  I free motion quilted it on my Janome MC6300 using Aurifil 2605 (medium grey).

You can see the quilting a little better here.  The airplane acted as a glorified quilt label.
Please excuse the dust and stray threads.

I'm glad it went to family, I love this quilt and will enjoy seeing it every once in awhile!

Size: 80" x 97" (queen)
Paper pieced airplane on back
Quilted by me, Renee Hoffman
Category: Bed quilts
Fabrics: Kona Navy, Salt Water Tula Pink, Salt Air by Cosmo Cricket.

You can see the other quilt I entered in the Festival here.

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Cesarean Quilt

This is my first time participating in the Blogger's Quilt Festival, yay!  I made this quilt two years ago, but still love to share it with as many people as possible because of the response I get from women that have also gone through a traumatic birth.  I'll list the stats first and then dive into the process since I'm sure a lot of people are not going to read through all of this!

Size: 38" x 65"
Ticker tape/raw edge applique
Quilted by me, Renee Hoffman
Category: Art quilt

The back
You can see the other quilt I entered in the Festival here.

Now here's the story of this quilt:

The birth of my first was a typical cascade of interventions, that I was led to believe were the only good options.  I have since done a lot of research and realize that I was lied to, scared into agreeing to things (induction, c/s, etc), and the staff was vastly under educated/experienced in natural birthing.  And that hospital has a 50% c/s rate (compared to the national 30% rate and the 10-15% recommended by the World Health Organization).

Drawing the outline (you can see some blue marks on the left).

I was able to have an amazing home birth with my second with no interventions, despite the labor also being slow and my daughter being in an unfavorable position.  But my midwife was amazingly knowledgeable and experienced, and there was never any fear or worry.

First I tried pins to hold them in place (terrible), then I read to use a glue stick--genius.

I created this quilt as a way to work through my emotions from the cesarean section (c/s).  I was mentally and emotionally devastated by the c/s, and every time I tried to discuss it with my then-midwife she would brush it off and tell me I should focus on the fact that I was healthy and my son was healthy.  That happens to a lot of woman after a traumatic birth experience, as though being told that will magically make their mental and emotional pain go away.  Telling a woman that just makes them feel worse, and completely invalidates their very real emotions.  The goal of a good birth should be the physical AND mental health of both baby and mother (and father, my husband was fairly traumatized by the c/s as well).

At first I used my walking foot to sew them on, rotating the quilt around every corner.  Then I got out my free motion foot and things went way, way faster.

When I started preparing myself for a vaginal birth after the cesarean (VBAC), I found a new home birth midwife (the same one that delivered me, my twin brother, and younger sister!).  She suggested I work through my emotions from the c/s by writing them down on papers and then burning them, or saying how I felt out loud and dropping flower petals in the river.

The workspace.

One night after talking with her I fell asleep designing this quilt as a woman releasing her pain to the wind.  Letting them go.  I had been wanting to make a ticker tape quilt for a while, and the method was perfect what I wanted.  A fractured mosaic of a woman, with a million pieces of herself and her raw emotions.

I worked in small, maybe square-foot sections: cutting fabric to fit, glueing and then sewing it down.

As I worked on the quilt, I put together a list of words that I associated with my c/s.  Then I asked my husband to do the same.  Then we talked about all of them together.  It was a really good way for us to both open up about what we went through and our lingering feelings.  We had some overlap, but also some that were unique.  I found it very interesting to see that I had chosen some negative words that were exact opposites of some of his positive words (such as ungrateful vs grateful).

I should point out that is not supposed to be blood!  Red is a powerful color, and it carries a lot of meaning for me.

I chose to quilt the words onto the red pieces using my free motion foot...which required relearning some long forgotten cursive!  There are more than a few "typos"!  I put the darkest, most raw words in the dark red pieces, closest to the woman, with the more hopeful, happy, light words on the light red pieces.  I wanted the words to change, to evolve from pain to hope.

Quilting on the white space.

As I quilted in the words, I thought of more and more.  I think in the end there are over 70.  For the first time I am sharing a photo of all of them, since I know so many other woman can relate:

The words read: raw, pain, drugged, disconnected, scared, induced, overwhelmed, disappointed, numb, dread

exhaustion, induced (again? oops), sadness, anger, weak, frustrating, regret, fear, powerless

powerless, taken, worry, damage, guilt, failure, shellshocked

scar, wonder, sight (uh, what?), love, drained, separated, invalidated

ungrateful, unnecessary, relieved, nauseated, blame 

sterile, boy, apprehensive, happy, vulnerable

grow, amazement, grateful, healthy, VBAC

forgiveness, courage (it's hiding!), feminine, safe, warmth

strength, warmth, feminine, active, trust, Renee Hoffman 2011

knowledge, support, closeness, opening

birth, fulfillment, natural, experience, fertile, whole

excitement, nervous, communication, joy, healing, alive

I'm glad I am finally revisiting this quilt and able to share it with more people.  When I first made it, I felt protective of it, it was so raw and personal.  But now I just want to share it, to let other woman know that it's okay to feel unsatisfied with your birth experience.  It's okay to be sad, angry, hurt or disappointed.  It doesn't make you a bad person or a bad mother.  You are entitled to your emotions, and you should find an outlet for them--honor them!  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lone Star revisited

While spray basting another project (a spoon flower doodle game--you can see the process I used here), I finally decided to get out my lone star quilt and spray baste it as well.  It was my first time using a spray basting (Dritz, because it was on sale), and everything went smoothly, though I do not like all the sticky residue.

As far as I got last time I worked on it.

I spent a little time working on a quilting sketch today, and then transferring/repeating it onto the quilt.

I traced the outline of one of the stars and then use a pencil to try out different ideas.

I added some more lines, and planned some free motion feathers.  Once the kids were in bed I got to quilt on it finally!  But you know how something weird happens when you're quilting/sewing and you don't realize why until later?  Well for no reason my machine made very small stitches in one area, as though the feed dogs weren't working correctly, but it passed quickly.  Then I decided I should actually clear off my sewing table, instead of just pushing things out of the way when the quilt drug them around...and found this: 

Whoops!  Quilted that right in.  

Haha, yeah, note to self: clean tables off before quilting a sticky quilt.  Anyway, I'm quite happy with how it is progressing!  Here's where I finished for the evening:

I am quilting on the pink side with black thread, and have pink thread in the bobbin (it's flipped over so you can see both sides in this photo).  Not exactly easy to get the tension just right.
But now I am not sure what to do next...hoping for some inspiration while I sleep!