field trip berkeley

Hello there!  Last week I had a fun outing with a fun and crafty friend, shopped, took pictures, and came home with some swag. Tinsel Trading Co. has been around for decades, getting close to the century mark, and was a favorite pilgrimage on my infrequent visits to NYC.  I heard they lost their lease (sad) and moved to Berkeley, CA, (joy!) less than an hour from my home. The Tinsel Trading Company is definitely one of my most favorite shops in the world. If you are visiting nearby San Francisco and have an extra day to explore across the bay, and if you are of the crafty persuasion, you won't be disappointed, I promise. This is one special store that is chockablock with vintage trims, appliques, buttons, ribbons, ornaments--the list is endless. Tinsel is special enough on it's own, but right next store is a fun jewelry shop called Favor and it's too cute not to stop in for a quick look, except we stayed too long and thus ran out of time to stop for lunch. Bonus: Acme Bread is up the block on the corner. Next, drive south on San Pablo for 2 miles and a visit to A Verb For Keeping Warm, an entirely gorgeous yarn shop with a beautifully curated selection of yarn: lots of Brooklyn Tweed, (they had his new Vale) some Tosh, Quince and Co., and their own beautiful yarns which includes the famous Pioneer, which I've used a few times and adore. Last visit I saw some Plucky, but didn't notice it this time. We ran out of time, but I'm going on the same pilgrimage with another friend next Friday and I'll double check. I'm hoping we'll have time to stop at Discount Fabrics, also on San Pablo, midway between Tinsel and Verb. If you get the chance to visit these shops, I know you won't be disappointed.

Below, a few pictures of the jewelry store, Favor:

A Verb For Keeping Warm is a friendly shop with fabric, yarn dye, and YARN! 

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baby animals quilt

The baby quilt is finished!  It is adorable and the kids were thrilled!  My girlfriends gave them a baby shower a few weeks ago and when it was opened, I confess to getting teary eyed.  I was so happy to see my son and his darling wife be so thrilled with the gift, knowing they were part of a 16 year old tradition.  My book club friends (of over 40 years) started making group baby quilts for our first grandchild of each of our children.  So far we have made 16 baby quilts and it's possible we may make one or two more!  Over the years my son has seen me be part of this quilt making process and it was fantastic to see a 34 year old man get excited about the idea that his baby was going to be part of this tradition. Sigh. I simply love this time in my life. The quilt is now hanging on the side of the crib, waiting for the little guy to be born!

A group baby quilt is not that difficult and can be made by women with all skill levels.  You may need one expert in the group to guide you, but not everyone needs to be good at sewing, just enthusiastic!  We like to give ourselves about 3 months to make a quilt. Below are the general directions:

To start, the new grandma-to-be and the new mom-to-be pick out a simple embroidery pattern from Aunt Martha's Transfers.  Usually the fabric store carries them, but if not, online shopping is easy. Tessa chose baby animals in cross-stitch.  Just for ease of making, we make all our baby quilts exactly the same: 12 embroidered squares connected with lattice strips and connecting blocks. However, they all look completely different because of their color choices and embroidery design choices. We've never made one that hasn't been adorable.

Go shopping: Next, with pattern in hand, head to the fabric store and pick out 3-4 fabrics: white for the blocks, a color for the lattice strips and another for the small connecting blocks, then finally the backing fabric. Use only highest quality 100% cotton suitable for quilting. The lady at the shop can help you figure out how much yardage you need.  Also, get a dozen or so DMC Six-Strand Embroidery Floss in at least 6 favorite colors.  Make sure you get black and red for the eyes and mouth if you are making animals.  You'll also need 3 packages of Wrights Bias Tape Wide Single Fold (do not get anything else, not even the quilt binding, trust me, the Wide Single Fold is best), thin baby quilt sized poly batting, and a spool of matching thread for piecing and one spool of white or off-white hand quilting thread. Also, everyone needs an embroidery hoop, several embroidery needles, several quilting needles, a threader, and a thimble.

The mother-to-be won't see the baby quilt again until it's finished!

Cut the Fabric: Machine wash and tumble dry all fabric.  Iron if necessary. Cut out the white squares large enough to fit the design, making sure to add plenty of extra room around each design--you'll trim them later.  Using the package directions, carefully iron on the transfer designs. 

Embroidery: We are 6 women and always make a 12 block quilt, giving each of us 2 designs to embroider, than later, to quilt.  Invite your friends over, hand them each 2 squares and enough embroidery floss for each design, plus needles and other supplies.  Give a little embroidery lesson if necessary.  Give them a finish date, usually two weeks is sufficient.  

Assemble the Quilt: Gather the finished squares from your friends and cut them to their final size, adding a 1/4" seam all around.  Cut corresponding lattice strips and connecting blocks, also adding a 1/4" seam all around.  Machine or hand stitch your pieces together, see photo below.  When your quilt-top is pieced together it is time to make your "quilt sandwich".  Lay your backing fabric on the ground, wrong-side up.  Lay the poly batting on top and smooth it out.  Lay quilt top over and smooth again.  Baste your quilt sandwich together with large basting stitches or basting pins.  Trim the backing and batting to within 1 inch of the top.  

Quilting: Set up a quilting schedule.  Each friend will choose a week in which she will hand-quilt two blocks and the surrounding squares and lattice strips.  Give a little hand-quilting lesson if necessary or send them to you-tube.  You may want to trace a quilting design lightly in pencil.  For this quilt, we quilted along 1/4" of every seam, and "free-handed" around each animal (see the close up of the ducky above.) The quilt is now gone for 5 weeks!  When one girl is finished, she takes it to the next girl and she works on it for a week, then passes it on, and so forth.

Binding: After all the quilting is finished the binding goes on.  Follow the directions on the package, and machine sew the binding to the edge.  Trim off extra fabric and hand sew the binding edge to the back.  Machine wash and tumble dry quilt.  It's done!  Can you imagine we've done this 16 times!  I like to think we are old pros!  It's fun and very sweet, and hope you'll consider making this one of your new traditions!  Note: quilts are very sturdy and meant to be used daily and washed often!  

The embroidered squares are back and ready to be trimmed to size.

The piecing is in process.

The quilt sandwich is assembled and basted with pins.  You can also baste with basting thread.

You can see the hand quilting has begun at the top of the quilt.

The binding is finished.

Washed and dried and ready for baby!
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