Thursday, February 23, 2017

Easy Things and Others, Not So Much

I needed a break from tedious, really careful work so I started on a simple quilt that will be a gift for an old buddy. Random Ohio Stars, a free pattern from Bonnie Hunter:

The twelve 12" stars are done, now I need to make 13 more 6" stars and I'll also make two 3" stars.  I  must say, those 12" blocks feel huge to me, so much bigger than I usually deal with.

Then there are the four flying geese for Temecula's Wild Goose Wednesday project.  I love flying geese and always make four at a time.  Their size is 6" x 3" but after making a few of those I scaled down to 4" x 2"--I like this size much better:

I am getting a bit tired of my "Lifetime Leader/Ender Quilt" so decided to start joining it together. These are 1.25" finished Half Square Triangles, read more about this project here.  This is about one quarter of the finished quilt, I think. The Front:

The Back, more careful pressing is still required:

This week I've been free-motion quilting on Stella's Splendid Sampler.  Not the best quilting ever but this will be one of those "finished is better than perfect" quilts, full of love. There is a long way to go yet.  Here are  a few shots:

Stitch in the Ditch with the Line Tamer ruler

More Stitch in the Ditch

Stitch in the Ditch done

More Stitch in the Ditch


More Free-Motion

Today I picked up "Stars in a Time Warp" from the quilter, Mechelle Armstrong of Magnolia Longarm Quilting.  She did a great job and I love the wool batting we selected, soft and with lovely loft.  I am eager to get the sleeve made and then sew it and the binding in place.  The label is ready and waiting:

Tomorrow I teach all morning, Saturday I teach all day, Sunday afternoon is a Quilt Show meeting I am involved in--when will I get more quilting done?  Next week...

And the next weekend:  Stella herself will be here--can't wait!  She is 22 months almost, scrumptious!

 She eats really well:  hummus, tomato, cucumber, peppers, yum!

Let's Quilt!


Friday, February 17, 2017

Basting a Quilt for Machine Quilting--and the Giveaway Winner

If you are going to machine quilt a quilt on your home machine, you need to baste the three layers together.  When we hand quilt, we most often baste with thread, large stitches basted in by hand across the surface of the quilt.  But with machine quilting you would be sewing in all those threads, then have to remove them, or they would get caught on the presser foot, so thread-basting is not a solution for machine quilting.  Most quilters use safety pins:

For a small quilt, I often just use straight pins until the basic grid quilting, like stitch in the ditch, is done.  But on a large quilt that wouldn't work:  the pins would come out or, worse, you'd get bloody sticking yourself as you manipulate the quilt through the machine.

Here is my process. (I know there are other methods, spray basting, basting guns, etc.--this is how I do it.)  First, I need to find a room with tables that will fit my quilt--no crawling around on the floor for me any more.  If you have access to a church Fellowship Hall,or a business or community center lunchroom, see if there is a time you can use that space to baste your quilts.  After teaching a class this morning at Patches & Stitches, Huntsville, AL, I put 3 classroom tables together to baste Stella's Splendid Sampler.

The back was pieced from two lengths of fabric, after removing the selvages, then the seam was pressed open.  I carefully laid the back out, RIGHT SIDE DOWN.  I centered the seam on the middle table.  I used small plastic clamps to secure the back to the table, clamping firmly but not stretching the back.If you don't have clamps, bulldog clips, also called black binder clips, often work.  At home on my dining room table I use painters tape.

Luckily, most of the back fit nicely on the table, the left and right sides hang over about 6-8":

Then I gently added the batting:

Twin Size Batting is somewhat larger than needed
 This is my favorite batting. Quilters Dream Cotton batting, Request weight, the lightest. It comes in white or natural, use white if you have a predominately white background:

After smoothing the batting carefully across the back, keeping the left side even with left edge of the back, I spread out the quilt top.  This whole process is much easier with another set of hands but it was only me so I did it myself:

An important point:  I didn't intentionally center the seam on the center of the quilt--it pretty much happened by accident.  For a competition quilt, I would have carefully lined up the center seam of the back with the center of the quilt top.  NOTE: For a larger bed quilt, the back would have been made from 3 pieces, about 40" across the middle, and two pieces sewn to either side.  OR I would use a wide-goods back, 108" or wider--then you only need the length of your quilt plus a bit for the back. This quilt is 81" square.

How much bigger is the back and batting than the top?  If you are quilting it yourself, on a home machine, with a fairly flat/thin batting like this, 4" extra all around is enough--at least 85" in both directions for my quilt.  If you are giving your quilt to a longarmer to quilt, they need 8" extra all around, this means, your quilt top plus 4" extra on the left and right sides, 4" extra on the top and bottom edges.  The thicker the batting, the more back and batting you need beyond the top.

Once I was satisfied I had the quilt as flat and straight as I could make it, it was time for the safety pins.  I was afraid I would run out so I placed them about 7" apart--they really should be closer, about 3-4" apart.  As I plan to stitch in the ditch first, on either side of all the turquoise sashing strips, I purposely did not put any pins in the 1" finished sashings.  Once the stitch in the ditch is done, I can remove all the rest of the pins to quilt in each block, whatever I think that block needs.

Put the safety pins in BUT DON'T CLOSE THEM, until all the pins are in place.  I did run out of pins when I got to the borders, I'll add more once I get home. For now each block has a pin and there are a few in the borders.  After ALL the pins are in place, remove the clamps that have been holding the back securely flat on the table:

Now you can close the pins. On a large quilt there can be more than 300 pins and that can be tough on your hands.  I used my hands but you can use a grapefruit spoon, a chopstick or a Kwik Klip tool:

Once all the pins are closed, turn it over to the reverse side and check to see if there are any pleats or tucks.  If there are, now is the time to fix them.  If you forget to fix them, you will sew them in place, just ask me how I know...

Stella's Splendid Sampler Back

Next one in line for machine quilting
Basting is not my favorite part of the process--having a friend or two to help makes it go faster--but you can do it yourself.  If your quilt is larger than the tables you have, after doing the middle portion on the table, close those pins, and slide the quilt to the side, do that side, close the pins, carefully slide the quilt back to the remaining side, and complete the basting.  Now you can quilt it!

And it's time to announce the Giveaway for the Sew-A-Long.  The Random Number Generator selected number 2:  congratulations, Donna D!  We'll get together soon to give you the prizes.  Thanks to everyone who posted their photo.

Let's Quilt!


Monday, February 13, 2017

Stella's Splendid Sampler

Happy Day--Stella's Splendid Sampler top is done!

I first wrote about this last February when the project first started:  The Splendid Sampler.  At that time, the Facebook group numbered just over 10,000, today, at this moment, it's at 25,622. That doesn't include the people around the world who signed up by email.  Pat Sloan and Joan Davidson can be very proud of the project they put together with a lot of work, effort, planning and coordinating of more than 80 designers.  A book is due for release soon.

My quilt, by the numbers:  100 blocks, 2757 pieces, 132 different fabrics, finished size 81" square,  I replaced 6 blocks, one with a "bonus" block that was provided, and 5 that I drafted or added myself.

This quilt is for my beloved grand-girl, Stella LeAnne, who is only 20 months old now but will move up to a "big girl bed" later this year.  As I worked on this, I thought it is possible she will take this to college years from now, it's not overly childish.  Time will tell.

What I learned from this: First, this is a mystery project--if you don't know what the finished quilt will look like when you start, that's a mystery.  Not everyone does well under those conditions--if you want to plan everything from the beginning, this isn't for you.  I was surprised at the number of embroidery blocks, though I shouldn't have been, we knew there would be lots of techniques introduced.  There were some true beginners who tackled this--I hope they learned a lot and weren't discouraged.  There was so much support online by the various designers, every skill level could learn something.

Had I known what it would look like before I began, I wouldn't have made it.  BUT I'm glad I did--I thought of Stella with every block and I hope she will like it.  Here are my favorite blocks:

I created the BB block, my grandma name, and the Coneflower I hand-appliqued while on a family beach vacation with Stella in August:

Her "surprised" face she did on command and her PopPop

This embroidery block I simply colored with crayons and heat set.  Loved the design, didn't want to spend weeks sewing it. 
 This embroidery block took me 3 weeks to complete, I do like it but, 3 weeks--I just couldn't get motivated to finish it.

 I substituted this block with a 6-pointed star--Stella means "star" in Italian, and added the embroidery

 I liked the design of this simple sawtooth star and interesting border treatment

 This was the first block with embroidery and I liked how someone added fabric to the "quilt", and colored the face and toys with crayons--I learned I could do that.

 I substituted this block I created for one that had 3 black birds on it--I love flying geese so just drew the paper pattern and made 3 "geese"

This heart block was one of the many paper pieced blocks and one I'll use again--it would be great for those gift quilts made to show love to a friend in need.

Here is Stella having a look at  her quilt in progress in October:

Here are the fabrics I started with:

I intended to use the large print as borders, having saved it after making Smitten:

BUT, a couple weeks ago I saw a wonderful strip-pieced border on Bonnie Hunters' blog and thought "What a great way to use up these fabrics!"  So, how come I seem to have just as much fabric left from this project as when I started??  I added more and the scrap stash just seems to grow.  See what I did with some of the scraps here:  Baby Quilt.

So, it's done, except for the quilting which I will do myself.  Now to baste it and get started.  And I have plenty of projects to get back to now.

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Baby Quilt

So, what do you do when Stella's Splendid Sampler is done, except for block #100, which will be unveiled tomorrow?  The pieced borders are done, the floater borders are cut and waiting, the entire top is pieced together except the last row, even the binding is made and the backed is pieced.

And what  do you do when your  cutting table looks like this?

Because you cut far more 1.5" strips for those pieced borders than you needed?  And you remember you have a baby quilt to make for a new arrival this summer.  What DO you do?

I looked through the photos of quilt designs I've been saving, and found an antique quilt in this pattern, fast, easy, strip-piecing which I enjoy, the perfect solution.  So I got out the phone books I use for strip paper piecing,  The pages measure 8.5" x 6.75", perfect!  I cut them in half, 4.25" x 6.75", just the right size to cover with 6 strips of fabric:

Measure from the 3" mark at the center, trim to 6" x 4"

Remove the paper after trimming
 It took some simple math to figure out what size to cut the squares needed for the next step:  3.5" yellow print squares cut in half for the short triangles sewn on both ends of the fabric strips, 5"  light polka dot squares cut in half for the large triangles sewn on both sides of the blocks:

Trim to 7"

Then it was playtime, moving the blocks around until I liked the layout:

Sew them together, add a border, call it done:

And look what was left, still LOTS of strips:

AND a bunch of 4-patches, made while assembling this baby quilt.  I'll use those for another quilt, like this:

Now, the studio is cleaned up, and I'm ready for tomorrow, when I can finish Stella's Splendid Sampler.  All in all, a very productive day.

Let's Quilt!


Friday, February 10, 2017

Sew-A-Long Link Up Party

Welcome to our first Sew-A-Long.  If you missed the other parts you will find them here:

Part 1 Introduction

Part 2 The Shoo Fly

Part 3 The Old Italian Block

Part 4 Setting Your Quilt On-Point

Part 5 Finishing Your Quilt

Now it's time to see what you've been doing.  And hold a Giveaway!

Link a photo of your finished quilt top to the Link below and be entered to win this:

The gift includes:

One of my favorite books, Quilts!Quilts!Quilts!
A previous year Quilt Art Engagement Calendar featuring my quilt Joyful Journey
A package of marking pencils in lots of colors
A 1" x 6" Omnigrid ruler
A bundle of 8 fat quarters of Metallic Fabrics--very glitzy

If you are unable to do the link-up, email me your photo and I'll post it for you.

The winner will be announced next Friday February 17, 2017--good luck!

Let's Quilt!


Thursday, February 9, 2017

What's Under My Needle

Yesterday I put the final stitches in Rajah Revisited:

This was the 2016 BOM from The Quilt Show.  It's 68" square and very cozy.  I love the back fabric--bought at the annual Patches & Stitches New Year's Sale, buy 1 yard, get 1 yard free--I buy almost ALL my backs at that sale.    The quilt was beautifully quilted by Deanna Plotts, a Huntsville long arm quilter.  She used Feathered Curls, one of my most favorite pantographs, and sized it small scale to fit those small pieces.  All in all, I really like this quilt.  While working on this kind of heavily pieced quilt, I often just want it done.  I was at this stage with this one, but now, seeing it finished, I'm glad I persevered.  The center panel came from Quilt and Textile Collections.

What else am I doing?  Stella's Splendid Sampler is almost done--later today I'll make block #99 of 100.  I started the pieced border, designed to use up a bunch of the fabrics in this quilt.  Here you see the process and the huge pile of 1.5" strips I cut.  Looks like there will still be lots of strings left:

The Sunday Sew & Sews met last Sunday to discuss the Halo Star Medallion, Month 2.  In conversation, I learned something new and great to know:  Shelia mentioned she uses her Ipad to print the pattern pages.  That had never occurred to me, I just print from my computer in the studio, and run back and forth across the house to the office where the printer is.  Amazing!  I can print from my Ipad too--it's all on the same network.  I LOVE to learn new technology.  No more running back and forth to check the paper.  The lightweight paper often feeds better one sheet at a time, this tip will be such a help.  Thanks, Shelia!

Be watching tomorrow for the Link Up Party to go live--I am eager to see if there are more than the four people I know for sure who did the Sew-A-Long.  There is a Giveaway for those who post a photo of their finished top.  Of course, if the quilt is finished, that is extra special.

Let's Quilt!