Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Playing with Rulers

It is so much fun to free motion quilt (FMQ) using rulers. Some people call the plastic devices used for this purpose "templates", which is probably more accurate. They are used to quilt around as a guide for the quilting designs, they are not used to "measure" anything like a ruler typically does.

Hand Quilting on the right, FMQ on the left

This quilt has been languishing since 2013. I did Stitch in the Ditch on all the black sashings, then hand quilted simple shapes along the top row so I could bind the quilt and attach a hanging sleeve. I have taught this X Block quilt several times since then, always intending to get back to the rest of the hand quilting each time I brought the quilt hone from the shop after class. Realizing that was probably not going to happen, I decided to FMQ all the remaining blocks so it can be done now, not years from now.  I have a Tutorial on this block here.

There are eight blocks in each row. I am quilting one row a day, only seven more days to go and this quilt will be done. And, sometimes, "Finished is Better than Perfect". Here is how it's going:

I LOVE this Line Tamer ruler for Stitch in the Ditch (SID).It's by Four Paws Quilting.  The channel is 1/2" wide, the right size for my Bernina Q20 Ruler Foot #96. If your ditch is straight, it works great.

 After stitching the X with the Line Tamer, I use this Sew Steady 12" arc template to do the curves on the triangles. There is Handi-Grip on the bottom of the template to help prevent slipping. It works great.

The outside triangle edge is longer than the two inside edges so I made the outside line deeper than the other two. I suppose I could have made them the all the same but I like this look. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.
A finished block

The back:

A busy back is the machine quilter's best friend, until you get REALLY good.

Like most things, there are a few rulers I find myself using a lot, the others I have to think about how to use. Here are most of mine:

Here are a few more photos of Ruler Work from the Random Ohio Stars quilt I wrote about here. These were taken after the quilt was washed and dried:

And the finished quilt:

Let's Quilt!


Monday, May 1, 2017

Halo Star Medallion--Month 5

This month we continue making Curved Flying Geese blocks, another 18 of them:

Once you have all 36 curved flying geese blocks made, you are ready to piece them into left and right and top and bottom borders. I pressed the seams of the blocks open, that seemed to work best for me. Refer to the diagrams on page 4 to be sure you are joining the blocks in the proper order.

Then, using the chart in the Month 5 instructions, you will calculate the size your "floater" borders need to be to make the center of the quilt fit those borders. Measure carefully, don't fudge, just figure out what size "floaters" are needed to make it all fit together. There are no extra points for having the same numbers Sue had--I don't, I'm off about 1/2" now. Just don't tell anyone. As long as your quilt is nice and square, all will be well.

The tips for making the Curved Flying Geese blocks are the same as last month, find that post here.

You don't want to rush this but I think you will find how much easier these are to make than you thought they would be.  One of the newer quilters in the Sunday Halo Sew and Sews, Donna D, was so tickled with how well her blocks are coming along, she sent me a photo:

None of the 14 members of this little group consider themselves "expert" quilters, and a few are really pretty new but all are doing great things with this project and are pleased with all they are learning. As I say often, this is one of those quilts that deserves your best work so take it slow, and put your best into this one.

As I made the first 3 borders, I just selected the "geese" fabrics at random and didn't worry too  much about which fabrics appear on either end of the curve of 8 geese. As I sewed one block to the next I just watched that the fabrics were different where they joined each other.

When I got to the final border, however, I wanted to be sure I didn't have the same fabric in position 1 and 8, where the blocks come together. So I selected the geese for the final 10 blocks carefully before I sewed those blocks together. To be sure I kept them in order, I created 10 numbered Flower Head pins, using a Sharpie to draw the number 1-10 on each pin head:

Of course, you can buy numbered pins, and those that have up/down/left/right arrows, etc. But, if you have Flower Head pins, and a Sharpie, you can create your own. So that is my tip for the month!

We had a short Sunday Halo Sew and Sews gathering recently. Here are the 3 quilts we got to see:

JoAnne has her curved flying geese borders underway
Brenda has 36 geese done, ready to sew those borders now

Janet is using her stash of blue and white fabrics--she plans to submit it for the Sapphire Celebration 2019

Next month we will be making Half-Square Triangle borders, 1.5" finished. I already know mine will be totally scrappy. And I will make the first one with regular piecing, and the second one with paper piecing--the pattern includes all the papers you need for paper piecing. That way, I'll be able to decide which method I prefer and have the most success with--I'll use that method for the remaining two borders.

Let's Quilt!


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ruler Work on a Bernina Q20 Sit-Down Long Arm Machine

When I got my Bernina Q20 sit-down long arm, I was determined to learn ruler work. This involves using 1/2" thick rulers to create designs while free-motion quilting.  I took two Craftsy classes with Amy Johnson to learn the basics, and watched lots of  YouTube videos. Like anything, there is a learning curve but it's fun and I'm getting there:

At International Quilt Festival Chicago a few weeks ago, I got to spend a little time in classes with Kim Brunner, Jamie Wallen, and Linda Taylor. Each of them taught me at least one thing that is very helpful.

Kim showed us how to create a pencil guide to allow me to draw lines with the rulers that will be exactly where the stitching line will be. The foot is 1/2" wide so the needle is 1/4" away from the ruler edge. It takes a bit of practice to figure out where you need to start and stop. Being able to draw/design with the rulers and paper is very helpful:

I've been saving scrap paper to draw designs on. On one page I drew a 6" square and two 4" squares--then I copied them on the back of the scrap paper. This gave me lots of pages to play with the rulers and designs:

Once it was time to stitch the designs on the quilt, I needed to draw some reference lines. Everyone has their favorite marking tools, I like these and, yes, they do wash out:

 I also like chalk markers/pencils and use those whenever possible.

With this quilt, Random Ohio Stars, a free pattern from Bonnie Hunter, first I stitched in the ditch over the entire quilt. This made it possible to remove the safety pins I used for basting the 3 layers together. The only pins left once I started the detail quilting were on the borders. Then I jumped in and started the designs on the larger empty blocks, around the star points, and anywhere else that needed some more quilting.

Here is a shot of the whole quilt top:

Now I have to decide how to quilt that border. Threads used on the body of the quilt are King Tut #968 on the top and Bottom Line #617 in the bobbin. They pair nicely together and the bobbin thread matches the back almost perfectly.  But that border is very dark so I plan to switch the top thread to a darker color. Balancing the tension may take a little doing. The Bernina is very easy to adjust tension and the bobbin holds lots of thread so I can happily quilt for hours. I have a Mettler 60 wt. black cotton and a Superior Sew Complete 50 wt. polyester--I'll try both of them with the Bottom Line bobbin thread and see which performs better. Then it will be time to figure out the border design. I'm thinking really simple to let the border print show--marking it would be difficult so I'm leaning toward simple ruler work designs. Stay tuned...

Let's Quilt!


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What Do 4096 Triangles Look Like?

My Lifetime Quilt is progressing:

Each triangle is 1.25" finished. There are 32 of those triangles in one 5" block. Four 5" blocks become one 10" block. Four 10" blocks become one 20" block. Four 20" blocks become one 40" block. Here are two 40" blocks joined together, 80" x 40", about half of what the finished quilt will be, I think. It might become bigger, time will tell.  Here you see 4,096 triangles.

The rest of the story on this quilt and how I came to make it my "Lifetime Project" can be found here:  Lifetime Leader/Ender project.   

Now that this "half" is done it's back to making a bunch of 5" blocks:

They get made as I am piecing other projects, like the Long Time Gone blocks and the Halo Star Medallion quilt. I need to cut more triangles as the bin is getting a little low. I cut leftover fabrics into 1.75" strips, put light/dark strips right sides together, then use a Half-Square Triangle ruler to cut the triangle pairs. They are sewn, pressed and trimmed right along with whatever project I'm working on.

There is very little planning as I assemble the blocks. I try not to use one fabric more than twice in any 5" block. And I try to use a variety of colors in each block.  This one has a lot of green. Some have a lot of brown. I try to have at least one cheddar/gold in each block.

I like to think of some fabric historian having fun with this quilt 100 years from now, trying to guess the years these various fabrics were made. Since some are accurate reproductions of fabrics first printed 100 years ago, that should be interesting detective work.

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Long Time Gone

Long Time Gone is a Jen Kingwell pattern I saw in Houston 2016 and liked. I found a Block of the Month on Homestead Hearth and ordered it, receiving fabrics each month over the course of a year--that started in February. Then I found a blog working on it, one block a week, Gnome Angel and decided to use my own fabrics for the first one. This top will be finished in July. Here is what I have so far:

The sashing between these sets of blocks might be gray, or lavender, or something else entirely. Still on the hunt for the perfect background color.

Yesterday I received my swap quilt from Lori's 4th annual doll quilt swap :

This came to me from Jan H, in Markesan, WI. She hand quilted it, very lovely.

Here  is the one I sent to Danice, only about 75 miles west of me:

I finished a small  quilt the other day, part of the samples for my "Work Faster, Not Harder" class:

My free-motion feathers are getting better, practice makes perfect, so they say. I would forget the direction I was going so some of the feathers are not headed in the "right" direction but some baby doll won't care.  The X blocks are 3" small, the instructions can be found on my Tutorial, here.

Our guild program the other night was about "creative backs". Years ago I made a back that took almost as long to make as the front did, but I was determined to use up as much of the fabrics/parts from the front as I could, to NOT put anything away in the closet. I really like this back but didn't have a photo of it. So here is the Front of Purple Plus!:

And here is the Back:

And, wonder of wonders, Delta fixed my suitcase, this came home the other day:

They ordered a replacement pocket and fixed it--no more rip. Who knew they could do that?! It's ready for its' next trip in just a few weeks, to Spring Market in St. Louis, home of my grand-girl, Stella:


I am eager to do  more ruler work quilting on the Ohio Stars quilt. I got lots of great information in classes in Chicago. Stay tuned,..,

Let's Quilt!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What's on My Wall

I've been working on Long Time Gone, a Jen Kingwell design:

Crosses of the UK Blocks, 4" finished

Trip Around the World Block, 13" finished

A hand-work project I take on my travels, each petal block is 3.5" finished.

Soon, I'll get back to work on the June instructions for the Halo Star Medallion, 1.5" finished sawtooth borders. After the curved flying geese, they should be a breeze.

Let's Quilt!


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Make Plans: Sapphire Celebration

During all the excitement of the Ruby Jubilee, the 40th anniversary of the International Quilt Festival in 2014, I was often asked if I was making a quilt for the 45th Celebration. I just laughed and said "no", since I had not made "Red and White--By the Numbers" specifically for the 40th anniversary, it was just a matter of lucky timing. See my post here about what that marvelous experience meant to me. I didn't even know what the color scheme for the 45th anniversary would be--now we do:

This spectacular quilt is a Sue Garman design, Sarah's Revival, and it was beautifully executed by Gail Smith and quilted magnificently by Karen McTavish:

It was recently on display in Chicago along with this blue and white art quilt by Sarah Ann Smith:

There were posters and flyers around the show announcing the Sapphire Celebration, Celebrating 45 years, which will be the 45th anniversary of the International Quilt Festival in 2019:

No matter what your style, it's not too early to plan and make a Blue and White quilt. It just might be included in what is sure to be a stunning exhibit of blue and white quilts, a favorite among quilters for many years.  One of the women in my Halo Sunday Sew and Sews group is making her Halo Star Medallion in all blue and white fabrics. It is so beautiful--I hope to see it in Houston in 2019.

I must admit I'm now thinking of a blue and white quilt. I've only made one years ago:

Easy Star Sampler
I gave this away. I've always wanted a blue and white log cabin, maybe it's time to start buying a few blue and white fat quarters...

I hope you'll give some thought to a blue and white quilt. I can assure you it's lots of fun to be included in such a fun event.

Let's Quilt!