Category Archives: quilting
I made one Christmas present in 2018, for my sister, Kathi, and sister-in-law, Stefi. They have a tandem bike, but I couldn’t remember what color it is and didn’t want to spoil the surprise by asking.
I started with the Bicyclist block from Quilted Adventures by Sara Nephew. I had a little trouble understanding the instructions, but managed to wrap my brain around it and then added the second cyclist. I sometimes have a kind of spatial dyslexia.
Since they are both musicians, I used musically-themed fabric for the shirts. I tried three times to make nice looking heads but they are both very blond and fair skinned. Translation: boring (and the first one was the wrong size). I opted for do-rags that matched their shirts.
I string-pieced the rectangular units…
Made some mistakes…
Had to figure out where to put the bar (maybe not mechanically accurate, but it looked the best) …
I added a small black border followed by more musical fabric.
I have been pin-basting small projects and ran across a box of these foam pieces (a gift that included a wrist pincushion). I thought I would try them, as opposed to my curved pins. I am giving the foam pieces away as this method hurt my hands–I’ll stick with the curved basting pins and basting spray for larger projects. Leah Day likes using PinMoors, a product you can buy on her website. Some of my friends had never seen this basting technique and thought I was embellishing the quilt. You never know with me.
I straight-line quilted the background, the tires, and anything that wasn’t lying flat, figuring out how to quilt with the least thread breaks. Sometimes this requires diagrams.
I changed the lyrics to “A Bicycle Made for Two” for quilting the outer border. I tried once again to sew the label into the backing fabric and still didn’t leave enough margin. I have been unhappy with my attempts at sewing in the label. Next time, I will sew the label into the center of the quilt backing, rules be damned (lower right-hand corner), allowing more room for information. I’ll be sending a better label to place over the original.
Quilting in progress.
Once again, I have failed to take a final picture before mailing. It had a simple black binding and is called “Ever in Tandem.” Le sigh. Oh well, it arrived before Christmas. I think I put rings on the back for hanging. It’s all good. Till next time…
… I drafted a post and rescheduled it three times. Then I unscheduled it–some posts just don’t make the cut.
LATEST PROJECT. My art quilt group, the Van Go-Go Girls, chose an architectural challenge. Take an actual building or a piece of architecture, design a quilt 30×30 to 40×40, add some orange, finish by November. Some years ago, we were in Puerto Rico and I took pictures of the tile floors because they were quilterly and chose one for this project.
I started by drafting a 12-inch block on paper, adding some extra lines to accommodate the size I wanted. Then I drew templates and added 1/4-inch seam allowances. I cut out a lot of pieces incorrectly (pesky angles) and my pencil marks were showing on the white pieces–I see another improv piece in my future. I used a scrap of black Grunge (why didn’t I buy a yard?) and cut out one strip 1/8-inch too narrow. I managed to use it anyway for the 2-1/2 inch squares, one side being 2-3/8 inches. Here are the subsets before piecing together for all four blocks.
I partial-seamed the black square to the subset on the left, sewed the diagonal, finished the black square and then added the corner triangle. Remarkably, it all fit together. The center grey square was a little wonky but I managed to straighten it out when I quilted it. I decided to add mitered borders to mirror the angled lines and they came out perfectly; however, they did get slightly distorted during quilting–and so it goes.
Quilting is straight lines with black YLI 100-wt. silk on the black border pieces following the inner piecing line and white Mettler Seralene polyester in the white pieces, traveling into the grey at times. I was able to quilt each quarter without breaking thread. After I started quilting, I woke up one morning and realized I had used no orange. I really didn’t want to blast in orange applique, so I quilted with a variegated orange Sulky 12-wt. cotton on the black in two places. You have to get up close to see it, but it’s there. You can see the print-out of the tile above, which was actually in black, grey, and white.
I have now taken a break for two weeks, redecorated the spare bathroom and have started making some new florals and freshening up existing wreaths and arrangements. I finally found more refresher at JoAnn (Panacea Decorative Accents Silk Flower & Foliage Cleaner), spraying outside. All floral sprays seem to work equally well, but some the flowers bled, perhaps because I forgot to shake the bottle. Here is the wreath for the bedroom. I wanted to maintain the wildness of the wreath while adding the colorful foliage.
Here I’ve auditioned placement, starting with five large sets of leaves, adding five smaller leaf sets and then three longer pieces with curlicue and berries–I took all the foliage from a large swag. I don’t have a wreath stand so I took a photo from above and then hung it on the door after hot gluing, filling in the blank spots. I used an old sewing machine needle for hanging.
I finally put the snowmen away and replaced them with a new arrangement.
The rest of summer I’ll be sprucing up the house so it looks like someone here actually cares, collecting things for Goodwill, and doing a general purge.
DIET AND EXERCISE. I quit exercising the middle of July–it was just exhausting me so that I couldn’t do anything else–and went off the South Beach diet. I have no appetite for hours after exercising and end up eating two meals a day. This is not effective. So, I’ll be resuming the exercise at an easier pace, adding Tai Chi for stress management, and going for a low-carb diet with lots of fresh veggies, fruit, and lean protein. I can’t quite do Keto or Atkins because I don’t tolerate fat very well. If this doesn’t get me to my goal, I am pretty much out of options.
RECYCLACRAFT. I lined these large lids with sticky-backed felt for bead trays.
THE HUMMER GAMES. We have had a lot of hummers even with the heat. They are so fun to watch and they have the sweetest peep. The males chase each other off the feeder, then one sits in the Bradford waiting. Then they chase each other off again and finally one will get to feed. They were buzzing me while I was cleaning the florals on the landing. Till next time…
If I had known what a lousy quilter I was in 2000, I would have quit quilting and found a different hobby. Haha. Eighteen years later, I’m still at it.
When I lived in Minnesota, there were often quilt retreats to attend with my friends. This particular retreat had a mystery quilt that I thought I would participate in. It was my first, and probably my last. I didn’t finish this quilt because I was overwhelmed with it. We pieced together a bazillion 2-1/2 inch four-patches and another bazillion 2-1/2 inch half-square triangles (hst). Why so many hsts? Because we then proceeded to sew them together into flying geese.
For some reason, this highly irritated me. The other reason I did not finish this quilt was that the thought of quilting that large, blank snowball block scared me to death. So it got put away and I hauled it out once, sewed four rows together and put it away again. Fast forward to 2017.
I still love the fabrics and colors I chose for this quilt so I decided to just finish it. I think it was originally going to be at least a twin-sized quilt, but I decided to make two smaller quilts instead. The remaining four-patches and hsts were not quite 2-1/2 inches square so I did a lot of ripping and repiecing and finally got enough units put together to finish the 8-1/2 inch pieced alternate blocks.
Side note on snowball blocks: The prevailing method in the past for snowball blocks was to sew diagonally across a square at each corner and only trim away the middle triangle, thus ensuring that the original base square would remain at the prescribed measurement (8-1/2 inches square in this case). The problem with this is there is a lot of bulk at the corners. I did not rip apart the four rows I had constructed, but I did go in and cut away all of the triangles from the remaining snowballs and made yet more hsts from these triangles.
Lesson Numero Uno: Always check to make sure you are sewing an accurate ¼-inch seam so you don’t suffer the agony of defeat (yes, I know the Olympics are over).
Kudos to the Duluth Curling Club for bringing home the gold and to all the other wonderful athletes who participated in PyeongChang.
Lesson Αριθμός 2: Quit with the mean tweets.
So I put together two quilts but had to wait until last week for the weather to warm up enough so I could spray baste them outside. This quilt is called Starway to Heaven but I’ve come to think of it as Paved Road to Hell.
In the meantime, I decided to work on this small baby quilt, adding borders and quilting diagonal straight lines in the center and on the first blue border. Those are prairie points sewn randomly into the seams and a creative border because I didn’t have enough yardage.
Then I had to take my Janome in for regular maintenance, I felt that the needle bar was once again not centered, and I just couldn’t get the tension right for free-motion quilting on this quilt. I only needed to quilt that last border but nooooooo—wasn’t going to happen. At least I had something to do while waiting for my machine: rip out the six inches of quilting that I thought was going to be okay.
Lesson Troisième partie: Always have something to do when you take your machine in for service.
Suffice to say, I need to practice my free-motion quilting again so I can finish this little quilt and then I need to decide how to quilt those snowball blocks. If all else fails, I can echo the octagonal shape.
Lesson Nummer Vier: Never leave more than three quilting projects unfinished. This creates the Unfinished Object (UFO) Nightmare. I think this is my third year trying to complete my UFOs. Of course, if I wouldn’t make charity blocks for donation quilts, or participate in challenges, or stop everything to try a new technique, or stop to cook/clean/do the wash/exercise… But where is the fun in that! Till next time, work on that ¼-inch seam allowance. Unless you’re doing improv piecing, it really does matter. Or does it?
As members of NWA Modern Quilt Guild, we are occasionally asked to make blocks for donation quilts at Quilt Con or for quilts being made for disaster victims. This month we are making blocks for victims of the fires in California. Go here for all the details. California Thomas Fire Quilts
The Fabrics: I wanted to use green fabrics (signifying hope and new growth) but didn’t have sufficient contrast and greens that played well together. Leave your medium fabrics in the bin as you really need the light and dark contrast for maximum impact. I went to my purple bin and found a couple commercial fabrics and then found more from my hand dyeds, including one rather crappy sun-printed fabric that didn’t turn out so well. It’s been hanging around since we moved here (2006) but the color was just right. HINT: If you water down your Setacolor paint, it loses the ability to do a decent sun print.
Next I cut one 4-1/2 strip and one 5-inch strip from each fabric and subcut the squares. The 5-inch squares make a slightly oversized half-square triangle so if your sewing is not quite perfect, you’ll still be able to trim to 4-1/2 inches. You know what to do.
After I laid out four blocks, I photographed them on the design wall. This can be very handy if you mix up your units at the ironing board. (photo of blocks) HINT: When chain piecing blocks together, leave the units attached; you can also do this when you make rows. This prevents mixing everything up.
Here are the finished blocks.
If you make multiple blocks, here are two settings you can try. BONUS: I did not have to trim my blocks for once. Whaaaaat?
I had some blocks left over so I turned the hsts into hour glass units. Take two hst units and lay them right sides together with the light side on top of the dark side. Nest the diagonal seam, pin, and draw a straight line as shown (perpendicular to the seam). Sew ¼-inch of either side of the drawn line and then cut on that line. Voila, two hour-glass units. If you want to make the block lie flat at the center, undo the two or three stitches in the seamline, press on the little four-square on the reverse, press the seams in opposing directions, and press again on the right side.
I have saved all these fabrics, scraps and hour-glass units into a bag and will use them for an improv tote bag workshop in July.
FREE-MOTION QUILTING. I was practicing free-motion quilting and could not get the tension right. I tried adjusting my bobbin case to no avail so I sent for a new bobbin case for my Janome and noticed they also had a bobbin case especially for free-motion quilting. I cannot see the difference between the two bobbin cases (except for the blue and red arrows) but I saw a difference in the quilting–mo loops on the reverse.
Sewing machine companies like you to order parts from authorized dealers but try sewing machine parts and ask for items specific to your machine.
FREE-MOTION COUCHING. I also got a special hopping foot for couching yarn, etc. My results were not stellar but I’ll keep working on this. Stay tuned.
You can thank Jackie Wolven (uber motivator) Jackie Wolven from Eureka Springs for kicking my butt enough to end my procrastination about posting to my blog again. It’s called #doonething. If you are overwhelmed with all the things you want to do and need to do, then pick one project and work on it during the week with the end goal of finishing by midnight on Sunday. Last week I did not post by midnight, but I did post first thing the next morning. A little side benefit I have noticed for me is that I’m also getting a lot of other things done. Could procrastination be a thing of the past for me? (Probably not) But go here for a great TED talk mentioned in the To Well With You blog Suzy Oakley by Suzy Oakley. TED talk
I’ll most likely finish quilting the borders on this baby quilt this week, maybe even today since we are iced in. I’m finishing all my UFOs this year because it’s time and I want to do more improvisation—it maketh me happy. So do one thing, finish a UFO or give it away, and stay warm and healthy.
Translation: UnFinished Objects, Works In Progress, and Projects in Grocery Sacks. Jodi Barrows says that PIGS=stink. Okay. We’ll start with a project I put in the FAIL pile. This was a challenge: make an 8×8 quilt using a Haiku. So I wrote a Haiku and made a quilt that was exactly 8-1/2×8-1/2. Then I couched some cool yarn over the quilting lines and hated it. So one day I removed the yarn and put it away. This week I embroidered a running stitch over the quilt lines and called it good. It is hanging in my studio and I did what is usually considered a no-no–I pinned the quilt to the wall with two sequin pins. Hey, it’s my quilt and my wall. My favorite part is the fabric button, made with silk scraps and silver thread. One of the crystals fell off but I found it months later–it had fallen inside my chair and fell out when we had to adjust a spring.
So my problem Christmas quilt is finished except for sewing on the quilt sleeve for hanging (properly). Oh, and I need to make a label but I’ve got a sheet of labels in the works so we won’t fret about that. When I finished quilting the border, I noticed that one of the tree blocks was really puffy, fluffy? A suggestion online was to steam it. Scary, but I did it and it worked. This is by far the worst quilt I have ever made. It wasn’t square, so I laid plastic on the bed, put my large cutting mat on top of the quilt, and sprayed the borders, then tugged and pulled and patted and measured. After drying for 24 hours, it is much better. When I pull it out again at Christmas, I will be joyous. I post a photo when I hang it in my dining room in a day or so.
I have started beading my second self-portrait. Here is day one. I’m using a seed bead mix, three beads at a time, tying a knot every three groups.
I am almost finished with my first self-portrait. I decided to face the edge rather than making a binding. Pretty soon I’ll have that label page filled up!
It’s hard for me to resist a challenge.
Our modern guild has a challenge: Too precious to cut (but we will). Here’s the fabric I’m going to cut up. Deadline is October.
In the meantime, I’m cleaning my studio. I’ve had a bin in my way for several weeks, using it as a tripod stand, trying to do a new selfie and just about did a triple gainer yesterday so it needs to go. I ended up with three selfies but I’m not thrilled with any of them. #1 is out of focus, forgot to take off my glasses for #2, and #3 is meh. Audrey Hepburn I’m not. I won’t bore you.
I’m taking a couple courses through Digital Photography School (dPS) with the goal of being able to take decent photos without using Auto Focus. We’ll see how it goes. I also joined Adobe Creative Cloud for a year to try to learn how to use Photo Shop and Lightroom. If you enjoy photography, sign up for dPS free newsletter with weekly tips and challenges. They also occasionally have specials on their courses and other offers–sorry, the summer one just ended but check them out. They’re in Australia. G-day, mates.
The Waiting for Spring Quilt Project is one of my favorite quilts. Ever. It’s an original design, using a set of my hand-dyed fabrics.
This has actually been quilted and bound. I love what I did to the large squares and the plain section on the right (a commercial batik).
The problem is I didn’t realize how bad my tension was for the middle section of small squares. Last year, I started to rip out the really bad sections, placing a safety pin where I needed to redo the quilting. Today, I thought it would be easier to just rip it all out so I wouldn’t have so many threads to weave in. That is just plain crazy, even for me. I think I will just applique flowers on the worst parts–on both sides–can I have too many flowers? I guess I could just cut it all up into potholders. What would you do? All suggestions are welcome.
I hope to get back here by the end of the week. I’ll share how I made those little squares (from Alex Anderson on The Quilt Show) and the quilting designs I used. Have a great week Also coming soon, The Liberty Bowl, how to attach a quilt sleeve and other dribs and drabs.
Just a quick post to show two finished quilts.
New feature: Hover over the top left hand corner of photos for the Pin It button.
Stay tuned for more fun and games and site improvements (slow but sure). I’ll be back soon!
My progress on handwork is going rather slowly, so after the 4th of July weekend, and getting three rooms partially ready for new flooring, I put some serious time into quilting my Redwork Quilt. I did straight-line quilting in the center redwork medallion, then some free-motion meandering flowers and leaves in the red border, and then straight-line quilting on either side of the seam lines in the pieced border (scrappy 1-1/2 inch finished squares). See the previous post for photos. Then I added yet more quilting to the center medallion to help it to lie flatter. All that remained was the 4-inch black border.
There was a lot of lint from the batting on the black Kona so I used masking tape to clean it up and then pinned the edges to keep it relatively clean while quilting. Making a tube with the masking tape was fairly ineffective. Placing a long strip and running your hand across works much better. A large lint roller would be even better if you have one.
After practicing the same meandering flower design, and choosing a variegated black and red thread, I started and 6-inches in, decided that the tension was not right and the design just wasn’t filling the space like I wanted. Back to the drawing board. I took out my Pajama Quilter Reloaded book and found a design I liked: flowers, leaves and ribbons. I also changed to a solid red thread. It isn’t perfect but it is finished and the binding is put on. More handwork for my poor arthritic hands but for now, I still only machine quilt the binding on donation quilts and potholders. Because of the overstitching in the flowers and leaves (only two of each, thank goodness), it took me 2-1/2 hours of ripping and then the afternoon to quilt all the way around.
Here is part of the border, showing flowers, leaves and ribbons. I see the PajamaQuilter Reloaded and PajamaQuilter Rethreaded workbooks/DVDs are sold out. You can check out Dawn Ramirez’ quilts at http://www.sewdawnfun.com/. I like her idea of practicing on a whiteboard before stitching on a quilt sample–this is really helpful for a new or complex design and you can just totally erase what you don’t like at any time and start over.
Here is part of the outer border before binding.
Till next time, expand your horizons and try something new–a new quilt design, a new recipe, a new technique, a new skill. This will keep your craft more interesting, fight boredom, and perhaps, prevent dementia. If it’s frustrating, it’s good for you.
The Redwork Quilt has moved up in status from a UFO (unfinished object) to a WIP (work in progress). I have had to take a break for technical reasons. When I went to change my needle yesterday, I found I was out of my favorite, Schmetz Quilting Needle 90/14. Since I had some 75/11’s, I tried it in the sashing where I was free-motion quilting and the thread only broke once. I am using Invisafil 100-wt. in top and in bobbin. Today, however, the thread broke again while stitching in the ditch so I have decided to wait until tomorrow when I can go to town.
I’m not sure when I started this quilt (late 2011 perhaps) but I didn’t like the setting or the size so I started working on it again in 2012. Here you can see the dark blue flap I had placed on the red and white bubble fabric border. I love this fabric but it just did not work for this quilt.
Auditioning a new border.
Here is the quilt put back together, measuring 27-inches square.
Last spring I dug this out again and decided I wanted to make it bigger. I have too many more or less useless small quilts so I am making quilts that can hang in my dining room, maximum 42-inches wide and around 45-50 inches long. In order to make this larger, I dug into my 2-1/2 inch red squares and cut more squares from every piece of red I own and then added a 4-inch black border. When I want solid black, I use Kona–it’s a nice, consistent very dark black. Sometimes I’m even able to find it locally. The quilt is now 41-inches square.
I started in the center and outlined each square motif and the inside of the white square. Then I outlined them again. I think I am going to add some more lines of stitching so it will lie flatter. If I start in the center, I should be able to go around all four squares without breaking the thread.
Next, I was able to quilt the first border with a simple meander. Is there a difference between meandering and stippling? I used to be the world’s worst meanderer. I just couldn’t get anything to come together between my brain and the needle. So I started practicing. And practicing. And practicing. Every time I was going to free-motion a quilt, I would practice meandering whether I was going to actually use it or not. I have a small stencil which I would trace onto my practice piece and stitch over the lines. Then I would try to do it on my own. I still have to practice before putting it on a quilt but it has gotten much better. Sometimes I do just a plain meander but usually I add some kind of design, in this case flowers and leaves. I had a strip leftover from the Cotton+Steel quilt which was just the size I needed. If you want to add to your quilting repertoire, practice some simple motifs with meandering. I have added different flowers with leaves, stars, pumpkins, and Christmas motifs. Try to practice making these motifs upside down to add variety without pivoting the quilt. If you run into a problem, you can just rip back to the motif, and start there again–no one will be the wiser.
When I was cleaning out my files this spring, I got rid of the red work booklet with the embroidery design I used. I found it online: The Red Book, designed by Diane Arthurs from the Powder Mill. I saw it on a resale website for $30. I assure you I did not pay that much for it but it must be out of print now, which somehow has translated into giving people license to sell books at outrageous prices. Grrr. Go to the library, check with a friend, look for any line drawing available to you. Because the motifs were small, I used one strand of floss and a backstitch. I just couldn’t get the outline stitch to look good. I also lined the white-on-white fabric with a stretch knit interfacing so that the knots and traveling would not show. Of course when I started quilting, I noticed a knot had migrated through the interfacing but If anyone notices that, then they are just looking too dang hard.
So that’s my story for today. I’m over the recommended word count. Sorry. I’ll be back next week with an update.