Category Archives: quilting
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.
Last spring, our local modern quilt guild had a work night and we learned how to make a Swoon Block. Here is the link for this pattern by Camille Roskelley from Thimble Blossoms. http://thimbleblossoms.bigcartel.com/product/swoon-pattern-142-pdf-pattern
One of our members had made an entire scrappy quilt with these large blocks—mine finishes at 24-1/4 inches square after quilting. You can find a Swoon-Along on Flickr for more ideas and photos. Backing up a little, late last summer, I had layered several quilts so I could get some serious quilting done over the winter. That didn’t happen then but it’s happening now. I did start quilting my Christmas quilt so I would have it finished in time for Christmas, but that didn’t happen and I’m not quite in the mood to work on it right now.
After angsting for a day on how to quilt the center star, I decided that I wouldn’t. I chose fabrics with high contrast and I want that star to stand out.
I hitched up the walking foot and pulled out some smoke mono-poly and quilted in the ditch around the star. This turned out to be a good choice as the smoke doesn’t show up too much on the light backing fabric. Here is the back—it looks as if I missed some lines but it just didn’t show up in the photo.
Next I quilted the dark areas of the corners. I drew out on paper how to stitch this entire section without breaking the thread—sometimes I’m a genius.
Then I switched to pale yellow around the outside, finishing with Leah Day’s wandering clover design. This is #13 in 365 Days of Free-Motion Quilting Designs. http://www.leahday.com/project1/ I did not have enough pale yellow fabric to bind this block and considered using the same fabric as the back, but finally decided to use the batik fabric in the blocks and this set it off pretty nicely. I will show a final photo after I finish the handwork. Oh, and my thoughts for quilting that center star (more Leah Day designs).
And finally #365 Infinity Tree. This was my first attempt—the tree is a little scary but I rather like it.
I started something new as I quilted my Swoon block. I knotted and wove in thread ends as I went. I usually wait until the end and do them all at once which can be kind of overwhelming. Why it took me so long to start doing this is beyond me. The quilt that I finished last spring still has boucoups thread ends to hide. It also has another problem (or two) which I think I’m finally ready to tackle, fix and finish. Watch for my post on Windows on Spring (working title) and its companion table runner, Gelato.
In between projects, I tried out my rolled-hem foot for a tablecloth I embroidered.
My next post will show you another UFO—The Redwork Quilt. It’s a personal favorite. Till then, here’s a quote for the day.
Neither genius, fame, nor love show the greatness of the soul. Only kindness can do that.
-Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, preacher, journalist, and activist (1802-1861)
I mentioned that I wanted to make a reversible, two-fabric binding for my current project. I had a couple handouts and there are myriad tutorials on-line, but I wanted my binding to be 1/4-inch on each side. Well, in order to make this happen, you need to trim the batting and I wanted to make this easy to handle and turn smoothly. The photos are my first attempt, so the fabric widths are different from what I will tell you, but the method will be the same. You must already know how to attach a quilt binding before tackling this technique. If you would like a binding tutorial, email me and I will provide one from another project. Practice this rather advanced method first before tackling an entire quilt.
1. First decide on a fabric that matches or complements the quilt top. Cut this strip 7/8-inch on the straight of grain.
2. Decide on a fabric that matches or complements the quilt back. Cut this strip 1-1/8-inches on the straight of grain.
3. Fold and press the back strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together.
4. Sew the folded strip to the front strip using a scant 1/4-inch seam, right sides together.
5. Press the seam open.
6. Attach the binding to the quilt, sewing the front binding strip right sides together, using a scant 1/4-inch seam.
7. Fold the binding to the back. In the example, I have machine stitched from the front, using matching threads for the top and bottom fabrics. For my quilt, I will hand sew the binding down on the back.
Here is my first trial before stitching.
This is what I did not like: the back flap is much wider than the front. I found these clips from Clover on clearance. I got them because I was having trouble sewing a make-up bag with a vinyl lining–I think these will work better than my usual hair clips and certainly better than pins when using vinyl.
Here is my final try–everything turned easily and laid flat, except that the back stitching is uneven–if I stitch by hand, it will look much better.
I am sewing these bindings to a free-motion practice piece. This is one of my chagrine n bear it animals.
This is the final pig design. Here are some of my fmq practice designs.
I started meandering using a twin needle on one of my quilts. The needle broke and I didn’t have another one the same size to continue. I’ll talk about this in another post–it’s just too painful right now (just kidding). My job is done here for today. Tomorrow, I will finish the quilting on the challenge table runner. All of my energy today went into figuring out the binding
QUOTE FOR THE DAY:
All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them. — Isak Dinesen