Day 4 with my machine being in the shop. Yesterday I cut up a bunch of my free-motion quilting practice sandwiches into cage mats for the local animal shelter. Sometimes I make a large sandwich, either when I haven’t quilted for awhile and need a lot of practice or a design isn’t coming easily. Here is #52. When there’s enough room, I add a doodle when I sign the cage mats, which I call Ugly Snugglies. They’re ugly but they can give a little cushion to the bottom of the wire cages in the animal shelter. I was practicing a border design for my redwork quilt and writing for a cosmetic bag for a friend, the one with my free-motion wienie dog. The writing was too large so I left it off.
A couple years ago, I decided to practice meandering on a large sandwich because I just didn’t seem to be able to do this with ease. Now I can do it with ease but why would I? It looks like a mattress cover and there are so many other designs to try. It can still be useful for a utility quilt (something you’ll throw on the ground for a picnic) or a donation quilt when you need to finish something in a hurry for a good cause. After you master meandering, try making the design really small (usually referred to as stippling)–it can make a trapunto shape pop up quite well.
After cutting up some squares and rectangles, I rounded the corners and used one of my zigzag stitches around the edge. This stitch has a straight stitch to the left of the zigzag–makes a sturdy edging. Here are some designs I have practiced for quilts during the last three years.
Sometimes I also zigzag some small pieces together to make one mat.
Here I was trying all kinds of motifs for my self portrait.
The layered flower, wandering clover and leaf border/frame designs were all used in Waiting for Spring. I also practiced using a twin needle but my needle broke rather quickly so I gave it up.
I used all-over feathers for an entire quilt (String Theory 1).
Ideas for Christmas quilts.
More Christmas designs.
Lately I’ve been using unloved fabrics for the backing on my quilt sandwiches.
I ended up with 20 cage mats in various sizes so I’ll donate them next time I’m up that way.
It’s another nice day here and I have a fresh battery in my camera so I think I’ll hit the nature trail for awhile. I put on over 10,000 steps yesterday, which really surprised me. A lot more fun than 45-minutes on the treadmill. I hope you’re beginning to enjoy some fall weather where you are. Maybe I’ll have a message to pick up my machine when I get back! Hope so. Otherwise I’m going to have to start cleaning cupboards… I have a new polish a friend recommended. I’ll let you know how it works (unless I actually get back to my quilting)!
I have finished my Too Precious to Cut (But We Will) Challenge for the Modern Quilt Guild of NWA. This was a challenge put out by Paula Mariedaughter, one of our members. I was in a panic last week thinking that it was due for our September meeting (next week), but it’s actually not due till October. Ah well, it’s finished. Go here to see what else this creative quilter is up to. She’s always putting a new spin on quilt design and makes the best labels.
I faced this quilt using Susan Brubaker Knapp’s tutorial. Check it out along with her other free tutorials.
The only thing I do differently is Step 4. I don’t like to pivot at corners, so I sew to the end, and then cross the seam at the corner. I also use these little clips instead of heavy pinning–you don’t want the facing to show on the front and this helps.
I had a little trouble with the quilting. After doing all the straight-line quilting in the center, I went to free-motion quilt the lily fabric and ripped out this lily twice. Then I quilted this spot with regular stitching, which required a lot of pivoting, cleaned and oiled the machine AGAIN, changed the needle AGAIN, and free-motioned the remainder with no problem. Gremlins, I’m tellin’ ya.
I also finished my placemats. See my previous post for the Round Placemat Tutorial. And why does spell check always want “placemat” to be two words? Not doin’ it.
Well, it’s back to my studio. I am putting everything away so I can get back to finishing up the rest of my Christmas UFOs. And here is one of my favorite Paula Mariedaughter quilts from a local Q.U.I.L.T. Guild of NWA show in 2013–those wonky flowers and the colors just make me happy. Till next time, do what makes you happy for at least part of the day!
My improv piece is finished. Last chapter, I removed the sequined ball because I just didn’t like it. It will land somewhere else eventually–nothing goes to waste.
I found some bits of green crochet thread I had hand dyed at some point and made a small medallion and beaded it with single seed beads.
Next I added some encrusted beading–my standby of loading three beads at a time close together, knotting after every three groups.
I also took the last piece of useable lily fabric and hand appliqued that in a blank space.
Now to finish the edges–I saw this no-binding binding somewhere but couldn’t find it again so did this from memory. I used a 1-inch strip of fabric the length of each side. Stitch it on with 1/4-inch seam allowance, flip it and stay stitch it in place. I meant for the back side of the fabric to show but put right sides together on the second side. Just a reminder–that you pay for two sides of fabric so you can use either side as you see fit.
Press under 1/4-inch and bring the entire flap to the back; blind hem stitch.
For the bottom edge, I added about 1/2-inch to each end so that I could fold it in and cover up the raw edges on the sides. Note that I trimmed the corner–this gets a little bulky. Blind hem as before.
I still have not decided how I will hang this piece, which is approximately 8.25×8-inches so I decided to make a casing at the top for a dowel or branch or something. I cut this strip at 1-1/2 inches and turned under the short edges so that it was slightly shorter than the top width. Blind stitch the long edge, leaving the short edges open.
Here is the finished piece: Whisper of Lilies.
Give improv piecing a try and then try some different embellishments. When you have a small project, you’re not investing a lot of material or time. If you ruin it, cut it up and make some art pins and abandon them on your favorite walking trail. Check out this Facebook Page:
Someone in town is painting rocks that say “Bella Vista Rocks.” I saw one at the hospital parking lot the other day and left it for someone else to find and enjoy! Why? Because I think the article about this project suggested that the rocks were meant for visitors. I belong to the above group but still haven’t decided what to make and abandon. It’s on my bucket list. My bucket overfloweth.
P.S. I tend to think in cartoons and this was going through my mind yesterday. I’m going to use it as a free-motion quilting exercise and see if it turns into something. One never knows, does one? Have a great weekend.
Keep reading for directions on making a quilted, round placemat with no hand stitching or binding. Last week, I posted about the Too Precious to Cut (But We Will) challenge with my modern quilt guild. The idea is to take a piece of fabric that you have a hard time cutting into
and do something with it. This is where I left off with the piecing.
I thought this was a boring table runner and decided that I could make more interesting placemats. Since I have a round table, I cut out a 13-inch circle from freezer paper using my Creative Grids Circle Ruler. This ruler must be discontinued–I could not find a link for it so unless you have one, you’ll have to find an alternative way to make a circle template.
After pressing my freezer paper template onto my pieced work, I used a small rotary cutter to cut out three pieced circles, one whole cloth circle from the leftover piece of lily fabric, four batting circles,and four backing circles. I was able to reuse the freezer paper template. This gets a little tricky for the batting–press from the center out in segments.
CAUTION: I was actually able to cut out the circles keeping my free hand on my hip. If you cannot do this, keep your free hand well away from the rotary cutter as you cut and be sure to close your cutter each time you lay it down. I have known of quilters who have needed a trip to the emergency room because they have cut themselves. More often than not, it is their husbands who don’t believe how sharp these blades are. USE CAUTION.
Next, layer the pieces as follows. Good side of batting facing up, right side of front facing up, right side of backing facing down. Read this five times so you get this layered correctly.
Otherwise, you’ll have to do what I did: unstitch, relayer, restitch. It’s a process. I used a half-inch seam allowance, leaving a 4-6-inch opening for turning. Then I trimmed the batting close to the stitching.
Finger press the fabric layers where the opening is; this will make closing easier.
Next trim the fabric layers with pinking shears. I left a little extra where the opening was so I would have enough fabric to easily turn under.
Turn your placemat inside out, smoothing the edge with your fingers. Machine stitch close to the edge. I started at a seam line and then when I got back to the beginning, I stitched in the ditch a few stitches and continued stitching circles, using my presser foot as a guide. This gives you continuous stitching without having to break your threads. As I got toward the center, I had a hard time maintaining the circle shape, ripped out my last two circles and did a free-motion design to finish the center. This is one of my favorite Leah Day designs: Layered Flower, #226.
Here is the finished placemat after steam pressing.
I’m playing with the leftover pieces and will probably make a mat for the center of the table. We have a glass table and it’s irritating when salt and pepper shakers, etc., rattle around while you’re eating. If you decide to make your own set of placemats, send me a link. I would love to see them! As always, leave me a comment if you have questions. Till next time, I’ll be in my happy place stitching.
I accidentally hit publish instead of scheduling my last post so my quilt ramblings are a little out of order, but all is well that ends well.
Before my computer went bad on me, I was happily finishing up a table runner I started in 2014. I actually put this together before Waiting for Spring, which was made from leftover blocks. So let’s start at the beginning. I had all these fabrics I had hand-dyed and saw a technique by Alex Anderson and decided to try it. She was working on this cool Chop Sticks quilt. If you are a member of the Quilt Show, you can view this technique on Episode 910. Basically, take a square (apprx 2-1/2 inches) and make a diagonal cut. Then sew in a narrow strip of fabric (3/4-inch). You now have a square with a narrow strip in the center (sorry, no photo). Cross-cut this square and you will have strips with tiny squares in the middle. Cut more plain squares on the diagonal and add these little strips. Here you can see I’m chain piecing the chopsticks into plain squares.
I made way too many chopsticks and was running out of plain squares to put them in so just make a few at a time.
After making my table runner, I just couldn’t decide how to quilt it so it was relegated to the unfinished object pile. I used the same quilt design I did last week for my daughter’s travel case for her keyboard. Which was too small by the way; I had to make another one but found some new, sparkly ponytail bands for the closure. Here it is as well as Gelato (Spyro-Gyro), another finished project. I did the spiral with line quilt design on the table runner, quilting vertical lines and then crossing them with horizontal lines. This way I could start at one edge, go across and come back–no extra threads to weave in.
Alright, I’m going for that walk now–have to add some exercise to my Fit Bit Zip. Say that three times, fast.
I joined a private FB group in January. Each month we set a personal goal to work on daily, the idea being to effect some kind of positive change in our lives. Our goals range from enhancing a beauty routine, to weight loss/fitness goals, to organizing our desktops or files on our computer, to business goals. You get the idea. The psycho-experts out there estimate that it takes anywhere from 7-21 days to ingrain a new habit into our lives. By putting our goals out there, we have continued support — daily if you want it — and hints about what works for others. My April goal has been to work only on my self-portrait and UFOs (unfinished objects). I worked on my self-portrait for the first five days and then started tackling my pile of unfinished quilts. Some just needed to be quilted or have labels sewn on. My pile of night time handwork has gotten bigger but that means things are getting done. I did have to sneak in a small new project, a padded travel case for my daughter’s keyboard. She is always putting her Mac and keyboard in a backpack and said keyboard finally bit the biscuit. While searching for a new keyboard and carrying case, we spied a travel keyboard that folds in half to about the size of an I-pad but it doesn’t have a number pad so that one’s still in the store. We’ll start with this project. I used about a yard of fabric for both the outside and inside and some Soft and Stable byannie.com. It’s a 100% polyester foam-like material, for bags and beyond.
I searched in my Pinterest FMQ file for a simple quilt design and chose this one.
Here’s the loop for a button closure. You can use ponytail bands for these. I’ll get back to finishing this project as soon as I finish binding the edges.
I practiced on my white board before making a quilt sandwich. Here are two spiral designs you can try.
In my ongoing effort to use up fabric, I pulled out this little print from centuries ago.
A lot of quilters like to back their quilts with a little print like this–you quilting stitches don’t show up much so it hides your stitching if you are less than a confident quilter, not that experienced quilters don’t have bobbles and mistakes. Here’s a little batting hint. One side of your batting is cleaner and smoother than the other so put that side up, facing your quilt top.
I did a lot of practicing yesterday and went through four small quilt sandwiches before finally deciding to use the same line with spiral design on my Gelato tablerunner. Here is the quilt halfway done.
When I was ready to quit for the day, I looked up at my screen to see what was playing: It was Where the Rainbow Ends, by Northern Sinfonia of England, written by Roger Quilter. I just can’t make this stuff up. I’ll show you the table runner after I finish stitching the binding and putting on the label.
So back to my April challenge. Here is where my self-portrait is–I have some Kreinik iron-on ribbon I’m going to use. The stickiness has gone so I need to see if I can still iron it in place before stitching. I’m on a spiral kick this week I guess because I made these spirals–my portrait is starting to look like a party’s going one here. I’ll talk more about this challenge in a future post.
This quilt has been finished except for sewing on a label and one quilt square on the back. This is called Memory game–there are two of each center square, except that one square had to go on the back of the quilt. It’s a variation of a quilt called Cappuccino, by Joyce Stewart, as seen in McCall’s Quick Quilts, November 2008.
This quilt also just needed a label: String Theory1, inspired by Heart Strings by Jennifer Rounds and friends, as seen in The Quilt Life, February 2012. I went crazy with an all-over feather design. I thought I had better photos–will have to retake these.
Then, there’s this quilt, Waiting for Spring, which I quilted and bound in April, 2014. So what was the problem? When I went to weave in all the thread ends, I noticed that my tension was off in the section with the small squares. Here’s a close-up to give you an idea.
Like an idiot, I start ripping out the worst portions and then was going to rip out this whole section. Well that lasted a couple hours and I saw the error of my stinking thinking, requilted where I had ripped and have now called it good. By the time it’s up on the wall, I won’t even see it and neither will anyone else. Lesson Learned: Aways check the back when you start free-motion quilting on your project to make sure the tension is correct.
So that’s it for today. I’ll be back later in the week with more quilting news. Also on my list for this week, file all my photos on my computer and find out why Internet Explorer stops working every time I try to type a hyphenated word into tags for my posts. It’s driving me ka-razy. Till next time–
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.
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.