Playing Catch Up

First off, let me show you the quilting that didn’t show up on Jackie’s Quilt post.

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Stitching this Pantograph was so easy peasy I felt guilty charging Jackie for the quilting.

After I finished her quilt, I caught up on this charity quilt that I haven’t been able to get to in a couple of months.  simply quilts 001 simply quilts 002At this point, I just wanted to finish it, so I opted for a quick edge 2 edge design and then failed at attempted to add a matching border.   It turned out okay.  Not happy with the border, but it’s done.  Our guild has a charity sewing day every February.  Kits are made up for us to piece together and then to quilt.  I was hoping for a bigger quilt, but this is what I was given, and it’s just as well since it’s taken me this long to finish it.

What I am currently working on is the following quilt.  My new favorite kind of fabric is solid colored fabric.  I love the colors in this quilt and how they pop against each other.

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Jackie says her daughter, Kat, can outquilt her any day.  I don’t know about that, but I do love this quilt Kat put together.  She just wanted circles quilted all over it to break up the squares, so here is what I’ve done so far.

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The thread is a light orange – I think this was a good choice on the customer’s part.  As for the circles… my circles aren’t perfect – they are done freehand.  I like the circles against the squares, another good choice on the customer’s part. I’m always impressed with my customers’ choices.  I learn a lot from their tastes and their styles.  I’ll post more pictures when I am done.

Waving at you!

Hello charity quilt that I’ve been avoiding for months now!  In fact, it’s been about 4 months since I took you home to quilt.  Yes, I’ve been busy with customer quilts, the raffle quilt, my birthday, my anniversary, Christmas, etc. but I finally did get to you.  I’ve been avoiding you because I knew there would be issues with quilting you, and I wasn’t sure I could handle it, to be honest.  Plus, with all the sampler blocks, I wasn’t sure just how I wanted to quilt you.  I know, I know.  Charity quilts are a GREAT way to practice and learn new skills.  From the look of the next 2 pictures, I would say that some one was learning how to piece blocks.  But, maybe not.  Maybe the pen lines are there because that’s just how this person pieces together the blocks with more accuracy.  Look closely and you will see lines marked on the blocks.

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Charity quilts are typically made from fabric that is donated, so we don’t see too much quality fabric in charity quilts.  That’s sad, too, because the charity quilts I typically quilt go to a shelter for abused women.  They need something sturdy, yet soft, to hug them through their struggles.  Most of the fabric in this quilt is fairly thin.  The backing looks and feels like an old worn out bed sheet and is pieced in several places, but the seams are strong because they are serged.  Problem is, this creates a bigger issue for the Longarm quilter.  Not only does it mess with the hopping foot as it moves around to stitch, but it creates issues with how it lays on the quilting frame.  You can see that from this next picture.  See how the far end border kind of waves?  That block in the upper left of the picture is called an “A” or “B” cup block (bra cup size).  It will affect everything from the border to the rest of the quilt if it is not taken care of right away.  That is the reason this row of blocks got quilted first.

Christmas 2012 006

Another angle so you can see it better.  In this case, it’s not just the block (now shown in the upper right of the picture), but it is also the border.  If you measure the border to fit the measurements of a wonky block, the borders are going to be wonky as well.  Best practices for fixing this is to follow my tutorial on adding a border at https://cowtownquilts.wordpress.com/adding-borders-to-a-quilt-top-2/

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As you can see, I quilted out the wavy border.

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But then I got done with that row and rolled the quilt forward and found even more waves.

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Yep, I quilted that out, too.

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I thought I had it all under control.  The wavy borders were now straight.  Then, I got to the last row of blocks and…

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If you look closely at the above picture, you will see that the grain line of  blue and yellow fabric are at an angle, so the stretchy sides are attached to the sashing and borders.  This is why it’s important to try to keep the straight of grain of the fabric next to the sashing and/or border.  Of course, the problem floated down to the corner of the quilt.  So, we’re not done with that wavy border, like we had thought.

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A tip that I learned from Kim Brunner (www.kimmyquilt.com) was to stitch a straight line across the batting and backing at the top and the bottom of your quilt.  Then, push the edge of the quilt top and bottom next to that line and baste a running stitch across to anchor it down straight.  I do this at the top when I first start and at the bottom after I’ve quilted to the point where I can lift the fabric at the bottom of the quilt   You can see the running stitch on the batting of this next picture.  I’ll pin the top to match that line and will then stitch across it.

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But, to make sure it is square at the corners (I don’t want the bottom to be wider than the top), I use a couple of strategies to square it up before I stitch the top down.  In the picture below, you can see a right angle ruler at the corner of the quilt.  I’ve got that stitching line to line up the ruler along the bottom.  Since there’s not too much on the side of this one, I eyeball it to make sure the sides are straight.

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You can see from the above picture that I’ve got another wavy border along the bottom.  If you try to just stitch through it, you may end up with puckers so I pin as many pins as I need to make it lay flat.

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And, I will make the top fabric a little more taut by “bending” it along the way.

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If that’s not enough to “stretch” the fabric flat as I sew, I may put my fingers on both side of the base of my machine and will remove the pins as I go.

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Voila!  The edge is no longer wavy.

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But, I’ve still got that “B cup” blue and yellow block…

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Okay.  I’ll make sure my inner border is as straight as I can get it by Stitching in the Ditch (SID) along both sides.  I have several tools to help me stitch in the ditch, but my personal favorite is Janet Lee’s Other Favorite Ruler.  Little does she know, it’s my favorite, too!  It’s wide enough for my big hands to fit around (3″) and long enough (12″) that I can aim it along a seam to straighten it out and stitch continuously longer than I can with other tools.

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And, here is the rose colored border.  I love how Brandy Lee (owner of The Quilting Place)  does those swirly things in her borders and sashings, so I thought I would try it.  I’ve got a lot of practice before I ace these!  Go check out her work on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Quilting-PlaceWhere-Quilts-Happen/108563672527385).  Or go to her website at www.thequiltingplace.com.  Like I said, I’ve got a long way to go before I’m as good as she is.

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I put feathers in the yellow, outer border.   If you look at this next picture, here is that blue and yellow block.  It’s not completely flat, but it’s pretty dog gone close.  I think as I quilt more and learn more, I will get better.

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And, the finished product…

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It doesn’t look so bad now after all, does it?  I really did get lots of practice on this quilt and learned a lot.  Hopefully someone will pick this quilt to snuggle up into and will end up loving it.  And the quilt will have served its purpose of comforting and hugging the person wrapped in the safety of this warm quilt.

Hopefully this post has inspired you to make and quilt charity quilts, too.

The Reveal

So, “the reveal” of the raffle quilt was today.  That means I can share pictures of the finished product.  I’ve given you a couple of tastes of it before, but here is the whole thing.

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And, here are a few close ups.  The fans at the top in the pillow topper are hand appliqued with embroidery added.  There is taupe piping along the edge of the big kimono block/medallion in the center to go along with the thinner taupe colored inside border.  I learned from quilter Cathy Wiggins that you should repeat your colors or fabrics elsewhere within your quilt, so you should have them 2 or more times.   I was trying to pick up the taupe in the outer border fabric, so that’s how I wound up with the inner border and then the piping.  You might notice several different fabrics for a scrappy look. I saw that outer border and knew it would be the basis of the quilt, so I pulled as many indigo fabrics as I could find that would go with it.  And, of course I needed to pull that rose color in from the border fabric as well, so that’s how I wound up with the fabric for the Kanji and sleeves of a couple of kimonos (cream background with cherry blossoms).   A lot of these fabrics are Kona Bay fabrics (http://konabay.com) that I bought from the a local quilt store, Quilter’s Haven (www.quiltershaven.com), in Olathe, Kansas.  They have quite the variety of Asian fabrics.

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The appliqued Kanji symbols say “Health, Weath, & Happiness.”  So, that is what the quilt is named.   Putting this quilt together was quick.  What seemed to take forever was the quilting.  In an earlier post I demonstrated a couple of strategies I used for marking designs onto it.  There are lots of ways to mark for quilting.  Quilters like to say, “If you can draw it, you can quilt it.”  Of course, I like to say, “If you can trace a design from a Dover copyright-free book, you have a quilting design.”  I got the designs for the motifs on the kimonos from a couple of Dover clip art books.  If you know anything at all about me, you know I like to sneak fun stuff into my quilting, so I have lots of Dover books in my stash to use for ideas.

Hope you enjoyed the “quilt” show!

Marking a Quilt using Press ‘n Seal

Remember that link I told you about awhile back where the blogger uses Press ‘n Seal to mark her quilts?  Here is the link in case you need a refresher: http://quiltsbyrosemary.blogspot.com/2011/06/marking-quilting-pattern-using-pressn.html.  Well, I decided to try it on my latest quilt.

I’ve been working on one of my quilt guild’s raffle quilt, or as they like to call it, the “2013 Opportunity Quilt.”  I am letting the cat out of the bag here by posting pictures.  I am nearly done and want to have it finished by our next meeting on December 4th.  I just have a few more motifs to sew and a small border and then I can take it off the quilting frame, bind it, put a hanging sleeve and quilt label on it, and it’ll ready to be hung for “unveiling” at the December 4th meeting.  As you will see from the pictures, it’s an Asian themed quilt, with kimonos all over it.  I won’t put a picture on here yet of the whole thing, but will wait until after the official unveiling on the 4th for that.

I quilted interlocking circles along 3 borders.  It was a little tedious trying to do that around applique Kanji (above, shown before quilting the interlocking circles), but necessary to make it look okay.  Clam shells were quilted inside the kimono blocks and a different Japanese motif was quilted in the middle of each kimono.  I won’t tell you too much about the kimonos, because I want to save that for the final unveiling pictures.  But, I can post a picture of one of the kimonos.

I used the Press ‘n Seal that Rosemary suggested on the above block and the block pictured below.  Here are a couple of pictures of the process.

       

I had already copied all my patterns onto vellum paper and am planning on using those in the same way, but I wanted to give the Press ‘n Seal a try on a small area before I try it on a larger area.

If you know anything at all about Judy Lyon, you know she does amazing things with pantographs.  You can find her work here: http://www.meadowlyon.com/.  When I saw her pantograph “Geisha Garden,” I knew I had to have it, and I wanted to add it into this quilt.  But where?   I already had the whole thing planned out, so the only place it would fit would be on the bottom border of the quilt.  And, how on earth would I get it on there?   Unless you are Matt or Bradie Sparrow, who can quilt a pantograph from the front of their machine using a BobbinCam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRDp2LZOPv8, then you need to come up with another way.   Normally a pantograph is quilted from the back of the machine, so I would have to be VERY precise with how I did this.  Plus, I had the quilt loaded to face the front of the machine, so that would mean taking the quilt off and reloading it the other direction.  That’s when I decided to just draw the design onto the quilt, but that, too, would be difficult.  I could use a roll of paper, but paper that is too big will get torn and mess up.  So, Press ‘n Seal was the way to go with this.  And, you know what?  It worked really well!

Drawing it onto the Press ‘n Seal… See why I HAD to put this design into the quilt?

 

Pressing it down along the bottom border – it worked REALLY well and stayed in place the whole time.

 

 

 

After I ripped the plastic off…

The only “con” for this, I think, was that it took a little longer for me to pull the plastic off than it did for me to run the stitches over the Press ‘n Seal.  Be careful of tiny little places where the plastic can get stuck.  Try to either sew those closed or make them bigger, more open spaces.

 

 

 

Quilt Retreat

One of the guilds I belong to had a quilt retreat this past Saturday.  It was my very first quilting retreat EVER!  I thought to myself, “What on earth am I going to do for almost 12 hours at a quilting retreat?”  I mostly have longarm quilting to catch up on, so I had to really think about what to bring.   A friend suggested I bring something I hadn’t been able to work on in quite some time, some of my UFOs.  Well, I have a couple of those, so I took along plenty of stuff, sure I’d finish each and every one of the 4 items in my bag.  As it turns out, there is a LOT of socializing at these retreats and not as much work gets done as you might expect.  Actually, in my case, it was AVOIDANCE.  I started this quilt over a year ago and, after volunteering on the board of 2 separate quilt guilds and in between all the eye surgeries, this project got pushed aside, balled up, messed up, and out of the way on so many occasions that I had forgotten about it.  At this point, I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to finish even what I did on Saturday and this project would be pushed to the back burner again and again.  And, it probably will, because I just have too many ideas floating around in my pea brain, demanding my attention.  It can get really frustrating, and I try to avoid quilting challenges, because that just sets my mind awhirl once again.  But, I am SOOO happy that I got this portion of the quilt done.  It will be the foundation for future dabblings to add to the quilt.  So, here is a sneak peek of what I worked on Saturday.

 

 

 

And, here are some pictures of folks who also attended the retreat.

      

 

If you are a quilter and haven’t yet attended a retreat yet, you should try it!  Even if you walk away with only one thing completed, you will feel like you’ve accomplished a lot!

She’s a handy girly whirly

My husband does not have a handy bone in his body, but I do.  The way my siblings and I were raised, we learned to live with what we had and to fix things.  My husband, on the other hand, is a super chef (at home, not as a career), and I am not.  I cook out of necessity, not because I enjoy it.  My husband has a knack for flavors and creating some of the most scrumptious dishes.  As for me, I sew and fix things.  What more could a husband ask for?  And, when I do fix things, my husband says, “She’s a handy girly whirly!”  He acts like he is amazed at the things I fix.  Of course, I am amazed at the things he can cook!  So, anyhow, this is my latest project.

As you can see, we are in the basement – I call it the dungeon.  That is where my longarm quilting machine resides.  I never seem to have enough counter space, so I built this countertop to sit on top of my 2 cubicle bookshelves.  It serves a double purpose as a work desk for me, as I have a drafters chair that rolls right into place in the middle.

Since the bookshelves are 36 inch square, I took a piece of plywood and had it cut at the hardware store to 3 ft x 6 ft.  I then added trim along the sides that would extend a bit along the bottom of the counter to hold it in place on top of the bookshelves. When I added that trim, I left about 1/8 of an inch lip on the top to insert my cutting mats to hold them in place as well.  I then added some measuring tape sticky note tape stuff along the edge that I bought from JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts.

It serves its purpose fairly well, but I still don’t feel like I have enough counter space.  I am planning on and saving up to finish the dungeon and have added power tools and hardware gift cards to my Christmas wish list.    Others might think I’m weird for wishing for power tools, but I don’t want to feel like I’m in a dungeon while I work and create.  And, I know my husband isn’t going to finish it, nor do we have the $$$ to hire it out.  So, it’ll be me, on my own.  I think I will line 2 of the walls with low bookshelves or cabinets.  Not only will that provide storage, but it will also provide that much needed counter space.  I can also hang shelves on the wall when it’s finished, and there will be a ledge that will run along the corner, so all of that will help.

My dream is to have a small kitchenette and bathroom down here.  The kitchenette would be a great place for me to dye fabrics.  And, of course, the bathroom would be handy for this handy girly whirly.  But… I don’t have a clue how to do that nor the muscles for doing plumbing.  Anyone know someone who would be willing to do plumbing for charity?  😉

As for my latest quilting project, I wanted to work on curved crosshatching.  For whatever reason (I guess it’s the freedom that comes with it), I love quilting charity quilts.  The fabric can be some of the most God-awful stuff and it may not be perfect, but it’s a cheap way for me to practice, practice, practice.  After I got in to quilting this a bit and realizing how much time it was taking up, not to mention the fact that this would probably go to a male child, I realized that curved crosshatching is not the thing to put on charity quilts.  Ever!  I didn’t want to rip it out, so I continued on my merry way.  This was a beautifully pieced quilt, and I could have done so much more and better with it.  But, lesson learned!  And, as I like to say, “It’s all (life) a learning process.”  We make mistakes and hopefully learn from them, and in the mean time, it’s not as bad as we think.  As for this one, if I hadn’t done custom quilting on it like this, I probably would have just done an edge-2-edge, which would have done nothing to add to the piecing on this quilt.  But, then, I’m not sure this did, either.

Adding Flanges

I really like adding a chiseled edge to my quilts.  I’ve been adding piping to several of my quilts and I do like it.  However, I’ve been wanting to just put a bit of color and separation in there without the bulk of piping.  I am so glad that my friend, Tina, posted a tutorial about adding flanges.  As you look at her pictures, you can see how just that little bit of “separation” makes her blocks “pop.”  You can find her tutorial here: http://backporchquiltworks.blogspot.com/2012/08/adding-flange.html.    I am now going to have to try this!  I love the way it looks so much better than with piping!

 

Sneak Peak

I haven’t been posting too much lately, because I’ve been up to something…  I am making the Opportunity Quilt for one of  my quilt guilds for 2013, and other than taking care of necessary life requirements, I have been working diligently on this quilt.  I can’t let anyone see the completed quilt until its unveiling at the guild meeting in either December or January.  But, I can give you a sneak peak so you can see what I’ve been working on.

 

Can you tell what kind of quilt it is going to be?  I mean, what “style” is it going to be?  This/these has/have been appliqued and then embroidered.  There are 4 of these that will go at the top of a bed quilt, where the pillows are tucked under.  Here’s another one…

 

The rest of the quilt is already pieced together.  I just need to add these to the top and then layer the “quilt sandwich” of backing, batting, and top and then quilt it.  I will give you a peak of the quilting later.

What have YOU been up to?

Dyeing to do this!

I have been wanting to learn how to dye for the longest time, now; many years, in fact – it’s on my Bucket List.  I’ve looked in to classes, but they either don’t seem to work out with my schedule or they cost too much.  An acquaintance of mine said she’d arrange for a dyeing class so I could finally learn, but it hasn’t happened yet.   So, I got tired of waiting and decided to do some research and teach myself how to dye.  I found a 6-shade value kit that is reasonably priced at www.handsonhanddyes.com so I bought it and set to work learning how to dye today.  Cindy Lohbeck, the owner of Hands on Hand Dyes, does an excellent job of explaining the process in writing.

Dyeing can be a messy process.  One of the suggestions was to put the cups for dyeing into a large plastic bin.  I am so glad I did, as you can see how the dye spilled over the edges.  You can also use a plastic table cloth and newspapers to soak up the drips, too.  Can you already see that there are 6 shades of the same color?

And, here are the finished products; 6 gradations of the Red Red Wine kit from Hands on Hand Dyes.  I had a hard time choosing just one color/package, because they all looked so yummy.  But, in the end, I chose this color for one reason.  I am making the Opportunity Quilt for one of the quilting guilds I belong to, and I haven’t been able to find the right color.  I thought maybe this would come close.  A few weeks back, when I went to Colorado, I bought fabric at 3 different quilt stores in hopes of finding the right color of rose to match some of the flowers in the main fabric of the Opportunity Quilt.  When I got them home and compared them to the base fabric, only a couple of them would work.  Well, guess what?  These dyed fat quarters will be perfect for the applique I will be adding to the quilt.

 

An added surprise that I found in one of the fat quarters I had dyed was that the scrunching I had done to produce the mottled effect made 2 hearts right in the middle of the fabric.

Cool, huh?