Fabric Play

I’m supposed to be quilting the basket quilt.  I’m soooo close to finishing but it’s hot and I don’t feel like wrestling with it in my quilting gloves.  I decided I needed a day to just play with fabrics and try something new. (This is probably why I have so many unfinished projects!)

I bought a book last fall called “Wanderlust Quilts”  by Amanda Leins.  We were still living in Italy and the quilts in the book really spoke to me – they made me think of Italy and our travels.  Also, the book was on sale so I just could not pass it up.

I fell in love with one of the quilts in the book called Aqueducts.  It’s a small quilt of scrappy arches on a white background.  I think I finally have enough scraps to make it so I got started.  The book calls for making fabric out of scraps, or just basically just keep sewing fabrics until you get pieces big enough.  I looked at it and decided maybe it would be easier for me to paper piece bits together.

The long straight pieces I just sewed together and cut to the right size but the arches, I did a variation of paper piecing to save fabric and get the right shape.  I’m not gonna lie, this project created a mess!

So the large arches went together very easily.  I pinned them like crazy, used the slow speed on my machine with the needle down and just took it slow.  I’ve only finished one row of the large arches but they all turned out very nicely.

The small arches were another story.  They were just so tiny that getting them in the machine and around the curve felt impossible.  I did one on the machine and the rest, I sewed the background arch on by hand.

It’s coming together quickly.  I have these two rows done and have to do two more rows of large arches.

It’s just what I needed though – lots of fabric play!  I’ll share more when I’m finished.

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Finished “Acorn’s Promise”

Well, I’ve finally finished this quilt for my Italian friend.  She asked me for it back in December and I had some setbacks along the way.  You might remember I made this quilt before but in a smaller wall-hanging size.  To make it larger, I just kept adding borders!  The original pattern used half trees along with the full-sized trees but I hate half quilt blocks so I modified it with some scrappy background blocks that add a little bit of depth to such large background pieces.

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I used left-over bits for the colorful border and it was quilted by a friend of a friend (thank you Janelle of E & J Quilts!) in Minnesota who did an awesome job with an all-over swirly wind pattern.

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Since the border was so large and there was so much brown; I thought I might add a piped binding to add just a little bit more color.  I couldn’t decide which color to go with though since there are so many colors in the trees.  My friend suggested I go with the scrappy theme I had already started.  I’ve never done a piped binding before so I had to figure out how to do this.

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Luckily, I still had some scraps left over so I put those together in strips using the same method I used to make the trees.

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This method is sewing the strips together and cutting them at a 45 degree angle.

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I found some tutorials online on how to make a faux piped binding and to get a 2 1/4 inch sized binding, you need 1 1/4 inch of your binding fabric and 1 1/2 inch of a contrast fabric.  I complicated things by having a pieced contrast fabric.  I found that all the seams made some waves and rough corners.  I’m not sure if I would do this again.

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You then sew these 2 pieces together.  Of course, it’s 10 miles long so it will take you forever!

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Then you fold and iron and you should have a nice little bit of your “faux piping” showing.  Like I said, I had a few lumps and bumps with all the seams.

I didn’t get many photos of this next part because it took me several days but getting the binding onto the quilt is a little different process than a usual binding.  You actually sew the binding to the BACK of the quilt with the binding fabric down and the contrast fabric facing up.  You miter your corners just like you would if you were sewing the binding to the top.

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Then you flip the binding over (ironing it helps) and then you’re supposed to basically, stitch-in-the-ditch to finish it.  Obviously, you would want a matching thread so that it’s not so visible.  This was one problem since I wasn’t sure what thread to use.  I tried a neutral but it was still too visible for me.  Luckily, our household goods came from storage in the states this week and I had my best invisible thread.

The invisible thread worked great although I didn’t like how it looked when I stitched in the ditch. I also found that when I did that, you could see my threads more on the back binding.  I ended up stitching closer to the edge of the colored piping which maybe defeats the whole “piping” thing but it just looked neater to me.  When I did this and used a neutral thread in my bobbin; my threads on the back blended in nicely with the backing fabric.

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I’m not sure for all the effort that it was worth it to do the piped binding.  I enjoyed trying something new and I’ll probably do it again although with just one contrasting fabric!

A Use-All-Your-Fabric Quilt

I’ve been putting the finishing touches on this scrap quilt this week.

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I got the pattern from the ladies of my old quilt guild; The Black Forest Quilt Guild in Stuttgart, Germany.  They made a quilt like this for a raffle and I loved it.  I thought it would be a great way to use up a lot of my fabric stash before we moved last year.  As I cleaned up my sewing room and went through my fabrics, I cut and strip-pieced the 6 inch blocks so that I only had to mail a stack of these blocks.

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I also had a bunch of 1.5 inch pieces left over from my Crabapples quilt so I used those for the little nine-patch blocks in the sashing.

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The Black Forest Quilters made their quilt with a scrappy multi-colored piano key border but I didn’t have the time or energy for that.  I just added a couple small, complimentary colored borders to finish off this bright scrap quilt.

This is definitely a great quilt to use up your fabric stash!

A Tied Quilt

Since I’ve been on roll finishing so many quilts (and the weather has gotten cooler) I decided it was time to finish my Sister’s Choice quilt so I can use it on my bed.

I’ve been putting this off and I should have bought supplies while I was back in the states but I didn’t.  I looked at the PX to see if they had anything I could use and found some crochet thread and yarn and some larger needles.  I thought I could use the crochet thread to hand quilt the quilt with big stitches but I don’t have a thimble and it’s just too painful to do without.

Then I found the invisible tie online and remembered that we did that with a quilt at my Virginia church but you need a VERY long needle so that left me with tying the quilt with little knots.

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This method is usually used with utility quilts – often for kid’s quilts.  It’s not super pretty but it works fine.

The type of batting you use will determine how closely you need to put your ties.  I used a thin 100% cotton batting which doesn’t have to be quilted very closely.  6 inches apart is probably the maximum and obviously you want to put the ties in a pattern that’s pleasing to the eye and fits in with the overall quilt.  While this is a quicker method, it still took me 3 days to finish all the ties.  Once I finished the middle of the quilt, I thought maybe I could straight-line sew around the blue inner border.  I tried using my walking foot but I didn’t have much luck.  I ended up using a regular foot and a longer stitch to give it a homey look.  The goal is to keep that batting from shifting when you use the quilt.

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When I started cutting fabric for binding, I found I didn’t have enough.  I know – you’re not surprised since this happens all the time to me.  It’s my thing.  I’m the queen of strange bindings.  I did have enough of the light blue that I used for the border to bind 3 sides but then I had to use the bright blue for the last side.  Hey, it’s a scrap quilt!

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So now I just need to hand sew the back of the binding and this quilt is finished!  Kitty is giving it her stamp of approval.

Blocks Finished

My Sister’s Choice blocks are all finished!  I’ve been laying them out and sewing them together.

This is one of those quilts that can drive you crazy when it comes time to sew the blocks together.  Your perfectionist tendencies don’t want to let you have any background fabrics next to each other but somehow, they seem to find their way together!

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I don’t really think it’s all that noticeable if I did have some background fabrics next to each other.  You can see from afar, the background fades into … well, the background.

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I lay out my blocks and then stack them into rows and then sew them.  Somehow in that process, some blocks get turned or out of order no matter how careful I am.  I’ve had a couple of places where two fabrics are next to each other – I don’t know how it happens.  It’s not the end of the world.  This quilt is going on my bed to be used so no one is going to notice.

 I debated for a while whether to add sashing but..1) I didn’t have enough black fabric for all the sashing and 2) it really didn’t look right.  Then, I debated whether to make this a quilt-as-you-go quilt.  I’ve never tried this technique where you sandwich and quilt each block and then put them together at the end.  If you’re using a small home sewing machine, this technique can make the quilting process easier.  I did a lot of research online and finally decided against it.

For one thing, everyone suggests that you have a little bigger seam allowance; maybe 1/2 inch instead of 1/4 inch so that the seams don’t bunch up.  I didn’t plan for that in the beginning so things might not have worked out.  Apparently, sashing is best for these quilt-as-you-go quilts because it can hide the front joining seams but then you have to hand stitch the back seams together.  That sounded like a lot of work.

There was another technique where you add the batting and quilt the blocks.  Then sew them all together, then add the whole backing and just quilt the backing in with seams around the blocks.  Those seemed to have messy backing so I decided against that technique as well.  Someday I’ll try the quilt-as-you-go.

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After I get these blocks together, I will wait. (I do a lot of waiting here.)  I’m waiting for the blue fabric I ordered for the inner border and the backing.  I ordered the batting several weeks ago because I’m such a good planner.  Don’t ask me what I’m going to use for binding – I haven’t figured that out yet.  It’s actually a miracle that I found enough blue for the star points.  I kept running out and I kept finding more blue in my meager stash.  Luckily, it’s a scrap quilt so it’s all good.

My plan is to sandwich it like a regular quilt and try out my walking foot to do some simple straight line quilting.

Stay tuned…

 

New Machine-Old Project

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I’ve been playing with my new sewing machine and I kind’ve like it!  I wasn’t able to bring my Pfaff sewing machine because it was just too big to mail or bring on the plane with me.  I debated forever about what to do and finally decided to get this small Janome machine.  It’s the DC 2014 and it came in the box with lots of really good packing.  It’s a lightweight, basic machine although it’s definitely made with the quilter in mind.

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It came with a quarter inch foot, although I’m not used to this kind with a stop guard on it.  It also has a walking foot for quilting.  It has a needle down option and you can drop the feed dogs.  It’s got everything that I need for piecing and I think I can do some basic straight line quilting.

So I mailed this sewing machine in the box, got the extra insurance and crossed my fingers.  It arrived in perfect condition – thank you USPS!  I got a transformer and a table and I’m back in business.

I’ve been working on adding the binding to my Charlotte’s Web quilt.  I dropped it off at the quilter when I picked up the wedding quilt and it arrived at my Mom’s house a couple days before we flew here.  I just left it in the box and took it back to the post office.

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I had them quilt it with a spiderweb pattern.  The blocks are so big that the spiderweb doesn’t fit perfectly in the web but it’s an all-over design and it still looks nice.  There’s a lot going on with all these scraps so the all-over quilting just adds to it.

I’m so glad I brought this quilt.  We need something light on our bed since it’s so hot here.

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And check it out!  Now I have an awesome place to take my quilt pictures from – the landing to the second floor.

New Scrap Quilt Project

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I’ve been staring longingly at all my fabrics.  I know I can’t take it all with me.  In fact, the latest on the move front is that I can probably only mail a small box of sewing stuff.  I have to be very smart about how I do this.  I wonder if I can use it all up before next month?

I came up with a plan to cut up as much as I can into a quilt kit.  I’ve been wanting to make the Sister’s Choice quilt from Bonnie Hunter’s Quiltville website for a long time.  Someone posted a photo of their finished Sister’s Choice with black sashing between the blocks and I loved it.  I may not use black fabric for the sashing but I like the look of the Sister’s Choice blocks set with sashing.

I spent a week cutting all my light/neutral fabric scraps into 2 1/2″ squares and 2 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ rectangles.   I estimated having about 42 blocks in my quilt so I think I have enough of these pieces.  Then the pattern recommends having the star points all the same fabric or at least the same color so I cut these 2 1/2″ blocks out of dark blue fabrics since I had a lot of that color.

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The inside of the “stars” are scrappy 9-patch blocks out of 2 different color fabrics.  I’ve just been pulling fabrics out that look good together and cutting them into 2 1/2″ x 11″ strips with one extra 2 1/2″ block.

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Here’s what the finished block looks like.

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I love that all the background fabrics are different but they still read as light background.  They’ll definitely give the quilt lots of depth and interest.

I cut enough of the color fabrics to make 12 blocks and it hasn’t even made a dent in my stash.  At least maybe I can use pieces of all my fabrics so I have something to remember it with.  I think I should call this quilt “2016 Move-A Fabric Memorial” instead of Sister’s Choice!

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Look how pretty these blocks are!  I really believe that the quilts I create manage to tell the stories of my life.  This one will be forever linked to this move and this place in my life.

If you’re interested in making this quilt with me, the pattern is free on Bonnie Hunter’s website – Quiltville.  You’ll find lots of free patterns there but just scroll down until you see the Sister’s Choice pattern.  I’m planning to add a  1″ or 1 1/2″ finished sashing  in one color to the blocks and probably scrappy setting blocks to go along with them so I’m adjusting the pattern a little.

Now back to cutting and packing.

Smith Mountain quilt top

This quilt top is ready to be quilted!

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This quilt went together beautifully until I got to the outside border strips.  I guess my seams were just a little off or I hadn’t trimmed them up perfectly at 3 1/2 inches but after 25 blocks were put together, things just didn’t measure up correctly.  I had to resew several seams on all four sides to get those outside borders on.  It wasn’t too terrible.

We had a beautiful, sunny day and I had 2 quilt holders at home so I put them to work holding up my quilt outside.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t finish until the end of the day and there was a shadow from the big tree in the backyard.  Well, we tried!

So this quilt is ready to be sent to the quilters and I’m ready to move on to the next one!

Progress Report

This week I finished all 28 of the log cabin blocks for the Smith Mountain Morning quilt!  They went faster than I thought they would since my goal for this week was to have half of them done.  There’s nothing like a cold, snowy January week to get lots of sewing done!

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I realized towards the end that I’m not the best counter when it comes to cutting out tons of tiny pieces so I had extra of some pieces and I was short of other pieces and had to cut more.  Here are all my extra pieces.

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The next step is to make the star blocks.  There are 16 blue star blocks and 12 brown star blocks.  Each of these stars has a pinwheel center so I’m working on those first.

This means sewing 112 half square triangles and then cleaning up those squares and sewing them together into pinwheels.

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One done!

They’re calling for more snow so I’m sure I’ll have these all done before you know it.

Some Cutting & Sewing on Smith Mountain

I dug out the Smith Mountain Morning quilt pieces that I started cutting out a couple years ago and realized that I hadn’t actually cut out that many.  Darn!  If you’ve ever made a Bonnie Hunter quilt, you know there are hundreds of little pieces to her quilts.  (Maybe why I put it away?)  So I spent the past week and a half just cutting out fabrics and I don’t think I’m completely out of the woods yet because I didn’t even get to the border pieces.  I think I at least have all the pieces for the blocks cut out which is something.  I kept telling myself that what makes these quilts so awesome is the sheer number of little pieces.

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Today, I got started sewing.  I decided to start with the log cabin blocks – don’t ask me why.  I got all 28 of the center quarter-square triangles done and got started sewing all 336 of the little muslin squares to the ends of all 168 of the blue log pieces.  (OK, I probably only have about 35 of those done.)  I’m pacing myself.  BUT, I did get one whole block done just to say I did it!

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This is progress.  I counted and there are 28 pieces of fabric in each block!  I won’t bore you with the math of 28 blocks and then those other 28 blocks.  The key to getting this done seems to be chain piecing – just feeding one piece after the other through the machine.

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It can get a little monotonous so I only work on the quilt for an hour or so at a time.  I’ll keep you updated on my progress.