Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Progress on Baby's Row Quilt

I've been sewing like crazy this week on my new row quilt. I forgot how many 8-seam intersections there are when you're working with pinwheels. To keep all the bias edges straight and the intersections clean, I've paper pieced some parts of the blocks. It's a bit fiddly (a British word I've learned from watching too many episodes of Wheeler Dealer--I love it and have adopted it as my own), but is turning out nicely. I'm kind of a stickler for seams meeting and sharp points. Not that I don't like the look of improvised, wonky quilts, but my stand is that if it's not intentionally wonky, it has to be accurate, and if it's wonky, it had better look wonky, not like you tried and missed. Ha! Just my view, so don't yell at me about it. 

Background doesn't photograph well--pale turquoise (sort of minty)

Changing pad cover for the color scheme

Anyway, I have 8 out of 9 rows done! Then I have to add the light sashes between and do the back! I won't get to any more until Sunday. We're expecting guests any minute. It's amazing how anticipating guests gets me to clean up my "studio", aka living room, family room and guest room (I kind of spread my work around--some time I'll do a post to show you what I mean), but everything's ready and I've hidden all signs of the quilt so my daughter doesn't see it. 

If you live in the US, Happy Thanksgiving! And if you live elsewhere, have a fun weekend, too. 

I'm linking up today with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. No post tomorrow, but I'll be back next week with more progress--hopefully the back of the row quilt. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday--Baby L's Row Quilt

This is a new post in a series about quilts I completed before I started blogging. It is my effort to document past quilts with pictures and as many details as I can remember (often not many) about how I constructed them. I'll be posting these indefinitely on Throwback Thursday. 

Today's quilt is the baby quilt I made for my granddaughter L before she was born just about three years ago. I made it with the fabrics that my daughter used to decorate the nursery. Most of them are City Weekend by Oliver + S by Moda. The yellow/white is Garden Trellis by Michael Miller. It was used for the crib skirt and curtains, and the other fabrics were on pennants, alphabet wall hangings and chair cushions. The whites are a variety of white on white prints. 

I needed to make the quilt gender neutral because we didn't  know whether the baby was a he or a she until she was born. I decided on a row quilt and have lots of drawings of blocks I considered. I also looked on the internet for ideas. I looked recently to see if any of the quilts that inspired me were still in images, but didn't see anything familiar.

Yup, it's a quilt with legs picture. And crooked, too. It's the best I have.

For the back, I sewed some squares in squares. I didn't worry about whether they'd all show --I just made sure they were straight. 

The squares on the front are 6 inches and 3 inches. I'm not sure how wide the sashing strips are--probably somewhere around an inch. Based on these, I'm guessing the quilt was about 42 by 50 before washing, so the big squares on the back were probably 12 inches. (I'll have to measure it sometime when I'm with my granddaughter.) 

I don't remember what batting I used--probably Cream Rose cotton by Mountain Mist, because I was using a lot of that at the time. (But it could have been Warm and White.) I hand quilted it with cotton thread called Suisse Quilting by American Thread Company. I bought it by the boxful years ago. I still have a little bit left and am saving it for special quilting because I love it and the company is no longer in existence. 

For the first year of her life, L had her picture taken on either the front or the back of the quilt each Friday, and then every few weeks for the following year. Now that she's moving to a Big Girl Bed, I've made a new quilt for her with the leftover fabrics from the nursery, but I'm sure she'll still be using this one for play and maybe a little extra warmth on a cold night. 

I'm linking up today with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Playing in Paint

When it comes to quilting (and many other things), I'm a low tech girl, so when I was having trouble coming up with a pattern for a quilt this week, I chose a low tech method for figuring it out. 

I'm interrupting this post for a SPOILER ALERT and warning to my daughter, who occasionally snoops here. J, do not read any further or you will spoil the surprise. (She knows this, but just in case...)

Okay, I warned her. 

This quilt is for my grandson, who will make his appearance shortly after the beginning of the new year. I've really struggled with what I wanted to do. I have a color palette based on his nursery colors and have been collecting fabric, which is backwards from how I usually work. (I usually have an idea and then buy whatever fabric I need.) I've gone back and forth between a pictorial quilt (streets? zoo?) and a geometric one. I've finally decided on a geometric quilt, specifically, a row quilt. When my granddaughter was born, I made her a row quilt, so I thought one with a similar layout but different blocks would be fun. Once that decision was made, I was still having trouble getting started, and I didn't want to just start cutting my fabric. So I decided to use some low tech tools: graph paper and the Paint program on my computer. (I actually got out my color pencils before I came to my senses and saw that Paint would be much more efficient.)   

First, I drew some patterns on my graph paper:

I've been into pinwheels lately, so I looked through my old copy of The Quilter's Album of Blocks & Borders by Jinny Beyer and some magazines for pinwheel ideas, and drew some of them along with some rows of chevrons. Then I traced the pattern with tracing paper to get rid of the blue lines because I wasn't sure if they'd show up on the scanner. 

Then the fun began. After scanning, the picture, I opened it with Paint, chose some custom colors to match my fabric, and colored away. I came up with two basic options:


I printed out a bunch of copies and started cutting and "pasting" (taping rows over rows) to balance and tweak the design.

After lots of cutting and taping, and some additional play in Paint, I came up with this:

I drew my blocks out on graph paper to check my dimensions and have been rotary cutting ever since. Now I get to throw all the pieces up on the design wall. I'm sure there will be more tweaking, but it feels good to finally be working instead of mulling things over. And over. 

I've often thought of buying a computer quilt planning program, but have never gotten around to it. I also haven't used Paint for a long time, but it was fun to go back to it again, and I think it worked just as well as a higher tech program for planning this quilt. 

If you'd like to see my granddaughter's row quilt, check back tomorrow for Throwback Thursday. It matches the Big Girl Bed Quilt I've been blogging about for weeks. 

I'm linking up today with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and with Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Finish for a Big Girl Bed

The Quilt for a Big Girl Bed is finished. Yippee! I thought this would be such a simple quilt when I started it at the beginning of September! I never dreamed it would take me this long. There were some bumps along the way, but overall, I'm pleased with how it turned out. I'm especially glad that I took the time to redo part of the back.

My husband took pictures in the backyard on Wednesday afternoon. It was dark and there were flurries in the air, but that was the best we could do this week. Yesterday, it wasn't much lighter and the flurries were a little bigger. I'm trying to use better settings for my quilt pictures. That's a little hard to do in our yard with the leaves off the trees now. I "borrowed" the neighbor's fence, clamped on some coaxial cable, and then clothes pinned the quilt. Better than a headless quilt with legs, I guess. So here it is (in between gusts of wind) to get the documentation of the full quilt:

All of the colorful fabrics except the yellow/white print are from the City Weekend collection by oliver + s for Moda. The yellow/white is Garden Trellis from Michael Miller. These fabrics are the ones my daughter used to decorate my granddaughter L's nursery. I also used them in the baby quilt I made for L. (I think I'll do a separate post about that quilt next week for Throwback Thursday.) The five white/gray prints are from a collection called Get Back! (I don't know the designer or manufacturer, but they're super soft.) I used them on the back, too. The binding is a little stripe from the City Weekend fabric. It's kind of quiet, but it was the only fabric I had enough of to make the binding. 

And now for a slightly more artsy shot:
There is snow on this deck today.

And some inside ones to show it on a bed and close up for the quilting:

Purposely dark pictures to show the quilting

Okay, enough pictures.

I machine pieced the quilt on my Singer featherweight and machine quilted it on my Singer 115-1 treadle using Superior King Tut thread in White Linen. The flower pattern in the colored squares is my own design inspired by one of the white/gray fabric prints, and the rest of the quilting is meandering. The batting is Quilters Dream Cotton White in Select loft. I machine sewed the binding. It's narrower on the back than the front--I pulled it over the front a little more than I needed to. 

So what did I learn making this quilt? I think the biggest thing I learned (besides how to unsew parts of a backing and how to quilt through a paper pattern) was about sizing. When I first started quilting many years ago, I decided that it was much more fun than clothing construction because I didn't have to make anything fit (and I eventually stopped sewing clothing). Usually, I haven't had to fit my quilts to anything. Most of them are baby or throw size or wall quilts. And the ones I did make in the past for beds had polyester batting and were either hand quilted (one huge one, and that was enough!) or tied, so I didn't worry too much about shrinkage. This quilt is intended for my granddaughter's new daybed. The bed will have drawers under it so I didn't want the quilt to hang too far over the side and get in the way. But I didn't want to skimp, either. As designed, the finished top was 62 by 94 inches--an odd size, but I figured we'd tuck it under the mattress at the back and on the foot end of the bed if needed. By the time I finished quilting, the quilt had lost about 2 inches in both width and length and by the time I washed it, it was 57 3/4 by about 88 inches, so an overall loss of 4 1/4 inches in width and 6 in length. That's a little more than I thought it would lose, but it will still fit nicely over the mattress with clearance for the drawers. 

Another thing I learned has to do with the batting. I ordered it because I wanted white and couldn't get it at my local quilt stores. When I got the batting, it was more of an off-white than white. I was concerned that maybe I was sent the natural color by mistake, so I contacted the company to ask about it. The customer service rep told me that Quilters Dream White is treated with peroxide, not bleach, so it does not turn a bright white. Also, an easy way to tell the difference between the two colors of batting is to look for little flecks in the natural batting. It wasn't a big problem that the batting wasn't bright white for this quilt because the furnishings in the room are what I think of as IKEA white--just a little off white. If the batting "yellows" the quilt a bit, it's okay. But if I do another quilt that has bright whites in the fabric, I'll probably use a different batting, such as Warm and White. I do love the feel of the Quilters Dream batting though--so soft and drapey! And it truly was dreamy to quilt. 

One last thing I learned--for anyone who is a treadle quilter: Always make sure the bobbin winder is disengaged before quilting. One day I treadled hard for two hours. I thought my legs were just tired from a bike ride I had taken earlier in the day, but then when I went to reload my bobbins, I found that the winder was engaged, putting lots of drag on the belt. The sad thing? That is not the first time that has happened to me. I need to make a sign so I'll remember to check it.  

Well, for anyone still with me on this post, this has gone on way too long. If this is your first time here, you can read about the progress (and set back) on this quilt herehere, and here...and here.

I'm linking up today with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing for Free Motion Mavericks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday--D and M's Columbine Quilt

This is a new post in a series about quilts I completed before I started blogging. It is my effort to document past quilts with pictures and as many details as I can remember (often not many) about how I constructed them. I'll be posting these indefinitely on Throwback Thursday. 

Today's quilt is one I made for my nephew and his wife, D and M, in celebration of their wedding. They were married in June 2008, but I didn't finish their present (okay, it wasn't even started in June) until August that year. They were living in Colorado and were using blues and greens in their decor, so I decided to make a columbine design. 

I am having a hard time recalling how I made the quilt. I know I had a drawing that I had enlarged at a copy center (I remember the owner being concerned about how the lines would blur as they were enlarged but I told her it didn't matter, and she was baffled by that). I made a master pattern from the copy and drew the sewing lines on it--I still have it.  It's a mess, with lots of letters and numbers that don't make much sense to me now, but I don't think I was doing freezer paper piecing yet at that time. (There are no telltale registration marks) It's made up of a lot of wedge-shaped sections that I likely foundation paper pieced and then joined. Funny how I don't remember.  But I do remember working furiously on the quilt because I felt bad that I hadn't made it in time for the wedding. (A little end-of-the-school-year craziness at my job got in the way.)

Anyway, the pattern for the quilt is 29 1/2 inches square, so I guess that's roughly the size of the finished quilt. It's made with cotton. I'm not sure if the batting is polyester or cotton. It looks a little thick, but maybe that's all the seams. I hand quilted it. 

Here's the back:

I really like pieced flowers and have all kinds of ideas for future quilts like this, but if I made this one again, I'd probably use freezer paper piecing instead, or maybe combine the two types of paper piecing.  

Come back tomorrow, and I'll have a finish to share.

I'm linking up today with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Big News

Just a quick post today. I've been working away at the Quilt for a Big Girl Bed. I finished the quilting, and have been working on the binding.

But my big news this week is I won!!! 

My entry #1 into the Bloggers Quilt Festival won in the Art Quilt category. I was so surprised and honored. I have never entered a festival (of any kind) before, so this was a Big Deal to me. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for my quilt. And thanks to Amy's Creative Side for hosting the Festival. I spent way too much time admiring all the wonderful quilts. And now I get to use my prize to buy more fabric (!!!!) at the Fat Quarter Shop thanks to their sponsorship. What fun!

I'll definitely have a finish to share on Friday. (I hope the weather cooperates this week for some pictures. It's been so dark here.)

I'm linking up today with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social.. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday--O's Sailboats

This is a new post in a series about quilts I completed before I started blogging. It is my effort to document past quilts with pictures and as many details as I can remember (often not many) about how I constructed them. I'll be posting these indefinitely on Throwback Thursday. 

Today's quilt is a baby quilt I completed for my great-nephew O in February 2009. The whole quilt was based on the backing fabric. (I don't recall the designer or manufacturer.)

I drew a foundation pattern to paper piece sailboats. Each block was to finish at 5 1/2 inches by 8 inches. I traced the pattern onto foundation papers, reversing half of them so I could alternate the directions of the rows of sailboats. I selected fabrics that matched the colors of the back to construct the boats. 

Now, here's where it gets a bit hazy because I don't have good notes. I think I separated the boats with a 2 by 8 inch strip (plus seam allowance) made up of a 2 by 6 inch piece of sky fabric and a 2 by 2 inch water fabric (plus seam allowances). I wanted to stagger the rows a bit, so I reduced the width of the strip at the front of each row and added some width at the end. Hmmm...improv piecing wasn't all that popular then, but I think there was a little improv piecing in this quilt--at least in the planning of the first two rows--and then I repeated what I had done in the other rows. The whole idea was to give the feeling of the movement in a regatta.

The whole quilt was probably about 39 or 40 inches by 48 inches before washing. The fabric is cotton with Mountain Mist polyester batting. I tied it with no. 5 perle cotton in off white. (I was a hand quilter at the time, but tied most baby quilts.)

Baby O was born in March 2009. (He's in kindergarten now!) I hear that he often uses the quilt to build forts with his little brother. (Yay!) He's also had fun in the summertime sailing in his grandpa's sailboat, which was the reason I made him a sailboat quilt.

I'm linking up today with My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday and possibly with Quiltin' Jenny for Throwback Thursday.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Old Dog--New Trick

I started Free Motion Quilting a little over a year ago when I bought an antique treadle machine. Up until now--except for a little practice block--my FMQ has only been meandering. I really enjoy it. It's easy--relatively mindless, with few stops and starts, and few threads to tie off. And I like how it looks.

But this week I decided that it's time to learn something a little more structured. So I'm quilting a simple flower in the middle of each colored square of the Quilt for a Big Girl Bed. I didn't trust myself to FMQ without a pattern (although that is a goal), so I drew a pattern on plain paper and then used it to needle punch through stacks of folded tracing paper. I chose this method because I'm not a fan of marking pens, and a soapstone pencil didn't show up on my fabrics.
126 tracing paper patterns!!
It's a little hard to see the needle punching, but it's there. Before I started on the big quilt, I taped some tracing paper patterns to a little practice quilt and tried out two versions of the flower pattern (with either one circle or two circles in the center), and then meandered in the sashes and space around the flowers. I liked how it looked with the two circles better because that detail set off the flowers from the meandering a little more.

Of course, quilting two circles is more challenging, but oh well. It's taking me some time to learn to do this smoothly. I'm not enjoying quilting through paper that much. My biggest challenge is keeping my thread ends out of the way so I don't quilt over them. (I like to tie off and bury my thread ends as I go, but because of the paper, I have to wait until I get the block quilted.) The paper does tear off easily, though, so that's good. I asked an expert treadle quilter about my problem with the thread ends, and she said she only buries them on show quilts, so that's something I'm thinking about as I continue.

I was hoping to have a finish this Friday, but it's pretty clear that's not going to happen. This project is much slower than meandering. My stitches aren't great, but I hope that by the end, I'll be more comfortable with the technique. It's probably a good project to use for practice because I don't think my toddler granddaughter will be checking my work for accuracy. This is the biggest project I've ever quilted on my treadle, and I'm happy to find that it fits very easily under the arm of the machine. I'm looking forward to the reward of meandering once I get all those flower squares done!

I'm linking up today with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.