Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Need a Quilt Top - Fast!

I will be going to see a 'new-to-me' quilting system on Friday so I need a quilt top made really quickly to take with me to test out the machine/frame. I know that many quilters have tons of quilt tops ready and waiting for their turn to be quilted but I don't usually hang on to them that long. Once I get a top pieced and the borders on, I want to see it as a finished quilt as soon as possible. That being said, I do have two finished quilt tops ready to go, The Engineer's Wife and an orange/green top that I haven't shown on my blog, but I don't want to use them as practice pieces.

I quickly dug through my parts bins and pulled out some 3.5" hsts. It just happens that I also have a larger piece of this Asian fabric and I can use it for the borders if I want to. This top is being designed on the fly so I am not sure how big it will be or what it will end up looking like. If it is big enough I think it will eventually become a donation quilt to a local women's shelter and if not maybe a Project Linus quilt for an older girl.

Ready to add to the design wall.
I have been AWOL the last several days. Our internet service was not working properly and constantly kept blinking in and out. My husband was finally able to fix it by replacing the router but it took a couple days because as you know - there is ALWAYS a problem or special circumstances. My husband has our system set up in a very custom design and you can't just plug something in and say 'done'. You would think that while I was incommunicado that I spent a lot of time sewing but nada - I only did a bit of hand-quilting on my yellow paisley Seven Sisters.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Linked is Quilted

My thread tails still need to be sewn in.
I loaded this quilt onto the frame on Saturday and I was all gung-ho to quilt but then I had so many problems with my bobbin. At first it was all okay and I got a couple rows done but all of a sudden things changed. I would only quilt about 3" and then I would have to unstitch and try again. Talk about frustrating!

I don't want to work on my quilts unless I am feeling happy - I think when I am frustrated that it somehow shows in the quilt when it is finished, so I left it and tried to quilt on Sunday. Same thing - I just couldn't make it happen. I had such a hard time - my thread kept binding in the bobbin and then snapping. I had a spare bobbin case but it was not up to snuff either. The local quilt shop was not open on Sunday so I had to wait until Monday to buy a new bobbin case. I actually took the old cases to the tech shop to show them what was happening. The best solution was to just buy a new case and try it and thankfully it worked. I will make another trip over to the shop soon to buy another bobbin case to keep as a backup. It was less than $20 for the replacement and it would have saved so much time and energy if I had a decent spare on hand.
I finished quilting Linked on Monday evening and I am really happy with the results. I did a loopy-loop meander and I think it works well. I already have the binding cut so today I plan to sew it onto the front and then spend a couple evenings hand stitching it to the back. I will be seeing the recipient of this quilt, Evelyn, on May 4 so I do have plenty of time to finish it up.

I had been toying with the idea of upgrading my quilting system to something a little more professional so that I can develop my quilting skills and expand my repertoire of free-motion quilting designs and this last trial just may have pushed me over the edge. Now, I just have to convince my husband that the cost of an upgraded system is not 'that much' if you figure I will be quilting for 20-30 more years - at least I hope to be!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Backing Alignment and RSC

Look at me- I am aligned perfectly!
Today I plan on doing some machine quilting and I have my Linked quilt ready to load on the frame. Normally, I don't bother aligning the pattern on the backing fabric unless it is so prominent that it would be seriously noticeable because no matter how I try it always seems to shift while I am sewing it together. The backing fabric that I chose to use for this quilt has a definite pattern and I wanted to make sure that I aligned it properly. I always have so much trouble doing that - but not this time! I didn't take any pictures of the process but this is how I did it.

I laid the first panel of the backing fabric face up on a table and then I took the second panel, making sure the pattern was going in the right direction, I began to align the motifs where I wanted them to join. I used an iron to press the top panel right sides together with the bottom panel as I moved along the length of the fabric continually aligning the motifs. I used a fabric glue stick to hold the two panels together along the matched motifs. Once everything was aligned and glued, and making sure to not shift anything, I carefully pinned the two panels together to hold them securely for sewing. One of the benefits that I found from using this method was that the press line also became the perfect sewing line.

Yesterday, I made the green version of my mini stars for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. These twinkling little stars will finish at 3". Some of the fabrics used in these stars came from my string bins and some came from my 1.5" strip bins. I still have not decided how these stars will be used but they do have so many possibilities. Take a minute and visit with Angela over at soscrappy and check out the other links to the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Engineer's Wife Flimsy

This quilt top ended up huge - 79" x 96".  My husband and my son are trying to hold it up and they are having a bit of trouble doing it even though they are both quite tall. I added four borders to the quilt top and even though this is not the best picture I think that they do work.

Originally, I had made an error with the block size in my design so I still have enough blocks for a second quilt. I thought I could make twin quilts - one for my husband and one for me but I only have just under a half meter of the dark blue fabric left. That will not be enough to complete the second quilt and I cannot get anymore of that particular solid. Many of the extra blocks already have the inner frame of blue/neutral stitched on and I don't really want to take it off. I have set the extra blocks aside for the time being until I can make a decision on how I want to proceed. Hopefully, I can come up with an alternate fabric/idea quickly so that I can get it turned into a quilt that can be used. I think I might like to see a very small print that is blue and brown so I will have to keep an eye out for something whenever I go fabric shopping. I have also been toying with the idea of using a dark brown solid but I haven't done a test to see if I will like it or not. The backing and binding are made so the next step is quilting and I still have some time for that.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dear Jane - World Series (B-7)

This week I made the World Series block for my Dear Jane quilt. It is an applique block and I am satisfied with the way it turned out. I still need to work on aligning my applique pieces as well as those darn points. The good news is that I do see improvement every time I do applique. I don't think I will ever be an applique 'master' and fortunately that is not one of my goals - whew!

I used the center of the block as a template to help align the melon shapes and it did help. I did needle turn applique but I had to glue the inner side seam of the melons so that I had a reference for placement. In hindsight, I probably should have just traced the pattern from the book onto the background fabric.

The Frixion pens that I had used to mark the quilting design on my Seven Sisters quilt have become quite handy and I used one to mark the melons and the diamonds.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Midget Block #74 - Bride

Of all of the midget blocks that I have made, this one by far is the one that I am most proud. This block was such a challenge to me and I kept putting if off and then when I did start to work on it I just did a bit at a time because it was a bit overwhelming to me. I know that sounds ridiculous because it is just a quilt block and a little one at that, but honestly I had hot flashes like you wouldn't believe because it was such a challenge to my beginner applique skills. I did persevere and I think it turned out great!

I did work on it in stages over the past couple days, first I appliqued the center block onto the background fabric and then I stitched on the corners.
I didn't use the first heart, I had messed up the inner point!

I had used the provided templates and cut out my pink fabric for the arc pieces but instead of using them I ended up just cutting a strip on the bias from my fabric and pressed it like you would a stem. I made sure that when I pressed it that I sort of pulled it from under the iron in a curved motion and I think that helped a lot because the fabric had a bit of curve in its memory. I used the supplied pattern and found the placement for the arcs and just appliqued them on. I left the ends open because the hearts were going to go on top of the edges.

This is the first time that I have made an applique inner point the correct way. My first effort on a previous block was very poor and that is because I cut the inner part away ahead of time when I really only needed to just take a small snip in that area. I started making the first heart incorrectly and then I discovered that it is best to not even worry about snipping until I was actually ready to applique that area and in the end it went pretty well for me. I still need more practice and I am sure that I will encounter more inner points on future midget blocks. If you are interested in making these blocks they can be found at Sentimental Stitches and most of them are still available for free.

My heart goes out to all those affected by the events that took place in the US yesterday. I cannot comprehend how someone could do such a terrible and horrific thing. You have my sympathy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hopefully More Trial Than Error

I was talking to my sister Cheryl today and she asked me how I was going to put my Priscilla Stars together and it got me thinking. I know...I know...it always means trouble! I didn't really have too much of a plan other than making the star points from strings so this is something that I needed to figure out.

I quickly made a paper template for the background triangles and found that I could cut 2 background pieces from a 3.5" x 5" rectangle. I just have to remember that I need to cut them in reverse as well. It makes me very happy that I can use 3.5" strips because I can just pull the neutrals from my strip bins and I don't have to do any fussy cutting. But, now that I have sewn my block together, I am not too sure if I have done it correctly. I used some 3.5" qsts from my bins to use for the center square, which was nice and easy and not complicated at all but when I sewed everything together the block looked a bit wonky to me. It may very well be because I am joining string blocks to a background fabric that is cut on the bias so both parts that I am joining together are quite stretchy.

I am going to have to make a couple more test blocks before I get too far ahead of myself!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Already

Extreme Close Up
Where did the week go? Since I finished marking the Seven Sisters quilt I have been hand quilting almost every evening and I have just about got the first row quilted. I plan to spend my evenings watching movies and quilting as often as I can but I don't know if I am going to meet my self-imposed deadline. By my calculations I won't get this quilted for 4 months unless I can somehow pick up some speed - I just may be a dawdler when it comes to hand quilting. I will just do my best and enjoy it while I am doing it! I have about 4 more Baptist Fans to quilt in the first row and I am going to do my best to get 'er done tonight. I am linking up with Kathy's Quilts - Slow Sunday Stitching.

I had a fairly productive day today although I haven't done much sewing. I did make some decisions and sometimes that is the biggest challenge. I have decided which fabric I will use to back the Engineer's Wife quilt as well as Linked. I washed and dried the fabric today and I hope to get it ironed and sewn into backings by next weekend. I also made my decision on the borders for the Engineer's Wife and I just need to cut the fabric and sew on the borders - hopefully I will get that done over the next couple days.

I did do a wee bit of string piecing as well and I have made some more Priscilla Star points - loving it!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

RSC - Green Baskets

I made my green basket blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this week. When I look at the picture, I see that I used a lot of yellow greens and maybe I should add a few more baskets using the blue greens for a little more variety. If I have time this week I will try to whip up a few more. I do have quite a few green strips and scraps so there will be no shortage of fabric for this month's challenge.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Priscilla Stars

Today, while I was in my sewing room cutting up my green scraps for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge I kept eyeing my piles of strings and crumbs. As you know, I have made a commitment to myself to work with these pieces and to whittle down the piles. Over the past while, I have been trying to decide what I wanted to make with them. I didn't just want to start sewing them together willy nilly without a plan of some sort and now I have one!

I have settled on making Priscilla Star blocks. I used an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper and sewed my strings onto it lengthwise. I wanted to get as many star points from the sheet as possible so I did sew the strips a bit longer and wider than the sheet of paper. I see from my sample that I either sewed the strips too short or conversely too long because I did have excess, but not quite enough for another star point - too funny.
New fabric

Once I sewed my fabric strips to the paper, I removed it and sprayed the fabric with starch and pressed it. I used the Dear Jane triangle ruler to make my star points. In my test, the star points are 5" long so before I cut them from the "new fabric" I cut a strip that was 3.5" wide from the long side. This allowed me to also get 3.5" strip pieced blocks. These may go into the center of the star points or I may do something else like crumb blocks, hourglasses, squares - not too sure yet. I also still need to figure out and make a template for cutting the background fabric for the blocks. Of course, I will still have to figure out how to use the extra pieces of scraps that are left!!!
Not quite big enough!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dear Jane - Wild Goose Chase (B-6)

I started working on this one yesterday morning and by evening I still did not have it completed. I made a little mistake and sewed a couple pieces together incorrectly and had to un-stitch so I left it alone for a while. I don't want to work on it when I am feeling frustration but the moment did pass and I picked it up a little later and continued on.

When I got up this morning, after I had my cuppa tea, I got back to it and finished it off. There are 43 little pieces in this tiny block. I am always so impressed when such a small pile of scraps turns into a cute little block!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ready to Quilt

I finished marking the baptist fan pattern on my quilt last night. I know I am not being very adventurous with the quilting design but honestly, what quilt doesn't look fantastic with baptist fans on it?? It is probably my favourite quilting design.

I used a .7 Frixion pen to do the marking and from what I can see it is working just fine. I can see the lines without any difficulty and it did go fairly quickly. The only drawback so far is that I needed to use 3 pens to mark the top and they are not really cheap pens, but I guess in the grand scheme of things it is a minor cost. I didn't completely drain the pens either so what is left in them will be fine to mark smaller blocks. This quilt is not overly huge but will probably finish at something like 75 x 85.

Audrey from Quilty Folk (if you haven't visited her site you should because she makes wonderful quilts) sets a goal to have a hand quilted project done within a couple months. I plan to follow her lead with this quilt and set a deadline to have it quilted in 2 months (3 at the latest). The first Seven Sisters quilt took me years to finish and quite frankly, if I spend 5 years on each of the Seven Sisters quilts that I have planned, I won't get them finished and my sisters won't get to enjoy them!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Midget Block #76 - White House Steps

I removed the papers after I took the photo.
I wanted to make and post a midget block but I needed to work on one that was not going to be too difficult or time consuming and this one was just right! I paper pieced the segments together and once I got to that point I removed the papers.

I put a little crease in the center of the white fabric and just aligned the pieces together using the crease as my guide. I am a little off on some of the pieces but I have no problem with that.
I pressed the seams for each section in opposite directions.
I had originally planned on making a different block that needed piecing and applique but I went to Toronto yesterday and spent the day with my Mom and sisters, Cheryl and Christine, so I just did not leave enough time for me to make it. If I can get myself together it just might show up next week.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Marking for Hand Quilting

I have taken a huge leap of faith and have started marking my quilt top with a Frixion pen in preparation for hand quilting. I dithered and dithered about using washable markers because I am just so afraid that all of my work will be messed up if the ink doesn't wash out. I was all set and ready to use a marker today but then I saw the Frixion pens that I had purchased previously and I changed my mind. I did do a little test and the iron does take out the marks which is a good thing because I already needed to use it to remove a boo-boo. Apparently the marks will return if the temps are cold enough but I also think if that happens you can remove them again just by ironing them out.

When I quilted my first Seven Sisters quilt I used a Hera marker and it took me so long to finish the quilting. I could only mark a few baptist fans at a time because the marks would disappear after I manhandled my quilt. It is not very convenient to stop quilting, find a spot where I could spread the quilt out to mark and then get back to quilting. Hopefully, using the Frixion pens will make it quicker for me to finish this quilt. Of course, there is quite a time investment initially to mark all of the fans but I think it will work out much better for me.

Even though I am not actually quilting yet, I am prepping for a whole lot of it and I am linking up to Kathy's Quilts -Slow Sunday Stitching.

Engineer's Wife

Last night I finished sewing the Engineer's Wife top together and I really like it. I just need to add the borders which should be no problem because my original design has very simple borders. Please note, and this is very important, any mess or dirt that you may or may not see on the floor is purely a figment of your imagination. Someone really needs to put the vacuum cleaner to good use and I am way too busy having fun!

The problem is that I woke up this morning thinking about border designs and I just know it is because I didn't finish the quilt top until after midnight last night and then I went straight to bed with the quilt top on my mind. I will spend a bit of time playing around with border ideas today but I don't know if I will change from my first design. I do really like a nice tailored looking border for a man's quilt but I have pinwheels blowing around in my head.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rainbow Scrap Challenge - Green Nine Patches

We have started a new month and a new colour challenge. The colour for the month of April is green and luckily for me I have lots of green scraps. I took out my bins of 2.5" scrappy squares and pulled out a wide variety of green squares for my 9 patches.

I got a little carried away and pulled out way more squares than I needed. I only needed to make four 9 patches to add to the blocks that I made last year, so the excess squares went back into the bin for another time.

I have had several ideas about what to use as leader/enders and finally have decided to start sewing together 2" squares. This month I will do green/neutral and it will be interesting to see how full this basket gets by the end of the month. I am not sure where these leader/ender blocks will take me because at this point they could become 4 patches or 9 patches or ??, but I am pretty sure they will get used in a future scrap quilt. I only began making them over the past couple days and I already have a good start.

Pop on over to soscrappy's to check out all of the links where you can see what other participants have made with their green scraps this week.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Dear Jane - Hot Cross Buns (B-5)

Boy was I ever distracted today. I couldn't really focus on much of anything but I did get this block finished - even though it took me all day!

I appliqued the diamond shapes onto the squares and then I just hand stitched all of the pieces together. It went together without any problems and ended up looking really neat and tidy on the back because most of the pieces were large compared to some of the other blocks I have already made.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Midget Block #75 - May Flower

Never perfect but always fun!

I had prepared this block for sewing a little while ago and over the past couple days I have picked it up and done a bit of hand stitching as time allowed. I finished it this morning and I am happy with the way it turned out.

Oops...somethings wrong with that sashing
I did have a little problem with the sashing strips - I think my block pieces ended up a little bigger for some reason and the sashing pieces that I had precut were too small. So I just went with it and recut some pieces to size. I sewed most of the block by hand but I did add the sashing by machine. April showers bring May flowers but today we are seeing flakes of snow.