Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Making Practice Quilts

I really need some smaller quilts that I can practice free hand quilting on so I think some donation quilts for kids will be just the ticket. I do have a lot of children's fabrics so this will allow me to get some of them out of my stash and into hopefully welcome arms! 

I had made this pretty pink quilt for a good friend's granddaughter in 2013 and it was such a simple and easy block to make so I thought it would be a good candidate. I plan on making two quilts but in different colour ways - one with red fabric and one with blue.

I washed and ironed the fabric and then cut it into 1.5" strips. I started working with the red quilt first and I sewed the strips into strip sets of four that alternated the red with the yellow background strips.

I used my Easy Angle rulers to first cut a half-square triangle off first and then continued with quarter-square triangles. At the end of each strip set it worked out that I had enough to cut a second half-square triangle. I did stack/match two strip sets together for quicker cutting.

The blocks for these quilts are bigger so I will need fewer than in my original quilt. I'm thinking a 4 x 5 layout at this point but of course it could change.

Monday, August 29, 2022

Ready for Binding

Ruffin is my new model!
This quilt top got loaded onto my long arm frame and then it just sat for a couple days while I debated back and forth about doing a panto or trying another free hand edge-to-edge design. It really is quite a big quilt top and that can be a bit overwhelming for me as a practice quilt. It's not just that though because I love this type of quilt so much and I just want it to turn out beautiful.

my drawing is just like my
I finally decided that I needed to just get over myself and I went ahead a did an over all edge-to-edge design. I did practice on a large piece of paper first and then I went for it.

My quilt came off the frame at 71" x 86" and was quilted fairly densely with a light tan in the bobbin and a light aqua/teal on top. I used Hobbs 80/20 batting and I gave the quilt a very fun and happy looking backing fabric.

Orange is one of my favourite colours!
The last time I quilted a top I had a lot of thread breaks so prior to loading this flimsy I did a very thorough cleaning of my machine. Even with the cleaning I still had many bobbin thread breaks this time. I don't know what's happening so I have given the machine another very thorough cleaning and hopefully that fixes it for the next quilt. I also had a lot of problems with my single needle up/down. It was a fairly frustrating problem because whenever I tried to use it to bring up the bobbin thread it kept giving me multiple stitches when I only wanted one and it did cause some very dense thread joins on the back of the quilt. Nothing I can't get over though!

Monday, August 22, 2022

Making it Happen!

Ruffin inspecting my work

I recently showed this flimsy and at the time I was thinking that it needed something more. I was actually thinking more along the lines of a border but adding more blocks worked for me.

I already had one leftover block hanging on my design wall from making the original flimsy so I went ahead and stitched up enough blocks to add an additional column and row. Once they were added I felt it needed to be longer so I made another 9 blocks and added them as well.  This flimsy has definitely grown and is now close to 72" x 87".  I am pretty sure I am done with the piecing and it just needs to be quilted. 😀

Friday, August 19, 2022

Un-Quilting a Quilt

That's right...I'm picking the quilting stitches out of a quilt. 👀 This unfinished quilt is a real oldie circa 2014. It is a quilt that I had planned to give to my husband once it was finished and of course he is still waiting. We both really liked the way the piecing turned out and I foolishly thought that instead of doing a pantograph that I could try to do some ruler work and maybe some freehand designs in the blocks. You creative and design something wonderful. lol

I started with an attempt at outlining the sashing with stitch in the ditch and it really ended up being such a disaster. I knew even less about custom quilting and ruler work then than I do now and my results really discouraged me. I remember rolling the quilt top back and forth on the long arm so that I could reach different areas on the quilt top. What I didn't realize was that I needed to stabilize each area fully before rolling back and forth because what I did caused the backing to loosen and ripple and pleat and you get the idea. The whole back was a disaster and this quilt deserved so much better. 😭

I took the quilt off the frame and left it dumped in a pile for the longest time and after being in time-out for a few years I asked my quilty sister Cheryl if she would help me unpick it. To my surprise and relief she agreed but we didn't get far. We were chatting as we worked and I said be careful you don't make any holes and then shortly after that her seam ripper slipped and put a hole in the top. grrrr Of course, we both felt terrible and it is totally fixable but it took the steam out of my efforts to unpick.

The quilt went back into time-out for a few more years and every time I saw it sitting in a pile it hurt me to see it like that and still not do anything about it. Well, it's time has come and over the past week or two I have been picking away at it. It is a slow and painful process but I know it will be totally worth it in the end!

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Feeling Good!

I feel good...I've got a finished quilt top! It really didn't take me long to make and attach the borders because as you can see they are very simple but I think they look good. I was going to make the green border around the whole quilt but at the last minute I decided to add the black cornerstones. I think it goes well enough with the block design in the quilt.

There is a little bit of poof in one of the blocks and when the top is laid out it does stand out a bit but I think in the end it won't really be a big problem and should quilt out okay.

I already have the backing fabric chosen but it is still in two pieces so it does need to be seamed together and I will do that before I put it all aside to await quilting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

My Cute Little Helpers

Things are going great in the sewing room! I finished the blocks that I was making to add to the crooked courthouse flimsy. I laid them out on the floor with the existing flimsy so I could try to add them and make it look like they weren't just stuck on as an afterthought. While I was trying to arrange them of course my two little adorables decided they needed to help.

You have met Peanut before - she is the white toy poodle cross and she is about 10lbs or so. She just turned 10 years old in May and she is such a good dog. She really NEVER does anything wrong! Now Ruffin is another story altogether.

I got Ruffin in June 2021 so she is now already 17 months old and I really should have named her Trouble. She is such a little stinky-poo-poo-bum! She is a Schnauzer but I hesitate to call her a mini Schnauzer because she is really tiny - more like a miniature mini Schnauzer. She only weighs 7.5 lbs., she loves to play and she is fast and oh so very agile. The only real problem I have with her is that she has selective hearing when calling for her and it can be a real problem.. If she accidently gets loose (and she has) she is a runner and she just follows her nose and she just keeps going. Ruffin is quite the character and very sweet and we are both quite smitten with her. 

Anyway they both had a great time playing with me and the blocks on the floor!

Monday, August 8, 2022

One Thing Leads to Another

After making my decision regarding the borders for the Antebellum Album flimsy I went ahead and cut the yellow fabric into 1.5" strips. I have enough to make a narrow border but I had to join the pieces end to end instead of mitering them. I don't think I am going to have very much extra to spare. While I was at it I cut the black fabric into 2.5" strips and I am ready to start adding the borders.

The most important thing that happened was when I was sewing the top together I had to push aside a pile of string bits that were hanging around from previous quilts. I intended to clear the table and just drop the fabric pieces into my string bins but ultimately decided I wanted to move them forward and not stash them. I am very happy about this....the drought is over...finally!!!

I had previously decided that I wanted to add something to my crooked courthouse string flimsy so I decided to make some more blocks.  I think I had initially intended a border of some sort but more blocks are good too. Why not? 

I got so involved in making the blocks that I stayed in my sewing room working on them well past my bedtime. Now that is a very good sign! 😀

Friday, August 5, 2022

Antebellum Album Flimsy Take 2

I made the adjustments to the original flimsy and I think it looks a lot more balanced and I like it better even though it is square. lol

I pulled out the leftover fabric scraps that I had from making the blocks to have a look to see if there is enough of anything to make a pieced border. I really don't think there is enough so I will go with just straight borders.

I have yardage of the black fabric and the green fabric that was used in the connector blocks so they will be border rounds but I think I need a separator between the flimsy and the darker borders. I have probably the equivalent of 2 fat quarters of the smaller print yellow fabrics so they will go around the flimsy first as a very narrow border and then I will add black and then finish with the green.

Woohoo - I am on my way to a finished quilt top!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Let it Go!

In my last post about these blocks I was feeling a bit wishy-washy when it came to the design of this quilt. I know that with having the extra cornerstone block you would think that I had originally planned a 5 x 5 setting but honestly I really am not enamored with square quilts. 

I finally did decide to just sew the blocks together in a 4 x 6 setting but I am not happy with it. It looks like it needs more....something. 😕

I've thought about making more blocks to create another column but I really don't have enough of the scrappy fabric bits that are already in the quilt. So, at this point I am finished with making blocks. I thought about making the borders wider along the sides and narrower top and bottom but that doesn't really appeal to me either. Even though I don't particularly care to make square quilts, I don't want to get stuck when I have only just started!

I think the next step is for me to take one row off the flimsy and turn it into a column. I guess I just need to let it be a square quilt and move on. It really isn't too big of a deal to do and I already have the extra connector block. I will sew it back together in a 5 x 5 layout and then start the borders.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Hand Stitching Binding

I think I am on a roll and I hope it keeps on rolling! Now that I am back in the saddle of quilting I now have a few quilts waiting for me to hand stitch bindings. I'm working on this quilt currently and I can tell you it is going a lot faster than the last quilt I stitched the binding on.

I don't remember when I quilted this one but it was fairly recently (comparatively) when my machine was still in the basement. At least I did take a photo of it while the quilting was in progress.

This rail fence beauty sat mostly folded up on the back of my couch for more than a year. I finished quilting it in March 2021 and I only just finished stitching the binding in the last couple weeks. I would work on it off and on and honestly it was mostly off!  It was a pattern that I saw in American Patchwork and Quilting magazine and it was a design by Kathie Holland. I really love this quilt and I love it even more because it is quilted using a Baptist Fan panto.

It has found a home with my youngest son.  He recently moved into a two bedroom house and it will be perfect for the second bedroom. I think he was happy to receive it. 😀

Monday, August 1, 2022

Resurrecting Antebellum Album Blocks

For the longest time I have been making regular visits to my sewing room hoping that I would find inspiration but nope. It really saddened me because I have everything I could ever want or need to make quilts except inspiration. I want to make quilts.

Even with finally getting the urge to start quilting on my long arm I still had not been feeling any inspiration at the sewing machine. I would just aimlessly shuffle stuff around in my room in hopes something would light the fire but now finally I've hit upon something that seems to have done the trick. 

I came across a slip of paper with a list of things to do. At the the top of the list was this notation - "start with finishing quilt tops that are the closest to being finished" - yes, I can do that.

I started by trying to organize my sewing room a bit to see what was where and I found these Antebellum Album blocks stacked up underneath a pile of fabrics. I had totally forgotten about them but I am glad I rediscovered them. 

I don't really know what my plan was for the layout because I found that I had an extra connector block when I laid them out in a 4 x 6 rectangle. Once I get them stitched together I will need to think about borders. It is going to be quite a long and skinny quilt. 😕 I don't know - maybe that is all it should be. 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Whew - I Finished Quilting It!

It was a bit of a challenge but I did get it done. 😃 Initially when I started quilting this little cutie I thought that quilting the first row was a bit difficult because of broken threads but I also realized I needed to learn a lot. One of the first things is staying in control of the machine so that I make deliberate movements and hopefully have less wobbles in the curves.  I also need to work on spacing so that it does look a bit more consistent within each motif. I'm not going for the look of a pantograph but I do want it to look more polished. lol  I guess the good thing is that I was consistently inconsistent so nothing is really standing out. The quilting really shows up so much better on the back. 😍

So pretty - beautiful texture!

Once I started the second row I realized how easy the first row was in comparison - no kidding. With the first row it was fairly easy to find an escape route if I got trapped. Not so easy to do in the rest of the rows so I have lots of in-artful backtracking and quilting lines where I had to find a route to an open space.

I still had a lot of thread breaks and I did everything I could think of except change my thread spool. I rethreaded the machine, changed the needle, adjusted the tension, changed the bobbin, etc. but I still had a lot of difficulty. It could be that the thread was a problem but I didn't have another cone of the same colour and I didn't want to switch colours mid quilt. I got through it mostly but when I got to the very last row I guess I was tired by then and I just made a lot more mistakes with my quilting because I was just done and I wanted it to be finished. There is a lesson there too and that it is better to call it a day than to push through when I am really tired.

I used a franken batting for this quilt. It has 3 separate long but narrow pieces of batting pieced together and when I got to the bottom of the quilt it really was exactly enough. 😅

It's not a big quilt - 59" x 75" and was quilted with light blue thread and blue magnaglide in the bobbin. I used Hobbs 80/20 for the batting. It is all trimmed and ready for me to make and attach the binding.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Try and Try Again

I loaded this quilt up the other day and I knew I wanted to try a freehand edge-to-edge design on it. This is so out of my comfort zone but I really do want to become a confident quilter. I know I've said that before but I really do need to put in some learning and practice time. I don't need to be a superstar but I do want to be capable. lol 

I did have another rough start but it was not something that I couldn't overcome. I did have to pick out the first bit and I started again but then it was downhill from there. For some reason I kept having thread breaks. I didn't even get a full pass done across the quilt and I think my top thread broke at least 4 times. I finally gave up, turned off the machine and decided it was just not my day.

From what I did get done you can certainly tell that I am still very much a beginner but I'm okay. I know if I manage to keep at it I will improve. 😁 

I didn't get back to it right away because my quilty sister Cheryl and I took a little road trip and I bought a few things for my long arm. I really like using the prefilled magnaglide classic bobbins so I got a box of those in light tan. I seem to use that colour the most. I also bought some batting among other things.

Yesterday, after I posted about my crooked courthouse flimsy I was going to start quilting this little cutie again but when I went to rethread the machine I found the thread was actually wrapped around the interior working parts of the take up lever. After a bit of delicate surgery I successfully removed the threads and the patient survived!

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Crooked Courthouse Flimsy

I showed these blocks that were in progress way back when and since then they have turned into a flimsy. I don't know how or when that happened because I just don't seem to keep good records unless I am blogging. 

Anyway, this is the stage it is currently at and I thought it was finished but I might have changed my mind. I had pulled it out of the "to be quilted" stack to show a friend and when I started looking at it I felt that it needed a border or something added to it.

The flimsy is currently 66 x 76 so it could easily be made bigger to change the size from a couch quilt to maybe fit a double bed. I love it!

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Another One Bites the Dust

I've named this quilt Another One Bites the Dust because when I took it off the frame after quilting I immediately texted my quilty sister Cheryl with a photo stating another one bites the dust. I seem to be on a roll with actually getting some quilts to the ready-to-bind stage. After such a dry spell this just seems so amazing to me.

When I was looking back at the history of this flimsy I realized that I had intended to call it Abstract but that was so long ago that I forgot all about that name. I already made the label with the new name so Another One Bites the Dust is going to stick. The binding for this quilt is ready and waiting so all I need to do is attach it to the front by machine and then add the whole kit and kaboodle to the newly started pile of quilts waiting for me to finish with hand stitching.

I attribute the fact that I am getting these flimsies quilted with moving my quilting frame out of the basement and back into the living room where my frame had been set up prior to my Mom coming here to live. Our basement is fine and quite live-able but there is not a lot of daylight and I need daylight. I am so not a basement person and I give kudos to anyone that is able to spend lots of time hanging out in the basement or living in a basement apartment.

 Anyway the good news is that it seems that I am long arm quilting again. 😃

Friday, July 22, 2022

A Quilt Named Boo Boo

I love string blocks and crumb blocks and I especially love quilts that are made from these types of blocks. This quilt is no exception. I had started making the string blocks for this quilt forever ago and I did get them put together into a flimsy but then it stayed unfinished for the longest time.

I recently got the flimsy loaded onto my longarm and I chose a nice pantograph called Whipped Cream  and I started quilting it. I got the first row done and I was feeling so good because I was actually quilting 😃 but then I rolled the quilt forward to start the next row and it did not align. Oh no....I was so upset because I had finally started feeling like quilting and was feeling so joyful and relieved and then a big boo boo happened - right out of the gate! Apparently, when my machine was moved somehow the laser light was loosened and I didn't realize it. So as I moved along the pantograph the laser light was shifting all the way across the quilt as I made my first pass. You can be sure that I will always check to make sure the laser light is secure from now on. It was a hard lesson. 😢

I removed everything from the frame and I ended up having to rip out the whole row. The row was 72" across by 11" deep and it was fairly dense quilting. I was so discouraged....

I did get through it even though it took me a long time to rip it all out and then I made myself reload everything. I am glad I didn't just give up because now that I've got the quilting finished I love it even more. I have the binding already attached to the front of the quilt and I just need to hand stitch it to the back.

Despite the rough start I am hoping that actually quilting some flimsies will be the gateway to creating quilts again. Seeing the magic that quilting brings to a quilt top can be inspiring and I hope it transfers to the sewing machine.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Hopeful not Hopeless!

bits and pieces on my design wall

It has been such a long time since I have posted to my blog and that means it has been a very long time since I have done any quilting. 🙁

The above photo is a picture of my design wall. Sadly, my design wall has looked like this for more than a year now - nothing new added or removed. The good news is that I think I am starting to feel the stirrings of creativity returning and I am hoping that means some new quilt tops will start appearing. Honestly, it is about time!!! I can't tell you how many times I have walked into my sewing room with great hope that a spark of creativity will be ignited but nothing would happen no matter how hard I willed it. It has been a very long dry spell for sure.