Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

Up and Away

First, I must apologize for posting this so late. I did intend to get it out last week, but my week got completely out of hand. I didn’t even get to take the glamour shots of the quilt until I was en route to the recipient! I’ll go into more of that next week as a way of excusing my bad behaviour … but today, the eagle quilt!

When last I left you, I had completed the oh-so-fun directional sashing on the quilt. I’m pretty sure I had the next step completed before I even posted the sashing blog – and that would be basting the quilt. As previously mentioned, I decided to use the fabric I had originally purchased for the husband quilt. Because this from a standard size bolt of fabric (44″ wide) instead of wide-backing fabric (100″ wide), I decided to see if I could get away with just one WOF (width of fabric) cut from the stash.

5 inches too short!!!

As you can see, I was a mere 5″ short of being able to use one continuous piece of fabric. I could have cut more, but I had a better idea. When I was making the small eagle borders, I had lots of yardage left over of just trees and lake. I pulled them out, figured out what would go together as seamlessly as possible, and whipped up two rows of trees-and-water inserts. I put the fabric 1/3 of the way in from the fold and sewed in the two inserts. I slapped it back on the table and basted the thing in about 20 minutes.

Stepping back to take pictures at this stage is often when I start to plan how I’m going to do the quilting. I immediately knew what I wanted to do for the eagle. Past practice of some quilting techniques had already given me an idea for the sky and water. I asked husband for his input on a couple of things, and left the rest of it for after I finished the main panel of the quilt.

For the large eagle, I didn’t want to overwhelm the bird with quilting, but allow it to stand out on its own. To that end, I simply traced around the eagle and accented the feathers on the wing and tail tips. For the first time, I changed my thread colour (the tail being much lighter than the body). Getting adventurous up in here!

I’m going to stop here and outline my free-motion quilting settings on my sewing machine (Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 930). These obviously apply to just me, but I had to do some tweaking to get the tension as close to perfect as I could and it’s good to go over the settings again.

On this quilt, I made use of the spring-action free-motion quilting foot (also known as a hopping foot). The nice thing about this foot is that it touches down on the quilt between each stitch and I find that makes for smoother stitching. The thing I don’t like about it is how it works with my auto needle up-down feature. When I slightly depress the pedal, the foot and needle “prep” to stitch. It causes the machine to hesitate for a couple of seconds. On normal stitching, that’s fine because I can just keep moving the needle and the quilt slowly. With the hopping foot, the foot is pressed against the quilt and the foot freezes every time the prep stitch happens. It gets a little aggravating when I’m starting FMQ for the first time in a bit and am trying to go slow.

When it comes to my machine settings, there are a couple of places I need to go. First, into the Tools section. This is where I select my FMQ foot preferences. When I use the ruler foot, I select the FreeM Floating option. Turning on FMQ automatically sets the tension, but I find I need to adjust it depending on how heavy the quilt is and what kind of fabric and batting I’m using. These were the settings for the eagle quilt. The husband quilt was set to 5.2 I think??? I should start writing this down for my reference. 😀

On to the sewing options. In the electronic window, I have to change my sewing speed and my stitch regulator setting. The stitch regulator should be set as close to 0 as possible. I can change this using the little > and < arrows on the side. The second step is to slow this puppy down! Lowering the speed means that the flat-out speed (pedal to the floor) is a lot slower than on the high setting. I find I have to start out on setting 2 when I start quilting and step it up to 3 after the first three-five hours. Oh, yeah … quilting takes hours. I don’t find it’s hard work, but it is definitely a time sink. I can change the speed using the sewing buttons available right above the needle. This is also when I select the needle-down default (right). That means that every time I stop sewing, the needle is in the fabric. It’s so helpful!! My stitch doesn’t move while I re-adjust and it *mostly* keeps my work from having big stitch gaps. The final thing to notice is the foot up-down button (bottom). When working with ruler or walking feet, this button gets used all the time. It half-lifts the foot so I can re-position my work a little bit (or just see where I’m going next).

I completely forgot to take a picture of the next bit, so I’ll have to talk through what I did for the water and the sky. Continuous wavy lines have always looked like water to me, so I did that for the water. I was trying to find something more complex for the sky, but I sort of ran out of time looking, so I went with swirls and a couple of clouds. I am not good at swirls. I need practice. But, I’m very happy with how it turned out.

I decided to outline the large tree and then make Christmas tree shapes over the forest sections afterwards. The Christmas tree motif was a good effort, but it just looks like a bunch of triangles stacked on each other, so I probably won’t do that again. The tree … well, the tree was my fun bit.

When I started the first stitch, something just felt a little “off”. I checked my stitching a couple of times, but everything looked fine, so I just kept going. I did almost the whole tree until my thread broke, which was weird because it hadn’t broken once this quilt. Then I flipped the quilt over …

Oh good lord. This is what happens when your tension is way off. It’s known in the sewing community as making eyelashes. I almost cried – there was so much of it! What I think happened is when I changed thread colour to make the tree, I must not have threaded the machine properly, so the upper thread didn’t make it into the tension disks and the bobbin thread just pulled it all to the back. This took me a good 15-20 minutes to cut and pull out all the thread. The good news is that this did not happen again after I carefully re-threaded the machine.

This brought me to the borders and sashing of the quilt. I was starting to run out of time at this point, so I pulled out the Taj ruler (by Angela Walters) and put a little leaf-motif around the pinecones and a larger leaf motif on the eagle borders by using the inside and outside of the ruler. You’ll be able to see in the binding pictures. I used wishbones on the internal birch bark sashing and just free-handed some straight lines around the birch bark edge as part of it would be covered by the binding and I didn’t want it to look cut off.

At this point, I truly ran out of time. The quilt was not ready for Dad’s birthday, but he was coming to visit us the very next weekend, so I did the binding the day after his birthday. But first, I had to square up the quilt. Because the quilt was so small, I was able to square one edge without folding the quilt in half, as long as I had two rulers … oh, look, something came in the mail!!

Yup, I caved and got another Frosted ruler. I had to get a new 6″x24″ ruler anyways because the one I had didn’t have markings for half or quarter inches on it because it was designed for cutting angles … the things you don’t know when you’re just starting out. I squared everything up and measured to cut up the pretty pine binding! I absolutely love how this fabric finished off the quilt – it suits it perfectly.

And finally, the finished masterpiece!

As I said at the top, I literally took these pictures on my way out the door to give the quilt to Dad, so I apologize that for re-using the back yard for the photos. I do intend to take my future quilts to different photo-shoot areas. You can see how much snow we have here … and all of it covered by a nice thick layer of ice. yaaay.

Stay safe. Stay warm.

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Finished Projects · Non-Quilt Projects

Has Issues Focusing …

Sooo … I might have gotten completely distracted by the challenge fabric and worked on that instead. Bad M!

I decided that this challenge would be perfect to try out on a charm-square bag! There are lots of free tutorials online for this if you want to make it yourself. I used this one, but it was just a series of pictures showing how it goes together. Some people may prefer to find something with more words.

http://www.handmadiya.com/2015/10/patchwork-bag-of-squares.html

First, cut out your squares. I cut eight 4″ squares of each colour. I’d recommend going much, much bigger than that, but I’m trying to just use the three FQ fabrics, so mine will be a mini-tote. Incidentally, I cannot begin to tell you how much I love my frosted 6″ square ruler. Every time I use it, I think about getting all the frosted rulers. They just work for me!

Squaring up the squares!

Next, lay out your fabric to see what you want to go where. This is when I realized I was 2 squares short – kinda. I technically had one white and one yellow square left over, but I thought it would throw off the pattern I had going. I didn’t want to use any more of my focus fabric, so I dipped into my stash and came up with this dark royal blue that matched the dark leaves perfectly. Plus, it’s better to have dark on the bottom of the bag – that’s where all the dirt gets picked up!

Square placement

Next, I sewed the rows together. You can do this in whichever direction makes most sense to you. Once I had the whole bag together, I pinned it so I could see the shape that I was going for.

At this point, I switched to the lining. I had great plans for the lining as well. I took the gold and the white left over fabric and ran a seam down it, joining the two pieces together. Then, I folded it and half and placed the unpinned bag on top to see if I had enough fabric for it. I did! I outlined the bag shape with wide margins (a little bigger than a 1/4″). Bag came off the lining, the lining got pinned together so the layers would not shift, and I cut out the outline.

This is where a better walkthrough or doing more research would have helped. I forgot that most bags have some sort of fusible lining in it to had a little thickness and help give the bag some form. To be honest, though – I’m not a huge fan of fusible lining and I love the feeling of just cloth bags. They crumple better too if you’re cramming them into a pocket. What you’re supposed to do at this step is attach batting or a fusible lining to pieced part, turn it into a proper bag, sew the cloth lining into a bag, then attach the two part together so the lining is loose in the bag.

What I did was attach the lining to the bag right away and do some stitch-in-the-ditch quilting around each square. I wanted the lining and the front to have a joined feel instead of the loose bag lining feel you usually get with the standard method. It also made up for not having the fusible lining added. It did halt my progress on another front, though. Part of the reason for the loose lining is to hide all the edge seams on the inside of the bag. Since the lining was already attached to the bag, I can’t nicely join all the sides together to make the bag on the machine. I found a spool of hand quilting thread that I had been intending to take to the guild for the grab table. It’s a nice soft yellow. Hand quilting thread has a coating on it that is horrible for machines because it gums up the tension disks – it almost feels like upholstery thread. I don’t hand quilt at all and bought the thread because it was on sale for 10 cents and I mis-read the label. Since I remembered I still had this thread, I decided to hand-stitch the seams together instead! This will make the seams bump up together with a “hidden” stitch and it will allow me to incorporate my exclusive handbag handle design.

Because of how this bag goes together, the mouth of the bag is more narrow than the hold of the bag (as in ship’s hold … the interior of the bag?). Since I’m building the bag on the small side to begin with, this made the opening very narrow indeed. I could easily get my fist in and out, but I could potentially see having a problem with a super bulky wallet and definitely issues with inserting a book. To fix that, I decided to add a wider handle to the bag. The problem is that this style of bag usually attaches the handles to the upper points. So I changed the design.

I cut the handles out of the remaining square of the focus fabric. I cut on an acute diagonal so I would get as much width out of it as possible. I sewed a seam up the two edges to make an elongated triangle. The ends didn’t match up, but I cut them square after sewing the seam. Once this was done, I measured the length of the two top panels of the bag as the handle will be attached to the side. I marked the top and bottom on the handle and drew a line to follow. Back at the sewing machine, I ran the lines under my walking foot and sewed down the point. I turned just after the edge of the fabric so I would have less bulk bunching when I turned it inside out. Finally, I cut off the excess fabric and turned the handle inside out. I used my Purple Thang to make the point as pointy as possible. Word of caution: while this is a wonderful tool, I have accidentally ripped through fabric with it by pushing too hard, so keep that in mind. The handles got spritzed and ironed and are ready to be attached to the bag!

My hand sewing is really slow and I’m also knitting a birthday gift for someone turning an age on January 22, so it’s not my biggest priority right now. It is coming along though! I’m adding a bonus picture showing one side almost finished. It might look a bit funny at the bottom where everything comes together because of the way I sewed on the first handle, but I figure I’ll put a pale yellow button over that spot on both sides it it does. I’m also thinking of putting a yellow button at the top and adding a fabric loop so you can “close” the bag, but I think the mouth might be small enough to make that redundant.

As punishment for having my dessert first, I also did most of my block-of-the-month. I am really struggling with these block. Not because the patterns are wrong (Kim does a really good job at writing them) but because I evidently don’t read patterns well. All the quilts I’ve made so far have either been completely out of my head or I borrowed elements from a pattern and modified it to suit myself. The modified patterns gave me the most trouble because I was trying to understand how they did what they did so I could change or increase it. All my bags were just a little bit wrong because I would do something then realize I mis-understood what I was doing. That’s learning for me and that’s why I leave my mistakes in. I’m teaching myself to hide the mistakes in plain sight. This month’s block was a pointed flower block and I didn’t realize until I started joining them all together that I’d done it completely wrong. All the piecing was done right, but the joining was not done in the right order so it doesn’t look pointed. Since I didn’t realize this until the end of the process, I’m finishing it as-is and taking it in as an alternative design piece. It doesn’t look bad – in fact, it looks like it’s on purpose because they’re all done the same way. It’s just not according to pattern. When I post the completed quilt top in May, you’ll have to see if you can spot it.

I’m going to blame it on the concert I was watching while I was doing this. I usually watch Netflix, but I sometimes get distracted by the screen and I wanted to concentrate so I didn’t make any mistakes (HA!). It was the memorial concert for “Beard Guy” Mike Taylor from Walk Off The Earth. Like a good Canadian, I’ve always enjoyed their music and have quite a bit of it, but I’m in no way a super-fan or know much about the band’s personal life. Regardless, this concert brought me to tears a couple of times. It’s so amazing to see the impact a single person can have on a large group of people and so sad to think that most of the time, it’s not celebrated until after the person is gone.

This week, find someone who means a lot to you and tell them what makes them so special and why you love them. We should all do this more often, but it’s so easy to get bogged down in life and forget. Try to remember to show your love more often. I wish I could show my dearly departed aunt, Auntie El, how much she had meant to me and how big of an impact her presence had in my life. The only way I can do that now is to reflect her in how I behave in my own life and that will just have to be enough.

~M

Finished Projects · Quilt Designs · Sewing Room

New Year, New Quilts

Surprisingly enough, it’s hard to blog regularly if you take a break from your sewing machine.

After the push to get Husband’s quilt done and given to him, I stepped away from my sewing machine for a bit. I reorganized my sewing room, bought fabric (of course!) and made a couple of plans for the new year. I’m taking a week off work at the end of the month – just feeling a little burnt out and need to rest! Check out the light that I got from my brother-in-law for Christmas. I love it! It’s got a dimmer switch, three different colour settings for the LED lights (warm, cool, and normal), and it moves/rotates every which way. I can see so much better when I’m working on my projects!

Here is the completed quilt in all its glory!

The first quilt I want to finish this year is my dad’s birthday quilt. I need to finish cutting that and put it together. It will be very easy because it’s a panel with 2 borders around it, but it won’t happen unless I get to it! Probably this weekend? There’s a story to this quilt – I’ll get into it when I actually start working on the quilt.

Dad’s quilt in pieces

Probably next up is a challenge from my guild. I have other things I’m supposed to be working on, but I can’t stop coming back to this! I have a great plan for it! As you can see, I already started cutting a couple of blocks … Focus M!

The cloth was sold for 10$ a bundle at the two local(ish) fabric stores with the proceeds going to the Quilts of Valour. The guild’s challenge is for everyone to make something with this bundle and donate it back to the guild to be sold in our yearly quilt show. The sale proceeds will also go to Quilts of Valour.

Guild challenge fabric (picture taken before new light was installed)

I try to shop local (or shop local online as you’ll see further on), but Fabricland had some good deals that were hard to deny. Our longarm quilt shop is 25 minutes out of town and she’s closed the shop over the holidays for some well-deserved rest, so I do drop in on Fabricland from time to time. In this case, I wanted to get some batting for Dad’s quilt as I don’t think I’ll have time to get out to the the quilt store after she opens back up and still get the quilt finished on time. I tried to only buy batting, I really did … but with store sales, plus 40% off for members, plus save the tax until the new year … I fell into temptation.

One thing that will probably become glaringly obvious as we go along is my love for Tula Pink‘s fabric. She is an incredibly talented, creative, and imaginative person. I’ve bought three full lines of her fabrics (hello niece quilts!!), made a couple of bags from some, and collected a smattering of my favourite previous runs for accent squares in future quilts. My local Fabricland happened to get 6 or 7 bolts of Tula Pink and I have been drooling over them every time I visit. Well, drool no more – or, at least, just in the privacy of my own home.

Tula Pink’s Eden … the light is not doing the colours justice here

She always has three colourways in each run. For Eden, they were dark pink, navy, and purple. Fabricland had a full run of the pink and a couple of other bolts left. I bought what they had and ordered the missing prints in the other colourway from Lucy & Mabs shop on Etsy. I have to confess that I’ve bought quite a bit from Nicole (a fellow Tula fan). I intend to do something a little different with them. I’m making baby quilts! Part of the guild membership is to make a minimum of 2 baby quilts a year. These get donated to the hospital and given to premature babies as part of the care package. I know they aren’t typical pastel baby quilts, but I’m not a typical person. If I had a baby, I would probably be gravitating to something more bold than baby-like for decorating the nursery. When my cousin’s daughter was born, the baby blanket I knit for her was robin egg blue, sea green, and royal purple. She used that blanket constantly when she first had the baby. The people having babies these days are from my generation and we like to shake it up a bit, so while the finished quilts might make a stir at the guild, I’m sure the recipients will love them.

Another of my shop-local-online go-to suppliers is Troll Brothers Quilts. Stacie has done a wonderful job at building up her shop, even with a national postal strike going on. Every time I check out her site, I’m tempted by all her goodies. Over the holidays, she had a Boxing Day sale and I could not pass up this Canadian-themed bundle for a future Canada quilt. I’m thinking of buying fabric from each province/territory to incorporate into the the quilt. We’ll see!

Finally, something I should really be working on. It’s the Block of the Month quilt by our other local quilt/fabric/fibre store, Fibre Chick. The goal is to finish the assigned block each month before the teaching session for the next one. By May, we’ll have a finished quilt top. If we don’t finish our block by the time we show up to class, we have to pay a fine to get the next block. It keeps us incentivized to actually finish what we start! I’ve been good so far this session, although there was one block that didn’t get made until 2 days before the class. Husband’s quilt was taking priority over everything by that point. The class is in two weeks, though, so I have to get on it!

I think that’s a pretty good start to the year! Let’s see what we get up to next week!

~M