I did manage to get 3 more blocks quilted! My personal goal has been met. 🙂 Next month I aim to have 6 done, then 6 more done, then I just need to quilt the sashing strips and bind it! I can see the end! That reminds me – I need to get working on the label. Thank goodness I managed to fix my printer. I have 2 labels to print now, so that’s likely to happen sooner rather than later. First, though, I have to empty the Bubble Jet Wash bin of my side project …
I am making a clothes! The pattern is for the Maria Apron by Maven Sewing Patterns. I tend to wear form-fitting shirts and leggings for comfort and wanted to get some dresses to wear over them for modesty. I’ve always loved the Japanese house apron look and thought “Maybe I could just make that myself??” So – into the internet I went to find a pattern that would meet my standards. The one issue most of them is that they’re open in the back. Since I intend to wear leggings, I didn’t want that part of me sticking out when I wear it in public. The Maria Apron is PERFECT because it has pattern modification where the back wraps around and covers everything up! I’m very excited to get my first attempt together to see how it fits!
I’m using some fabric that I picked up on sale a while back (can’t beat $6 a meter!). I’m starting with the Large size and seeing how it goes from there. That may be a mistake as this is a UK designer and I find their sizes to be a bit smaller than US size standards, but we’ll see! I don’t want it to be too huge, so I’m willing to try smaller first. To that end, I had to use my multi-size method for marking fabric for cutting because I don’t want to cut the pattern down to size just yet. How do I do that? Old fashion magic.
I use carbon paper!! This method is AMAZING! First off, carbon paper is surprisingly cheap (100 black sheets at Staples cost a whopping $20 dollars). Second, it can be used MANY times over before a sheet is no longer useful (I’ve been using the same 8 pages since I got the bundle and there’s still lots of life left). Third, it doesn’t make the fabric dirty. It seems to take a significant amount of pressure to leave a mark, so resting the fabric on top of it doesn’t smudge anything. Fourth, it can come in a range of colours!! I think anything apart from black isn’t strictly carbon paper. It feels different and carbon is only black in nature. The white paper I got is technically called “graphite paper”. It behaves exactly the same way, though! Now I can mark both dark and light fabrics with patterns!
First, I start by laying down the carbon paper, carbon side up. If I’m doing several large pieces, I will tape them down so they don’t move as the fabric shifts around. Next, I put the fabric down, right side up. This means that the marks will be on the bottom. In the unlikely event that I do smudge the middle of the pattern, the marks won’t be noticeable from the front. Finally, I lay the pattern on top and put something somewhat heavy on it to make sure it doesn’t shift around. Sometimes, I’ll even tape the pattern to the fabric to make sure the pattern doesn’t shift. The one disadvantage to doing marking this way is that you can’t see your previous marks, so if the pattern moves on the fabric, you probably won’t be able to line it up perfectly again. That means re-drawing the whole thing, so it’s important the pattern-fabric layout stays the same. After all the pieces are stacked up, I use a tracing wheel to go over the size lines and voila – the pattern is marked!! I can just rotary cut along the carbon lines and I have my shape! I also use this for the small amount of appliqué I do when I need to cut out my shapes.
Now I have everything cut out and ready to sew! I’ve even finished fusing the neckline pieces that required fusing. This was the perfect project to work on for a day where I felt like sewing, but didn’t have the space to work on something other than my quilting (which I really did need a break from). For the coming week, though, there are other priorities on the horizon.
I have been so uninspired to work on my Christmas Fig quilt that I had to make it my UFO homework just to get it started. To be fair, there have been other more fun projects waving at me for distractions. Such as …
A bargello quilt!!! I got this jello role bundle from Troll Brothers this summer specifically to make a bargello quilt. I wanted something I didn’t need to spend a lot of time coordinating together and this fabric is so cute! I’ll explain more about how bargellos work in the future, but basically you sew all these strips together lengthwise, then sew the last and first strip together to make it a tube, then cut the tube different widths to make the bargello pattern. Since this will make a fairly small panel, I got some coordinating fabric to use for borders/binding, so I should get at least a lap size out of it!
But enough about distractions (or, at least, enough on that for today). This weekend was Crazy Quilter’s Zoom retreat, so I thought it best to get started on my UFO goal before I’m forced to cough up money. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a bit of incentive!
My goal for the month of September was to get 2 blocks (out of 20 total) quilted. As per usual, I started at the center of the quilt as I find that to be the most challenging part to do. The first block, despite now looking easy, took forever!! I had my handy-dandy quilt design chart pinned up to my easel design board to help, but I wanted to try a couple of modifications to the bow-tie block to see if I could get a different pattern quilted in. Each attempt was a failure, so after ripping out 2 rows, I just stuck to the stitch-in-the-ditch idea I had originally sketched. While I do intend to do quite a bit of stitch in the ditch, I have some original design ideas as well. And for at least one of the blocks so far, I barely followed my original sketch and came up with a quilting look that I LOVE! That seems to be the way for me. I just have to get started, then the ideas will begin to flow. 🙂
All in all, I managed to get 5 blocks done this weekend. I was hoping for at least 6, but when I stopped to make supper I came into the kitchen to discover Chaos reigned supreme! Husband cannot be trusted to entertain himself, apparently. Trouble ensues whenever I do that. By the time dinner was made and a sense of order had been restored, my only thought was movie night on the couch. At least I got a sweet reward for my pain … and 5 blocks really is better than no blocks at all!
My June UFO commitment is to get caught up on the presents I was trying to get made for Christmas and ran out of time to do. With all the lockdowns, I didn’t bother picking it back up. That’s subject to change, though. We’re supposed to come out of lockdown at the start of June . First thing I intend to do is go visit my family. My sisters were both supposed to get bags (not that they know that), but the niece quilts took priority. Now I get to finish them!!!
I was supposed to finish the one I started in December for SisterD, but of course … I got distracted. I blame my father-in-law. If I hadn’t finished his quilt (mostly), I wouldn’t have all these pretty scraps just BEGGING to be made into a tote bag. That means SisterN is getting her bag finished first.
Okay, maybe it’s partially my fault. I’ve been re-watching episodes of the Midnight Quilt Show with Angela Walters on my lunch break. I like watching them for inspiration, especially the quilting designs. I’ve already got 2 more quilts planned with fabrics I bought when I first started quilting. Like I need more projects!! One of her episodes was about making a quilted bag. The template was offered for free on Craftsy which became Bluprint which has become Craftsy again … It changed hands a couple of times, hence the re-branding. With those changes, the pattern directions are no longer available on the site. I almost couldn’t find this pattern, but I finally stumbled across a PDF shared on the internet with the pattern! Who hoo! http://static-sympoz.s3.amazonaws.com/email/2019/Member%20Patterns/April%202019/Sew/Tiki%20Tote%20Pattern.pdf
While I have a decent amount of scraps, I don’t have enough to make it totally out of 2.5 strips, so I took all the extra strips and just mix them all up with the standard strips. It gives the strip-units a less-braidy look, but I like the way it’s turned out!
I was so excited to have the exterior done within a couple of days. I’d go in with the intent to do one braid unit and SURPRISE get sucked in to finish 3 or 4. Next step – put the braids together. Because this is a bag and it may not see the most gentle use, I decided to serge the panels together for more rigidity. Yes, it makes the seams a little little bulkier, but it’s a bag. That doesn’t really matter. After serging the units and the top border, I attached some batting and started on the quilting!!
This bag is really busy and the fabric on it is sooo beautiful, so I didn’t want to do too much more than stitching the batting to the fabric. I still wanted to practice a bit, though, so I decided to do some free-motion stitching in the odd strip. I think this looks pretty good! And the ribbon candy design is definitely getting better with practice. I think it like it best on narrow strips – I struggle making it look good on wider strips.
The pattern calls for a pieced liner. This teenie tiny pile of strips is all I have left (YAY almost no scraps!!!), so I’m going to use a single piece of fabric as the liner. Since I’ve got just enough to also make the straps out of the liner fabric, I will use it there as well.
All in all – this is a pretty quick little tote sew. It looks super cute, it’s a good way to use up fat quarter bundles, and who doesn’t like a tote bag!! 😀 Next up: the SisterD work tote.
So as of last post, I had already met my UFO goal of getting the Brothers Bear quilt top pieced and had high hopes of getting it completely done. I’m happy to report a 95% success rate!
On Monday night, I took the top down to the kitchen and basted it with backing and batting. That was my only goal for Monday and (as it turned out) for the balance of the week. Life sometimes gets in the way of sewing. SO ANNOYING. 😉 I did have time to try a new idea! During the days leading up to the quilting, I often think about the blocks I’ll be working on and come up with quilt designs to use. In the past, I printed off a copy of the pattern and doodled lines on it. This week, I made a copy of some of the pictures I used in the last blog post and drew on them with my computer! Isn’t that cool?? It’s not even that hard. I know a lot of others do this using their iPads – evidently, there’s an app that comes with it that you can use to draw on. I have a copy of Adobe Sketch that I used. It helped me figure out what I wanted to do – and for the most part, I stuck to my doodles. 🙂 I changed the rows around a bit, too – I think it works a little better in the final version.
Friday night was my first class for the BOTM this year. I’m doing Tula Pink’s 100 modern city blocks. Why is no one surprised that I’m doing this class?? It’s not just about the Tula in this case. All these blocks are super simple. Even though we’re getting assigned 10 blocks per class, I’m pretty sure I can do all 10 in a couple of hours. It’s a simple way to get some learning in this year without over-taxing my schedule. I’m planning on using up parts of my Tula Pink out-of-print fabric. There’s no point in having fabric you don’t intend to use – at least, that’s what I think. I intend to use up all the fabric I have – I don’t want to be a “collector”. Does that mean I’ll stop collecting cute things that come up for future projects? Of course not!!! I wouldn’t have had the perfect nephew blanket fabric if I hadn’t have impulse-bought the cute Canadian fabric. I’m extremely glad I bought it. 🙂 And I have concrete plans for at least two of my Tula lines – I just need to get to making the quilts. But that’s what this UFO club is for, right? Speaking of …
Saturday was supposed to be my first quilting day for Brothers Bear, but that didn’t happen. Actually, I’m not 100% sure what did happen on Saturday. Oh right – since Ontario is in a state of emergency again, we’re on lock down. Saturday was running around to do curbside pickup of necessities and groceries with an impromptu nap in the middle. I was tired. I was supposed to take vacation in a couple of weeks, but we’re not permitted to be outside except to walk the dog. I don’t mind staying away from people, but if I’m taking vacation, I need to be able to go somewhere to get outside. If I can’t do that, I’m going to try to postpone the time. I’m thinking March instead, but there may be other things that come up to change that. We’ll see! 😉 (not cryptic at all …)
Now we’re on to Sunday. I woke up fairly early for a weekend and decided to get up and get at it. I’m finding that I’m dead for the first few work days if I let my schedule get too much out of whack on the weekend (case in point: writing my blog at 3AM Monday morning since I haven’t been able to sleep. Yay getting old …). I modified my desk as best I could to quilt, then got started. Guys … I quilted the whole top in one day. That’s crazy!!! By the time it started getting dark at 5:30 (winter in Canada is painfully real), I felt like stopping, but I only had 2 1/2 rows left!!! 2 rows were very simple and quick. I couldn’t just stop!! So I powered through and this quilt is officially DUN. 😀 I was so pumped! I even set up the table again (last time for a while!) and trimmed off the edges. Now all I have to do is the binding! That may not happen today due to exhaustion, but I’d like to be able to have it done no later than end of day Tuesday. Imagine submitting a completed quilt for UFO homework when only the top was required!! So pumped.
Getting it done wasn’t without sacrifices. My back is letting me know that it’s considering spasming out (old car accident from college that comes back to haunt me every so often). My sewing machine was a bit of a casualty as well. The backing for this quilt was a bright green zig-zag flannel. I think it’s common knowledge that I don’t pre-wash my fabric (right now it’s not an option with my washing machine on the fritz). Welp … the bed of my sewing machine has a slight green tint to it now. 😦 I don’t know why they insist on making sewing machines white – it seems like a bad idea for multiple reasons. At least it’s not bright green, just a shade of white with a green tint. And it may rub off with time – I seem to remember this happened to me before and the colour eventually went away. Here’s hoping?
Don’t let winter get you down. Spring is coming!!! The days are already starting to get longer and January is almost over. Once we’re past the worst month, winter moves along a lot faster. 🙂 We’re almost through!
The aunt quilt is finished! In a way, I’m glad to see the end of it. The borders caused me no end of trouble. I decided to do a 4-patch in the corners with some of the scraps (which turned out super cute!) with a stripe border. This brought the final size to 42″x40″ (I think … I didn’t even measure the final!). That stripe border … granted, I was having a really bad mental day that day, what with sewing the stripes on backwards THREE TIMES!!!, but I just couldn’t measure the sides properly to save my life. They kept coming out too large. I finally quit in a rage for a couple of days before trying again with great success. 😛
I decided to quilt fake cursive on the green/yellow rectangles and continuous curves on the big pansy blocks. The continuous curves hid in the pansies (which is what I wanted) and the fake cursive showed up boldly on the rectangles. I like the look! I did some ruler work on the border. Man oh man … I have to practice in the future! I had so much trouble on the first stretch of border before I figured it out and finished the rest! In case you’re ever wondering – Husqvarna sewing machines do not like to FMQ with rulers. Thankfully, I prefer not to use rulers unless I’m trying to get something super straight or super symmetrical.
It was my father’s birthday this weekend, so on our way up to visit them, we stopped in on my aunt to drop off the quilt. She loved it! She whipped off the minky blanket she had on her lap and pulled mine on right away. I think it’s going to be well-used. Her room is fairly pastel-y and china-y (as in dishes, not country), so that lap quilt is a real bolt of colour in the room. They are her favourite colours, incidently – I didn’t even know that until just now! I also dropped off my sister’s table runner, but I didn’t get feedback on that yet. The kidlets were SIIIICK, so that branch of the family didn’t show up for the birthday party. I left the table runner with my mother, so my sister will probably get it sometime next week.
I was feeling a bit at a loss, trying to decide on my next project. I know I should pull out the orange peel slices and finish the quilt, but I’m not quite ready to tackle that. There’s still the tiger quilt(s) (remember that?), but it will be a very fast project to finish and I wanted something involved to start. Then, I remembered a promise I made a year ago, so …
DUN DUN DUN. It’s finally time for the niece’s quilt! My initial plan was to make up my own pattern, but I decided to go with a pre-made pattern that came with the fabric line. It’s called the Starburst pattern – coincidentally, one of my favourite candies in high school. I think I have all the fabric I need for it. I checked the fabric requirements and it should use up the whole fat quarter bundle. I need 1/8 of each of the solids and I have 1/4, so there’s lots of that too! This does leave a gaping hole in my Tula Pink collection at Fabrique Estates. Don’t worry about that too much, though … I already have something coming in March to plug it up. 😉
I am so pumped for the 2020 quilting season! I’ve got some fun projects planned and I can’t wait to start!!! For the first year of the new decade, I’m only committing to projects I actually want to work on. That means signing up for only one BOTM (with FibreChick again) and not forcing myself to complete everything I start … unless there’s a deadline for some reason … speaking of, let’s introduce the first two quilts of 2020! 😀
I started this quilt on New Year’s Eve. My first cousin was expecting her second daughter in January and I decided to make a very brightly coloured quilt centered around an owl panel I picked up last year. I started of with two colour blocks – one warm and one cool, all the colours from the owl blocks. The solid colour blocks are called churn-dash blocks. The churn-dash pattern has many alternate names and is usually made with two colours to emphasize a specific design in the block, but I decided to use five colours. It causes different components to stand out on each block, which makes the pattern look different on each block.
I took a break to do something else with my sewing room. I hung up my design wall! I picked up some 0.5lb 3M Command hooks and stuck 4 of them on the wall. Then I hung my design felt to it and BOOM! Design walll!! The location is temporary. Do you see the plastic-covered item leaning against the wall? That is the glass form for the shower. When it’s installed and the room has been finished, the sewing room door will open against that wall. I intend to move the design wall behind the door. It will be a good use of the space without interfering with the door’s path. Plus, the wall won’t be facing the sunny window in that place. The sun will prematurely age the design wall and potentially fade quilt blocks where it is in the long-term.
This allowed me to put up the blocks once I was finished. The warm blocks look beautiful, but they are too autumn-coloured to got with all the other blocks in the quilt. I cut and sewed four more churn-dash blocks using more jewel tones, but including a couple brighter fabrics to include some yellow and red to round out the owl-blocks.The owl blocks were set on a black fabric, so I decided to use black sashing to space all the blocks. I think the effect is bright, colourful, yet cohesive. The design wall was very helpful for laying out the blocks in the way looks best and to keep the rows organized.
I think the piecing took me three days, including the re-making of the warm blocks. It was immediately on to the quilting! I used scrap batting from my last two quilts and flannel I picked up at one of the guild meetings. Stash busting!!! I used an electric orange thread to do the quilting. I put continuous curves into the squares (this is swiftly turning into a favourite design for me) and a meander with loops around the owls. I also traced the owls, their eyes, and their wings. I ran a looping meander in the sashing between the blocks and around the border. The orange stands out beautifully on the black! I did something a little special with the top and bottom of the quilt. The baby was literally born as I was doing the quilting, so I “wrote” her first and middle name at the top of the quilt and the date at the bottom. It’s the first time I’ve ever done quilt-writing. It’s fairly easy – I just need a little practice!
I got to play with a new tool! Husqvarna came out with a binding tool for putting the binding on quilts. It’s not as perfect as doing it the long way yourself, but it saves me almost two days of pressing in half, then in quarters, then pinning on one side, then pinning on the other side. No folding, no pinning, and I only sew the binding once! It stitches the back and the front of the binding at the same time! It’s been worth every single penny for getting things done FAST. Merry Christmas to me!
Now that the quilt is in a box and on it’s way to the East Coast, I’ve started my next quilt for my great aunt. My grandmother has one sister left alive. She loved Grandma’s quilt, so I decided to make her a lap quilt. She’s recently re-located to a nursing home and I wanted something she could use all day long instead of something that stays on her bed. One of my favourite online quilting stores, Troll Brothers Quilt Designs, organized a de-stash to raise money for a sick individual who is close to her. I picked this beautiful pansy fabric. The pansies are outlined in metallic gold. I thought it would be a beautifully bright for her to look at. I asked Stacie to pick out three fat quarters of complimenting colours and include it in the bundle when she sent it to me. I want to make disappearing nine-patch blocks highlighting the pansies. I can’t wait to share it with you next!
Have you ever had life get so intensely busy that you lose any drive to work at fun things? That’s sort of what happened to me. Two weddings, two job interviews, family events, and home maintenance adventures, it all drained me in a way I hadn’t expected. I didn’t even get my assigned blocks done a couple of times, although at least one of those was due to an issue with the instructor not having enough blocks to go around.
One of the things that fueled my disconnect with my hobby were the projects that I absolutely had to do. I had my brother-in-law’s quilt to finish the quilting on and I had a block-of-the-month quilt to work on. I’ve been really struggling with the block-of-the-month quilt. The rows I received over the summer included a lot of paper piecing (more on that another day) and teeny-tiny pieces. I mean – just look at this block! And there are 8 of these blocks total to have finished!!! It didn’t help that I did the first block wrong and I don’t have enough pieces to finish all 8. I will figure that out, but I’ll need time to sit down and go through everything and re-design it. I simply don’t have the interest in this quilt to do it right now. It might just turn into my first UFO. If it doesn’t get done in 2020, I’m okay with that. I got the parts done that I felt I could get done in a timely manner. It will be pretty whenever I get it done. I really liked the flying geese I did. I don’t know why the colour order makes me feel happy, but it really does. 🙂
One quilt that got finished was the wedding quilt for my brother-in-law. The piecing was done before the wedding, but the quilting wasn’t finished in time, so I gave it to them the next time I saw them. I’m actually kind of glad that I didn’t have it done in time for the wedding. Everything was so chaotic that day, there’s a good chance I would have forgotten it anyways! It took a lot of mental focus to force myself to get back to quilting it. I was coming up with the quilting pattern as I went. It was a meandering stipple with hearts added every so often. I even quilted some squares specially instead of just an all-over meander. My new sister-in-law was very excited when she received the quilt for Christmas. She even sent me a picture of their bedroom the very next day with the quilt on the bed. It felt so good to get that quilt out the door and to the recipient. 🙂
I finally started getting back into the swing of things over Christmas, mostly on Christmas Eve. It started with a last-minute wine bottle bag for a Christmas gift to a coworker. Then, at the last second, I decided to make two table runners for my sisters. I got one completely finished before going to see everyone on Christmas Day, the second one was almost completely finished except the quilting details. It’s done now and I’ll be dropping it off when I visit in January.
I am finally getting back into it! The next post will be what I started in 2020 – and I finished it in a little less than a week! I can’t wait to show you!!!
I didn’t forget to blog this time … I just ran out of time. There was quilting to be done!
I managed to get the Grandma quilt done, but just under the wire (23 minutes to spare …). I didn’t even have a chance to wash it. I told her that if it ever needs to be washed, she’s to ask me to do it. I need to make sure no colours bleed. There’s a lot of white on that quilt!!! I did do a test of all the fabrics soaking in hot water and no dye came out, so maybe she’ll be okay if it gets washed without me. Let’s not tempt fate though, alright Grandma??
Last we spoke, we had the quilt burrito on the table and ready to quilt. As usual, I started with the center. It’s the hardest part to quilt because it has the thickest quilt roll taking up space in the throat. I find it easier to do the hard part first when I’m all fired up to work and gradually reward and encourage myself to keep going as I get to easier and easier sections. First though, the planning. At work, I’ll go through lull periods once in a while. They’re usually only a few days long when the last project is all but wrapped up and the new project hasn’t been issued yet. It can get deadly dull, so I try to have a few personal projects to work on at these times. During the last lull, I just couldn’t get this quilt out of my head, so I took the opportunity to doodle quilt designs on a copy of the quilt top template during a meeting. Green is for the designs focused around the big stars and pink is around the small stars. I came up with most of these ideas while I was quilting the top, but it felt good to see it on paper! I decided to be daring and try to quilt *gasp* FEATHERS in the border. We’ll see how I did!
I also picked out the thread before quilting. White is for the white bits (duh), mint is for the small green-and-purple stars, green is for both the big and small green-and-yellow stars, and the purple is for the big purple-and-green stars. I tried to pick something that would blend well on both sides of the the star … except the purple. I went for broke on the purple thread. What can I say – I really like that purple thread! This is the new Glide thread that I bought two cases of back in the new year. It is a HUGE improvement over the 40 weight Superior Threads “So Fine” thread. My sewing machine does not like quilting with that stuff. I’m using it for piecing right now to use it up.
I just wanted to highlight the star blocks, so I used point-to-point straight lines to “point” at the stars. I used arcs and loops inside the stars. I was mostly playing with designs on this quilt. I messed up a good portion of them, but when the quilt is on the bed, you can’t even tell unless you’re looking at each individual block. 🙂 The mint green thread blended in perfectly on the small star, don’t you think? One last thing I did on this block after I put it back on the machine is I added one extra arrow line on the bottom triangle. I know all the others only had three, but because I left such a big gap, it was more noticeable to have three lines with a big gap than one triangle with an extra lines. Things that are good to know for the future!
After the center was done, I did the top and bottom, then left and right. I did not do the borders at this stage – I left that for the end so I could just spin the quilt and keep all the bulk off to the side of the sewing machine. This also made me less nervous to quilt the feather borders because I wasn’t also focusing on fighting the quilt bulk in the throat. Every time I completed a side, I had to drag the quilt downstairs to re-roll it for accessing the next edge. The joys of working in small spaces! The good thing about this is it helped me catch the one or two times that I accidentally sewed down a flap on the backing. ARRRRRG!!! I’d rip them out at the table and mark them with safety pins. Once I was finished everything (or if I got close to a pin while wuilting a different section, I hunted for pins and fixed any mistakes I had to rip out.
Feathers!! I’d never ever done them before this quilt and everyone online who tries them for the first time complains long and loud that they’re really hard. I was super nervous!!! As you go through life, you’ll find one or two things that just come naturally to you that everyone else seems to be struggling to do (I’m looking at you, math nerds. Your awesome brains suck. 😛 ) For me, it’s feathers. There are some patterns that feel super natural for me to make (like the wishbones or “fake cursive” I used in the eagle quilt). Thankfully, feathers were one of those things! I was actually happy how they turned out!
This part of the blog is where things fall apart a bit. While rushing to finish, I forgot to take pictures. Actually, I didn’t even remember to take pictures of me giving it to my grandmother for her birthday or of it on her bed for over a week. That’s okay, though, because I did eventually get a picture of it on her bed. She was so so happy with her quilt and that makes all the work totally worth it! 🙂
I meant to get this post up sooner, I really did … but then I changed what I was doing, so I had to wait until I was finished. 😛
The mini-distraction project at quilt retreat was a charm square tote class taught by the always-amazing Kim Boaro of FibreChick. The idea was to have a project to use charm packs from our stashes, although Kim did have fabric and some charm packs for sale at the retreat. Charm packs are 5″x5″ pre-cut squares from a fabric line (roughly 40 squares to a pack). I impulse purchased the most adorable bee-themed charm pack last winter when we were first talking about getting into beekeeping, so I knew exactly what I would use for the project! Of course, that didn’t stop me from replacing the empty spot with a new charm pack from FibreChick … It’s going to be a Christmas present. DON’T JUDGE ME!!!
Since I’ve already made a charm-pack purse (although I cut the fabric myself for the purse, remember?), I decided to go with some of the suggested alterations she had to the pattern. Instead of it being rows of blocks, I decided to stagger the blocks so I wouldn’t have to focus on making my points meet (sneaky!) The one nice thing about this fabric line is that only one of the included fabrics is directional – the ones with the writing on them. I had to make sure that I laid them out the same way for each side of the bag (5 across, 4 down on each side). Of course, I didn’t plan for Morgan error, so when I assembled it, the writing was sideways instead of facing the up-and-down. I actually kind of prefer the look! And the writing is pointing the same direction on each side, so all good! I used the leftovers from one of the fabrics from the husband quilt for the liner and some of the cut off batting from the husband quilt … using up scraps!!! (I also bought the fabric I needed for the strap from FibreChick … IT STILL COUNTS AS STASH BUSTING)
After sewing the squares in rows and sewing the rows together off-spaced, the instructions wanted me to stitch in the ditch around the squares. It does look nice on the sample bag, but I wanted to try something different. When I eventually start to make a hexie quilt (little hexagons), I wanted to use a blanket stitch to machine quilt them. Perfect practice opportunity! And I got to do a little FMQ at quilt retreat, which always makes me happy. 😀 I played two rounds of thread chicken … AND WON!!! HAHAHAHA!!! Thread chicken is where you’re trying to finish your project (or your section) as the thread is running out and you’re playing to finish before it runs out. Also works for yarn – I do not win at yarn chicken ever. Thread seems to be my jam. 😉
I got the bag together just under the wire and thought it looked so cute! It’s an extra-big sized tote – it even comfortably fits a project box! I didn’t completely finish it off – I left the lining opening un-stitched. Why? Because there is supposed to be a pocket inside and I ran out of time to make one with my scraps. I was toying with the idea of not putting in a pocket. Because the tote is so big, I’ll probably be using it to transport large items (LIKE QUILTS!!!) to the beach or weekend visits, but in case I want to bring just the tote, it’s nice to have pockets to easily find keys or phones. So … guess what I suddenly decided I needed to do last night … at 11PM … while waiting for husband to come home from working nights … I don’t do well when I’m left alone in the house.
First step – fix the liner. I had to rip the sides out of the liner so the pocket fit the width of the bag. The only reason any of this worked was because I made the liner too big by accident when I first made it. At the time, I thought it wouldn’t matter because it’s in the big and you can’t see that it’s a little big. Thank goodness I just left it as-is! I also ripped open the bottom of the bag a bit more so I could run the stitches on the pocket sections easier and to add stabilizer better. Since the pocket has lots of fabric and stabilizer, it’s really heavy, which means I have to bolster the single layer of fabric liner so it holds the pocket without collapsing. This is not the right way to add stabilizer AT ALL, but it was what I had to work with. On to the pocket!
I sewed all the liner scraps together to make a pocket, but it was only big enough for one side, so I got the mis-cut scraps from the drawstring bag to make up the other side of the pocket. Popped a little stabilizer on the back of the pieced side, stuck it into the liner, and then re-stitched the liner sides. I decided to use a specialty stitch on the pocket bottom and to create pocket sections. Guess what specialty stitch my sewing machine has … HONEYCOMB STITCH!!! How perfect does this look??
Finished product! Both sides! I hung them in my lilac trees for a pretty background. Love me some lilacs. 😀 Now to finish off a big quilt to carry in it!!!
I mean … go to the beach and get some sun so I stop looking like a mountain goblin …
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.
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.