Block-of-the-Month · Quilt Designs

Catching Up

I had another block-of-the-month row that I almost didn’t get done. I pulled it off a couple of days before, though, and I had a lot of fun doing it! Yay for easy blocks!

Dancing Squares

This one is called dancing squares … I think. You make the blocs, then flip every other one 180 degrees. It’s super easy and makes an interesting design! This block can get a little wonky if you’re not careful pressing because you’re cutting on the bias and it’s really easy to stretch the material out of shape if you tug on it too much.

My big issue with this block was the colours. I already decided I wanted to use the pink pixelated fabric that I used for the ribbon row, mostly to make the ribbon row fit in with the rest of the quilt. That meant picking out two fabrics for the dancing squares that match. I already decided to use solids because the background was so busy. I also didn’t want to go with the pink colour because I wanted the squares to stand out. That meant using the two fringe colours – cream and rusty red. The cream was fine, but the rusty red worried me a bit. In the whole quilt, I’m missing one colour – orange. This rust looked very very orange when I was putting it together and I worried that it would make the row not look like it belonged with the rest of the quilt. So, once the row was done, I decided to lay out everything I had to see how they worked together!

Outside to the laundry line for the design wall!!! Oh wait – the rows are really heavy and don’t want to stay on. That’s okay, I’ll just pin them to the design sheet. Wait … wind … OH NO the blocks blew off again … so solution was to lay the sheet on the deck and lay out the rows on the deck. I did not want to do that because I knew the second I laid everything out, someone would leave his digging hole under the deck to come investigate …

OH LOOK I’M RIGHT AGAIN!!!
Snowdog the nuisance dog some days …

That being said – I’m super excited about this quilt! I think all the rows blend together really well! I’m getting excited to finish up the rows that need more work *cough*BIRDS*hack* and all the other assigned blocks as they come. I want to get this quilt finished so I can start loving it!

~M

Finished Projects · Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Quilt Designs

Quilt On!

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??

Let’s go!

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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜› ) 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! πŸ™‚

~M

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

A Return to the Quilting

So … I didn’t start with either of the projects I have coming due. Who’s surprised?? No one? Me either. πŸ˜›

First, I got distracted by a new project I’ve been thinking of doing for some time now. I figured it would be super easy and super fast, so why not start there? I’m making sleep masks. πŸ™‚ I’m extremely light-sensitive when I’m trying to sleep – oh, the wars over the lights that my brother and I fought as kids – and husband is often up later than me when he’s on call. Solution? A sleep mask. I’ve bought a few over the years – I usually wear out one a year – and thought, “Why don’t I just make them out of my scraps instead?”

First, I drew a template using a current sleep mask on to batting and cut it down. The pictures show version 2. Since I have a long, thin nose, some masks are uncomfortable because they put too much pressure on the bridge of my nose, so I cut the nose curve higher on version 1 and even higher on version 2. I think I have it about right now. Next step was to cut some scrap fabric the same size as the batting template. I had some long pieces of De La Luna that I couldn’t throw away (Again – no one shows surprise!), so I cut them up for this project. I tried to get the little butterflies to land in the middle of the mask. I was only successful with one, but they still function perfectly well as masks. I decided to use some thin elastic I had in my sewing kit to make the string around. Remember to put the elastic inside the mask before sewing!!! Guess what happened to version 1? Yeah … and remember to leave a gap at the top to pull the mask inside out. It has to be big enough that the fabric will fit through when bunched up. That part I did remember!

Once the mask was flipped out, I used my fingers to push out all the edges for a smoother look, pinned the open top in place, and pressed it with an iron to get a crisp line. Then it was simple to run a 1/8″ topstitch around the edge. Voila! Sleeping mask for Auntie M! I even modeled it for you.

Mmm so sexy. πŸ˜€ On version 2, I matched the thread colour for the top stitch, but on version 1, I just wanted to finish it to see what worked/didn’t work.

On to distraction #2! Wait … you didn’t think the sleep mask was the only thing keeping me from the work I was supposed to be doing, did you? Tut tut. Distraction #2 – a cousin called me last week to announce … her daughter is expecting a sister in January! πŸ˜€ Yay more family babies!!! The last time any babies were born to our family, I was crocheting baby blankets. I get to quilt a baby blanket instead this time!!! πŸ˜€ TO THE FABRIQUE ESTATES!!!

I have a few (very very few, surprisingly) panels in my stash, most of which are for babies. Since it’s super early, we don’t know the gender of the little one. That doesn’t really matter anyways for this cousin – when she was expecting her first daughter (and knew it was a girl), she decorated her baby room with seafoam green, royal purple, and robin-egg blue. She and I are cut from the same cloth! πŸ˜€ I decided to go with the owls panel I bought last winter. Kelly from The Cottage Quilter demoed the panel at quilt guild and as soon as I saw it, I had to have one. I’m so glad now that I did!! I also pulled one of my stocks of solid fabrics and coordinated up a cool tone and a warm tone collection of 4 fabrics each. Everything is now set aside now until winter – I have to work on the other quilts – but it felt so cool to be able to go into my nicely-sorted room and just pull out what I needed. πŸ™‚ Plus, I’m in design mode for the new quilt!! I love design mode. πŸ˜€

Finally … on to what I’m supposed to be doing!

First order of business: Grandma quilt. I know the window for getting at least one block before class this week is swiftly closing, but I wanted to have this done first. And I was so close!!! I had no idea that I had one row to sew on, then the border, then done! Why did I avoid doing this quilt for so long! It was almost finished! Oh well … It’s finished now. πŸ˜€ Because it’s huge, I had to hang it on the clothes line in order to attach the border. Snowdog was such a little jerk!!! He wanted to go in the house (because it was hot out and we have A/C inside now), so he kept stepping on the part of the quilt I was working on to get my attention. I was afraid he’d track dirt on it, so I gave into his demands. Spoiled boy!

When I measured it on the clothes line, it came up to 93″ square. The Cottage Quilter had a summer sale a few weeks ago, so I’ve already picked up the backing and the batting. I’ll baste the quilt sometime this week – probably Thursday after quilt class – and get cracking on the quilting part. I only have two weeks (not including the week we’re in) to get the quilting done and we’re going to the family cottage for the August long weekend cause Auntie M needs a break! A little pressure never hurt anyone, right? Oh, yeah … there’s also an interview to prep for next week and we have to finish the shed painting project … *le sigh* I’m just not going to be able to quilt it as extensively as I quilted Dan’s. That’s fine, I didn’t really intend to do it that intensely, but I did want to do a medium amount of quilting on it! Chop chop Auntie M.

Final sewing adventure (man I got busy this week!): the BOTM. The one I need to have at least one of so I don’t get dinged with a $5 fine? Oh, and it’s complicated … yay … It’s paper piecing. Paper piecing is cool because you put the fabric on the back side side, the sew through the paper following the line, flip it over, press back the top fabric, and like magic – it’s perfect! It’s also annoying because it’s all angles and I don’t cut my fabric to match it very well, but I managed to get three birds done all the same! That’s more than I expected of myself!! There are supposed to be 5 large and 7 small birds strutting across the row. I’ll probably do what I did with the Dresden plates and finish them before I start the next row. Please oh please … next month be easy!!! I would have taken the model picture on the quilt topped cutting station … but it was occupied. Animals, I tell you …

~M

Piecing · Quilt Designs

Adventures with Humans

I did another first! I went on a quilt retreat!

My table and my table mates!

Basically, people show up for a weekend to sew in the same big room together. They can be at a remote location where you stay overnight, but this one was in town, so I got to sleep in my own bed and get woken up by my own dog at 6 freaking AM dog … The tears are real. Especially since my own husband kept me up to 1AM because he missed me all day (AWWW).

I went into this retreat with one objective: get started on the quilt that I’m making my brother-in-law for his wedding. Since none of my in-laws are aware of my blog, I can discuss it here without ruining the surprise πŸ™‚

Log cabin block

I am planning on making a log cabin quilt. Traditionally, it was one of the first quilt patterns that a new bride would make with all black blocks on one side, all white blocks on the other, and a red “chimney” in the middle. I decided to modernize it a bit by working in some grey. I mocked up this block with some spare fat quarters (quarter-of-a-yard of fabric, in case you’re wondering) and I like the look. It makes a nice, big block that shouldn’t take too long to make up into a quilt. 18.5″ blocks, 5 blocks across by 5 blocks down will put it somewhere around 95″. I’m putting 5 different different colours in the chimney from a fat quarter pack. I intend to use the rest of the pack to make matching cushions for them for Christmas. I asked Kim from FibreChick to put together a kit for me and picked it up last week. It’s going to be SO PRETTY!! πŸ˜€

Step one to making a log cabin kit – pre-cut all the strips. As you can see from the sample block, it’s made up of a bunch of strips – in this case, 2.5″ strips – cut to different lengths. THIS PART IS SOOOO TEDIOUS. The first cutting to make up enough strips to do at least one block took me an hour. The subsequent partial cuttings (just cutting the strips you ran out of piecing the last block) took 30-40 minutes every time and I had to cut between every block. It’s just a lot of cutting. On the second evening, one of the women took pity on me and introduced me to a magic device.

The June Tailor version of the Stripology ruler

It’s known as a Stripology ruler. You put it on top of the fabric and cut in the gaps in the ruler to cut a bunch of matching widths. The one I used let me cut a bunch of 2.5 strips out of all my fabric at once, which will cut down my cutting time down (see what I did there???? πŸ˜€ ) as I’ll just have to grab a 2.5 strip and sub-cut it the proper length. I can get a block sewn in about 15-20 minutes once I have the strips. The quilt needs to be pieced and quilted by September. I can do this!

I got 7 blocks done over the course of the weekend! I started playing with the layout of the blocks to see how they look together with the colours and figure out the pattern. Log cabin patterns can make a lot of cool sub-patterns. Because this block is so big and there’s only going to be 5 each way, I’m just going to stick with the standard pattern for now. I totally want to do another log cabin in the future, though – the cross pattern looks SO RAD.

I feel pretty good about that, especially since I got distracted by a hosted project that took up a whole day. Guess what the next blog post will be?? πŸ˜€

~M

Piecing · Quilt Designs

Orange Peel Problems

Right from the outset, I want to say that I’m glad I did this pattern this way and I intend to finish it this way. You appreciate the easier ways and other people’s amazing work when you slog through it the hard way first.

I completely understand the appeal of applique now! πŸ˜€

Don’t be afraid of curved piecing. It is not that bad – just go slow! I will be doing more curved piecing in my future. The secret to curved piecing is using a small rotational cutter or scissors. So remember – I’m using a cardboard template. I can’t use the rotary cutter against the template as it bites into the the cardboard and changes the shape of the template. I traced around the template with a marker or chalk and used the small rotary cutter to cut along the line. The only issue with cutting the curved bits this way is that each piece is a slightly different size. If I were submitting this quilt for a competition, this would matter. Since it’s just for me, I don’t care!!! πŸ˜€

Something I need to be aware of when I do the next pieces is cutting the center for directional fabric. I cut this fabric the same way for each center. It didn’t really matter on this fabric because it points a bunch of directions and you can’t even tell. πŸ˜‰

When cutting the outside charcoal bit, I made sure that the corners were square by lining them up on the square on my mat.
Look at that orange colour pop in charcoal!

After assembling the blocks, I had to put my four test blocks together. In a traditional orange peel, they’re set to make a circle and the star or “wings” pattern comes through as a secondary pattern. Because I’m using several orange fabrics, I decided to make the alternate pattern called “Pixie Wings”. I use the same fabric to make the wing design and the orange peel design comes out of the “wings” getting put together.

This is where I started getting frustrated with the piecing. Getting two points to meet was terrible. Getting four points to meet evenly in the middle was miserable!!! I literally ripped this block apart six times and re-sewed it together. You can see from the back that all the attempts and extra thread botched any hope of having my usually nice spun centers.

Now to do at least three more!! πŸ˜€ I’d ultimately like to do more than just four blocks – 12 maybe, do a lap quilt. I won’t be able to do the whole thing just now for two reasons. First, I just don’t have the time to do more than that. There’s a Grandma quilt and a wedding quilt to get finished before the summer is over. Second, I don’t think I have enough of the background fabric for 12 squares ( I might be wrong, but I don’t think I am). If that’s the case, I’m going to find two more fabrics of similar colour and do a slightly scrappy look.

The quilt guild had a full schedule on Monday, so no extra blocks were assigned this month. That leaves me with a bit of time to try something extra special! Stay tuned!

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Piecing · Quilt Designs

New Skills

One of my Block-of-the-Month classes is actually a Row-of-the-Month class. It’s hosted at a local library by The Cottage Quilter and we’re doing the Piper Girls’ row-by-row sampler.

This week, we were assigned the pinwheel row and some homework. Check out my pretty pinwheels! I’ve also included the other rows we have done to date.

The pinwheel row was actually Row #4. Kelly (our instructor) didn’t want to assign Row #3 until next week because it’s a new skill for most of the class (yaaay!! I’m not the only n00b!!) and she wants us to practice at home before doing it for real on the quilt. It’s called machine applique. It’s “machine” because you do it with your sewing machine and not by hand (which is what many people prefer). What is applique, you ask?

Applique is when you take a piece of fabric, cut out a design, and stitch it on to your quilt top. A lot of quilters make large portions of their quilts this way. I’ve never seen the appeal of it. I like doing piecing, not applique. And yes – I did do one bit of machine applique when I first started (as you can see above). My first issue was that the applique was a star. I have always had problems making star shapes and it has always bothered me, even as a small child. It looks wonky to me and I don’t like it. My second issue was that this was done back in … September? Maybe? I was still very new at quilting and I think I took on a little too much too soon.

I decided that my class practice is going to be a for-real practice … maybe. πŸ˜€ I got this beautiful fabric from Troll Brothers to make an orange peel quilt. As soon as I get around to picking out a background fabric, I intend to start! The problem with the orange peel design is that 90% of the patterns are an applique pattern. You can do a pieced orange peel block, but there aren’t a lot of tutorials because it’s curved piecing and I think most people prefer applique to curved piecing.

I have to veer off a bit at this point to talk about acquiring patterns. I try (whenever possible) to purchase a pattern instead of just looking at the design and doing it myself. It’s not that I can’t do that (and for husband’s quilt and niece’s quilt, they are my designs), but if I’m going to use someone else’s creativity to make a project, I’d like to compensate them for the effort. Plus, they’ve done all the maths to figure out the right sizes of things so you don’t wind up with pieces that don’t fit together.. πŸ˜€ I’ve been doing this more frequently with my knitting projects. The nice thing is that yarn patterns are usually only a few dollars on Ravelry.com. I only make … sorry, start (see last blog post) … a couple of things a year, so it doesn’t break the bank. Quilting patterns are different. The “professional” patterns can be quite expensive. You can often get blocks for free, but doing applique or curved piecing requires having a template of some sort. Ordering acrylic templates for this pattern has been a huge pain in the butt for me since the only places currently offering the orange peel templates are out of the US of A and the UK. I absolutely refuse to pay a foreigner’s tax (aka the import fees or duty) on something someone in Canada probably has for sale but I just can’t find. After 3 days of searching, I finally found an extremely old free paper pattern that has the templates included! In the spirit of doing the old thing, I cut out some cardboard using the paper pattern as a template and pulled out some test fabric to figure out what I want to do.

First, I made the curved piecing version. I don’t mind sewing curved piecing that much, but my scrap fabric decision made pressing the fabric a bit onerous. You’re supposed to press out away from the peel. Since my peel was a very dark fabric and my background was a very light, see-through fabric, there would be serious ghosting happening. Ghosting happens when you can see the seam right through the fabric – this is why most quilters press with the seam under the dark side – less chance for ghosting. When I do my quilt, though, I’ll be using a darker background fabric, so this won’t be a problem in the official version. The other issue was the cardboard template itself. Because I’m using a rotary cutter, I have to be very careful that I’m not accidentally trimming the cardboard. Not only does this dull the blade and make a mess, but it changes the size of the template over time. The last block might end up smaller than the first block. When I go to make my quilt, I will either need to invest in acrylic templates or mark the shapes from the cardboard template with a pen before cutting along the pen line.

With the curved test out of the way, we move on to the applique test. The interesting part is that these blocks will end up a little bigger because I’m not losing 1/4″ on each side of each piece to a seam allowance. It’s good to keep in mind.

I cut out the orange peel from scraps first, then I cut a couple of squares to use. I was going to go with scrap squares, but I thought it would be fun to play with the opposite dynamics by cutting squares from the original matching fabrics. I did make a mistake, though. You have to attach fabric stabilizer to the back of your applique pieces to give it some rigidity during sewing and to help keep the edges from fraying if you’re doing a raw-edge applique (more on that later). Usually, you attach the stabilizer to the fabric, then cut (so you don’t see the white stabilizer showing). I forgot to do this part, so I had to attach the cut pieces to stabilizer, then cut around the shapes with scissors. It wasn’t bad this time, but making this same mistake with the star applique was the part of the reason it started looking wonky. I was very careful about setting the pieces in the dead center with the same amount of background space on the mirrored sides. This isn’t super crucial because you can re-cut the block properly square afterwords, but I’m aiming for right the first time.I loaded up my bobbin with dark green and selected a yellow embroidery thread for the top. I’ve used it a little bit in the past – it comes up as a golden colour. It might not work out, but this is a test piece and I wanted to know how this thread will hold up on future projects (since I’ve got 6 spools of the stuff to use).

Note: I should have posted this blog last week in keeping with my one-a-week resolution, but this was as far as I got before my busy week and away-weekend ended my spare time. I did consider posting just this much, then decided to do a two-blog week so I could finish out this story. πŸ™‚

My sewing machine has preset stitches specifically for machine applique. I didn’t know that when I made the star piece, so I made my life a little harder by having to manually set up my stitch type. This time, I just used my presets and it made life so much easier! I have three sizes for an applique satin stitch. In the samples, you will see me use sizes medium and small.

I started with the green-on-plaid piece under the medium satin stitch. The pictures should show why this is called a satin stitch – it looks soft and shiny when it’s done. After running for an inch or two with the default settings, I tightened up the stitch width to give it a bit more of that satiny sheen. In machine applique, the big challenge is points and turning corners. From the very limited reading I did on this (because why wouldn’t I want to learn the hard way with no pointers?? πŸ˜‰ ), the two main ways of turning corners is to slowly walk around the point or to stitch slightly past the point, stitch backwards, turn the corner, stitch back again to get a sharpish point, then continue forwards. With green-on-plaid, I decided to try the walkaround method. From what I understand, the key to this method is making sure you always have your needle stop on the applique-side of the stitch, turn the fabric slightly, make another two stitches so you land back at the same spot on the applique side, and re-adjust again. You keep doing this until you are completely around the corner. As you can see, I needed a couple of attempts to get it looking okay.

Next up was the plaid-on-green with the small satin stitch. This was much harder as my margin for error with the edges of the applique piece was much tighter. With the medium stitch, all I had to do was make sure that the edge was somewhere between the two 1/8″ marks. This also allowed me to make a more gradual curve if my cuts were a little choppy (putting the interface on after cutting the shape only makes this worse). With the smaller stitch, I had to follow my cuts exactly. There are a couple of places where you can tell I didn’t schwoop very nicely in my cuts, but whatever – practice pieces! I also tried the back-and-forward corner method for the points this time. I think, in some ways, it actually works best with the small satin stitch because the tiny size hides the stitches a bit. In other ways, not so much – because stitch is so small, the edge of the applique was fraying a bit as I attempted to sink my stitches into the edge without having the applique fabric show on both sides of my stitches. At the corner, this fraying gets worse because I’m going back over it two extra times. Time will tell if the applique stands ups with the small stitch.

Look at me! I can machine applique!

My two completed looks! I had already decided before stitching that I didn’t like the green-on-plaid near as well. The patterned piece just looks better as a focal point. I’m still glad I went ahead with it, though, because I learned something else. When stitching on the applique, the background fabric got a little warped. It’s not bad and it will almost completely vanish once the the block is stitched in place, but it is a lot more obvious that it’s happening when you use a pattern fabric as your background fabric. Learning things! I also think I prefer the look of the small stitch over the look of the medium stitch as it starts to take emphasis away from the applique. I can’t even begin to imagine how the “big” satin stitch would turn out! I want to make two more of these blocks so I can make a completed orange peel block – maybe I’ll try the big satin stitch on one of them, just to see!

Orange peel quilt colors … so much in love!!!

Finally, I’m also glad I waited until after I got home before posting this because … I found the background fabric for my orange peel! Won’t it look nice with the charcoal grey?? I was in Ottawa, Ontario for the weekend visiting a friend and I made them pull over at a local fabric store (Sew For It) to see if I could find something. Good news – I found something! Bad news – there was only maybe 1/2 a meter left on the bolt. Not very much at all, maybe not even enough. I have to measure it out and see. I took what they had left just in case – worst case scenario, I’ll stash it and get something else. Oh darn. πŸ˜€ Because there’s so little of it, I will definitely be doing the curved piecing over the applique because I won’t have fabric to spare hiding under the orange peel. It was still worth doing the applique work just to learn how to do it. πŸ™‚ No time is wasted time if you learn things!

~M

Piecing · Quilt Designs

Distracted Again …

Oh, it’s good to be distracted again!
I sorta kinda thought my quilting mojo had gone
It never had vanished, it’s just moving on …

Muppets Take Manhattan, creative liberties taken (in case you were wondering).

As you may have noticed from my last couple entries, I was starting to get frustrated with the process. I simply had no drive to do the quilting piecing I thought I needed to do. Oh, once the piecing was done, I was happy to have done it … but the process getting there was aggravating. I’ve learned through it that this is a hobby. If I don’t feel like doing it, I probably shouldn’t do too much of it. It just becomes work and that becomes stressful, not enjoyable, and then I avoid my sewing room. I don’t want to avoid my sewing room! I love my little room! That means I need to let myself do some of my fun sewing for a while. I think we all know what that means …

TIGER QUILT TIME!!!

I managed to get the other two colours cut and pieced (totaling 4 pieces each) and get the cutting done for another round. I need 9 blocks of each for the baby quilts I was originally planning to do. After the 9 each colour (27 total) are done, I’m going to build a planning wall and start playing with the blocks to see if we’re sticking with the baby quilt plan or making an M quilt. πŸ™‚ I deserve a quilt too!!! (studiously ignores the large pile of De La Luna fabric I purchased specifically for an M quilt). It’s a little nerve-wracking, cutting into the middle of the fabric for the tiger faces and leaving big holes in the fabric. I have to be aware that I’ll be cutting more of these faces out and try not to take any extra. It’s a challenge – a fun challenge!

After piecing all the blocks, I laid them out on the bed to play around with making them into a large quilt. This is when I realized the bed is no longer a useful place to do this for several reasons.

1. We have separate bedding. I know this sounds very strange, but we both sleep much better if we have our own pile of blankets. That is the main reason the husband quilt is the husband’s quilt – a very large twin quilt. Having two sets of sheets and blankets on the bed make the terrain very uneven for laying out piecing.
2. I sleep with a body pillow. And not just any body pillow – a massive U-shaped pregnancy pillow. Husband bought it for Christmas for me a couple of years ago and I am IN LOVE with it! It replaced the 5-6 pillows that used to do the same thing (Husband would refer to it as the M barricade πŸ˜€ ). It makes my side of the bed an insurmountable pillow mountain.
3. Golddurn cats. The cat hideout is the bed. It’s too high for Snowdog the Wimp Dog to jump down from (it’s really not, but he thinks it is), so he won’t climb onto it after the cats because he knows we’ll leave him up there until we’re good and ready to rescue him. πŸ˜€ I don’t mind the kitty snuggles at night – they love to curl up at my feet. But dare I try to use the bed as a table for any reason – quilt piecing, filing sorting, laundry sorting, outfit planning – Neiko is in the middle of it, whining and crying and looking for the absolutely most obnoxious place to lay down on.

For these reasons, I’m going to try to figure out how to make a fold-able or a modular design wall. What’s a design wall, you ask? Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself! It’s usually a piece of styrofoam backed by a thin pressure board (also known as “plywood”) for stability and covered with flannel. Some of you old-timey Sunday School attendees might remember the Sunday School teacher using something like this to make pictures of the Bible story she was telling. A quick Google tells me this is actually called Flannelgraph … who knew??

There are so many ideas for these walls, including retractable (think of a pull-down window blind) or curtained. I’m going to have to do some reading up and see what works!! I can’t use anything that needs to be bolted to the wall. We want to sell our little house when Husband is finished renoing, so I’m keeping the holes to a minimum!

I totally meant to try this with the purple tigers in the middle – it has elements of both the other colourways in it – but I completely forgot. πŸ˜€ I like the idea of having pink in the middle though. It’s a warm break between the two cooler colours.

The next series of blocks should not take me long to finish at all, so hopefully by next blog, I’ll some ideas for them. If we’re lucky, I might even have a design wall of some sort … wait … I just had an epiphany … OHHHHHH THIS COULD BE FUN!

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures of Auntie M’s quilts!! (You always leave the episode on a cliffhanger, right? πŸ˜‰ )

~M

Block-of-the-Month · Piecing · Quilt Designs

Ohhh the Grandma Quilt …

I shouldn’t complain so much. This problem is not limited to the Grandma quilt. My problem is me. I have a lack of attention to detail. Most of the time, I catch my own mistakes before they get too bad. Other times – like recently, when my head was full of flu – I do myself no favours.

For example: my block-of-the-month with Fabric Chick. It was a super easy block this month. I read it several times, did my sewing, read it again, did my cutting … and I cut a block in the wrong direction. I couldn’t make it work with what I had, no matter what I tried. My only option was to dip into my scraps and make a new block to cut. Unfortunately, I cut a big block, so I didn’t have big enough scraps to make a new block. That mean sewing scraps together to make a big enough block (aka Frankenstein block). ugh ….

Moving on to the Grandma quilt. I already knew I would have to do this because I ran out of one kind of fabric and I couldn’t get any more of it. When I was getting ready to put the project on hold back in October, I measured out what I would need to finish and went trash-diving for scraps to make up blocks. I thought I would need a lot more blocks than I eventually wound up making, so I have lots left to play with now.

The scrap pile and the “trash” can

At this point, I needed to figure out where the Frankenstein blocks were going to go. My original plan was to make the bottom two small stars out of Frankies. That was before I realized I had to rip out the finished top row to make my new piecing techniques fit (quiet crying commences). One of the upsides of ripping out the top row was having access to the top corner stars. By this point, I had realized that I only needed to make two Frankenstein squares and had decided to put them in the star points, where I figured it would be less noticeable. Each corner small star only had the points showing on two sides, so I only needed to make two star-point blocks for all four corners (two green/white and two purple/white). This will make more sense when the quilt is finished.

After piecing the Frankenstein squares, I started cutting up everything left for piecing. When I first started this quilt, I cut and pieced row by row. I’m still having trouble getting motivated to work on this quilt, so I thought motivation might be easier to achieve if I created all my blocks in one fell swoop and pieced afterwards. That sort of worked and sort of backfired. πŸ˜€

Pieced star (before ripping out)

Before going any further, let’s re-visit the 4-at-a-time half-square triangles (HSTs). The steps are as follows:
1. Cut your two fabric squares of the same size.
2. Sew the squares together around all 4 edges.
3. Cut point-to-point across (2-3 cuts, results in 4 pieces). This is where the 45 degree angle ruler came in handy to make sure I was squared up properly!
4. Press open squares to get 4 completed HSTs.

There is also a 2-at-a-time and an 8-at-a-time HST option. I really wish I’d know of the 8-at-a-time when I did the husband quilt (100% HSTs), but I’d only known about the 2-at-a-time. Ah well – we learn as we go!

Back to my project:
I cut up everything, ran them through the sewing machine, re-cut the HSTs, then ironed everything open. And immediately had problems. I’d evidently forgotten to cut two pieces of the green-only fabric for my small star centers, so I had pieces that were only purple, but nicely sewn together and cut up. *facepalm*. This meant ripping out the purple squares, cutting the green pieces to the original size, cross-cutting the pieces, then matching them to the purple triangles. I was really not on the ball, so I accidentally ripped out several purple HSTs that had been properly pieced to white, so I had to sew all those back together too … only to find out I’d gotten some of the purple pieces mixed up and the Frankie triangles were sewn to the wrong triangles. Ohhhh what a day.

Needless to say, I quit half-way through the re-piecing project that day. When you discover you’re making that many mistakes, take a break! I came back a couple of days later and finished piecing and cutting up the squares. I started working on my chintz pieces and realized that I needed to check the spin direction against the squares I had already done. Since I really did not want to mess with the purple-and-green small stars again, I checked them first. Thankfully, everything was spinning the same way – purple to green in a clockwise fashion. I took a picture of my remaining blocks to make sure that everyone was spinning the right way for the whole quilt. In future star quilts, I think I’d make a hemispheric spin – everything on the right spins opposite to that on the left. The one square I’d gotten wrong looked really nice sitting beside the original spin. In this case, however, I’d gotten way too far into the quilt to change what I was doing. Maybe if I’d been more motivated about this quilt, I would have changed it – but now I just want it DONE.

I watched through several Marvel comics movies to keep myself focused. One of the good piecing sessions happened during the Thor: Ragnarok viewing. I love my sewing space!

Cate Blanchett in Thor: Ragnarok

Next week is all about mini projects. I have a plan for my block-of-the-month projects – but I just have to stay focused!!

~M

Quilt Designs · Sewing Room

My First UFO

Another first! I’m pulling out my first UFO to complete! It’s not really a UFO – I only packed it away in November so I could focus on the husband quilt, but that’s the longest I’ve left a sewing project so far (the planned but un-executed ones don’t count, right?? As long as you don’t cut the fabric you bought for it, you’re safe). Wait wait … I’m wrong. I have a UFO sampler cut up in a box, but it’s a tiny 20″x20″ sample to play with flying geese. Still doesn’t count!! πŸ˜€

One of the reasons it got pushed to the side was the fabric. I bought part of the fabric from Fabricland, only to realize a month later that I was going to need more of a certain print. Guess what they don’t have any more of??? After a lot of careful measuring and cutting of what I had left (how I regret you, wastefully cut material!), I think I have just enough to finish it with a little creativity one corner block. At this point, I placed up everything I had (including the completed row), popped it in a comforter bag, and focused on my priorities (coughCHALLENGE BAG!coughTIGER QUILT!sniffle). Husband’s quilt = done! Dad’s quilt = done! On to Grandma’s quilt. I do have a wedding quilt to make for September as well, but Grandma is turning 95 in August. If I miss the wedding deadline, the couple should still be here (and married) by next year. 95-year-old grandmothers might not be. That makes her the priority. And this particular UFO was started with her specifically in mind.

The first row – quilt set aside after I got this far.

I got this pattern from the very first episode of the Midnight Quilt Show. It’s an 8-point star quilt featuring two sizes of star. The original pattern makes a 60″x60″ quilt, but I wanted something king-ish sized. I assume that this quilt will be coming back to me when she stops using it and I like quilts with a good length of overhang … so this puppy is going to be 90″x90″. Won’t that be fun to FMQ on my domestic sewing machine!! πŸ˜€

CHINTZ!!!

Step one was figuring out all the measurements at half-again-as much (full size plus half the size – 60+30=90). Second step was the fabric. When I raided the Mother-In-Law’s stash for the husband quilt, I also pulled a bunch of floral/chintz fabric that caught my eye. When I started on this quilt, I went through my pulled MIL fabric and thought some of it looked suitably grandmotherly while still being appealing for my personal use. The only trouble is that it has stripes in it, which could be tough with the 8-point stars because of directional fabric. I wrote up a quick diagram to see if I could get the striped fabric to work for me … and it does!

Scribbles … they make sense to me!!

The secret is to used one striped and one non-striped fabric in each star (I do have one star with two striped fabrics, but I didn’t really have a choice. It looks okay, but not as good as one-striped-fabric only). I divvied up the stuff that worked best together. My two chintz fabrics were from the same line, one with a stripe and one without. The striped went into a large star where I would have space to use it nicely and the non-stripe went into the small star (less stripe space). I know, I know – the stripes don’t totally line up on the cut between the box and the star points. I think it looks okay this way – not amazing, but okay. I know there’s a different way to make these stars without cutting the points off, but I’m still learning and this is the best I can do with the skills I have now. And it’s not terrible – the stripes are still all going the same way, so it doesn’t clash too hard.

The purple fabric pile were the purchased fabrics to round out this quilt. It looks surprisingly good! Since I needed a striped fabric to match my purples, I found the Lavender Meadows fabric at FibreChick and FELL IN LOVE!! I’m super excited about how it looks!

Now, to actually get to work on the dumb quilt. I am soΒ unmotivated!! I don’t know what’s wrong! Every time I go upstairs to work, I wind up making something else completely. So far, it’s been the tiger quilt, my brother-in-law’s wedding quilt planning, and the optional quilt guild row-by-row. I just can’t get excited about it. I’m even bailing on working on it right now to write this blog … heh heh …

Evidently I have better things to do, so I’m going to go force myself to do exactly that. Or ditch completely go shopping!!

~M

Quilt Designs · Sewing Room

Dessert First …

Ohhhh what a week I had last week. I had a last-minute interview notice for a new job (36 hours to create a presentation, practice it, and prep for the interview questions) Monday to Wednesday. I’m also part of a community choir and our performance was Saturday, so we had two extra practices plus the performance. I crashed on Sunday … but not before getting out my woefully late blog post. πŸ˜‰

This week is different. Monday night was Guild night. It’s so nice to be able to take a break once a month to bond with people who share your interests! Tuesday and Wednesday are work-from-home days due to the terrible snowstorm. They’re calling for 25-30cm!! That’s 10-12 inches for our Imperial system visitors. Absolutely crazy – spring can’t come soon enough! I must say though – being able to quit work at my normal time and be sewing within a minute is a pleasant experience. πŸ™‚

Probably to no one’s surprise, I caved to my tiger-face baby quilt project. I couldn’t help myself … I just had to see it in reality!!

Tiger Face!!! 6″ square finished block will be fine

I’m using the pink fabric as my pilot quilt because I can just go get more of it if I screw up too badly. Replacing the rest of it would be a combination of waiting for a shipment to flat-out not being able to find any. During my initial measurements, I realized to my horror that I was going to be three squares short of the purple diamonds. It must have been a popular print because I was having trouble finding any on this side of the border. I put out a call on Facebook to see if anyone would sell me enough to finish my quilt. An absolute saint of a quilter in Ottawa sent me exactly what I needed – absolutely free of charge. Angels must exist!

Hand-drawn diagrams help me visualize

I started with the planning phase. I got inspired at one of the guild meetings this fall with disappearing blocks and I thought a disappearing nine-patch would show off that tiger face perfectly. Since the rest of the nine-patch becomes a border to the corner or main squares (the tiger squares), I decided to use the diamond fabric as “sashing” squares and the lotus flowers as the “corner stone” square. I would have to rotate the tiger faces so the would all point the same direction after cutting the block, but that’s not a problem. I intend to add an outer row of sashes and corner stones to close in the design of the quilt at the end.

First issue – them diamonds. The diamond fabric is a directional fabric, so it only flows left-to-right or up-and-down. Sewing the nine-patch then cutting it makes the diamonds look wonky. I did it once to see if there was a chance it would work anyways, but no dice. It is no longer a true disappearing nine-patch – I’m cutting and piecing the face blocks individually.

Next issue – I didn’t like it!! The pretty pink diamond clashed too much with the focus tiger face fabric. And that’s when I noticed the turquoise lotus flower fabric was really pulling the design together … so I swapped them. The sashing is now the lotus flower and the corner stone is the diamonds. I think it looks much nicer this way. Second opinion (husband) agreed with me. He’s not the sort of fellow to tell me something looks nice just for the sake of my feelings (he still has a very strong opinion on the eagle-iness of my last quilt and it’s not a positive one), so I know it’s definitely the right choice.

I also learned a bit about my piecing issues. I’m not the most precise piecer, but I’m working on it and I’m learning from the mistakes I create. That will have to be it’s own blog post at some point.


BjΓΈrn the Snowdog and Tiger Face

The final product. I have to make five more blocks, then the sashing-corner stone strip before the quilt top is done, but the design is solidly visible, so I’m content to put it in the UFO (UnFinished Objects) bin for now. Besides – once I have all three colors finished, I might be tempted to make myself a full-size quilt top instead. Wouldn’t that just be a shame … πŸ˜‰

~M