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. 😉

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. 🙂

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.


Bjørn 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 … 😉

~M

Quilt Designs

Fun with Sashing

It turns out the that the outer sashing was its own monster, so it gets its own post. 🙂

Why is it a monster? Because I’m still stuck on making the bark run the same direction and I wanted the corners to all meet on angles. I could have done straight seams like I did on the border sashing, but the easy way is for suckers, right?

Enter problem 1 – do you make the mitered seams before you attache the sashing to the quilt or after? You could definitely do it before (and I did the first corner this way), but you have to have very exact measurements on the length of the quilt before doing that.

Pre-sewn mitered corner

You also have to make sure you’re putting it on the right way. I did not do that the first time around and had to rip it out. You also have to measure 1/4″ in on the quilt edge when you’re starting so the next strip is lined up in the right place to sew down the side. I started at the corner, sewed down one side, broke thread, and went back to the corner to start the second side. It wasn’t perfect, but it looked almost perfect.

Close enough!

The other three corners were done manually at the corner. I came up with this method without looking it up online. It works pretty well as long as your strips are sewn straight and you’re careful with your corner measurements. You’re going to see a mix of corners used as examples – that’s because I was not careful with my measurements the first time and I had to rip it out a couple of times.

Step 1. Sew two strips, stopping 1/4″ from the end of the quilt.
I left a very short strip the first time for one of the strips and it was very difficult to get the sides lined up properly. I’d recommend leaving yourself a minimum of 2″ of fabric off the side so you have space to play with the material, especially the first time around. To find the 1/4″ mark (or the place where the two strips meet), I used a pin to mark it. When sewing toward the pin, I stopped when I was close and very slowly sewed up to the mark, set the stitch, and broke thread. When starting at the pin, I used the flywheel to insert the needle right in front of the pin. We all know not to sew over pins, right? Bad baaad things follow, like exploding needles (not that it’s ever happened to me and especially not as recently as last week … )

Step 2. Mark the miter to sew.
I made a fold mark to show where to sew the miter seams together. To find that, I fold the strip under itself and away from the side of the quilt. I usually do one side then the other before completely flattening the seam. You can tell if you have a good 45 degree angle if the folded fabric fits nicely along the other unfolded strip while staying square to the edge. I had to fudge at least one of the corners to make them meet on the second fold, but you have a bit of leeway here as long as it isn’t pulled out of square too far. Remember – you’re going to be trimming the corners before binding and the binding will cover it.
This is where I use my Violet Craft seam roller that I picked up at the Cottage Quilter this fall. It is SO HANDY!! I throw this in my bag to flatten seams when sewing with a group so I don’t have to fight over plug space for a hot iron. I don’t recommend this method for lots of piecing, but it is perfect for travel or for little piecing bits like this where I just need to make a little folded seam without moving the fabric.

Step 3. Stitch & Press
Line up the two folds and pin them together for stability. I also use my Frixion highlighter to mark the start of the seam. I find that the fold mark flattens to invisibility when it’s under the piecing foot, so I need to see the start mark. Did you know that Frixion pens were originally used in offices for taking notes way back in the day because you could “erase” your mistakes with a little heat? I had no idea! Kim at FibreChick told me that! She also showed me an example she had of a block that she had marked up with a Frixion pen that had gotten left in the car. Those lovely -30 Celcius temperatures that we’re having here in Canada brought back every single mark super clear – so don’t use it to mark your quilt top!!! Although … wouldn’t that be a cool thing to do for a child’s memory quilt? Get them to write on the quilt and chill the quilt anytime you wanted to see their notes.
In the last image, you can see the miter-in-place corner verses the pre-mitered corner strip. They both look pretty good, right?

So … which method would I choose? I liked how much easier the pre-mitered sashing was, but since I’m terrible at making things come out perfectly, I have to say I’ll probably be sticking with the miter-in-place method. Of course, there is an alternative to this.

DON’T MITER YOUR STINKIN’ SASHING!! 😉

The quilt is now basted and on the machine for some free-motion loveliness. With any luck, it will be done in time for Dad’s birthday on Saturday, but barring that, it will be ready for when they come down to visit on the 9th and ready for sharing in next week’s post!

~M

Quilt Designs

Gonna Fly Like An Eagle …

Here’s the story of Dad’s quilt, also referred to as the Mile High quilt in one entry … not sold on that title, now that I’ve thought on it a bit. It might just remain “Dad’s quilt”.

This is my first panel quilt (not such a shock since this is only my second quilt). It started with receiving a meter of heavily patterned fabric at a guild swap (Canadian, remember? No yards). I tucked it in the bottom of my fabric bucket for a future project. I was already thinking it might be nice for my dad because he love eagles, but that’s as far as I got. Fast forward 3 months and what do I see on one of my Facebook fabric groups but a lovely big eagle panel. I thought it would probably look nice with my stashed fabric and, if it didn’t, I’d make the panel for Dad and work up something else with the stash fabric. We were experiencing a postal strike at the time, so it took forever for the panel to arrive. Imagine my shock when I discovered that, not only did the two pieces work well together, but they were from the same line! It was Kauffman’s reproduction of James Hautman for both fabric. Super crazy!

Next came the planning phase. I measured the panel and started measuring runs of fabric. I wanted the eagles in the stash fabric to show prominently in a border around the panel, but since I had a limited amount to work with, I had to be sure that what I would cut would fit around. Also – I’m a bit into fussy cutting, so I measured the stash cuts in such a way to make sure that the eagles were all flying the right direction (it will make sense in a later picture). I quickly came to realize that I could do a border, but I would have to get a little creative with it since there was not quite enough fabric to go around.

Selected fabrics (repost)

This facilitated a trip to the local quilt store, The Cottage Quilter. Kelly had showcased a quilt top with some very interesting fabrics at one of the guild meetings that I thought would work perfectly. Northcott Fabric had release a line of natural fabrics. They looked like river stones, bark, leaves, or evergreen needles. The birch bark had especially caught my attention and I wanted to use it to add a small border between the panel and the eagle borders. When I first suggested the eagle borders, my husband said it made the quilt too eagle-y. He’s probably right, but it’s something my dad will love, so I decided to just break it up a bit with the birch bark around. Because the borders aren’t quite big enough to reach each other, I decided that all the border sections will be outlined in the birch. I also picked up a meter of pine needle fabric for the binding.

Cutting time!

All the cutting fun!

I started with the measurements I’d jotted down to cut up the eagle border. There would have to be some bias joining, but it was the only way to get a couple of pieces long enough. Then I moved on to the birch bark. Ohhhh boy … fussy cutting again. Not only do the eagles all have to point the same way, but of course the birch bark has to point the same way as well. You can’t have birch bark growing willy-nilly! I laid out the quilt pieces and measured how much I was going to need to go around the inside and line the two pieces. Then I cut – two cuts in one direction, two cuts in the other direction. This would give me the most even amount of pieces to create the birch sashing. Otherwise, it would look like one direction was all single pieces and the other direction was all bias patchwork. So much folding and cutting.

Once every thing was cut, I started piecing the borders and adding them to the panel. This should have been a very fast process. However, I learned two things.
1. Piecing long strips together actually takes more time than piecing up blocks.
2. Sometimes I make changes to the quilt after I’ve pieced it and have to rip out the piecing. And sometimes – I change my mind more than once. :S
I want this to look good, though! So the ripping and re-piecing happens.

I just have to add the outer birch sashing, make a quilt sandwich, and start my quilting! Dad’s birthday is Feb 2, so my vacation next week is probably going to have a lot of sewing in it to make that deadline. I’m seeing my parents on the 9th, though, so I have some cheat time in there. For the backing, I’m using fabric I bought to use as backing for the husband quilt. I switched to a different backing after finding THE PERFECT BACKING at The Cottage Quilter, so I’m stash busting for the back too!

Brown backing (check out the directional birch cuts)

And now for something completely different.

Tula Pink’s Eden line

My Tula fabric arrived!! Aren’t the colourways stunning??? I can’t wait to cut into them … this summer … because I have other responsibilities … Who wants to take a bet that I can’t wait that long?

~M

Finished Projects · Quilt Designs · Sewing Room

New Year, New Quilts

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

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

Here is the completed quilt in all its glory!

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

Dad’s quilt in pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~M

Free Motion Quilting (FMQ) · Quilt Designs

Around the World in 6 Days

Well, not really … it’s an Around the World quilt made with six colors.

I know I haven’t been off to a good start, but Christmas is getting closer and I have to finish some knitted things before I give them to someone. 🙂

Today, though, it’s back to my quilting! I did some planning and measurements on the Mile High quilt (more another day) then back to the seeing machine to add a few missed lines on the quilt and finish off the current round.

I promised to mention more about FMQ, in case you were unfamiliar. Basically, instead of sending the finished quilt top to your local longarmer to quilt for you, you do all fiddly quilting right on your domestic sewing machine. You can do true free motion (where you just move the quilt under the needle to create patterns) or you use a ruler foot and a quilting ruler to make more perfect designs. I love quilting with rulers. I can’t free draw a straight line to save my life with my hand – it makes no sense that I’d be able to do that on a sewing machine. Although, with all this practice, I’m getting much better at that!

Straight-ish lines …

There are lots of FMQ tutorials online or on Craftsy. One of my favourites is Angela Walters (Quilting is My Therapy). She hosts the Midnight Quilt Show. It was through watching her videos that I got inspired to start quilting at all, never mind the free motion bit. I was looking for some bag making tutorials and stumbled across the quilted bag she makes on the Midnight Quilt Show. Her video was so fun to watch that I jumped into a couple more … and suddenly had the urge to start making “blankets” instead of bags. 😉 Oh, how little I knew at that point.

I started sewing in January 2018 (on my birthday, no less!) by taking a sewing class at the local yarn store. We learned to make a pillow case. I was using my mum’s old Husqvarna Vanessa 5610 (“Red” will make her appearance in later posts). I was hooked!! I immediately signed up for a drawstring bag class the following week and after that, I started churning out bags and purses.  My husband, long-suffering man that he is with my many bandwagons, asked if I could make him a blanket. His mum offered me stacks of cloth and reels of thread from her stash, so I said “Sure, why not? Should be simple.” It would have been simple if I stuck with a patchwork quilt, but where’s the fun in starting out slowly?

Looking for patterns on Google Image search can be both overwhelming and extremely helpful. In my case, it was helpful – I saw a picture of a half-square triangle quilt (I later learned that the pattern I chose is called Around the World) and thought, “I can make that!” I printed a grid off the internet in the size of a twin quilt, drew lines, and started filling it in. This is the colour pattern I came up with for a 6-fabric half-square quilt. You need to be able to split the 6 fabrics into two categories. I had some sparkle Kauffman fabric, so it became the green(ish) fabrics vs the sparkle fabrics. In case it doesn’t become more obvious, I’m terrible at figuring out what goes well together, but I think I lucked out with this quilt.

I started cutting the fabric squares in March, piecing the blocks (using the two-at-a-time method) over the summer, and finally got all the rows put together in September. There is one mistake block and half a mistake row. I leave my mistakes in  my work (unless the mistakes are so glaring it’s an eyesore). I believe it’s how one learns. And honestly – no one can ever tell. I will post a full picture when it’s completed (BEFORE CHRISTMAS …) – points if you can see the mistakes!

Back to ruler FMQ:

Husqvarna is *supposedly* coming out with a ruler foot in the coming year (2019). I couldn’t wait for it, so I bought a Westalee ruler foot through my dealer. I picked up a ruler at the national quilt show hosted in Ottawa this past year. Here’s a little piece of free advice – just pick up the basic ruler first. I picked up the Chevy thinking that it would be a good angle ruler down the road (I’m sure it will) and act as a good straight-line ruler at the same time. After two quilting sessions, I ordered Slim from one of my quilt suppliers in Niagara (RoyalQuilts.com). Chevy is just a little too unruly for using for short runs all over the quilt. And one other thing … the Creative Grids rulers are amazing! They have a little grippy texture around the edges and in the center, which keeps the ruler from getting pushed around by the foot without exerting a super grip on the quilt.

One of the other things I ordered from  Royal Quilts were some Machinger’s Gloves. If you are going to do FMQ, please do yourself a favour and pick up some version of quilting gloves. You only need to use the gloves for one line of stitching and your bare hands for a second line to see how much extra work the bare hands are. Our hands slip a bit on the soft fabric (be honest – the texture of the fabric is part of the reason you bought the fabric in the first place!). The gloves do. not. move. It is worth every penny (and even here, in Canada, the gloves were only about 11$. I spent more than that on the thread).

Ruler sewing with gloves and ruler

To be fair, I have been running into issues with my thread shredding. It was very discouraging at the start. This is where buying a machine from a reputable dealer can make all the difference in your sewing experience. After spending 2-3 days fighting this problem every 6 inches of stitching (and I tried so many things that I found online to fix the problem), I finally called my dealer (The Sewing Machine) in tears of frustration. She told me to stop sewing for the night, have a glass of wine, and just unwind (best sewing machine dealer ever!!). The next morning, I dropped my machine off with a little note of everything I tried, some sewing samples, and my quilt. On my way home that night, I stopped in to get the diagnosis. Good news: It’s not the machine. I already knew it was most likely a learning curve on my side causing the problem, but it was good peace of mind to know that my sewing machine was working perfectly. She showed me a few things to try, pointed out a couple of the issues with the materials I’m using, and got me to sew a few lines so she could critique my technique a bit. I still have a little shredding now and then, but I’m mostly shred free!

Shredded thread … *shudder*

Finally: the quilt.

I love the texture that is coming out of this quilt with the patterns I’m using. I’m following a free FMQ Along offered online by Angela Walters. Her most recent quilt-along is dot-to-dot quilting (mostly straight lines), which was exactly what I wanted to do on this quilt, so I joined! She also offers other free FMQ designs and tutorials on her website and YouTube channel. I am also following Lori Kennedy’s blog post  (http://theinboxjaunt.com/), so look out for some of her lovely FMQ designs to show up on future quilts!

I decided to use a lighter thread on the back of this quilt for two reasons. 
1. I am a beginner. I am learning, mostly from my own mistakes. By using a light thread on the dark background, I can look at my work in reverse and see what I’m doing right or wrong. Next quilt, the thread will match the background more closely. I’m also learning how to match backing to thread. I thought I did a good job at picking something sort of subtle but still easy to see – boy was I wrong in the “subtle” catagory!
2. This is my husband’s quilt. Husband does not care about the backside (or even the front side, in all honesty). Husband loves to role his blanket up into a ball and sleep on it. I don’t know why he actually needs a blanket, but I love him, so I’m happily making him a quilt. The side benefit is that his quilt can be the learning guinea pig. 😉

~ M