Category Archives: Quilting

It’s Not Looking Good for the Home Team

I finally got around to my Lovely Year of Finishes goal and started machine quilting. I LOVE the Timeless Treasures Sketch Flannel… LOVE IT! But, this is a decent size quilt and it’s heavy!

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My strategy involves slinging that roll over my shoulder and leaning in as I quilt. This is my first time quilting away from seams, so I did a lot of marking.

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I was worried about the charcoal thread showing up on the back (and showing off all my mistakes), but I actually love the way the star pattern shows (and I know that when it crinkles up you won’t be able to tell if it’s straight or not).

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Still not thrilled with the stay stitching knots. I know this quilt is going to get heavy use, so I want to know it’s secure and I don’t have enough confidence in a couple back stitches. I am trying to reserve judgement until I have it all washed up. I will definitely take lots of before and after pictures. This photo shows the knots a little bit more.

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I had just started in on the background sections when this happened.

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I was able to wrench the needle out without breaking it, but it went downhill from there and that put an end to my weekend sewing. Hopefully I will be able to start up again tomorrow. There’s still a slim chance I’ll get it done by the end of the month, but if not I have plenty of hand sewing to do. I’ve been fussy cutting Cuzco.

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Obviously its been making its way into my bee blocks, but most of it’s destined to be hexies. I won’t be abandoning my beloved one-inchers anytime soon, but I decided to play with scale and go with big six-inchers too. I just need to decide on a background fabric.

I am still obsessed with scrappy neutral backgrounds, so I splurged on a Kona bundle with my birthday gift certificate. I usually just stick with a few standards, so this feels especially indulgent.

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Meanwhile, today was my 18th wedding anniversary. My favorite flower and the first flowers my husband ever bought me were Daisies. I also love yellow roses. Excuse the iPhone photo (and Cate eating yogurt). He did a good job. It feels like Spring!

Anniversary Flowers

Wishing everyone a Happy Monday!

Linking up to…

Plum and June

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WIP 2.13.13: Instant Gratification

After a rocky start to February, I finally had a chunk of sewing time this past weekend. As much as I’m committed to clearing my WIP;s, I had a hard time getting excited about my current projects.

I’ve been slowly quilting my You’re Never A-Lone Star 1 and am happy with my progress. I decided to quilt the star in a lone star pattern which is requiring a lot of starts and stops. I decided early on not to bury my knots and am utilizing my machines automatic stay stitching feature. My one complaint is that it stitches 5-6 times at the end of each row, creating a sizable knot on the back. I’m using flannel for the back and don’t think they will show much, but I do wish my machine would allow me to change the number of stitches taken. As for this weekend, I wasn’t up for the heavy lifting required to quilt this project.

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The next project under consideration was my 1/2″ hexagon mini quilt. I pulled this project out at the beginning of the month and got the rest of my sewn strips joined. My current piece of patchwork is approximately 12″ X 18″ and I can’t decide if I want this portion of the mini to be bigger or not. I plan to add a border of charcoal hexies and then a final 3-4 rounds of the scrappy hexies to finish it off. Right now, this center section seems like it would be proportionally right given those plans. I also like the balance of color and value in this section. I’ve attempted to lay additional hexies out to see what it would look like bigger and can’t quite seem to keep these elements consistent. I also question whether a bigger center will add much impact given the extra time it would take. Which is to say I “think” I’m ready for the charcoal border, but am still indecisive enough, that this project was set aside for the weekend. Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts.

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The rest of my early February sewing has centered around paper piecing bee blocks. I really love the Cartwheel Block from Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced that I chose for this round of the 4 X 5 bee and I need to get them finished up. For some reason, this just wasn’t the type of sewing I was looking for.

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I just didn’t feel like I had the energy to focus on paper piecing and was really wanting to feel like I was making progress towards a finish. What I needed was mindless sewing and instant gratification. A simple, straight-forward patchwork project was just what I was looking for. Fortunately, I had one on my¬† Q1 FAL list, cut and ready to be pieced. In the past I have chain pieced pairs of charms, then joined them into 4-square blocks, then continued doubling until I had rows and then doubled up rows until I ended up with a finished quilt. I remembered another chain-piecing technique I saw on a quilting show where you joined the first two columns and then added the third one on without cutting the thread between rows. You end up with all your rows formed and attached to each other by small lengths of thread. I’ve also decided I”m going to try minky for the first time on this quilt. Since it’s for a young child, I was able to keep it small enough that I won’t have to piece the back.

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Despite this quick finish (about two hours from layout to done), I wasn’t very happy with my final product. I knew I wanted to use solids to break up the charms, but didn’t have enough of any one color to use in the entire quilt. I thought these four colors would work well together, but I don’t really love it. Too sherberty for my taste. Fortunately, the mom of the little girl it’s intended for likes it, so I will go ahead and finish it up.

Since I was luke-warm at best with this side project, I was still feeling restless and unable to jump back into one of my other WIPs. What I really wanted to do was play with some of my favorite fabrics. I fell in love with Svetlana’s Pixelated Heart Pillow and having collected quite a few low-volume, neutral and text prints was itching to cut into them. My problem was I have been collecting them for specific projects, none of which would satisfy my desire for instant gratification. I didn’t want to cut into them randomly and end up short when I finally found time to execute my plans. With that in mind, I set out to liberate some scraps. I made a list of six different projects and the cuts required for each, along with some criteria to determine which fabrics would work best in each application. Only one project utilized them all and when I was done I had enough fabric cut for the neutral (used loosely) parts of 110 blocks (2 from each stack).

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I have to say that I was feeling a bit giddy looking at these piles of fabrics. There are just so many favorites here and I can’t wait to start on these blocks. In the meantime, after a full day of cutting, I took the scraps from the lightest of these fabrics, cut some 2 1/2″ squares to pair with squares of pink scraps and pieced together a Pixelated Heart Wall Hanging for Cate and Ava’s room.

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Ahhhh, that’s what I was looking for. There are a few misplaced squares (I really need a design wall!), but all told, I really love how this turned out. I’ve already finished up the quilting and have the binding attached to the front. I hope to get it sewn down while the kiddos are at their dance classes tonight and to have a post up for Finish It Friday. As an added bonus, this little bit of quilting was just enough to motivate me to jump back into quilting my You’re Never A-Lone Star 1, so I’ve come full circle.

On tap for the coming week….

  1. Finish quilting You’re Never A-Lone Star 1
  2. Finish up and send off 4 X 5 Bee Blocks and February Color Bee Shocked blocks

Linking up….

.WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

January: A Lovely Year of Finishes ~ You’re Never A-Lone Star 1 & 2

At the beginning of January, I linked up to A Lovely Year of Finishes with this photo on Flickr…

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I used Jeni’s Giant Star tutorial to make two quilt tops.

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I’m calling these “You’re Never A-Lone Star 1 & 2” and plan to quilt them in a diamond pattern to look like a Lone Star block. These tops are for a special twosome and the name couldn’t be more perfect for them. More when I get them quilted up and gifted.

This was my January A Lovely Year of Finishes goal. I’m linking up…

Finish It Up Friday

A Lovely Year of Finishes
Plum and June

First Finish 2013 ~ Josie’s Quilt

DSC_0414Last Spring I jumped into quilting and pieced a bed quilt for my daughter Josie. I selected 19 fat quarters from my LQS, threw in 5 Flea Market Fancy prints and based it on this stack and slash pattern. I learned a lot about fabric selection with this one. The directional ABC print gave me fits. It was a fat quarter, so when I flipped it so the letters would be in the right direction, I didn’t have enough fabric at the top. I ended up inserting one slice of the back fabric to make up for the lost chunk. This ended up being a happy accident, because that quirk is probably my favorite part of this quilt top. When purchasing that fabric I was focused on the letters and didn’t give much thought to the pictures interspersed with them. Since this quilt used relatively narrow strips, several of the people where cut in unfortunate ways. Luckily I had extra blocks, so the worst of those cuts migrated to the back.

DSC_0417 (2)I love that the pieced stripe on the back matched with the large print make this quilt reversible. My measurements were a little off, so I’m especially proud that the strip ended up relatively straight and centered when I was done quilting. Piecing the large print was a pain, but Josie loved this fabric, so it had to be done.

I waffled on the quilting for most of last year. With the wonky cuts, I had a hard time visualizing it quilted in anything other than a stiple. Josie was anxiously waiting for me to finish and it’s clear that I’m not going to learn to FMQ anytime soon, so I had to come up with another plan. After using the QAYG method for my Log Mansion and straight-line quilting a couple of patchwork quilts, I decided I was confident enough to try a random crosshatch. I didn’t initially plan on quilting it this densely, but more I added the better the organic lines looked

DSC_0423The binding was an easy decision. These orange and gold ombre dots are strong enough to stand out on the front and perfectly frame the back.

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Josie’s Quilt Stats:
Fabric: 24 Fat Quarters including Michael Miller Dick and Jane Collection and
Denyse Schmidt’s Flea Market Fancy
Back: Dick and Jane Fun Park for Michael Miller
Binding: Jane Sassaman for Freespirit Fabrics
Finished Size: 60.5″ X 78″
Finished Date: January 2013

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Linking to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts and
TGIFF! hosted by Diane of from Blank Pages

Final Finish 2012 ~ Christmas Patchwork

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I’m finally posting about my last finish from 2012. As soon as this one came out of the machine, it was put into service. It my be months before someone tall is home on a sunny day for good pictures, so I decided to enlist my four-year old assistants.

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There’s not much to tell. Straightforward patchwork plus 1/4″ quilting on either side of the seams equals soft, crinkly, flannel backed goodness.

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Quilt Stats:
Fabric: 4 sets Christmas charms from Flickr swap
Back: Greenhouse Basketweave in Green Flannel by Erin McNorris
Finished Size: 66″ X 76″
Finished Date: December 2012

Someone’s just thrilled she gets to stand on the table.DSC_0412 (2)

TGIFF: Learning Curves

As I’ve experimented with different projects, I’ve tried to tackle the independent parts of the quilting process and improve on them as I go.

  • Cutting ~ I feel like I have this down. I’ve established a pattern of lining up my fabric along the same spots on my ruler and cutting mat and feel like I’m pretty consistent.
  • Piecing ~ I’m doing pretty good with my 1/4″ seam allowance. My first project was all over the place, but the last couple of things I’ve pieced have measured exactly right in the end. Sewing bias cuts are another story…
  • Basting¬†~ I’m still trying to figure this one out. My first quilt sandwich went well and I didn’t have any puckers along the back. The project I finished up this past week, didn’t have puckers, but wasn’t quite right either. More on that in a bit.
  • Quilting: QAYG ~ So far so good.
  • Quilting: Walking Foot ~ Until this week I had only done straight lines. This week I tackled curves
  • Quilting: FMQ ~ Nope. Haven’t even tried
  • Binding ~ Machine binding attempts have been nightmares. Hand binding not so bad. Although this week I decided to use a ladder stitch instead of a whip stitch and I don’t like it nearly as much.
  • LOVE! ~ Done.

My finish this week is pretty simple. I had some extra blocks from my Tula Pink Birds and the Bees Dream Weaver quilt, so I decided to make a small topper for one of our dressers. I’ve wanted something to protect the finish for a while and since it’s a tall dresser and you can’t really see the top, it was the perfect opportunity to experiment.

Piecing it wasn’t a problem and it didn’t take long to get it all pinned up. I decided to experiment with my walking foot and used the Ribbons design from Petit Design Co. This was a really fun design to execute and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out on the front.

I really found a rhythm and while I marked most of it before hand, I felt free to improvise as I went along. The back is another story. There are no puckers and the following picture is post ironing, so it emphasizes the bunching of the fabric. I’m not really sure how bad it is. If it were the back of a quilt, I’d be happy with it, knowing that it would crinkle nicely after being washed. But as a table runner type piece, I would have preferred it to be more taut.

Clearly I didn’t pull it tight enough when I was basting. I even had a bit of a problem with it bunching when I sewed down the binding. My question is how do you know how tight to pull it? I’ve concentrated so much on not stretching my fabric when piecing and pressing, especially as I’ve attempted bias edges, so I’m hesitant to pull hard. I’m also wondering if I was pulling the top too tight as I was moving it through the machine. For the most part I kept my hands flat on the fabric and tried to provide a little tension by easing the fabric to the sides.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m THRILLED with how the quilting came out on the front. I love this design. In fact, I wish I could do the same thing on a baby quilt. I’m learning as I go though, so would appreciate any insight you would have that would help me improve.

Project Stats:
Fabric: Tula Pink Birds and the Bees
Back and Binding: Kona Parchment
Finished Size: 28.5″ X 15″
Finished Date: November 2012

Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday! at Sewing by Moonlight and to
Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.