Sunday, November 30, 2014

Giraffe Baby Quilt and Tutorial

This project was not one on my list. It is the giraffe's fault. Does that happen to you sometimes? I just happened upon this adorable giraffe print in the clearance bin at my local quilt shop a while back and had to have it.
I have a thing for giraffe's anyway and decided it would be fun to make a baby quilt with this fabric. It needed to be fast and fun. This quilt top only needs six fat quarters for the blocks (I used two fat quarters of the giraffe print plus four others), one fat quarter for the setting squares, and a yard of fabric for the sashing.

First, cut four 7 1/2" squares from each of the six fat quarters. You will have 24 squares total.
Sort the squares into pairs, making twelve pairs. I tried to maintain good contrast with each pair. Take each pair and place them right sides together.
Stitch a quarter inch seam on each vertical side of the blocks. Next, cut each block in half. The center of the block will be 3 3/4" from the side.
I could have just pressed these open and moved on but the blocks would be rectangles rather than squares and I wanted square blocks for this project. Rotate your block 90 degrees.
Trim 1/2" from one side. Press your blocks open.
Each block should measure 7" square. Repeat this with each pair of blocks. This goes really fast. Once your blocks are made, lay them out in six rows with four blocks each.

The blocks can all face the same way or be rotated or whatever looks best to you. I intended to have mine facing all sorts of directions but it got too busy and my giraffes were happiest when they were all playing close together.

From the remaining fat quarter, cut 35 2 1/2" squares for your setting squares. From the remaining yard of fabric, cut 58 2 1/2" x 7" rectangles for your sashing. All that is left to do is sew your blocks and rows together. Easy peasy.
This really is an easy project to make but I have to confess that it took me a little longer to get there. The blocks were a piece of cake. They came together in under two hours. Then I got a little over confident and decided to just throw a white sashing between the blocks and call it done.
Super duper fast. But I didn't like it. All that fun fabric and I thought the end result was sort of plain. It was all blue and yellow and white and totally ignored that awesome green color in the giraffe print. So I threw some green on top of it and knew I had to fix it. I painstakingly unstitched enough to add setting squares in the body of the quilt. Here's the first one.
Here's how it looked when I finished that step.
That was definitely better to my eye, but still incomplete. I took those outer borders off and added setting squares there, too.
Now it is complete. And adorable. With just the right amount of blue, yellow, AND green. The lesson learned here is to always play around with the layout and colors as much as possible before jumping into a quick project. There will still be times when changes are needed but I am certain I would have saved myself a little bit of unsewing if I had taken the time to really look and think before starting.

I have a nice yellow back and bright blue/teal binding all ready to go.

The quilting will have to wait a bit though. I'm out of 505 basting spray. Guess that means I'll be heading to the local quilt shop soon to restock. I can't wait to see what is in the clearance bin this time!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

For the Love of Teaching - Holiday Tree Class

At the beginning of this month, a group of fine ladies invited me to teach at their guild. It has been a few years since my teaching muscle has been exercised. I loved every minute of it. When my friend and leader of the Big Springs Quilt Guild, Holley, asked me to teach, my knee jerk reaction was "No!". It had been too long and there was too much else going on and all of those typical excuses rolled through my head. Then I remembered a picture of a quilt that I wanted to make and I asked if that would be a good project for the group. When the answer was yes, I was on the hook to teach.

The original pattern for this project comes from this Moda Bake Shop pattern. Our class version was reduced in size and also had the addition of a checkerboard background.

One of the most exciting parts of the class is that my mom was one of the students. She moved nearby not too long ago and this was the first time she had ever been in a class I was teaching. She is the one sitting down. Hi mom!

Our class time was scheduled from 11-3. Most of the cutting was done in advance so we were able to begin sewing right away. About half way through the class, we all needed a sewing break so everyone gathered around for a lesson.

We talked about seven different methods for making half square triangles. Yep, seven. I showed in process examples and we went over the math. It was a good break and going through the demo helped me decide that yes, half square triangle methods would make a great class all on its own.

Of course there was plenty of visiting and eating and just hanging out.

There was no formal registration for the class so I had all sorts of pre-class jitters. What if nobody shows up? What if I forget something? What if I make no sense at all? I had it in my head that it would be great if eight people showed up. Originally, I made ten copies of my materials. At the last minute, I went back and made an extra ten. And then they started coming...and coming...and coming. All I can really remember about the time before class is that we kept having to go get more tables and chairs and I started getting nervous about shorting out the electricity. The final count for the class...27 students. Of those, there were three or four who did not sew. Wow. I was really blown away. Overwhelmed. And oh so pleased to have the chance to spend the day with this group of quilters.

So far I have seen pictures of three finished quilt tops. It is pretty exciting to see that many finishes less than two weeks after class day. Thank you Big Springs Quilt Guild. It was a very good day.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Garden Fence Memory Quilt - Finished

Wow. I didn't mean to be gone quite this long from here. There have been lots of happenings lately. In addition to finishing this quilt, I taught a class for the first time in a long time and decided that a major redo of my sewing space was in order. More on that later. Today is a day for sharing a quilt finish. Don't you just love that feeling of finishing a big project? This is one of those kinds of projects.

All of the fabric on this quilt top, except for the white background, comes from clothing. There are shirts and pajama pants, bathrobes, and maybe even some underwear in the mix. Almost all of them are manly plaids, which is not something I would normally be drawn to for a quilt. It is interesting the lessons learned from each and every project in life. These plaids, that were worn by a special man, come together beautifully in color, scale, and texture. The quilt is also extra soft and warm since the fabric is not crisp and new. I love the result.

There were a few extra blocks which were incorporated on the back.

And a very special label was created.

The quilting was all done with Aurifil 50 weight thread in cream (#2000). Three rows with a walking foot on the sashing between each block anchor them. Then two free motion designs were alternated on the blocks. The flowerish design is in direct tribute to the man this quilt was designed to honor. He was an avid gardener.

The binding is scrappy, again all from clothing, and attached by machine.

The binding might be my favorite part of this quilt. All of that plaid and warm colors just says "wrap yourself up in me".

This quilt will be delivered to its owner tomorrow. I am certain, more than any other quilt I have ever made, that this quilt will be loved for years to come.

For other blog entries related to this quilt, see:
A Memory Quilt: Deciding on a Design
Garden Fence Quilt Beginnings
Garden Fence Memory Quilt - Steps of Progress

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Garden Fence Memory Quilt - Steps of Progress

This project is moving right along. All of the blocks for the top are made so another step checked off the list. So far, this project has undergone:

  The selection of a design


  The creation of a few sample blocks to confirm the design choice

This week, lots of cutting happened. One lesson learned with this project is that it takes a lot more time to cut quilt blocks from clothing than it does from fabric yardage. The odd shapes make squaring up take a little more time, especially since many of these clothing item are plaids and stripes, and it also takes time to look over each cut to make sure that there are no stains, flaws, or worn spots.

Believe it or not, those stacks are enough to make 42 blocks. The picture doesn't do it justice. Trust me, there is a lot of fabric in those stacks! The Garden Fence blocks need two different fabrics, one in the center, and one for the borders. To mix and match, the center blocks were lined up on the table.

And then all the border pieces were placed on top to make a pair for each block. My goal was to mix them up as much as possible.

The weekend was all about getting these blocks sewn together. The Garden Fence block sews together fairly quickly, primarily because there are no points to match. I developed quite a rhythm by the end.

My goal for the next week is to turn these blocks into a quilt top. There is some rearranging to be done, sashing to be cut, and then it is just a matter of sewing them all together. There are a lot of good memories in these quilt blocks and I am having a great time stitching them into a special quilt.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Doodling to Improve Free Motion Quilting

I have a little bit of a doodling habit. I also have a habit of not being able to sit still. Doodling is a way to fidget least that is my story and I am sticking with it.

What I have learned is that all that doodling really helps build muscle memory for my free motion quilting. At work, all of my notes go into a bound book so it was easy to look back over the year to see how my doodling has evolved. 

Doodling helps me listen better, too. My mind becomes very focused when I draw. Doodles often start safely in the side margins of my paper.

One thing I have noticed this year is that my doodles became much more quilty after I took Angela Walters class on Craftsy, How to Quilt Negative Space. 

Sometimes doodles wander into the top margin of the page.

And every now and then, doodles take over EVERYWHERE!

They even inspire patterns and design. The sun that shows each ray as a different design might just become part of a bigger quilt design in the near future.

And Maureen Cracknell over at Maureen Cracknell Handmade certainly has put feathers on the brain. I love all of her drawing and quilting and can't wait to get my hands on her first fabric line later this fall.

I never have a plan for what is going to show up on paper. The wavy lines with the solid point on the bottom near the middle of the page was very random and then I decided it looked like a wild and wacky witch leg. You can see what happened after that idea popped into my head.

One day, I'm going to sit down with a blank canvas of a quilt and see what evolves. 

Doodling doesn't come naturally to everyone. I highly recommend it and here are some tips if you'd like to give it a try:
  • Let go of perfectionism.
    It isn't a tattoo. It isn't intended to be a masterpiece. It is just for fun.
  • Let it be fun.
    It is okay if it is ugly, or goofy, or unidentifiable. This reminds me of children's art work where I was advised not to say, "What is it?" but to say, "Tell me about it." Really, it doesn't have to be anything at all.
  • Let it be random.
    There is never a plan when I doodle. Sometimes I will just draw a wavy line on my page. Then I will draw dots on either side of the line. Then little triangles. Then I will look at it and might see a face or a feather or a cloud. It is totally cool to turn it into an ink blot test or cloud watching exercise.
  • Let it inspire you.
    You never know where a random doodle will lead you. It could be a quilt design, a machine quilting filler, a story you want to write, or it could simply be a mind settling exercise to ease you through some part of your day.
  • Don't be hindered by supplies.
    Something to write on. Something to write with. That is all. Pen on paper. Chalk on sidewalk. Stick in the dirt. All perfect mediums for your perfect doodles.

Do you doodle? I would love to hear your tips and see your designs. If you don't, give it a try and share those doodles. They may inspire someone else as much as they inspire you.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hot Pink Holiday Quilt

It all started with some small scraps of Michael Miller holiday fabric. Mittens, trees, and snowflakes in fun, bright colors.

They had been sitting on my cutting table for a couple of weeks while I pondered what to do with them. They needed to become a quilt. It was just a matter of finding a few friends to complement them and a nice background fabric.

I had been wanting to play with sixty degree triangles for a while and this project was a perfect way to indulge. It was fun putting together the color palette. There were lots of auditions.

Decisions were made. A layout developed and then sewing began. There was just over a yard of hot pink so that determined the final size of the quilt top.

The finished quilt top is the perfect size for a sweet and sassy little girl. As much as I wanted to go quilting crazy with all that negative space, I settled for a simple triangle grid mimicking the piecing.

The quilting and the piecing were all completed with Aurifil 50 weight cotton thread. I think it is time for me to start investing in more large spools of Aurifil. I seem to be going through the small ones at a quick pace.
It needed a little something more and my dear friend Holley suggested adding a single triangle in the hot pink negative space. I love the way it turned out. It adds just the right extra something to the quilt.

Most of the time, my quilt backs are created from my fabric stash but this quilt deserved something special so I bought a bigger piece of Michal Miller fabric for the back. The back is just as fun as the front. The binding is a black with white dots for thoughts of snow in this hot pink world.

This quilt finishes at 33 inches by 40 inches.

This quilt is for sale. Please visit my shop for more details.