Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bright Blocks - A Finished Believe Circle Quilt

It seems like I have been spending lots of time catching up, and this quilt is no exception. The blocks for this quilt were made in January 2017 by the Believe Circle members of do. Good Stitches. They were easy, bright, fun blocks, which were a good way for us to start out the year.

Originally, I wanted to graffiti quilt this project from the back, but I chickened out. I will get brave enough to try that eventually. Instead, I quilted each block with its own design, with very few repeats. The center three squares on each block are consistently quilted with pebbles to bring some cohesion to this bright and crazy quilt.

I used thread from my stash to quilt these. Both the top and bottom threads are Sulky Blendables. The top thread was mostly red with some teal mixed in. The bottom thread was mostly blue with a little red mixed in. It felt good to see some thread stash getting used up. I had several favorite designs in the quilting. This sun was one of them.

This funky grid was a good one, too.

These flowers are a favorite to quilt. I used this design twice. The first time was on a busier block and it did not show up as good. I like it on the solid.

With 35 blocks in the quilt, the more I quilted, the more challenging it became to think of unique designs. The yellow block was supposed to look like fans so it was a happy moment when I realized they look a bit like citrus fruit on that bright yellow.

The mustache block was the very last block I quilted. I was out of any original thought so hey, why not quilt mustaches on the mustache fabric. This was a very fun ending to the quilting on this project.

The backing is a watery fabric from my stash. It was just the right size. There was a time that I would intentionally choose busy fabric for backings so that the quilting would not show. I'm glad I don't feel the need to do that anymore and I was wishing I had gone with a solid so all those fun designs would show up on the back, too. The green binding is another stash buster. This quilt finishes at 42 inches x 50 inches.

Usually, I completely forget about adding a label until the quilt is completely finished and I have to hand stitch it on. This time I remembered ahead of time. I fused the label to the quilt back before I layered it for quilting. The quilt stitches should hold it in place. These pictures were taken before washing so we will see how it holds up.

This quilt will be heading to My Very Own Blanket soon, where it will find its way into the hands of a foster child who needs a little extra something to brighten his/her day.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Finished Camera Quilt

Six months in the making, this quilt is finished and on its way to its new home.

Late last year, my sister-in-law asked if I would make a quilt for her daughter, my niece, for her birthday. I had been wanting to make a quilt for my niece for a long time and I knew I could get it finished in a six-month window. The only criteria given to me was that her favorite color is teal. I wrote about the start of this quilt here.

My niece is a professional photographer so it was easy to decide on the camera block. And what a great stash buster, too. As I always do, I started with a very narrow palette of teal and quickly realized that I needed to expand. This was both to add more interest to the quilt and also because there was only so much teal in my stash.

Each block finishes at 10" x 7.5". Without borders the top measures 60"x75". The circles that make the lens of each block are fused on with two-sided fusible interfacing and then stitched around with a tight zig zag stitch.

I knew I wanted borders. This quilt had to have borders because I wanted it to add a special message for my niece. It's really her message. It is how she thinks of each and every customer she deals with in her photography business. The lettering is from QuietPlay's Craftsy pattern Just My Type lowercase pattern.

You are raven. Her first name happens to be Raven. I hope she knows that the message she delivers in her business applies so accurately to her as well.

Deciding on the quilting design is always the most challenging part of a project for me. I thought about doing some sort of camera-centric design on each block, but in the end, decided to go for texture. The blocks really speak for themselves. Rather than free motion stitch wavy lines, I used a decorative scallop stitch on my sewing machine and quilted each line with my walking foot. I started with five or six lines of stitching on a row of blocks, but could see that it really needed more to have a defined texture. Each row of cameras has twelve rows of stitching. This sort of quilting is tough on the shoulders if too much is done in a sitting, so I set myself a goal of completing one row of cameras a day. Even then, I usually did six rows in the morning and six rows at night.

Swirls are quilted in the negative space in the border. I love swirls and it had been a while since I quilted any. Each of the four corners is quilted with one giant swirl.

Small meander quilting was done all around the letters to make them stand out a little more. The binding is a dark teal that is also used in a couple of camera blocks.

Rather than perpetuate the camera theme on the back, I looked for backing fabric that emphasized another of my niece's interests, Renaissance fairs. She loves a good costume and in addition to attending them regularly, she worked at one for several years. I sent her mom several suggestions for backing fabric and she liked this one right away. I was really nervous about the quilting being too busy for the backing, but since I went with a blue thread for the quilting, I think it avoids overwhelming the print of the fabric. This fabric is Magic - Castle Plans in Navy by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller.

The finished quilt is 70" x 85".

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Tutorial for May Believe Circle Blocks

May is my month to choose the design of our quilt for the Believe Circle of do. Good Stitches. While I did get my idea out there at the first of the month, the instructions were very general and I had not even made my own blocks to share. There was some feedback that maybe my instructions were a bit too general so hopefully this tutorial will help.

The strip pieced portion of the block is created using a foundation behind the strips. Since the strips may be from scraps that are not on grain, the foundation stabilizes the piece and keeps it from getting stretched or distorted. The strip piecing should somewhat grade from light to dark and there should be two bold color strips added in the darker side of the strip set. I went through my stash and cut a lot of strips, then laid them out in the order I preferred in the block. There is no set width for the strips but mine ranged from 1 1/2" to 3" wide.

The strip pieced portion of the block will be cut down to 10 1/2" square so make sure your foundation square is at least that size. A little bigger is better.  The foundation fabric should be thin and light. Batiste works great. I have a good bit of older fabric in my stash and some of it is less expensive lighter weight fabric that I keep just for this purpose. Lay the center strip right side up on top of the foundation fabric. Lay the fabric that will go next to it right side down on top of the center strip. Stitch a 1/4" seam. Flip the second strip right side up and press. Continue this way until your foundation piece is covered by strips.

This is what it will look like from the back before you cut it to size.

And here is the strip pieced square once it is trimmed to a 10 1/2" square.

Next you will need two 2 1/2" x 10 1/2" strips in a very light color. You will also need a 3" square from the very light fabric and a 3" square of one of the bright colors from the block.

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the wrong side of the very light 3" square. Put the 3" squares right sides together and stitch a scant quarter inch seam on either side of the drawn line. Cut along the drawn line. Press open the two units and square them up to 2 1/2".

Lay the block out as pictured. Stitch one strip to the side of the block and one half square triangle to the end of the second strip. Be sure to position the bright triangle corner to the upper right.

Now stitch the bottom strip to the top block and strip and your block will be complete.

What about the extra half square triangle? For Believe Circle members, please send the extra in with your blocks. It will be used in the outer border of the quilt.

Believe Circle members should make two blocks. I made one using warm colors.

And the other block is with cool colors. You don't have to do that with yours. The most important thing is to use bold, bright colors.

The inspiration for these blocks comes from a quilt I saw on Pinterest.

Thanks for your patience, Believe Circle. I am looking forward to making a beautiful quilt from your May blocks.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Five Small Memory Quilts

More than two years ago, I made my very first memory quilt from the clothing of a loving father. The daughter gifted it to her mother and I understand it has been displayed on her mother's bed every day since then.

Late last year she asked me if I would take the scraps from that project and make five small quilts so that each of her siblings could also have a memory quilt to remember their father by. That is the primary project I have been working on in 2017. She wanted to gift them for Father's Day this year and I will be delivering them to her this week.

I wanted to make these versatile so that they could be used as a pillow, a table topper, or a wall quilt. Each one has an envelope backing so that a pillow form can be easily inserted.

Here it is as a table topper. Each small quilt is 23" to 24" square. The backings are made from clothing as well. They are just as unique as the quilt fronts.

It was a sunny and breezy day when I was taking photos. There were very few big pieces left by the time these backs were made. The center one uses a shirt that was a bit too thick for patchwork but made a great pillow back. The pillow form fits in that one by unbuttoning the shirt front.

Here is a closer look at each of the quilt fronts.

I was constantly reminding myself that the focus of these quilts is the clothing. Not the patchwork. Not the quilting. There were a couple of tops I made and set aside because the clothing was not the focus. While I love them all, this simple square in a square is one of my favorites, mostly because in the beginning, I thought it would be boring. It is anything but boring.

You can't see it in the picture, but this is the most heavily quilted of the set. I was so nervous with this one because about half way through, I thought it was going to be overdone, but once it was finished, it turned out to be the one with the most old fashioned feel to it. Most of the clothing fabric is shirts. Some is pajamas, and some, like this solid red, is from boxer shorts. In this case, red Santa boxer shorts. It's the perfect accent fabric and I just love the fun behind the history of it.

I wanted each one of these quilts to be special. There was one point when I was struggling to come up with patchwork designs for them. This was a last minute addition to replace one that I was feeling ho hum about. When these were in the completed top stage with no quilting on them, this was my favorite.

What I like most about this quilt, is that every piece of fabric is from clothing. All of the others have a Moda Bella solid for the background. There weren't enough really light clothing items to do that throughout, but I'm happy that this one is all clothing.

This is the only one where part of the quilting is in a darker thread. There is a flower quilted in the center of the larger squares in a dark blue thread, and that same thread is used to stitch lines diagonally through the darker fabrics. There is also a layout mistake with the patchwork on this one. I did not see it until it was far too late to correct, and I think it adds an element of quirkiness. Can you find it?

I am really excited to finish and deliver these small quilts. Making memories is a very special part of quilt making for which I am thankful to be a part.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Camera Quilt - A New Project For An Almost New Year

There was a plan. I was going to finish up my holiday sewing and then slow down with the quilt making for the first couple of months of the year. My sewing room is in an upstairs bonus room so I am away from the core activity of the household. I planned to sit by the fire and read and cross stitch and crochet and just relax and be more visible and available.

While this plan was being made other conversations happened and I found myself committed to five quilting projects for the upcoming year. I did not over commit at all. The first is not even on the horizon until late spring. But the seeds had been planted and I could not stop thinking about these new quilts just waiting to be born. The design for one had been set in my brain so why not pull some fabric for it?

And why not make a test block to see if the mind and the quilt were in alignment? After looking at this block for a day or two, I decided that more lens and less camera would look better, and I lengthened the rectangle on the top left just a little. I also narrowed the side and bottom borders to match the top border.

After all of that, I just had to make a few more blocks to get a better idea of how these blocks were going to look all together. The color of this quilt is supposed to come across as teal and in the beginning I was staying very true to that. It made for a boring quilt. There needed to be pops of other colors throughout to keep it interesting.

The camera lens is what brings life to these blocks. They are quite boring to me without it. At some point, I am going to have to do something about securing the lenses. They are fused on for now. I will probably zigzag or blanket stitch around them by machine. Still thinking about that.

I went back through my stash again to pull a wider range of colors. Then I grouped them. Each camera needs a body, lens, and background. I think I have about 50 fabric sets ready to go.

I am cutting them in groups, then piecing them three at a time. I can stitch together three blocks each morning before leaving for work.

As of this morning, I have 20 blocks pieced. The original plan was to do eight blocks across and ten blocks down, but I did not like eight across. Six seems better, so we will go with that for a while. Each block will finish at 10 inches x 7 1/2 inches.

What I thought was going to be a project for the spring, and one that was going to be worked on over time with a few blocks here and a few blocks there, seems to have taken on a life of its own. I'm okay with that. The new year isn't even here yet. There will be lots of time for fires and reading and relaxation, just as soon as I stitch up a few more camera blocks.
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