Sunday, July 30, 2017

Cardinal In The Snow - A Finished Sampler Quilt



What an exciting finish. I had expected this quilt to take me well into August, but I got into a quilting groove this morning, and look what happened!


It all started with a one yard purchase of Charley Harper cardinal print. It sat and sat in my sewing room. I wanted to use it but I could never settle on a project, until the Moda Sampler Shuffle began. I knew right away that fussy cutting those cute birds to work in the sampler blocks would be lots of fun.


When I started this project, I was blogging a lot more, and the pace was just right to provide a regular blog feature, a few finished blocks at a time. All of the other fabric in the blocks is from stash, which was a good way to use up some of my red, white, and black fabrics.


The only downfall in using older stash is that one of the reds is a bleeder. I'm not sure if you can tell in the picture, but the white with red print is starting to look a little pink because the red solid is making its way onto that fabric. I used a blue water soluble pen to mark the curves for the stems of my paisley feathers. When I sprayed the pen marks off, that is when I first knew I had a problem.

I thought about washing it with multiple color catchers and hoping for the best, but instead, I have decided not to wash it at all and hope for the best over time. It is intended as a wall hanging so washing isn't really necessary. That particular fabric is in five or six of the blocks. This is the first time I have ever had a problem with any fabric bleeding like this, so I consider myself fortunate on that count.


Look how the white thread shines on the red backing.


Here it is a little closer. There are plenty of imperfections but overall, I am happy with the texture of the quilting. The entire quilt was done in free motion and some of the straight lines are a bit shaky. It was great practice.

I was determined to use a feather pattern of some kind in the sashing. Most of the patterns I saw were a little too formal until I saw this paisley feather design by Angela Walters. She has some great You Tube videos and I must have watched this one ten times before giving it a try. Originally, the feathers were going to go in the vertical space, too, but once the horizontal rows were quilted, it was going to be too busy to do more of those. The evenly spaced vertical lines provide a good contrast to the feathers. Each of the pieced blocks has minimal quilting.


The shadows fell just right while the quilting was in progress. The design stands out nicely in this picture.



I have been wanting to use a striped binding forever. This quilt will be on display during the winter/holiday season and I like the hint of candy cane it adds to the quilt.


The backyard clothes line has become my go to place for quilt photographs these days. My helpers only get called into action for the bigger projects. This quilt finishes at 48 inches x 57 inches.


I live in the south, where it rarely snows, and I've always loved pictures of cardinals in the snow. Now I have my own version, with or without real snow.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Kite Tails - Believe Circle Finished Quilt



For our May Believe Circle quilt, members sent in strippy neutral blocks with a couple of bright colors thrown in. They have a border on two sides and a half square triangle on the corner. Those triangles remind me of either confetti or kite tails. I love how four blocks form a larger on point block. As with so many of the quilts I make these days, the design is inspired by a Pinterest photo.


Each member of the circle sent two blocks so there were enough to have four blocks as the center of the quilt back. The boring neutral that surrounds the blocks comes from fabric I was given in a box labeled "ugly fabric". And while it isn't the most beautiful, I used lots of bright colored thread in the quilting to cheer it up a bit.


This isn't my best quilting. I have always used a walking foot when quilting a large spiral or circle pattern, and that always became tedious near the end, guiding the quilt round and round and round. I decided to give free motion circles a try. They were great near the center, but as the circles became larger, the control became more difficult. There were lots of jumps when I would stop and start as you can see in the orange. You can also see on the right where I marked "ish" guidelines for my circles.


The free motion circles go to the edge of each block. Then, I set up my walking foot and echo quilted around all the circles until I reached the edge of the quilt. Those stitches are so much better.



The label is fused to the back and held by quilting.


Each set of circles is quilted in a different thread color. The quilts our circle makes are designed to use stash so the design is usually quite scrappy. This time I used thread stash as well, so many bobbins that had only a little thread on them were emptied during the quilting. There is blue, green, orange, red, and gold thread. In some cases, several shades of a color was used. Now, I have plenty of empty bobbins.


The quilt finishes at about 52 inches square. The binding is a dark blue print from the backing scraps of another quilt finish.


I won't free motion such large circles again but it was a worthy experiment.


A few of the pictures were taken before I sprayed the quilt top with water to get rid of all the blue marking lines. They come right off with a quick spray of water.


It's time to put this quilt in the wash and ship it off to My Very Own Blanket. This is the first time this year I have been caught up with all of my deadline sewing. It feels really good.

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.
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