Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blue Nine-Patch Quilt

Every quilt teaches me something and this one taught me to always be flexible and keep an open mind throughout the process. This was supposed to be a dachshund quilt.

My sister-in-law loves dachshunds and I intended to make a quilt for her with that in mind. It just never worked out. I had a dachshund on this quilt at one point, but after soliciting several opinions, I decided that the dachshund had to go. The background was to be a scrappy blue patchwork, so I had quite a pile of blue nine-patch blocks.

I started playing with them on the design wall and liked the way this was shaping up.
After adding some sashing and some blue setting triangles around the border, this quilt was a go.
Once the design was set, I became a little obsessive about seeing the finished top and finished it up the same day.
It sat for a few days while I pondered the quilt design. I really wanted to do concentric circles, and started working on those, but my circles weren't exactly circle shaped. After stitching the first three rounds, I abandoned that idea and did a bit of unstitching until I could practice a little more.

Some simple straight line quilting seemed the next best choice. Diagonal lines are stitched through the nine-patch blocks using 50 weight Aurifil thread in a pretty blue 2735. Then I added three lines of Aurifil 2000 on each row of sashing. Looks like my straight lines could use a little practice, too, but I will just say that the lack of perfection adds to the whimsy of the quilt.

There were a few leftover blocks so those were incorporated into the quilt back.

I think my sister-in-law will be happy with this quilt, even if it doesn't include a dachshund.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Believe Circle Finish and Progress

My quilting life has slowed down a good bit this fall. The majority has been focused on the Believe Circle of do.Good Stitches, which has been great fun and kept the creative juices flowing.

I was the assigned quilter for October and I just finished up our quilt this weekend. This quilt was adapted from a similar design which you can see in the first post I wrote about this quilt. I just love the way it turned out. It says boy all over.

The quilting is simple straight line quilting set one inch apart. One of the blocks is the center for the quilting and the lines radiate from there.

The back is a huge off set square in a square block. The center matches the center point of the quilting on front.

It's nice when the back of the quilt is a good stash buster, too.

The red on the back is also the binding. This quilt will go in the mail to My Very Own Blanket today.

While I've been finishing up the October quilt, the work of the circle has continued. In November, Nicole mailed us all some fabric to use for making disappearing nine-patch blocks. She sent enough fabric for about half the blocks and we supplemented with our stash. Here are my blocks:

In December, it's my turn to be the quilter again. Since it's such a busy time of year, I decided to go with a very simple block, and to go for a really girlie quilt since our circle has done such a great job of focusing on boy quilts for the past few months. We're making simple square in a square blocks for December in an improv style which means the center square can be any place and any size within the square. The outside of the block should be a solid fabric.

I had fun going through my stash to make some inspiration blocks for the group.

And here are the resulting blocks.

Each person in the circle will make one 12.5" block and four 6.5" blocks. Can't wait to start receiving these in the mail.

I'm hoping to squeeze in a Christmas project or two, but I'm not making any firm commitments. It's going to be a relaxing December for me, at least in the quilting world. Hope you all are finding time to be creative as we wind down for the year.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Block Tutorial - Which Way Block Adaptation

These days, much of my quilt inspiration comes from Pinterest. Hardly a day goes by without me pinning some new and fabulous quilt to my "Pretty Quilts" board.

Quilt made by Steffi from just Quilts

I'm always looking for new quilt ideas for the Believe Circle of do.Good Stitches. My turn to choose the quilt always comes around faster than I expect it to, so it's good to have a little stash of ideas to pull from. I was immediately drawn to this one because I thought it could be perfectly interpreted for a boy. The charity we support, My Very Own Blanket, has shared with us that they could really use a boost in quilts for boys. The arrows in this one make me think of directions, cars, trucks, construction, signals, and all sorts of boyish ideas.

The original quilt and tutorial can be found over on Steffi's blog, Just Quilts. Steffi generously granted permission for me to adapt her design to a block format (the original quilt is sewn in rows rather than blocks) for our October Believe Circle project.

I haven't figured out what the final layout of the quilt will be. This is going to be one of those designs that evolves as we go. Here is the block that I have designed based on Steffi's quilt.

Fabric required to make one 12 1/2" block:

Four arrow fabrics - From each fabric, cut (1) 9 1/4" square and (1) 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle
Background fabric - (4) 2 1/2" squares and (4) 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles

From each 9 1/4" square of arrow fabric,

cut across each diagonal. You will only use one of these triangles for your block. You can always save the others for more blocks!

Take all of your cut pieces and lay them out as follows:

First, sew the triangles together. Here, I've sewn the red to the green and pressed to the red, then I sewed the blue to the neutral and pressed toward the neutral. The key is to press the sewn seams in opposite directions so they will nest together nicely when the two bigger triangles are sewn together.

After the triangles are all sewn together to form the center square, sew the background squares to the arrow rectangles on the left and right side of the block. Press seams toward the background fabric.

Sew the left and right sides to the center square. Press the seam toward the center.

Sew the background rectangles to either side of the arrow rectangle. Press toward the background.

Sew the top and bottom strips to the center. Press seams toward the outside of the block.

The other thing I like about this block is the way the arrows all point to each other. The finished quilt will go to a foster child, and I often think of children in that situation as having only themselves to depend on. This arrow design makes me think "strength from within" which says so much about these precious children.

Believe Circle members,
For our October quilt, choose bright colors for the arrows...think traffic signal, yellow, green, and also blue. Try to stay away from girlie fabric designs. Feel free to throw in one neutral fabric for an arrow in one of your blocks. I do like how that gives your eye a place to rest in an otherwise bright design. For the background, choose a dark, brown, blue, gray, or green....just make sure they are very dark. Each block should finish at 12 1/2" square. Please make two blocks.

Can't wait to receive all of your blocks throughout October. Look for a finished quilt before the end of the year!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Believe Circle July Blocks

The assigned block for July comes from a tutorial over at Fresh Lemon Quilts. Allison is our quilter for this month and she wanted us to make these blocks using turquoise/teal/aqua, orange, and white.

The center of the block is supposed to be a focus of sorts, incorporating all of the colors if possible. I only had two prints in my stash with more than one color and both of them happen to be stripes.

I'm always happy to revisit my paper piecing skills and enjoyed making these blocks.

I really like the secondary design that is going on with the oranges and can't wait to see how Allison decides to arrange them in her quilt.

These will be shipped off to their new home tomorrow.

Can't wait to see what is in store for August's blocks.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Quilt to Celebrate Independence

My first born and only daughter moved away from home recently. She is a sometimes quilter who has to run with those bursts of inspiration whenever they happen. Most of her quilting projects have been as gifts for others. After she graduated from college last December, she decided it was time to make a quilt for herself, one that she could take with her into the big wide world whenever that day came along.

When the days started counting down to her move, the anticipation and preparation of moving took over every other activity. She had designed the quilt. She had pieced the top. We had even worked together on selecting the backing fabrics. A few days before she moved, she asked, "Mom, will you finish this for me. I just didn't have time." Of course I'll finish it. It has been great separation therapy for me.

She decided to play with the contrast of warm and cool colors in her design and stash buster her way through most of my fabric, making half square triangles with a warm side and cool side. Then she played with it on the design wall until she settled on this asymmetrical square in a square design.

Her living room furniture is very plain and neutral so this quilt is going to bring a bright splash of color to the room.

The fun striped back is just another great way to make use of the fabric on hand. Because this quilt is so bright and colorful, the quilting is a simple straight line design.

This quilt even gets a special label. Happy birthday sweet daughter of mine. Love this quilt. Love your independence. Love your life. I'm calling this quilt "Celebrating Independence". Thank you for allowing me to create this one with you.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Believe Circle Quilt Finish

This Independence Day long weekend gave me some much needed sewing time.

The idea for this quilt started back in May when it was my turn to be the quilter for the do. Good Stitches Believe Circle. Here's where I first wrote about it. Eight other stitchers contributed two blocks each to this quilt. The block comes from Sew, Mama, Sew BOM2. Those were some good mail days as the blocks began to arrive.

Originally, I thought I would use white or cream thread for the entire quilt, but one of the stitchers sent a special surprise with their blocks.
And it was filled with these beauties:
Once the blocks were arranged, I decided that sticking with white or cream thread for all of the quilting was going to make it too pretty. I didn't want "pretty", I wanted "fun". These brightly colored Aurifil 50 weight threads were just the touch of "fun" this quilt needed.
I did stick with Aurifil 50 weight cream thread to anchor the quilt with three lines of quilting going diagonally through the colored blocks. Each one of the spirals that occupies the white space is stitched in a different color of thread.
To finish it off, it is bound with a black and bright geometric print.
To keep it symmetrical, there are sixteen blocks on the front in a four by four design. The two extra blocks make a great statement on the back so that this quilt can be enjoyed from either side.
Each of the spirals is free motion quilted, which showed me that I need many more hour of practice before my hand will be steady enough for a larger design. I used a blue water soluble pen to draw the spiral before quilting. I can freehand fairly well in small area, but these spirals are about fifteen inches wide. Those drawn lines helped keep the design relatively consistent.
The binding was machine stitched to the front and hand stitched to the back. I know a lot of quilters love the speed of a binding sewn completely by machine. However, I'm a sucker for the slow finish. The binding is the last hurrah of being able to handle a quilt while it's still in progress. I relish that time to quietly hand sew the binding. After I finished this one though, I started thinking about sending it out into the world, and that it had the potential to be handled roughly. So I went back and machine stitched in the ditch from the front to catch the back binding and secure it much better than any hand stitching ever could. It' now ready to be wadded and drug and sat on and snuggled and whatever its future owner deems worthy.

This quilt is being sent to My Very Own Blanket who will put it in the hands of a foster child in need.

This was such a fun quilt to make. I can't think of a better way to spend those few extra hours this holiday weekend gave me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Coasters as Sewing Therapy

While I'm a long way from an empty nest (my youngest is ten years old), we helped my oldest move to her first apartment this past weekend. All those years of schooling and parenting were supposed to lead to this, right? I'm very happy for her and I'm sure she's going to be quite successful in her adulthood, but still, I miss her. She's five hours from home, too, so it's not like I can drop by for a visit or that she can easily run home or that we can meet for lunch every couple of weeks.

While we were helping her set up her apartment, I made note of the table topper she had made and decided to use on her kitchen table. I also noted that there were no coasters. This mom needed a little sewing therapy and a special something to send in the mail for special love.

She doesn't have her own sewing machine (yet) and left all her fabric at home. I raided it when we got home and found a scrap of this fabric, which was the focus fabric in the table topper. There was enough left to cut two 4 1/2" squares. I also found a scrap of the same fabric with a white background and cut two 4 1/2" squares from it as well. That was enough raiding of her fabric, so my stash provided the rest.

Everything is cut in 4 1/2" squares, with each piece on the bottom pressed in half. This common coaster pattern is very easy to make.

The key to remember is that the fold goes toward the center and the raw edges go toward the outside.

Add the second piece.

 Add the third piece.
Add the fourth piece and tuck it up under the first. Lay the backing wrong side down on top of that, then a layer of batting. Sew all the way around the outside, then turn it right side out through the center of the folded pieces. I usually curve the corners rather than try to make sharp points.
 In about an hour, start to finish, a set of four coasters was finished.
Cute from the front and the back.

Finished them with a ribbon, and shipped them off. Good therapy for mom, and a good addition to a new apartment for the daughter.
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