Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Last Finish - Modern Dresden Wreaths

What a great way to finish the year...with a bright Christmasy modern wreath wall hanging.

The striped fabric had been sitting on or near my cutting table for a long time (like more than two years!). I knew I wanted to make something festive with it and had pulled a number of other stash pieces to go with it, and finally a couple of weeks ago, the urge to make some modern dresdens hit.

Interestingly enough, the original dresden, made from the stripe and a cream print, didn't even make it into the final project. I had peppermint candy in mind when I started, but as the bright lime greens and vivid reds took over, there just wasn't room for anything else. It was really fun to sew strips together, cut the dresden pieces, and sew, not being quite sure what the final result would look like. I can see someday making a bigger quilt playing with the possibilities. It was lots of fun.

Each one is raw edge appliqued to the background fabric using a machine blanket stitch. It needed a little something more so the lighter green circles were added. The quilting on this was fun although it was hard to decide what to do.

Each of the small circles was quilted with a snowflake and the big dresdens were quilted with an asterisk with lots of extra lines.

The stripes and the narrow background piece were quilted with straight(ish) vertical lines.

I wanted to quilt more on the background but I feared overdoing it so I stopped while things were looking good. The backing is a fabric that I considered ugly so I turned it over and used the wrong side. Take that, ugly fabric! I like the way the green thread looks on the back, although it looks a bit yellow in these pictures.

When I was growing up, I was always told that whatever you were doing on New Year's Eve is what you would be doing a lot of the next year. So I'm all set to create, experiment with design, and FINISH lots of quilts next year.

Hooray for a finish, especially a bright fun one; hooray for a blog to share it all, and hooray for readers like you who take time to read and comment. I am thankful for you all.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

House Quilt Tutorial

It's my turn to be in charge of our quilt for the Believe Circle of do.Good Stitches. Most of the time, we each make two blocks, but this month I chose a design that will be done in vertical strips. The inspiration comes from this quilt by Debbie Grifka over at Esch House Quilts. She graciously gave permission for our circle to use her design for our quilt this month. Thank you, Debbie!

If each circle member makes one vertical strip, we'll have a nice size quilt. We will follow the same color scheme of black, white, and bright. The darker colors should be toward the top and the lighter colors at the bottom. Have fun choosing a bright colored door for your houses. Each strip should contain two or three houses.

The squares that are not house blocks should be cut at 5 1/2" square. Cut seven or eight of these depending on the number of house blocks contained in the strip. For the house blocks, cut:
Background - two 3" squares
House - one 3" x 5 1/2" rectangle, two 2" x 2 1/2" rectangles, and one 1 1/2" x 5 1/2" rectangle
Door - one 1 1/2" x 2" rectangle

First, draw a diagonal line on the back of the 3" background squares.

Place one of the squares on the large house rectangle. Stitch on the drawn line and cut away the excess triangle.

Press the sewn triangle up and away from the house rectangle.

Lay the second background square right side down and sew on the drawn line. Cut away the excess fabric.

Press the sewn triangle away from the house rectangle.

Sew the 1 1/2" x 5 1/2" rectangle to the bottom of the roof.

Sew a 2" x 2 1/2" house rectangle to either side of the 1 1/2" x 2" door.

Sew the door to the house and the house block is complete.

Make either two or three house blocks and arrange them in your vertical strip to your satisfaction. When the strip is complete, there should be ten squares total, which includes the house blocks.

If you'd like to be creative with your house blocks and construct them differently, feel free to do so. It will be fun to construct a neighborhood with your creations.

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
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