Sunday, November 27, 2011

Finally, I was quilting instead of piecing!

Quilting the ROYGBIV quilt

I spent the day quilting the ROYGBIV quilt with an all over stipple. It was so nice to be quilting again.

Extra space for quilting

Before I started quilting, I moved my sewing machine over in front of my desk and I pulled my little rolling desk (both are from IKEA) over beside my machine. This is the first time I tried this set up and it worked wonderfully.

You can see my quilting gloves in this picture too. I have only every bought the one pair and they are worth their weight in gold. There is no way I could quilt without them, the quilt is just too heavy and slippery to keep a grip without the gloves.

Quilting the ROYGBIV quilt

Here is the quilt all set up on the large table. Having the table next to the wall meant that the quilt did not fall over the back and create a heavy drag. What a difference, it was far easier than the last time I quilted. I quilted this quilt in quadrants, from bottom to middle, then I turned it, and did the next quarter, etc. This quilt used 9 bobbins, it is big.

The quilting is done on the ROYGBIV quilt

And I finished the quilting in one day. And it was not the only thing I did all day either - but the quilting went smoothly, I even stopped to clean my machine about 3/4 of the way through.

I had planned to make a striped binding but I decided this quilt had enough riots of colour so I made the binding out of a bunch of Katie Jump Rope small red flowers instead. Tomorrow I can trim the quilt, sew the binding on the front, and start hand sewing the binding to the back. I am hoping to be done by next weekend.

Aqua and Orange Bee Block for Mary

And in case you are tired of that quilt, here is the block I finished for Mary from Fairly Merry for the Aqua and Orange Bee. This wonkyish string block is really big - 18.5" x 14.5" unfinished. We sewed the strings onto a stabilizer that is left in place so the block keeps it shape nicely. I think that Mary's quilt is going to be quite stunning, she has people making mostly brown, mostly orange and mostly aqua blocks like this.

I expect that I will link this to my favourite Work in Progress links on Wednesday as I doubt there will be much more progress around here before then - it's another busy work week. I can't wait for the holidays to have some time off!

Edited on Wednesday: Here are the links, there will be lovely progress there to see, I hope you go and look.
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced                                     



Saturday, November 26, 2011

Does anyone but me pin baste anymore?

Basting - 1 tape down the back

I was basting the ROYGBIV quilt this morning and the back looked so interesting upside down. So I decided to take a bunch of pictures and make a pin basting tutorial. Lately I have heard people get puckers in their quilt backs when quilting and that does not happen to me. Also, it seems that more people are spraying glue at their quilts, which I don't do. So I thought maybe I would share my low tech, chemical free method.

Basting - 2 adjust the tape

First I move aside the furniture and tape the back to the floor with painter's tape. The taping process takes a few minutes as the aim is to get the back tight without stretching or misaligning it. You need to adjust the tape a bit to get rid of the puckers, all the way around.

By the way, doesn't the back of the giant log cabin look interesting all nicely taped out.

Basting - 3 place the batting down

Then I carefully place the batting, so as not to disturb the back. I try to lay it straight on one edge and then place it over the entire back.

Basting - 4 smooth the batting out

This photo is an attempt to show you the smoothing process. Once I have the batting laid out, I sit or kneel in the middle of the quilt toward one end. I carefully smooth the batting onto the back with my hands, moving from the centre to the edges. This process needs to be done carefully so you don't pull the backing away from the tape. Also don't stretch the batting, just smooth it so it sticks to the back. You do get rolls like the one in the picture as you go. I move my body carefully down the quilt and keep smoothing from the centre to each edge.

Basting - 5 the batting is smoothed and trimmed

When the batting is all smoothed, you can see the seams on the back. This back was a great one to use as an example because it has so many seams to see. On this back, once I had smoothed the batting I also trimmed the batting to be the same size as the back rather than leaving the batting bigger than the back. I wanted to try to keep the top straight on the back so I needed to be able to see the back's edges.

Basting - 6 place the top on the batting

Then carefully place the top onto the batting. I started in the top right corner and worked to keep it straight along the top and the edges. It is important to do this gently so as not to mess up the batting.

Basting - 7 smooth out the top

Then I smooth the top in place, just like the batting. I sit or kneel on the top, and gently smooth from the  centre to the edges. Again being careful to not distort the top or the batting. All this smoothing causes the batting to adhere to both the back and the top so that when I am quilting, there is far less likelihood of any puckers.

Basting - 8 the top is smooth and in place

Here are all three layers, ready for pins. It is far easier to baste when the back is about 3" - 5" larger than the top. I have that amount at the bottom of this quilt sandwich but you can see there was only an inch to spare on either side (you know, I forgot to measure twice, that skimpy back was not on purpose). I don't recommend a back with this little to spare, it is a bit tricky to keep everything that straight.

Basting - 9 Pin the layers

Then I get my bowl of pins and pin the layers. Again, I sit or kneel on the quilt and pin from centre to the edges. I pin all I can reach and carefully move my body so I don't disturb the layers.

Pins make the quilt sandwich heavy and that extra weight makes the quilting harder, so I do not use more than necessary. I place them about a hand width (4" - 5") apart and stagger each row. I use quilters safety pins, they have a curve bent in them to make it easier to pin from the top of the layers.

Basting - 10 All done

And here it is all pinned. After this, carefully remove the tape from the back and the floor, fold or roll the sandwich and head off to quilt it. Oh, and I also put the furniture back.

This process took me 1.25 hours, including the time to take the photos - it is not that long. I do recommend getting up part way through the pinning and having a good stretch once or twice.

I have to admit that I really like this quiet, chemical free, process of readying my quilt for the quilting. I hope to spend the evening quilting this one, and likely tomorrow too. I have watched Rhonda's, from Quilter in the Gap, videos from the Duo QAL for all her pointers and the plan is for an all over stipple on this quilt, so I am ready to go.

I hope you are enjoying the weekend.



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A little more progress - it's Wednesday again!

Claire's quilt back, almost done

My largest work in progress is Claire's ROYGBIV quilt. Here is the back, at this point it measured about 63" x 86". Last night I added some white borders to bring it to 74" x 94", just larger than the top by a couple of inches on all sides. Tonight, if things go well, I will sandwich it with the top and start quilting.

I am so pleased with this huge log cabin back, but I have to say it is a slow and careful process to make it without ripples. This is going to be truly a reversible quilt.

Claire asked for stipple quilting and I am looking forward to sitting at my machine free motion quilting. It seems I have been piecing a lot lately, not quilting.

Aqua and Orange Bee blocks so far

I could not resist laying out these are the blocks I have received so far (two are the ones I made) from my bee mates in the Aqua and Orange Bee. There are more to come, and I am in no hurry for them - working on this quilt is my after Christmas project.

Aqua and Orange Bee blocks so far

Here is another layout idea. I did not specify any size or pattern, just asked for improv in one colour for each block and sent a bunch of strips of solids. I did suggest regular edges to aid in piecing and I have some extra fabric to fill in any gaps. This is my first time receiving blocks in a bee, I have to say it is just so much fun to suddenly have all these little parcels arriving at once.

Awesome hoop of embroidery from Katherine

I have to show you this little embroidery that was tucked in with the blocks from Katherine who blogs at Honeyhill Designs. It is so cute, the needle is actually silver thread and sparkles!

All the embroidery I see lately is encouraging me to pull out all my needlework supplies, which have been tucked away for many years. My grandmother patiently taught me to embroider when I was 5 and 6 years old, I still remember vividly her careful explanations for each new stitch. Maybe another thing to bring out to play with over the holidays.

This weekend I am planning to get back to the Christmas star quilt I sandwiched just after the holidays last year. I want to make my first attempt at hand quilting on it and I hope if I start it in the next week that it could be done in time for cuddling over the holidays this year. I'll report back on that soon.

I am linking to my usual WIP links, please click the buttons and visit the projects linked up, they are always so inspiring.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced



Saturday, November 19, 2011

Today I made Tree Ornaments and a Tutorial too.

Tree Ornament - Modern and traditional at the same time.

For the Modern Christmas Table Runner Swap, we are encouraged to also send a handmade holiday ornament. I was stumped. I looked at a lot of flickr and pinterest ideas, many of which are stunning. I wanted an ornament that was modern, yet also had traditional patchwork, and that would easily fit in a shipping envelop. I love trees, and after looking at many variations on the tree ornament, I came up with this.

My stylized triangle tree is modern and has clean, simple lines. And it is traditional, composed of nice tiny 1/2" finished patchwork squares. There are many versions of this idea on the internet; this is just my take.

And it is far easier to make these trees than you might think, even though a tree ornament that is 3.5" high uses 28, 1" squares. This is a perfect project for tiny scraps. Let me know what you think of my tutorial and if you have any questions I would be happy to help. If you make some of these ornaments, I would love it if you would let me know.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 1

1 - Cut a number of 1" strips from your scraps to make the squares. Each larger (3.5" tree) uses 28 squares.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 2

2 - Cut your 1" strips into 1" squares.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 3

3 - Lay out your 1" squares. For a 3.5" tree, you start with a row of 7 squares, then 6 squares, 5, squares, 4 squares, 3 squares, 2 squares and 1 square. To change this pattern to make larger or smaller trees, just add or subtract rows.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 4

4 - Sew the squares together. I start by chain piecing pairs, being careful to always start from the same end and do as many pairs as each row will allow.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 5

5 - Chain piecing the pairs using a 1/4" seam. These are only 1" squares so they will be 1/2" squares once finished. Piecing small bits is not hard if you sew slowly.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 6

6 - Once you have pieced all the pairs in order, cut them apart in reverse order and put them back in their places. I am careful to take my time to keep them in the order I started with.

Then sew the pairs to the other pairs and to the left over end pieces, again in order, until you have finished sewing each row.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 7

7 - Press each row. I pressed the seams in one direction for one row and the opposite for the row above it to distribute the bulk. Lay out the rows again.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 8

8 - Place the 7 piece row and the 6 piece row together, right sides facing. Eyeball the fit so that the 6 piece row is centred over the 7 piece row with an even amount showing on each end.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 9

9 - Here is a close up of the overlap. Sew the rows together with 1/4" seam. I did not bother to pin but again moved slowly with the machine while sewing.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 10

10 - This is how the rows look once sewn together. The blocks should be staggered like a brick wall.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 11

11 - Position the next row in the same manner, placing it mid way between the ends of the row before and then sew into position.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 12

12 - Here are all the rows sewn together. At this point it is important to give it a good press. I pressed all the seams toward the top of the tree. Be careful with the steam, as the alignment of the rows can easily stretch, but once you have it nicely pressed, a good shot of steam is helpful so all those seams lay flat.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 13

13 - Lay the pressed pieced squares on a scrap of batting and roughly cut around the edge of the batting.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 14

14 - Lay the pieced squares and batting on top of your back fabric. Make sure the back fabric is facing away  so the wrong sides are facing each other.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 15

15 - Trim the back fabric and pin the unit together. Three pins are enough for this size tree, be careful that the points are not too close to the edges.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 16

16 - Line up your ruler from the mid point of the top square to the bottom corner of the bottom row outside square. I just eyeballed these positions.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 17

17 - Cut off the edge. If you pins are sticking too far out you will need to adjust them first.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 19

18 - Line up your ruler with the tree top point (at the bottom of this picture) and the outside edge of the other side of the bottom row. Cut off the excess.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 19

19 - Measure 1/2" from the seam on the bottom row, using the bottom row seam as your guide. Cut off the extra from the tree bottom.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 20

20 - Sew around the edge of the triangle, using a 1/4" seam. I just used my 1/4" foot but a walking foot would also work, maybe even better. I back stitched at the beginning and end of the sewing. If you wanted, you could add more quilting to the tree.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 21

21 - After sewing the triangle the seams are probably no longer clean due to sewing the layers and all the little seams. I then measured 1/8" from each line of stitching by lining my ruler with the line of stitching. Then I trimmed off the outside bit.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 21

22 - Here are three trees, before adding the hanging strings. The larger ones are about 3.5" from point to base and use 28 squares. The smaller one is about 2" high. (I don't think I did a final trim on that little one, might go back and do that now). You can make these trees any size, just add or subtract rows. Another way to alter the size is to use larger squares to start with.

Tree Ornament Tutorial - 22

23 - To add a piece of shiny yarn or string as a hanger, just poke your needle between the stitches at the point of the tree and pull through. I knotted the ends.

Tree Ornaments - Hanging on my sewing machine

Here are the three I made this morning hanging from my sewing machine's thread thingy (I bet it has a name) this morning. It took me about 2 hours to cut the squares, make these three and take all the pictures as I went.

I like the mix of clean modern lines and traditional patchwork. It would be easy to make other shapes too. I am thinking of circles to represent glass ornaments and squares to represent presents, for example.

By the way, for those of you who love fabric, these fabrics were from left over bits of a charm pack and some fat quarters of Kate Spain's Twelve Days of Christmas fabrics.

p.s. I have linked this to the Pink Chalk Studio, Handmade with Love Tutorial Contest. There are a lot of wonderful tutorials there, have a look.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Sneak Peaks

Scrappy Mug Rug Swap - sneak peak
I am in the Scrappy Mug Rug Swap for the first time. This round we are making holiday or winter mug rugs for a known partner, so we are only able to show sneak peaks. (By the way, my partner, Guiltyquilter is awesome, so I am working hard.) I am not so good at sneak peaks, I couldn't really figure out how to do that as I went. Anyway, this project filled the last two evenings and now I am done.
Scrappy Mug Rug Swap - sneak peak
I really love the result but I am still new enough to swaps to be nervous that my partner won't like it. On this one, however, I figure that since it is a mug rug, it will be hard to go too wrong, at least I hope not. I have to figure out what else to include in my package and send it off tomorrow.

From my window 11/18/11
Here is my second photo in my view from my window series. The sun was still rising as I took this at 8:00 a.m. today. We had no snow at all last Friday, you can see the accumulation in a week. It is starting to look like Christmas! I am off to buy new winter boots this weekend, fix my favourite mittens, wash hats and gloves for everyone, etc., as it looks like the colder weather is here to stay.

Enjoy your Friday!