Showing posts with label Quilting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Quilting. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's a Warm Finish!

It's Warm Inside is finally a finished quilt!

This poor quilt has really had its ups and downs. I designed it to be Quilt as You Go (QAYG), with the narrow white cotton sashings. But, between the fluffy flannel log cabin blocks and all the loose batting, it was way too dusty for my allergies. So, I pieced it all together and took it to a longarm rental place to quilt it myself.

Wait for the chorus...

That turned out to be a really miserable experience that started with a friend of the owner setting up a quilt on the machine I had reserved, and which went way downhill from there. I should have walked out right then, but alas, I was not as smart as the song. The clincher was when the owner told me that my quilting idea was wrong and looked bad, when I was about half done. Fortunately, there are other fish in the sea!

But, despite all the hardship, in the end I think it's a likeable quilt. The snowmen are jolly, and the simple quilting works fairly well on the flannel logs. I circled around all the snowglobes in the border, which made them quite puffy:

The fat red binding stands out well too. I had a couple of yards of aqua, white and red Christmas fabric that I think I meant for a border at one time. But it matched perfectly, so I used it on the back here, and filled in the remainder with the leftover snowmen fabrics from the front.

I have Mimi Dietrich's book Happy Endings, which includes this idea for piecing the label right into the back:

Since I had to piece the back anyway, it made sense to me.

So, I'm glad to have it done, only two years later than planned! I'm catching up. :D To see all the posts on this quilt, please click here.

The gnome? He kept his thoughts to himself.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tranquil - A Finish!

aka My Secret Purple
Guild Challenge Quilt
(with butterfly)

Well, it was down to the wire, but I finished it on time!

Tranquil (42" x 49", 107 x 125 cm)
Back in January I showed you the crayon I got -- violet -- for my Guild's crayon challenge. The idea of the challenge was to use a range of values in the colour of your crayon, and for the crayon to be the predominant colour in the project. There was no limit on what kind of project you could make. My intention from the start was to make something that I like, even if it turned out not to be my favourite colour. I don't really mind purple, but I hardly ever buy it, so I went online for these purple batiks.

I searched through my photos for inspiration, and decided on this one of our lilac:

Sujata Shah's book Cultural Fusion Quilts arrived at around the same time. Her leaf-shaped blocks reminded me of the big leaf in this photo, so I used her pattern "Winter," in my colour scheme.

I followed the pattern almost exactly, and it went quickly. Sujata's technique is a fun, easy-going way to start curved piecing. It was after I made these blocks that I was inspired to make the curvy churn dash blocks I showed in February.

Sujata quilted her quilt with straight lines about 1" (2.5 cm) apart. For several years now I've been admiring all the closely straight-line quilted modern quilts out there, and I decided this would be a good time to try it. I bought 6 different variegated 28 wt Aurifil threads (alas no photo). My plan was to blend together the solids and batiks by artistically shading the different threads down through the piece.

Turquoise, purple and a little yellow at the top...

...and some greens and forest-y shades at the bottom:

The line spacing ranges from 1/8" to 3/8", and I used a long stitch (7 per inch) to keep the thread on top of the quilt as much as possible. The corrugated texture is wonderful, and in places the light weight batiks look smocked. I did plan to do it at home with my walking foot, but when time was getting shorter I went back to the long arm rental place. This 28 wt Auriful thread is not ideal for a long arm -- it broke three times and left a ton of lint behind. But, three hours rental is better than three weeks slog at home!

The most time consuming and picky thing was the binding. With all those straight quilting lines, the binding has to be straight too! I also used three fabrics to shade the binding light to dark, same as the quilt.

For the back, I was finally able to use this purple birdcage fabric that Connecting Threads sent me by mistake one time:

I thought I would never use it, but it is perfect for this! And now that it is in context, I really like it too.

This is my fifth finished quilt, and it feels like a good step forward. I had a plan, I stuck to the plan, everything I planned turned out as hoped, and I finished on time! So that is very satisfying. :D

And our lilac is in bloom again, which is good timing:

It's getting taller! Last year the butterflies loved it:

This year I haven't seen one butterfly yet, although now that I say that I'll probably see one later today. I think our cold snap in April threw the schedule off a little. Ann and Cathy's Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up spreads awareness of the issues facing butterflies and butterfly habitats, plus it is just fun, so you'll be able to check that out here, tomorrow (I hope!).

Plus, the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters (AHIQ) link up is still on, so today I can do two for one!

Next up, I still have a ton of binding to sew, and then some more finishes to share! Although, I am dying to do some more piecing as well...

Friday, April 15, 2016

Adventures in Quilting

Many of my posts in March included some whining about the machine quilting that I was doing "behind the scenes." I was finally quilting Hen Party. This quilt has 6" snowball blocks made from my collection of chicken-themed fabrics. Many of the blocks were framed around one large chicken. After literally years of creating and dismissing quilting plans for this quilt, I decided to use a bonded batting that only needs quilting every 10", so I wouldn't have to worry about quilting around the chickens inside the blocks. I straight line quilted in the ditch, and free-motioned a little clover motif in each corner:

Some of those first clover motifs were pretty dubious:

That was when I was getting tired at the end of the day, and the weight of the quilt was making things tricky. But, I got better:

I didn't mark anything, first, because I hate marking, and second, because I do like that "freehand doodle" look. So, I'm not going to unpick any of those wobbly ones. And from the back, it looks surprisingly good:

Just ignore the fold lines and loose threads for now!

What I couldn't ignore, though, were the problems with the border. "I'll just straight line quilt a few lines around the border," I thought. "I have mastered straight line quilting," I thought. "Fast and easy," I thought. But strangely, while two sides looked good...

...two sides bunched up terribly:

Whyyyy? I thought I had this figured out when I changed to the pin feed. Somehow the top and bottom layers are feeding through at different speeds, and it must have something to do with the crosswise vs. the lengthwise grain of the backing fabric. But, it is practically ruffled, so it must come out, and that has been taking forever. Once the straight lines are unpicked, I'm going to do a free-motion stipple, which I think will be more forgiving. And at least, after all those clover motifs, I am feeling better about my free motion abilities.

In February, when I was having similar trouble quilting Mod Trips, I said to myself, "this is the last large quilt I am quilting at home." But you know, it turned out well in the end, and everyone liked it, so basking in the glow of success I forgot all the pain! But in March, facing all the same trouble again, I really started to resent the time that quilting was taking from my other projects.

I decided it's finally time to invest in some rental time on a long arm quilting machine. Yesterday I took my Cardinal Stars flimsy to a local long arm dealer that offers rentals.  And after about one hour of class time and three hours of quilting time, it is quilted! By me!

On the back here you can see the pantograph I used, Cloud 9. I am not always the biggest fan of pantos, because they can be a little uninspired, but I have to say they are quite forgiving even when you are never right on the line! It is a good way to build your skill and still have a decent result.

On the front, the panto's flow of curves and arcs blends together the blocks and background:

The polyester thread was my biggest hurdle in deciding to try a long arm. (And the money, of course, but I decided to re-allocate my fabric budget to quilting for a while.) I deliberately took these photos to highlight the thread. It is shiny polyester Glide thread, but not this obvious in every light. I can see why longarmers like it, because it is perfectly smooth and even, with no fluff, even after quilting the whole quilt at high speed. I like it better than I expected, and in future, I will have the option of bringing in my own cotton thread.

Now that it is home I cannot believe how much quilting I did, and that it is reasonably good looking to boot! I am sore, but not any more sore than after a day of quilting on my home machine. And, with one day on the long arm I accomplished more than a month of quilting at home!

So yes, I'll be doing that again. For me, the "aha moment" was when I was basting the edge of the quilt before following the panto across the middle. When I baste the edge of a sandwiched quilt on my home machine, it stretches and puckers and slides around and generally tests my patience to the limit. On the frame of the long arm the edge of the fabric doesn't move at all, and it is easy to sew a scant 1/8" from the edge. Everything stays straight. Amazing!

Now I have a list of new things to try on the long arm, which should use up my stack of flimsies, including Collector, It's Warm Inside, Picnic, and Circa 1998. Although, now that I see how easy it is to quilt a large quilt this way, I am once again considering adding a border to Circa 1998 to bring it up to queen size. We'll see how it goes!

(Hen Party, though, I still have to finish at home...)

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mod Trips Finished

First finish for 2016! This is my version of Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trips Around the World. I call mine "Mod Trips."

Mod Trips, 60" x 60"
I started this project on a snowy day in February, three years ago. No snow today! But, it's predicted again for tomorrow.

My goal with this quilt was to make a version that was different from all the others out there. I think I succeeded!

It is straight-line quilted in a diamond pattern on my home machine with the walking foot:

I didn't mark it, just sighted along from corner to corner by eye. There was 28 wt white Aurifil thread in the top, and 40 wt in the bobbin. I used a longish stitch ("3" on my machine, and I usually piece at around 2 1/4), and I was happy with how that looked.

But it was not smooth sailing! I was very tempted to title this post...

Dratted Walking Foot

Three weeks ago I had about a third of it quilted, but the back looked like this:

You can see I originally planned twice as much quilting. But, why was it getting all bunched up like that? First, I thought I did a poor job basting it, because I had to do it on a smaller table than before. Or, somehow the fabric stretched out.

Eventually I realized the problem was the feed dogs. I had them on the highest setting, and they were pulling up the back as they worked. My machine has a pin feed, so I switched to that. Then everything flattened out and the walking foot chugged along beautifully.

But, I couldn't have half of it bunchy, and half of it flat, so I spent a day and a half pulling out all the quilting and re-basting it. I was very glad I'd used a longer stitch!

Except for a little cross in each corner, I decided to leave the quilting at every other row the second time.

It's been so long since I finished something, that I totally forgot how fun it is to sew on the binding! It really is satisfying to wrap up all the raw edges and close out the project.

I don't know how practical this scrappy white binding will be, but it felt like the right choice.

So, yay! One done. The pillows are also quilted, but still need backs and binding. To read all the posts about this project, please click here.

Although I didn't make any formal New Year's resolutions this year, I do kind of have one:

One old
One new
One flimsy
One quilt

Since this is an old project and now a finished quilt, I'm free to start something new! And yes, I already started today:

It is so nice to get the walking foot off the machine, and get back to regular sewing!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Warm Flimsy

Here's the finished flimsy for my mostly flannel log cabin quilt, It's Warm Inside:

Wait, wasn't this quilt supposed to be finished with a quilt as you go technique? Why is it now a flimsy?

Well, it turns out that for people with severe dust allergies, like me, quilt as you go is a terrible process. I managed to cut the batting for six individual blocks...

... and I felt like I had run a marathon. As you can see I gamely basted them together, but I couldn't bring myself to cut any more batting.

The idea for this quilt as you go design is a couple of years old now, and was conceived for my old sewing machine. I realized that my new sturdy machine would be able to handle the full size flannel quilt. So, I unbasted the squares and sewed the whole top together.

I know that border fabric looks a little busy...

...but try to imagine a bright red binding on the finished quilt. It will bring it all into focus.

I am amazed, actually, at how much the narrow white cotton sashing lifts and brightens the whole quilt. It feels much more cheerful and fresh.

And it's an appropriate finish for today, which has been the coldest day in Toronto this year, and probably for several other years as well. At 7:00 am it was -28 Celsius outside (-18 Fahrenheit), and the north wind was shaking the house. That's unusually cold for Toronto! But, with the cold we also have brilliant sunshine, and it is indeed warm inside.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Finally Finished!

Black, White and Read All Over, 64" x 64"
Edward's quilt is finally finished! Started in November 2010, the flimsy was finished and the quilt was basted in 2012. I started the quilting on my old machine, which had to be taken for repair and cleaning twice during the process. And it still wasn't until I got my new machine this spring that I managed to finish the quilting.

It is straight line quilted:

I like quilting double lines like this, because it fools the eye into thinking the lines are straighter than they are!

In the close up you can see that all the fabrics have some kind of kanji script, either real or imaginary. So theoretically, you could "read" the quilt. Hence the title:

You can see the label was optimistically stitched in 2012, lol! The design is from Carrie Nelson's Schnibbles Times Two book. She sews the label to the back before it is quilted, which I tried here as well. I worried about it catching during the machine quilting, but it didn't. With all the problems I did have on this quilt, the label wasn't one of them.

The backing is a new flannel sheet that I got on sale. It really was too heavy for my old machine, but the new machine handled it fine. I like the masculine Buffalo check!

So, Edward's quilt is my second finished flimsy, and my second finished quilt. While we were out taking photos, I took a better picture of Nine Patch Jubilee as well. That was my third finished flimsy, and first finished quilt:

Where is flimsy number one, you ask? LOL. Packed away. Maybe I will get it out some day, maybe not.

Anyway, it feels great to finally have this one done. I even have a 3" scar on my forearm from one of the basting pins that came open when I started the quilting in 2012! But it's fading...

Best of all, now I have room for a new project in my sewing area! Home Sweet Home will get the nod, I think.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New Machine!!

I've had my eye on this sewing machine since another Ontario quilter whose work I admire recommended it to me. A couple weeks ago I finally had the chance to drive up to That Sewing Place in Newmarket and give it a good trial. Needless to say, it came home with me after that! Isn't it beautiful?

You can see that my sewing table had a previous incarnation as a paint studio. But never mind, the machine is the Brother 1500S, which is a single stitch, high speed sewing machine. It has everything I want, including a needle down function and lots of workspace, and nothing I don't want, like a bunch of fancy stitches I'll never use. My old Janome still works well for those times I'll need the zig zag stitch. Although I am starting to think that will not be too often!

I was very lucky that the owner of the store, Jaret, who is an expert on this machine, was there to give me a complete lesson. Once I got home I was able to get it all threaded and set up without even cracking open the manual. It also comes with an extension table and a knee lift, which are not shown in the photo.


So far I've used it to piece the flannel parts of my snowmen blocks, I've done a little free motion quilting on the Homegrown placemats, and I've done some straight line quilting with the walking foot on Edward's quilt. It is really nice. When you get the free motion up to speed, the fabric positively glides under the needle. And the humongous walking foot is making easy work of Edward's wretched quilt. Plus, the machine will hold a full sized thread cone, which I really love.

So, no more excuses! I have a back log of projects that need quilting. Some are so old and long forgotten that I thought I'd post some photos with my to do list:

Homegrown kitchen set -- a little more FMQ in the centres and these will be ready for binding.
Edward's quilt -- long, long, long overdue, the straight line quilting on this quilt has been an ongoing nightmare. I used a new flannel sheet for the backing and the fluff goes everywhere, and it just keeps getting hung up for no apparent reason on my old machine. But the new machine copes beautifully!
It's Warm Inside -- I have some FMQ and an experimental quilting in sections technique to try on this one.
Hen Party -- I almost sent this out for quilting, but I had my own ideas that I wanted to try too. Now I can!
Highlands Houses -- my latest idea is to quilt this all over in a small clamshell pattern. I hope I can pull it off. :)
Spring Planting (aka the yoyo quilt) -- I think I finally have a way to quilt this monster. The yoyos make it very fat!

Since my WIP list has grown again, it seems appropriate to link up to WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network. Here's to a decent list of finishes in 2014!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Homegrown Kitchen Set, Part 2

Here, finally, are the three completed tops for the Homegrown placemats that I started before Christmas! We only ever use three, so that's a complete set for us.

I finished the last seam on them today with just 7 inches of thread left in the bobbin! Don't you love it when that happens? "Clean living," is what I always call it. :D

To refresh your memory, here are the two co-ordinating potholders as well:

The next step will be to quilt them, with a combination of straight and free-motion quilting. I'm hoping to buckle down to that soon. It's several years now since I last did any FMQ, and I was never more than a beginner, which is why I want to practice on these placemats before I do Highlands Houses. It's always the first step that's the hardest!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I have been writing this post in my head for two years, but now that it is finally time to write it for real I've forgotten what I meant to say! In any case, it is two years since I started this blog, almost two years since I started this quilt, and well over 30 years since I started starting quilts, and this is the first one to make it all the way to the end. 100% finished!

Nine Patch Jubilee, 54" x 66"

The sun was not co-operating today, but it was too cold to stand out there for long! I made one attempt to style the quilt before I hurried back inside:

Yes, that is a small dusting of snow around the garden pagoda.

I named the quilt Nine Patch Jubilee because the filler squares and the backing are from the Jubilee Garden collection by Connecting Threads, which they had a couple of years ago. And it seemed right to celebrate my first finished quilt.

With the red and white colour scheme, it felt appropriate to do the label in redwork too:

The quilt is machine quilted (yes, by me) in channels the length of the quilt, 1/4" on either side of each square in the nine patch block, and carried through the solid squares. The binding is machine sewn to the front and hand stitched down on the back. I miscalculated the width of the binding, so it is a little wide on the back, but I think that's fine.

I also tried out a sewn mitre technique for the corners of the binding that I saw Ricky Tims demonstrate on The Quilt Show. It uses this tool from Animas Quilts:

There is a video demonstration of how to use it here. Two of my corners came out perfectly...

...and two did not, lol. But the problem was that I had miscalculated the width of the binding, so the corner didn't hit in the right place. Those corners are a little wrinkly, but again, everything can't be perfect on the first quilt. I have concluded that I do like the tool, and I will continue to use it on large projects. The big advantage for me is that you only have to sew the binding on one edge at a time, so each length of binding is more manageable, and I can take a break after each long seam.

So, yay! And, whew!
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