Sewing Room Dropcam

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Work in progress on the vintage quilt

I worked a couple of evenings last week and many hours yesterday getting the parts ready for the Birds In The Air blocks.  How I like to work is to break a quilt down into distinct parts and get all of that part done before moving on to the next.  I make less mistakes that way since I'm not going back and forth between types of blocks and it goes faster for me.  I went through each fabric and cut all the pieces needed for the blocks.  I then sewed all of the green/white, green/blue and red/white sections.  I'm almost done with trimming the red/white to 2 1/2" and then I'll sew the blocks together.  I still need to cut most of the 2 1/2" white squares.

I did these first because it's the smallest block at 6" and it will take the most time to do 36 of them.  I know that once I get the most time consuming part of it done that the rest of it, which is 8 Jacob's Ladder blocks, will be a cinch to do.  Just my experience that if the hardest or longest part is left to the last it is more likely that it's going to be left sitting for awhile until I get the will to tackle it.

When I was working on the Starred and Feathered quilt I got to the point where I couldn't face doing any more 6" stars so I took a break from those and worked on the log cabin blocks around the edge.  That was quite a job in itself, 52 little 6" log cabins.  I am very glad I did that because when I got the rest of the body sewn together I didn't know if I could have continued on and done the log cabins.  I might have settled for a simpler border which would have been a shame after all the other hard work on it.

Folkstreams quilt videos

Here are a couple of wonderful films about quilting.  I've watched them several times over the last year.  Besides the creative outlet that quilting gives me, I feel a connection to the women in my family.  My grandmother made quilts all her life.  Every single baby, grandbaby, great-grandbaby received a quilt from grandma.  Her mother also quilted.  Her name was Martha Elizabeth Yarbrough Gossvener and I have 120 Grandmother's Fan blocks made by Martha in 1935.  They have the pattern pieces cut out of the newspaper Home and Farm published in Arkansas with them.

Kathleen Ware, Quiltmaker

Quilts in Women's Lives

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chain piecing blocks

When I was working to QUICKLY make the quilts for my grandsons I had decided on the framed squares and when I started to cut the pieces I realized that I could piece them like a log cabin block.

Cut the 6 1/2" center squares and the 2 1/2" strips. 

Lay a strip right side up on the machine. 

Lay a square right side down on the strip and sew them together. 

Continue placing the next square on the strip, leaving a space between them, until there isn't enough strip left for a full square

Take the completed strip and do the same with the other side of the squares.

Cut the blocks apart by cutting the strips and press the seam towards the strips.

Trim the top and bottom of the strips even with the block.

Do the same with these sections, sewing them to a strip on both sides.
Cut the blocks apart, press, and square them up.

I made half the blocks with a blue center with beige frames and half with a beige center with blue and red frames.

Hmmm... that gives me an idea for using jelly roll strips and layer cakes cut into quarters.  Lots of possibilities.  I wonder what it would look like to sew strips to full layer cakes and then cut them various ways?  Cut them diagonally, cut them into quarters, and sew them back together in different ways and colors.  I might have to try that.  Cut into two triangles and they turn into half framed triangles.

Vintage Quilt applique

I’ve been working on the appliqué for a few days now. I started Sunday with getting the background piece cut out and printing and tracing the appliqué layout. I then used pressing bars to make the stems. I am so glad that I found out about that method of making the small, long pieces for stems and lines. I got a set of 7 bars for Celtic designs, ranging from 1/8” to 3/4”, and it is so much better to not have to turn edges or turn the pieces inside out after sewing. Saves fingers from getting burned too. These are cut on the bias and it’s amazing how much you can curve fabric that way.

I laid out the stems on the background where they needed to be and cut tiny strips of fusible web. Normally I wouldn’t use fusible on hand appliqué but I thought since the stems are doubled fabric (the seam is in the back trimmed to almost nothing), that the fusible wouldn’t be obvious at all on the front. I cut the thin strips of fusible into small sections, sometimes just a half inch like around the curves, and ironed them onto the background fabric within the lines of the stem placement. I didn’t do all of it, just small pieces spaced out over the length of the stems. I then pulled off the backing paper, laid the vines on the pattern, and ironed them in place.

It holds enough that I didn’t need to pin the stems in place to hand sew and stays in place without fussing with it getting out of line while sewing. There’s not enough fusible to make it stiff and it’s not stuck to the top layer of the doubled bias strip so there’s no indication from the front that there is fusible at all.

Someone ought to come up with a fusible for hand appliqué that will stick the pieces to the background for sewing and then will wash out like water soluble stabilizer!

I hand basted the seam allowance on the larger pieces because needle turn is just too tedious. It only takes a minute to do a big running stitch around a piece and I have more control of the shape.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is it really "mine"?

There have been some comments at other places about the feathered star quilt that was done by a professional long arm quilter that are along the lines of feeling that having a quilt done by someone else means it isn't theirs, that they can't "claim it", that they didn't "make it all myself".

I personally don't feel that way.  I enjoy designing and piecing and if I was going to do all the quilting myself then the hard work I have done would essentially be ruined with a panto or some other basic quilting.  I just got a long arm and it's going to be a long time before I feel that my quilting is up to the level of my piecing.

What do other quilters feel?  Does it detract from the quilt that the piecer didn't quilt it themselves?  Does it effect show quilts even?  I haven't heard that it does.  With a show quilt you even have to state who designed it if it is someone else's pattern or a commercially purchased pattern.

Is it just a bias towards long arm quilting itself?  I read on an Amish quilt site that one of the best known Amish quilters, Delores Yoder, does her tops and a friend does the hand quilting.  Does that diminish Delores' work in any way?

Yes, the quilting can make or break any quilt.  The most beautifully designed and executed quilt could be turned into a disaster by a bad quilting job.  I am fortunate that Judi's quilting turned a pretty quilt into a magnificent one.

What are your feelings on this subject?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Vintage Quilt

I started on the center applique of the Vintage Quilt.  I wished I was better at it but I do my best and be happy with it. I have been re-thinking the pattern a little bit.  For one thing, I don't think that I want to piece the white triangle areas of the outer blocks and the Jacob's Ladder blocks.  It will make it more difficult to quilt and the piecing does distract from the real triangle shape.

I've also been reconsidering the large floral area and I've been playing with basket blocks.  It can be hard to decide on something when there are so many possibilities.  When I look at something for so long, I don't see it with "new" eyes and it's hard to judge the overall effect.

Starred and Feathered

Green Fairy has completed the quilting and I was about in tears to see it. It is almost too beautiful for words. I can't thank her enough for turning a pretty quilt into a spectacular one.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Green Fairy working on my quilt

I happened to look at Green Fairy's blog today and I was astounded to see that she had a demo video and is using my quilt for the demo!  I almost cried seeing what beautiful work she is doing on it.  I made this quilt for my middle daughter.  She chose the fabric and I designed it.  It came out so well (I think) that I told her I may be entering it in quilt shows so she might not get it right away.  She said that if I didn't want to give this one away, I could make her another one.

Here is the whole quilt before I sent it off.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Two quick quilts for my grandsons

I decided last minute to make a crib and a small twin quilt for my grandsons in time for the 1 year old's b-day party yesterday.  I already had the fabric, The Circus by Benartex, and I washed it last week but didn't know what design I was going to do.  I needed something very fast and simple so I decided on framed squares.  I literally designed as I went and I have never worked so fast in my life! 

I started at 9:00am on Friday cutting out and piecing the framed squares.  By that night both tops were done and the crib quilt was on the frame with flannel backing.  My long arm was giving me fits!  The thread broke several times and at the beginning, after a few minutes of doing a large meander, I found that the thread was loose on the bottom again... eyelashes, it's called.  I got that corrected by adjusting the top thread tension and continued on.  After finishing the rest of the top I went back and picked out all the bad stitching.  I swear it took longer to do that than it did to quilt the whole thing!  I finally finished it at 12:30pm.

The next morning I started at 9:00am with piecing the flannel backing for the twin quilt.  I had it loaded and basted on the frame at 10:30am.  The long arm worked perfectly!  Not one breakage or other problem and I was done with the quilting at 12:15.  Then it was a race to get it trimmed and bound.  I finished that at 1:30 which included cutting, starching, and ironing the double-fold binding!

I am still amazed that I got both of them totally done, start to finish, in such a short time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Why don't more fabric manufacturers do this?

Something I have found to be invaluable for designing in EQ6 is fabric manufacturers that offer downloads of fabric collections.  The ones I use most are Connecting Threads and Moda but there are probably others that that offer them.  Connecting Threads also has quilt labels that coordinate with their fabric collections.  Both the fabric download and the label are on the left side when viewing a collection at Connecting Threads.  For Moda fabrics, go to United Notions and click on the brown dot to download.  They even have a link to their older collections in the Archive section.

How I get any fabric into EQ6 is to have the fabric showing on my screen, right click on it, and do a Save As... and save it into a folder.  I have a Fabrics folder which contains a folder for each collection I have pictures of so I can find them easily.  When saving a picture of a fabric it works better in EQ if you save the largest picture of it that you can.  Most web sites have thumbnail pictures that you can click on to see it larger.  I have found that the scale is usually way too small to show correctly in EQ if I use the thumbnail picture.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Granddaughter's quilt is done

The quilt is done and just in time for her birthday party on Saturday, she'll be 10 years old.  It's been quite a job this week to get it done and I've done almost nothing else for several days.  This is only my second quilt done on the long arm and there are a lot of mistakes.  I like it anyway and I think she will too.  I had enough of the backing and binding fabric left to make a pillow case.

I feel like I can take a deep breath and relax!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On-point setting

I've read that "many quilters" shy away from doing on-point settings because of the edge triangles.  I haven't done one in many years but it is a very effective setting and there are many designs that wouldn't look as good if not set that way.

Since I am not using a pattern for this quilt I had to figure out what size to make the triangles.  I haven't found where EQ6 tells you this info about a non-block area.  I started by looking up what the diagonal measurement of a 8 1/2" block is, which is the unfinished size of the flower blocks.  I found a chart here to look up the diagonal of a square and it comes up with 12".  I tried that and it didn't give me the 1/4" seam allowance.  I found that using a 13" diagonal came out a little bit larger than needed and that's what I wanted.

Another point is to never use a bias edge on the edge of the quilt, it will stretch unbelievably (I know this from experience).  The popular way of making an edge triangle without having a bias as the long side of the triangle is to cut a LARGE square, cut that in half diagonally both ways, and you end up with 4 triangles where the long edge is on the straight grain.  You can see that explained here and a way to calculate the size of the square to start out with.

Because I was only using one triangle of each color I couldn't cut 4 out of a square.  I did the simplest thing I could think of; I measured and marked 13" along the lengthwise grain of a fat quarter, then used my 12 1/2" square and lined up the marks at the same measurement on two sides of the square, cutting out the triangle of fabric that it forms.  Hokey... maybe.  But it worked and I'm all for whatever works.  There's no quilt police to come tell me I'm doing it wrong.

The corner triangles are cut on the bias since the bias edge will be sewn to a block and you want the two straight grain sides on the edges of the quilt.  Mine are cut from 7" squares for this quilt.

It's coming along.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Improvised light table

Have you ever looked at what light tables cost?  They are outrageously priced and I decided that I didn't do enough work that could use one to justify the cost.  It would come in handy but I thought of a way to use what I have.

I taped the applique layout to a 12"x12" ruler and layed it over my two sewing machines with a small gooseneck lamp under it turned facing up.  It works just fine!  I have a piece of plexiglass that is actually for a picture frame but that will be good for larger pieces like 24"x24" center medallions.  I can lay it on the dining room table and proped up on something with the light under it.

Starting to assemble the flower quilt

Ok, so I only have about half of the blocks done but I wanted to see how it was going to come together.  Not only impatient to see it but to make sure of the setting triangle sizes before I cut out any more of them.  The size I am using is 7"x7" for the corners and a 13" diagonal for the sides.  It's a bit bigger than needed but, as usual, I would rather trim a little than have it too small.  I'll square up the corners and cut the edge triangles to 1/4" seam allowance past where they meet the sashing blocks after it's all together.

I love the colors!  It's going to be so pretty for a little girl's room.

Lots more cutting to do today.  I have all the blocks cut out and all of the colored petals, still need to cut out 20 blocks of white petals, half of the sashing strips, and most of the sashing blocks.  I've divided the colored blocks and petals into two piles, one of each color in each pile, so that I can keep from making duplicates of the same block/petal color combinations. (you can always click on a picture to see it larger)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More flower blocks done

Besides working on the IRR round this week, I've been getting more flower blocks done for my granddaughter's quilt.  These are surprisingly fun to do.

I haven't done much applique in the past so the first ones were a bit tense while sewing, trying to keep the blanket stitch exactly where it should be.  I loosened up and just went for it.  I'm not aiming for perfect and doing these things should be fun.  I am not worried about a few stitches outside the lines and my granddaughter won't care about that either.

The first blocks I did I was putting the applique outline under the fabric and tracing it.  Then I thought... why am I making that another step?  I needed a lightbox and it occured to me that I have the things I need already.  A tiny gooseneck desk lamp that I use on my sewing table and a 12"x12" ruler.  I put the lamp between the two sewing machings on the table, light facing up, then layed the ruler on top of the machines with the light under it.  Didn't even have to trace the lines, just glued the edges of the pieces, layed them in place and ironed to heat set (after moving the block to the pressing board).
I haven't put the yardage of the white fabric in the wash yet, just been using the FQ of the same fabric in the flowers.  I better get that done because I'm going to be impatient when I get to the point of sewing the blocks together if I don't have the sashing fabric ready.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Round two on the International Round Robin

I completed the second round on another member's center tonight.  I am very happy with it and I so hope she likes it.  The story of her center is that it is of the place she and her husband were married, in the yard of the preacher.  The Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Sam are wearing cloth from the clothes they were wearing when they got married.  They have 10 children, 4 of them married, which are represented by the apples in the tree.  She says she will embroider their names in them and has charms to attach to it for each grandchild.

I wanted to stay with her style so I chose to use applique and something that would enhance the center, not try and compete with it, so along came the swags.  Of course, there must be Bluebirds of happiness holding the swags.  I did some tests and made my blanket stitch the same width and length to match the center applique.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Vintage Quilt

I've wanted to do a vintage looking quilt and I saw some fabric online yesterday that is great for that style. I did this design in EQ6 using fabric from the Cottage Romance collection by Maywood Studio .

I am pretty satisfied with it though I am still playing around with the corners with the large floral. I want some large pieces of it to show them to advantage but, that might just look wierd all by itself like that.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blue & beige quilt top is finished

I got the last side of the border done and all the corners mitered last night. I absolutely love this quilt! The fabrics are soft and romantic with a classic look that I like for the bedroom. After figuring out that I didn't have enough of the tan and coffee colored fabrics to do the edging of my first design I started playing with it in EQ6. I changed the solid blocks of fabric to HSTs and started pairing different fabrics, turning them different directions, and saw I could do a medallion setting. I then created the corner blocks for the center light area.