Monday, December 30, 2013

Calling in Sick

I had to call in to work Sunday.  The traditional fall season cold has finally caught up to me.  Needless to say, I haven't been sewing much. (Mostly been napping.)  So here's what's on my design wall this week, still working on the "watery scraps" quilts. The pink boxes quilt from last week is done and I'll post about it Friday. 

Linking up to Design Wall Monday at PatchworkTimes. Have a good day, everyone!

All About the Quilting {Quilt-as-You-Go Simple Sampler}

Hello everyone, I hope you had a Merry Christmas! We still have a few posts to go in the Simple Sampler series.  Now that all the block tutorials are up these last few posts will focus on quilting, assembling, and finishing your quilt.

Today's post is about quilting patterns.  One of the biggest advantages of a quilt-as-you-go method is that it gives you the freedom to tackle quilting patterns on a small project that you might be afraid to commit to a whole quilt with.  It gives you the chance to learn and practice a pattern without fighting the bulk of a whole quilt. Also, you can try a bunch of different patterns in the same quilt!

Sixteen patch quilted with a simple figure 8
When doing QAYG it's important to remember to stay at least a half inch or so away from the raw edges of the block so you'll be able to join to finished blocks together.  FMQ is less likely than straightline quilting to cause shifting or distortion of the block.

Star block with flowers
I began to work on FMQ in earnest last January; it was my New Years Resolution.  Honestly, I can't believe how far I have come in a year. FMQ was something that always scared me.  I can't draw, so what hope did I have to FMW? But with practice (a lot of it!) and perseverance I am learning, and as I get more confident, FMQ gets more fun!

Chain Squares, an Angela Walters design
One huge help with FMQ has been Angela Walters book.   I really can't say enough good things about this book.  Lots of FMQ patterns laid out with detailed instructions.

Cursive writing "Hey diddle diddle..."
Some of the best advice about learning to quilt is to remember: when you're quilting you're looking at the stitching from 2" away. No one else if going to be looking at it that close.

Dutchman's Puzzle block quilted with Flower Power, Angela Walter design
This Flower Power design, shown above, is one of my favorites. I used this design on an entire quilt before. It was worth it, but talk about time- and thread-consuming!

Pinwheel quilted with simple swirl

This simple swirl (above) is a design I made myself.

Broken dished quilted with uneven back and forth squiggles
The uneven back and forth squiggles on this block remind me of water ripples.

Churn dash block quilted with wood grain Angela Walters pattern
This wood grain pattern is my favorite from Angela's book, but given the amount of time a thread required I think I'll be saving it for special occasions.

Ocean Waves block quilted with a Swirled Hook, Angela Walters design

If you are just beginning your FMQ journey, take heart :)  It will take time and patience, but you CAN do it.  If this non-artist, can't-sketch, straight-lines and square-corners please, person can do it then anyone can!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bird Houses UFO finished!

At long last the Bird Houses quilt is finished. I started this one sometime last summer.  I first blogged about it at the beginning of June.  The top got done pretty quickly, but for some reason stalled on the quilting.  I finally sat down to watch Four Weddings and a Funeral and sew and got it DONE the other night. And done is better than perfect!

This is a small quilt, only about 45"x60" or so, and I just did simple straight line quilting on it.

I had a bird theme for the fabrics. Some of my very favorites are in here, and I love the overall color combo.  The Joel Dewberry Aviary fabric came in a scrap pack from Hawthorne Threads.  I've only ever bought one, but it was loaded with generous cut of some great fabrics.  (PS- these are on sale, I just grabbed 3!)

I planned all along to bind this quilt with a bright turquoise solid.  I actually had the strips cut out sometime back in the summer but by the time I actually finished the quilt I'd used them all in other projects. Fortunately, I keep plenty of that color on hand.

Maybe my favorite part of this quilt is the back. I created a little medallion from all the bonus HSTs generated by making the angles on the bird house roofs.

Finished and washed and ready to give, nothing feels better than that!  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

Linking up to Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts and TGIFF at Sew Fresh Quilts.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Look What Santa Brought!

Santa did good this year (but then, he had some good help!)

I got the ladder-type quilt rack that I have been asking for.  Already decked out with scrap quilts, old and new.

This happy mail came yesterday, a pillow from my Nurture Circle swap sister @ do. Good Stitches!  Thanks so much to Kari for the fabulous gift. I didn't get a very good picture, but the trunk of the tree has wood grain fabric and those HSTs are really small!  It is backed with the cutest ornament fabric and has a zipper closure. It already has a place of honor in out living room.

My swap sister was Stephanie and now that she has received her gift I can show you this little pouch I made. I don't have very good pics, unfortunately.   I made a strip of improv pieced crumbs and surrounded it with the textured black fabric I found.  Then I densely quilted the whole thing with different colors of thread.

Sister on the left and Bear on the right.
Finally, possibly best of all, we got babies this Christmas! Our beloved ferret passed away suddenly earlier this month. After a couple of weeks of grieving we decided that we should think about getting another (which turned into two once we went to the pet store and met them).  Although the will never be another like her, these will be special, too. They bring so much joy to our lives, and I think we give them a pretty great life, too :) 

Merry Christmas every one!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bow Tie block {Quilt-as-You-Go Simple Sampler}

Welcome to week 7 and block 9 in the Quilt-as-You-Go Simple Sampler!  This is the last block!

Today's block, just in time for Christmas, is the simple but classic Bow tie.

Cut (2) 4.5" squares each from your background and focus fabrics, plus (1) 3" square from your focus fabric.

Crosscut the 3" square to make 2 triangles. Position one of the triangles over one corner of one of the background squares, right sides together, as shown.  You should be able to eyeball a 45 degree angle between the long side of the triangle and the corner of the square. You should have 1/4" "dog ears" hanging off both edges of the square.  Err toward placing the triangle too close to the corner rather than too far away.

Sew across the triangle.  Fold up the triangle to make sure it completely covers the piece of the square behind it.  If everything looks good cut away the extra triangle of background fabric and toss it in your scraps. (What can you do with a few hundred tiny triangles?)  Repeat with the second background square and triangle. Press toward the darker fabric and trim to make sure it is still 4.5" square.

Layout the pieces as shown. Sew into pairs, pressing the seam toward the focus square.

Here's a picture of the pressing on the backside to show how the seams nest.

Sew it all together and measure to be sure it finishes at 8.5".

Check the index post for info on how to add borders and make a Quilt-as-You-Go Sandwich!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Scrappy Weekend Sewing

I had a productive last-weekend-before-Christmas.  I got all my must-do sewing done, so I got to work on things just for fun again.

I cut out the pieces for this aqua/low volume quilt first, then moved it off the wall to make room for the pink quilt, below.

I made these quilt blocks using the stack&whack -ish technique described here.  I mixed lovely Glimma prints with a white solid and a pink with black polka dots I've had forever.  And no, I'm generally not a pink sort of person, but I'm loving this.

I got this little quilt on the machine tonight. Here's my set up for FMQ, with Angela Walters Free Motion Quilting book off the the side for constant reference.  I made good progress on this tonight, so I should have finished pics soon!

Linking up to Design Wall Monday @ Patchwork Times.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Just in time for Christmas!

I got my commissioned quilt done, just in time for Christmas!  Unfortunately I don't have too many pictures. The lighting here was abysmal this morning (and it actually started misting down rain on me while I was trying to get pictures. Ew! Like all (k)ats I am opposed to getting wet.)  The quilt is going to its forever home sometime this afternoon, so this was my only chance for pics.

I made this quilt for an 11 year old boy with a love of the game Minecraft. Mom wanted a quilt that uses the colors of the game but would grow with him once his interests change.  I used 6 different Kona solids to create a woven, plaid effect.  There are 2 teals, 2 blues, and 2 greens set in 12" squares.

I backed it with a green flat sheet and quilted a plaid patten with bright blue thread.  There are 2 lines of quilting outlining each seam and 3 lines through the center of each block.  I had intended to do some more elaborate quilting but simply ran out of time.  I'll have to revisit this technique later.

The binding is strips of the same six Kona solids.  I lucked out with a request for a quilt in some of my very favorite colors :)  The finished quilt measures 60"x84", intended for a twin bed.

Making this quilt was a real eye opener as far as the cost of quilting.  Even for this simplest-of-all designs, the cost for supplies was nearly $100.  I didn't even attempt to quantify the cost of labor.

In other exciting news this week, this showed up in the mail, causing me to literally squeal with delight. There was no indication of the sender, but I (correctly, it turns out) guessed that it must have been sent by my friend Libby who blogs at No Airplane Here.  Thanks Libby!!

Linking up to Finish it Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Drunken Circles {January do. Good Stitches Block}

Hello Good Stitchers, and Merry Christmas!! I am posting the instructions for the January block a bit early in case any of you want to use some of your holiday vacation to get a jump on the sewing.

(See the finished quilt here!)

This month's block is one I am calling "Drunken Circles."  Now before you freak out about the circles, don't worry! We are only making one block each and I have complete confidence in all of you. If you have never tried sewing curves before you are going to be amazed at how easy they are!

First things first, you needs to choose six black and white fabrics and six bright prints which read as solids and cut a 6.5" square from each.

Mark your curves on your fabric
You'll need to mark a curve with a 4" radius on each block. I recommend using a compass (like this one). This is seriously one of my most used quilting tools and you can get them cheap just about anywhere.  To use it set the point at 0 on one of your rulers or cutting mats and extend the leg out to the 4" mark.  Then just set the point at the corner of your fabric blocks and sweep the marking leg across in an arc.  Then cut along the marked line.

Alternative ways to mark your circle include finding a pot or bowl 8" in diameter to trace or using a pencil on a string.  If you use either of those methods I recommend making a template out of cardboard or a plastic milk jug to trace around.

I created a template you can hopefully download from here.  When you print it be sure you are printing "actual size" (may need to uncheck "fit to page" or "scaling" in the print menu.)  Double check that the 1" square is actually 1 inch before using it. In any case, your quarter circle should have straight sides 4" long with a smooth arc between them.

Mix up your curve pieces, matching colored and black and white pieces into pairs.  I can't find the original tutorial I learned how to sew curves from, but I am linking up to several below as well as demonstrating my method.  First I fold the two pieces each in half and finger press a fold right in the middle.

Match up the folds with the fabrics right sides together. I begin to sew from this point, sewing from the center out to one edge.  There are two schools of thought with sewing curves. The first is to pin, matching the outside corners first, and ease in the excess. The second is to sew from the center and let the fabrics end where they will, then trim off the excess. Obviously I subscribe to the second method.

The trick to sewing curves without pins is to maneuver both pieces of fabric simultaneously so that they are lined up just as they pass under the needle. It's impossible for me to take a picture of what both my hands are doing when I'm sewing, so I definitely recommend you watch the videos below to see what I'm talking about in action. Your inside piece will be shorter than your outside piece, don't try to make them match.

After sewing the first half of the curve flip it over and sew the other half, starting in the middle again and sewing out.  Press the finished block, pressing the seam to the outside. I don't notch my seams and have never noticed any problem from it.

Trim the blocks to 5.5" square by first aligning your ruler with the 3.75" mark falling right on the seam of the two fabrics. Trim the outside of the curve first.

The picture below has more description of what you're looking for.

Arrange your finished blocks randomly in a 3x4 layout. Make some whole circles, some 3/4, some halves, and some lonely quarters. Be sure to leave some "open" blocks on the outside edges so your block will be able to match up with another one.  Sew the blocks together and press. The finished block should measure 15.5"x20.5".

Here are some more resources for sewing curves.  For sewing easy curves withOUT pins (!!) there is a great video here.  And here's another tutorial at She Can Quilt with a video.  If you want a little more security and don't mind pinning, Jackie of Tallgrass Prairie Studio has a tutorial with lots of pictures here.

(See the finished quilt here!)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Churn Dash block {Quilt-as-You-Go Simple Sampler}

Welcome to week 6 and block 8 in the Quilt-as-You-Go Simple Sampler!

This week's block is the Churn Dash, which seems to have been popping up everywhere lately! 

To start off with, cut (1) 3.5" square and (1) 1.5"x14" long strip of background fabric, cut (1) 5" square each of focus fabric and background fabric, and (1) 2"x14" strip of focus fabric.

Sew the 14" strips together along their long sides and sew the 5" squares, right sides together with a 1/4" seam, along all 4 edges.

Cut the 5" square diagonally twice to yield 4 HSTs. Press your HSTs and your strips toward the darker fabric.

Trim your HSTs to 3" (unfinished). Cross cut the 14" strip every 3.5" to yield (4) 3"x3.5" units.

Put together your center column by sewing two of the strip units to either side of the 3.5" background square.

Sew the two outside columns by joining two HSTs to each of the remaining strip units.  Layout as shown and sew the three columns together.

Check out the index post for instructions on how to add borders and make a Quilt As You Go sandwich.