Archives for category: Quilt

This more of a show and tell post.  Here’s what’s goin’ on around these parts!

I finished a new bag!  It can be so difficult to source hardware locally.  I keep trying, but the one location I usually go to, this last time felt like they were phasing out their hardware stock.  Slim pickin’s there, so I went online.  I would love to hear your favorite online source for purse hardware – please do share.

So I picked the Checkered Shoulder Bag to make up – and proudly, did not buy any fabric.  Everything was in the stash. Maybe the stash is getting too big… nah, no such thing!  After my first pass through this book, Natural Patchwork, the Checkered bag was on my mental to-do list.  I have been wanting to make a cross-body bag, and needed a place to put my new Team Tiger patch.  Kill two birds with one stone!  Team Tiger patch is from Mokuyobi.

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Last weekend our guild had a charity sew-in day during our quilt show.  Here’s some guild members getting busy! The East Bay Modern Quilters collaborated with another local guild, the East Bay Heritage Quilters.  Those ladies are super dedicated to the children’s charity quilts, thanks ladies!

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Children’s Quilts sew day at Stitch Modern 2016

Here is my quilt hanging in the show.  It is called Sampler Quilt I – yes, I’m great at creative titles.

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Sampler Quilt I – with blocks from Tula Pink City Sampler and The Farmer’s Wife

And lastly, here are some trimmings from my work on the postage stamp quilt that is sloooowly progressing.  Actually bad news on that front, my quilt math was wrong — I had to cut 140 more strips (and also sew them) AND add two side borders to make the final quilt the size I want it to be.  I was disappointed, but I guess this is as good a time as any to make that discovery.  🙂

trimmings

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I spent a delightful 3 days/2 nights with quilt-y friends socializing and working like crazy.  If you ever get an opportunity to go to a retreat, I highly recommend it.  It’s inspiring to see others’ work, energizing to get a fresh new view out the window, and so wonderful to go a weekend without cooking or cleaning.  Woot!

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The eating place

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The walking place

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The mossy trees place

 

I got lots of work done.  The baby quilt for Baby O has a completed quilt top, completed quilt backing and also completely basted!  The sewing place was big enough for me to put three tables together to baste.  At home, I’d be doing that on the floor and fighting off the kitties the whole time.  It was worth the trip just to get my quilt basted.

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The sewing.

And then, with only a couple of hours left before we departed, my friend Mary and I decided to collaborate on a mini quilt.  I took the Heather block (upper L block in photo below) from the 1930’s Farmers’ Wife book and tried to draft it to a 6″ finished block based on a proportional drawing but without any indications of the size of the pieces.  It was a great brain exercise, trying to transpose the picture into cut pieces, and then into a quilt block.  An exercise I failed at miserably, most likely due to forgetting to add back in seam allowances.  My 6″ block came out to 4″ (not to mention a few wonky triangles) – oops!  Easy enough to add a border to it, but boy did I make my life more difficult than it had to be!

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And more sewing…

I began my journey into free motion quilting a few years ago, and am getting serious about it again.  I have a sampler quilt with blocks made from mostly Tula Pink’s City Sampler book.  It is time for this quilt to get finished.  For one thing, it is first on my WIP list, (maybe that list WILL help me keep focused) and for another thing, I plan to submit it to my guild’s annual quilt show Stitch Modern coming in March.

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The beautiful thing about quilting this quilt is, I can quilt  it in small 6″ sections at a time.  Today, I only had time to quilt 2 of them.  But I feel accomplished anyway by seeing a completed block.

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Today: Many thread breaks = many tails to bury…. sigh.

Here in this blog space I share my troubles and successes, and I keep trying to improve as I go along.  Last week, I had no random thread breaks but my quilting foot kept catching on the thicker seam areas making smooth quilting lines difficult.  Today, I decided to lift my quilting foot a little (I have the Leah Day mod as described here).  Soooo, the quilting lines were smoother and easier BUT I was getting thread breaks.  Dang it!  It is so irritating.  The curious thing about free motion is, there could be more than one thing causing the problem.  My current primary suspect: tension in the quilter!  Plan: yoga stretches and deep breaths in between stitching.  Hey, even if it doesn’t solve my thread problem, it will make me feel better.  So that’s a win!

Just one more sharing moment for any new to free motion quilters out there.  I found that while I am quilting, I am intently focused on the mechanics of things (where my hands are moving, how fast the needle is going, breathe, where the bulk of the quilt is, is my bobbin about to run out) that I have very little room/energy /mojo for the creative left-brain design aspect of the quilting.  If I try to think up a quilt design for my block on the spot, my mind goes blank!  I’m curious if this has happened to others.  My solution to this has been, at night when the lighting is bad or worse, I turn on The Office (yes, binge watching it on Netflix) and then doodle and draw and play to come up with my designs.

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The next time I sit at the machine, I have my designs ready, plus have already practiced it once with paper and pencil.  This way, I can give 100% to the quilting mechanics without sacrificing good design.  Hopefully, as I gain more experience, and my muscle memory begins to take over I can forget about the mechanics and focus on the fun part. Yay!

The idea got into my head last year that I wanted to make new stockings for the kids.  I just didn’t yet know what I wanted them to be, so last year it never happened.

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Fast forward to last month, and I saw the cutest patchwork stockings ever on my meanderings in and around Instagram.   (My Instagram handle is @mamacatquilts in case you want to follow me.) Next thing I know, I am browsing through the blog at Sunny Day Supply, and reading the details of their stocking tutorial post here and part 2 here.  That was the inspiration I needed to get started. The project had simple patchwork, a little bit of handwork and adorable fabrics.  What’s not to love?!  The tutorial comes with (among other things) a stocking template, diamond template, guidance on piecing diamonds, a new-to-me quilting technique AND step-by-step instructions to get you through.

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Whenever I see templates, I put the brakes on – I have to tell you, I do anything I can to avoid using templates.  I just don’t get the accuracy I want with them, and it feels like it takes so much longer to deal with them.  It never feels worth the trouble.  When I printed out the template, I realized if I placed two sides of the diamond parallel to the grain of the fabric, the height of the diamond was 2 1/2″ inches tall.  It’s brilliant, now all I need to do is cut 2 1/2″ strips of fabric with my rotary cutter and ruler.  If one doesn’t mind using templates as much as I, you could stop there.  Then, all you need to do is trace two remaining sides of your template onto the strip and cut it out.  But, I took it a step further.  When I measured the side of the diamond shape, I found that it measured out to 3.5 inches and the acute angle measured out at 45 degrees.  The entire shape can easily be cut by rotary cutter and ruler!

The height of the diamond is 2.5 inches.

The height of the diamond is 2.5 inches.

If you have it, it helps to use the section of the cutting mat that has half-inch grid markings, that 3.5 inch side of the the diamond will measure more easily and accurately there.  To speed things up even more, I stacked 2 or 3 strips together before cutting the diamonds.

Use the 45 degree mark on your ruler to get the angle you need.

Use the 45 degree mark on your ruler to get the angle you need. Put the 45 line even with your fabric strip as shown.

I added one other thing that the tutorial didn’t – it is a faux binding in the front of the stocking.  I cut a 1.5″ strip with the length trimmed to match the length of the top of the stocking. Then I folded it in half, and sandwiched it between the front piece and the lining piece. When I stitched that seam, it was sticking out on the right side and I just folded and pressed it down to look like binding.

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I went to town selecting fabrics that were mostly Christmas colors, and mostly graphic shapes.  I was thrilled with how they turned out. Two stockings the same yet different, perfect for two  sisters. Next year I may make felt monograms to hand stitch onto the front.

With the kids’ stockings all done, I started to explore a different palette – soft and gentle with a hint of sparkle.  I like this one too!  Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season.  Thanks for stopping by!

 

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Goodness gracious, where the time goes, I do not know!  Hello peeps, there are lots of busy things going on around here but not a lot of quilting now.  I did finish a quilt a few weeks ago, but still need to take photos.  Soon.

For now, I thought I’d share my new venture.  Sewing camp!  Yes, perhaps slightly insane, yet insanely fun.  I always thought it would be a great way to earn a little extra cash, keep my own children busy, and share my talent and love for sewing at the same time.  This year I finally took the plunge and offered a sewing camp to neighbors and friends of my kids.  Lo and behold, I filled up two weeks worth of sewing camp.  It may just be the end of me, but at least I’ll die happy.

 

Everything is ready!

Everything is ready!

We set up everything on our deck outside.  We have shade, tables, chairs, lots of extension cords and piles of fabric to play with!  The kids will learn to read a pattern, take measurements, adjust pattern pieces for length, insert elastic, and end with a complete pair of pj pants.  Maybe with a pincushion or needle book thrown in for good measure.  Here they are working hard.

Busy little bees.

Busy little bees.

 

I lied, I did do a little quilting recently.  I joined an improv round robin with my guild, EBMQ, and here is a photo of my contribution.  We used the Round Robin chapter of Sherri Lynn Wood’s book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, as our guide for getting started.  June was the first month, and I was given the lower left block as a starting point.  I decided to play with other log cabins in a sampler type way as my response to the original piece.  The quilter of the original block also provided all the fabrics.  It was a good challenge for me.   I’m working on July as we speak — well, truthfully, after sewing camp is over…

Improv Round Robin June

Improv Round Robin June

 

 

I have been researching and practicing my free motion quilting skills, eager to quilt my sampler quilt. But realizing my skills needed a little work,I am brushing up before I am really ready to tackle a big project. This quilt has already taken so much time that I can’t bear to use it to practice on, it deserves a nice clean finish.

Enter, Leah Day of The Free Motion Quilt Project, and she is nothing if not creative and reassuring!  She does NOT, however, candy coat this process. She reminds us to spend LOTS of time practicing.  One thing I love about her is, she is not afraid to throw out all the rules and find her own way.  We definitely benefit from her time dedicated to trial and error, and experimentation to get the best results.  Why reinvent the wheel when you can just purchase Leah’s Craftsy class and watch it as many times as you want until you get it?  I bought her Free Motion Quilting a Sampler class, and she has lots of tips to share there.  One of the things she does is modify her quilting foot – and it works, I’m so glad I tried it!

Modified FMQ foot: open toe, trimmed bar, elastic rubber band

Modified FMQ foot: open toe, trimmed bar, elastic rubber band

I have a Pfaff Grand Quilter 1200, and it’s quilting foot from the manufacturer is a) high shank b) hopping foot and c) closed toe.  My first hesitation with following Leah’s lead on modifying my quilting foot is, it’s expensive AND what if it didn’t work…? Replace my $40 foot for the sake of experimenting?  No thanks!  I couldn’t find many testimonials verifying her method – so I felt insecure about jumping right in, and that’s also why I am telling you about my results.

The key, for me, was buying a cheap foot to test the theory, and use it until it wears out.  Then, I will know whether I want to adjust the factory supplied foot. Here is what you do: First, determine whether you have high shank or low shank machine feet, your owners’ manual should tell you that.  Then search online and make your purchase.  I bought mine for around $18 including shipping, the low shank feet are even cheaper.  Follow Leah’s instructions in the craftsy class, and you won’t be disappointed.  Please, please don’t ruin your expensive quilting feet without first testing this out!

Before this modification, I had trouble seeing my stitches with the closed toe foot.  Clipping that foot into open toe really helps with visibility, go figure!  Also, this machine had a hopping foot which irritated me.   I found making smooth and straight lines difficult with the hopping foot, and it also caused problems stitching over thick seams.  My sampler quilt in particular has lots of seams, and some of them get quite thick at certain points, and the hopping foot seemed to make passing through those areas difficult.  Clipping the extra bar on the foot eliminates the hopping motion, while the rubber band gives you the flexibility to raise the foot to a place where it won’t catch on seams.  It’s a brilliant system, and I have had wonderful stitching results using this foot.  Fingers crossed I will perfect my skills and FMQ my sampler soon!

I feel like each time I complete a quilt I struggle with how to label the quilt.  How does the quilter define what NEEDS to be on the label, and what is nice to have on the label?  It probably seems difficult because the answer changes each time depending on what the quilt is for.  And, I am openly admitting that I don’t label all my quilts.  I know, it’s horrible.  Usually, the ones I make for my own family to use are the ones that never get that label.  Why?  I don’t know, but I think it has something to do with FINISHING things… all – the – way.  Okay, well, this can be fixed.

So, I have decided, at minimum the quilt needs 1. the year it was completed 2. my initials  Then, sometimes, I add who the quilt is for (often for baby quilts) and the location the quilt was made, and my whole name not just initials.

After I decide what goes on the label, there is a debate.  Oh – do I embroider the label?  It’s so sweet that way – but oh, my, I want it finished and writing with a Micron pen is so much faster.  I don’t have alot of faith that the Micron pen stands the test of time, where embroidery probably will last longer.  Then again, embroidery can unravel or work its way out too.  (Does anyone have experience with this, how long will the micron pen endure? with regular washings?)  I often resort to fast and DONE.

For the future, I want a custom stamp that I can stamp directly onto the back with fabric paint, and then customize with additional details if I need to.  I’ll get working on that – as if the to-do list isn’t a mile long already!

Now for the photos…

The quilt label: this is a baby quilt and the gator is a private reference that the recipient will adore.  It had to go on the label, no question.

IMG_4263 IMG_4267 IMG_4270 IMG_4278 IMG_4279 IMG_4262The quilt began 1.5 years ago, right – I am focusing on finishing this year…  It sat, even basted, waiting for me to be brave enough to free motion quilt it.  Well, it’s a baby quilt and the world is not going to end if its not perfect.  What’s that saying… finished is better than perfect.  So, now it’s FINISHED and not perfect, but perfect enough.  Each color on the quilt was free motion quilted with a unique pattern. The patchwork stitched together very quickly, and came to about 70″ square.  I found the tutorial from Jeni B of In Color Order.  Her instructions are very thorough.  She calls it the Giant Vintage Star Quilt.  But guess what – this baby was one of TWO!  I better get cracking so I can at least give both quilts by the time they turn 2 years old!

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