Sunday, July 15, 2018

One Year Later :: My Therapy Quilt

When I started this quilt I had no idea where it was going.  I was in need of a project to do by hand that would occupy my mind, heart and hands nearly one year ago.  Unbeknownst to me when I started, but this quilt has taken me on journey.  I went from deep sadness and heartache to happiness.  I won't say there isn't still that sadness, but not to the degree that was there in the beginning.  Losing my brother and my four legged best friend at the same time was devastating.  They say it gets easier and it does.  We never forget, we always have our moments, but we continue to take one step at a time until things get better.  

Since this quilt has become more of a celebration quilt, lets just get to it and revel in the joy of it all!

I sound like this is a finished quilt!  It is not!  I have a top, a flimsy...the finish won't happen for a couple months yet!



Much like my last quilt, this one kept growing.  In fact I think it is too big!  Last time I shared my progress I was wondering how I would deal with the edges.  As you can see I added more black triangles.  As for the top and bottom, well I ended up adding an extra row so that I could trim it to have full black stars.

After today there will only be one more post about this monster!  You can check out my adventures with diamonds in these posts:  

August 2017:  Star Light, Star Bright
October 2017:  Diamond Hexie Stars
November 2017:  Diamond Hexie Stars 2
December 2017:  The Real Work Begins
April 2018:  Hexie Diamond Update



I was left with a big pile of templates, yet it doesn't reflect the actual number of triangles and diamonds in this quilt.  I would make my hexies stars and take out the center templates so I could reuse them for the next batch of stars.  After a while some get pretty messed up.  I would print off sheets of them on an as needed basis. 

The template/triangle/diamond reality is this:
78 - Hexie Blocks 
936 - Diamonds
199 - Triangles

Now that's a lot!!



I've been calling this quilt 'Michaels Garden' after my brother.  The gray star represents him...front and center, loud and clear!

All the fabric is Kaffe Fasset, the black is Kona Pepper and the gray is Kona Steel.  The bright solid diamonds are a combination of everything...whatever was on hand and I could get six diamonds from it was fair game!



I cannot believe I actually hand stitched this entire quilt!  One thought that crossed my mind, besides me thinking I had lost my mind, was back in the day that was how things were done!  Imagine having to cut each piece of fabric,  hand stitching the pieces together, and then finishing it off with hand quilting.  I think my current productivity would be cut by 90%!!

 

Not every point is lined up perfectly perfect.  Then again perfection is in the eye of the beholder.  It doesn't bother me, not even in the slightest!


I had fun cutting out prints for each star!  At first I had to have three exact matching diamond groups, later on when my supply was dwindling, I ended up being much more flexible.


The back is a mine field of seams, dog ears and threads!  I used glue to hold and fold the fabric around the templates, which meant that some of the fabric was hard to pry loose!  There's a lot of fabric threads that ... don't judge ... I don't care about and I'm going to leave as is.  Seriously, there are hundreds, thousands or more!  Plus, I'm keeping the quilt for myself and picked Kona Pepper for the backing for added camouflage!


It was bitter sweet when I finished the last stitch.  This quilt became a part of my nightly routine for so many months and frankly, I wasn't ready for it to end!  It was time though and I can always start another EPP project!

This quilt will end up being about 60" x 90" and weighs a ton!  I first thought I'd quilt it myself, but I came to my senses pretty quickly!  How could I spend all that time hand stitching every piece and then mess it up with basic quilting?!  I could not!  A member of our guild will take on the challenge and work her magic!  September will be the magic month for a real, total and complete finish!

Would you take on the challenge of making an entirely hand stitched quilt?  I might again...one day!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

It Wouldn't Stop Growing!

How often have you started making a small quilt and the next thing you know...it grew into something much bigger than expected?  Because of the way I work, usually with no or little plan, it happens quite often to me.  

  

When I started this quilt I was determined to use the fabrics I picked in the May Blogger Bundle I curated for  Needle & Foot Fine Fabrics.  You can read my post about the bundle and the start of this quilt here:  Blogger Bundle



The bundle is still available in Bernie's Etsy shop, you can find it right here:  May Blogger Bundle

I began paper piecing the 4" kite blocks with the idea that I'd make a simple, small table runner.  It would be the perfect size to showcase the fabric and be a relatively quick project to complete in a timely manner.  

The paper pieced block is by Flying Parrot Quilts and is free when you sign up for her newsletter.  It's one of those blocks that I've wanted to play with for a long time and this was finally the time to do it!



My first batch of blocks gave me a good start, but I soon discovered I needed more.  I would layout my blocks and decide I had to have more in order to distribute the prints around, and even then I couldn't decide on a layout.



Eventually all of the blogger bundle fabric was used and I was left with a feeling that there still wasn't enough.  This was a 'put on your thinking cap' moment for me!  In the end I went through my stash and picked fabrics that would compliment the original fat quarters.  

It still didn't mean I had a layout in mind though!  In time that idea finally came and the rest fell into place.


46" x 61"
I decided to keep the prints together in threes and add a plain square.  The background is Kona Snow which lets each print standout.  It took a while to get just the right layout!  Once all the blocks of four were pieced, I figured it was the best time to tear out the paper. 



After careful thought I choose Kona Black for the inside 1 1/2" border (finished) and a 3" outside border (finished).  With the three blocks that stood out the most, black, it seemed like the best idea.  Plus, I could then use black for the binding.



Believe it or not, I kept the quilting pretty simple!  The center of each block looks so poofy!  I didn't do any quilting in the black border at all.  But I did quilt some groovy diamonds in the outside border.  They look a lot like the kites!



One other detail about the quilting...I decided to use a heavier thread.  I had a spool of Aurifil 30wt in an off-white.  I like to add the color name and number of the thread I use, but this thread was unnamed!  But the number is 6722!



Again with the pieced back!  I didn't have a big piece of anything that would go with this quilt!  So I grabbed my left over Kona Snow, a piece of Kona Bone and lastly Kona Ivory.  And with all my little bits and pieces I made four slabs and gave them the wonky block effect for the finishing touch!



The funny thing is I originally was aiming for a runner, which led me to think I'd instead make a baby quilt.  By the end of it all it grew to a good sized throw quilt!  Welcome to my wacky world!



The May Blogger Bundle was inspired by Spring.  The start of sprouts, flowers and weeds!  By the time I finished it became Summer with oppressive heat and humidity!  Its amazing how just  a couple of months can change so drastically!




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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Fabric Weaving :: And I Like It!

I don't know about you, but when I finally get to try something that I've wanted to try for a long time I can't help but get excited!  It's a treat to have the time to explore and give it a go, but it's even better when it's finished and you love it so much that you practically drool on it!

Fabric weaving is something that I have wanted to try for a couple years now.  A couple inspiring weavers are Mister Domestic or t_Jaye on Instagram.  Their projects sparked an interest in me without a doubt!  I've fiddled with weaving my tiny raw edge scraps, but it wasn't actually real fabric weaving.  The Christmas before last I was gifted a set of Wefty Needles and the hope that one day I could and would actually use them.


Fair Warning...this is a long post and there are a lot of pictures!


WOVEN RUG
20" x 31 1/2"
While I patiently waited for the time to weave, I also thought about what I would weave.  Maybe a small pillow, or a mini square.  Something small to start out with.  Somewhere along the way I started getting really sick and tired of looking at my print fabric stash.  Some of the fabric I bought years and years ago, and frankly looking at it sit there year after year began to wear on me.  I tried to come up with projects where I could use some, but it never seemed to make a difference.

Finally...finally, I had a light bulb moment!  Weave + Undesirable Prints = A Win!  With an idea, time and fabric I quickly began on my mission.


WEFTY NEEDLE
This is the tool of the trade!  The needles are a sturdy hard plastic that are just over 5" long.  They come in a set of two, one for 1/2" strips and one for 1" strips.  They can be purchase on Etsy here:  WEFTY Needle.

When you weave you have to pin your strips to hold them in place.  Fortunately I had a old board that would work perfectly for whatever size I was going to make.  One of the most important parts of weaving is keeping your strips and rows straight.  It's recommended to draw a grid on a foam board, which I did.  If it wasn't for YouTube...I would be lost with weaving!  (Wefty Needle  on YouTube)

  

I drew a 1" grid across the entire board in pen!  Whatever size you decide to make (1/2" or 1") your strips, this grid size will work.  I decided at the beginning that I was going to make my strips 1/2" wide.



I rummaged through my fabric picking mostly pink, yellow and lime greens.  My goal was to use the larger pieces for the long vertical strips and smaller pieces for horizontal strips.  I estimated how many strips I'd need to cover the board and went to town!  My first time weaving and I decide to go big or go home!

For 1/2" strips to weave, I needed to cut my strips 1" wide.  Before I cut anything, I used starch on every piece of fabric.  That way I knew it wouldn't get wonky and it would also give me a good clean fold.

I ended up using 46 long strips that were approximately 34" long and 62 short strips that were 21 1/2" long.

By the way, if I had fabric I wanted to use but it wasn't long enough...it wasn't a question that I was going to sew two pieces together to make it work.  This was just a practice piece!  If you do that, I suggest sewing it on the bias (like making binding) because it'll make it easier to pull through the bias tape maker and it'll lay flat.


CLOVER Bias Tape Maker
Besides your Wefty needle and grid foam board, a bias tape maker is also a must!  You could hand fold your fabric but the bias tape tool saves a lot of time.  I have several different sizes that I've used over the years. 
  


Have any of you seen the newest craze 'Jelly Roll Rugs'?  They're all over instagram and one of my guild members was making one at our retreat.  They are pretty and it's interesting, just not for me.  It got me thinking...again!

What if I were to weave a rug?  During my loosely planned introduction into weaving, I was sure that all my prints were going to be awful in the end.  So a not pretty rug would be a perfect place to plant my dirty feet!  It was an option just in case!

I started my pinning my vertical strips on the top and bottom.  As I went along, I made sure to line up the strips using the lines on the grid.  Piece of cake!  Next up was to find the center and start weaving the horizontal strips.  I had all my strips laid out where I could grab and go.  So far so good!



As progress was being made I could see the beginnings of a pattern.  I was starting to get excited!  I also noticed that my strips were starting to land over the lines, meaning I wasn't making sure they were tight enough.  A few row adjustments and all was good and I was back on track..



It helped that I went with the most basic weaving design too!  Over one, under one, over one, under one and repeat!  I spent part of a day working on the weaving and finished it up the next day.  

It isn't really hard.  Stay focused on keeping the strips straight.  Your fingers might get a little sore tightening up the strips.  Have lots of pins on hand.  And sit somewhere that you are comfortable!  I'm going to estimate that from the time I started to the time I finished weaving, it probably took me 6 hours.  Don't hold me to that though!  I'm guessing!

 

I had no idea what I was getting into with this!  But I liked it!  Not as a full time thing, just as a scrap buster and nice change of pace!

After the weaving was finished I used masking tape around all four edges.  I was freaking out a little bit!  What if I pull the pins and the whole thing falls apart of shrinks up?  



One step I forgot to mention, and a step I was so glad to learn about, interfacing!  Before any weaving began, I took a large piece of lightweight fusible interfacing and pinned it on the grid board with the fusible part facing up.  That way I could fuse it to the backside of the weave.  I was still able to easily see the grid lines through the interfacing.

Before pulling the pins out, I took the entire board to the ironing board and started pressing (no steam) over the entire board.  Once I was sure the majority of it was adhered to the back, I took all the pins out.  And you know what?  It didn't fall apart nor did it spring back like a rubber band!

Another trip to the ironing board for one final adhesive adhering...and I was good to go!  The weight of the weaving surprised me.  Very substantial, but really not any heavier than some improv quilts I've made!  



I didn't want to trim the edges until I stitched around the entire piece.  Fortifying the edges and making darn sure the strips wouldn't wiggle or fall out!

I knew when I started this that my husband would think I was crazy.  Midway through the weaving was the first mention to me about it.  'Now what are you doing' he asks.  'Just weaving' I say.  

It wasn't until it was off the grid board that he understood what was happening, and began to get excited about it!  When I told him I was going to make it into a rug, he thought I had totally lost my mind!  He thinks walking on it is a dumb idea and that it should be a wall hanging!  We went back and forth about it!  I'm pretty sure I won the debate!



The back is a polka dot Home Dec fabric that has also been in my stash for ever!  I was so glad to have finally used that!

If this was going to be a wall hanging I'm certain I wouldn't have quilted it!  But like I said, I have 'it's going to be a rug' in my head, and what if my feet are really dirty and it needs to be washed?  Hopefully the quilting will hold the strips in place and prevent any fraying if it does make it into the wash.  Time will tell!

 

That's a lot of prints!  I finished it off with a dark pink binding.  I wanted to put a wide 2" binding on it so bad, but my track record with 2" binding isn't all that great!  It would have been pretty great though!



Are you wondering where this rug will end up?  The kitchen, the front door...the bathroom?  All three of those would be wrong and too messy and dirty for this rug!



I believe it's new home will be under my sewing table!  It's kind of perfect!  Foot pedal, feet, pretty!   



With it being under my table I won't be walking on it.  If it were in a foot traffic area the possibility of it slipping or sliding out from under you is real!  It could most definitely be a danger!  A rug gripper would be put underneath to prevent any accidents from happening.



Have you tried weaving before?  Should it be a rug or wall hanging?  I'm still debating that issue but don't tell my husband!

This was a very long post!  I was excited about weaving and super excited to use my 'undesirable' fabrics!  More plans are in the works, with more scraps and maybe a different weave design.  


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Sunday, July 1, 2018

Fun With Bonus HST's

Half square triangles are just plain fun, but bonus half square triangles are perhaps even better!  I make a lot of quilts with HST's because they can be used to make so many different patterns.  The possibilities are endless!

After making a massive amount of Flying Geese blocks, I was left with an option.  Bonus HST's or toss them in the trash.  If you know me, you know I'd never toss something that could possibly be sewn together and used.  I don't believe its in my DNA!


BONUS HST's
43" x 63"
It was on retreat back in February where I started making flying geese, and it was April 1st that I decided to sew a quilt with the bonus HST's (Bonus HST's For The Win).  I was left with three sizes of blocks that were trimmed to 1 1/2", 2 1/2" and 3 1/2".  After some fiddling around, I settled on a design I was happy with and promptly pieced it together.



The top was finished and has been pinned together waiting for the end game...quilting.  Putting off quilting has been my practice these days!  I've gotten in the habit of having two, three or four ready to quilt before I actually will sit down and do it.



The three squares were quilted in the ditch on the diagonal creating a grid design.  Three different HST's, three different grid sizes. 



It was finished with 1" horizontal lines across the top two squares on each side and vertical lines for the largest square.  



Grids and lines!  I had one spool of thread that was the closest to the background (Kona Celestial) as I could find in my thread stash.  I had exactly enough to quilt the entire quilt!  Phew!  I was sweating bullets when the spool ran out, but my bobbin was full enough to split and complete the job!  There is nothing more frustrating than running out of thread!



My mind is always thinking about what else could I do?!  Adding a few scraps of color here and there around the binding happens to be one of my favorite things to do.  I picked a few colors from the prints and randomly popped them in.



And of course there is always the back.  There are many times when I don't have enough backing.  I've adapted to those situations by adding scraps by making a vertical or horizontal strip.  It's also the best way to use the bits and pieces of fabric scraps accumulated from the quilt top.  I really don't like to let them sit around! 



You know when you buy the same color of fabric on separate occasions and when you put them together and there is a noticeable difference in color?  I'll add a strip of some sort on the back separating the fabrics and viola! you'd never know the difference!



For those who make flying geese (and other blocks), here is a diagram for sewing bonus HST's before cutting them off of the original block.


With a square aligned on your rectangle for Flying Geese, stitch from corner to corner, sew another line 1/2" from the original line.  Grab your rotary cutter and ruler, and cut between the stitch lines.  Now you have a bonus HST ready to rock and roll whenever you are!

I like to sew the extra line before cutting weather I'm using the bonus pieces right away or not.  If I'm not going to use them immediately at least they are sewn together for the future!

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