Sunday, August 12, 2018

Topping The Table!

Far be it from me to let a block or seven sit unused for very long!  I mean, if I put hours, days and months into had stitching each and every piece then every block was going to be used in some way or another!

As a refresher, I made a quilt all hand stitched that took me a year.  My Therapy Quilt.  I won't go into detail, but it was most definitely a labor of love.  Once that quilt was finished, I had some extra blocks that I thought would be perfect for a table topper, and perfect for my Mom.  She sat for hours by my side when I started making the blocks so many months ago.  Now she'll be able to see what I was up to, and hopefully it will bring a smile to her face!

The bright solids worked so well with the vibrant Kaffe Fasset prints, and the Kona Pepper and medium grey brings it all together given the shape of this quilt.  If that wasn't enough!  There is nothing like quilting to put things over the top!

I was mesmerized by the back and quilting design that I only took one picture of the front!  I love quilting small quilts!  Because of the size I can get much more detail and not kill myself in the process!

I quilted the center star first using a dark teal thread and from there it was like magic watching the design shine!

It looks complicated, but it really wasn't!  Once I figured out the lines it was easy to go around and around and around the star!   Except for the center star, there were no threads to bury.  It helped that I was able to start at the edge!

One of my favorite parts of the quilting is at the points where the thread meets from all the rounds.  It kind of shines!!  

I just happened to have the perfect Aurifil thread for this project.  I used 50wt in the following colors:  Jade 4093, Light Jade 1148, Medium Lavender 2540, Medium Purple 2545, Dusty Rose 2452, Magenta 2535, Light Emerald 2860, and Light Blue Grey 2610.  

I'm not sure if the colors would have been quite as spectacular on a light fabric.  It makes me curious, perhaps curious enough to try!   

If I could do this kind of quilting on a big quilt I would do it in a heartbeat!   

I'll pop this in the mail next week for my Mom.  I think she'll like it...after all, Mom's have to like their children's art!


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

It's A Gem - In the Rough

Everything appeared to be going so well.  I was flying high!  All my pretty, pretty blocks were finished and I was just about ready to start assembling ... when everything screeched to a halt!  I realized I forgot to add what I felt was a crucial piece to my design.

Once I was aware of the mistake I knew I would finish what I started regardless.  However the enthusiasm for what I was making wasn't there.  Instead I pieced the blocks together with very little care or concern resulting in a less than stellar finish!  
17" x 20"
If you close one eye and stand back it isn't that bad!  Open both eyes and the misaligned seams are glaring!

What I learned was I should always finish with the same care and precision as I can.  If only for the practice!  That even though it wasn't the 'plan', it can be just as good or perhaps better.  Who's to know it wasn't intended all along?  And lastly, even though it wasn't the best I could do, it was still worth finishing.  From piecing to quilting.  I haven't a clue what I'll do with it not that it's finished...but it's finished and I did have fun!

I'm sharing this photo so you can see how 'off' I was with the alignment.  I was so frustrated with myself for doing that!  Next time it will be different!  Some of the sections I quilted 1/4" lines that carried through the grey background.  

I free motion quilted funky squares throughout and 'phantom' lines connecting the Kona Pepper strips.  Still my favorite is the 1/4" lines that go through the grey!

The back is always the best way to show quilting!  For someone who can't verbalize clearly, having the visual helps! 


You're probably wondering what was the design suppose to look like, what was the piece I forgot about.  Was it really that big of a deal?

This is the quilt design:

The missing piece is seen better in the block.  The diagonal black line.  That darn little piece!  I think if that piece had been included everything could have connected better.  How will I be sure?  Guess I'll have to make it again!  

Live, learn and move on!   I will make the design again to prove to myself I can do it!  

That's my story!  Next time the ending will be different!  The next one will be as designed and go according to plan!  



Monday, August 6, 2018

Super Sized Evening Star :: Improv

Usually I make a quilt and then for the fun of it I'll make a mini.  This time the mini came before the quilt!

I was asked if I could make a quilt like the Evening Star Mini I made last year.   For the mini, I made the center block and increased the size with borders of improv piecing for a finished quilt that was 18 1/2" square.  Easily done.  I needed to increase everything to a lap quilt size, approximately 50" x 65".  Could I do it?!

I thought about it for a day or so and decided it was something that could be done.  The hardest part would be super sizing the star.  It's easy to reduce the size of a pattern, but increasing a pattern to the size I needed would be a bit more complicated!

My star was going to be 32" square!  Huge compared to the original block!  I knew trying to increase the original from the pattern would be nearly impossible and probably take a tank of ink and a ream of paper, not to mention an enormous amount of time.  I decided the best option was draw the star in EQ8.  That way I could easily increase the size for printing.

The star has eight sections.  Four of one block and four of another.  My plan was to print one of each section, tape it together and then trace it onto a large sheet of freezer paper.  Mission accomplished!  When paper piecing with freezer paper you don't actually stitch on the lines on the front, you fold the paper back and stitch very closely to the fold.  After which you fold the paper back and iron the freezer paper so that it sticks to your fabric.  One bonus of using freezer paper is you can reuse the templates.  That was the main reason I decided to use it for this project.

This method worked better than I could have imagined!  I was easily able to manage the large pieces, reuse templates and sew the sections together for the perfect star!

If you aren't familiar with freezer paper piecing Google is your friend!  There are a lot of very good tutorials online.  Bryan House Quilts has a tutorial that walks you through the process.

With the star in the bag, it was time to tackle the improv portion of the quilt.  I divided up the quilt so I knew how many inches of improv was needed for the sides, top and bottom.  And then I got in the zone and made improv blocks of all shapes and sizes.  I kept plugging away over the course of a few days until I thought I had enough of the plain pieces.  

Then I tackled the colored triangles that would border the center star.  There needed to be enough to go around the quilt and look cohesive, but didn't need to be perfectly spaced.  Another mission accomplished.  There was a bit of math involved...and we all know that isn't my strong suit. 


Once the first round of improv blocks were added to the star, the triangle pieces were increased to the size needed by adding more background pieces and placed around the quilt.   

That led to adding more improv sections in between the triangle blocks and eventually sewing it all together.

Once the top was finished I could sit back with a sigh of relief!  It all came together much easier than I thought it would.  From the redrawing of the star, to the improv piecing to the placement of the triangles!  It looks like it was a quilt planned from the start, but we all know that isn't the way I work!  I like to take on an idea and work out the details as I go.  That's normal, right?!

Next up will be quilting.  I plan on quilting something similar to the mini quilt, but on a larger scale.  Wish me luck...the center free motion quilting is going to be a wild ride!

If you are interested in making the star block, the  paper pieced block is available here:  Evening Star.


Saturday, August 4, 2018

New Toys :: Tools

Today I want to share with you some new and amazing tools of the trade!  Last week on Instagram I entered a giveaway ... and I won!  Havel's Sewing was having a giveaway and I eagerly with my fingers crossed entered.  I was pleasantly shocked that I was the lucky one picked!  

Look at those new tools and cutting mat!  It was Christmas in August for me!  I often dream of trying new gadgets or replacing old ones, but rarely take the plunge!  But today I get to live the dream!!  

Snips, rips, scissors and a cutter!  Each and every tool is going to be put to good use, there is no doubt about that!

Isn't she a beauty?!  This is probably the tool we use the most in our quilting.  The good old 45mm rotary cutter.  I had to give it a whirl and cut a bunch of scraps to shreds!  After having the same cutter for years and having it feel like part of my hand, it's a bit awkward using something different.  However, I'm anxious to give this one a whirl!  

Snips!  I've seen these Embroidery Snips before and they always fascinated me!  Probably because of how you squeeze them together.  I have a few pairs of scissors that have frustrated me over the years although I still use them!  Receiving these made me very happy and now maybe I can let the others go!


The seam ripper!  I don't think there is a quilter out there that doesn't need and use a seam ripper.  I first saw a seam ripper like this a couple years ago and you have to admit...its fascinating and intriguing!  The Ultra-Pro seam ripper glides through the stitches instead of ripping through the stitches.  I'd be lying if I said this one scares me a little bit!  I've been known to have accidents with blades!  My husband thinks I should wear a glove when using this tool!  It'll take some getting use to, but I think I'll learn how to handle it with time!  Yes, I did try it on some scraps and it was amazing and strange all at the same time!  I feel like I should being doing surgery with it!

The last tool is a small pair of Teflon scissors.  Again, who doesn't need a good pair of scissors on hand?  These can be used for fabric or paper.  

But wait...there's more!  I saved the best for last, the cherry on top!

The past couple of weeks I've been seriously thinking about investing in a new cutting mat.  Mine gets a lot of use and I don't care how well you take care of your mat, there comes a point when it is beyond hope and it needs to be replaced.

Because I do a good bit of improv which doesn't require precise cutting, and paper piecing which requires a lot of trimming, I try to use the back of my mats when cutting and trimming.  That way the front is left for the cutting that needs accuracy.

The color got me first!!  It's awful pretty don't you think?!  This mat is huge!  It's a double sided 36" x 24" with a gridded area of 34" x 22".  Huge!  

What really captured my attention was the weight and thickness.  It has 5 layers of PVC!  It feels very industrial and substantial.  There's going to be a learning curve using a new mat.  We become accustom to our mats and intuitively know how to line up and cut using the markings.  I'm pretty sure I'll master it.  I may need to get a new table just to accommodate the mat!

I want to thank Havel's Sewing for their generosity!  I'm very excited to use every tool and still can't believe I was so lucky!

Check out Havel's Sewing to see all that they offer:  Havel's SewingBlog, Instagram

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

An Oldie :: But A Goodie!

Somewhere along the years I was 'gifted' my daughters unfinished quilts.  There came a point where I was determined to finish what she started because they were definitely worthy.  I've worked one or two in between my quilts, but there is still work to do!

The latest is a quilt called Lilly Pilly.  It's a beautiful applique quilt that was begging for progress!  And progress is exactly what happened!  

I rarely jump into the applique world, but for this I made an exception.  When my daughter started this she was living in Bloomington and working at a fabric store.  She brought it home one weekend and she and I cut and fused all the tiny pieces onto the tree.  I'm going to say it was probably 2009-ish...I have very little sense of time gone by!


The fabrics are Kaffe Fassett and the applique is raw edge.  I can handle zig zag stitching around edges!  Britt had the branches and trunk and a couple dozen leaves done, but I had the bulk of the remaining foliage to complete.  I had to match her stitch length and thread color, which isn't exact!  Close enough to make the mad dash to a finished top though!

Stitching around each leaf went surprisingly quick!  And that fueled me to keep going until every leaf, bird and wing was done.  

I wasn't going to let applique or the knowledge of applique hold me back.  Whether or not I did it the right way wasn't the point, getting it done was!

The top is done...the top is done...the top is done...and one day I will quilt it!  This was a big step and a huge accomplishment.  I wouldn't want to push it too far all at once!

I'm pretty sure I'll dust off the FMQ chops and see if I can't take it to another level.  You will be hearing and seeing about that when it happens!  I am excited about finishing this for my daughter.  Or me.  I'm not sure where ownership changes hands after all this time!  


Friday, July 27, 2018

Filling Time With Mini Mini's

I love a good challenge and what better way to challenge yourself than making some mini mini quilts?!  Sometimes after making a quilt or a block that I love, I'll see if I can take it a step further and try it on a small scale.  It usually happens when I'm paper piecing because there is always a template involved and it's easily reduced to whatever size my little heart desires!

In my last post I took you into the world of Mondrian art.  There seemed to be a lot of interest in making the blocks into a paper pieced pattern and I'm happy to say that that is happening!  Lift your jaw off the floor...I'm actually doing it!  I'm just about finished, but with all my patterns I seem to obsess over every detail.  I have a couple volunteers who will be testing my pattern before it hits the Internet, so let's give it another week before it is finished.

ALL that being said...I decided to take the blocks, reduce the pattern to 4" and see what would happen!

4" X 4"
They look exactly like the 9" blocks, but much smaller.  I threw in a few 'tools' for perspective and will state again...these are 4" x 4".  Seems like the perfect size for coasters to me!

Perhaps the hand model shot conveys it better!  I'm thinking of adding the 4" paper pieced template as a bonus in the completed pattern.  In case anyone wants to give it a try.

The quilting is very simple.  I thought because of the geometric nature and size, it was appropriate.

I rarely have little 'trinkets' on had that go with any given project for the sake of a photo, but when I saw the chicken I couldn't resist a lighthearted shot!  

The day I made these I had just finished up the last flower bed/bark dust project and was feeling the effects of hoisting bag after bag.  But when there is time before having to make dinner and no other sometimes quilts a little something!

The other mini's I made came after I had finished my paper pieced Kite quilt.  Reduce, reduce, reduce!!

4 1/4" & 3 3/4"
The paper pieced pattern is quite simple, so I knew it would make for a semi easy piecing session.  (even at 4 1/4" and 3 3/4" finished!)  They might look familiar if you are on instagram or if you are a member of The MQG you may have seen them in the July News & Happenings newsletter.  

I really have a hard time trying to resist making anything into a rainbow.  These seemed like another opportunity to go small and gloss it up with color!

This photo is in the binding stage.  I always use a 1 1/4" wide strip and sew it on as if it's a double folded binding.  After which I'll flip it over, fold the raw edge over about 1/4" press and finish by hand stitching it to the back.  

Cute as a bugs ear I think!  

I've been working on so many quilts and ideas lately, this was a nice post diversion!  I have a custom quilt guessed it...a rainbow theme!  It also includes a super sized block and low volume improv.  I'm excited to make progress on that!

I also have that pattern...

And I have an amazing two color quilt that I am so excited to see if I can make for QuiltCon.  The colors nearly slap me in the face every time I look at the drawing...kind of interesting.  I can't really say more than that at this time!

Oh, and I just finished zig zag stitching (applique) lots of leafs on a quilt I inherited from my daughter.  She started it years and years ago.  This year...I plan on finishing it!

Stay safe, stay tuned and seriously...this girl needs a beer!  Wink!


Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mondrian Part II

I have been fascinated with Piet Mondrian art for a long time and tried my hand at designing a quilt, or more specifically a pot holder set, using the basic shapes and colors his art is known for.  

I gave a shot at it back in April: Mondrian :: Colorful & Simple , and was pleased with how they turned out.  I went into it with little idea of what to do and how to do it.  It resulted in many moments of scratching my head and figuring out the puzzle.  I vowed then and there that one day I was going to design a block where I could have some sort of consistency and not have to wonder what my next step was.
And I did just that!!  I enjoyed the design part so much that I ended up designing two different Mondrian inspired blocks. 


One thing I love about the new EQ8 program is the color.  You can choose to print in color or not and in this case I thought it would be best.  I also like to know what size pieces I need and cut them before I paper piece certain projects.  Since these were rectangle and squares, I was able to calculate my pieces and for future use, I wrote the sizes on extra copies I made of the block pieces.

The pieces went together pretty seamlessly and quickly.  The pieces for each block are a decent size so there wasn't any tedious, fussy work in assembly.  

I ended up making two of each block because...well, pot holders do come in sets!  The blocks I made are 9" square which are a good size for me.  

My two sets!  I still have the binding to sew to the back on one set, but I'm pretty dang happy with the results.  Now I can fly through future blocks without losing too many brain cells!

I had planned on have each pot holder in the set to be the same.  However in my excitement of it all I accidentally sewed one piece wrong on one in the second set!  Plan B was to go with it and mix and match!  

A couple things I learned about this design.  You can mix and match for sets.  You can also flip the pieces around in any given set for even more variety.  And, if you choose to do so, you can decide which section you want the colors to be placed. 

I had no intention of making a third set after finishing the first two.  None at all.  The next morning I woke up with an idea and you know how that goes!  I had to do it!  When I think of Mondrian I immediately think of red, blue and yellow.  But it doesn't have to be does it?  No it does not!  My idea was to make one with warm colors and one with cool colors.  Hot & Cold!  That's big idea that popped into my head!

It's fun designing blocks that you know you'll use again.  I'm pretty sure there will be several variations over the next few months!

I'm thinking they might make a great pattern at some point.  I talk about designing patterns all the time but never seem to quite get there.  It is definitely a lack of confidence!  I probably could handle a pattern like this though!