Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Improv Finish :: Machine Quilting

I could have done better.  I could have been more creative.  I could have, should have!  I'll go out on a limb and say most of us have had at least one project we quilted that we knew we could have done more or wished we had done something differently.

16 1/2" x 26"
And of course, a finish is better than not finishing!  

What did I do and what would I have done differently?  

I began quilting random straight lines, but not straight as in ruler straight.  Let's call these organic.  The widths varied from 1/4" to maybe 3/4".  Dense, but not matchstick dense. 

If you recall from the previous post about this improv quilt:  Improv + Paper Pieced, I attempted to make a structured paper pieced improv (that's a mouth full!) frame that would highlight the center improv section.  While I do love how this one turned out, it didn't exactly come together as I had hoped.  That being said...

In order to delineate the center from the frame, I quilted organic lines horizontally.  It helped, but honestly it is a busy little piece and hard to see or focus on anything!

You can see it a little better on the back.  Dark blue thread on dark blue backing isn't easy to see!

I really didn't have the luxury of setting this aside until I could come up with the perfect quilting idea.  But if I could have what would I have cone differently?  

The possibilities on something like this are endless.  Had I had the time to stare at it for days on end...I'm pretty sure I would have busted out the darning foot and free motion quilted the center in tiny squares of all different sizes.  Something like this piece I did last year: Controlled Improv or Chaos.  The outside I would quilted the sides in horizontal lines and the top and bottom in vertical lines.  Or...I would have sectioned it out and quilted spiral squares.  Or...lots of pebbles!  You can see what I'm saying!  With enough time to think, there are a lot of choices!

I'm not saying I'm disappointed with this quilted finish at all.  It just makes me want to do better next time!

Have you had a quilt you just wanted to get quilted and be done with and were left underwhelmed?


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Round Robin :: Round Two

Ready for another installment of Round Robin?  For those who have done these before, should round two be easier?  I feel like each round comes with it's own set of worries!  
I've had an entire month to figure out the next move,and as always I wait until the last possible moment to get my round done.  

16 1/2" x 16 1/2" Starting Size
This is Libby's block.  I was sure this was going to be a fun block to play around with.  The multicolored dot fabric came with Libby's starting block.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to somehow use it in my round.  

I like how Emily added the three flying geese in the first round.  The colors pulled straight from the dots.

Whatever will I do!!

Why...add more color of course!  I pulled Kona Capri, Moda Lime (I think), Kona Storm and I'll use Kona Snow for the background of my contribution.


These blocks are 2 1/2" unfinished and are the same size as Libby's center block size.  It would work perfectly for my idea.

The chevron block was the first block I made.  I wanted to add more dark blue, but didn't want to overwhelm the rest of the block.  

This is a perfect combination of colors!  Lime green is my favorite color and it's also one of the colors in the dot fabric.  More colors, more blue, more dots!  

24 1/2" x 24 1/2" - After Round Two
Half way through I was getting a festive party vibe and started calling it the 'Party Quilt'! 

Libby, I hope you like it!  

I'll be handing this off today and also picking up the next round!  Round Three!  


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Improv + Paper Pieced

I mean, why not?!  We combine peanut butter and jelly, eggs and bacon and rum and coke! Some people might think those combinations are weird and shouldn't be done...I'm just saying, let's have an open mind here!

In all honesty, I'm sure I'm not the first to use paper piecing and improv.  Is there anything new out there?!

Approx. 18" x 27"
It seems to me it's been far too long since I took on some thing wild, crazy and improv. Maybe a set of pot holders or two, but nothing larger.  I've been immersed in cute and normal for so long, I almost forgot how much I enjoy improv.  So, when I was asked if I could make a piece for an end betcha...I jumped!  There's no better way to get back to it than a custom quilt!

While I usually don't plan my improv, this time I had something in mind.  I wanted to have the outside of the quilt to be more of a structured, controlled improv. Not the way I usually think of improv.  I had a paper pieced block I designed for my 'Art With Fabric' Blog Hop quilt and decided it had all the elements I was after.  

My intentions were to cut up the paper templates and with reckless abandon, add pieces of fabric without worrying if they would fit.  You can see that A5 is a bit short...

No problem, add an extra piece!  You might notice that there isn't a stitch line across A5. Well, that's because when I folded the paper back to line my extra piece up I decided I didn't have to stitch through the paper.  I'll adopt the freezer paper method and stitch next to the fold.  

Because I just want the basic shapes included in the template, I was able to play around with the technique of paper piecing.  It was rather fun paper piecing and not worrying about having everything line up!

These are a some of the paper pieced shapes I was going to work with.  Border before center? Kind of a crazy way to do this, but that idea...surly it'll work?!

We'll find out!  But first I needed to clean up my scraps for round two.  It's surprising how much carnage happens when improv and paper piecing comes together.  

That's better and more acceptable!  It doesn't matter what size your work space is, it's never big enough!

And we have a border!  I added a strip here, a triangle there to fill out the border to the predetermined approximate size (18" x 27").  Now on to the center.  

My method of madness when it comes to improv is piece a bunch of pieces, then add more and more until I'm left with a pretty little stack.  After which I'll start combining the first stack of blocks to make bigger blocks.  It's not complicated, but you do have to be able to set aside your perfection tendencies.

Unlike normal piecing where along the way you can see how perfect a block is going to be, or how exact your points line up.  Improv to me, doesn't always give you that 'oh this is going to be perfect' feeling along the way.  Many times I have my hand planted on my forehead wondering what I was thinking!  I've learned through the years not to give up.  You never know how it will turn out until it's finished!

This didn't come out as I had originally planned or how I saw it in my mind.  I was wanting more definition between the center and the border.  I'll get it next time!

I hope to get it quilted in the next few days.  I'm thinking a lot of straight line quilting would be appropriate!  

Improv can drive some people 'InSanE', are you one of them? Or maybe you have to have a little CraZY in you to love improv!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Concentric Circle :: Tutorial

I'm finally getting to the Concentric Circle quilting tutorial!  Funny how life and some warm sunny days get in the way!!

I don't know that my version is any better or any different than other tutorials.  The main thing to remember about concentric circle quilting is to take it slow.  Slow and steady wins the least in the beginning.  

Here are a few examples concentric circle quilting I have done.  With all these examples, I wanted the circles to all be the same width.  In these cases, they are all 1/2" lines.  You can certainly make them wider or different widths throughout.

'Josephine's Quilt' was my most recent concentric circle quilting project.  And I'll be honest here, it was the only time I had issues with the quilt shifting.  I'm a pin baster and I think my problem was I didn't use enough pins.  Full disclosure!  I have never had problems before, so I'm going to chalk this one up to users error!  

This hand dyed baby quilt is another example of concentric circles.  (Bye Bye Hand Dyed) These three examples are also on baby size quilts.  I've never tried it on anything larger than that.  Not that it can't be done! 

'Baby Gears' was my very first attempt at concentric circles.  It was scary at first, but everything went smoothly.  On this one, I started my circles in a random off center point. Another great option for this method.

Start by picking your starting point.  Do you want the circles dead center?  Off center?  If you want them centered find your center point.  You can do this my measuring the quilt and dividing width & length my two, or if your quilt is made up of blocks you can easily pick the center by the grid of the blocks.

I use whatever kitchen item I can as a tool, in this case I used a glass that is about 2 1/2" across.  It's a pretty tight circle.  You can decide what size you are comfortable with.  I would suggest starting with a larger circle for your first time.  As you become more comfortable with the quilting, you can always go back and add circles to the inside.

To mark the circle, I use my hera marker.  Yes, I'm still freaked out about using any kind of pen or marker on quilts!  The hera marker gives me just enough definition to follow along with my walking foot and its the only time I mark my circles.

For the first circle, I go at a snails pace.  I take it slow especially if the circle is small.  If you reduce your stitch length it helps with control of the curves and allows a bit more accuracy.  

I bury my threads, meaning I pull the bobbin thread up to the top and tie a knot near the fabric.  Later I will take my needle and pull the knot through the thread hole between the fabric and the batting.  Here's a couple tutorials on how to bury threads:  Pile O' Fabric Video, and Crazy Mom Quilts.

Once I make it around the circle I'll pull the starting threads up and between my foot.  It's almost like a guides me in and makes it much easier to line up both ends of the circle.

I have decided on the width of my circles by the edge of my foot (dual feed/walking foot). It's nearly 1/2" and works perfectly for what I'm after.  I line the edge of my foot next to the previous stitches and follow around.  

There are options for different width of circles.  You can move the needle position to the left or right for different widths.  Or, if you have a quilting bar (above) your can use that as your guide to make any width you want. 

I continue the circles one after the other, staggering my starting and ending points.  I have never had issues with puckering going only one way around.  Take it slow for the first half a dozen rounds.  After that it goes much quicker and it does get easier!

You can see I'm not perfect!!  And I'm alright with that!  There are a few bumps and ends didn't line up...but really...we all know that washing/drying will take care of that!  

Continue working around and around and get the idea!  You can change up the thread color for something different too!  

I work my way around the quilt in circles until I hit an edge.  
At that point I will keep with the same method and work half circles that eventually lead to quarter circles in the corners.  

I've come to love doing concentric circle quilting and it works so well with many different projects.  I am mesmerized with the results and can't's hypnotizing!  Oh, and it might be addicting!

I'm including another link to a concentric tutorial.  Blooming Poppies blog is the one that got me started!  Just in case mine makes no sense what so ever!  As they say...the more you know...


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Secret Surprises Are The Best!

I finally had a chance to work on a secret surprise for another unsuspecting person!  I started last year making little surprise quilts for a random people who have in one way or another been a part of my quilting journey.  I've said it more than once, quilty friends are the best.  If I can surprise one person and put a smile on their face, that makes me very, very happy! 

With a little time on my hands, I was able to finish a project I started a couple months ago. As with many of us, life can get crazy!  We go with it, we do what needs to be dealt with and patiently wait for the time to do what we really want to do!  Life!

Spirit Heart
17" x 15"
Let the fun begin!  I knew I was going to use every square inch of the red polka dot fat eight fabric.  I didn't want any small pieces left that would languish in a discarded pile.  

I cut 1" wide strips (just a tad less) of white and red fabric, and stitched each one together making one piece.  

The fun began when I cut this strip to make the tiny little square frame for the heart!  It isn't easy keeping something so small straight, but I did my best.

I had a few ideas for the border blocks which included half square triangles.  Thank you Bloc-Loc for making the task of trimming HST's so much easier and faster!  I can't imagine life without it!

I guess I should tell you the first blocks I decided to make were Mini Raspberry Kiss paper pieced blocks.  They are the cutest ever blocks ever!  The blocks finish at 2" indeed...and it's a free pattern on Craftsy.  Click here for the pattern:  Mini Raspberry Kiss    

The size of the Kiss blocks determined the size of all the rest of the blocks in the border.  A few nine patch, geese, kisses and ribbon star blocks should get me the border I'm envisioning!   

Admittedly, it was a tough little border to work through!  But it came together and for the most part worked out.

I stitched all around the bias tape heart before quilting the rest of the mini.  The center is vertical lines that line up with the frame squares.

I wasn't sure about quilting in red thread for the background heart.  I was fully prepared to pull out the seam ripper if it didn't work.  Boy, am I glad it worked!!  

This will be in the mail in a couple days! Let's hope it surprises and puts a smile on the unsuspecting victim!


Friday, April 7, 2017

Faux Trapunto Magazine Feature!

I can finally share my news that has been in the works for months!  I'm in Love Patchwork & Quilting Magazine! Issue number 46 to be exact!  Not me, but one of my creations!  

I was contacted back in September to see if I would be interested in making a 'faux trapunto' project for the magazine.  It was an easy decision, I said yes!  The design was one I had done before.  'CREATE'.  That was the easy part!  The hard part was writing a pattern that was clear, concise and very doable for anyone.  It's one thing to fly by the seat of my pants and make things up as I go...quite another to explain the process and put it on paper!

'Faux Trapunto' (my version) was something that I fine tuned for an easy way to create a 3D effect.  I tried to make it simple, yet effective!  

That being said, I hope my method at least encourages and inspires others to give it a try or at least try something new!

The magazine is available in the UK now and will be available in the US in 4-6 weeks.  I really love this magazine.  From the projects to the layout format.  The photos are imaginative and beautiful.  Plus, I love the feel of the magazine...the physical feel!  Weird I know!

This project features Kona Cotton in a delightful rainbow spectrum!  I've done it in pastels and it's just as effective!

I laid out how to make a 'controlled improv' background that anyone can conquer!

As far as quilting...your imagination is the only limit with this project!  

I have to say, I'm always shocked and thrilled at the same time when I'm in 'print'!  I just hope I was able to inspire others to give it a try!  

I think now would also be a good time to thank everyone who follows my blog, leaves comments, inspires or encourages me.  I never would have the courage to pursue adventures like this if not for you!