Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Is The Suspense Killing You?!

I didn't mean to keep you in suspense!  In my last post I shared the third baby quilt I made using the last of my hand dyed scraps (Depleted :: Bye Bye Hand Dyed).  I kept you on the hook long enough! 

The first baby quilt I made when I decided to cut the heck out of my hand dyed fabrics, was this one:

32" x 39"
Since the blocks were only 4.5" unfinished, I was able to cram a lot of HST's in this one.  I kept like colors semi contained when I pieced four blocks together.  It's kind of hard to see, but I really did! There are so many colors exploding in this one, your brain goes into over load!



The blue border (1 3/4") is a good way to contain all the chaos...otherwise it might feel like there was a virus out break!  I'm not complaining, really I'm not!  The more color the better.

The quilting is a combination of 3/4" and 1/2" lines.  Some going this way, some that way.  I like the look of different widths, vertical and horizontal...total mix up!  And is there anything better than 'a pile of quilt'?  



As you have guessed by now, I had a lot of HST's to use!  Quilt #2 feels very traditional to me. Traditional in the sense, that there are squares, sashing and setting squares.

Again, I was able to match up the centers with matching colors.  After a few twist and turns, hemming and hawing, yes-ing and no-ing, I added 1" borders around each block in the same color, and finished with a 1 1/2" in light grey.

Medium grey was used for the final sashing and for the borders.  It's amazing how far you can stretch a stack of blocks just by adding borders and sashing.

31" x 45"
This was the perfect chance to get my geometric thinking cap on for quilting.  I don't think I really had a choice on this one...it felt like it was predetermined!  It had to be!

  

It was also destined to be that I used matching thread for each block color.  My hera marker was put to the test as I marked each line from one corner and radiating to the edges.  



I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.  The back always tells the story!



Each of the three quilts has the same basic design.  A four patch of half square triangles with the same color in the center.  

This quilt shows that off the best I think.  Probably because each block is self contained and your brain doesn't go cuckoo staring at it!



While taking pictures of these quilts, I set the camera down while I moved the quilt around. As I was getting up to grab the camera I looked at the display screen and saw the coolest shot!  I don't think I could ever have set the stage for a photo like this.  I like the close up of the rotary cutter and everything else out of focus.  Good stuff!

Thank goodness for digital cameras! Can you imagine what it would be like if we didn't have them?  



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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Depleted :: Bye Bye Hand Dyed

This in no way means I'm not going to hand dye fabric again!!  I love the process, I love seeing all the unique colors and textures.  That being said, I decided it was time to cut what I had on hand and figure out what to do with them.  This way I can start with a fresh batch when the weather warms up!

It's no secret that my favorite design for hand dyed fabrics is the ever popular Half Square Triangle (HST).  I can pack in every conceivable color and color combination and it always looks good to me.
31" x 42"
Normally I make large HST's blocks (6"-7"), but since I was using the end of my stash I had to go smaller.  Technically you could say I was using scraps.  In the end I was able to make all my HST's 4 1/2" unfinished.  I cut up everything!  Everything!

Believe it or not, I ended up with three baby quilts!  This one happens to be the last one I pieced. I was bound and determined to use every single HST...and I did too!

 

I twisted and turned until I had large orange, yellow and blue squares.  Then figured out I could make a couple small squares in pink and purple and one blue flying geese.  Now that's what I call by the skin of my teeth!



With three different quilts, I decided different quilting all each one was important.  It's been a while since I have done concentric circle quilting and thought this would be a good choice for this one. 



If you haven't tried concentric circles...you should!  I traced a circle in the center for my starting point.  The first few I went very slow.  But after that it was pedal to the metal!  I used the edge of my walking foot as my guide and it gave me just the right amount of space between the circles.

I couldn't imagine doing a large quilt, although I'm sure it would be very doable.  If you are thinking about trying concentric circles, I would recommend trying it with smaller quilts first!

 

I love, love, love the effect!  Even if you get a little wonky here and there, it still looks good. And as we all know, washing and drying hides just about any little error!



The grey is one of my favorite shades ever:  Kona Shadow.  That color is so perfect for just about everything!  I wanted to take a risk (for me) with the binding, so I used Moda Saffron. It makes for a very nice frame!



Hand dying more fabric will be determined by the weather.  I really am not a fan of cold and basements are cold!  I think there is just enough room left down there for my little dying station!



Here is the lovely stack of baby quilts all scrap inspired, all hand dyed and all different!  I'll share the other two in case you were curious!


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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mindless Stitching :: EPP:: Striped Hexie (?)

I've been calling this shape a hexagon...it is not!  A hexagon has six sides, this is an octagon because it has eight sides.  A stop sign...I know this!  Math lesson over! 

I saw this design on Instagram, good old Instagram!  At the time I was in need of a mindless project for my evenings and when I saw it, I knew it was the one for me.  



The reason I've called it a hexie is because that's the name of the pattern!  I wonder if they know it's not?!  Funny how one thing gets stuck in your mind and stays there regardless of right or wrong.

You can get the free pattern here:  'Striped Hexie'  from Tierney Barden.  I knew I would be using solids just as Tierney had, after all I've plenty of scraps that would love to be used. 

 

I wasn't sure how big I would go with this, so I set about making color combinations that would give me a flowing rainbow of choices.

Note:  this batch of octagons ended up not being in the first picture piece.  I made a terrible mistake...you'll see!

Once I got my colors together, I cut my strips and began piecing each grouping together.  I used a glue stick to secure the fabric to the template and make sure my stripe was lined up correctly.   I prefer thread basting as opposed to glue basting.  It is most certainly a personal preference.



With a lot of English Paper Piecing (EPP), you have to decide how you want to stitch the pieces together.  I decided I'd start by making sets of four.  



After laying out all my octagons and settling on a layout, I grouped and marked my sections and began stitching.

Why didn't I use that batch of octagons?   Let me tell you!!  When printing templates of any kind, you are told over and over to print actual size and sometimes their is that little square that should measure 1" so you know you are printing correctly.  This I know.  This I have done time and time again!

Except this time apparently.  I didn't realize I had two different sizes until I had every single piece basted.  It wasn't until I laid out all my beautiful pieces did I realize I totally mess up.  



You can see the difference here.  I could have kicked myself and boy oh boy did I have a swearing tangent!  After all the careful color pairings and not duplicating any color, I was left feeling defeated and so damn mad!

Once I got over the self pity, I sorted the sizes and tried to reconfigure something with what I had.  I ended up having to make a few more using the correct size, or the size I decided to go with.  Luckily, it worked and I was able to breath again.

I'm not sure what I did or how I did it. Probably printing on different days, using two different browsers or printing from iBooks is a good place to start.  

Yet one more lesson learned...again!



I'm adding white squares to the sides and think I'll end up adding a border or negative space around it.  I did have to cut extra squares in order to do this.  Thinking back, I remember measuring a square, printing a template from Incompetech that was that exact size, cutting the squares, holding them up to the original square (which wasn't the original square at all), trimming them again ... at that point I should have known something was fishy!


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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Black & Orange :: For Lack Of A Better Name!

Got it done!  Front, back, top to bottom!  I am pretty excited about this design and the possibilities it offers.  From colors to quilting, it can change the entire feel instantly!
36" x 43"

I seem to be moving in the direction of more and more paper piecing, and my second paper pieced design has me longing for even more!


The plan is to make a pattern for this design.  I know, I say it all the time!  I'm in the beginning stages of figuring out the details.  I want to make a larger version in different colors, change the block assembly as well as using a larger size block.  Testing my pattern one more time!  I'll keep you posted...just in case anyone would like to test for me?!



The blocks inspired me to play with the quilting.  I had the start of an idea, but as with many of my quilts I tend to work on a section and then build from there.  Much like improv, it builds as I go.



Black quilts are always tough to photograph.  Either they are too black (like this one), or they are totally washed out.  Not to mention the camera picks up every single piece of lint even though I rolled it into submission with my lint roller.


It was an obvious choice to highlight the 'X' in the middle with 1/4" straight line quilting. There are areas I mimicked the triangles, added diamonds and tossed in more lines.  

 

I tried using my hera marker to lay down the lines, but as you can imagine it was difficult to see.



Instead I used this handy little chalk roller.  I think it might be a Clover Chaco-Liner Wheel, but I can't be sure.  It was another tool I yoinked from my daughter!

I was able to get good lines and see where I needed to go.  A word of advice, don't mark too many sections at once.  The chalk will brush off and you will end up having to remark your lines.



While I mostly used black thread, I also used orange for the 'X' and bigger orange sections. The triangles were left untouched.  



For the pattern (once I write it), I'm debating having different size blocks for three quilts. Small for a wall hanging, medium for a baby quilt and large for a lap quilt.  With little experience with patterns, I don't know if that is a 'thing' or the 'thing' to do.  If anyone has advice about this I would love to hear it!

 

My next venture with this block will be using a different color palette.  I love the orange/black combination, but feel it's worth trying something different.  I've had a stack of my daughters hand dyed fabric she gifted to me years ago...they might finally have a future!  

Next to actually writing patterns, the next hardest part for me is naming a quilt!  For now I'm lovingly calling it Orange & Black!  Pretty original right?!  


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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Glue Basting A Zipper :: Tutorial

As promised, I have a tutorial for glue basting a zipper!!  Many of you most likely can stitch a zipper in like no one's business, and then there are people like me (tell me I'm not alone?!) who almost always have issues.      



This tutorial will show you what I do to ensure little or no slipping and sliding when installing a hidden zipper for pillows.  

Please Note:  I use the Hidden Zipper Tutorial from S.O.T.A.K Handmade.  I follow each step, with the exception of pinning the zipper in place.  



Gather your supplies: Quilted pillow top, two backing fabric pieces and your zipper of choice.



I happen to have this glue by Roxanne, but I also have Elmer's Washable Glue.  Both are perfect!  If you are using Elmer's Washable Glue, twist the cap half way open to restrict the flow. You don't need a special tip at all!



Marking the zipper with the width of the pillow back is a great idea.  That way you have a better chance of lining up the back panels.  Also make sure you center it between the zipper stops.



Squeeze a thin bead of glue from the markings to the middle of the zipper.  Lay your panel on the zipper lining it up at the mark.  

 

Using a hot dry iron (no steam), press and hold the iron on the fabric/zipper.  It doesn't take a long time, maybe 30 seconds.  Move the iron along the zipper until set.



Once the first half is set, I repeat the same process for the last half.  I do one half at a time so that I don't make a mess and get glue everywhere!  If I can make a mess...I will!

 

See!  The glue is magic!  The panel is secure to the zipper and it's nice and smooth.  The truth is gluing takes very little time.  I would almost bet it takes me longer to pin than glue! Plus, I'm not getting stuck with pins! 



The next step is stitching.  Just follow the tutorial and you can't go wrong.  Another bonus with this tutorial is you can use your regular foot!  I adjust the needle to the left or right until it's where I want it to be.  



Top stitched perfection! 



Glue baste the top panel following the tutorial and viola! no puckering, slipping, sliding or shifting!  



Lay the quilted top right sides together, pin and stitch around the edges.  I always add 1/2" to my pillow back fabric in case things don't quite line up.  However, with glue basting it has become less of an issue.  Just a friendly reminder, and it is stated in the tutorial...be sure to open your zipper before the final step!  Been there, done that!



For a more finished look and to prevent crazy fraying when washed, I zig zag around all four sides.    



That's it!  I've done my fair share of zippers over the past few years and nine times out of ten I have some issue with them.  Shifting or puckering, sliding or slipping.  Perhaps that's why I have never been comfortable installing zippers...ever!  After glue basting half a dozen now, I'm confident that this method is the answer to my zipper phobia!

I hope you give it a try if you have any of 'my' issues with zippers.  You just might want to adopt me after you give it a go!  

How do you feel about zippers?  Do you have a 'go to' method?  Or maybe some tips and tricks?


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Juicy Fruit :: Mini Pillows

This is kind of a double whammy, maybe even a triple whammy!  It all depends on how you look at it!

I decided to follow along with The Honey Pot Bee hosted by @Molli Sparkles.  You may have heard about it.  Basically, it's a virtual bee where two blocks will be shared each month.  You can make both, make one or make none!  Low key and low stress.  I won't be making all of the blocks, but I was a bit smitten with these little berries!


12" x 12" Berry Pillows 
One of the blocks this month is a strawberry block.  Cute as a bug, don't you think?!  I'm exploring my 'cute' side once again and couldn't resist!  (whammy #1)

The block is by @Skyberries Handmade, and the tutorial for it is available here: Strawberry Block.  



I was for sure going with pink and went with solids because...well, I like solids!  I ransacked my scraps and came up with 17 different shades of pinks.  As I was picking the colors I thought it would be fun to add one little print...mixing it up, taking a chance, giving it a twist...just having fun!



The pink berry was so cute I had to make another one in blue.  The plan for these two was going to be Mini Pillows for a couple who just bought their first house.  A house warming gift. Not only that, they have a son and are expecting a daughter in a few months.  Hence...pink and blue! (whammy #2)



With the blocks finishing at 7 1/2" x 10 1/2", I had to add borders around each side so they would fit my 12" pillow forms.  



The quilting took very little time.  Diagonal lines in the berry using coordinating thread, a little bit in the stem and leaves and 1/4" and 1/2" lines to frame each berry.  Honestly, I wish I had played with FMQ here, but my other machine wasn't set up and I really wanted to keep going with these.  

After the quilting I squared them up and searched high and low for the perfect backing fabric.  It was a good way to use something from my stash and add just a little more pizazz!



It seems every time I make pillows I use the hidden zipper method from SOTAK Handmade, which I love to death!  Even more so now that I glue baste the zipper before sewing it. Which brings me to Whammy #3!  I decided to show you how I glue baste zippers in conjunction to the tutorial.  I'll get that post together in a couple days.  



Berries, fruit, pink...bee's!  It seemed appropriate to me! 



If I had a blue insect, it would be here!  Instead a little frolicking puppy will have to do!



It wasn't until I got towards the end of finishing the pillows, I discovered I didn't have to extra forms like I had thought!  After a few kicks in the behind and freely flying swears...my only option at the time was to make my own forms.  I didn't want to stop progress and hey, that bag of polyfil from years ago...perfect!

They turned out adorable in my opinion!  The size isn't going to make a statement on a couch, but the size is perfect for two little ones to toss around!


Here is the tutorial::  ZIPPER GLUE BASTING TUTORIAL

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