Monday, September 20, 2021

Scrappy Improv Quilting Book Release :: Full Spectrum

I'm very happy to be a part of Kelly's (My Quilt Infatuation) book release Blog Tour for her second quilting book called: Scrappy Improv Quilting.  It features Mini Quilts that are easy, quick and gorgeous to make, as well as a great way to use scraps that we accumulate along the way.

I've been doing improv quilting for years and one question I am asked over and over is 'how do you do that', or people say they could never do improv.  I'm here to tell you that you can do it!  Kelly takes you through step by step using clear and concise (as concise as improv can be!) directions.  The mini quilts patterns in this book are a perfect way to 'dip your toes' into improv without a huge commitment.  

When Kelly asked if I would participate in the book release I didn't hesitate and said yes right away!  Asked to make one of the mini quilts in the book, I immediatly choose Full Spectrum.  I love a rainbow and couldn't resist this beauty!  

It's no surprise that I used solids for my mini quilt, is it?!  I wanted to make it my own with solids and a black background to show that there are alternatives to Kelly's design.  

Full disclosure, this quilt uses a triangle-in-a-square ruler which is used for several of the quilts in this book.  The directions are very easy to understand and follow.  Once the colorful units are pieced the rest of the blocks go together quickly!

In the directions it tells you what size to make your improv units so you have enough to cut the pieces needed for the blocks.  For this quilt I needed four (4) in red, purple, yellow and aqua in one size and four (4) in pink, orange, blue and green in another size.  

I couldn't wait to start cutting into the improv pieces!  This quilt went together quickly and with each step and block the excitement grew!

It was only a matter of time before it was finished and had to come up with a quilting plan...arguably the most difficult of the entire quilt!

One thing was certain, I'd be making some thread changes by using all the rainbow colors!  And black of course!

The center was the most intense part of my quilting, but it is the center and deserves a little extra pizazz I think!  

It's difficult to see black thread on black fabric, but I quilted 1/2" concentric lines around the the background.    

For the rainbow colors I quilted a geometric design using a coordinating thread.  I love this kind of quilting as it nearly always seems to be effective.  You know the proof is in the back...

The back shimmers and glows just as much as the front does!  It isn't always easy to see on the front which is why I love showing the back view!

There is no denying this quilt has it all!  Rainbow colors, amazing design, texture and depth.  Kelly knocked it out of the park!

If you want to learn improv or if you just want a book of cool patterns to make, I highly recommend Kelly's book!    

Please check out the quilts from the 'Scrappy Improv Quilting' blog tour here:  

9/13- Summer BlossomLori @ Crossquilt
           Up, Up, and AwaySandra @ mmm...quilts!

9/15- FlutterRose @ Something Rosemade
           BotanicsDiann @ Little Penguin Quilts

9/20- Face the SunLaura @ Slice of Pi Quilts
           Full SpectrumJayne @ Twiggy and Opal

9/22- PrismaticAnja @ Anja Quilts
           DownpourNancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting

9/27- FunkytownVasudha @ Storied Quilts
           Cherub WingsMichelle @ From Bolt to Beauty

9/29- Chapel WindowKris @ Sew Sunshine
           Winter FrostLeanne @ Devoted Quilter

10/4- HeartstruckRebecca Grace @ Rebecca Grace Quilting
           Star SpangledChristine @ Triangles & Squares

10/6- Birds of a FeatherPreeti @ Sew Preeti Quilts
           Fall FoliageSusan @ Quilt Fabrication

10/11- OrnamentalGail @ Quilting Gail
            Churn, Churn, ChurnCynthia @ Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework

10/13- Sunset CrossingKate @ Katie Mae Quilts
             Positivity- Sarah @ Sarah Goer Quilts

10/18- All Dressed UpLinda @ Flourishing Palms
             ShockwaveAnne-Marie @ Stories From the Sewing Room

10/20- Sweet Bee, Finishing, and Wrap-Up  My Quilt Infatuation

Sunday, September 12, 2021

HST :: Round Two

Much like Lay's Potato Chips, I couldn't stop at one HST quilt!  Story of my quilting like it seems!

After the last quilt in the previous post, I still had a dozen or so HSTs that I had to use.  With very few to work with I quickly found another batch of HSTs but they had a light gray as the background.  No big deal!  I knew I would eventually find a solution and a way to use as many as I could.

30 1/2" x 42"

And so it is...a pretty good work around to HSTs with different background colors.  I had many 'sit and stare' moments where I wondered what to do with what I had.  Slowly ideas formed and with each step completed I had to come up with yet another solution!

The first step was arranging the blocks, which was easy enough as long as I was strategic with the colors.  I wanted to do something different other than leave the HSTs intact, so for step two I decided to add some curve action.  As you can see I'm alternating the dark and light gray backgrounds.

After painstakingly matching the center and curves the blocks were finished.  Another 'sit and stare' session later, the corner squares and borders happened.  There's a deep satisfaction when a 'fly by the seat of your pants' quilt comes together and looks like it was effortless and what was planned that way from the beginning!

The quilting is my usually geometric 1/2" lines for the most part.  With it being a small quilt I was able to add a few fun details such as the circles.  Nothing fancy with the thread.  I used Aurifil #2600 Dove Gray.

For the backing I used two shades of gray vertically placed and intentionally cut the three pieces different widths.

I finished it off by hand stitching a coral binding around the edge and promptly tossed it in the wash!  

Because we all know quilts are never really finished until they are washed and full of crinkle goodness!  And tossed in a pile for a least for me!

I successfully worked through a stack of HSTs by making two quilts.  I could have easily passed over the stack and worked on something else, but when the mood hits you sometimes have to strike!

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Inspiring HSTs :: Elmer's Glue :: Rainbow

Seems like it's been a minute or two since I took the time to blog!  But here I am and here we go!

When I was writing my 'Sparkle' quilt pattern back in April, not only did I make the actual quilt but I made extra Half Square Triangles to use in the future.  Making HSTs is a process I enjoy from start to finish.  So making lots of them seems to make sense when I'm in that kind of mood.

Then one day as I was scrolling through Instagram, I came across a post by Summer at squats_and_runningstitches for a quilt along she was hosting (#enthropyscrapalong) and I was immediatly inspired!  I grabbed my HSTs, crossed my fingers and went for it.  All the while hoping there would be enough blocks to come up with a pretty little rainbow quilt.

46" x 57"

Happily there were plenty of blocks and colors to make this quilt.  I layed out the blocks in a pleasing to my eye way, but had the constant fear that I wouldn't have enough of the background gray for the solid blocks needed to complete the design.  It was a color that I don't usually have on hand all the time, so it was important to work the design around what I had available.  

It couldn't have turned out any better!  Plus, it used almost all of the HSTs which is a win, win in my book.

When it came time to sandwich the layers together I did something entirely new to me, something I had never heard of actually but decided I was going to try it regardless of the outcome!

I'm a pinner.  It's something that fits my budget unlike the expensive spray basting method.  But when I saw Summer (squats_and_runningstitches) show how she sometimes bastes her quilts I was intrigued, curious and skeptical!  

Have you ever used Elmer's Washable Glue to baste a quilt?!  Could it possibly work?  I'm here to tell you it does!!  (Click HERE to see Summer's Instagram post)

I wish I had taken pictures of the process, but like I said I was skeptical!  If you look closely you can see the drips and splashes of the glue through the top of the quilt.  Summer suggests diluting the glue to 70% glue and 30% water.  I added too much water but even so it still worked.

I taped my backing to the floor, squeezed the glue all over the backing, smoothed the batting, glue again on the batting and smoothed the top to finish it up.  It was pins and needles...fingers crossed the entire time!

My thoughts on this method:
  • Don't dilute the glue too much! 
  • Be sure you apply the glue all over leaving spaces of 3" to 5" like you would with pins.
  • Using this method requires waiting for the glue to dry which takes 10-12 hours.  Or you can use your iron to dry the glue.  If you aren't in a hurry, this is a good method.  
  • The glue soaks through the fabric and will get all over your floor!  I had to scrub the floor to remove the glue.  Next time I'll tape plastic on the floor to avoid the mess.
  • Using this method requires that you was your quilt afterwards to remove the glue.  This would not be good for show quilts!
I was pleasantly surprised that the layers stayed together throughout the quilting process, but will most certainly add a little more when I'm applying it next time.  Nothing shifted, moved or puckered while I was quilting.  Which could happen when adding diagonal straight lines. 

The quilting is a combination of 1" and 1/2" lines using Aurifil 'Baby Blue Eyes' 40wt variegated thread.  I like the subtle color it added to the entire quilt and especially love the center quilting.   

This quilt was an adventure in so many ways!  Would I have enough HST blocks, am I going to have enough background fabric, will Elmer's glue basting really work???  In the end it all worked out perfectly.  I even bought a couple more bottles of glue to use on future quilts!

Have you ever used washable glue for basting an entire quilt together?  It makes sense that it would work since it works great for matching points and bindings.  

The inspiration to use HST's didn't end know how I am!  One inspiration leads to another and another and so on...

Friday, August 13, 2021

Congregate :: A Finish

In truth this quilt has been finished for a couple of weeks!  I had 'things' going on, none of which amounted to much.  Taking a slice out of my day for some simple photos is like pulling teeth!  I put it off as long as I could but it caught up to me!

I started piecing this quilt the beginning of June (Perplexing Puzzle), and actually started quilting it the beginning of July.  Now that it's the beginning of August I figured I should share the results.

50" x 67"

I enjoyed making this quilt!  Each and every block is different, every color of the rainbow was used, scraps became depleted and the result makes me very happy!

I decided to name this quilt Congregate for the simple fact that the center is where the blocks have come together to meet.  With most crowds the fringe of a group is less crowded and gives you a little space to breathe.  

Each block has a different group of colors.  However many of the colors were used over and over.  The centers are randomly cut into rectangles or squares, and especially with the rectangles are either placed vertical or horizontal.

The background is Kona Nightfall which is a deep dark blue that almost looks purple.  It's not, but it sure looks like it!

I decided the best way to quilt this one was using vertical semi-straight lines...let's call them organic lines!  They are by no means perfect and organic means they have a natural flow, at least that's what I'm going with!  

I used different colors of thread throughout the quilting process.  Gotta keep is bright!

Pile it up!  Some people prefer the ever popular 'quilt twist', I prefer a heaping pile of a finished quilt pile!

I'm trying to streamline my sewing and scrap time, so my goal is to make a block or three whenever the mood strikes me.  Much like my suitcase of Half Square Triangles...these need to be another 'staple' in my closet!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Bucket List :: Barn Quilt ✔

For years I've thought about making a barn quilt and now I have finally checked that off my bucket list!  Sometimes you have to wait for the stars to align before things happen!

24" X 24"

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!  The entire process was a lesson in patience and literally watching paint dry.

The hardest part was picking a block and the colors.  I'm going to admit that ego may have played a part in my block choice.  After all its a block I designed in 2016 called Star Thistle.  I figured if I was going to do this I wanted my block to have special meaning if I was going to look at it day in and day out!  

Credit goes to Sarah @cedarforksarah for getting me on my way with this project.  Sarah has a link in instagram 'Barn Quilt 101' that goes through each step, gives great tips and was very helpful to me.  

It's hard to see, but after painting primer on my board I drew the lines of my block using a pencil and a light touch.  

I grabbed my painters tape and a razor blade to begin the tedious process of laying it straight and slicing perfect points where needed.  

Nothing about painting a Barn Quilt is fast!  I'm not the best at being patient, but by the end of this process I learned to be.   

I used acrylic craft paint from my local craft store for all of my paint colors.  I decided to paint two sections using coral and yellow to begin with.  They don't touch and it seemed like a logical choice.

Here's the watching paint dry part!  I put down three coats of paint in order to get good coverage.  After the last coat I forced myself to wait an entire day before peeling the tape off.  The last thing I wanted was the paint coming off with the tape!  Plus, it needs to be very dry because I was going to put tape on the paint in order to paint the next section.

Peeling the tape was exciting and fun, but scary!  Every line was perfect in the end...whew!  Round one completed!

Round two was taped over the previous paint and sealed with primer in order to get good crisp lines.  This round I was also able to paint two colors at once.  Time saver!  

The center pink color of round two was three coats, but the spiky sections of violet didn't go as well as I would have liked.  I must have painted six coats!  In the photos of the violet you can see it looks splotchy and it is, but not quite as glaring in person.  

Another issue I had was when I removed the tape even being super careful there were places I'd have to touch up.  I kind of expected that would happen so I wasn't too bummed out about it. 

The final round was the center square and border in a dark pavement gray.  Same process, tape, seal, paint, dry, paint, dry, paint, dry...peel tape!

I am planning on putting a clear sealer on the edges, front and back.  The plan is to hang in on the side of my house in the backyard.  It'll be under the eave and for the most part rain protected.  Although I might hang it in the screen porch...decisions!   

I love how it turned out!  The colors are me and the block is mine!  I made something that is still quilting related but I didn't have to use my machine or machine quilt it.  That's a win!

It feels good to finish a 'bucket list' project after so many years!  Have you ever painted a Barn Quilt before?  I'd love to hear what block it was and if you had any tips to share!


Friday, July 23, 2021

Slice & Dice :: Much Better!

Every so often I start a project with good intentions and high hopes only to have it feel like a big flop!  Improv if a funny and fun technique that can be hit or miss, but with a little courage it can change in a matter of seconds.

15 1/2" x 17 1/2"

Looking at the final quilt you'd never guess that it only came together after having to slice and dice one little block to get me on my way!

I was in the mood for more improv circles and curves using a different color combination and came up with this.  It hung on my design wall and for weeks I'd look at it and feel...nothing.  Not one ounce of inspiration or desire to take it further.  I was actually thinking the trash would be the best place for it!

Then one day it was sink or swim!  Figure it out or toss it.  What's it going to hurt to slice it, dice it, quarter it, mangle it?!  Whether it worked or not didn't matter.  Something had to be done.

I ended with something quite different from the original block and it was enough to give me the inspiration and desire to take it further.  That's one of the reasons I love improv.  If you don't like something you can cut it up and alter it.

All that being said, I was excited to keep going and in the end I made a wall quilt that I love.  

A combination or curves, color, inset circles and triangles are some of my favorite elements to add to most any improv project.   

You'll notice that the gray fabric is all but obliterated!  The circle above is the only place where I left it.  I couldn't bring myself to use more and I love gray in quilts!

It wouldn't be complete without a lot of crazy dense quilting!  I cannot resist when I have a small project like this!

The back in all its glory!  I'm glad I used a dark backing so you could see the 'doodle' quilting.  Pebbles and matchstick quilting is a winner in my book.  

One of my dreams and desires is to take a design like this and super size it to a big lap quilt.  Seems simple, right?!  When it comes to improv my tendency is to always go small.  Hopefully one day I can change that!