Saturday, May 29, 2010

Glitter in the Air

What a pretty song!


Streets of New York City Quilt Top

This was a fun quilt top to make. Last night I was looking through tons of quilt photos on Flickr and I saw a few of these split block quilts. Then I got to thinking about the cool stash of New York City fabrics I have from the City Quilter.

All of the fabrics in the quilt top with the exception of the solid yellow came from a fat quarter pack my aunt Glory bought for me on one of her trips to Manhattan this winter. When she and I went to NYC before Christmastime we did not even know of the store's existence and were quite put out that we missed out on the opportunity to shop there.  

I found some yellow Kona cotton in my stash and started tearing narrow strips less than 2 inches wide. I cut a 12 inch square from each of the fabrics and a couple more for good measure. I ended up with 12 squares and a pile of yellow strips.

Here is a tutorial )from the fabulous Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson!) on how to make these blocks. After cutting and sewing all 12 blocks I decided that they needed sashing in yellow to make the street effect complete and to help the "roads" meet up.  I trimmed and joined the blocks in a 4x3 arrangement.

I love how this came out!  The yellow echoes the shapes of the subway map fabrics and reminds me of the streets which veer off into various directions. I am thinking that the quilting for this one will follow the yellow strips.
I am also thinking of making a smaller version for a wall hanging, but I am gonna need more yellow fabric for that.
Happy weekend!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Nautical and Nice Four Patch & Nostalgia Honey Bars

I have two new works in progress this week.

The first one is a framed four patch made with Kona solids and a charm pack of Nautical and Nice by Sandy Gervais for Moda. When I first opened up this charm pack, I thought to make it a chinese coins quilt, but something about it called for a four patch with colorful sashing around each block.

I am going to add some borders before quilting it. It will be a baby or toddler quilt. This weekend I plan to find some coordinating fabric for borders and backing when I take Conner to the big city for his grooming appointment.

The other baby quilt is inspired by a Denyse Schmidt pattern from her book, Denyse Schmidt Quilts. Her Hop, Skip and a Jump quilt found on page 116 is made with red and white fabrics. ( I love this one and fully intend to make one for myself using red and white.)

My baby/toddler version is made with part of a honeybun in the Nostalgia line by April Cornell for Moda and some solid cottons in pink and blue.

Of course, I did not follow Denyse's methods of making templates and cutting pieces to size before sewing. I tore strips of the solid yardages in different widths and then cut them to 22 inches. I cut each honey bun strip in half, jumbled them up on the table with the strips and started sewing them together.
After piecing together strips to get the width I wanted for this baby quilt, I decided that 22 inches for each panel was too long. So I cut them in two parts, flipped them around and sewed the panels back together. This one was so improv that I did not even use the rotary cutter until it was time to square up the edges tonight before snapping these pictures.

I plan to add a border to this one as well before quilting, maybe with the darker pink. The binding will probably be extra strips from the honeybun.
Happy Memorial Day Weekend, folks!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Allow for Shrinkage

Over the weekend I started these two baby quilts and I was so happy with the progress I had made on them in such a short time.
Then I washed and dried the finished quilts and was astounded at how much they shrank. They shrank so much I could not use them for baby quilts without repairing them.
So for the last several evenings after work, I have spent my sewing time cutting off bindings, adding quilted panels to each side to widen the quilts and rebinding them. I even had to make an extra trip to the fabric store to get more fabric for binding.

Then I had to redo my Etsy listings to reflect the changes in the finished quilts.  I also adjusted the prices, because they are not as perfect as I want them to be.
Here is what I learned: 
     I am not going to start pre-washing fabrics and battings. I like the look that comes when the quilt goes through the machine washing and drying and comes out crinkly and soft.  However, I am going to take into account that significant shrinkage can occur and be more generous in my dimensions to start with.
I also learned that sewing through several layers of double folded binding and batting will bend a needle. More than one needle.   Schmetz needles, too.   Ouch.
So they are finally done and relisted in the store. Lessons learned and I am ready to move on to the next successful quilting project.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Blogger's Quilt Festival Entry

In the little over a year since I started quilting, I have learned so much. Too much to list here and now. (Maybe that will be another blog post.) The quilt I am entering in the BQF is a recent one which was entirely improvised.
It started when I saw a photo on Flickr of a stacked strip quilt. I knew right away that I wanted to try one on my own.  I had a stash of jelly roll strips from the Nest by Tula Pink fabric line that I had been saving for something special. This was it.
I used white strips of cotton torn from some yardage of Kona cotton. I always tear my strips instead of cutting them, even though that leaves me with a mess of strings to clean up afterward. I just like the way the torn strips work with pre-cut jelly roll strips.
Then I started sewing. This quilt ended up being made in chapters. After I pieced the first large section, I decided that the next section would look more like a stacked coins quilt and the orientation of the strips would change from horizontal to vertical. The final and smallest section was added when I realized that the finished quilt was going to be too short for use on my bed.
Each section was quilted on its own and then I joined them so that the seams were on the front. To cover the seams I used a double folded strip of more white cotton.  More white cotton makes up the binding. The backing is a vintage sheet from a thrift store in a green floral print.
This is my favorite quilt I have made so far. I love the way it just evolved. I love the colors and the tropical palette.  I love all the white surrounding the intense colors, even though my dog has already put muddy footprints on it.
Thanks Amy for hosting the BQF for those of us who do not go to Market.  You are the best!

Baby Quilts Ready to Bind

Last night I pieced these blocks into 2 quilt tops sized right for baby. I separated the colors so that one is more appropriate for a girl and the other for a boy. I added a strip of fabric to each end to give the quilts a little more length.

Then I prepared the quilty sandwich of Warm and Natural batting and white cotton for the backing. After pinning them together, I did the free motion quilting on my TB-12. I used random stippling all over.
This morning I squared up the quilts and trimmed off the excess batting and fabric scraps. Now they are ready to bind. I plan to use the same fabric that is on each end for the bindings.

These will be for sale in my store.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Apron Strings Baby Blocks

Two new quilts in process:

I started with a charm pack from the Apron Strings line and strips torn from white Kona cotton.  This charm pack features '30's style prints.  I surrounded the 5 inch squares with the white and then spent a good deal of time pressing and trimming them.

Now they are divided into two piles and are going to be assembled into two baby quilts.  They will probably end up in a 4 x 5 block layout with some additional yardage for borders to make them large enough. I am leaning toward yellow and will check at a local fabric store for an appropriate print.   
I had originally intended for this to be a windowpane quilt (similar to this one,) but made the mistake of adding white to all four sides of each square.  Oh, well. I am not going to tear these apart, just improvise. This is what happens when you don't follow a pattern, just make a quilt based on what you saw.  I am going to trust that it will come out all right in the end.
I think that these are going to be very nice baby quilts when all is said and done.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Some Free Motion Quilting

I did some free motion quilting today on this quilt. The top has been done for a while and then I had sewing machine issues. It took a little while (weeks) to get that ironed out, and I wanted to get the hang of FMQ on my new machine before I worked on this large quilt.

The most challenging part of FMQ on the Threadbanger is that there is no extension table to make it fit into my sewing table. So every time I need to change the bobbin, I have to remember to move the machine back over so that there is not a big gap on the left side. Otherwise, I will have problems sliding the fabric around under the foot.

The other large quilt I have made was done with vertical line quilting and so I had fewer issues with moving around so much fabric under the needle.

I am trying to do as Leah Day recommends and only focus on the fabric between my two hands. I did find with so much fabric piled up around the machine I had to be extra careful that no stray corners crept under the part I was quilting. That happened one time today and I caught it almost instantly, so I only had to pick out about 5 stitches. 
The back of this quilt is a vintage sheet in the most perfect cool tones to match the front! It was a lucky find at Goodwill.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blasts From the Past

I made all these quilts and love them all!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bad Day, Make Sorbet

It has been a couple of difficult days at work, with another in store for tomorrow.  After I got home I had a bout of dizziness and then nausea, but it seems to  have passed for now. I think it is sinus congestion.

I wanted something cold and fruity so I made some homemade sorbet. Here's how- 

Take one Edy's lime popsicle (without the stick), some frozen strawberries, and a splash of Sugar-free Cran-grape juice. Mix it all up with a Kitchen-Aid Blender Stick until it is the consistently of sorbet. Eat it up with a spoon.

Just a few minutes ago I let Conner outside to do his nightly business, and I saw this little house wren pop out of her nest to see what all the commotion was.  The birdhouse is attached to a garden rake and is on my porch. She sat very still while we were out in the yard and then even posed for this picture after I got back in the house and grabbed the camera.

I gave my friend Emmalee the baby quilt I made for the little one she and her husband are expecting. She loved it. That made me happy.

I finished off two quilts this weekend. The Improv Nest quilt got its binding finally. It is now resting comfortably on my bed.  I also finished the Bricks Oddysea quilt on my new Janome Threadbanger.  That machine did a nice job on the quilting and the new FMQ foot works great.
Ok, I think I will make it through the rest of the week. Maybe tomorrow night I will feel like sewing some.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Little Sister

44 years ago today you joined the family. I am so glad you did.
Happy Birthday, honey!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hello, Gorgeous!

So an important package arrived today-- my new Janome Threadbanger (TB-12.)  I had been thinking about a new machine because the Brother one I normally use is weak on free motion quilting abilities.  I want to be able to quilt full sized quilts on my home machine without fighting to maneuver the fabric under the small throat.
I saw on ROssie's blog that she got a new machine recently- The Janome TB-12. I read her post about why she thought it was a good machine and then did some additional research on that model.  It all sounded good to me.

So I copied her.  I found it for $199.00 online with free shipping. (That is just what I paid for the Brother machine a year ago.) I splurged on a metal free motion quilting foot ($30--eeks) with a wide open area that allows me to easily see the place in which I am quilting. Cannot wait to try that out.

This machine is heavy and smaller than my old machine. The threading procedure is fairly complicated and I had to do it twice to get it right. It has a metal bobbin case that comes out and uses plastic bobbins.  It has few decorative stitches, but I did not want that anyway. What I wanted was a machine that can handle multiple layers of fabric and heavy use.

Tonight after getting it threaded and reading the manual, I sewed some jelly roll strips together. I will probably finish them into a pillow cover. It sews nice seams and so far I have had no tension issues.
Here's hoping this is the beginning of a long, happy relationship.

p.s. The Brother jammed up last weekend, but I did finally get it working again. I am going to keep it as a backup machine, I think.  How many sewing machines in one house is too many?