Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Playing with the Longarm and Blogging Frustrations

I just realized that it has been quite awhile since my last post. I am still busy sewing but have been having some blogging difficulties lately. While I have no trouble posting it seems that my difficulties in leaving and receiving comments in my email is pretty much impossible. I get some of your comments in my email but not others and any comments I leave immediately bounce back saying they cannot be delivered! I miss my conversations with my blogging friends and the connection with everyone but am not sure how to fix it.

Anyway, I have been back on my longarm this month and finished up this fun winter quilt that was Quilt Doodles 2014 BOM. I made a few changes to the original pattern and love the finished result, a fun winter quilt in the guest room.

I even had some fun with the backing. I did not have enough of the backing fabric but did have a bunch of left over strips from the piano key border and one snowman face that I made the wrong size that I was able to incorporate into this pieced back.

And here are a few photos of the quilting detail. My longarm quilting still has a long way to go but I am learning to just have fun with it and try to come up with a few new pattern ideas here and there. This is the area I have the least confidence in but at least my tops are finally becoming quilts!

I also finished the 2014 Bonnie Hunter Mystery, Grand Illusion, just in time as this year's mystery begins on Friday.

You may have heard of the Moda Sampler Shuffle a block of the week available online through many different quilt stores. I am making my 6" blocks mostly from an old Moda fabric line Noteworthy by Sweetwater. These are fun little blocks and a great way to use up some fabric that I have had sitting around awhile. Perfect for those days when I just need some easy stitching. Here are the first 9 blocks, so cute and fun to make.

And ever so slowly I am assembling the blue and white Antique Wedding Sampler, sure hope I can show a photo soon.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

The last of the Antique Wedding Sampler blocks

My journey with the Antique Wedding Sampler is sadly nearing the end. Sad, because I have enjoyed this project so much that I hate to see it ending. But, of course, I am excited to be close to a finished top and have had to start thinking about putting it all together. But first the last of the blocks.

Here is Block 22. I was excited when I found the center fabric in my stash. I had not pulled it originally because there was a yellow background surrounding ovals of blue and white and I didn't really even consider using it. But I am happy I remembered the fabric and had a chance to add this little Chinese pagoda. Those corner broderie perse motifs also came from that collection and had a yellow background. Sometimes you just have to be brave and give it a try!

Block 24. Not my favorite block but I do love that fabric in the leaves. Wish I had noticed it in my stash a little earlier in the process.

And finally Block 25. The fish/carp is a popular Chinese motif and I was happy to get a final bit of Asian influence in the quilt. I really like how this block turned out, another favorite!

Before these blocks were completed, I began the process of arranging the blocks on my design wall. I can't show photos because I stupidly deleted them all before this post, but let's just say there was lots of rearranging. I am not sure it this will be the final placement but I think I am close. And I also cut my sashing and cornerstones and after much deliberation, my setting triangles. The original pattern has broderie perse in those setting triangles and I was planning to do that using this fan motif.

But as I started putting my sashing and cornerstones up I started thinking about just using the focus fabric as the setting triangles instead. I just love the print and had used it in several of the blocks as broderie perse but nowhere in the quilt could I see the actual fabric. I figured I would cut just a few triangles and see how it looked compared to the broderie perse and I loved the results. I prefer how it finishes the quilt and love that the print is now highlighted. I feel almost guilty for forgoing the broderie perse in those setting triangles but know this is a better choice for me!

Now if only I can figure out how to use my stripe fabric for the final border!


Friday, October 30, 2015

My first Feathered Star and some finishes

Seems like I haven't posted in awhile but I sure have been busy sewing. Sometimes I just feel the urge to sew like crazy and this week was one of those times. I actually ended up with several finishes, cleaned up some areas of the studio and tried out some precision piecing all while feeling a bit of a cold. And we babysat the grandchildren twice! How is it that some weeks I can get so much done and other weeks it feels like I have accomplished nothing! Anyway, first up is my first attempt at a feathered star. I followed an online tutorial on a blog, It's Molly's Place, and in one long morning made this block. I am really pleased with how it turned out and now have the confidence to try this block again in a bigger project. Careful cutting, a perfect seam allowance and slow careful stitching were all it took to get good results.

That afternoon I quilted and bound it making this cute little wall hanging.

It should complement this batik quilt, Winter Blooms, which I quilted the following day. Sadly you cannot see much of the quilting in these photos. This will be perfect hanging in my livingroom after the Christmas chaos when I am in the mood for these more serene colors.

And speaking of Christmas, I quilted and bound this Sampler Magic quilt from a pattern by Lori Smith that I made to use on my bed at Christmas. I love the non traditional colors and touches of shiny gold. Perfect to add a little bling to the holiday.

And my Mystery Gone Astray quilt is now ready to be used as a throw when I decorate the livingroom for Christmas. This quilt began it's life as a mystery quilt but after making 200 flying geese units I saw a photo of a quilt like this and decided to come up with the pattern and use those units in this quilt instead. The mystery was revealed a week ago and I like my version better so I am happy I followed my gut on this one.

Bonnie Hunter's mystery should be beginning next month so I have been clearing the decks to get ready for some power piecing to start. The colors have not yet been released but I am starting to think about what colors I might use, hope I can just raid my stash!


Saturday, October 17, 2015

More Antique Wedding Sampler blocks and a UFO

Back to my blue and white Wedding Sampler blocks. I am really getting to the end of these blocks and need to start prepping all the setting triangles. This is such a fun journey I am really sad to see it coming to an end.

Here is Block 19. This was a fairly simple block that was hand pieced and hand appliqued. I really enjoyed fussy cutting a stripe fabric for the star points but am a little disappointed that the points of the star get rather lost next to the blue print fabric. Oh well, still a fun block.

In Block 20 I again used a stripe print but this time not in the star points. This stripe is planned for the final border so I wanted to use it in at least one of the blocks. Not sure that it is quite as successful as I hoped but it will do. On the other hand I am very pleased with the Broderie Perse in this block.

I was a little concerned because some of this fabric had yellow in it that I need to eliminate while doing the appliqué as you can see in this photo. Another fabric that I am so happy to have in the front of the quilt as I think I may have enough of it to use for the backing.

Block 21. I did not enjoy doing this one! I hand pieced those tiny corner stars, 3" finished. The rest is machine pieced and hand appliqued. And when I finished I realized that the center Broderie Perse motif is oriented the wrong way. I think it is staying as it is!

Since I am getting towards the end I have been playing around with the block arrangement. Still not close to a decision here.

Because I am finished machine piecing the blocks on this project, I pulled out an old UFO which I am now calling Winter Blooms. I started this one about a year ago as a challenge to myself to use batiks. I had the appliqué and a few hourglass blocks complete and the cutting was done so in 2 afternoons I finished all the pieced blocks and arranged it on the design wall where it awaits completion. I keep looking at it to make sure all my blocks are arranged in the right way and have had to make many, many adjustments some of which were made after looking at these photos. I think I am almost ready to start stitching this together. There will be a small border of the teal around the appliqué which is being auditioned here.

With one more row added. My design wall and my mess!


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Quilt As You Go Hexagon Tutorial

This week a quilting friend showed me a fun little hexagon table topper that she made using a quilt as you go technique. She used some specialty rulers to make hers and I was intrigued to see if I could make some of these little hexagons without the special templates. So yesterday I pulled out some scraps and made this little tabletopper/candlemat.

Because I was just experimenting with the idea I just grabbed some old fabric but I think I may have to try this again in other fabrics and sizes, the possibilities seem endless and the best thing is that it is a great way to use up scraps of batting as well as fabric and when you put it together it is quilted and bound! As I was making it I thought it might be fun to share the technique in a little tutorial. I am sure this is not a new technique but it was new to me and it is really simple once you get the hang of it.

For each hexagon you need to cut three pieces. One batting, one inner hexagon and one outer hexagon which is also the backing of that hexagon.

The hardest part for me was to determine the sizes of the hexagons as I did not have the special templates. I decided that if I made the outer hexagon 1" bigger all around the smaller hexagon this would be about right and would work with the Hexagon ruler I had. This is the Hexagon ruler by EZ but I believe there are several similar rulers available. I decided to make my inner hexagon using the 2 1/2" marking on the ruler as seen here. You will need a hexagon of batting and one of fabric at this size. These may be cut from scraps or 2 1/2" strips.

The larger hexagon is cut at the 4 1/2 marking. Do not cut squares first as they will not be large enough but a 5" charm square would work or you could cut a 4 1/2 strip of fabric and get several from the strip.

The three pieces need to be layered with the large hexagon wrong side up and the batting and small hexagon in the center. The small hexagon should be right side up and it is important that these be centered. I just eyeballed it but you can check to make sure it is 1" on all sides if you have difficulty keeping it accurate.

Starting on one side fold the outside edge in to meet the batting.

Then fold it over the edge like a binding and pin.

Go to the next side and do the same making sure to match the miter at the corner. Because I am left handed it seemed easiest to do this clock wise but when stitching I realized that it would have been better to do this counter clockwise so I will try that next time.

Go all the way around pinning each edge. Now it was impossible for me to photograph this little tricky bit so I am going to try to explain. If you look at the photo you will see that all of the miters go in the same direction. If you just go around the hexagon you will find that your last miter is folded in the opposite direction which I suppose is fine but it bugged me. To fix that when I was folding the last side I unpinned the firt side and unfolded it so that is could refold them correctly. Really this is much easier that it sounds and hopefully makes sense when you try it. Anyway here is how it should look at the end ready to stitch. It looks weird and distorted but that is just from the pinning.

Because I was trying this out using these rather shabby chic fabrics I thought it might be fun to use a decorative stitch to sew these but certainly a straight stitch would be fine. Lots of opportunity to be creative here.

Once I had made several I laid them out ready to stitch together.

I forgot to take a photo but I stitched them into vertical rows first and then stitched the vertical rows together using a zigzag stitch.

And here is the back.

Quick easy and fun!



Saturday, October 3, 2015

Some quilting, some embroidery and some blue and white

Another road trip is behind me and I am finally back to some fun stitching. This was a trip to check in on DH's aging parents and all I can say is that I am so happy that I have my sewing to keep me going during these times! This trip I worked on this little embroidery, Welcome Home by Kathy Schmitz. The original embroidery was done in all black but I decided to add touches of teal to go with the border fabric. I ended up hand quilting it and think it is sweet on this little stand.

I have also been working on the hand quilting of Mountmellick, the Quiltmania mystery quilt by Di Ford. I ended up doing an echo quilting for the background fill. I was originally planning a crosshatch but decided I didn't feel like marking. Hmm, now to decide how to do the first border.

And I have completed a few more of the blocks for the Antique Wedding Sampler by Di Ford. Here is Block 17.

And Block 19. I was thrilled to be able to find a place to use this Asian toile, I love the pagoda style building. I think those little butterflies need to antennas added.

Today I finished the last machine pieced block in the quilt, Block 23. Unfortunately there were a few errors in the directions for this block. Two of the templates were marked with the wrong dimensions and the layout diagram was incorrect for one of the HST units. Fortunately I figured out the measurement issues as I was figuring out the rotary cutting measurements but sadly did not notice the incorrect HST unit until I showed it to DH who noticed right away that the block looked weird. Oh well, all fixed now.