Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Try something new

The DSMMQG is having a tote bag swap.  I've made a few simple bags for the kids in the past for trick or treating or going to the library.  They were simple, nothing complicated.  For my swap partner, I wanted to up the ante a little.  I made a zippered pocket!  I won't reveal the whole bag now, since we aren't swapping until September, but I thought I'd brag a little here.

 The zippered pocket was quite easy, once you got the construction idea down.  As I was testing the zipper (and possibly making every member of my family and admire and test the zipper), I noticed the pocket kept moving around as I pulled on the zipper.  To fix this I carefully tacked the pocket to the outside of the bag.  I made sure my stitches weren't visible from the outside, but just going through the batting.

 An added little touch that will never be visible from the exterior is that I extended the handles all the way through the interior and sewed them into the bottom seam of the bag.  It's a big bag and I wanted it to be sturdy enough to carry whatever my partner puts in it.

Friday, July 26, 2013


This is the first year for a Modern Quilt category in the Iowa State Fair.  The Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild is sponsoring a prize for the blue ribbon winner.  We also agreed we should all try to enter something so that the new modern category is well represented.  This will be my first entry in the fair.  The drop off is tomorrow and I'm getting progressively more nervous.  My entry is a quilt I'm calling Constellation.
This quilt started as a scrap busting project.  I used one of many of the fabrics in my scrap bins.  I've been working on this quilt as a leader ender project for more than a year.  I'm not sure when I would have wrapped this up, if I hadn't decided to enter it in the fair.

I love the texture the dense quilting in the negative space provides.  I quilted this on my home machine, rather than the long arm, because I felt like I had more control for the precision needed.  I used white Superior So Fine in the white areas and nothing on the prints.  I didn't want to distract from the prints and there was no way I could have matched all the colors.
One of the judging requirements is the use of negative space.  I thought doing something interesting with the quilting in the negative space would be a good idea.  I quilted the space in between the wonky stars in a star burst pattern and I continued that to the negative space in the edges.  I created phantom stars in the quilting.
 I am nervous about using pigments to mark quilting lines and the hera marker doesn't show up very well on white.  I finally came up with the idea of just using pins to mark where the phantom star points would be.  It was easy to mark and easy to remove.

I went with a white binding because I thought it was the more modern choice and enhanced the negative space.  If I had been making this quilt just for myself, I would have gone with a rainbow stripe.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Baby Boy Quilt

An old, old, old friend and his wife had a baby boy recently.  What's a quilter to do, but make a quilt.  I did a little research, I asked Grandpa, and found out the nursery was turquoise and lime with brown.  I can work with those colors.

I fell in love with a quilt by Cluck Cluck Sew, Scrappy Summer.  I've been thinking about making a king sized version in blues for my bedroom and thought I'd test how the it looked without a lot of color contrast.

I went through my stash and pulled the turquoise and greens that seemed more masculine.  No flowers, though some seed pods found their way in.  I cut the bigger squares at 5 inches and the smaller ones at 2.75.  I arranged them in a 10x10 grid and sewed it together.  I think cutting took longer than sewing.

 When I paired up the 4 patch square I always used 2 blue and 2 green and I made sure to keep the orientation the same direction to create blue and green diagonals.  I quilted it with a blue green variegated Mettler cotton which I had previously tried to FMQ with.  It broke constantly under the strain, so I thought I would be good to use up on this simple straight line quilting.  The binding is a Connecting Threads stripe that had all the colors in it.
 Now I have to confess this is not actually a quilt.  There is no batting.  As I was getting ready to baste it, I realized this was for a summer baby who lives in Los Angeles.  A traditional quilt with batting would never be used expect maybe as a floor mat.  I know, because, my kids were born in Phoenix and San Diego and I never needed anything but a light blanket.  So I chose to omit the batting and use a soft flannel on the back and hope that this blanket will get a lot of use.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Seeing Squares finished

Seeing Squares is the second quilt I quilted on the long arm.
 For this one I did a much denser pattern.  I quilted square spirals in most of the squares.  In some of the smaller 2.5 inch squares I combined them together.
 You can see the pattern easily on the back.  I tried to keep my quilting lines between a half and quarter inches apart.  This is the densest quilting I've done on a big quilt and I was surprised that it still has a nice drape.
For the binding I used some Denyse Schmidt from Joann's.  It was the perfect complement in colors. I'm really happy with this last photo.  It is not retouched in anyway and the colors just glow!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Seeing Squares

I rarely make quilts from other people's patterns.  There are 2 reasons for this, the first is that using someone else's pattern always makes the finished quilt feel less like my own.  It just does.  I can love everything about the finished quilt, but if I used a pattern, I just never feel that deep emotional attachment.  The second reason is that I can almost always figure out the pattern, just by looking at a picture.  If a quilt is a series of traditional blocks, I'm not going to pay for a pattern.  If I'm looking at a pattern and I think the designer has made an original contribution and design, then I might think about buying the pattern.  I might also think about buying a pattern if I think the pattern will have construction  or cutting directions that will save me a lot of work.

Seeing Squares is one of those patterns.  The pieces are very simple, squares or squares in squares, so I was really paying for cutting and layout directions.  The pattern is well written, but suffers from one of my common complaints.  The construction recommended is what is easiest to write directions for, not what is easiest to do, or most efficient in fabric usage.  Damn, I really hate to waste fabric.  There was at least half an inch of fabric trimmed off of almost every piece after you sewed the squares within squares.  I hate that.
 I had issues getting a good mix of values in this quilt.  I didn't realize until I started constructing the blocks that value is much more important than color.  I had way too many medium and dark value fabrics and had to add in a bunch of light fabrics.  It ended up being more mellow than I expected, but that's because I didn't have enough contrast.  It's a good lesson.
 Believe it or not this quilt is constructed from 12x12 blocks.  There are half a dozen different layouts that when mixed together give you the really random look.  That part was worth the cost of the pattern.

 For the back I did my usual improv strip pieced into a chunk of fabric.  I had so much more fun making the back than I did the front.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Madrona Road Challenge

I didn't realize I had never blogged my Madrona Road Challenge.  The DSMMQG decided that we would do small quilts.  I thought this fabric would coordinate well with my swoon quilt, so I decided to make my mini quilt into a pillow sham.  I was also under a serious time constraint as we had just moved and were going on vacation during my working time, so it needed to be small and simple.

I saw this pattern in a couple of different places right after I got the fabric, so it seemed like fate.  I did the math on how big a sham I wanted and then how many squares would fit evenly and took it from there.
 I thought I would try something new and hand quilted an outline inside each arrow.  I had pre-quilted it on my machine to hold everything together.  The hand stitching was just decorative.  It was hard!  I was using perl cotton and I could not get the needle through all the layers using the classic rocking technique.  I finally contented myself with just stitching through the top layer of fabric and not worrying about catching the batting and backing.
 I used one of my last chunks of Aviary on the backing as the colors worked perfectly and it shows of the large scale print so nicely.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Charity block

The DSMMQG is working on a charity quilt for a local hospice fundraiser and motorcycle ride.  You can find the post on the DSMMQG blog, here.  We made chevron blocks in Harley colors, black and orange.  I signed up to make a block and finish up the binding if it was needed.  I'm pleased with the way my block turned out.
This block and its construction was definitely out of my comfort zone.  I tend to like straight lines, square angles and no waste.  There was a lot of trimming that produced a ton of odd angled scraps.  That makes me super twitchy, but I forced myself to throw them out.  I've got a quilt that is almost finished that used a bunch of odd little angled scraps and I'm over them.  I'm trying to be more selective about the scraps I keep.

If you look carefully, you'll see I used scraps from both the front and back of my Madrona Road challenge project, which I just realized I never blogged.  So, next up, my Madrona Road Challenge, where you'll see some of these same fabrics.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Log Cabins around the world finished

I took the classes to use the long arm quilting machine at the LQS.  It really makes free motion quilting much easier for a big quilt.  I posted about piecing Log Cabins Around the World.  Quilting it was my first real project on the long arm machine.  It went so smoothly.  This quilt is around 60x80 and it only took a few hours.

 I just did a simple meandering squares.  I tried to keep my stitching lines 1 to 2 inches apart.  It is soft and cuddly.  I can't wait to wash it.

 The binding was a coordinating stripe from the same line, Around The World.