350 Block Challenge – October Update

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It’s been a long time since I’ve made any progress towards the goal of 350 quilt blocks this year.  We bought a house this summer, and work was particularly demanding.  Quilting had to take a backseat.  Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be meeting the goal of 350 blocks this year, but I did manage to get a few done last month.

I did two blocks for my guild’s charity quilt.  It was my first experience with foundation piecing, and it went pretty well.

charity hearts

I also finished four blocks for the St. Patrick’s Day quilt that I’m making for my husband.  I need to come up with a name for this quilt.  It’s going to be a single Irish chain with diamonds in between the chains.

St Patricks

Additionally, I finished four blocks that I can’t show just yet.  And there was one block that I made a long time ago that I hadn’t counted yet.  It’s the label for my first quilt, which I will be revealing soon.  The label says I finished in the spring, but that’s because I wrote the label before attaching it with the binding.  It took me the rest of the summer to get the binding hand-stitched to the back of the quilt.

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That’s 10 blocks for October, and 1 other that hadn’t been counted yet.  My previous total was 119 blocks, so now I am at 130 for the year.  The goal so far is 290 blocks.  That puts me 160 behind.  There’s no way I’ll be making that up in the next couple of months.  Though, honestly, I think 130 blocks in 10 months isn’t too shabby.

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Checkbook Cover

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do any sewing.  I was finally able to carve out a couple of hours today, and I jumped on the opportunity.  Sewing is wonderful therapy in between the chaos of work.

I wanted a small project that I could finish quickly.  My checkbook gets so beat up floating alone in my purse, so I thought a checkbook cover would be just the thing.  I dug through my stash, and I came across a beautiful blue fabric that I have been loathe to cut up.  This is a fabric best enjoyed in larger pieces than what I typically put in quilts.  But as a checkbook cover, I would be able to enjoy it in a better size.  And I had a complementary purple for the inside.  Perfect!

I followed this tutorial by Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts.  Overall it went pretty well.  I think that if I were to do this again, I would cut the rectangles of fabric 1/2 inch bigger each way so that I could use a 1/2 inch seam allowance instead of the 1/4 inch seam allowance from the tutorial.  I think that would make it much easier to close the hole left for turning it right-side-out.

The other thing I would do differently would be to fuse the interfacing to the inside fabric instead of the outside fabric.  Looking back, I think that is how Amanda Jean did it; it just wasn’t very clear in the tutorial.  I fused it to the outside fabric, and I think that is why the inside fabric wrinkled in the crease.

Overall, I am very pleased with the result.  Especially considering this was my first sewing project.  Up until now, I have only ever worked on blankets.  I had fun, I learned some things, and I have a pretty new checkbook cover.  It was a good afternoon.

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Ahh…Tesnsion

Last night I was happily quilting along, having a grand old time while watching quilt cam.  I couldn’t believe how much progress I was making, and how much better my quilting was looking from when I first started this pattern a couple of days ago.  After a while, my bobbin thread snapped, so I turned the quilt over to check the back.  And what did meet my horrified eyes?  This:

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I always check the back after every bobbin, just to make sure nothing crazy has happened with the tension.  Since all of my previous checks had shown perfect tension, I didn’t feel the need to check sooner this time.  But boy was I ever wrong.  All of the quilting I did last night must be ripped out, because the tension was atrocious!  I have no idea what went wrong.  Looking at the quilting reveals that it quite suddenly went from perfect tension to awful tension, with nothing in between.  The machine sounded and behaved the same, so I had no clues to indicate that something was amiss.

I’ve already spent about an hour ripping, and I suspect I’ve got at least a couple more hours of it ahead of me.  Too bad ripping stitches takes so much longer than sewing them.  I’ve learned my lesson, though.  Now I will check the tension promptly after beginning each sewing session, just in case something evil has happened in the hours my machine sat unattended.

Linking up with WiP Wednesday.

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Whip Stitch Vs Ladder Stitch

When I started binding, the only stitch I knew to do was the whip stitch.  It’s the most intuitive way to join the binding to the back of the quilt, and it was the only method I had seen in my browsing of blogs.  All of the binding tutorials I found demonstrated the whip stitch, so I came to believe that was the only option in the world of hand stitching.  I didn’t want to stitch the binding down by machine partly because I enjoy hand stitching, and mostly because I’m really not a fan of the obvious seam that it produces.  But if I’m honest, I can’t exactly say that my efforts at a whip stitch looked much better.

whip stitched binding

binding sewn with whip stitch

I found myself incredibly frustrated with the painfully obvious stitching, but I couldn’t find any better options.  I felt stuck.  Then I saw this post by Cheryl of Dining Room Empire, where she discussed binding methods.  She provided a link to a fabulous tutorial by Mal of turning*turning on the ladder stitch.  This is seriously one of the most well-done tutorials I’ve seen on anything.  It turns out that the ladder stitch is exactly what I had given up on ever finding!  The stitches are virtually invisible, and the binding looks incredible.

ladder stitched binding

binding sewn with ladder stitch

I tried the ladder stitch for a couple of inches in the binding I was working on to see how it looked, and I loved the results.  I promptly undid all of my whip stitching, and started over with the ladder stitch.  It was quite slow at first, but now that I’m getting the hang of it, it’s going much more quickly.  Now the binding is something I love that adds to the beauty of the quilt, rather than a necessary evil that detracts from it.  If you’ve never tried the ladder stitch, I highly recommend that you check out the tutorial and give it a try.  You won’t regret it.

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday, Sew Cute Tuesday, and Linky Tuesday.

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My First Quilt – Basted

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It feels like forever since I finished the top and backing of my first quilt.  I just looked back in my archives, and realized that it’s been about a month and a half!  That’s a long time to let a finished top languish without quilting it.  But my house is much too little to lay out this quilt, so I couldn’t baste it here.

My parents recently bought a house about 40 miles from here, so the plan was to baste it there.  But when my Mom was here, my job was crazy, and she was busy painting.  Between not having time, and not wanting to risk mixing paint and my quilt, it didn’t get done during her visit.  And once she went home, it just didn’t sound like very much fun to drive out there and spend a day in her house when I couldn’t be visiting with her.  But I finally got up the gumption to go today, and I got this bad boy basted.

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I’m really glad to have the basting finished.  I’m exited to start quilting.  The plan is to try to figure out how to do a feathery meander for the quilting.  Hopefully that will go well.  In the meantime, I’m planning to enjoy the rest of a wonderful day.  I got the quilt basted, I came home to find a beautiful arrangement of flowers on the table, we’re about to head out to see a play, and we’ll probably follow it up with a slice of pie from Perkins.  Definitely a good day.

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Happily Quilting Away

quilting along

There is no better way to spend a weekend than quilting.  I have really been enjoying this process.  It’s amazing how much the time it takes to quilt depends on the design.  It is taking so much less time to stipple this quilt than it did to do the snowflake quilting on my table runner.  I’ve only run into one major hangup so far.

quilting fail

It’s a little bit hard to see, but I folded the back onto itself and quilted it down.  Of course, I didn’t notice until the bobbin ran out, so it took a couple of hours to undo all of the necessary stitching to fix it.  Fortunately, my man knows just how to make everything better.

sweetness

Caramel corn drizzled with chocolate!  And the occasional piece of popcorn dipped in huckleberry flavored white chocolate.  A perfect pick me up.  And after a good night’s sleep and spending the morning with the hubby, I’m ready to finish up quilting this quilt.  Hopefully there will be no more frogging on this project.

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Ready to Quilt

all basted

My leftovers quilt is all basted and ready to go.  I was surprised at how quickly the basting went.  My only other experience with basting was my penguin table runner, and it did not go nearly so well that time.  While basting the table runner was slow and tedious, I actually found the basting of this quilt to be rather fun.  Who knew that basting could be fun?

The only difference between my method now and the method I used before was the Kwik Klip.  The Kwik Klip is an amazing little gadget that makes both inserting and closing the pins about 100 times easier than trying to do it with your fingers.  When inserting the pins, holding the quilt down with the Kwik Klip helps them to poke through easier.  Then, the grooves at the end of the tool hold the sharp part of the pin still, and you just push the top down to close it.  It really is a fantastic little invention.

kwik klip

Linking up with WiP Wednesday.

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350 Block Challenge – March Update

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I know it’s a while into April now, but I’m finally getting a couple of minutes to sit down and write a post.  The last few weeks at work have been crazy!  That said, I still was able to get quite a bit done in March.  Working with the leftovers of my first quilt meant that I didn’t have any cutting to do, so the sewing went pretty fast.  This quilt doesn’t have blocks, per say, so I’m counting each row as a block.

March

I finished 37 rows, and that was all of the blocks that I accomplished in March.  So, my new total is 119 blocks thus far this year.  The goal so far is 76 blocks, so I am currently 43 blocks ahead.  I have a feeling that overage is going to come in really handy this month.  I now have two quilts that need to be basted, quilted, and bound, and I’ll likely be moving in a couple of weeks.  Hopefully I’m far enough ahead not to find myself behind a couple months from now.

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Leftovers

My first quilt top is finally done!  It was an incredible learning experience all the way around.  It’s about the farthest thing from perfect, but I absolutely love it.  When I originally envisioned the quilt, I thought I would use the background fabrics to make a pieced border.  However, the closer I got to finishing the top, the more I second guessed that plan.  I spent about a week debating whether to do the pieced border, and, with the aid of some photos in which I laid out the options, I ultimately decided against it.  I am so glad that I went with the borders you see below.  I think they give a much sharper finish to the quilt than the pieced background fabrics would have done.

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But now, while I love the way it turned out, I am left with a dilemma.  Since I had planned from the beginning to do a pieced border with the background pieces, I had cut accordingly.  So I now find myself with with 333 extra bricks and 157 extra squares on my hands, all in fairly neutral fabrics.  I haven’t been able to think of any other quilt patterns that would use the size of bricks I have as a background, so what on earth is to be done with them?  Turn them into a quilt of their own, of course!

scrap soupWhen I examined the pictures I took to illustrate my various border options (which I refrain from sharing since they were taken at night and all turned out blurry), I found that I really liked the look of all of the background pieces up against each other.  I immediately thought that they would make a fantastic low volume quilt, so I set about to do some math to figure out what size quilt I could make with those leftovers.  To my great pleasure, I found that if my piecing were perfect, the top would come out to 62X74 inches, and I would be left with a mere 9 extra squares.  Given that that falls within my idea of the ideal size for lap quilts, I was thrilled.  I promptly took all of my neat little stacks of bricks and squares and mixed them up into a sort of scrappy soup.

That’s all I’m going to say about the design for now.  That and I am super excited to make this quilt top.  I love the idea of going low volume, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.  I’m thinking I may even write up a tutorial when I’m done.  For now, I leave you with my sewing supervisor.  That look clearly means ‘get back to work’.  Why?  So she can sit on my lap while I make her a quilt to cuddle with, of course.

sewing supervisorLinking up with Show and Tell Tuesday.

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350 Block Challenge – February Update

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The 350 Block Project: 2013 is a challenge to complete 350 blocks this year in an effort to make substantial progress on some quilts.  Since the challenge was posted partway through January, that basically comes out to a block a day.  Shelly is keeping a running list that includes the block goal for each month, the total goal for the year so far, and the progress of everyone who is participating.  Additionally, there’s a flickr group for participants to show off their blocks.

The goal for February was to complete 28 blocks for a total of 45.  I went into the month pretty nervous about my ability to do that, but I ended up really surprising myself.  I finished 42 blocks!  All of them were for my sister’s choice quilt.  Now I’m (finally) done with all 81 of the blocks that I need for that quilt, and I’m working on assembling it.  These were the blocks that I finished this month:

February 1

My total block count for the year thus far is 82 blocks.  That puts me 37 blocks ahead.  I’m pretty pleased with that since I expect to spend at least the next month assembling and quilting my sister’s choice quilt.  I had wanted to be a month ahead to give me the time I need to do that.

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My First Quilt – The Layout

Laying out the quilt top was by far the hardest part of the process thus far.  I know I made it a much bigger deal than I needed to, but I really wanted a layout that I would love for years to come.  It took four hours of effort, and by the end I was feeling mildly ill from the stress, but I’m pleased with the result.

My main concern was keeping things fairly balanced.  I wanted the fussy cuts, the darks, lights, and brights to all be spread well over the entire quilt top.  I also wanted to sprinkle my favorites fairly evenly throughout.  I didn’t want to get in the cycle of putting things up and taking them down and rearranging everything multiple times.  I knew that if I started that, I would never be able to quit fiddling with it.

Since I was stuck on all of those ideas and since successfully organizing 81 blocks is easier said than done, my inner mathematician came out and I decided to sort.  1/4 of the blocks in this quilt have fussy cutting, so I started by separating all of the fussy cut blocks into three piles – light, dark, and bright.  Then I separated the rest of the blocks into five piles – very light, medium light, medium dark, very dark, and bright.  Next, I counted the blocks in each pile to figure out how many of each type should go in each row.  I tackled the quilt one row at a time, pulling blocks from each pile, and making sure I was selecting a nice range of colors.  I would tinker with the row until I was pleased with it, and then I would move on to the next row.  I think it worked pretty well, because when I was finally done, I only needed to switch two blocks.  For a perfectionist, that’s not too shabby.

As I type this, I’m looking over the laptop at my design wall and I am falling more and more in love with the quilt.  I’m very pleased with the layout.  While I really wanted to quit when I was about halfway through laying out the rows, I’m glad I stuck it out and got it all done in one session.  Now that the part I was dreading the most is behind me, I am incredibly excited about getting this put together.  It’s time to stop typing and start sewing.  Finished quilt top, here I come.

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My First Quilt – The Time Has Come

I just finished sewing the last seam on the last block for my sister’s choice quilt.  Having been working on this quilt for over a year now, it’s a very strange feeling not to have any more blocks to make.  Stranger still was the realization that dawned on me as I was laying out the blocks for a picture–42 of the 81 blocks were completed this month, while it took me a year to complete the first 39 blocks.  It’s pretty exciting to think back to that first sewing session over a year ago and realize how far I have come.  I am much quicker, and my points are much, much better now than they were then.

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These two were my favorites this week.  The text print is definitions of various sewing terms.

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So, at last the time has come to lay out all 81 blocks and decide their placement within the quilt top.  While one part of me knows that it’s not really a big deal, and that any arrangement that is fairly well balanced will look wonderful, another part of me can’t help feeling that this is a very significant step.  That part of me holds the belief that there is surely some elusive, perfect layout that will really make the quilt shine more than any other layout possibly could.  Foolish?  Certainly, but the thought still nags.  As such, I’ve been simultaneously looking forward to this moment and dreading it ever since the day I laid out the first 12 completed blocks.  Now that the moment has arrived, I’m quite a bit nervous, but I’m also very excited to finally get to see what this quilt will really look like.  Wish me luck.  The time has come, and I’m about to dive in.

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Winterfest

I heard about Winterfest when I visited the local quilt guild earlier this month.  They said there would be a quilt show, so of course I had to go.  It turns out that it was rather like a miniature county fair without the carnival.  The festivities included a craft show, petting barn, horse auction, rabbit show, and horse-drawn hay rides, to name a few.

While I went to see the quilt show, the best part ended up being the displays put on by the Living History Museum.  They demonstrated many crafts the way they were done years ago.  There was one lady there with a beautiful old hand crank sewing machine.  I stopped to talk with her and to admire the machine, and she invited me to sew on it!  She had little old fashioned pouches kitted up that she was using to teach people to use the machine.  I really love old machines, but I’ve never imagined that I would ever get the opportunity to actually use a hand crank machine.  It completely made my day.  And I think I made her day with how excited I was.

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Of course, the quilt show was also fantastic.  There was such a variety of styles, and they were all so beautiful.  Some of them were absolutely exquisite works of art.  I took pictures of many of the quilts, but due to the poor lighting, only a few of the pictures actually turned out.  My camera doesn’t like to focus when the lighting isn’t ideal.

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Its a little bit hard to see, but there are actually stars in the middle of each of those blocks.  I absolutely love the snowflake batik that was used to make the stars.  The quilting also features a variety of snowflakes.  Here’s a close up of the center of one of the blocks.

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My First Quilt – Nearly There

My goal was to finish 9 blocks a week so that I could have all of the blocks I need done in three weeks.  It turns out that I blew that goal out of the water.  I finished 15 blocks last week!

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My favorite blocks this week came largely from the scrap bin at my local quilting store.  It’s always fun to find a little tidbit of a beautiful fabric that is just big enough to make a block.

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In addition to finishing those 15 blocks, I also finished the nine patches for the remaining 12 blocks, and I got all of the squares cut out and marked for the star points. I’ve never considered making a quilt of just nine patches.  For some reason, I always thought that would be pretty boring.  But looking at these all laid together makes me think that it’s something I would actually really like.  I’m thinking it would be beautiful if I started with two inch strips instead of the two and a half inch strips I’ve been using for this quilt.

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As you can see, I am rapidly approaching the end of my block making for this quilt.  It’s a strange feeling not to have a bunch more to do, but it’s also very exciting.  Perhaps I will even begin assembling the top this week.

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My First Quilt – More Fussy Cutting

I got another 15 blocks done this week for my sister’s choice quilt.  It took quite a while to cut the fabrics for these blocks because I fussy cut all of the squares for the center nine patches.  It’s amazing how long fussy cutting takes.  I think it actually took longer to cut the fabrics than it did to sew these ones.  It’s definitely worth it, though.  I really like these blocks a lot.

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It’s really hard to chose my favorites when I like all of these blocks so much.  I managed to narrow it down to the six that I like the best.  These first two were made of the leftover fabric from the table runner that I finished last month.  the penguin block has all three of the fabrics that I used on the front of the table runner, while the snowman block has the fabric from the back and the binding.  The grey with the white dots is the only fabric that wasn’t in that project, but I think it fits perfectly with the snowmen.

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I also like these next two blocks.  The dragonfly fabric is one that I fell in love with the first time I saw it.  I didn’t buy it, but then I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  So, a few weeks later, I went back and picked up a bit.  The frog/turtle/lizard/grasshopper fabric was a scrap that I got from my neighbor.  She makes aprons and children’s children’s clothes, and she gives me her scraps to use in my quilts.  Her workmanship is really fantastic.  Check her out here.

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The last two that I will highlight are the rain boots and the dogs.  I bought a small bit of the rain boots fabric when I was working on Polaroid blocks for the Picture Perfect Polaroid Block Swap last summer.  The dogs are another treasure from my neighbor’s scrap bag.

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I’m now up to 54 completed sister’s choice blocks.  That means I only have 27 left to go.  I’m hoping that I can do nine blocks a week for the next three weeks and have all of the blocks I need finished.  I’m not sure if that’s a reasonable goal since I don’t have anything started for them yet, but it would be really nice if I could make it happen.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it goes.

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350 Block Challenge

I just ran across the 350 Blocks Project: 2013 by Shelly of Prairie Moon Quilts. The goal is just like it sounds–make 350 quilt blocks this year.  While you’re at it, share your progress each month and get entered in a drawing.  There’s even a flickr group where you can see what the other participants are up to.  For complete rules, click the button below.

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350 blocks is a lot.  It’s several quilts worth, to be sure.  And I mentioned yesterday that I currently have a bee in my bonnet to get some quilts finished.  I’m ready to be able to snuggle up under one of them!  How cool would it be to actually finish 350 blocks this year and have a couple of quilts for my bed?

Now, I don’t know if I will actually be able to finish 350 blocks this year, but it sounds like a fun challenge–and I’m always up for a challenge.  Nothing gets me motivated like a little friendly competition.  The 350 blocks project isn’t actually a competition, but once I have a challenge in front of me, I feel a certain sense of competition against the goal and the calendar.  The fact that I’ll be checking in every month just ups the ante.

So far, I’m doing great!  The goal for January was 17 blocks, and I actually finished 40 blocks.  First, I finished 24 blocks for the Quilting for a Cause flickr groupTX Sarah will be putting them together with other people’s blocks to make a quilt for the Lubbock Ronald McDonald House.

Ronald McDonald House blocks 1

Ronald McDonald House blocks 2

Ronald McDonald House blocks 3

After that, I finished 16 blocks for my sister’s choice quilt.

bee in my bonnet 1

I’m glad that I’m starting out a bit ahead.  While I’m focusing on my sister’s choice quilt, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to keep up with one block a day, but I will certainly try.  February’s goal is 28 blocks for a total of 45.  We’ll see how many I’m able to get done.

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Bee in My Bonnet

After finishing my table runner, I really want to finish a bed quilt.  And while I’m very excited about Bonnie’s mystery, and I’m close to finishing the units for it, I’m pretty set on finishing the first quilt I started before I finish any others.  So I’m plugging away just as fast as I can on my sister’s choice quilt.  Last week, I managed to make 16 blocks for it!

bee in my bonnet 1

I certainly like some of the blocks much more than others.  I’m in love with some of the fabrics, but not so much with others.  However, I’m thinking that they will all play well together in the overall scrappiness of the whole quilt.  The more blocks I make, the more I think that everything will fit in somewhere.  I do still have my favorites, though.  These three are my favorites from last week’s batch:

bee in my bonnet 2

While I’ve been working on the sister’s choice blocks, I’ve been sewing pairs of flying geese for Easy Street as my leaders and enders.  This is my first time using the leaders and enders method, and I’m loving it.  I really enjoy watching finished units stack up without any extra effort.  It is completely worth the little bit of extra preparation time that it takes to get leaders and enders ready to go.  It will require some discipline to make sure that I always have leaders and enders on hand, but I’m definitely going to work towards always quilting that way.

bee in my bonnet 3

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Wintery Quilted Table Runner

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When I saw the fabric above, I instantly fell in love with it.  It only took a couple minutes for me to imagine the perfect design.  I would fussy cut the fabric into various sized rectangles, frame the pieces with complementary fabric, and randomly scatter them across a suitable background to create a table runner.  I immediately started to hunt for the right fabrics to go with it.  After some deliberation, I landed on the fabrics below.

WinteryQuiltedTableRunner2

My first step was to determine the size I wanted the table runner to end up.  I didn’t want it more than 10 inches wide, because I wanted to be able to set plates on both sides of it without the edges of the plates resting on it.  I originally thought that between 42 and 45 inches long would be about right, but then I realized that if I made it a bit shorter, I wouldn’t have to piece the back.  So, I brought the length down to 38 inches.  I used some of my 2.5″ strips to create at 10X38 inch box on my design wall so I could play with the placement of the fussy cut penguins.  Once I had an arrangement that I liked, I used yarn to separate it into sections.  The sections made it easier to figure out how to put it all together.

WinteryQuiltedTableRunner3

I cut the green fabric into 1″ strips so the frames around the penguins would finish at 1/2″.  Here is where I made the first of a series of mistakes.  Rather than sewing the rectangles to the strip right sides together, I sewed them both face up.  I really don’t like ripping seams, so I debated trashing it and re-cutting everything, but ultimately couldn’t bring myself to be that wasteful.  So, I pulled out the seam ripper and went to town.

WinteryQuiltedTableRunner4

The second go around, I was able to frame the blocks without mishap.  Floating them on the snowy blue background was much more challenging than I had anticipated, but it was fun to get it all figured out.  I made a few minor mistakes along the way, but nothing that was too difficult to fix.  Basting took a lot longer than I had anticipated.  I’m considering trying spray basting for my next quilt, because I can’t imagine how long it would take to pin baste a huge quilt.  Spray basting would also be nice because it wouldn’t allow the layers to shift and pucker the way pin basting does.  However, I’m not sure that I’m a fan of adding the chemicals to the quilt, so we’ll see what I decide.

I decided to quilt the topper with a meandering free motion design that had some loops and snowflakes.  I was inspired by Leah Day’s Icicle Lights design.  I really liked her idea when I saw it, but I wanted it to look more like it was snowing.  So I used her method for the snowflakes, and I added motion by meandering and looping rather than using straight lines the way she did.

The biggest setback with the quilting was that when I tried to do it, I couldn’t move the fabric under my presser foot!  After a good bit of searching, I found someone that had an old listing for a manual for my sewing machine on Ebay.  I saw that the listing had ended without the manual being sold, so I contacted the seller.  A few days later, I had the manual in hand, and I learned all sorts of things about my machine, not the least of which was that there was a button to determine the pressure on the presser foot.  Who knew?  All along I had been looping the thread around that post when winding my bobbins, and it had never worked very well.  Now I know that the thread goes elsewhere for bobbin winding, and that the little nub of a post was what was putting all of the pressure on my quilt sandwich.  Once I got that sorted out, I was off to the races.  I spent a little bit of time quilting on some practice quilt sandwiches, and then moved on to the table runner.  The quilting is far from perfect, but I’m very pleased with it for my first effort.  I used a grey-green cotton thread that shows up nicely without overpowering the piecing.  Here are a couple of close ups of the quilting:

WinteryQuiltedTableRunner5

WinteryQuiltedTableRunner6

I really had a lot of fun with the quilting.  I did have to rip some of it out once because I accidentally folded over a bit of the quilt top and then quilted over it.  I quickly learned to be very careful not to make the same mistake, because ripping out quilting is incredibly difficult, especially in the snowflakes where the threads crossed over each other so much.  So, when I realized that I hadn’t been paying attention to where I was going, and that I had obliterated the little guy’s face below with a snowflake, I decided that it would get to stay that way and be part of the charm of the quilt.

WinteryQuiltedTableRunner7

By far, the biggest challenge in making this table topper was making the binding.  I decided to try method two on this page by Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts.  I carefully followed her instructions to match the lines from one side to the other when pinning the tube, but they should have actually been offset to account for the seam allowance.  Since I lined everything up per the instructions, my strips were offset from each other, so I had to cut them apart and resew them the traditional way.  The continuous method had also left me with wavy edges even though I had done my best to cut perfectly along the drawn lines.  The entire experience was very frustrating, and I won’t be attempting that method again.  Next time, I will follow this tutorial by Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville.

Once I finally had the binding all sewn together and pressed lengthwise in half, I was ready to sew it to the quilt.  To get the odd angled corners mitered just right, I followed this tutorial by Heather Mulder Peterson of Trends and Traditions.  Her instructions were very clear and they worked like a charm.  I think that sewing on the binding was probably the easiest part of the whole process to make the table runner.  Well, it was easy up until it was time to join the two ends to finish sewing it on.  Of course, I managed to mess that part up.  I cut one tail at the wrong angle, and ended up having to rip half of the binding back off so I could reattach my leftover binding and try again.  But I learned from my mistake, and the second attempt went without a hitch.  Here’s the finished product:

WinteryQuiltedTableRunner8

WinteryQuiltedTableRunner9

I hand stitched the binding to the back of the table runner.  I found that process very relaxing.  While I was mostly excited as I finished the last few stitches, I was also a the tiniest bit disappointed because I really enjoyed the handwork.  The uneven edges caused by my attempt at the continuous binding method did end up causing some unevenness in the width of the binding on the back of the table runner.  Fortunately, it’s not really noticeable unless you’re looking for it.

WinteryQuiltedTableRunner10

This table topper was truly a learning experience from start to finish, and I’m thrilled with the result.  I’m also very glad that I got to learn these lessons on a little project rather than on one of the big quilts that I’m working on.  I’m hopeful that this experience will allow those to go much more smoothly, even though their size will make them more of a challenge.  I must say, it’s really satisfying to have completed a quilted project after so many months of just piecing.

Posted in finished projects, quilting, small projects | Tagged , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Quilting for a Cause: Ronald McDonald House Charities

I recently discovered the Quilting for a Cause Flickr group.  The basic premise is that people post the quilts they are working on for a particular charity, and other people send them quilt blocks.  Then the original poster assembles, quilts, and donates the quilt.  I really love the idea.

A couple months ago, TX Sarah posted the idea to make I Spy blocks for the Lubbock Ronald McDonald House.  She used various sized fussy cuts of novelty fabrics set off center in solid or nearly solid fabrics to make 6.5″ unfinished blocks.  She requested that all blocks be made in pairs so the quilt could be a matching game.  She posted the first finished quilt top a couple of weeks ago:

I Spy #1

used by permission

Isn’t it great?  I wouldn’t have thought to turn the blocks different directions, but it really adds another element of fun to the quilt.  I was thrilled to see that she’s planning to continue to make quilt tops as long as she’s still getting more blocks, so I wasn’t too late to join in on the fun!

While I had intended it to be a project that took me a few hours, I ended up spending all day yesterday making blocks.  I got carried away fussy cutting the novelty prints, and I didn’t realize how long it would take me to frame all of them.  I’m glad I talked myself out of cutting any more before I sewed them into blocks!  Here’s what I came up with.  I must say that I really like them, and it’s fun to work on something that will mean so much to someone else.

Ronald McDonald House blocks 1 Ronald McDonald House blocks 2Ronald McDonald House blocks 3

Posted in charity quilts, quilting | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Thoughts of Tetris

The first time I heard of a Tetris quilt was when Melissa of Happy Quilting posted a Tetris quilt along back in June.  I really like to play Tetris, and I instantly fell in love with the idea of making a quilt that looked like a Tetris game.  I didn’t like the way the quilts were done in the quilt along because they don’t end up looking like an actual game of Tetris, but it was enough to get my wheels turning.

I spent some time thinking of ways to make a Tetris quilt, and I spent some time finding pictures of Tetris quilts.  The quilts I saw all used one fabric for each of the tetriminos, and they ended up looking flat and boring.  I still liked the idea, but the pictures I was seeing made me think it was best left as an idea.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I was looking through last week’s finish it up Friday linkup by Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts, and I stumbled on this post by Lisa of Pieces of Cotton.  She was linking up to share her own version of a Tetris quilt:

inspiration quilt by Pieces of Cotton

used by permission

I really like this quilt.  A lot.  Maybe even two lots.  I love the way the quarter square triangles add so much dimension to the quilt.  As soon as I saw Lisa’s quilt, I knew that this was what I had been waiting for.  I called Ben over to look at the picture, and his eyes got huge.  He immediately decided that we needed to make one.  He even volunteered to do the cutting.

Naturally, my mind has been spinning with ideas to make a Tetris quilt of my own all day.  Ben and I agreed that we should keep all of the tetriminos whole so that the design would be clear.  Since I want the quilt to be realistic, I needed to make sure that every row had at least one blank spot.  After all, in a game of Tetris, if you fill a row, that row goes away.  I originally wanted to keep the grid true to form, but a Tetris grid is 10 by 20, and that makes for an awkwardly sized quilt.  I thought I might include a holding queue or write something like ‘EST 1984’ up one side to widen it out, but I ultimately decided I would rather fudge the dimensions and have the whole quilt be the Tetris board.  After a few hours of sketching, this is what I came up with:

Tetris Quilt Sketch

The grid is 15 by 18.  I’m planning to make the blocks finish at 4″ square, so the quilt top will be 60″ by 72″.  I’m thinking that I probably won’t add any borders to it.  I’m planning to use two shades of grey in a checkerboard pattern for the background.  The shades will be close enough that the pattern will be subtle, but it will add a bit of movement to the quilt.

Posted in lap quilts, quilting | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments