Monday, August 22, 2016

Inspiration from Betsy C

Lately I've been on the lookout for interesting quilt ideas that I may use for my "comfort quilts" (as I've been calling them, for lack of a better name). Not too complicated, fun to make, easy to love. I found such a pattern in Betsy Chutchian's recent book:

The book features eight quilts and gives directions for each in three different sizes: bed, lap, and mini. FYI for those of you small quilt lovers, the minis are incredible!

This is the one I chose to make:

The first thing I thought of when I saw this quilt was "I could make that" by which I mean, I could make it 100% out of my stash. Not only that, but I could utilize some underused colors, such as pinks and yellow/golds.  I like that its all 19th century repros, but colorful and modern at the same time.

The second thing I thought of was, I already have the perfect backing fabric:

This has been languishing in my stash for years, waiting for "just the right quilt" .. heheh... do you know what I mean? Not a repro, but who cares?

Making this quilt was so easy and so fun! I used the above as my focus fabric, and pulled about twenty fabrics for the rectangles (I hesitate to call them blocks).

Here it is with the body sewn together, before trimming and adding the borders. It did tend to lean toward wonky-ness a bit, due to the edges all being on the bias, but don't worry, it all resolved in the end :-) 

Here it is, construction completed, quilted and bound, and fresh out of the dryer:

I machine quilted it mostly in the ditch, with a 4" grid. I think this particular quilt lends itself better to an all-over stipple, but I'm not brave enough to try that on my home machine. The quilt measures 50x57, a nice size throw, and cheery without looking too juvenile.

This will go to someone in need of comfort. Not sure who yet. Maybe no one I know will get sick for a while. That would be a good thing! But if not to someone I know personally, then it might go to Quilters for Hospice or to the VA.

That's it for the moment!


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Taryn's Baskets

I wasn't going to make these. I don't know what happened.
My fingers got itchy, and the next thing you know I'd made a basket.
I started with block 3.

Resistance is futile!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

one finish and a couple new things

 I just managed to get a quick shot of this - all quilted up, bound, and washed - before I delivered it to my chiropractor, Cathy, who is currently being treated for breast cancer.

Very basic machine quilting - ITD between blocks, diagonal grid through the blocks, and "petals", "pumpkin seeds", "orange peels", or whatever you want to call them, in the alt. blocks. It probably should have been quilted a little denser for a better crinkle effect, but I think this will be OK.

 Meanwhile, my Stars in a Time Warp were nagging at me. So yesterday I started messing around with some layout ideas.  Here's a little peek of its current state of being, mostly still un-sewn.

I actually have three more stars to make before I can begin sewing it all together. Then I can start experimenting with some border ideas, a few of which are already brewing in my mind.

And... just for fun, here's a little mini I made over the weekend.

Sometimes you just have to indulge yourself and make a mini. You know what I mean?


Friday, May 20, 2016

Comfort Quilts

Lately I've been busy making what I call "comfort quilts".

A while ago, I made a couple lap-size quilts which ended up going to two very ill neighbors of mine. It was lucky I had them on hand, as they were originally intended to go to the wounded soldiers up at the VA. I decided then, and from now on, I wanted to have a few tops on hand at all times, just for when the occasion arises that someone might need a  quilt.

The idea is to have the tops done and backing ready, so all I have to do is machine quilt them etc. and they're ready to go. The sizes vary. The VA requests lap size (36x48) for the patients in wheelchairs.  For others, I like to make them larger, but no set dimensions.

I had just finished this top when my client/friend Melinda came down with breast cancer. I managed to get it finished and delivered it to her during the worst part of her chemo. I figured out the pattern from a Pinterest pin, and copied the color scheme as well. Sometimes its just the easiest thing to do.

Part of my motive is to try to whittle down my stacks of fabrics. I always seem to have an over abundance of browns, so I played around and came up with this design, influenced by some antique quilts I've been studying recently. I think it might be more appropriate for a man?  Part of me is tempted to add another border or two and make it into a large throw. 

This one is from the book The Blue and The Gray. This is a very easy pattern, yet very striking.  I increased the size of the blocks a bit, but used fewer of them.  This one also could go to a man.

Yesterday I found out my chiropractor has breast cancer. I can't believe how many women I know are coming down with this awful disease! Anyway, this top is next on my list to layer, quilt and bind, then it will be going to her.

I was on a roll, so I went ahead and made the one below for the VA hospital. I rarely make anything with a "patriotic" theme, but I had just the right amount of the right shades of blue and red for this, and got to use up some white-on-white that had been hanging around way too long.

If you look close you may recognize the blue fabric. Its what I bought from Temecula Quilt Co. for the setting blocks of last year's Summer Sampler, which I never made. Yes I bought the block tool and everything, but never made one block.  Well I'm glad I found a good use for the blue, anyway.

I'm sure there will be more of these to come, but that's about it for now. Oh one more comfort quilt:  look at my last post to see my Sister's Choice quilt. I decided to give it to my client Louise, who is in advanced stages of Parkinson's disease. She is the sweetest person, and I'm so happy to have a quilt to give her.

I do have other projects in the works, but nothing else to show quite yet.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Two Finishes

This is my final version of Cheri Payne's Every Day Patchwork, a sew-a-long from last summer.

Yep, more of the "A" word, rudimentary as it is. I think it needed it, and I didn't suffer too badly for it.

I didn't want heavy quilting on this one, so just did in-the-ditch between the blocks, then went across the blocks with the  "hand quilting" stitch on my Janome. I think it came out really nice.. more effective than my own hand quilting, way faster and easier.


I also finished my Sister's Choice, which is a free pattern from Bonnie Hunter.

I'd like to have had it quilted with an all-over meander, but am not skilled enough to do that myself on my machine, and too cheap to hire it out.  I ended up quilting wavy lines on the diagonal, which gives a similar effect, and is much easier to execute.

I don't know about you but I believe the binding can make or break a quilt. I was fortunate to find just enough of this stripe in my stash, and think it frames it nicely and adds a touch of pizzazz.

Happy New Year, everyone!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Madders and Blues

After months and months of being "in the hoop" as we say, I am happy to say this quilt is now finished! I completed the quilting last week, finished up stitching the binding on yesterday, then promptly threw it in the wash.

Here it is above, draped over the porch rail for its first photo op, in the diminishing afternoon sunlight.

These taken this morning, late sunrise. I wanted to get the true colors, which is more difficult to achieve indoors.

I learned a lot making this quilt. First of all, pay attention to what you're doing. For instance, like how you cut the setting triangles, in order to avoid having long seams on the bias like I had. In the end it turned out fine, but it took a little manipulating to get it "square" if you know what I mean. I need to not be in such a hurry and to be more mindful. Although I have to say, I do like the way those stripes look, going at an angle. 

(Learn more about the construction of this quilt and how I solved the bias issue here.)

I experimented with some machine quilting techniques, some successful, some not so much. I first tried machine quilting gentle arcs, but I couldn't quite get the thread color right and no matter what I used the thread looked like it was just sitting on top of the blocks, which I felt detracted from the design of the blocks themselves (see elaboration here).  Then I tried some big-stitch quilting in the blocks which killed my hands (another false start here). I went back to the gentle arcs idea, and ended up plain old hand quilting them, which I think was the best way to go. But like I mentioned, it took a very long time.

For the borders I wanted cables, but unlike in the body of the quilt I wanted the quilting to show up more as a design element.  The most effective solution for the top and bottom borders, I felt, was big-stitch quilting in rust. 

A huge help was learning the proper needle to use for perle cotton, thanks to Shawn at The Rusty Crow Quilt Shop, who turned me on to the Bohin Chenille needles. I used size 24, which slid through the fabric and batting with ease. Perfect! Thank you, Shawn!

However, hand quilting was definitely not going to show in the busy pattern in side borders, big-stitch or no. So I (boldly and somewhat nervously) decided to try quilting the cable with the walking foot* on my machine, using a contrasting color. I think it turned out pretty good for my first try!

You still have to look pretty close, but at least it shows

*a note about the acu-feed system on the Janome machines: this is really not a walking foot, but an even-feed foot, which is similar but not the same. It does not "hop" like a walking foot, and once you get three layers including batting under it, it tends to push the top layer a bit. Which can really skew your quilt if you're not careful. Word to the wise, if you are considering one of these machines.

Moving on... after I finished the quilting, I failed to come up with a single fabric choice for the binding, one which would look good on both the front and the back. In a brainstorm, I decided to try another new-to-me- technique: the double-sided binding. Digging around in my "patterns and techniques" binder, I found a page I cut out of a magazine once that described how to do it. It was most likely American Patchwork and Quilting, although I don't really remember.  I was going to try to do my own tutorial, but I got too bungled up in the process of trying to take decent photos and explain what the heck I was doing.

I hope they don't throw me in jail for posting this.

The only thing they don't tell you is how far away from the edge to sew the binding on. I did 5/8" which seemed to work.

 Pretty groovy looking, huh?

I couldn't resist taking this photo of the two-sided binding all stacked up.

BTW I used 100% bamboo batting, which washed up beautifully and supposedly does not crease. I'll be testing out the warmth factor as it makes its rounds in the rotation of lap blankies that I snuggle under every morning as I drink my coffee and read the paper, even in the summer. This one is just in time for Fall, and the weather is starting to cool a little.

To review, this is my arrangement of the 36 blocks made by six of us for a block exchange last year, which were taken from the Rosemary Youngs Civil War books, or the Farmer's Wife. I am looking forward to showing my completed quilt at our guild show in February, hopefully some of the others will be there too. (hint - you know who you are!)

Happy Quilting to all! 


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sisters Choice

I must be on a roll. This is the second top I've finished in a month!

Mostly made from a Jelly Roll, mostly Marcus Collection for a Cause. That made the fabric selection easy, anyway! I thought it needed the brown border. Which, as you can see, has a little "make do" in the lower right corner.

Meanwhile, I've got a few UFO's calling my name, which have been lingering far too long.