Monday, January 30, 2012

Yes you can!!!

Quilt meets machine ...
You can quilt a queen size quilt, with a meandering pattern, on a small home sewing machine!

As I've shown my progress on this quilt over the past several months, I've expressed my concerns on how I was going to actually get it quilted.  Many of you have shared similar concerns about working with large quilts ... and even indicated that you avoid them because you don't have the right equipment.

I am here to tell you ... YES YOU CAN!!!

I had quilted a queen size quilt on this machine before.  My first attempt (posted here, here and here) was last year, and I ended up quilting it using straight lines.  In part because the HST pattern works well with straight lines and in part, because I felt it would be the easiest way to get the quilt through the little, bitty opening of my machine.

This one, I wanted to do with a meandering pattern.  I started on a small section this morning.  I usually use a pretty tight meandering pattern, and I knew that I would need to go a little looser on this quilt (or spend a week quilting it ;-).

Once I got the hang of it, I started at it in earnest.
Rolling up the quilt, like you can see on the left on the photo REALLY helps a lot when trying to push it through the throat.
You can see ... ultimately ... there is just a whole lotta quilt!  But finish it I did!  Used about 1,800 yards of thread!

It still needs to be bound.  But I am so thrilled that I got it quilted the way I wanted to quilt it ... on my little machine!  I am no longer afraid and am already planning my next queen quilt (for my brother).  With a little planning, a large work surface (my dining room table at the cabin), rolling up the quilt & having an extra chair to set the extra quilt on ... it went off without a hitch!

Hope to get it bound this week and then share some pics once we get back out to the cabin and it ends up in it's new home ... cuz this one is totally for me!

While I worked on this ... John went for a 14 mile run in the pouring rain and then came back to relax in the rain in the hot tub ... don't you just love the umbrella hat (memories from our trip to Istanbul in the spring ;-).

Have a GREAT week!

All the best

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Best part of finishing a project

... starting on the next one ...

of course ... Madigan wanted to be part of the photo op as well ...

All the best

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tutorial -- Scattered blocks

Scattered Blocks Quilt
This is a really simple quilt to make ... likely a good one for beginners.  That said, the tutorial was not the easiest one to put together.  I've made several starts and stops ...

The following instructions are for a quilt that is 10 blocks by 12 blocks or (after a wash and dry) 48" x 57". You will need roughly 1.25 yard of accent fabrics (in total) for this quilt.  I'm sorry, I'm not quite sure about the sashing fabric requirements.

I will refer to accent color (non-white) and sashing (white) in the following instructions. Note, that Images A & B are NOT what I ended up making, these simply represent how I thought it through when I was originally designing the quilt (so the counts and placement in the images are just to give you and idea of what it will look like ... the actual placement, etc is up to you ;-).

Image A shows the basic design of the finished quilt.  While Image B shows the detail of what the blocks are comprised of. 

Image A
As you can see from Image B, each block is simply a white sashing, with a accent color square placed inside.
Image B

There are three sizes of accent squares:  2.5", 3.5" and 4.5".  In my real quilt, for 120 blocks, my cut accent squares were roughly:

  • 2.5" = 45 squares
  • 3.5" = 45 squares
  • 4.5" = 30 squares
To achieve the random look, you need to place the accent square differently in the block.  I used the basic outlines in Image C (row 1 = 2.5", row 2 = 3.5" and row 3 = 4.5" squares).

Image C - each block is 5.5"
Simply piece the white sashing around the accent square until you achieve a block of 5.5" (I am not going to outline the process for this as I'm pretty confident that if you're reading this tutorial, you already know how to add sashing to create the 5.5" block).  Creating what you have above doesn't have to be perfect ... the only thing you need to achieve is variability in the placement of the accent block and a 5.5" raw block (5.0" finished in the quilt).

There are 5 designs for the 2.5" accent blocks, so you will make 9 of each design.  As there are 3 for the 3.5" block, you will make 15 of each.

Once all the blocks are made, your goal is to lay them out keeping three things in mind:
  • color variability -- make sure you don't have two squares the same color right next to each other.
  • size variability -- make sure you don't bunch all your 2.5" squares together for example.
  • placement -- the accent color sides should not touch there should be sashing between them all -- the only exception to this is that corners can touch.
Laying the blocks out and looking for touches
As you lay the blocks out, spin the blocks around to achieve the greatest variation.

Once you've laid it out -- take a photo and look at it ... I laid the one out above and didn't see any blocks touching until I took the photo and then was able to see several instances where I needed to fix it prior to sewing.  Amazing what the camera can help you see.

Once you've got all that taken care of ... simply piece it all together and you're set!

As I said, this wasn't an easy one to write ... so if you have any questions ... please feel free to leave a message below and I will add clarity for you (and everyone else ;-).

Have a great weekend.

Scattered blocks - version 2

Scattered blocks quilt
UPDATE:  Thanks for the comments ... I've added a tutorial here.
This is my second version of Scattered blocks ... I posted here and here back in the fall when I was working on version one.  I actually started this version first ... but since this one is for ME ... it got back-burnered as I worked to meet birthday and holiday deadlines.
Quilt on the guest bed

The quilt is for my guestroom.  This is the bed that I use as my "design wall" when I am quilting in Seattle.  Back in the fall, when I was making this quilt for John's new grand daughter, Juliet, I really liked how the colors looked in this room.

Knowing I didn't have a lot of the fabric left, I designed this quilt to create a patchwork quilt with a more limited pallet of fabric

Varied size blocks ... scattered
I didn't have quite enough material left from Juliet's quilt, so I pulled some solids from my stash to add to the quilt. 
Quilt back
The back is pretty simple, with a little piecing of left-over squares from the front.

Here's the quilt in it's new home ... on my guest bed ... now I'm really looking forward to having some guests!

Quilt by the numbers:
  • 10 blocks x 12 blocks - of 5 1/2" blocks
  • Kona white for the sashing
  • Kate Spade pattern + solids for blocks
  • Pieced binding
  • Meandering quilting pattern in white thread
Hope your have a good weekend!

All the best

Friday, January 20, 2012

Scrap columns

I haven't completely decided what I want to do with them ... but I somehow, I continue to find myself making more of them ...  in different colors ...

I'll let you know where I end up ;-).

All the best

Monday, January 16, 2012

Baby blues and greens

A former colleague and his wife are expecting their first baby in February ... a little boy.  When I reached out to him to see what colors they were planning for the baby, he said he wanted to ask his wife.  She checked out my quilts on Facebook that night and said, "... haven't decided, love what you've made so far, and giving you full creative license ..."

Totally thrilled & flattered that they like my quilts ... but have to admit ... also felt a huge responsibility to lead the color choices for this new little lads room.

So I fell back on my recent design that I had created to use up my solid scraps last summer and pulled all the blues and greens I could out of my scrap bin and solid stash.

Awhile back, Elizabeth Hartman at Oh Franson! did a fabulous quilt with a giraffe on the front ... so I used that as my inspiration for the momma and baby giraffes on the back.

I also found some cute Michael Miller fabric for the binding (you can see my straight corners again in the photo below).

Used a light gray thread for relatively tight  meandering quilting.

We're expecting snow here in Seattle this week ... which is a big deal for us as the city only has very few plows ... so I doubt that I will get it over to momma and papa until the weekend at the earliest.

Hope you're having a great week!

All the best

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Couple of questions

Madigan enjoys the quilting process too ...
I am a self taught quilter ... been at it for about 2 1/2 years ... and for the most part have loved the experience!

But sometimes ... I am challenged.  And it seems that a BIG quilt magnifies some of the challenges ... so I thought I would share a few of the ones I experienced this week as I attempted to lay this queen size quilt out for basting ...

First ... how in the heck do you get the batting to laid out smoothly without tearing it?
Quilt batting just out of the bag

Second ... does anyone else get this weird wrinkling on one section of the batting (I think it's coming from the center of the bag) and do you know how to get rid of it?

Special wrinkled section in the middle
Third ... what tricks do you have to try to make sure that the top of the quilt is laid straight on the bottom of the quilt?  I try to butt it up against a wall and then do a consistent measurement, but wondering if anyone else has any good thoughts on how to do it effectively?
Measuring quilt top distance from wall
Fourth and final ... it's a big quilt, and invariable some squares get stretched out.  How do I account for this stretching when quilting so that it doesn't bunch up?
Green & gray blocks stretched out
Any thoughts you have would be welcome ... both for me and the other 104 readers of this blog!

All the best

Saturday, January 7, 2012

582 blocks ...

Queen size quilt back

The back was finished today ...

Queen size quilt front
The front was finished in September ...

440 blocks on the front 132 on the back ... oopps ... goes that math is 572 blocks, not 582 ;-)

Now ... I need to find the courage to pull it together and quilt it ...

All the best

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tutorial - Geographic Patchwork

Thanks for all the love on my Geographic Patchwork quilt!  I've had a couple of requests for a tutorial ... and since I'm not going to make another one anytime soon, I decided to try to help people understand what I did with a few graphics.

So the quilt is 53" x 60" and is comprised of 6 blocks wide and 7 blocks tall.

To make it with the same effect that I did, you will need 6 different fabrics.  Depending on what effect you're looking for, you could do it with more or less.  These instructions are for 6 (and in my case, that was 1 solid and 5 prints).

If you choose to do with 6, your fabric requirements for the blocks on the front will be:
  1. 2 colors - 1 yard each (for a total of 2 yards)
  2. 4 colors - 1/2 yard each (for a total of 2 yards)
  1. For the 2 colors (1 yard each), you will cut out 6 - 10" x 10" squares from each fabric.  
  2. For the other 4 colors (1/2 yard each) you will cut out 3 - 10" x 10" squares from each fabric.  So you will have a total of 24 - 10" squares.

Clear so far???

Cutting your blocks as indicated in the diagram below.  Two things that you need to make sure of -- if you don't do both correctly, you will end up needing to cut more blocks:
  • All patterned fabric needs to be cut right-side up
  • All of the blocks need to be cut the same way (e.g. as outlined below with the 4" and 6" markers)
Assuming you've cut them right side up and all in the same direction, you will have 96 squares.

On the sketch, I used 6 colors:  white, gray, yellow, green, orange, purple.  The white and the gray are for the 2 fabrics where you've cut more squares.  So choose which of your fabrics is each color.  I wrote them down to make sure I didn't mix them up in the process.

Update:  I've added the following image of the sketch to try to make it easier to understand what I did.  You can see the blocks in the image a little better this way.  each of the blocks has a white and a gray block and then various other colors based on where it is in the pattern.  The white and gray fabrics are the ones where I would use 1 yard of each and the other 4 colors are where I would use 1/2 yard of each.  

As you can see more clearly in the following diagram ... row #1, #3, #5 and #7 are the same as are row #2, #4, #6 and #8.  Hope this helps.

If you look at the sketch, you'll see that the first column on the left is the same as the 3rd, 5th and 7th and the 2nd column is the same as the 4th, 6th, etc.  (note my drawing has 8 columns, but I only had seven on my quilt).

So once you layout the first 2 columns, double check that you've laid them out properly, and then you can set the drawing aside and just replicate every other row.

The biggest challenge for me was just making sure that I kept the pattern going ... as I don't often piece with any complexity, I had use a seam ripper a bit more than I would like to admit on the first two columns but I quickly got the hang of it.

Anyway ... that's all it is.  Pretty simple.  Good luck and don't forget to share your quilts ... I LOVE to see all the improvements that people make on my simple patterns!

Let me know if you have any questions or if I can add any clarity!
All the best

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Geometric patchwork

It started here ...

And then ended here ...

It's for my cousin, who's going through a bit of a rough patch these days ... I thought that maybe something to cuddle under on a wet, cold Seattle night might be helpful right now.

There are 5 prints and 1 solid.

The back is intentionally asymmetrical.

I like the contrast in the colors.

And here ... you can see how I "cheat".  Machine stitched binding and no mitered corners ... I didn't know any better at first, and as much as I've tried to miter those corners, I've never been as happy with them as I am with my squared off ones ... so ... I "cheat".

The quilt by numbers:

  • 6 blocks wide by 7 blocks tall
  • Start with a 10" square which is then cut into 4 polygons (or off-kilter blocks ;-)
  • Fabrics included:
    • Lotta Jansdotter
      • Florine Brass Mesh
      • Little Florine Brass Mesh
      • Aneta Ironwood
    • Rivoli Curl by Alexander Henry
    • Parisville by Tula Pink
    • Kona PFD
  • Quilted in a tight meandering with off-white thread.
  • Binding is Moda Puttin on the Ritz grey
UPDATE:  I've created a tutorial for this quilt, which resides here

It's quite fun to take something from 0 to finished in a very short time frame ... I sure hope that this gives her the little uplift I am shooting for and that I think she needs.

Hope you're having a productive start to the new year. 

All the best

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A minor interruption ...

I am lucky to have a queen size bed in a guest room at both the cabin and the house, so I have a place to lay out quilts in progress (and I have finally learned to lay down a sheet first to catch all those errant little threads).
Start of layout
I still long for a design wall though.
Quilt all laid out
In part, because it would be easier to see the overall design ...
After Emma's visit
And in part, because then the dogs would be far less likely to attempt to redesign my layouts.

Hope you're having a great long weekend!
All the best


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