To Baste or Not to Baste…

Can I hire someone to baste my quilts? Is that a thing? I want to do the quilting myself, but I do NOT love putting together that quilt sandwich.

Today was the day to begin quilting Positively Scrappy, so I eagerly spread out my backing, batting and quilt top on my sitting room floor. I gingerly lowered myself to the ground and began the tedious task of pinning it all together. It hurt. A lot. After all, I am on the dark side of 50, my knees are shot, my back aches and I’m fat. After a half hour I felt like I’d been doing intense yoga for several days.

I got about halfway done and said, “forget this crap,” except maybe with a little saltier language. I remembered that I had a can of spray baste in my sewing room. Praise the Lord!

I sprayed the remainder of my sandwich. What a hot mess! There is still fuzz on my fingertips from that little adventure. At one point I thought about taking it all over to the local long-arm quilter, but my daddy always said I was tenacious. He actually used the word stubborn, but I knew what he meant.

Here’s what I learned from this morning’s endeavors:

  1. I’m too old to crawl around on the floor like a baby. I need a couple more folding tables for laying out quilts.
  2. Pinning is painful and I have the bloody finger to prove it. If I try it again I’m definitely buying some quilt basting pins.
  3. Spray basting is sticky, messing and frustrating but it doesn’t draw blood, so there’s that.

How do you baste your quilts? Or do you hire a professional sandwich maker? Also, can you send me his number?

One Bite at a Time…

The Chaos Continues

I’m beginning to feel like this project will never end, so I have to remind myself of the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer, of course, is, “One bite at a time.”

Today I finished Section 12. I did Section 13 some months back, so I now have three left, notwithstanding the three or four I must redo as mentioned in my last post because of inaccurate seam allowances. I’m not counting those today, however, because… well, because I don’t want to. It depresses me.

Despite setbacks, I am quite pleased with how it’s turning out. I can’t wait to finish it and get the pattern ready for release, which I plan to do by the end of 2017. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. 🙂

 

There Was Much Wailing and Tears…

Block 11 of Chaos Theory. It’s not quite finished but unfortunately this is as far as I’m going to get this week. I do love my day job but it interferes with my quilting. 🙂

Aloha y’all. I have a confession to make. I don’t have an accurate quarter-inch seam. I THOUGHT I did, but it was all hubris. I discovered this lamentable fact whilst in the middle of my monster project, Chaos Theory. I’ve been working on it since 2016. I was supposed to finish it by the end of 2016 but for many reasons it didn’t happen. 

What did happen is that I switched sewing machines in the middle of the project. Big mistake. Huge! Turns out my quarter-inch seam was a little big on the first machine and a little small on the second one, a fact I didn’t discover until I had completed two-thirds of my project. Did I mention what a beast that quilt is? Two thousand, three hundred and four tiny squares. It’s taken me nearly two years to get this far.

There were tears when I discovered my mistake. Maybe even some gnashing of teeth. Definitely a few F bombs. I was ready to throw in the towel, because I knew I was going to have to redo a lot of it.

It was absolutely essential that I perfect my quarter-inch seam before sewing another stitch, so that’s just what I did. I read a few excellent tutorials online, which I’ll share with you at the end of this post, but I kept thinking, “My Brother Innovis VQ2400 was freaking expensive. It should practically sew an accurate seam without me.”

To my delight, it does. 

Maybe y’all know all about this quarter-inch quilting foot. I was woefully ignorant until now. If you don’t have one, go get one right now. It will save you a lot of heartache. If you can’t lay your hands on one, though, that’s okay. There are some excellent tutorials that will help you achieve a dead-accurate quarter-inch seam. Just Google “accurate quarter-inch seam” and you’ll find lots of results.

One final note. It doesn’t matter how accurate your seams are if your cutting is off, so your first step to a beautiful quilt is to cut your pieces as perfectly as you can manage. I use the Accuquilt Go cutter whenever possible. I know a lot of you prefer the Sizzix or some other machine and that’s perfectly fine. Do whatever it takes to get perfect cuts every time.

In closing, don’t be like me. Make SURE your seam allowances are perfect before you begin your next project. 

Did You Know?

Did you know the word quilt comes from the Latin culcita, meaning stuffed sack? Well, now you know. You’re welcome. 😉 I’ve been reading a lot about the history of quilting lately. Fascinating stuff.

One aspect of our craft I really relate to as far as history is concerned is the necessity of it…the need to stay warm, the need to re-use old fabrics, maybe also the need to create some beauty even while you’re making something so necessary for survival. I guess that’s why I’m so drawn to the scrap quilt.

In my last post, I talked about thrifty quilting. This quilt top I made in 2016 came entirely from my scrap bucket. Even though it has 1,440 squares @ 2 1/2″ each, it barely made a dent in my bucket. I call it Positively Scrappy. Get it? Haha. If you are a seamstress of a certain age, like me, you might recognize some of those fabrics from the 80s and 90s.

It’s the kind of quilt I will probably use at the beach or for picnics. One I’m not afraid to get dirty, you know. It was a ton of fun to construct and it made me feel somehow connected to all those pioneer women who quilted because they had to, but maybe also because they enjoyed it.

Thrifty Quilting

Some of my quilting friends will cringe at what I’m about to tell you, but – like the honey badger – Scrappy Camper don’t care.

I just bought a boatload of fabric from Walmart.

I HAD to. It was only $1.00 per yard. ONE. Dollar.

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The orange piece – while not the most attractive fabric I’ve ever seen – was just 75 cents per yard. I bought all of it, and I’d do it again.

I’m not insane. Like all quilters, I do love designer fabrics. Tula Pink, Michael Miller, Kaffe Fassett, all make my heart go pitter-patter, but at $10-$15 per yard, I can’t buy as much of it as I’d like. I save those for my special projects. Here then, are my top five tips for thrifty quilting, and how I use those lower-priced fabrics.

1. Walmart

For a while, Walmart quit carrying fabric and I was sad. I find their fabrics to be decent quality and even at regular price, it’s about $5-$6 per yard. Then, of course, there’s the $1 per yard sales.

2. Thrift Stores

I have found amazing fabrics at my local thrift store. Excellent quality quilting fabrics, entire bolts, bags full of scraps. All for a great price. The two prints above were in a big stack of quilting cottons I picked up for about ten bucks.

3. CraigsList

Oh, how I love CraigsList. I check it on a regular basis. I once scored two HUGE cardboard boxes of scrap fabrics for $30. HUGE.

4. Yard Sales

This is a little morbid, BUT…I once went to a yard sale where a widower was selling his wife’s stash for $2 per yard. All of it was quite expensive quilting cotton from our local quilt shop. I bought as much as I had cash for. My husband will probably be doing that one day.

I also once bought a garbage bag full of fabrics and inside I found several coin strips, including the one pictured above. I put them together with some of my low-volume jelly-roll strips to make a quilt top. Even though it’s not that attractive, I love it, and I often wonder about the person who made the strips. Did she die, or just get tired of sewing? I’ll never know.

5. Closet

Men’s plaid shirts make beautiful quilts. The fabric is often very good quality, and who doesn’t love a plaid quilt? I haven’t made one yet, but it’s on my list.

You can also check out my Pinterest board, Thrifty Quilting, here:

So, then, what do I do with these thrifty fabrics? As mentioned above, some of my finds are excellent quality and can go into my best projects. As for the rest, I like to use it for:

  • Quilt backing
  • To test new pattern designs
  • For utility quilts
  • Small projects like notebook covers, wallets, etc.

What are your thoughts on thrifty quilting? Yes or no?

Aloha Halloween

Aloha y’all. It’s October and that means one thing, and one thing only. Halloween. If I still lived on the mainland, I’d probably be sewing pumpkins right now, but I’m in Hawaii so…

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The pineapp-o-lantern is a beginner project – nothing more than squares, half-square triangles and a couple of quarter-square triangles. Grab a stack of 2.5″ squares and get started. 🙂

Download FREE pattern

Winning Color Combinations – Red and Brown

Quilting inspiration comes from many places: a photograph, a shape, a memory even. For me, it almost always begins with color. One of the reasons I love fabric so much is all the scrumptious eye candy. It’s like a painting you can cuddle.

In this series, we’re going to discuss awesome color combinations, and we’re going to begin with one of my all-time favorites: red and brown.

All the Feels…Color always sparks some emotion. Blue is calming, yellow, uplifting. Red on it’s own can be angry or passionate, but pair it with brown and it becomes cozy, warm, (sometimes) rustic. And who doesn’t love being warm and cozy? That’s why it’s the perfect combination for a quilt.

Here’s what I’m currently doing with red and brown.

This is basically a fence-rail block with a pinwheel in the middle. It’s a UFO from several years back. Maybe, probably, hopefully — no, dammit — I WILL finish it one day. I think this would have been just fine without the orange, but I ran out of my reds and browns so being the innovator that I am… haha.

How do you feel about red and brown? Have you ever used it in a quilt? I’d love to see it.

Thanks, y’all, for stopping by.

Posies and Plaid

Throwback Thursday

This little lap quilt is another treasure from my Alaska days. The girls and I spent a wonderful year there while my soldier did an unaccompanied tour in Korea. Between hubby being gone and the bitter cold winter, I had lots of time on my hands, most of which I spent quilting and sewing.

My 5 favorite things about this quilt are:

  1. The plaid shirting – a freebie I picked up at a fabric exchange. Oh, and that pink floral…I wish I’d bought a whole bolt of it. It goes with everything.
  2. Accuquilt friendliness factor – I cut every piece with my Accuquilt Go.
  3. Color scheme – The pinks and greens are delicious…like ice cream sherbet.
  4. Quick, easy piecing – This would be a great beginner pattern. It went together very quickly, but it still looks great.
  5. Beautiful quilting – My go-to long-arm quilter in Alaska, Mary Lou Frahm of Honeybee Quilting did a fabulous job, don’t you agree?

At about  57″ square, this quilt is the perfect size for the beach, or curling up on the couch. I think it would make a great baby quilt too. I might have to make a few more. 🙂

Mahalo, y’all, for stopping by.

I Need a Bigger Bed…

Chaos Theory is coming along nicely, except for one thing. It’s too big to lay out on my queen-sized bed. In fact, there’s not a space in my house big enough to lay out the entire quilt. When finished, it will measure a whopping 96″ square. I don’t know what I’m going to do. For now, I’ll just keep sewing.

I have completed seven of the 16 sections. Only 1,296 small squares left to sew – sooooo – I better leave you and get back to work.

Earth Song

A Finished Quilt Top (Or Flimsy, If You Prefer)

My other New Year’s Resolution, besides the one involving my scrap tub, was to finish something old and something new every month. It’s a contract I made with myself after realizing my UFOs had gotten out of control and that I was going to die one day with a zillion unfinished projects if I didn’t do something about it soon.

My first instinct was to say I couldn’t start any new projects until I finished all the old ones, but a wise friend suggested I alternate one UFO with one new project to stave off boredom. It’s a system that’s worked marvelously. Thanks, Kelly.

Earth Song is my Something New for March. It was inspired by a quilt I saw on Pinterest by Adrianne Ove of Little Bluebell. It’s a bossy little quilt. It insisted on that hippy name. (Not that I’m denigrating hippies. Far from it. I have quite a few hippy tendencies. My two daughters are named after trees and I’ll tie-dye anything that gets in my way.) However, I’m not that great at naming my quilts, so I let this one have it’s way.

 

There’s a small scrap element to this project. The yellow center squares came from my famous tub. The yellow used in the sashing was a fresh purchase. 😦 🙂 Everything else came from my stash, which is great because I need to use that up too. Yay, me.

Now, when I say “finish,” I mean I finished the quilt top. It’s not quilted yet. I’ve been saving for a long-arm quilting machine, so for the moment, I’m stacking my quilt tops on a shelf and waiting patiently. Hopefully next year will be my year to really finish all my projects. Having said that, I welcome any and all advice on which long-arm machine I should purchase.

Skill Level: Beginner

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to beginner quilters. It’s not only easy, but it comes together quickly. More advanced quilters can take it up a notch by using a pinwheel as the center block (A) or incorporating a more complex sashing.

12-inch block w/2-inch sashing (finished)

  • A = 4½” x 4½”
  • B = 4½” x 4½”
  • C = 4½” x 8½”
  • D = 4½” x 8½”
  • E = 4½” x 12½”

Sashing

  • Yellow strips = 2½” x 12½”
  • Brown squares = 2½” x 2½”

Layout

  • 24 blocks
  • 6 rows of 4 squares
  • Finished quilt size: 58″ x 86″ 

 

I hope you like it. Thanks, y’all, for stopping by.