Another Quilt Is Born – The Full-On Scrappy One

In a recent post, A Quilt Is Born, I talked about one of my bucket-list quilts, the giant gingham. I mentioned the one I made is moderately scrappy and I quite like it, but I decided to make a full-on scrappy version and a totally non-scrappy one to compare and contrast.

Today, I started my super-scrappy one. It’s going to be black/gray/white. It’s hard to form an opinion based on such a small sample but, as you know, I’m pre-disposed to love super-scrappy quilts so I predict I will be happy with it.

As I was sewing this section, I was thinking,”how would this look with improv-pieced blocks?” so I might have to give that a try next. I think it would be fabulous. 

Here’s the one that began this obsession…

Looks like I might be sewing gingham quilts for a while. Have you made one yet? I would love to see it. 

Here are my take-aways for the giant gingham quilt…

  • Super-easy, quick quilt
  • Can be completed in as few as 3 hours (non-scrappy, baby size)
  • Great for beginners
  • A lovely way to study color values

 

A Quilt Is Born

For months now, I’ve been working on a couple of projects that seem never-ending. This weekend, I wanted the satisfaction of a finish, so instead of doing what I know I should have done, which is to continue with my WIPs, I started something new. I did end the week with a finished quilt top, which was enough to make me happy and give me the impetus to go back to my older quilts next weekend. I hope.

The design stage is my favorite part of quilt-making so I’m always interested in the genesis of a quilt. How did it get started? For me, it begins with the fabric usually, but that’s not what happened this time. As I mentioned, I wanted a quick finish, and I remembered something that’s been on my quilting bucket list for a while – the giant gingham quilt, sometimes called the buffalo plaid. You probably know the one. It lit up Pinterest a couple of years back and everybody made one. Except I didn’t. But I wanted to, so I put it on my “Someday” list. 

I also remembered The Fat Quarter Shop has a video tutorial that claims it can be done start to finish in three hours. Challenge accepted. With my pattern chosen, it was time to pick the fabrics. Most of the online pictures show these quilts with solid fabrics as opposed to prints, but I don’t have many solids in my stash so I needed prints that kind of read as solids, i.e. small scale with limited colors.

The first thing to catch my eye was this gorgeous, vintage blue print. (top and bottom)

It has such a painterly quality, it reminds me of a Monet. I knew I wanted it for my mid-tone and it has a touch of white and Navy blue so that dictated my light and dark tones as well.

Here’s the thing with vintage fabrics – they’re not always the same width as modern ones. This piece was about ten inches shy so things got scrappy real fast. I pieced together as much of the vintage as I could, but I ran out of scraps before I ran out of rows so I had to substitute a couple of solids and some leftovers from another quilt, Birdie in My Cabin.

It’s definitely noticeable in the finished top but I don’t make perfect quilts, and I’m ok with that. It would probably drive some of you crazy, so just make sure you start with a whole yard of your light and dark tones and two yards of your medium tone.

I didn’t have a whole yard of anything I liked for the darks, so I used two different pieces. The batik was leftover from Rock N Roll All Night. The other came in a purchased scrap pack. I’m very satisfied with how they look.

All of my lights are leftovers from various quilts I’ve made. I used these pieces in particular because they all contained a touch of a very similar blue to my mid-tone fabric.

I would call this quilt moderately scrappy. It’s not quite as gingham-y as if I had limited myself to three fabrics. The pattern is a bit more subtle, but it’s definitely there. I’m curious to know how it would look if I were to go full-on scrappy. I think I’ll try that one day so I can compare and contrast. I suppose I need to make a totally NON-scrappy one too, in the interest of science, ya know. Damn, that means I need to go fabric-shopping. The horror! For my husband, not for me. Haha.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, that video I mentioned… they used 5.5” squares in an 8 x 10 setting. That gave them a 40” x 50” finished product. I wanted a bigger quilt so I used 6.5” squares. I made 12 rows of 10 squares each for a finished quilt size of 60” x 72”. You can make your squares any size you want, of course. I mean, who’s going to stop you?

By the way, it took me a little longer than three hours to finish this, but that’s mostly because I scrapped it up a bit. I feel confident I could do it in three hours if I stuck with the three fabrics.

 

Ugly Quilts

Aloha, y’all.

I have a confession. Sometimes I make ugly quilts. On purpose. Not for nothing though. That would be crazy, right? 

You may be asking yourself, “Why would anyone intentionally make an ugly quilt?” Believe it or not, there are several reasons. When I made Churn Dash Aflutter, I was living in Alaska with my two daughters while my husband served an unaccompanied tour in Korea. Money was tight so I challenged myself to create a quilt top using nothing but my stash. I wanted to make the kind of quilt my great-grandmother might have made. Something practical and warm using whatever materials were at hand. I had a small amount of one gorgeous fabric, the butterfly print, and that became my starting point. From there, I focused mostly on color, so some of the other fabrics aren’t true quilting fabrics, but they do kind of match. Also, I didn’t have a good quarter-inch seam at that time so my churn dash points are cut off. Lesson learned. Overall this quilt is ugly, yes, but it has its good qualities and I love it despite everything, because of the memories it evokes.

My latest finish is ugly as well, but it’s also quite beautiful in it’s own way. I call it Found Treasure. I didn’t even make most of it. A stranger did. See, I have this quirk. I cannot leave fabric at a yard sale or thrift store. If I find it I buy it, and occasionally I score real treasures, like these colorful strips – sometimes called Chinese coins. 

When I pulled them out of the bag, I thought, “How sad. Someone spent a lot of time making these strips and for whatever reason, didn’t finish them.” I set them aside for months but kept thinking about them – and their maker. Finally, I knew I had to finish this unknown woman’s quilt. Maybe her spirit was compelling me. Maybe I’m just weird. Whatever.

It took me several months to come up with a design, then a few more to sew the top. I set aside the finished flimsy for over a year, but eventually, I got started on the quilting. I worked on it here and there until this month my quilt guild had a day-long sew-in. That gave me just the time and motivation I needed to “git er done.”

I have a name for my ugly quilts. I call them Picnic Quilts. They’re the kind I don’t mind taking to the beach or on a picnic – if I EVER decided to go on a picnic. Which I probably won’t. Ants. Flies. Need I say more? But that’s what I call the quilts anyway, because Ugly Quilt is an over-simplification for these wonderful, beautiful, slightly unattractive creations.

Have you ever made a Picnic Quilt? I’d love to see it.

[NOTE: Better pictures to come in a few days. It was too late when I finished to get any good ones and I just couldn’t wait to write about it. :)]

 

Making a Zipper Pouch in 5 Easy Steps

Happy Easter everyone. All two of you. 🙂 Love you, Mom. Haha. My audience may be small right now, but I have faith…

Anyway…it’s been a busy weekend quilting-wise and that means it’s been a GREAT weekend. 

I decided last-minute-like to make my daughter a little Easter gift so this morning before she woke up, I whipped up this little gem.

If you need a quick gift, you really can’t beat a nice zipper pouch. They are so easy to make and can be customized to the recipient. 

Step One The hardest part is picking out your fabrics, but that’s also the funnest part. (I know that’s not proper English, by the way, but proper English can be so tedious.) Aren’t these kitties the cutest things ever? That fabric is by Cotton Kobayashi. The black lining fabric is Ink and Arrow’s pixie dots.

Step Two Quilt as desired.

 

Step Three Add a binding to the top.

Step Four Add your zipper. Yeah, I could use some practice on that part.

Step Five Sew around the sides and bottom. Ta da. I like to add a little ribbon tab too. Makes it easy to grab and go. And it’s cute.

Those instructions aren’t exactly detailed, but let’s face it…there are loads of zipper pouch tutorials out there and I’m not in the mood to reinvent the wheel tonight. Sorry gang.

I also made a pillow…

And made great strides in quilting Found Treasure. But I’ll tell you all about those things next time. Have a lovely week!

Narwhals Are for Real

News flash, People… narwhals are NOT fictional characters. They actually exist. Maybe you knew that, but until today, I did not.

Just in case you are even less informed than me, narwhals are whales with a unicorn-like horn. Google them. They’re fascinating.

So basically, I just experienced a paradigm shift. My mind has been blown. On one hand, I’m horrified I remained so ignorant for so long. On the other, I’m enchanted to learn these magical creatures are more than just a fairy tale.

My introduction to narwhals was an adorable quilting fabric by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller fabrics.

Out to Sea by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller

Perhaps you can understand my confusion. Who could guess these unicorns of the sea were based on real animals? Not I, my friend. NOT. I.

Now I am not a stupid person, but I’ll be the second to admit I don’t know everything. (My mother-in-law would be the first.) That is especially true when it comes to quilting, so one of my top goals for 2018 is to expand my skill-set.

I recently purchased Modern Quilt Magic by Victoria Findlay Wolfe and am going to spend the next few months learning to sew partial seams. I also want to continue my adventures in straight-line quilting using my digital dual feed foot. I had a great experience with that while working on Positively Scrappy.

Do you set sewing goals every year? If so, what do you have planned for 2018? Perhaps a lovely narwhal quilt?

Happy New Year, My Friend.

 

Sliding into 2018 Like…Woah!

I love the week between Christmas and New Year. I enjoy reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the coming one. What’s amazing is that I’m not super depressed by all the goals I didn’t accomplish this year. The list is long, but staring at the face of a fresh, new beginning, I can’t help but be optimistic. Take a look back with me…

I was planning to go from size XL to size M by year’s end. That didn’t happen. In fact, I’m on the verge of XXL at the moment, but that’s okay. I’ll add it to my list for 2018.

I put 24 books on my 2017 reading list and read only 6 of them. That didn’t go as planned. Too ambitious. If I keep it at 12, I feel confident I’ll get it done this time. Probably. Maybe.

Happily, I did pretty well on my sewing list. I got my studio set up at my new house, which was a major accomplishment. I machine-quilted Positively Scrappy. And – just today in fact – finished my Girlie Mod quilt top. I also made significant progress on Chaos Theory, despite f-ing up several sections as I discussed here. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but… oh hell… that’s NOT a lot. It is, however, something, and that’s better than nothing.

SO…Merry Christmas, y’all. I hope you have an amazing holiday season and an even better New Year. I’m about to write down my 2018 New Year’s resolutions. They will probably be over-ambitious like always, but who knows. This could be the year I discover the secret of life, accomplish all my goals and become fabulously rich and famous. My last fortune cookie certainly gave me hope.

Until then, here’s my latest finish…Girlie Mod, part 1 of my 3-quilt Mod Squad series. I will be posting the pattern next month. In fact, it’s the first item on my 2018 resolutions list. 🙂

 

 

This finished at 60 inches square, making it a nice lap quilt. Another resolution that’s going on my list… learn to take better pictures. 🙂 Aloha, y’all.

How to Get Rich in the Quilting Industry

The person who invents a self-sharpening rotary cutter is going to be a multi-billionaire, no joke, and  I will be her biggest fan.

Today I trimmed a thousand half-square triangle blocks. It was really only 72, but it felt like much more, because I cut half of them with a dull blade. Sheer foolishness. Most of you probably are smart enough to change your blade as needed but I tend to be stubborn about such things. I mean, they’re so expensive for one thing, and I recently moved my studio so I wasn’t even sure where my fresh blades were located. 

Finally, I made myself step away from the cutting table. Sure, I had to search 20 minutes but once I found the blades and installed a new one, I was glad I did. I went from sawing through a chunk of wood with a dull blade to slicing butter with a hot knife. Amazing difference. So much so, I cut the second half of squares in less than half the time. 

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to never cut with a dull rotary blade, ever again. As a thrifty quilter, that statement makes me cringe a little, but hey, that’s what coupons are for, right?

I am still plugging away on Girlie Mod, the first in my 3-quilt Mod Squad series. I’m almost done with the quilt top, despite my crazy holiday schedule. Are you guys making time to sew? Are you using a fresh rotary blade when you cut? I hope so.

Aloha y’all.

The Mod Squad

I began work recently on a new, original pattern series called the Mod Squad. There will be three variations:

  1. Girlie Mod
  2. Mod and Manly
  3. Mod One, Mod All

Here – obviously – is the beginnings of Girlie Mod. This adorable fabric – Chérie by designer Masha D’yans for Clothworks – is just about as girlie as it gets. It’s been sitting in my stash for several years. I picked it up in Wasilla, Alaska, around about 2011 but haven’t used it until now because with it’s large-scale design it doesn’t work for typical, traditional quilt blocks. With such a large center block, Girlie Mod needed something big and bold. Win-win all around.

These pictures don’t do it justice but I’ll get better ones next week when I finish. In the meantime, let me just say, I am absolutely loving this pattern. I’ve been sewing 2½” squares for nearly two years, so it was a delight to work with bigger pieces. I would have finished the entire top in a day, except I’m waiting for my new Accuquilt 4½” half-square triangle die to arrive. I did NOT want to cut those by hand.

Speaking of Accuquilt, except for five large-ish pieces, this pattern can be cut entirely by that method, which makes me so happy. I despise cutting fabric with a rotary cutter.

I can’t wait to show you the finished top, AND start the quilting, AND share the pattern. 🙂 

Aloha y’all 

It’s Binding Time

Today, I machine-stitched the binding to the front of my Positively Scrappy quilt. All that remains is a few evenings of Netflix binging while hand-sewing it to the back and the quilt will be cuddle ready.

I love this quilt for many reasons, even though it’s probably not the most beautiful one in the world. 

  1. It’s a visual representation of my sewing history. It contains literally hundreds of memories. I used scraps from just about every cotton item I’ve sewn over the past 35 years, so it is to me what a photo album would be to a normal person. 🙂
  2. This was my first large-scale project using the Brother Muvit digital dual feed foot and I am so thrilled with how it performed. I almost regret buying the Dream Fabric Frame because I enjoy straight-line quilting so much more than free motion now that I discovered the dual feed foot. However, I’m sure there  will come a time I yearn for free motion quilting again and the Dream Fabric Frame will be there for me.
  3. Speaking of the quilting, I did a 2-inch grid pattern over the entire quilt. I considered quilting in the ditch but decided I wanted to be able to see the lines so I sewed about an eighth of an inch from every seam. It turned out great. The gray thread was a spool of Simplicity Pro 50 wt that came with the machine. No complaints there.

I like to review one or more binding tutorials before I start binding a new quilt and there are SO many to chose from. Here are a few that I like:

Well, here it is…Sunday evening again. I’m off to bed and tomorrow I’ll be back at my day job for a few days, so Aloha for now, Y’all. Thanks for stopping by. 

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?