Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Virtual Quilts

I can spend lots of time making virtual quilts. Electric Quilt software is a fun tool for narrowing down my decisions. Here are just 3 of many quilt plans I came up with recently.

 I am trying to come up with a plan to use a few of my orange fabrics. I have a few in batik besides these.

 And I wouldn't necessarily use blue with the orange. It just offers good contrast on my computer screen. The plans above aren't final either. The ultimate size would be based on how much I like how it is going. Unless I decide to keep it small for a sample for my lectures. These are all Thirtysomething designs, so that's probably a better plan.
 I have been doing some real quilting too. Both in the studio on an old top and the sewing room. I have a few more Flying Geese units left to make for the Birds-in-the-Air ARE Flying Geese quilt.

Friday, January 27, 2012

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a quilt.

My Birds-in-the-Air quilt is moving right along. I finally decided what I wanted to do with it. One of my thoughts was this arrangement, but I thought the variety of colors I used made it look too busy.
 I will use the plan I showed in my last post, but I'm going to arrange the colors randomly.  I organized the pieces I made and took notes on what else I have to cut and sew. Motivated by my new big mattress, I decided to make it bigger after all. The additional pieces I need to cut will be in brighter colors.
It seems my quilts suffer from being from the midwest where the colors are often dark. Or so I am told.  It doesn't help that my nearest quilt shop handles country/primitive styles. I like it all, but often find that I prefer the darker colors, and I definitely like high contrast. My printout from EQ6 shows a navy blue border, but I haven't made a decision yet. You'll probably help me make that choice. TIA

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's not a Bedspread

I  was saving this picture for when I didn't have any of my own quilting to show.  Dotty Huckaby made this using the pattern "Bosom Buddies" from my book Save the Scraps. She has made several quilts from that book. I like to hear that and I like to see that! It sure is neat to see how she limited herself to just a few fabrics instead of scraps. I sometimes like a design enough to want to make it several different ways. Makes it nice for lectures and workshops to show the possibilities. Thanks Dotty. It turned out great.

I am a little frustrated today because I ordered a new mattress. They sure do make them thick now.  I can't say I wasn't warned, but WOW. The new thickness will make some of my favorite quilts too small  - to use as a bedspread. And I have to emphasize that because everytime our church group makes a raffle quilt, there is at least one that whines that we are not making the quilt big enough for a bedspread. SO??????????

So just scanning my scrapbook where I have noted the sizes of each quilt, I see that I have plenty that will be big enough to cover the top mattress (including the sides), and some that will cover both mattresses. I know I don't want to make the others bigger, but that reminds me of bedspreads we had when we were kids. Back then a bedspread covered the pillow, included extra for a pillow tuck and reached to the floor all around the 3 sides. The only part that was quilted on our bedspreads back then was the area on the top of the mattress and pillow. The "drop" on the sides were just matching fabric that was gathered. Interesting how styles change. Anybody want to change some back with me???

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Flying Geese ARE Birds in the Air

We had snow Tuesday so quilting at church was cancelled. I spent the day straightening up in my sewing room and the studio downstairs. Then I cut triangles for the 4" half-square triangle units for the Birds-in-the-Air quilt. I sewed them together and started playing with them again. First I came up with this.

The bigger it is the less I like it. Maybe I will use the leftovers in a border. I planned to put a Flying Geese border on this one.  Lisa came over and suggested I arrange them in groups of color, so we played with that. I am not convinced I like that. Lisa loved it, Mark thought there was too much purple and I didn't like the red just in one corner. Sure glad I don't have to please anyone but myself, still I like to hear their opinion. It bothers me more when they don't say anything.

I'm a little tired of it now so will go downstairs to quilt.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

four-patches found a home

I played around with the four-patches I made and decided to put them in the corners of scrappy stars.

Then I tried this arrangement too.

Let's see, what else can I come up with. Oops, I can see I will need to be careful that I turn the four-patches the same way in each block.

I don't keep quarter-square triangles precut and waiting from scraps, so I had to cut those. I am making 12" blocks, so using 3 1/2" strips and the companion angle I cut 4 triangles for each star. Anytime I use the companion angle, I always cut a half-square triangle from the end of the strip first, otherwise that scrap is wasted. Here I am using the Omnigrid 96L ruler (The Easy Angle ruler works the same). I will finish the strip cutting half-square triangles too. If the scrap isn't big enough, then I will cut a smaller triangle or square. Those get filed  for a future project.

I'll get these large flying geese units sewn up quickly. I want to get back to the Birds in the Air blocks.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

binding by machine

The adrenaline from quilting with Judy carried through to quilting Thursday when Margie came to quilt. The fresh snowfall kept Shaggy home. It felt good to get back on track after the holidays. The snow is sure pretty, and I am glad I didn't have to drive anywhere.
I got the friendship stars together. I remember thinking the last time I worked on it that it wasn't very colorful. It is hard to believe that this border changed it so much. It sure reads "red" now. I don't know that I am thrilled with it, but when I was playing in EQ with the block I had a hard time deciding on a setting.  Then when I went back to those files while getting ready to finish it at Judy's, this arrangement struck me the most so I went with it without much more thought.  I'm just loving the colors.

In my last post I left to do Lisa's binding. That night I applied it  in 2 1/2 hours - start to finish.  I always finish my bindings by machine, front and back. Sewing the back down by machine always leaves questions, so here are some photos.
After sewing it all around and joining the ends, and starting at any corner turn the binding to the back, lapping the folded edge over the seam. Pin or hold in place as you place it under the presser foot and lower the needle into the ditch. This step is only accomplished easily with an open toe foot. Double click photo for closeup.  The bobbin thread should match the binding. The top thread can either be the clear nylon stuff (if the binding and border are two different colors) or match the binding and border (if they are the same color).      Stitch 2-4 inches in the ditch.

Every several inches, turn the quilt back to check that the binding is folded past the seam before proceeding to stitch it in place. 

I cut binding strips 2 1/4" wide, seam them together with a diagonal seam and attach to the quilt top with 1/4" seam. I trim the batting even with the binding, and the binding laps over the back seam about 1/8". If you prefer a wider batting, then the batting needs to be trimmed further from the edge of the quilt to fill the binding.

To finish each corner of binding, I backstitch before reaching the corner, then when I get to the end of the seam, I pivot and stitch the miter with a backstitch too. Maybe you can see the threads ending at the very tip of the corner.

And did I mention the 4 patches I was making for??? It seems sometimes I just gotta sew pieces together if for no other reason than they belong together. Busy week next week. It is Dot's 91st birthday and she has a Dr appt., there is a meeting with the church ladies and at Benny's and with our tax man. And I have to catch up with my bookkeeping. That will leave little time for quilting.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The short list

Back to the retreat Friday with Judy.  I did 3 of these blocks for "Ladies in Waiting".  I will work on them when I am quilting with my friends.  Won't take much thinking. I think there are at least 24 blocks planned with a pieced border.

On my flannel wall are the rest of the blocks I cut and sewed at Judy's. It doesn't look like much now, because they are stacked in order to sew. If you recall, the friendship star blocks I made a while back, what you see here is the border.

I was telling Judy the other day how I am lucky that I can do whatever I want whenever I want where my quilting is concerned. After looking around the sewing room tonight, I think I have to take that back. I don't think overwhelmed is the word, but sometimes it sure does feel like I have an awful lot that I want to do. I need to prioritize my projects. That's not usually a problem for me.  Take a look at the other piles I have around the room.

This 1930's quilt has been waiting for the border for just a few weeks. That's when I changed my mind about how to assemble and border the blocks, but now I have to locate the muslin that I used in the blocks to make the border. Also not usually a problem.

The binding for Lisa's quilt is half pressed.  I haven't gotten back to it because the table that will support the weight of it had a Christmas tree on it. Put that away this afternoon, so now I can bind. I have 3 others waiting for binding.  Oh yes, a basket of socks is always waiting to get sorted.

These are my newest red fabrics that I washed and ironed tonight. Some of them I have had almost a year and they waited in a special laundry basket in my closet.

This last pile (that I am showing) is actually 2 different piles. One for an applique quilt that has been waiting for at least 6 months. Yes on the floor in the corner behind my cutting table. The other pile is some fabric that I want to move into the cabinet cause I want to rearrange some of my fabric for easier access to the batiks. I wanted to wash the reds first. Sure hope that doesn't sit for another month.

Sew, you say. Yeah, I should. Binding for Lisa first.   I mean NOW, I have 3 hours till bedtime.
 Wish me luck and good luck to you.

Friday, January 6, 2012

1 day quilting retreat

As I said in my last post, I'd post this picture of the quilt top I finished right after Christmas. I am not overly fond of floral prints and wasn't keen on this as I finished the blocks. When I pulled them out last week and put them together I felt better about them. Then my Lisa saw it and was practically drooling over it. Kinda unusual for her. Funny after all this time, you'd think I'd know my own daughter's taste.

Earlier this week I had the lecture to give in Lodi. I was pleased with the response to my Thirtysomething quilts.  And then there was a club meeting at BF. I took my hand quilted sampler for Show and tell. Sue came for a good long visit the next night. In between I got caught up a little on stuff around here that  I neglected last month when Mark was home from work. And then yesterday I had to get stuff together for a mini retreat.

That was today when I retreated to Judy's for a much needed respite from everyday life. I haven't done any piecing lately  and when I suggested to Judy that we get together, she asked if I'd come her way to spend the day. It's always exciting to spend the day with her because I have such a good time chatting and am so inspired and learn stuff too. She's the longarm quilter I used most till I got my machine.  I sure hope she feels I entertained her enough to do it again. I know she liked that she was able to finish quilting this Irish Chain while I was there. I'd love to give credit to the designer and piecer too, but I don't have that info.

A sewing marathon like today always gets my gears wound up. Even though I put several kits together so I could grab and go, I still take some time to look at them first to make sure I will know what I am doing beforehand so that I don't have to do too much thinking while I am sewing with others. Glad that all worked out. Stuff got done that I'll show later. Judy doesn't have the same kind of flannel wall for taking pictures and apparently I should leave the camera home in the future.  Thanks Judy. I had a great time.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Year end finishes

 Happy New Year everyone. I hope you had as good a weekend as I have. Mine was real quilty. It is not uncommon for me to finish a quilt on New Year's weekend. And this weekend I have several finishes to report.
This first one has been waiting the longest. The blocks were just orphans I made in my stash.  A few of them date back over 25 years. Then about 5 years ago, I put them together.  I liked how it turned out so much that I decided to hand quilt it using a wool batting. I quilted about half the blocks and removed it from the frame and put it away for a while.  Then I brought it out about 1 1/2 yrs ago and finished the blocks.  Then it sat for almost another year untouched because I couldn't decide how to quilt the border.  Then I decided I'd rather use it this winter than let it haunt me another year so I let Lenni finish it. The quilting was all simple straight lines so I didn't want anything elaborate for the border quilting. This is how I finally quilted the border. See? That was early yesterday.

In the afternoon I loaded this quilt top for my daughter. She had recently complained that the quilt she is using is to small for 2 people. So I chose this quilt from my stash of tops and she chose simple meandering loops. What a great kid. Fast and easy.  I didn't want to invest much time in custom quilting this top.
Thank goodness I took the picture. Otherwise, I don't know when I would have noticed that I sewed the star together wrong.  And I remembered to fix it before quilting it. Yeah.

There was another top I finished I will show next time. Otherwise, there weren't many  finishes for the year. Usually there are more, but it was a tough year again. And now my time is divided between the quilting  with Lenni and piecing with Bernie (my Bernina) and...
Well, once again, Happy New Year and thanks for visiting.