Monday, May 29, 2017

Leaders & Enders on Steroids

Have you ever gotten carried away with your leaders & enders, and they became your drop-everything-and-make-it-now project?

I had been using these little units as leaders & enders for awhile, but the box was getting kind of full, so I counted to see how many I had and figured how many I'd need. On Saturday I cut enough pieces for the rest of the blocks I'll need. Then I couldn't resist - I chain pieced until I had all of them sewn. The fabrics are all batiks from stash.

Here they are on the wall, first placement without moving anything around. In the photo I see some areas where I need to fix some things. This layout needs one more column on the left and another row each at the top and the bottom, but I ran out of wall space. I'll be able to add the rest after I sew some of these units together and it shrinks up some. The flimsy will finish at 72 x 84".

If you start at the light center and follow the lights clockwise, you'll see that the layout is a continuous spiral.

Now that the units are all made and this is on the wall, I guess it's not a leaders & enders project any longer, so I'll have to count it as a WIP. I guess I need to get busy and move some WIPs along to finishes!

Linking up with the new Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts, and with Em's Scrapbag and Love Laugh Quilt

Friday, May 26, 2017

Finished Alaska Quilt

The quilt my SIL is planning to give to her friend in Alaska is finally finished. She gave me the info she wanted on the label - it's a wedding gift - so I could print out the label and bind the quilt.

I had enough of that green tribal print left and my SIL really liked it, so that's what I used for the binding. This quilt has high-loft poly batting, which I don't usually use, but that's what they wanted. It really gives the quilting a lot of depth and adds a lot of texture.

My SIL and a group from her church do missionary service in Alaska every summer. Among other services they do, they take Vacation Bible School to a remote native village. The logistics involved in this endeavor are amazing. They've been going to the same village for more than 20 years.

After their stay in their usual village, my SIL will travel to another even more remote village in Northern Alaska for her friend's wedding. She has watched this friend grow up since the age of 3, go to college in the Lower 48, and establish a home of her own. SIL thinks of her friend like a niece, and she wanted to give her a quilt, and I'm happy to oblige.

Linking up with Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Friday Finish at Crazy Mom Quilts

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bees, BOMs BOWs, and Bonus Blocks

1, 2, 3:  Bonus blocks for someone else's special project. Only two blocks were requested, but I made #3 first and I didn't like the value contrast so I made #1 to replace it. I'll send #3 anyway in case she can use it after all.

4, 5, 10: Sew Bee It bee blocks. Due to various scheduling issues, blocks for April/May/June were handed out in May and are due at the July meeting.
     4: Dresden Plate featuring bee fabric
     5: Very tiny Plus blocks
     10: Mosaic slab

6: Piecing Group bee block: hand pieced sashing unit for the recipient's Baltimore Album WIP. Not pressed; we float all the seams in hand piecing and the block's owner will press the seams as she wishes.

7, 8: Blocks for weeks 22 and 21 of Pat Sloan's Solstice Challenge. I'm caught up until block 23 is released later today.

9: May block from The Quilted Fox's First Saturday BOM. This is block 9 of the series. I've made all the main blocks and I have the kits for the alternate blocks, but I'll wait to make them until I see the suggested layout at the end and see if I like it or want to change it up.

Lots of variety! This is what I've been busy sewing lately. What's keeping you busy?

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, May 22, 2017

Planning and Cutting

But first, we have our internet/TV/home phone restored, YAY!!! Everything mysteriously came back a little after 9:00 last night. I didn't realize how much I'd miss it all until we didn't have it.  

I spent Friday working off-line in EQ and prepping for a new project. DH wants a flannel quilt, and I'll need to get started soon to have it finished for his b-day in November. 

I've been saving his old shirts that are too frayed to wear anymore, and I bought some cuts of flannel in Paducah recently. I played in EQ, came up with a plan, and spent Friday cutting. First, though, I ran the new fabrics through a couple of hot water/high heat dry cycles to preshrink them as much as possible, since the shirts were already well washed and shrunk. Do you have any idea how much lint that preshrinking process generated?!!!  I should have taken a photo. 

I used the die cutter DH recently gave me and was able to make a test block that went together well. Does anyone recall the name of this block?

On Friday I spent most of the day cutting. With no internet or TV, I had nothing better to do, right? 
I cut
  • Lights and darks for at least 140 HSTs 
  • 70 light squares
  • 105 dark squares

With the die cutter, it went well and my day was very productive. I now have everything cut and kitted up in a project box for upcoming sew days with friends. I even got started on some of the HSTs, which came out just right with no trimming needed. What a time-saver!

See that red plaid on the lower right? That's from DH's all-time most favorite shirt, an LLBean shirt that he got more than 20 years of wear out of. We have a photo of him wearing it in 1989, and we didn't take that shirt out of the rotation until after he started wearing a beard in 2012, when the collar became too frayed to wear anymore. Yes, the fabric's a little thinner than the newly bought flannels, but so what, this is a quilt for him to use, not an heirloom. 

So here's the plan, as drawn in EQ, 12" blocks with 4" borders, 68 x 80" before quilting. 

DH has specifically requested wool batting, and I'll use the leftover shirt backs and flannel yardage to piece the backing. This quilt may not be a beauty, but it'll sure be cuddly. 

So as the saying goes, I have my work cut out for me. I'm looking forward to a sew day and camp weekend with friends where I can work on piecing the blocks. 

Since Judy L. has retired from hosting Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times, another Judy has taken over. Check out everyone's Design Wall Monday posts at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts.
Also linking  up with Em's Scrapbag and Love Laugh Quilt

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Internet Outage and Special Fabric for Eric

I'm posting this from my local coffee shop...

We had a lightning strike Thursday night which knocked out all the circuit breakers in our home. They're all flipped back on and the appliances and devices all work fine, thank goodness for surge protectors. But we have no internet, TV, or home phone. On Friday it was an area outage and they were supposed to call when service was restored. They called Saturday a.m. but we still don't have service, so they're sending a repair guy out tomorrow.

Do you know how hard it is to be without internet (me) and TV (DH) for 3 days???

The upside is, I got a lot done in the sewing room. I pieced a back for my Christmas Tree project.

I dislike making pieced backings, but I have a lot of greens I know I'll never use. Or have already used in something and no longer need the leftover fabric. Like this one:

This is particularly appropriate for this project because it's one of the featured fabrics in my son's wedding quilt, and the Christmas tree project is also for him. Have I ever shown his quilt on the blog? Here it is; it's called Celtic Lullaby. The fabric shown above is the lighter of the two pathways. Remind me, and I'll tell the stories about this quilt in another post.

Hopefully I'll have internet service back tomorrow and I'll be back to my usual routine. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mosaic Slab

One of the members of my STLMQG bee requested a Mosaic Slab block, in any monochromatic color palette, with black sashing. I raided my orange scraps, and this is what I came up with.

As you can see, it came out wonky. I hope that's OK. This was actually pretty hard for me - improv is so not my thing and I don't do it easily or well. This slab is 13-1/2" x 20", about an inch bigger than my friend requested, so she can trim it down to meet her needs.

Quite a departure from my usual work!

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts

Friday, May 12, 2017

Finished Flimsy: Christmas Tree Hanging

This was not as easy as I expected to put together. Matching those points meant some seam allowances were more than 1/4" and some less, so the background strips had to be adjusted accordingly.  This was basically an exercise in fudging it to get it to work. No tutorial for this project, folks... But, hey, look at those points!

The finished flimsy measures 77-3/4" high by 30-1/4" wide. It started much bigger - about 92-1/2" high including the top two rows of background not present in the layout photo below. Best estimate, this project used 3-3/4 yards of fabric.

My son was visiting last weekend and we talked about how he wants to hang it. It turns out he doesn't want to hang it on the back of the front door after all because the door swings open toward a coat tree, and he's afraid that wouldn't be good for the ornaments. He wants to hang it on a wall instead, where it's less likely that anything will bump into it. Much safer for the ornaments. And much easier for me - all I have to do is add sleeves at the top and the bottom so he can hang it securely to the wall.

I'll quilt this and attach the sleeves in the binding. Then I'll add the loops for the ornaments last - since those are handwork, they'll take awhile.

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Cut and Laid Out

All the pieces for the Christmas tree hanging have been cut and laid out on the wall. 
Now it's time to start sewing them together.

Can I get it together by Friday for a Friday finish? Maybe!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Caught Up

I've been trying to keep up with the Solstice Challenge blocks, but Block 19 from the week I went to Paducah didn't get made until later.

Here are the first 19 blocks on my wall before I took them down to work on the tree project. Several have been modified to suit me. There's also an extra block that I made to test out my new cutter.

Block 19 was another large and complicated one (think Parcheesi board) so I modified it a bit to 12".

Block 20 didn't require modification. What a difference lighting makes; the photos above were taken indoors on a dreary day and the one below in the same location on a bright day. The color is better in the photo below.

So I'm caught up through week 20; only five weeks to go. I definitely like some of the blocks better than others. Not sure I'll use them all in the final layout; we'll see.

Linking up with Patchwork Times, Em's Scrapbag, Love Laugh Quilt

Friday, May 5, 2017

Dancing Plus II

Whoo-hoo! No rain today! For the first time in forever, it seems...

I finally got a chance to take outdoor photos of my finished Dancing Plus II quilt. Unfortunately it's been folded for over a week, which shows at the bottom. DP II is big and snuggly, 65" x 80" after quilting.

I quilted it with vertical organic wavy lines. Very simple, but it doesn't detract from the piecing or the dancing effect of the blocks.

Very scrappy, too. I used lots of charms, scraps, and leftover binding bits for the plusses, and lots of low volume prints from my collection for the background.

I've entered Dancing Plus II in the STLMQG quilt show in July. STLMQG's motto is "all modern all the time." My original Dancing Plus started as a bee project with my STLMQG bee, Sew Bee It, in bright modern fabrics and colors. That quilt was given away as a gift. This one is for me and the palette is more subdued. Is it acceptable for an "all modern all the time" quilt show?

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

WIP: Christmas Tree

Yes, here it is almost Mothers Day and I'm talking about Christmas. But I need to finish this project for an event in July, so I should get going on it.

My new die cutter made cutting all the triangles for my Christmas Tree door hanging go quickly! I used the 3" Triangle-in-a-Square die, and got all the triangles I need cut and laid out on the wall already.

If you missed the back story on this project, my son lives in a small house with roommates, three cats and a toddler. They don't have room for a Christmas tree so my son requested a quilted wall hanging that would fit on the back of a door. He wants loops on it so they can hang real ornaments.

I think that's an inspired idea, and I'm glad to be able to make this for him to solve their Christmas tree problem. He and my grandson will be visiting this weekend, so I can work with him on how the tree will be hung. Magnets? Rod pockets? We'll figure it out.

It looks huge on my wall here, but it'll lose 11" in height and quite a lot in width due to all those seams.  I'll add a tree trunk, and it'll finish about 78" high and 30" wide, just right to hang on the back of the front door.

Next step: cutting the background. I plan on neutral/low volume horizontal strips that will finish at 3" wide, the same height as the triangles. I'll use the side triangle die of the Triangle-in-a-Square die to cut small neutral pieces to square off the rows at the ends of the green triangles, so cutting those should go quickly, too.

Then it will be just a matter of joining pieces into rows, etc. I'm hoping to have the top completely done by the end of May and the tree quilted and bound by the beginning of July for Sarah Craig's 12 Days of Christmas in July blog hop.

Linkups: Sew Fresh Quilts, My Quilt Infatuation

Monday, May 1, 2017

Project Plan for Christmas Tree

My son has requested a door-size Christmas Tree wall hanging. They have three cats and a toddler at their house. The house is small and there isn't room for a Christmas tree. He wants a wall hanging that will fit on the back of a door, and he wants loops in it to hang real Christmas ornaments.

OK, no problem, Mom can handle that.

Here's the basic plan. The tree itself will be like a Thousand Pyramids design. The background around it will be horizontal strips, the same width as the height of the triangles. The greens for the tree and the low volume neutrals for the background will be very scrappy.

In order for it to fit on the back of the door, it can't be any longer than 78" tall and 30" wide. My sketch here is too wide, so I will have to modify it slightly.

I collected some wonderful greens in Paducah to supplement the ones I already have. Lots of scrappy variety! That plaid will be the binding.

To hang ornaments on the tree, I'll stitch loops using the same technique as thread belt loops at the intersections of each seam within the tree. That way they can hang ornaments of any size anywhere they like.

I'll find out what kind of door they want to hang it on. If it's a metal door, I'll sew magnets onto the back across the top, bottom, and a couple on the sides so it won't swing. If it's a wooden door, I'll put sleeves (rod pockets) at the top and bottom and they can attach rods to the door.

They'll be able to display their Christmas ornaments without the tree taking up a lot of room in their home, and the cats won't be able to climb it.

I'll be participating in Sarah's 12 Days of Christmas in July at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, so come back during the blog hop and see what kind of progress I've made on this project by then.

Link ups: Patchwork Times, Em's Scrapbag, Love Laugh Quilt

Sunday, April 30, 2017

April Stash Report & Goals Update

OK, let's switch it around and get the goals taken care of first, then we can look at the stash. I just got home from Paducah, where some serious fabric acquisition took place.

April Goals Recap:
1. Make/finish Hands2Help quilt. DONE
2. Quilt Alaska gift quilt for Jackie. DONE
3. Keep up with Pat Sloan Solstice Challenge blocks. Mostly done; have not done the one for 4/26 because I've been in Paducah since before it was posted. But, I made an extra block earlier to test out my new die cutter. 
4. Start planning a Christmas tree project requested by my son. DONE: Planned, fabrics collected, cutting started. 
5. Make progress hand piecing my WIVSP Piecing Group project. No, not touched.
6. Keep up with bee blocks. Mostly done; I'm still working on the hand pieced block to get it done but it will be done by Tuesday night when it's due. 

Other: Basted, quilted, and bound Dancing Plus II and posted a tutorial about how I do machine binding with glue basting. Here's a detail of the quilting & binding, but I need to get some good photos of the whole quilt. The color is not good here, and the wind was a little too "helpful" when I was trying to take photos.

May Goals: 
1. Resolve label for Alaska quilt and get Alaska quilt labeled and bound.
2. Piece top for Christmas Tree project for 12 Days of Christmas in July.
3. Write & post Snake Quilt tutorial.
4. Bind Cherie's quilt from the boomerang patches.
5. If it comes back from the long armer, bind KBFG.
6. Work on WIVSP hand piecing project.
7. Keep up with Solstice Challenge and bee blocks.

April Stash Report
Okay, now that we've got the project accountability out of the way, let's look at the good stuff. I had some finishes so I can count out a lot of fabric used in April. But there were some local sales, and I indulged in serious stash building in Paducah, so I have to count a lot of fabric in.

Month IN: 42 yards (35-1/5 yds from Paducah; 6-1/2 yds from local sales)
Month OUT: 19-1/8 yards (3-5/8 yds for H2H race top; 4 yds H2H back; 1/2 yd H2H binding; 3-5/8 yds Alaska top; 2 yds wide backing for Alaska back; 4-3/4 yds DPII backing; 5/8 yd DPII binding;)
Month Net Change: 22-7/8 yards IN

YTD IN: 62 yards
YTD OUT: 54-3/8 yards
YTD Net Change: 7-5/8 yards IN.  I can easily make that up by the end of the year, don't you think?

So, Paducah was so much fun. Girls' week out, gorgeous show quilts, plus fabric shopping! We spotted this rotary cutter at the AQS show.

We spotted Quilt Man, too.  

So, my haul:
1. A few more greens for the Christmas tree project requested by my son. The triangles were already cut and I brought them along so I wouldn't duplicate any of those fabrics. The new fabrics are mostly FQs except for a half-yard of that ombre print, and a yard of the plaid for binding. Amount purchased: 3-1/4 yards.

2. Flannel: DH has requested a flannel quilt. I have several of his old flannel shirts, but not enough variety, so I was on a mission to find more flannels. The tan plaid on the right is my constant and/or background, so I bought 3 yards. The rest are either less than one-yard flat folds from the sale table, or half yard cuts. Total flannel yardage here: 7-5/8 yards.

3. Bindings and miscellaneous stash enhancement. I specifically need mostly black with bright white, and black with ivory. I don't have enough of anything in my stash. So, black binding prints. The rest of the fabrics here were from the flat fold sale table at Hancock's. Navy Grunge, natural Essex linen, some low volumes including a numbers print by Basic Grey, and a stripe that I liked for some future binding on something, I just like the color combo.  Total 9-5/8 yards in this photo.

4. We always go to the Rotary exhibit of antique quilts every year, and there are vendors there too. One in particular I like, Nancy J, has packs of four coordinated FQs for $5. I picked up a couple of packs; one had a green that's in the photo above. These are just stash enhancement because I liked them. 1-3/4 yards here.

5. New project: I was very taken with one of the large quilts in the AQS show, very traditional, mostly reds. My stash is very lacking in reds, and I've been so into the more modern-ish fabrics lately that now traditional looks very warm and appealing to me. So armed with an inspiration, I collected a few traditional prints, 13-1/4 yards. I can use these for QOV projects, too. Most of these were flat folds from the sale table, color of the day at Eleanor Burns, or half-yard cuts at Hancock's.

Speaking of Hancock's, the best time to go is right when they open at 8:00. This has to be the least crowded I've ever seen Hancock's during quilt week!

All in all, April was a very good month. Now let's see if I can bust some of this new yardage in May!

Linkups: Patchwork Times, Molli Sparkles

Monday, April 24, 2017

Machine Binding with Glue-Basting

At the last STLMQG meeting, a lady and I were talking about binding and she was asking how I finish mine entirely by machine, no hand stitching whatsoever. Both of us have arthritis in our hands and prefer to avoid hand sewing as much as possible.

Since it's easier to show than to tell, here's a tutorial of how I do it. I'm binding my Dancing Plus II quilt, which is getting a dark binding, so I hope everything shows up well enough in the photos for you to see it.

In this method the binding is applied to the back of the quilt and brought around to the front, glue-basted down, and edge-stitched from the front. The binding finishes about 1/2" wide on the front. The stitching is visible along the edge of the binding on the front of the quilt, and next to the binding on the back.

Cut binding strips 2-1/2" wide and prepare binding as usual.

1. After quilting, trim the excess batting & backing 1/8" away from the edge of the top fabric.

2. Working from the back side of the quilt, determine a starting point and walk the binding around the edge of the quilt to make sure none of the binding join seams will fall at the corners, because you don't want the bulk there in the corner miters. Once okay, pin the binding to the back of the quilt at the starting point.
Tip: from the back, gather up most of the center of the quilt and secure it with a big rubber band or tie a string around it. This leaves the edges free but keeps the weight of the quilt mostly at the center, so the weight stays on the table and doesn't drag the quilt down. It looks sort of like an octopus. 

3. Stitch the binding to the back of the quilt using a 5/16" seam allowance (heavy quarter inch, not quite 3/8 inch).

4. Miter the corners as usual as you get to them, and close the ends of the binding using your preferred method. Here you can see the binding attached, ready to bring it around to the front.

5. Press the binding away from the quilt back.

6. Bringing the binding to the front, miter the corners and pin them securely. The binding should fully cover the line of stitching where you attached it. See where my thumbnail is here? You should be able to feel the ridge of the binding on the back along there. Make sure your binding fully covers that ridge.

7. Clip (or pin) the binding along one side of the quilt so the binding covers the stitching. Here the clips are about 4" apart.

8. Using a wash-out glue suitable for fabrics,* apply a very thin line of glue under the binding. I usually work on the spaces between 2 or 3 clips at a time.

9. Press to set the glue. As you press, make sure the binding fully covers the stitching.

10. Repeat for all four sides of the quilt, until the binding is completely glue-basted in place. Leave the corner miters pinned. You can now handle the quilt as much as you need to; with glue-basting, the binding is not going to shift.

11. Octopus the quilt again, from the front this time.

12. Edge-stitch the binding down from the top. Use thread that matches the binding in the needle, and thread that matches the backing in the bobbin. Go slowly and stitch right next to the edge of the binding. Here, the center guide on my presser foot is at the edge of the binding and my needle is set one step to the right.

13. Backstitch about 3 stitches when you start and as you go around each corner, but keep the stitching from going too deep into the corner of the binding. You can continuously go around the whole quilt, or if you prefer you can do one side at a time, starting and stopping at the corners.

Here is what the front looks like finished; you can see the stitching just along the edge of the binding.

And here's the back as well; you can see the stitching next to the binding.

After the binding was attached to the back of the quilt, it took me 55 minutes to glue-baste it, but I was stopping frequently to take the photos for this tutorial, including looking at them on my laptop to make sure they were okay. Then it took me about 20 minutes to sew the binding down all the way around, again including time for taking and viewing photos. Without photos it probably would have taken me less than an hour to glue-baste and sew down this binding. This quilt is 66 x 81".

* Glue: I have had good success with Roxanne Glue Baste-it and with Elmer's School Glue (no affiliation in either case). Be sure whatever you choose will wash out. Apply the very thinnest possible line of glue and make sure the binding fully covers it so it doesn't get on your iron.

I hope this explanation of what works for me is clear enough. If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

Linking ups: Patchwork Times, Em's Scrapbag, Love Laugh Quilt