Category Archives: quilting

Quilt Retreat Time

It’s been a while since I’ve been to an in-person guild retreat, but the time was right. I had a project in mind, all the fabric, and plenty of time. I cut at home, as is my custom, and assembled the top there. I had a couple back up projects as always, but only spent a little time on one.

The project is a quilt for my grandson who likes soccer, basketball, and plays the recorder. He’ll be 10.

76″ x 104″

I started with twin size in mind, but added inches to fit the design. I have forgotten how to make a picture so that you can click and see it larger. The light print is basketball themed, the second from the top left that looks like ghosts on my screen is actually flaming soccer balls, and the middle top fabric is music staffs and clefs. He has other interests, but these were the dominant ones when I designed the quilt. Colors were chosen to go with his bedroom’s orange walls. Perhaps it’s a lazy approach to let the fabric prints do most of the work, but it was fun.

Of course even though I bought wide backing fabric, I didn’t get enough. I thought two yards would be plenty. Silly me. So I’ll be piecing the back. I have till January. Should be plenty of time.

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50% Scrap Happy

You’ve seen this top before with its mix of scraps and yardage–though the yardage is from my stash and old enough to be considered scrap. 🙂 What is new is that I’ve finally started to quilt it.

What prompted the quilting finally was an online class by Christina Cameli, Finding Your Flow. We were supposed to have samples pinned to practice on. I didn’t. But this quilt sandwich was pinned, and I’d been puzzling for a long time on how to quilt it. And while I don’t skimp on materials for donation quilts, I also don’t figure that recipients will care if a quilting design isn’t perfect–especially children.

Thus this seemed a good candidate for something free flowing, apart from my wanting to accent the Ts. By sketching, I first figured how to get the pebble-T into 8 T-blocks with continuous stitching, and the rest is a beginning at combining like Christina does. It seems to me that the technique would be wasted on quilting made up of many prints, but I rather like it on these solids and near solids.

The class and a book, Free Motion Combinations, derived from Covid-19 activities. Every morning at 8 am Christina did an Instagram video of a different motif, sometimes combining them. Once I’d learned about it, I watched almost every morning. I thought I would remember the motifs, but I ended up with a repertoire of about a dozen at most, so bought the book. For people who like meandering, this covers space equally easily.

For people interested in scrappy, the solids here are scraps; the batiks ancient yardage from my stash. It you are further interested in what people do with scraps, check out Kate’s blog where on the 15th of each month she showcases her scrappy ideas and links to other Scrap Happy folk. You might also enjoy Cynthia’s Oh Scrap! blog and link party, here.

Here is a photo of the top for those new to the blog who want to see the whole top.

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When One Door Closes: from sketch to fabric

This quilt has been incubating for a long time, partly because the 2020 show was canceled and partly because I couldn’t settle on a design. The show theme was “When One Door Closes” (after our 2020 show quilts went in waiting for their show). I’d started sketching over a year ago (here). Off and on I’d tried others.

I’d liked the new idea of the diminishing sizes to show the door closing, but was still unhappy with the larger clump of light to show a new opening. I’d also gotten the book from the library on fabric manipulation and pondered possibilities for the light fabric. But when I got the vintage kimono fabric out I decided that texturing would obscure the design, so I shifted away from that idea. Working with various textures of fabric was a good enough new technique for a show that asked us always to try a new technique. Here’s a look at the fabric.

I’d waffled between two ideas for the background. First, inspired by Rothko Chapel, I’d thought of all black or brown with only the textures changing. I wasn’t able to find enough varied same-color-different-texture fabrics to pull that off, so shifted to thinking of a progression from dark to light as the “window” got bigger. I finally decided that the decision would be made after I cut fabric–I’d just rearrange squares till I was happy. I pretty much abandoned the progression for well balanced as I rearranged.

My thinking on the theme evolved too. I’d been thinking along “Another Door/Window Opens,” then shifted to “Dreaming of an Open Window” because another window doesn’t always open. then the ah-ha moment. The title became “Do the Work” as I remembered a response I’d frequently gotten when making excuses for not doing more. And my statement will be something like this: When one door closes, do the work so as to be ready when another opens or maybe even so as to create the door to be opened.

And so the top is now finished.

24 x 36

The greens don’t stand out so much in real life, and of course the textures’ varieties show more. I abandoned controlling some of the shine as the exact angle made so much difference, and in a show the direction of light source will change it too. I figured if they showed up “too” light, they were just windows thought to be opening that didn’t. (I can rationalize most anything.)

I decided to use big stitch quilting/embroidery to signify doing the work and did a tiny test piece to see whether the white batting would bleed through and if I would be able to hide a knot in the tightly woven coat lining I was using for backing.

Luckily it didn’t bleed and the knot could be pulled in. So it would be big stitch quilting not embroidery. The next question is, of course, whether the big stitch will convey the idea of doing the work to anyone but me.

I have until about the 20th of January to finish.

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Somewhat Scrappy

I’ve been reading Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s the fourth and last in the series, Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I’d read and enjoyed the first two, then missed that 3 and 4 were translated. One problem with 800-page intense books is finding stopping places! But I managed to do a lot of mental quilting and a bit of stitching and scrap control.

Way back in October I had dug out an orphan block to use as center in a guild medallion project. ( https://knitnkwilt.wordpress.com/2020/10/15/turkey-in-the-straw/ ) I don’t really like to wait for next clues, so it was easier to let it sit till there were three. One more is due next month. Three was enough to start sketching options.

Every two months two borders are suggested and directions given. Of course at any time we can do our own thing including figuring out our own measurements. I sorta thought I’d consider options offered first, but design my own if I felt the need.

The first two suggested options were four-patch or pinwheel blocks. That was easy because there is no way pinwheels fit my center. But the four-patch didn’t work either. My orphan piece measured 23.5 x 23.5. Because it was set on point already, I didn’t feel the need of a resting border. The first border was designed for a piece 24.5. I could trim to 22.5, add a row of one-inch squares followed by a row of two-inch squares for a workable modification. I’ve had time only for the one-inch row.

The reds are scraps; the background isn’t. The 2-inch row will be the medium blue, part scrap and part the batik of the center for some continuity. The next row will be dark blue. I have yet to decide whether to point the dog-ear triangles in or out. And sketching hasn’t solved it. I’ll probably have decided by next month. The third two options were square-in-a-square or flying geese. Again an easy choice of block, but undecided where to put background/pattern colors.

Then since I stitched the last of my prepared leader/ender pieces, I had to press some 2-patch pieces so I could start on 4-patch blocks.

I’ll set them aside for some 54-40-or-fight or Jacob’s Ladder blocks.

The 15th is Scrap Happy Day. Visit Kate’s blog to see how much scraps can earn and links to some serious scrap usage. https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/2021/04/15/scraphappy-april-5/

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“Flyover Country”—Scrap Happy Day

My local quilt guild has some very interesting challenges. This year we were given a piece of vintage fabric, of which we had to use 1 square inch in a 9 x 12 inch quilt.

The theme was something we had done without this year. As an introvert, I have adapted pretty well to isolation But there was one major disappointment: my daughter’s bargain tickets became null when Covid caused airlines to cancel flights. So airplanes would be my motif. I consulted my reference book for ideas.

I found 9 blocks that showed airplanes and several more designs named “Airplane” but were not representational. I chose #904, Airways (Washington), attributed to McKim’s Patchwork Parade of States. A square block. I had a rectangle to fill and also wanted to do more than make a block. I pondered making a city across the bottom, but couldn’t make the combination work. So the idea remained dormant till the deadline was a month away.

I thought of how many times I’d heard a comment about how land looks like a quilt from above. The background would be “made fabric,” an idea from Victoria Findley Wolfe.

So I went to my crumb jar and pulled as many green, gold, and tan bits as i could find.

Not nearly enough. So I dug deep into my scrap bin for baggies of sorted crumbs. Yes, once in the past I actually sorted what I had on hand.

And started sewing.

When I had some sizable pieces, I made templates and tried to fit them on the pieces. Most pieces needed additions.

That process took way longer than I expected. I think the basic idea of “made fabric” is that you mindlessly attach pieces when you don’t have any other ideas, then when you need it, it is ready. Maybe someday.

Finally the piece was finished and ready to mail. It is amazing how quickly a 9 x 12 inch piece quilts up. Time was absorbed not only by making fabric but also by working with the odd angles. I even basted and pinned—gasp! And ripped because when it comes to angles, I am spatially challenged.

So here it is.

Flyover Country. 9 x 12

It’s all scraps, batting and backing. At last a use for small pieces of batting other than making Frankenbatting.

If you want to check out other scrappy projects, find the Scrap Happy list on Kate’s blog : https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/

And if you want to see the finished scrappy Surprise Jacket, click on “ previous post” below.

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Irish Star #2; Top Finished

Scrap Happy Day’s coming up gave me a nudge to get the Irish Star stitched. So without further ado, here it is:

1 Irish Star 2 top finished

50 x 70

I knew it would be dark when I finished, so I took a photo half way through while the sun still shone to get closer to the actual colors.

1 Irish Star 2-4 rows

I haven’t decided whether I’ll quilt it or not.  It is large enough that guild will accept it as a top and either have a long armer quilt it or tie it at their monthly comforting-quilts sew days (when those happen again). Its destination is the HIV/AIDS “Strength for the Journey” camp, where each new camper is given a quilt. (And if the camp doesn’t happen this year, the quilt will keep till it does.)

I also haven’t decided what next.  Either I’ll quilt some child quilts that are in waiting or start the ocean-themed quilt that has been brewing for quite a while.

Meanwhile, I used the leaders/enders for the final assembly of the top to start on another quilt-along, Star Kissed. Tutorials for both Irish Star and Star Kissed can be found on Deanna’s blog, Wedding Dress Blue (here).

1 leader-ender

These will become a one-block baby quilt, 36 x 36 someday. I tend to reject the pastel squares in scrappy projects, so they have been piling up. A baby quilt seems a good destination for them.

To see other Scrap Happy projects, see Kate,s blog around the 15th. I’ll be linking with Finished or Not Friday, another Scrap Happy, and Oh Scrap! Links will be added when available. ETA And then because I have more time these days, I found Midweek Makers and linked up.

History of Irish Star #2

Started a year ago

Stars begun

Starsresumed

More stars

 

 

 

 

 

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The Last Four Stars

I didn’t feel like I’d made any progress until I got the parts assembled and could lay out the block into a 9-patch.

1 star partial

At this point it almost feels finished even though there are several seams left to sew.

Plan A was to have the  quilt layout planned today.  Not gonna happen, and here’s why.  I’m going to need a whole day to assemble the alternate blocks once they are laid out.  When the design bed is opened, it takes the whole living room and is very awkward. Meanwhile once the quilt is laid out, I don’t want to pick it up till stitched together. This grouping just doesn’t lend itself to any stacking method I know that would allow me to keep track of what goes where. So a one-day sewing marathon is in my future. (And with the stay-at-home order there will be days.)

1 star alternate block

All the alternate blocks are at this point. Because I planned each star to have its own background, I need to synchronize those backgrounds with one square in each of its adjacent alternate blocks. So I can’t finish the alternate blocks till I know which stars will be next to each of its sides. And that won’t be known till I decide first where each star will go and second which parts of the alternate block will be arranged together beside it.

So, the final four.

1 4 stars

Hmmm. Yes, I see that oops. Funny how sometimes you don’t notice till you see a photo. At least this is before any more seams are sewn.

When I started making the star blocks,  spent a lot of time looking for the right square to put in each corner. But once I laid the blocks out with the alternate between them, I saw that the corner square blends so much into the other squares that it really doesn’t matter.  (You can see what I mean in the layout here or in the Irish Stars button in the sidebar.) So I have dithered a lot less since then.

Usually I’ve photographed blocks in even numbered sets, like the above. However, last time I had an odd number. That photo suggested another possible layout for a quilt without the chain alternate blocks. I had to check it out.

1 5 stars layout

I think that would make an interesting quilt someday.

The two end stars don’t have white centers. The white is the four squares that match the background being kept with them for when I finally get the layout planned.

It won’t be too much longer, just not today.

Linking with Needle and Thread Thursday and Oh Scrap! (Buttons in sidebar).

 

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The Stars Are Out Again

After a long break (last touched in December), I worked on the Irish Star quilt along (button in side bar). It is more a quilt echo along now. WeddingDressBlue has moved on to another very interesting tutorial/quilt along.

1 stars

It is a nice change from the recent improv art project to do some repetitive chain piecing. There are things I like (and dislike) about each approach; moving among approaches smooths my interests out.

Now the plan had been to sort and put fabric away before starting a new project. Ah, but this isn’t a new project. (Rationalizing is one of my strong points.) I’d started on a stack on the table and these were at the bottom and just irresistible.  I also need to oil the machine and change the needle before I sew much more. Maybe tomorrow.

Now I have only four stars to go before I can plan the layout–my favorite part! This will be a good thing to do on one day of social distancing–now become stay-at-home. I really want to have time to sew all the parts together once it is lain out.

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And “Solidarity” Is Finished

A little more than the original three-day estimate, to be sure. But with each closing, more time became available, and with it expansion of work to fill available time. I did end up quilting closer than originally planned; it was good to have the option.

I quilted everything except the sky then stopped. The original plan was problematic.

2 solidarity before sky

I’d planned straight lines with a scalloped bump for a cloud. First I stalled on where to put the bump. Then on how close to make the echo lines. Then on what to do with the little narrow spaces. If I hadn’t had three days to just look at it and think, I’d have quilted a big mistake. Finally I remembered advice from a quilting class: if you want something to recede, quilt it closely. I realized that all my previous ideas kept the sky at the same level as the buildings. So my old standby, meander. Or maybe it is stippling when smaller.

2 soliarity sky quilted

But I didn’t want to let the cloud idea go, so I did a wee bit of padded quilting. I’d meant to do two, but there wasn’t enough space on the left to get the padding stitched in and cut around.

Then I tried a new way of facing that I’d learned in Elizabeth Barton’s Mod Meets Improv class on the Academy of Quilting. (I was reminded of a tailoring class I’d taken years ago where at every class the instructor said of some technique, “If you don’t learn anything else, this technique is worth the class fee.” I feel that way about this facing; however, there was much else worth while too.) And the quilt is finished.

2 solidarity finished

And I can still go to the post office and get it in the mail. Time will tell if the three shows Stretching Art and Tradition is scheduled for will take place. Meanwhile I have enough books, fabric, and yarn to keep me occupied and enough food to eat for a week or so. I hope the rest of you are coping with this coronavirus thing.

ETA: As I expected, the first show has been postponed till June. I’d have had till May to complete it.  Glad it is completed.

ETA July 7: All three shows have been postponed till 2021.

History of this quilt

Stretching Art theme for 2020 and sketch

Embroidery and beginning improv

Improv finished

Template section finished

I will be linking with Needle and Thread Thursday , the Clever Chameleon, and various Friday linky parties. (Buttons in sidebar)

Linking with Free Motion Mavericks too. But, full disclosure.  The bottom half quilting was done with a walking foot. FMQ from the “river” on up.

Also linking with So Scrappy.  and Oh Scrap! The bottom section is made from true scraps; the upper from pre-emptive scraps–IE, cut from fabric purchased for another project.

 

 

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Building a City

In the previous postI showed the rally/march; now I am working on the city background.

2 city partial

The next time I design a city, I’ll make it require fewer than five L-seams! In the above photo, three are finished. I had originally planned to cut and piece buildings so that the seams would be straight, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would break the buildings up too much. Photo was late afternoon while there was still some daylight, so the colors are pretty true. I had all those grays on hand because I am planning another quilt with city buildings. I don’t think I’ll miss the little bit of each that I used for this piece.

Now that the city portion is finished, there was less light, so the photos are darker.

2 city portion pieced

Several of the plain colors are oxford cloth, and it is really flimsy to work with. (I didn’t want to use starch because the piece will not be washed.) You’ll notice how ripply in the first photo. I tried an old embroidery trick of ironing it wrong side up on a thick bath towel, and it smoothed right out.

And here’s a preview layout.

top plus march

I still have some curvy green to add and the river. It seemed easier to make the buildings as if they were the whole section, then to cut away the curve later using freezer paper templates. I have an extra inch all around in case piecing or quilting loses inches (required size is 18 x 36), but templates seem safer than improv for the curves of greenery by the river.

This portion also took longer than I expected, since I’d not originally planned the L-seams. But I haven’t been working constantly.

I plan to link up with Needle and Thread Thursday (button in sidebar) Oops; not happening this week.

ETA: I had thought it would be finished by Scrap Happy day, but with all the cancellations because of the coronavirus, I had free time and you know the saying: work expands to fill available time. The bottom “march/rally” portion is all made of scraps. The city from pre-emptive scraps since the fabric was bought for something else. 🙂 All from stash.

Check out other scrap projects at Tall Tales From Chiconia.

 

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