Friday, April 18, 2014

Magic binding

finished 36" x 47"--see the tiny gold flange?
A couple weeks ago I found a tutorial here at for "Susie's Magic Binding."  Aunt Marti's instructions show how to sew a two-fabric binding on a quilt completely by machine, and a little flange appears on the right side of the quilt.   I first tried the procedure with a small sample, and today I used it on this lap quilt.  
It worked!  and it looks great in person.  (double click photos for close-up views)  I'll be doing this again some day--not for every quilt, but there will be times when I really want that little accent of added color.  

More detailed instructions and helpful photos are at the link above, but here are the basic steps (condensed a bit).

(1)  Cut main binding fabric strips 1-1/2" wide--the perimeter of the quilt plus 8-10 inches.  (I needed 4 WOF cuts.).  Seam the strips together, end-to-end, with mitered seams to reduce bulk.
#1 and #2--two different widths of strips

 (2) Cut the accent or flange fabric 1-3/4" wide. (I used gold.) Again, cut as many as needed to total the quilt's perimeter plus 8-10".  Seam them together, end to end. 

#3 seam main fabric and accent fabric together
(3)  Sew the main fabric to the accent fabric lengthwise with 1/4" seam, right sides together. 

(4)  Press the seam toward the main fabric, and then press the binding in half, wrong sides together, with raw edges lined up.   
Because the accent/flange fabric is cut wider, it shows up on the front when the binding is pressed. 

#4 -- press binding in half.   The flange/accent appears. 
(5)  Prepare the quilt by trimming away extra backing and batting.  Then sew binding to the BACK of the quilt, with the main fabric facing down and accent fabric facing up.  (See detailed instructions on the link  re: the corners and joining the ends of the binding.)

#5 -- sew binding to BACK of quilt, main fabric down
 (6)  Pull the binding to the front and topstitch through the flange with matching thread.    All done!
#6 -- pull binding to the front and topstitch through the flange

Enjoy the holiday weekend.   We see 70 degrees in our forecast.  That's wonderful!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Two more ready for the quilter

Rainbow Sonja's Windows;  64" x 84"
Last weekend while quilting with friends, I worked on two UFOs.   The more colorful, newer project is done and ready for quilting, and the other one just needs its simple border added.   Then I'll spend the weekend preparing for quilting these and a couple other guild share quilts. 

My least favorite part of quilting is pin basting the tops, getting the "sandwich" ready to quilt.  I don't have a dedicated room for my quilting, so when I baste the quilts, I set up two 30" x 72" work tables side by side in my living room, on PVC "risers" to make them a good height. (I'm tall.) 

The 60" x 72" total table space means I usually only move a quilt once to get it all pinned.   My tub of pins, the roll of masking tape, and my grapefruit spool (to brace the pins for closing) will be busy this weekend. 

closeup of Sonja's Window blocks
I end up with these marathon sessions because, with my limited space, I don't like to put up and take down the tables over and over.  So I wait till I have several quilts to baste, and then up go the tables for a day.  

In January I wrote about making Sonja's Windows blocks.   I tried variations, and my favorites were blocks with just one color -- using only reds together, only greens together, etc.   Last weekend I finished enough 18" single-color blocks for a quilt.   Sashing strips between these blocks are VERY important.  Each block has 72" of bias edge, and the sashing keeps the edges stabilized and the blocks accurately sized. 

Wanderer's Path share quilt;  64 x 84"
When I finished my 11th block, I had one 14" pink square and one 14" peach/rust square.  I just put those two together to make the 12th block.  The colors are close enough for me.  (and I ignore quilt police comments anyway.)  
The top is done, and I've made a dent in my scraps.  Hurrah!

The older UFO was a pile of brown, gold, tan, and green blocks and parts from 2008,  leftovers from a retirement quilt for a coworker.  I had enough parts to make this 9 x 12 block layout of the 7" Wanderer's Path blocks.   (I prefer that name, rather than Drunkard's Path.) 

I let my daughters arrange the blocks for me, any way they wanted, and this is what they did with what they were given.  
I found a nearly full bolt of a green Asian print fabric, and that will be used for the 3 or 3-1/2" border and the backing.  I'll probably use a dark brown for binding.  

Have a great weekend.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekend retreat--what I saw

(1) Georgia's scrappy pineapple Q
They never seem to come often enough -- weekends spent quilting with friends.   A lot of projects were waiting to go along with me, but I mainly worked on just a couple.  I never empty very many bobbins, but that's not the point of the weekends.  It's the getting together, relaxing, and sharing that's important (sharing food, advice, stories, and friendship).

I'll show my projects next time.  For now, here are the much more impressive projects shared by the other "retreaters."   (All photos will enlarge with a click or two.)
(2) scrappy spiderweb Q by Becky

(1)  Georgia has been working on her scrappy 12" pineapple blocks and put them all together on Saturday.  Pattern is from Positively Pineapple.  She will be adding a border.

(2) I think the spiderweb Q made by Becky is from a Fons and Porter pattern, but I didn't find it in their "Best of Scrap Quilts," as I thought I would.  Triangles are 6" tall.

(3) Chris's table runner
(3)  Following her pattern, Chris's placement of the cut pieces made the yellow and purple appear to intertwine--with a pretty butterfly background.  She trimmed the sides just after I shot this photo.

(4) Blogger Girl quilt by Pat

(4)  Pat made the Blogger Girl quilt (from Open Gate Quilts) using red and green fabrics with gold highlights.  She worked hard on the sashing -- the on-point squares are labor intensive, but they're stunning when they're added to the quilt to frame the blocks. 

(5) Aunt Gracie's Garden by Sue (border to be added)
(5)  Sue saw this quilt in someone's Fons and Porter magazine, and we found a download-able copy of the pattern online.  It's "Aunt Gracie's Garden,"  AKA "Emily's Wedding Quilt."  Her  background is Kona Snow, and we helped her cut an 8-1/2" wide border from that.  Flowers, leaves, and vines will be appliqued on the wide border before it's attached to the quilt.  Four appliqued flowers will go on last, covering the mitered border seams.
NOTE:  There are no curved seams here--only the appearance of some.  Look carefully. It's a combo of HST next to squares made with Tri-Recs tool by EZ Quilting.  Google  "Tri-Recs" and you'll find photos, tutorials, and ideas galore. 

(6)  guild mystery Q by Kris

(6)   We've been given all steps for our guild's current mystery quilt.  This is Kris's version.  Some gals used one fabric for the alternating snowball blocks; others used varied fabrics, as Kris did here. 

(7) a super stash buster by Georgia
(7)  The biggest stash buster I've ever seen in person was this one that Georgia brought to show.   She cut 30" squares of fusible grid interfacing and ironed on 2" squares.  After folding on the lines and stitching 1/4" seams, she ended up with  22-inch blocks (225 squares on each).   The main body of the quilt is made from nine of those blocks plus three half-blocks.  

Georgia added a 3" black border, then a border of squares, four squares wide.   My quick estimate is that there are more than 3000 2-inch squares in this quilt.   I'm also estimating it's around 84" x 93".
I have a lot of 2" squares and some iron-on grid interfacing, so I could start one any time.  I also have a daughter who enjoys the artistic arrangement of quilt blocks.  I think she'll enjoy arranging those squares for me--at least for a while.  (I'll take the help as long as I can get it.)  
I hope you had a quilty weekend.  Mine was filled with inspiration and relaxation. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Itty Bitty Baskets--and some sharing

Two of my paper pieced baskets;  finish 2 inches square
My UFO list is mostly large quilt projects, but I worked a bit on a small-scale project from the list this weekend when I was out of town.  It's a pattern I've had for many years.  "Itty Bitty Baskets" is the pattern name, from MH Designs.  The pattern is well-named, as the finished baskets are 2 inches square.  They're paper pieced, and I think they were one of the first paper pieced projects I ever attempted.  I set them aside and forgot about them till I added them to my UFO list.   The precision of paper piecing makes them fun to work on.  I'll be making a dozen.

Squares added to garage sale find; now 36" x 48"
A few finishes and some progress on assorted projects in the last week or so.   I've been quilting and finishing some share quilt tops made by other guild members, so some of the finishes are group efforts.  Most are simple and quick.  No detailed work or intricacy, but they'll be warm and comforting when they're shared.  I made one quick top myself--one of the easy 5-yard patterns.

My favorite project lately (and most colorful) was this gold star/red/green 36" top I bought at our guild's garage sale.  It was meant to be a Christmas quilt, but I tried to change the look in another direction.  I added rows of 3-inch squares (trying to suggest greens of spring) at the top and the bottom, and it's now nursing-home lap quilt size.  It'll be fun to quilt with one of my variegated threads. 
(double click any photos for closeup view)
70" x 90" share quilt for a guy (love the "fowl" backing)

I enjoy times when I'm jumping from one project to another, as I've done these past couple weeks.  Not a lot to write about, but a lot accomplished. 

Another simple share quilt (70" x 90")

A simple share quilt I quilted; double click to see guild label

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Road trip

purchases this week
Until this week, I hadn't set foot in a quilt shop for about two years.  There is no quilt shop in our city of 30,000, and I really don't need anything, so a trip to a quilt shop isn't at the top of my to-do list.    I buy things online now and then, and we have a JoAnn's.  I shopped at the AQS show in Des Moines last fall, and speakers at our guild entice me to buy some of their products.

So I'm not starved for the joy of purchasing quilting supplies.  I do my share.  Just not for a while in a brick-and-mortar quilt shop. 

my newest C. War repro fabrics
A road trip with friends on Thursday was joyful, adventuresome, and very satisfying.   We drove from 3 towns through early morning, dense fog and met at Stitches in Charles City -- a charming store with a little bit of everything, including yarn.  No rush, no need to speed.  Though we drove past an accident with 3 damaged vehicles, our trip was safe.

Ahh -- the satisfaction of being in a quilt store after a lengthy hiatus.  I even enjoy the unique bathrooms in quilt shops.  (Sorry if that sounds weird.  Hopefully I'm not the only one who enjoys the wallhangings, posters, and quilt-related decor.)

A 6-store shop hop is in session this weekend in northern Iowa, but we went to just two quilt shops and one non-participating fabric store.  First Charles City, then to Quilter's Window in New Hampton.  Lots of eye candy there, a variety of fabrics, plenty of samples.  By the time we left a fabric store and went for a late lunch, we had bright sunshine and our credit and debit cards had been well exercised.

Isn't it interesting how well we learn to know each other?  We pointed out bright fabric that Chris might like.  A book with small-scale projects was shown to Becci.   Was Pat interested in the newest line of French General?   Someone held up a book that "looked like" me.  (very accurate--I already own a copy)  Our close quilting friends know which fabrics and projects we like and love.  I've never had such good friends.  They make me smile and laugh.  They can warm my heart, and their understanding can bring me to tears.  Their importance in my life increases every year, and I look forward to our times together. 

Buying a few more CWar repro fabrics is always on my agenda.  I couldn't resist a new door dressing pattern by Joined at the Hip, and Carol Hopkins's newest book, Civil War Legacies II, has now joined my library.   Store samples always grab my attention.   "Be Merry" is a 6-month BOM from Bits 'n Pieces that was offered at the Quilter's Window.    

Enough shopping.   I have basket blocks to stitch and quilt tops that need quilting.  The sunshine makes a walk sound tempting, but we're only in the mid 20's, and low teens are forecast over the next 36 hours.  I'll wait for a warmer day.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sashing does the trick

sampler quilt approximately 40 x 50 inches
Sampler quilts are usually not my favorites, especially if the blocks are made from assorted fabrics.  But sashing does a great job of tying those blocks together.   Several years ago our LQS offered a BOM project with 8" finished blocks, each one significant for the month it was offered--a red heart in February, an apple  blossom in May, a summer pinwheel in June, etc.  I made a few but then stopped.

Last month at our guild's garage sale, I bought a stack of those BOM kits, leftovers from the past.  I followed instructions for most, but with a few, I just used the fabric and created random blocks.   Twenty blocks later, with purple sashing and yellow cornerstones added, the little quilt is ready for quilting.  (click on photo for closeup)

"split whirling geese" block -- I think
Two blocks were my design after playing around with 8 HST and one square.  They're the first block in row 2 and the red/white/blue block in row 3.  The design looks familiar, but after doing a little research, all I can find is "whirling geese," and my geese are split.   So maybe this is a split whirling geese.  Is it original?  I doubt it.  

I came home from last week's guild meeting with a couple small quilt tops made by others.   Each was complete and ready to be finished with the top, backing, batting, and binding.  I offered to quilt and finish them, and they didn't take long.

Are you familiar with the 6 pieced blocks in this wildlife quilt?   They're called "broken arrow" blocks.  Focus on the dark in each block, not at the golden center.  Then you should be able to see 4 arrow halves, each pointing a different direction.
These were lottery blocks from the past, and the quilter combined them with some elk and moose.  Some gentleman in a nursing home will enjoy this one.    
bright and pretty share quilt -- 39 x 50"
broken arrow pieced blocks-- 35 x 47"

Moda's yellow grunge fabric  is a great choice for this quilt's border and binding.  There's a hint of pink here and there on the yellow.    Butterfly fabric is used for the backing, and this is bound to bring a smile to someone's face. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Finishing some unwanteds

Time After Time -- finished size 68 x 78"
Last year our younger daughter made "Time After Time," a pattern by A Quilter's Dream.   It's available various places, including here on E-Quilter.    She "went shopping" for her fabric in my stash.  The final quilt top is very pretty in the browns, lavenders, and orchids she chose. 

DD2 decided not to keep it and gave it to me to finish as a share quilt.   I added borders and have been quilting it today.  Hopefully I'll have it done in time for guild tomorrow night.  We received a request for bed-sized quilts for a nearby nursing home, and this quilt can be one of those. 

Our guild had a "garage sale" at last month's meeting, and a lot of quilting items went from one quilter's home to a different one.  The prices were too tempting.  Many new-to-me things followed me home.

Stack-n-Whack quilt--48" x 56"
Two quilt tops offered for sale only needed backing and binding and quilting.  Now that they're done, they'll be taken to guild tomorrow and turned in as share quilts.  One was this feathered fan quilt made using the Stack-n-Whack process by Bethany Reynolds.  For the backing and binding, I used a Windham fabric from the Buffalo Bill Collection. The stars in circles just seemed to go well with the feathers.
close-up view of the feather fans

This lavender and green quilt is made from soft flannel.  I don't have many pretty flannels in my stash, and my friend Chris kindly gave me some green and purple flannel for the backing.

flannel quilt -- 49" x 62"
Note to self:  Always cut flannel binding wider.   I had a struggle with this one, as I had limited fabric to work with.   I made do with what I had, but working with a wider binding would have been easier.

sampler quilt finishes at 38 x 50"
The sampler 4-block quilt will be another lap quilt for a nursing home after it's quilted and bound.   At the guild garage sale, I found a bag with the 4 completed blocks and pre-cut sashing.  I added strips and squares from my stash to enlarge it. The focus fabric is one of my favorites, multi-colored gingko leaves by Kona Bay.   There are a couple yards of it in my stash.  I recognized it as soon as I opened the bag.
Fancy Nancy, AKA Maddie

This is how our granddaughter Maddie went to school one day last week.  She dressed as a favorite storybook character.  Until last week, I didn't know who this was, but now I know about Fancy Nancy.  

Fancy Nancy likes headbands, boas, tutus, and everything fancy.  Maddie chose her because she likes that Nancy uses fancy words.  She even likes French.  Oo-lah-lah !!   

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Love those traditional blocks

My first 10-inch lady of the lake blocks
I found a trend in my computer file of photos of "quilts I want to make."  The file is filled with scrappy quilts made from traditional pieced blocks.  I love them, but I haven't made quilts with them--yet. 

To decide which traditional block to make first,  I took stock of what I have ready to go.   I have boxes of squares, stacks of rectangles, bins of WOF strips, and a lot of trimmed HST.  That's where I'm starting--with my 2-1/2" ready-to-go HST.  (I usually have a box of triangles sitting next to my machine--my most common leaders and enders.)

I've always liked the versatile "lady of the lake" block.   According to legend, one name given to King Arthur's Lady of the Lake is Viviane, but that's beside the point.  I like versatile blocks.   

Here's a link to the  lady of the lake block pattern, and you'll see variations in how the individual block is  constructed, plus endless layout variations.  The quilts look so different, depending on (1) placement of the darks and lights, (2) scrappy or controlled fabrics, and (3) the direction and placement of the blocks in the layout of the quilt.  
A bit of mending of my well-loved shirts

I'm not sure which layout I'll use.  There's even a layout where the halves of the block are rearranged.  So many options.   So much fun :)  

I have two long-sleeved shirts that needed loving attention.   I'm tall and have long arms, and I have a couple favorite men's shirts from Cabela's.  I wear them year around.   I've worn a hole in both left elbows, and rather than hearing a suggestion from someone (whose initials are DH) that I should throw them away, I put floral elbow patches on both.

As long as the neck bands stay nice, I should get many more years' life out of these shirts.   I just can't throw them !!

So, what's your favorite clothing that you just can't throw?  an old bathrobe?  comfortable jeans with badly frayed hems?  a holey T-shirt?  Mine are these two shirts. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Post blizzard blues

42 x 52" finished (2" top and bottom borders)
Our blizzard came and went, with as much snow as predicted (7.4 inches here).  My blue and yellow quilt top made from scraps is done.  (see previous post)

There are 400 triangles in it, mostly scraps, but connecting triangles and border triangles are from my stash.   It finished about 42 x 52".  That's a bit bigger than I wanted, but I wanted all the triangles in it.  There were 3 left over, and I sliced them into slivers with my rotary cutter, so I wouldn't be tempted to try to turn them into something else.

closeup of fabrics in this quilt top
PLEASE -- no guilt trips about how I should have used those 3 on the back, or saved them for another quilt. I use scraps ad nauseum.  I refuse to save and use every single one.  

Planning to make a few more basket blocks this weekend, after I make a pair of mittens for DH.  He prefers mittens, rather than gloves, for keeping fingers warm.  While working on this blizzard snow, he favored wearing a pair of our daughter's that I made for her years ago.  Fuzzy fleece outside, wool inside.  A little elastic at the wrist, and long enough to fold down a cuff, if desired.    I'm making his pair today
Funny how quickly I've forgotten how to make garments--even mittens.  The last ones I sewed were 7 or 8 years ago, so I guess it's not a surprise I needed to check the instruction sheet.        
--All photos will enlarge with one or two clicks--

The back yard yesterday.  Pretty.  Day-after-blizzard melting = icicles.

The snow blower is a big help;  but boulder-sized snow chunks left by a speeding snow plow need manual chopping and moving.  DH with snow blower;  DD with shovel;  me with the camera.
Snow drifting between neighbor's (L) and our house (R).  It took a while to get mail boxes pried open.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Playing with scraps

scraps ready to be trimmed
Another interesting pile of usable scraps showed up in a bag for dog pillows a while back.   I might find an orphan block or two, or a stack of triangles after flipping and trimming.   There may be leftover WOF strips or a tempting group of scraps that just beg to be cleaned up and used together.

Someone was working with yellow, white, and blue strip sets, probably cutting precise triangles, and tossing away these wonky 2-color triangles (over 250 by my count).   That's enough usable fabric for a lap quilt, if I can come up with a plan.

First I made them the same size. I straightened the bottom strip on each chunk to a width of 1-1/4", and using my Fons and Porter 60-degree Pyramid ruler, they were trimmed to become 3-1/2" tall triangles.

I cut some extra triangles from 3-1/2" wide strips  of coordinating fabrics from my stash, and now the challenge of layout options.

totally experimental, option #1
Some of my layouts are shared here.  As this quilt will probably go to a nursing home, I'm leaning towards a conservative, predictable, boring layout with pinwheels and no busy look.  
option 2, but I see "radioactive" hexagons

safe pinwheels, option #3
This winter just won't stop.   We're under a blizzard warning for tomorrow.   The details have been on the Weather Channel all day.    Not so much snow here (3-5"), but add 40-50 mph winds, and that equals blizzard conditions.   In the photo below, we're in the center of the dark blue section, right under the "R" in WARNING.

Mr. Nick on the Weather Channel this afternoon
I can safely predict more quilting time tomorrow.   It's currently 3:30 on Wed. afternoon, a "balmy" 42 degrees outside,  and I see closure messages crawling across the bottom of the Olympics on TV.   Many schools in MN and IA have already announced they'll be closed tomorrow, with late starts for some on Friday.     We know what's coming.   Safety first. 


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