Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Evolution of a Quilt Top

The last two days have been a self-imposed restriction to my computer time as I have devoted my attention to the Strips that Sizzle quilt.  Here's Monday's progress, from left to right, top to bottom.
Last week, after going through the book's numerous layout options (see the post here), I decided to ignore the Light/Dark orientation that is the basis of so many of the designs, and start playing 'what if'.

I was liking the patterns emerging, seen in the top row, but the values and colors were still jumbled for me.  Picture 4, first in the bottom row, was the idea of having a dark center area that gradually went light.  Nah, still not quite right.

Picture 5, center bottom, was to have the green start dark in the center and fade to light, with the red doing the opposite.  Unfortunately, no sparkle.

In the last picture, bottom right, I decide to leave the green as mostly dark, and the red mostly light.  Both colors have light and dark, respectively, sprinkled in to add the sparkle.

Yesterday was spent tweaking the design, which brings me to what I think I'll go with
There's still a couple spots I'm not quite happy with, which show up more in pictures than they do in real life.  I definitely recommend taking pictures while designing, as areas needing more work become apparent when seen small on a computer screen.

Now, today's dilemma-to border or not to border?

Happy Quilting!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Efficiently Sewing a 9-Patch

The great thing about baby quilts is they are small and quick to make.   I made a 39" x 39" top in two hours yesterday, using an efficient method of sewing 9-patch blocks. 
 The blocks were re-cut to make the Disappearing 9-Patch (D9P) pattern.  Find my tutorial on making the D9P here.
But more on sewing those 9-patch blocks!

I dove into my nickel (5" x 5" squares) bin, happy to be using some more up!  Then grabbed some white fabric, and a dark pink for the centers.  Cut those two into 5" squares, then arranged all squares in piles for easy sewing.
Now to the machine for the efficient 9-patch.  One block is sewn at a time.  

Starting on the top row, pick up the top left square and sew a white middle square to it. DO NOT CUT THE THREADS!
Moving to the next row, pick up a white square (position middle left) and sew the center dark pink square to it, making sure the white square is on the bottom.  Again, DO NOT CUT THE THREADS.  This is chain sewing top to bottom.
Sew the bottom left pink square to a white square, and this time, CUT THE THREADS.  Three rows for one block.
Starting on the top row again, sew the top right pink square to the white square from the first sewing.  DO NOT CUT THE THREADS.
In the above picture, the top left square is on the left, and the top right square is being sewn to the middle white.  The arrow points to the threads linking the next row.

Open up the next row, sewing a white square to the middle dark pink.  DO NOT CUT THE THREADS.
The arrows in the above picture point to the chains linking the rows together.

Finally, open the last row, sewing the bottom right pink square to the bottom middle white one.  CUT THE THREADS.  This is one block.
The beauty of sewing a 9-patch this way is that the pieces stay in order and the whole unit can be set aside in one piece so that another can be sewn.  When all units are ready, take them to the ironing board for pressing.
Pressing follows the standard 'press to the dark side'.  By doing this, the seams nest when sewing the rows together.  Once pressed, and still not cutting the threads that link the rows (shown at the arrows), turn the top row down, nest the seam and pin. 
Move that row out of the way, turn the bottom row up, nest the seams and pin.
Now all the blocks are ready to be chain stitched, stitching down one side of the block, one right after another.
When one side is done, chain stitch the other side.  Cut the blocks apart and press open.  Ta da!  A really fast, efficient way to turn out some 9-patch blocks.
I said above that I re-cut these to make the Disappearing 9-patch.  I put the resulting blocks together in the following setting
but I also came up with this
I liked this one just as well and think it would look terrific for a bigger quilt.  I'll keep it in mind for another day!

Happy Quilting!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Strips are Starting to Sizzle!

WARNING!  The following post may contain pictures that could be hazardous to your health!

Just kidding!  Although there's a lot of pictures that may make your eyes crazy at times.  I know it did for me yesterday when I was playing with settings for the blocks from the Strips that Sizzle Book of the Month project.  Here's what is currently on the design wall
setting 11
So far my favorite, but I think I'll play with it a bit more.

I started out yesterday with my first set of blocks made from twelve strip sets
Then I hit the Strips that Sizzle book, page by page, for all the different setting possibilities.  I must say, that if you love strip piecing and are looking for settings, this book is AWESOME!  There are so many design options it really is mind blowing (I had to take a 15 minute nap to refresh yesterday!).  Here are pictures of the favorites.  Careful--there's 10 so far.
setting 1

setting 2

setting 3

setting 4

setting 5

setting 6

setting 7

setting 8

setting 9

setting 10
 I know I'll have more after I play this afternoon.  But for now, which is your favorite?  Feel free to leave a comment below.  And don't forget the one at the top!

Happy Quilting!

Monday, July 22, 2013

My DIY Sewing Table

Ikea - what would I do without you? Today, I'm showing
off my new DIY sewing table, also known as an Ikea hack!

Ikea Ingo table hack

(And all the stuff packed under it too!!)

Lately I've had shoulder issues because I spend a lot of time at both the computer and sewing machine, which were both on a dining table. The old table, while nice, was too high, making my arms rise up for the computer and sewing machine. And raising the seat didn't help because then my legs hit the table's side rails. Something needed to change!

Since hubby and I are handy people, I searched the internet for sewing table plans, and came across the Ikea Ingo table hack From Marta with Love. Perfect!  

Just a Table

Take a ready-to-assemble Ikea Ingo table, put it together, then:

Ikea Ingo table unfinished
following Marta's instructions, cut an opening, add supports, mount the ledge, and finish! 

With a bit of extra wood and great instructions, I've now got myself a sewing table, with a set in machine, for under $125.  Awesome!

Now a Sewing Table

Ikea Ingo hack sewing table

Here are some other pics. 

Ikea Ingo table with attached sewing machine ledge

Above is the sewing machine ledge with the bolt ends cut off. I wanted them recessed, but hubby refused, saying it would decrease the strength. Okay, he's the engineer.  
I'd probably only hit the front left one anyway.

Ikea Ingo table with sewing machine inserted

The top, but watch the space to the left of the machine.  We forgot about the table's corner brackets underneath in the front right and had to be a bit more creative in the support bars. Thank goodness for wood filler!

Here's inside the opening showing the shorter bar and a fifth bolt.

Ikea Ingo table showing sewing machine ledge

And we even cut a hole for the knee lift!

Ikea Ingo table hole for knee lift

So far, the height is much better, and because of the extra bars around the legs, there's no vibration! Now to get sewing!

Happy Quilting!

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Nickel 2 is Done!

Finally got to finish up Nickel 2 yesterday!
Still have to do the binding, but at least it's off the frame!

Here are some detail pictures

Now, I have to admit, that while the quilting is pretty, it's probably a bit too much.  If I were to do it again, I don't think I'd put the zigzags in the blue stars.  Leaving just the 1/4" border on the inside of the star would have been fine.  Live and learn!

Here are some closeups
In the center above is a star I learned from Kim Brunner's Machine Quilting with Templates at Craftsy (and I think the class is currently on sale!).  Though it's a nice design, it got lost with the light blue thread.  So I went over it with a dark blue.  Better, but still gets a bit lost.
This looks really pretty in the quilt and repeats the border.  (Sorry about the wiggle--shame on me!)

And of course, the back.
Now, just what I'm going to do with this quilt, I don't know.  I may save it as a teaching sample, or then again, I might just donate it.  Or hang it for a while. 

Anyway it was a great time practicing freehand and ruler work, so I guess I got what I wanted out of it!

Happy Quilting!