Friday, January 31, 2014

Yes! Got Them Done!

I seem to work great under pressure--makes me focus!  I've been cutting and sewing like mad the last two days, and the tops for the Book of the Month are done!
 They still need a thorough pressing, but they are finished by the deadline!  

I did the yellow one first, made up 16 blocks, then realized I'd have to add a lot of borders to make it at least 40" x 40".  Since I still had some strip sets and fabric, I just made up 16 more blocks, and expanded the design.  
 Turned out okay, the yellow makes it bit messy for my taste.

As for the other, monochromatic one, I put my design up on my wall, then decided to follow a design from the book, Bainbridge Delft.  Puts the blocks on point.  And again, I had to make some more blocks.  
I think I like this one better than the yellow, and my original plan.  What do you think?

And thank you to all who commented!  I loved your suggestions!

More to come on this!
Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book of the Month Progress and a Giveaway

Can it really be the end of January already??  And I'm just starting the quilt(s) for the Book of the Month, Bargello Quilts with a Twist!   But hey, I still have two days left!
I finally gathered together some fabric last night, and chose a plan.  But now I'm not sure if I'll make one or two, with the second idea having one more fabric thrown in.

Here's the fabric for one,
and the proposed layout,

I liked it until I read 'avoid an entirely monochromatic selection unless you add black or white.  Try to include a zinger fabric.'  Not that monochromatic won't work....

So, in comes a zinger fabric.
and here's the proposed layout with a bit of yellow
Hmm, maybe better.  Which one do you like??
I really can't decide, so that's why I may make both.  I've got two days..

Now for the contest.  Leave me a comment as to which you prefer and why.  One lucky person will win this beautiful Ocean Mist, 1200 yd spool of Essential Egyptian cotton from Connecting Threads.
Duplicate entries will not be counted, and please, leave me your email if you are a no-reply blogger, otherwise, I can't reach you!  The contest is open until midnight Jan 31.  Thanks, and good luck!

Happy Quilting!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Home from Road2CA

What can I say but awesome?!!!!

The top winners were beautiful, with Sharon Schamber taking Best of Show.  And Margaret Solomon Gunn of Quilts of Love, took home the next big prize, the Masterpiece Award.  Being a follower of her work, it was inspiring to see her quilts in person.  Truly amazing!

And of course, all the other winners were just as beautiful!  Wish I could show pictures, but I do not have the right, nor the permission.  But do check out the Road2CA winner site when they get the 2014 winners posted.

Classes.  I took three, and learned something in each one.  My favorite though, was with Angela Walters.  We were her test group for an upcoming Craftsy class she'll be filming in the spring, called Little Changes, Big Variety.  She's a great teacher, whether in person or on Craftsy!  Here we are at the end of class.

And my main reason for going to Road2CA was to test out the Innova quilting machine.  I had one class that used the machine, and then another in which we could quilt a top.  I took my creation (read about that here), and had a blast freehand quilting!
Isn't it sweet?  (By the way, I had just gotten the hang of the ribbon candy in Angela's class--thanks Angela!)  So, now I may make another in brights (for a boy), and quilt it on my current machine to see if it's just as easy (probably not).  And then more talks with the dealer, as this is a huge investment.

It was definitely a good trip, with lots of beautiful quilts, great classes, and stuff to buy (which I resisted!). If you get the chance, do try to attend one of their shows.  Next year it's January 22-25, so mark your calendars!

Happy Quilting Everyone!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A New (to me) HST Technique

Are you faced with having to make LOTS of HSTs (half square triangles)?  I was, and really wasn't looking forward to doing it.  Cutting the squares, marking the diagonal line, stitching on either side, cutting, then squaring up EACH HST was going to take more time than I had.
Now, I don't have anything against that method, and most times it's the only way to get an HST, especially if using scraps. But because I was making a lot of them that used the same fabric, I decided to try a new method I had seen.

The following steps make approximately 24  2 1/2" HST units.  I got 32 because I didn't need to re-align and retrim.

To make 2 1/2" HSTs, cut two fabrics pieces 9" x 21".  One of my pieces was a bit longer than 21", and that's okay.
Layer them on top of each other, right sides up, with top, bottom, and left edges aligned.

Using a 6" x 24" ruler, align the 45' mark with the bottom edge of the lower left corner.
Make this initial strip close to 3", measured on the diagonal.

Continue aligning the ruler with the diagonal cut, and the 45' mark along the bottom, to cut 2 1/2" strips all along the piece.
Now for the fun part!
Take the top piece off the first strip, set it above all the cut pieces.  Take the bottom piece of the next strip set and lay it next to the first piece.  Keep alternating the strips to get these two units
Sew the strips together, offsetting the top strip by 1/4" and using an accurate 1/4" seam allowance.  I found it easiest to start by laying the top right strip over on to the next strip, and continuing in that order.  Treat these seams gently as they are on the bias.
When done, gently press the seams to the side of the darker fabric.  And I mean PRESS, don't iron!  If the iron moves, it will distort the bias seam.  
Using a 10 1/2" square ruler, line its diagonal mark up with one of the center seam lines.  Place the 6" x 24" long ruler along the left side of the square ruler, just over the fabric.
Move the square ruler up and down alongside the long ruler to double check the diagonal seams are still within 45'.  Remove the square ruler, and cut along the long ruler.  It's okay if one end has more trimmed off.

Align the 2 1/2" mark on the long ruler with the cut edge, and cut again.  But before cutting another 2 1/2" strip, place the square ruler back on the unit, aligning the diagonal, just as before.  If the unit needs trimming on the left again to make the seams at 45', then trim as necessary. 
This is the area I did not need to retrim, thus allowing a few more HSTs.

These are the strips after cutting.
Two sides of the HSTs are now done.  Now for the rest.

Align a small ruler with the right edge at the bottom seam point.  Align the top of the ruler with the rest of the strip, and the 2 1/2" mark with the top seam point.
Trim off the excess.  Move to the next group of seam points, and repeat, continuing to cut the strip.  Turn the resulting pieces 180' to trim the other side, making them 2 1/2" HSTs.
The last sequence is in the picture below, bottom to top.
Perfect, easy 2 1/2" HSTs!!!!  I love this method!  The next time I have to make a bunch, I'm doing it this way.  And I don't see why scraps couldn't be used, as long as there's enough for a bias strip in the initial unit.  

And to make different sizes, cut the bias strips 1/2" wider than the finished short side of the triangle in the HST.  But if the HST finishes larger than 3", cut the bias strips 1/4" larger than the finished short side.

Have a Happy Day Quilting!


Monday, January 20, 2014

Prepping for Road2CA

The last week has had me designing, learning new techniques (which I'll share in a later post), sewing, and celebrating my birthday!  What a FUN and BUSY week it has been!  Here's what I'm working on:
Yep, another baby quilt!

Ah, but this one has a purpose.  This week, I'm heading to the 
Road2CA show, which I'm really excited about!  Great quilts, great classes, lots of vendors--what more could I ask for?

Well, one class that I signed up for is a "Quilt It Yourself", where the student brings a top to quilt, using Innova longarm machines.  I am super excited about this, because over a year ago, I fell in love with the Innova machine.  So, this is my chance to give it a real test drive, on my own quilt.

Not wanting to do just a pantograph, or all free motion, I designed this quilt so that I could do both.  Wish I could do ruler work, but I don't think they'll allow that.  Have to do the SID as best I can!  Wish me luck!

As for the quilt top, it's turning out really cute!  Just deciding on what I want to put in between the letters and numbers.  My original design doesn't really work, so I'm testing out a few others. 

I'll probably go with the version on the right, as the left is just too boring.  The finish will be posted later. 

And for fun, I'm linking up with the 'Anything Goes Mondays' linky party at Stitch by Stitch today.  Be sure to check out her blog--she's got some beautiful quilts there!
stitch by stitch
Bye for now, as I've got to get sewing, then pack!

Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Matching Wall Hanging

Here's the matching wall hanging for those pretty red placemats, seen here.
Originally, this was going to be a table runner, but I have since concluded that my table is not runner worthy.  Something about it's shape--it's oval.  And I like to have placemats for everyone.  Put them all together, and my table gets crowded.  Might as well make a tablecloth!

Anyway, I thought I'd give the pattern a modern twist and add the different sized pieces on the sides, instead of making them even.  Adds more interest.  I must be on a trend, as a few days after I did that, Angela Walters posted a quilt she was working on that used the same concept.  And I thought I was being creative!

Here's some closeups:
I kept the quilting simple in the open areas, as I wanted the keep the red as the focus.  Using a homemade template, I marked those areas with a water soluble pen
then stitched on the drawn lines.  Normally, I don't mark, but I decided to take the plunge on this quilt.  Plus, I didn't have a ruler for this shape!!

I'm happy to say that the marks came out easily with a spritz of water after I was done stitching those parts.  And if any came back, a wash of the finished quilt with plain water took out any residual.

The rest of the design utilized my favorite tool, blue painters tape.  Here I'm checking that all the lines are straight.
For a bit of interest, I added in squares on point within those lines, again using the water soluble pen to mark the squares.  Sorry, forgot to take a picture of that part--I was too into the quilting!

The placemats and wall hanging have the same quilting, doubled continuous curves in just 5 squares of the nine patch, and a coordinating design in the other blocks.  Crosshatching unites everything.
Here's the back for a better look
So don't let those projects that don't quite work out as expected become UFO's.  Think about what other ways they can be utilized--the options are endless!

Happy Quilting!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Binding--Third Time's a Charm!

I've spent way too much time fighting with the binding on my pretty red placemats, which has delayed other projects.  And after three attempts, they are finally finished.
I typically hand sew my binding to the back, but I was NOT going to do that for four placemats.  Seems whenever I machine stitch the binding closed, I always end up with either the edge not caught, or too much caught such that there's a flap.  So I thought I'd try a different approach--sewing from the backside.  Well, looked great on the back, but went in and out of the ditch on the front.  Yuck!  

Time for the seam ripper.  By the way, do you know the proper way to use one?
Most have a little ball to cover a sharp point, and it's this ball that goes in the seam, to prevent poking into the fabric and tearing it.
Then the tool can zip along, ripping out the seam.

Okay, so now for the next attempt, stitching from the right side, in the ditch.  And here's the back
Ugh!  The dreaded uncaught edge!

Again, rip out the seam, and this time, trim the edge to a true 1/4".
Only a small amount is trimmed off, but it gives a consistent edge that the binding should be able to go around.

After trimming, all the binding was pressed outward,
then pressed to the back.
The pressing should help the binding behave.

Stitching in the ditch from the front is easier this time since the binding naturally wants to fold over from the pressing.
Ahh!!  Success!  Here's the back!
Even stitching all along the edge, and no big flaps.  I will admit I had a couple of missed spots, which were easy to fix.  Now I'm happy!  Third time's a charm!

Lesson:  Take the time to prepare and press the binding, and the result will be much better.

Happy Quilting!