Friday, March 31, 2017

Santorini - Landscape Quilting Part 1

Progress is happening in Santorini! Well, not the actual city, but my picture of it.

It now has a frame of charcoal grey, setting off the picture nicely. The very outer, lighter fabric is the background folded over the extra batting, so I have something less linty to hold on to.

On Wednesday, I showed the zigzag stitching of clear poly thread holding down the edges of the appliques.

This was one of the many quilting tips I learned in the Lovely Landscape Quilts book by Cathy Geier,

though she does this step after fusing the top to just the batting. I did a zigzag test piece of fabric and batting, and decided I didn't like the added dimension of a channel of zigzags, and straight line stitching wasn't going to hold the edge. So instead, armed with a 1.5 length/1.5 width zigzag stitch, clear poly, a 8/60 needlethe appliques were secured to just the muslin they're fused to. 

During this stage, she also does some thread painting. Again, I opted to do that once the batting and backing were on, because I wasn't sure just how heavily quilted this would be. Though without backing, it would be a great opportunity to hide ugly stitching or stitching buildup, don't you think? I may regret skipping this step later!

Once the edges were all tacking down, I spray basted the top to the batting and backing. Cathy uses fusible web to securely bond the top to the batting, and much less fusible to apply the backing. I didn't want that kind of permanence, nor did I want more fusible buildup. Spray basting was the way to go for me!

In a nutshell, Cathy's initial landscape quilting steps are:
1. Fuse the top to batting.
2. Stitch down raw edges/appliques.
3. Add some thread painting.
4. Lightly fuse on backing.

What did I do?
1. Stitched down raw edges/appliques.
2. Spray basted top to batting and backing.

So much for following directions! But I will say it was extremely helpful to read how she goes about prepping and quilting her landscape quilts. I am no expert when it comes to this genre, so any and all information is helpful.

As with every quilting project, it's important to seek guidance on how to approach the project, to make test pieces, and to form one's own path to completion. I'm doing what works for me and my project!

Until the next Santorini landscape quilting installment, 
Happy Quilting!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Recycling Scrap Fabric the Easy Way

Is your life taken over by scraps? Mine has been for the last couple of years, and I know that eventually I'm going to say ENOUGH!

Only two changes have occurred to those scrap bags - they're now sorted by color, and the aqua and purple scraps are pretty much gone. I'm really trying my best to use these up, but do find it can be a bit of a drag.

While in search of matching fabric (for a scrap project no less!), the clerk at the quilt shop flat out said, "fabric is compost-able". Say what??? When I thought about it, it makes sense for 100% cotton fabrics. But would the city/composting center really like that in the compost bin?

So I called up the local recycling center to get the scoop.
The lady was extremely nice, and said, "no, can't put fabric, no matter how small the piece, in the compost bin for pickup." The reason is because the compost is a commodity for the city, and is used by the farmers in their fields. Though it's 100% cotton, it's been treated with chemicals, which they don't want. 
Ah, makes perfect sense.

Well, what to do with all those cotton pieces? She went on to tell me to place all 100% cotton fabric items (we're talking clothing too) in a bag and mark "Fiber" on it. Then donate it to Goodwill. Really???

Turns out that Goodwill has connections to 'fiber recyclers' who take all of the unusable cotton scraps and clothing and turn them into items such as shop rags. Awesome!!!!

So, for those of us overwhelmed by scraps, here's some other ideas: 
  • make pet beds or use as stuffing for pillows
  • decorate/design gift cards, tags, etc
  • sell by the pound or give away to other quilters/fabric artists

Just some ideas for keeping scraps out of landfills, while saving our sanity - makes for more happy quilting!

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Friday, March 24, 2017

The Quilting of Garden Stars

Quilt as desired.
Those dreaded words. Makes you groan and want to pile that quilt top onto all the other UFO's sitting in your closet, doesn't it?

But really, quilting shouldn't be that way. By working within your skill level (and yes, quilting does take practice), the quilting is easier to tackle if broken into steps. And no, the quilting doesn't have to be super dense to look fantastic.

So how do I approach the quilting part? First I decide what the purpose of the piece will be. Decorative can go with heavy quilting. Baby quilts, less to keep them soft. Throw or bed quilts can go either way. Just try to keep the density consistent throughout the whole quilt.

I draw with dry erase markers on a piece of clear vinyl placed on top of the quilt, with tape on the edges to prevent accidentally marking the quilt top (dry erase marks DO NOT wash out of fabric). Then I start drawing, starting with the simple elements first. The following is the design I drew up for Garden Stars, placed on a white background for visibility.

The squares are the easy, obvious parts, so they get seeds or petals along the chain.

Here they are on the quilt, 

along with some curves in the adjacent triangle pieces.

The design around the big, open circles uses lines to connect point to point, and the seams of the piecing.

Once those lines and any other stitch-in-the-ditch work (yes, that has to be done - makes the quilt look better!) is complete, I consider the 'bones' to be done. 

Then comes all the fills and pretty work. The flower takes advantage of the four squares, with a petal in each one, 

a simple but effective design. On the quilt, this was created by marking with two different sized circle templates. 

Now a word about washable markers. Yes, I use them in the area right before quilting it, and spritz it out with water right after that area is quilted. I do not let it sit on the quilt any longer than necessary. And only once have I had a problem removing it - check out my tutorial on Removing Blue Marker

Once the flower petals are stitched, a simple stipple fills in the background,

making it really stand out. Of course, there are many other options that could have been placed in this space - one has to just let the creativity flow!

And that's what happened when quilting these motifs. Looking closely at the design on the vinyl versus the actual stitching, I changed the fill placement around the flower, giving it a square-in-a-square look. Sometimes changes are necessary during the quilting process, and that's okay.

The last area is the quilting a square around the four patch square,

again, using washable marker to mark the square and the direction of the fill. Otherwise, it could easily get quilted incorrectly.

Now that the design has been broken down into parts, it doesn't seem that complicated, does it? Start simply, and build from there, and you'll see quilting in a whole new way!

Happy Quilting!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Garden Stars

Another RSC 17 purple scrap finish, number 4 to be exact, and this one is a beauty!
Introducing Garden Stars.

Garden Stars quilt

I really love these blocks, which came about because of the shape of the scraps, creating a great secondary design. Wouldn't this look awesome as a larger quilt with more blocks? Too bad I ran out of the perfect yellow fabric, or I would have cut more triangles to keep going. But it is such a great feeling to go from scrap pieces,

to blocks,

to a stunning quilt!

Now, I'm not one to automatically put borders on my work. But the shortage of yellow background and the small size of the blocks made for a small quilt. Therefore, a hefty border was needed to make the quilt a decent size (37" x 37"). Fortunately, I had 6" strips of the same fabrics in the stash, making it a no-brainer on border width. The strip width within the border corresponds to the square size in the blocks, giving unity to all the elements. That's something that's really important to me when I'm designing a quilt, otherwise, it could end up being a jumbled mess.

Here's more eye candy, and yes, I was brave and used a med/dark purple thread throughout.

A perfect thread choice, as it gives the quilt a more purple feel, and really shows off the quilting (and any mistakes!).

The back, a green plaid flannel, 

shows off the quilting in a soft, lighter purple, almost a lilac color. You can just see the hint of purple below.

Ok, that's enough eye candy for today, and enough purple for awhile. I'm way behind on aqua, and haven't even started red. But the good news? I'm banishing the scraps!

Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Diamond Chevrons

Introducing a late finish to the February RSC2017 color, aqua, Diamond Chevrons.

Diamond Chevrons quilt

Measuring 33" x 34.5", I am absolutely thrilled to have leftover diamonds gone from the scrap bag!

Quilting uses an aqua variegated thread,

with simple stitching in the ditch, continuing into points in the blue sashing. For me, any more quilting would have detracted from the bold piecing design.

The back is a center pieced paisley print, using more yardage out of the stash - woohoo!

If you ever have the desire to stitch some diamond chevrons, tips on the process can be found on my post Diamonds - Chevron style

Now to add a hanging sleeve, and find a wall to hang it. And yes, I still have a ton of aqua scraps to use. It's anyone's guess as to when I'll get to them!

Happy Quilting!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Block 3 of the Growing Up QAL

Squeezed in a bit of time to make Block 3 of Alida's Growing Up QAL, and isn't it a beauty?

This month features curved piecing, and I was fortunate to have a set of Drunkard's Path templates in my drawer that were the right size. Lucky me!

Alida talks about cutting the pieces a bit bigger to make the curved piecing not as stressful - a very good idea!

I decided I was comfortable with an extra 1/4", and cut squares so that I could cut both pieces out from that square, eliminating a lot of waste. First the pie.

Then the crust, leaving that extra 1/4" on the outside edges.

After trimming, 

very little is wasted.

Stitching went smoothly, with pressing to the dark side on each set.

That way, the seams will nest when stitching the block together. And after a final trim to the correct size, and stitching for the proper layout, we have a block!

Great design on this one Alida - love it!

Have a great weekend quilting!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Purple Projects Update

Yes, I'm still plugging away at the purple scraps, but happy to report that they are almost gone! I'm now down to this,

after having started with this.

the making of three scrap quilts brought the pile to this.

After another round of sorting, these triangles surfaced.

What to do with these? Though I really didn't want to trim some of the larger pieces, I decided that was the best option. 

This tool has been sitting idle far too long! And now with the addition of some green and orange, I've got blocks!

I think I'm only going to get nine blocks, and will have to work out a border to make this quilt a bit bigger, cause those triangles were pretty small!

And with the rest of the pile of scraps, I made up four 4" squares,

which may end up as pinwheels, to go along with the big one.

Or maybe not. They're set aside, as are these circles for another rainbow quilt. 

I'll see how each of these play with other pieces of the RSC 17 the rainbow quilt later in the year.

And there's one more quilt in works using these.

Busy, busy, busy. Now I'm off to work on a border.
Happy Quilting!