Monday, February 26, 2018

Improv #4 Update

Here's a work in progress picture of the fourth Improv Patchwork (affiliate link) quilt -

Raspberry Cheesecake quilt in progress

you can kind of tell that my free-form cutting got a bit free-er as the quilt progressed from left to right, cause the left side of that first strip sure is straight! I think I'll unsew that and give it a few deeper curves, and maybe add another strip over there. Have to see how much of the strip set I have left.

So, how was this quilt made? Pretty much like the first set of wavy improv stripes, but cutting curves from a strip set and solid fabric. Check out this super long strip set, 

fuchsia strip set

approximately 54" long, 18" wide. Notice all the stored fabric underneath - all that yardage I sold off hardly made a dent!

And just like before, I cut matching curves from the strip set and the solid fabric,

cutting matching free hand curves for improv patchwork

using the 40" width of the solid, and moving the strip set up and down for each stripe so that the same fabrics didn't land at the same spot every time. After I fix that first section, this will probably be wide enough to call it finished.

By the way, I found this cutting technique especially useful for piecing batting scraps together. See how one edge is ragged and the other a smooth curve?

batting to join

Placing the smooth curve on top of the ragged, then cutting following that smooth edge, 

batting after smooth cut

makes for a well-fitting seam, easily zigzagged together.

joined batting scraps

Ta-da! Batting ready to go, though not for this project. 
So, even if you don't want to try free-hand cut stripes or curves with fabric, just know you can do it with batting!

Happy Quilting!

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Old Thread - Ok or No?

Everyone has it - old thread. But do we want to use it?
It's certainly a question I think about when choosing thread from my stash.

variety of thread

Above are a few of all the threads I have stored away, anywhere from 2-15 years old - are they still good? And how do I find out??

First, there are several factors that affect the lifespan of thread: light, humidity, and dust.


We all know what light does to quilts over time. Well, the same happens to thread, not only fading it, but weakening it.


Low humidity makes for dry, brittle thread. And high humidity invites mold.


We all have it, no matter how clean we keep out space. Unfortunately, on thread, it's hard to remove. It too, can dry out the thread, and cause further lint buildup in your machine.


The first step for keeping thread is to store it properly - out of light sources, in an even temperature and humid area, covered to be free from dust.


Once all of the above conditions are met, how do I tell if questionable thread is still good? The best way is to unwind a bit and pull on it, trying to break it. If it snaps easily, then it's old, and should be saved for projects that DO NOT require thread for strength, such as basting, tacking, and other temporary hold projects. 

But what if you really don't want to part with that big, full spool? Then unwind a few layers, going up and down the spool, until a fresher layer of thread is exposed. Try the pull/break test again. Does it break now? It's up to you and your project as to whether the thread is usable. I personally have found that deeper down into the thread layers, the thread is fine.

But if you're totally unsure, then commit it to basting thread, or bite the bullet and toss it!

Happy Quilting!

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Improv Project #4

Yep, starting another improv project as there's still time left to explore the January/February Book of the Month selection, Improv Patchwork (affiliate link).

Improv Patchwork by Maria Shell

First, I need to start this post with a confession. In the fall, after working with the charm squares, I decided I had had enough of those charms, and sold the rest. This is all that remains.

Being in a 'clean out' kind of mood, I also sold off several bags of scraps, a couple containers of small squares, all fabric dyeing paraphernalia, and eight bags of yardage (25-30 yards each). It felt incredibly good to lighten the load, and relieve myself of the burden of using uninspiring fabric.

Unfortunately, of all the bags, the pinks and florals remained. Apparently, nobody likes those. The bags sit in the room, making it look cluttered, and causing an occasional twinge of guilt. Ugh.

Fast forward to last Friday. Thumbing through the Improv Patchwork (affiliate link) book seeking my next quilt to make, I came across Birch Stand - perfect!

Hmm, maybe I could use those pinks and florals for this one - I'll see if there's enough fabrics in there that work together. Adding a couple pieces from the keeper stash, I think I've got enough variety for this quilt.

fuchsia fabric pull for a birch stand style quilt

With the aid of my favorite Color Tool (affiliate link),

Ultimate 3 in 1 Color Tool

I'm pairing these fuchsia prints with the soft, buttery yellow of Kona Banana - yummy!

Now I'm off to make up strip sets - I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Happy Quilting!

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Zee Quilt

Another Improv Patchwork (affiliate link) quilt finish!

Zee Quilt by QuiltFabrication

Introducing Zee Quilt! Aren't those curvy, wavy stripes awesome?!

So why the funny name? Well, a few posts ago, in New Improv Stripes Project, I mentioned how the striped strips were really making me think of zebras. And Bonnie commented about how zebra stripes go up and down,

Zebra stripes

and suggested I try turning the quilt.

At first, I thought, nah, I like it vertical,

Zee Quilt hanging vertically

and proceeded with the quilting that way, plus the first round of pictures. In this direction, I was going to name it Z-Legs, because the strips could be legs, and zebra stripes go horizontal on their legs. So the name would make sense.

After snapping away, I thought, hmm, what does it look like horizontal? Well, I found out it looks just as awesome! Uh oh, now what?

Zee Quilt with improv freehand cut stripes

Time to involve hubby in the which-way-does-it-go decision. 
me: Hubby, which way looks better - vertical?

Z-Legs, the Zee Quilt in vertical orientation

Hubby: that's nice
me: or horizontal?

Zee Quilt horizontal orientation

Hubby: Oh!
Guess that answers that question!

me: but now what do I name it?? I still think it looks like zebras.
Hubby: just call it the Z Quilt
me: the letter Z by itself is weird. I'll spell it Zee. 
Hubby: sounds good!
And all of that took under 30 seconds Wednesday night. Was it the right decision? I think so, but that hanging sleeve isn't on there yet!

Let's look at the quilting, which is a bit hard to see due to blending of the green thread. Leaf and pebble texture fill in the green areas, and stitch-in-the-ditch brings out the stripes.

leaf and pebble quilt fill closeup

leaf and pebble quilt fill

And for backing, I choose a black and white print from the stash.

Zee Quilt closeup and backside

The making of this quilt has garnered quite a number of views, including the making of the wavy stripes and the in-progress pics of the blocks. Though popular, I won't be writing a pattern for this one. But if interested, I suggest reviewing the above two posts to make the wavy striped fabric. Measurement for the blocks are as follows: the stripes are 2 1/2" x 12 1/2", and the two sides (green) are 3 1/2" x 12 1/2". Black separating sashing is 
1 3/4" x 8 1/2". Feel free to ask me any other questions about this quilt!

Happy Quilting!

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Friday, February 9, 2018

New Improv Stripes Project

Remember the wavy, curvy improv stripes from a while ago? 

improv stripes cut into strips

Don't they look awesome cut into 2 1/2" strips? I just love the curves and varying widths!

improv stripe strips

I got the itch to pair them with an ombre fabric, and knew I had some in the stash somewhere - I just didn't know what color. Fortunately, I didn't have to turn the room upside down looking for that ombre! In the fourth bin I opened, I found this green, which has tiny black and white dots in it, working perfectly with the stripes.

So, after a bit of cutting and sewing yesterday, I now have this on the design wall:

improv stripe blocks on the design wall

Doesn't look like much at the moment, and not sure if it will turn out really cool, or be a wild mess to look at! Every time I walk by it though, I keep thinking there's a bunch of zebras hiding out in a forest, which is odd, since zebras live on the tree-less grasslands of Africa. But the zebra image is certainly providing inspiration for a quilt name!

So what am I absolutely loving about this? Those curvy stripe strips - say that three times fast! - in the block centers. This is one of the center blocks,

center block

and this is an end block, for one column style at least.

bottom block

The plan is to have two more columns, switching the light and dark areas, and off-setting the blocks. I'm thinking of topping off each block with a black strip, giving the whole thing a bit of a woven look. That might work, and it might not.

Today's project is to finish up making the other blocks, testing the black strips, and hopefully birthing a quilt top!
Wish me luck!

Update: check out Zee Quilt, the fabulous finish!

Have a great weekend quilting everyone!

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Love Match

Do you have a love match? I know I do!

Love Match freehand cut improve stripes and hearts table runner

Not only do I have a wonderful match in my hubby of over 30 years, but I also have this very striking Love Match!

This striped heart runner - so bold and modern - it makes my heart sing! What started out with a vague idea of freehand cut stripes paired with hearts, has evolved into this stunner! Though not quite the style of the Improv Patchwork (affiliate link) book, the inspiration is there, and ultimately, the result is my style.

Love Match modern stripe and heart table runner

I want to thank everyone again for their suggestions and words of encouragement after making the blocks, as I really had no idea where this was going. Only when I put them up on the design wall in a staggered arrangement did the on-point setting appear - bingo! Paired with an unusual sashing arrangement, plus more black and white for balance, and well, the rest is history!

Love Match modern stripe and heart runner closeup

For the quilting, I kept it simple, though I would have loved to put the feathered heart motif in there. Ultimately, straight lines added to the bold, modern feel in the negative space, and curls add to the sweetness of the hearts.

Love Match heart curl quilting

Fortunately for me and everyone else who loves the Love Match table runner, a pattern is available so that you, too, can have your own Love Match!

Happy Quilting!

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Improv Stripes Update

Pretty, isn't it?

feathers and heart quilting motif

I snapped this picture of one of my most pretty quilt motif drawings, just before I erased it off the vinyl forever. I had high hopes that feathers and/or hearts in the sides of the quilt top would look nice. Everything I drew was pretty, but nothing played well with the quilt top - bummer. 

But at least I captured it before I erased it, as it's one that I'd love to use somewhere, someday. Maybe you have a quilt that it would look lovely on - feel free to use it, and send me a picture!

I'll admit, there was a lot of procrastination regarding the improv stripe/heart blocks. I want to thank everyone for their suggestions and support as to layout ideas. And I am so happy to report that I now have a fantastic quilt top - notice I didn't tell you what kind of quilt top. But alas, it's not finished yet, so giving you a sneak peek.

improv patchwork stripes and hearts

The quilting is almost done, as I got a late start yesterday. Spent the morning with contractors regarding installing air conditioning ahead of the coming summer. It would be wonderful to have, but boy, is it expensive!

Hard to think about AC when it's February, and equally hard to dive into a new Book of the Month with so much left unfinished. So I've decided to continue with Improv Patchwork, (affiliate link) working on those very curvy stripes, and possibly another heart idea. Hopefully, I'll have the next one figured out a bit better!

Happy Quilting!