June 29, 2016

Quilt 64: Squares of Sharon - Blue Delft - DONE!

Back in April, I posted about a quilt I made using some strips from a jelly roll pack.  It was this jelly roll pack:
(click any picture on this blog to see a larger image)
The blue and white prints remind me of Blue Delft pottery - just so fresh and clean looking.

I only used a few strips from the pack and have been wondering what to do with the rest of it.  Then I remembered my friend Sharon's first quilt - a really gorgeous quilt made up of diagonal squares from a jelly roll!

Here's Sharon's quilt:
Gorgeous, isn't it?!?  I visited her recently and asked her how she made it.  She showed me the technique and well, it's just crazy clever!

It starts with joining 4 strips together:

The idea is to then fold the right sides together and stitch again (along the top in the photo below), and what you end up is pretty much a "tube" of strips.

I wanted to be sure my "tube" would lay flat nicely, so before sewing the final seam, I pressed the top seam down toward the center seam.

Then I folded the right sides together and pressed the "bottom" seam toward the edge, so the both seams will lie flat and in the same direction

I left the center seam alone, didn't press it down.  Below you can see the seams from the four strips, and how the center steam is standing up a bit.  Next I folded the right sides together and sewed in that final seam, making the "tube".

Next I put the tube on the cutting board and used my triangle cutting template to cut a diagonal line from one side of the tube to the other.
Then I flipped the ruler and did the same thing, but this time upside down:
Now, here's the thing:  The point of the triangle overlays the seam:
So I pull open the triangle from the tube and because there's only four or five stitches, that little bit of seam on the point just pulls away easily.

And here we are (below)!  A super-fast, super-easy 5.5" square of diagonal strips.
And when I say "super-fast", I mean it.  It only took me about 3 hours of work to make 60 of these squares.  So, yeah, I know it's backward, but now I contemplate a quilt design to use them, and this is what I came up with:
Finished size: 48" x 68"
6 squares across and 10 down, giving me a 30" x 50" center panel.  So I added a 2" solid blue border, then a 5" print border, and finishing with another 2" solid border.

And here it is: mounted on the longarm:
 Next I auditioned the thread.  Originally I thought I'd go with the lighter blue on the left, but the navy on the right fades much MUCH better into the design - so that's clearly the way to go (I don't want the quilting to overpower the prints).

And here it is!  I'm simply wild about this design:

48" x 68" - free motion loop-d-loop quilting on the longarm

Here's the backing - just plain blue homespun.  And, as you can see, I quilted it with free-motion loop-d-loops.

I'm finding that I like free-motion quilting more and more, but I need to get out of my loop-d-loop rut and get some other stitch patterns into my repertoire.  To that end, I've ordered a couple of books which will hopefully give me some usable ideas.

June 22, 2016

Quilt 63: Stallion Canyon - DONE!

My friend Cathie is simply mad for horses.  She's got the sweetest, sensitive soul and has taken on some rather difficult equine charges - pouring compassion and care into animals which otherwise would be fated for a very sad end.

When I found this panel on www.fabric.com, well, I knew what I had to do.

The original panel had a brown/gold edge on it.  That created a kind of "frame", but the colours were too harsh - it cut the energy of the scene, creating a visual boundary which just seemed wrong.  I've trimmed it off and replaced it with soft green you see above.  

Now - it's easy to just slap some plain borders around this print and call it a day, but I feel it deserves something more.  I want something that makes a "statement" but doesn't pull the energy out of the image of those gorgeous horses.  So the next border (after the green above) will be soft grey with what I'm calling "mesa points" rendered in a solid rust to bring out the rust shades in the 2 horses in the foreground.

Here is one finished "mesa point" (below right).  On the left are samples of the strips used to arrive at the points:

 The pieces (for each mesa point block) are:
  • 2 rust - 6.5" x 2.5"
  • 2 rust - 5" x 2.5"
  • 2 grey - 2.5" x 2.5"
  • 2 grey - 4" x 2.5"
Now let's put them together.  First grab one of the 6.5" rust strips and one 2.5" greys, joining them as shown below:
 Next grab another pair of the same length - and join them as below (notice the strips are swung to the other side):
That much is obvious, easy.  The next two bits are less-so.

Now join a 4" grey and 5" rust - and carefully note the orientation of the 2 strips we're joining:
And another of the same size as above, but notice the orientation again - we're swinging the pieces from left (above) to right (below):
 Trim the excess:
 Flip and press.  See the "mesa block" shape coming together?  Of course!  Too easy!
And here's the finished quilt - showing how the mesa points work into the design:
52" x 69" - polyester batting - quilted on the longarm
 The backing is solid green - and here's a photo of the backing where you can get a better idea of the quilting design I used (the "Blustery Breeze" groovy board):
I'm sure Cathie will love this - and it's winter here in Australia, so it's the perfect time to have this quilt to snuggle under on a chilly evening!

June 15, 2016

Quilt 62: more "Robert Kaufman" placemets - DONE!

("Where's Quilt 61?", you ask.  It's coming.  I promise.  But I got a little side tracked...)

Last week I mentioned how I torture-tested the Robert Kaufman "golden gum leave" print in the dryer.  The fabric came through just fine.

And so I proceeded with that project and whipped together another healthy stack of placemats.

11" x 15" - polyester batting - quilted on the longarm

I'm loving these - so quick and easy to make, and they are just so very attractive on the table.

I'd love to have some coordinating cloth napkins as well, but haven't found anything that comes out of the dryer without needing ironing (and I'm not fond of ironing table linens). 

June 13, 2016

The Cheap Stuff Is Just as Good - NOT!!!!

Growing up, I watched my mother's vigilance over the budget, and often heard her declare "the cheap stuff is just as good." 

Well, folks, she was wrong.  Period.

Although I accepted that long ago, I have to admit to being tempted, esp. when solid homespun fabric goes on sale at my favorite nationally-known fabric chain store (whose name I will omit here, but if you are in Australia, you know who it is).

Yeah - they had $8 homespun for $5 a meter and I was sucked in (when you're buying 10+ meters at a go, it adds up fast).  To be fair, most of what I bought was fine - but then I got the soft green bit out I'd set aside for backing.  As I was ironing the fabric, preparing it for the longarm, I found not one, not two, but three holes in the middle of it:
(click the image to see a larger version - that hole is pretty good size)

The hole is placed in a horrible position - no way to just cut around it.  I had to cut the panel down and piece it back together - giving me an extra seam in the backing on this particular project, something I generally try to avoid.  But the person getting this quilt isn't put off by the extra seam and I have to admit the seams aren't very obvious after quilting.

June 8, 2016

Why I'm a Robert Kaufman Fan

In the past few months, I started to realize that I'm starting to recognize certain quilting cotton manufacturers.  First it was Moda, then Timeless Treasures, then Robert Kaufman.  There are others, but I won't bore you with listing them all.

Robert Kaufman, in particular, has a huge number of designs that I just adore - and I am mad for their metallic prints.  I've been buying their prints for a few years now, but only recently realized how much I've used them.

They aren't cheap - but oh my... the quality.

I've been making placemats with a couple of their "gum leaf" prints - such as the one in the photo above.  Placemats really need to take a good bit of washing, but metallic prints, well, that lovely shiny gold isn't going to be happy with a lot of warm-water washing and detergent.  I figured I'd just pamper the fabric and do cold wash (and line dry in the shade, of course).

Last weekend I decided to do a little test with some of the scraps from my recent project - and so I threw them into the wash with warm water and ordinary detergent - and then "TORTURED" the fabric by putting it in the dryer.

The result?

Look at the photo above.  The quilted bit on top has not been prewashed.  The unquilted strip at the bottom was subjected to the "torture".  There's absolutely no difference in them, other than the washed fabric is now softer.

I couldn't be more pleased.  I still intend to pamper those placemats, but if they happen to end up in a warm wash load by mistake, I'm glad to know that they'll come through OK.

June 1, 2016

Quilt 61: Jelly Roll Race - DONE!

OK - I know I started quilt 60 last week, but I got a bit distracted....

Last week I mentioned the "Four Square Star" quilt design I found in a YouTube tutorial from The Missouri Quilt Company.  "Jenny" - the tutor in the video - is a delight to watch and I've been enjoying some of her other videos, including one called "Jelly Roll Race".  I watched that one and - WOW!  It looked like a lot of fun - so I had to give it a try.

And I just couldn't wait to do it, so quilt 61 was pushed aside temporarily in favor of this one.

I bought this jelly roll last year - had other plans for it, but decided it might be a good "race" candidate:

In her video, Jenny says that you can do this quilt in about an hour.  Watching the video, well that seemed possible... maybe..

Basically, all you do is sew all the strips in a jelly roll end-to-end, then take that one long strip, cut it in half and then sew the sides of the 2 strips together - and just keep repeating the divide-in-half and join-the-sides until you end up with a completed top.

So, I watched the video and did I make the top in an hour?  Well, no.  Mine took a little more than 90 minutes - but my sewing machine isn't anywhere near as fast as Jenny's (I think hers probably runs at twice my machine's top speed).  Still - having a top pieced in less that 2 hours works for me!

And here it is - mounted on the longarm:

I quilted it with a pale mint-green thread, just using free-motion loop-t-loops, and finished the quilting in about 2 hours.  So OK... a good sized quilt done (except for binding) in less than 4 hours - WOW!
 For the backing, I used a solid bright green - and the light green thread looks terrific on the backing.
And the finished quilt (with thanks to hubby Stephen for holding it up for me):
Finished size:  48" x 61"
Just as Jenny did, I pulled the strips right off the roll, joining them in the order they were on the roll... and yes!  It turned out fantastic!  Look at how the blocks of white, yellow, dark blue are all balanced on the quilt - too easy!

This one will be going to "Inspirational Quilts".