November 30, 2016

Quilt 80: Hawaiian Surf Boards - DONE!

Hubby and me honeymooned on the island of Maui - and loved it so much that we've returned to the islands several times.  Once I started quilting I quickly realized that lovely Hawaiian-print fabric (which we can't get here in Australia) makes a lovely souvenir.  Here's one of the prints I have brought back with me:
(click any picture on this page to see a larger image)
A friend of mine sent her daughter and two grandsons to Oahu this past April for a special treat.  The boys just adored Hawaii, and she and I cooked up the idea of using some of my Hawaiian fabric to make a quilt for each of them for Christmas.

Both boys are quite tall (the eldest is 6' 1"), so the quilts need to be fairly long.  I opted to keep things as "even" as possible, and use pretty much the same block design for each, although the fabrics will be different.  For this first one (the surfboard print above), here's the design:
I opted to adjust the colours a bit, making the internal lattice dayglow orange instead of red, and toning down the other borders as well.  Too much bold colour in the borders would have overwhelmed the colours in the surfboard print.

And here it is - completed. 
55" x 77" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - cotton batting
 Here's a closeup of the center blocks (below).  In this photo you can see the colours a bit better, especially the orange (which the camera seems to wash out a bit if the flash is used):
The quilting is done with chocolate-brown thread, which pretty much fades into the print (as you can see above).  And the backing is brown as well (it's actually dark brown - the flash has washed out the colours):
Now to whip up the other quilt - that one will be primarily blue and gold. 

November 23, 2016

Quilt 79: Moda "Pink" Charm Squares

And yet again... another "charm square" quickie quilt. I'm rushing a bit now, as I set a goal for myself at the start of the year to do one quilt a month (minimum) for the "Inspirational Quilts" charity - and I'm behind. So here's anothe.

This one is done with Moda's "Quilt Pink" charm square packet:

And here's the design:
And here's the finished quilt!
53" x 66" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - 100% cotton batting
And here's a close-up of the backing (the solid pastel mint green) and the binding/borders - showing my "loop-d-loop" free-motion work.

It only took me 2 hours to do the quilting - so I KNOW I'm getting faster.  Actually - I'm quilting about as fast as I dare, suspecting that going any faster than I did on this quilt might actually cause the needle to heat up too much.
Looking back on the other charm-square quilts I've done, I have to say that I generally prefer the borders to be solids which pull out colours from the prints - this one, however, I do like the pink printed border (the fabric matches one of the squares - see the one in the upper left of the center?).

So this one is done, and handed over to my good friend Jen (who lives near Nancy of Inspirational Quilts - Jen is my "quilt courier" - thanks, Jen!)

November 16, 2016

Keeping Things in Line

I recently spent some time watching longarm quilting videos on YouTube, just to see what tricks I might pick up.  I found a video discussing the problem of keeping the top properly aligned when you are "floating" the top. 

"Floating" is what I do.  It just means the top is laying on the backing/batting - and although it's stitched down across the top (and on the sides as you gradually work your way down), it really would be very easy to accidentally pull it to the left or right as you go along.  If that happens, the final quilt won't be blocked correctly, but will lay crooked.  The longer the quilt, the more likely you'll get the edges drifting to one side or the other as you work your way down.

Well, in this video, the suggestion is to measure the distance from the left and right edges of the quilt to the sides of the longarm frame every time you advance the quilt.  I can see how that would work, but.. hm.. it just seems a bit fiddly.  I came up with a method that works well without so much fuss.

Have a look at the picture below.  Here you see a quilt mounted on the frame - and notice the bar (covered in white material) laying across the quilt.  That bar is intended to be used to roll the quilt top on it.  I guess the idea is you mount the top on that bar and roll it out bit by bit as you advance the quilt on the frame.  Most likely doing that, you'd avoid the blocking problem and your top wouldn't end up pulled to the left or right.  But I like just doing the "float" technique (just laying the top on and not rolling on the bar) - it's faster.
My solution to the alignment problem is this:  I use the leader cloth on that top bar to mark where the edge is on the quilt when I start.

Below shows the leader bar over the left side of my quilt.  I stuck a pin into the leader cloth lined up with the left side of the quilt top (the gold fabric).  As you can see below, the pin enters the leader cloth right where the left edge is.  I did the same thing on the right side of the quilt.
Each time I finish a segment of the quilt and advance it on the frame, I just keep an eye on the alignment of the edges with the pin, and if the top has shifted, I gently slide it back into alignment.


November 9, 2016

Quilt 78: Peek-a-Boo Pinks and Purples - DONE!

About this time last year I made a child's quilt using Moda's "Peek-a-Boo" charm squares.  I bought 3 packs of those squares, which gave me way more than I really needed, so I pulled out most of the pink and purple squares and a handful of the white squares and set them aside.  I intended to use those for a cot-size quilt, but forgot about them when the squares ended up shuffled under a stack of other fabric in my closet.  But I came across them a couple of weeks ago when I was hunting for something else, and so I went ahead at finished the quilt top.

The backing fabric I chose for this project is a lavender polka dot print.  Because there would be a seam in the backing I had to be really careful in how I matched up the dots.

I started with the two lengths of backing, placed them right sides together for the seam.  Then I folded back the top length and carefully ironed a fold following the space between the rows of dots.  Then I pinned the folded length to the other length, taking care to make sure the dots on each length lined up (as you see in the photo below).
After pinning, I flattened the top length and carefully stitched into the fold line left by the iron.  Below you can see the stitching in that fold
And here it is!  I'm very pleased with how well the dots along my seam have lined up.
This was a very fast project - I think I spent just under three hours piecing putting the top together, one hour for the quilting and about ninety minutes for the binding.  And here is, completed!
40" x 46" - quilted on the longarm (free-motion Loop-d-Loops), 100% cotton batting
I quilted using a variegated purple-and-blue thread.  In the closeup below, you can see that the thread really works well with the print.
And here's the backing - and look!  Can you see the seam line in the backing?  It's there, but if you aren't looking for it, it pretty much disappears with the quilting on top!
This is another project for Inspirational Quilts.

November 2, 2016

Quilt 77: Moda "Poetry" Charm Squares - DONE!

As promised: I'm back on track with quilting again!

And I've just finished another "charm square" quilt.  These are fun to do and are really quick projects.
This charm square pack has lovely floral prints in two shades of pink, blue, yellow, and green.
The prints all have a soft "peach" highlight to them - so I opted to border this quilt with green and a peach-flower print (which I had left over from another project).

I first thought I'd quilt this with white or off-white thread.  But when I auditioned the thread, I realized the white was too bright and seemed to clash.  Instead, I found that thread with a bit of gold in it worked better (the one on the left is Signature Threads' "chamois").
(click the picture above to see a larger image)
And now here's the finished quilt - and as you can see, I've goofed mightily on this one - I failed to notice th(at I clustered the darker pinks all in the center/left of the quilt instead of spreading them evenly).  It looks worse in the photo than it does in real life.  Actually - you hardly notice it at all in real life.

Hmmm... I'm thinking that when I do projects like this one, I should photograph the squares after I arrange them and doublecheck with the camera image before I stitch them together.
50" x 60" - quilted on the longarm - 100% cotton batting

Here's a closeup of the quilt top - showing my loop-d-loop free motion stitching.
And here's the backing - the same soft mossy green used on the borders.  The gold stitching really looks pretty.
And here's something that surprises me quite a lot.  A couple of weeks ago, I reported having trouble with thread fraying and splitting on the "Yellow Roses" quilt I did for my cousin.  I discussed the problem with Howard, my longarm dealer, and he suggested I use a larger needle (going from 16 to 18) - and said that the problem may have arisen because I'm sewing faster than I had been previously. At the time, I didn't think I was, but did note that swapping to an 18 needle pretty much resolved the trouble.

And this quilt proved Howard right!  I've made quilted several projects with roughly the same dimensions as this one, and yup.  I'm quilting faster.  Until now it's taken me about 3-3.5 hours to finish the quilting on a project this size. 

But this one?

I finished it in just under 2 hours!