Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What I'm working on... and a Free Motion Quilt Along Update Week 8

It's February 29 - Happy Leap Year! 

An update on the Free Motion Quilt Along at The Free Motion Quilting Project.This week we were working on quilting a large quilt. I have half of a twin size quilt machine stippled. I did not press all of the seams open like Leah Day suggested because the top was already sewn when I read her suggestions.sad I used Aurifil thread and had a horrible time with it breaking. I now know a heavier thread would work better since I have the thickness of the seams - I don't think I am likely to forget!

I am working on another twin size quilt. There is really no pattern. I cut some square/rectangular pieces of the white patterned fabric and put different sizes of color strips around them. Here is my design floor.

The hand quilting on our newest quilt is going slow but I may actually finish it within a year - we'll see!

Adding a little bit of interest to my sewing is this red superhero cape. I really thought our youngest son (he'll be 32 in a couple of weeks) was done asking for superhero capes but apparently not! He'll actually be using it for a good cause this weekend. It is not as great as I'd like it to be but I only had so much fabric.

I think that covers what's going on in my sewing area for now...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

QAYG FMQ QAL update 3

QAYG FMQ QAL stands for Quilt As You Go Free Motion Quilting Quilt A Long. Laura in Perth, Australia over at Quokka Quilts, is hosting this - see right column for the button. I am linking up to show my progress.

I am not making a quilt but I am practicing and doing each type of free motion quilting.

The four blocks for row 1 use curved stitching.
The four blocks for row 2 use straight stitching.
The current four blocks for row 3 use landscapes and seascapes. I used some patterned fabric so it's not as easy to see - sorry about that!

First is Landscape 1 - hills.

The hills are supposed to be filled in with more stitching like in the next photo. I prefer the open hills above. 

Next is Seascape 1 or Ocean Current. Basically this is connected hooks or 'spirals' that have echo stitching.

Landscape 2 is leaves. This was almost easy and looks so much better than the leaves I did for the Free Motion Quilting Challenge in January.

And the last one is Seascape 2 or Sea Oats. This one gave me fits! First I tried to draw them - I don't even know what sea oats are!

Then I tried to sew them on this practice sandwich - ugh!

I went back to the drawing board and ended up with corn stalks - that's something I understand!

You can't see them very good here so

here is the back!

Quilt Square Quilt Along Block 2

It is time to link up my second square for the Quilt Square Quilt Along over at Jo's Country Junction. (See button in the right column.)

This month the 12" by 12" block was a bear paw and I decided to use my stash and be patriotic. This is the square before it was quilted.

I didn't have any problems until the block was together and I began quilting - it must have been that day! First I marked a pattern on the quilt with chalk. When I began to quilt it, the marking came off and I was lost. So I tore that stitching out. Then I decided to stipple the little quilt in a variegated denim blue. Well I didn't like that so I tore it out. Next, I decided to stipple in white. That worked fairly well but my stitches were not good - I tore out many of them and finally decided to live with it.

Next came the binding. I had this neat fabric that was red/white/blue with small stars. It seemed perfect. I didn't audition it - I just sewed it on. And I didn't like it! So I removed it. I auditioned the blue binding before I put it on.

At least the block now looks fine!

Maybe I'll use it as a candle mat 
or maybe I'll hang it...

 I'm really glad that most of my days are hassle free!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A beautiful winter day

This time the storm did not miss us! We got heavy, wet snow last night. The temperature is right around 30 degrees and the sun peeks out every so often.The perfect day for a snow day which all the kids around here are enjoying!

I took a few photos out the window. It is beautiful. Of course, I don't have to shovel or go outside for any reason!

Now the wind is blowing and it looks like it is snowing again as the snow falls from the trees and power lines.

It is a perfect day for quilting!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Free Motion Quilting Project Week 7 and a Table Runner

In week 7 of the Free Motion Quilt Along at The Free Motion Quilting Project, we were connecting pieces and doing more stippling.

I have done many Quilt-as-you-go quilts. I only hand quilted until recently, and I did not like working on large quilts so I often did quilt-as-you-go projects. In fact, I learned a QAYG method in my very first quilt class in 1987. 

There are many QAYG methods. I have tried various ones. 

The very first one I learned and the one I use most often is
1. Quilt each piece.
2. Trim all edges of the pieces to include the 1/4 inch seam allowance.
3. Sew the top of two pieces right sides together being careful not to catch the batting or backing.
4. Press the seam open.
5. Working from the back of the quilt, carefully trim the batting so it just meets and hand stitch it together.
6. Working from the back, lay one seam allowance flat and fold the other one over it and pin.
7. Hand stitch the seam on the back of the quilt.
8. Finish any quilting.
I do not have any photos of this in progress but here is a photo where I used this method. I folded the quilt back on itself so you can see the front and the back. On the front, the seam is between the blue and the white on the left - you can see the hand sewn seam on the back.

I have done Cotton Theory where the quilt is reversible. Again I folded the quilt back on itself. I personally don't like the decorative stitches - I probably could have done this without them though.

I recently did a QAYG on a donation quilt that was similar to Cotton Theory. 
1. Quilt each block and border separately.
2. Carefully trim each piece with the 1/4" seam allowance BUT leave one inch of seam allowance on the backing fabric all the way around each piece. 
3. Sew the backs right sides together with an inch seam. I used a zipper foot and it was quite easy.
4. I trimmed the seam to 3/4"- you can leave it at 1".
5. Fold each side of the seam in half - I pressed the folded seams. 
6. Machine stitch each side down on the front of the quilt.
The red 'sashing' is the where I joined the pieces. The backing becomes the sashing on the front. You might notice the FMQ on this quilt - it was one of my early practice pieces.

Leah Day has another QAYG technique using binding or sashing pieces. I've used this method before but can't located any quilts right now!

Anyway, I did some FMQ this week - quite an accomplishment considering how tight time was! I made this  table runner and stippled the whole thing. No problems at all this week! I am now stippling with my machine at full speed so I am back to practicing getting my foot speed and hand speed to match. 

Ok, I have a little time today - so I need to quilt!

A nice little retreat!

Ray had a meeting in Champaign Illinois on Monday. So we used Sunday and Tuesday as travel days. While in Champaign, we stayed at the iHotel - very comfortable and nice. It was also wonderful for my full day of quilting on Monday! I was invited to eat with Ray's committee so I just walked downstairs to their conference room and enjoyed my meals!

The desk was really long and the desk chair was perfect for comfort and quilting. 

I finished this table runner. 

There was plenty of room for the ironing board. I turned the TV off right after I took this picture. I had Pandora going on my iPad all day. The red lounge chair and foot stool (no pictures of them except for a corner in this photo) were so comfortable to sit in and hand sew the binding.

I sewed mostly batiks all day. How I love my Featherweight!

This batik table runner just kept growing! It might be considered a tablecloth now!

Last, I decided to work on some modified pineapple blocks. There was a Starbuck's on site (great hot apple cider) so that is the cup you see on the desk.

Here are a couple of the finished blocks. I made four blocks and was in the process of putting a half triangle border around them when Ray's meetings got over. So we went shopping!

When I finish things up, I'll post photos. It was a really nice day!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I cleaned the house ...

I cleaned the house! Well, not the floors, but everything else! This is the first time I have done the cleaning by myself in two years or more! It is not that I really enjoy cleaning, I'd much rather be quilting, I just don't like not being able to clean. And I hate watching Ray do all the work.

Anyway, Ray was gone and the house really needed cleaning so I decided it was time! It took me 5 hours with a lot of breaks. When Ray got home, he vacuumed and sanitized the floors. I was sore last night but am fine today. One of these days I'll get back to vacuuming too!

My days are definitely getting back to normal. The sad part is that there are days I forget to be thankful that I can stand up and walk! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Free Motion Quilting Project Week 6

This week, at The Free Motion Quilting Project Quilt Along, we stippled in sashing and borders. I didn't get much machine time - retirement can be very busy!

I made a small quilt (23" X 23") with 4 stars. Then I stippled each star. I had a few problems with stitches and I pushed it off to the fact that I was sewing batiks - wrong! 

I began to stipple the white sashing and white inner border (not batiks) - oh, the problems! Although I began with a new needle, I changed the needle, re-threaded the machine, changed the needle, wound a new bobbin, changed the needle, tore apart and cleaned the bobbin area of the machine, changed the needle. I used 5, yes five needles before I was able to stipple the sashing! 

 After I finished the binding, I washed the quilt.

The stitching isn't great - I finally stopped tearing everything out and just quilted. I think it will be fine since I am keeping it. If it were a gift, I'd either be ripping out stitching or starting over!

The batiks (stars and borders) are quilted with a tan Isacord thread. The white sashing and borders are quilted with white Aurifil. The problem had to be my machine and the needles - maybe the whole package of needles! The machine is stitching fine now!

This might change everything...

I watched this video this morning. It is worth the 12 minutes it takes to watch. It might just change everything…for the better! Thanks Erin, over at One Piece at a Time for showing it to me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

QAYG FMQ QAL update 2

QAYG FMQ QAL stands for Quilt As You Go Free Motion Quilting Quilt A Long. This is happening with Laura in Perth, Australia over at  Quokka Quilts - see right column for the button. I need to link up to show my progress.

I am not making a quilt but I am practicing and doing each type of free motion quilting. The last update included the 4 blocks for row 1- all curved stitching. Now we have the 4 blocks for row 2 - all straight stitching.

First is Stippled Squares. I found this difficult - not knowing where I was going next was hard as well as wanting to curve my lines!

Second, is Lightning Bolts. Again I found this a little tough because I wasn't sure where I was going. The second part of each bolt - echoing back - was much easier!

Third is Spiral Illusion. I liked doing this - probably because I knew exactly where I was moving to next! It is a little hard to keep the lines even but not bad.

And last is Pointy Paisley. This wasn't too bad but I really squared off my shapes instead of keeping them more triangular.

So my biggest problem with these four squares is my left brain - having trouble when I don't know where I'm going. You know what they say: "If you don't know where you're'll probably end up somewhere else..." Hmmm, wonder where I'll end up!

The Free Motion Quilting Project Week 5

I am ready to link up with The Free Motion Quilting Project Week 5 and Leah Day.
This week was about 
quilting in blocks
1) filling a shape with stippling
and 2) stippling around a motif in a shape.

I did not have any cheater fabric so I drew a star on some fabric and filled it with stippling.

Then I drew a circle with a heart in it and stippled in the circle around the heart.

I decided the quilting might not show up very good on the patterned fabric so I started over with 'plain' fabric. Again I drew a star and filled it with stippling. Those are narrow points to fill!
The fabric looks wavy in the photo but it really isn't - it lies flat.

Here's the back.

Then I drew a heart motif inside another star and filled the star with stippling. You might notice that this star's points aren't quite as slender!
It must be the fabric that is making this look rippled.

And the back.

I am learning so much. I thought I just wanted to learn to stipple and that would be as much FMQ as I would ever need. Not! For the Free Motion Quilting Challenge, I need to do feathers this month. I think I can do that because I can quilt on a line! And now I can also fill a design and make a motif stand out. I feel like I am making great progress even though I have a very long way to go!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Flat Grace

Ray just got the mail and Flat Grace is here! We didn't know she was coming - all the way from North Carolina - but we are delighted that she did! She came to spend a bit of time with us and when we send her back, we need to let Grace know about Flat Grace's adventures.

She's already helped me blog.

And she's spent some time outside in the cold with Grandpa making a snowman! She said the snowman's hat should be a Cubs hat!

I think we have a BIG weekend planned! I'm not sure how long she gets to stay so we really have to make the most of our time!

Free Motion Quilting Challenge Update 2

I am ready to link up my progress for the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge over at Insights from SewCalGal (see icon in right hand column). The FMQ expert for February Diane Gaudynski. When I saw that we were going to do feathers, I thought I was in BIG trouble. But Diane's tutorial was fantastic and since I have learned to FMQ on a line (thanks to Leah Day), I thought I had a chance to succeed!

Here is one of my attempts. I think if I did this on a quilt and washed the quilt, it would be fine!  

A close up.

Some of this I did by following a line that I drew with a Frixion pen and then ironed away. The rest was done free-hand.


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