Thursday, November 29, 2007

How I do Continuous Curves

Appleby asked how to make continuous curves - I love seeing her excitement for quilting and free-motioning. :)

Here's how *I* do it. Seems like some quilting books show differently, but my brain doesn't wrap around their method.

I start in the right top corner of the quilt area that I want to do CC is. It's where the 1/start is on the paper, blue marker.

I make curves across the top blocks all the way to the center of the quilt (the other half will be done by flipping the quilt around and not having to deal with so much bulk in the machine's throat).

Then I start to work my way down one row/column at a time. I "fill" 2 sides of each curve in the squares all the way to the bottom, as you can see with the green marker. The blue counts as the first curve in the first top square.

Then when I get to the bottom, I begin to work my way back up - the pink marker -filling all the areas that the green didn't get.

Starting in the second column, I overlapped the green and pink so you can see how it flows all the way to the end of the quilt.

Hopefully the picture will make sense where my words don't. I'll say this though... it's easier for me to quilt than draw! :)


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cutting the speed

So instead of 178 miles per hour, I'm slowing down to 75 in the past 2 days. ;)

Still working the on binding. Been a bit distracted with "real life", but I get all Thursday, Friday and part of Saturday to myself, as my husband will be gone at a conference. He has the laptop, so he's good. ;)


Monday, November 26, 2007

The end is in sight!

Phew, on the last row of blocks. My shoulders are happy to hear that!

I'd rather be a little slower and enjoying the progress than rushing through it and hiding from my sewing machine for a week after.

But that hot shower tonight will feel really good on my back! :D


Sunday, November 25, 2007

I want a long arm machine...

...cuz my shoulders are killing me to do all those continuous curves.

Actually, now that I think about it, my whole upper body is sore. Probably from all the quilting in the past week, and the little bit of Wii playing I did on Thanksgiving day. No, I couldn't make decent sized moves in playing tennis, I had to do huge arm swings that made it ache. :P

So lots of breaks on this one. Haven't even completed two block rows out of 7 yet. Maybe I'll get 3 rows done tonight if my shoulders don't burn too much.

On the bright side, I won eight Bernatex FQs from Serena! I don't think I'll have to worry about running out of stash this week. ;)


Saturday, November 24, 2007

On the edge

For some reason I didn't feel like trying to come up with a backing that was over 50 inches wide. It's an annoying figure to work with.

So I opted to use 1.5 yards of fleece that I got over a year ago. Well, it was 3 yards, but I cut it in half to cover my window over the summer (the sun was too strong). I knew I had 7 blocks, and for some reason my brain did the math for 7" square blocks, not the 7.5" they actually are. The different is a good 4 inches! :P Careful pinning was required, but I made it. Now to quilt it. :)


I'm kinda hoping to do a "weekly tally" sort of thing.

I completed two quilts this week. One doesn't really count, as I just had the binding to finish on Sunday. The other one was a small baby quilt. Now to find a baby for it... ;)

I used up a spool of Essential thread. Note that I didn't say I STARTED using it this week, but I finished it off this week. :D Actually started that spool some time in October.

I used up 6 bobbins worth of thread this week, some in piecing, some in quilting. I feel like bobbins are the best way to "mark" the amount of quilting I've done. I take too many computer breaks to do it by the hour. :P

And I've used somewhere around 5 yards this week. I have like what, 1853 more to go? :D Actually, I have no idea how much fabric I do have, but in any case, I'm 5 yards less this week, and I didn't buy any. :)


But can you quilters out there send me a little comfort? Let's say that somehow I do manage to bust all my stash away, till I have like, 25 yards left. That's a scary thought for me. That feels akin to being told that all I get to eat is beans for the rest of the year.

Anyhow, if I do reach that point, will somebody come to my rescue? Send me a box of fabric so I can keep playing? I just need to know that I have a "back up" plan, because if I don't have one, why should I use up my fabric?! :)


Slow me down!

I feel like I'm quilting at 178 miles per hour these days! How else am I able to get so much done? :P

So we're done with the Country fun, time to do something else. A few years ago somebody gave me a bunch of 3" squares. I thought it was Kim, but she thinks differently.

So I began to sew the squares together in the past month. Sometimes just to spend time on my sewing machine, sometimes as leaders and enders. Then the pile of squares began to dwindle a little. Uh oh. So I pulled out a priority box of scraps another quilter gave me and anything that was bigger than 4x7 inches was cut down into 3" squares. I busted half a priority box this way! I even set aside some of the generous ends as strings. Maybe I'll get back to my string quilt in December.

I didn't bother to do a light/dark setting, but aimed for every 9-patch to have no fabric repeats. Just grabbed and sewed. No matching needed! ;)

I ironed all the squares in one direction, would flip one strip of 3 squares around and the seams nested perfectly. I love it when there's minimal bulk, makes quilting so much easier.

There's all kinds of fabrics. Christmas, Halloween (not mine, I don't like Halloween), kiddie, floral, manly and on and on. Anything 3" square is welcomed. :)

Last night I cut the alternative blue squares and pieced the top together. The blue really helps calm things down! And the leftover ends of the blue strips got cut into 3" squares where I could and added to the bin. I think I'd like to keep this "project" going on for a while. I know a lot of quilter struggle to put their 3" strips and squares to use, but I'm gonna have fun seeing how many different ways I can use simple squares. :)

I can tell you this though, my sewing machine was really thankful on Thanksgiving day - I didn't turn it on! :D


Friday, November 23, 2007

Done with Bonus quilt

I put the last stitches of the binding in yesterday.

A prewashed photo of the top. It measured 29.75x36.5 at this point.

I used a country house fabric I had for several years.

And the Dusty Rose Essential thread was a perfect match to the backing.

Then it got tossed into the washer (with some clothes), I don't baby my quilts because I want them to be ready to take some use and abuse.

More crinkle goodness! And now it measures 28.75x35. So the quilting doesn't shrink the quilt THAT much. Now is it the batting (high loft polyester) or the unwashed fabrics that made the quilt shrink so much? Guess I'll have to make another quilt to find out. ;)

Another shot of the unwashed back.

Really gives a nice view of all the quilting. Great learning experience for me too.

And in just 8 days of receiving the fabric in the mail, I've used up a good 95% of it! I have about 12" left of the binding fabric, which can join the stash. But I love that I gave myself a chance to do a non-stash quilt. That it might actually be more fun if I have a smaller stash of fabrics! It's still kinda scrappy looking, but didn't take 100 different fabrics or 6 years of collecting, just 15 different FQs in 8 days. And 2 quilts to boot!

Time to pare down the stash. :)


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Close up of the borders

I received a request for a close up of the borders. I ended up doing something different on each side. This whole quilt ended up being a testing ground for quilting methods I never tried before! :)

Close up of the pebbles.

I followed the gist of Mary's Pebble Tutorial. I have gaps galore, non-matching lines and I even traced some pebbles like 3 or 4 times over because I couldn't get into the position for my next pebble. All in all, great learning experience and it uses a TON of thread. :)

Next border I attempted to echo quilt the feathers.

I have no idea how in the world long arm quilters manage to keep a steady distance between the echo lines. I tried to use the side of my free-motion foot to guide the distance, but it wasn't a complete success.

I gave stippling a shot.

The nice thing is that stippling doesn't really mind the extra jerks you accidentally make. If you do it on a meander, it doesn't look so smooth, you know? Stippling? Just don't cross the lines and you're good. :D

Last border was lines and squares.

Phew. It's hard to guide the quilt in a steady manner. I don't even want to think how hard it might be to do that on a long arm machine. Or is it easier?

Now that I'm all done with the quilting, I measured it again. It went from 30x37 to 29.75x36.25. Huh. Will have to measure again after the binding/after washing. I'm very curious where most of the shrinking happens. Fabric? Batting? Quilting?


Morning Progress

I had some time this morning to blow before I need to run some errands. And where else would I blow time, except at the sewing machine? ;)

This quilt seems to have a bunch of firsts. First time doing Continuous Curves; first time doing feathers (in the 2" squares border) and now I'm doing pebbles for the first time, in the last borders.

I have found that it's hard to see where you're sewing next if the fabric and thread are pretty much the same color. And I do pebbles much better when I cut my sewing machine speed in half. Gotta love that feature! :)


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

And the fun goes on

Remember these scraps, our leftovers from cutting the FQs for the Pineapple Blossom quilt? Let's see how far I stretched them.

I threw away the pile of ends on the left. I'm not THAT crazy. :D

Then I used the gold/yellow as leaders and enders, til it was sewn into one strip.

I dunno what I'm gonna do with it, hopefully it'll find it's way into a crumb or string quilt.

Then with all the 2" squares, I pieced them into 4 strips.

The ended up being the first border on my Bonus HST quilt.

Now at the first picture of this post, on the right side is a bunch of 1.5" strips.

That ended up being the second round of borders. At this point, the top now measures 30x37. Small baby size. I measured because I want to see how much it'll shrink after quilting, then washing. :)

And just a wee bit of leftovers. One 2" block and 2 short 1.5" strips.

They can go into crumb and string quilts. :)

Here's the quilt all pinned up.

I used high loft batting this time - it was the perfect size from another quilt's leftover batting.

The batting gives the quilt a lot of puff!

And for the first time ever, I'm trying my hand at Continuous Curves. Some of them are so wonky that I can't do anything but laugh at them. But from a dark distance, they look good! ;)

Can I blame all this quilting energy on my age? It kinda feels like I turned 25 and WHAM! a ton of quilts are coming out of me. Can you believe I haven't even own the Connecting Threads country fabric for a whole week yet? 2 quilts already!

Hmm. I don't think you want to hear that I also put together another top last night with some hand dyes and black... :D


Explaining Bonus HSTs

I figured I'd explain how I come up with my bonus Half Square Triangles.

Any time I'm sewing a square on diagonally, I like to sew 3/8th of an inch away for another block. It's almost like getting 2 quilts for the effort of one. ;)

On the Pinapple Blossom quilt, on each block I needed to sew four 3.5" squares diagonally. In the picture above, it's the line on the left.

Then if you look really closely at my needle's position, it's not in the center of the foot, but 1mm to the right. I had the hardest time understanding that at first!

I place the original diagonal line on the edge of the left side of the presser foot. The gap between the two lines make a 3/8" measurement. Bigger than 1/4", smaller than 1/2".

I try to cut exactly between the two lines. I use my ruler and rotary cutter to make the clean cut.

Basically, you have a 1/8th inch seam allowance for both blocks. I know that sounds tiny, but it's never given me any trouble.

By doing it this way, I get an 3" unfinished HST.

Hence the name of Bonus HST. :)

Now it's time for a confession. I'm a lazy quilter too. I don't like some parts of quilting, like pinning blocks together (can't sew as fast) or trimming... well, anything. So I didn't trim my HSTs at all. Sometimes I have to fudge it a bit, but usually it works out ok. I'm not aiming to be a perfectionist, I'm aiming to have fun. So what if one side is an inch longer than the other? I'm not sending it out to become somebody else's problem (like a long armer's). It's my quilt; I'll do what I want. ;)

With the Country Pineapple Blossom, I ended up with 120 HSTs.

I thought this would be a fun setting, almost like Birds in the Air pattern. With some borders, it should make a decent sized baby quilt.

The smallest size of a block that I'll "double sew" for the bonus HST is 2.5". I'll end up with a 2" unfinished HST, and that's as small as I'll go. Sometimes I even skip double sewing 2.5" squares. But bigger than that, I'll feel like I'm wasting fabric if I don't do the bonus HSTs. :)

I've done this a few times now. Like when I made Ann's NYE 2005 Mystery, all those pink and purple "points" gave me the bonus HSTs for the Girly Bear's Paw claws.

With my sister Sarah's Pineapple Blossom quilt, I turned the bonus HSTs into this green, purple and white baby quilt. I DID trim those bonus HSTs, and swore never again!

Overall, I really like doing Bonus HSTs, and hopefully I won't ever get sick of so many HSTs. Thankfully there's MANY different ways to use them! :)


Monday, November 19, 2007

Country Pineapple Blossom Finished!

Time for "The Quilt is Done, Done, Done!" happy dance. ;)

It's a great lap/baby size. I can't decide if it'll live near my bed or the couch. It matches the couch very nicely, which is a dark green. I love green. Can you tell? :D

I don't think I realized how densely I quilted it until I was done. I knew it was more than normal, but my nose was too close to tell until it was completed.

I just love, love, love how it turned out. I hope it never gets put away.

The backing shows the stitches much better.

But this photo is washed out - the backing colors are much brighter, like you can see in the label.

And here's a no-flash shot.

Really gives the impact of the quilt's "crinkle". But this crinkle is all soft and goodness. ;)

I wrote the label between the stitches.

First time I have ever been able to put the exact date on! :D


Now for the "nitty gritty" details of the quilt.

The pattern is Bonnie Hunter's "Pineapple Blossom", free and a great stash buster. My version is without sashing though. I'm lazy like that. ;)

The fabric is from Connecting Threads, their Speckled and Stars Sampler, which consists of 15 fat quarters.

I also bought 1 additional yard of fabric for the binding, but I only needed 5 strips, so a half yard would have been more than enough.

I used 5 of the gold/yellows from the Sampler for the 3.5" squares. Each unwashed FQ gave me 30 squares. I had to cut VERY carefully, as you can see below, I only ended up with little "stubs" of fabric. Everything else "leftover" was less than 1/4".

The 10 other FQs netted a little more leftovers. From each 2" strip, I was able to squeeze one 2" square, a total of eighty 2" squares.

There was also just under 2" wide strip left after I cut what I needed, so I trimmed that down to 1.5" strips, one of each color.

And then I tossed in a pile o' ends from the 10 FQs. But they went into the trash after the photo. :)

So it's possible to make this quilt top for $25.33 using half a yard for binding and the FQ sampler... but you have to cut perfectly. There's no forgiveness allowed. Be perfect, or no quilt that's 5x6 blocks. If you do decide to do it and make a mistake, I'd opt for doing it 5x5 blocks, or add sashing if possible.

The thread is Milk Chocolate, and I pieced the top with Silver Essential Thread.

And there you have it! :)


Quilting later

I have some serious grocery shopping to do!

One of the stores is tripling their coupons up to $1 (so a 40 cent off coupon tripled will only give me $1 off) and I'm gonna take advantage of the great sales going on right now. :)


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Shrunken quilt

I'm kinda stunned at how much the quilt shrunk after being washed. Not a bad kind of stunned though. :)

According to my math, the quilt was about 54x45 inches before washing. I just measured it, and it's 50x42! Wow. Does anybody know if it's mostly the fabric, or the Warm and Natural batting?

I can't get a good picture, the light sucks at the moment. So all you get is this teaser to let you know that it's bound and washed. Better pictures tomorrow! :)


A bit of real life

I don't think my sewing machine will be turned on today, I have a bit of real life to deal with. ;)

-run the dishwasher
-do 3 or 4 loads of laundry
-kitchen clean up
-go to church (ok, this one is actually gonna be first, but I'm still a little groggy from going to bed at 2:30. I was sewing the binding).
-return a book to the library
-probably more stuff that I can't remember at the moment. :P

I pretty much turned myself into a hermit since I got my fabrics on Wednesday. I didn't step outside again until Saturday!

And it's only because I checked my Amazon order to see where the shipping status was, and it said half of my books were here! What?! I order them on Tuesday, and it said it was here on Thursday! (Now why couldn't have my Connecting Threads order come that fast? :P)

I put on decent clothes and ran to the mailbox to get my goodies. And that made me realize that I buried myself deeper into the Pineapple Blossom quilt than I thought. :)

So today, I'll be catching up on a bit of real life. But I hope to have the binding done! I got 2 sides sewn down last night. I have some free time after church while I wait for the voter's meeting to be done with.

I must also add that the quilt is wonderfully warm, I can personally testify. ;)


Saturday, November 17, 2007

The finish is in sight!

Whew! Lotsa quilting happened today. :) Which also means that plenty of thread was used too.

I opened the "Milk Chocolate" spool yesterday, and above shows how much I've used. Well over half of it!! I made a little mark on my Excel list to order some more whenever I make another purchase from Connecting Threads, probably not until some time next year. Perhaps in a year from now, I'll have 2 spools of each color "in stock" and even more of the ones that I use a lot, say black or white?

I also kept track of how many bobbins it took me to make this quilt.
-4 bobbins of the silver for the piecing of the top and adding the binding
-9 bobbins of the brown for the free-motioning! NINE! I have never used so much thread in one quilt before. I guess that means I'm getting closer to doing more custom work on my quilts?

Here's the top on my computer chair - I put it there so I wouldn't be tempted to sit on it and procrastinate on making the binding. :P

I did find the Connecting Threads fabric to fray a bit more than my normally prewashed fabrics, and you can see a bit of it on the batting.

Binding on, trimmed and ready to be hand sewn down!

And you can see a bit of the backing. It's one of my hand dyed backings - using leftover green and blue mixed together. Since my other backing choices were orange, purple and neon pink, I felt that the teal was the best shade for this quilt. :)


Quilting update

I merrily started to quilt the Pineapple Blossom last night, and then I discovered a little problem.

I'm quilting it waaaaaaaaaaaay denser than I expected to. I can't help it! My machine loves free-motioning with Essential threads. Absolutely loves it. So I'm having so much fun, and shortly after I quilted the third block... uh oh! I'm out of bobbin thread.

Wait! How can I be out? I figured I'd need two bobbins at the most. I wound up 2.5, just in case! And then I find myself done with the first bobbin - not half way through the quilt - but a mere 1/10th way done! Math time: so three blocks use up 1 bobbin, and there's 30 blocks... that's TEN bobbins! Yeah. I still don't get it. I used only 4 bobbins on my sister's quilt and it's twice as big at this one!!

Therefore, half of the quilt weight is gonna be in thread alone. :P And thankfully I have enough thread, but I'll be adding more "Milk Chocolate" to my next Connecting Thread order. :)


Friday, November 16, 2007

Pinning Progress

I got the layers trimmed and pinned.

I couldn't decide between a fluffy polyester batting, or some Warm & Natural cotton batting. So I compromise, W&N with a low loft polyester on top of it. It was a weight that I'm happy with, and hopefully it'll have the fluff and drape I'm shooting for after I wash it.

No yoga classes needed for me, weird pinning angles cover all the moves. ;)

And I decided to go with my husband's suggestion, brown thread. "Milk Chocolate" to be exact, and I think that's a great name for the thread, cuz you certainly can imagine yourself wrapped up in it with a mug of hot chocolate. :)

Maybe I'll even have it all quilted tonight! Dare I hope?!


I can't stop yawning...

I'm so sleepy right now... I just wanna take a nap. So logically, I'll sew to keep awake! That's right, operate dangerous machinery with eyes half opened. ;) But you know... I think I'll stay away from the rotary cutter for a few hours. :P

I'm also blasting out my playlist on the iPod in hopes of staying awake. And getting up a lot to go back and forth from the machine and computer. And yawning enough to put 10 people to sleep.

I'm tired cuz I woke up at 5am. I was sleeping with my hands above my head and my fingers were touching the wall. I felt some rumbling, and of course the first thought this California-born gal had was "earthquake!" Then my second thought was "oh no, my fabric fell through the floor... hope the rest of the building doesn't go down too." (I think it's time to bust some more stash!)

I looked out window and noticed some water on the glass. Was it raining? Can't see without my contacts. So I started to drift back to sleep, then there was this huge crack of lightening, followed by some more rumbling - thunder. Ah! Just a typical monsoon-like weather. But I couldn't fall back asleep, cuz I started to think about my quilt, and thinking of what thread to use... and what quilting pattern... and what to do with the bonus HSTs (yes, that's what the picture is)... oh, my husband's alarm went off. Might as well get up too. :)


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Oops! And Thread Suggestions?

Well, as I was sewing the top together, I accidentally sewed the same fabrics next to each other.

Too late now! I think I'm only annoyed because it's really close to a couple other pinks, and I don't want it to pop out.

And hooray! I got the whole top pieced before bedtime... now we have our bed back. ;)

Can you give me some thread color suggestions for the quilting? I was thinking dark green, because that's what the binding will be... but my husband suggested brown. And that makes a lot of sense to me, cuz there's a bit of brown here and there, why not tie the quilt together with brown thread? But I love green! I'm biased. :P

Go ahead any suggest any color (and perhaps give a reason why?), I have almost all the Essential threads, except for a few of the neutrals and variegated ones. I'll probably be undecided on the thread color until I take it to my machine to quilt it.


30 hours progress

My quilting energy is certainly showing in this Pineapple Blossom quilt! I think it's because I've had this quilt on my mind since July. I got a Connecting Threads catalog in the mail and drooled over the Country Fabrics. Then with my car troubles and buying a laptop, I put my order on hold til we had a bit more cash. But my desire to make a Pineapple Blossom never changed.

So here's the tale of my past 30 hours, since I received the box in the mail, at noon. :)

Here's all the pieces I needed to make 30 nine-inch finished blocks. It doesn't even cover half of my cutting mat. Boy, do we quilters tend to overbuy on fabric or what?!

I sewed until a little after 10pm last night, and this was my stopping point.

By noon today, I had this much done.

By 6pm, I had all the blocks finished!

I succeeded in a few things. I did not want there to be any repeats in a single block. I also did not want any of the same fabrics touching each other in the final layout. That was a little tricky, kept having to play musical blocks to get a good fit. :)

Next I need to get this into one piece before bedtime, there's no way I want to try to refigure the blocks again!

And if I get my way, there will be no scraps left, except maybe a wee bit of the green from the binding... you'll have to wait and see what I mean. :)