Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another quilt finished

Before getting into quilt talk, there is Balloon talk.  This winter a fun shop opened up at our local mall.  It was there for just a few months.  Now Maria is back working from her home.  Something that she has done for years. 

Fabulous Balloons' owner Maria is a very talented lady.  Take a moment to check out her web site:  Fabulous Balloons

Now for the quilt.....

It's a pocket quilt made for a little boy who is two years old.  He'll be able to sneak his night time snacks, toys, and anything else that's small to bed in these pockets.  At least that's what I would have done if I had a quilt like this when I was young.

The cats on the backing glow in the dark.  He may not get too excited about that, but when my son was about that age, he loved anything that glowed in the dark.  I wonder if the fabric will still glow in the dark after a lot of washings.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A finished quilt and binding it.

When I was cleaning my sewing room I came across some sample blocks made ages ago.  After sewing them together it was obvious that some borders needed to be added to make the quilt a usable size.  So several plain borders were used, then some folded flying geese.

This type of flying geese blocks are easy to make.  They need only one seam per block.  Check out the Ricky Tims tutorial video if interested.  One issue with using a folded block when machine quilting on a frame.  The foot can get stuck in the fold - often.  A few more cups of coffee and it probably wouldn't have been as much of a problem.  Or next time use normal flying geese blocks....

Since the binding would be sewn on using a decorative stitch, I stitched  it on the back then folded over to the front.

For joining the ends of the binding I used the method shown in this video for the first time:  McCall's - How to bind a quilt

Wouldn't you know.  I drew the 1/2" line on the wrong side of the stitching line.  The binding was too short and "modifications" had to be made to the binding so I could make it work.  Totally my fault.  Measure (and think) twice, cut once.

Next time I add binding I'm going to try this method:

Easy way to join the binding

It will be more difficult to get confused.  Not impossible, just more difficult.  I can get any direction messed up.

Next came the decorative stitching on the front of the quilt.  The thread kept breaking.  I'm using a new needle, new thread and the machine has been cleaned and oiled.  No reason for my trusty Janome to have this issue.  I want this quilt done so I can get on to a fun pocket quilt for our new little neighbour. 

My guys are into leather tooling so I've spent many an hour wandering around Tandy Leather while they shop.  On a whim, I purchased some machine leather tool needles.  What the heck...I'll try one of these needles.  They have a cutting edge to pierce leather.  Maybe the needle will make a clean hole for the thread so it doesn't shred.  It worked like a charm.  Been ages since I didn't have to fuss with the corners when sewing on binding with a decorative stitch.  All those layers of fabric you know.  It will be interesting to see how the quilt holds up to use after using this needle.  I'm hoping no holes appear.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Preparing a quilt backing

A number of quilters have asked me about my quilt backings.  They want to know why they are cut on the diagonal and then sewn back up again.

If a picture is worth more than a thousand words, how much is a whole bunch of photos worth?  Here is the method taken from a John Flynn tutorial that I use. 

The 42" width of fabric was just a bit too narrow to use as backing for this quilt:

So a length of fabric was cut on the diagonal:
Watch what happens when you slide the right hand side down.  The backing is now narrow and longer:
Now slide the right hand side up.  The backing is shorter and wider.  Which is what is required for the quilt top.
Is it wide enough? 
Well there would be just enough providing no mistakes are made loading the quilt top onto the frame.  So I add a 4" strip of fabric to the diagonal cuts when I sew the left and right sides together.  I'd rather have a bit extra then find out that I was off a half inch or so at the bottom of the quilt.

Now why not just add a straight piece of fabric to one of the sides of the fabric?  Why the diagonal cut?  The answer is because the seams will not "stack" on top of each other when the backing is rolled up.  Much easier to get a smooth backing.
You can see how the seams will lay as the backing is rolled up on the frame poles.  No build up.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Two quilts finished, motivation and "new" quilt friends

The company my son works for usually sponsors a Christmas play for elementary age students.  The play travels the province and puts on a number of shows each Christmas season.  This year it was announced that staff will have to do some fund raising if the play is to continue.  The cast has decided to have an auction.  And naturally I offered a quilt.

A while back my friend Joan offered to drive me across the city so we could take some long arm quilting lessons.  I took her up on the offer and provided two quilt tops for us to practice on.  It was a lot of fun and we both learned a lot.  Unfortunately things get in the way of completing projects.  The quilt that Joan worked on was put away and never got the binding on.  I decided that would be the perfect quilt to donate and finally the binding is done:

Not a great photo but it does show that I managed to get one quilt off the "to do" list.

I also got a small quilt off my frame.  I played around with feathers and that's when I decided feathers are not going to be in my near future.  I better improve my free motion quilting first.  But it is done.  There are four or five more tops from the same book.  The goal was to make each quilt presented in one book.  That was my retirement challenge.  Well the tops are made, but only this quilt has been completed:

Deb from the hearts2hands group asked the members to post what motivates them to get into the sewing room.  After some thinking about this I have to say two things get me quilting.  Deadlines and viewing other people's quilts.  There are more things, but these are the two most likely to work.

I admit that avoiding having to do other things can get me into the sewing room.  Seeing videos of new techniques works well.  Realizing that I have to stop buying fabric and put what I have to use is a good way.  Having to make the draw string bags for volunteer sewing day will get me sewing the night before our meeting.

Other members suggested making a list of what you want to get done.  Crossing an item off the list is a great motivator.  Making the list forces one to go through all the bags and drawers where projects are stashed.  Then list all the "almost" finished projects you have.  Maybe one just needs a half hours worth of work and it will be done and off your back.  I think the making of my list with an estimate of time needed to finish will be today's project.   After I clean and oil my Bailey and get it ready for a practice quilt.

Speaking of Bailey, Pauline from the Bailey group stopped by this week.  It's always wonderful to meet someone you got to know through the Internet.  When Pauline called to arrange our visit, she mentioned a space issue for a large frame.  So before she arrived I set up my Super Quilter table top frame.  It took 20 minutes to get set up (only about 5 to take down).  I think I convinced her that a table top frame is the way to go.  Nothing permanent.  Just set up when needed.  Here's hoping she can find one at a good price.  Added bonus, she won't have to purchase a larger sewing machine.  The one she currently uses will work just fine on a frame like this.

I enjoy my Bailey 17" and the Gracie queen frame is okay.  But I really wish I had stuck to my original idea of finding a way of extending my Super Quilter frame.  I had all sorts of ideas on how to do it.  But no way to get the items needed for it home.   Thus the Gracie....they delivered.

After Pauline's visit I went for a walk.   Neighbours across the alley and down a few houses were sitting on their front step.  So I stopped by to chat.  We are seldom outside at the same time.  Because of this, even though we've been neighbours since 1991, I really do not know them well.  That's going to change.  Turns out the lady of the house is a quilter.  Talk about having someone to quilt with close to home!  I'm so looking forward to some sewing afternoons with her.