Friday, October 24, 2008

Memory Lane Quilt Shop Specials...

If you're local to the San Diego area, check out Memory Lane in Santee this weekend.  They are having some great specials:
  • 25% off all Christmas fabric (fabric on the bolt and panels, also)
  • All book are buy one, get one half price (limited to stock on hand, half price item must be lesser value item)
  • All patterns are buy one, get one half price (limited to stock on hand, half price item must be lesser value item)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Found a fun quilting blog with great techniques...

Be sure to check out the WackyPac Blog -- They've got some great projects and fun techniques online--so much that I've listed a permanent feed on my blog here.

Rhonda, one of WackyPac's contributors deigned to comment on my last post (thanks for your feedback--I'm so glad you liked it!), so I checked out her profile and found their blog this way.

In particular, there is a terrific Hot Flash quilt in there that is gorgeous red, yellow, orange and pink. Just lovely!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Slime quilt a la Dragonquest

I'm not into video gaming, but my brother-in-law is. He and my sister are expecting their first baby this month, and I asked if I could make a quilt for them as a baby gift. Their nursery has a Dragon Quest theme, and they sent me some pictures of Rocket, the character you see in the five corner blocks of this quilt.

The quilt came out to be about 43" square, so I could avoid piecing the backing fabric. It was also my first attempt at applique. I completed the five slimes first. I traced the slime design on interfacing. Then, I sewed on the traced line, through the interfacing and fabric (wrong sides together). I made a small slit through the center of the interfacing and turned the piece right side out and pressed. This gives you turned under edges, without all the work.

For the eyes, I used my embroidery machine and made three circles--one full white circle, one outline black circle, and one small black center circle. For the mouth, I used a free-motion satin stitch around a traced pattern. Then, I attached the applique to the sky background fabric with a satin stitch and a special foot called the Satinedge™ foot by Creative Feet. It's a great investment, especially if you lack confidence in your ability to sew straight.

I cut the alternating squares (a scenic print by Michael Miller) the same size as the slime squares, and attached some dark brown marbled sashing to make the squares pop. I added a grass green border (Easter grass), and used the same for the backing fabric.

For quilting, I quilted in the ditch of the sashing and border, and then also around each of the slimes. I also did some freemotion quilting in each of the scenic blocks as well. The light blue binding adds just a touch of brightness to finish off the quilt.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dawn's quilt

This is a quilt I started a long time ago and did not like. I didn't use a pattern (imagine the quilt without any purple batik strips on it--so no purple or borders at all), so it wasn't planned very well. I put it in my closet and forgot about it.
My son's physical therapist was planning to move on to another job, so I wanted to make her a quilt (her name is Dawn), so I thought I could fix this one. I used a Ricky Tim's style convergence quilt technique to redesign it, cutting the quilt top into horizontal strips and then inserting purple batik strips. That pulled the whole design together, making the top look like a window, especially after adding matching borders.
I also added a thin pink batik border and a thicker mottled batik border on the outside. For the back, I used a gorgeous purple fabric by Robert Kaufman. (I used the same print on my emerald ocean quilt, only in green, not purple.) I embroidered a label with leftover fabric and appliqued it to the back before assembling the quilt.
I also used acrylic paint by Jacquard (Lumiere) and Pearl-Ex powder to stamp Jake's foot prints next to the label, so Dawn will remember the hard work she did helping him to walk. Jake did not like getting paint on his foot, or even taking his socks off to do the prints, which is why the first foot print came out better than the second.
For quilting, I used variegated Mettler cotton thread, which surprisingly kept breaking. I eventually switched to another spool, and I must have been using a faulty lot. I did free motion stippling in the window pane areas of the quilt and in the ditch around the borders.
I rounded the corners, since I had barely enough bias binding, and that saves yardage. I applied it with my machine and a decorative stitch. Dawn absolutely loved it, and cried when I gave it to her. Jake actually started walking two weeks before she left, which was such a blessing. If you are reading this, Dawn, thanks for everything, and hope you had a great trip!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Baby batik

Here is a small strip quilt I made with about half a batik Strip Club jelly roll from Cozy Quilt Shop. I didn't use the (gorgeous) pattern that was included with this fabric pack--I wanted to do a few baby quilts instead, and this is a non-traditional baby quilt.
I grouped the strips together first into warm and cool hues, and then from light to dark shades. Then I sewed them together in sets of six. Then, I cut large 90 degree triangles from these strips, and arranged them into an inset square as shown.
As you can see, I didn't keep even seam allowances throughout, and my angles could have been cut a little bit more exactly, so my squares would have matched a bit better, but I think the effect is still kind of cool. I also think a true triangle ruler helps in this process.
In quilting, I used my new sewing machine, an Artista, and the Bernina Stitch Regulator, loaded up with Sulky variegated thread. It was very easy--and my first attempt. Click on the photos to enlarge. I was surprised at how quickly this process went!
I used yellow binding because it was what I had on hand, and surprise again, I like it.

Free motion quilting practice

This quilt has gone to live with my mom. I think in order to really learn free-motion quilting, you have to practice on a quilt, not just 10" sandwiches. Also, it's helpful to have someone close to you who doesn't quilt and who doesn't mind keeping your "mistakes." Mom actually likes this quilt.

I used this whole-cloth fabric, which is actually gorgeous fabric, and my older machine without a stitch regulator, to practice several stitches and my technique. Isn't the chartreuse backing fabric just gorgeous?

I think if I do a quilt like this in the future, I'd probably at least cut the fabric at the repeat and rotate it 180 degrees, so the whole quilt isn't quite so repetitive looking. Symmetry is great in quilts, but I don't like repetitiveness.

I'm getting better at stipple quilting. Loops aren't my forte, yet--I think you need to develop muscle or movement memory for them, and I just haven't done them enough. I think I have swirls down, for their shape, but my stitches get too long. In any free-motion pattern with corners or edges, I just get all befuddled. I really need to work on those.

As you can see, my cat thinks this quilt was a success. Lilo is so helpful in the photography process.

Kate's quilt

Here's a quilt my daughter Kate made with a charm pack (maybe by RJR Fabrics, but I'm not sure about that). Quilting is a great activity to do with kids--you have to do math to plan for seam allowances, borders and backing fabric. Plus, you learn artistically about design and color, and it's a great way to get some motor coordination on the sewing machine as well.
Kate chose the fabric she wanted, though I helped a little with choosing the inner border fabric. I helped a little with pressing, especially at first. I also helped with sewing on the inner border and binding. Kate did the rest by herself. She was six when she finished this quilt. She sleeps with it on her bed, and she's very proud of it. She showed it to the ladies at our local quilt store, who (rightfully) fawned over it.
I think at school today you get a lot of credit for trying your best, even if you don't do well or even finish your work. Quilting gives you a sense of satisfaction in the finished item and pleasure in its creation as well (especially a small one--the squares are only 5").

Stains on a quilt

I have always told the recipients of my quilts that I don't see them as works of arts or as particularly special--so if they get spilled on or ruined, I won't be asking about them later on. Well, that may not be the case for the quilts I keep. The attached are a few photos of my second quilt, a crazy quilt I made with an Alexander Henry focus fabric.
I think one of my kids left a marker or an uncapped pen out and open on this quilt recently, and it bled (in dark blue ink) in two places. So sad! The splotches blend in pretty well--one is in the upper left corner of the first inner border, and the second is in the very outer left block.
But I thought I'd post a few images of this quilt just the same. In case you've wondered whatever to do with all those cool decorative stitches your sewing machine came with, crazy patchwork is easy and fun. And it doesn't have to look Victorian when you're finished, depending on the colors and fabric.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Optical Illusion quilt

Inspired by an optical illusion book belonging to (and challenge by) my son, I designed the following pattern and quilt. I haven't used many batik fabrics before, so I thought I'd try my hand at these. Feel free to download my pattern and try it yourself. Let me know if you make one. I think mine came out pretty cool.
Keep in mind your dark and light fabrics have two have good contrast and they need to read as solid, or your quilt will blend. Your quilt will probably turn out pretty cool if it blends, but it won't have the same illusion quality.
Now, the construction is fairly straightforward, but I'm not the best at butting seams. So I used a cheater method and some Quilt-Fuse, which is used for watercolor and grid quilting. I pieced the entire quilt in an afternoon. See a product review here. It's a great shortcut, and it works like this:
  1. Cut your squares (in my case, squares and rectangles) to size.
  2. Line them up, right sides up (pin them in place if desired) on the Quilt-Fuse background (Quilt-Fuse is fusible lightweight interfacing with a printed grid, so it's easy to line up the rows).
  3. Fuse in place with an iron.
  4. Fold the fused quilt over on itself (with the interfacing on the outside, right sides together), and sew each horizontal seam. Be careful to keep an even seam allowance, using your 1/4" seam guide. Don't press yet.
  5. Clip your seams at the intersection of the grids before making the vertical seams. This will allow you to to butt the seam allowances, alternating one allowance up and one down, at each intersection.
  6. Now sew the vertical seams, maintaining the same 1/4" inch allowance, and being careful at each intersection that the seam allowances are butting as planned, as it goes under the presser foot (the top and bottom allowances should be going in opposite directions).
  7. Finally, press the entire quilt.
I made half the quilt at a time and sewed the two halves together. The interfacing makes for very easy machine quilting--the needle slides right through--but it may be too thick for hand quilting, and this quilt is doesn't have the same soft drape that other quilts have. So be aware of this in your planning.
I added thin dark, medium and light borders, and then one larger medium border, and rounded the corners. I've never done this before--I used a rotary cutter and dinner plate, and pre-done binding by Moda (so easy it feels like cheating!).
It was also hard to figure out how to quilt this thing, without blending it too much. So I found some Sulky variegated thread and quilted a straight starburst pattern off-center throughout. You can see the center in the large, lower, left, light square. (And you get extra points if you can say that out loud.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Interesting fusing plastic bags into fabric tutorial...

My husband found this link for me, probably in response to my ever-growing fabric budget. This person has posted a tutorial on fusing plastic bags, and using the fused bags to make totes and other items. Check it out!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Quilt kit from Memory Lane Quilt Shop

This is my third quilt, made last year. I used a Valentine's quilt kit I found at a local store in Santee called Memory Lane. It's a great shop--with lots of fun original kits. This one was very easy--it's assembled in strips, and then you cut up the strips and sew together to make the blocks.
The quilt kit came precut, so all I had to do was follow the simple directions and assemble the strips. Then, I cut the strips into squares, and assembled them into blocks. The center heart is actually a fussy-cut square. I believe it's all Moda fabric. Just adorable prints.
Two different blocks make up the quilt, which gives it a nice variation and makes its own design when assembled. I added a small strip of Blooming Bias (precut chenille strips) to the outer border, just at the binding.
Don't look too closely at the seams--I didn't know about pressing seams in opposite directions to butt the seams together better. Here's a different pattern I found online where you can practice butting the seam allowances. Also, this was my first real attempt at free-motion quilting. My stitches are very uneven, but from a galloping horse, as my aunt says, you wouldn't notice!

Lauren's quilt

This is a small quilt I did last year--the fourth quilt I've made--to practice my free-motion technique. I realized that the areas you do not quilt get puffy, so as you can see on the second photo, the ladies stand out a bit more.
The pattern is a modified attic windows that I found online. You don't have to do any inset seams for this pattern, and it's really easy. You make strips of fabric the length of your square, and then do half-square triangles for the corners.
This quilt needs to have the binding fixed. After a few washes, I realized that I didn't do a very good job putting on the binding. Also, I think I would add a border to the outside of the quilt. And I think I also would have made the top and sides of the windows with a little more contrast. But my four year-old loves this little quilt, so maybe I should quit criticizing.

Kate's second quilt...

Here is a picture of my daughter Kate's second quilt.  She made the quilt out of a Moda charm pack as a gift for her first grade teacher. She designed the quilt, and I helped cut the white strips for sashing. She assembled the entire quilt. She also chose the backing fabric and binding, though I did the actual quilting on a machine.
I think she did a great job--so well, that after she finished, she reconsidered giving the quilt away! But in the end, she did decide to make it a gift.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Sayuri quilt

Here is another quilt I finished a few days ago. It's called Sayuri, after the main character in Memoirs of a Geisha. It's for my sister-in-law, and I started it on Sunday of last week, discovering I only had a week to finish it. It's about 65"x 80".
I didn't use a pattern for this quilt. I picked up these four great prints from Joann's in the beginning of the year. All four of these are by Alexander Henry, and you can see some of them online, but I will list the three large scale prints here as well:
I had originally intended to make a kimono quilt, but since I only had a week, I decided on a more simple design.
I used about 1.5 yard lengths of the large three patterns, cutting the blue center panel the widest, and then the other two more narrow. I added the small gold star print as borders, which really helps blend the overall look of this quilt. Since the scale is so large, it was hard to decide how big to make the blocks, but it seems to work well.
For the back, I found a cute print by Michael Miller with a black background printed with large wheelbarrows filled with flowers. I think the print is discontinued, but you can find tons of Asian inspired prints on the Michael Miller website. I used an 80/20 cotton/synthetic batting, which is light and fluffy.
When it came to quilting, I was surprisingly at a loss. I quilted in the ditch along all the borders to keep the large quilt together. Then, I quilted loops on the crane fabric--using black thread, only in the background, blends in well and emphasizes the cranes just a little. I used a light blue thread in the background of the center panels, and red thread in the bamboo rushes as well. Then, I loaded up my machine with fuchsia silk thread, and set my machine on the eyelet program. I sewed an eyelet in the center of every flower in the floral and center panels.
I bound the quilt by machine with Moda bias binding (I love that stuff) in burgundy. Then, to finish the quilt and add flair, I sewed Swarovski crystals into the large flower centers with invisible thread. It adds just a touch of sparkle to a pretty quilt, and it emphasizes the metallic gold on the prints.

Finished Mocca & Kleo

I finally finished the Alexander Henry quilt. It took forever to quilt the thing (even by machine). Next time, I won't do each block individually. It measures about 52"x 70".
The design was very easy to complete--just cutting rectangles and assembling them in a chevron shape. I used fleece for the backing, and no batting. I don't think I'll use cheap fleece again--at least not on a quilt this densely quilted. It turned out a little stiff for my taste--I think the fleece gets scrunched together in the quilting process. I've used it before, with terrific results, but it must depend on how densely you quilt.
I used a Sashiko design from my embroidery machine to embroider the flowers around the border of the quilt. This was a time consuming process, as well, since the maximum area I can embroider is 6x10. I only could do two flower designs at a time.
Then, I used variegated red, black and yellow thread, and also plain white, to free-motion quilt in each block. I did the same quilting design in each fabric, and some came out better than others. But it's done, and it's a perfect size for building forts!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Beautiful Batiks

My husband has two baby showers at work this week, and asked if I might consider whipping up a couple of baby boy quilts for his coworkers.  Of course, I tend to collect girly fabric, so I searched through my entire stash to find something that would work for a baby boy.  I have decided it's probably worth my while to make up several baby boy and baby girl quilts in advance for just such an occasion, since I tend not to work as well under stress.
I was able to find a fun strip set in my stash, however, and I I loved working with them.  (I did get the first top finished today!)  I didn't use the pattern, so I will upload a picture of my finished project later.  You can find this great kit at Cozy Quilt Shop.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Stack the Deck Quilt

This is my first attempt at a Stack the Deck quilt. It's a simple design, which I saw in a quilting magazine. I found some fun fabric (Lingerie on the Line by Alexander Henry) and combined it with several colors of coordinating cotton jacquard by Robert Kaufman. I also added several other prints from my stash.

The blocks are constructed first by cutting the final shape you want. Then, you shuffle the fabric, so each block has one of each of your desired fabrics in it. It's easy to do, and you can do all kinds of fun things with this technique. You should check out Karla Alexander's books for more ideas using this technique.

To make the blocks go a little further, I alternated them with full-size blocks of another print. This is the first time I've set a quilt on point, and I love the effect. Upon the advice of one of the sales women at the Cozy Quilt Shop, I added a red border to the top and then followed with a second in blue print. The red really makes the blocks pop, I think. To add interest to the quilt top, I added some red chenille strips to the border as well.

I used no batting for this quilt, and a polka-dot minky for the back. It has very light loft and wonderful drape, perfect for a bed topper. (My bed is a California king size, so this quilt is a bit small, but perfect for a topper.) This is a great technique for putting together a larger quilt, and it's fail-proof for beginners.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Emerald Oceans - my first art quilt

Here are some photos of a quilt I just finished (after getting my machine back from the shop).  I'm still working on the binding, and it's the first time I've bound a quilt using anything but my machine. I've used only two fabrics for the top: a brown marble Moda fabric for the border, and feathered print by Robert Kaufman.  I saw the green print at my local quilt shop and fell in love.  On the bolt, it starts with the lightest shade of celadon and fades to a deep forest green.
I didn't use a pattern, but imitated a borgello style of quilt.  If you're not familiar with these, I suggest you check out this book by Marge Edie. They are very fun and easy to do.
It only took a day to assemble the quilt top. The technique I used follows:
  1. I used about 1.5 yards of the green printed fabric, and started slicing in strips.  I cut an equal number of 3", 2.5" and 2" strips for this quilt.  
  2. Next, I sewed each strip into a loop, end to end, so the lightest part of the print met the darkest part (I pressed toward the darkest end).  
  3. Then, I arranged the loops on the floor, and straightened the seams out to make a horizon.  
  4. After I was pleased with the arrangement (I used alternating widths of loops for interest), I cut each of the loops open at the top, and straightened them out.
  5. After numbering the strips carefully with chalk, I sewed them together.  For some reason, my strip-style quilts tend to warp slightly upon assembly.  To fix this, I alternate the sewing direction (that is, sewing from top to bottom and from the bottom to top) when assembling the quilt.
  6. I added a border when I was finished.  This also helps some with getting the fabric to behave itself.
I used a soft 100% cotton batting with low loft, and a fun modern print by Michael Miller for the backing.  For the quilting, I wanted to try my hand at a few free-motion styles.  I used five different colors of thread, including silk and variegated thread. My machine is happiest with Mettler silk finish 100% cotton, but I was also able to use the silk thread without incident.

I marked the quilt with chalk before beginning--simply three wavy lines across the quilt, about where I decided I would switch thread color.  The sky area is quilted in ivory in a meandering curls pattern.  I did wavy lines for the next two shades, echoing each other and becoming more flat as the approach the bottom.  
The last two shades at the bottom of the quilt are in landscape style free-motion, which is a little harder for me than the other styles, but I am pleased with the results.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Oh no!

My weekend has been ruined!  While working on my latest project, my sewing machine quit working!  I've taken it into the shop today, but I hope they get it fixed soon.  What will I do without my sewing machine??
So far, I've moved my kids' machine (yes, they have their own) into place, and I plan to do some piecing, starting on my Alexander Henry quilt.  I miss my machine so much already.  Ack!

Large Scale Prints

I finally found a pattern for some large scale Alexander Henry prints I have been collecting. I think I will borrow this design here for my project.
I've been trying to figure out a way to use mostly large scale prints without having the viewer get queasy.  You can see my concern in my fabric collection.  I'll be sure to post the results as soon as I can get something worth showing!