Category Archives: Quilted projects

heart-block-rainbow-quilt

Quilts for Pulse Heart Quilt

It’s sad that we’re in September now and I had to think back to when the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando took place. It’s a short news-cycle world we live in. At any rate, I asked the members of the Munich Modern Quilt Guild (oh, yeah, did I mention I started an MQG in Munich?) if they’d like to make a few heart blocks to send and also held a sewing day at my house. The sewing day ended up being me and one other member, but we had a few blocks from another member for a start and a fourth member sent me some blocks in the mail, so between the four of us we managed to get enough blocks for an entire quilt, and since I missed the individual block deadline, I went ahead and finished the quilt.

Ikea-Britten-Nummer-quilt-back

Ikea Britten Nummer fabric – I finally get the love

It took very little time to sew the blocks together. I then made a backing from Ikea Britten Nummer fabric and a colourful rainbowy stripe. Next, I popped the whole thing on the longarm and quilted it with a simple edge-to-edge design, which took about two hours including loading and unloading the quilt and a whole lot of playing around to get the tension just right. The quilt is machine bound, and though the binding is far from perfect, it’s sturdy and should hold up to some abuse.

Schnitzel and I both loved this block (made by guild member Martine) the most.

blue-heart-quilt-block-with-cat-feet

Schnitzel has good taste

Do you have a favourite charity for quilts? If you’re looking for a good home for an orphan block, consider quilting it and sending it to Alison for her Soy Amado project.

Bookshelf Mini Quilt

My friend Cathy, mother of Rachel and Louise, turned fifty recently and I had to commemorate the occasion. Cathy is an incredible writer, so I decided to make her a bookshelf mini, which hopefully she can hang in her writing shed.

Rainbow Bookshelf

Rainbow Bookshelf

I loosely followed the tutorial by Don’t Call Me Betsy and was fortunate to have lots of selvages, sent to me completely gratis by the lovely Alison of Little Island Quilting. (Speaking of Alison, go buy her book, it’s hilarious!)

Book titles

Book titles

The titles are fused on using double-sided fusible and then top-stitched.

I then took this baby to the longarm (which I have used embarrassingly little since forking over all of my savings) and went to town.

Quilting Detail 1

Quilting Detail above the shelf

Quilting Detail below the shelf

Quilting Detail below the shelf

AND! For the first time in nearly five years of quilting, I made a quilt label! My sources tells me it’ll fade because all I did was laser print directly on the fabric without any kind of fixative, but I left it to soak in water for a full day and there was no running or fading, so I’m hoping it’ll stay put. Names unskillfully removed via photo editing to protect the innocent.

Quilt label

Quilt! Label!

Louise’s Quilt

Remember the  Loulouthi Tiles quilt that I made for Rachel’s 18th birthday? You’ll recall that my idea for the quilt and my friend’s idea were… not quite the same. But she promised me that I could make the happy rainbow quilt I had envisioned for her second daughter, who was a wee lass of 14 back then, and was as happy as sunshine! And good god, I guess I’m getting old because Louise just turned 18!

I used the same pattern as the Whine and Cheese quilt but made it scrappy with as little repetition as possible. I had most of what I needed in my stash, but this is where my colour preferences reared their ugly head: I have practically no orange, blue, or purple scraps. So I begged for some scraps from friends, bought a bit of fabric while I was at the European Quilt Meeting, and eventually managed to cobble together just enough fabric for the top. Once I had all my pieces, putting the quilt top together didn’t take all that much time. Luckily, the one piecing mistake I made was at the outer corner so fixing it was not a problem.

For the back I decided to go with a more reasonably scaled big-square pattern, similar to the one I used for my brother’s quilt, but, to no one’s surprise, in a rainbow range. The one block that stands out is the dedication my friend embroidered. It was just a bit too small so I added two borders to it to get it to fit the scale. I love how the dedication block breaks up the rainbow range.

Quilt Back. Cat butt thrown in for free.

Can't decide which side of this quilt I like better!

Can’t decide which side of this quilt I like better!

I quilted this one the same way I had Whine and Cheese, with a straight grid in the sashing.

Quilting detail. I love a good straight line.

Quilting detail. I love a good straight line.

The binding is made of the trimmings from the quilt back.

Unclear when I became a person who enjoys hand binding.

Unclear when I became a person who enjoys hand binding.

We went to England in December so we delivered it then, well ahead of the birthday. Sadly but unsurprisingly, it chucked it down the entire time we were there so my plans to take it on a photo shoot in beautiful Avenham Park in Preston were very much foiled. Instead, here are some shots taken in a rather dark Premier Inn hotel room :(.

Love a scrappy binding.

Love a scrappy binding.

Scrap happiness.

Scrap happiness.

And here are some pictures of the quilt in the sunny wilds of England, courtesy of my friend.

The quilt on an actual sunny day in England.

This one shows the top of the backing grid. Some favourite fabrics in this one.

This one shows the top of the backing grid. Some favourite fabrics in this one.

Tula Pink Saltwater Quilt

Saltwater quilt

Back in 2012, in the early days of my (decidedly one-sided) love affair with Tula Pink, I bought a fat-quarter set of the Saltwater fabric collection, which I promptly left to marinate for three years because it was too stressful to cut into. But when I got a half-square triangle die for my Accuquilt a few months ago I went to town with it.

Although I have issues with the accuracy of the Accuquilt, for which many helpful people on Instagram provided useful tips (which I appreciate but will not be following because (a) I am lazy and (b) I didn’t buy the stupid thing to generate more work for me), I’ve become a confident enough quilter to know how to fix those kinds of problems when piecing.

Inspired by this gorgeous quilt by Sarah at coopcrafts* I combined the saltwater triangles with a variety of white-on-white fabrics, so even though the overall effect from afar is plain white, up close you can see the different patterns. Cutting the entire quilt top took maybe an hour or two, and piecing it was a complete breeze, since the die eliminates dog ears and there’s no need to mark anything.

Chain piecing action shot

Chain piecing action shot

Schnitzel helped.

Schnitzel helped.

You don’t really need these right now, do you?

After I started cutting into the set I realized that I had an unequal number of FQs in each of the three colourways, which meant I had to be creative when laying out the quilt and which I think I managed.

Layout

For the back, I loosely followed Elizabeth Hartman’s Mod Mosaic tutorial to create a long strip made from the leftover scraps.

I love this fabric line unreasonably much.

I love this fabric line unreasonably much.

After I made a strip the width of the quilt I edged it with some Saltwater strips from yardage I had purchased on other occasions (truth: this is the only Tula Pink fabric line that I actually like. I find the others super-intricate, but equally creepy. Elizabeth? EEP), and then finished off the back with some more white-on-white fabric pieces.

That's a very subtle light-blue thread.

It took longer to make the scrappy strip than it did the entire quilt top.

Saltwater quilt back

I used straight-line quilting to outline each square with matching thread and used a new-to-me thread, Mettler, which I was really pleased with. Unfortunately, this kind of quilting leaves ton of threads to bury, which normally I would bury as I go, except that I’m a dumbass and cut a super-hot chili with bare fingers the morning I started quilting, and my hands were ON FIRE for well over twelve hours, making it impossible to do anything more precise than shoving the quilt in and out of my machine. You’ll be pleased to know that dipping my hands in a vat of after sun and aloe vera made the pain go away a few minutes before midnight. Anyway.

P1040280

That’s very light blue thread on the right.

For the binding I used a method I came across on Instagram and had tried on a baby quilt a couple of weeks before, and you guys, I am NEVER going back to old-school binding. I’m not joking—the no-tails method is much easier, much more conducive to scrappy bindings because you don’t need to make a super-long continuous binding strip, and gives PERFECT corners. Recently, while flipping through Sunday Morning Quilts, I saw that this method is actually in the book and I think I must have dismissed it on my first read because it seemed too complicated (it so isn’t). I also decided to go a bit thinner on my binding for this quilt, cutting it 2.25″ wide instead of 2.5″, and the quality and fullness of the binding is spectacular by comparison. I may even go down to 2″ for my next quilt.

Can I help you bind, mom? I'm sure licking your hand for an hour will help get this done in no time.

Can I help you bind, mom? I’m sure licking your hand for an hour will help get this done in no time.

I used the blue/white octopus fabric as my main binding fabric, and each side of the quilt got a small scrap of one of the other colours to punch it up a bit.

Pop of colour in the binding

Although I finished the quilt top about a year ago, I didn’t get back to it until the end of the summer, when I decided to try to enter it into the Erding Patchwork Messe, where I exhibited a couple of quilts last March, too. I worked like a fiend for only to find out that they wouldn’t accept a late submission, so it’ll have to wait for the next one.

* If you aren’t following Sarah, do yourself a favour and do. Her HST quilts are a thing of beauty.

All the things

Yeah, yeah. Sew your stash, finish-along, quilt-along, WIP Wednesday, Finish it up Fridays, quilting resolutions. Whatever. I’ve committed to none of these for 2015, but what I am trying to do is sew more regularly, and not just on the weekend. Or if not to sew, then to do something sewing related at least every day.

This is what’s happening here at Arsch der Welt at the moment. Firstly, it’s been a glorious winter. Yes, I said it, even though it has been snowy and freezing. I am absolutely in love with our tree-lined drive in all seasons, but in winter the bare trees strike me as most beautiful. AND it turns out you can see the Zugspitze peak, which is 160 kilometres south of here, right from the end of my driveway. This absolutely delights me.

No filter.

No filter. The Zugspitze can be seen when you look to the left at the end of the driveway. Joy!

Sewing, you ask?

On the go:

Tula Pink City Sampler: I finished off all one hundred blocks after an insane three-day sewing marathon in which I sewed about fifty five blocks. I split the quilt into six segments, adding white sashing. I’m quilting each segment as I go with straight lines that echo the piecing in each block. Hopefully it’ll all fit together when I try to attach the segments. Cross your fingers that it does, because I’ve submitted it to a local quilt show and have to deliver by the 19th of this month.

Missing U quilt: My blocks for this one started out really random, but have turned more into a free-form log cabin as I’ve progressed. I want to make this one a king size, so need nearly fifty blocks. I’ve made twelve so far. I’ll definitely QAYG this one, with the back of each block a matching colour to the front.

My first few blocks, made back in England. I've added about 8 or 9 since.

My first few blocks, made back in England.

Saltwater quilt: The only FQ bundle I’ve ever bought is Tula Pink’s Saltwater, and I’ve been sitting on it for at least two years. I’ve now cut up the entire range using the Accuquilt 4.5″ HST die and sewn the HSTs. I’m missing a couple of the FQs in the blue range, so I’ll have to see whether I have enough units, but am going for a simple (though still up-in-the-air) layout. For now, I’m putting this one on the back burner since I have a couple of looming deadlines.

Pink-brown baby quilt: I made this from a fabric line sample pack I bought at the Festival of Quilts a couple of years ago. It’s basted and I’ve started FMQing it, but got distracted by Christmas sewing. I have no planned recipient, so quick, someone get knocked up. I’m so uninspired by it that I have no pictures.

Broken Herringbone: Does it really count as a WIP if I only made one block, well over a year ago? Don’t know, it’s haunting me all the same. I’ve actually made quite a few of these blocks in the run up to Christmas, but used them in table runners.

Green broken herringbone block

Green broken herringbone block

Recently finished:

Totem’s blue-square quilt: A project that came together fairly quickly – read about it here.

Upcoming:

Silver anniversary quilt: The party is on August 1, 2015, so I best get cracking. I’ve just settled on using Tula Pink’s Fade to Pink pattern, from Quilts from the House of Tula Pink.

Carpenter quilt: I have an awesome carpenter. He’s building me an awesome bespoke sewing workstation, charging only for the materials (mostly cheap Ikea work tops). I therefore must make him and his wife an awesome quilt. Don’t know what yet. Another gradient quilt? Dunno.

Tinker Tote bag: I started this Craftsy class* (affiliate link, see disclaimer below) bag ages ago and it’s been staring at me reprovingly ever since. I’ve tried to get back to it a few times, but needle issues with constant skipped stitches have stopped me from making any progress on this one, which is lame, since I’m mostly walking around with a freebie messenger bag someone gave me at a temp job fifteen years ago and really now, do I even own a sewing machine?

* An affiliate link means that I may get a commissions if you decide to purchase anything from the company I linked to, in this case Craftsy.com. I only recommend products and services that I use and love, so I know you’ll be in good hands.

MQG Michael Miller Fabric Challenge

Back in.. April? May? I received an envelope with six Michael Miller Petal Pinwheels fat eighths courtesy of the Modern Quilt Guild. I had loads of time to think of something to do with them, so I mulled it over as I watched challenge projects pop up in my blog reader and on Instagram. The day before the deadline I decided that maybe it was time to do something about it.

A few things that had held me back to this point. The first is that I’m not particularly creative; I copy well, but don’t often come up with my own quilting ideas, and I couldn’t think of what to make. Secondly, the fabric was cute enough, but I was mostly ambivalent about it. While other participants went out and bought more Michael Miller fabric to make a bigger project, I didn’t want to, because, as I may have mentioned three million times, fabric in Germany is really expensive, and because I didn’t feel like spending money on fabric I didn’t absolutely love. Thirdly, one of the fat eighths was a reddish-orange solid, and the challenge rules were that only other Michael Miller fabrics could be used, or alternatively, other solids. Have I mentioned that I hate solids? Hate solids. But the deadline was looming and my local quilt shop was having a sale, so I popped in and in addition to buying lovely, but completely unhelpful fabrics for this cause, I also bought a meter of Kona Snow (and hi, can I just say that I really don’t see why everyone is so gaga about what is essentially a white sheet?).

I’ve had this picture on my phone for yonks and a half; something I saw on Pinterest at some point and saved for future reference, and I decided to try something similar. Given the limited fabric at my disposal, I went for a table runner.

I think it was a picture of a carpet, maybe?

I think it was a picture of a carpet, maybe?

I vaguely relied on a method Jacqui Gering demonstrates in her Improvisational Piecing, Modern Design class on Craftsy* (affiliate link, see disclaimer below) to piece the angled strips, which mostly worked, though I did need to unstitch a couple of the strips and try again.

Finished table runner top

Finished table runner top

For the back, I pieced together the leftover challenge fabrics and bookended them with what little of the Kona Snow was left.

Finished table runner back

Finished table runner back

For the quilting, I quilted each section separately using a matching thread (mostly Aurifil), with straight lines echoing the shapes the strips formed. I didn’t have quite enough of the white for the binding, so I cheated a little and used the sashing fabric I used in my Dreamweaver quilt, which reads white. Speaking of binding, thank you to everyone who offered thoughts and suggestions regarding the binding question in my blog hop post. I haven’t replied to everyone yet, mostly because I suck. The overwhelming consensus was that no matter how tedious, nothing produces better results than hand binding, and well. Is this not awful?

It's awful.

It’s awful.

Kiwi was giving me the stank eye as I was doing it. SHE KNEW. I give up on machine binding.

Are you sure about that?

Are you sure about that?

That said, the weekend after the challenge closed, the Germ and I drove down to the northern foothills of the Alps, just across the border into Austria. He’s training for a race around Mont Blanc (possibly I failed to mention that the Germ is as mad as a hatter) and needed to do some running in the mountains, so he set off early on Saturday morning and I met him halfway and then at the end of his route. There are worse places I could have been hanging out while unstitching the binding, right?

So dreamy.

So dreamy

I’ve now finished re-binding (by hand, which I have to admit was not really that awful considering, you know, the alternative) and I am pleased with how this turned out. Sheleg helped.

Some feline snow on Kona snow action (Sheleg=snow in Hebrew)

Some feline snow on Kona snow action (Sheleg=snow in Hebrew)

She seems to spend half her day on top of it, so I guess I’ve passed her QA.

Yeah, s'alright. You got food?

Yeah, s’alright. You got food?

* An affiliate link means that I may get a commissions if you decide to purchase anything from the company I linked to, in this case Craftsy.com. I only recommend products and services that I use and love, so I know you’ll be in good hands.

Blogger’s Quilt Festival: Dreamweaver Quilt

On the fenceI’ve shown a couple of glimpses of the Dreamweaver quilt, but haven’t said much more about it. The summer before last, in my very early quilting days, I went to Liverpool for the day with a friend. My intention was to spend most of the time in the Tate Modern there, but my friend had other ideas so we ended up “shopping” on the high street. I absolutely detest shopping so when we came upon a big Waterstones I pulled her in so that I didn’t have to keep looking at clothes. I quickly found myself in the craft section and thus began my love affair with Tula Pink. I’d never even heard of her at that point, but one of the books I leafed through was Quilts From the House of Tula Pink, and I think we know how that story ends.

There are several quilts in that book that I’d like to make, but there was absolutely no question that I’d be making the Dreamweaver quilt first, and that this one would be for no one else. As it happened, ten days later my ghetto fabric shop was having its summer sale so I spent an evening there trying to pick the twenty different fabrics I needed for this quilt. In the end, I spent about £85 on fabric that I was no more than ambivalent about.

Meh. Mehmehmeh.

Meh. Mehmehmeh.

The Germ opined that since this is the quilt that will be on our bed, it would make me absolutely miserable to look at it every day if I didn’t absolutely love every aspect of it, and he was absolutely right. I’ve since used most of those fabrics in other projects and I quite like them in other contexts, but there are a couple of fabrics in there that still make me cringe and this quilt would have been no more than meh had I used them.

When I went to the Festival of Quilts a couple of months later, I had a couple of goals: Christmas fabric for an advent calendar and fabric for the Dreamweaver quilt. I spent two days at the show and was absolutely delighted to meet Tula Pink that year (this was 2012, before she became the headliner in 2013).

Me and Tula Pink. Apparently selfies make my face look twice as long as it actually is.

Me and Tula Pink. Apparently selfies* make my face look twice as long as it actually is. *Hate that word, swear I’ll never use it here again. SORRY.

She signed my book and tried to convince me to buy her Prince Charming line to use in the quilt, but I confess that I love her quilt designs more than her fabric (though I adore Saltwater and the newest line that just came out at Market this week–Fox Field–looks amazing), so I gently rebuffed the suggestion and kept looking. I roamed those halls for two days and didn’t settle on anything until the last hour of the show, when I accosted the poor ladies at the Doughty’s batik stand. Those poor, poor ladies. They were absolutely exhausted after four days on their feet and there I was, bouncing about pulling bolts and asking them what they thought. They were, nonetheless, delightfully kind and helped me come up with the twenty different fabrics I needed. So I spent another £85 or so, but I knew that this was it–I absolutely loved these fabrics.

And then nearly six months went by before I got started. Last Christmas we drove to Germany for Christmas (funny story–as I was driving on the horrid bumpy roads in Belgium I pictured us arriving into Germany with nothing but the chassis left. Luckily, this didn’t happen, since the car broke down in Holland and we had to be towed into Germany) and since I had ten days to get through without much English and without the Internet, I took the sewing machine with me and got the quilt top cut and pieced. It came together quickly and beautifully, turning from a fabric stash to a finished king-sized quilt top in two days.

Chop chop!

Chop chop!

I find these left over strips really endearing. I think I have a photo like this for every quilt I've made.

I find these leftover strips really endearing. I think I have a photo like this for every quilt I’ve made.

Then I sat on it for another few months, until a weekend in April when I pieced the back, basted, and quilted the whole thing. Have I mentioned this thing is HUGE? Sheleg popped in to supervise. The back is mostly off-white, with three strips of the twenty fabrics in the order they appear in the front, each a different width. The quilting is simple vertical straight-line stitching.

That's a bit crooked, don't you think?

That’s a bit crooked, don’t you think?

A week or two later I took it with me to the Yorkshire Dales for a proper photoshoot.

On the grass.

On the grass.

On the fence

On the fence.

On the fence some more

On the fence some more.

And on the fence still some more.

And on the fence still some more.

She was right. It was crooked.

She was right. It was crooked.

And now that it’s been on our bed for about six months, not a day goes by where I don’t look at it and delight in how much I love it.

On the bed.

On the bed.

AmysCreativeSideLinking this one over at Blogger’s Quilt Festival under the Roy G. Biv category, where I stand no chance of winning, because have you SEEN what I’m up against? I am awed, quilters–AWED!

Futzing

In the past month I’ve felt like I’ve mostly just been futzing around. Nothing was getting done–though lots of things were on the go–and I just felt like I was getting nowhere with my sewing. I had figured that once I quit my job and was home all day I’d be sewing non-stop, but in the two weeks after I’d left the job I hardly got any sewing done at all. Firstly, because we went down to London for a few days, and secondly because I’m trying to pack up my life, since Quilting Rainbows is moving to Munich in three weeks. THREE. WEEKS.

So like any panicky person who needs to wrap up her life promptly would, I’ve spent most of the last two weeks in front of my sewing machine. I’ve started and finished a few little things, and made progress on a few big things.

Right before I left work, one of my colleagues commissioned me to make a baby quilt for the baby girl her daughter was expecting. She had a very broad idea of what she wanted–something pink, with a big heart. I did a quick search around the internets and found this adorable mini-quilt by Plum and June. My colleague really liked it, though we both agreed that the grey wasn’t really on for this and that I’d go with whites and creams instead.

For all my love for half-square triangles, I’ve not actually sewn any, other than in my sister’s chevron quilt, for which I used the tutorial from Missouri Star Quilt Company. I thought I’d try the traditional method, with marking a line along the diagonal of two face-to-face squares, and well… no. That was not going to work, because the end of the line kept running sideways on me in the sewing machine. Plus, marking lines on fifty squares? Do you people know me at all?!?! (I think since about four of you read this, two of which are related to me, the resounding answer in Toronto was “YES!” while elsewhere, it was “Nope, not really.”)

Beginning square size x .64=finished square size

The problem was that the tutorial (like most Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorials) uses pre-cuts, and I wanted to end up with 4” finished HSTs. WHAT TO DO?!?! (Google, of course.) The formula is essentially “beginning square size x .64=finished square size”.

Handy! Speaking of handy, guess what Germans call mobile phones? That’s right! So I saved that handy little chart right onto my… Handy! Ich muss deutsch lernen, people! (Germs also capitalize Nouns<–see what I did there?!) But anyway, I digress.

So once I had the square size sussed out, I got busy cranking out 7” squares to make 4.5” HSTs. I used fabrics I had on hand, and chose three dark pinks and three lighter pinks/creamy pinks. I don’t know why I chose the design I chose for laying out the hearts (which, looking at it now, makes it look like a startled chicken), and I made a couple of placement errors that meant the same fabric was aligned on some of the blocks, but it was a fairly minor distraction (which I only really noticed after I’d quilted the thing–oops!). Once I laid out the pink HSTs, I made cream/pink HSTs for the heart border, and then filled out the rest of the space with white/cream squares.

Quilt top

Surprised chicken

To quilt, I decided to put to practice one of the patterns taught by Leah Day in Craftsy’s Free Motion Quilting a Sampler class  (*affiliate link, see disclaimer below). I used the echo paisley design inside the heart, using a pink variegated Aurifil 40wt (4668) thread. I’m not delighted with the free-motion quilting results, but it came out okay. While I was able to create really nice paisley echos on a practice block, it’s a lot harder to do with the weight of a quilt to move along (and that’s just a baby quilt, which makes me worry about anything bigger). I think my main problem with FMQ is scale–I quilt too small and too tightly together, which means I’m working harder, and also that the design is less apparent than it would be if it were bigger.

Paisley FMQ

Paisley FMQ

FMQ detail

FMQ detail

Once I finished the FMQ, I used white Aurifil 40wt thread to straight-line stitch around the shape of the heart.

Straight-line quilting

Straight-line quilting

This is where things got ugly and words were sworn. I’d had no trouble with the thread for the FMQ, but I was getting constant thread breaks for the straight lines. I admit, I thought I got a bad batch of Aurifil and I might have said some unkind words about Alex Veronelli (but not really–how could you swear at that punim?! He’s flipping adorable), but it really made no sense that it would be the thread, because I’d been working on a bunch of QAYG straight lines a couple of days earlier and got no thread breaks at all. Then I started messing around with the tension, but still, thread breaks and skipped stitches. I looked in the manual (which, if you happen to be reading this, Janome people, you have A LOT of work to do) to try to identify the problem and narrowed it down to the needle. I don’t have many needles at home and had managed to violently break my last quilting needle when switching feet the day before. All I had was a 70, so I was using that, which is where things went wrong.

The following day I rushed off to my ghetto fabric store, where they don’t sell anything brand name (and honestly, I hate brands, but sometimes they are the only thing that works) and bought a bunch of needles. I rushed home and stuck one in, only to discover that things had gotten worse! WELL. On closer inspection, I realized I bought overlocker needles :(. The following day I went to the local sewing machine shop (not my favourite shop, but a Janome dealer) and bought some Schmetz needles. HALLELUJAH, people. I tried an 80 needle first and though there were no thread breaks, I was getting an occasional skipped stitch, so I switched to the 90 and the angels rejoiced and I finally finished quilting the damn thing.

For the back I used a Tilda fabric I’d had in my stash for ages (Huh. Just noticing how crookedly I put it on.), and for the binding I used Full Moon Lagoon from Mo Bedell for Andover Fabrics. I kind of love how the FMQ creates a really subtle heart design on the back.

Subtle FMQ heart

Subtle FMQ heart

I fully machine sewed the binding, and while it’s still not perfect, I’m pleased enough with it. Below is a detail of where the binding went wrong, but since it was right on the edge and was holding the binding together, I didn’t fix it. In other instances where there was a gaping hole, I stitched over to keep things tightly shut. I did accidentally stitch the binding to the wrong side, so the “top stitching” side faces the back and the ditch side faces the top, but I’m sure I’m the only one who’ll notice that.

Machine binding gone wrong

Machine binding gone wrong

I know I’ve pointed out all the things that went wrong or that I only consider to have turned out ok, but I’m really happy with how this quilt turned out! It took far longer to make than I’d wanted to spend on it, and in financial terms it was probably a loss, but it was interesting to make and taught me a few things, so I’ll consider the “loss” my tuition fee.

While I was working on this, my former colleague discovered her other daughter is expecting a baby boy in February and asked me to make a quilt for him. More on that in a separate post.

* An affiliate link means that I may get a commissions if you decide to purchase anything from the company I linked to, in this case Craftsy.com. I only recommend products and services that I use and love and I love Craftsy. Deeply.

 

A bit of this and a bit of that

I’ve been quiet lately, not because I haven’t been sewing, but because I haven’t had much finished to talk about. Here’s a bit of an update.

Tula Pink City Sampler? Yeah. About that. I’ve got about 25 blocks finished but I’ve found the quarter-inch foot on my machine to be just off so I’ve had to unpick at least three blocks because they’ve come out too small. With 1”-square pieces? Less than fun.

And since I’m so good at quilt-alongs, I signed up to do another one–the Broken Herringbone over at Molli Sparkles. So far I’ve made… one block. It’s a wicked awesome block and I’m quite in love with it, but… one block.

Green broken herringbone block

Green broken herringbone block

And then I was home from work because I threw my back out and probably shouldn’t have been sewing, but I was uncomfortable lying down, uncomfortable sitting, and uncomfortable standing, so I figured I may as well be uncomfortably productive.

Craftsy was having a massive sale last week, so I bought three classes that I totally shouldn’t have given my pending unemployment, but I did, so there. One was Jacquie Gering’s Improvisational Piecing,* (affiliate link, see disclaimer below) which holy awesome, people! Am totally going to make a couple of the quilts she features.

The other was Angela Walters’ Dot to Dot Quilting*, and, ahem, it’ll be a while before I get to that one, I think

The last one was Tara Rebman’s Quilt-As-You-Go Patchwork Bags*. Here’s the thing–I had seen the QAYG technique before I’d even heard of Tara Rebman, when I came across this stunner on Flickr, based on this tutorial, but I really wanted the Tinker Tote bag pattern, which is AWESOME, so I ponied up the cash (which, um, even after a discount was kind of a lot of cash for a pattern).

I did watch the whole thing in one go, though I haven’t started on the bag yet. What I did do in my uncomfortable state on Monday was sit in front of the machine for a couple of hours and try out the technique. This is what it looked like as I was sewing:

Quilt As You Go in progress

Quilt As You Go in progress

And this was the final product:

Quilt As You Go Block

Quilt As You Go Block

You guys, I am in flipping LOVE with this block. Every time I walk by it I stop to gaze at it. It’s just a square of happiness! When the Germ saw it he immediately laid claim, so I’ll turn it into a cushion for him.

On my second day of discomfort at home I started on a table runner using the same technique. It’s early days on it yet and I made a really stupid value mistake on it, so I’ll need to find a way to fix it without unstitching three thousand rows of quarter-inch-apart stitches.

Quilt As You Go table runner

Quilt As You Go table runner

I also spent some time playing with free-motion quilting. I’m fine with stippling, but I’m going to need a massive amount of practice for any other shape. Something to look forward to in my impending life of leisure. Speaking of, I was really excited that I only have a week left to be at work, but then I found out that I owe four days of holidays and now I’m going to go sit in a corner somewhere and cry.

* An affiliate link means that I may get a commissions if you decide to purchase anything from the company I linked to, in this case Craftsy.com. I only recommend products and services that I use and love, so I know you’ll be in good hands.

Loulouthi Tiles – Finished!

It’s official–I handed over the Loulouthi Tiles quilt. It wasn’t without its hurdles, but I absolutely love how this quilt turned out!

Loulouthi Tiles quilt top

Loulouthi Tiles quilt top

This quilt is based on a free pattern from Stitched in Color, and after a bit of thinking, came together very quickly. I was able to piece the top in one day.

The back took about half a day to put together, mostly because I’m daft. It is primarily plain black, with two strips of the tile fabrics, ranging from the purple to the green, going in opposite directions across the top and bottom of the quilt.

Loulouthi Tiles quilt back. No, I don't know what's going on with the colours in this photo. NEON!

Loulouthi Tiles quilt back. No, I don’t know what’s going on with the colours in this photo. NEON!

Top colour stripe.

Top colour stripe.

At the bottom corner is a small embroidered block made by Rachel’s mom to commemorate the occasion, with the embroidery done in thread colours that match the quilt colours.

Bottom colour stripe with dedication

Bottom colour stripe with dedication

For the quilting, I made concentric squares/rectangles in the smaller tiles, and diagonal lines across the three feature tiles. I used 40wt Aurifil thread, with a dark grey in the bottom and a variegated green on top for the blue/green tiles, and a variegated purple for the purple tiles. Sorry–don’t have the numbers handy.

Some quilting detail.

Some quilting detail.

Oddly, the pattern says this makes a 73”x85” quilt, unless you add an extra row of blocks to make it 85”x97”. Well, I didn’t add an extra row and it came out around 85”x95”. Strange. At any rate, that puts it somewhere between a queen and a king size, which you can imagine (and as I related) was a delight to do on my JL250. I am very pleased with how it turned out though. One of the issues with the quilting that I think relates directly to the small machine, is that I wasn’t able to properly stretch the fabric, so in most of the tiles it bunched up a bit between the stitch lines on the outer edges of the tile. I think it looks ok, but it obviously would have looked better if it were flat. perhaps that’ll fix itself when the quilt is washed and shrinks a bit?

Let’s have a chat about this pattern.

I know. I know I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, since this was a free pattern, but I had to share a couple of problems I had with it. Before I do, though, I’d like to say that the piecing instructions were excellent and it’s a beautiful and fairly simple quilt to put together once you deal with the issues below. I may make it again with different fabric, but at least I’ll know the pitfalls, and may write it out a little differently for myself to help me avoid these problems.

The namesake of this quilt is the Loulouthi fabric line by Anna Maria Horner . Now, I don’t generally buy whole fabric lines. Firstly, because I usually can’t afford them, but mostly, because they give me the feeling that everyone is making the same things. I read dozens of quilting blogs and on a given day, half a dozen will post something they made using the same fabrics and I just get turned off by the same-sameyness of it all. I’m looking at you, Briar Rose; go away!

With that in mind, my problem was that when it came to the fabric requirements, the instructions read:

Let’s first discuss the “half yard or 13”x44” cut. I sketched this out. I went to Visio and did diagrams to see why a half yard cut would be necessary, since I couldn’t see how an extra five inches would be of any use for this quilt, given that the tile lengths are 11.5”. It took me a while to figure out that the reason that half-yard measure is offered is that some stores will only sell fabric in quarter-yard increments, and that a quarter yard, at 9” would be too narrow for the tiles, but I think this should have been qualified with a statement like:

You will only need 13”x44” for the next ten cuts, but if your store only sells in quarter-yard increments, you will have to buy half a yard, as a quarter-yard cut will be insufficient.

Fabric is expensive and with ten different fabrics, that’s nearly a yard and a half in extra fabric that isn’t needed for the quilt, if you are lucky enough to be able to buy fabric in small increments. My local fabric shop, for example, sells in 5” increments.

Next, I wasn’t going to use Loulouthi fabric for this quilt and I assume I’m not the only one, so it would have been easier if this had included instructions to the effect of:

If you are choosing your own fabrics for this quilt, you’ll need one yard each of three feature fabrics, and half yard OR 13”x44”* cuts of ten other fabrics.

This would have saved me having to sit there and count how many fabrics I needed. Yes, the instructions say this quilt uses thirteen fabrics so I could have figured it out once I deducted the three feature fabrics, but I still would have liked this simplified. It’s not unheard of for sewing directions to either be missing steps or to have extra steps that don’t correspond to the fabric requirements, and if I’m going to spend money on fabric, I’m going to double-check. I imagine this quilt pattern was written with that “Purchase bundles at Marmalade Fabrics” line in mind, so it was just assumed quiltmakers would buy the bundle and get on with it, or buy another fabric line bundle that would work equally well, but since I don’t buy fabric lines these fabric requirement required me to put in a fair bit of extra work. I’m hardly a professional quilter, but if I struggled with this, I think new quilters will, too.

But this wasn’t my main problem with this pattern. The cutting instructions were, and in a way, this relates to the fabric selection issue.

Again, these cutting instructions assume you’re using Loulouthi fabric. Since I was using a limited range of colours and needed to make sure that the quilt was balanced and that I didn’t accidentally have all the purples crammed in one corner, I had to map the fabrics in the cutting instructions to the fabrics I had, and to assign numbers to them to check out the balance. In this picture, taken after I’d already done all of this, you can see small blue squares on the tiles, which were my numbering tickets.

Numbered blocks

Numbered blocks

This mapping took me ages to do, mostly because of the way that second bullet is written. In the third bullet, each fabric is listed in a sub-bullet, so it’s easy to map,  but in the second bullet the fabrics are listed in sentence form, which makes it really messy to insert notations into the pattern.

In the end, it all worked out beautifully, but these were just the quibbles that gave me a headache when I was working on this quilt. Am I being too picky? Would you be bothered by these things? Is it ok to criticize something that’s free? Let me know what you think.