Monday, November 20, 2017

Alicia's Stars - Tutorial

This quilt was a group project that was completed and gifted in the summer, but I thought I'd give a step by step on lining up columns of blocks with a full column of sashing.  You can see the block process HERE.  I might have also shown this quilt before, but this post is all about lining up the blocks.

First was the decision to use white strips between the blocks. This was based on a few things. These blocks were all made by different people and we didn't have a large enough pool of blocks for a lap quilt. Second, it gives the blocks some breathing room, and third, these blocks are a bear to get nested together along all those points. The last reason was that I was quilting it and since it was a comfort quilt, I wanted space to put some nice feathers for our friend.

Look closely, and you will see a little blue tick mark on the edge of this seam.  Since my blocks finished at 6" and I have 10 blocks in each column, my white strip needs to be cut 60 1/2" to account for the 1/4" seam allowance on the top and bottom block.  Now it's time to start marking my white strip.  

Here is a better shot.  The marks will be in the seam allowance, but I used a wash out blue marker.  Use a ruler to mark both sides of the white strip as that will keep things lined up properly.  Your first tick mark will be 6 1/4" from the top of the strip and then mark at every 6"  Your last tick mark should be 6 1/4" from the bottom of your white strip.

If you click on the photos, it will be easier to see, but in this photo.  Now you can pin your white strip to your strip of blocks, matching up the seams to your tick marks.  You can see how the blue tick marks are lined up with the seam where the blocks are joined together.

Once you sew the white strip in between columns of blocks, you will see how your blocks line up across the solid sashing.

This doesn't take much time at all, and the end results are definitely worth the effort.  Now your columns are nicely lined up. If you have any quilting motifs that require ruler work/line work, everything will line up.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted open spaces for some feather quilting, so that wasn't my concern, but I have had customer quilts that were challenging, bases on blocks not lining up straight across.

By using this method,  ALL the columns of stars will line up and this makes for a very nice finish.

Here is a shot of the solid columns.  I stitched a 1/4" from the seam on each side to frame the feathers, and used a continuous curve motif throughout the star blocks.

Keeping a straight visual line across the solid section to your pieced blocks is achieved using this simple method.  I wish I could remember where I heard/read/saw this being done.  I would definitely give credit back to them.  Since I can't, I shall defer to all the quilters before me, who have generously shared their lessons and knowledge. 

 By using this method it also helps keep your quilt top flat and squared up.

If you have a quilt in your future that requires this tip, give it a try. It works on any size quilt, even those mini's need to line up.

I'm wishing everyone a very happy Thanksgiving week/weekend. I hope you find time to pause and give thanks for the blessings in your life, big or small. Don't compare to others, just look at what you have and what you are thankful for. I have all that I need and then some, life is good and I count my blessings every day!

Keep stitching

Sunday, November 12, 2017

'Tis the Season

All my customer Christmas quilts are done. Well, a trip to the post office on Tuesday and it will be official! So today I started this! The process, the smell, the memories, oh the calories!.

If you want this recipe, go to this past post of mine here.
You won't regret making a batch, (or 3) of these delicious melt in your mouth shortbread cookies.

The rain held out yesterday, giving everyone a chance to stay dry during our local Remembrance Day service here in Blaine, WA.

 And in closing, here is a photo my sister uploaded to her FB account yesterday.  My dad is on the right.  1952, on furlough in Montreal, PQ  He's turning 83 next week, and going strong. 

 Hope you enjoy your week, and get some stitching time in.  I'm packing hand work projects for a plane ride.  Going to visit Pearl Harbor and learn some more history about this country.

Keep stitching,

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Elephants and Zig Zags

When making a quilt as a gift, I do not let the recipient pick out a pattern, only a color.  A grand niece will be arriving at Christmas and the Mom expressed elephants, grey and mint.  OK I can work with elephants and grey.  Mint, not so much.

 Found this funky, bohemian elephant print along with grunge grey dots and started pulling from the stash.

Using free hand cut triangles that Sujata Shah, from The Root Connection demonstrated at our workshop a week prior, I tested out the method.  Fun, fast, and graphic. 

 This is a great way to feature a big print and try a new method of cutting/piecing without a huge commitment.

When I used the printed fabric with a plum solid, I really loved the results.  I know I will use this cutting method again as I have a very fun Hallow'een fabric that is begging to be used, but also needs to be the star of the quilt.

 Simple, wavy back and forth lines of quilting keep the fabrics and piecing from being overshadowed.
Not all fabrics were solids, here I used a small tone on tone dot.

Since this print is not something that I would work with, I managed to use up every last bit of it, and the effort to use it was worth it.  The back is pretty good too.

It's quilted, bound, and labeled.  Now we just need the new addition to arrive in our family.  This one will make 3 girls and 1 boy in the last 18 months.

What new technique or idea have you tried lately?
Keep stitching,

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Solid Foundation

Mail was delivered this week, but I've been afraid to open up one of these books. The Red and White book is fabulous and will be a great inspiration for another two color quilt.  I just boxed up a 90 x 90 quilt and shipped it off for a photo session, so I'm in resting mode with solids.  As for Maria Shell's new book, Improv Patchwork, well, I still haven't opened it yet. 

Before I can let my mind go down this crazy train of a new start, I felt it was time to make this happen.  THIS is prewashing my stash of solids. Yes, it's been laundry day in my studio for the last few WEEKS!  Drying rack has been a fixture in the hallway outside my laundry room.
Piles of pressing have been reduced and replenished beside my ironing board.  This has been ongoing for literally weeks.  But it's years of buying solids that has caused this explosion.
I'm a prewasher, a die hard prewasher for all quilting fabrics.  They go to the laundry room before they get into my sewing room......with the exception of my solids.  For some reason, I just didn't prewash my solids.  I ran out of drying rack/shower bar/ironing board space so I resorted to the lid of the washing machine and all around it!  Quilters will understand this.
Pressing has been an intermittent process.  I would press a binding, then grab a few pieces and press. Iron was plugged in as soon as I entered the studio, and I would press a few pieces while my coffee dripped. Before leaving at the end of the day, a few more pieces would get lightly pressed.
And now most of them are folded up and back in my storage bins.  Loosely organized, but that's for another day.
There *might* be another stack or two left to migrate from the cutting table to the storage bins.
I might need an intervention, or maybe I need to read Maria's new book, put a new blade in my rotary cutter, and get busy.  OK, I have been busy, it's all been on the down low, but let's just say, 2018 is going to be exciting!

It's Saturday, it's sunny and glorious in the Pacific Northwest.  A perfect day to be outside, checking out all the amazing colors Mother Nature has provided us with.  And of course, I have a few more solids to press and fold.

Keep stitching,

Monday, October 16, 2017

Sujata Shah - Paper Beads Workshop

Sujata Shah, aka The Root Connection was in the PNW this past weekend and I had a blast creating with a fantastic group of quilters.  The workshop was advertised as Rail Fence, from the cover of Sujata's book, Cultural Fusion.

 I was excited to meet Sujata, see her quilts, and hear her quilting experiences.  I was also excited that this project needed LOTS of fabric and I had a bin of blacks and whites that have been begging to get cut up and put into a quilt top.  I'm a pre-prepper so I had all my 16 sets cut, pressed, and ready to go......
.....and then Quiltmania put out Simply Moderne with Sujata's Paper Beads on the cover.  Class got switched up and everyone was moving down a different track.  Here are some of the fabulous creations that came from this weekend in Mt.Vernon, WA

Creativity starts here.
Beads are on the wall and backgrounds are being auditioned.
Some choices have been made and we were grateful for having a quilt shop next door.  Bolts were brought over, many rejected, but as quilters, everyone  persevered and found just the right background.
*all photos can be enlarged by clicking*
K decided she couldn't decide so she pieced the backgrounds and it is fabulous.
Here K has added in her vertical strips, which have also been pieced.
Close up of fabrics. 
Mary, (one of 3 in the class) was on task and had lots of beads together and was using a fabulous neutral woven background.
No sashing yet, but auditioning some border strips.  This pink was fantastic.

Cherrywood always looks like suede to me.  Mary adding in some piecing in her piecing, and is going to use a brown grunge for backgrounds. 
J is using an orange grunge for her beads. Grunge and grunge dot were popular options for this project. The fabrics in the beads were amazing.  Every bit of design wall had my head spinning, picking out and pointing at so many GOOD fabrics. We really are blessed to have such an abundance of product to work with.
S got into the October mood and was using Hallow'een fabrics.  Her background was perfect for her beads, BUT............once you start cutting up the backgrounds, the prints can be a bit muddled and mixed up and detract from the string beads.  A few ideas got tossed around at that end of the room, and pretty soon several makers were going to raw edge applique their beads onto the backgrounds.

A dotty grey was chosen here.

C couldn't decide between the brown or the red dot so she chose to use both.  She was also part of the applique discussion and after getting her beads sewn, she added a little square as a connector.  Then her featherweight got to work and she raw edge appliqued her beads onto the grunge dots.  There were pins and glue and extra hands used in getting this under the needle, but WOW!
Auditioning  top and bottom sashings.....
close up of fabrics used.
Something to crow about!  I'd say, C had her top finished, except for borders. 

Me, well, I was invested into the original Rail Fence project and I decided to stick to that plan. After making a test block a few months ago, I was sold on rectangle blocks and I loved the block layout.  After getting each block on the wall, this was my final design, and I couldn't be happier with this. I got all the blocks pieced and designed into my finished vision.  There *might* be a sliver of lime added in while putting the blocks together.  In the process of doing all this piecing, I did manage to produce 5 -6 black and white beads by using left over strips as leaders/enders.

I have just come out of a few intensive string pieces, and didn't want to get into another one just yet.
It was definitely a weekend of intensive piecing; machines were humming, bobbins were emptied and rewound, minds were spinning with ideas and the sharing of fabric and friendship was the best part of the weekend.  Life is GOOD!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Stars of the Bed Turning

Here is my last post from the PNW Quilt and Fiber Museum.  Stars from the bed turning last weekend.  Although this isn't technically a star, it has a similar feel to a feathered star so I put it in this post.  It was a fabulous 2 color quilt and the maker did a very good job.

She hand quilted spider web designs in to the center cream diamonds.

This one was spectacular, both in it's color and design.  I love the shots of pink mixed into the poison green that was used.  Crossed flying geese inside a feathered star.

I didn't make a note of how many pieces were in each block, but they did make mention of it.  I just know it's lots.  This quilt maker was confident of her skills to tackle not just one block, but nine of these blocks.

This next piece was very different.  The quilter was showcasing the center fabric and it seems that it would have almost covered the top of the mattress and the lone stars would have been around the three edges.  No border on the top of this quilt.

Again, I did not note any details of the size, but I did notice that the maker used some of the center fabric in a few of the lone star blocks.

A closer look at the center piece and you can see the quilting pattern of diamonds.  I thought this one was pretty special.
How about a dose of Vitamin C, this bright and vibrant flower/sunburst was appliqued and embroidered.  The stitching was quite thick and detailed.

Don't forget to eat your pea's........pea pods and vines were embroidered all around each of the flowers.  I believe this was a coverlet with no batting or quilting.

Last up was this colorful hexagon piece.  The maker created the diamond shapes, and then set them into tumbling blocks.  She appliqued it onto this wonderful orange solid.  Sorry, I didn't snap any full pictures of this one.
But I did get the back.  All that hand quilting gave the back such amazing texture.  I just wanted to run my hand over it and feel all the goodness, but of course I didn't.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of the permanent collection from the PNW Quilt and Fiber Museum.  As many of you know, it is our museums that are maintaining, preserving, and showing these fabulous textile treasures from the past, along with exceptional pieces from makers of today.  Without our support, they struggle financially, and if we want to continue to have these amazing facilities be the keepers of past/present textiles we, as quilters need to financially support them.  It's not enough to visit once in awhile, and pay the entrance fee. 

For those of you in the Pacific Northwest, please consider becoming an Sustainable Member of our local museum.  When I consider how much I spent on fabric throughout the year, sending $10 a month is less than a yard of fabric.  I have no affiliation with this museum, but I do love the history of quilts and quilting and without our support, these "keeper of the quilts" will cease to exist.

Keep stitching,