Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jewel Box Quilt

I made this quilt in mid-2003 based on the Jewel Box pattern. It's just half-square triangles and four-patches, framed by a piano-key border. I bring it out every spring and summer for the master bedroom, but it gets put away and is replaced by a flannel quilt when the nights start getting chilly in the fall.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Won, I Won!

I just found out that I won a giveaway on Melissa's blog. Take some time to check out all her blogs -- she is a photographer, so there is a lot of eye candy.

Thank you, Melissa! It's a wonderful collection of goodies.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cheater At Work

This is "K-7 Rose of Sharing", a beginner-level applique block and yes, I cheated on this one. In two ways, actually. I don't really care that I've cheated...remember, this is Anya's quilt and Anya will make it any way she darn pleases!

First...I did not want to applique 4 individual hearts and then sew them into one complete block, so I decided to make them as one big piece in the center. When I'm ready to quilt the entire quilt, I plan to stitch across the diagonal lines of the block so it will give the appearance of being sewn in 4 pieces. I've marked the quilting lines in chalk on the photo to show what I mean. The other way I cheated is in using the invisible machine applique method. I had never attempted that technique before, but I'm always willing to try anything to save me from hand applique. I used monofilament thread in both the top and bobbin and sewed very carefully along the edge using a blind-hem stitch. That's where the machine takes four straight stitches and then one very small zig-zag stitch into the applique fabric.

I practiced on two scrap pieces of very ugly fabric in my stash and was amazed at the results. I showed it to a couple of fellow quilters and they couldn't see the stitching at all. Then when I first tried it on the batik fabric I am using for this quilt, however, it was a major disappointment. The needle of my sewing machine made holes that were way too big and noticeable in the dense batik. That meant a trip to buy some silk needles, hoping that they wouldn't make such large holes. The result is what you see in the photo. I still see holes, but it's not as noticeable as before and I'm certain that if I had hand appliqued this one, my stitches would surely show anyway.

I do plan on trying this method again; however, I will be sure to use a darker, busier background, hoping that the holes will be even less apparent.

Yeah...this is block #75! I believe that meets my goal of 75 blocks by the new year!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Kids' Quilts

There are 10 young children (ages 6 months to 8 years) on my husband's side of the family and I made them all baby quilts when they were born. They live hundreds of miles away (but in the same general area) and we usually get to see them only once a year around Thanksgiving. Last year I made 9 kids' quilts for all of them, so this year I had to made a 10th one for the newest family member. She got her own baby quilt just a few months ago, but I don't want her to grow up asking "why do all my brothers and sisters and cousins have a baby and kid quilt, but I only have a baby quilt?".

This is the result. The other 9 can be seen here on Webshots. They are all the same pattern, using various novelty fabrics and a different sashing/border fabric and backing for each one. I used a different quilting pattern for each one, too.

This year, all 10 kids are getting Christmas pillowcases (which took a lot less time to make than the 10 quilts)!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Harder Than It Looks

This is "L-9 Walter's Place", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block.
I thought I could whip it up very quickly, but once I had all the paper-pieced sections completed, I realized that I had to sew several Y seams (sometimes called set-in seams) in order to fit the sections around the center red square. I managed to do it and frankly, I'll take dealing with Y seams to hand applique any day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

No More Wrapping Paper

Last year, our guild president challenged members to make reusable bags for grocery shopping. You should have seen the variety of bags that everyone came up with -- all sorts of fabrics and patterns. No two were alike.

I recently read a blog about wrapping gifts in reusable grocery bags instead of wrapping paper, and so I sat down yesterday to make one for the upcoming Christmas season. I used fabric from my stash (probably circa 1995) and followed the basic directions in this tutorial, but I left out the outside pocket. You can see a hint of the red lining fabric up by the handles.

This could also be made using fabric scraps -- that would certainly give the outside of the bag a neat look. Or maybe an orphan block or two. The possibilities are endless. Make up a batch and there will be no need for plastic bags anymore. Keep one folded up in your purse for the unexpected trip to the store.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Now You See It, Now You Don't

I bought this cheater panel (I hear they're called "convenience panels" nowadays) at a yard sale more than a year ago to practice machine quilting on my HQ16. I loaded the machine like I normally would with a "real" quilt and doodled with regular thread on top and water-soluble thread in the bobbin. Recently, I decided to see if my plan for the water-soluble thread would work...

I spritzed the back of the quilt with a spray bottle filled with water and voila, the bobbin thread disappeared and I could easily pull the top thread off. Now I can start all over and quilt this panel again.

There are several companies that make water-soluble thread, including Superior Threads. They recommend using it for trapunto, basting, etc, but warn against using it on swimwear...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quilter Blogs

I found a great site where you can read the latest postings of dozens of quilting blogs all in one place ... it's Quilter blog is listed there as well.

They also list hundreds of quilt shops. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and check it out!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Not Too Much of a Struggle

This is "D-10 Battlefield", an advanced-level paper-pieced block. There were several seams to match and really, really small triangles to deal with. I did manage to cut off a couple of points a bit, but I won't lose sleep over them... Oh, how I wish all the DJ blocks could be paper-pieced...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Lately, almost nothing gets wasted in my sewing studio. These selvages were cut off from some Christmas fabric that I recently used for pillowcases and I'm now in the process of making them into something fun. But I can't show the results yet...maybe in a couple of weeks...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I Forgot

The name of the block in the previous post is "K-11 Columbine", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block.

No, This Is Not A Mistake

The points of the star are supposed to be cut least, that's how Jane Stickle had hers. It bothers me to see this, but I want to make it fairly close to the original quilt.

I can just hear the comments that will be made once my quilt is finished and I show it somewhere..."Look, she can't even get her star points made correctly! And she calls herself a quilter?"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Simple Baby Quilt

This is a baby quilt that I made in late 2002 for one of my husband's great-nephews. I just used a large animal print alternating with nine-patch blocks -- quick and painless.

Even 6 years ago I had enough of a stash to make this top without going out to buy more fabric.

Apologies for the bad photo quality -- it was taken with an old digital camera before I knew something about digital cameras. The colors are much better in person.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Moving Right Along

This is "M-8 Enchanted Square", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block. It was fairly easy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Age Is Showing

If you're a regular reader of blogs, you've probably seen many photos of these fun fabric baskets using this tutorial. I didn't make mine out of small squares because the cute Thanksgiving print was too large. I didn't want to cut up all the little people and turkeys.
When I started this project a couple of weeks ago, I decided to make it a bit bigger than in the tutorial, so I cut out the outside pieces and the handles and then put everything away for two weeks. When I got back to it yesterday, I had forgotten that I was making mine a bit larger, so I just absent-mindedly followed the original directions for the lining. When I tried to put the lining inside, it was way too small. I checked and double-checked the directions and then realized how stupid I was.
The lesson here is that if you're going to change the size of a pattern, be sure to write it down so you don't forget...maybe I'll remember that next time.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

This Is Intermediate?

This is "A-12 Framed Fancy", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block. I think I would have called it an advanced-level block because of all the seams that need to be matched up. There are 37 pieces in the center 3" square! That meant lots of tearing of itty bitty pieces of paper...

My work on this one could be better, but it will do.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Don't Tell Susan...

...but I have finished quilting her quilt.

My friend Susan has a grandson on the way and she recently finished piecing an adorable cowboy quilt to welcome him into her family. She asked me to quilt loops and stars all over it; here is a sneak peek. The quilting doesn't show up too well in the photos, but you may be able to see better if you click on the photos to enlarge them.

Susan writes about this quilt on her blog here and here. I'm sure she'll post a photo of the finished product once she gets the binding on.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Back To Quilting

Yes, I Can! Yes, I can get this quilt done...

This is "A-5 Cathie's Campfire", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block. I've reached another milestone -- this is block #69, so that means there are only 100 more center blocks to go. Yes, I Can!

P.S. I now have a link on my blog's right sidebar that will take you to my complete DJ album on Picasaweb. The blocks are in chronological order of when I made them, not in the order of how they will appear in the final quilt layout.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

For America's Future

No matter how long the line is, don't leave until you... ...and make sure your vote is registered correctly by the machine.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ready for the Cold

I've been having great fun practicing quilting on my HQ16 by making these cozy fleece throws. This first one is for my son (in his 2 favorite colors) -- I used 2 1/2 yards of anti-pill fleece on each side. That made it long enough for him to use either as a throw or on his bed (he's almost 6 feet tall). The fleece is not cheap at regular price, but I bought it in March for 50 % off at Joann's. This one is for me -- I guess pink must be my favorite color; I just realized that these two shades were the shades of my bridesmaids' dresses 19 years ago. I didn't want a very large throw, so I just used 2 yards of fleece for each side.
I am quite pleased with these, especially the pink one; I had never tried dragonflies before...
There is another picture on this post of a green throw I made several months ago.
For those who have mid-arm quilting systems, these are a great way to practice. The quilting shows off well and you get a cozy throw as a result.