Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July FMQ Challenge started

Hi all -

I've started the July FMQ Challenge, but I'm definitely not going to finish it on time. Because of this, I think I'll probably end up making a wallhanging rather than a pillow. I really don't need any more pillows! This months challenge was inspired by Paula Reid. I chose the option where we needed to use a particular one of her stencils to make our pillow. They gave us a PDF of the stencil so we could print it out an use it.

I thought about this for a while and decided that what I wanted to do was blow the stencil up and quilt fills to define the areas of the stencil. Since the stencil is a feathered wreath, I thought it would be cool to use a solid black fabric and quilt each plume around the wreath in a different color of thread, making the wreath into a color wheel. The first thing to do was to blow up the stencil to the size I wanted and trace over the lines with a black sharpie pen so that I would be able to see the lines through the black fabric:

Here I'd just started the tracing so you can see what a difference the Sharpie made. Here it is all traced out:

Now I just had to tape it all to a window and trace it again:

I was pretty excited at how well you could see the lines through the fabric. Next time I do this, though, I'll reduce the width of the overlaps of the paper since the lines did get a bit hard to see in the areas where I had 4 or even 2 layers of paper underneath.

To make the markings I used a white Stabilo pencil that I ordered online. I'd heard several quilters mention these pencils for marking and I wanted to try them. It was interesting looking at the prices of the pencils while shopping. I looked at both Amazon and Dick Blick. At Amazon, the white pencils were $3.87 for a box of 12 (although they're up to $4.42 today), but the other colors were more like $4-7 for a single pencil (I didn't see any options for a box of any other color). At Dick Blick, the pencils were all around $1.35 each, regardless of the color. Obviously, I went with the white pencils from Amazon, but if I like them and want other colors then I'll go with Dick Blick. I sure wish I understood how these prices were set!

Anyway, the Stabilo pencil was very easy to use -- it glided smoothly over the fabric without much pulling, even though I tend to be heavy-handed when writing. The marks were very visible, so there wouldn't be any problem with seeing them while quilting. They were a bit thick since the tip wore down fairly quickly, but that didn't bother me for this project. I didn't do any testing (laziness) beyond making a little mark and rubbing it off with my finger. It came off pretty well, but we'll see how it goes with the wallhanging.

Now I had to make the more difficult decision -- what fill would I use? I was thinking it would be cool if the plumes themselves weren't outlined, but the fill would just go up to the edge to subtly define the edge of the plume. Perhaps feathers within each plume:

I could do what I wanted with this, but the image in my head was very boring and I wasn't sure if I would be putting down enough thread to make the colors visible on the black background. So I looked at some other fills:

Nothing was clicking for me. I thought about using a different fill in each plume, but it seemed too chaotic in my head. Finally, I decided on swirls:

I could tell I was going to like this, but I would have to quilt the outline of each plume to make it work.

Next to the thread. I decided to raid my incredible collection of my favorite thread -- FilTec Glide. I counted the plumes on the outside of the wreath and there were 24, so I would need 24 different colors. Not a problem for me! It was nice that the number was divisible by 6, so I could have my primary and secondary colors evenly spaced around the wreath. I started pulling thread and this is what I came up with:

Isn't that cool? The reds are much redder than they appear in the picture. Even Wesley liked them:

I caught Buttercup laying in the middle, too, but she jumped down before I could get her picture. My cats are big color fans!

Now it was time to start quilting. This was a good test for what it will be like to quilt on my new machine. Since I don't have very many bobbins for that machine, I had to wind the bobbin for each color, do the quilting, then wind the thread off of the bobbin and onto a smaller bobbin from my old machine since I can't throw away that much thread. I bought a little Singer bobbin winder to keep by the machine so I wouldn't have to have my old machine set up, too, just to wind the bobbins. This actually worked better than I expected. So I got the quilting of the main wreath finished:

I love how it's turning out! The colors aren't perfect as you move around the circle, but they're good enough for me. It was interesting to see how some of the colors changed quite a bit from what they looked like on the spool. The transitions looked smoother to me on the spools. Now I have to decide how to do the corners. Originally, I was thinking I would use the compliments to the colors appearing next to the corners, but that's seeming too chaotic again. My next thought was to use white thread, but I think that might end up too strong. Right now I'm leaning towards a gray thread, but we'll see what I end up doing when I get back to it.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Two New Bags

Hi all -

I needed a break from designing, so I decided to make a couple of bags that I've had sitting around for a while. They are both from kits purchased on sale from Keepsake Quilting. I'm a sucker for sales! So I pulled out the kits and started sewing.

First up was from the "Barbados Bag" pattern by "Pink Sand Beach Designs":

This bag has a zipper top closure, a zipper and a regular pocket on the front, another pocket on the back and several pockets inside. The instructions were good and it went together very easily. If I make this bag again, the only change I'll make will be to increase the size of the inside pockets because they're pretty short.

The other bag was from the "Aruba Bag" pattern, also by "Pink Sand Beach Designs":

This bag was a little more difficult to make because some of the seams were more awkward, but it still wasn't hard. Also, the instructions weren't as good, even though it was from the same designer. I'm not sure what I'll do with these bags. I might decide to keep one or both, but it's more likely that I'll give them to a couple of my nieces for Christmas.

I do have one other picture to share:

Can you guess what this is? Why, it's "Tea for Two" all packaged up and ready to be shipped to Houston! That's right -- "Tea for Two" is heading to Houston! I'm so surprised and excited!! I submitted it last year, but it didn't get in, so I really wasn't expecting it to get in this year. But after it got into Paducah, I thought it would be stupid not to try again at Houston. After all, if you don't try, you'll never get in. I've also registered for all of my classes, have my hotel reservations and my plane and Super Shuttle tickets, so I'm all ready to join my quilt in Houston. I'm so excited to see my own quilt hanging up there with all of the incredible quilts that are there every year!!


Monday, July 13, 2015

Sing Your Song, Almost Done

Hi all -

I wanted to try some quilting on my new sewing machine and I finished the embroidery on the class project from my Twilling class in Kansas City, so I decided to pop the borders on it and start quilting. The border fabrics were part of the kit, so the only thing I had to decide was how wide to make each border. To choose my border widths, I just set the piece on top of the corner of the border fabrics and move things in and out until I find something that looks good to me. Then I just measure the fabrics and add seam allowances to get my cutting widths. Easy peasy!

Then I just sandwiched it up, spray-basted it and started quilting. Since this is fairly small, I statred by SIDing the borders using invisible thread to stabilize everything. Then I set about tackling the middle. The twilling stitch is pretty thick so I was worried about how to quilt around it. I decided to start with just quilting around the edges of everything with a 1/4" echo, since that's what you get with the width of the free motion foot.

I decided to use Invisafil for this part of the quilting because I didn't want the thread itself to show. I'd heard good things about Invisafil, but I had nothing but problems with it. After every couple of inches of stitching, I would get skipped stitches and the upper thread would shred and break. I started by reducing the top tension a bunch, but it didn't help. Then I started changing needles. I had started with a size 70 topstitch needed, so I switched to a size 80 to see if that would help. Nope. So on to a Microtex needle. I started with a size 65 since this is a really thin thread and I thought maybe too large of a needle might cause the skipped stitches. The problems persisted, so I switched to a size 80. That still didn't fix the problem so I switched to FilTec's 100 wt silk in the top, leaving the Invisafil in the bobbin. Increased the top tension a bit and finished the echo stitching without a problem. So, I think the Invisafil is too weak of a thread to use in the top of my machine, but is a nice thread to use in the bobbin with silk in the top. Good lesson learned.

I did the echo stitching in the middle, then decided to leave the rest of the middle quilting for later. I need to decide what I want to do in the middle. I think the 1/4" echoing is fine for the words and the notes, but the bird itself needs more work. It's just too big to leave unquilted, but I really need to figure out how to quilt right next to the stitching or I think it'll look funny. I also need to decide on what to quilt in the background. I could do swirls, but then I'm feeling like there are too many swirls if I do that. I could also do pebbles, but that might be too tight. So I'll leave that for now and just think about it and finish it later when I have some inspiration.

But I wanted to finish the rest of the quilting and add the binding so that I didn't have to keep track of the binding fabric.  I decided to quilt swirls in the blue inner border using gray thread to tone that border down a bit. I then put beadboard in the outer border with a swirl background in the corners:

I'm iffy about the swirls in the corners -- sometimes I like them and sometimes I don't -- but I really like the inner border and the beadboard. Here's a picture of the whole thing for now:

It'll probably be a while before I finish this since I'll move on to other things while I think about it.

While I'm sharing, I thought I'd share some wildflower pictures from my yard. We've had an incredibly wet year, and it continues to rain, so the grasses in my yard are waist-high and the wild flowers are glorious. My favorite plant is my Columbine:

I have one Columbine plant in my yard and it only blooms in wet years, about once every four years. So I'm really excited when it blooms and this year it's at its best ever:

And, of course, I always have Indian's Paintbrush:

And I found a cool mushroom that's about 6 inches across:

Very cool!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Favorite Book Challenge, Part 2, with Facing

Hi all -

I've finished the quilt I was making for the favorite book challenge, so now I can share the rest of what I did. In the last post I had created the background for the main image.

I wanted to add a solid fabric border to the main image to frame the piece, but wanted a curved edge for the main image. I had created an approximate pattern for this shape using freezer paper before I started so that I would know where to put the background fabrics. Now I just took that freezer paper pattern and ironed it on top of the background.

I then stitched around the perimeter of the pattern. I wanted to stitch around the edge before cutting to make sure that the fabric pieces on the edges were secure and wouldn't fall out. I had decided that I wanted to sew around the edge using a zigzag after fusing, so I used the same thread for this stitching so that the stitching would be disguised by the zigzag stitching.

This gave me an easily visible line so I could cut just outside the line to give me the main background.

Now it was time to prepare the border. The easiest way to do this would be to sew the main background onto the border fabric like a large, raw-edge applique. Since the main background was so heavy with the heavyweight stabilizer, all of the fabric pieces, the tulle and all of the thread, I also needed to stabilize the border fabric so I ironed some more of the heavyweight fusible stabilizer onto the back of the fabric. I used temporary basting spray to attach the main background to the border and then sewed around the edge of the background piece with a wide zigzag stitch. I wanted the background and the border to kind of merge together so I didn't want a satin stitch, but instead wanted something looser.

When all of this was together, I added my murtle (that's what they call this creature on the moon if you read the book) using fusible applique.

Here's how it all looked at this point:

The next thing I needed to think about was how to add the murtle's foot and tail tracks in the snow. These were an important part of the image in my head. I wanted the tracks to extend out into the border because I love it when quilts have features that do that and I haven't done that myself before. My first thought was to create the tracks with more fusible applique, but when I tried to picture that in my head it just looked too heavy. Then it dawned on me that I could add them using thread.

And while I was adding thread, I went ahead and secured the murtle fabric and added some detail to the shell:

That's all of the detail that I wanted to put in this, so it was time to quilt it. Since there was already a lot of thread on the top, I didn't want the quilting to compete. So I used a clear monofilament thread for the quilting in the main image and tried to follow the thread lines that were already there as much as possible. For the border, I used the smoky monofilament and just quilted free-hand straight lines radiating out from the center.

To finish this off, I decided to use a facing rather than a binding. I'd never done a facing before but wanted to learn how to do it and this seemed like the perfect quilt for it. I mostly followed Philippa Naylor's instructions in her new book, with some slight modifications of my own. I trimmed the quilt down to the finished size that looked best to me. One thing I forgot to take into account when trimming was that I needed to trim the quilt larger than the desired finished size because of the seam allowance that would be turned to the back in the facing. When adding a binding, the quilt ends up being slightly larger than the size that you trim it since the binding goes over the edge, so that's what was in my head when trimming. Not a big deal, but something important to think about the next time.

The first step of doing the facing was to cut strips of the facing fabric that are the desired width of the facing and slightly shorter than the lengths of the sides of the quilt. I cut my strips 4" wide so that they would end up being about 3 1/4" wide when finished, accounting for the seam allowance around the perimeter and the width of the turned under edge in the center. The strips should be slightly shorter than the sides of the quilts so that the facing will pull the quilt edges to the back so the facing won't show on the front.

I then folded over 1/2" along one of the long sides on each facing piece. These are the edges that would end up towards the inside of the back of the quilt.

Next I laid the strips out right side up, exactly as they would appear on the back of the quilt. I overlapped the corners so that each strip was on top on one side and on the bottom on the other. I don't know if this is important, but it's what Philippa did in her pictures and I thought that was as good a way to do it as any other.

I pinned each corner to hold the pieces together, making sure that the folded edge that was on top was loose:

The folded edge was left loose so that I could glue it in place for sewing:

Any time I use glue, I press it with the iron to set it. Then I took out the pins and folded the top layer back so that I could sew just inside the fold:

(You get a quick, first glimpse of my new sewing machine in this picture. I'll post pictures of the machine once my new table arrives.) Once the folds were sewn, I trimmed the extra fabric:

Obviously, you have to be very careful to sew and trim the correct seams. That's why I was so careful to lay everything out as it would look on the back to keep everything straight.

The facing was now ready to attach to the quilt. I laid the facing on top of the quilt, right sides together, pinned it in place and sewed around the edge. I used a 1/4" seam allowance since I hadn't allowed for seam allowance when I trimmed the quilt. If I had been thinking, I would have allowed for a 1/2" seam allowance to give the edge of the quilt more stability, but you do what you can do.

Before turning the facing, I pulled out any quilting in the corners and pulled the fabric away from the batting:

and then trimmed the batting away at the corners to reduce bulk:

(I'm not sure why my thumb looks so fat in this picture. It really doesn't look that fat in real life. My fingers are the only non-fat part of my body so I really needed to point this out....) Anyway, now I could fold the facing to the back, press the edges in the right position and stitch in place by hand. I think it was really important to use the iron when folding the edges and pinning the facing in place to make sure that the facing couldn't be seen from the front. That'll be really important for another piece if the facing doesn't match the fabrics on the edge of the front.

Finally, I added buttons for my murtle's eyes:

I know the eyes look kind of dopey, but if you look back at the illustration of the murtle from the book that I put in my last post, you'll see that these eyes match the drawing. So, these eyes really finish the picture in my head.

Here is the finished quilt:

I really like how it turned out and I'm going to show it in the county fair, just for fun. I've been wanting to put something in the county fair for a while now, so I decided to submit this wallhanging and my Inspired by Libby challenge quilt.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

KCRQF Quilts

Hi all -

I'm finishing off my series of Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival posts with a sampling some of the quilts in the show. There were two sections to the show: judged quilts and guild quilts. I wasn't sure what to expect since this wasn't a juried show, but I was very pleasantly surprised. There were a lot of beautiful, well-made quilts in this show.

Let's start with the judged show:

Heralds of Spring by Joann Webb
A Letter Bit of Baaltimore by Janet Stone
My Whimsical Garden by Kaye White
Baltimore Album by Miriam Reed
Mod by Jenifer Dick
Lollipops by Barbara Alsup
Atomic Yellow by Jane Bromberg
Octopus's Garden by Terri Jones
Genesis 1:21 by Robyn Gragg
No L by Janet Stone
The Cotheals at Home by Mayleen Vinson
Waterfall by Sandra Morgan Cockrum
Gala to Love by Stephanie Adams

And now some of the guild quilts:

Summer Solstice by Sandy Morgan Cockrum
Omigosh by Teresa Pfau
Painted Ladies by Kathy Scott
Around the World by Carla Timberlake
The Roc by Janette Sheldon
I wish the colors had come out better in this picture, because they were unexpected and stunning:

A to Z From Thee to Me by Doris MorelockHendrickson
Swan Lake by Carmen Rinehart
Well, that's a good taste of what was in the show. There were a lot more wonderful quilts! I hope you enjoyed seeing some of them.