Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Adding Borders to a Finished Center

Hi all -

A friend expressed an interest in quilt-as-you-go techniques and I had a left-over piece of quilted fabric from one of the little bags I made recently, so I thought I'd do a tutorial about how to add borders to an already quilted top. This isn't a quilt-as-you-go technique for combining already quilted blocks into a single quilt, but could be used for creating a quilt-as-you-go medallion quilt. I found it useful in the past when I had a little sample from a class that I wanted to enlarge as a gift for a friend.

For this project, I started with this piece of quilted fabric left over from making a bag:

Either side could be used as the front -- I chose the dark side. To make things more fun, I stitched a bunch of fancy stitches across the piece using fun threads and trimmed things up nicely:

So this is my completed top. Now I want to add borders to make it bigger.

For the first border, I start by picking my fabrics for both the front and the back and cutting the pieces to size. I decided I wanted a 3" finished border so I cut the borders 3.5" wide. Here is the border piece I cut for the top (the border fabric is just lying next to the quilted top):

And here is the border piece for the back:

You can see in the pictures that I cut the border pieces the same width as the center piece. This made it easier to line things up, but made me have to trim the center a bit at the end. If you have a center that you can't trim, then you should cut the border pieces longer than the center piece so that you can just trim the border when finished.

The first step is to line up the top border with the quilt top, right sides together, and line up the back border piece with the quilt back, right sides together and pin everything. This gives you 3 layers: The back border piece, right side up; the quilt top, right side up and the front border piece, wrong side up. This is what it looks like from the top:

 And from the back:

Stitch through all 3 layers, .25" from the edge. When finished, the front looks like this:

And the back looks like this:

Now it's time to add the batting. I cut the batting piece the same size as the border pieces:

Because of the seam allowances, this makes the border batting piece .5" too wide, but that gives you a little something extra to hold onto as you quilt and something to trim off when completed. Use a zigzag stitch to attach the batting piece to the quilt:

I set my zigzag to be approximately .25" wide, so that the needle goes in to about the center of the seam allowance on the top side and the same amount on the batting side. I butt the pieces up to each other and use the Bernina #10 foot, which has a nice divider down the middle to help keep the join neat, and sew across. As you're sewing, be sure to keep the end of the batting piece even with the end of the top. Otherwise, your batting will tend to stretch on the edge and won't lay flat when you're finished. Here is what it looks like with the batting attached from the front:

And from the back:

Now you just press the border pieces over toward the batting and quilt that border as desired. Here I used wavy piano keys, a border favorite of mine:

And from the back:

Trim up the edges and you're ready to add the next border.

You can add the borders in any order that you want, depending on how you want the seams to look. For the classic look, I added the opposite border next:

If your piece is small, like mine, you can add the two opposite borders at the same time. This time, I cut the border pieces and batting slightly longer than the quilt top to leave space for trimming:

Since I used a different thread for the piecing than I used for the quilting, doing the borders at the same time saved me from having to change threads quite as often. But that also meant that I had some flappy fabric to deal with on one side of the quilt while I was working on the other side of the quilt. That's why I'm not sure I'd want to do that on a larger quilt.

If making a large medallion quilt, you could start with a center and just keep adding borders until you're done. If you are quilting your quilt on a domestic machine, adding borders in this way allows you to do your quilting with just the width of the border under the arm of your machine, much easier than quilting the whole quilt at the end.Your border pieces can be pieced rather than plain pieces of fabric. In that case, you just have to be extra careful in lining things up.

For this little quilt, I still need to add some applique and the binding, but I'll leave that for another day.


PS - I'm hoping to write more tutorials as I go along. If you have a technique that you would like me to demonstrate, just let me know and I'll see what I can do. I love to try to figure different techniques out!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hospice Quilt Progress

Hi all -

Just a quick post to let you know how the different projects are coming along. First, the good news: my Hoffman Challenge quilt was accepted! So I just finished putting on the hanging sleeve and label, and will put it in the mail tomorrow morning. Their acceptance email said something about "if your quilt is selected for the traveling show, it will be sent back" so it sounds like there's still a possibility that it won't be traveling. Four of my friends also had quilts accepted so I hope that they all travel and all go to the first show, which is out here, so that I can get pictures of them all hanging together!

While waiting to hear about the challenge, I made some good progress on my Hospice quilt. I got all of the red and white stripes pieced into columns:

The next step will be adding the blue pieces at the bottom of each column and them I just piece the columns together and the top is done. I think I'll applique the stars onto the blue pieces before putting them together so I have a little bit of figuring out to do. I have to draw a good start shape and then figure out where to put the star on the piece so everything will line up nicely. And as an added bonus, I now have this pile of 72 5.5" half-square triangles to use in another quilt:

There'll be more designing that'll need to be done for that.....

On a sad note, a friend of mine had to put her dog down last week. That's always so difficult! To help comfort her, I decided to make her a little quilt. Milly was a very sweet brown and white Corgi. I decided to start with brown and white for the quilt. I added black for her beautiful black eyes. To add some splashes of color, I thought pink hearts would look nice with the other colors. I love pink and brown together! Here's what I came up with:

I'm not really pleased with the composition, but I continued on with it because I think it will mean a lot to her and I wanted to get it done as quickly as possible to try to help comfort her while the hurting is the greatest. I just have to quilt the border and add the binding and it'll be ready to give to my friend. Here is a close-up of some of the stitching:

That's it for now. I hope you are all having a wonderful summer!


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cats Looking for New Home

Hi all -

A friend of mine sadly needs to find a new home for her cats. She and her kids have developed bad cat allergies and are just too miserable to keep them. Benedryl isn't working anymore. This is Charlie:

And this is Twix:

They are 8-year-old littermates and are both extremely sweet. I can't take them because I already have two cats and that's really enough for one person. If you know of anyone in the Colorado area who might want a couple of cats, please leave me a comment and I'll get you in touch with my friend. While it would be nice to keep the cats together, I'm sure she'd be willing to separate them rather than sending them together to a shelter.



Saturday, July 2, 2016

Lil' Gee Bags

Hi all -

For fun this week, I decided to work on a couple of little bags from another of those cheap kits I got from Connecting Threads. This time the kit contained the Lil' Gee Bag pattern and fabric for two little bags:

I've been wanting a little bag to keep at work so I can just throw my keys and cell phone in the bag when I take Lance for a walk on days when I'm wearing pants that don't have pockets. I think one of these will be perfect! Here's a look at the inside:

And the pocket on the  back:

I also finished the scarf I've been working on:

This is from the One-Skein Scarf pattern by Bobbe Morris in the book One-Skein Wonders. It was easy to knit and has a wonderful texture:

Lance and Buttercup like it, too:

Next, I think I'll work on my first Hospice quilt. I've been planning on making quilts for the Kansas City Hospice House ever since my mom passed away there in 2013, but I'm good at procrastinating. I finally talked to someone there to find out what size would be useful and have designed my first quilt. They mentioned that they generally have a higher need for patriotic quilts, so I came up with this design:

I plan to piece this using the same technique I used for my other chevron quilt described here. I'm going to try to be careful to write down all of my steps as I go along so I can write up patterns for both quilts. Although I really don't need it, I decided to splurge on some new fabric for this quilt. The fabrics on the left are candidates for piecing the top; the star fabric on the right is the backing and the other fabrics on the right are just ones that appealed to me:

My plan is to use a different fabric for each chevron, but the same fabric across that chevron row, if that makes sense. I got extra so I'd have choices and they'll be good to have on hand for future Hospice quilts.


Uchangamfu Finished

Hi all -

I'm excited to say that my African dance quilt is finished! Well, almost finished. I still need to add the hanging sleeve and label (as usual....), but I'll get those on this weekend. Here is a picture of the finished quilt:

I love it! I decided to call it Uchangamfu, which is Swahili for "exuberance" (at least that's what Google tells me).

This was made from the pattern Dance by Wendy Mamattah in the September 2015 issue of American Quilter magazine. The background fabric is a hand-dye that I made in a class many years ago. I used a Cherrywood hand-dye for the figures and assorted African fabrics for the dresses, the border, the backing and the binding. I used YLI invisible thread for outlining/quilting the figures and Superior SoFine for the rest of the quilting.

For the background quilting, I started by quilting a sun in the corner:

I got that idea from the sample in the magazine where she quilted a small sun in the center above the figures. I then quilted pebbles to represent the ground below the figures:

And some other quilting to represent the sky in the rest of the background:

I quilted wavy piano keys in the border just to hold everything down. And I was lucky to find the perfect backing fabric in my stash of African fabrics:

 Again, I'm really pleased with how this turned out and think my niece will be thrilled when she gets it for Christmas!

I've also been doing some knitting. I made another hat from that lovely blue and green variegated yarn:

This is from the Ups and Downs Hat pattern by Emily Dormier that I found on Ravelry. It's a bit hard to see in my picture, but this hat has a cool chevron pattern knitted into it. I really like how it turned out and will probably make another one in a solid yarn to show off the texture at some point. I decided to make this hat because I had two skeins of the yarn and started a scarf with the leftovers from the previous skein after making that hat. I had about half a scarf done when I ran out of yarn so I decided to make another hat out of the other skein so that I could just knit the scarf until I ran out of yarn so I don't have any leftovers sitting around when I'm done. The scarf is turning out pretty cool, too. I should have that one done in time for my next post.

The columbine are blooming right now so I thought I'd share a couple of pictures from our morning hikes. Here is one little group of columbine:

Aren't they beautiful? And here's my obligatory picture of Lance saying "Hurry up!!":

Hopefully, that will satisfy the Lance fans since I never got around to taking a picture of him in the hat.....

Happy 4th everyone!