Saturday, October 21, 2017


Hi all -

I mentioned in my last post that our friend Marci had my other friend Cathy and myself up to her cabin in Red Feather Lakes, CO for a long quilting retreat weekend. Cathy and I decided to each make her a little thank-you gift. I had just been reading the latest issue of Quilting Arts magazine and they had an article about making an initial quilt where you put a large initial in the center of the quilt and quilt around it with colored threads so that the initial pops up without being actually quilted. I thought that would be a fun, quick project that Marci would like.

I started by looking at fonts to find one that I liked. The article suggested looking at for free fonts, so that's where I went. They have thousands of wonderful, free fonts! I found an "R" that I liked (Marci's last name begins with "R"), downloaded it, drew a large "R" in AdobeIllustrator and printed it out. I wanted the wallhanging to have a woodsy feel, so I chose a brown fabric and traced the "R" onto it. I sandwiched it up and started quilting. I decided to put a layer of heavyweight stabilizer between the batting and the backing to give the quilt some extra structure.

Going against the article's instructions, I went ahead and quilted the "R" and added a 1/4" echo line inside of the letter. That will give the letter more crispness and I think adds some character. I chose a nice, woodsy fabric for the back, too.

I then went to my thread stash and pulled out all of my variegated threads with leaf colors -- from green to yellow to red.

I thought it would be really cool if I could transition the colors across the quilt from the greens of spring through the yellows/reds of fall, so I loosely put the threads in that order.

I was also originally thinking of quilting the background with a bunch of different fills that transition from one to another, but as I thought about it I started to think that it might end up too chaotic with all of those colors and a bunch of background fills, so I decided to instead use a single background fill. My first thought was to use pebbles because I love to do them, they fill up the space well so would really define the "R" and Marci was fascinated with my pebble quilting when we were at the cabin. But pebbles don't always look good in variegated threads because of the large amount of backtracking, so I decided to instead us a background fill of leaves.

For some reason, I have a lot of trouble making consistently nice leaf shapes so some of the individual leaves are really ugly, but I think the overall effect is nice. And I like the way the color transitions from the greens in the lower-left corner to the yellows in the upper-right corner. There's probably too much blue in it (but I absolutely love those threads with the green/blue/yellow combination so I just kept adding them) and there's a section in the center of the lefthand side where a color in the thread blends too much with the background, but I do really like the overall effect!

Now I had to decide  how to finish it. I was originally thinking about couching some interesting threads around the outside in place of binding, but I couldn't come up with good threads/yarns for that. Then I started thinking that this quilt really wanted to be round rather than square. I've never made a round quilt before, but this one really wanted that. And I had put that extra layer of heavyweight stabilizer in the sandwich at the beginning, so it wouldn't have any problems with not laying flat on the wall, even with a simple hanger on the back. So it really seemed like it was meant to be.

Now I had to come up with a way to draw the circle for the quilt border of a quilt that was bigger than any circle templates (or plates, etc) in my house. So, I got a piece of freezer paper bigger than the quilt and folded it very carefully into quarters, making sure to crease the edges well so it would lie flat. I got a ruler and a pencil and drew a bunch of points across the paper that were all 8" from the corner fold.

I then stapled the paper while it was still folded so that nothing would shift. I stapled after drawing the marks because I didn't want the staples to get in the way of the ruler and I needed the dots on the paper so I would know where to put the staples.

Then all I had to do was make a smooth cut along the dots.

When I removed the staples and opened it up, I had a pretty good circle!

I ironed the freezer paper onto the back of the quilt, centering it over the "R". I put it on the back rather than the front just in case there were any problems.

Then I could just cut around the edge of the circle.

And turn it over to see a perfectly round quilt.

Then I just had to add the binding. Since the quilt is round, I had to use bias binding. To cut bias binding, I start by folding my fabric at a 90 degree angle and pressing the fold:

This is a simple way of finding the bias without messing with rulers or anything. I've seen other people who go to great lengths to find the "exact" 45 degree line from the selvage and carefully cut along that line, but I really feel like that is a waste of time and energy because you're not going to get it perfect anyway and being a little bit off from the exact bias really doesn't affect the stretchiness of the strips enough to be noticeable. So why hassle with it?

I press the edge crisply because I find that doing that makes the cutting easier. With the pressed edge, I can fold the fabric in half matching that edge to give me a nice shape for cutting my strips. I square up the edge by cutting off the fold, then I can easily cut my bias strips:

Then I could just sew my strips together and put them on the quilt just like I do for any quilt. Here's how it turned out:

I'm pretty pleased with it and I hope that Marci likes it!


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Incredible Upside-Down Bag

Hi all -

I was lucky enough to spend this past long weekend (Thurs-Sun) on a quilting retreat at a friend's cabin in Red Feather Lakes, CO. It was a beautiful setting and a wonderful place to make some progress on some projects. In this post, I'm going to talk about the set of bags that I was able to finish on the retreat.

I think I've mentioned that my oldest sister has also become a quilter. I thought the perfect Christmas gift for her would be the set of bags in the Thread Dispenser/Sewing Case 2.0 pattern by byAnnie. I had originally planned on making these bags from my stash, but then I decided that I really wanted to make them out of Eiffle Tower fabrics, since that's where her husband proposed to her. I was excited to find the perfect fabrics on

The fabrics I got for both the inside and outside of the bags were directional so I knew I had to be careful to make sure that they didn't end up being upside-down. I spent a lot of time thinking about how this had to be done before starting the bag and I felt confident that I had it figured out. So, of course, I screwed it up and the main bag is upside-down. I now know that the key is that the outside fabric and the lining fabric have to face in opposite directions when you sandwich everything before quilting! Now to see if I can remember that for next time......

But I'm still happy with the bags. Here's a picture of both of the bags together, showing how well they match each other:

Pretty cool, huh? Got to love the incredible upside-down bag:

It has a lot of wonderful pockets on the inside:

(It looks crooked in the picture, but it really is straight. At least I got that part right!) The pattern had the bigger pocket on the bottom also made out of vinyl, but I thought it would be good to have a mesh pocket instead. And here is the outside of the bag, just so you can see the wonderful fabric:

Isn't that a pretty fabric when it's rightside-up?

The little bag is also pretty cute:

This one doesn't have a front or back, so it didn't matter what direction I put the fabric:

And it has a couple more pockets on the inside:

I think these will make a cute gift that she can make good use of.

We also have had our first taste of winter this week. We got several inches of snow overnight on Sunday and it continued to snow lightly most of the day on Monday. But it's supposed to be pretty nice tomorrow so it should all disappear by the end of the week.

I hope you are all enjoying autumn!