Thursday, August 18, 2016

More Thoughts On Starch

For my next project, I'm reaching into the magic basket of Fig Tree Quilts fabric.  Yes, another Fig Tree Harvest quilt!

I've made six major quilts, a baby quilt, and a wall hanging in this series to date.  As a result, though I'm not exactly down to scraps, it would be hard to put a quilt together out of five to eight coordinating fabrics.  But I got an idea for something that is scrappy, where I can use the leftovers from my other projects.  I have lots of partial fat quarters from which I am cutting 2" strips.  These will go into strip sets, which I will augment with 2" squares cut from the real scraps.

Being a convert to starch, I starched the fabric before cutting.  I started with aerosol cans of Niagara but the two cans I had on hand did not go very far.  I had quite a bit of Best Press on hand so I used that but when I ran out, I still had fabric left to starch.  So next I tried concentrated starch (comes in a big bottle), mixed in a 1:4 ratio with water in a trigger spray bottle (I used the empty Best Press bottle).  Here are my thoughts on these different starches.

Niagara Non-Aerosol Trigger Spray - This is my favorite but it is not readily available to me. None of the stores around me carry it and it is ridiculously pricey on  It is easy to spray and get the right amount of saturation in your fabric so it dries stiff without being too stiff.

Niagara Original Aerosol Spray Starch - The price is right, less than $2 a can at stores around me, but one can does not cover much fabric (around 2 yards) so I've been going through a lot of it and feel guilty about the environmental impact of all those aerosol cans.  But it gives the right amount of stiffness and the finish is great.

Best Press - This is billed as a starch alternative and while it gives fabric a crisp finish, it does not get it as stiff as I'd like.  And a bottle does not go far so it is too pricey to use for this purpose.  On the positive side, it comes in some great scents that add that your ironing pleasure.  I'm saving it to use more as a finishing spray.

Starch Concentrate - One bottle goes far when mixed with water in a 1:4 for 1:3 ratio, making it both economical and perfect for getting the exact degree of starchiness you want.  I'm going to stick with it for now, unless I find Niagara in a trigger spray bottle again.

More on my new project next week.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Quilt Top From Stash

I finished the quilt top I started with fabric from my stash.  The double nine patch blocks are set on point with alternating blocks.

Not having to piece those alternate blocks sure saves time!

I used a double border, just like the pattern directions.  First, a narrow border in green tone-on-tone.

The outer border is fabric from an old Blackbird Designs collection for Moda, red and tan flowers on a green background.  This is the fabric that inspired the fabric choices for the rest of the quilt.  

My quilt top used 20 double nine patch blocks and is 70" by 83" which is smaller than the Plantation Road quilt in the book.  Still, it will be a generous size for a couch quilt.  

I'm happy with this quilt top now that it is made because it will go very nicely in our family room.  However, during the construction process, I came to realize that this look is no longer really me, that my aesthetic has moved in the modern direction.  

Next, I will try to piece the back from stash.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Double Nine Patch Blocks

About three weeks ago, I began work on a project totally from my fabric stash.  Work was interrupted first when Mr. Main Street and I went on a short get-away to the Lake Champlain area (New York and Vermont), then again when I caught a nasty summer cold.  The cold is nearly gone now and I am back at the sewing machine.  Here's what I have to show for it:

Twenty double nine-patch blocks finished and ready to go in the setting.  The pattern is Plantation Road, from the book Tributes and Treasures by Paula Barnes and Mary Ellen Robison.  I have a green and cream toile print to alternate with the pieced blocks.    

Time to get it all sewn together.  

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Christmas in July - Part 2

I'm back with more Christmas quilts!

This is Christmas Stars, probably the most famous quilt on my blog.  I didn't use a pattern, it's just an Ohio Star variation block I'd seen somewhere and then figured out a way to construct it.  For my tutorial on how to make this block, click here.

This quilt became "famous" because it was beautifully quilted by Linda Hrcka of The Quilted Pineapple and people seeing the photos on her blog asked questions about the pattern, etc, and got directed here. The wide borders are perfect for fancy quilting!  Below is a close-up of one of the blocks.

I made Sparkle using the pattern Jelly Stars from Fig Tree Quilts and a jelly roll of a Moda collection called Blitzen from Basic Grey.  Their 2016 collection called Juniper Berry would work well for this quilt.  This quilt is much, much easier to make than it looks, all because of the clever techniques in the pattern.  It makes a great throw size quilt or large wall hanging, while one star could be made into a small wall hanging.

Here's one of the blocks.  The diagonal seams through the corners result from the easy construction.  No set in or Y seams!

Evergreen was my first two-color quilt (though I actually used three fabrics, the two greens being close to each other in color).  The original pattern is called Twilight Hopscotch and is in the book Simple Comforts by Kim Diehl.  The pattern results from alternating two different blocks. 

And here is Merry and Bright, from the pattern called Trellis Crossroads in the book Modern Bee.  It is a good quilt to make from stash and scraps but I will warn you that I found the directions lacked completeness and were hard to follow.  I tried to give some tips in my post here.

I'll leave you with this photo of the stockings hung by the chimney with care.  The red one belongs to Miss Main Street and is the first one I made.  The green ones are for our corgis, Reggie and Dillie (I'm not sure they are aware they are dogs).  I incorporated pieces from my stash of "cutter" vintage lace and linens when I made them.  They are just simple shapes, both front and back sandwiched with thin batting and backing (the backing ends up as the lining), with minimal quilting, then the two pieces are joined with bias binding just like a quilt.

I hope you've enjoyed this little bit of Christmas in July.  Maybe it has given you and idea for making your own 2016 Christmas quilt.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Christmas in July - Part 1

The new Christmas fabric collections are in the quilt shops now and that makes me think about making another Christmas quilt.  I've made quite a few over the course of my quilting career.  I'll show you some of them today and more tomorrow.

This sawtooth star was my first Christmas quilt.  I made a wall hanging size first, and enjoyed that so much, I followed it with a queen bed size version.  I used a lot of beautiful Hoffman prints in both and hand quilted both too.  Below is a close-up of the block and quilting.  The pattern was in an issue of American Patchwork & Quilting from long ago but I think they sell the individual pattern on their website.  

 A lot of the scraps and leftovers from the star quilt went into a traditional log cabin quilt.  This one was machine quilted in a holly leaf vine pattern.

Christmas Ribbons (below) as made from a pattern called Ruby's Ribbon Box; it featured the Ruby fabric collection by Bonnie and Camille.  I made my version in Christmas red and green prints from my stash.  It is throw size and usually resides on our window seat in the living room at Christmas time.

My only wool adventure so far was the making of this wreath in appliqued red and green circles.  I used black wool for the background and framed the finished result.  This goes on a wall in the living room, replacing a framed print just for the season.

I made Boughs of Holly from a Red Crinoline pattern called Crossroads.  The border is a from an April Cornell Christmas collection for Moda. I'd had it in my stash for a few years and this pattern was the perfect way to put it to use.

 Here are a few more Christmas quilts hanging on our second floor landing.  The quilts that hang here most of the year get swapped out for the Christmas season.  The quilts other than the log cabin are both from Miss Rosie patterns.  I made the quilt on the upper rod from a pattern called Brand New Day but I call my version Christmas Day.  The lower quilt is a good project for using lots of scraps and leftovers.  It alternates a sawtooth star block with a large nine-patch that contains smaller four-patch blocks.  I'm not sure what the original pattern was called and haven't been able to locate it.

 Come back tomorrow for Part 2.  Yes, I have even more Christmas quilts!

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Making A Sewiing Gear Bag for My English Paper Piecing Projects

I've finished the piecing of La Passacaglia but intend to do more English paper piecing in the future.  I want to make some sort of handy-dandy bag that will make it easy to take my hand piecing with me on the go.  I'm leaning towards the Zip It Up! bag from By Annie.  Has anyone made it?  If so, any tips?

I learned about this bag from the photos on Instagram.  I love the bright color zippers with the black and white prints but will probably do something else for my own bag.  

I stumbled on another cleverly designed bag on the internet. It is called the Bionic Gear Bag; there is a video demo of its features on the website and you can buy the pattern as a PDF file on Craftsy.  

This bag looks a little more challenging to make but wouldn't it be handy for a class or retreat?

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Next Up - Making A Quilt From My Stash

 After a quilting time out while I went to a convention in Atlanta (the nickname Hot-Lanta is well deserved), I have started a new project based on using fabric from my stash.  In fact, if things turn out as planned, the entire top and binding will be from my stash closet.  I may need to buy fabric for the back unless I make a very scrappy back.

I get such a sense of satisfaction from using this stash fabric, like it makes the practice of fabric hoarding buying fabric without a specific use in mind all worthwhile!

The four prints below will be the the main components.  The print on the far left is from the Chelsea Boutique line by Blackbird Designs for Moda.  I bought it years ago because the green background is the same color as the walls in our family room.  I bought the green-on-ecru and green tone-on-tone to coordinate while the ecru is from my extensive stash of neutral tone-on-tones for backgrounds.  

The first step it to make many 9-patch blocks.  These are small; they finish at 3".  I'm using small pieces from stash (fat quarters and smaller) that coordinate with the Chelsea Boutique print that will form the outer border of the quilt.  

Last December I received some books for my birthday, including Tributes and Treasures by Paula Barnes and Mary Ellen Robison.

I am making a design from the book called Plantation Road.  I knew when I saw it that I had just what I needed to make it in my stash.  The directions make a giant quilt (95" by 107") but I'm scaling down to throw size by making fewer blocks.  The design uses basic piecing and should go together pretty quickly considering the alternating blocks don't require any piecing.  What piecing there is can be done easily in short amounts of time here and there.

This is a more traditional look than I am drawn to now but Mr. Main Street will love it and it will look great in our family room come winter.

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