Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finished Baby Quilt

Two months ago, I blogged about the baby quilt I was making, a little disappointed in how it turned out.  Fortunately, I like it a lot better now that it is quilted, bound, and washed!

Child's Play, 28" by 36"

I made this little quilt using leftover solids from a bigger project.  I did the quilting on my domestic machine, quilting diagonal lines with a walking foot.  I really wanted to quilt in the ditch in the diagonal seam lines but hesitated because of the need to keep the line so precise so quilted parallel to the seam lines instead.  The quilting lines, combined with a little bit of shrinkage in washing, give the quilt more texture and softened the edges of the piecing.  

The backing fabric is an alphabet print from Robert Kaufman in flannel; it is soft and cuddly.  And a darker gray solid for the binding. 

Done in time for Christmas!

 photo signature_zps7mcw44cc.png

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Re-Appreciating Hand Sewing

Did you notice my new look?  I wanted a cleaner, custom look for my blog so I hired a professional, Rebekah Louise.  She made the re-design process so easy, I wish I had done it sooner.

I made a couple more rosettes for La Passacaglia.  While these two don't look like they go together at all, I am confident they will coordinate better once in with the rest of the mix.  This quilt can be a real mashup though I am confining myself to a specific color palette.

I also cut and pasted a lot of pieces, ready to go with me on some travels in December.  One of the good things about this project is its portability, so different from most of my quilting which is confined by the sewing machine. As I sat there sewing, I got to thinking how similar this project is to my start in quilting.  Well, not the complexity, really just the hand sewing aspect. 

I took my first quilting class in 1982 or '83, an evening adult class in the local school district.  We drafted templates out of cardboard, used them with a pencil to draw both the cutting and sewing lines on the wrong side of the fabric, cut out the pieces with scissors, and sewed with a short running stitch.  I enjoyed it but after making two throw pillows for my living room and a small wall hanging, I retired from quilting because it was too time consuming.  I was working full time, playing in a tennis league, doing volunteer work, and frankly, husband-hunting.  Any sewing time was spent making silk shell blouses to wear with my power suits (it was the dress for success era).

Then sometime in 1991 I happened to be in the vicinity of the quilting supply store (Quilters Barn in Allentown, NJ - long since closed) and went in for a look.  They were advertising a quilt in a day class.  I asked how that could possibly be and was introduced to the new quilt world of rotary cutting and machine stitching.  I signed up and made a log cabin quilt that became my first nephew's baby quilt. And I was hooked!

Except for occasionally hand quilting a smaller quilt, hand sewing fell by the wayside as I embraced the speed of machine sewing.  Long-arm quilting and pre-cut fabric have added new dimensions to speed quilting.  While I love the gratification of finishing a quilt in less than a year, and the time to make all more of the designs I want to try, it has been relaxing and fun to get off the quilt highway and into the slow lane for this project.

 photo signature_zps7mcw44cc.png

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Behind The Scenes

It isn't just the hand sewing that turns making a La Passacaglia quilt top into such a time consuming endeavor.  The cutting and glue basting require a lot of attention as well.

This picture shows some fabric I fussy cut in order to get the look I want.  Of course, you could make this quilt without doing any fussy cutting, but fussy cutting some prints greatly adds to the complex look of this quilt. I've been fussy cutting my striped fabric as well as cutting specific motifs from a large floral print as well as a couple of paisley fabrics.  Without fussy cutting, these larger scale prints would have looked randomly chopped on the small pieces in this quilt.  Whenever I fussy cut, I need five diamonds for the center star and 10 pentagons for the outer ring.  

I'm rounding out the fussy cut fabrics with lots of pieces cut from tonal prints that can be cut in the conventional (and much faster) way.

Then there is the glue basting step.  Each cut piece of fabric needs to be basted to its paper backing.  I use a Sewline glue pen on a rotary cutting mat, My Olfa mat is square but I think a round rotary mat would work even better.  The rotary mat makes the job go faster because you can turn the piece being glued, rather than trying to turn your body or twist your arm around a stationary position.

And there is a lot of gluing to be done!  Here, I'm gluing the star points that connect all the rosettes together to make the final pattern.  There are 1368 of these in the quilt; they are about 1" long.  
I better get cracking!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Making Progress

I've made some progress on my La Passacaglia project.  When I last posted about it, it looked like this:

I've added three more rosettes to the lower left edge.  That part is complete except for some partial rosettes to fill in the edges once I have it squared up.  

I'll work on the lower right portion next.  

Yes, this quilt takes a long time to make.  And, proof that I am completely crazy, I already have my next English paper piecing project selected.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Desk Calendar

I have a desk calendar for 2016 already.  I found it in a lovely independent book store in Saratoga Springs, NY, called Northshire Bookstore.  I love a good independent book store and Northshire is the best I've been to in a long time, independent book stores having become so rare.  They have a store in Manchester, VT, too.  

Anyway, I found this easel style desk calendar with quilt designs. Turns out, it was designed by One Canoe Two, who are now designing fabric for Moda.  So next year, I can be reminded of my hobby/obsession while working at my day job.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza XXII - The Loot

I don't think I could go to a quilt show and not buy anything.  It is always interesting to see what the vendors have with them.  My LQS is great but of course, they can't stock everything, and while internet shopping offers endless variety, seeing something on a screen is not the same as seeing it "for real."

I want to make Jen Kingwell's My Small World quilt and have been gathering fabrics for it.  I have a basket of them set aside but the show posed a great opportunity to pick up more, including some fat eighths.

assorted fabric for eventual use in My Small World quilt

Lately, I've had a bit of thing for rainbow colors in quilts and even started a Pinterest board dedicated to inspiration for an eventual project, so I looked around the show vendors for fabric that I could use in said hypothetical project.  I hit the jackpot with these crossweave fat quarters.  Only $2 each!

Assorted crossweave fat quarters - not the whole rainbow but enough

In crossweaves, the thread is dyed (rather than the cloth), and 
woven with one color for warp and one for weft, blue and purple in this case.
The fabric used in Oxford cloth shirts is an example.

Just in case that's not enough "rainbow," I got this bundle of 20 10" squares from Free Spirit Designer Essentials solid color fabric.

And that text print you see in the background of all of these photos? That's a yard of  Quilters Basic Perfect #MCS 13-45 designed by www.stof.dk (info taken from selvage).  The text is all in French, ooh la la!  It appears to be from a Danish company so I'm not hopeful about finding more.  

I have enough fabric to keep me out of trouble for a while.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza XXII - The Exhibits

On Friday, a friend and I went to Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza, an annual quilt show held outside Philadelphia every September.  You may have read my coverage in prior years.  While the internet has made quilt inspiration plentiful and easily accessible, I still like to go to the occasional show and see show-quality quilts "in real life."

Here are my favorites from this year's show:

This feathered star quilt (paper pieced) was spectacular.  The workmanship was outstanding; no wonder it won 1st place in the Traditional category. 

Feathered Stars by Barbara Khan of Weehawken,NJ, 82" x 82"

A close-up of the center star

Close-up of the border

In a funny coincidence, this quilt was displayed across from a booth vending quilting books, where they had copies of A Flock of Feathered Stars, the book used to make the quilt.  So if you'd like to have a quilt like this, all you need is the book, some fabric, and a lot of patience and talent.

When I saw this next quilt from a distance, it reminded me of work I saw at the Old Town Art Fair in Chicago during the summer, and sure enough, it was from the same artist, Deborah Hyde.  She uses color placement in Many Trips Around the World blocks to create art quilts.  Fabric pieces are only 1" square!  This quilt, Leda, won 2nd place in the Innovative category.

Leda by Deborah Hyde, West Bloomfield, MI, 71" x 43"

close-up showing color placement

close-up showing block

 Deborah Hyde had another quilt in the show, equally striking in my opinion.  

Sam In Sunlight, Deborah Hyde, West Bloomfield, MI, 59" x 76"

close-up showing block

Ever since I made my Dresden plate quilt, I've been wanting to try another,using the winding chain layout.  All the fabric used in this quilt has polka dots and the outer edge has a flange or small piping next to the binding.  

Lil Bit Dotty For Dresdens by Teri Cherne, Henniker, NH, 42" x 42"

close up showing the quilting and fabric

There was an exhibit of quilts with the theme "50 Shades of Gray,"  all made by members of a guild in Florida.  This first one looks like a black and white photo.  All the fabric used to make it was gray; a darker gray background with the applique in various lighter shades.  

Twizzle, by Dotty Levine, 36" x 47"

close up of the prairie point border 

While some of the quilts used only gray fabric, the rules allowed for inclusion of color with the gray.  I have a bit of thing for rainbow quilts at the moment so this one caught my eye.

Life on Mars, Ilona Farnes, 67" x 71.5"

I vaguely recall seeing a demo for a technique for making this block;
 the technique makes two identical blocks at one time

I like the way the star points in this quilt burst out of the inner square into the border. This entry had a story.  It was started by Edna Depper, who passed away before it was finished.  Cindy Depper finished the quilt.  

50 Shades:  Edna's Last Chapter, Edna Depper and Cindy Depper, 58.5" x 58.5"

 And one more...

Hope, Polly Bech, Swarthmore, PA, 50" x 50"