Friday, March 29, 2013

Sparkle - The Quilting

The actual quilting on Sparkle was done by my long time partner-in-quilting, Karen Thompson.  Karen has quilted a lot of my quilts, so many that she recognizes my style and colors!  She did a spectacular job on Sparkle.

Karen kept the quilting in the stars simple then used a snowflake motif in the open spaces.

The snowflake echoes the print in the fabric I used for the outer border.

A string of pearls (or tiny snowballs) fills the inner sashing then part of the snowflake was repeated in the outer border. 

Many of my quilts are quilted with an all-over design (often called edge-to-edge or pantograph quilting) but some quilts call for custom work.  Karen's quilting really enhances Sparkle.

Karen works out of her Bucks County, PA, home and often picks up and drops off work at Pennington Quilt Works in Pennington, NJ.  She doesn't have a website but she has a phone and email.  Let me know if you would like her contact info. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sparkle - A Finish

I promised some finishes and here is the first one:

I call it Sparkle.  I used the Fig Tree Quilts pattern called Jelly Stars and a jelly roll from Basic Grey's 2012 Christmas line called Blitzen.

Those Lone Star blocks look much more difficult than they actually are.  You use the jelly roll strips to make strip sets, cut the strip sets into sections and re-sew, then piece with the background fabric into stars.  The pattern technique for piecing the stars, along with the directions and illustrations, make the process quite easy.  I love the results.
The finished quilt is 75" square.  I am thinking of using the same technique, except cutting narrower strips to yield a smaller star...but not anytime soon because I have more "back burner" projects to finish!
By the way, it seems unbelievable but the quilt shops are already getting deliveries of 2013 Christmas fabric.  The precuts from Basic Grey's 2013 Christmas collection, Aspen Frost, are already available at the Fat Quarter Shop.   
I will need to hire a new quilt holder soon.  Miss Main Street was informed yesterday that she has been admitted to her top choice college, Skidmore College, and we will be empty nesters come September.    I try not to dwell on how much I will miss her and instead think, "More time to quilt!"


Monday, March 25, 2013

Off the Back Burner

Before I begin something new, I'm going to take care of some projects that have been on the back burner.  I'm not calling them UFOs! 

Mostly, that means putting binding on some otherwise finished quilts but also finishing the hand quilting on this one:

I've worked on this applique project in fits and starts.  It was my portable project for a while but once I got to the quilting, it was a little too bulky to carry around.  I'm probably about two thirds of the way through the quilting.
There will be another finish or two or three here shortly.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mini Quilt Inspiration

I was talking to a work colleague about quilting and it turns out she and her husband collect miniature quilts, especially those made by Kate Adams.  You have to take a look at her website!   These quilts are incredibly small; for example, Maine Pine is only 9" square, so what size are the half square triangles?  Mind boggling!

I'd like to make a small quilt or two but I have something in mind more like Lori Smith's small quilts.  Or possibly one normal block, framed.  The smallest pieces must be at least as big as my fingernails!  But, oh!  I love Kate Adams' mini quilts!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Globe Trotting...For Real

My posts have been infrequent lately because Miss Main Street and I were away on a 12-day trip to Rome and Tuscany.  Nothing quilty in this post, but here are a few pictures from our trip.

the Colosseum at night

Roman Forum
St Peter's Basilica from a distance

the Spanish Steps

Duomo in Florence
Florence from Piazza Michelangelo
the Ponte Vecchio

pastry shop window in Sienna

Tuscan countryside

San Gimignano

We had a fabulous time though it rained quite a bit.  During our time at the Vatican, they were getting ready for the Conclave so we could not see the Sistine Chapel but there is so much else to see.  So many fabulous restaurants, so much delicious gelato, so much wonderful shopping (especially in Florence)!

I hesitated to say anything here in advance of our trip, thinking it best not to tell the internet world at large that our house would be empty except for the absent minded professor (Mr. Main Street does not get on a plane if he can possibly avoid it) and two friendly corgis. 

Unpacked and laundry done!  Back to quilting as soon as I adjust to the time change. 


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tutorial For Many Trips Around the World Quilt Block

Many Trips Around the World is a great scrap quilt, especially if you limit your scraps to a defined color palette.  You need lots of scraps, or fat quarters, or pre-cuts.  I can't tell you how much because I did not keep track.  For the lattice (the raspberry color in my quilt that separates the blocks), you will need 2 yards (more for a bed size quilt); get extra if you want to use this fabric for your binding as well.

Start by cutting your fabric into 2" squares and put it little piles close to your design wall. You can use a tray or a cookie sheet or a clean pizza box to hold your piles (keep each fabric in its own pile).

Note that while I cut my fabric into 2" squares, you can use any size, you just have to be consistent.  If you have a lot of jelly roll pieces, charm squares, or you cut your scraps into 2.5" pieces for storage, go ahead and use 2.5" squares.  Your blocks will be bigger.

The other thing you need is a design wall.  A design bed, or sheet placed on the bed will work as long as you don't need to sleep in the bed at night.  This quilt takes some time to put together and it will be frustrating if you have to pack it up each time you stop working on it.  A space where you can leave everything will keep you organized and sane.

Start by placing the fabric squares on your design wall.  Begin with the single square that forms the middle of each block.  I used the same fabric I used in the lattice here but you don't have to.  Take four squares of the same print and place them around the center square.  Add another round of 8 pieces, then a round of 12 matching pieces, then a final round of 16 matching pieces.  Now add your lattice pieces.  The lattice pieces will form the outer edges of the adjacent blocks too. 

Once one block is formed, you keep adding additonal blocks to the right and left, above and below the initial block.  Keep expanding outwards until you have the size you want or have completely covered your design wall, whichever comes first.  I made my quilt in four pieces because I could not fit the whole quilt, prior to sewing, on the design wall.  Keep in mind that it will shrink in size after sewing.

To keep the block square you use half blocks at the outer edges.  I did not put a border on my quilt. 

So the big question is, "How do you get from the design wall to manageable blocks you can sew together."  When I first contemplated making this quilt, I thought I would sew the squares together in rows across the entire quilt, then sew the rows together.  I did not initially see how to do it in blocks.  Then I remembered a technique learned many years ago when I was making watercolor quilts.  The lightbulb went on and all was clear!
We will construct the quilt in partial blocks of 5 rows by 5 rows, or 25 squares at a time. 

And to make it even easier, we'll use fusible, very lightweight interfacing as a foundation for each block.  This will make the sewing easy, fast, and accurate.

Pellon makes a product called Quilter's Grid, a very lightweight fusible interfacing printed with a 1" (or 2") grid.  I bought my supply at Joann's.  Use the size of your quilt before sewing to figure out how much of this you need - it is 40" wide.  I used about 3 yards.

If you can't find this product, don't despair.  The grid is printed in yellow and I could barely see it.  I think it would work equally well if you used the lightest weight fusible you can find and lightly draw a pair of perpendicular lines with a ruler and pencil.  Use these lines to line up your squares.

My partial block - five 2" squares by five 2" squares - measures 10" so I cut my pieces of fusible 9.5" square.  (I added an extra square to the end of each row to make the overall look more symmetrical and complete. That's why Ihave 41 squares across and down. This means the last block in each row will be 5 by 6 squares, the bottom row of blocks in the quilt will be 6 by 5 squares and the lower right corner block will be 6 by 6.  So you will need to cut some pieces of infacing 9.5" by 11.5" and one piece 11.5" by 11.5 ".)

Transfer the block, wrong side of fabric to fusible (sticky) side of foundation, being careful to line up the squares precisely.  The top and bottom rows of squares will protrude 1/2" off the fusible, as will the outer left and outer right vertical columns of squares. 

Once you have all the squares in the block lined up on the foundation, fuse with iron per the directions that come with the fusible.  Be careful to pick up and set the iron down, rather than pushing it around, so you don't move any squares out of place.

The next step is to begin sewing.  Fold the block along a seam, finger pressing a crease in place.  If you fused the squares down in alignment, the edges will all line up.  I did not pin at this stage.
Sew each seam using a quarter inch seam allowance and back stitching 2 or 3 stitches at the beginning and end of each seam.  (In the photo below, you can see that the left and right patches extend beyond the edge of the fusible foundation.)

Sew all four vertical seams in the block in this fashion.  Your piece will look like this (photo below).  Using your rotary cutter and ruler on a cutting mat, cut the finest sliver you can from the crease of each seam.  This will cut the seam open so you can press it. 

Press the seams open; pressing the seams open reduces the bulk and helps the block lie flat.  Then repeat this process for the seams in the other direction.  Fold the fabric along the line between two rows of square patches, finger press a crease, and sew.  Be sure to keep the seams straight so the patches line up with each other.  You can use pins at this stage but I did not need to.

Again, trim the tiniest sliver off each crease and press the seams open.   From the right side, your blocks will look like this (photo below).  The corners of the individual square patches should match perfectly.  If you cut your squares 2", your block will now measure 8" square.  It will have shrunk 2" in size because of the seams. 

You can see below how the block shrinks in size after sewing.

Once all the blocks are made, you need to sew them together.  Sew in rows across the quilt.  Match seams and pin.  Because you cut the fusible foundation an inch smaller than the block, these seams will not have any fusible attached to them.  I continued to press the seams open but at this point of joining the blocks, you can press the seams in alternative directions if you would rather because you don't have the added bulk of the fusible backing.

The photo below shows two blocks that have been joined. 

Sew the blocks together in rows then sew the rows together, in the usual fashion.  Your quilt top is finished!

I'm thinking of making another Many Trips Around the World quilt in red, white, and blue.  How about Minick &Simpson's Indigo Crossing fabric collection?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Globe Trotting

My Many trips Around the World quilt is finished, well finished to the flimsy stage.  I'm calling this one Globe Trotting. 

This quilt is made up of 1,681 2" squares (that finish at 1.5"); it is 62 inches square, a good size for my reading chair.  I'll bind it in the raspberry solid I used for the lattice.  All the other fabrics are from various Fig Tree Quilts fabric collections.

Making this quilt was not difficult but thank goodness for my design wall; I don't think I could have done it without one.  Well I could have done it but I might not have stayed sane.

I will try to have a tutorial covering exactly how I did ready next week.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Inspiration From The Quilt Fest of New Jersey

More from the quilt show!  One of the exhibits I enjoyed was a collection of quilts from Glorious Color using Kaffe Fassett fabrics. 

This called Cascade, by Corienne Kramer.  Fabulous color combination!  And easy construction; just rectangles and squares, pieced on the diagonal.

This large snowball quilt must have started with the striped fabric used in the border.  All the colors found in the stripes are repeated in the floral prints used for the snowballs while the fabric used for the corner triangles softens the look.

Here;'s a close-up:

Here's the same block, only smaller, for a baby quilt.  This is called Baby Pastel Snowball and was also made by Corienne Kramer.


All the glorious color inspired me; I just had to bring some home.  My only fabric purchase of the day:  6 half yard cuts of Kaffe Fassett fabric.  They will join assorted fat quarters in my stash until I figure out what to make with them. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Quilt Fest of New Jersey

I went to the Quilt Fest of New Jersey on Saturday.  It's an annual show put on by Mancuso.  They also produce the show in Pennsylvania in September.  That show is my favorite.  The NJ show is smaller but still worth a visit. 

The quilts on display did not disappoint.  Here are a few favorites:

Oh My Stars by Sue Freeland, Hainesport, NJ. Winner of the Best of New Jersey award.

The maker include a story about "unsewing" several times until finally she sound the perfect sashing fabric.  I like the blocks, I like the sashing, I like the border treatment...

Sweet Emilie by Jill Reid ofSouth Plainfield, NJ.  Tthis quilt won a Judge's Choice ribbon.

I like the sashing.  The quilting is Baptist Fan.  I've been meaning to use that pattern on one of my quilts but have not had one that is right for it yet.

OMG, I love this quilt!  It is Retire Meant by Judith McNabb, Towaco, NJ.  She made it after retiring from teaching, using a pattern called Stars for a New Day by Sue Garman that was offered as a BOM on The Quilt Show.  The fabrics are mostly Fig & Plum from Fig Tree Quilts.

Close-up of the center medallion.  The way she combined the colors and prints is wonderful.  I'd like to make a medallion quilt but I think anything this complicated will have to wait until I retire (and that won't be soon).  On second thought, I don't think I can wait that long.

Here is a close-up of the outer border.  I like the way the sawtooth stars are offset. 

I didn't get a photo of this entire quilt (it was huge and I could not get far enough away given the way it was hung) but what I like about it is the block constructed using a piece in the center from a panel.  It is hard to figure out what to do with rectangular panel pieces. 

Brown Is The New Black, by Megan Johnson of Denville, New Jersey.  I recognized this quilt from seeing it on Megan's blog.  Her applique is excellent.  Another project to put on my retirement list!

The show included a small exhibit of red and white quilts.  This is Floating Stars by Edna Deppen.

And Oh! Christmas Tree by Sarah Michael. This looks familiar to me; I think there might be a pattern.  This is machine appliqued but she turned under the fabric edges first.

Quilt shows are sew inspiring!