Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Monday, December 27, 2010

Vol 2 - Project 5.5 - Cabin In The Cotton - Rita's Quilt

The quilting was finished in record time - ready to be gifted to my MIL for Christmas last Saturday.  My concerns with washing luckily came to nothing and I was pleased with the overall look of the finished quilt.

Finished and looking pretty!

I was a little heavy-handed with the markers - phew, they washed out completely!

No colour bleeding at all - red and white together is always worry!

After washing and shrinking - this texture from the quilting is just what I was after

The back (where you can actually see the quilting)!

Mother-In-Law Rita likes her new quilt
 - a fitting gift for a bed-ridden lady

The drag I was experiencing during the quilting gradually got less and less.  Maybe it was all the pins?  There were a lot of pins in this quilt, especially in that wide border, and as I removed them the quilt slid more easily under the needle.  Or maybe whatever caused the stickiness wore off as the quilting wore on.  It's still a mystery, but I have a clue.....................

Maybe it was Cat Drag!

Happy New Year from Floyd

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vol 2 - Projects 5 & 6 - Quilting

Hubby John selected his quilt from the book ages ago and has been asking why his chosen fabrics aren't 'quilt shaped' yet.  His quilt is the next project so I thought I should hustle and get onto it.  But first things first, I have 2 projects waiting to be quilted, so have to make a start on these first - patience John!

First up I needed to get the 4 patch lattice off the design wall (finally!) and into a sandwich.  As Harriet warns, those bias edged side triangles can easily stretch out of shape so it's best to prep for quilting asap after finishing the top.

It's been ditch-stitched and is now awaiting it's turn for quilting.  I always forget how long ditch stitching actually takes to do.  A few long straight seams should be done in a snap, but the reality is it took me roughly 8 hours over a couple of days to do it.  Lots of aching muscles too.  I don't really trust the pins to hold everything together nice and firmly, so there is lots of block flattening and gently pulling at the seams to ensure it's all flat and straight.  I also ditch stitch slowly, to avoid bumping out of the ditch (which still happens anyway, but not as much as if I sew fast).  My arm and (surprisingly) bum muscles are feeling the after effects today.

Ditch stitching done and dusted!

Unlike Julie's modern style quilt - the first one of this design I made - I wanted this quilt to have lots of texture and a design appropriate for a 1930's style quilt. 

I chose a simple feather wreath for the blocks and a feather/cable design for the border.  Time to prep for work!

First up - a tension check.  I'm using Sew Art International invisible nylon through the needle and Presencia 60/3 (white) in the bobbin.  A bit of tension fiddling was required.  I also changed the needle to a 70 Topstitch titanium - I just bought these and wanted to see how they went for quilting.

Next - warming up on a sample.  The needle seems to be fine.

Next - more warming up on a bigger sample. I put to use the cot sized quilt I made up from scraps. It certainly makes a difference from practicing on a small sample square!

Ready to quilt and as usual, I'm experiencing problems.  This time it's drag.  It really is quite bad, I can't get the quilt to slide around under the needle at all.  I checked and double-checked for hang-ups - nothing.  The block to be quilted is formed into a nice little puddle under the needle and the edges of the quilt aren't getting caught up anywhere.  I'd polished the cabinet surface with my usual product and the fabric should slip nicely.

The set up seems to be fine.  The thread tension is perfect.  The drag got so bad, the needle broke!  So much for titanium which is supposed to last 3 times as long as regular needles - lol.  Stitches are tiny in places and huge in others, as the quilt sticks and releases as I sew.  I can only conclude that it's the backing fabric.  This puzzles me as the backing is just white quilter's muslin - there is no print on it and I can't understand why it won't slide.  The samples I quilted earlier were on standard calico (muslin to you USA followers) with no drag problems at all.

I'm not going to let this bother me, I'll just get some experience working on less than ideal fabric.  The print is busy, the design is simple and the cotton fabrics and batting will shrink up quite a bit, so perfect quilting is not essential here (although it would be nice :)).  Be that as it may, I am still going to try and do the very best quilting work that I can manage - after all, I'm gifting this quilt and want it to be a nice as possible.

A simple feather wreath design works beautifully on this 1930's style quilt

Halfway though the quilting and I'm already loving the texture I'm getting.

 The back - plain old quilter's muslin which refuses to behave nicely!

Ok - halfway though with quilting the top.  I hope to finish it tomorrow and maybe even get the borders done.  If anyone has any suggestions about the drag - how to work with it or maybe a different cause to what I've concluded, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vol 2 - Project 6 - Four Patch Lattice - Getting it together

Finished assembling this quilt top today -

Sorry about the crooked photography!

I almost achieved what I was looking for - a blended style quilt.  In the end I wasn't brave enough to have a totally blended look and compromised by using a contrasting sashing and not allowing the block pattern to get totally lost amongst the fabrics.  I really wanted to try red but didn't have enough fabric left.

This quilt is all about the fabrics.  I think I must have agonised over fabric selections more with this project than with any other.  The main fabric and the large leaf border fabric were chosen first - no competition there - but the co-ordinating colours and patterns caused no end of angst!

As mentioned in a previous post (it's been a while) the fabrics come from Jason Yenter's Floragraphix collection by In The Beginning.  I have several pieces from Floragraphix I, II & III and they all work together beautifully, perfect for a blended quilt top.  Alas - too many choices.

The blocks sat on the design wall a long time, as I tried out different sashings.  I finally got the choices down to six (!)
Click on the pictures for a closer look

Once I made a final choice, it was time to select fabric for the cornerstones.  It's amazing how much difference a 1 inch square of fabric can do to the finished look.

While the fabric choices had me bogged down for almost a month - the assembly was quick.  It took only a couple of hours over 2 days to get it all together.  The only difference between this quilt and the previous couple was the addition of cornerstones, so I'm getting rather familiar with the assembly process now.

A closer look at the final selection

And after all the indecision and agonising - the finished top looks very much like the first mock up I drew - the only difference being the colour of the cornerstones.
What was that saying about the first thoughts/impressions usually being the correct one?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Non Harriet Projects (NHP)

Sorry everyone for it being so long between posts.  It's a busy time of year and as usual, I've been distracted by other things.  My New Years' Resolution (not that I often make these) is to minimise all NHP's and focus on the job at hand.  I'm only half-way through QA Vol 2, wayyyyy behind schedule.  On the positive side,  many of the distractions have been quilty ones, and I've had lots of practice in different techniques.

The Tangled Web Quilters is the group I attend each week.  For a bit of fun and practice in fusible applique, I made up some 'portraits' of the group members.  There are 10 regulars in the group, so by the time I finished the last piece, I was much better acquainted with this technique.

It's a good thing the ladies all have a good sense of humor!

The designs came from Amy Bradly's pattern book - Quilter's Yearbook.  Amy has drawn lots of shapes - hair, glasses, clothes, mouths etc. - which can be put together any way you like.  She also encourages adapting the basic designs and changing things around.  Not being able to draw, I stuck mainly to the shapes as they are printed in the pattern, but did fiddle around with hair styles a bit. 

I made the block quilt-as-you-go, using simple echo quilting - a technique I'd not played with much.  I found echo quilting a quick and easy way to go and the lines seem to add movement to the pictures.  My quilting on these is a bit crude, but the style suits the cartoon type design and I'm happy with the result.  Excellent practice for more refined echo quilting I'd like to do further down the track.

I surprised the group members (well the half of them who were able to make the meeting) with the blocks at the Tasmanian Quilter's Guild Christmas Lunch last Saturday - they had no idea what I'd been up to.  Our table caused quite a ruckus when the blocks were opened, lots of laughter and I'm so pleased no-one was offended by their portraits - our first Guild meeting as a group make quite an impression!

The group (well half of them) display their portraits at the Tasmanian Quilting Guild Show & Tell

The Guild President's Challenge for 2010 was 'Bring a Plate'.  Alison, a Tangled Web Quilter, took out first place with her confetti pieced cake.  Congrats Ali - a well deserved win!

It was Alison's first Tassie Guild meeting and she caused quite an impression with her work. 

You can see more of Alison's work, and close up pictures of her Bring A Plate piece on her blog - Tea Tree Quilter

So what do you do when someone asks you to quilt a charity quilt in a hurry because their regular quilter is unavailable?  PANIC!  As much as I wanted to, I couldn't say no as my friend was in a desperate position to get the quilt ready for presentation. 

I was really reluctant to do this - I have enough trouble quilting my own tops, and the thought of messing around with someone else's work is terrifying.  My only consolation was that the top was a small panel and not pieced work - a panel can be quickly replaced if anything went horribly wrong.  My friend , bless her, is fully aware of my beginner status and happy to accept whatever I could manage to achieve. 

Stitch-in-the-ditch would have been my first choice for the quilting, but I was out of luck as the top has no ditches to stitch in!  Free-form, which would have been the obvious choice, was not a consideration as I don't do free-form quilting.  There were no blocks to do free-motion designs on either, it was just a single panel piece.  Having however, just done a heap of echo quilting this would have to be the way to go.

Leaving the centre unquilted, resulted in loose fabric.  My suggestion here was that the flowers and hearts be trapunto stuffed, which would fill the unquilted shapes out nicely.  I left it to Marie to do this part herself.  The echo quilting is roughly 1/4 apart, which took quite a long time but I think has a nicer look to it than larger channels would on this small piece. 

I've started work on yet another grandson's quilt.  This is another Amy Bradly pattern - Snugly Bugly - using the by now familiar fusible applique technique.  The fused pieces are blanket stitched in thick 30w black thread, giving the designs a very 'cartoonish' look.  It's nice to work with very bright colours for a change.

Yes, they will eventually have eyes

Although this sort of work is not really my style - not that I've settled on a particular style yet but I know it's not going to be this - it's a fun piece to work on.  Easy and quick to do and a change from piecing. 

As you can probably guess, I've been quite drawn to applique recently.  There are other techniques I'd like to try and I'm interested in eventually doing more refined and detailed work but fusible/blanket stitch is a great place to start.

Hopefully, if I can manage to keep up my resolution, group days will be dedicated to NHP's such as those above, while at home I'll concentrate on getting on with the QA projects. I seem to have got the first burst of applique out of my system and am ready to get back to the Quilting Academy projects and some serious learning.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vol 2 - Project 6 - Four Patch Lattice

Here is the next pattern in the book.  It's very similar to previous projects but introduces cornerposts to the sashings.

For this quilt, I wanted to use some of the Jason Yenter Floragraphix fabrics, which I'd purchased at bargain prices some time ago.  I'd wanted to use it for ages, but none of the previous projects seemed quite right. 

Although I have quite a few fabrics from the collection, the two main ones I wanted to work around are these ........

The top fabric will be used for the large patches and the leaf fabric for the side setting triangles.  The pattern needs five fabrics in all, so I chose three more to co-ordinate.  How nice to take all the fabrics from one collection and know the colours will work beautifully together!  My focus then, is to get all the patterns to blend well together.

I did the colouring-in  mock ups using only the 3 main colours - red/green/white - changing only the colour combinations of the 4 patches and sashings.  It's amazing how different each one looks, considering all the colours are the same.

Totally confused (as usual) I made up sample 4 patches in four different combinations stuck them on my design wall. 

What I was looking for was a very 'blended' effect. 

Take a look through a block viewer to check out the results............

Ok, enough messing around - make a decision!

Having finally decided on the red/white combo, I then set about choosing a sashing colour.  I got it down to six which I like (sigh).  All this fabric choosing can take me days but it's time to move on.  I'll decide on the sashings and cornerstones later.

You would think, by now, I'd have a clue.  Yes, disaster has struck!  All the 4 patches sewn, pressed, fanned and trimmed and time to sew them onto the large square.  I cut my 7 x 4 1/2" strips and happily sewed away and ended up one strip short!  Uh Oh.  8 orphan 4 patches and no fabric left.  Re-doing the maths, the 7 strips should have been enough - what went wrong?

After tearing, truing and slicing off bits for mock-ups my main fabric ended up a tad shorter than 42" wide.   What to do???

A shift in attitude turns a disaster into a challenge.  There were lots of options once I gave it some thought.  I could use a different fabric from the collection and scatter the 8 'creative' blocks throughout the quilt to add interest (similar to what I did when I ran short of blue in Project 2).  Or I could unpick half the 4 patches and add them to a different fabric - it would all blend in quite nicely - the beauty of having lots of fabrics from the one collection.  Or I could make a new set of 4 patches, set them with a different fabric and make the quilt bigger!

I did, however, have a piece of the focus fabric in a different colourway - all greens.

I sewed the 8 orphan 4 patches to this fabric, then stuck them discreetly amongst the red/green blocks on the design wall.  They blended in beautifully and were barely noticeable.

I could get away with this I think

Hang on!  Only last week I did a workshop which involved colouring in on fabric.  Hmmmmm.  It's worth a shot!
Ok, so the colours aren't an exact match, but I think I'll get away with it.  Shhhhh - don't mention it and nobody will notice.

The coloured in blocks mixed in with the original blocks - I've coloured red, purple and pink bits - can you pick them out?

Many thanks to Helen Stubbings, for teaching me fabric colouring (and back-stitch) - the timing was perfect!

You can visit Helen's website HERE

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ten Days of Quiltmaking

No, I haven't started on the next project yet.  So what's been going on?  Has the student been slacking off, ditching the homework and hanging out at parties instead?  Actually no.  I've been working on something or other for the past 10 days since I last posted but don't seem to be getting anywhere fast. 

Preparation!  Behind every quilt is a load of prep work to be done which is rarely seen and hardly appreciated for the time it all takes.  So for the last week or so, I decided to document what I actually do in the sewing room when not working on an actual project from the book. 

I've included the NHP (Non Harriet Projects) which have been distracting me.  The trouble with being a new quilter, is you keep finding lots of interesting things you want to learn and want to make.  I seem to be hit from all sides with wonderful projects and techniques, ideas and want to learn all of them! 

Fabrics chosen, it was time to colour in some mock ups for the next project in the book.  There are five fabrics, but only 3 main colours.  How these fabrics are placed within the quilt can make a huge difference to the final look.  I mocked up 3 different settings

All the same but very different
 Next, I had to do a bit of shopping for an upcoming workshop - embroidery items which I don't own, some stationary bits and pieces and sandpaper.

After lunch, my neighbour Pauline called in and wanted to work on our crazy quilt.  We spent 4 hours making a patch.  The sewing part is quick, but as the patch is 'design as you go' lots of time is spent rummaging through scraps, laces, pictures, braids, ribbons etc. trying to find just the right piece.  Here's the result of a full afternoon's work. Pauline will add the embroidery then we'll both embellish with lots of interesting bits and pieces.

Just the beginning - lots more work to be done with this little patch

Crazy quilting is messy!  The sewing room was strewn with fabrics, boxes of lace and buttons, cutting tools etc.  I made a start on the clean up - at least I can see the table top!

In the evening I sewed a little of the binding on Metro Main street, but didn't get far with it.

The sewing room clean up continued - I can't work in a mess so needed to organise before going onto the next thing.

Time to mark the borders on the Cabin in the Cotton Remake.  I started marking the blocks too, but the blue marker was too hard to see - I'll need to use coloured chalk.  I find it best to mark as I go when using chalk, as it doesn't survive the basting and ditch stitching terribly well.

Making the borders fit is an art - I'm still learning!

Border marking done - time for pin basting.

Ho hum - at least I'm getting faster at doing this part

Started the ditch stitching and got about 1/4 done.

Called it quits after only getting this far

A bit more hand sewing on the Metro Main Street binding - this is going unusually slowly.

Completed the ditch stitching on Cabin in the Cotton.  The quilting machine is playing up, so I'll leave it alone for now.

The boring part is finished!

 Before beginning quilting, I always warm up on a sample.  Unfortunately, the design I can do pretty well on a small sample, doesn't go so well when working it on a quilt.  In Harriet's last comment Help from Harriet she suggested making a crib size practice piece.  Time to get to work!

Materials are expensive here in Oz - especially batting - so I pieced some batting and calico scraps together to make the practice sample.
Using Harriet's technique for piecing battings...........

..... the result is undetectable once sandwiched.

The calico I chopped into squares and added mis-matched borders - lots of room to play.  The finished size is roughly 60" x 40".

My quilting practice piece - sandwiched up and ready to go!

After this I had some work to do on the group project (which I can't blog about) and also an applique pattern to trace off.  I'm quite attracted to applique right now, so am trying a small project to practice on.

Table Runner and Journal Cover pattern by Deirdre from the Quilted Crow in Hobart

Pretty much a non-sewing day.  Headed into the city to drop off my quilting machine for adjustment.  As I don't get into the city very often I wandered around, bought some threads and printable fabric (for crazy quilting), met Hubby for coffee and thoroughly enjoyed the day.  Some more work on the  binding in the evening.

Another slack sewing day - caught up on domestic tasks instead.  I did however manage to cut the fabrics and gathered supplies for the workshop.  Set up the portable sewing machine, oiled and tested it and packed it ready for tomorrow (in the end didn't use the machine anyway).  Finally finished hand sewing the binding on Metro Main Street!

All set for tomorrow's workshop

This is what we'll be making

My quilting group - Tangled Web Quilters - have organised a workshop with Helen Stubbings.  Helen is going to teach us her Faux Applique method, which involves colouring in with pencils on fabric.  You can see Helen's award winning work here .  The piece we're going to make is called Dancing Daisies and Helen has given me permission to use photos of the workshop on my blog.

Colouring in!!!! 

Helen Stubbings (left) gives Roxy a hand

Suzanne starts the embroidery part.

Helen had to show me how to embroider a backstitch - embroidery is something I never learned to do.  I admit to really enjoying this workshop.  It's something different and I took a look at the samples Helen had of hand colouring wholecloths after machine quilting - the results are absolutely stunning and it's something I'd really like to try further down the track.  I purchased a couple of patterns from Helen - one of which is too advanced for me as I later found out - but the other one is a much simpler BOM which I think I can handle.

Time to wash Metro Main Street then block it on my dining table.  Yay - another one finished!  I also added the borders to my workshop project and fused it to Pelon, ready to finish the embroidery part.

Faux Applique - I think it takes more work than real applique does!

I had more work to do on the Tangled Web Quilter's project, which I didn't get finished the other day, but finally have it ready for the group next Thursday.

I can't really show much more than the scraps from the project!  Why are these projects so hush-hush anyway?

Did some more applique practice on the Pfaff and played around with trapunto - and yes, I managed to snip the 'quilt top' which was really only a piece of calico I was practising on.

Washed & finished - Metro Main Street gets put to its intended use - Anni approves!

A lovely morning spent selecting fabrics for my Helen Stubbings BOM, which arrived in my PO Box the day after I ordered it - speedy service there Helen!  This is not a machine quilting wholecloth pattern, but a pretty little pieced quilt with lots of Faux Applique.  A good way to practice the technique before embarking on the more ambitious project.  The BOM is for the pattern and instructions only - fabrics aren't included with this one which makes it an affordable BOM.

My choice of fabrics is very different from Helen's

Spent some time in the afternoon sorting out colours for the new project

Okay, it's not sewing - but all this will eventually end up as a quilt!

Did some embroidery in the evening - progress is slow!

Enough distractions - time to get back to work on the next QA project.  The colouring in mock up helped, but I needed to see the design with the fabrics - patterns on the fabrics can make as much a difference as colour placement does.

I cut some strips and made up some four patches to see the effect of the different combinations.  I think I'm looking for a very 'blendy' effect with these fabrics, rather than a clear pattern. 

Four 4 patches - Four choices

The colour of the sashings will make all the difference.  I tried lots of different combinations and ended up just being confused.

I don't think this combo will make the final cut

Viewing through block viewer helped me to see if I was getting the blended look I was after.  Taking a photo through a block viewer is pretty tricky - thanks for your help John!

Don't try this at home!

I still haven't decided on the final selection.  I'll sleep on it a bit - I plan to start real work on the project on Monday.

The only other quilt work was making a start on the Helen Stubbings BOM.  Colouring in is so relaxing!

I have a whole month to get this block finished

No sewing today - other stuff to do, although I'll probably work on the embroidery this evening.  This morning was more prep work - this time the blog photos.  These can take ages to do - especially sorting out which ones to use - then they need to be cropped, colour adjusted, re-sized and saved someplace I can find them.  Then of course, writing up the blog.  This blog has to be included in my sewing stuff - it's where I hand in my homework!

This afternoon I'll try to make a final decision on the fabric selections for the next Harriet project.  Does anyone else agonise over these sort of decisions as much as I do??

So in 10 days not one quilt made, nothing really completed (except for Metro Main Street which was pretty much finished anyway) mostly just lots and lots of prep work.  I don't think non-quilters have any idea how much work goes into a quilt, much of which is not done anywhere near a sewing machine or on the actual quilt.

My plans for the next week or so, is to pick up my quilting machine and get the Cabin in the Cotton Remake quilted, bound and finished.  Make a start on the next Harriet project - Four Patch Lattice and at least get the blocks made.  I have quilting group on Thursday to work on our project.  The evenings are good for any handwork and some more colouring in.  I want to squeeze in some applique work and I also have some ideas for Christmas gifts which can't wait much longer.  The pattern for a grandson's birthday quilt has arrived too - but his birthday is in January, so it's probably better to put this on hold than stress and do a bad job with it.  It's got lots of applique and I'd like more practice with this first.

Life as a quilting student is always full of new things, there is so much to do, so little time.  So if I am a little long between blog posts, you can be assured I am still working on something quilty - it's an obsession you know!