Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Friday, October 29, 2010

Vol 2 - Project 5.5 - Cabin In The Cotton - Remake

Cabin in the Cotton (Take 2) came about because I didn't quite understand the instructions the first time around.  Some help from Carrie showed me where I went wrong, so I wanted to have another go and do it correctly.

All went well until I got the the long sashings, the same place I got bamboozled the first time.  For Julie's quilt I didn't trim off the tops of the side setting triangles before adding the long sashings which caused me all sorts of angst.  Remember this dilemma?

Okay, we got that one sorted and this time, I trimmed off the side setting triangles after adding them to the rows.  Time to cut the long sashings.  Putting it all together on the design wall, I found myself confused again.  Gaps - I have gaps!

Those gaps were an unexpected surprise!

According to the formula in the book, the long sashings are cut to the length of the rows, not taking into account the tops of the trimmed side triangles - which means gaps at the end of the rows. 

The instructions call for the long sashings to be cut to the end of the row only

I fired off another panicky email to a very patient Carrie, who replied that yes, that's exactly the way it's supposed to look.  The sides are to be trimmed back to the mini log blocks and the binding put on right next to them.  This makes blocks appear to 'float' on the background.  However, if you want to add a border or just want a different look, it's perfectly okay to cut the sashings longer.  You can read Carrie's full explanation here -

With longer sashings - no gaps!

Phew - glad we got that sorted!  I had planned a border for this quilt, so I went for the longer sashings, which enabled me to trim out to 1 inch beyond the mini logs.

Trimming back the sides.
 Squaring off the corners

Working with white fabric makes lining up the sashings easy-peasy - you can see them!

I've added 2 borders - a 1 inch inner frame in red, to match the red block centres and a wide white border.  I've planned a cable/feather quilt design for the outer border, which needs at least 7" so  I've cut the border to 10" and it looks huge and out of proportion at this stage.

I'm very pleased I made this quilt again - happy that I now understand how it is supposed to come together and happy that I managed to put it together this time without mistakes!  Now I know of 3 different ways to put this quilt top together - the (roundabout) way I did it with Julie's quilt, or cutting the sashing shorter and trimming right back, or cutting the sashings longer and adding a border.  All this is very important for a beginner to understand and a valuable lesson for me. 

So a very worthwhile project and I actually get to keep this one (although my next-door neighbour loves it, so it may yet find a new home) - shhhh.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vol 2 - Project 3 - Metro Main Street - Quilting

Harriet has quilting suggestions for each of the quilts in the book and I always take a look at these.  Mostly I adapt the suggested design, either because I have something else in mind, or I don't have the stencils Harriet used.  This time I lucked out, and have quilted this top almost exactly as suggested.  The only change I made was to the side triangle design, which was extended to cover the first border.  The inner border on Harriet's quilt was smaller and quilted with a single line of stitching.

Twisted Petal in the nine patch blocks and triangles, a simple grid for the triple rail blocks and Pumpkin Seed Bar for the border.  I've used Matilda's Own cotton batting, a mottled yellow backing, Gutterman cotton variegated yellow thread for the blocks and in the bobbin, and Coats & Clark Star cotton thread for the border.  Harriet suggests in her book to give yourself a challenge and try quilting on solid fabrics - looking at the results I don't think I'm ready for this yet!

The Twisted Petal stencil is a perfect fit for the block

Wonky Quilting

Borders - the side triangle design has been extended over the inner border

Quilting is done!

I must admit to getting very frustrated with quilting.  I've been doing free motion for around nine months now and am unhappy with my slow progress.  I should be doing these simple designs perfectly by now, but my quilting is still very wonky.

Uneven stitches, wiggly lines, messy stops and starts are basics I can't seem to overcome.  My excuse is that I'm using an unfamiliar machine but to be honest these are issues I've had all the way through .  After a day of frustration, I pulled out my quilting books and re-read the basics.  Ho-oh! it seems I've been getting sloppy.  My posture was poor, my hands flat and my seat too low for a start.  How fast we develop bad habits - it's no wonder I'm having problems.  Simply changing the way I was holding the quilt under the needle made a big difference.

 A little lump on the back every time I stop or pause

Uneven stitching, sloppy starts, crooked lines

Just the binding to do on this one and the quilting is up to date, so it's back to piecing for me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vol 2 - Project 2 - Nine Patch On Point (Bryce's Quilt) - Quilting

I took out this quilt a couple of times and auditioned quilting designs for it.  None of the stencils I had seemed to be right and I wasn't inspired by any designs from books etc.  What to quilt for a child's quilt?  Finally I settled on simply quilting his name into it.

I found a suitable font - it needed to be rounded and simple, not pointy.  Bryce's name has 5 letters but I had 6 squares across and down - so an exclamation mark was added (ok, not very original but it worked for me).

The letters were traced onto quilting paper, as I'd already sandwiched and ditch stitched.  To help make the words stand out, I used coloured thread - yellow, brown, red, green, purple and blue.

The quilting went quite quickly as the letters were simple to do but they were hard to see, even with the coloured thread.

Hmmm, not quite the result I was after.  To make the words stand out, some stippling was in order.

The letters are outlined in pen so I could see the edges easily

That's better - and I like the texture, the dirt looks sort of rocky

I'd recently purchased a pair of quilting gloves.  I've always quilted bare-handed previously, but thought I'd give them a shot.  Well, they certainly did the trick, I had more control but for some inexplicable reason I tended to slow down while wearing them and my stitches got huge.  At first I was puzzled as to what was happening, but I removed the gloves and my stitches got back to normal.  How odd.

I must admit to being a little wary about using quilting aids anyway.  Don't get me wrong, I love gadgets and have a nice collection of handy little helpers, but for free motion quilting I prefer to go 'naked'.  My main reason for this is a concern about being dependant on them.  What if I loved my gadgets then found I couldn't quilt unless I used them?  What if I lost them or damaged them?  I'm pretty good at losing, breaking and forgetting things.  I've been pondering a Super Slider, but for the same reason am reluctant to get one in case I love it.

Anyway, stippling.  I decided I didn't want the stippling too small, just small enough to make the letters pop out - otherwise it'd take forever to finish.  I started out that way but found my stippling to be getting smaller and loopier.  I was trying to make my stippling look like some picture I'd seen, but it wasn't happening.

Then I remembered something Harriet had written in Heirloom Machine Quilting - that stippling is like handwriting and that everyone's is unique.  I stopped fighting my natural style and allowed the stippling to become small and loopy.  Funnily enough the work got faster!  Interestingly, I also tried out the gloves again and found wearing them for this sort of work is great with no stitch length problems.  So for me, quilting gloves work better for free-style than they do for pre-drawn designs.  How weird.


The borders were kept simple with a small pinwheel design. 

The binding is on and waiting to be hand-stitched.  I can't wait to see how the lettering looks after washing and shrinking. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Vol 2 - Project 1 - The Sampler - Finishing

I finally got around to finishing the little sampler which was started as the first project in Vol 1.  The quilting was a bit experimental on this one where I tried out new stencils and a mixture of feed dogs up and free motion.

The stencils I chose were purchased on my trip to the mainland a little while back- simple lines which fitted nicely onto the centre panel and scallops for the sides.  The nine-patches were gridded.

Because the sampler is quite small, I quilted the centre lines with feed dogs up, pivoting as needed.  I got a bit lost on this one, missing lines here and there while trying to find an efficient continuous line to follow.  In the end, I decided I didn't like the result much - it's rather boring and doesn't leave a lot of texture.  One to keep in mind though when texture is not wanted.

Floyd supervises the marking stage

The scallops were interesting to do.  This is the same stencil I started marking on Julie's quilt before I changed my mind.  Seeing the finished results, I'm glad I did.  Two of the borders were quilted with feed dogs up and two of them free motion.  Free motion was much faster, although wonkier - and after washing it's not that easy to tell which is which.

One is free-motion, one is not.  

In this book, Harriet gives us another way to sew binding strips together.  Previously we had to cut each end at a 45 degree angle and stitch - I found getting the edges even with this method a bit hit & miss (missing more often than hitting).

This time the ends are left square, sewn then trimmed back later.  Much easier.

Marking the bottom of the top strip helps get that sewing on the right angle.

The results are pretty much invisible

Of course it doesn't always work!  Oops. 

I found that marking the bottom edge of the top strip keeps everything aligned (as seen in the first picture).  As I get more experienced, I should be able to just eyeball it.

Harriet also shows us a new way to join the ends of the bindings when stitching to the quilt top, but i forgot to take pictures, so another time for that.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Vol 2 - Project 5 - Cabin in the Cotton - Julie's Quilt - Quilting

Julie received her quilt yesterday - she's very happy with it.  I did tell her that there's plenty of errors in this quilt, but if she doesn't look for them, she won't notice them! 

I ended up with very simple quilting for this top.  I started marking scallops (Julie's Rainbows), but even with only marking every second curve from the stencil, I could see that there was going to be way too much texture, which wasn't going to suit this design.

So after marking half of the top, I changed my mind and decided on a very simple grid instead.

The blocks are quilted diagonally with invisible nylon and the sashings with a colourful variegated thread.  The binding is scrappy, made from left-over fabrics.

Julie's Quilt

It looks pretty funky from the back!

Final approval from Ollie

Friday, October 15, 2010

Checking In

Hello everyone.  Just a quick post to let you all know I'm still here and still plodding along.  I've been a little 'off' recently - not ill enough to stay in bed and rest, but enough to feel a bit lost and disorganised.  I've been doing a bit of this and a bit of that, jumping around from one thing to another.

I've managed to finish off a couple of things.....  Julie's Quilt is quilted, washed (successfully...phew) and bound and will be delivered to her this weekend.  Pics to come later.

The Sampler is quilted and awaiting the binding to be sewn down ...........

I'm part-way through quilting Bryce's Quilt - the grids on the 9-Patches are done and am now pondering with an idea for the remaining squares..........more to come later.

The Cabin in the Cotton Re-make is ready for construction and has been sitting on my design wall for a couple of weeks now - it's a bit further along than this pic - the side triangles are on and all I need to do is sew on the long sashings.and .........oh yes! I have a proper design wall!

 The design curtain wasn't working - if I didn't use pins the blocks would fall off and using pins is really not how a design wall is supposed to work.  It was easier to use the floor as that's where the blocks ended up anyway. 

Hubby John put this portable wall together for me.  We found some 'Soft Board' at the hardware - it's like a modern version of the old Caneite stuff we used as pin board in school.  We bought 2 sheets of the Soft Board and John set them into a timber frame so there was no flexing of the boards.  We then stapled cotton fleece over the top and voila!  The wall is portable (but a bit heavy and awkward to move around too often) and has rubber stoppers on the bottom, so I can lean it and it stays put.  Anyway, it works a treat and I love it!  So very, very cool to use and makes a huge difference with quilt construction.  I've put it in front of one of the windows (because if you remember, there are more windows than walls in this room) - I've lost a bit of light, but it's totally worth it.

Oh, I've also been working on a group project with the Tangled Web Quilters (TWQ) - I can't say much about it (all very hush, hush you know), but it has caused me same angst, as it involves processes I'm not familiar with.  I'm learning though and the girls are very patient in answering my questions and helping to sort out my little problems with it.

A bit more work on the Crazy Patches and some playing around with fabrics for the next project has taken up some more time as well as slow progress on the Hexagons.  The TWQ joined up with another quilting group a couple of weeks back and having the hexies on hand to grab and go, is great when you can't haul your machine along. 

I want to finish up all the little left-overs before moving on - which means 1 quilt top to finish, then 2 1/2 quilts to quilt and more work on the TWQ project.  There are also some ideas for Christmas gifts floating around in my head, so it may be a while before I move onto the next project.

I've been too disorganised to blog lately, but am slowly getting it together - hopefully next week will see me back to my old self!

Lesley XXX