Quilter's Academy - Volume 2 - Sophomore Year

Vol 3 - Junior Year

Monday, January 31, 2011

Vol 2 - Project 7 - Card Trick - John's Quilt

January has been a month of birthdays, weddings and a funeral - trips interstate, lots of socialising and very little sewing.  After finishing off the bug quilt I took a little sewing break - actually to be honest, I kind of lost my sewing mojo there for a bit.  I have a quilt partially quilted and my plan was to finish that before moving onto this next project, but the mood just wasn't there.  I decided that piecing, although less fun than quilting, was what suited my mood - and also made John happy as he chose this quilt for himself months ago and is getting decidedly impatient!

John was instantly drawn to the Card Trick project as soon as I received the book and reserved it for his quilt. 
His next job was to select the fabrics.  He very quickly chose a black background then picked out 4 colours in brights for the blocks.  He does want to point out that he chose the brights-on-black combination long before Julie did for her quilt (Project 5 - Cabin in the Cotton - Julie's Quilt)!

Great selection John!

Now a more experienced quilter would probably have known that these fabrics are not right for this block design.  I know now!

I made and cut the strips and plonked them up un-sewn, on the design wall.  See what happens when these fabrics are made into the card trick block.

Either there is a lack of contrast in the colours or the patterns are blending together too much to get the full effect of the card trick block.

I also have another problem with these fabrics.  I only had just enough of the yellow and green hand dyes - and of course, in a senior moment, cut some of the strips to the wrong size, leaving me short.  Hmmmm.
My options were to leave the project until I could get some more fabric, or get creative.  I dived into my stash and came up with a couple of alternatives.............

Not bad - pretty close in fact.

I didn't have enough of the green (I only had a fat quarter) to re-do all the yellow and green strips, so I made an executive decision to mix in the alternate fabrics with the originals.  Having realised that the blocks weren't going to have the proper effect anyway, I was happy with the substitutes.  Here's what a mixed block will look like...........

No matter that the 'trick' of the block doesn't quite work - I like the fabrics and think the quilt will look fabulous anyway!  The important thing for me is that I understand how to make the block and if I do it again, I'll have a clue as to fabric selection for it. 

Up on the design wall I'm seeing that 'blending' effect which I like so much

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Austin's Quilt - (Non Harriet Project)

In the last few days prior to Christmas, there was a flurry of activity down in my sewing room while I desperately tried to finish Rita's Quilt in time.  It was done and delivered but it was a stress I didn't want to repeat in a hurry.

Well, I just did it again!  No sooner was Christmas over, than I turned to my grandson Austin's quilt which I'd started a couple of months ago.  The idea was that as a NHP, I'd work on it during my group quilting days once a week, and leave the QA quilts to work on at home.  I'd initially planned it for his birthday on January 8th, but quickly realised it wouldn't be finished.  So I arranged to deliver it to him on my next visit to the mainland - January 20th.  Uh Oh.  Three weeks to go and the blocks weren't even finished. 

I leave for Melbourne tomorrow - I finished the quilt today - talk about cutting things fine!

The quilt is called Snugly Bugly -a design by Amy Bradley.  It's bright and colourful and highly suitable for a four year old boy - what 4 year old doesn't love Bugs?

Although this design isn't from the QA books - I used all the techniques I'd learned from Harriet to put it together.  Despite what the pattern suggested, the quilt was made using all the knowledge I'd gained from the QA lessons - from truing fabrics, accurate cutting, adding sashings and cornerstones, getting the borders on straight, making the binding and of course the quilting.  I also referred frequently to Harriet's book 'Mastering Machine Applique' which helped immensely, particularly the chapter on blanket stitching.

My aim is to explore applique further and I found this quilt a good starting place.  Amy Bradley's patterns are exceptionally easy to work from and her applique instructions are clear and easy to follow, even for a beginner.  My hope is from here to start doing finer, more detailed applique work. 

I did have a bit of an oops - a rather large oops actually.  I bought the backing fabric mail order and when it arrived (a whole month after I ordered it), I decided I didn't like it.  I also found I didn't order enough of it!  With no time to find an alternative, I had to get a bit creative.

Hard to see in the photo, but the red backing fabric is printed with black & yellow bees.

I found a homespun in my stash which matched the yellow in the backing.  It looked pretty yech and very much like a desperate fix of an oops.  By appliqueing his name across the back it breaks it up a bit - an extra day's work which there really wasn't time for!

A frantic phone call to my ever patient neighbour Pauline brought some help with hand-sewing the binding.  Thank you Pauline - you're a treasure!  It got washed and dried successfully in record time.

Pauline calls it quits at around 10pm and yes, I'm a redhead again!

I used a Rayon batting for this quilt.  The main reason I chose Rayon was that it was on sale - less than half price and also because it's fire retardant, very thin and drapey.  With all that stiff applique, I wanted a very soft and pliable batting.  I bought a Queen size batt as the shrinkage rate for Rayon is quite high - around 5%.  I pre-washed the batting (another first for me) and it really did shrink quite a lot.  The finished Snugly Bugly quilt is 56" x 95" - the queen sized batt just fit lengthwise and I cut only 18" from the sides.
The batting shrunk a lot!
I must say that the Rayon batting was a dream to quilt. Even making the sandwich was made easier as the batting is thin enough to see through, allowing me to match all the layers easily.  It went through the sewing machine beautifully, easy to manipulate and squish into small spaces!  I definitely be using Rayon again.

A variety of quilting on this one - ditch stitching around all the sashing and borders, echo quilting around the applique, stippling on the top and bottom borders, a decorative stitch on the small middle border and stencil quilting on the green and outer borders.  Phew!

As soon as I'm back from Melbourne I'll be straight into the QA projects - my resolution to keep NHP's to a minimum this year certainly didn't last long!