Monday, March 16, 2009

guest rooms

    I leave tomorrow, on a trip to visit my best friend in Georgia. I'll be gone 10 days, and staying in her guest room. I've stayed in it before, and it's quite comfy.
    Since I've had traveling and guest rooms on my brain, I decided I couldn't leave without assembling at least one block for the quilt to go in the guest room in my house.

    How does it look? Besides sashing, which will be from yardage, the entire quilt top will be made from men's shirts. I just love plaids, so this whole concept of quilting with men's shirts fits my personality and my budget. This is a 15" block, and I've been sewing the components for it as leaders and enders. The blocks will be various colors, I cut up blue, green, brown, yellow, red, orange, white, black and cream colored shirts for it. I have all of the components done for 10 blocks, but still have a few more to do. Of course, I've also been waffling on size. I only cut enough for 12 blocks, but now I'm debating on cutting out four more blocks.
    I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to post again. Ironically enough, there is a quilt show in the town my friend lives in next weekend, so although I won't be sewing, I will be looking at some quilts. I had no idea there was going to be a quilt show there, it was just a happy coincidence.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Comfort quilt

    This is what I've been working on the past few days. Everything else got put on hold. One of my DH's coworkers found out they have cancer, and I wanted to get a quilt made before her first chemo treatment. First treatment is tomorrow, and I finished and delivered this today, so that's good. There are 40 blocks in the quilt, with the center rail being of each signed by a coworker.

    I was really impressed at how seriously the people at work took this, and there are some really sweet sentiments on the quilt. Not one person just signed their name. Everyone had a word of encouragement or a prayer for her. I feel blessed to have been involved in such a project.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

scrap quilt

   Here is the quilt I made that started with the leftover HST's from the last one. See those colored squares in the center of the black and white squares. Those were the HST's from the orphan block quilt. I know it wasn't much to start with, but I just went with it. My braided border came out a little wavy, but I think it will quilt out OK. With just a little tension on the edges, it does straighten out. I just got in too much of a hurry to finish this top, and I don't care enough about this little quilt to redo it. I am in a 'let's get some quick quilt tops made so I can practice on my quilting machine' mode.
    I have a bunch of pre-cut pieces just the right size for the braided borders. They are one of the sizes I save in my scrap user system. I'm making extra braid and I'm going to make a couple of lap size quilts with the braid in rows for the center, and a simple border. I'll have to slow down when I sew all those bias rows together, or maybe I'll just put the walking foot on my machine. I thought about doing that this time, and didn't. I should have. Live and learn. I had no problems at all with the last braided border I made, and I think it made me careless this time.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Orphan block quilt top

    Here is my newest top made from orphan blocks.

   I had rail blocks left from two different quilts. There weren't enough from either one to do anything with, and the colors were so different I wasn't sure I could put them together.  In the book I reviewed a couple of days ago, there was a quilt with rail blocks made into snowball blocks. I thought with  black and white as a unifying element, it might work to put these together. I did have to make one more rail block, but all my rail block orphans are used up in this quilt.
   Now when I make snowball blocks, I just can't resist those extra HST's made from double sewing the corners. On this quilt, I probably should have tossed them, because they are so small. In fact, to square them to a standard size, I'm trimming them to 1.5 inches. I didn't toss them, and they are now on their way to becoming another quilt.
    A couple of notes about this top, the corner fabrics are the same pattern. The black is the background fabric from the cat quilt, the white is the same pattern, but I bought it at a thrift store! The borders are opposites as well. The inner border is white with black dots. It doesn't blend in with the white corners near as much in person as in the picture. The outer border is black with white dots. The dotted fabrics are the basis for the next quilt top I'm making with the leftover HST's from this one. I'm just in a black and white mood I think. I have a couple of other black and white WHIMM's (Works Hidden In My Mind) in my head as well.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More quilting and a book review

   Here is another picture of my attempt at following a pantograph. This one is much harder than the other one. Hopefully you can at least tell they are leaves. I am still having a time trying to get the tension right. The bobbin thread keeps poking through on the top. I've loosened the top tension as much as I dare, so I think next I will have to try to alter the bobbin tension. I hate doing that!
    I just booked a trip to Georgia today. I leave in two weeks. I will have to prioritize what I get done before I leave. I think I'd like to get a couple more quilt tops done, and ready to practice on when I get back, rather than spend all my time on the quilting machine. I would really love to conquer the tension problem before I go though.

   Here is one of my new quilting books. It is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Sorry the picture is blurry. In case you can't read the title it is Making Scrap Quilts to Use It Up! by Lynne Edwards. I LOVE scrap quilts. They are far and away my personal favorite. This book has some traditional patterns along with some I've not seen before. One of the things I love about it is several of the quilts have more than one picture of that pattern completed. For example, one of the quilts shows the pattern done up in plaid, and another using florals. It really gives you a better feel of how a quilt will look using your scraps.  Some of them have a quilt done with a color-controlled pallette, and another just using value to sort the scraps.  There is a bag pattern in there, that would make up into great Christmas gifts.  I bought it from when they had their craft books on sale. They still sell it, as does amazon. On Amazon you can look inside and get a feel of whether this book would interest you. I didn't do a big comparison on price, if you are interested in adding it to your collection, I'll leave that up to you.

    It's funny, I've spent so much time playing with scraps lately, someone might think I have no yardage. I have LOTS of yardage, I just love my scraps. When I first started quilting, I never saved anything less than 2.5 inches square. Bonnie Hunter and her site got me past the fear of smaller pieces, and now I am starting to make string blocks, and piece with 1.5 inch squares. Some women save 3/4 inch squares, and I am not that obsessive yet. I do have a small plastic container with crumbs down to 1 inch. If I don't try making a crumb block soon, I'll ditch it. I am having fun with the strings though.
    Todays goal- finish sewing some orphan blocks into a quilt top. I added black and white corners to rail blocks left over from multiple quilts. The rail blocks didn't match at all, and the colors clashed badly. They needed a unifying element to make them work. I should be able to get that top finished today, but then I started playing with the cut-off HST's from that, and came up with another idea for those. I'm still sewing on the guest room quilt as leaders and enders, but I'm almost out of pieces. I think I'll make it bigger, so I need to cut four more blocks for it, plus all the extra blocks for my Double Delight. Hopefully I'll get all the cutting done by this weekend, maybe....
     BTW, for anyone wondering about the cat quilt, the pattern is called Kool Kats Kwilt by Patti Carey made for Northcott.

Monday, March 2, 2009

My first scribblings on the quilting machine

   Here is my first attempt at meandering. Not great, I know, but it's actually better than I expected. I am not good at drawing.

    Here is my first attempt at following a pantograph. It was a simple pattern, and I don't think it looks half bad. If it were on a busy quilt top instead of plain muslin, I think it would be OK.

     I already made a few beginner mistakes. Boy, did I learn not to leave the presser foot up! What a mess! I'm sure this won't be the last time I do that, but I had to get tweezers to dig all the clumps of thread out of the bobbin area.
     I am having a hard time figuring out the best way to advance the quilt. Most of the videos I've found online show how to advance the quilt with no machine attached. Not very helpful. Where are you supposed to put the machine when you're advancing the quilt? I successfully advanced the quilt with the machine to one side, and the needle and presser foot down. I don't know if that creates too much stress on the fabric, or could bend the needle, but it seemed most practical to try it that way. The first time I advanced the quilt, I just ran the machine off the side of the quilt, but that was a pain. 
    I am using different colored thread in the bobbin so I can see what the threads are doing. I am still getting the bottom thread dotting the top, even though I have the top tension almost all the way down. It's not that bad, and I can live with it. If the threads were the same color, I'm not even sure I would notice it.
    Since I'm just quilting on muslin right now, I am not sure how to load a real quilt. It didn't matter which direction the muslin faced when I loaded it.  I guess the worse case scenario is is I'll figure out I loaded it wrong when I go to put it on the take up bar. Re-pinning shouldn't be that big of a deal.
    I loaded my QuiltCad program on the computer, because I wanted to try making another pantograph to practice on. I have no idea how to use this program. I was hoping it would be more like PrintShop and be kind of intuitive, but not today anyway. It has a tutorial, so I'll have to find that and go through it. I don't know if I'm just scatterbrained today, or if I'm catching the cold the kids have, but the brain is not working too well.
     I have always read it takes 400 hours of practice to get any good at using your frame. I'm starting to think it will be more. I won't take 400 hours before I put a real quilt on it, I'm not that patient.  It's not just a matter of learning one skill. I need to learn to use the frame, a new machine, how the stitch regulator works and what adjusting it will do, new software, and free-motion design which I've never done. I have LOTS to learn, but it will be so rewarding once I learn.