Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nuts for Bolts

Have you ever bought a whole bolt of fabric? How about besides muslin or a solid? I have bought lots of bolts, and most people think I'm nuts. That could very well be, but you know what? At one time I had about 40 bolts of fabric, and I have very little of any of it left.

A few years ago I was making scrub tops on commission, and a lot of my stash was acquired at that time. Fortunately for me, there was a company selling off their complete inventory by the bolt on ebay around the same time. I got bolts of 100% cotton fabric for $10-25. I wouldn't bid over $25. Buying those bolts made me realize that bolts are not created equal. Some bolts had 25 yards of fabric, others just 8. HUGE difference! I always knew how much was on a bolt when I bid, it's just that prior to that I figured there was an industry standard. I didn't bid on every bolt that company was selling, and because I was bidding so low, I lost far more bids than I won. I figured I ended up with what I was supposed to have.

Today I was using one of the few bolts I have left. I was piecing a backing for a wedding quilt. When I make wedding quilts, my minimum size is 100x100 inches. I want it to fit whatever size bed the couple has. Depending on the pattern, I may end up with a center that's 100x100, which was the case today. After borders, the quilt is 112x112. A 108" extra wide backing wouldn't be large enough, and besides, I want to be working from stash as much as possible. I happened to have most of a bolt of a fabric that matched the quilt top very well. I'm not sure how big this bolt was when I got it, but I had used some fabric off of it previously.

This is what is left of that bolt after piecing the backing. I'm not even going to bother putting it on one of my small mini-bolts, I'm just going to cut it into strips and stick it in my strip drawers.
I saw an online question the other day from a new quilter asking how much fabric to buy for a backing. She did not mention what size quilt she was making. An experienced quilter answered that 7 yards was enough to back any sized quilt. Really? I needed a backing about 120" square, which is three lengths of 3 1/3 yards, so 10 yards of fabric. The Aussie quilt I made for DS the Elder, was 114" square, and I purchased a bolt of quilter's flannel to back it, but a bolt wasn't enough, because a bolt was only 8 yards. Because of shrinkage I actually ended up using almost 11 yards of fabric for his backing, and unfortunately, I ended up with two different dye lots, so one length is far lighter than the other two. Is buying by the bolt really unreasonable when I enjoy making king sized quilts? I don't think so.
If I were to buy bolts in the near future, which is unlikely, I'd probably buy bolts of solids. I like the look of a constant solid in my scrap quilts. Did you know there is a company making quilting solids completely in the USA? American grown cotton, woven and dyed all in the USA. Here is the link if you want to read about it
I looked around online, and there are a couple places selling fat quarter bundles of all the colors they have. That is really tempting. I'd love to have several bolts of solids to use when making scrap quilts, choosing which colors would be the hard part.
I might have as many as a half dozen fabrics in stash that currently have enough yardage to make king sized backings. For the most part, those days are coming to an end. I am really taking to making backings out of 10" finished squares, and that I'll be able to do for years. The trick for me is to piece the backing as leaders/enders while I'm working on the front. If I wait until the quilt top is finished, I don't always want to take the time to piece a backing. Sometimes I just want it done, and that's when I am most likely to go buy an extra wide backing. I'm trying to avoid buying backings, when I have a perfectly good stash, so adapting to what I've got is important.
I saw a discussion about pieced backings, and whether or not someone receiving a quilt as a gift would be OK with a pieced backing. One of my DSIL's, husband to DD#2 did not grow up around quilts, but the quilt I gave them as a wedding gift has a pieced backing, made of 10" finished squares. The other day, he and DD#2 were making the bed, and he suggested they flip the quilt over to show the other side, since I had gone to the trouble of making it reversible! I LOVE IT! It's OK to use what you've got.
I did add to stash a bit lately. I'm planning on making a dress-up trunk for the twins for their birthday in January, and I have few garment fabrics left. At a thrift shop I picked up some fabrics, turns out it was 14 yards, for $4.50 total. I got a few quilting cottons too while thrift shopping, for another $4. I may have a large stash, but I don't have an expensive one.

I can't show the wedding quilt I'm working on, now that the borders are on. The borders completely give away who it is for, and since I don't know who reads my blog, better safe than sorry. I am hoping to get it pin-basted tomorrow.

Check this photo out, it looks like quilter's toilet paper! Granny had a bunch of bricks cut out, so I decided to make a piano key border for the quilt from her last project. I haven't assembled the quilt yet, so I don't know the final measurements, so I just sewed all the pieces together in one long piece. It was getting unwieldy while pressing it, so I decided to wrap it around an empty toilet paper tube. It looks funny, but will keep it from getting wrinkled while it waits for me to go back to that project. I had piano key borders cut out for a couple of other quilts, whose centers are assembled. I sewed those into huge long borders too. I can easily unpick the seams where the borders need to end, but this at least got them together. I'm not worried about having too much border sewn. If I need to make a backing just a little bit wider, this could do the trick. If I add to them I could make another scrappy piano key border, or even a Chinese Coins quilt. I love piano key borders, especially on scrap quilts. Actually, I'm just enjoying pieced borders in general more and more. Why? Because they use up more scraps! Scraps I will always have in abundance. Not every quilt needs a pieced border, and sometimes I'm just too lazy or sick of a quilt to bother piecing a border, but overall, I am liking the pieced ones more all the time.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quilts for Baby Girls

I know several people pregnant right now, and a couple are having baby girls. I finished two baby girl quilts in the past few days.

I took these pics outside hoping the colors showed more true, but these are way off. They all have a blue cast that isn't there in person, and the inner border and binding are both a pretty butter yellow and that isn't showing right at all.

This is the quilt that made itself. I had no plans to make it, but I had run out of leaders/enders, and made these nine patches while working on other quilts. Before I knew it the quilt top was done!

Since the quilt top was a simple one, I decided to add something in the quilting. I traced around some heart shaped cookie cutters (I only keep my cookie cutters because of quilting, never plan on baking with them again) and then stippled around that, making the hearts puff. It's not perfect, but I doubt the baby will care. These two baby quilts were my first attempts at continuous curves, and I can definitely see myself doing that again.
I still consider myself new at FMQ, but I am getting a little more adventurous, even if my quilting is still wobbly. I am having more fun with it now, and stressing less. I don't plan on showing my quilts, I just want them to be used, so wobbly quilting is OK for that.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More Finishes!

It's been busy around here. We had a houseful of company for over a week, And DH took 10 days off of work, but now everything is back to normal.

Before my company arrived, I finished Mr. J's quilt.

All of the novelty fabrics are things with wheels, and the border fabric black chevrons? Tire tracks! There are two squares with each novelty fabric, so he will be able to do a matching game with the quilt. Mr. J's birthday is coming up next week, and he'll be two.

Yesterday I finished the quilt for the grandbaby on the way!

It was feeling like a modern quilt to me, so I skipped a border entirely, and just opted for a gray binding. The fishbowl quilt and these two quilts now need to be packed up and shipped to South Africa. Baby will come mid-September, and international mail is not the speediest, so I need to get these on the way.
I finished another baby quilt today, and I hope to finish another baby quilt tomorrow. So many babies on the way!!!
After the baby quilts are finished, I'll be back to wedding quilts. I need to assemble the wedding quilt for the October wedding, and for the December wedding, I've completely changed my mind. I was going to make a quilt of my own design for the December wedding, but since it's not even cut out, and I have other projects I'd like to work on, I decided to just finish a UFO for that wedding gift instead. The UFO I decided to use, has all the blocks and sashing pieced, and just needs to be assembled and quilted.
I knew I'd have a bunch of finishes right in a row, because of how I was working. I'm up to seven finishes for 2014, with hopefully another finish tomorrow. I need three more finishes for gifts this year (including the baby quilt I'm working on tomorrow), so I'm sure have at least ten finishes for the year. I have several other projects I'd like to work on this year, so depending on time availability, I may have several more than that. I am happy with my yearly progress to date.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Couple Finishes and a Birthday

Here is DS the Elder's quilt, all finished and ready to go home with him. It's made from Australian Aboriginal fabrics, which I chose because he loved the three months he spent in Australia so much. This quilt is HUGE, has wool batting and flannel backing and I still managed to quilt it on my Bernina 440! A sit down long arm would be awesome, but not in the budget anytime soon. The pattern is Garden Path and can be found here.

Here is Mr. Z's fishbowl quilt. I just drafted a pattern for this to use with the 6" finished squares I had on hand. I try to make most of my novelty quilts with that size square, so I re-draft patterns as necessary.  He is my oldest grandson, and he lives in South Africa. I got to talk to him yesterday on Skype, and he is excited to get his sea quilt, but now he wants a dinosaur quilt too :-) He is so much fun to talk to! He'll be five later this month. I'm working on his little brother's car quilt now.

One of the reasons I got to Skype yesterday with DD#1's family is it was my birthday! Mr. Z sang me "Happy Birthday", and it was so sweet! So glad we live in the internet age when family is so far away.

DH bought me flowers, a bouquet of orange roses and a mixed bouquet of mostly orange flowers. I put them in the same vase because I liked the mixture.

I've been wanting to try quilting on a vintage machine. I already do most of my piecing on vintage machines. I was doing some reading online, about which vintage machines are best for quilting, and the Singer 15-91 kept coming up. They are in pretty high demand so the prices are higher. I found out the Singer 15-125 is the same machine internally, but has an updated look and the body is aluminum instead of cast iron. It's hard to see in this photo, but it's a pale green with pea green accents. It needs to be cleaned up, but it looks like it will be up to sewing for quite a long time to come. I won this one on ebay for a great price, and it was very well packaged.

The Singer 15-125 only had one owner, and they had saved the original sales receipt! I am so glad they sent it with the machine! Originally purchased September 2, 1958 for $164.50 before discounts. They got a church discount, how cool is that? The buttonholer they bought at the same time? Yeah, they sent that too! I have the slide plate for the machine, but it is cracked so I already ordered another. The machine needs a good cleaning, but DH wants to drop is by the Sew and Vac shop to check the electrical anyway. The wiring looks good to me, but he'd rather be safe than sorry. Now I have a new vintage machine for my birthday too!