Monday, December 26, 2016

Boy's Charity Quilt #2 and #3

Wow, it's amazing what you can get done when you can't get to sleep.  My nocturnal sewing is a nice time to relax and get settled down enough to get back to sleep.  Well, mostly.  Sometimes I get jazzed up again and don't get sleepy for hours.

So here's the two quilt tops I made over the course of one day and one slightly sleepless night.  These are part of the 8 boy's quilt tops that I plan to make over December for the charity donations from our quilt guild.

I hope you like them.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Boy's Charity Quilt #1

I finished sewing the first of the boy's charity quilts that I'm making this holiday season.  In an earlier post, I showed the pile of fabrics that were given to me by the comfort quilts group of Clark County Quilters.  They gave me enough fabric to sew at least 8 quilts for boys.

It's been a while since I sewed half square triangles and cut things to size.  Most of the time recently, I've been using a more modern style of intuitive and free form sewing, then trimming to size.  So it felt a little odd to go back to a pattern, cutting things to the exact size and then doing exact sewing.  I guess this is good for me once in a while-- that is getting back to the basics.

Anyway, it gave me a nice feeling to sew this quilt top and think about what boy  might get it as his quilt.  Only 7 more to go this season.

The quilt is 51" x 64" and it will be machine quilted.

I hope you like it!

Boy's Charity quilt

Monday, December 12, 2016

Wool Batting

I decided to use wool batting for my contemporary quilt, since I had heard that so many competition quilters use it.  It seemed really thick and bouncy to me, but I decided to go ahead and give it a try.  I don't think this was the type of quilt that wool was designed for.  I think it would work a lot better for quilters that want to achieve some kind of loft in a curvy, flowery, feathery quilt that looks like it was stuffed.  But this straight line type of quilting just makes it look like a puffy winter jacket.  My take on it anyway.

I started out thinking I would only do vertical lines, but then changed my mind and decided to put lines both directions and slant them to match the edges of the stripes.  However, somewhere along the way I got another brilliant idea to do the center differently.

All I can say is, it's done and I'm glad that I did it, but I don't like the puffy wool at all in this quilt.  I had to put twice as many rows in the quilt than I had originally planned to try to get it flattened.

Powerline #1

So, every quilt has a story, and every exercise teaches us something new.  How about your quilts and your processes?  Learning or trying anything new?  I hope so!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Contemporary Quilt #1

I've made my first contemporary quilt based on the techniques I learned in Nancy Crow's class.  I have added a few other tips that I'll show you in this post.

I made tons of strip pieced fabrics in the class, and the one that I liked the best by far was the largest and most time consuming.  It took almost 5 hours to piece it, and it ended up being about 1-1/2 yards long.  I also liked it because, of course, I put in a lot of my favorite color, which is lime green and it's neighbors.  I originally cut two 8" pieces from this strip set and used them in columns in my class sample.  But, I wasn't so sure about my wonky sewing in the class, and I thought that the top was too gaudy.  After I got home, I ripped out the stitching between the columns and released these pieces.

Strip set at the top

The gaudy quilt top that I tore apart

While watching TV one night, I quickly sketched up 30 designs that could utilize these strips.  This is quilt #1 from my ideas and it uses only the strips from that huge piece.

Some of the sketches
I laid out the edges of a 48" x 60" quilt on my design wall with 4 picture frame mat corners.  (You can do this better as Nancy Crow suggested with 1/4" strips of black fabric.) Then I positioned the strips to closely match my sketch.

This layout required lots of funny shapes for the background.  So here's my tips on how to cut and sew these odd shapes.

Tip #1
 Drape the background fabric over the strips trying to line up the outside corners with the grain of the fabric.  Pin 1" inside the overlap between the background and the strip.  It is relatively easy to see the edge of the strips on a design wall, so place pins 1" from this line.  Then take the background piece to your cutting table and mark the line, straightening it out with your longest ruler.  Mark this line with a chalk pencil.  Then cut it out on the lines.  This gives you puzzle pieces with a generous seam allowance.  Place these puzzle pieces of background back on the design wall.  Note:  leave plenty of extra fabric at the edges and don't try to cut them exactly to fit within the quilt perimeters.

Fabric showing pinning 

chalk line straightens out the pinned line

Tip #2
Sew the pieces to one side of one strip at a time with a walking foot.  Then press and put back in place on the design wall.  The walking foot helps to keep the edges of the strips nice and straight.  A regular presser foot tends to push the top layer, so you might end up with stripes that look curved at the edges.

Background pieces pinned in place.  

Tip #3
Y seams.  Although it looks like there were lots of Y seams in this quilt, I didn't have to sew any.  If you sew pieces of the quilt into larger chunks, similar to the method you might use for foundation piecing, you will just be sewing straight lines.  In this quilt, there were 4 major construction lines running from left to right (somewhat horizontally), and each of those was broken down into 2 minor seams from top to bottom (somewhat vertically).   Where the strips overlapped, I cut the bottom one down the middle so that I would be able to avoid the Y seams.

Tip #4
After all of the 3 chunks are sewn and placed back on the design wall, use a long ruler to line up the somewhat vertical strip edges.  Then, using a chalk pencil, lightly draw the edge of the strip on the background fabric where it meets the somewhat horizontal strip.  Turn under 1/4" on the strips and line this up 1/4" away from your drawn line.  Pin very near to the edge of the fold.  Take your top to your large table.  Carefully flip right sides together and re-pin.  Only do one seam at a time!

Tip #5
Press the seam, trim if necessary, and put back on the design wall.  Make sure to keep smoothing it out so you won't end up with tucks.  Then systematically sew all the pieces together, making sure that you're keeping your piece flat and aligned.  It helps tremendously to use your design wall or large design table to get this right.  You can take tucks later if you have to, but you can avoid most of them if you carefully sew, press, smooth out, and mark the next seam.

Tip #6
Using your corners or black strips, remeasure for the size of the quilt you want and cut off all the outside edges leaving 2" overhang.  Note:  You can cut your quilt to any size at this point, and it may end up slightly smaller or slightly larger than you originally intended.  The 2" overhang is to help quilt to the edges, and have enough to turn to the backside for the facing finish.

Contemporary Quilt #1 top, before quilting

I plan to quilt this in the contemporary style of straight stitches down the whole piece, leaving a scant 1/4" between the rows.  That will take some time, but will look very modern when it's done.

I hope you like it and can use the tips!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Charity Quilts

Our quilt guild makes and donates a lot of quilt to charitable organizations.  Some people only make quilts for others in need, and rarely make quilts for themselves.  We are blessed by all of these wonderful women.  We are also blessed with donations of fabric and supplies, and are super lucky to have a person who is willing to store all this in her home and open it up for sewing days.

I participated in one of those sewing days recently and was amazed at how hard all of the women worked for the whole day!  I was also amazed at how large our stash has grown.  So I volunteered to take a big bag of boys' themed fabrics and make some quilt tops at my house.

My granddaughter helped me sort and match up fabrics and we ended up with 8 quilt piles.  There is still more to go, but this will keep me quite busy for a while.

I think there are 8 boys who will like these quilts.  What do you think?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Practice Quilt

I took some advice from Jamie Wallen and had a practice quilt top basted by a local long arm quilter. He told us to get a queen sized or larger piece made with plain old white top and backing and suggested that we use nicer material (not muslin) so that it more closely resemble the feel of a real quilt top.  He told us to get a long arm quilter to quilt it with really bad tension (so that you could pull out the basting stitches) and to use long stitch length and minimal quilting.  So a local long arm quilter did this for me.  Here is a picture of part of it:

Then he told us to cut it up and use it for practicing quilt designs right before we want to do it on a quilt.  He also advised us to use this as a  test piece to get our stitch tension perfect.  A lot of long arm quilters run the machine off the edges of the quilt top and practice in the batting and backing.  If you have a long arm machine, he suggests that you cut it up into long strips that you can mount on the side of the quilt, then use this strip to do your test stitches.

Since I have a domestic machine and now also use a sit down long arm, he suggested to me that I cut it into large pieces instead of strips.  I've already been using a separate test piece for years to get the tension adjusted every time I change threads on my domestic.  But it does take a little longer to get the tension just right on the long arm.  So I'm glad to have this new piece to cut up and use.  (I just threw away a piece that was so sewn over I couldn't tell where the stitches were. ) Here's how the test piece looks with practice stitches to get the tension right.  (For those of you who look closely, you'll notice that in this picture the test piece is actually not basted by machine, but by spray basting.  You get the idea though).

I hope you can find a long arm quilter to baste your quilts if you are a sit down quilter.  It's pretty inexpensive and will really help you quilt a flatter quilt.  

Monday, November 14, 2016

Something's Fishy

My husband loves to fish.  It's as much of a passion for him as quilting is for me.  Last April I bought a couple of yards of fish themed fabric to make him a quilt.  I finally pulled it out of the stash and got working on it.  I'm glad to be working on something that will bring him some joy and comfort.  I don't want to tell all that is going on, but let me just say that we got some bad news about his health in June.

Something's Fishy by Joanne Adams Roth

Here's a picture of the fabric before I cut it apart and after it was cut into separate pictures:

I had a general idea that I would place the pictures in vertical rows, with a background that was earthy and watery.  I pulled out matching fabrics and did some free form curved piecing, inserting a piece of fabric here and there.  Then, I realized I didn't want to cut these all apart to piece in the pictures.  So fusing was the option I decided upon.

Here is a progress picture.  You can see that I pieced the center panel, fused down two rows, then kept adding rows to the right and left.  I tried to match up the rows, but didn't care that they didn't match perfectly, since the overall quilt was going to have a choppy feeling anyway.

I'm showing you how I piece the curvy pieces together with a 1/8" seam.  This is my version of what I have been taught by other teachers.  I cut the gentle curve with both pieces right sides up, then toss out the trimmings.  Most teachers tell you to grab both pieces and gently line up the edges as you sew, and let the length just end up where it wants to.  I find that this method gives me a piece that doesn't lay flat when I'm done.  So my addition is to start by adding pins every 4-5" inches to keep the pieces somewhat in line.  This really helps if the curve is deep.

Then I put the pieces right sides together and match up the pins.  I don't try to match up the entire seam; this would take too much time.

I take it to the sewing machine and while holding the pin and the top flat, but not tight, I start to sew the 1/8" seam.  When I need to push the top piece over to meet the bottom piece and use my finger to gently push it over.  When I need to pull the top piece back, I gently pull it back.  All the time, I keep holding it flat and even to the next pin.  This way, I only have to contend with about 4" at a time.  Here are a couple of pictures showing the gently push and pull on the top piece.

I finished the quilt and presented it to my husband in the picture below.  Looks happy, don't you think?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Nancy Crow workshop in Ohio

A friend and I went to the first week of Nancy Crow's workshop series in Ohio. This one was all about strip piecing to make your base fabric, then using that base fabric to compose a quilt.  I had to purchase over 50 yards of fabric for this class and ship it ahead of time.  I also had to bring just about everything else I owned, and rent some more stuff on the other end.  This was not a class for lightweights!  Serious quilters only!  Well, you all know by now that I am a serious quilter.

Nancy Crow has been a nationally known and recognized leader and early innovator of the contemporary quilt movement, with several books, awards, shows and devoted followers.  She was one of the founders of Quilt National held at the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio back in 1979.  It was a real treat to be able to study under her tutelage at her fabulous barn in central Ohio.  As she said to all of us, "You're not getting any younger and neither am I".  So it was high time to take a class.

I signed up for only one week, but many people signed up for 2 weeks this time, and have signed up for other classes in the spring and fall of 2017.  Many people have studied with Nancy for three or more years.  And they are all excellent contemporary quilters.  So she knows her stuff.

I learned a lot, sewed from sun up to sun down and then a few more hours past that, ate some fabulous meals, and made a couple of pieces that may or may not get finished.  It was all about learning the process, not trying to make an heirloom quilt.

Here is my black and white piece.  My color piece needs some more work.

Black and White Study by Joanne Adams Roth

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Dairy Barn, Athens, Ohio

My friend and I went to The Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio to see a contemporary quilt show entitled, "Mastery - Sustaining Momentum".  It was a trip that I had wanted to take for a long time, but never quite got to Ohio.  Since we were already there to take a class from Nancy Crow, we made the drive down.

The Dairy Barn is an old converted Barn near the college campus in Athens.  It has been the location for Quilt National since 1979.   It is the premier location for contemporary quilt exhibits.

This show was curated by Nancy Crow and includes 3 large works by each artist.  One of our local friends was invited to participate in the show, so we had an extra special reason to catch the exhibit while we were there.  No pictures are allowed in the exhibit, so I can't post any to show you, but there are YouTube videos of all of the quilters explaining their process and showing their quilts.  Get over there and have a look.  Just search on "Mastery Sustaining Momentum The Dairy Barn" or try this link Mastery Sustaining Momentum and they should all come up.

So here is a picture of The Dairy Barn from outside.   Lovely, don't you think?

The Dairy Barn

Monday, October 24, 2016

Testing rulers and quilting techniques on a charity quilt

I made a quilt  top while we were traveling in our trailer this summer.  I loved the quilt top when it was done, but just don't need another quilt to store in the closet.  So I decided to quilt it and offer it to our guild for a charity auction.  I'm sorry that this picture is so bad.  It actually is quite perky and sweet.
Modern Charity Quilt

When it was time to quilt it, I had a newly acquired  set of quilting rulers and had watched a few more YouTube videos on quilt designs.  This quilt seemed like a good spot to do some practicing.

I first stitched in the ditch around all of the inside borders with my new straight edge ruler.  It's been designed just for ditch work, and this made the stitching go so much faster and stayed straight.  I now know whey stitching in the ditch is so hard for people with a long arm.  Without pressure on the hopping foot, like you would have on a sewing machine, it's very hard to keep everything right on the money.  But the ruler, for sure, is very helpful.

Next I did a bunch of free form stitching to try to get the hang of the stitch regulator.  I varied the stopping (or coasting) speed, and decided I liked it set pretty fast - at 300.  I think you'd have to be a very slow quilter (which I am NOT) or a beginner to sew with zero or a low starting speed.  The faster speed does give you a few stitches in place when you stop to reposition your hands, so this will be an ongoing lesson.

Then I used my inside ruler to put some circles in the outside border.  This ruler is a blast to use and I love how fast it is to do small circles.

I hope you continually try out new quilting motifs and gadgets too!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Basting on the Design Wall

I have often said that I haven't invented much in the quilting world, and this is another one of those great ideas that someone else showed me how to do.  I think it was on a quilting show, but it's been so many years now, that I can't remember who the originator was.  Leave me a comment if  you know!

I use my design wall to spray baste most of my quilts now.  It's so much better than crawling around on the floor, running around a huge table, or hand basting on a full out frame.  The only ones that I don't do are the ones that I send out for long arm quilting (because they don't need to be basted).

OK, so here's how it's done.  Put up your backing and smooth it out on the design wall - wrong side facing you.  Pin it at the top and in a few places down the side.  Next place your batting on top of the backing and smooth it out.  Finally, put up your quilt top and  square it up to the backing.  Smooth this layer out.  Then put in pins at the vertical midpoint, spacing them about 4-5" apart.  It's hard to see the pins in this picture - they're half way down from the top. 

Place some paper at the bottom of the design wall to catch the over-spray.  I use freezer paper and save it for the next time.  If you're concerned about getting the spray on your design wall, pin some newspaper around the edges.  (I don't do this step anymore, and am careful not to spray too close to the edge).

Keeping the pins at the top in the backing, drop the top half of the quilt and the batting.  The pins that you placed at the midpoint will hold these layers suspended.  Spray basting spray on the top half of the backing.  Carefully smooth back up the batting, starting at the center and working it out towards the edges and corners.  Spray the top half of the batting, then carefully smooth up the quilt top.  Since the basting spray is temporary - like a sticky note - you can pull up and reposition the batting and/or top to remove all wrinkles.  

Next, pull up the quilt top and batting from the lower half and put in a few pins to hold them up.  Spray the backing,  then smooth down the batting.  Spray the backing, then smooth down the quilt top. 

Remove all the pins, and take the quilt sandwich off the design wall.  Give it a light pressing on both sides.  If the quilt is somewhat large, I will either add some safety pins, or I will machine baste the quilt with dissolving thread.  Now you're ready to do the quilting!   

It's such a fast technique. I hope you give it a try!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Mt Hood Community College exhibit of High Fiber Diet

I made it out to Mt. Hood Community College to see the High Fiber Diet exhibit.  I love the exhibit space and took quite  a few pictures.  Here is an overview of the show, and a few of the pieces close up.  

The museum coordinator told me that only 3 outside exhibits make it into the gallery each year.  The space is usually reserved for students and professors, so we're lucky to be there!

I hope you get a chance to see the show!  It's at the art gallery in the visual arts building through October 28.