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