Saturday, June 25, 2016

Guild Block + new technique

Haven't been to quilt guild since April.  And, to be honest, I'm not really attending this month either; but I am stopping by to leave my block.  Which I just finished today.

This block is called Wild Waves.  The instructions can be found at Quilter's Cache.  The block finishes at 12" and is made up of sixteen identical 3" blocks.

So, since each square within the block is the same, why not use speed piecing techniques?  Not something I have tried before, but I love learning new things!  Here's an overview of the technique.  More details, including cutting information, available at the Quilter's Cache link.

Put one square of the black and one square of the white right sides together.  Draw in both diagonal lines.  (I secure everything with pins; I know some people don't.)

Stitch 1/4" from one of the diagonal lines--just to the place where the drawn lines cross.  Then pivot and stitch on the drawn line until you are 1/4" away on the other side.

Pivot again and continue stitching to the opposite corner.

Use the same stitch-pivot-stitch along the other diagonal.

Cut the black/white block apart along the drawn lines.

This creates four identical units; each is a two-tone HST.  Press each seam toward the black portion.

Two of these units will combine with one medium-value b/w square to make two finished blocks.

The basic building block.

I kinda see a curling ribbon effect in this block.  Wonder if a single row from the block would make a good border or sashing...

My good deed for the week.  What have you been up to?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Stitch-in-the-ditch foot = Magic!

I finished a wallhanging for the shop this week.  Wanna see it?  Of course you do!

Coffee Rocks! an adaptation by me
It's a bit ironic, actually, because I don't drink coffee.  So I thought I might explain the genesis of this piece.

Here is our shop's entry for 2016 Row by Row Experience, which starts June 21.  Each year Row by Row has a theme; this year's theme is Home Sweet Home.  Our block is titled "Earth Rocks!" and it was designed by shop employee Janet McDonald.  Being in Berkeley, California, we often conceive of home in a more global, earth-embracing way.  Plus, being in the Bay Area, we live on a major earthquake fault zone.  Thus, the fractured Earth nature of the block.

Look at those steam-y swirls!

I saw the fabrics that Janet had used in her sample--swirling Stonehenge patterns from Artisan Spirit--and thought of swirling fabrics I had in my stash

Specifically, fabrics from the Have a Latte line, that I used in making a coffee-themed wallhanging when I participated in a latte blog hop in 2015.  (See?  Precedence for sewing items that declare my secret nonexistent love of coffee.)

 Janet's pattern was for a 9" tall row; but the four individual blocks could be joined into a circle.  A circle?  Yes!  An entire planet of coffee beans and steamy swirls: how else to show off the Love of Java that these fabrics and this pattern evokes?

Embroidery anyone?

FMQ coffee cup
A little embroidery embellishment, a little quilting: big stitch (love me some Finca Perle cotton #8), straight-line-with-walking-foot, and the tiniest FMQ scribbles in the center.

And something new for me: MF&B!
MF&B is the shorthand we use at the shop when a customer wants to use our quilting services to attach binding to their quilt and finish it by machine, rather than handstitching (machine front and back).  Can't believe that I had never bound a quilt this way: always, always I have blindstitched by hand.  (Or had Ginger-the-Binding-Angel or Linda-the-Marvelous-Mama do it for me.)

And to help me with this MF&B adventure?  A stitch-in-the-ditch sewing machine foot!  What IS that, you say?  Why, a feat of modern engineering that will absolutely change my life.

Behold, the extra piece of metal nestled up against the binding seam, right where it attaches to the quilt top.  And the needle follows that piece of metal so very smoothly; the stitching becomes lost in the ditch where the two fabrics come together.  Invisible from the quilt front.  Magic, I tell you!

Okay, so I've never stitched down my binding by machine before.  Like, ever.  Even the nobody cares what it looks like bindings on all the Sew Together Bags I have made.  (Even Oakie's luggage bag.)  But this is a game-changer.  You can bet that this sewing machine foot and I will be making beautiful music together many times in the future.

Are there sewing machine accessories you can't live without?  Brag to me about your fave!

I haven't linked up a finished project in awhile.  Might as well show off a bit with TGIFF and Can I get a Whoop Whoop?

Stash report: used 1/2 yard of coffee-themed fabrics from my stash for the front & back; the background fabric on the front was a new purchase (but it was from the sale table!)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Retreat: overabundance of confidence

The List: too much?
This is me preparing for retreat:
thru the many piles, drawers, bins and bags of WIPs to determine what I might work on for three days.

Three days = not a lot of actual time, but a great deal of imagined time.
And that statement pretty much sums up The Story of My Life.

quilt top

My must finish project was to complete the borders and piece a backing for the 1930's scrap quilt that I last worked on at retreat in February.

border close-up

This was a scraps-only project, and I had run out of the soft yellow used for the X blocks.  Which implied some fiddly piecing would be needed for those borders.  Also, I wanted to make the quilt rectangular (I have a general distaste for square quilts).  Needed to piece an inner border to finish off the central design.  Boy, can things get fussy and complicated in a hurry!

the back: scraps a-plenty
The Back: I won't say I'm totally fond of the pieced backing.  I was going for cute.  Not sure if I succeeded; but I did use up all of the cream chicken-wire print and the blue dots & checks (from Moda: a single fabric with four designs on it)

Asian BOM sample
Finished!  The top, backing and batting went to the long arm quilter the day after retreat ended.  Mmm-hmm, that feels good.

Other retreat accomplishments
  • Participated in Block Challenge (blogged about previously)
  • Made two sample blocks for the upcoming Asian Block of the Month at my home shop
  • Made a sample block for the Circles Block of the Month that will start in the fall (again at my home shop)
  • Hand tacked down the bindings on yet another Sew Together Bag; I will teach this class again in July.
    Circles BOM sample
  •  And...transported nearly an entire suitcase full of fabric (see The List, above) up to Oregon and back to California.  As checked luggage on an airline--what is wrong with this picture?

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Challenge block 2016

I like a challenge.  I love learning new things.
And so it is that I participated in the Block Challenge at a recent quilting retreat.  The challenge this time was: make a 12" finished block, using any technique, on the theme of fishing or the outdoors.

What would YOU make under those constraints?

I bought some cute fishy fabric at New Pieces, and attempted a type of block I had never tried before: a wonky churn dash.  I consulted some online tutorials (primarily here and here), then went ahead and did things my own way.

I drew out a full-size pattern.  Made my own templates from this pattern.  I ended up using the focal fish fabric for the background, and a white-on-white for the churn dash bits.  Seemed like a different fabric placement than I had seen before, but I really wanted the fish to show up... they are larger in scale.

Made use of a new-to-me notion while making this block: Alpha-bitties, by It's Sew Emma.

I had thought these were pin-able when I ordered them; but using my Clover Wonder Clips (love them!), I ended up clipping the appropriate letter (from my self-drafted pattern) to each cut piece of fabric as I constructed the block.  Worked great!

The block turned out stunning.  I may have to make more of these.  And that is one reason for participating in Block Challenge: to test out a particular block or technique.  (Made my first house block, my first reverse applique block, and my first snail trail block this way.)

And then, because I had more fish fabric, I went ahead and made a second block.  Just a little rail fence, but I like how that one turned out, too.

Are there any blocks on your Challenge list?  What's stopping you from making one?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Quick neck pillow finish

Nothing too exciting, but I managed to make another one of those triangular/bone-shaped neck pillows.  Just in time for Sweetie to take it to her mother for a belated Mother's Day gift.

The Minky used was purchased to make Mom-in-law a full-size throw for her bed at Christmas.  So it seemed fitting to make her a matching pillow with some of the leftovers.  I hear tell she thinks its pretty comfy already.  (Still waiting on a picture of the pillow in action.)

Who do you make sewn gifts for?  What's your favorite compliment from a gift recipient?

Stash used: 3/8 yard (between the Minky and the home dec leopard/palm print)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Bed Sheet, Circa 1980

This is a sheet.  

Last seen in March 2015, when I started crocheting a rug with 1" strips torn from said sheet.

Size Q crochet hook
 Proud to say that I completed the rug!  Used up all of the focal sheet, plus a couple rounds from a cream-colored flannel sheet, and a bit of dark teal sheet as the outer border.

How big would you say this is?
 As I was working with the teal, I was determined to use as much of it as I could.  How to know which row would be my last?  I learned a trick from my sister about working with leftover bits of yarn.  So I tried it out...

I weighed the ball at the beginning of a row; it weighed 157 grams.

After one row of crochet border, it weighed 63 grams.  So, one round used 157-63=94 grams of "yarn".  And I didn't have another 94 grams left on the ball, so I called it done at that point.

Hope that the intended recipient likes it.  These rugs-from-sheets are pretty durable--I already have a couple in my house.  I encourage everyone to try one of these!

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Quilt in 17 Days

Seventeen days:

I still can't believe it, but I made a t-shirt quilt, start to finish, in just over two weeks.  Seventeen days, to be exact.  Whew!

This was a charity quilt, commissioned by the senior class of Mills College, to be auctioned off.  Money raised will go towards scholarships for incoming students next fall.

Class of 2016: class color is purple; school colors are blue & gold
My challenge, in volunteering to make the quilt, was to balance the need for speed and efficiency with my inner perfectionist's cries of not good enough.

Walking-foot quilting: minimalist

Things I am most proud of about this quilt:
Best use of a zip-front hoodie in a t-shirt quilt!
  • I finished it!   
  • I used my beginner FMQ skills to quilt the border, and didn't falter or grab for the seam ripper when the stitching there wasn't perfect.
  • My favorite "block" is the one incorporating the zip-front hoodie; I managed to keep a functional zipper, backing the block with a zany people print that gets exposure when the zipper is down.
  • I cut into some long-stashed fat quarters to enhance a few of the odd rectangle shapes.
  • I made two "reference" blocks (adding an M for Mills and the year 2016) with fusible applique; tried a new technique to stabilize them when doing the satin-stitch outlines.
  • I camouflaged an "oops" cut into part of the design by using more applique
  • I used my walking foot quilting skills, and some creativity, to minimally quilt each of the t-shirt blocks without going over the printing.
  • This is the largest quilt I've ever attempted to machine quilt myself.  (Proof that it can be done.)
  • I made a label--which I've done only once before, but know I should do every time.
  • Did I mention that I finished it in only 17 days!?!?
Tissue pattern paper as stabilizer

Stashed fabric enhancement
 So that's what I've been up to in April.  Auction was held: quilt sold for a decent price.  Lots of folks on campus praised my creativity and workmanship (which feels pretty good).  And it was a really good practice to stay on deadline, produce a quality finished item, and minimize the amount of time I spent obsessing over tiny details that no one would ever notice.

Creative camouflage of an "oops"

I don't know how other prolific quilters manage their blistering pace.  (You should see the deferred housework that has built up in the past couple weeks.)

What's your fastest finish?