Wednesday, May 25, 2016

From Quilting to Cardigans

Do you remember when you first learned to sew? There are handfuls of people out there that a big part of their life story began with creating at a young age... and I am no exception to that rule. I cannot say that I remember when I first started sewing, although I imagine it was around seven or eight, but I do know that clothing was one of the first things that I learned how to sew.

Just because I started out sewing garments, does not mean that I enjoyed it. Almost after every clothing piece that I completed, I was always frustrated because it either didn't look right once I tried it on, or it simply didn't fit and needed adjustments way beyond my sewing abilities. So, I started sewing other things... until recently.

Generally I am pleased with the way my Julia Cardigan turned out, although I have to admit that I had that same sinking feeling when I finished and first tried it on. The sleeves were way too big and there was extra material on the sides, so of course my first thought was... "Note To Self: THIS is the very reason why you don't sew clothing!" It ended up that I did have to make several adjustments, but at least I can live with the end result.

One fun new discovery on this project was using a twin needle. Since I've not sewn with jersey before, I never needed one.  I stupidly didn't buy enough fabric to make the doubled over/no hem version (eeekkk!! grumble, grumble), but I stumbled on this alternative solution, and love the look of the finished hem. Nancy's Notions has a great how to tutorial here.

Even with all the clothing items that I whipped up way back then, I never made anything with Jersey. And despite what your feelings are about pre-washing or not pre-washing fabrics, with my quilting fabrics, it's just a no go with me. So, needless to say, two big "firsts" with me on this one.

Do you have any garment sewing love/hate stories to share?

Linking up with Let's Bee Social and Sew Cute Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Size Surprise: Chrurnstile Quilt Top Finish!

Don't you just love it when you carefully and gently pull all the finished blocks from your quilt wall to assemble them into your long awaited quilt top, and realize once it's together, that it appears that it is now half the size? (please note the obvious sarcasm)... the wonder and the mystery of "the great Shrink"

If you've been around here since I've been quilting, then you know that I'm a quilt size debator... usually battling the back and forth if I should make it bigger. (I suppose I figure that if you're going to do it at all, you might as well do it big) Even for this quilt, I seriously contemplated adding more blocks, because I had calculated that it would be a mere lap quilt after "the great Shrink".

So once the top was together, I quickly ran upstairs to take advantage of the bright, sunny day, and the fact that the kids were out of the house. I excitedly threw the quilt over my son's twin size bed and had my first surprise... it was too big and too long for the bed! (hardly a lap quilt!) Then I even more excitedly ran to my bedroom and threw it over my queen size bed... and much to my astonishment, found that it was almost big enough to fit my bed! (not quite, but again… not a lap quilt!)

Well, don’t you just love it when you over estimate, and are later pleasantly surprised with more than what you had originally calculated? 

Quilt pattern: Churnstile from Stitchery Dickory Dock, Curn Dash block from the January Sugar Block Club
Started: February 2016
Fabrics: Alison Glass, Carolyn Friedlander, Cotton & Steel, Lizzy House, and various additional prints from my stash. Low volume with color background fabrics
Finished quilt top size: ca. 66 x 82 in. (168 x 208 cm)

What are your “the great Shrink” experiences?

Linking up this week with Let's Bee Social and Sew Cute Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Making Connections

Once all the blocks of a quilting project are finished, one is all a flurry with excitement having reached the top of the first mountain. The next up hill climb is connecting it all together, where it can sometimes be slow moving.

After much debate about what size to take my Churnstile quilt, and some really good advice like "go with your gut", "consider the recipient", and probably the best advice from Kate to "let the quilt decide"... I actually decided to go for it and work on connecting the blocks! If it still feels like it needs more once it's all together, then I can keep going, right?

I've decided on using some of the same low volume fabrics that I used in the block backgrounds for the connecting sashings. I have fallen in love with using low volumes with a hint of color... Alison Glass has several in her Abacus series that I just adore, and Erin Michael's fabric Preakness from her Purebread collection, has reached favorite low volume status with me.

I've also been working on connecting the leaves on my Green Smoothie quilt. Once all the individual drunkard's path blocks are made, they have to be stitched together to make the beautiful leaf shape.

... and then a white strip to the top of each leaf before joining them all together.

What are you working on? Linking up the week to Let's Bee Social and Sew Cute Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

How Do You Know When It's Finished?

Size, size, size? It's always a matter of size isn't it? But how do you know when you've reached the right size with a quilt? I suppose it really is quite simple, isn't it... simply follow the pattern, right?

Well, I would have to say that I'm the kind of person why places like Burger King came up with the idea to "make it your way". Everything on my burger is ok except for ketschup, but I like to add mustard... so I have to customize it! Well, that same need to adjust, modify, change, and make it my way doesn't stop at burgers... 

My version of the Churnstile quilt has developed, though quite unintentional, like many of my other quilts... making the rules up as I go. My first debate was whether to set the blocks on point or straight... the pattern is on point, but my gut said straight. The confirmation that I was on the right track was the feedback that I got on Instagram. Second decision was where to set the cornerstones... again going with my gut. And of course the never ending debate with myself... size.

I started out with eight different color combinations for the blocks, and repeated several, but with its current size, not all blocks are repeated. Without a particular recipient in mind, I also don't have a particular size planned either. Do I stop now or let it keep growing with each block being repeated twice? Hmmm, I guess I'll be thinking about it while I am quilting this quilt.

When it comes to your own quilts, do you make it up as you go, or do you go by the book? If you do make up the rules as you go, do you struggle with issues like size and layout?

LInking up to Let's Bee Social and Sew Cute Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Color Poetry: Green

Are you the same as me, that you almost feel as if you are walking just a little bit lighter when you first start seeing those spring buds appear everywhere? It's no secret that green is my favorite color, or that spring is the season where I feel the most alive. I would say that it is more than obvious where my color affections lie when you look at the projects I've been working on this week.

Backing for my Penny quilt? Check. I'm hoping this will go rather quickly... especially since I am using this method to baste it.

So far I have been able to sew all the leaves for my Green Smoothie quilt either from scraps or fabrics in my stash. I realized that I needed to add some additional prints to really give it the depth and variety that I am wanting. And besides... adding more greens to my already green heavy stash is just so much fun!

It's been helpful to me to lay this out on the bed to see the progress that I've made.

It's been on my wish list now for far too long to make some new curtains for our bedroom.... why does it take so long to motivate me to do a little practical sewing?!? Tja, I guess because it is not very creative, but wow... did these light colored curtains ever make a huge difference in the room.

April showers bring May flowers... what are your spring projects?

Linking up to Let's Bee Social and Sew Cute Tuesday

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

April Design Wall

Somehow as my list of WIP's gets smaller, it makes me feel unsettled when I come into my sewing room. While it feels great to have knocked several biggie projects off my list, somehow it leaves me feeling a little lost when there are not multiple projects in the works. I've come to realize that am totally moody when it comes to sewing. While logically it makes the most sense to complete one project at a time, creatively I find that I am inwardly frustrated when I don't have options of what to sew. One day I feel like curves, the next day it's traditional piecing, and quilting days are like fish days... I really have to be in the mood to enjoy it.

Oddly enough, now that my design wall is starting to fill back up again, I feel at ease with so much flipping potential. What started out as "audition blocks" have made it to WIP status and are now growing. While I know such project flipping is not for everyone, somehow it's what works best for me.

The Green Smoothie quilt (leaves) is actually planned for our bed, and I have decided to make only one row of leaves offset to one side... lots of white space on this one! This will be, at least size wise, my biggest project yet... a king size quilt! I'm a little hesitant when I think about stuffing this through my machine, but very simple straight lines should help a lot.

I have decided that my Churnstile blocks will stay as a basket/backburner project, and it's nice to know that I don't have any additional prep right now when we have our monthly Patchwork Treffen meetings. I was able to add a few more blocks since our last meeting and I'm still trying to decide how big I want to go with this.

Well, I suppose that this quilt cannot stay on the backburnner for too long since we have another get together next weekend... I'll keep you updated on my progress.

Linking up to Let's Bee Social and Sew Cute Tuesdays.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

THE FinishYou've Been Waiting For...

I'm super over the moon excited that I was able to finish all my first quarter goals for the 2016 Finish-A-Long. I actually split my list into quarterly goals and yearly or ongoing goals. Granted, I didn't set the bar too high, but in my book it's much better to under promise and over deliver! Even though it was originally on my yearly/ongoing goal list, I just barely missed the mark by days last quarter for completing what is my biggest finish of the year... my Facing East quilt!  

So, it really wasn't my orignial plan to share my new quarterly goals list and my "tah-tah" moment at the same time! This finish is a very long story that I've been talking about here throughout this whole past year.

When I first started this quilt, I had always thought that I would send this out to be quilted by a longarmer because as a new quilter I just didn't trust myself to tackle such a complicated design. I suppose that all those projects in between helped me build the confidence that I needed to go for it. I decided that simple quilting really was the way to go... sometimes more really is just more, right?

I still haven't worked my way up to free motion quilting for such a large quilt, so the graduating circles were quilted with my walking foot... and boy, oh boy, talk about some major quilt stuffing!?!

I usually end up doing a simple pieced design on all my quilt backs, which sometimes get more attention than the much more complicated fronts.

 Can you spot my little helper trying to hide in the corner?

Quilt pattern: "Facing East" from Savor Each Stitch by Carolyn Friedlander
Started: January 2015
Fabrics: Basic Grey Grunges, selected fabric accents from Anna Maria Horner, Amy Butler fabric, and various additional prints. Low volume background fabrics

Finished quilt size: ca. 63 x 83 in. (160 x 210 cm) 


So, I think this quarter is starting out with a bang, getting to share my first finish of the quarter right out of the gate! I'll be carrying over my yearly/ongoing goals as well as adding a few new things like my Churnstile blocks and Green Smoothie audtion blocks.

How was your first quarter? Any big goals in sight for this quarter?

Linking up with Let's Bee Social and Sew Cute Tuesdays

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Why I DON'T Hate Basting... And You?

Time after time, whether it's on blogs, Instagram, Facebook, or whatever social media people are using, I hear the majority of quilters grumbling and mumbling over their least favorite step of the quilting process... basting. Aching knees and backs are top of the list of annoyances, and I often wonder if my newbie quilter naivety gets the better of me trying to figure out why the mere thought of basting is almost like a curse word.

With all this in consideration, I have to say that I am lucky to have an extremely talented and experienced quilter in my family. The unfortunate part of the story is that I did not start quilting until I moved to Germany. So, all those tips and short cuts have to be shared from abroad, or crunched into all too short visiting times when we can travel home. This past summer while traveling home, my aunt shared with me how she bastes quilts, which I thought I would share with you. I really have to say that this method is probably the very reason why I don't hate basting:

Granted, I realize that not everyone has space in their home for this technique, but I am blessed with at least a little space to spread out. I have four 1m x 70 cm Ikea tables that I scoot together. My aunt uses a foldable buffet table, and even elevates it using four custom cut pvc pipes. (bed risers are a good alternative if you live in the US) I don't use the risers since I would need twelve! I'm sure this method would even work with a good size dining table.

Start by finding the center of your table. This is easy and obvious in my case, but you could also mark your center with a toothpick that had been taped to the table center. It is also helpful to mark the center of the tops and sides of your table (you'll use these markings later) I then fold my quilt backing in half wrong sides together and then in half again. This gives you the center of your quilt back. Place the folded corner on the marked center of your table.

Gently unfold the quilt backing on one side. Here I unlfolded the length of the table and used a paper weight to keep the backing from slipping. Then you can gently unfold the rest of the quilt back. Smooth the quilt back in place.

Here comes the fun part of visiting your local hardware store to find something that is generally not used for quilting, but seems as if it was just made for it! Smooth the quilt back out and using plastic clamps, secure the quilt back to the table. I generally clip one or two clamps on one side, and then clamp one or two on the other side until the quilt back is properly taut.

Repeat same steps with the batting, smoothing as you go.

Carefully remove the clamp from the quilt back and re-clamp to the table, now with both the batting and the quilt back. 

Repeat again with the quilt top, but this time right sides together. Be sure to align your quilt top up with the markings that you have on your table. (center, and side and top centers) 

Carefully remove the clamps and re-clamp now all three layers including the quilt top to the table, smoothing as you go.

Now you are ready to start pinning! I usually use a rolling chair and sit while I am pinning, and can easily scoot from section to section. I have to admit that I was a little surprised how quickly this went, even with taking pictures!

(***NOTE*** no cuss words were used in the production of this basting project) 

How do you baste your quilts? Any tips? Do you use this method or a completely different method?

Linking up to Let's Bee Social and Sew Cute Tuesday.
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