Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas runner

I have two healthy teens who take care of the shoveling, so I’d welcome a decent layer of white stuff outside for Christmas.  However, according to the current weather forecast these snowflakes are the only one we’ll have for Christmas this year.

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We had a small party last night and I really wanted this on the table so I bound it by machine to get it done in time.  I sew the binding to the front, then fold it around to the back, pin it in place, and stitch in the ditch beside the binding on the front.  It looks very much like hand binding on the front.

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I had planned for a while to share a tutorial on how to do this, but look at the link someone posted on a discussion on a Facebook quilting group: http://www.elsiesgirl.blogspot.com/2012/01/machine-binding-explained.html  This is pretty much how I do it (I don’t have a “quilt in the ditch” foot but it is now on my wish list!) so I’ll just link to it and go bake Christmas cookies instead of writing it all up myself!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

48 prairie points + a tutorial

OK, making the prairie points isn’t coming along as quickly as I had anticipated!  I calculate that I will need 128 of them to go around Vintage Sparkle.  

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They aren’t difficult to fold and press, but it isn’t a very exciting task so I get distracted.  (There’s another snowflake runner started now…ahem!)  I do think the prairie points will add just the right something extra to the edge of the quilt though, so it will be worth it in the end.

Since I have that stack of 80 squares still left to fold I thought it might be a good opportunity to take pictures and share a short tutorial on folding prairie points.  I’ll share two different styles, though for my quilt I’ve chosen the first.

Prairie Point #1

Step 1. Start with a square, wrong side of fabric facing up. I’m using a 4” square, which yields a 1 3/4” tall finished point.

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Step 2. Fold the square in half once on the diagonal.  Press the fold.

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Step 3. Fold in half again. Press the fold.  I like to hit it with a little steam to help set the folds. There you go.  One prairie point.

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All the raw edges are now together on the long side of the triangles, which is the same length as the side of the square you started out with (in this case 4”).

Once this triangle in sewn onto something with a 1/4 seam along the long side, the finished base (long side) will be 3 1/2” long. To illustrate, in the picture below pretend the ruler is the quilt edge, with the prairie point seam allowance taken up in the seam.

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And you can see that the vertical distance from point to finished base is 1 3/4”.

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You can lay out your prairie points in various ways.

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Alternate triangle on top and triangle on bottom

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One point underneath the previous triangle, one point on top of the next one.

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One point tucked into the folds of the previous triangle, and so on down the line.

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You can overlap only in the seam allowance, so there’s no overlap in the finished piece, or you can overlap a lot, for a different look, or somewhere in between.  Just remember, the more overlap you have, the more points you’ll need along the length of the quilt.

And just when you thought I had gotten sidetracked with layouts and forgotten, here’s a second method for folding the points.

Prairie Point #2

Step 1. Start with a square, wrong side of fabric facing up.  This one is also a 4” square.

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Step 2. Fold in half along the vertical to form a rectangle.

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Step 3.  The top of the rectangle should be the folded edge. Fold  one corner down to reach the middle of the bottom edge.  Press the fold.

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Step 4. Fold the remaining corner down.  Press.  Again, I like to use a little steam to set the fold.  The raw edges should now all be along the long edge of the triangle that will be hidden in the seam allowance when you attach the prairie point to your quilt.

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One side of the prairie point will have folds down the middle (above right), while the other side will be a plain triangle (below).  The triangle measures 4” along the long side and 2” high.  That will be 3 1/2” long and 1 3/4” high finished when sewn to your quilt with a 1/4” seam allowance.

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I hope you’ll give these a try.  As I attach some to a project I’ll try to remember to take pictures to show that process too.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Last UFO?

Brace yourself….I am working on my last UFO!  Will I actually make it to zero UFOs? To be clear, in this house, once it’s a finished quilt top it moves off the UFO list, even if it takes a while to get quilted!

IMG_8947You might remember my musings back in February about what to do for borders on Vintage Sparkle. At that time I decided to let it sit awhile while I considered my options.  Sometime last spring I got as far as piecing these half stars for a pieced border for plan C.

This is currently my only UFO so a couple of weeks ago I pulled it out of its box, determined to piece those borders.  Uh oh.  I didn’t like it anymore.  At all.  I just stared at it, completely uninspired. 

My kids and hubby just rolled their eyes at me and told me to leave it out for a few days and let it grow on me again.  This was very wise of them.  (It’s almost as though they know me well!) It did grow on me again after I decided to drop Plan C and go back to Plan A.  I still think Plan C would have been a great plan if I had thought of it first and planned the setting accordingly.  As it was, adding the half star pieces to the half stars in the sashing looked tacked on.  It just wasn’t looking good. Thankfully I figured this out before I cut up all my border fabric for Plan C, so I had enough to cut the wider borders I needed for Plan A. 

After Plan A came out on top again, I proceeded to take a whole week to add on 8 border strips, a few at a time.  That’s me.  I really dislike measuring and pinning borders, and sewing those long seams.  If there hadn’t been the zero UFO carrot dangling, I might have procrastinated even longer!  However, that’s an awfully tempting carrot, so the last border finally made it onto the quilt tonight.

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It’s not a great picture.  The ceiling is a little low in my quilting space so my two volunteer quilt holders couldn’t hold this queen sized quilt top up all the way off the floor. Still, you get the idea.

It is not quite off the UFO list.  It still needs scrappy prairie points all the way around.  The fabric squares for the points have been cut and waiting for a year, so I just need to fold, press and distribute them around the sides.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kaleidoscope Quilt Progress

IMG_8935It has been over a month since I posted an update on the status of my kaleidoscope quilt.  It is coming along in fits and starts, with steady quilting over several days followed by total neglect then back to steady progress again.  I have to concede that it will not be finished by Christmas as I had hoped but at least I am making progress, despite my fitful efforts.

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In between my quilting sessions I have been pondering what I will quilt in the black border space.

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It would be a good place to highlight feathers, but I suspect the feathers would not quite suit my teenage son, whose quilt this will be.  I think I have come up with something I like if I can figure out how to make the design turn the corners.  As you can see from my progress chart, I have quite a bit of quilting I can do before I start on the borders, so I have lots of time to sort things out.

I’m going to go get the fruitcake out of the oven and settle in with some slow stitching.  I hope to get a few more triangles colored in on my chart by the end of the evening.

Linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy’s Quilts

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Snowflake set

I bet you thought I was done with snowflakes for a while!  Yes and no.  I don’t have any new ones to share but I wanted to show you the completed snowflake runner.

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Well, maybe now it’s a chair-back runner instead of a table runner!  I tossed the runner over the back of the chair temporarily when I was tidying up. I rather like it paired up with the pillow, and it makes a nice pad for the back of the chair.  I think it might live there for a little while!

I quilted in the ditch all around the snowflakes and borders and the long ”fringe” piano keys on the end.  My plan was to stop there, but the side borders rippled because there was denser quilting in the middle than on the sides.  Hmph. OK fine then!  I freemotioned some freeform loopy stuff (highly technical term) with silver metallic thread and love the result.  It reminds me of the path of light fluffy flakes blown about by the wind.  Plus it took care of that waviness in the border.  It’s nice and flat again.

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If you’ve been following for a while, you probably know that I’m more of a marking kind of gal and I like symmetry.  Freeform was a bit of a stretch but it came out fine.  I did chicken out before adding some in the background of the snowflakes though!

Also, I’m glad I didn’t throw out that metallic thread when I was trying to make more room in my sewing storage and thought I’d never actually use it again.  I had bought it for a class about 12 years ago and hadn’t liked the results then at all, but it was just the right thread for this runner.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Feeling thrifty

I forgot to share this project when I finished it recently.

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I’m feeling particularly pleased with it because it is entirely made of leftovers. The center is made of bonus HST units generated in the making of Starlight WishesThe borders and backing are scraps from the same quilt.  Even the batting was a narrow strip left over from other projects.  I’m feeling very thrifty indeed! 

Even the binding was thrifty.  After I used the green fabric for the back I decided I wanted it for the binding as well – but of course that bit on the back was the last of it!  I thought of using the trimmings from cutting the backing even with the front, but they wouldn’t have been wide enough for a separate binding.  So, I expanded my quilting techniques toolbox and learned how to bind  by folding the backing over to the front.  I’ve seen it I called “self-binding” or “back-to-front” binding.  I looked at several tutorials online and took bits and pieces away from each.  Perhaps I’ll write a tutorial showing what combination finally worked for me.

I may go back and add a bit of free-motion quilting to the borders, as they aren’t quilted as densely as the center, which results in a slight ripple in the borders. I stitched in the ditch quite a bit, then decided I wanted to actually see some quilting so added some outline quilting 1/4” away from some seams.

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This reminds me of confetti, so I’m calling it the Birthday Runner.  We’ll test it out at a family birthday this weekend.  Note to self: don’t get chocolate frosting on the white bits…

Friday, November 14, 2014

With a couple of weeks to spare

I have finally found time to sit at the sewing machine and quilt the latest version of my Stretch table runner for Thanksgiving.  I get to keep this one!

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I showed the completed top and backing almost a month ago here. It took very little time to make those, but then they sat waiting to be quilted.  I put it at the front of the queue since it is in lovely fall colors and would look good on the Thanksgiving table.

When I made the previous two versions I did some elaborate free-motion quilting in the background spaces, but this time I opted for simple outline quilting and I think I like it even better.  It adds definition yet lets the pretty fabrics hog the spotlight.

The fabrics are prettier than they seem here.  The colors seem washed out.  The background is actually more of a rich golden color.  Let me get another picture…



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Better.  The flash washed out the quilting, but the color is closer to the actual color.

Now, onto quilting the birthday runner then the snowflake runner.  I’m clearing the decks before I start something new, pondering what the new something might be as I clear!