Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Fixing a mistake I couldn't unsee

Well, it's been a minute or two since my last blog post.  There has been a lot of non-blog friendly work.  Seriously, who really wants a description of balancing the books or typing up packing slips?  I also indulged in some quality time in the garden, planting perennials, potting annuals and sprucing up the flower beds.  This blog post from 2020 still applies.  Gardening and quilting fill my cup in very similar ways. However, now that chiggers and their nasty, super itchy bites have made their annual debut, I'm a little less inclined to get lost in the yard so I'm spending more time perusing my quilty UFO list.

First up:  Finishing my red scrappy version of Half-and-Half, formerly known as the Two-Colour Mystery quilt.

There's one unit turned 180 degrees from how it should be.  Once I saw it, I couldn't unsee it.  I tried to leave it.  If I hadn't noticed it before quilting, I probably could have learned to live with it.  However, knowing it would be fairly quick to fix, I couldn't bring myself to start quilting until I fixed it.  Of course, the quick fix sat unfixed for months before I got around to it!

I pulled the top out today to plan the repair. Step one, I marked the unit with a safety pin so I didn't pick apart the wrong seams.  

Looking at the back of the quilt top, I identified the order the seams around the unit were sewn, so I could rip them in reverse order.  The dark dotted lines show the seams that needed to come out first.

Here's how things looked with those seams ripped.  I ripped about one inch beyond the sides of the unit I wanted remove.

I ripped the third seam....

...and the fourth one and voilĂ , the unit was extracted.

Some of the seams ending in the area I ripped were a little loose, so I restitched a short distance on those seams to make sure things didn't fall apart as I wrangled the quilt top to reinsert the unit.  I then rotated the unit to the correct orientation.  I checked three times that I had it right.  I didn't want to reinsert it the wrong way around after taking the trouble to rip it out!

I took everything to the sewing machine and sewed the seams in the opposite order from the order I ripped:  long sides of the unit first, then the short sides.  You can see below why I ripped the seams a little beyond the edges of the unit I extracted.  It gives me a little slack to move things around as I line things up, and it lets me sew the new seam from edge to edge rather than having to deal with set-in seams.

Getting parts into position

First new seam

Two seams done

I pressed both new seams carefully, taking care to press in opposite directions to the seams they would be meeting when I sewed the final two seams, so I could nest seams.  When sewing the last two seams to finish reinserting the unit, I started and stopped the stitching about an inch beyond where I ripped earlier, so that the new stitching overlapped the existing intact stitches of the original seam on either side of the unit.

Here it is, all fixed.

How about a before-and-after view:

It's not a huge difference, but I feel better about it.  I can't believe that after months of dithering, it only took me about 15 minutes to fix!

Next up, piecing a back.  That will be a fun way to flex some creative muscles without worrying about a deadline.  I'm thinking of piecing an oversized half and half block for the center.  After that I'll have to finally settle on a quilting plan.  At my current pace, I might be able to share the finished quilt by Christmas :).  Hmm.  The scrappy red would look good with my holiday quilts.  Maybe I have a target date to finish this!

Are you working on any UFO's currently.  Please share!

Happy quilting,


Thursday, April 25, 2024

Half and Half (Two-Colour Mystery) Parade of Quilt Tops

It's been a fun two months, watching Two-Colour Mystery quilts take shape.  It's a little daunting to start a project with absolutely no idea what it might look like.  Thank you to all who took the leap and followed the instructions every week.  I hope you all love the quilt you ended up with!

Half and Half : the Two-Colour Mystery Quilt revealed
This throw size version made with Stonehenge Gradations and Crackle fabrics from Northcott

In all 1,600 quilters signed up to receive the clues!  That blew me away!  While I'm sure some saved the clues to use at a later date, I know many quilters stitched away weekly to have a finished quilt top by this week.  If you're on Facebook, you can see many, many lovely versions of the project in the Quilting with Canuck Quilter group.  The range of fabric choices was inspiring.

18 quilters also emailed photos to share here on the blog.  

Let's start with some baby sized versions.

Diane W.

Gail W.

Katie May and @katiemaytoo on IG

Lori B.

Ioleen K.

Next up, some lap sized tops.  You'll notice a few with an alternate block layout. I love to see how quilters start with my pattern then make adjustments to suit their tastes.

Denise Jolly

Denny J.

Jayne S
Notice the lights in this one are scrappy!

Jeanne M.

Karen M.

Kathy Wolf

Lynn B.
Check out the closeup below to see the scrappy beauty.
Lynn B.

Lynda T.
Lots of scrappy goodness here too!

Here are some throw size versions.

Candy Kerber

Dawn N.

Janet L.
This was repurposed fabric - it used to be curtains!

Tanya F.

Finally, some quilters are still working on their quilts, but wanted to share their progress.

Marilyn B.

Vicky O.

If you didn't participate in the quilt-along but are now inspired to create your own version of the quilt, you can find the pattern Half and Half in my Etsy shop as a stand-alone pattern.  This version of the pattern includes 7 sizes, baby to king.

My next task is to figure out a quilting plan for my scrappy Half and Half, which I plan to quilt myself on my domestic sewing machine.  I'll start by stitching in the ditch and hope that inspiration will strike as I stitch.  Wish me luck!  


How will I quilt it?

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Measuring and sewing borders

 Look what I found this week.

Before I made Stellar Breeze, I made test units from scraps, then sewed them together to test the sashing width I was considering.  I went on to make the cover quilt for the pattern but this little test top was forgotten.

When I rediscovered it today, I thought it could use a border, which is serendipitous. This week's mystery quilt clue will include borders.  I was thinking about making a tutorial to accompany it, but I forgot to take pictures of the process when I added the borders to my sample quilt.  Now here's a top begging for borders and I can take pictures of this one in progress.  Serendipitous!

How I measure and sew border strips for my quilts

TIP #1 : Measure!  

It's so tempting to grab a strip that's longer than the quilt, sew it on then trim the strip even with the quilt top, slicing off the extra length.  Its easy and oh-so-tempting and sometime you can get away with it.  However, it can lead to stretching the border or the quilt top, leading to either cupping or waving borders.  It can also lead to uneven sides if there's more stretching or easing in the border on one side of the quilt than the other.

TIP #2: Skip the measuring tapes and rulers.

I simply smooth the border strip across the center of the quilt top, with one end flush with one edge of the quilt and the other end extending past the other side of the quilt.  I can do this on the design wall or on the floor, or a on table if the quilt fits.  It's important for the strip to run straight across, not at an angle.

Measuring directly with/on the border strip

I mark where the extended part of the border strip intersects with the side of the quilt.  (I might repeat this at the top and bottom of the quilt, just to check the width of the quilt doesn't vary drastically from top to bottom.  If it's off a little bit - less than 1/4" -  I'll choose a point halfway between the marks as the length to work with.)

Marking the border strip

TIP #3: Make sure that opposite borders are cut exactly the same length

Both side borders should be exactly the same length.  Similarly, the top and bottom border lengths  should match exactly.

In my experience, the best way to achieve this is to layer two border strips together, matching the ends at the end of the strip that was flush with the edge of the quilt while measuring, then cut both strips at once.  You can't see both layers in the photo below, but there are two strips there.  The marking pencil is pointing to the mark I measured earlier.

Layer two border strips

I line up my ruler with the edges of the strip and the mark I made when measuring the border length earlier...

...and cut.  I folded one strip back after cutting to show you there were really two strips there :).

TIP #4: Match centers and ends/sides

Matching the center and ends of the border strip with the center and sides of the quilt helps ensure that the border isn't stretched or bunched up at any point.  The easiest way to find the center of each is to fold them in half and crease the fold.  
Fold quilt and border strip in half to find centers

Crease the fold

You may have noticed in the photos above that I folded the border strip wrong sides together and the quilt right sides together.  I do it this way on purpose.  You can see the two creases below.  One is a valley, the other a ridge.  When I flip the border so the quilt top and border are right sides together the crease in the border will dip down into the crease in the quilt top to help me easily match the centers.

Matching centers by matching the center crease

I pin at the center crease, then at the end, then halfway between those pins, and again halfway between each pair of pins, and so on until I have as many pins as I like to keep things in place.  I repeat that on the other half of the border to secure that as well.

After sewing the border with a 1/4" seam, I press towards the border, then repeat to add the second border to the opposite edge of the quilt.

Opposite borders added

To add the remaining borders, I repeat all the steps above, smoothing the border strip across the quilt, marking the length, trimming both border strips at once, matching centers and ends, pinning, sewing and pressing.

Measuring the remaining borders

Completed borders

That's it!  Nice flat borders. I repeat these steps as needed to add additional borders if the design has more than one.

(Some of you may wonder why I don't just calculate the required length of the borders and use that to cut the strips. In a perfectly two-dimensional world, this would be fine, but tiny variations in seam allowance add up over a whole quilt and result in a quilt top that is not quite the mathematically predicted size.  It's best to work with the quilt top I actually made rather than the theoretical quilt top math predicted.  Also, measuring with the strips is so much easier than wrangling multiple rulers or a measuring tape that isn't quite long enough or won't lay completely flat.)

I'm not sure what's next with this little quilt.  It measures 35" square now.  I don't know if I want it to be a wall quilt, or if I should add some round-robin pieced borders to make it larger.  I have some other projects in the queue, so there's no rush making a decision about this one but I'll try not to let it disappear for another 4 years!

Happy quilting,