Sunday, February 21, 2021

A "Just Because" Finish

Look what I finished this weekend!

Rosie has given it her seal of approval, but you can't see the quilt vey well.  Let's try again.

I started and finished this top last spring but it kept being pushed to the end of the quilting queue, behind projects with deadlines and new pattern samples.  This month I finally acknowledged that there will always be new deadline projects in my business, and that I needed to let myself enjoy some "just because" sewing.  

So I did.  I gave myself permission to not work on the weekends and I just played. I really enjoyed this one. I seem to be in the mood for simplicity these days, so I started with very simple straight line walking foot quilting in the background to emphasize the scrappy squares. Here's the first pass in both directions.

Another pass on the other side of each seam dressed it all up just a little.

That was the simple patchwork look I was looking for.  The plan, when I was working on the top last spring, was to do fancier quilting in the sunflowers with my quilting rulers.  I did try a little fancy work in the grey centers, but it just didn't fit with the simplicity of the background.  I picked it out and decided to just outline quilt inside the center and petals and hope inspiration would strike while I did that.

Once I had done that, I was satisfied with just adding simple crosshatching in the flower center.  That tied into the grid in the background.  Leaving the inside of the petals blank made them just a little puffy, like the rest of the quilt.

Next up was the border. I stitched in the ditch just before the last border, mostly to tack down the prairie point accents. Next I thought about straight lines either perpendicular to the edge or just running around the quit like a frame, but there are a lot of straight lines in this quit already.  I took out paper, pencil and quilting rulers to draw different ideas to add curves to the border.

These small arches fit neatly into the squares in the border and seemed to tie in with the petal shapes.

Yesterday I added a little scrappy yellow binding to frame it all. I am so happy with the finished quilt!

In case you were wondering:
  • Sunflower block is from the book Mini Wonderful Curves by Sew Kind of Wonderful
  • Setting is mine
  • Fabric (including backing and binding) is all from my scraps, except for three 1/4 yard cuts I bought to add a few lighter squares for variety.
On to the next project!  Small Change, the red and white quilt, is basted and ready to quilt.  I'm still pondering the possibilities, but once again I am leaning towards simplicity.  I'll see what happens when I actually start stitching. Hopefully I'll have a reveal for you soon.

Happy Quiting,

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Quick quilt top

After blogging last weekend I admired the pretty Island Batik 10" stack a little longer, then untied the bundle and set to work.

Here's what I started with.

I love that it matched my African violet.  It stayed on the coffee table a whole day longer than planned, just because the grouping looked pretty.

After pressing and cutting and mixing up the prints in stacks, I moved on to laying out blocks. 

I was still enjoying the fabrics up close, but I must say the project didn't look too inspiring as a whole at this point.

Things improved as I started sewing. Sewing larger squares together was so much faster than the all the corners and small pieces on last week's red and white project.  It was a nice change of pace.  You can see I pinned labels to the blocks.  This one was the first block in the second row.  I put all the labels in the the top left quadrant of each block to help me keep track of the orientation. It wouldn't have been a huge deal if I had inadvertently turned a block, or flipped positions, but since I went to the trouble of laying all the pieces out in the first place, I figured I might as well take a few minutes to add labels.

I love the way any design seems to smarten up once the background is added and everything is neatly pressed.  This was getting better, but was still a little bit bland.  It needed a little something to dress it up.

Well, this photo doesn't do it justice.  The border background is a rich purple that really sets off the jewel tones in the small squares, which in turn make the blocks pop a little bit more. Measuring, pinning and sewing on borders is far from my favourite part of piecing a quilt, but it can sure make a difference to the design.  I think this pieced border is much more interesting than a plain one, and ends up making the blocks more interesting that they would be on their own.

This pattern is now being tested, and the top will go in the growing "to be quilted" stack.  My local quilt shop is open by appointment only at the moment to help them mitigate covid risk, so I can't run in on a whim to get what I need to finish.  I have made a long list of backings, backings and threads I need to finish several quilts from the stack so I can make good use of my appointment time on Tuesday.  If I do this right, February might be good finishing month!

What's your quilting plan this month?

Happy quilting,


PS:  If you're wondering, everything in this quilt top is batik from Island Batik. The 10" squares are from the Jewel Quest collection, the background is a basic,  Egg White, and the border is also a basic (marble BE24-A1).  The background actually has pretty swirls of dots in subtle colors, and I can't figure out why it's called Egg White.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Lots of writing and frantic sewing

I started the new year feeling organized and in control.  One month in, not so much!  I have had a few more designs accepted by catalogs, but those come with pattern deadlines so I have hunkered down at the computer to write.  A couple of opportunities to submit designs elsewhere popped up, so I shifted into design mode.  All these are great "problems" to have from a business perspective, but it does mean I haven't had much time to share sewing here on the blog.

However, after all the designing and writing, I have to test things out.  The pattern isn't due to the catalog until March, but they need to order next fall's fabric for kits from the mills now, so they needed firm fabric requirements earlier.  I have confidence in my quilt math skills, but every now and then I forget to count a part.  I never feel 100% about my fabric math until I have made the quilt top.

Cue the frantic fabric cutting.

Doesn't that white stack look fabulous sitting on the red fabric?  I didn't get to admire it for long, as I had to get the red cut too.

There are all the pieces.  I'm not sure I should share the total number.  It makes the design sound daunting when it really isn't.

This pattern uses a lot of stitch-and-flip, AKA lost corners, so there is a bit a lot of marking.  I have tried different ways of sewing diagonal lines using a guide on the bed of the sewing machine, but I get better, more consistent results when I mark, so out came the pencil.  I'm not sure why I never before thought to lay out and mark several at a time.  I used to take one, mark it, stack it and reach for the next. Laying a few out a time is a small change, but it did seem to speed up the process.

I didn't plan to use a solid red.  I had a rich red Shadow Play in mind, but the shop didn't have any left when I needed it, so I settled for the solid.  I thought it might look too austere. Now that I have all the parts pieced, I think the solid is perfect. You can't see the white on white snowflakes in the photos, but they soften the look a bit, adding just a little interest to let the solids do their thing without making the whole quilt look stark.

With all the parts made, I'm pretty confident about what numbers to send the catalog, so I need to pivot to the other project with a deadline, but I'm really excited to share this one with you in the next little while.  If a classic red and white quilt is on your bucket list, or a quilt in any two colors, this design might be the one to tick it off the list.  If you'd like to test the pattern in the process, and have time to spare before the end of February, send me an email.  

As excited as I was to make this one (it's turning out just as I envisioned) I'm looking forward to something a little faster to put together. Next up is a 10" square precut friendly quick make, a  nice change from the many pieces of this red and white beauty.  The next one has fewer, bigger pieces, but it's just as pretty because it's going to be made in gorgeous jewel tone batiks...

Jewel Quest 10" stack by Island Batik, with yardage from their Basics lines

That's all I have to show until after I cut it all up and sew.  The presentation is so lovely though, it almost seems a shame to take it apart...

Meanwhile, I'd like to know:  have you ever made a two-color quilt?  I'd love to hear about it.  If you haven't, are you tempted?

Happy quilting,