Friday, February 15, 2019

Another Black and Red Finish

Hot on the heels of finishing Tic Tac Meow, I finally got around to quilting my red and black mini Sparkling Trail quilt that has been patiently waiting, since January 2015, for inspiration to strike.

 As you might have guessed, I played with my Westalee quilting templates/rulers.

 If you're wondering why the circles and pebbles don't go all around the circles, it's because they would not have fit exactly around, and I didn't feel like fussing with stretching or squeezing any of them to make things look like they fit perfectly, but I also didn't want a gap or an obvious overlap.  Partial strings of beads look very chic, random and modern, don't you think?  :)

Honestly, I was just playing with this quilt and making things up as I went along. The change in direction in the straight lines in the background add a little extra interest and movement to the otherwise simple background, but that was accidental.  I planned to do a diamond crosshatch in the background and started in that lower right corner.  Once I had crosshatched in the black stars, I decided it looked too busy and detracted from the circle quilting.  I stopped quilting in that corner, intending to come back later and pick it all out, and quilted the vertical lines in the rest of the quilt.  I went to bed, woke up, had breakast and pulled out the seam ripper to start ripping.  Hmm.  In daylight that little corner, part diagonal lines and part crosshatch looked like a rather interesting part of the whole.  Plus, that mindset saved me a lot of ripping!

You can see a little bit of the border treatment above, but it shows up even better on the back.

This is a border treatment I've been wanting to play with since I bought the feather templates.  These are just one side of a straight feather.  I started with a circle in the center of each side so I could make a tidy, orderly change of direction, and also liked how it broke up long stretch of feather lobes into more pleasing chunks.  I pondered how to turn the corners, then remembered old picture frames with scroll details that didn't always go all the way around the frame.  I decided to stop the feathers short of the corner and continue with plain straight lines around the corners to complete the "frame".  I love how it turned out and I think a larger version of this might come out to play when I finally get around to quilting the butterfly quilt.

I have quilted 5 versions of this quilt so far - 3 full scale throws and 2 reduced size ones, and each one needed a different quilting plan depending on the fabrics and colors.  Take a look:

I don't think I can choose a favourite...

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tic Tac Meow and Robin

I finished Tic Tac Meow. Thank you for all the suggestions about cat placement.  Clearly, I have not been around cats enough.  Apparently, some of the X blocks would have been scattered or askew if they had truly been around a cat.  I really didn't feel like ripping and rearranging though, so things are rather more orderly than a true cat would have allowed, but here it is.

Tic Tac Meow variation of Tic Tac Who pattern by Canuck Quilter Designs
Tic Tac Meow

I didn't want any quilting on the Cuddle fabric.  I wanted an uninterrupted soft furry surface for the cat, but that would have left too large an unquilted space under the cat.  (I used Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 blend batting and it specifies quilting no more than 4 inches apart.)  To get the effect I wanted I quilted the quilt before adding the cat, and just stitched though all the layers to sew the cat on afterwards.  I hope that survives multiple washings!

I couldn't resist the striped binding.  I'm glad I had blogged about joining diagonal stripes on the bias when making striped binding, because I couldn't remember how to cut the strips to hide the seams where strips join.  I'm glad I didn't have to waste any fabric to figure it out again.  I just love this red stripe and am trying to make it last!

I found the perfect backing too.  Look at those little whiskered cat faces!

I almost hate to let it go, but this quilt will be on its way to its new home soon.

I'll still have a little bit of it though. I cut out more squares than I needed for the quilt so that I could audition the fabric and fabric positions.  I also had waste triangles from the stitch-and-flip corners.  Finally, I had an extra cat silhouette, cut out to fit in one block before I decided I wanted the cat to have more presence.

The leftovers all fit quite nicely into this little piece..  I have decided it will be the center of my round-robin quilt at guild so I'm naming the cat Robin .  We will pass our centers along for the first round of borders in a couple of weeks then it will be several months before I see how the quilt turns out.  I have lots of ideas for borders but the fun will be to see what my group partners will come up with instead.  I'm rather impatient to see, and we haven't even started yet.  I think I'm going to have to develop a little bit of patience!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Strips and more strips

Over 4 years ago, when I designed my paper pieced snowflakes, I only had time to make small projects with them.. I have runners, a pillow and a tote bag sporting various snowflakes.  I always planned to make a larger quilt big enough to snuggle under when it's cold and snowy outside, but I never quite got around to it.

Now I think I never quite got around to it because I hadn't come up with quite the right layout.  Just after midnight one night a couple of weeks ago one little tweak to the design popped into my head.  I got up and tried it out in EQ right away, and my enthusiasm for these snowflakes came roaring back.  Just one little tweak was all it needed.

Fabrics came out to play this week while cold snow fell outside, pushing other work to the bottom of my list. I haven't been excited about any new projects in awhile so I am riding this wave of enthusiasm!

Despite the enthusiasm there isn't much to show yet.  I spent time working out cutting directions for the whole quilt rather than cut one block's worth at a time.  I thought that with 26 snowflakes, things could get messy and wasteful quickly if I cut each snowflake's parts individually.  I gathered all my snowflake cutting charts, added up numbers for identical cuts, and figured out how many strips of each fabric in which width would make most efficient use of my fabric to make all 26 flakes.

Umm, a lot?

I won't subcut these strips all at once.  The plan is to cut just what I need from the appropriate strips for one snowflake at a time. 

I'm happy to put these smiley face binder clips to good use to keep my strips sorted.  Santa tucked them in my stocking at Christmas, as though he knew Id need them.

I work tomorrow, but on Sunday I plan to start making snow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tic Tac Meow auditions

I am playing with my Tic Tac Who? pattern this week, but the family I am making the quilt for are cat people.  Rosie isn't sure she approves of this cat business, but I am adding an applique cat instead of my pieced dog block anyway.  I chose a black cat silhouette pattern from the EQ8 block library and will cut it from black Cuddle fabric once I settle on a size.

My original idea was to simply applique the cat on a blank square where the pieced dog/owl/duck block is in the original pattern.

Umm.  Nope.  This applique just doesn't fill the space the way the pieced blocks did.  The cat shape is perfect though, so I'm determined to use it somehow.  I had been so sure this would work that I cut this cat from Cuddle, so I have an applique cat block to play with in some other project now.  However, I am not cutting any more cuddle without auditioning with something less messy first.  There's cuddle fuzz everywhere!

My husband suggested a sheet of cheap poster board. Why didn't I think of that? I cut a larger cat silhouette from poster board and have been auditioning placement.  I don't have a photo of the first try, but it did lead me to fill in the blank block with another X instead of trying to plunk a cat in it.

I think the size is better, but I don't like having the cat pretty much in the center of the quilt.

This is a bit better, but I think the cat gets a bit lost against the darker reds.  There's something else bothering me about this one, but I can't quite put my finger on what exactly.


I think I like this one best.  I am going to let that simmer for a little bit while I baste and quilt the quilt.  I plan to have the cat be just a silouhette, so I don't want to quilt inside or all over it, but it is too big to leave the area under it unquilted.  I am going to quilt the background, then applique the cat on top.  I think that should be OK. If you have any words of wisdom against that plan, please speak now before I quilt!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Which side is which?

You may recall that back in August I decided the ISU Cyclones baby quilt I had almost finished quilting needed to be larger to fit my college son instead. I designed extra borders, figured out the math, bought more fabric, prepared to learn to add quilt-as-you-go borders, and made this instead.

Pattern:  Spark, by Maple Island Quilts

The more I looked at the first project the more I thought it really wasn't Matt's style.  When I was organizing patterns on the wall at the LQS where I work, Spark by Maple Island Quilts caught my eye.  I knew Matt would like this better, and that the ISU fabric with the grey background would suit him better as well.

This was the quickest top finish I have ever had.  It took me about 5 hours from starting to cut to finishing the top. Making the back took longer because I couldn't leave well enough alone.  I made my daughter a quilt in her high school colors last winter.  I pieced her name into that one, and decided I should do the same for Matt's college quilt.  I was also determined to use up leftovers and the fabric I had bought to enlarge the previous Cyclone quilt, so I needed to sit down and design something.  It morphed three times, but here is what I ended up with.

Matt's Cyclones quilt, part 2

I paper pieced the name using Happy Sew Lucky's Vintage Alphabet pattern.  It's a great, crisp alphabet.  There is even guidance on how to space different letter combinations. I love that.!

Honestly, I think I ended up liking the back better than the front.  So did my friend Chris of Urban Loon Studios who did the longarm quilting for me.  (I couldn't get Laura's quilt finished and quilt this one too!)  My co-workers at the shop liked the back better as well.

My first guess was correct though.  Matt's style is definitely grey and simpler.  Every time I've seen him use it since he pulled it out from under the Christmas tree, that's the side he's showing off.

Christmas Day nap

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Favourite Finish of 2018

There was no contest.  I knew if I finished this one it would be my favourite quilt finish of 2018.

Chic Country (pattern by Sew Kind of Wonderful)

I finished hand quilting Chic Country on the evening of December 21. I had hoped to finish a little earlier so I could sneak the binding on while my daughter was at school but I ran out of school days.  As long as I was just quilting, she didn't know how close I was to finishing.  If she had seen me bind she would have known a finish was imminent.  In the end, I decided to trim the quilt while she was out of the house and put the unbound but trimmed quilt under the tree, way in back. 

Look at that smile! I sent her behind the tree, she paused, looked puzzled, then said "You finished it?". When I replied "All but the binding" the smile bloomed.  She knew I had a quilt under the tree for her brother, but was sure I wouldn't have hers finished. She had been checking my progress on the line drawing I was coloring in as I finished quilting sections.  Good thing I thought of that and stopped coloring weeks before!

The quilt migrated to her bedroom to sleep under that night, and I stole it back several times over the next few days to sew on the binding.  Here it is in its new home.

Chic Country quilt

It looks much better there than in a pile beside my chair in the living room, where it has been for almost two years as I slowly quilted.

Hand quilting detail on Chic Country

I even remembered to quilt her name into it, as required by tradition.  (I explained the origins of it in this post several years and a few bed quilts ago.) I tried to figure out how to fit the name into the blocks, but they have 4-fold symmetry and my daughter's name has 5 letters. I settled for stitching it in two places in the border. If you click on the picture it should enlarge so you can see the detail.

And of course, quilt testing is not complete without Rosie's approval. 

Besides making Laura happy, I am so, so happy to have finally finished this one!  I chose the fabrics in March 2016, started cutting in November,  started piecing in January 2017, pondered how to tweak the pattern to add borders in February and finished the top on February 21, 2017.  I have been quilting it in fits and starts since about April 2017.  I neglected pretty much everything else for a couple of months before Christmas to get it done, but it was worth it for that smile on Christmas morning!

I'm taking a break from hand quilting for a little bit.  I have piecing to do and for evening hand work I picked up some pretty yarn to knit a sweater.

Wishing you all much happiness and quilting success in 2019!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Christmas stocking 2018

Last year I made new Christmas stockings for mom and dad, but there were no takers for new ones in my own household.  The kids were adamant about keeping the ones they have always had.

This year I caved and retired the 40-some year old stocking my grandmother knit for me.  The yarn is starting to look a little worn in places, and I feared one of these days it would break and the stocking would unravel and there would be tears at Christmas.  This very special stocking will still hang on the mantle, but Santa will stuff the new one.

The stocking Memere knit for me next to my new one
For the focus block I used the snowflake ornament I designed for the December 2018 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.  For the rest of the stocking I used the method I described in my Twice-Turned Stocking tutorial last year.

Now my son has suggested that perhaps he could use a new stocking as well, provided the old one can still hang on the mantle.  His stocking dates from before I sewed.  It's a thin felt one from the dollar store to which I added his name in cross stitch, as well as tiny jingle bells. Lesson learned, by the way: don't add jingle bells to a kid's stocking unless the kid's bedroom is well away from where Santa will try to to stealthily fill the stocking!

Anyhow, it was not made to last 20 years, even with the sturdy lining I added a few years ago, but I hope it can last one more Christmas.  I'm not sure I have time to make another stocking, as quick as they are to make, because I am desperately trying to finish the hand quilting on the Chic Country quilt so I can surprise my daughter with it under the tree at Christmas. I have so consistently missed my self-imposed  deadlines on this one that at this point she doesn't expect to see it finished until she moves into university dorms next August, if then.

Chic Country (pattern by Sew Kind of Wonderful) in progress

I don't think she knows how close I am to finishing.  I've made progress since I last colored in the plan.  I have 6 blocks and the rest of the border to finish by next Friday if I plan to have time to bind it before tucking it under the tree.  I might just make it.