Sunday, February 28, 2010

Astro quilt progress

The top is done! I set it aside for a while as I pondered borders. I had originally planned to not have borders at all, but the quilt didn't look finished so I played around a bit. I thought I had settled on a thin blue border, but when I started sewing I decided it still didn't look done. I thought about a black outer border, to sort of go with the background fabric, but that didn't look right. I finally remembered that I was thinking a little outside the box with this quilt, and decided the background could spill out of the box too.

So, after being inspired and discovering exactly what I wanted, I was completely deflated to find the fabric I bought 8 months ago was no longer available (who'd have thought?). I could have sworn I saw some the previous week though. Anyway, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I finally found some online. It arrived and I became obsessed and neglected the housework again but I finished the quilt top. The lighting has washed the colours out a bit, but you get the general idea.

I wavered back and forth about how to quilt this. I had meant to tie it for a quick finish, but then the quilt said "swirls". Of course it changed its mind and claimed the quilting would get lost in all that busy background. I suggested quilting the stars and tying everywhere else and it was happy with that while it waited for borders. Once its borders were attached, the quilt started talking about circles...

I spent the afternoon Friday marking the quilt for quilting with a lot of not-quite-concentric circles in the background overlapping with other sets of circles. I'm not describing it very well, but it looks interesting. The test will now be to see if the quilting shows up at all on the background, and if it looks as interesting quilted.

There will be a delay, however. I hadn't planned borders. Adding borders made the quilt larger. A larger quilt means the batting and backing I had prepared are too small. I really need to start waiting to finish a top before I prepare those. It isn't the first time I've gotten caught. Long story short, I need to piece together scraps to extend my backing, and I need to go purchase more batting.

Oh, and the larger size is just a bit too big to baste in sections on my kitchen table, and I still pin to the carpet when I try to baste on the floor. Off to a machine quilter it goes to get basted, then I'll finally get to start. This is taking much longer than my initial plan, but the quilt is going to be so much more interesting than how it started out in my head that I don't really mind. Besides, spring is bound to get here soon so my hubby won't be needing the quilt right away, right?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

One WIP down

I have a sneaking suspicion that Kicking and Screaming will have the last word after all by waving its borders at me when it hangs on the wall, but for now I'll just savour the satisfaction of finally finishing it! Including all the time it spent in a box as I stewed about the latest set of setbacks, it only took about 14 months to make. :) I ordered a quilt hanger for it today, but it may take a while to arrive so I don't need to worry about the wave just yet.

Here's a look at the pringles lid quilting on the checkerboard. It isn't the full circle of the lid. I just used as much of the curve as I needed to fill the space.

I also like the way the back looks (from a distance, anyway - I'm still working on making the quilting as even and pretty on the back as on the front). I think I may have to put a whole cloth quilt on my list of quilts to make. I might get to it by 2020...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

If you need a chuckle...

I don't know about you, but the "Advice from a 1949 Singer Sewing Manual" contained in this blog made me chuckle. I'm just thinking of the state of my house when I really need to sew... And dabbing on the lipstick before I sit down at the machine? My husband would think the pod people had arrived! :) Happy guilt-free quilting (just go ahead and leave those dishes in the sink! - you'll get to them eventually).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Clarinet and skates

My son's clarinet and music and my daughter's ice skates and associated gear both get lugged around at least once a week. We got tired of gathering all the bits and pieces at the last minute on our way out the door. Both kids went shopping for appropriate fabric and here's what we ended up with:

We couldn't find ice skating themed fabric but thought the penguins conveyed an icy message. The buttons on the music tote are the buttons my son earned from the band teacher for practicing (no nagging required, yay!). My daughter has plans to sew the skating badges she has earned onto her bag.

This week I also sewed up a couple of heat packs using this tutorial. (Sorry, no pics!) I had made one last year as a heat pad for aches and pains, but this winter we've all been wanting it to heat our toes when we slip between cold sheets at night. Somehow the winter just seems colder this year, even though the thermostat is set just as before. Now that we have more heat packs the weather is bound to warm up soon, right?
I'm plugging away at three quilts, though there isn't enough progress to share new pictures yet.
1. My husband's astro quilt is waiting for borders. I finally was inspired there but had to stop when I discovered I didn't have enough of the space print to do what I wanted. The quilt store was all out of it, though I had seen some there the previous week. After 45 minutes online I was about to give up searching when I found some. Yay! It came late this week but I was in the middle of something else at that point. Soon though!
2. My daughter's quilt is progressing more slowly than I had anticipated. All those heart blocks have seams that need matching with seams in other blocks, and I hadn't planned ahead to press in appropriate directions to help the seams nestle together. I'm figuring it out as I go along, making do where I have to but overall I'm able to make it work. It's just a slow process. 4 rows are made and joined togeher. Just half left to go.
3. My Kicking and Screaming quilt is almost done. Just one more side of the outer border to do and I can move on to binding. Pictures of the Pringles lid quilting will follow when the quilt is finally hung on the wall.
Now I'm off to waste more time, not quilting, but adding pictures of past projects to this blog - there are links to 2 new pages on the sidebar. I thought it would be interesting to have a record of what I've made all in one place. How do all of you keep track of how your hobby has evolved?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Superbowl Quilting

Here's what I was working on last night while the rest of the family watched the Superbowl. I finished the last of the blocks for my daughter's new quilt. I now have to join all the blocks, but seeing them all up on the design wall is inspiring me to keep going.

The hearts are paper pieced using Cindi Edgerton's Heartfelt tissue paper foundations. The setting is mine, thanks to graph paper, coloured pencils (gotta love colouring!) and playing around on the design wall to fine tune colour placements.

I asked my daughter's opinion about fabrics for borders. She had a definite preference for "the light blue". That was actually the light aqua colour with the swirls. I decided the quilt needed a slightly darker border than that to frame it, but I kept the light blue theme. I came home from the local quilt shop on Friday with the blue on the far left in the photo below. I was also looking for more of the polka dot fabric I used in the heart blocks (far right), but had to settle for the smaller, denser polka dot (second from left). Happily, once I got it home with all the finished blocks I realized the denser polka dot will work better as a thin inner border than my original choice. It all looks like I planned it all out ahead of time :).

I'll post a picture of the finished top when it gets done, but it will be a while before you see the finished quilt. My daughter has a very realistic view of my quilting speed. She told me she was excited to see her new quilt come together, but she didn't expect it to actually be on her bed until next year since it will need to be quilted. I offered to send it out to be machine quilted to speed things up, but she declined. She explained that it would be cozier if I did all the work on it. Here I was, finally ready to part with some cash to get a quilt done sooner, and she sweet-talked me into taking the slow route. Ah well, since she cares, I'll be happy enough to hand quilt it :) I'm thinking heart chains or cables, and somewhere in there I have to quilt her name.

Now I'm off to do more quilting on "Kicking and Screaming". Thanks for all your encouraging words about that quilt. They gave me a nudge to keep at it, and I think it may finally be tamed. Perhaps I'll be sewing on binding by next week.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pringles to the rescue

I spent most evenings this week quilting this small quilt.

It is about 40 inches square. Some of you may remember it from a post on APQ last spring. I referred to it as the "kicking and screaming" quilt because it gave me so much trouble. There are still some problems with the top that bug me, but I declared it good enough and put it in the queue to be quilted.

Well, I'm finally quilting it, and it is still giving me trouble. Quilting started smoothly, with outline quilting in the star, a thin rope cable in the yellow inner border, a nice motif to fill the large white corners. I was making quick progress and was looking forward to finally getting it on the wall. That checkerboard border had other ideas. I didn't try a crosshatch pattern through the squares right away because I thought that would accentuate the problem of some of the squares near the corners not being actually square (one of those things that still bother me). I tried stitching in the ditch but it didn't look right with the rest of the quilting. I tried quilting a quarter inch from each side of the border but that didn't look good either. I tried the crosshatching finally, and was quite thrilled as I stitched that it looked really rich. Perfect!

Well, perfect until I took the quilt out of the lap frame to move on to the next bit of border and looked at the whole quilt. Because of the on-point orientation of the checkerboard, my lovely crosshatching turned into a side to side grid, and only the vertical lines really stood out. It really looked odd. If I turned the whole quilt on point it the quilting looked OK again. Back to the drawing board.

As I munched on some Pringles potato chips in frustration, I toyed with the lid of the Pringles can. It was just about the right size... I traced it to make a curve template to draw a loose chain and I think I finally have something that works! My husband has given the first little bit his thumbs up (though of course he is probably tired of hearing me grind my teeth so maybe he's just trying to hurry the process along).

Stay tuned! Hopefully the final outer border will give in more peacefully. I think I know how I want to quilt that part...