Thursday, January 26, 2012

Basting geese

No, I’m not roasting a few geese.  I have however basted my Wandering Geese quilt.  Basting is still not my favourite part of making a quilt, but my new basting frame improved things.
I remembered reading about this but couldn’t remember where so I Googled “quilt basting frame” and came up with several references and some instructions.  I settled on the inexpensive option: four 8 foot long pieces of 1x2 lumber, 4 C-clamps and strips of inexpensive muslin.  I had to cut two of the pieces of lumber down to 7 feet so I could use this frame downstairs with the low ceilings. I wrapped the wood with the muslin, tacking the muslin down in a few spots with a staple gun.  I then used the C-clamps to clamp the pieces into a rectangular frame just a bit smaller than my quilt backing.  All the instructions said to balance the frame on 4 straight-backed chairs, but lacking those I balanced two ends on small tables of similar height.
IMG_5483After pinning the backing fabric to the muslin wrappings, pulling it nice and taut as I worked, it looked like this. 
Next I spread the batting on top, then smoothed the quilt top on top of that.  I pin basted all the way around the edges then enlisted help to prop the frame up against the wall.
It worked!  No sagging, no crawling around on hands and knees, no wrinkling of the quilt sandwich while crawling around and no accidental pinning of anything to the carpet!
This was easier than trying to baste in sections on the kitchen table, too.  It also had the advantage of not having to get all the basting done in one go so we could clear the table for supper.  I sat in a chair to baste the bottom half, and stood for the top half.
Now for the next step!
Sneak peek…

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Whole lot of cutting

I spent both yesterday and today at a mini-retreat at the local quilt shop:  quilt all day, go home to sleep and come back to quilt all day again.  Though I brought my sewing machine I didn’t do much sewing.  I sewed a few units but I mostly cut, cut and cut some more. I discovered that the cutting table at the retreat is at a much nicer height for this task than my kitchen table.  Since there are 882 pieces in this new quilt I decided to use the better table while I could!
I managed to cut 596 pieces, and have 78 other pieces cut that need to be subcut into 156 kite-shaped things.  When I went back this morning I remembered to bring ziplock bags to sort all the pieces into before they ended up scattered all over the workroom.
There is still the matter of trimming points on most of the pieces.  I did try skipping this step but found it too difficult to figure out how to match up angled sides without the trimmed points.  The trimmed points match up beautifully with each other so despite the tedium of trimming it will save time and gnashing of teeth when I start sewing.  At least I can trim points a few at a time as I am ready to sew them.
So far I have this sewn:
I am making a serious dent in my blue stash!  This will turn into a version of “Kyoto Garden” by Judy Martin from her book “Stellar Quilts” (thanks for the book, Mom!).  The colour selection and placement in her version are very carefully  planned, but I decided to try random and scrappy.  As I placed everything on the design wall tonight I started having second thoughts about that, but all those pieces are cut so I’ll press on the way I started!
I’m not sure when I will have progress to show on this one.  I have two quilts to baste and start quilting, I need to sew the backing to the back of the prairie points on the leaf quilt (the blocks are all quilted!), and I’m toying with the idea of painting the kitchen, and maybe the living room…

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snipping threads

I have never worked with fabric that frayed as much as the fabric in my Wandering Geese quilt.  I’ve spent hours snipping fraying threads off the back, and I’m sure there will still be at least one stray one that will sneak onto the white bits and show through after I have everything quilted! 
I have no idea what this fabric is.  I bought it as fat quarter bundles and there wasn’t any identifying info on any of the selvedges.  I wasn’t thinking about fabric quality when I bought these.  I was just sucked in by the pretty colours.  I still like them.  I just wish they would stop fraying already!
IMG_5441I’m almost ready to baste and quilt the quilt.  Here’s the backing all ready to go.  All I have left to do is assemble 4 8-foot-long 1x2 pieces of lumber, muslin strips and 4 C-clamps into a basting frame and I can get to work.  I have never used a basting frame but I haven’t been happy with how I’ve basted the last few quilts.  The backing wasn’t as smooth as I would like.  I remembered reading about a basting frame in a library book (don’t remember which one!) and decided it was inexpensive enough to be worth a try.  The book suggested that once the quilt was on the frame it could be propped against a wall to make it easy to reach the center.  I won’t get around to this until early next week.  I’ll let you know how it goes.
Now I’m off to hand quilt the last block of my maple leaf quilt (the one from my header).  Yay!  I’ll need to add a bit of quilting to the borders after I finish the edges (I need to leave about an inch unquilted until the back is sewn to the prairie points)  but the end is in sight!

Friday, January 6, 2012

One more border down

I finally decided what to do for a border on my flying geese quilt!
I had planned to piece a border of colour rectangles end to end but decided it wasn’t the look I wanted.  I then visited the local quilt shop with quilt in hand and came home with the perfect fabrics for a pair of plain borders. Of course those fabrics turned out to not be right either so in late October this quilt went into the UFO bin.
After finishing the top for Whimsy on New Year’s eve, border battles included, I was inspired to take another look at these borders as well and spent a couple of days auditioning fabric in various configurations.  It’s funny how I came almost full circle to my original idea, with a pieced border made up of all the quilt’s colours. I just placed them in a piano key pattern instead of end-to-end.

Enough chat.  Here’s the quilt, all my own pattern:
Hmmm,  I really think it looks better in person.  I suppose I could have waited for better lighting to snap the picture…
I considered putting in a narrow inner border between the center and the piano keys, but nothing seemed quite right.  Looking at the picture I think it could use one, but  full size in person it doesn’t seem to.  Doesn’t scale just mess with the mind?
I’m planning to machine quilt this one.  I have a few ideas, but I’ll let them simmer a little before I start to be sure I end up with what I like.  I do know I plan to bind the quilt in the two fabrics I intended for borders:
No name for the quilt yet.  Maybe Wandering Geese since they don’t seem to know which way to head?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year’s Wish for Quilters

May your points always meet
May your thread never break
May your borders behave
And may inspiration never desert you
Thank you all for your friendship and encouragement!  I wish all of you joy and peace in 2012.

(Borders still pending on two of these tops…)

Just under the wire

Ta da!  Just under the wire as a 2011 finished quilt top, with 20 minutes to spare:
I`m not sure how long ago I started this one, but it was back in APQ blog days, so at least 2 years ago.  I think it was closer to 3 years.  It has gone in and out of the UFO bin several times, but this week I decided it needed to be done and here it is, after wrestling the borders into submission.  The quilt really doesn’t bow in the middle the way the picture makes it seems.  I`m not sure why all  my quilt pictures do that…  Anyway, Whimsy (pattern by Darlene Zimmerman) now moves to the finished flimsy pile to await quilting.  It’s next in line for hand quilting after I finish quilting the leaf quilt.