Friday, March 29, 2013

Now for the next one

Kyoto Gardens has borders! I’m glad the first two corners went on smoothly or I might have relegated the quilt to the UFO bin again.  However, as I got those on without too much fuss I had more patience for the last two corners that required a bit of ripping and fussing, but eventually went on if not perfectly then “good enough”.  No Quilt Police in this house! 

I has planned to machine quilt it right away. I have the backing and the batting and the thread and even thought ahead to what quilting designs I’ll try.  However, dealing with the weight of just the top or just the backing caused the tendonitis to twinge so I thought wrestling the whole thing while I quilt it might not be a good idea just yet.  It’s back in a box, but at the head of the queue to be quilted when I can get back to that.

IMG_6551So, now I can dive into the next project.  This is a brand new one.  I have been letting the design stew for a while, tweaking it now and then until it finally felt right.

I bought most of these blues and greens on sale last spring, planning to use them together, but with no particular project in mind.  Last week I bought the oranges and neutrals to add to the pile and yesterday I spent a rather long time deciding which fabrics to save for something else.  This new design doesn’t need that many.

The next couple of hours slipped away as I tried to choose which method to use to make over 250 triangle squares so I would know how to cut my fabric.  I still haven’t decided.  I tried all the methods I have used in the past (stitching on both sides of the diagonal, using the Easy Angle ruler, using the Angler) and fussed with my seam allowance, and I still am not getting consistent squares.  The whole quilt, except for the borders, consists of 3” triangle squares so I need to get these right!  I have one more method to try, and if I don’t like that either I will resort to making them larger than needed and trimming them to size.  That would bug me though…I feel I should be able to be accurate by now!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Will they, won’t they?

I have assembled and cut to size the inner borders for Kyoto Garden.  I spent an afternoon measuring the quilt, and the pieced outer borders, and checking the math. Theoretically the inner borders should fit just so, allowing the outer pieced squares on point to line up just so.


Unfortunately the last minute measurements I made today don’t match the ones I made two days ago.  I’m not sure which ones are actually right.  Did I stretch things then or not smooth things out well today?  Grump.

If my seam allowances were all absolutely perfect then this wouldn’t be an issue, but unlike some people who claim they can always cut the borders to the pattern’s mathematically correct dimensions because they always sew perfect seams, I know I have variations.  Just a thread or two multiplied across several seams can add up!  I try, but there’s usually some variation in those seams!

So will my borders fit or won’t they?  Can you tell I’m procrastinating finding out?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Inching towards a finish

Looking back through old blogs, I found that I started my blue Kyoto Gardens quilt over a year ago,  on January 20th, 2012.   That is by no means the longest time one of my quilts has been in progress, but I have decided it is time for it to be done.  All it needs now are borders.

IMG_6552Here is the quilt as Judy Martin designed it.  I made my center smaller, only 3x4 blocks, like the twin size option in the pattern, and I like how it turned out.  The pieced border doesn’t suit my style though, so I have been thinking about alternatives

I finally settled on a border of squares on point and realized I could just replace the pieced units in the pattern’s border with plain squares and not have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.  The inner border, square and setting triangles measurements are already in the pattern.

Sunday I spent a few hours cutting blue squares and white/cream setting triangles. I put the squares up on the design wall around the quilt center and decided they just didn’t suit the quilt.  The scale was all wrong.  I went to bed.

Yesterday I reasoned that perhaps once the border was assembled and seam allowances were used up, the scale might work better, so I sewed and sewed.  After assembling one side I put it up beside the quilt center and still felt it didn’t work but by that time I had enough units assembled that I figured I might as well complete the borders and save them for a future quilt.

Late last night it occurred to me that perhaps the problem was that the squares on point didn’t look good too close to the center.  My design wall isn’t big enough for a twin size quilt so the borders were closer to the center than they would be once the plain inner border was added.  I took everything down from the wall and spread it out on the floor, laying out scraps of fabric to stand in for the inner border.


The top and bottom inner borders are wider to accommodate the length of the pieced side borders, but it seemed like too big a chunk of empty white space so I tried adding a strip of blue to break it up. I might add a small white border all around to float the squares, then bind in blue.  Or maybe a wider blue border all around?

I think this might work, though this morning I wondered if the squares compete too much with the quilt center.  And then I liked it again.  And then I waffled again.  Any comments?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Background fillers

This week I spent time practicing free-motion quilting.  I had never tried background fillers but my lone star runner seemed a good place to practice.

Finished star runner

When I practiced a few designs a few weeks ago, I thought they were too dense compared to the light quilting I planned to do in the stars but I really liked the swirls (“concentric circles” from the book Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters). I finally decided to try them on the runner anyway and just quilt more than I had planned in the stars.Closeup Pink star

I liked the way that turned out, but I thought a whole runner covered in swirls might be too much swirl so I pored over the book again and settled on pebbles and wood grain for two more blocks.  I couldn’t get the wood grain design down to a suitable scale for the small space, so I simplified it a bit.  “River path” from Leah Day’s Free-motion Quilting Project filled another block, but I didn’t find anything else I liked that would fit the scale and go well with the other designs I had already quilted, so I repeated the pebbles instead of using 5 different designs as I had planned.

  I like to quilt with a thread that blends at least a little bit with the fabric.  I don’t really want to see a line of stitches, especially when the stitch sizes are all over the map in my free-motion work, or when I have to backtrack over a stitched line and I don’t quite manage to follow the line exactly. Closeup Purple star With blending thread I see the texture as a whole instead of the individual iffy stitches.  As I stitched in the center of the star I cringed about my curves not being consistent and not all meeting where I wanted them to and I thought I might end up taking it all out.  Once I was done and looked at the whole instead of the individual parts, I was pleased to see that the blending thread did its job, showing off the texture and hiding the bobbles.



Closeup Yellow star




Modified wood grain





Closeup Green star




More pebbles





Closeup Blue star





“River Path”.  This design was really easy and fun to do.




This was all good practice in quilting background filler designs and they look great on the runner, but I’m not sure I would use them on a quilt I want to curl up under.  The heavy quilting makes the quilt really stiff – fine for a runner but not very cuddly.  Quilting all the designs on a larger scale might make things less dense and less stiff but I’m not sure how they would look on a larger scale…  I suppose I’ll have to experiment at some point.