Thursday, August 30, 2018

Quilting baptist fans

Starlight Wishes, grown up version, has been a top for several months now.  A year ago this month all it needed was final borders to be a completed quilt top.  Becoming a completed, quilted quilt has taken longer because I just didn't know  how to quilt it and it was being awfully quiet about its own preferences.

It finally started talking!

It wanted baptist fans.  I didn't jump right in. All those curves were a bit daunting, particularly for my rather orderly brain that likes to see nice even spacing and regular curves.  My freemotion skills were just not going to result in baptist fans that I would be happy with.

But wait, the second day of Westalee ruler classes offered by Quilting Connection here in Ames in June included baptist fans.  It's like the quilt knew!  I signed up.  You've seen my practice on the Cyclone quilt. It is in timeout while I brace myself to add borders to a partially quilted piece. Anyway, Starlight Wishes cut in line earlier this week.

Here is the ruler I'm using:  one of the Circles on Quilts rulers for domestic sewing machines by Westalee Designs.

I'll be honest, I'm still getting a few wobbles here and there from fabric tugging in directions I don't want it to under the needle, but overall I am getting very good results. I'm also learning how to repeatedly rearrange the bulk of the quilt so things go more smoothly. There is a little bit of freemotion backtracking required to stitch from one arc to the next in the baptist fans design, but I'm getting more accurate with practice.

I was worried about that backtracking, because I decided to use matching top and bobbin threads to avoid seeing little dots of bobbin thread on the top.  I tried adjusting tension to not see them, but when I finally got it right for the top, I had pesky eyelashes on the back of the quilt. Never mind.  Matching thread it is!  However, I really wanted cream thread on the top, and that does not blend at all on the navy blue back!

It's turning out much better than I feared on the back.  It's a little shakier in the center of the quilt, where I am dealing with more bunched up quilt in the machine's throat space, but overall, I can live with it.

I think I have quilted almost half of the center, one row at a time, with breaks to do other things in between rows. Maybe by the end of next week I will be ready to bind the quilt, then I'll start working on rewriting the pattern with additional sizes.

How about a close-up of the front?

All that scrumptious quilted texture!  I think the quilt chose well!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Magnitudes' debut!

Drum roll please!!!!  Finally, here is my newest pattern!

I think we all know by now that I am not a speedy pattern writer. I announced I was working on this back in October 2017, and here it is finally in August 2018!  I really think the result is worth it though.

Like Jelly Bean Stars before it, Magnitudes is constructed in such a way that you don't need to fuss with cutting triangles, and so that you cannot unintentionally cut off any points.  Unlike Jelly Bean Stars, it includes multiple sizes:  baby, throw, twin and queen.  It also gives you alternate fabric amounts for the multicolour version above, or for similar backgrounds for all the stars as in the EQ drawing below.

I strive to be accurate, to anticipate questions as I explain and illustrate every step of the block and quilt assembly so the instructions are as complete as possible, and to organize the pattern in a way that makes it easy for quilters to keep track of what step they are working on.

Once my fabulous proofreader has gone over the pattern (my husband is a man of many talents!) I send it out to generous volunteer pattern testers who let me know if I got it right.  They give me feedback about clarity and accuracy, and sometimes suggest various improvements.  I think Magnitudes was a good pattern, but I know it is better after I added in a few details and tweaked a few others following my testers' suggestions.

I extend a huge thank you to Elaine Williamson, Joanne Harris, Kathi Kivi, Sue Howe and Julie Sheehy for testing this pattern and giving me valuable feedback.  I'll share photos of their quilts later this week.

The pattern is now available as a download on both Payhip and on Craftsy.  For special savings through Labour Day (Sept.3) shop on Payhip and use the coupon code ASTRO2018 for 25% off this brand new star quilt pattern!

UPDATE JUNE 23, 2019:  All my patterns have moved to my Etsy shop.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

NASA Selfies and star forming regions

Tonight I am going to brag about my husband.  You may or may not know that he is an astronomer.  His particular research interest is star forming regions, and an image of such a region that was taken for his research has been selected as one of the top 30 images taken in the first 15 years of the Spitzer Space Telescope.

To mark 15 years since Spitzer's launch, NASA has loaded the top 30 images taken by the telescope into the NASA Selfies app.  You can download the app on your phone to take an astronaut selfie like Rosie's:

You can choose from 30 images for the background.  Rosie, being a loyal pooch, of course chose my husband's image!

I took a selfie as well, though I think Rosie's is more fun.

I'd also like to note that as knowledgeable as the hubby is about this region, I'm an expert on a much closer star forming region: my sewing room. Look at some what formed in that region:

Star Quilts by Joanne Kerton/Canuck Quilter Designs

Middle row: Forty-Eight, Lucky Bugger, Fundy Skies, Eclipse Sky, Sparkling Trail
Bottom row: Sparkling Thirties, Starfall (batiks), Starfall (Tula Pink), Vintage Sparkle, Fundy Skies.

I hope you'll come back tomorrow for the latest star pattern release! Magnitudes is ready to makes its debut!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Hand Quilting Supervisor

Here's what a hand quilting session looks like at my house.

Sometimes Rosie takes a closer look.

Spreading out the quilt to assess progress also involves paws-on and full-body testing.

Despite all that assistance, I still have not finished quilting Laura's Chic Country. I had resolved in January to sit and quilt every night and planned to have this finished by summer. Chuckle.  I know better than to make that sort of prediction! The best-laid plans were interrupted, but I have continued to make slow progress, even if not every night.

Quilting progress January 2018
Quilting progress August 2018

I recently passed the halfway mark.  I am tempted to name a new target date, but that might be tempting fate.  I'll just keep plugging away when the mood is right and it will be done when it is done.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Making progress?

When I came home from vacation I had grand plans to get a few quilty things finished.  First up was the Cyclone baby quilt. Here's where I left it in early July. There were 5 more blocks plus the border still needing quilting just like the block below.

My grand plans came to a screeching halt when I bounded into my sewing room the weekend I returned to find my machine wasn't in its usual spot.  Don't panic!  I just forgot I had brought it in to the shop to get its annual cleaning while I was away.  Sigh.  I cleaned my space instead. That is still progress, right?

By the time the machine came home I was in the middle of painting a bedroom, covered in paint and achy because apparently painting uses muscles that I don't often use.  My two day painting job took four, but on day 5, I treated myself to uninterrupted sewing. May I say that despite the wait, getting the machine cleaned and serviced was definitely worthwhile?  It purrs like a kitten.  I hadn't noticed how hard it was working until it was clean and humming happily again.

OK, back to the quilting progress.

Sigh.  Quilting the edge of the backing to the back of the quilt is not progress.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who has done this (ahem, more than once).

I took care of that little setback and finished quilting all the sashing, in the ditch around all the stars, and concentric circles in the background of 4 of the 6 blocks.

Before I got around to quilting the background of the remaining two blocks, I started thinking about borders.  Something simple.  Borders...

There we go: progress derailed again!  Thinking about quilting the borders led me to thinking about adding extra borders to make this quilt larger.  My son is an ISU student and he could use an ISU Cyclones quilt, right?  He's 19, years old, with the height that goes with the age, so this baby size just won't cut it.  Don't ask me why this didn't occur to me before I started the quilting!

That's where the quilt stands currently.  Maybe today I will do the math to figure out if I have the fabric I need to add to the top and the back as I have planned.