Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cancelled Trip, Finished Quilt

Our trip for today was cancelled. We were heading to see and surprise my FIL for his 75th birthday. Yesterday, all day, my DH was not feeling well. He just kept feeling worse. He has been in bed for most of today as well. Nothing serious, but he is miserable. He was concerned about spreading it to us as well as extended family, so we stayed home.

We had a day and a half free, but what to do? All of our mental planning was going towards a long van trip, but now we were free as birds.

I finished machine quilting my Double Pinwheel Quilt (above) and just moments ago put the last stitches in the binding. It's now in the washer. I even put a label on this. I'm coming along! Before long I'll have this quilting thing down.

Off to play a game with the kiddos.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

They Are All Here!

Here are all the fabrics for my Mennonite Mosaic Quilt. After we return from our trip, I will begin cutting and piecing this. It's my next big hand quilting piece.

This afternoon I also cut an apple core piece (4" x 5") from all my small scraps so I can cut and hand-piece more of my Apple Core Quilt on the long van trip.

Hope you're enjoying a few quilt-y moments today.


Free Motion Quilting Design on Double Pinwheels

I've had several people ask me about the quilting design on the center of the Double Pinwheels Quilt. I drew it and took a picture. This is basically it.

There are many good books and DVDs on machine quilting available. I have read several. You have to find what works well for you. I am happy to answer any questions, but there are professionals out there to assist you.

For basic (and advanced)designs (not much about threads, hand positions, etc.) I highly recommend the Pajama Quilter Reloaded. It comes across like a home-made video. Not professionally recorded. But loaded with great designs and hints for spacing, etc.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just Had to Show One Picture of Feathers

Just had to show you part of one side of the border of the Double Pinwheels quilt. I quilted one short side, and this is part of it. You can still see some of the periwinkle-colored dust from the Quilt Pounce. It's not perfect, but hey--I'm doing it at home!

Dust Bunnies & Finished BREIT Quilt

Above is my bobbin case after two days of sewing and machine quilting. Dust bunnies be free!

Below is the quilt Emily made for a customer. It has prairie points around the edge and is about 45" square. She did the piecing and I did the quilting. We are a good team like that. If it weren't for this quilt, I'd never have found the magazine with my next quilt pattern in it. It was when I was buying the thread for this that I found THE magazine.

The Engelbreit quilt is machine quilted with loops and hearts. Perfect for a baby quilt, I think. It will be off to its owner tomorrow.

I quilted one border of my Double Pinwheel quilt with a feather and tendril stencil. I LOVE it. I need to stop for today because it's time to get the van ready to head to youth choir practice. See ya...


Marking Stencil and Quilting It

Here is the quilt border after being marked with Quilt Pounce. Click on the words to look it up on the web. You don't actually tap, tap, tap the Quilt Pounce like the name indicates. You wipe it over the stencil. I also have one with white powder, but I've never had to use it. The blue shows up on everything I've pieced.

This is a continuous-line stencil, meaning that one doesn't have to start and stop constantly. That's great for machine-quilting. It doesn't matter as much with hand-quilting because you're starting and stopping all the time anyway. Here is the stitching from the back...not perfect, but after washing, it will look acceptable, perhaps even lovely.


Pinning to Machine Quilt

Here is the table that I am using to pin baste the Double Pinwheels Quilt. It was a table my DH's office used. When they were downsizing, they sold office furniture to the employees who wanted something. We got two of these tables. My DH built a base for the other, and it serves as my cutting table. The base brings it up to the perfect height for saving my overworked back.

In this picture, the center of my quilt is already quilted. Now I'm getting ready to pin the outer pinwheel border. I will quilt the cream inner border after the pinwheel border is quilted. The reasons for that...I'm using a stencil to mark the inner cream border. I didn't want to quilt it with lots of pins in the quilt. Once the pinwheel border is quilted, the cream border will be more stable and won't need any pins at all.

This table is about 30" x 60".

The quilt top, batting, and backing really stick together. To get the pinwheel border in the proper place, I had to lift it off the batting and let it lie down again. In some places I could swipe my hand across it and see that it was flat. Others needed firmer measures. One of the nice things about laying it on a table is that you can see that the edge is relatively straight. I don't get a ruler out or anything, but you can see that the dark brown outer border is straight "to the eye".

I don't use tons of pins, but I use ENOUGH. That varies from quilt to quilt. Since the inside of the quilt is already quilted and I'll be machine quilting at high speed, I only put 2 pins per 7" block here. I put them in the same place in each block so that my brain gets the "pin ahead" message while I'm quilting so I don't hit one and break a needle. I do not sew over pins.

Notice that the pins have large glass heads. That makes it easier to grab them quickly while machine quilting. I usually pull them out while I'm quilting (I don't stop).

Why am I blogging all these details? Because it's payback for all the tips I've gleaned from other quilters from reading their blogs. It IS possible to machine quilt on a domestic sewing machine (DSM). When I sent quilts out for quilting, I only had them stippled because I didn't want to spend money for the fancy quilting. This is a time-consuming process, but I think it's worth the money saved and the satisfaction of knowing I did it myself.

One more note on machine quilting. I am more choosy about my quilt BACKS these days. I make sure I can use threads for the top and back that are fairly close in color value. It is annoying to not be able to get the thread tension perfect. One of the quilts I did recently (hanging head in shame) had dark brown thread on the top and cream on the back. I could not get the tension perfect, and it nearly drove me to insanity. I kept getting brown dots on the back, then cream dots on the front. Even the most minute adjustment on the tension knob reversed the polka dots. Fortunately, after washing, the threads somehow miraculously went back to their proper places and one would never see the dots. It was hard to hold my breath the whole time the quilt was in the washer and dryer though.

I'd be glad to answer any machine quilting questions. I am by no means an expert, but I do quilt all my own quilts, a few by hand, most by machine.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

2/3 of Center Quilted

My goal is to get the center of this quilted tonight. I'm already 2/3 finished. The left part in the picture still needs to be quilted. I like to machine quilt this type of quilting in one day if possible, with short breaks. That way I can keep the motion and size going instead of starting out large and changing size by the time I get to the end. Benjamin (11) helped me lay this out on a table for pin basting. I had cut down a large batting and somehow cut it one inch too short. Instead of freaking out about it (like I normally would, beating myself mentally about the head and shoulders), I had another packge of batting, so I just used it. I'll save this one for a slightly smaller quilt.

Benjamin had high-tailed it out of the MPR (multi-purpose room) by then, so I enlisted Elisabeth for helping lay it out.

I lay the backing out with equal amounts hanging off the table on all sides. I have a helper on the other end of the table. I lay the batting down and gently arrange it so that there aren't any lumps or pleats in it. We center the quilt top on there. Since I've been doing these past few on my DSM, I only pin one part at a time. I use straight pins and make them all point to the left. I'm right handed. That makes it easy to pull them out and throw them towards the magnetic pin cushion. I always have several bobbins threaded to keep the momentum going.

On something this size, I do a couple blocks' worth from top to bottom, removing pins as I go. Then I move over to the next couple blocks to the left. I do that until I reach the middle. I'll flip the quilt around the start at the top right corner again, meeting in the middle. That way there isn't as much under the sewing machine arm at one time.

The borders will take much longer than the center. This is free-motion, just filling it in. I have a heart in heart for the first cream border, then I'll do a medium stippling in the outer pinwheel border. I'm going to try another stencil in the outer border if it's the right size. I haven't checked yet.


Double Pinwheels, Anyone?

Well, the top is finished! I like the way it turned out so much.

This is a cheerful quilt top. Most of my quilts are more dark than light. I purposely made this one lighter just to have a little variety on my quilt stand!! These blocks are so easy to piece. I already have quilt plans. I just need to piece a back and get started.

I recently received a package of stencils, and there is one that I want to try for the border of this. It's a feather with tendrils coming off occasionally. I will quilt the center with freehand pinwheels, then try the stencil in the border. The border will be kind of tedious, but I'm willing to give it a go.

This finished at about 72" x 88". Only the right half is pinned to my design wall in the pic; Emily is holding up the left half. Doesn't she have nice fingernails? LOL!

Off for back piecing...


Monday, February 18, 2008

Do I Have to go Sleep??

I did all the things I was supposed to do tonight, and still got the center of my Double Pinwheel quilt pieced! It's after 11 PM, and I need my beauty sleep though. Tomorrow I only have to add the outermost border.

I'll just leave you hanging to see how it finishes up. It is 56" x 70" right now. I wish I had noticed this earlier, but I had enough blocks to make the inside 6 x 7 instead of 5 x 7 blocks. I wish I had made it larger, but this is fine. I'll either sell the extra blocks or use them in the backing.

As Tigger says...TTFN.


Double Pinwheel Top in Sight!

After making 12 more double pinwheel blocks last night, I have enough for the layout I want to make. I've been cutting strips of this fabric and that, hoping to make this very scrappy. It has some of my very favorite fabrics in it.
Since tomorrow is my laundry day, and I have to stay close to hear the washer and dryer chimes go off, I usually spend much of Tuesdays sewing. I hope to have this top put together and ready for quilting by day's end tomorrow! Check back to see if I've accomplished my goal.

I Spy...Periwinkle

I'm still on a mission to use up some of my I Spy fabric stash. A month or so ago, I put a periwinkle binding on a quilt for my oldest daughter's piano teacher. I chose 3 periwinkle prints and she picked her favorite for the quilt. I cut up the leftover pieces to use as alternate squares for this I Spy center. Nothing fancy. My 8-year-old son pieced the rows (his first sewing project). I sewed the rows to each other (with a few minor seam allowance adjustments...I didn't want him to be discouraged).

I am hoping that the rest of my Mennonite Mosaic fabric arrives today. I'm eager to start cutting strips for that.

I started taking a prescription allergy medicine yesterday, and I feel sooooo much better. It would be great to have some energy and sleep well!!

Our family will be traveling Saturday and Sunday (5-hour drive one way). I'm hoping to cut some apples for my Apple Core quilt. I will hand piece those in the van. That's 10 hours of prime sewing time! It's been years since I even cut out one piece for that. Maybe I'll see some progress on this trip. I'll take the antique string quilt to work on while we're not driving. I find hand quilting in the van very difficult. It's not a steady ride in a 15-passenger van.

Big news today is that the feathered population here, and I mean HERE, is down to two parakeets. We had numerous finches (who had babies, who had babies). The number varied constantly with people buying them, new chicks, etc. Since it's been cold, they have lived in my sewing room. The noise was enough to push me over the edge at times, but I tried to be patient as we had no where else to put them in the cold weather. But today, grand day of days, we sold the last 3 to the local pet store (Fins & Critters...isn't that cute?).

~Joan, who is off to actually COOK. Definitely a red-letter day!