Sunday, January 22, 2012

Another finished quilt!

I seem (seam, lol) to be on a roll recently.  In the mood to finish, not just sew.  Here's another I finished last night, but waited until this morning's sunlight to photograph.  This table topper or small quilt was made from a variety of fabrics cut with the Accuquilt Tumbler 6" die.  I love my GO! cutter.  It makes things like this so easy.  I was really careful how I laid out the fat quarters on the die, and was able to get 6 blocks from one FQ.  I had some tumbler pieces from another quilt I made last year, and added a few coordinates and contrasts to those to make this. 

The Accuquilt die cut pieces are a breeze to sew.  Mostly mindless, which is what I needed this week.  Sometimes I want a challenge, and other times I want to make and finish something quickly.  The tumbler is certainly easy.  Just sew the pieces together (make sure one is going up and one is going down), vary your colors, make an odd number of blocks per strip.  This one had 7.  Stick your strips on the design wall to help get a variety in the mix, and sew the rows together.  Did I mention no "dog ear" triangle points or corners to clip??  I plan to make a few more of these, since they are fun and a great background for some new quilting designs.  I am, afterall, in a challenge to improve my Free Motion Quilting.  This month's theme at SewCal Gal's blog was leaves (see my previous post for my first examples) and I wanted to do more leaves. 

So here are some pictures of the most recent work, on this small quilt. 

For me, the most practical practice is in real life.  If I can really make something out of my stitching practice, or are making a real project, I concentrate more on the stitching, speed and shapes of the design.  The practice and repetition becomes real, not just a test.  Afterall, isn't applying what we learn to real life situations the true test of our skills and knowledge?  I think sometimes the powers that rule our current education systems forget that.  Performance in a test does not equate performance in real life.  Um, yeah, that's the teacher in me talking. 

Another UFO done!!

Yippee! I love this quilt, and it's done.  Last March, 2011, I started this Tossed 9 Patch quilt on National Quilt Day.  I love Moda fabric, and had more than enough Prairie Paisley charms and yardage to make a large lap quilt for my living room, so it was started.  I had the top finished for a while, and spent a few weeks looking for some red fabric for the border, but the group had been discontinued, and none of the shops I checked had any, or any good red to match.  I teach classes at Enright's, and they had a good deep red that was close, but not Moda.  It was the best I could do, though, and felt the quilt needed a bright border.  So, I added that, then the square border, and finally the outer border.  I also got a great indigo blue print for the back at Enright's, and love not having to piece the backs.  It was layered and pinned there, as well, on the great table Paul made.  I quilted the center part, chose the chain stencil for the red border, and Xed the squares for the next border.  The quilt sat for a few months while I contemplated a great look for the outer border.  I borrowed a stencil from Bernie, Paul's wife, and then was stuck again, as it didn't "mesh" in the length of the sides.  I set it aside again, until I figured out how to adjust the design to work for my quilt. 

The batting is Warm & Natural cotton, and the quilting thread is Superior King Tut. 

I finally finished the binding and label today, so here it is!  I love it.  The border stencil is really cool, and the quilt is a great accent for my slate blue couch.  I measures about 65 by 77 inches, so it's a great size for snuggling with a book or watching a movie.  Now, if I only had someone besides Hazel to snuggle! 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Meet Mr. and Mrs. Sparkles

I love snowflakes and snowmen.  I think it's one of the cutest ways to decorate for the winter. I've also gone LIGHT crazy in my latest designs.  I'm working with JF Magic to design ways to integrate light technology into quilting.  I'm using LED light strands and Fiber Optic, as well.

 Most wintery evenings, as I let Hazel out for her last "call", I enjoy seeing the sparkle of snowflakes on the deck.  It makes me smile, and I had to do something Quilty to represent the glitter.  Hence, Mr. and Mrs. Sparkles.

Adding lights is not difficult, but does pose some challenges.  I want the lights to show on the top of the quilt.  Some can be done under one layer and will provide a glow, but I want others to be brighter.  I create tiny buttonholes and insert the light, and stitch behind the bulb to hold it in place.  Placement is important in the design, so I'm careful to mark which bulb goes where, and mark the locations of buttonholes carefuly.  The next step is to layer and quilt, but you can't quilt or sew over the wires.  The wires are fairly delicate, and one wrong needle can break them.  I don't do a lot of quilting in the area of the light strand, but enough to help hold the lights in place and accent the features.  The quilt finishes with a small pocket on the back to hold the battery pack.  These quilts are not washable because of the battery pack.  I'm working on a design that will be washable, and there are other features of the technology I'm exploring.  I have plans!!! 

Anyway, here's Mr. and Mrs. Sparkles.  I listed Mr. Sparkle on my Etsy store after he was completed for the classes I teach at Enright's Fabric Warehouse in Bethlehem, PA.   Someone contacted me about a pair, and since Mrs. Sparkle was already started as a sample, I finished her, too.  These will be on their way to Georgia shortly, to live in a collection of snow people.  I'm excited that my quilts will be added to that, and excited to play with the design from Quilt In A Day called Pumpkin Grins.  I may have to make a few more snow people with different accessories. 

Mrs. Sparkles accessories include a gold sequin necklace with gold flower, gold and pearl button earrings, and floral print yo-yos with purple buttons on her hat, as well as cotton lace scarf.  Some of her "face" fabric has glittery sparkles on it as well.  So, her name became Mrs. Sparkles. 

If you want more information about integrating lights into your quilt, please let me know.  I have classes and projects for different holidays, and can show you what to do.  It's fun.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Leaves and the First Finish of 2012

Hi. I'm celebrating my first finish of 2012! I started this table runner in September of 2011, just because I liked the fabrics. I had designed this runner on EQ7 last year, and had made a few in different colors. When I asked my sister-in-law what I could make for her for her Christmas/Birthday gift, she said she wanted a pretty, Spring colored runner that would make her happy when she saw it. So, I decided to finish it. I began quilting it with a lovely blue variagated thread, and realized I didn't like the look or the design. I showed it to her, and she liked it, so I took out the quilting and set it aside to ponder a new direction for the stitching.

Then this challenge began. SewCal Gal is sponsoring a Free Motion Quilting challenge. Each month, a well known quilter offers a lesson, and our challenge is to practice the lesson, and blog about it. There are prizes, but the real prize is the skills developed over the year. I looked at the Leaves design posted by Ms. January, Frances Moore, and immediately realized the design, in a thinner thread, would be a beautiful accent for the Blue and Yellow Ribbon runner.

Here's the finished runner.

Although the colors look pretty good here, it is much prettier in person, with a true sunny yellow, and pretty sky blue. Here is a detail of the quilting, and a picture of the back, to show more of the stitching.
I am not new to Free Motion Quilting, but this challenge will help me get more even stitches as well as more designs. I've created a few of my own, as well, but never used leaves as a full design. I have done leaves in a border.

Here are the first practice blocks I did for this challenge. This is using Superior King Tut (blue variagated) on the top, with Aurifil 50wt on the bottom. I had problems with breakage and tension at first, but changed the needle and it helped. I used scraps from backings and Warm & Natural batting. The test blocks could have been a little bigger, but...I used what I could quickly grab.
This is the second sample, and I changed threads to Aurifil 50wt white in both top and bobbin at the end. I didn't cut the thread between areas, but liked the leaf in the thinner thread better for this runner.

My third sample was actually doing it on the table runner. I love it! It came out really good. The design offers a great texture to the top, without distracting from the ribbon design of the blocks. The leaves are a variety of sizes, which I think adds to the texture, as well. Aurifil 50wt in white was the perfect thread, as expected. I'm happy.