Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hoppy Baby Quilt

My nephew and his beautiful wife are expecting their first baby.  Teri is also a quilter, so I hoped she would appreciate a quilt from Baby Mack's Great Aunt.  They are waiting until the birth to discover the baby's sex.  I'm secretly hoping for a girl, but I'm also happy it may be a boy, another McAuliffe, to keep our family name going into the next generation.  So, when the invitation for the shower came, I wanted to make a quilt that could be used for either gender.  I had won a Fat Quarter collection from Benartex, so I picked that, plus the pattern "Hole in the Wall" by Quilt In A Day, to make a bright, fun, quilt.  I picked red solid for the sashing, and needed one more FQ for the blocks.  I picked up the blue and green wave design, the solid and the minkee backing from JoAnn's.

The collection, called Tree Frogs, by Kanvas is really fun.  One print has a variety of sweet and fun tree frogs in different colors.  I fussy cut the frogs to star in the center of each block, and used additional fussy cuts to feature different frogs in the cornerstones.  Two prints featured X and flower shapes on either black or white.  Another was a graphic black on white, and the remaining prints were graphic designs in yellow, green and orange.  I picked the red for sashing, which would pick up the red in the frogs and flower prints, and hopefully be suitable for either a boy or a girl.  It's bright and fun.

So, how does one quilt a Frog quilt??  Because of the minkee backing (it stretches and also has a nap) I wanted a fairly simple design that would be fun, but not a basic stipple.  What to do??  Wait for inspiration. This came in the blog by Cynthia Brunz designs, a fellow seller on Etsy.  She posted some ideas in this blog post,
and I saw the Line of Swirls pattern, and thought they could maybe pass for lily pads.  So, I used a great variegated Aurifil thread, 3817, in 50wt Mako Cotton for the top, and used 2250, the perfect red, in the bobbin.  Have I mentioned I love Aurifil?  No issues with the quilting.  Warm & White cotton batting was used, too.

Just for fun, I started piecing the quilt on my vintage Singer 15-91, a machine from 1954.  I wonder if the person who built this machine ever thought it would be working 60 years from then, or sewing such a modern designed fabric.

I need to get another photo in daylight, but here are the pictures for now.

The back was a bit smoother before I washed it, but I love the soft minkee, and how the swirls look.

Note this!! I didn't prewash the polyester minkee.  I DID test the red Legacy solid from JoAnn, and didn't think it would bleed, but I think it did.  I added 3 Shout Color Catcher sheets to the wash.  For some reason, the top had lots of lint on it.  I wanted to make it look better, so washed the quilt, and I'm glad I did.  These are the color catchers after washing. 

I'm so glad that I know the quilt should probably not run again, but I'll tell Teri tomorrow.   I put a label on the back, but need to fill out the baby's name after he or she comes, hopefully in early March.  

And I won't be buying Legacy solids from JoAnn's again.  I'm going to stick with Kona or Bella from Moda. 

Adding a new picture taken Sunday, before the shower, in daylight.  

Next up, hearts.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014



I finished a quilt.  This pattern is called Zig A Zag, by Quilt In A Day.  It's easy to get the "in" chevron look, without making triangles, if you know the secret in this pattern.  Looks great in many different fabrics.  I'm enjoying using batiks.  I love playing with colors and seeing how the prepackaged bundles of strips work into a quilt.  I don't always use all the ones included.  I may change out some colors that I think may not work as well.  My quilts will be different from someone who purchased the same strip pack (also known as Jelly Roll).  The fabric manufacturer makes a bundle of 40 2 1/2" strips.  Often I agree with the collection of colors.  Other times, I pull out the ones I don't like as much, and either cut some strips from my fabric, or add in ones from other packs, that I've saved for just this purpose.  I love playing with the colors and picking borders.  Seeing how it comes out in the end??  I really enjoy that, too.  I am a visual person, so it's fun to see what really happens, and if my ideas work.  Most of the strips in this quilt were from Island Batik's collection called Frostings.

I also did an informal "side by side" comparison.  I have a variety of threads.  My favorites come from Aurifil and Superior.  Before I really knew about thread quality, I purchased some others, the brands that are available at JoAnn's.  These are not necessarily "bad" threads, but once you've tried Aurifil, you won't ever want to use the others.

To be fair, this isn't exactly scientific.  There wasn't a "control" group, and I didn't exactly do the "same thing" with both threads, but here are my observations.  Needles used are Schmetz Quilting size 14.

Here's a photo of the quilting from the back.  All the thread you see here is Aurifil 50wt Mako cotton color 2315. Notice how it blends in so well with the backing fabric, a mottled peach color?  No breaks, no skipped stitches (side note, LOVE the texture with the feathers, and I'm getting good!! Feathers are not easy!).

Here's a close up of the borders, and the threads used.

Main body of quilt (zig zag part) is Aurifil 50wt color 3817, a variegated thread in many colors.  I think it accents the quilt nicely.  FACT:  No breakage of thread.  No fraying, no skipped stitches.  I did break a needle, and had to rethread because of that, but the thread cap got loose and the thread wrapped around the spool pin.  That's user error, not the thread.

Small yellow triangles and green inner border.  Thread used is Sulky 30 wt (thicker thread) long staple cotton in a variegated yellow.  FACT:  Thread broke, frayed, skipped stitches.  I had to rethread at least 8 times per side of the quilt, an average of every 10 inches.  I even replaced the needle.  Batiks are a tighter weave, and that can wear the point of the needle more quickly.  I don't like using this brand of thread.  Quilting should be fun, not stressful. Although this thread is supposed to be a better quality, it was much more difficult to use.  I've done other quilts with Aurifil 30 wt cotton, and did not have the issues with Aurifil.

Pink outer border:  Aurifil Mako 50wt 2440 used in the peachy-pink outer border.  Same needle as the last 3 sides of the yellow/green part.  NO breakage, snags, skipped stitches, or fraying.  At all.  Around the entire outer border.  Just perfectly stress-free quilting.  Border is wider, so more square inches covered.  

Note:  This is not exactly scientific.  I didn't have a 30wt Aurifil in the colors I needed to actually compare to the Sulky thread.  I didn't change to a new needle for the Aurifil.  But the points remain the same.  Aurifil really does make a better thread.  As for cost per inch, considering I lost so much in rethreading and taking out the areas with breakage and skipped stitches with the Sulky, Aurifil is also a better bargain.  More of the thread from the spool is on the quilt, not in the garbage can.  I was trying to use up some of the other threads, which is why I used the Sulky.  Although the color and texture it gives the quilt were what I wanted, I'm not sure I'll use it again.

So, why aren't you using Aurifil? .  I hope I can help you avoid some issues with thread.  This is not a sponsored post.  I'm NOT getting paid to give my opinion

Next project is a baby quilt.  Then more finishes and thread comparisons!  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Moonlight Snowflakes

A number of years ago, I saw a quilt pattern that caught my eye.  I didn't buy the pattern, but did save a picture of it.  When I got EQ7, the quilt design software, I figured out the layout and worked on designing a different border.  That sat in the files for a while, and I started collecting a variety of blue snowflake prints with silver metallic accents.  But as I collected, I didn't notice how many yards of each blue I would need.  Eventually, I put the correct yardage into a project bag, and worked on other things.  Last December, I cut and pieced the quilt top, and had it ready for quilting.  Then it sat again, while I worked on my Free Motion Quilting stitching skills, and contemplated the designs.  I also continued to look for a suitable binding fabric.  

Inspiration struck in November of 2013, and I began quilting, and had huge issues with the silver metallic thread I was using.  Broken needles, huge knots and nests on the bottom, broken thread, etc. (See previous blog posts).   I decided to try Superior Metallic thread and titanium Topstitch needles, and that worked much better.  I didn't break any needles, and had only 3 knots, and a few breaks.  The other thread, I had knots and breakage every few inches.  I recommend Superior Metallics if you choose to add sparkle to your designs.  

So, here are some pictures.  I still need to add the label, and have to decide on the name.  This one is a keeper.  I worked too hard, and learned so much, and love blue and snowflakes.  The pictures don't show how beautiful it really is, and how good the quilting looks.  I really had fun, once I got the right thread.  

This was pieced with Aurifil 50wt cotton, and in the (maybe 12?) bobbins for quilting.  Lots of Aurifil!  

Superior Silver Metallic in the feathers and swirls. 
 A shot with a little of the backing and binding.  Swirling snowflakes!  And no need to shovel.  This is for mine!  I'm keeping it.  

First Finish of 2014, and finished a UFO.  Very proud of myself!!  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What have I done lately?

Happy New Year!

I hope you find time to do things you love, things that bring you joy.  For me, that's quilting and sewing, and selling what I make, and sharing what I know.

My recent sales were for a custom Pirate shirt, and a Greek Flag quilt.  These were finished and shipped to Canada (shirt) and Wisconsin.  The flag was a Christmas gift for her friend.  She let me know she got it, and that the gift was "priceless".  I'm so honored that my work is appreciated.

Here are some pictures of the shirt and the flag.

I did a little fancy stitching around the placket on this one.  Making custom items is fun.  This is my third shirt. I think Aurifil 50wt makes such a pretty accent in these stitches.  It's not super shiny like many embroidery threads, but the perfect accent to the fabric.

Each flag comes out a little differently.  I think it's cool how it looks like it's blowing in the wind, That's the part that changes. After I make the top, I chop it back up into strips, then sew the strips randomly back together.  I do make sure the edge will work (nice curve, not too jagged) but the size of the strips and shape of the curve is random.  That's fun!  
I add the word "Hellas" in Greek, which is the actual name of the country.  Most other countries call it Greece.  Remember studying the Hellenic wars?  The blue is a wash-out marker.  I use it here to make sure the letters are even.  If you look above, the white is quilted with white Aurifil 50wt thread, and the letters are just shadows in the design.  I want them to be visible, but not blatant.  It's just an accent.  The blue part is a matching Aurifil, too.

My current, almost finished work in progress is my snowflake quilt.  I have to finish the borders, and put the binding on.  You've seen some pictures of it in recent posts.  Here's a detail of the quilting, with Superior's Metallic in Silver.  This thread is behaving better.  No broken needles.

This is the top, before quilting.  I'm having fun making 8 pointed snowflakes and swirls and feathers to accent the blocks.

I'm pretty sure I'm keeping this one.  I love it too much to list it.  Finding the fabrics with silver accents was fun, and not easy.  I collected for a while before I had enough of prints that worked together to make this design.  So, watch for other snowflake fabric items in my store.  I may make a second one, if I can find similar fabrics or colors.  I had seen a similar design online, but I changed it a little.

Watch for a blog about Moonlight Snowstorm soon!  And new items to my store, soon, too.
I'm linking up with Quiltsy's WIP.