Friday, February 21, 2014

Straight and Narrow - Finished!

 Hello!  This quilt has been quite some time in the making, and almost as long in the wait to do a blog post. 

I started this quilt way back in May, when I went to a quilt show on Mother's Day weekend.  There was a vendor there, Kallisti Quilts, with the most gorgeous Japanese fabrics.  I fell in love with the taupes and thought they would be the perfect choice for a quilt for my husband.  He had been using our daughter's wonderful I Spy quilt that my aunt and her friend made, but it was time for him to have his own.  The understated palette and blend of texture and subtle patterns made these fabrics perfect for a masculine quilt that didn't rely on golf clubs and fishing lures to be "masculine".  
  The first two pictures are the set of fat quarters that I chose to make the quilt.  Michelle Dunn, owner of Kallisti Quilts had grouped the taupes into colour families, and there are wonderful hints of purple, rust, blue, and brown in these ones.  They are beautiful to the touch as well as the eye, with much of the pattern woven in, in different textures and threads.  They are beautiful to work with and I loved every block.

The pattern is Whisper, by Blue Underground Studio, and is one of the patterns she stocks.  She had some gorgeous samples made with this pattern and I loved the gentle undulation of the accent strips and the shape of the blocks echoing the accent strips.  Handily, each pair of fat quarters resulted in four finished blocks, so it was easy to keep track of putting it all together. 
 The third photo is of laying out the quilt on my design "wall" (which is actually my basement floor).  I stand up on a chair and look down.  I am trying to figure out which vertical wall I can commandeer for design purposes.  All the walls in our open plan bungalow are being used for windows and doors and bookcases.  I'm sure something will occur to me eventually, and I keep an eye on the quilty blogs for good ideas for constructing a sturdy temporary wall that can assemble in a blink, collapse on command (and not a moment sooner), store in a shoebox, and hold at least two projects (ideally three).  If you see any links to a tutorial for this type of design wall, please share!
 By now you are wondering - you bought the FQs in May, there are only 45 blocks, why is there snow in the finished picture???  Well, I already said this was a quilt for my husband but I didn't say that I wanted it to be a surprise for his December birthday.  This entire project was done in stealth, no mean feat given that my sewing area is in the common family room and my husband spends very little time gallivanting around.  (This is not a complaint, just an observation.)  I had to rely on early mornings before work, Thursday evenings when he was out at choir practice and the Saturday mornings I could beg off taking the girls to swimming lessons.  I figured May-to-December would be enough time, and it was, barely.  I got it put together in time to quilt it on Remembrance Day (the day I get off that my husband doesn't).  My mother arrived at an opportune time on November 10th to help me baste it and that meant I could do the quilting on November 11th.  I just did an all-over meander because that's the only one I know so far and I felt it would be a nice subtle textural effect that wouldn't compete with the overall subtle shifts in colour and texture.  I didn't want an additional pattern that would say "look at me!".   What we didn't get a picture of was the quilt back - more Japanese fabrics chosen with Michelle's help.  There is a beautiful koi fish pattern, and a hemp seed.  The binding is a subtle plaid, also from Kallisti.  She was so helpful, really, really helpful. 

Well, the stealth paid off and he had no idea what I was up to.  To the point that when he opened it on his birthday, he said, "Oh, this is nice."  Fortunately, his hubby radar triggered a red alert to an imminent explosion and he took a closer look.  He said, "Did you make this????"  I said, "Yes!  Of course!" and he took another look and really started to appreciate it.  He explained that he thought I bought it because he had never seen me working on it or any evidence of it around.  So he looked in more detail at it and really started to like all the different plaids and textures and inlaid strips.  This is one of my favourite projects so far and no matter how much I see the fabric, I love it more each time.  I decided to call it Straight and Narrow. 

So that's the quilt - it took a while to find a good day to get a picture of it.  The backyard has too much snow to hang it on the clothesline, so I had to wait for a day when my husband was heading out to go cross country skiing and I could ask him for a quick favour just before he went.  "Just a quick picture of your quilt." ... "No, not there, I was thinking on the fence." ... "Well, I was thinking more drapey." ... "I was thinking a little more drapey and flowy." ... "No, it doesn't matter if it falls in the snow." ... "That's fantastic!  Now can I have a closeup?" 

Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Scattered Squares - Finished!

 Here's my second quilt, all finished!  I used the Scattered Squares pattern by Elizabeth Hartman's Craftsy class.  It's a fun one, and I used a charm pack of patterned fabric (Mod Century by Jenn Ski) and some polka dot prints in yellow and green and some cream and brown solids.  The back is a chartreuse oval print with an accent strip of a great, funky pattern from the Mod Century line. 

The top picture is my trusty assistant laying out the squares in random fashion. (The second picture is what trusty assistant #2 was doing after she lost interest in lining up random squares.)

 Here's a picture of the front of the quilt, held up by DH in his encore performance as Quilt Model.  Here he's really doing his minimalist modern look.  So minimalist you can hardly see him.  (I had to promise not to post his picture.  He doesn't like to be featured on my blog.  For a model, he is quite reluctant to have his picture published.)
 Here's a close-up of the front to show my first attempt at free motion quilting a large quilt (I'd only done a table runner before).  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  There are some spots that are denser than others and a few places where the lines are sharp but all in all, from a distance or in dim light (and ideally both), it looks great.  And best of all, it crinkled up beautifully with washing. 
Here's a shot of the back, with the accent strip, which was meant to be the all-over pattern to conceal my beginner efforts at quilting.  I had to settle for a quieter print (if you can call chartreuse "quiet"!) but I am still very pleased with the end result. The binding is more of that espresso brown solid that is on the front. 

I'll have to decide if I am going to be one of those quilters that names quilts or not.  At the moment I am one of those quilters that becomes paralyzed with indecision at the prospect of naming the quilt.  It reminds me of the feeling I get when I'm handed a card at work (birthday, wedding, farewell, retirement, etc.) and it's full of witty, clever comments from everyone else and all I can think of to say is "Best wishes".  So for now, this quilt shall remain nameless. Next up is my citron and gray Urban Cabin quilt, but that one is waiting for me to find the piece of Kona Coal I bought to finish the back.  I know I put it somewhere, but just where that somewhere is remains elusive...

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Scattered Squares - Top

Here's the finished quilt top for my Scattered Squares quilt.  It's a pattern from Elizabeth Hartman's class on Craftsy, Inspired Modern Quilts.

This quilt started out life as a charm pack of Jenn Ski's Mod Century fabric, which appealed to me for the graphic designs.  I thought the squares would be good for this quilt, along with some scraps I'd bought (that's how new to quilting I am!  I have to buy scraps!)  I got my girls to help lay out the squares in random fashion.  They were very happy to do this and I was happy to let them do the crawling around.  (I much prefer the fabric fondling phases of quilting to the crouching crawling phases.)  Elizabeth had handy tips for keeping track of rows, etc. and in no time this was sewn up.  I had visions of doing the back in a gorgeous Mod Century print in lime green.  Unfortunately, my fabric got lost in the mail, so I made do with the 1 yard I had, and added some nice lime green ovals to make panels.  I have the back sewn up and basted to the front, and now I just have to quilt it.  This round of basting seemed so much easier!  I had it done in no time, what with the batting not getting full of leaves and twigs and wrinkles.

I have a little trepidation about it, but I have a practice sandwich ready to go and a new machine to try out.  I am not overly in love with this quilt, so if it's a disaster quilting, it won't be the end of the world.  I am optimistic though.  That said, I always think I can do things right off the bat, then I get annoyed when I can't. (I'm having flashbacks to my first time on skates on the backyard pond, or should I say flashbacks to landing on my backside on the pond!).  

In case you are wondering, those are my husband's feet.  This quilt was too long to hang from the clothesline for a picture.  I'll try to get a closer-up shot, but I will make no promises.  I am not one of those bloggers who is also an amazing photographer.  In fact, I probably would have done better in some sort of DOS-based blog, where you had to make your own pictures out of characters and spaces instead.  ;-)







Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mod Sampler Done

Hello!  I got my modern sampler quilt done this winter, but for various (and not very good) reasons, I didn't get it photographed until recently.  Here is the finished quilt.  The pattern is Mod Sampler by Elizabeth Hartman and I made it shades of turquoise, chartreuse and grey, with black and white.  The binding is a black and white pop floral, just perfect to frame the juicy colours of the quilt.  I had been hoping to quilt it in free-motion, but my trusty machine wasn't up to the task so I stitched in the ditch around all the seams instead.  It looks ok and I wanted to have it done, even though it didn't wind up getting quilted the way I wanted.  I have another quilt almost ready to be quilted and a new (to me) machine that can do free motion quilting, but that is a blog post for another day.

Edited to add a picture of the back (still off - managed not to get a photo of it finished, maybe another blog post some time soon).


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Quilt Basting Tutorial and Comedy of Errors

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Hello!  No quilty pictures unfortunately (too busy basting to get involved with photography, which is why I will likely never be a rich and famous blogger because they have to be excellent photographers too).

I made my quilt sandwich twice.  Once following a dunce-torial of my own devising, the second time following Elizabeth Hartman's tutorial here.

The dunce-torial goes something like this.  Decide that you will "cheat" and use basting spray, but do it outside where the vapours won't kill you and your loved ones.  (Dire warnings on the label advise a well-ventilated area.)  Be busy with other things until just before dusk then sweep off the deck and lay out a sheet to protect the quilt. Get it mostly flat.  Then lay out the quilt backing, spray it so it's sticky, then try to get it mostly flat.  Curse the sticky stuff and the sheet that won't stop wiggling underneath.  Then, carefully, lay out the batting.  Lose your mind when it's the wrong size.  Futilely blame a misfiled package on the shelf at the quilt store, but realize that either way, it doesn't matter.  Don't think about what you will do with the batting at home sized 12" x 104" - presumably when you are a much better, more experienced quilter, legions of possibilities will present themselves.  (It can't be returned due to some regrettable trimming and bits of leaf sticking to it.)  Dash off to a sewing store and hope that they have something suitable.  Buy it, and relish the small victory that it is on sale.  Dash home and rue the fact that it is now dark and a chilly November wind has whistled up.  Turn on the outside light and wish that it cast a better light on the sorry situation.  Lay out the batting, and try to aim the the flaps and flings of the quilt top to catch the wind so that it helps rather than hinders the laying out process.  Carefully smooth it out (see - I learned not to spray it first!).  Now spray it and carefully lay out the top, smoothing and patting as you go.  This is harder than it sounds, wearing a bulky coat and trying to do it in the dark.  Wonder why it seemed easier at your mother's house and assume that it was because she did it and it was summer and vacation time.  Not pitch dark and November.  Get the whole sorry mess (minus the various bits of leaf and pine needle) inside, and inspect it.  Try not to mind when your vision of a perfectly sandwiched quilt poised to be quilted turns out to be a Festival of Wrinkles.  What could have gone wrong?  

Well, I have conducted a quilt sandwich post mortem to find out what went wrong:  everything, but mainly that I began without revisiting some instructions and assuming I could remember the important steps.

Today, I reviewed the excellent tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman here, when I could finally face the sandwich again.  I realized that the key problem was not securing the base layer.  Also, another key problem was deciding that inside wasn't well ventilated enough.  I have decided that it is sufficiently ventilated to do limited spray basting on a very occasional basis.  I followed Elizabeth's method, on the basement floor, adding in some judicious spray basting with supplemental pins to hold the whole thing together.  I am now about to embark on the next step of quilting it together.  I am forcing myself to do a practice sandwich.  I am normally inclined to plunge right in and expect perfection (please hold back your gasps of amazement), so I am forcing myself to be more strategic and learn from the wisdom of others, rather (I hope) than from my own mistakes.  Wish me luck!

PS  In the course of the preparations to begin quilting, I rootled out the manual for the sewing machine, handed down to me by my mother a few years ago when she got her sewing equivalent of the Starship Enterprise.  My hand-me-down is a Janome Memory 7, purchased November 14, 1981.  Inside the front cover it begins by saying, "Dear Customer, You are now the owner of the most advanced sewing machine ever built and we welcome you to a new world of sewing pleasure."   I would also add that this machine weighs approximately 75 lbs and caused my local sewing machine tuner-upper to boggle at its vintage.  We'll see how she fares as we embark together on our voyage to a new world of sewing pleasure.

PPS  I have decided that this blog post needs some pictures, so I have included a couple of nice shots from our visit last night to Upper Canada Village for the Alight the Night festival.  Upper Canada Village is an interactive pioneer museum nearby, down on the St. Lawrence River.  There was a nice sing-along of Christmas carols in the church and we all had a good time with that, as well as the horse drawn wagon ride, and playing in the big field of fresh snow.  All three generations (my family, my parents and my brother's family) all had a wonderful time.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mod Sampler Quilt Back

Hello!  Happy Thanksgiving!  What a glorious weekend here, just perfect for being outside enjoying the bright blue sky and blazing leaves.

Here's the finished back panel for my Mod Sampler quilt (pattern by Elizabeth Hartman here).  I used some additional blocks that weren't in the front.  The main reason was I didn't read the pattern carefully enough and I thought I would have to make new blocks for the back.  In fact, you just make 30, and use 6 for the back.  I planned the solid panels to go with two fabrics that didn't appear on the front because I was saving them for the back (having not read the instructions closely enough).  So I had to whip up a couple of extra blocks for the back to bring it all together.  That's ok, it's still the same collection of fabric and the back is moodier than the front anyway.  The instructions were quite clear - the fault lies entirely with me and my haste to get going on the project.  I'm sure that's never happened to anyone else before!

Now it's just a matter of basting the sandwich together then taking the plunge and quilting it!  Wish me luck!

By the way, that's a picture of the maple trees in our back yard (still green) and the ash in the neighbour's yard. I love the bright yellow that the ashes turn, and ours in the front yard has lost all its leaves.

Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the internet!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mod Sampler in Turquoise and Chartreuse

Hello!  I'm making good progress on this quilt, my version of Elizabeth Hartman's Mod Sampler (click here for the pattern).  My mother gave me a package of fat quarters (Rhythm & Blues collection, Red Rooster) to start a quilt.  The patterns are funky, modern flowers and swirls, in turquoise, black, gray and white.  I had it in my mind that I wanted to bring in some bright green, sort of lime/chartreuse.  I needed a bridging fabric then, which turquoise, green and white.  I made a trip to one of my local quilt stores and found just the thing, a lovely floral in a modern line art, and a turquoise-lime polka dot.  I also got some solids (Kona, Peapod and Putty, I think, and maybe Lagoon???) as the pattern said six patterns and six solids.  I had some patterns that read as solids, so I used those in place of some of the solids since there were some patterns that I just couldn't do without.  I chose a white for the sashing.  As you can see, I chose the layout option that has the same block pattern across each row.

This seems to be the point in the quilt where you feel "almost done", sort of like when you paint a room, and feel "almost done" when you have the walls done.  Never mind that you still have the finicky baseboards and trim, putting back all the furniture and rehanging pictures.  I think I am almost at the point of having the walls almost done so you can stand back and think, wow, I like that.  But there's a whole lot left to do that doesn't seem nearly as much fun.  I will have to keep going, though, and get it done because I have  a lot of quilts in my mental queue, and I recklessly promised the husband that I would only have one or two projects on the go at a time.   (I know, I know.  Don't tell me how stupid I was to do that!  It was a rookie mistake.  Kind of like in my stamping life, when I used to think a person could get by (and even do just fine) with only one kind of black ink.  I have learned a valuable lesson about reckless promises though.  Never again!)

I am keen to do the back.  This pattern also has a pieced back, which is quite lovely on the pattern.  I will be doing the back in two of the Kona solids, and a row of sampler blocks.  You make six of each pair of fabrics, but only use five on the front.  I didn't read the pattern properly though in advance (speaking of rookie mistakes) and saved some of my favourite fabrics from the collection for the back.  Which I won't be using if I follow the pattern.  It's my first quilt, so I'm not sure if I'm quite ready to go rogue like that.  We'll see....

Stay tuned!