Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Oh! Tweety Baby!

When I was a young man, I didn't think about having a family. My wife and I were too poor to have babies. Then all of a sudden, one came along and scared the hell out of us because we had no money. Once the baby arrives, you make do somehow. You fall in love with the baby and life adjusts itself. You find you don't need as much money as you thought. When that happens, you can ask the questions that should have come before the baby. 
Ray Bradbury

I thought I'd take a few minutes to share one of my finishes for the month.  I've been trying to get better acquainted with Aislin Joy my new Innova longarm.  We have been getting along pretty well so far.  I finished this charity baby quilt and tried several new things on it.

This is the second panel like this that I've quilted.  I shared the other one a while back.

What's not to love about Tweety Bird?

I tried to see how small I could get with some background shells.

I used the plaid as a guide for some Terry Twist quilting.  It gives some good texture.

 Here is a view of the back.

I used a 3 step Zig Zag to stitch the binding down.  Can't say I'm thrilled with it but it holds it down OK.  Next time I'll use a more decorative stitch.  I have dozens to choose from on my machine and this is a good place to play with them.

Today is the first day of the Ho, Ho, Ho Blog Hop.  My post is tomorrow so I need to go finish things up,  In the meantime check out the list of the ones posting today at Sew We Quilt or you can see the list for the whole hop at Just Let Me Quilt

Monday, July 29, 2013

I've Been Bizzy

O Lord! thou knowest how busy I must be this day:  
if I forget thee, do not thou forget me. 
Sir Jacob Astley

I haven't been blogging much because I have been busy trying to get a number of project finished.  Progress has been made and I will be sharing the results in the next few days.  I've even finished up a tutorial that has been in the works since early this year!  

First let me share some of the flowers that have been blooming and blooming at the back door of my studio this summer.

After trying several times with bought plants these two came up from some scattered seeds a year after planting.  They had a few blooms last year but with all the rain this year they have just gone crazy!  

In just a few days I will be posting on the HO! HO! HO! Blog Hop.  The button is in my sidebar.  So I am working away at my project for it.  If time allows there may be even more than one.  Make sure you check on Thursday to see what I've been working on.

I have been planning for a while to add some product reviews to my blog.  I thought I'd start today with a gadget that I picked up at a show back in the spring.  I've used it a few times now and I really like it.

Quick - Cut Thread Cutter

It has two non-skid pads so it stays put while you use it.

Press down on each side of the thread between chain pieced units

Side view of the blade

I can not get a website to come up for it but it is in the Checker Distributors Catalog.  You should be able to ask for it at your local quilt shop if they don't carry it.  Retail $14.95  There are replacement blades available also.  It really made the chain pieced units come apart quickly to use it.  All you do is move to the next unit.  I did like it better when there was 2 or 3 stitches between the pieces.  Sometimes I butt mine closer than that.

It is small enough to sit at the side of my machine and not get in the way.  If I keep it there it will not get buried and I will use it more often.  Maybe things don't get buried at your studio but they sure do at mine.  LOL

Now for a preview of a coming tutorial.

Last but by no means least!  If the quote today puzzled you it fits this day for sure.  I got a call this morning saying my daughter was in an accident on her way to work today.  One of her tires blew apart and when she put on brakes her truck swerved off the road and flipped over several times.  She had managed to get partly out when help arrived but the truck was already on fire.  The officers helped her get out the rest of the way and she was only scratched up from the broken glass.  She will be very sore but she is OK!

Needless to say the whole family is counting our Many Blessings and Very Thankful for the Good Lord's protection of her!

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Last Christmas in July Project

Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present.
Roger Babson 

Christmas in July Blog Hop @ The Crafty Quilter

It's finally time for the leader of the Blog Hop to share.  Julie has create a really nice table runner that could be used for any season.  You will find it HERE.  She also made a PDF file of the instructions that you can download.  

While you are at her site take a look around.  She has been doing a Christmas Project once each month all year.  There are some really cute ideas there.

Tomorrow she will review all the projects from the hop. 

I'll be back to my regular posting after this week.  I have a few things to share.  

I was shocked that we actually had a day without any rain Tuesday.  Then last night there were several be thunderstorm and even some hail.  This has been the wettest year we have had in a long time!  Everything is green and growing though.  My husband can't keep up with the grass cutting.  LOL

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Christmas In July Day Six

When you are grateful - when you can see what you have - you unlock blessings to flow in your life.
Suze Orman

Blogging is bringing so many blessings to my life.  It is so nice to make new quilting friends around the country and world.  It also gives me a few deadlines that I have to hustle to meet at times.  LOL  That's OK because it usually requires me to put on my create hat and do something new that I wouldn't have made time for otherwise.

Christmas in July Blog Hop @ The Crafty Quilter

I hope you have been enjoying the Christmas in July Blog Hop!  It's always fun to see what other quilters come up with!  If you haven't been keeping up with the post you can find the whole list of the Blogs participating HERE.

Today's blogger is Sheri at Sunshine in the Attic.  She is sharing a delightful Attic Windows Quilt made from a snow scene.  

Are you enjoying this Blog Hop?  What is your favorite project so far?  Which one do you think you will you actually make?   

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Christmas in July

Christmas isn't a season.  It's a feeling.  
Edna Ferber

Christmas in July Blog Hop @ The Crafty Quilter

Ah, at last it's my turn to share.  Thanks to Julie at The Crafty Quilter for putting this great hop together.  I knew what I wanted to make just as soon as heard about it.  My idea was to make a Christmas Tree Skirt.  As it turned out this could be a Christmas Tablecloth if you don't need a Tree Skirt.  I had a hard time deciding which way to go with it so there may be another one created soon.

If you haven't been to my blog before WELCOME!!!  I hope you will take a few minutes to explore it.  You can get to know a little more about me by checking out some of the links in my sidebar.

Now, everyone so far in this hop has made a small project.  This could be a small Tree Skirt if that's what you need.  You can adjust the measurements to make it any size you want.  I seldom do really small quilts and this one got really big.  There is a reason however.  My son complained that the 54" Tree Skirt I gave him a few years ago wasn't big enough.  He always gets a live tree and his tree stand holds several gallons of water and is huge.  By the time a tree skirt covers the bulk of it there is very little left to reach the floor.  I think this one will do the trick!

Hexies are all the rage in the Quilting World these days.  When I was deciding what shape to use it was a simple choice.

First Make a Pattern:

I used freezer paper for this which is 18" wide.  If you have some wider paper, wrapping paper for example, use it.  You also need a 24" ruler that has 60 degree markings on it.

This makes a pattern that is 21" from top to bottom.  If your fabric is not that wide from the top of the selvage to the fold make adjustments in where the line is drawn.  For example: for a 20" width the line would be drawn 2" away from the edge of the freezer paper.

Pin your pattern to the fabric with the small edge at the fold.  Place ruler along the drawn line and cut along the angled edges.   

Remove pattern and for the second cut place it on the fabric with the long straight edge along the fold this time and the angle lining up with the previous cut.  Pin in place and cut 2 more wedges.  Repeat with the pattern in the original position and cut again so you have a total of SIX WEDGES.

If you want a plain tree skirt that measure about 44" across you just need to sew these wedges together.  

Want it a little bigger?  Let's see what borders will do.

To keep this post from being so long the tutorial for the pieced border is in the next post.  You Can See It HERE.

After the pieced border unit is made attach it to the wedge matching centers.  Place the 60 degree line along one of the straight seams and trim the angle through the borders.

You could stop and finish it at this point if you like the size.  I added one more 4 1/2" border of the center fabric.  Then all that was left was to sew the wedges together matching seams at the borders.  Leave one side open for a Tree Skirt or stitch them all shut for a tablecloth. 

Tip:  You may find quilting easier if you stitch all the wedges together, quilt it then split one seam open.  It is easier to baste and handle that way.

Quilt as desired and bind.  Make ties or use Velcro squares for closures along the open edge.

Simple stippling around the squares make them pop.  I did a larger meandering on the center print since it was so busy nothing fancier would show up anyway. 

Final size is about 70" across and 80" point to point.  I know that sounds huge but I have seen many live and artificial trees that it would barely be showing out from under the branches.  A tall tree stand takes a lot of it up vertically.

To use this as a Tablecloth seam up the last two wedges and applique a circle or hexagon in the center.  

Fabric Yardage

Main Print:  2 yards for the Center and 1 yard for the Outer Border
Green Print:  1 1/4 yards for Accent Borders and Pieced Border
Red Print:  1 yard for Pieced Border and Binding
White Print:  1 1/2 yards for Pieced Border Background  

Let me know if you think a large Tree Skirt like this would work for anyone you know.  I'm planning a Christmas Linky Party in December featuring Tree Skirts.  I'd love to have you link up then.  You have a few months to get one made if you haven't made one before.  This really was a fast piecing project.  I hope you will try it!

Linking with:  Crazy Mom Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation and Richard and Tanya Quilts

Simple Patchwork Border

Anyone who works on a quilt, who devotes her time, energy, creativity, and passion to that art, learns to value the work of her hands.  And as any quilter will tell you, a quilter's quilting friends are some of the dearest, most generous, and most supportive people she knows.  
Jennifer Chiaverini

Adding a pieced border to any quilting project always sets it off and shows that you put more effort and thought into your project.  This is a simple but stunning way to make a pieced border.  There are a number of ways to create one like this. You can make them with quarter square triangles on the outer edges so that they will be on grain, but for this project I just went with simple strip construction.  The only down side to doing it this way is that you end up with bias along the edge of the border but I will give a few hints on how to deal with that.  

Note:  These instructions were written for the Hexagonal Tree Skirt in my Christmas in July Post.  This border could be added to any quilt project but you probably would be working with 4 sides not 6 so adjust the number of strips accordingly.

I decided that I wanted the squares on point and that I didn't want them to touch the edges of the strips or wedges.  That way the squares would not be chopped up when the wedges were joined together and the squares would be floating on the background in each section.

Here is what I used for the pieced border unit:

2 - 2 1/2" strips of green
2 - 2 1/2" strips of red
4 - 3 1/2" strips of white
6 - 8 1/2" squares cut diagonally for 12 half square triangles

12 - 2 1/2" strips of green for the edges of the pieced border unit

You can change any of these measurements just keep the background strips 1" larger if you want the squares to float.  If you want the points of the squares to touch the edging strips the background strip only has to be 1/2" larger than the strip for the center squares.

The size of the squares for the half square triangle is determined by the width of the strip set when it is sewn together.  2" + 3 1/4" + 3 1/4" = 8 1/2"  This makes the triangles over-sized for the ends which is what you want to be able to cut the angle of the wedge easily.

Construction is easy.

Tip:  It's a good idea to spray starch these sets while pressing them.  
This will help keep the bias from stretching.

Time Saving Tip:  Layer the units and cut all four at once.  This is a big time saver and works great!  Just lay the strip sets down along one of the horizontal lines on the cutting mat.  Each one is layered a little lower than the one under it so the seams don't overlap.

You don't have to alternate two colors like I did.  You can use more colors or all one color.  Sew units together off-setting the center squares.

How many to sew together?  Depends on how you want it to look.  You can lay it out below the center wedge as you sew it and see if it is as big as you need.  You can do the math.  Multiply the finished size of the square by 1.41.  Mine were 2" finished so 2 x 1.41 = 2.82

Now add the large triangles to each end of the unit.  Attach them with the bias edge of the triangle being the one sewn on.  Since they are slightly over sized sew them on so that you are getting the maximum width possible if you will be cutting an angle like I did for this project. 

To stabilize the bias edge you will have decide where you want to trim the edge.  I left an inch of background on each side.  Using a marking pencil draw a faint line where you will be cutting.

Tip:  I measured from the tip of the squares.  You could also measure from the center line of the squares where they touch tips.  That way you could cut the width of the border unit to be an even 1/4" or 1/2" measurement.  Mine turned out about 4 5/8".  In this project it didn't matter but on a quilt border the math for additional borders would be easier without figuring in 1/8" inches.  ;-)

Tip:  When marking lines for reference in piecing or quilting only make the marks as dark as you need to see them.  The lighter they are the easier they are to get rid of.  In this case they are in the seam allowance and should not be a problem.

Stitch about 1/16" or 1/8" inside this line with a long stitch (4.0) or 6 stitches per inch.  Use a walking foot if your machine wants to gather up the fabric while doing this.  The fabric should remain flat or easily press flat after stitching.

Note:  If you want to add this in the middle of a quilt border and need longer ends just cut a background strip the same width as the pieced unit.  Trim the pieced section as shown below first.  Cut a 45 degree angle at the end of the background strip where you will join it making sure it points in the right direction and attach.  Measure the total length needed for your project and trim ends to size.

Press unit flat and trim to size along the line drawn previously.  Attach the plain strips to each side of the pieced unit before adding it to your project.  Match the centers and pin in place.  Sew with the bias edge of the pieced unit down against the feed dogs.  Do not trim until after it is attached to the wedge, then trim at the 60 degree angle as shown in the previous post.

That's all you need to do for the pieced border.  Do you think you will add one to something you will make?  I'd love to see it if you do.

Monday, July 15, 2013

More Christmas in July

True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.
Albert Einstein

Christmas in July Blog Hop @ The Crafty Quilter

I've been so busy working on my project that I forgot to post the link for today's hop.  If you like to make your table look special during the holidays you will love what you find at Sarah Rose Quilts today! 

Tomorrow's post will more than make up for my brevity today!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Christmas in July Continues

Christmas in July Blog Hop @ The Crafty Quilter
Short and sweet today!  Check out this great post that Elaine At Summercrafter did for the Hop.  It's a great idea!

Gotta go get busy!  My project and post must be done in less than 40 hours.  Oh My!!!  If you've seen any unemployed elves about send them my way for the day!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Want to Have Some Fun?

Make a memory with your children,
Spend some time to show you care;
Toys and trinkets can't replace those
Precious moments that you share.
Money doesn't buy real pleasure,
It doesn't matter where you live;
Children need your own attention,
Something only you can give.
Childhood's days pass all too quickly,
Happy memories all too few;
Plan to do that special something,
Take the time to go or do.
Make a memory with your children,
Take the time in busy days;
Have some fun while they are growing,
Show your love in gentle ways.
Elaine Hardt

The Summer is rolling along, so far it has been filled with more rain than heat, but let's not talk about the humidity or the mosquitoes.  If you need some fun things to do this weekend here are a few suggestions.  Some of these can be done with kids if you have a few underfoot.

It's day TWO of the Christmas in July blog hop.  If you didn't get over to see the pillow Amy Made yesterday you need to hop on over!  Today you absolutely must pop in to see what Amanda's Joy and Gingerbread Men are like! 

Now be sure to tune in at the The Crafty Quilter for the next few days to keep up with the Christmas in July Hop.  My days is coming soon so I must dash to the studio to get my project finished.  

In case the projects above inspire you and you still need to give those underfoot an activity you might suggest that they work on this list for a while.  Make sure they take a camera along to record the fun.  Let me know what the results are.  Of course, I'm assuming you can unplug them from their electronic devices for a while. ;-)  Good luck with that!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Christmas in July is Coming

Friendship is a precious gift.  To give at Christmas time.  A Cherished gift, a treasured gift that lasts through all time. 

This is a busy week for me.  The two quilting groups I participate in usually meet the first week of the month on Wednesday and Thursday.  This month they both moved to this week because of the 4th of July Holiday.  

I'm also working on getting my project done for the Blog Hop below.  It is going to be so pretty!  I can't wait to share it with you!  If you want to see/learn what is going to be happening click the button below or the one in the sidebar.  

Christmas in July Blog Hop @ The Crafty Quilter

My project is also going to tie in with my Christmas linky party.  Last year I did the Christmas Stocking Hang Out and there were a lot of great Christmas Stockings shared as well as some tutorials during the time is was open.  Read through more than one of the posts I did that month to get some good tips or Click on Stockings in the Labels Section.

This year's Christmas Linky Party will be on another Christmas Decoration and you will find out what it is next week so you will have plenty of time to get one made if you don't have a handmade one already.

I hope you will join in the FUN!!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Jacob's Ladder

Mistakes are merely steps up the ladder. 
Paul J. Meyer

I realized that I haven't posted many pictures of my own quilts.  I worked hard for a while taking pictures of as many of them as I could back in the Fall but didn't share all of them.  Since then I have moved to other subjects but I thought I would make an effort to share them one at a time along with a little of the story of how they were made and what I may have learned along the way.

Jacob's Ladder Quilt
"A Few Fell Off"

I won these blocks at my quilt guild back in the mid-90s.  As with most blocks made by a group of people they varied in size and fabric content.  I selected the ones that fit together the best in color and size and made the top.  I seem to recall redoing a few seams in a few of them to get the sizes more consistent.

I went out on a limb and used contrasting thread for the stippling.  I had practiced several days while I had jury duty.  Each juror was given a small legal pad and a pencil.  It was a very boring experience as the defendant was late and there was a lot of waiting around with nothing to do and so I doodled stippling. ;-)

If you compare the density of the quilting in the border here to the left and the one below you can see that this one is more loosely quilted.

The one below is more densly quilted.  There is a reason for this and a lesson that was learned.

I had pieced the border into a long strip carefully matching the tiny plaid.  I then cut the needed length from the strip for the top and bottom and one side and added them.

I was working on it in my shop and had to stop frequently to help customers.  I was also working with a deadline of a quilt show that I wished to enter it in.  At any rate for some reason I didn't measure and cut the last border to fit but instead just sewed it on.  When I was done with it I saw that there was extra fullness in it but I didn't have time to change it at that point.  The solution was to put more quilting in along that border and to work in the fullness as I came to it.  After it was finished the difference was hard to see since it was on opposite sides of the quilt.

The other thing I learned recently from this quilt is pictured above.  While I had so many quilts laid out for taking photographs I had them draped over a chair in front of a window.  The afternoon sun found it and as you can see the fold that was exposed faded.  Other quilts in the stack were not affected.  You can never tell which fabrics will be light sensitive.  I think the newer ones are more dye stable than the older ones but it's always a possibility.

"A Few Fell Off" onto the back

This quilt was also the first of my quilts to have 'Back Art'.  When I was pressing the fabric that I had selected for the backing I found several small holes in it.  Since I still had more of the blocks I hand appliqued them over the holes.  You can see that the colors of these did not go very well with the ones used on the front.  

I also added the folded flat piping at the border line.  I cut the plaid on the bias and it seemed to add just the right touch to accent the quilt.  All the fabrics were from my stash and it did hang in the quilt show.  Not a prize winner though.

Things I've learned from this quilt:
  1. Expect blocks made by different quilters to be different sizes.  If they are all the same you are really blessed.  If they aren't you can work with them anyway. 
  2. No matter how rushed you are, take the time to measure and cut borders accurately.
  3. It is possible to quilt out some extra fullness sometimes.
  4. If there is a problem with the backing fabric approach it creatively.
  5. Folded flat piping adds a great accent.
  6. Using contrasting thread can look good and add a lot to the quilt.
  7. Don't leave a quilt where the sun will shine on it for days.  Fabrics fade.
This quilt has been used and loved.  My children used to sneak it from each other to use in their room.  Now they have moved out and on with their lives but I still have it and my memories of them using it.

What have you learned from your quilts?

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