This year I’ve taken on a few challenges that I hope will improve my skills. Even after 28 years of quilting, and 48 years of sewing, I feel the need to improve my skills. Or maybe it’s because of that time span that complacency sits in if we don’t keep looking to improve. Either way, I’ve taken on two year long challenges. One has already started, the 365 Challenge The Ultimate Sampler. http://www.365challenge.com.au/ The other one hasn’t started yet, it starts the weekend and is from Pat Sloan called The Splendid Sampler. http://www.thesplendidsampler.com/
The 365 Challenge I am doing “scrappy” and that’s another challenge for me, I’ve not worked completely scrappy ever in the 28 years I’ve been quilting. And I’ve already had to run to a dear friend once for a “scrappy” lesson. To balance that, I’ll be working the Splended Sampler using the Hyde Park collection by Blackbird Designs for Moda. Which is what I usually do, work with a controlled color selection. Rarely controlled by a fabric collection, but usually controlled in a limited amount of fabrics.
To date, I am current on the 365 Challenge. I took a picture this morning of all the blocks that I’ve done just to check that my “scrappy” is working for me. The main color theme is a brown/red/gold with a little blue-gray thrown in for accents. It’s not the color scheme I started with. I started with brown/green/gold, but when I added in the green I started disliking every block I made. That was when I went to my friend for some scrappy advice and after a couple hours of back and forth she asked my “why” I was using brown with green when I like browns with reds and blues with greens! One of those eye opening moments! LOL
The colors in the pic are not quite right. It was taken with the I-Pad as I can’t find my camera at the moment. The golds aren’t quite that bright, nor is the orange in the lower right corner, but the browns are that dark. I can see where my color distinction in the first week of blocks was not as well defined as it is in the later blocks. I can also see where I need a few more brown only blocks to tie together what I’ve done so far.
I’m hoping that periodically taking a picture like this will help develop my eye for what is and isn’t working together. Maybe one day I’ll be one of those totally scrappy quilters, but I can tell already that it’s going to be a long road to get there!
In my local quilt guild, Lake Norman Quilters, I’m running a mystery quilt that I’ve designed. And some of the blocks are applique. While I did my version in raw edge fusible, I’ve had questions on how to turn edges on pieces as small as they are in the blocks. Hopefully this photo tutorial will show my preferred way of combining fusible with turned edge for applique. There are a lot of different ways to accomplish the task, this is just MY favorite way.
First, I use Steam A Seam II Lite paper backed fusible web. I draw the actual template out onto the paper backed fusible:
Then I cut the pieces out exactly on the lines:
I apply to the back side of the fabric:
And trim with a very small turn allowance. Because you’re using fusible, you don’t need a lot of extra turn allowance:
The next step is to finger press the turn under, leaving the paper IN PLACE:
Follow up with a light pressing with the TIP of your iron, again, the paper is still in place at this point:
Remove the paper from the back of the applique piece to remove it from the turned seam allowance, replace it over the back of the applique piece before you press the edges again with the iron:
Your end piece will have turned, fused edges, and you can apply it to your block using the interior fusible. This makes the project completely portable for hand stitching, or you can machine stitch the edges with minimal shrinkage of your block as the fusible helps stabilize it.
I hope this helps! Small pieces are very fussy, and I do use a stiletto while I’m working on this to keep my fingers away from the edges of the hot iron.
This past weekend (Thursday through this morning) I attended a Quilt and Sew In Retreat in Blowing Rock, NC put on by heARTS Desire Creations. This was the first “retreat” I’ve ever attended. I’ve attended quilt shows and fiber festivals many times. I’ve taken classes along the years, but this was totally different and refreshing. First, there was no “must do” agenda. Participants were free to come and go as they pleased, to sew or not sew as they pleased, and no expectations were implied! A chance for me to totally relax. I had no phones, except what I chose to use my cell for, no animals demanding attention, no chores that had to be done, just free time to create as I wanted to (or not).
The lighting in the room was great! I took my Ott Light and never took it out of the bag. Everyone had their own table to work on, but the tables were in clusters so you had company to talk with if you wanted to. And there was a lot of joking and kibitzing over the weekend.
Thursday after arriving, I set up for sewing, and did a little. My goals for the weekend were to finish the hand-quilting on “Hope”s border, to make some scrap blocks for my 2009 Block in the Box from Lake Norman Quilters, and to make some Hunter’s Star blocks for that same project (aka UFO), as well as to spend some time knitting. I accomplished some of them and would have finished all if not for my machine, but I’ll tell you about that later.
First I finished the hand-quilting on the border of Hope. This was from a long ago class by Susan Brubaker-Knapp on hand applique.
I had originally thought to hand quilt the entire thing. Quite an ambitious project with the arthritis in my hands that I quickly gave up on. I machine quilted the center and decided I would only do the borders by hand. Finished one motif and gave it up for “another time” (UFO). With the arthritis more under control now than it was back then, I spent one day hand quilting the remaining border motifs while away. And while my stitches are far from the even tiny ones that I used to make years ago, I’m pleased that I can still hand quilt a little.
After that I started working on some scrappy (kind of) blocks. I had no plan for these. Before I left I looked at a couple of my Accuquilt Go Dies and thought “these should go together” and cut some pieces. Then the play started and I like the results. These are for the aforementioned 2009 Block in a Box project that I hope to finish soon.
Of course the project needed more blocks, so I used the GO to cut out pieces for eight Hunters Star blocks using the colors above and a white as background. While I didn’t finish them, I am well along. All the halves are pieced.
And two of the blocks were pieced, but I’ll be re-doing them as I’m not happy with the centers.
The fault of the centers was my machine. I took along a 1941 Featherweight that I just love. And while it goes great for some things, when I encountered the bulk of the center, the machine consistently wobbled around the bulk rather than over it. I did this block twice, then tried on another block and each time the same thing, wobbles between the arrows so I put it aside to finish on one of my newer machines.
In the evenings I did some knitting, the red sock is a test knit for Mary Hough Designs, and the striped sock is my go to plain vanilla sock.
Of course, who among us, goes on retreat, or on vacation and never shops at all? And I did do some shopping, at both of the two quilt stores in Boone where I added to my collection of batiks and splurged on a jelly roll (I LIKE those things!).
As well as the yarn store in Blowing Rock.
Will I go again? Most likely if I either the husband or the son are going to be home that weekend to care for all my critters! If you get a chance, I highly recommend this particular retreat as a fun long weekend away!
Yesterday I managed to get the batting secured between the new layers. To do this, I had to remove all the rotting fabric and secure it with basting spray between two thin (Request weight) battings. That makes this now a five layer work.
2 QD Cotton Request batting
3 Antique carded wool
4 QD Cotton Request batting
5 New Quilt Top
This morning I started and soon realized this wasn’t going to work. While I had most of the carded wool batting thinned smooth, not all of it was able to be smoothed out, leaving lumps of batting in it.
I made it this far before giving up as a bad option for securing layers:
The puckering is unacceptable. The stitch length is unacceptable as I try to maneuver around the biggest lumps. But the biggest problem is the thickness. Even with my hopping foot at the highest setting, and a size 21 needle, the machine was bogging down.
The quilt sandwich is now on my work table, to have this small amount of quilting removed, and in preparation of hand tying.
Now I’m concerned with attaching the batting to the edges of this………. the adventure continues!
On occasion a customer sends me an antique quilt top to recover. One particular customer sends me antique “carded wool” quilts to have a new top made for. Since it’s been a couple years since I did one of these, I’m blogging my journey with this one in the hopes that I’ll have a reference for the next time.
The quilt came to me, already recovered once, and tied:
After talking with the customer, the new quilt top to recover it was made out of 1930’s reproduction prints. Here’s a portion of it:
Today I started working on uncovering exactly what was underneath. First I need to remove a gazillion ties:
And then find a way to smooth out the carded wool that’s inside a deteriorating cotton quilt, inside the plaid fabric. I’m thinking this deconstruction to reconstruct is going to be the trickiest part. But I won’t know for sure until I get the outer fabric off:
The biggest problem is that the muslin covering the wool batting is disintegrating as it’s touched. My thought process, at this point, is to utilize the longarm and flannel sheeting. If I load the new backing onto the longarm, spray baste a flannel sheet as I go, then insert the carded wool layer, laying another flannel sheet (or similar weight flannel) over it, I’ll be enclosing the wool and keeping it all from shifting when it’s removed for the new ties.
This will be tied, the carded wool is too thick (an inch in some places) to attempt to longarm quilt, even on my workhorse of a Gammill.
I’ll post progress on this as I go.
I’ll be there in August, will you?
Lake Norman Quilters Quilt Show
9 AM to 5 PM
Talbert Recreation Center
210 Talbert Pointe Drive, Mooresville, NC 28117
Less than 2 miles from I-77 Exit 36 Near lots of shopping & restaurants!
200 plus quilts on display
Personal appearances by Featured artist Lyric Kinard