Saturday, October 31, 2009

More Fabric Choices

This past week I haven't had much time in my sewing room.  Work  has been keeping me really busy, and my son wanted help with his hallowe'en costume.  So the little bit of time I had for sewing was spent making a shirt for a Mime costume.  Shirt's done, and received approval from the Mime himself.  So this weekend is mine.  Back to quilting :)


I'm still hunting for fabric for my next quilt.  I was hoping for 100% stash for this one, but apparently gold is not a colour I have in my stash.  I think this blue is better than the last, but the center still isn't right.

And the next one is too yellow.  Also, notice that I still haven't found a replace for the pink or orange.  Each colour is fine, but I think I'd like a bit more definition between the two of them.

Guess I'll have to hit a fabric store and see if I can pick up a couple of fat quarters that work in this quilt. 

Looks like the Quilt-for-an-Hour starts on Monday, so I'd better get shopping.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fabric Choices

I've decided to participate in Judy L's latest Quilt for an Hour project.  Judy always makes such beautiful quilts, and she is kind enough to share them with her readers.   In this case, I hope to make a smaller version of Judy's quilt, since I don't have enough stash for the full size.

Choosing fabrics is always the hardest part of quilting for me (closely followed by choosing a quilting design to finish the top).  So I thought I would post my potential fabric choices here. And if I still like them in a few days, I'm all set.  If I hate them (or I get a lot of "what the heck are you thinking" comments) then I'll try again :)

So, here they are.  Roughly laid out in the positions they'll have in the finished product.  At this point, I'm thinking the pink & orange are a bit too close in tone, so I'll probably look for an alternative for one or the other of them.


So, anyone care to venture an opinion?  Be kind (please) but be honest.  It's a whole lot easier to change my colour scheme now than it will be later :)   I think the colours are a bit washed out here - the green is fairly vibrant in person.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Progress and Improvements

Let's start with my design wall.  There is less on it this week than usual - which is a good sign.   It means more pieces have made their way onto the bargello quilt.  About 1/2 done now.  It is certainly slow going, but it's starting to come together.

I took a break after that, and quilted another small quilt on my new frame.  This one went much better than the last!  I increased the length of my leaders and gave myself some extra length on the backing, so that I could reach the whole quilt without adjusting the attachment points at the end.  I had much more quilting room at the end of this one, despite the quilt being slightly larger (about 40" square, rather than 30" as the last one was).  So the lighter fabric makes a really big difference.

I just had one minor goof-up.  I cut slightly more than half of my backing fabric, to allow the extra distance I needed to the (short) leader for the backing.  And then as I shuffled stuff around the room to get setup, I grabbed the closest piece of backing and loaded it up.  I'm sure you can see this coming - I picked up the wrong piece of backing!  I didn't even notice until after I started quilting. So I crossed my fingers and continued.   Luck was with me - the backing was just long enough for the quilt.  I did have to get creative to reach the last 6 inches of the quilt, but it worked out.

I still have some learning to do, to figure this contraption out.  I had a few issues with the quilt top puckering - not sure why, but I hope to figure that out soon.  I suppose some practice pieces would be a good plan to get the hang of this.  In any case, I'm feeling better about the time I invested in building this thing, and I think I'm going to enjoy this new table.

Check out Judy's blog to see what other quilters have on their design walls today.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Stash Report - Oct 25

Not much change in my stash report this week.  Lots of work on quilts already in progress, but that didn't use much fabric.  I did manage 1.5 yards used for backing for 1 quilt.

So this week:

0 in; 1.5 yards out

Total for this year:
Used YTD: 41yards
Added YTD: 30.25 yards
Net: 10.75 yards out this year


Check out Judy's blog to see what everyone else it up to this week.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Experiments

I was so excited!   I found (bought) plans on-line to build a machine quilting frame.  I've never really enjoyed trying to quilt on my little machine.  Especially bigger quilts - struggling to maneuver the whole thing around on the sewing table.  Bits always fall off, the quilt gets caught on corners, and it's darn heavy!  So when I saw this, I thought it was perfect.  Use my current machine, setup a quilting frame, and I'd be set to go!  And for much less than a store bought frame was going to set me back.

I measured everything, and rearranged my (small) sewing room to make sapce for this.  It could work, although space would be tight.  I bought the necessary parts, and set to work a couple weeks ago.  I was going to do a 10 foot frame, but decided against it after seeing the table in the room.

I cut a foot off and made it 9 feet long - still plenty long enough for my quilts, as 80-85 inches is about the max I do for a queen-size.  The first thing I noticed is how wonder it was to have a table behind my sewing table.  Putting borders on a quilt was suddenly easier, as the quilt sat happily on the extra table instead of falling to the floor.  On Saturday, I completed the rest of the frame, including the roller bars, and set it all up!

I've been saving my quilts to do on this new table, so I immediately dug one out and loaded it up on the machine.   Sweet!  No pinning, no basting, no trying to find enough floor space to lay out a quilt and then crawling around on my knees with pins.

I knew that using my standard sewing machine was going to result in a relatively small quilting path, but I measured and calculated and decided it would be about 4-5 inches, which wasn't too bad (and is about what I have with my shove & push method anyway).  I even reduced the size of the roller bars, to ensure I had as much leaway as possible.

So, I started in on a baby quilt - about 30 inches square.   Things started great - but by the time I got to the end of that 30 inches, I was down to about a 2 inch quilting area :(  I had not expected to lose space so quickly as the quilt progressed.  There is no way I can use this for any reasonably sized quilt. 

I did realize later that the quilt I chose was made with a much heavier fabric than usual - so that accounts for some of the excess.   I will probably give this another chance, with a more traditional set of quilt fabrics, to see how much difference that makes.  But I'm pretty sure at this point that nothing over about 40" is going to be possible with this setup.   Very disappointing, unfortunately.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Design Wall Monday - Oct 19

More interesting than what's on my design wall this week is what is NOT on it.  There is a gap in bargello now - that's because I've started to put it together, and those strips are now in the quilt.

Also off my design wall, for those who saw my post on Friday, is my second quilty.   Made a decision on the blocks, and put it together over the weekend.  Just have to hand-stitch the binding now.

So, does this quilty count as November's donation since I already finished October?  I think I'll still aim to make one in the actual month of November, but keep this extra in my pocket for a month when things don't come together so smoothly :)

Time, I think, to finish some quilts.  I have 4 tops waiting to be quilted, so I should be able to keep busy over the next few weeks.  Then I won't feel so guilty when I go out and buy the fabric for the next quilt on my list.  Although there are still at least 3 partial tops waiting for attention - maybe I should pull out my finishing list and see exactly where I do stand.


Head over to Judy's blog to see what other quilters are up to this week.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stash Report - Oct 18

I used 1.25 yards of fleece for batting in my disappearing 9-patch quilty (which is now complete).   Soft and comfy, and got rid of some horrible stuff I've had on my shelf for 15 years.   Remember those flourescent colours from the early 90's?  Neon green polar fleece - what was I thinking?  But it's gone now, and I have plan for it's pink and yellow friends, too.

Used this week - 3.25 yard for another quilty (top + batting + backing + binding), plus 1/4 yard for the binding on the last one

Bought this week - None.  I tried hard though.  Went to a quilt store with a friend, fully intending to buy fabric for a new quilt for my son.  But I left the pattern at home :(  So that will have to wait for another week.

Total for this year:
Used YTD: 39.5 yards
Added YTD: 30.25 yards
Net: 9.25 yards out this year

Check out Judy's blog to see how other quilters are progressing in their stash-busting.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Design Wall

When I first started quilting, I didn't have a design wall.  I didn't see the need, since the pattern told me how all the pieces went together, and I don't generally do scrappy quilts so there was no need to lay out all the blocks to determine how to fit them together.   That only lasted until the first time I put a block together upside down.  At that point, at least one of the benefits of a design wall became very apparent.

Once I had a wall, it was used for more and more quilts.  I use it now to organize blocks while I sew them together, to audition border fabrics and designs, and as a place to put a quilt or block while I ponder the colours for the quilt.  Many quilts have changed after a few days hanging on the wall.

Even to this day my wall is a bit limited - about 6 feet by 40 inches - not exactly large enough to hold a full quilt.  But it does the job.  I often pieces the quilt strips together vertically, and hang them from the design wall as I attach the strips.  Or place blocks overlapping to get the very most I can onto the small area. 

Today, my design wall is helping me decide on the fabrics for my next quilty.  My first choice doesn't work. That was obvious as soon as I put the first blocks up.

I had planned simply to figure out the placement of the various fussy-cut critters.  But as soon as I had it up, I knew it wasn't going to work out.  The patterned blocks just disappear into the yellow and red.  What I thought was a nice colour match turned into a busy mess that confuses the eye.



So now on the wall are the next 2 options. I hope one of these will work out.  I'll leave them up for a few days, and the one that draws my eye the most when I walk into my sewing room will become quilty #2.

And now I have a secondary design wall.  Moving this contemplation onto my computer allows me to work with pictures rather than the actual blocks.  I can resize, to see what the quilt looks like closer and farther away, and get a feel for the overall impression - easier than can sometimes be done on a design wall in a restricted space.

And, the added bonus.  By bringing my thoughts to my blog, I can bring other quilters into my room to give their opinions on the options.  So - what do you think?  I'm leaning towards the cars on the left - the red & yellow don't really match the print, but the overall effect seems interesting.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Design Wall Monday - Oct 12

What's on my design wall this week?  A disappearing 9-patch.  I saw this pattern recently and decided I wanted to try it out.  Combined that with 2 other goals:  1 - decrease my stash, particularly my collection of kiddie prints now that my children are teenagers.  And 2 - finish a quilty for the children's hospital every month.

I struggled with colour choice for this quilt - the children's print has such bright strong colours.  I debated this choice, but decided that since the yellow would end up in such small pieces, it could work.  And I think it does.

On the left is the 9-patch I started from - I have to admit not a block I would ever want to see in a quilt.  But the disappearing blocks came out great (I think so, anyway).

Now I just have to decide on placement.  I'm considering a random layout like the bottom one.  But leaning more towards the top layout.  I can see one other layout (actually several others, but one that is intriguing me) in these blocks, so I definitely see another disappearing 9-patch or two in my future.

On the right, you can see an edge of my bargello quilt.  Still hanging out on my design wall, in pretty much the same arrangement as last week.  But, having it up there is keeping me focused on it, and I picked up the batting I needed and pulled out the backing yesterday.  It's next on the list after the quilty I think.  Unless I chicken out :)

Check out Judy's blog to see what other quilters have on their design walls this week.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stash Report - Oct 11

Every week Judy at Patchwork Times challenges us to share our stash report.  I started a new quilt this week, so I did manage to decrease my stash a bit.  Hmm, I really should finish a few quilts, but I did make myself a promise to do a quilty every month from now to the end of 2010.  So, I cut the fabric for this month's quilty - 3 yard used, including borders and backing.  Plus, I did the binding for my queen size quilt, which is finally out of the machine.  3/4 yard used there.

None purchased.  I've managed to stay out of quilt shops this week, so my stash didn't grow any further this time.

Total for this year:
Used YTD: 34.75 yards
Added YTD: 30.25 yards
Net: 4.5 yards out this year

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Quilt show

So many favourites, so hard to choose.  Amy at Park City Girl is hosting the Blogger's Quilt Festival today through Oct 16th. She asked us to post a picture of our favorite quilt and tell it's story.

This quilt is one of my favourite ones.  It is bright, and cheerful - it's actually much brighter in person than in the photo.  When I laid it out in my room before shipping, it just brightened it right up.

The story behind this quilt goes back to my very first quilting experience.  An on-line friend was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer late in 2003.  A group of us from an e-mail list decided to make her a friendship quilt.  We couldn't provide our support in person, so we wanted to send her something to remind her how much we all cared.   I had never quilted before, although I had learned to sew as a girl and was making most of my children's clothes at that time.   I decided to participate, and made my very first quilt block.  The colours for her quilt were her favourite ones - purple and green.   All the blocks - about 48 of them - we assembled by one of our members and the quilt was delivered in 2004.

She went through a lot in the next year or so, a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, chemotherapy, but was declared free of the cancer.  And I was completely hooked on quilting.  I have been quilting ever since that first block.   Because of how I got started, I try to donate some of my quilts to groups that support cancer research and help people dealing with cancer in their lives.  In particular, I have donated a quilt to theQuilt.com every year for their auction, since 2006.

In 2007, Michelle's cancer came back.  In her bones, in her kidneys, and her battle started again.  Again, I couldn't do anything directly for her, as she lived on the other side of the continent.  So I decided that my next donation to theQuilt would be in her honour.  I happened across a beautiful pattern, from Northcott fabrics and I decided to do it in purple & green for Michelle.  The border fabric jumped out at me, and I worked from that basis, with much help from the ladies at several quilt shops.   After a couple of false starts and some fabric changes, I had what I wanted.  Started the quilt in 2007, and finished it in December 2008 - just in time for the 2009 Quilt Auction.  Sadly, Michelle passed away in June 2008.  The quilt was donated to the auction in her memory.

My mother was visiting while I was finishing this quilt, and she fell in love with it when she saw it. She even helped me finish the hand-stitching on the binding.  It was obvious that she would have loved to have the quilt, but it was promised for the auction, and I packed it up and shipped it off.  For the next few months she liked to remind me how I'd given away "her" quilt :)

I thought I would make her a new one, which she would love just as much.  I hunted and hunted, and even started a quilt, but none of the options I found could compare to that bright cheerful quilt she had seen at Christmas.   So, when the quilt came up for auction this summer, I bid on my own creation.  I won the auction, and had the quilt shipped directly to my mother just in time for her birthday.  It now has a place of honour on her bed, brightening up her room.

Click on the link below to stop by the quilt festival and see what other quilters have on their blogs.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Design Wall Monday - Oct 5

What's on my design wall this week probably looks really familiar to a lot of you.  I tweaked it a couple more times over the past 2 days.  I'm still not satisfied though.  It feels more like mountains than waterfalls now.

More interesting than what is on my design wall, is what is under it.  That table is the beginning of my machine quilting frame.  I'm so excited!  Space is tight, and I don't look forward to making room next time someone wants to come stay with me.  But I'm already loving this table.  With my sewing table in front of it, I have a nice deep table to catch the quilt I'm currently working on.  Wow!  What a difference.  Maybe I don't need the whole frame after all, and I should just go with the extended table.

Nah.  Who am I kidding?  I can't wait to try out the new frame, but I have to wait for my rollers to arrive first.

If you look on the left of the sewing machine, you can see just a corner of the queen size quilt I'm working on.  I'd name it, and show a photo, but it's a gift (and maybe even a surprise) so no peeking just yet.  Quilting on that project is coming along however, and I hope to have it in the mail before too long.

Last but not least, and not really on my design wall but I want to add it anyway, is my newest pair of socks.  I'm hoping the light green/yellow will prevent my son from stealing this pair.  If that fails, the next pair is definitely pink!  :)

I'm experimenting this time - knitting 2 socks together on 4 needles.  So far so good.  But I know that decreasing is going to be challenging.

Check out Judy's blog to see what other quilters have on their design walls this week.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Stash Report - Oct 4

It was a sad week on the stash busting front this week.  My local quilt shop had a shop hop going, with one on the other side of town (East meets West).  Dropped in on Friday for something completely unrelated (embroidery floss to finish a couple of quilts that have been waiting patiently).  I was also planning to pick up EQ6, but somehow I managed to forget to do that.   But I did find 2 bundles of backing fabric, almost 2 yards each, on sale for 30% off.  Had to have that - especially since I have a few quilts I've promised myself I would finish, but didn't have backing for.

Then of course I had to visit the other shop, once I realized that this was shop hop weekend.  Not like I ever win anything in those draws, but still...  And I did need to pick up some Christmas fat quarters for a swap that's due next week.  So I headed across town yesterday. Oddly, there was almost no Christmas fabric in the store, and no fat quarters pre-cut at all.  So I wandered down to the "bargain basement" and found 4 great Christmas afabrics.  Minimum cut of 1 metre, but on sale 60% off.  Pretty good deal, but it meant a lot more fabric came home than I planned on :)

In this week
8.5 yards
Out:
None

Total for this year:
Used YTD: 31 yards
Added YTD: 30.25 yards
Net: 0.75 yards out this year

Oh, but I can't forget - 100g yarn used for my pretty little socks.  Next pair is already in progress.

Check out Judy's blog to see what other quilters are up to.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Socks

I finished my first pair of socks!  I think I'm hooked on a new craft activity now.  Great for keeping busy while watching TV.


Only problem with this pair is that only minutes after they were done, my son stole them!  He's sitting beside me right now, wearing my socks.  I think the next pair of socks will be pink :)