Tag Archives: improv piecing

Sew Fresh Quilt Bee Blocks

Last November (I think it was) Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts announced her plan for the Sew Fresh Quilts Bee. The goal was to make tons of 12″ quilt blocks which would become part of a series of quilts to be donated to the Ronald McDonald Houses in Canada. The blocks and/or quilt tops were to be finished by May 15th or so and mailed to Ontario no later than May 30th. I jumped on board and bought some of the required fabric (it has a cute Canadian theme) right away. I planned to make a stack of these improv blocks because I have believe strongly in the Ronald McDonald house organization.  I made two blocks right away and then set them aside. Back in November, May seemed like it was so far in the distance. I pretty much forgot about these blocks.

Come January, I wrote a post about my Q1 goals and I put the Bee Blocks on the list. But nope, there were so many other things to work on. Not to mention a wedding in Toronto and my trip in April to meet my new grand baby in Vermont. So again, I put them out of my mind.

At the end of April I read Kate’s post about finishing up her Bee Blocks. Kate and I are quilty friends and we shared the Canadian fabric required for this project. It reminded me how close I was getting to the deadline and as usual with a deadline looming, I sat down and finished some blocks. Yet again, I put the blocks down and quickly became distracted by the quilt show I worked over the weekend.

Looking at this month and all that I have on my plate, I decided these four blocks are as far as I am able to take this project. It was my intention to make more of them, but sometimes life gets in the way. I packed them up and tomorrow I will ship them off to Ontario. I have been looking at the wonderful projects people have made over the past several months for this bee Lorna has hosted. I think it is awesome that so many quilts have been created and they will definitely provide comfort to the people staying in the Ronald McDonald houses during what are likely times of stress and worry.  Thank you Lorna for organizing this event!

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts. Be sure to come check out the blocks and quilts that have been made for this wonderful event.

 

 

Relief Quilting Tutorial – Thread

I really enjoyed playing with relief quilting when I made my FABRIC mini quilt a couple of weeks ago. So much so that I decided to make another one! I took plenty of pictures while making it so I could post a tutorial. I hope you will give it a try. The effect is wonderful and it is such an easy process.

This time I wanted to try stitching the word on a piece of fabric with fusible stabilizer and then building the quilt from there. It worked out wonderfully. Since I already had one mini that said FABRIC, I decided to make another that said THREAD. This idea was inspired by a comment left on the first post by Diana, of A Red Delicious Life.  She mentioned wanting to make one to hang above her thread. I decided to do the same. Now I have one to hang above the closet where I store fabric and another to hang above the thread collection hanging on the wall in my sewing room. Thanks Diana!!

Let’s get started.

I am going to provide the sizes that I used but this is so flexible. Increase or decrease as you like. My quilt finished at 11″ x 23″ so if you want a different size, adjust accordingly.

Materials List:

  • Background Fabric: one rectangle measuring 7″ x 19″
  • Heavyweight fusible interfacting: one rectangle measuring 7″ x 19″
  • Scraps for your border
  • Stencils for tracing the word THREAD. I used letters that were 3″ high.
  • Frixion pen or similar fabric marking pen
  • Binding fabric:  Two strips that are 2 1/2″ by 42″ (Width of fabric)
  • Quilting thread.  I used YLI thread in a variegated green and loved it!

IMG_7181Take your background fabric and fuse the stabilizer to the wrong side of the fabric. Follow manufacturer’s instructions if you are not familiar with this process.

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Trace the word on the fabric with the fabric safe marking pen of your choice. I didn’t leave very much room between the letters because I liked the way this looked. You could certainly adjust this to your taste. Also, I didn’t leave a ton of room on either side. Again, adjust as needed by cutting your background wider if you like.

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Using a walking foot, begin stitching long straight rows above, below and between the letters. I didn’t stitch the outline of the letters. This happens later on when you are quilting everything together. For now, just fill in every bit of space above, below and between each letter. You might choose to use a free motion foot for the little openings within a letter (e.g. the A and the D) so you don’t have to start and stop, twisting the fabric. I kept working with the walking foot because the block is small and easily rotates. Each time I came to the botton or top and needed to move to the next line, I very slowly stitched one stitch over, sometimes doing so by manually turning the wheel on the machine so I moved just one stitch. This kept my rows extremely close together. If you have a needle down function, this helps. Just go one stitch and let the needle stay down while you turn the piece. Now and then, the width looked to wide to me and I would back up and fill in with another line of stitching. Remember you will be viewing this from a distance and it looks much better that way. While stitching, you are looking at it from 6-8″ away and you’ll see every wobble. Not a problem. You are going for the overall effect.

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See how the word starts to come to life? I love that! Now keep on stitching!IMG_7206

Making good progress here.  The word is complete and it is time to begin working on your border.

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I made an improv border by taking squares and rectangles in my color scheme (basically greens, purples and blues) and built four pieces, two for the ends and two for the top and bottom. I didn’t worry about size too much. I made them a bit longer than the side I wanted to sew them to and since I wanted to have them trim out to 3 inches, I made sure the whole thing measured wider than 3 inches.  Note:  If you are not comfortable with this scrappy improv process, I recommend grabbing a copy of 15 Minutes of Play by Victoria Findlay Wolfe at your library. She does an excellent job of guiding you through.  Alternatively, Amanda Jean Nyberg at Crazy Mom Quilts did a Quiltalong last summer called Scrap Vortex. In this post, she talks about building with scraps. It might be of help to you.

After playing with them on the design wall, I trimmed each to a width of 3″. I sewed the top and bottom borders on first and then added each side.

IMG_7277The next step is to make a quilt sandwich with your top, the batting and your backing fabric. I pieced the batting from scraps I had. Just pin it around the border tightly since you are going to quilt in the center first. My batting was just barely bigger than the top but since it was such a small piece I felt ok with that. Normally I use batting that is a good two inches larger than the top all the way around.

 

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Continue to use your walking foot and slowly stitch around each letter. It is a bit like connecting the dots as you want to trace over the place where you stitched over to the next line. Just move slowly and turn frequently (with your needle down while turning) when stitching over a curve.

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I love the way the letters come to life when quilted to the batting.  Next I moved on to the border. I love the little spools of thread that I quilted on the first piece and carried them through to this piece as well. Considering the thread theme of this project, it worked well.

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With each spool, I filled in the top and bottom so they would show up a bit better. If you like this idea, take a look at this tutorial of Lori Kennedy’s over at the Inbox Jaunt.

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The spools are whimsical and they add a bit of movement to the quilting as the ‘thread’ flows off each spool.

Once you complete the quilting, trim, square and bind. Finished!

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Isn’t this adorable?????

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And both of them together?? All kinds of cuteness. What fun (and easy) projects both of these were. I have the sleeve sewn on to FABRIC but still need to make a sleeve for THREAD. They will be on the wall soon. I’ll post a picture next week.

I hope my explanation is helpful. If you make one, let me know. I would love to see it!

I’ll be linking to the usuals which can be found at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

 

 

Relief Quilting – Learning Something New

I have been remiss in posting lately. It has been really hectic and I haven’t had time to sit with my laptop. What little free time there was, I spent in front of the sewing machine. A girl’s got her priorities, right? As summer came to a close, Julia had the typical teenager desire to pack as much as she could into those last few days. That is fine – she will soon be a slave to homework and won’t have a lot of free time. There were movies to see, shopping to do, and friends to hang out with. School started Wednesday and so another year begins.

When it is busy I like to have a simple project to work on during those 15 minutes of sewing time that present themselves now and then. I have been wanting to try relief quilting for quite a while now. Over a year ago, I read a cute post over at Night Quilter where Kitty explained her process of relief quilting a name on a baby quilt. I love the look and have been planning to give it a try. I pulled out some graph paper and fabric scraps and got started.

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After creating this incredibly inspiring sketch of the project that was floating in my head, I brought out some alphabet stencils that I have. I don’t have the whole alphabet but it was enough to get going. I used the E in place of the F. For some reason, the R was a bit bigger than the rest. I think there are multiple sets in the zip-lok bag and these letters weren’t really from the same set.

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Next I found a rectangular scrap of some Kona cotton and traced the letters, centering them as best I could. I didn’t measure this at all. I used a Frixion pen to trace them. I am not a huge fan of Frixion pens for marking but I figured this was just a practice piece so I wasn’t too worried about the final result. Isn’t there something totally freeing about working on a practice piece? Knowing it isn’t going to be your best work and it doesn’t have to be spot on allows one to sit down and have fun. No pressure.

I placed the fabric on top of the batting (which was a large piece that I had created with batting scrap). Using a walking foot, I started to fill in the areas around the letters I had traced. I used tight, straight-line quilting. Without a real plan, I was sort of all over the place – just filling in areas.

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In retrospect, I see that I didn’t need to stitch as wide a swath above and below the letters. With my next attempt, I will plan a bit further and decide how far I really need to stitch. I wasted quite a bit of thread with the extra quilting. I used a variegated YLI thread which provided a nice bold look. The more I use YLI thread, the more I love it. The texture is provides is just wonderful.

When the quilting was done I was just thrilled with the look, even with the slightly oversized R!  😉

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When I first sketched the project out, I planned to use a stack of 2 1/2″ squares that I have collected to make a border for this. Once I got to this point though, I changed my mind. This guy was calling out for a scrappy, improv border. With my bin of bright, multicolored scraps, I began piecing bits together with only a rough idea of what I wanted the result to be. For the borders I created two large improv pieces that were both more than five inches wide. Then I sliced each in half lengthwise, creating 4 strips measuring 2 1/2″ wide.

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I laid them, right sides together, on both sides and stitched the border on. It was a bit of a Quilt as You Go project, since I was just sewing right on top of the base fabric and the batting. The bottom borders were stitched a few inches below and above the lettering. (This is where it became very clear that I didn’t need to quilt as high and low as I had done.)

Borders on and pressed, all that was left was to make baste the top to a backing and quilt it. I thought it would be cute to FMQ a spool of thread in one corner and then have the “thread” spooling off of it, looping along the borders.

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After creating that little spool, I wished I had used a solid fabric on each corner so I could place spools on all four of them. I did put one on another corner but it doesn’t show up very well with the print fabric. The overall look is cute though, isn’t it?

IMG_7169I love all the bits of different fabric that surround this piece. They bring back a little memory of whatever project they were originally used in. A piece of green dotted fabric was used for the backing (I think I got it out of the remnant bin at Jo-Ann’s) and I bound it with the same Kona that is in the center.

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As always, I would do a few things differently the next time I made this sort of project.  If I were doing this sort of thing as a part of a larger quilt, I would fuse stabilizer behind the solid fabric and do the relief quilting over just the fabric (sans batting). Then I would incorporate the block into the larger project. Once I was quilting the larger project, I would use a walking foot to outline the letters (to quilt the block down).

I need to make a sleeve for it and then I will hang it above my sewing machine. This was great fun and I am really pleased with the result. I encourage you to give it a try. Let me know if you have any questions or check out Kitty’s tutorial.

Linking up all over the place – for details, look at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

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Weekends are the time to shop Craftsy. This weekend they are having a Black Friday “When You Need It” sale on kits and supplies. If you are hoping to make handmade gifts in time for the holidays, it is a good time to make a plan and stock up. I love the kits at Craftsy – the fabric is often a huge bargain and no one will know if you use that fabric for a different purpose. I am loving this Benartex quilt kit – 100 charms and 3 yards of fabric?  Another one is the Eclipse kit,  which uses the Allison Glass Sunprints line. There are almost 18 yards of fabric included and the pattern is gorgeous.

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If fabric isn’t your thing this weekend, there is also a great sale on books over at C&T. They are having a $5.00 Blowout Sale and many great quilting titles are on sale. I love C&T – they are the publishers of so many of our favorite quilty books. Check it out! Sale runs through the end of day on Sunday, August 21st.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Row Quilt Top Finished

I am so excited to show you the top and backing for my Classic Stitches Row Quilt.  It was (just over) a year in the making and it looks great. Thank you again to Mari over at Academic Quilter for hosting this BOM throughout 2015 and posting 11 awesome tutorials.

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I sashed it with 1″ (finished) strips of a plain cream fabric that I had in my stash. I had planned to do a colorful border after the sashing but it is already 60″ x 70″ and since I plan to quilt it at home, I decided that was big enough. (It was quite windy when I took these photos so they aren’t the best.)

For the backing, I found a cute blue floral print on a clearance table for a great price. I held my blue ‘Broken Dishes’ row back (to control the length of the quilt overall) and pieced it into the backing.

I am very happy with the way the back looks. I definitely learned my lesson with this Broken Dishes row. It was the first row in the project and I mixed too many scraps within each block. I didn’t realize that mixing the prints and values this way would cause the block to lose the pattern. I feel like it doesn’t even look like the traditional Broken Dishes pattern, but rather like a Pinwheel block instead. This was a good lesson to learn and I didn’t mix the scraps as much in the later rows.

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Overall, I call this project a success and will be basting and quilting it soon.  I have just about finished quilting the brightly colored baby quilt (made from those blocks I found at the thrift store). But once that is done, I will move on to finishing up this row quilt.

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This project is my second quilt made while following along Angela’s Rainbow Scrap Challenge. You can see the first one here. My RSC challenges for 2016 will be two projects that have a modern slant. For one, I be using a pattern called Pretty Gemstones, designed by Cynthia Brunz and published in the latest McCall’s Quilting magazine. I just bought the background fabric so I canstart piecing it soon.

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Isn’t this a pretty quilt? I look forward to working on it. I have a second project in mind using improv fabric made from my scraps. There are all sorts of ways to do this and I haven’t quite decided what to do. At this point, I am making the fabric slabs and will wait to see what sort of quilt evolves from them.  The color for January is Icy Blue and I have some perfect scraps for it!

Wishing you all a great weekend! We have enjoyed  (lots of) rain and snow all week long in much of California. Some flooding is occurring in Southern California but up in the northern end of the state, we are all fine – just really appreciating the rain.

Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict this week. Both links are available at the top of the page, under “Link Ups”.

The Week’s Progress

This has been a good week for sewing. I made progress toward my April goals for ALYOF. Which is a good thing, considering April will be over before you know it. The speed with which time passes seems to increase frighteningly each month.  Anyway, it is April 23rd and I am over 3/4 of the way there. My goal was to make two table runners and either a wall hanging or runner. I wanted to complete three smaller projects this month. I finished the chevron table runner which I posted about last week.

This week I completed the second table runner. The process I used was new for me and was inspired by the way that Victoria Gertenbach at The Silly BooDilly works. I started reading her blog and looking at her style over the past couple of months. She is a modern quilter with a gorgeous sense of line and color. She quilts and does a lot of other work in fiber and paper art. I strongly suggest you take a look at her site as her work is lovely.  One of the tutorials she wrote was about pattern-less design.  She has developed a way of cutting a piece of fabric and then adding sections to it, thus creating her piece. I love the idea. While I didn’t actually follow her tutorial with this project (because it didn’t work with the fabric I had on-hand) I was surely inspired by her process .

About a year ago, I purchased a scrap bag from an on-line fabric shop. Sorry, I am not positive but I belive it was Alaska Quilting Adventures.  I ended up with loads of strips, probably end cuts from the bolts as she was creating bundles of precuts.  First I cleaned up the strips so they were (relatively) straight, though I did not cut them exactly the same width. Next, I sewed a set of them together to make a long rectangle of fabric. I cut that into three sections. I then played with more of the strips, creating blocks to add between the sections. Kind of hard to describe, but it was a very simple process. As I have mentioned before, I usually sew from a pattern or tend to copy other’s ideas for inspiration. This was very freeing. I want to try this again with a Kaffe Fassett jelly roll of shot cottons that I have. Here is the resulting table runner.

runnerThe colors are soft and soothing.  I had fun creating the block in the center which has a bit of extra detail in the piecing.

table runner detailWhen I was ready to quilt it I decided to use something with curved lines to offset the straight lines of the piecing. I chose the Baptist Fan pattern. I had not done this before so I drew it on newspaper with a sharpie until it was comfortable and then sewed a few fans on a practice piece. It is really a simple shape to FMQ. I didn’t trace it on the runner before quilting. If I had, I am sure my lines would have less wobble.

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It is backed and bound with the same fabric. Not sure what it was but it used up some of my stash which is always a good thing. Overall, I am happy with the result and it was a huge learning experience, both in piecing and quilting. Yay!

The third April project I worked on is for my first mini-swap. This swap features fabrics by Allison Glass. I was really getting nervous about this project, doubting my abilities till I was just about stuck. I decided to start cutting fabric last weekend and just dive in. I chose the Fireworks pattern by Canoe Ridge Creations. She does a lot of mini quilt pattern design and I have several of her patterns. They are easy to use and her instructions are great. I have the blocks done and need to stitch them together. It should finish out at 24″ x 24″. The swap isn’t due to be mailed out until early June so I am way ahead of schedule. May is going to be a busy month so I’m glad to check this one off. (By the way, for those of you who have done swaps, do you usually put anything on the back for hanging, or is that up to the recipient to do that?  Please leave a comment if you have experience here! I appreciate it. )

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The colors aren’t showing correctly due to the poor lighting but I am happy with it. The blue in the third section out is much more vibrant than shows here. I really need better light in my sewing room. When this is finished I will take a picture outside. I am hoping to sew the blocks together later today and get it quilted next week. Of course, that leads to the perpetual questions, how do I want to quilt this? Most likely I will straight line quilt it with a narrow spacing.

First though I have a garden swap to go to this afternoon. I joined a gardening group and we are exchanging plants from our gardens. About six weeks ago, I potted starts from my Shasta Daisies, Oregano, and Chives.

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It will be fun to give these to the group and bring home something different. Hoping for plants that don’t require much in the way of water!

Linking to Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday and  Crazy Mom Quilts. Links to these wonderful sites are at the top of the page, under Link Ups.