Posted in Quilts

Space Nerd Remix

Just a quick log cabin this week to use up all those science and space novelty prints from the commissioned Space Nerd Quilt. I added some solids and blenders so I would have enough to make a very large twin quilt. I cut 3 1/2 inch squares of the white constellations print (Lizzy House Whisper Palette) for the centers and then all the blocks are 3 1/2” wide (by 6 1/2, 9 1/2, 12 1/2). Because I decided to make them all square in the end, I cut the 15 1/2 inch strips after the blocks were otherwise complete, which actually made laying it out easier, as I didn’t have the same fabrics end up adjacent very often.

 
No fabric ended up in the same block twice (I think) and very few adjacent. This ended up as a very large twin (~75” x 90”), or double. And the blocks were all so large, it came together at top speed. Fun scrap buster. 

Posted in Quilts

Finished: Space Nerd Quilt

The Space Nerd quilt is finished and on its way to its new home in Italy. This is the Rapid City quilt pattern from Elizabeth Hartman, described in this post.

I am terrible at quilt photography to begin with, and I was very short on time to boot, as I handed the quilt over almost immediately after completing it. So, my husband had to play quilt holder in our backyard. I’m sad I didn’t get to style or overdocument this one because it was so much fun to plan and make and quilt.


I free-motion quilted this one in a geometric meander, and was careful not to quilt past the quilt top onto the batting because I really wanted to try out this method (tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew) of binding for the first time, where the backing is folded over as binding. This was partly to save time and energy, but also I wanted a neutral gray binding and both the background and backing of this quilt were already neutral gray. It would have been a waste to bind it separately. It came out really well. It feels much flatter and lighter this way. Like a photo without a frame. I like it.

I’ve already got plans for all the spare novelty space fabric I have from this quilt. Stay tuned for Space Nerd II: the Quilty Sequel.

 

Posted in Quilts, Works in Progress

Rapid City Space Quilt

I got a request for a twin-sized quilt for a boy who loved all things Outer Space. But of course, it couldn’t be that simple. The requester, who would be gifting this quilt to said boy, prefers bright saturated colors and so would need those incorporated among the space-themed fabrics. And “space-themed” needed to include rockets.

Once we had settled on a pattern and I had acquired some fabrics (including some overt, novelty rocket fabrics — not my general fave), an additional AND was given: AND the boy’s favorite color is orange and so that has to be included.

All these parameters just serve to make me feel like a dynamic and flexible quilt maker though. I love just making it work.

So, the pattern I settled on was the Rapid City quilt pattern by Elizabeth Hartman, from her book, Modern Patchwork: 12 Quilts to Take You Beyond the Basics. I am just fresh off making a queen sized version of one of her other patterns, New Wave, and I gotta say, Elizabeth Hartman is a quilt pattern writing genius. This book is a great investment. The patterns look very complicated, and they usually do require a full day dedicated solely to cutting up the fabric and labeling the pieces, but the end results are always worth it. And in every pattern I’ve seen of hers, she breaks down the process so sensibly, from cutting in the most efficient/ least wasteful manner, to choosing fabrics and colors in a way that will make each quilt unique and mod and unified.

This pattern suggests using 8 prints and 8 coordinating solids. She has fully converted me to incorporating solids into every quilt, ever since taking her Craftsy class on modern quilts. But I did sneak one blender into my coordinating choices. So 8 space-themed prints, 7 solids (including orange, of course), and some cobalt blue Sprinkle from Cotton + Steel.

Last week, I spent one full day cutting and labeling pieces as dictated by the pattern, and then the blocks came together quickly (as her patterns usually do because of all the intense preparation). Today will be dedicated to piecing the top together, maybe getting as far as basting and starting the quilting. My hope is to finish this entirely by this weekend, when I will be seeing the purchaser, so I can hand deliver her final products.

One pieced block (of 16 total):

Fabrics are Kona Ash and Black, prints from Lizzy House’s Natural History Collection, astronauts and space shuttles from Makower Galaxy collection, which are really adorable in these small amounts.

Posted in Quilts

Little Pink Houses final reveal

I took some photos of the final Neighborhood quilt made from Les Petites fabric before it gets sent off to its tiny recipient. 

I quilted doors on the homes, plants and fences and rows in the “vacant lot” spaces, and a little moon holding a star in the corner. 

As always, I am disappointed by my quilt photography skills. I just can’t capture them. But I am not disappointed by this quilt in person. Not a bit. 

Posted in Tutorials

Binding Tutorial: Step Two

You thought I was going to post step one, and then forget to ever post a step two, didn’t you…Sounds like me. But nope, I got your back. So although step one was (mostly) optional (you still need to trim your quilt if you didn’t serge the edges), you should read step one first.

You will also need to create your binding. I always cut my binding at 2 1/2 inches, and all the measurements I use in this tutorial are based on 2 1/2 inch binding strips. I do this primarily because I can find pre-cut 2.5 inch strips if I want to save time, and I can use the leftover strips or even just 2.5 inch squares that are leftover from the binding for lots of things. Here’s a quick how-to on creating your binding.

  1. Cut your fabric into 2.5 inch strips along WOF (width of fabric…from selvedge to selvedge) –if the need ever arises, you can also cut strips along length of fabric or cut bias binding strips, but that’s not what I typically do because I want to make the most economical use of my fabric in general.

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2. Sew them together end to end, where you’re sewing the ends perpendicular, at a 45 degree angle. This disperses the bulk of those seams along the binding.

3. Trim off the corners of those seams, leaving only a quarter inch seam allowance, and fold the binding lengthwise, pressing mightily with a hot hot iron. I like to wind it around an empty spool as I press it to keep it neat and tidy, and tightly pressed.

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Now that you have your binding, you will start stitching it down to the front of your quilt, with the raw edge about 1/8 inch away from the edge of your quilt. (With my serged quilt edges, I just make sure about 1/2 of the serged up stitches are showing.) Start at a corner, leaving just an inch or two extra off the corner. Remember, I prefer my method of binding primarily because there is so little wasted binding and only two such small tails, the one here, and the one at the end, that will be connected to this one.



So this is what my first stitches look like. I have left just a 1-2 inch long tail, and I’ve started stitching 3/8 inches down from the top quilt edge, and 3/8 inches in from my quilt’s right edge (the 1/8″ of edge that is showing + the 1/4″ of binding that one typically uses as a seam allowance). I measure this 3/8 inch at every corner, so I keep a tiny ruler nearby, and a frixion pen to mark it. I back stitch after my first stitches to secure that corner.
At the next three corners, I mark 3/8″ from the next edge of the quilt, and sew to that point, back stitch, and cut my thread. I then use a little mitered corner clip tool (pictured), but this is just for accuracy. This is the same corner folding method that countless binding tutorials use. I am folding the binding back over on itself, then out along the next edge at a 90 degree angle, leaving a 45 degree fold in the binding right at the corner. Then I start my stitching again right over that fold.

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When I get to the final corner, this is the only place where my binding is a little different then most. I use the no tails binding method (demonstrated with remarkable clarity in this tutorial from Flourishing Palms) on this final corner, leaving me with a stitched up mitered corner (the other three corners are just folded) and no tails to connect or stitch down.

At the final corner, I mark my 3/8″ from the bottom as I approach, then back stitch my final stitches up to that mark.


I trim off my binding, leaving that same tiny tail that I started with, just 1-2 inches. If all your measurements were correct, your first stitch and last stitch should be essentially on top of one another.


Now I fold the corner of my quilt in half (45 degree angle) so that my two binding tails are back to back and all aligned.


I use my little ruler and frixion pen to mark a line from the folded edge of my binding down to my first/final stitch. This line is perpendicular to the stitch line.


Then I use that line I just marked as the bottom of a right triangle that I am about to draw. With my measurements, I line the corner of my little ruler up so that each end of the line is at 5/8″ on the ruler. Then I trace the corner of the ruler to create my right angle.


It sounds so complicated and brainy when I put it this way, but the first line you drew becomes the hypotenuse of your right triangle. Yay geometry!!!

Then you simply stitch along that right angle. Back stitch at the beginning and end, this becomes your stitched mitered corner. Trim off to leave just a little seam allowance.

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Use a sharp, pointy tool (a knitting needle, a chopstick, an actual point turner) to turn that corner you just stitched inside out. Voila!

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Stitched up mitered corner. (Edit: this photo and the way the star print fits make this look like a super jagged line. It is not. It is just yer average 45 degree corner seam) And you are all prepared for Step Three.

Posted in Quilts

The Meadow Quilt: a year-long journey

I didn’t actually realize it until I typed this post title JUST NOW, but this meadow quilt was a journey of almost exactly one year. (Yes, i do realize ‘almost exactly’ is an oxymoron. I am super clever.)

But looking through my phone, I found these photos that I took at the Meadow Quilt workshop taught by Lizzy House herself with the San Diego Modern Quilt Guild on March 6, 2016.

Aren’t we all so cute? And it was a year ago, so we are all aglow with youth, too.

Then I scrolled forward to the photos of the nearly finished Meadow Quilt, with its adorable intended recipients. The photo says it was taken March 4, 2017, and I’m inclined to believe it. You’ll notice it wasn’t yet bound (I simply surged up the edges on my serger, a practice I have come to love), and I bound it a day or two later, so it was very probably on March 6!


I ended up binding it with Elizabeth Hartman Starlight in gray, from the Paintbox Basics collection (or maybe Pacific?) to complement the Cotton & Steel sprinkle stardust that I used as a background fabric on the top, and the extra wide backing that I used on the back, which is Elizabeth Hartman wide back, like a swollen and darkened version of that binding fabric. I love this wideback fabric so much, I had to stock up on it, in both the gray and the hot pink color. So you’ll be seeing more soon. I just love how quirky and cartoonish it is. It makes every quilt look more modern and fun.

And in between that first photo and that last photo, what happened during the 364 days in between? Well, sewing, obviously. But also, some meditative time on a long-arm quilting machine. I used the giant Bernina Q24 at Cozy Creative Center to stitch the twinkle lights pattern in the background and used my Juki to stitch a variegated pink thread onto the pink sections. The main contributor to all that delicious texture is for sure the wool batting. I used this Quilters Dream Wool Batting (93” x 72”) Twin, and I just can’t recommend it enough. Especially for a kid’s quilt that will be used year-round. It makes for a very functional comforter in addition to being a beautifully draped word of quilted art.

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This quilt journey was my first exposure to curved piecing, which has created great confidence in my piecing abilities, and was a joy from start to finish. That’s 365 days of joy. And counting.

Posted in My Small World QAL, Quilts

My Small World pre-game

So I’ll begin by saying that it’s not you: the pattern booklet for My Small World is confusing and hard to follow. But to be fair to Jen Kingwell (who is a creative genius for sure), the best things about this quilt are its intricacy and personalization, which are the very things that make it hard to translate into a clear, easy to follow pattern.

So rather than following the book’s list of blocks (which our guild’s schedule loosely followed), I thought of this as being broken down into discrete tasks (many of which could be split further into sub tasks). For me and my particular frustration and impatience thresholds (both very low) this worked much better than, say, making 23 pinwheels, then making 16 flying geese, three of which will be used for arrows and 6 of which will be paired as diamonds and then 4 churn dashes and then hourglasses and on and on and you get the idea. I needed to see progress regularly. This thing needed to take shape from the beginning or I was going to lose focus. And I needed to have the larger project in my mind. Which makes Task #1 so invaluable to successful completion.

Task 1: make a blueprint.

One complaint about the pattern is that only finished block measurements are given, all templates are sans seam allowance, and multiple sizes of similar blocks are used. Use graph paper to map out the entire quilt, using the Assembly pages 28-31 in the booklet, and a one square = one inch ratio. I buy these Five Star Spiral Notebook, Graph Ruled, 1 Subject, 8.5 x 11 Inches, 100 Sheets, Assorted Colors (06190) three or four at a time. They are hard to find in stores. I don’t know why, but I have preferred the gridded paper since jr. high school. They make me feel more organized, even when i’m just freestyle doodling. And they make a ton of sense for quilt planning, of course. (They make great bullet journals, too, if that’s your deal.)

 I would make a printable copy for others to use, but I already colored mine, and besides it is easy and kind of fun and worth making your own so that you can see which bits you might want to customize as you go.

For instance, I have this amazing fabric that I wanted to cut large fussy cuts from and the 4×4″ spaces meant for orange peel blocks would be the perfect spots for them. This works well for me in a couple ways because I am also not so good at appliqué. “But wait,” you might be thinking, “this quilt is a great way to practice so many skills, and you should use it as an opportunity to improve your Appliqué!”

And I say to you: hush. My goal here is to actually finish the project within a year. I know myself. See above re my frustration threshold. There is still some appliqué with the little rounded door blocks and that’s quite enough practice for me.

So I’ve already mapped out which blocks I’m replacing with fussy cuts or special prints. I can see exactly which flying geese are being used in arrow blocks and which panel each pinwheel will be used in, which makes color planning more feasible. And I’m needing to do a lot of color planning because I’m doing a sunset sky and a low volume and neutral toned skyline. This would be very difficult without a blueprint to work from.

A subtask of this first important task is fabric choice. Once you’ve drawn a blueprint, you can color it in like an adult coloring book and make your fabric choices so you can keep all the bits of this long-term project together. I chose to work from mostly scraps, plus Carolyn friedlander’s Doe collection for the skyline and Moda’s Enchanted by Alisse Courter for the sunset sky.

I found it very helpful to:

1) have these specified collections to choose from in order to limit my options to some extent (I get overwhelmed by indecision and with so many tiny pieces, there are a lot of decisions to make here), and

2) use precuts. I had a charm pack of Doe and with so many 1.5″ and 2.5″ pieces required, a 5″ square of each print was convenient and plenty.

Task one done? Hooray! Congrats on your blueprint. Let’s do this thing.

And I’ll just toot my own horn and mention that my blueprint is drawn in my quilting notebook which I totally copied from fabricmutt’s tutorial (here) with strips of Anna Maria Horner’s Folk Song.

Posted in My Small World QAL

How to actually complete the My Small World quilt along

Full disclosure, I haven’t completed the My Small World QAL. Yet. SDMQG chose this quilt (pattern now available as printed booklet from Jen Kingwell) as their yearlong quilt along project for 2016. I only joined the guild in June 2015, and so wasn’t able to join their QAL from last year and I was so psyched to join everything guild had to offer this year, I’m doing this, I’m doing the Bee, I’m doing every swap they can come up with. 

So Sue B. took charge of leading our group in this QAL, even giving us a schedule for what blocks we should complete each month, and making templates for us all to use. I was worried because I missed January’s meeting and so already was a month late on the schedule, which can really mess with my mind on a thing like this. January was the month I was supposed to be completing like 25 pinwheels and a bunch of tiny churn dashes, etc. I figured I’d never catch up and so I didn’t try. 

Fast forward to April and I had an idea in mind for how I very generally wanted my MSW to turn out. So I made some fabric choices for the pinwheels and figured I’d at least get those done. I got about half completed. It took me a solid day. I figured there was no way I’d keep going, but I still had 8 months to think about it. 

At the beginning of June, I attended a weekend long quilt retreat with the Guild and say across from the one member who had already finished (completely by hand) her My Small World. I had brought along my materials and pattern, and although I still didn’t get any further, I renewed my commitment. If Suzanne could complete hers in 6 months, I could too. The second half of the year. 

I am much farther along toward my goal after the last 3 days and it is seeming very possible. So I’ll tell you how I did it over a series of posts because I’m excited for more people to create their own versions of this intricate and personal project. Stay tuned.

Posted in Quilts

Adventures with the Longarm

I finally took a longarm class in order to rent time on a longarm machine at The Quilted Rose, here in San Diego. I would now like to offer up my right kidney to the highest bidder so that I can purchase a longarm machine and use it everyday. The machines at TQR are pretty old and huge, and when I rented time, they actually gave me the clunkiest one. I was not super pleased about that, but it did not deter me from longarm quilting in the slightest. It just made me google my other San Diego county options. 

So my pieced quilt began with the central fairies fabric which is an out of print Alexander Henry print that I had no idea what to do with, but loved intensely and purchased from an etsy seller that specializes in out of print goodies. Then after our guild (SDMQG) did a Lizzy House challenge during Lizzy house’s visit, I was inspired by my fellow runner up (yes! I was totally a runner up!) and her Unicornio quilt. It was a large scale log cabin with a variety of colors and featuring a Lizzy house unicorn right smack dab in the center.

So I have been adding rich log cabin walls around these mysterious fairies slowly slowly slowly. 

   
   Then I spent some time with it at TQR, choosing a very intense teal thread for the quilting, and bound it in deep green Constellations by Lizzy House. 

If you look closely at the quilting, you’ll see that I basically tried everything I had practiced on paper from An Angela Walters book that I have, Shape by Shape. And it’s very beginner, but again, that machine was a rickety pile, so I am not totally to blame. And the prints are so busy, it doesn’t matter at all. I see it as a longarm sampler for me, and my daughter loves it on her bottom bunk (for when friends come to sleep over, she tells me). It couldn’t possibly go on the top bunk because, speaking of Lizzy House, that spot is reserved for the forthcoming Meadow Quilt (top is already complete!)

Posted in Quilts

Postage stamp quilts

postage stamp quilts. Those are the only projects getting finished round these parts as I postpone a slew of other more challenging projects. They are not challenging. Some people might find them mind numbing, but I am not among those people. I love to pick a bunch of fabrics, spend a morning pressing them all with Flatter or Best Press until the inside of my nose smells permanently like figs or yuzu or what have you. Then nothing pleases me more than to follow it up with an afternoon of cutting 2.5″ strips from my chosen lovelies. I save a few strips for strippy fun, then keep cutting cutting cutting everything into a beautiful stack of 2.5″ squares. That’s a whole day gone, if you’re keeping track, and no fabrics have been sewed to any other fabrics. Nothing has been done, but that day ends up feeling so productive to me. I’m a loon.

Then comes the learning and creating and playing. Btw I use a pinking blade on my rotary cutter so all my squares are in it for the long haul. Ain’t no way I’m using a full day’s worth of squares in a single quilt, so I like to know my leftover squares can be stored for an indefinite length without any fraying. So anytime I have a few hours, I can pull out my squares and do some playing. 

   
  I use the method that Elizabeth Hartman shows in this  tutorial (http://www.ohfransson.com/all-projects/stamp-collection-blocks) on her Oh Fransson website, laying out all the squares on a sheet of very lightweight fusible interfacing over a grid drawn on muslin. One, I like how this method makes all my squares line up because when I just sew squares together using the regular method or strip piecing, my fabrics are always going to have some stretching or shape shifting or wormhole travel where they will end up off by what seems like a half inch at least once per row. 

Two, I like this method because I get to lay out all my fabric squares however I want and play with them and rearrange them freely and once they’re exactly how I want them, I don’t have to take them apart again to chain piece them all into oblivion and try to put them back together again. They stay put on the interfacing while I stitch column by column and then row by row. It is so meditative and quick. 

I worried that the interfacing would make the quilt stiff, but after a washing and drying, I honestly cannot feel a difference between an interfaced quilt and a traditionally pieced stamp quilt. I found it so much easier that the other method feels like going commando; obviously a lot of people love it, but it’s a bit too loosey goosey for me. I prefer a little clothing under my squares. 

Being able to play around with the placement helps me learn about the ways colors play with one another and also allows me to prevent adjacent prints. Were the placement of the prints truly random, you’d be likely to have some prints adjacent to themselves. I think they look more random though when they are placed intentionally so that there are no adjacents. Like how my nanny used to tell me that the secret to makeup was to make it look like you weren’t wearing makeup. The secret to making it look random is to very carefully and intentionally arrange placement. Or you could just pull them from a paper bag and sew them together. A more efficient and equally acceptable method. Suit yourself. 

   
  Anyway, I have a million 2.5″ squares and it is incredibly satisfying to produce a quilt top in about 2 days that can put a major dent in a scrap bin to boot. So my total so far for postage stamp quilts in 2016 is 3. But it’s only March, so let’s see if I can hit double digits.