Friday, July 10, 2009

Mini Quilt Retreat

My sister, Kim, came to visit this past week and I had the brilliant--if I may say so myself--idea of exchanging our usual "girls only" trip to the quilt store for some actual quilting. We both have more projects that need sewing than money that needs spending right now anyway, so it worked out great.

I arranged some time and facilities at my church and we had an entire afternoon of sewing.
(Don't we look so pleased with ourselves?)

Kim especially wanted me to show her paper (foundation) piecing. (Apparently she missed my tutorial.) She is making a crib quilt with hearts galore, including four different paper pieced blocks.

Here she is displaying her first paper pieced block:
Isn't it lovely?

That evening we got in a little more quilting at home after her kids were tucked into bed, and Kim managed to finish her second block.

It is my favourite of her heart patterns. (The one on the left.) The blocks are laying on our current top pick for the sashing fabric. If you thought my toddler quilt was pink, this one will make you think you've fallen into a bubblegum bubble.

And what was I working on? My Mini Crossed Canoes quilt. Here it is a year ago when I was deciding how to apply the outer pieced border:
I got very interested in mini quilts a few years ago and this idea appealed to me as a way to try it out. True mini quilts are scaled down versions of large quilt patterns. (Some of them with the tiniest of pieces.)

Not wanted to commit to that much, I instead used 1.5" inch (finished size) blocks to make up one large block pattern. The finished quilt will be about 20" to a side, well under the 24" which I think is the standard limit for a mini quilt.

It also gave me a chance to play around with colour, mixing and matching shades but with the intent to have it all blend. I never realized how much I love blue and yellow until I could hardly turn away from all the fat quarters in their lovely colours and patterns!

And how far did I get? Well, I had marked and quilted on the yellow portions of the outside border last April (2009)
and then got kind of stuck on how to mark the blue portions. My water soluble marker is blue. The white chalk and chalk pencil weren't working. On our quilt retreat I tried one more marking tool that I found in my sewing box: a water soluble chalk pencil. And despite being blue as well, it worked! I marked up one section, got it quilted, and then got bold and quilted the other blue section without marking at all. After all the practice, it worked out well.

Because of a few interruptions (and tutoring Kim), that's all I finished on the actual retreat. But when we were sewing at home, I started the free motion quilting on the main body of the quilt. It took me a while to get there, but I had decided to quilt in a style that I had seen on a lot of art and landscape quilts in the magazines the last few years.

It's very simple but remarkably effective at blending the blue blocks together. And it reminds me of water somehow. (It is a Crossed Canoes pattern after all.) I got the two easy sections done, and then plunged in and got the two harder sections done too!

Then I was stalled because I don't have a firm plan for the rest. I think I'm going to draw out a water lily in the middle section and have some "tendrils" go out onto the yellow sections. Maybe in green thread. We'll see.

Being loath to waste sewing time, however, I took care of some of the more mundane tasks. Like cutting and seaming 90 inches of binding:
(That's left over fabric from the square dancing outfit I made in our clubs colours!)

And then I worked on making some piping with my Piping Hot Binding kit.

I did not need to buy a special piping foot as my buttonhole foot (I think that's what it is; foot C if you have a Viking Sapphire) worked very well. It has a groove in the bottom, it has a ledge on the left side that the piping can run against, and by moving my needle to the right just one click, I could sew my own perfect piping. Life is good.

We had a great time, although I must say we talk at lot less when we're sewing than when we're shopping. There was a lot of concentrating going on which didn't leave a lot of room in the brain for "catching up." But whenever we were both on a little break, we were happy to admire each other's work and tell each other how good we were doing! Nothing like a lot of mutual encouragement!

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