Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Projects Completed in 2019

In order of completion. Click text for related blog posts.

Blue and White Elephant Quilt
Wool-Aid Vest 2019-1 (Ravelry page)
Iceland Entrelac Socks
Vintage Blouse
Wool-Aid Sweater 2019-1 (Ravelry page)
Red Cable Shortie Socks
Bright Stars on Black Quilt
Side Cable Shortie Socks
Lime/Navy Shortie Socks
Self Striping Shortie Socks
Boxy Fadient Tee
Monster Socks (Ravelry page)
Bright Star Pillow
Baby Elephant Quilt

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

2020 Planning Party

2020 Planning Party I just read about the Planning Party link-up that Yvonne at Quilting Jet Girl is having and there are some great prizes, so I am jumping in. (You know I am all about trying for the prizes.)

Here are some goals for 2020:

1. Quilt this thing finally. (It's from late 2016.)
I have backing, batting, and binding. All three b's. Oh ya, and thread. Now I just need a d: quilting design.

I just re-read the post where I showed this top finished for the first time. I talked about taking it to a local shop where I can rent time on a long-arm machine to quilt it, because "It would be so exciting to get it quilted in an afternoon!!! :)" That makes me laugh now. Remember when I quilted my nine-patch on a long-arm at the shop and it took 10 hours? And that was a single all-over pattern. L.O.L.

2. Make a wall hanging from this block:
to coordinate with this wall hanging I finished in 2010:
I know I have some of the binding fabric left and I think I might have some of the thin inner border, and we'll see for the rest.

3. I would love to get all of my Lucy Boston blocks sashed and start on the connecting squares.
I have about half of them done now. I still need to get a little more fabric of one of the greys. I really should have done that while they might have had the same bolt at the store so the colour wouldn't vary. I think that ship has sailed.

4. Finish the Joy to the World bottom:
It's going to be the back of my Merrily Christmas quilt top,
hence "bottom" instead of quilt top. I do have the batting I'm going to use for this quilt, but I doubt I will get that far in the next year.

5. Make a start on a quilt top with my "antique red" fabrics. I have a collection of fabric for this quilt and am getting the urge to do something with it. Maybe a Boston Commons. I think I need a few more fabrics in the contrasting colour, but picking a specific pattern would help in knowing what I need!

6. Make a memory blanket for a friend
I'm using her mother's cashmere sweaters to make a blanket for her. The sweaters are washed and I know how I'm going to do it, so it's a matter of figuring out the largest square I can cut and getting started. I don't want this to languish very long.

7. Work on calligraphy.
I have signed up for a free course on modern calligraphy from Becca of the Happily Ever Crafter. (It starts on January 6 and I think you can sign up up until that date, if you're interested.) Apparently it is mostly drills on basic parts of the letters, but that is how you get good and I am certainly not going to do it on my own! Hopefully the incentive of doing it with others will help.

8. Skate more.
This is in response to the thought that I should move more and asking myself what kind of moving I enjoy. There's not a lot but skating is one of them. The park I used to skate at was completely revamped and is apparently awesome. There is not only an outdoor rink, but a loop, like taking a walk on a path. For $35 I can get a season pass. They're open 7 days a week (afternoons and evenings which is just my time of day) so I'm hoping I can get myself down there a lot.

9. Take a trip with Troy.
We're married 20 years in 2020, so I think a little trip is in order. We'll probably stay stateside this time, maybe go down to the Florida keys. I have never been.

10. Pray more.
This has become a big thing with me lately. I am learning a lot and hope to put it into practice a lot more.

Goals. I don't often set them out but maybe that is something I should do more of too. :)

ETA: I won a prize of some batting! I had no idea what I was getting, but when it arrived, it was just what I always like to use: queen sized wool batt. Woo hoo!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Elephants : Quilted, Bound, and Done!

Last time I showed the Elephant Squares quilt I'm making, it was being pin basted. I think the first time I found time to work on the quilting, I was supposed to be packing for a trip but Troy was napping in the bedroom. What can ya do? ("Quilt" is always the answer.)

I found a rainbow variegated thread in my stash that matched the colours. I'm not crazy about the look of variegated threads, but I was happy to use something I already had and it did match really well. It was a 30-weight (meaning thicker) thread so it did show up nicely on the front.

I put on my walking foot and stitched on both sides of each seam.
I got through the one direction in about an hour and finished the other direction on another day.

I was disappointed that even though I used the walking foot, the fabric was still distorted.
Can you see how the middle seam (from top to bottom between the pink and blue, the left polka dots and right polka dots, and then the green and pink) is lower than the seams on the left and right sides of the polka dots? It definitely was off enough that it affected the stitching going in the other direction because the seam wasn't straight anymore. I'll have to see what more I can do to control the fabric movement (on the next quilt).

I ran into one snaffu. While quilting, the edge of the backing fabric got caught up in the stitching.
I was not happy about the thought of undoing all those seams and sewing them again. (The variegated thread wouldn't match; there would be all these starts and stops in the quilting.) But then I realized that all of the fabric folded back under the sewing was excess fabric. (You always make the backing bigger than the top and cut it off at the end. It works better; trust me.)

So I took some sharp scissors and cut the fabric away right beside the seam:
Then I took a thin tool I have and ran it along the seam on the other side pulling the fabric from under the seam:
Here, no longer a problem:
I did that to the fabric everywhere it was caught under some stitching and got it all straightened out:
Ok, it looks like a mess, but that's all getting cut off anyway!

Once the quilting was done and the quilt trimmed, it was time for the binding. I had been thinking about this a lot because the colours of the front and back aren't perfectly agreeable. I thought about a red to match the backing (or some of the backing itself) but the only red on the front are a few of the elephants. Not enough for a red binding to look good.

I finally decided that I would use the blue from the front. It would match the back well enough. But when I looked, there certainly was not enough blue. (I only started with a fat quarter, after all!) My next idea was to do a scrappy binding with the four solid colours from the front. Would there be enough?

I looked at what I had:
One strip of each colour. But they were a little more than 5 inches wide and about 20 inches long. So I could get about 40 inches of 2.5 inch binding from each of them. Was that enough? I measured a side of the quilt and it was about 35 inches. Since there are four sides at 36 inches and four colours of binding with 40 inches...yes there was enough!!

I cut them up and sewed them end to end.
Since I didn't have a lot of extra, I did a perpendicular seam instead of a bias one. I might have anyway because I liked that the colour changes were straight perpendicular lines instead of an angle.

I decided to sew the binding to the back of the quilt first,
and then flip it to the front to be sewn by hand.
I had been thinking I would sew it by machine while I was making it, but near the end I had the idea to hand stitch it with some visible big stitch sewing with the variegated thread.
I like it! I had some issues sewing down the corners with the visible running stitch until I realized I should sew the miter folds of the corners before I sew the edges down with the running stitch. That fixed it.

And here is the quilt:
It's fun to step back and see all the elephants marching across the quilt. :)

Here's the back (for the record):
I used a solid thread on the back that matched the red. And yes, those are gloves on my hands. Yes, it was freezing. I couldn't feel the tips of my fingers by the time I was done taking pictures. So cold!

I did not planning at all for where the binding colours would land. Sometimes it matched a block,
and sometimes it didn't.
The only thing I did plan for was to end with a green strip so there would be less green when it got trimmed. (Sorry, green. I'm just not that into you.)

I still have to wash the quilt and make a label. But that doesn't keep it from being done. :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

I Love it When You Can Make a Set

I would have to admit that I am a sucker for a set. If something I see matches something I already have, I have a very hard time leaving it at the store (garage sale, flea market, wherever). I have more fun putting together sets than just buying everything all at once. (Feels too much like a kit--all the fun is already done!)

It looks like I didn't detail it here on the blog, but I had a red star block that I took out of my Bright Stars on Black quilt (based on the Pecking Order quilt). (I replaced it with a lighter pink block to flow better with the rest of the quilt.)

Feeling bad that this red block wasn't going to make it onto the quilt, I decided I would make a pillow out of it. I don't generally decorate with pillows, but how could I resist making one from this one (favourite) block!

In November I finished quilting the front of the pillow cover:
I layered the block with some scrap batting (literally scrap as I sewed two pieces together) and backed it with more of this black fabric (which will never end!)

I sewed the center with embroidery floss (two strands) the same as the blocks on the quilt:
And then with the machine, I went around the outside, "bouncing" from point to point.
You can see I marked it with chalk and still have to wash that off!

I avoided doing the back of the pillow for a while because I knew it was going to get involved. I was definitely going to use the same black (again, I have a supply for two lifetimes), but the pieces were all smaller than I really needed--too narrow to cover half of the pillow and too short too.

So I thought of a plan to cover the back with three partially overlapping panels. This also would avoid using a zipper, which I didn't have and didn't want to buy.

After patching in an extra piece of fabric to make four strips the right length, I hemmed one long edge on two of the pieces. The other two pieces, I put back to back and sewed them together along both long edges.
 I then pressed the seams to lock the stitches, and then pressed the seam allowances open:
Then I could turn this tube inside out.
Pressing the seams open before turning, makes it really easy to make a nice crisp edge:
Then I top stitched along both long edges for reinforcement.
After all that, I had three strips of fabric,
The outside ones (top and bottom) are one layer and hemmed on the long inside edge, and the center one is double sided and top stitched along both long edges.

Now I could layer them onto my pillow front. First the centre one goes on (more or less in the center):
Then the two other pieces go on, matching the edges of the pillow front and overlapping with the center piece. The good side facing down, of course.
Then I sewed all around the pillow. Yes, all around. I did not have to leave a 6 inch opening for turning. :)
Apparently Husqvarna is stridently metric because there are no inches marked on my machine. Since I had planned for a 1/2 inch seam allowance, I lined up the edge of the fabric with the edge of my walking foot and then moved the needle to the left until it was 1/2 inch from the edge.

You can see I'm now pinning from the "wrong" way too. A new habit I'm trying. Putting them in from right to left makes it easy to remove them both because I'm right handed and can do it with my right hand and because the pin head hangs over the edge of the fabric and is easy to grab. But since you're not supposed to run over your pins, this means you have to remove the pin before you get there. And usually the fabric is only too happy to move once the pin is gone. Not good.

I just watched a tutorial where the host pins as above and keeps the pins far enough to the left that just the tip goes under the pressure foot (not the needle). You can keep your pins in and nothing has a chance to move before you stitch it down.

I know many of you sew over your pins and have done so for years without any trouble. I used to too. But I have had my needle break because it came down on a pin. More than once actually. And that is when you run into risk of the needle shard flying around and landing somewhere--hopefully not your eye. So although the risk of it happening is small, the risk of it being bad if it does happen is high enough that I avoid it. (Hitting a pin can also throw off your machine's timing and that's no fun to fix either.)

I tried something new at the corners. I like to reinforce them and haven't found a good way to do it. This time I sewed one stitched past the corner, back stitched two stitches, then went forward one stitch and rotated the fabric for the next seam.
Then I did the same thing: stitched once forward, went back two stitches, and then continued the rest of the seam. I don't know if it will make any difference, but I wanted to try it.

I did trim my corners...not too close to the stitching.
And then like the good garment sewer I was taught to be, I graded the seam allowances to reduce bulk.
In this case, I trimmed the seam allowance from the pillow back. I'm not sure how much difference it made in this case since the front consists of two layers of fabric and the batting, but oh well, it didn't make it worse!

Then the easy time of turning it inside out through the slits in the pillow back.
 SO much easier than trying to do it through a six inch gap!!

Next it was time to stuff it with the pillow. I pushed it under the centre and one side,
and then squished it under the other side.
 Easy peasy!

Here's an overexposed shot so you can see what the back looks like:
And here's the completed pillow.
It is pretty well camouflaged sitting on the quilt itself, so I think I'm going to have to accent a chair in the room.

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...