Monday, May 28, 2012

Binding Apps and Rippling Trouble

Well today I finished quilting my "Stairway to Cat Heaven" quilt, and it was time to start on the binding.  (more quilt photos once I can get some outside shots in the sun)

I wanted to use the leftover fabric from my border on the binding, but wasn't sure I had enough.  I decided this was the perfect time to try out some of my quilting apps.

Here's a shot of all of the sewing/fabric apps on my ipod.  I recently downloaded all of these and haven't tested any besides the Joann app (which lets me save virtual coupons because I always forget to bring the paper ones to the store with me!)

To calculate the fabric needed for the binding, I used the Robert Kaufman "QuiltCalc" app.
Here is the binding data entry screen.  It is one of many things the app will calculate for you.  If you scroll down it explains how it is doing the calculations.

 Here is the results screen.  It calculates cutting on the grain and bias cutting for your binding.  I realized I had entered the data wrong and for "width" I had just assumed the short side but it really wanted the width of the bolt, which for this fabric was something like 48".  Once I fixed that, I was happy to see that my piece of fabric was large enough and I  knew exactly how many strips to cut!

In conclusion, the QuiltCalc app gets a thumbs up from me.  I haven't tried the other apps yet but I don't think any of them do binding calculations.

Now I have the binding all sewn down and it's time to hand stitch it onto the back.  However, I always have problems on every quilt I do with rippling on the binding, whether I pin it down before I stitch or not!  It's very frustrating so I thought I would see if anyone had tips on this before I get too far on stitching down the binding for this quilt.

Here are some shots of the worst rippled binding I have.
See the criss cross indents on the binding?

This is a vertical shot looking down upon the edge of the binding.  This is an extreme example, on this quilt it's so bad it almost looks intentional, but I always get some slight areas of rippling on every binding.
I would love any suggestions or ideas!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Quilting Progress

Today I finished the entire main quilt.  All that is left are the borders....and the cats.  Right now the cats aren't quilted because I wanted them to stand out, but I am nervous about leaving such a large space unquilted.
What to do about those kitties?

I checked the batting and it says up to 10" apart, so I am okay there.  But I dunno if it throws the texture off too much to have those spaces with no quilting at all.  I went ahead and quilted the moon with a wavy texture that I like, but I just don't know what I would quilt onto those cats if I did quilt them.  Thoughts?

Texture on the moon (also that whole sky is quilted even though you can't tell)
Lessons learned from quilting this:

-If you pick thread the exact same color as the fabric you are stitching onto, NO ONE can see it.  I don't think you can see my stitching in the sky at all in these photos!  I even tried to take a shot of the backing but it blends in too well there too!  On the plus side, no one can see my mistakes, because honestly my quilting wasn't stellar :)
This is the back of the sky area, which has stars and swirls

-I tend to make my FMQ narrower as I go along.  So I started out doing the sky with big loopy spirals and by the end was doing much smaller spirals.  This has been a problem I've had on a couple of pieces, and I'm not sure how to combat it except to always quilt really small from the start!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Needlepoint Finish

Well I've been avoiding my sewing machine lately.  I'm just not in love with the quilting design I chose for my quilt.  But I've promised myself to finish it in the next two weeks, so I definitely will!  Especially with Monday set aside as a full day for sewing.

I also have two classes in the next week, both of which will be really fun.  One is our monthly free "sewing club" class, this month we're making fat quarter placemats.  Photos after the class, but I wanted to note here that I made my first order with Fat Quarter Shop after hearing so many great things about them online and I was not let down.  I got my fabric about two days after I ordered it!

The second class is an introduction to embellishments, which I am SO excited about, but the supply list is reallllly long and contains some strange items, so I'll have to do some shopping for that in the next week.  I already borrowed 22-gauge wire from my electrical engineer friend and everyone was very confused that I needed it for a sewing class!

Anyway, while avoiding quilting I've been working hard on my needlepoint, and I'm pleased to say my first canvas is *actually* done, unlike my last post when really just the fish were done.
Here is shot #1, there are some lovely teals in the water that you can't see, so below is a second one that's under very yellow light but highlights the teals.

Okay, now I have no excuse not to quilt!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May FMQ Challenge

While I  was taking a break from quilting I thought it would be a good time to knock out this challenge.  The tutorial this month was from Leah Day, and involved two variations on an easy stipple method.

Honestly I didn't love this pattern.  I think I've been trained to not let my lines cross so it's hard for me to accept this design that involves crossing back over your previous work.  It was also hard to know how to space out the guide line well, I had some gap spots that needed to be filled in.  I got really stressed when I realized there was a gap that needed to be filled in!

I stitched these on some placemats instead of just on a practice swatch, might as well knock out two projects in one!

Boxy version

Making the jagged lines of the boxy version was very hard, and I think the final product came out like a giant scribble.  Also I think I've been trained to stitch smooth lines and never have those abrupt points.

I thought the wavy version would end up like a giant scribble too but it actually looks okay.  I still would probably do actual stippling instead though.

curvy version

It's always fun to try out new designs and get some practice time in on the machine!  Also, if anyone has tips on how to photograph so that the quilting is really highlighted, please let me know.

ALSO:  I didn't leave the feed dogs up because I'm not sure how that works with a stitch regulator.  Does anyone have experience with this?  I was afraid to try!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Today is Giveaway Day!

In case you haven't noticed from the million blog posts out there, today Sew, Mama Sew! is hosting a "Giveaway Day" where just about every blogger out there is linking up their giveaways to a single location.  There's about 300 separate giveaways going on, so hop over there and start exploring some new blogs!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bloggers Quilt Festival

A few blogs I follow are participating in Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival so I thought I would join in as well.

Looking through my past quilts brought up a lot of memories!  Each quilt truly has it's own story.  And even though I've been quilting for a long (longer than many people in my new quilt guild!) I am the slow and steady type, so I don't have a massive quilt repertoire.  

I decided to share a quilt that I made in high school, around 2005 or 2006.  This quilt is a modified lone star that was paper pieced.  The pattern was from a book but unfortunately I can't remember the name and the book is at my parents' house. Edit: figured out the book title! Split-Diamond Dazzlers.

This quilt is very special to me because it was the first quilt where I really owned it from start to finish, with minimal help from my mom or others.  Quilts I had made before this were ones that my mom had helped a lot with.  The quilt directly before this one, in my early high school years, I made independently but it was a BOM so I didn't pick the fabrics or do much of the heavy lifting.

For this lone star, I picked the pattern, picked all of the fabrics, did all of the cutting and piecing by myself, and then hand quilted the whole thing.  I learned a bit about colors when making this quilt.  I started out with a lovely pink fabric, accentuated it with purples, then decided to throw in some yellow.  But I really should have looked carefully at the pattern first, because the yellow ended up being really dominant. After I made the star and border, I spent a verrrry long time at the quilt store trying to find a background color to tie the whole thing together and tone the yellow way down.  The blue I ended up was certainly not the firs thing my mind would have gone to for a background, but I think it really worked and makes the main design pop.

Unfortunately this quilt is also back home at my parents' house, so I don't have any good close-ups of the quilting.  But I did echo quilting around every seam in the star, then quilted stars all over the blue background.  Because I lived in Alaska, I put polar fleece on the back for super warmth and increased snuggle factor.  :)

This quilt won honorable mention at the fair.  I guess I must have been 18 when I entered it, because it was my first year not competing in the youth categories (which, let's face it, have much less fierce competition.)  So even getting a ribbon of any kind was nice.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my quilt.  It holds a special place in my heart and every time I visit my parents I get to see it again and say hello.  :)

Quilting Deadlock

Well quilting my Stairway to Cat Heaven quilt is taking way longer than necessary, mainly because I'm really stuck on how to do it right.  After quilting half the nine patches, it looks odd, so I'm going to go back and quilt the other half.  In the meantime I was quilting the starry sky, but I'm not super psyched about how it looks and I'm trying to come up with alternatives.  Maybe a relatively heavily quilted sky is okay because it will make the cats pop even more.

Right now there are just a bunch of stars in the sky.  Can you even see them? (I need tips on quilt photography if anyone has any...) Even I can't really see them in person, which is frustrating, and one reason I want to do something different.

 I'm not opposed to ripping them out, but I was also thinking I could go back and add some big meandering swirls around them.  In the meantime I'm setting this aside to do my May FMQ challenge and some other small activities.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Quilt Shop Expedition Success

Well instead of trying to finish current projects today I went to the quilt shop to buy supplies for two upcoming classes. And boy did I come back happy!  Here's the long version:

In October I went to PIQF, my first big quilt show.  It was AWESOME and I found a booth selling bundles of fat sixteenth batiks, which were perfect because I needed some small scraps in a few specific colors that I was lacking (green and brown) for my animal alphabet quilt.  I LOVED those fat sixteenths.  Yes, they are small, but they are perfect for applique and after you use a piece you don't have tons of leftovers.  They really met my needs, and after the show I was kicking myself for not buying even more fat sixteenth bundles.  I even searched online for them, but the smallest I could find were fat eighths.

Fast forward to today at the quilt shop.  I am digging around the fat quarter area and I see these bundles of fabric all wrapped up.  I look closer....batik scrap bundles!  EXACTLY what I was looking for back in October! At my very own local quilt shop!  Each bundle contains around 6 batik fabrics in coordinating colors of various sizes, but really most are fat eighth sized.  And the cost of each? $3!  I felt like I was in heaven.

I grabbed about every one of these in sight, then talked myself down and put a few back.  I ended up coming home with eight of these bundles.  Here is my wonderful take, all spread out:
There's barely room for them all on my floor!  I am just so happy.  Each one has a different gorgeous design that's a joy to look at.  I am so happy that I have a new resource when I need scraps for various projects.  Plus, let's be honest, a lot of these pieces are pretty sizable.

Oh, and I also bought supplies for my "cat bag" class.  I am doing the eggplant cat.  I luuurve the purple and green colors!  This one will be really fun, and I will make the cat out of all my new batik scraps. ;)
That's lime green mesh for the bag! A good sturdy tote.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Finally, I've chosen a quilt design!

Here it is!  Doesn't look anything like the designs I was previously testing out, but I'm very happy with it. I had a revelation that I needed to use a design that conformed more closely to the nine-patch instead of looking superimposed on top of it.

Luckily, Eva Larkin gives lots of advice in her book on how to adapt her quilting motifs to your blocks, so following her instructions I played around on photoshop until I came up with this.  You can see my stitching isn't super exact, but I bet I'll be really good at those curves by the end of this quilt.  For now I'm drawing in all of the curves before I stitch them because I don't trust myself to make them symmetric just doing free-form.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Needlepoint Progress

Here she is!  I've done all of the wave stitches and now I get to go back and fill in the spaces between them.  It may not look like much but needlepoint is slow going; that's like 8+ hours of work doing the little blue waves.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Still Pondering Quilt Designs

What this title really should be is "Still putting off making a decision!"

Well today I used the April FMQ Challenge method of tracing on tulle to test one design I really loved.
traced onto the tulle

transferred onto the fabric with water soluable marker

 Hmmm...I still love it as a design, but I do worry it involves too many lines, and will decrease the fluffiness of my quilt too much.  I've already decided to only quilt every other square to try to maximize loft.

Also this design is a little imperfect/wobbly looking, but I don't really care, because this quilt is so off-square already that I'm not planning on entering it in any local shows.  It's just so hard to tell how it will come out without stitching it onto the actual quilt!

A note of caution about that tulle technique:  I used a Mr. sketch marker (you know the kind with scents that little kids use?) instead of a sharpie because I don't have any wide-tipped sharpies at home, and it turns out Mr. Sketch markers are water soluable, so a lot of it transferred over to the fabric even after I tried to heat set it.  Whoops!  So, I am definitely bringing home a sharpie from work tomorrow, and when I do the real deal I'm tracing onto a scrap fabric first to make sure the design really has set.

The other design that's "winning" right now is this one:
I'm not quite sure why,  but something about it appeals.  I definitely want something with curves.

While I continue to put off figuring out a solution (let's be honest, I'm probably going to pick one at random and just GO with it!) I've been stitching away on my needlepoint.  Photos coming soon once I reach a benchmark!