Sunday, April 28, 2013

Batting Woes and Other Stuff

Well, a few days ago I went to Joanns to get backing and batting for my baby quilt. I like to buy flannel backings there because they are always about $3 a yard, and they have tons of cute designs. I usually batting there too because I can get it for cheap. But this time the batting I got may be too cheap!

I still really don't get battings. I like quilts that are really puffy and softs, so I always want high loft battings, but those are always hard to find. In this case I was in a rush, couldn't find that many battings in crib size anyways, and grabbed this high-loft crib batting:

It cost about the same as all of the other battings, so I didn't think of it as cheap (maybe the word "crafty" should have been a hint). But when I took it out of the bag today and laid it out on my backing for pinning, this is what it looked like:

 This is it lying flat. It is a lumpy mess. When I try to smooth it, it just bounces back to this lumpy shape. So what do you think? I can return it (the bag says "unconditionally guaranteed") or maybe let it sit a day and see if the shape relaxes out? Or I can pin the backing to the batting to stretch it out and do a second layer of pins to pin the top to the backing/batting? (Big danger there of sewing over pins...)

Not sure what to do and I would love any advice. Also, what battings do you use? I just don't know.

In the meantime I have been doing some needlepoint. Here is where I am now:
 I am working on the yellow fishies. Below is a shot held up to the light so you can see what has actually been stitched so far.

I also found a new game that I am currently in love with. It is called "blendoku" and you basically just put colors in order. Great practice for quilters and artists.

Here is an example level: It gives you the placement of two squares, and you have to figure out where the rest go.

And here it is all complete!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Baby Quilt Top Finish

Quilting remains slow has been very busy! But today I got some time to finally finish off this baby quilt top.

I did not use pattern, but instead based my design around the fabric. I browsed a long time on the interwebs through so many adorable baby fabrics, deciding that I wanted something with a panel for  a quick and easy (and cute) quilt. I ended up with the fabric line "Life in the Jungle." The panel pieces are actually for a little fabric alphabet book, but they work fine on a quilt top too.

 Here is the fabric that came in the mail:

 One thing I found really cute about this fabric was the selvedge - check out the little owls!

I also discovered a new use for selvedges - cat toys! Turns out my cat loves anything remotely stringy, so she got a kick out of these leftover fabric scraps. She also liked playing with my little measuring tape.

I wanted the sashing to be spruced up a little, so I made little stars in each corner using the method from the Moose on the Porch Quilts layer cake BOM. Now I looked around a bit on the internet for no-waste methods of flying geese, but couldn't really find any for flying geese on a on a long rectangle like this. So I used the 45˚ method where you sew little squares to the corner and trim half of them off. Now I have a big pile of miniature orange and white triangles that I would really like to use!

I originally bought the orange fabric for the binding and just figured "oh add in a little for the stars," not realizing just how much fabric these flying geese blocks would take! So I suspect I will have to order additional orange fabric to have enough for the binding.

And as you can see in the photo, these guys didn't always turn out square. I amaz myself with how bad I continue to be at sewing straight lines!

Okay in addition to not ordering the right amount of fabric, somehow I completely failed to cut on the grain. Check out how off this piece is in the photo below!
So normally I find the straight grain by ripping a big tear in my fabric, but that is a semi-wasteful method and leaves the edge of the fabric all ripply. So I looked online and tried this method where I folded it in half and wiggled it around until it lay straight, but obviously it didn't work right.

So, how do you find the straight grain in your fabric? I know it's a really basic question, but obviously one I need help answering!

Aaaaand here is the finished top! The kitty was wondering why I was quilting and not giving her attention. :)  I'll be honest, that fancy sashing method added a ton of time to this quilt. I do think it came out looking pretty nice as a result though.  There are some portions of the panel that I wasn't able to use, I am planning on doing flannel on the back so I guess I will just have to save them for some other scrappy project.

I think for the quilting I will go really basic, just stitch-in-the-ditch. I feel like I always get too ambitious with my machine quilting and as a result the finished quilts aren't very fluffy. So on this one, I want to maximize fluffiness! Any tips on that are appreciated too :)

Now, revisiting my countdown-to-move list, which I am going to try to include in each post from now until I move:
  1. Charity wholecloth - no progress
  2. Quilted Jacket -  no progress
  3. Block of the month - no progress
  4. Stairway to Cat Heaven #2 - no progress
  5. Layer cake bargello - no progress
  6. baby quilt - top done!
  7. birthday quilt - Okay this is new. I need to make a quilt for my dad's birthday. Not sure how I will fit this in with everything else on this list, but I am excited about working on it and have a pattern chosen.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Not a lot going on here!

Yep, lack of posting means lack of quilting. I'm in an April rut just like I was in a January rut. I think part of the problem is starting "short term" projects without thinking them through enough, and then realizing they are more work than I thought and feeling bogged down.

Well a few weeks ago (on time, although I neve got around to posting about it...) I finished the top for the Connecting Threads Mystery BOM.
I like how it turned out. Personally the lavender border called for in the pattern seems too wide to me - it dwarfs the actual meat of the quilt in the center. I added the different color for the four corners which I think helped.

I have no idea what to do with this top. I have definitely reached the stage in my quilting career where I am making more stuff than I need for myself. I think I have three options:

  1. Give the top to my guild for charity - the advantage here is that I don't need to bother to finish it
  2. Give it to a friend - how do I pick who? I thought about just posting on facebook asking if anyone wanted it but that could lead to favoritism or something (or what if someone I'm not actually that close to says they want it?)
  3. Start a little etsy storefront and sell it at cost. 
I like the etsy idea for future quilts, because quilting is expensive and it would be nice to make what I wanted and not stress about costs because I would be recuperating them. But even if I tried to sell these quilts at cost, I'm not sure anyone would want to pay for them. I don't think people realize how darn expensive quilting is!

For this one, I got the fabric really cheap so I could probably post it for $40. (I'm guessing about $20 for the batting plus I would need fabric for the backing and binding, the fabrics used in it cost less than $10 total). But would somebody want to buy a quilt that isn't perfect? This definitely has some wobbly lines and such.  I just don't know! Also, is it worth the time and effort to buy the batting, make the binding, quilt and finish it, just for 40 bucks? Hmm, probably not.

So, what do you do with spare quilt tops?

Okay, onto what I (should be) working on right now...

I am moving over the summer, which is coming up soon! We have already started to sort and get rid of excess stuff from around the house. My goal between now and then is to finish ALL my UFOs and not start any new big projects, because I would just have to box them up anyways.
If I end up with spare time, I want to get pieces cut and prepped for hand applique and EPP projects for the period during my move when my quilting supplies are boxed up.

Okay so here is my personal countdown-to-move list:

  1. Charity wholecloth - I HAVE to finish quilting this thing! I think my initial design was way too ambitious...I've only gotten to that navy blue and white area.
  2. Quilted Jacket - This is going to take a good amount of time...I need to piece the sleeves, then probably do some decorative quilting on the whole thing, then assemble. 
  3. Block of the month...well here is a thought. I was planning on doing quilt as you go. But frankly that sounds stressful and maybe too ambitious for a project that I just need to go ahead and finish up. I haven't cut up the batting at all.  I have cut up the backing pieces. But maybe I'll just make a quick pieced back. So I think I should go ahead and pick some darn sashing (it's hard to find a color to unite all of these) and just quilt this like a normal quilt. Sometimes you have to scale it back....
  4. Stairway to Cat Heaven #2...this is another one I don't know what to do with. It was a commission that kind of failed. Should I finish it and post on Etsy? Finish it and give it to someone? Not sure...
  5. Layer cake bargello. I started this without a plan. It's fun. I figure once I complete the center bargello I'll do a fancy border with blocks.  There is no time rush on this and it folds up small so maybe I don't have to finish it before I move. However, I might want to be yardage from this fabric line while it's still available.

Those are all the main ones. Guess I should get going!  Just writing them down and thinking about them helps me wrap my head around what I need to work on next.