Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Baby Quilt Finished

Quilting and blogging have both been very slow lately. If any of you follow Leah Day, her posts have really helped me think about why I've been feeling unmotivated.

First off, I think I don't do well with UFOs. I like to work on only a single project at a time and feel guilty starting a new one when there are old ones still unfinished. At the same time,  I don't like to work on projects that no longer interest me. So as a result, I do no quilting at all.

I think the best way to tackle this is to a) scale back UFO projects or just get rid of them
b) force myself to do a little bit every day. The forcing myself to work bit would be great if my boyfriend would motivate me, but he's really bad at nagging and keeps forgetting to remind me to sew. Sigh.

The latest UFO that I am slowly winding to a close is this baby quilt. When I last posted, I had finished the top, but had bought some really awful batting and was trying to figure out what to do.
After doing some research online, I found out that polyester batting shouldn't be used in baby quilts because it is not fire retardant. Everyone recommended Quilter's Angel, which is fireproofed cotton. So hopped over to my LQS and picked some of that up.
My quilt shop is much further from my house than Joann's, but this really nice batting was seriously the same price as that awful one I got at Joann's. So from now on I am making the extra trek to the quilt shop when it comes to buying batting.

Here is the finished baby quilt (a little wrinkly because it has been folded on my quilting table waiting for a label for so long...) I'm not super happy with the quilting. I have thought about why, and it  is largely because stitch-in-the-ditch is just a bad idea. If done right, you can't see it. You only notice it when then is an error and the line wobbles out of the ditch, so basically this method really highlights small errors. However, I chose this method because I wanted to leave it largely unquilted so it would stay fluffy. I have always felt all-over designs were rather lame because they don't really take into account the underlying pattern, but in this case I think an all-over would have maybe looked better than what I did.

For the quilting, I outlined some of the major items in each panel, and did echo lines inside each corner star.

For the border, I was feeling unmotivated and just wanted to get something done, so I tried the border on a roll. It's basically a role of paper that you pin to the quilt and stitch over. This method had some pros and cons:


  • Easy!
  • Quick!


  • The border role cost $15 (ouch!)
  • When I tore off the paper, it loosened up the stitches in a number of places. I guess I could stitch closer together but I don't want a very tight quilting stitch. I think they need to print this on thinner paper.
  • Because I was sewing over paper my line was wobbly in some spots and I couldn't tell as easily. So the finished product was definitely not a perfectly smooth line. In some spots where I had to trace over an existing stitch line it looked really awful because I missed the original line completely.

Notice the wobbliness...
This has been waiting for me to do the label for an embarrassingly large number of weeks. Maybe I will just write something on a piece of fabric and stitch it down. I still don't have a perfect label system down yet. (or any system at all...)

The other project I am trying to get through is stitching this wholecloth quilt for a guild charity project.
I'm a bit sad because the backing fabric the gave me to go with it has metallic stuff all over it and thus is really scratchy and uncomfortable. I feel like all my work will be for naught because it's a really uncomfortable quilt. :(

I have also figured out that I don't like FMQ that much. I really prefer hand quilting. One reason is that I find FMQ a bit boring and tedious. The other reason is that my desk is absolutely the wrong height, and after about 10 minutes my shoulders and back really hurt from awful posture. A few days ago I bunched up a comforter and sat on it to get my height up a bit, and noticed an immediate improvement. That's not a long-term solution though. I will probably need either a different desk or a chair whose height I can increase.

But, that said, I've committed to this quilt and I need to get it done! My last guild meeting before I move is in June so this HAS to be done by then. Eek. If I just sit down and do a bit every day it will definitely happen no problem, but it's tough to motivate myself.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Sorting through Quilt Books

Stitching on my baby quilt has been chugging along slowly but surely and I am applying binding now. Photos and all that in a future post once it's done.

In the meantime, today I sorted through all of my quilting books and sorted them into which I wanted to keep and which I wanted to give away at the next guild meeting. It's always fun to look through patterns I have already done and those that I still want to do.

All the different piles of books

 I ended up finding some things I had forgotten I had, like this cd for making half square triangles! This would have gotten some serious use over the past few months if I had realized I owned it!

I also came across this little booklet, and decided to read it before putting it in the giveaway pile.

This booklet had a pretty broad range of type and quality of tips.  There were some really obvious ones, like explaining chain piecing, winding several bobbins at once, and cutting multiple layers of fabric at a time. Or this one:

"If hand stitching seems to slow for basting the quilt 'sandwich' together, try pinning instead. Fasten small rust-proof safety pins every 3 to 4 inches." Um, duh. Pinning is the only way I have ever basted my quilts.

There was also this bizarre one:
"Here's a cool way to take some heat off ironing time: Wash large pieces (8 to 10 yards) or muslin and other cotton fabrics, and dry them in a dryer until almost dry. Then fold the fabrics and bag them in plastic. Place in the freezer. Press when convenient." 
I guess the idea is to make it so you don't have to press immediately when your fabrics come out of the dryer?

There were also a lot of useful ones for me. I get really frustrated when I try to stitch very carefully and somehow my blocks still end up off! I think it is a lot of little errors that add up. Here were some tips on that:

"Make sure the width of your marking pencil or pen doesn't change as you mark. A blunt pencil line can throw off a block's measurements by as much as 1/16th of an inch."

"Use one ruler throughout marking the entire quilt because another ruler's markings may be slightly different."

"Sew just inside the marked line to compensate for tracing the template."

"Have a grid on your ironing board pad."

Here was a general purpose tips that I liked:

"You can reduce the amount of time you spend determining the 1/4 inch seam allowances by drawing patterns on graph paper with 4 squares to the inch."
The few times I have tried to sketch out patterns to scale, I get really confused! So this is a helpful tip, although it assumes you are drawing your pattern out at full size.

And finally, the best one:

"Start small. Remind yourself that you can find the time if you just keep looking for it. By taking the little everyday opportunities that are available, you will see progress you never thought you had time for."
I need this one right now. I haven't accomplished much in sewing lately, but I think if I make myself sit down for even 15 minutes a day I will get a ton done. So I really want to take this one to heart!

On a separate note, I read this morning an article about a quilt kickstarter campaign.  The article's headline was "A Star-Studded Quilt That's a Work of Art."

I have very mixed feelings about this quilt. Mainly because it is mass produced in India and I don't think it's really all that special. Yes, it's a cool hipster design, but a work of art? Not compared to pretty much any quilt I would see at a show. Maybe I am being too judge-y though. I would love your thoughts.

Monday, May 6, 2013

How Do You Design a Quilt??

Okay, I am a bit of a quilt perfectionist. I want to make a vegetable garden quilt, but nothing is quite right. I want to make my own but I just don't know how!

After a lot of internet searching, I thought I would merge two patterns: Quiltmaker's Garden Patch (cute layout, but the veggies are a little simplistic and it is only 23"x30") with Ruth McDowell's pieced vegetables (very cool veggies but no setting instructions or suggested layouts)
Garden Patch Quilt
Pieced vegetables
...but it is very tough. I figured out that the Quiltmaker pattern very cleverly always has the same sashing size throughout, even though the sashing is in little fits and pieces. So I tried to layout something similar on my computer, but it just isn't working. Ruth's blocks all have sort of whatever dimension's she felt like, so there aren't consistant proportions and I kept being left with weird sashing gaps.
My attempt at a layout in indesign.
So I did some looking on the interwebs and did find this very nice interpretation by Patrice Creswell:

Now I love this, but it looks like a lot of vegetables, not a vegetable garden. So I am stumped. I could try to design my own applique quilt, I definitely don't know how to design piecing patterns. Well heck I don't know how to design applique quilts either! I could also do an applique quilt that basically incorporates elements of, for example Susan Powell's Victory Garden Pattern, available on the Glorious Color website.
I love the applique blocks (I would use VERY different colors!), and I could maybe set them in between something more vegetabley than sunflowers and grapes (like bean pole or pea stalk or a tall tomato plant...there would also be no angels in mine!)

But I did already buy both the pieced vegetables and Garden Patch patterns, so maybe I should use those instead of buying a whole additional pattern? I just don't know what to do!