Monday, October 26, 2015

Finishes! October Edition

Yep, lots o' finishes around here!

FINISHED: My Pacific Crest quilt.

It's now the couch quilt. You may recall I was planning on listing it on Etsy. Good thing I didn't, because the fleece I put on the back is pilling all over the place, AND the quilting stitches have been popping out left and right!

I spoke to some others about it and it sounds like it's because all of my quilting stitches were diagonal in one direction, so nothing is anchoring the fabric weft/warp/whatever in the cross direction and it's easy to put too much pressure on it and pop those stitches. Oh well. If it gets bad enough I'll just slap it back in the machine and add some stitches going the opposite direction. It's a great couch quilt because we can both sit on opposite ends of the couch and still fit under it. (We have had many couch blanket tug-o-wars in the past!)

FINISHED: Last-minute Halloween quilt.

Just in time for next week's wedding! I know you still can't see the quilting, but it's there and it's cool! (And I got help holding it up for my photo op for once!)

FINISHED: Fox and Hedgehog pillow!

Elizabeth Hartman has convinced me that I need to quilt all of my pillow covers. I still resent how much extra time it takes, but it adds a lot of sturdiness and looks prettier. Arnav promptly claimed this for the couch too.

Quilting this put me way outside my comfort zone. I NEVER do all-over designs that cover my main motif, and I NEVER use a largely contrasting thread. That thread is bright teal! I am glad I pushed myself. I almost stopped and ripped it all out when I got to this guy:

The stitches were just SO prominent and each error so noticeable! But I'm glad I pushed through because I think the finished pillow turned out quite nice.

FINISHED: My applique class!

I'll be honest: this class was a real let-down. Only three people came! And I spent a loooooong time preparing, and look at all the supplies I brought! (Oh, and all of the example quilts, AND all of the applique books...)

I didn't do this to earn money, I did it to share my love of applique with others. And when I came away from the class I didn't feel like I had accomplished that. One person already loved needle turn and took it just to do more applique, and I don't think the other students came away feeling excited and enthused about applique.

But, it's done. And now I can clean up the class supplies that have been strewn all over the sewing room, and move on. I won't be trying to teach a class anytime soon.

Finished: Halloween shrug!

So I'm going to this Halloween wedding and my dress is black and I have these gorgeous pink shoes I really want to wear. And the black dress needed some flare and something to tie to together with the shoes. So I stitched up this little "shrug." I'm happy with how it came out! As always happens when I attempt non-quilting sewing projects, it took waaaay longer than it should have, but in the end it all worked out. Plus check out these cute pink glitter spiders that are on it!

Not Finished: Anything else.

I didn't get very much at all accomplished at this year's guild retreat. In large part it was because of back-to-back classes on Saturday. I taught my class, had a quick lunch, then took a class on improv piecing. My pieces are the blue and lime ones to the right.

By the end of the improv class, it was almost 5 pm! And honestly I was worn out and discouraged from my class, so I did very little sewing Saturday night. Instead I went home and curled up in front of the tv for a viewing of Fantasia! Just the kind of thing to let my mind drift and decompress. On Sunday I got a little more sewing done. I'm neeeeearly finished with a pillow cover from my Patchwork City class. I was originally debating making my blocks into a quilt but I decided life's too short and I've got soooo many other projects. So whenever I finish this blog post, I am hopefully going to sit down in front of my machine and finish that pillow! (And then post some photos of it!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Emergency Last Minute Quilt!

Now I know why people make baby quilts as spares and just stick them in the closet. I had the sudden realization that I needed a quilt for the wedding I am going to on October 31. Luckily I had this realization a few weeks ago and just didn't blog about it until now.

I actually had a similar realization before a wedding last summer but I didn't have it until about a week before the the bride and groom got a tote bag. Pretty lame. This time, I wasn't letting that happen!

I went ahead and ordered this layer cake. (I'm sorry the photos are so bad. I upgraded my photos program and all of the photo editing stuff has been reorganized and I don't now how to use it. If anyone can recommend good user-friendly photography software, I am on the market!)

It's Spellbound by Cotton and Steel. I figure it's modern and slightly subtle in it's Halloween-ness. I should mention, it's a Halloween quilt because they are having a Halloween themed wedding. (Costumes at the reception and everything!) But I want them to be able to use it year-round, so I was trying to not make it *too* Halloween-y.

I spent a looong time browsing the internet for good layer cake patterns. I should mention here that I think Layer Cakes are the most versatile precut when you need a fast quilt. You can do a lot of cool things with those squares in a short amount of time.

I ended up with the Moda Love pattern. It's super quick and easy. The only funky thing was that my layer cake came with a lot of fabrics in three's, which just made making a symmetrical layout tough. And I really, really like symmetry.

I played around in illustrator with colors and ended up with this mockup:

(Yes that's a physical photo of my computer screen. I am lame like that.)

Notice the pattern is just a bunch of squares and half-square triangles. It came together super duper fast. And here's my laid out top!

For this quilt I went through the extra effort of ironing all of my seams open, since apparently that's what I am *supposed* to do, according to a lot of modern quilters.

You guys, it was a giant pain in the rear. Those seams did not want to lie flat no matter how heavily I steamed them (and according to the trends these days, I'm not supposed to be using steam in my iron either!) So yeah, I can say I tried it, and life's too short for that nonsense. 

I went ahead and stitched out a nice message on the front.

Getting this programmed right took a lot of practice. I wanted to use the fancy cursive font on my machine but it was basically illegible so we decided block letters were safer. I think it came out pretty cute.

Finally, quilting time! As an aside, do you ever notice that no one quilt shop seems to have it all? We have one shop in town that has just fabulous fabric selection, but their batting choices were pathetic. I ended up using some batting I had lying around for a different I have to go buy more.

But, I mentioned that store had fabulous fabric selection? Check out the backing fabric I got!
See how it shines! The webs are metallic! I'm just nuts about this fabric!

Next came quilting time. In honor of this backing fabric, I quilting one giant spiderweb on the front.

First I did the straight lines. You can see them here on the center block:

Then, the webbing! It didn't really photograph well but I promise it's cool.

I wanted to share with you how I did the webbing because I think it's pretty cool.  Casey York told me how to do this. So I wanted to quilt it in a spiral so that I didn't have any starts and stops. But I wanted the spiral to get wider as I went out. I couldn't really figure out how to do that. Here's what Casey suggested, and I drew a little sketch to show you. 

(Again, sorry for the colors. The new "photos" program doesn't have a contrast option."
Make your marks at the four compass points, x distance apart from the prior line (I started with 1" here). Every three compass positions, add 1/4" (or amount of your choice - I used 1/2" in the diagram because it was easier to draw) to that value. Yes, this method involved a lot of measuring and marking. But it was well worth it in the end when I had a great looking spiral on the my quilt.

I also wanted to talk about my quilting thread. 

 This thread is the BEST. You know how I mentioned no shop has everything? These guys had no quilting thread but they had walls and walls of embroidery thread (And I was too lazy to go to another shop and too impatient to order online). And they told my I could quilt with it so I did! This is so great because it's a black thread wrapped with a silver thread. It looks completely metallic on the quilt but it doesn't have any of the issues and troubles you encounter when stitching with metallic thread (breakages, thread stripping, etc.) Also it glitters on both light fabric and dark fabric. You can see that effect on the photo above of the quilting. I think it was really perfect for the spider web look I was going for.

And here is the finished top!

I know, you can't see the quilting, but it's there. Right now I'm stitching down the binding and this will be ready in time for the wedding, no problem! Phew!