Saturday, December 3, 2016

Quilting Lessons Learned

Quilting Lessons Learned

Every quilt and sewing project I make I learn something new. Sometimes it's a great short cut, and other times it's a lesson learned on what not to do! Here are some of the things I have learned recently:

Curved Piecing
Sew slowly and take breaks because it takes a lot of focus setting in a curve. Also try to sew all of the blocks together until you are done rather than switching projects or at least within a few days apart. This keeps your 1/4 inch more exact and helps prevent slight mis-sized blocks or ripping out seams. On the quilt above I had sewn a couple of blocks and then worked on other projects. When coming back to this quilt I was off a little and had to redo the first couple of blocks to be consistent so all the circles would meet precisely.

Double Cotton batting in a quilt - I love the cotton batting but somethings it is too light weight for the winter. So I experimented with double layers of cotton batting. It does work good when the quilting is spaced wide between stitch lines as it will puff up more when washed. It didn't work so well with stitches close together once the quilt was washed, as there needs to be room for the layers to pucker.

Raw Edge Quilting - This can turn out really nice if you want a rustic well loved quilt look instantly. BUT I recommend tighter stitch length, leave ample space from the stitch line to the cut edge, and use high quality fabrics such as batiks which have a tighter weave. Or I would suggest a zigzag stitch up to the edges instead of a straight stitch. (I ended up needing to zig zig around the outside afterwards.)
Directional Pressing vs Open Seams - I normally like to press my seams open so that everything lays as flat as possible. However, there are times that pressing to one side is beneficial. After making myself press in one direction I found everything still lays very flat, pressing goes so much quicker, and once quilted it looks the same as seems pressed open.

Setting Seams First
When pressing in one direction, set your seams first (this really makes a difference) place right sides up, put iron down on section you are pressing away from. Slide iron toward the seams. 

Machine Quilting Straight Lines and Rows - Start with one line in the quilt that is important to be straight and place blue tape along the line (a smidgen outside of it) and machine stitch in the ditch with a slightly longer stitch. My machine defaults to 2.5 so I change it to 3.0. Then each line there after seems to be very straight. I still keep it at 3.0 stitch length.



Decorative Stitches
If you have decorative stitches on your machine they work great for quilting too!

Tidbits 
- Save your cotton batting leftover pieces for dusting and furniture polishing!
- Save your fabric trimmings and leave them out for birds to grab from nests!


It seems like every project I make I learn something new or a simpler way of approaching something. I know I will encounter more lesson learned to pass along.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Four Patch Blocks Lap Quilt

This is an old fashioned pattern with the 4-patch blocks laid out on point and then sewn in strips with a large strip between the rows. There may be a name for the block layout but I haven't been able to find it.

This quilt called for "vintage" fabrics which I pulled out from my stash (yeah its hard to get rid of any fabrics). I machine quilted free form stars and moons in the 4-patch blocks. And a zig zag down the full strips. I washed and dried it on hot to get it nice and puffy.

As soon as I lay a quilt on the floor to take a picture of it one of my dogs thinks that must mean it's play time! So of course we play fetch for awhile.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Day of the Dead Art Quilts

I love getting out the day of the dead art quilts this time of the year. I still want to make more of these. I love all the colors and designs.

 
I'm enjoying Fall and natures colors this time of the year. It helps with all of the rain in the Seattle area.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

It's okay to have lots of fabrics in your stash

There I said it....It's okay to have lots of fabrics in your stash! Do you know why it's okay, because you never know what color combination will jump out at you just by seeing them in your fabric collection.
Think about the last day you may have been snowed in and wanted to start a project. Well what better way than to be able to pull right from your stash! Also getting a set of fat quarters from a collect is a great way to fill in.
Happiness is finding the perfect fabric in your stash for the quilt binding. When you just finished a quilt and don't want to run out for a fabric what better way than to go through your stash and find a color combination you may not have thought of or planned. Like this flower quilt I originally planned to use turquoise binding but when I tried the polka dot fabric it worked so much better. The turquoise would have made it look to "heavy" and not as fun looking as the polka dots.
Laying out your fabrics too to explore color combinations gets the creativity going.
 I have this set planned for a project soon. I love all these retro inspired fabrics.
   Time to stock up for winter projects if you haven't done so already!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hot Summer Quilt

I love rich vibrant colors and tend to select those at the fabric stores and online shops. But I learned in a quilt they also need contrast with darks, lights, or contrasting colors. Why is that? It allows your eyes to better see the vibrant colors as the dark and lights may recede.


There is a lot of information about color theory to use as guidelines, but overall you really should just pick the colors you like and feel good to you. Ultimately its what will make you happy making it and using it or gifting it. This quilt's colors pop because of the maroons, browns, and grays.

Olive has to test all my new quilts!
 Making little quilts is a great way to explore color combinations before making a full sized quilt. How about trying the minimal soft colors, or just picking 3 colors. You can give yourself all kinds of challenges.

When I saw Victoria Findley-Wolfe speak at our quilt guild I remember her saying: sometimes make the quilt or use a color you thought you would never make or use. If its brown you never want to work with, make a point of including browns. If you avoided curves - try it! I've learned a lot trying both of these already. I still never want to make a black and white only quilt but maybe one day I will.

I learned a lot making this quilt with solids and prints. The charm pack of 5" solid squares was a mixture of fabrics I probably wouldn't have bought separately but mixed in they make the quilt pop. So I love them and am making a point to seek out colors like this.

This is made with light weight cotton batting so its not too warm for a cooler summer day.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

I Love Charm Packs

Charm packs are pre-cut 5" x 5" squares of different fabrics and usually around 40 squares in a pack. I think they are one of the best creations for quilters. This quilt is made from one charm pack and white fabric.
One day I discovered charm packs and went crazy for all of the choices. It is a great way to play with coordinated fabrics or mix them up with a couple of different charm packs or mix with your own stash of fabrics. It is also an easy way to get to enjoy a fabric line without having to buy some of every fabric or buy lots of different fabrics separately. 
There are so many patterns now designed around using the charm packs which makes for some great fast projects. This pattern used some of the 5 x5 squares and the other squares are cut in half and sewn together in long strips.

One of my favorite places to shop for charm packs is on the Fat Quarter Shop. They display all of the fabrics included in a pack so you can see them all. They also post lines that are coming up with the release date so you get reminders when they are available.

Here are some more examples of quilts I made from charm packs. This is my Gypsy Picnic Quilt:
The backgrounds and the leaves are all from a Charm Pack on Scrappy Little Leaves:

And also on the Scrappy Little Houses:

There are a lot of pattern books made just for the 5" x 5" squares. I like the Charm Books by Me and My Sister Designs. Oh the possibilities!




Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I Love Tulips Art Quilt

I Love Tulips is a tiny art quilt that I started making after thinking about some of my favorite flowers...one of which are tulips. I know is Spring as soon as they sprout up through the ground.

I used different techniques and materials. For the stems I used velvet ribbon, tiny patchwork and a sheer fabric for the tulips. Then I had some vintage lace that I hand dyed and painted. The heart is done with fabric paint. Then I did some machine embroidery and hand stitching.  
For the boarder I wanted something different so stitched on ribbon with a zig zag stitch. It was fun to experiment and see how it all came together.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Batik Pillow - Spring Side and Fall Side

When I saw a bundle of rainbow batik fabrics in 2.5" pre-cut strips I had to buy them! There were just enough strips in the bundle to make a large pillow (and a few extras). 
I sorted them into pales and darker shades. Then randomly cut different lengths and sewed them together. Then added batting and muslin backing to hand quilt along each row. Above is the Spring side and below is the Fall side.
I added a zipper so that I could easily wash this as it's meant to get lots of use.
You could make this with any of the pre-cut strips with any color combination, and a pillow form or an existing pillow that you want to change up with a removable cover.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Vintage Kimono Fabrics Bag

I bought several pieces of vintage kimono silk pieces and new right away I wanted to make a bag with them. I really designed it on the go by letting the shapes "talk to me". All of the pieces really fell together nicely. The front and back are each different.
This was the first time I sewed with silk and I learned that all of the silk pieces are very strong even though they look and feel delicate. A couple of the pieces were difficult to put pins through even. Since the silk needed some body, I added iron-on batting onto the interface. I had a larger piece of silk just big enough for the straps! I reinforced the straps with woven cotton webbing. I found black rings which is the design element I was looking for.


This was also the first time I added a magnetic clasp. They always seemed intimidating because you have to cut into the fabric. But it was way easier than I thought it would be. Just measure and mark first. I added a piece of iron on interface behind the clasp sections.


  Lov'n my new bag!



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Flower Power Wall Quilt


I'm a Flower Power girl. I grew up with the Flower Power posters in the 60s and the bright mod colors. What is Flower Power? It was [and still is] about peace and love not war. The flowers are typically evenly dispersed petals with a big center dot. Bright colors are a must! I still sketch lots of big flowers and have used the look in several of my quilts over the years. This is my latest wall quilt
  I like the juxtaposition of the bright colors with the more vintage colors and patterns. I made tiny yo-yos and sewed them in the corners as a button alternative.
Here are the steps I did:
Step 1 - Iron on the fusible interfacing to the fabrics, remove the paper backing, and then machine quilt around the centers of the flowers.
Step 2 - Carefully add the rick rack to curve around the outer petal edges while fusing bit by bit.
Step 3 - Machine quilt around the outer petals 
Step 4 - Fuse down the centers and machine quilt around the inner and outer centers
 


 

Here is another example from an older wall quilt that I made:
 

And here is another little flower power quilt for my wall:

 I hope you try making some flower power quilts and be sure to use lots of bright colors!