Monday, November 20, 2017

Finished Gift


I'm so excited.  I love getting things done, and lately, it's not often I get to finish and celebrate it.  I may have mentioned that I'm the caregiver for my mom, who has dementia.  I  live with her, and my sewing studio is above her bedroom.  She hasn't been feeling well over the last few months, and goes to bed early, which means I can't sew.  Well, I can't quilt or cut stuff out.  I can piece tops, using the vintage machine in my bedroom in the basement.  So, things get started, but not much gets finished.  Her memory issues are progressing faster than anticipated, and she needs more companionship, which means I can't go up to sew, unless she's having a good day.  I have to see if I can find someone to come sit with her a few hours a week.

But I digress.  I do want to share a quilt I made for my friend, Christine's daughter.  Megan and Joe were married in April.  I had hoped to get the quilt done for the wedding, but other things had priority, so I did get most of the top done, and then waited because I ordered more fabric for the outer border.

The top was done and pinned, but I didn't have time to quilt it.  I do all my own quilting on my Viking Sapphire 850.  It has nice throat space, and the table I had built for my studio here offers lots of space, so I can quilt large quilts.  This one is a large twin size, mostly because Joe is over 6'2" and I wanted to make a lap quilt they could snuggle under.

I used Lake Life, an older bundle from Island Batik.  Christine was an Island Batik Ambassador, and had quite a bit of this left, so I added the neutral background, and border, and was able to have enough of the colors to make this.  I used the Triple Irish Chain book from Quilt In A Day.   For the main part, I followed the Scrappy version, and for the Seminole border, I followed the planned scrappy.  I didn't have enough of the main cream for the top and bottom of the border, so I was careful how I planned it, using a light sage for the outer pieces.  It was a little bit of a challenge, but I do love thinking and planning.

I used a leaf circle stencil to quilt the 7 cream center blocks, and did a variation of interchained circles or orange peel in the pieced chain blocks.  Instead of hitting every corner, I actually made circles.  I didn't want to over-quilt this because I wanted it snuggly, not stiff.  I used Warm & Natural batting and had a cream floral wide backing for the back.  
For the cream first border, I did a vine chain design.  The Seminole border has the same circle shape as the blocks, and the outer border has feathers.  I used Aurifil 50wt cotton 2325 Linen, my big cone, for the piecing and the quilting of all except the outer border.  I used 50wt in Very Dark Grass Green 2890 for that.  
 My original plan was to use another group's rusty/orange Island Batik for the binding, but when I put it next to the green border, I didn't like it.  So, I pulled all the greens from the original Lake Life bundle, and cut enough strips to make the binding, one from each.  It's basically a scrappy binding, but not as noticeable, because it's close in color to the green border.  The rusty orange was a great match for the pieces in the quilt, but didn't add a nice frame to the green.

Fun fact for Megan and Joe, there are animals in the outer border.  You may find a moose or deer or a mountain cat, if you look carefully.  They are hidden among the forest and water design.

So, I know I've mentioned this before, but being an Island Batik Ambassador is just wonderful.  The fabrics really are the best, and the colors in the collection are always so pretty.  I love working with the fabrics, too, because there is little to no fraying.  Being an Aurifil Artisan is also the best experience.  I've loved Aurifil since I tried my first spool more than 6 years ago.  It's awesome, and the colors are always perfect.  Would you guess that a tan thread did such a good job of "hiding" among all the colors of the chain blocks?  It did.  And the green in the border just blends in, too.  I wanted the fabrics to shine in this.  It's just the way I had hoped, and it's done.  I just need to get together with Christine, Megan and Joe to deliver it.  We're working on that.

Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Creative Borders and Binding

Hi, and thanks for visiting!  Island Batik Ambassadors were asked to share creative borders and binding.  I have a few items to share.  Get your favorite beverage, this is going to be a long post, lol. 

First, getting creative with borders is actually fairly easy.  I love to play around with borders from printed patterns, and you never know what you can do unless you try.  I often do this, especially if I have more stamps (charm squares) or extra yardage, or even if I'm running low on the yardage and want to make the quilt as large as possible.  I use EQ7 to plan, creating the inside of the quilt with just colors, and adding border options and checking the fabric requirements based on the ideas. 

I've recently designed a quilt that will be at Market with the Island Batik booth.  It's a Christmas Tree Skirt, or could be a lap quilt, and I designed the block in honor of my father, who passed away last year.  I did a Piano Key border, and my pattern will have good directions for making the corner blocks mitered without being mitered, lol.  You'll have to wait for the pattern, lol.  

Consider a Piano Key when you want to add pizzazz and have enough strips or fabric left to cut into strips.  Sew longer strips together, then cut to the desired width of your border, and then join until you have the length you need for the sides.  Much easier than sewing individual rectangles together.  

I'm also working on a Triple Irish Chain quilt, that has a Seminole border.  It's from the Triple Irish Chain book by Quilt In A Day, and will be a wedding gift.  Yes, the wedding has passed, but I'm hoping the quilting will be done by the 6 month anniversary, so I can deliver it.  I have 5 more days, lol.  In this case, the fabrics are Lake Life, a collection from a few years ago.  I had a bundle and didn't have enough for the same cream edge in the Seminole border, so I used the scrappy version in the directions, making sure the creamy one was at the top, and the greener one was at the bottom.  I had the darker green for the outer border. 

 This was a pile of tops I had just pinned/basted for quilting.  

This is before the outer green border was attached.  It really does need it as a frame.  That's another hint about borders or binding.  It's part of the frame of the quilt, so try out a few ideas and fabrics to make sure you're happy with them before you commit to sewing it on.  

My next hint is about making your binding.  DO make sure you sew the strips with a diagonal seam and press the seam allowance open.  It really does help make the seam disappear within the edge.  You'll barely notice the seam allowance, but if you do just straight end to end, you'll feel the bulk.  Also, DO get into the habit of putting all the strips on the same way, so your seams run the same direction.  My first strip is open, but the second one stays folded.  I line the first up with the second, in an L shape (Upside down L, actually) and sew from the top left corner to bottom right corner. My next strip is placed the same way, and I check the fold to make sure the strip is in a flat V shape.  Each seam will go the same direction, then.  My other hint involves the starting section.  Trim that to a 45* angle before you sew it on.  I put my newly sewn strips on my cutting mat, and check the direction of the next seam, using the wrong side.  It's always from bottom left to top right.  I grab my 6" ruler, line the 45* line along the top edge to the end of the strip, and cut off the triangle, from bottom left to top right.  

I then fold this cut end in 1/4 to 1/2", and press, then press the strip in half.  Put this folded end about 8" from your "start sewing" spot.  (Leave the tail for joining the ends later).  

Sew your binding around, as usual, mitering the corners.  Stop about 7-8" from the tail you left before.  Here's my trick.  Tuck the remaining tail inside the folded end, and make sure it's smooth and flat to the top of the quilt.  Pin baste the folded end to the top layer of the inner binding, on top and the bottom to the bottom layer.  

Try to pin just the pressed seam fold line to the inside part of the binding, as if it were sewn along the fold.  Double check the fit.  

Then, carefully open the binding where the pins join it.  It should be an upside down L shape, with the diagonal pressed line hitting the top and bottom edge, and the center fold of the binding making an L, also.  

Adjust the pins so you can sew along the pressed angled line.  Lay it flat on the quilt top again, and make sure it's a good fit.  If so, trim the remaining binding off, leaving about 1/4" allowance, finger-press the seam allowance open, and sew the remaining section to the top.  

No one will guess where you started and stopped, because all the seam angles will be the same. and you didn't need a specialty ruler or trick to finish the seam, just a little prep before and some pins during.  

Did you happen to notice the flange border on that top?  It's another Island Batik challenge piece I recently finished.  I chose to add the dark blue flange because I wanted a separate line between the blocks and border, since I was using the same red fabric.  I didn't want it bigger, just an accent, and wanted the extra frame.  Notice how it's along the red, not the blocks.  It adds a little extra oomph to the red, don't you think?  I cut the strips 1 1/2" wide, and pressed them in half (wrong sides together.  Oh, wait, batiks don't really have a wrong side, lol)  I pressed it to the red border.  In this case, I didn't add quilting to the red, just the blocks and outer border. I wanted the flange to just hang out.  There are other quilts where I just quilt over the flange.  

Now, my final hint has to do with strange angles.  Every once in a while you'll find a pattern that has a different angle, not a 90* corner.  How do you handle that?  Well, in my research, I found this video, and since I think her explanation is perfect, I'm sharing it.  I think if there's someone who explains it well, or the design is already out there, I'll let them tell it, and save my breath.  Why copy when there's someone else who already has it done?  Marci Baker of Alicia's Attic has this great video.  

Here are 2 recent finishes that needed special binding angles.  I refer to this video often, and have it saved as a link on my "Best Quilting Practices" Pinterest page.  

So, that's a lot of information!  I didn't realize my main focus this month for this challenge would be just sharing information.  I actually didn't have to make anything special, because I had creative borders and binding with my other projects.  I kind of feel I got off easy, lol.  
Some of the other Island Batik Ambassadors have shared really creative NEW projects.  I hope you find the links on the Island Batik Facebook page.  If not there'll be a wrap-up post that I'll share later.  Some of the projects are GORGEOUS and you really need to see them.  

Thanks for visiting, and don't be afraid to try something new.  Let me know if you try my binding hint, too, or if you have any questions.  I may be able to post a video about binding soon.  Have a great time finishing your quilts! 


Monday, October 2, 2017

Christmas Carol Row Along

Christmas Caroling RAL 2017 photo CCLogo-2-small-450x373_zps857lafcy.jpg
Hi, and welcome to my day on the Christmas Caroling Row Along!  I'm delighted to share with you today, and so happy that Marian at Seams to be Sew invited me to participate.  She's done an awesome job with this hop, and the wonderful prizes are all because of her work.  She also arranged with Northcott to provide us with fabrics to feature in our rows.  

My fabrics are from Northcott.
9020-91 Silver Toscana for the bell applique
from Silent Night, 21659-44 blue snowflake
21660-42 light blue dot

21610-10 white snowflake for background.
Please look for these fabrics in your favorite shops!  

I LOVE Carol of the Bells.  When I was in high school and college, I was an alto in the Glee Club.  I loved singing the Ding Dong parts, and sounding like the bells.  So, here's my row to go with this song.  

"Hark, how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say, 'Throw cares away.'"

I probably should have chosen a slightly darker shade for the silver bells, but in person, it shows up better.  I may just quilt this as a table runner, or I may add a few more rows or borders.  I wanted the side blocks to inspire thoughts of snowflakes.  

My pattern directions and templates can be found in my Craftsy shop.  This will be free for 1 week, until Oct. 10.  After that, there will be a small fee.  

Now, for the prizes!  Moda fabrics have generously donated a Red Dot Green Dash Fat Quarter bundle by Me and My Sister Designs.  Click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter that one.  Winner will pay shipping charges.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Calibre Arts is offering a discount on a 12 by 18" mat.  I have one of the mats, and it's really nice.  Please enter to win the discount code on this Rafflecopter widget.  You'll purchase the mat with the code, using Amazon.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And there's also fabric from Northcott! You can win a 2 yard assortment of Fat Quarters.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please!  Check with Marian at Seams to Be Sew for details and rules about the prizes.

And check out the other designers hopping today!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017
MaryMack’s Blog You are here!  Thanks!
Kathys Kwilts and More
Pamela Quilts
Duck Creek Mountain Quilting
Heleen Pinkster

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you enjoy using my row.  There's one more day to hop, and then a show and tell day next week.  You can find some of the past rows and more info on Marian's posts!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Island Batik Back To School Hop and Give-away!

Hi, and welcome back to school.  Today's my day on the Island Batik Ambassador hop, and I'm pleased to introduce you to some wonderful new fabrics, the collection called Cherry Berry.

Click on Cherry Berry to see the fabrics.  I'll wait while you ooh and aah over the colors and designs. Did you see the cute kitchen tools, and all the fruit prints, and that gorgeous pink with grapes and leaves?  No?  Go look again.  Yes, there are even polka dots.  So, go call your favorite fabric store and tell the you need Cherry Berry now.  It's shipping as you read.  I'll wait...

Are you back??
I love going back to school!  I loved being a student, and loved being a teacher.  I've taught all levels, from kindergarten to college (yes, I have friends who still call me Professor). and love getting new pencils, crayons, and folders.  I loved that line in "You've Got Mail" when Meg's character says she wants a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.  All those years as a teacher, I also loved getting apples, and collecting apples and also going apple picking.  So, I chose to use the Accuquilt GO! Apple core die and make something with all the fabrics in this collection.  Bright and fun and scrappy.  

The die comes with directions for a basic 41 by 50" quilt, and there's a tutorial on the Moda Bake Shop  that measures 51 by 57.  I think I cut out about 140 pieces, planning to do 11 by 15 rows, and picked randomly from the pile.  I did try to not have the same colors or fabrics touching, but with scrappy, it doesn't matter as much.  My collection included 20 SKUs, plus 2 more for border and binding.  I'm not sure if I'll add a border to this, or just cut the edges straight, or use a bias binding and keep it curvy.  That part of the quilt isn't talking yet, lol.  I've named it Apples From the Teacher. 

But as a teacher, I always need to include my version, my directions, and how I did it.  I'm not big on pinning, except when adding gathered things or sleeves, or long seams.  I've been sewing since I was little, and got my first (hand-me down from mom) full size machine when I was 7.  (Ahem, more than 45 years ago).  I made clothes and doll dresses, and worked with tons of curved pieces.  I think it's really funny when someone says you need to pin something every centimeter or less.  That's really not necessary.  I've also done tons of Accuquilt curved shapes, like the Drunkard's Path, and recently, the Double Wedding Ring.

Here's my lesson: Limit the pins, use a stiletto or your fingernail to help make sure the edges line up. You may want to pin the beginning, the place where the notches line up, and the end.  Or not.  Just go slow, and use a good seam guide.  I recorded a video of me sewing on my vintage Singer 15-91, so you can see it works.  If you're using a more modern machine, just adjust the speed so you have the most control, and use a good 1/4" guide. Please notice I use my right hand to guide the fabric on the bottom, and left to guide fabric on the top.  I adjust as it goes through the machine.  

Here's the video.

Here's a few photos of my top so far.  Life happens while deadlines loom, so I don't have this quilted, and may still add a few rows.  I do love nice size lap quilts, and this one is just so fun and pretty.

So, I'll let you know when this is done.  I do occasionally finish something, lol.  

So, thanks for visiting for the Island Batik Back to School Hop.

Island Batik has a give-away using Rafflecopter.  

The other Island Batik Ambassadors have more to share and to give away.

Tuesday, September 5 – Country Dozen
Cheryl Lynch Quilts • Inspired Layers
Wednesday, September 6 – Bonsai
Little Bunny Quilts
Thursday, September 7 – Sakura
Masterpiece Quilting


Monday, September 11 – Fresh Pick’ins
KISSed Quilts
Tuesday, September 12 – Lotus Blooms
Kathys Kwilts and More
Thursday, September 14 – Rise & Shine
Den Syende Himmel • Sally’s Quilting Corner
Friday, September 15 – Diner Days
Ark Angel Creations • The Quilt Rambler


Monday, September 18 – Seas the Day
KISSed Quilts • Whispers of Yore • Needle & Foot
Tuesday, September 19 – Vineyard
The Inquiring Quilter • Inchworm Fabrics
Wednesday, September 20 – Abalone
PamelaQuilts • Yellow Cat Quilts
Friday, September 22 – Captain’s Anchor
Purrfect Spots Designs • Beaquilter


Tuesday, September 26 – Lobster Bake
Seams to be Sew
Wednesday, September 27 – Solstice
Bejeweled Quilts • heARTs Creations
Thursday, September 28 – Sour Apple
Seams Like a Dream • Kauffman Designs
Friday, September 29 – Zen
Lizard Creek Quilting • Quilt’n Party
And I have something, too.  I'll be sending a lucky comment writer a sweet little something.  I have a really hard time picking to give my gorgeous Island Batik away, but you'll be happy with a small prize.  It may be strips or a charm pack or some FQs or some 5" rolls, and a copy of my first published pattern, featuring Zen, which you'll see later this week.  You'll have to wait and see.  So, I do hope you're following my blog, either by email or bloglovin, and you also follow my Facebook page.  Let me know and you may be my lucky winner.  This will close Saturday, Sept 30 at midnight. NY time.  
Please also share this with your friends!  Thanks for visiting, and go find some Cherry Berry and some apples for the teacher.  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

August Quilt As You Go Challenge and More

Hi.  Are you shocked?  I am!  I'm actually sharing a finished project!  One started for August, and actually done before 2 weeks are up! I'm so glad that the Island Batik Ambassador Challenge for August was Quilt As You Go.  

I've done a Quilt As You Go braid table runner before, in prints.  I knew the design would be pretty in batiks, as well, and decided to search for the pattern.  Yup, it was a search.  I knew where it was before I moved in January 2016.  I thought I knew where it was here.  Nope, but I did find it.  I grabbed some left-over pieces from Lake Life (I'm using it for a Triple Irish Chain) and got to work.  The pattern is GE Designs Braid Runner by Gudrun Erla.  
It uses 2 1/2" strips plus center square and borders, and is fairly fast and easy.  

Here's the start, with the fabrics cut, and I'm about to open the Aurifil Artisan cone of thread, because I thought it was a perfect match.  I put my walking foot on my machine, and figured out where a 1/4" seam line would be using the inside edge of the foot.  The backing is some olive green fabric I had, and I used a piece of Warm & Natural for the batting.  

 Just had to borrow Mom's table and her great vintage green ceramic vase for a photo.  Doesn't actually go with the lavender table cloth, but the vase looks great. 
It's actually finished!  Quilted.  I added feathers to the border.  I may go back and add something to the center square, but the strips are sewn together, over the batting, so they don't really need addition quilting.  Warm & Natural only requires stitching every 8 to 10", so this doesn't need more.  I did want to add to the border, though, and love doing feathers. Mine measures 55 by 17 1/2" because I made the inner (orange) border 2" instead of 1 1/2. 

Yes, it's actually a complete finish for the challenge, before the end of the month.  I'm so proud of myself, and glad I picked this pattern.  

In addition to that, I also did the first block for the #IwishyouamerryQAL.  Many of the Island Batik Ambassadors are doing it, and also choosing non-batik fabric.  But I happen to have some great Island Batik Christmas pieces floating around right now, and rather than search for the box of Christmas fabrics, decided to use what was out.  If you haven't seen the rest of the blocks, check out the Facebook page for more inspiration.  I used Aurifil 50wt 5001 Ocher Yellow for the gold ring, 2890 Very Dark Grass Green for the green snowflake print, and 2250 Red for the fun fancy stitching on the red reindeer print.  The reindeer were too large for fussy cutting in this block, but I'm saving one in case I can use it on another block.  I also decided to test some Terial Magic I had won on a blog hop.  It's a spray that makes the fabric really stiff.  I did a light spray, made sure I scrunched it through, and then ironed it dry.  It made the fabric stiff enough that I didn't need stabilizer while doing the stitches.  It's interesting, and I do like how it came out.  When I wash the quilt, it will come out, and feel like the rest of the blocks.  No stabilizer to remove from behind, so it saved some time.  Nice!

I can't wait to finish more stuff soon.  It feels so good.  I'm planning to vend my quilts and sewn items at our church's Spirit Day on September 16, so need to get as much done as possible for that.  I'll catch up when I can.  

Oh, picked #4 for my winner of my pattern on my last post.  I'll contact the person and ship that out.  Thanks for reading and commenting.  I appreciate it.  


Sunday, July 30, 2017

July Oh Baby! Quilt and more

I can't believe the month is almost over already!  It seems like I just got back from our trip to Colorado.  We had new flooring installed while we were gone, to make it easier for Mom to deal with the change (she has dementia, and I'm her 24/7 caregiver).  Most of the china closet, small desk, bookcase, and entertainment center were boxed, so we're still going through and finding the photos and things that go back in place.  We also had to wash all the dishes and glassware from the china cabinet.  I'm just grateful my brother and sister-in-law returned with us, and really helped get most of that done.  They returned to Colorado last week.  I also finally had the flooring installed in my apartment, so I'm slowly going through boxes and putting stuff in place, in my area, too.  A friend is moving, and sold me her gorgeous desk, so I replaced the old broken one I had, and I'm going through files and supplies from my move 1 1/2 years ago, as well as old stuff that was here.  Had I mentioned that I've had this apartment set up with cast-away stuff, for about 18 years, and spent time visiting back and forth, or working here, until I moved back last year?  I'm still trying to figure out what goes where in the my kitchen.  It's been a maze of boxes and piles all that time.  I'm just glad to know I've emptied some in the last few weeks.  Moving forward.  

Back to the quilting stuff, the reason you even bother to read my blog.  lol. 

Island Batik's July challenge was #OhBabyQuilts, where we were asked to make a baby quilt.  I've done quite a few with Island Batik fabrics, but this time I wanted to make one with my new published pattern, Zen Baskets.  I had some of the blues left from the Zen collection quilt I made for the cover of the pattern, and added some from the previous boxes, as well as strips cut from some of the 5" strip rolls we get.  I used this fun green swirl from the Blenders collection for one of the accent colors and the first border, and another teal and green design for the other stake.  I had enough from the Zen collection to do a an outer border, and picked up some teal cuddle type fleece for backing. The quilt will be basted and quilted soon, but the top was fast and easy, and a quick way to use a collection of 2 1/2" strips.  It's even a great beginner quilt.  

 In addition to getting this top done, I also quilted a patriotic table topper for my Sister-in-law and brother.  She loves using my quilts for her house.  She actually sewed the pieced squares for this.  I used Aurifil 50wt Mako # 3852 named Liberty, variegated red, white and blue, for the stars and swirls for the pieced part, and a dark blue for the center.  I wanted to play with the center area, and quilted similar to a feather ring, but inspired by the fireworks in the fabric design.  Arlene already has it displayed on her table, and wants to make one for Autumn when she returns to visit.  

I also pieced and stuffed a Funky Friends hedgehog and 2 bunnies, but you'll have to wait to see them.  They'll be displayed in the Island Batik booth at Quilt Market in the end of October.  I also have 2 other quilt patterns to debut at Market.  

This next piece is a UFO from last year, featuring pinks from Island Batik.  The pattern is Winter Stars, one of the Aurifil mini Designer of the Month projects from 2015.  I can't remember when I made the top, but it's finally finished.  It was # 1 for the APQ UFO challenge, which was July.  I just had to finish quilting, add the binding and hanging sleeve, and get it on the display in my bathroom.  

 Detail of the quilting, again with Aurifil Mako 50wt in white and deep pink.  
I think it looks great with my watermelon pink towels!  It felt really good to finally finish this, and get it up.  I want to touch up some of the paint in there, but the room is finally done.  The bathroom was ripped out because of black mold, just before I moved back.  I had to have new walls, shower walls, shower door, vanity and shelves installed.  I'll share more photos of the finish when I get the last of the painting done.  

Just one more step forward.  I'm trying to squeeze in more sewing time, too.  I'll be in a row hop for Christmas Carols in a few weeks, and I'm getting the design ready and instruction written.  August's Island Batik Ambassador is Quilt As You Go, so I need to get started on that, as well as finish some other quilts, including a baby quilt I made last year with Island Batik's Sea Salt Sandy.  

If you got this far, and would like to win a copy of Zen Baskets, please leave a comment.  I'll draw a name on August 6.  If you wish to purchase, please check your LQS if they carry Island Batik, or my Etsy shop.

Thanks for visiting, and following along with my adventure.  I did receive the new box of Ambassador fabric from Island Batik, but that share will be another day.