Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stitching the zigzags

I have finished stitching the first zigzag borders on LE and am really pleased with how it turned out.

Fortunately, by doing my test sample first, I was able to make sure I had all the seam allowances in the right direction before I started stitching. I really think that was key in making the process work for me. Here is how I did the stitching but please be aware that I am Left Handed so I am stitching in the opposite direction of most people.

This first photo is going into a valley. You can see that the seam allowance is pressed towards the lighter diamond here. It should always point towards the diamond that moves up as you come out of the valley.

From here I would take a few more stitches and then loosen the stitches in that seam so the dark fabric can be turned under.

Now stitch right to the seam and I take an extra tiny stitch to make sure the stitching of the seam holds. Then start turning the seam allowance of the light diamond.

And start stitching.

Stitch to the point. You can see that the seam allowance on both sides of the light diamond point towards it. I found this was also better for stitching the point. Stitch right to the point making sure that you take very tiny stitches as you approach the point. This makes sure that the seam allowance does not push through when turning the point.

I also take a tiny extra stitch before tucking under the seam allowance at the tip.

Oops didn't get this close enough but I am turning the point here using the tip of the needle.

And taking a stitch on a newly turned point. You can see in the photos that I use the tip of my thumb to hold everything in place and use the needle to turn the edges under to my drawn line. I try to turn the edge so the line is then invisible but use a Frixion pen to mark the line so that if any marks remain they do iron right out. And here is a close up of the finished border.

And one of those tricky six petaled flowers. But I have no hints for making those points come together. I just needleturned them in place adjusting position if necessary as I went.

I am now looking forward to part 3!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

All about trimming

Today I had a quilter's aha moment regarding trimming that has really got me thinking.

First let me share the completion of my HSTs in the Star Surround Quilt Along.

You can see the pile of trimmings on the cutting board and that is only from about 1/2 of the squares. That is what started my thinking. You see I have been quilting for many years and have tried to embrace and keep up with new ideas as they come along but I have never been a fan of trimming blocks. When I learned to quilt, dimensions were given for cutting and if you sewed with an accurate seam allowance then your block came out to the correct size. I usually made a test block and if things weren't fitting together it was usually do to inaccurate cutting or a poor seam allowance. And trimming a block just meant cutting off those little triangles at the corners or perhaps an occasional squaring up of a block.

A few months ago I was given a pattern by a new modern designer,of a quilt I loved, and began piecing it together. But nothing seemed to fit and no matter what I did to adjust my seam allowance things just weren't coming together properly. Today I discovered why. Somehow, in the last few years, a new expectation emerged that I missed. In some patterns the dimensions given are such that you MUST trim in order to get the necessary results. Now this is not a bad thing at all, clearly it results in more accurate results and that is great and I really thank the hosts of the 2 QAL's I am participating in for providing such clear instructions so that I was forced to trim and understand why.
Here is a block before trimming. It is intentionally large.

And after. Now it is the correct size and is very precise.

Now I will know to really look closely at a pattern when it says to trim blocks as it can make all the difference in the results. I bet I could even put that pattern together that I was having trouble with a few months ago!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Star surround quilt along

Since LE is such an intensive project I am participating in a few online quilt alongs this summer as a way to do some simple piecing and work with fun happy colors. It is lots of fun to just sit and sew and see these projects come together.

Today I did the cutting for the Star Surround quilt along that is being hosted by Melissa Cory of Happy Quilting. I love these fun fabrics and I only need 9 fat quarters and some background for a nice baby quilt. Most of these fabrics were in a fat quarter pack that I picked up for a song at Tuesday Morning a few months ago.

I also got the next section of the quilt we are making in the Aiming for Accuracy quilt along hosted by Michelle Foster of the Quilting Gallery. I have never done a quilt along before this summer and I am really enjoying the process and variety of quilts that will result.

Happy Stitching

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tackling the zigzag border on LE

After lots of consideration and a little experimentation, I finally decided to get down to business on LE's tiny zigzag border. Since my method of appliqué is a little different than Esther's, I knew it would be best for me to just figure out a method that would work for me. At first I thought I would English Paper Piece it but after cutting out a few pieces I knew that that was not the best solution for me. I considered cutting out all the piece individually and appliquéing them one by one but again felt that was not best. Then, as I was considering the method presented here, someone else posted photos and instructions on Esther's Yahoo group. Forgive me for not crediting that person, frankly I cannot remember who it was but this method is very similar. I just discovered that the person that originally posted this process was Auckje. You can find her photos in the photo section of Esther's Yahoo group.

So here goes. Just a reminder that this is just what worked for me. If you are making this quilt I advise you to use Esther's instructions but if this helps you get a visual of my process that is great. I recognize that everyone works differently and this is just what worked for me.
First, using my light box and my taped together pattern, I traced one full side unit of the zigzags on freezer paper. I was very precise and used a ruler for this.

This was then cut out very carefully.

I then cut out sample strips at 1 1/4 inches and sewed them together using a 1/4 in seam allowance. I ended up doing this twice using scrap fabrics as I needed to adjust the seam allowance by one needle position to get an accurate measurement against the pattern. Here is my sample afte r cutting and some stitching.

So now I was ready to cut into the actual fabric. My dark teal is a Dutch Chintz so I really want to be precise and use as little fabric as possible and this is what worked.
I cut three WOF strips of the light at 1 1/4 inches and 4 strips of the dark. I then cut each strip in 1/2 horizontally into about 22 inches each. They were then sewn into three groups of 6 strips alternating light and dark. When after sewing each seam I cut the seam allowance down to 1/8 inch as you can see in this photo. The dark seam allowance is before trimming.

In order to deal with the color placement so that the corners would be the same, I marked light and dark on the pattern and decided that placing 2 darks together in the center. If you look at the pattern Esther has placed her light and darks slightly differently. Obviously what works for you just be aware that if you just alternate light and dark the corners will look different. After sewing the 22 in strips together I cut them horizontally into thirds and sewed them together. Then I need to add a dark to one end of each for my color placement. Hopefully this photo makes it clear.

I then sewed these 2 units together and ironed my freezer paper pattern on carefully aligning the points and seams.

Then traced around the pattern and cut out.

I also cut out those corner pieces and using my light box glues every thing in place. Yes, I glue with Roxanne's Glue baste and have not yet had any issues with it but I recognize that it is not everyone's choice.

And finally I am ready for stitching. I did play with different options for what direction to iron the seams and ended up pressing to one side in the direction I stitch. Since I am left handed that means the seams go to the right when looking at the right side as I sew from left to right. But once sewing the sample that was not the best option. Instead I ended up making sure that the seams always pointed in the direction of the diamond that was going up towards the point as I sewed. This is sorta confusing to write so hopefully I can take some photos and post them soon to show. I highly recommend making a sample and stitching it to make your own determination.

In total, including my sample pieces, this only took my about 4 hours and I can now just stitch. Not a bad afternoon's work!

Monday, July 22, 2013

LE center

Just another update on LE. After lots of consideration about those outside triangle I am happy I went with the two teals rather than one as I think there is more impact. I did the little flowers using embroidery for the stems and I am happy I did as I like the contrast the little chain stitch provides. And I am pretty happy with the next flowers but sorta wish I had gone a bit scrappier with them. Oh well, there is lots of opportunity head to add many, many more fabrics.

Here is a close up of the little flowers with the stems done with 2 strands of embroidery floss and a tiny chain stitch. at the time this coverlet was originally made, tambour work was popular and this chain stitch is an attempt to replicate that look. tambour work is a type of embroidery that is made up of chain stitches but was done in a continuous line with a hook. I am hoping to add more of this embroidery as I go.

And now on to the next step. Figuring out how to approach the little zigzag border.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My DIL quilts - hooray!

If you have read my blog for awhile you might remember that before moving this year I had been teaching my DIL to quilt. She was really making progress and our final project together was a quilt for her Mom as a Christmas gift. She seemed to enjoy it and I gave her some rulers and a cutter for Christmas to go with the mat she already had. She had learned how to cut but in the interest of speed I had done most of the cutting for her and she still seemed a bit unsure of herself when I had to move. A few days ago I had to go back to Atlanta and stayed with my son and DIL and she surprised me with her latest work - done all on her own!

These first 2 are little play quilts she has made for the little daughters of friends. Such fun happy colors and done without the use of a pattern.

And this sweet top she made to put away for the baby daughter they are hoping to adopt.

The plan is that when she visits in September we can get these quilted on my longarm machine.

I am so delighted to see her excitement in quilting grow and proud of her growing confidence and skills. My son says I have brought another one over the the "dark side" but I am thrilled to have another happy recruit. That now makes three in the family that will be fighting over my stash when I am gone. LOL

Happy stitching!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

LE part 2 changes already!

After looking at this on my blog and from a distance in my livingroom I decided to switch to the option of alternating fabrics for my triangles. I loved the look of one fabric up close but it seemed washed out from a distance. I suspect this is going to be happening a lot with this quilt.

Happy stitching!

LE Part 2 beginning

The second installment of Love Entwined was released on Sunday and I have been busy prepping and stitching ever since. For those of you not interested in this project I am afraid my blog posts are going to be pretty boring as I plan on chronicling my progress here.

One of my favorite parts of quilting is selecting the fabric but sometimes it can be the most challenging. I was really torn about the triangles around the center compass. Should I use 2 fabrics in an alternating pattern or just one fabric that is pretty busy.

I went back and forth for quite some time and finally decided on this.

Another difficulty was taping the pattern together as the pattern was printed on several sheets of paper that were downloaded on the computer. Though Esther does a great job of providing accuracy in her patterns and has excellent registration lines, I must have made a tiny error in my cutting and taping as I ended up just a smidge (less than 1/16 inch) small. But it should work fine and here it is on my light table awaiting the background placement.

And finally a little stitching has begun.

I am really enjoying this project and welcome you join me in this journey.

Happy stitching!

Friday, July 12, 2013

QAL update

A while back I mentioned that I was waiting to begin a BOM. love Entwined and also a quilt along, Aiming for Accuracy. I have shown my work on LE but not the QAL so here goes. This is a weekly program and here are my first 3 blocks.

I am not so sure about my fabrics for the second block but am hoping that the colors will become more balanced as I go. I am pleased though with the accuracy I am achieving despite the fact that I hate the trimming that is required.

Happy stitching!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Love Entwined a beginning

This week I was finally able to begin stitching on Love Entwined. While in Texas I bought the last of the fabrics for this project and came home and pulled a selection from my stash. I am still not sure if I will use the yellow but I will let the quilt speak to me as I go. Here is my center compass. I had some difficulty with the fabric selection and made a change as I was going but after appliquéing all those tiny circles around the edge, I certainly will not be making another.

Here are a few pictures of my fabric selection for this project.

Since this is a reproduction of a quilt from the 1790's, i decided to go with a reproduction look and am using lots of Dutch Chintz fabrics, French General fabrics and others from my stash. Part 2 will be released on July 15 but with my son arriving about then for a few weeks, I am afraid I may not be able to keep up but I am hoping to find some time to get things prepped for stitching before his arrival. I can't wait!

Happy stitching!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Home again

It has been a busy few weeks and I am home and ready to get back to stitching. I was at a family reunion hosted by my brother in law and sister in law. Since my SIL is also a quilter we were able to get a bit of quilt store shopping done before the cooking began. I was so excited to go to Happiness is Quilting to get some Dutch Chintz for my LE quilt.

They are one of the few stores in the US that carries this fabric and theyhad a great selection.

As a little hostess gift I made my SIL this little pin cushion/ thread catcher.

And finally we celebrated the 60th anniversay of our parents in law with this quilt that we worked on together across the miles.

But now I am looking forward to pulling all my fabrics together for LE and starting a new project.

Happy stitching!