Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year in Review

I always think it is fun to look back at the year and to plan for the next year.

I started blogging January 1st, 2010, and it has been a great experience, and I have made some wonderful friends. 2010 was really about blogging and creating. I learned how to free motion quilt designs other than the basics, and I was also thrilled to learn invisible machine appliqué. 

2011 became the year of block of the month. I participated in four!

this one was finished this year.

Henrietta Whiskers by Bunny Hill Design
finished 2011

finished December 2011

"Hop to It" by Edyta Sitar
This was started in 2010 and finished August 2012. It is from the book "Hop to It" by Edyta Sitar. It was done as a BOM with a few friends. We are starting another BOM in 2013 - Pieces of Time by Lori Smith.


This past year seemed to be all about little quilts.

Some of the little quilts from this year.

These ones are from Kathleen Tracy patterns, and were made as part of her Small Quilt Group.

I sent these eleven little quilts to the Alzheimer Art Quilt Initiative.
So far ten have sold and raised more than $550 (US).

I even hosted a small quilt quilt-along! This one was my Friendship Mini Sampler Quilt Along.

This past year I have worked on getting better at free motion quilting (and even started teaching FMQ!) - that is the reason for all the little quilts, they are fabulous to practice FMQ on.

I also bought a Cindy Needham Craftsy Class, which I loved!

Here are some of my practices pieces after the class - yes, more mini quilts!

I did complete 9 bed/lap quilts (all my 2012 finishes are here).

I had an amazing year with lots of new experiences. 

Along with a few large quilts, my plan for the new year is to create art quilts using different techniques. I am planning on creating one art quilt a month, reflecting that month (all the same size) and binding them into a "book" at the end of the year - I will see how it goes!

Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful new year!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

FMQ Challenge Bonus Tutorials

I decided to complete all four of the bonus SewCalGal Free-Motion Quilting Challenges,

since I had completed all twelve of the monthly challenges (more about my year of the FMQ Challenge quilt here).

9.5" square

This is my version of the May Bonus Tutorial. It doesn't actually qualify as part of the challenge because we were supposed to quilt hand marbled fabric created by the tutorial expert, Linda Moran - oh well.

I interpreted the challenge to be enhancing some beautiful fabric, and decided to quilt some of my hand dyed fabric.

I started with 30Wt Sulky variegated thread (and a #90 Titanium needle).

I then used some 50Wt and 100Wt thread (and switched to a #80 Titanium needle).

This one was definitely different for me, and lots of fun!

9.5" x 10.5"
Next is the August Bonus Tutorial by Susan Brubaker Knapp.

All about taking a photo and turning it into a quilt design. (I have a previous post on this one here.)

8.5" x 10.5"

The October Bonus Tutorial was by Diane Loomis. It was all about machine trapunto, something I have been wanting to try for a while (I even had the YLI wash-a-way thread waiting).

My design was inspired by designs from the book 'The Secrets of Elemental Quilting' by Karen McTavish. I traced it on to plain Kona cotton with a very fine pencil.

I used one and a half layers of wool batting for the trapunto batting. After quilting around the design with the wash-a-way thread (top and bottom), I trimmed away the excess batting. I layered the whole thing with a very thin cotton batting.

Since I have been experimenting with different colours of thread, I used a dark beige thread for the feather design. All the thread for this piece is 100Wt silk thread (YLI and Kimono).

I did some "scribbling" around the feather, and something I call "sand dunes" (one of the "bouncing backgrounds") around that. There is also a section of double grid work in the corner (it is on a 1/2" grid).
It is the first time that I have done this style of quilting with thin cotton batting, and the whole piece has a really nice feel. I will be trying more of this technique in the future.

9.5" square

This is my version of the December Bonus Tutorial. The expert for this one is Teri Lucas. The challenge was about printing an image on fabric (created with Kaleidoscope Kreator 3 Software) and quilting feathers.

I don't have fabric to print on, and so decided to use a piece of my snow dyed fabric - I thought the kaleidoscope looked like a snowflake and it seem appropriate (that's why I quilted a swirling design around the kaleidoscope too).

You can really see the beautiful design on the back of the piece.

In this tutorial, Teri Lucas has one of the best tips that I have seen in this Challenge - "The only way to improve stitching out feathers is to spend time at the machine stitching." - so true!

Thanks to SewCalGal and all the experts for these tutorials. The whole challenge has been inspirational!

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

THQA 2012 Final Post!

Hard to believe it is my final post for my quilt along - it sure has been fun seeing everyones' versions. Thank-you so much for quilting along with me!

Famous last words in quilt patterns are "quilt as desired"! Deciding what to quilt can be such a hard part of quilting, so I wanted to leave you with some suggestions. It is just "my thing" to encourage people to quilt their own quilts - so I hope you will quilt it yourself. It is very "do-able" on a domestic sewing machine (DSM). 

Tips -

When you are quilting your quilts there are some things that will make it easier -

   - The type of batting you use. If your batting is stiff it will be more difficult to quilt, even if you have the best set up. Silk is the best to quilt on a DSM, but if you can't find that, wool or a very good quality cotton or cotton/polyester will be fine. I like Hobbs, but that is because that is the brand that is sold locally. Remember "Warm and Natural/White" was not developed for quilts, but for window coverings, and it is hard to quilt on a DSM - it's too stiff.

    - Having a good set up for quilting. The little plexiglass surround that so many of us have will not work for quilting a large quilt - it catches and the quilt does not move easily - extremely frustrating.

This is my old set up when I quilted large quilts. It is an old piece of countertop with a notch cut out for my sewing machine (the notch is the same as on the plexiglass surround). The legs are just pieces of 2x4's. The whole thing is on my dining room table. I have seen people make something similar with layers of the blue styrofoam insulation.

Because I sew so much I decided to invest in a cabinet this year. This one has an extension leaf at the back and a table top that can be added on the front/side (it is a Koala Cabinet).

The important thing is that the weight of the quilt is supported.

  - The right height chair will make it easier on your body.

I also place a piece of 2x4 in front of my sewing machine foot pedal to rest my heel on.

I like to pin my quilt layers together - I admit I don't use too many pins, probably every 8". I tape the backing down - don't over stretch the backing, otherwise it will bounce back and cause puckers when the tape is removed. I used flannel backing for this quilt, since it is a lap quilt. The batting is wool.

I start by Stitching In The Ditch. This is really important to secure all the layers, it will make quilting each block easier.

I only stitched in the ditch along the zig-zag rows around the blocks, and not every single seam (the above picture is the back showing the stitching in the ditch).

I use my quilting gloves to stitch in the ditch, and gently pull the seams so that the stitching will lay right along the seam line.

If you have pressed the seam allowances to one side, stitch on the side without the seam allowance underneath. I used 100Wt Invisafil thread, in a coordinating colour, for stitching in the ditch on this quilt.

This is the walking foot for my machine (I also wound a few bobbins before starting). It is important to use because it moves all the layers evenly.

I bunch the quilt around the sewing machine, making sure that the area that I am working on moves freely. There is a lot of repositioning when quilting on a DSM. Try not to let the weight of the quilt lay on top of the area you want to move - it is too heavy
Also make sure that you know what a single layer of the quilt feels like under your hands, so that you will know if an edge of the quilt is accidentally caught underneath.

On to the quilting!

Since this is a sampler quilt, I quilted quite a few different designs, hopefully you will get a few ideas.

I quilted parallel lines in some of the zig-zags using the walking foot. I moved the needle over and used the edge of the foot as a guide. All the quilting is done with 50Wt cotton thread. I used a #80 Titanium needle.

I marked the turning point for the lines before starting.

The finished zig-zags.

I quilted feathers in the alternating zig-zags. Starting with the centre spine.

Adding feathers/lobes along one side,

then the other side.

The following pictures are close ups of some of the blocks for ideas -

the half blocks are all quilted the same
The next three are all the same blocks with different versions of continuous curves.

Stencils work for the blocks too -

Here are some of my tutorials for free motion quilting -

Friendship Mini Quilt FMQ ideas
Easy Machine Quilting
Free Motion Feathers Part 1 (with video)
Feathers Part 2
Bump-Bump Feathers (with video)

I tried many different designs on this quilt, because I wanted to give you ideas, but I did repeat design elements throughout the quilt.
Quilting turns fabric into a quilt, it is your way to express your creativity - I hope you will give it a try and have fun!

If you are new to free motion quilting I recommend Continuous Curves for quilting the blocks.

the back of the quilt
I have a tutorial for the binding.

For my 50" x 70" quilt I needed six 2+1/2" strips of fabric. When I am cutting multiples of the same width of fabric I place a few layers of masking tape under my ruler at the width I need (each little strip of tape is made up of 3 or 4 layers of tape).

When I add the binding to a large quilt I don't trim it first (I always seem to catch the backing underneath when I trim first),

but I do trim the corner where I add the label. It is made from a 4" square of fabric, folded on the diagonal. I then slip stitch the fold down by hand when I stitch down the binding. I find this the easiest way to label a quilt, otherwise I never seem to get around to adding a label to a quilt.

I just use a fine Sharpie marker to label the quilt - it does last through washes.

This quilt was a joy to make, thank- you for quilting along, and thank-you to everyone for their words of encouragement! I look forward to seeing your finished quilts! 
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