Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Scattered Squares - Finished!

 Here's my second quilt, all finished!  I used the Scattered Squares pattern by Elizabeth Hartman's Craftsy class.  It's a fun one, and I used a charm pack of patterned fabric (Mod Century by Jenn Ski) and some polka dot prints in yellow and green and some cream and brown solids.  The back is a chartreuse oval print with an accent strip of a great, funky pattern from the Mod Century line. 

The top picture is my trusty assistant laying out the squares in random fashion. (The second picture is what trusty assistant #2 was doing after she lost interest in lining up random squares.)

 Here's a picture of the front of the quilt, held up by DH in his encore performance as Quilt Model.  Here he's really doing his minimalist modern look.  So minimalist you can hardly see him.  (I had to promise not to post his picture.  He doesn't like to be featured on my blog.  For a model, he is quite reluctant to have his picture published.)
 Here's a close-up of the front to show my first attempt at free motion quilting a large quilt (I'd only done a table runner before).  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  There are some spots that are denser than others and a few places where the lines are sharp but all in all, from a distance or in dim light (and ideally both), it looks great.  And best of all, it crinkled up beautifully with washing. 
Here's a shot of the back, with the accent strip, which was meant to be the all-over pattern to conceal my beginner efforts at quilting.  I had to settle for a quieter print (if you can call chartreuse "quiet"!) but I am still very pleased with the end result. The binding is more of that espresso brown solid that is on the front. 

I'll have to decide if I am going to be one of those quilters that names quilts or not.  At the moment I am one of those quilters that becomes paralyzed with indecision at the prospect of naming the quilt.  It reminds me of the feeling I get when I'm handed a card at work (birthday, wedding, farewell, retirement, etc.) and it's full of witty, clever comments from everyone else and all I can think of to say is "Best wishes".  So for now, this quilt shall remain nameless. Next up is my citron and gray Urban Cabin quilt, but that one is waiting for me to find the piece of Kona Coal I bought to finish the back.  I know I put it somewhere, but just where that somewhere is remains elusive...

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Scattered Squares - Top

Here's the finished quilt top for my Scattered Squares quilt.  It's a pattern from Elizabeth Hartman's class on Craftsy, Inspired Modern Quilts.

This quilt started out life as a charm pack of Jenn Ski's Mod Century fabric, which appealed to me for the graphic designs.  I thought the squares would be good for this quilt, along with some scraps I'd bought (that's how new to quilting I am!  I have to buy scraps!)  I got my girls to help lay out the squares in random fashion.  They were very happy to do this and I was happy to let them do the crawling around.  (I much prefer the fabric fondling phases of quilting to the crouching crawling phases.)  Elizabeth had handy tips for keeping track of rows, etc. and in no time this was sewn up.  I had visions of doing the back in a gorgeous Mod Century print in lime green.  Unfortunately, my fabric got lost in the mail, so I made do with the 1 yard I had, and added some nice lime green ovals to make panels.  I have the back sewn up and basted to the front, and now I just have to quilt it.  This round of basting seemed so much easier!  I had it done in no time, what with the batting not getting full of leaves and twigs and wrinkles.

I have a little trepidation about it, but I have a practice sandwich ready to go and a new machine to try out.  I am not overly in love with this quilt, so if it's a disaster quilting, it won't be the end of the world.  I am optimistic though.  That said, I always think I can do things right off the bat, then I get annoyed when I can't. (I'm having flashbacks to my first time on skates on the backyard pond, or should I say flashbacks to landing on my backside on the pond!).  

In case you are wondering, those are my husband's feet.  This quilt was too long to hang from the clothesline for a picture.  I'll try to get a closer-up shot, but I will make no promises.  I am not one of those bloggers who is also an amazing photographer.  In fact, I probably would have done better in some sort of DOS-based blog, where you had to make your own pictures out of characters and spaces instead.  ;-)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Mod Sampler Done

Hello!  I got my modern sampler quilt done this winter, but for various (and not very good) reasons, I didn't get it photographed until recently.  Here is the finished quilt.  The pattern is Mod Sampler by Elizabeth Hartman and I made it shades of turquoise, chartreuse and grey, with black and white.  The binding is a black and white pop floral, just perfect to frame the juicy colours of the quilt.  I had been hoping to quilt it in free-motion, but my trusty machine wasn't up to the task so I stitched in the ditch around all the seams instead.  It looks ok and I wanted to have it done, even though it didn't wind up getting quilted the way I wanted.  I have another quilt almost ready to be quilted and a new (to me) machine that can do free motion quilting, but that is a blog post for another day.

Edited to add a picture of the back (still off - managed not to get a photo of it finished, maybe another blog post some time soon).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Quilt Basting Tutorial and Comedy of Errors

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Hello!  No quilty pictures unfortunately (too busy basting to get involved with photography, which is why I will likely never be a rich and famous blogger because they have to be excellent photographers too).

I made my quilt sandwich twice.  Once following a dunce-torial of my own devising, the second time following Elizabeth Hartman's tutorial here.

The dunce-torial goes something like this.  Decide that you will "cheat" and use basting spray, but do it outside where the vapours won't kill you and your loved ones.  (Dire warnings on the label advise a well-ventilated area.)  Be busy with other things until just before dusk then sweep off the deck and lay out a sheet to protect the quilt. Get it mostly flat.  Then lay out the quilt backing, spray it so it's sticky, then try to get it mostly flat.  Curse the sticky stuff and the sheet that won't stop wiggling underneath.  Then, carefully, lay out the batting.  Lose your mind when it's the wrong size.  Futilely blame a misfiled package on the shelf at the quilt store, but realize that either way, it doesn't matter.  Don't think about what you will do with the batting at home sized 12" x 104" - presumably when you are a much better, more experienced quilter, legions of possibilities will present themselves.  (It can't be returned due to some regrettable trimming and bits of leaf sticking to it.)  Dash off to a sewing store and hope that they have something suitable.  Buy it, and relish the small victory that it is on sale.  Dash home and rue the fact that it is now dark and a chilly November wind has whistled up.  Turn on the outside light and wish that it cast a better light on the sorry situation.  Lay out the batting, and try to aim the the flaps and flings of the quilt top to catch the wind so that it helps rather than hinders the laying out process.  Carefully smooth it out (see - I learned not to spray it first!).  Now spray it and carefully lay out the top, smoothing and patting as you go.  This is harder than it sounds, wearing a bulky coat and trying to do it in the dark.  Wonder why it seemed easier at your mother's house and assume that it was because she did it and it was summer and vacation time.  Not pitch dark and November.  Get the whole sorry mess (minus the various bits of leaf and pine needle) inside, and inspect it.  Try not to mind when your vision of a perfectly sandwiched quilt poised to be quilted turns out to be a Festival of Wrinkles.  What could have gone wrong?  

Well, I have conducted a quilt sandwich post mortem to find out what went wrong:  everything, but mainly that I began without revisiting some instructions and assuming I could remember the important steps.

Today, I reviewed the excellent tutorial by Elizabeth Hartman here, when I could finally face the sandwich again.  I realized that the key problem was not securing the base layer.  Also, another key problem was deciding that inside wasn't well ventilated enough.  I have decided that it is sufficiently ventilated to do limited spray basting on a very occasional basis.  I followed Elizabeth's method, on the basement floor, adding in some judicious spray basting with supplemental pins to hold the whole thing together.  I am now about to embark on the next step of quilting it together.  I am forcing myself to do a practice sandwich.  I am normally inclined to plunge right in and expect perfection (please hold back your gasps of amazement), so I am forcing myself to be more strategic and learn from the wisdom of others, rather (I hope) than from my own mistakes.  Wish me luck!

PS  In the course of the preparations to begin quilting, I rootled out the manual for the sewing machine, handed down to me by my mother a few years ago when she got her sewing equivalent of the Starship Enterprise.  My hand-me-down is a Janome Memory 7, purchased November 14, 1981.  Inside the front cover it begins by saying, "Dear Customer, You are now the owner of the most advanced sewing machine ever built and we welcome you to a new world of sewing pleasure."   I would also add that this machine weighs approximately 75 lbs and caused my local sewing machine tuner-upper to boggle at its vintage.  We'll see how she fares as we embark together on our voyage to a new world of sewing pleasure.

PPS  I have decided that this blog post needs some pictures, so I have included a couple of nice shots from our visit last night to Upper Canada Village for the Alight the Night festival.  Upper Canada Village is an interactive pioneer museum nearby, down on the St. Lawrence River.  There was a nice sing-along of Christmas carols in the church and we all had a good time with that, as well as the horse drawn wagon ride, and playing in the big field of fresh snow.  All three generations (my family, my parents and my brother's family) all had a wonderful time.