Friday, March 27, 2015

For Greta, From Jenny Doan

My newest granddaughter, Greta, was born last May, but I'd already started working on her quilt.

I love the Missouri Star Quilt Company's tutorials with Jenny Doan, and when she came up with the Disappearing Pinwheel, I knew that was the one.  But instead of the muted color palette that she used, I decided to use primary colors.  Babies like bright colors, and since my son and daughter-in-law had decided not to find out whether they were having a boy or a girl, the quilt had to be gender-neutral.  As luck would have it, the Disappearing Pinwheel was featured in one of the first editions of MSQC's Block magazine.



I started with one layer cake of bright colors and yardage in white that I cut into 10" squares. 



Complete instructions for the Disappearing Pinwheel blocks can be found at the MSQC website, on YouTube, and in Block magazine.

For each pinwheel, stitch one white and one colored square together around the outside edges.  Cut each stitched pair from corner to corner and press open.




 Sew the resulting half-square triangles together to make a pinwheel.  (No apologies here for switching from block to block for the photos.  The fabrics were just plain fun!).




Now, just like we did for the Disappearing Nine-Patch, square up the pinwheel blocks and the cut them into thirds in both directions.

Square up and determine the measurement  for the 1/3 divisions.


Arrange the resulting pieces as desired.  Jenny gave directions for both Churn Dash and Monkey Wrench blocks.  I fiddled around to make another one, too.  Ultimately, I preferred the Monkey Wrench.

Churn Dash.  I just didn't like this for a baby's quilt.
Monkey Wrench.   The shape reminds me of a toddler's crayons, flat on the sides.

Just seeing what else could be made.  Meh.
After the blocks were finished, I put them on my current "design wall" -- the bedroom curtains.  I had trouble figuring out the color placement, so I took black-and-white photos so I could focus on the values.  Many quilting websites sell "rose-colored" glasses that help you see value.  But all you really need to do is take black-and-white photos with your phone, tablet or digital camera.

These look a little wonky.  That's just because I was running out of pins.

Black and white photos are a great way to focus on the color value.

What I really noticed was that I didn't much like was the blocks touching each other (the way Jenny did it).  I cut some test sashing strips, and liked that much better.



I found some really cute flannel for the backing at JoAnn's. 












Thursday, March 26, 2015

Life in a Blended Family

 Sometimes quilts appear, not out of fabric or colors or designs, but out of something more...


When I was planning Molly's Wedding Quilt, I thought that I'd put some appliques in the large white squares.  Each applique would be something special about the blended family, Molly, her husband, and his two children.


But in the end, the appliques that I'd done seemed to interfere with the appearance of the quilt design.  However, I'd already made several applique squares.  What to do?

Well, make another quilt, of course!  A special family quilt.

The background fabric for the top was one that looked like wood paneling.  I just put the layers together and quilted by stitching between the "boards" of the paneling.  Piece of cake!




Each applique was based on a 5" square (hello, charm packs) that was special to a member of the family or the family as a whole.  The squares represented their sports or music or careers, and things that they love to do together.  I did fusible applique and satin stitched around the pieces.

I decided to try to make each square look kind of like a photo in an album.  If you don't remember what a photo album looked like, it was kind of like this:  you slipped the photo into little black corner pieces that held them into the album.

For each square, I create an applique, then added a white border.  Then I sewed a black square to each corner and trimmed.

`


Molly and her husband had one of their first dates at a yoga class.  I thought that this batik fabric was a perfect background.


The one non-applique was part of the reading that I did at their wedding.  What an honor to be asked to do this.  I don't have an embroidery machine, but my Brother has some beautiful fonts that looked just right.


This is the final quilt.  You'll see basketball, soccer, chorus, kayaking, ping-pong, guitar, Molly's dog, Poe, cheerleading, and tucked away at the top, the cabin in Michigan that we all share.  There's nothing better than family.




The quilt back is a beautiful green fabric that reminds me of our cabin in the woods.  I added a sleeve so that they could hang the quilt if they wanted to. The binding is a pretty aqua (looks bright in this photo). 

  

Bonus!  All those little pieces that got trimmed from the corners of the "photos" made some nice little -- very little -- 4-patches.  They will get used some day...




Sunday, March 22, 2015

Happy National Quilting Day!

I'm so happy to be back at my sewing machine and back in blogland (cue Gene Autry singing "Back in the Saddle Again").  Even though A Quilter's Path was on hiatus, I was taking photos.  So let's start catching up, my friends!

Molly's Wedding Quilt, Part 2




My lovely niece, Molly, was married in August, 2013.  I posted about the beginnings of her quilt here.  I'm a slow quilter, but I was determined to have it ready for her when we got together at our families' cabin in Michigan this summer.  Hey, not even a year!

She wanted a lap-size quilt for chilly evenings on their boat in the Detroit area.  The quilt was controlled scrappy, including regular quilting cotton and some wonderful batiks.  Many of these were leftovers from Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street mystery quilt (still a Work in Progress).


Some leftovers were strips, some were squares.  And I did have to add a few.


Strip-piecing and chain-sewing got the basic units done quickly.



I had picked out the block pattern, but wanted to fiddle with it a bit to see what I liked.

Green units straight, blue on point?

Or the other way around?

I was planning to add some appliques to the neutral blocks, so I finally decided on keeping the light squares in the green units parallel with the quilt edges.  This meant that I needed setting triangles for the edges.  I just made more of the blue and white blocks and cut them in half.  Of course, now I have a pile of bonus triangles for future use!




After making a few appliques, it looked like that would not be a good idea.  They just didn't fit with the quilt.  But I did keep one piece. 

In the photo here, the picture on top is the card that was used for the wedding invitations and the place cards at the reception.  I don't have an embroidery machine, but  I managed to replicate the font pretty well (I think).  The square went on the top of the quilt.

The quilting was just stich-in-(or in the neighborhood of)-the-ditch.  Not so elegant but fine for a utility quilt that I hope will be used hard.

 
Until next time.









Friday, March 20, 2015

Broken Promises, Broken Legs

Happy National Quilting Month!  It's been more than a year since I updated my blog.  This is how life is, I guess.  So today, a quick update, then back to quilting...

Historic!
After my last post in February 2014, we headed down to Florida for a couple of weeks.  Once home, we went house-hunting and ended up buying a 140-year old house in Jamesport, NY, on the North Fork of Long Island.  So NOT what we had planned to do, but right for us.  Nice property for a garden, 3 blocks from Peconic Bay.  Serious aesthetic issues.

Each to his own.  Pink floral on taupe -- everywhere! -- bleagh.
We put our house on the market, and I squeezed quilting in between bi-weekly open houses.  Finally finished Molly's wedding quilt plus a bonus quilt of appliques (to be shared soon).




Then I went to work on a baby quilt for my new granddaughter, Greta, born in May.


 She'll probably get it in time to take to her freshman year in college!  I finally had to admit defeat and abandon quilting for several months -- just couldn't keep up with all the threads and shreds and general sewing messiness while trying to sell the house.

As work progressed on our new house, I decided that I would move my sewing studio to Jamesport right after the holidays.  I could sew to my heart's content with no one to come in and pass judgment on either my housekeeping or my quilting.  Seemed like a plan, until I fell down the stairs just before New Year's and ended up with two broken legs!

Three months later, I am back to sewing.  Greta's quilt is long since pieced, but awaits quilting -- another UFO in the pile.  Some friends got married, time for another quilt.  Pillows needing covers for the cabin in Michigan.  A niece is getting married.  Her sister is having a baby.  Time to sew!! 
This is going to be a good year!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Secret to Finishing a UFO - and have fun at the same time

You think I'm going to share my secret for finishing a UFO right at the beginning of this post?  Not so fast, Ace.  Just keep going.

In a previous post I mentioned that I was back at work on Easy Street, Bonnie Hunter's 2012 Mystery Quilt.  Lately I've mostly worked on finishing my niece's wedding quilt, but I've been wanting to get back to some piecing.  Easy Street was the answer -- it's not for anyone, just for the fun of making it, so I can pick it up (or drop it) any time.  And it's REALLY a UFO --  just hundreds of little sub-units, not a single block constructed.





Part One was ~200 four-patches.  I posted about finishing those back in August.



 






Part Two was 128 flying geese.  I've never quite mastered those, so I used the specialty rulers that Bonnie recommends.  The units looked pretty good!  I tucked them in a baggie and moved on.


















Another step involved more flying geese, this time with turquoise wings instead of the white print.





More purple and turquoise -- sitting turkeys...


Finally, time to start sewing some of the units together.  And this is when I saw it.  Did you notice the mistakes in the first flying geese photo above?  Turn one over and this is what you'd see:



Yep, I'd pressed all the white-winged geese in the wrong direction, toward the center.  It was almost impossible to achieve the coveted "perfect point" with all that fabric in the way.  Arghhh!!









So I had to sit down and unpick everyone of those &#$* geese.  Press the pieces flat again, sew the seams again, press the seams again, outward this time.


You can imagine what all this did to the bias edges of the triangles.  We are talking major stretcheroo here.  No amount of trimming would make these geese into tidy rectangles.



And that's when I discovered:

The Secret to Finishing a UFO!


JUST SEW IT!  Don't obsess!  Just put that pedal to the metal and stitch!

Some of these double units came out perfect!


And some are just butt-ugly!


Who cares?  It's a quilt that I'm making just for fun.  So I'm going to have fun!  I even turned this into a game.  I call it Adding Mystery to a Mystery Quilt!  Here's how you play:




1.  Lay the unit down on your ironing board with the seam up and the stitched triangle base on top.  Press to set the seam.  You can't see the top of the other flying goose, right?  Now guess -- will it have a Pointy Point or a Butt-Ugly point?



 2.  Flip up the top unit and press so the seam goes toward the top unit.  Now look closely.  Did you guess correctly?  Could you not tell with some of them?












3.  Put the pressed unit in one of two piles:  P-P, or B-U.  "Can't tell" units go in the P-P pile.  Which pile is higher?



4.  Now, go through the B-U pile again.  Notice that some of the units that you tossed in there at first really belong in the P-P pile, don't they?  Move them over where they belong!



And guess what -- no matter which pile is bigger, You Win!

Take all those units and start finishing that UFO.  Here are the corner units...

  ... to be continued...