Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Collage Quilt: Ice Skater

I've been wanting to try a new technique, fabric collage, for awhile and I have also been wanting to make an ice skater quilt for a few years.

I decided it would be perfect to do both together and set to make a quilt last weekend (or so, not sure when I did it...)  I'm telling you ahead of time that it is an ice skater, because other people have guessed it is a lizard and a turkey!
I started by outlining a photo of Mirai Nagasu doing a layback spin in photoshop, printing it, and then tracing that outline onto a piece of fabric (it is about 17 x 20 finished size). Since it would be covered, I just used a sharpie to trace.

Then, I filled in the entire outline with various green fabrics. Some of the fabrics I used were sort of large, and I maybe should have used smaller ones, but I think it is okay for a first effort.I used a glue stick to hold all the fabrics down, being careful not to glue too close to the drawn line on the fabric.  Once the whole area was filled, I cut along the line to leave the outline of the skater.

Then, I used black and white fabric to completely fill the background. Since I did not glue close to the traced line, the fabric that butts up against the skater is tucked under the green fabric.

This was where I made my mistake. Since the green is dark, there is not enough of a value difference between the black and white and the green. The skater recedes in the quilt.  If I had thought to take a black and white picture in process, I would have seen the problem.
I've since learned "Color gets all the credit, but value does all the work". Oh well, it was a first effort, and I decided to keep going. I thought maybe quilting would help a bit (and it did- a bit...)

So onto the quilting. I took the collage layer (piece of fabric with tons of fabric scraps glued to it) and sandwiched it with backing and batting, like normal. However, the secret here is to also layer a piece of tulle over the collage. This holds down the hundreds of raw edges.  Then, quilt like normal.

I started by outlining the skater, and then filled her in with pebbles.  I used flowing echoes on the black and white, but you really can't see much of them in the final product.  However, the green pebbles, and the black thread on the background did pull the colors together just a little bit.  Here is the quilting:

And, since I'm really trying to practice my hand binding- I pulled the binding to the back and hand stitched it.  I have to say- it really does look better than machine stitching.  I got milliners needles, and they help 100%- it is so much easier to go through the layers. And using a longer needle means I don't prick my finger with the back of the needle.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ghost Dog

I was embroidering dogs for a baby quilt (will post that in a month or two- I'm waiting on fabric) and  I joked about making a ghost dog.

Well, one of my high school friends said something about it, and how it would fit in her house because her house is haunted, so I made her a ghost dog. 

I think I might go back and put a little more stitching around the A, because it looks like an N.

Yeah, me and my friends in high school were a bit weird.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Building Blocks Quilt Along: Block 7

This month's block was a disappearing 9 patch.  I am definitely not a piecer. This was just way too many seam for me. (For some reason it was also not strip pieced like that last 9 patch, and I think that made it even longer.)

The quilting designs on these were interesting. Sadly, I wasn't perfect, and on one of them I am debating ripping the thread out and giving it another try on the part where the mistake is the worst.

This is the one I'm thinking about redoing. The third circle in the center has one quadrant where it is just WAY off. I really think it might be worth fixing.

This one is my favorite of the group. I love the starbursts.
 This one Leah suggests you mark the circles with a circle template. That seemed like A LOT of circles to me. So I just drew the general idea of where the circles went and free-handed them using a squiggle all the way up the column and then back down; kind of like when I do "Diane-shiko" design. I think for free hand, most of them came out pretty circular.

 And here is the progress on the quilt.  I'm not looking forward to doing the sashing. First, because I need to get fabric. And second, because it is going to be a lot of hand stitching.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Custom Throw Pillows

My bedroom has 3 windows above the bed. They let in a lot of light from the street lamp and even more from the moon. So we put curtains up to cover them almost immediatly.

There wasn't really a great way to open the curtains (maybe we could have done a wrap to pinch them in the center?) so the windows always stayed covered. Which basically made it that we didn't have windows. But these curtains were not blackout, so while they were good at night, the room was too bright to nap during the day.

You can see in that picture we also didn't have curtains. Well, there is a flagpole across the street that the guy keeps a spotlight on all night (as I guess he should). That spotlight comes in through the crack in the blinds at EXACTLY eye level to where I sleep (the window side is my side of the bed). Kevin can't see it, but curtains were a priority for me. (Once I put a t-shirt over the blinds, they became a priority for Kevin.)

A few months ago we got curtains, and I think they added a lovely finished look to the room. But they didn't match the small curtains. And the small curtains weren't really working as well as I'd like.

So I got another panel of the curtains, with the idea to make a set of small curtains.  But then watching movies in the living room, I had the goofy idea to stick the throw pillows into the square windows in our kitchen that glare on the TV.  And they blocked out all the light. And filled the window well almost completely.

I realized I had a solution. Instead of making curtains, I could make pillows.  And they fill the window almost completely (just a little light around the edges). The room is nearly black- which make napping very easy.

But even better is that I can take them out of the windows during the day, and use them as throw pillows on the bed. So my bed looks fancy, and the windows let light in.   

Since we were going to use them as throw pillows, it was important they be washable- the dog hair gets everywhere. So I made pillow forms and then put an invisible zipper in the seam and the curtain fabric is a pillow case.  The curtain cost $23.79, the zippers $0.60 each, the fiberfill was $12 for a 5-pound box (and I have about half left)- so the pillows were about $10.50 each.  Pretty good price for made to match, custom pillows. It would have been hard to find throw pillows on sale for that amount. And now I also have window coverings!

Did the gushing blog post give off how excited I am about this?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Building Blocks Quilt Along: Post 6

 This month's block was a pinwheel. This was a difficult one to piece, since I am really really trying for accuracy.  Mine weren't too far off, but they also weren't perfect. 

The quilting designs this month were really fun. Two of them went really heavy through the center, which I think had a bit too much build up, and my stitch in the ditch still needs a lot of work, but overall I think these look really good.  This is the first time I've done pebbles as a pre-marked designed. I don't think I would mark them again, but I'm happy with how they look. Marking them means that I got to have a lot of different sizes, and they look really good- but it loses freedom of how to fill the space if your circle is just a bit off.  However, I love how pebbles let you travel anywhere when you get stuck. There is so much traveling anyway, that you can just go back over anything.  My favorite of this block though is the echo quilting curves. I love the movement in it.

And here is what the progress on the whole quilt it:

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Color Challenge #2

My small quilt group is doing a 12 x 12 color challenge each month this year.  For some reason, I haven't been sharing them on the blog- I should update with all of them.

I missed the February meeting and just now got around to catching up with that quilt.  I decided to try a few new things with it. First- I wove the center instead of piecing it. I think the weaving makes a really cool look, but for a sampler quilt like this I didn't spend the time making sure it was perfectly centered, I probably should have, as the ends get cut off unevenly.

And second, I hand stitched the binding to the back, instead of bringing it to the front and machine stitching. I used Mirage fabric from Connecting Threads, and the way it is printed if you hit it just right it brings up white thread :(  But you can reall only see that very close up.

These aren't my favorite colors, but overall, I think it looks pretty cool.  I didn't quilt the middle with the weaving. It should be fine on a wall hanging, but that big spot without quilting really makes me want to do something with it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fat Quarter Shop 12-pound Grab Bag Review

I recently ordered a grab bag from fatquartershop.com.  If you read my other grab bag review (from Craft Connection), you'll know I was disappointed- a lot of the fabric was poor quality and it didn't amount to much savings per yard.

This review is the opposite of that. I bought a 12-pound grab bag from Fat Quarter Shop. The UPS label said it weighed 13 pounds- so they did a great job filling this box up!
This box doesn't look that big...

It cost $78.99 with shipping, so not cheap (right now though there is a coupon code ddapron, I believe- It would have saved me $14!!! but I looked all over for a week before I ordered and couldn't find a code. Now I'm kicking myself of course.)

This fabric was all top quality, first rate fabric. Name brands like Michael Miller, Timeless Treasures, Moda.  Almost everything was yardage - selvedge to selvedge cuts. So little of it was other cuts, I actually didn't include them in my totals.

Non-selvage cuts: one 10" square, one 1/3 yd x 1/2 yd rectangle, two 6.5" x 10.5" rectangles.

So what about the rest? There were 75 pieces. They ranged from 5" to 32". The length I got the most of was 18", with 20 pieces. The second most common length was 23", with 9 pieces. And the third most common was 16", with 6 pieces. Typing out this paragraph makes me want to break out my Fathom statistical software. I could tell you all kinds of statistics about the fabric lengths (such as the average length being 16.5" inches, or the median being 18"- which as I already pointed out is the mode.  Do you want to know how many are within 1 standard deviation?)
This stack really doesn't SEEM that big...
But that would be boring.  More interesting might be to know that in all I got 34.3 yards of fabric. Which means the price works out to $2.30 per yard.  Since all of it is great quality useable fabric, I'm pretty happy with this. Even the designs I won't use will be great backings for small wall quilts. (My wall quilts always have absurd backs.)

And even more interesting might be pictures of the fabric:
Polka Dots
 Geometric Prints
 Solids (wish I got more of these!)
 Stripes and Chevrons:
 Floral and Leaves (the second from the left on the bottom row is my favorite fabric- a gorgeous tree print that I just want to frame as is.)
 Novelty fabrics:
 A group I couldn't categorize (I LOVE this peacock!):
 Kids fabrics:
 Another group I couldn't really categorize:

I am just SO in love with this box.  Once I use a quarter or half of it, I might buy another one.  But I think I am going to be really patient and wait for a coupon code!

Building Blocks: Post #5

 This month's block was Drunkard's Path.  I had never done curved seams before, because I had heard they were really hard. The pattern is actually set up to do this as reverse applique with a raw edge (sew the two squares on top of each other, and then cut away to reveal the fabric underneath)- but that isn't really a "stretch" for me, and this pattern is about learning new things.  So I googled to learn how to make the template to sew the seams as a pieced block. (Turns out it was really easy- draw the squares twice with the seam line marked. On one square mark 1/4" inside the seam on the other mark 1/4" outside the seam, and now you have templates for the two pieces.

So is sewing curved seams hard? Well, not really- it's just like sewing in a sleeve!  I practiced a method with pins and without pins and I found using pins to be both faster and more accurate.  I am really happy with these blocks.

The quilting wasn't too difficult, though there was a lot of traveling involved.  On the spiral block I wobbled really badly at one point, so I'm a little annoyed about that- but I absolutely LOVE the design. It reminds me of Celtic Bubbles, that I use quite a bit.  For that block, because there is an open string end in the middle of the block, I actually had to bury my threads. Since these blocks will be cut and sewn together later, I have just been sewing right off the edge as a shortcut :)

 Someone on the Building Blocks facebook had a brilliant idea to use a computer program to put together images to share our quilt progress.  So cool! This is what I've done so far, and what is yet to come!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Building Blocks: Post #4

The next block in the building block series is a "modern" block. This block should be incredibly easy because there are no matched seams.  Well, I still managed to sew one different from the other- so one of my blocks is sewn backwards.  If it can be done wrong, I'll do it wrong!

This block was to teach about quilting on different scales.  I do a lot of small scale quilting, so it wasn't really a problem for me to do the 1/8" scale which is what a lot of people struggled with.  I still struggle with straight lines, but maybe they are getting better.  I don't think I'd do tiny cross hatching on the inside of a quilt though- the travel lines get really heavy!

I didn't take a picture of the tracing, but rest assured, it was sloppy and I quilted okay in spite of it :)

Here are the fronts:

And here are the backs: