It doesn’t look like much, but…

Sometimes it seems that one can work endlessly and when all is said and done it doesn’t look like much was accomplished. This week was one of those times.

The design for this week’s Building Blocks Quilt Along was “Circuit Board”. It’s a really nice design and someday I’ll have the courage to use it on one of my quilts. Maybe. The problem is that I have always had difficulty stitching this design. It takes monumental planning to make all those lines flow and align correctly. I tried and tried to figure out how to do this without marking, and what a disaster.Ciricuit Board practiceAfter spending a great deal of time with a practice fat quarter, I just marked my block in the various scales and followed the lines. The one-eighth part of the block (out of necessity) was free hand, but size is on my side there. You can’t see the flaws. Anyway, it’s finished and I’m satisfied. I found the series in quilting scales very useful. This Monday we move on to a set of new blocks.

In the meantime, I was determined to finish my April 2013 Sugar Block Club block, cut out the block for May 2013 and May 2014 block when it became available. Well, I cut and pieced all three! Wow! It’s the third of May and I have my May blocks done. They are all paper-pieced, and I think I’m improving! As mentioned before in an earlier blog, I’m doing two each of these blocks. I will have a monster quilt by the time next December rolls around and am toying with the idea of going back to the beginning of the year and quilting each block individually and then attaching them. Not having any experience with this, does anyone know if that would be easier than quilting it as one big quilt top on my domestic machine? I’ve done a queen-sized quilt before, but I have a feeling that with sashing and border, this quilt is going to be larger than a queen.

I love it when Leah Day posts a new fmq design. This week it was #433 Growing Sprouts. I tried it, and had a lot of fun learning it. I’ve been saving all my little samples and when I have to do a quilt, I go back through the growing stack, or even look at my quilt sampler that I did in Leah’s Craftsy class. How fortunate we are to have all Leah’s tutorials at our fingertips on the internet and in her books. Talk about a great resource! Thank you Leah!

In the coming week I want to get the quilt cut that I planned on doing this past week. I also will have to begin the fmq on the two philanthropy quilts I have committed to complete.

I guess I finished more than I realized this week!

I’m linking up with Leah Day’s Free Motion Project Link Up.

Thanks for stopping by.

Happy Quilting!

Back to Normal

Two weeks have gone by since I last posted. Life got pretty busy. I checked off a dream on my bucket list when I sang Handel’s “Messiah” two weekends ago. Rehearsals meant time away from my sewing machine, but the performances went well and it was a great experience. Then the Easter holiday and other commitments got in the way. Now life is back to normal and I’m happier than ever in my sewing room.

I finished Blocks 4.1 and 4.2 for the Building Blocks Quilt Along. Block #4 was really easy to sew, but a simple design can reveal one’s cutting precision (or lack thereof). It was apparent when I was squaring my block after quilting. One of my seams was far from perpendicular to the other. Cutting and piecing are my nemeses and maybe that’s why I love whole cloth quilts! Lately I’ve been very careful but I cut all the pieces for BBQA four months ago.

I made a little quilt a couple of weeks ago. It was a nice diversion that didn’t take long to complete and this size is good to put under flower vases. I decided to fill the background with stippling, as I hadn’t used that pattern for several months. It was good practice. Consequently, I did Block 4.1 freehand. FMQ scale exercises are excellent practice. I noticed that the little arms on my open free motion foot are exactly one-quarter of an inch apart so the quarter- and eighth-inch areas went quickly.

Here is Leah Day’s #432 Fish Fins. This will be perfect for a marine-themed quilt that I’m quilting for Philanthropy Club. I can’t wait to dig into this and one other quilt top for the club that I’ve been asked to finish.

Fish FinsI’ll cut out another quilt this week. Hopefully I’ll be a little more precise. I have to finish April’s block of the month for Amy Gibson’s Sugar Block Club as May is coming quickly. It’ll be another fun and busy week!

I’m linking to Leah Day’s FMQ Project Link Up.

Happy Quilting!

My Little Sunflower Quilt

My thread of choice for free motion quilting is Isacord. It’s what Leah Day recommended when I started fmq almost two years ago and I’ve always had good luck using it. I experimented with Superior Threads King Tut #40 cotton thread on my little sunflower quilt because it is variegated and it matches the fabric. I was disappointed. Even though it stitched nicely, the variegation looks muddy. By the time I was finished with the quilt top my machine was loaded with cotton lint. Now I’m trying a similar piece with Isacord. I’ll post my results next week.Sunflower quiltIMG_2424IMG_2425IMG_2426This week’s block for Leah Day’s Building Blocks Quilt along was Circles and Squares. I think it is the most difficult design we have had so far in this excellent quilting journey. Quilting the circles so they brush up to the straight lines was difficult for me. Mine look a little wiggly and uncertain. In the grand scheme of things, no one will notice the wobbly things when everything is put together. I’m looking forward to the next series of blocks and exercises.3.4 front3.4 backThe April block for Amy Gibson’s Sugar Block Club is completed. I was noticing that my piecing wasn’t as precise as I wanted so I found Leah Day’s rotary cutter video on the internet. It was very helpful. Piecing is still a challenge to me. I still haven’t finished April 2013 but it’s all cut out and ready to stitch. It uses paper piecing so I’ll have some more practice with that process.Sugarblock April 2014This week I’m linking up with Leah Day’s Free Motion Project Link Up.

Happy Quilting!

Finished Projects

It has been a super busy week, so my blog is late. I spent a great deal of time sewing this week, but the time I normally use for blogging was crowded with other commitments.

Finally, finally, I finished a quilt I started months ago. It sat in my closet minus the binding and the label since last fall. It’s one I constructed in Amy Gibson’s Craftsy Secret Garden Workshop. The fabric is Amy Butler’s Belle. The pattern is disappearing nine patch. I free motion quilted it with Leah Day’s Free Motion Fillers, Volume 1. Using a layer cake made cutting and piecing very easy. I had the top finished in a week and it took only a couple more to quilt it. Christmas projects took over my schedule. Now it’s done, and I can mark off another UFO from my list.

QuiltI also worked on my block for Leah Day’s Building Blocks Quilt Along. This week’s block worked script into the design. It was relatively easy, but fun.

I was inspired to use script on the border of a little duck quilt that I tossed aside in frustration a couple of weeks ago. I quilted “Quack” around the edge of the quilt in on the border. I was tempted to use another color thread because the thread I used for the free motion quilting didn’t show up well, but I decided to be consistent. So, again, you have to look for the design. Hmm… Will baby care?’

Border of Baby Quilt

Border of Baby Quilt

Quack

Quack

Binding this little quilt is next on my list. I probably should be embarrassed to mention this, but I found a wonderful little app for my iPad, The Quilter’s Little Helper. It’s free. Robert Kaufman Fabrics offers it. It’s packed with specialized calculators for various parts of the quilt. Calculating yardage for borders is definitely not rocket science, but I use the app as a check. It has calculators to convert inches to yards, backing and batting, piece count, pieces to yardage area, binding, border yardages and a couple of others. I found it in the iTunes Store under QuiltingCalc. Another tool that has made binding a breeze for me is the Binding Tool from Missouri Star Quilt Company. This little piece of plastic helps make the end of your binding almost invisible. There is a trick to using it, but there are full instructions on You Tube to walk you through the process.

I have the materials for three different quilts and am really conflicted about which one to start next. I guess I’ll take them in the order of difficulty. One of them requires cutting a bazillion blades for Dresden Plates. I’m thinking of leaving that one for last, although I’m really looking forward to seeing that quilt on one of my beds. This week I’ll get April’s pattern for the Sugar Block Club so I think I’ll have plenty to keep me busy.

Thanks for stopping by! Happy Quilting!

Quilting a Rail Fence with Wiggles and Teeth

This week’s pattern for the Building Blocks Quilt Along offered us a challenge that is new to this quilt along. We were to free motion quilt most of the block, but there were two rows of quilting that Leah instructed us to do without the benefit of the lines.

I knew this was going to be interesting because it’s difficult for me to quilt consistent wiggly lines. With this in mind, I quilted the usual practice block that I do every week before I quilt the actual block. Since I used a frixion pen to mark my fabric, I was able to quilt the lines and leave those that were to be quilted freehand undone. I steamed them out and did the two rows without markings. I needed more practice. I could manage the “teeth” but the “wiggles” were another issue. I used some of my practice squares that I keep on hand and drew some one-inch grids and stitched several lines of “wiggles”. It was difficult to get consistency until I remembered that in Leah’s video she said to visualize your fingertip as you quilt wiggles. That really helped.

Practice WigglesWhen I was comfortable doing these lines, I turned to my “for keeps” block. I stitched everything except the two lines and deleted them with steam. Then came the free-hand lines. I had no guidance on the lighter fabric with the teeth, but unfortunately, on the darker fabric there were ghost lines to help me along with the wiggles.

Here is Block 3.2 of the Building Blocks Quilt Along3.2 front

3.2 back

…….

I have concluded that I am a Block of the Month person. It’s always fun to look forward to the beginning of each month to see what’s in store. I love the challenge of keeping current. (That didn’t happen last year.) Most rewarding is the end of the year when you have a pile of blocks that you can attach and quilt. (The quilting part is my favorite.)

For the past two years I have subscribed to Amy Gibson’s Sugar Block Club. Each month Amy posts a block pattern along with one of her delicious recipes. What could be better? Last year I just collected patterns and recipes. This year I’m catching up. I’m not sure why I did this, but… I also decided to do two blocks of each pattern. I’ll be making one GIANT quilt or more practically, two quilts next December.

I fell in love with Moda’s French General fabric line and purchased a layer cake of the Josephine collection. I had no idea what I was going to do with it. I just wanted those fabrics that were named after me. (My given name is Josephine.) How silly! I decided to start the year using those fabrics for the Sugar Block Club blocks. I’ve been filling in with fat quarters that were on sale at our local quilt shop. As of this week, I’m current. (Bravo!) Since I’ve had little experience cutting and piecing, this has been a real challenge with a couple of blocks. The block from February 2013 was the block from hell. It took me an entire day to piece it. My blocks aren’t perfect, and I’m way out of my comfort zone, but I’m learning. And it’s fun!

Amy gives each block a title and you have to read her blogs to understand the significance.

Here’s a gallery of my efforts.

I’m linking up with Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Friday Link Up.

Happy Quilting!

Oh well…

Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you plan them. I spent the good part of this week figuring out how to put duck tracks on a baby quilt I was finishing. I even researched duck tracks on the Internet to get as close an interpretation as possible. I drew the tracks in Adobe Illustrator so I could scale them, got a good template, and marked the quilt. I had to place them so they looked like a duck was walking back and forth across the quilt but I also had to make sure that the tracks were touching the edge of each block so I could travel from block to block without breaking thread 18 times. I quilted the duck tracks and much to my disappointment, you can barely see them. I’m tempted to rip them out, but that would mean ripping all the stitching out.

Duck FeetQuilt BackMaybe I’ll figure out a way to fix this. In the meantime, I’m putting it aside and will finish it after I take a break from it.  So… if you look closely at this quilt there is a possibility that you may see some duck tracks.

I finished Block 3.1 for Leah Day’s Building Blocks Quilt Along. It was a nice exercise for straight lines and travel stitching. I’m feeling better each week about my free motion quilting, but I’m finding that it is so much more difficult to be precise on a larger piece like a baby quilt.3.1 Front3.1 back3.1Here’s Leah Day’s free motion quilting design #429, Jagged Flame, designed to fit into quilt sashing.

#429Next week I’ll finish piecing the March blocks for a block of the month project. I got a good start on them this week. I’ll get back to stitching some more of Leah’s fmq designs. I’m also planning on binding a larger quilt that I finished a while ago. I’m trying to clean these projects up so I can go on to new adventures.

I’m linking up with Leah Day’s Free Motion Project Link Up.

Happy Quilting!

Progress

This was a busy week. Much of my time was spent learning complex software for the embroidery module for my Bernina 830. I’m approximately two-thirds of the way through the workbook and it is amazing what it can do. The package is loaded with features. I love that it includes a version of Corel Draw. I can’t wait to start designing. Almost anything can be digitized and turned into embroidery. I have two quilt projects that involve machine embroidery and I want to understand as much as I can before starting them.

Last year I joined a block of the month club. I was so busy that I let that fall by the way. I rejoined this year and have managed to keep current with 2014. I have decided to combine the blocks from both years and make a double-sized quilt. I did a lot of cutting this week and everything is cut and some blocks are pieced for January through March. I’ll have the first three months for both years pieced by the end of this month.

The third series of blocks for the Building Blocks Quilt Along is cut, pieced, and marked. I also made muslin practice blocks for each design. I’m just waiting for Leah’s instructions in the beginning of the week. I’m looking forward to that.

In the meantime, I did a little free motion quilting practice. I want to stitch all the new designs for the Free Motion Quilting Project. (Thank goodness there is no deadline on this!) I am working backwards and have thrown a couple more designs in just for fun. I noticed this week that working with light thread on dark fabric makes your stitches pop more than if you use dark thread on light fabric. I really struggled doing #428 Basic Star. Space Feather (#420) was a little challenging also.

Basic Star #428

Basic Star 428Tangle of Lights #420

Tangle of Lights 421Space Feather #420

Space Feather 420Feathered Heart #231Feathered Heart (231)Pebbles in a Stream #25

pebbles in a stream #25In the coming week I’ll quilt my philanthropy quilt and have it ready for binding by the time quilt guild meets.

I’m linking up with The Free Motion Quilting Project Friday Link Up.

Until next week, Happy Stitching, everyone!

Philanthropic Quilting

How perfect it is to get involved in a project that is beneficial to others while doing something you love! That’s how I feel about a philanthropic quilting group that I joined a few months ago. Once a month the group meets and goes through tubs and tubs of donated fabric to craft quilts for a community of domestic violence survivors as well as a hospital gift shop. Most of the creations are baby quilts or throws, so it isn’t too difficult to have one pieced in a month or so. Volunteer free arm quilters do the rest. For me, “the rest” is the most fun and I free motion quilt and bind the ones that I piece. I was able to experiment with feathers on the first quilt and what a great way to practice.

Quilt#1Top number two is pin-basted ready for free motion quilting. Now that I am at that point, I am undecided how to quilt it. Up to now my quilts have been on the dense side. I really want to get away from that on this quilt. The focus fabric has cute little ducks along with toy blocks that spell BABY. I have thought about large spirals but would be open to any suggestions you readers may offer.Ducky Quilt Full

Ducky QuiltMy Bernina 830 is in the shop for its cleaning and servicing. I decided to set up a Bernina Virtuosa to quilt my block for the Building Blocks Quilt Along. I purchased a darning foot and my husband was totally horrified when I asked him to cut part of the foot away. I assured him that it was possible and the foot would survive. He shook his head, disappeared, and a few minutes later returned with a perfect quilting foot. It didn’t take long to become comfortable with the more limited space of the smaller machine and it is amazing how controllable and responsive it is. I’m still a little shaky on the ditching and some of the curves, but all in all, Block 2.3 was a nice experience.2.3 front2.3 BackUpdate on FORMAL GARDEN #3555. Shortly after I published the blog I received an email from Gay Bomers of Sentimental Stitches. Her late father was owner of FA Wurzburg & Son. She wrote, ”Thank you so much for sharing the story of your quilt. It’s a beautiful example of the Formal Garden kit. In looking at the quilting on your quilt I believe it to be one of the earlier examples of the kit – late 1920’s or early 1930’s. The design actually started out as a bedspread kit in the late 1800s before kit quilts became popular. It was designed by Jane Wurzburg, wife of the original owner. She was a prolific designer of art needlework and kit quilts who (was) also known for the beautiful flower gardens at her home. Formal Garden was their most popular kit quilt and the one I see most often.” Thank you, Gay!

I’m linking with Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Project Friday Link Up

Problem Solved?

Early this week I started a whole cloth practice project because I wanted to do some free motion quilting without lines. This was a total disaster. I wasn’t happy with the design I was using and the whole piece looked messy. I finally put it away and was feeling very frustrated and disappointed.

I had very little difficulty completing Block 2.2. There is always room for improvement on any of this, but I wasn’t unhappy with it. I tried to figure out why this went relatively well and why I was unable to work without those guiding lines. The Building Blocks Quilt Along is the first time I’ve really had a pattern to follow. I decided that I was going to go back to the beginning of January and start stitching out Leah Day’s weekly free motion designs.

Earth Flower looked like it was going to be really difficult. I drew it on paper before I stitched it. I also slowed my machine to a little less than half speed. Much to my surprise, I was able to pull it off. Before I knew it, I had all six of the designs from 2014 completed. My stitches looked so much better than they did on the disastrous project. Problem solved? Time will tell.

This is what I accomplished during the week.

I voted for Leah Day for 2013 Machine Quilting Teacher of the Year.

Block 2.2 Quilt Circles in a 9 Patch Block for the Building Blocks Quilt Along

Block 2.2 Front

2.2 backLeah Day’s Design #422 Earth Flower

422 Earth FlowerDesign #423 Kidney Stones

423 Kidney StonesDesign #424 Broken Eggs

424 Broken EggsDesign #425 Hobbit Holes

425 Hobbit HolesDesign #426 Daisy Chain

426 Daisy ChainDesign #427 Wiggly Pasta

427 Wiggly PastaI’m linking up with the FMQ Project Link Up and looking forward to more free motion quilting!

“My Bouquet Quilt” FORMAL GARDEN No. 3555

FormalGardenMy husband’s grandmother, Lillian, was a quilter. Awhile back, we became stewards of several of her wonderful quilts that she pieced and quilted during the Great Depression. One of my favorites is an appliquéd quilt that she called “My Bouquet Quilt”. I never met Lillian. She passed away fifteen years before my husband and I met. I found the pattern for her bouquet quilt in a box a couple of years ago that still bears some of her handwritten notes. Along with the pattern was a small catalog from F.A. Wurzburg & Son. The  kit for Lillian’s quilt is listed on page one as Formal Garden No. 3555.

InstructionsLillian never signed this work. This morning I became curious about F.A. Wurzburg & Son from Grand Rapids, Michigan and googled it. Much to my surprise, I found Sentimental Stitches, a blog by Gay Bomers, which details the history of F.A. Wurzburg & Son and its eventual sale in 1940 to her father, Garrett Raternik. Mr. Raternik renamed the company Needleart Guild. Ms. Bomers, an award-winning quilter, took over the company in 1996. (What a wonderful legacy!) With this information, along with dates on Lillian’s other quilts, I believe that this quilt was finished in the 1930’s when Lillian did most of her quilting.

I also found a very interesting online article about quilt kits at Vintage Quilts, A History of Quilt Kits – Past and Present by Judi Fibish, a historian and restoration professional. According to Ms. Fibish, quilt kits date back to the 1890’s!

This little bit of history has added so much more depth to Lillian’s quilt and really sets the tone of the times when her collection was created. It is amazing that one could find the time to do all that hand work and be so productive in a era when there were so few conveniences compared today. I only wish that someday I will be able to create something as beautiful and lasting with today’s technology.bouquetquiltWhat I learned this week in Leah Day’s Building Block Quilt Along: Tracing the quilting patterns for Block #2 has been a topic of much discussion by my quilt along friends on Facebook. I understand why! When I placed my pieced block on the straight-line pattern that was taped to my light box my eyes bulged. I worried that I wasn’t going to be able to place my block well enough to trace the pattern accurately because of the opened seam allowances. Then I remembered that if I drew a line 1” from the piecing lines (around the block), I would be able to place my block in the correct position. I started analyzing the pattern and realized that all the lines were pretty easy to copy without tracing by using my quilting ruler. I started by placing X’s in each 2” square, making sure I was drawing exactly from corner to corner. I used my seam lines for most of the other lines. Extending the seam lines gave me reference points to draw all the ½” x 1” rectangles (teeth) surrounding the block. The corners were just extensions of the diagonal lines from the squares. I placed the other 22.5 degree corner angle lines by estimation.

The next block (#2.2) is a series of 1” and 2” circles. I used a compass to draw circles a hair smaller than 1” and 2” on a piece of very heavy cardboard and cut them out. To place the small circles accurately in the squares, I divided each of the squares in four. The scant 2” circles fit nicely in the other squares. I used my quilt ruler to draw lines 1” around the patchwork for placement lines for the half circles. I used the scant 1” circle in each of the corners.

For the wiggly line block (#2.3) I drew a line 1” outside of the seams for a placement line and used my light box to draw the squigglies around the perimeter. I free-handed the over-lapping squigglies on the remaining squares.

Some other tidbits that I gleaned from reading Diane Gaudynski’s Guide to Machine Quilting on marking  patterns that Leah may have already covered and I missed are:

  1. When tracing or drawing a pattern on fabric, do not press hard. Draw lightly. This saves your marking pen tips and keeps your lines more accurate by keeping your fabric from bunching as the line is being drawn.
  2. When not using fabric pencils or pens, put them in a closed plastic bag. This keeps them from drying out.

Here is block #2.1. I know I probably did too much travel stitching. It’ll be interesting to see how Leah presents quilting #2.2 with all those circles.

2.12.1backThe Building Blocks Quilt Along has turned out to be a great experience. It is fun to see what everyone all around the world is doing.

I’m linking up to Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Friday Link Up.